2:00PM Water Cooler 12/3/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“‘A big leap forward’: Donald Trump praises talks with Xi Jinping as China readies for trade mission” [South China Morning Post]. “A source familiar with the trade talks said China was expected to send about 30 officials to Washington for discussions next but it was not known who would be in the delegation. US news outlet NPR also reported that White House adviser Peter Navarro said US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would be in charge of negotiations with China over the next 90 days.”


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


“Sanders eyes ‘bigger’ 2020 bid despite some warning signs” [Associated Press]. “Instead, a new generation of outspoken Democrats such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and California Sen. Kamala Harris are expected to seek the Democratic nomination. All three have embraced Sanders’ call for “Medicare for All” and a $15 minimum wage, among other policy priorities he helped bring into the Democratic mainstream in the Trump era.” • Why would people vote for a fake Sanders when they can vote for the real one?

“Why is no one treating Bernie Sanders like the Democratic front-runner?” [Michael Tracey, Spectator USA]. “By most conventional pundit metrics, Bernie Sanders should be the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee. To state the obvious, he was last cycle’s runner-up, having won 46 percent of elected delegates, 23 states, and smashed small-dollar fundraising records. His policy platform has taken hold across the party, with most every nationally ambitious figure now calling for universal Medicare, free public college tuition, and a host of other measures that were closely associated with his 2016 run. He has consistently polled as the most popular politician in America, he just won re-election in his home-state by a massive margin, and his social media engagement is off-the-charts. So what’s the problem? Simply put, large sections of the party still view him as a threat.” • And they’re right.

UPDATE “The Trailer: Bernie’s army gathers in Vermont” [WaPo]. “For the next three days, some of the best-known supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential bid will come together in his city for the Sanders Institute Gathering…. Sanders has what no other 2020 hopeful does: millions of supporters, some of whom refuse to consider any other candidate for president and who cite polls to argue that no other candidate on the left is so popular. Like Sanders, they dismiss the idea that he is vulnerable to negative attacks — just one negative ad, from a pro-Martin O’Malley super PAC, was run against him in 2016 — by suggesting he has been vetted in a way no other would-be candidate has been.”

Plot twist: Sanders doesn’t only appeal to white people:

“Democrats Are Catching Beto Fever in “First-in-the-Nation” New Hampshire” [Inside Sources]. “The obvious–and obviously true–answer is that it’s way too early to say. “There’s a lot of chatter and a lot of buzz about a lot of people,” one Democratic insider told Inside Sources. “Have I heard Beto’s name? Sure. I’ve also heard Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown. Most New Hampshire Democrats are waiting to meet these people, look them in the eye, watch them campaign…. On the other hand, how many of those people have fans posting Facebook pages about them? Or have political activists in New England start a PAC (“Draft Beto 2020”) to encourage them to run? [***cough*** Sanders ***cough***]. “O’Rourke is a talented progressive politician, at a moment when the party’s base is hungry for progressive leadership. Bernie Sanders hit the right notes, but voting for Bernie was voting for the progressive platform alone. O’Rourke brings the Left’s ideology, but adds charisma, skills and–let’s face it–sex appeal.” • Oh?

UPDATE “A #Resistance With All The Trimmings of Neoliberal Corruption” [Status Coup]. “Now, a banker paying $10,000 for fancy bread and brushing elbows with Beto isn’t necessarily sinister. But, Mr. Stewart isn’t just any banker….” • A fun read on Beto and Gillum fundraisers.

UPDATE Never change, Democrats. Never change:

“Iowa Democrats Say They Want Generational Change” [Wall Street Journal]. “ADEL, Iowa—Democratic [county] leaders in Iowa, the starting line for the party’s wide-open 2020 presidential contest, are hungry for a young standard-bearer who will usher in generational change, which is erecting a potential roadblock for the three best-known prospective contenders for the nomination.” • Didn’t we already do this with Obama?


MI: “GOP moves to dilute power of governor, AG, secretary of state” [Detroit News]. “First reported by Gongwer News Service, the bill would let the Legislature intervene in any court case to protect the rights and interests of the state or Legislature. It would give the state House and state Senate the right to take any action that other parties to the litigation have, including prosecuting an appeal and applying for a re-hearing…. When Democrats Whitmer, Nessel and Jocelyn Benson take office on Jan. 1, 2019, it will mark the first time in 28 years that Democrats have controlled the offices of governor, attorney and secretary of state at the same time.”

NC: “North Carolina Race Roiled by Claims of Voter Fraud — But Not the Kind the GOP Worries About” [New York Magazine]. “here’s another way to commit voter fraud in North Carolina. You could — theoretically, of course — hire someone who would coordinate an effort to falsify absentee ballots. That’s the allegation roiling the state’s Ninth Congressional District, where Republican Mark Harris defeated his Democratic challenger, Dan McCready, by just 905 votes. For all the GOP’s hand-wringing over voter fraud in North Carolina, one of their own candidates has been caught up in a scandal over voting irregularities.” • Gruesome, shameless details.

WI: “John Nichols: Fitzgerald and Vos want to cheat voters” [Cap Times]. “In an effort to preserve conservative control of the state Supreme Court, Fitzgerald and Vos are proposing to change 2020 election dates in order to avoid a high-turnout election when the court seat is chosen on April 7 of that year. They propose to move the state’s presidential primaries — which are expected to draw high interest, especially, though not necessarily exclusively, from Democrats — from April 7 to March 10. Why? So that Gov. Walker’s untested appointee to the court, conservative judicial activist Daniel Kelly, will have an easier time. ”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Hillary Clinton Voters Are Tilting Authoritarian” [Zaid Jilani, The American Conservative]. “University of Mississippi political scientist Julie Wronski, one of the researchers who conducted the [Journal of Politics] study, explained in an email to TAC how they defined authoritarianism. ‘We define authoritarianism as an individual’s psychological preferences for social conformity over individual autonomy,” she wrote. ‘Here we see its features as two-fold: 1) preferences for traditionalism and maintaining the conventional, established norms; and 2) preferences for maintaining group cohesion and sameness. As my co-authors and I note in the article: ‘authoritarianism is grounded in the desire to be part of a group, not in the identification with a particular social or political group.’…. What the researchers found is that authoritarianism consistently predicted differences in primary votes, specifically Clinton votes over Sanders votes. This remained the case as controls for a wide range of factors were included, such as party identification strength, ideology, church attendance, gender, race, education, and income. As a voter in the ‘CCES sample moves from the minimum value on the authoritarianism scale to the maximum value, the probability of voting for Clinton increases from 0.33 to 0.76 while holding other influential factors constant,’ the researchers noted…. To give you an idea how important this result is, Wronski told me that ‘neither race nor age had a significant effect on voting for Clinton over Sanders.’ However, in one of the three studies we conducted for this article, income was significant and had a bigger effect than authoritarianism—in the direction where wealthier people were more likely to vote for Clinton.” • Holy moley. And all the MILOs that liberal Democrats groomed and funded for the Blue Wave will surely, on the average, increase authoritarianism.

“Ohio counties to start replacing voting equipment” [WDTN]. “Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has given the green light to county boards of election to begin acquiring new voting equipment through the Voting Equipment Acquisition Program. A total of $104.5 million in funding will be made available to the state thanks to legislation enacted earlier this year.” • They could save themselves a big chunk of that $100 million by going to hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public. None of the reasons for using e-voting are good, and yet> which is why both party establishments support them.

UPDATE “POLLING BRIEF | 2018 National Rural Survey” [RuralOrganzing.org]. “As we look to the future, our data show that current Democratic strategies aren’t engaging or persuading rural Americans despite the fact that 1 in 5 rural Americans are still undecided on candidates in their House race.” • Well, naturally.

Stats Watch

Capital Spending: “Solid Recovery for Combined U.S. & Canadian Industrial Spending” [Industrial Reports]. “Combined U.S. and Canadian planned capital spending rebounded in November showing $37.18 billion compared to October’s $22.81 billion. The research organization reported 204 planned U.S. and Canadian projects in November. Planned U.S. project spending nearly doubled in November with $31.90 billion in planned investment compared to the October total of $17.04 billion. Canadian planned investment showed a small drop in November with $5.28 billion in spending, down from $5.77 billion in October. Projects in both nations ranged in value from $1 million to $10 billion.” • You want to see capital spending in a capitalist economy. Sporty, though!

Purchasing Managers Manufacturing Index, November 2018: “The manufacturing PMI final for November eased [but is still solid] supported by accelerating growth for new orders” [Econoday]. “Capacity constraints are evident in rising backlogs and slowing vendor performance. Cost pressures for raw materials including metals, the latter tied in part to tariffs, intensified in November with pass through to customers reported. There are soft softs in today’s report including moderation in production and a dip back in business confidence to the least optimistic level since September last year. Yet the gains in orders and employment are solid signals for a factory sector that has been at the top of the 2018 economy.”

Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Index, November 2018: “Re-acceleration to unusually strong rates of growth is November’s theme” [Econoday]. “Backlogs continue to build strongly…. Lack of acceleration in export orders…. is a negative. This sample has been consistently running hotter than definitive data out of the factory sector yet the general indication has been very accurate: rising rates of growth. Watch for October factory orders from the Census Bureau to be posted this Thursday.” And: “This was above expectations of 57.2%, and suggests manufacturing expanded at a faster pace in November than in October” [Calculated Risk]. And but: “Based on these surveys and the district Federal Reserve Surveys, one would expect the Fed’s Industrial Production index growth rate remain about the same as last month. Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession. This month the ISM survey improved and the Markit surveywas declined. It is hard to understand the trends” [Econintersect].

Construction Spending, October 2018: [Econoday]. “Construction has been a soft spot of the economy evident once again in October… Nonresidential and public building have been solid this year but the rise underway in mortgage rates appears to be taking the steam out of what was already an exhausted looking housing sector.” And: “This was below consensus expectations, and spending for August and September were revised down. A weak report” [Calculated Risk]. And: “The rolling averages declined – and last month was significantly revised down. Also note that inflation is grabbing hold, and the inflation adjusted numbers are in contraction” [Econintersect]. “The employment gains currently are generally correlating with construction spending.”

Housing: “Rent Growth Ticks Up” [Econintersect]. “Single-family rents increased 3.2 percent year over year in September 2018, up from a 2.7 percent increase in September 2017, according to the CoreLogic Single-Family Rental Index (SFRI)…. [T]he index’s overall growth in September 2018 was propped up by low-end rentals, defined as properties with rents 75 percent or less of a region’s median rent. Rents on lower-priced rental homes increased 3.9 percent year over year and rents for higher-priced homes, defined as properties with rents more than 125 percent of the regional median rent, increased 2.8 percent year over year. However, rent growth is accelerating for the high end and decelerating for the low end.”

Retail: “13% Of Americans Will Boycott Christmas Spending” [Safe Haven]. “The 2018 Bankrate Holiday Gifting Survey showing that 13 percent of American shoppers are planning to completely boycott holiday spending…. Despite growing consumer resistance, 45 percent of shoppers will still spend beyond their comfort zone, says Bankrate’s survey. And in this race to show their love by gifts—where larger gifts apparently mean more love–Americans are prepared to plunge themselves into heavy debt.” • Readers? Where are you on the boycott/overspending spectrum?

Retail: “New retail sales trends are bringing some relief to congested parcel delivery networks this holiday season. Merchants are spreading out the promotions that have become an indelible feature of the last week of the year” [Wall Street Journal]. “Spreading out shipments can keep parcel sorting and handling operations running smoothly, and early measures on-time delivery rates in fact have been strong.’

Shipping: “Flexible warehouse schemes emerge to meet supply chain demands” [Supply Chain Dive]. “Amazon and large retailers have changed delivery expectations to a two-day window, and many retailers need to match it to stay competitive….. As a result, retailers are creating pop-up supply chains to ensure they can quickly and cost-effectively respond to seasonal demand spikes and consumers’ desire for fast fulfillment. Pop-up supply chains can leverage assets in a network and support demand changes throughout the year without large capital investments. Retailers are seeking to achieve this through innovative arrangements with third-party logistics providers (3PLs), alternative warehousing solutions such as self-owned networks, drop shipping models or outsourced 3PL networks. Another growing trend is ‘micro warehousing,’ where retailers put small distribution centers close to large urban areas and hold a limited selection of popular SKUs.” • As soon as people can visit the micro-warehouses and buy stuff there, we will have reinvented “the store.”

Shipping: “Truck driver shortage crisis now spreading across the whole of Europe” [The Loadstar]. “European road transport firms are racing towards a driver shortage crisis of 150,000 unfilled jobs, according to new research from Transport Intelligence…. European road transport firms are racing towards a driver shortage crisis of 150,000 unfilled jobs, according to new research from Transport Intelligence…. One problem is the increasing appetite among global manufacturers to site production facilities in central and eastern Europe, which has provided an alternative source of jobs for many would-be drivers.”

Shipping: “Stresses in shipping are creating new conflicts over the sector’s role in national economies and international trade” [Wall Street Journal]. “State support for maritime business is rising as countries look to protect national interests and extend their influence abroad, …even as operators struggle to recover from a financial battering and structural upheaval… The latest examples are coming in Asia, where China’s support of its mariti\\me sector is part of the country’s massive trade infrastructure initiative. South Korea, meantime, is lining up new aid for its shipyards and container operations as Seoul seeks to protect employment in an industry critical to its export-focused economy.”

The Bezzle: “Is digitisation in shipping disruption or racketeering?” [Splash 247]. “To cut a long story short, the need for a paradigm shift, is not yet coming from within the industry, but it is due to external hype. Rest assured, when the principals feel the need to change how things are done, they will do so, with the same conviction and ease they changed countries or jurisdictions overnight, (like in the early 2000s from the UK, or following the capital controls in Greece three odd years ago)…. [C]reating software products, and then trying to present them as a solution to a problem that may not be there, in my eyes edges closer to racketeering and less towards disruption.”

The Bezzle: “KPMG predicts revolution in last-mile logistics” [DC Velocity]. “Use of autonomous delivery vehicles will drastically change consumer e-commerce environment by 2040, research study says…. The study forecasts a fulfillment system rooted in artificial intelligence and robotics, in which orders for goods are placed, received, communicated, then delivered via a fleet of autonomous vehicles to what the company refers to as ‘islands of autonomy—metropolitan markets with unique mixes of consumer living, working and travel patterns that will require localized, tailored delivery services’.” • Ah yes, “islands of autonomy.” “The places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward.” I’m surprised KPMG said “tailored.” They might as well have said “bespoke.”

The Fed: “Trump view on Powell has changed from ‘not even a little bit happy’ to ‘pleased’ after the chairman’s ‘just below’ speech” [MarketWatch]. “Last Tuesday, one day before Powell spoke, Trump told the Washington Post that he was “not even a little bit happy” with his selection of Powell. On Wednesday, Powell told the Economics Club of New York that interest rates are “just below” the level where they won’t stimulate the economy. Financial markets seized on the comments as dovish….”

Mr. Market: “What President George H.W. Bush’s day of mourning means for stock, bond and commodity traders” [MarketWatch]. “U.S. flags will fly at half-staff, and U.S. markets, including trading on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, will grind to a halt… The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, or Sifma, an influential financial-industry trade group, has recommended that bond markets close on Wednesday…. Meanwhile, futures giant CME Group CME, -1.66% will shut down trading of interest-rate and futures and options products for the day, though electronic trading will have a regular session…. Beyond Wall Street closures, Bush’s funeral could result in another development that is important to markets: a delay in a prospective government shutdown.”

Rapture Index: Closes up 2 on earthquakes. “A massive quake has struck the capital of Alaska” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 182. Up from the 180 floor.

Health Care

AOC continues her “on-boarding” process:


“Canadian team confirms presence of huge unexplored cave in British Columbia” [Canadian Geographic]. “[John] Pollack, who is a archeological surveyor, further explained the significance of the cave in an exclusive interview with Canadian Geographic. ‘I’ve been in some of the biggest caves in the world, and this thing has an entrance that is truly immense, and not just by Canadian standards,’ he said. ‘The opening is 100 metres long by 60 metres wide, and when you’re standing on the edge looking down into it, your line of sight is nearly 600 feet [183 metres]. You don’t get lines of sight of 600 feet in Canadian caves — it just doesn’t happen. And this is a shaft. It goes down quite precipitously, it had a large amount of water flowing into it and is wide open for as far down it that we’ve gone. The scale of this thing is just huge, and about as big as they come in Canada.'” • That’s Chapter One. In Chapter Two, we discover the alien ship.

“UN chief: Climate change is ‘most important issue we face'” [Associated Press]. “‘Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption. In short, we need a complete transformation of our global energy economy, as well as how we manage land and forest resources,’ [U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres] told delegates from almost 200 countries who gathered in the city of Katowice….

Thanks, Obama!

Our Famously Free Press

“WE RESUME OUR PREVIOUS JAILBREAK: It’s all the absence of logic now!” [The Daily Howler]. “By the fall of 1997, we thought the situation [with the press] was so bad that we decided to start this site. We could say that we were prophetic—we could say it, but it would be wrong… Back in 1997, a true Cassandra might have seen these slow trains coming. Around here, we did not. We already thought the corps’ conduct was stunningly bad. We had no idea that it could get as bad as it quickly did. Much of what we read in the mainstream press is, in fact, a product of novelization and ‘script.’ To an astounding degree, our upper-end journalists do work from ‘story lines that shapes coverage, often in the teeth of the evidence.’ When the preferred story line is contradicted by even the most basic evidence, the evidence, by force of law, is going to disappear…. However counterintuitive they may be, these patterns of conduct are very real. And make no mistake: Unlike every other corporate or professional guild, the mainstream press corps is in position to control what gets said about itself. For this reason, we should have accepted a basic fact a long time ago: Criticism of the mainstream press is fundamentally pointless. The guild is going to type what it will—after which, the Jeffrey Toobins will go on TV to offer their fake mea culpas. It was on this basis that we said, at the start of the year, that ‘it’s all anthropology now.’ Various guilds are going to tell us the stories they like. Nothing will ever change that. All that remains is a study of the reasons why our various guilds and tribes choose to toy with basic facts in the ways they do.” • 2018 – 1997 = 21 years. That’s a long time. So this is an interesting transition for The Howler.

“Partisan Conflict Index” [Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia (via The Big Picture)]. “The Partisan Conflict Index tracks the degree of political disagreement among U.S. politicians at the federal level by measuring the frequency of newspaper articles reporting disagreement in a given month. Higher index values indicate greater conflict among political parties, Congress, and the President.” • No. They indicate the reporting of greater conflict. Scripts, in other words. Nevertheless, herewith the latest chart:

UPDATE “Access”:

Class Warfare

“The Uneasy Case Against Occupational Licensing (Part 1)” [Law & Political Economy]. “Obama-era technocrats and Trump cronies may not agree on much, but they have made common cause against occupational licensing… Critics of licensing question whether these benefits are worth the costs, which can include higher wages for licensed workers. Such an objection comes naturally to conservatives, who generally favor the interests of capital over labor. Among the progressives who attack licensing, the rationale is different. First, they worry that licensed labor is overpriced, squeezing consumers. Second, they point to the fate of workers too poor or too busy to obtain a license. What’s particularly strange is that the high cost of specialist physicians is not usually in the sights of licensing critics. Rather, they tend to focus on lower-paid workers, such as hairdressers.” • Snicker. What’s “strange” about it? If the caravan was doctors and lawyers, you can bet the response would be a lot tougher than tear gas. Just think of what happened to Occupy and Black Lives Matter.

“Our Elites Refuse to Accept Responsibility for Leaving Behind the Left Behind” [Dean Baker, CEPR]. “There have been several analyses of the 2018 election results showing that the Republican regions are disproportionately areas that lag in income and growth. In response, we are seeing a minor industry develop on what we can do to help the left behinds. The assumption in this analysis is that being left behind is the result of the natural workings of the market — developments in technology and trade — not any conscious policy decisions implemented in Washington. This is quite obviously not true and it is remarkable how this assumption can go unchallenged in policy circles.” • Scripts are not the sole province of the press. More: “And, to flip over the trade story, imagine that our trade policy was as focused on putting doctors and other highly trained professionals as competition with their low-paid counterparts in the developing world as was the case with manufacturing workers. Let me just state this as clearly as possible. There are literally millions of very smart ambitious people in the developing world who would be happy to train to US standards and learn English and work as doctors for less than half of the pay as our doctors. The reason this doesn’t happen is because our doctors are very powerful politically and keep in place professional barriers that make it difficult for foreign doctors to practice here. (And, just to head off some painful stupidity, I know that 20 percent of our doctors are foreign-born. If we didn’t have protectionist barriers, it might be 80 percent, just like with apparel.) Anyhow, the reason that laid-off steelworkers in Ohio are left behind and cardiologists in New York are not, is that we designed our system of trade to subject the former to international competition while protecting the latter. It is incredibly dishonest for policy types to pretend that the current situation is an inevitable outcome of globalization.” • It’s not “incredibly dishonest.” It’s class interest, pure and simple, hence not “incredible.”

“Running For Office Is Really Hard If You’re Not A Millionaire” [HuffPo]. “‘The notion of being able to just write a check for that much to help pay for ads and such ― that would be completely out of my abilities,’ said Shawna Roberts, who quit her part-time job at McDonald’s to run as the Democratic candidate in Ohio’s 6th congressional district. ‘It’s absurd to imagine people who don’t have deep pockets doing it on their own,’ she added. ‘And yet, it’s one of the things that we have to do if we’re going to have an actual democracy that actually functions instead of what we have right now, which is an oligarchy without the name.'”

News of the Wired

The moral of the story:

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (KH):

KH writes: “Blue plumbago going off outside the bank in Hawi.”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Summer

    “Why would people vote for a fake Sanders when they can vote for the real one?”

    People can get Colonel Sanders’ actual fried chicken or chicken nuggets.

    1. Big Tap

      The problem for Bernie Sanders is this time around to run in the Democratic Primary you have to be a registered Democrat and announce that fact in public. That may became a perception problem for him with some voters.

      “In order to seek the party’s nomination, a candidate must publicly announce that they are a registered Democrat, will accept the Democratic nomination, and will “run and serve” as a member of the Democratic Party.
      This rule seems to be in direct response to Bernie Sanders, the independent Senator from Vermont who fiercely battled Hillary Clinton in a surprisingly close primary race in 2016”


      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        So . . . let him re-register as a Democrat. Hopefully his fan-base won’t get all purity-pony about it and boycott him through all the Democratic primaries just because he has re-registered as a Democrat.

        “Paris is worth a Mass”.

        Somebody-or-other saw the Crown lying in the gutter, and stooped to pick it up. Well . . . why not?

        1. NotReallyHere

          FWIW – in every election, he runs in the primaries as a Democrat. He then leaves the party to run as an independent candidate.

    2. The Rev Kev

      “Why would people vote for a fake Sanders when they can vote for the real one?”

      And in reading names like Kamala Harris people might say “Why would people vote for a fake Republican when they can vote for a real one?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Usually people buy fake products thinking it’s cheaper.

        Is that psychology at work here?

        “He can be a socialist, but I don’t want to pay the price of being called, by my fickle and ignorant friends, one.”

        It’s a strange, weird world. And that would not be surprising.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        It depends on the people. I can see millions of people voting for the Fake Sandroids in order to stop the Real Sanders from winning the Nomination.

  2. NotTimothyGeithner

    Why would people vote for a fake Sanders when they can vote for the real one?

    I have issues with Warren, but of the three, she has demonstrated genuine change, not short term political change of Senator Spartacus in the face of his votes to protect Big Pharma when he thought no one was looking. Kamala Harris is a cop.

    If Warren came out and added “this bad piece of legislation I’ve been railing against was pushed for by Joe Biden” would be a natural evolution for her. I would say a very clear repudiation of the Clintons and Obama beyond reasons such as “divisiveness” (Wasn’t this Obama’s 2008 platform? Hillary was divisive?) is required. They don’t have to be named, but the lack of positive records is going to be an issue so soon after Obama.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Fair enough. I’ve mentally crossed off Warren because of the Cherokee debacle. “Worse than a crime, a blunder. Her limit is cabinet head, where she would do well.

      1. Glen

        I agree. Warren is a technocrat who wants to tinker with the rules to make capitalism work again. I’m not sure that capitalism in almost any form is capable of dealing with problems such as global warming.

        1. Code Name D

          But is Sander’s really any better? I hate to say it, but how he handled Our Revolution is looking rather incremental to me. It might work – in about 50 years or so. There seems to be very little stratigic thinking for the long term.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            To be fair, I don’t think he intended to do much other than to force HRC to at least adopt a progressive position instead of openly collecting bribes. Can you imagine what she would have been like without a primary challenge? The anti-Clinton sentiment among the Democratic Party is very real. Two primary seasons revealed this. I don’t know how much was realized.

            Sanders is still Senator from Vermont where practical retail politics is possible. A great many things need to be changed. In the short term, the President is the President and sets much of the agenda. In the long term, the Democratic Party needs to be replaced in some capacity whether abandoned or a recognition of 90% of its elites need to go and not leave chosen successors behind.

            On one hand “OMG Russia” made low info voters skip brunch and participate just enough to disrupt genuine reform. Besides his age and photogenic aspects, its important to note Barack Obama was Senator from Illinois and connected to a major American city.

            Sanders with his platform as recent as it is has forced a cop, Spartacus, and Liz Warren to Medicare for All publicly which they would never have done on their own.

            1. Procopius

              I’m old and confused. Who is this Spartacus of whom you speak? There are a lot more than three possibilities, and lots of us hate Biden, do not identify with him. Also, too, I’ve never figured out who is this Wilmer I see mentioned from time to time? I guess these cute names are shibboleths demonstrating membership in the tribe, so I’m excluded.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner


                Its an encapsulation of Cory Booker and much of the lionization of our political elites. We know Booker is heroic because he told us he was. Non-existent threats are pretty much the same thing as being crucified on the Via Appia.

                I like this nickname because I see a great example of how words have little if any meaning in official Washington. HRC borrowed from Julius Caesar’s famous boast (given after a victory against a credible enemy) after Gaddafi died in a conflict she will never go near, and Cory Booker, a lesser individual with delusions of adequacy, has to borrow from a movie, a good movie. Its a common belief to claim HRC was the worst possible candidate, but I think the fruit of the DLC rot has led to a Democratic Party full of lesser Clintons.

              2. NotTimothyGeithner

                The other aspect is its the phony style of campaigning, everyone does but Democrats seem so bad at.

                John Kerry needed to hunt like an everyday guy in the waning days of the 2004 election. In an election that eschewed policy, it was really important that John Kerry reach out and act like a phony every day. Even if he needed to kill something to destress, maybe he shouldn’t be President.

                Obama was pretty good and stuck to basketball.He admitted he only heard rap songs from his stand in. There is no clip of Obama rattling off OG Rappers. There is no clip of Obama explaining the importance of Atlanta based rappers to ending the West Coast East Coast divide. John Kerry is fascinated by rap and hip hop. When Obama announced Joe Biden was his Veep, he was shocked by the reaction “Scranton” received. He didn’t watch “The Office.” His staff didn’t tell him to go, “thats what she said,” and pause for laughter.

                Oh sure. I follow and I’m interested.” “I don’t always like, but I’m interested. I mean, I never was into heavy metal. I didn’t really like it. I’m fascinated by rap and by hip-hop. I think there’s a lot of poetry in it. There’s a lot of anger, a lot of social energy in it. And I think you’d better listen to it pretty carefully, ’cause it’s important. I still find the musicians of our generation are appreciated and extraordinarily relevant to most of the young people I talk to today. When I go to a Bruce Springsteen concert or when I did go to the Grateful Dead, when Jerry Garcia was still alive, or when I’d go to the Rolling Stones, for instance, it’s all gens — there’s a lot of people there of all generations. And I think that young people are still growing up appreciating an awful lot of the music that came out of our generation, ’60s and ’70s. But I love to play guitar and hack around. I was in a band when I was in high school. I never learned to play very well, but I enjoyed it. And we had fun. So I try to stay up with it. But I still think if you wanted me to choose the greatest … the bands from the ’60s and ’70s, that’s still where my head is.” -John Kerry, not a former President.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > But is Sander’s really any better? I hate to say it, but how he handled Our Revolution is looking rather incremental to me.

            Warren certainly has set up nothing similar to OR, so yes.

            I don’t see revolutions as being automatically a good thing. Nobody knows how to produce them, and they have unpredictable results, often bad. For example, assuming that our society can still mobilize, would a Green New Deal be revolutionary or incremental? (Or incrementally revolutionary, as changes in the Constitutional order in the UK have been, at least compared to the Civil War).

          3. UserFriendly

            But is Sander’s really any better? I hate to say it, but how he handled Our Revolution is looking rather incremental to me.

            Sigh. He is legally forbidden from coordinating with Our Revolution.

        2. John

          I think however that global warming is quite capable of dealing with capitalism. And a lot of other things. The technocrats may not like the outcome however.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        I slipped into my personal morality test when it comes to politicians. Her evolution from a Republican to what I would call an accidental liberal champion and Senator matters. We are reflections of our environment, so I’m partial to people changing on their own. She’s too much of a noise to the grindstone type to look around. Given that, she does make better moral decisions than others when confronted with the information she has available.

        I believe morality and ideas can change, but I don’t believe in “on the road to Damascus conversions.” Warren’s work with the hearing impaired seems like a way for her to naturally evolve. Mark Warner’s conversion to gun control advocate after Sandy Hook is a conversion I’m skeptical of as he missed the opportunity to convert after Columbine (his daughters were in highschool) and VPISU. Though he wasn’t governor at the time, he interfered in the ACC expansion to get VPISU invited to the ACC, so he knows where Blacksburg, Virginia is and was likely aware of the massacre. Despite that, the NRA found his record worthy of an “A” rating in December 2012.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I slipped into my personal morality test when it comes to politicians. Her evolution from a Republican to what I would call an accidental liberal champion and Senator matters.

          I think Warren is well above the baseline for American politicians when it comes to personal morality. (For example, I think she’s more intellectually honest on policy, Republican roots or no).

          But I think she disqualified herself with the Cherokee* thing; she’s not equipped to take the campaign trail and make good decisions. Again, I contrast her behavior in 2016 to Sanders. They both campaigned for Clinton, but Warren adopted the Clinton talking points hook, line, and sinker. Sanders stuck to his standard line on policy, and did not. I don’t mind that Sanders is in the Democrat Party, as long as he’s not of them. (Party apparatus, as opposed to voters.)

          NOTE * She didn’t clear anything with the Cherokees! At the very best, that suggests a tin ear.

          1. Anonydig

            She brought us back to the 1850s with her “one drop rule” ideology. That was a national embarrassment, add in her comments earlier in the year about “shithole countries” and you have someone who is so blatantly a racist, it is laughable she would even consider running.

          2. NotReallyHere

            She committed the worst sin of all. She made herself a laughing stock with the test (1/1024th Cherokee!! based on Central American DNA samples, cos ya know, they’re all the same).

            when she saw the reaction, she acted out on Twitter like a spoiled school-kid.

            Donny boy got to her. She’s done. Although the memes were hilarious

            “chief walking eagle … too full of sh*t to fly” was one of the more memorable ones.

      3. Pat

        While I consider Warren better than most of the usual suspects out there, I have to agree.
        Both on the debacle and on the cabinet head.

        1. Procopius

          I’ve said all along she’s far more valuable as a Senator than she would be as President. I don’t know what cabinet post would be a good fit for her.

      4. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        F Warren.

        She chose her side already: THE RICH.

        Plus shes a 10%er.

        She will only add more legalese when we need less.

        1. skippy

          That is just the opposite of her long held views since she wrote the two income trap.

          BTW Money is a legal construct.

      5. Carey

        That, and saying that the 25th amendment should be used against Trump!, make
        her judgment seem screwy, at minimum.

    2. skippy

      I’ll take Warrens policies on contracts aka consumer protection as just a piece of the larger puzzle and not get distracted by the land of a thousand screams of purists and utopians.

      1. nippersmom

        Some of us consider her hawkishness to be at least as much of a detraction as the financial positions we agree with her on to be an asset. If my reluctance to see innocent people blown into pink mist is too “purist” for you, we clearly have different priorities.

        1. skippy

          Its all ad hoc at the end of the day and I think supporting the contractual aspect is a near term issue of high economic importance. People are shafted enough with suppressed wages over decades and investors seeking yield in high risk or poorly underwritten credit issuance compounds error.

          Then again if people were not so subjected to the formula and could catch their breath, they might have the energy to rail against War Inc. You know one step at a time rather than having ones head done in by large all encompassing expectations. In my observations this has a bad propensity for people go pop as reality does not conform to expectations or desires.

          Personally I’ll take imperfect to move in the desired direction over perfect and zilch movement or worse further entrenchment of neoliberal socioeconomic policies.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Imperfect is a waste if its not good enough. It might sound trite, but a house made out of sticks might be better than a house made out of a straw. The lesson is “better” isn’t always good enough.

            Warren hasn’t demonstrated she is fit for the challenges we now face. I don’t like comparisons of her to Sparatcus and a cop, but being imperfect is an awfully low bar.

            Our best President couldn’t even walk.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Our best President couldn’t even walk.

              Doh. I hit the wrong button.

              Being a leader isn’t about being imperfect, its about being ready to rise to the challenges of the day. Liz Warren has had opportunities to do this, but she hasn’t.

              Better than George HW Bush is a low bar indeed. Better than McCain, you say? Wow, so like eight billion people fit that description.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                > Being a leader isn’t about being imperfect, its about being ready to rise to the challenges of the day

                That’s a good point. Sanders’ Town Halls are an example of rising to the occasion. A very original tactic, and repeated over and over again (Sanders being relentlessly on message as he always is).

            2. a different chris

              No single person is “fit for the challenges we face”. We need to devolve power back from the imperial Presidency (haha I like the thought of Hillary winning and then finding out she is Rutherford B. Hayes) for sure.

              But: Vote. I’m not accusing you of this, but not voting because all the candidates are not “good enough” means the world can put any lens on your non-vote that it wants. For example my lens is already set, you get 120k people to vote and I don’t think the 120k non-voters would make difference, honestly. Ten minutes in a statistics class tends to underline that.

              And then, sounding like MLTPB here, it also goes the other way as black people for one have discovered for all their voting: You can and will get taken for granted.

              I am still going to vote Green unless it is Sanders. I would be ok with voting for Warren, if the Green option was obliterated somehow*, because she does a few things very well.

              *I would not be OK with the obliteration, I’m saying I would still go pull the lever.

            3. skippy

              I’m not talking about Warren in some key executive political position, she is better placed where her acumen on contracts has the most effect. Now having a executive political admin that is pro these views and prepared to back her up is another thing.

              Again I reiterate that contracts proceed all the ills concurrent with loans and billable and one only need to square that with what this blog has unpacked over a long period and say Bill Blacks observations.

              Forcing a multidimensional problem set through some simplistic world view has more propensity for self flagellation than it does change.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                > I’m not talking about Warren in some key executive political position, she is better placed where her acumen on contracts has the most effect.

                Secretary of the Treasury? Why not!

                1. skippy

                  “Secretary of the Treasury”

                  It’s not her area of expertise and the Secretary of the Treasury needs someone outside the dominate economic paradigm. To that I’m in the camp that is calling for a reformation in economics – ground up – and ending the slavish devotion to models which find reality troublesome.

                  What ever political pigeonhole or politic opinion outside her core game is nothingburger, in my opinion, not that the whole enviroment is chocker block with virtue signaling and PR firm messaging for branding or switching brands.

                  I only recognize her stance on contracts and its factor in the larger picture wrt neoliberalisms tender mercy’s on the unwashed.

                  Heck I won’t do business with anyone unless they agree to double contracts – theirs and mine. Do you remember this is all about bargaining power mate?

                2. skippy

                  Just to clarify …. I said contracts and not monetary policy.

                  I support MMT and the end of NIARU with a JG.

        2. JohnnyGL

          Her recent foreign policy speech said things were fine until they went wrong during the Reagan Era.

          Seems like an odd place to stop.

    3. jo6pac

      Kamala Harris is a cop.

      Not a very honest one, she didn’t go after the banksters in 2008 in Calli. Then again by not doing the right thing she did get a job as so-called people rep. in the Senate.

      1. Carey

        It says much about politics here in California that she and Newsom have become
        senator and governor, respectively, despite having done nothing at all but service and protect the donor class. Talk about empty suits!

      2. Procopius

        Cops are to protect the rich and their property. That’s their purpose, their function. Their definition, if you will.

    4. Lupemax

      I don’t trust any of them – Warren, Harris, Booker, Biden, even Sanders – because the dem party is so corrupted by BIGMONEY. Even if they are for, for e.g. medicare for all, or livable minimum wage, or bailing out student debt in the campaign, the moment they get into office they will back away, not now, we have to go slowly, etc.etc. Even AOC even backed away and supported Pelosi to – wait for it – get a committee assignment. No election is going to do it for the people; they’re too corrupt too. Look what the Dems (DWS) did to Sanders in the primary; and what happened to Tim Canova in Florida – TWICE. Even the new gov of MI put a Blue Cross Blue Shield executive on her transition team? Wake up people. it’s Lucy with the football. And I fear violence ultimately because the dems do nothing for the 99%. We don’t have the time to take baby steps. And none of them speaks about the need for drastic measure to address climate change. And of course the threat of war. All IMHO of course.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        We need orange vests or something. Pick one issue and get everybody in. Permanent War, or M4A.

        Agree the entire DEM/MSM edifice urgently needs smashing. You buy in then the receptacle of your hopes gets bought out. Rinse, repeat. The only hope is to smash things, and I do not come to that conclusion lightly.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          That would be an argument for voting for Trump again. Which is something I would really rather not have to do again.

      2. Annieb

        Agree 100%. These candidates cannot be trusted. They will weasel out of any policy promises. Only Sanders has a track record that indicates that if he is elected he would push for legislation to enact these policies.

        1. Phil in KC

          One party makes you angry, and the other party disappoints. True no matter what your political stance, unless you are truly independent.

            1. DJG

              Go ask Lambert when he’s ten feet tall.

              [I will interpret your couplet thus: Unless we reshape the parties, we end up with their money-grubbing apparatuses and tendencies toward hierarchy limiting our imaginations and options.]

  3. Another Scott

    I’m not sure if Democratic insiders dislike Bernie think it’s because he’s a threat, it’s very likely that they would prefer Trump, and especially a Pence or Ryan on the issues. They disagree with him on a number of positions, which were outlined in the article. They want a politician who opposes regulating Wall Street and supports large corporations, wants cheaper labor and goods and is open to ending or privatizing Social Security and Medicare.

    1. Code Name D

      Actyaly, my Thanksgiving jernoy into Clinton land gives me a very diffrent picture. Clintion land likes his policies – they just think they are “impratical, given the current political climent.” Apprerintly, the best way to “resist” Trump, is to comprmize..

      No, they don’t like him because he is an “ass hole” (all though I failed to win any elberation.)

      It appeared tht Bernie is bing paintes as a kine of left-wing cultist who thretends to devide the party when “unity” is needed so badly to stand up to Trump.

      Gee, you might get the notionn Hillery was running again.

      It’s still my prediction they will find a way to keep him ou tof the primary – because reasons.

          1. tegnost

            I like it, it gives us an idea of where the speech translation is at, and we don’t know why Code name D is using this technology, but s/he has been doing it for some time. I am able to decipher the intended meaning in any case.

      1. polecat

        Uh .. are you an artificial person talking in machine langua, or somethin … cuz it’s kinda hard to parse your comments.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          He’s having fun with creative dis-spelling. Perhaps he is demonstrating a way to spoof and confuse the NSA ( and otherwise) blog-reader spies.

          Someone a little while ago did some little experiments in substituting ” other words” into a story to suggest what the “real words” are. That project is called Anguish Languish. Read real fast with soft focus sonic-vision, that could sound “like” English Language.

          So here, in Anguish Languish, is the story of Ladle Rat Rotten Hut.

          1. Code Name D

            I am not sure being remembered by one’s creative and non-conformist spelling is a good thing, but its nice to be known by something. Sorry about that, but time pressure and a dead phone battery prevented me from going back and fixing the post.

            As I was saying, over my Thanksgiving weekend, I had a short little jaunt into Clinton Land. They actually like his policies, (Who wouldn’t.) but argue that they are simply not practical given the current “political landscape.” (Apparently “resistance” means compromising with the 21st Century Hitter. But I didn’t say that.) I note that the goal post has changed here, where before Sander’s platform was just pie-in-the-sky, but a matter of bad timing. Only when Trump was kicked out office could we meaningfully talk about Sander’s platform.

            In the meantime, the best we could hope-for was Clinton’s platform. Shoring up the ACA, normalizing trade with China, “Immigration reform” (he didn’t know what that meant either) and a tax freeze. (Sounded a lot like Pelosi’s Pay-Go), and of course dealing with Russian influence over government. Note that its not just elections any more, but government policy in general. Apparently, the latest outrage is that Putin is split us off from our allies such as Saudi Arabia (They were unaware of Sander’s bill, oddly enough.)

            I could hear Clinton’s echo in this “urgency platform”. It was almost as if Clinton’s 2016 platform was being retooled for the new reality between Trump and the House. Yes, she is so brilliant that her leadership reaches out from the political grave.

            I got the sense that Sanders was being painted as some sort of authoritarian cultist hell bent on establishing himself as Democratic Leader. Making him a non-starter for 2020.

            So, I repeat my prediction from before. The DCCC will find some excuse to not allow Sanders into the primary. It’s the only way they can stop him.

  4. Summer

    “As soon as people can visit the micro-warehouses and buy stuff there, we will have reinvented “the store.”

    I’m laughing and you’re laughing.
    But put a bunch of mico-warehouses together and the “mall” is reinvented.

    1. Off The Street

      What is the market for used-stuff stores, a growing trend, grouped together? Toss in a few consignment stores, a storefront church, a karate studio and you have the makings of today’s version of 1990s distressed real estate. Maybe with enough parking there could be an Uber hiring hall. As always, cui bono.

    2. polecat

      But a bunch of malls together, and you a concurbation .. otherwise known as a hive of scum and villainy …

  5. Wukchumni

    When my wife and I told my sisters who overdo xmas as if it were the end all-be all potlatch, that we were done with giving and receiving gifts from adults (kids still get their gotten gains) about a dozen years ago, it was as if we had plunged a rusty shiv into Saint Nick’s considerable belly…

    (why do we all know Santa is BS by the time we’re 10, but many still believe in a supreme being that watches over our every move, for the rest of our lives?)

    Now, everybody in the family is on an adult gift moratorium, a small victory over the forces of retail~

    1. makedoanmend

      We still buy gifts but the most anyone spends on everyone else involved in limited to €25 or less, and everyone has to give the posse a definite idea of what items would be helpful. The most expensive item anyone wanted (me) was a book valued at €18.00 which will be my only present as the other people shared the cost of the book. We spend more money on food/drink than gifts for the 3 days – Christmas eve to boxing day. The only present I look forward to on the 25th is to see how much longer daylight is getting after the winter solstice on the 21st. All tolled, the total cost will be less than €200 for the three days. As we only do this once a year, we like to live large.

      1. a different chris

        Our new idea this year is that we’re going to various “nicer” restaurants with a revolving list of payers. A nice gift and “you don’t have to put it somewhere”.

        Actually you do, your waistline, but oh well nothing’s perfect. And this doesn’t help with people that aren’t coming to town.

      2. marieann

        We buy for our sons and their partners only but we do that anyway year round….we are believers in helping them out with money before we die.
        With all other family members we stopped gifts years ago…we do sent money to the little nephews in Scotland.

        Our Christmas is a small affair, pretty much family dinner only with turkey and pumpkin pie, very laid back.

        I am also looking forward to the Solstice and the longer days.

        My husband and I have a competition to see who will be the first to say “aye, the nights are drawing oot”

    2. polecat

      “kids still get their gotten gains.”

      Then there’s Krampus … the Real SantieClaws. So the little hooligans had better watch out … !!

    3. Kokuanani

      The “children” in our family are 30 & 32. For about 10 years we have rejected “stuff” as presents [for birthdays as well as Christmas], and we each provide a list of 5 or 6 organizations that we invite those honoring us to support with a contribution.

      We also have a “write me something beautiful” gift, named after a friend whose child, a writer, died at their age. We each write something and read it to everyone.

      Admittedly, we do also give them some cash so they can acquire something they want. And thankfully we don’t have a family of cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. to worry about.

  6. Synoia

    Canadian team confirms presence of huge unexplored cave in British Columbia … And this is a shaft. It goes down quite precipitously, it had a large amount of water flowing into it…

    I wonder where the water is going?

    1. Wukchumni

      Most caves have water in them, not unusual. That’s a huge cave though, ye gads. Makes you wonder why it wasn’t found until recently?

      There’s around 240 caves in Sequoia-Kings Canyon NP’s, and i’ve been in about 10% of them (NPS likes to act as if they don’t exist-the only one that visitors go to is Crystal Cave, which has been touristified) and wild caves are fun to poke around in. (always take 2x headlamps if one goes out in the inky dark, or you’ll be your own Helen Keller trying to get out)

      There’s probably 240 or 480 more caves in the National Park, but like the BC cave, nobody’s found em’ yet.

      Here’s photos of one of the newer cave finds from a dozen years ago:


      1. eg

        “Makes you wonder why it wasn’t found until recently?”

        Um, because Canada is really, really big and outside of a ribbon along the US border very sparsely populated? ;-D

  7. Summer

    Dutch Court Rules 69-Year-Old Man Can’t Legally Declare Himself 20 Years Younger…huffpo

    “I feel much younger than my age, I am a young god, I can have all the girls I want but not after I tell them that I am 69,” Ratelband told AFP. “I feel young, I am in great shape and I want this to be legally recognized because I feel abused, aggrieved and discriminated against because of my age.”

    He compared his attempt to turn back the clock to identifying as transgender.

    “We live in a time when you can change your name and change your gender. Why can’t I decide my own age?” he asked, according to the BBC.

    Boom. Mic drop.

    1. boz

      What’s particularly interesting is the court’s comment that enforcement of age discrimination legislation would be difficult/impossible if people could self-certify their age.

      Which is relevant to the discussion around self-certification by people who believe themselves to be trans.

      It makes a big mess of anti sex-discrimination, in particular the sustainability of female-only spaces eg. Swimming clubs / refuges.

      1. Procopius

        ??? I think it depends on how rigorous checking of self-certification is. If it includes having surgery to more closely approach the appearance of the stereotype of their claimed gender I’d be fine with it. If it’s just, “Oh, yeah, I’m really a woman.” by some dude with big biceps and a beard, it’s problematic. Of course Thai culture easily accepts that there are three (or four) genders, not just two, and I’m pretty well acculturated, so maybe I’ve just become insensitive to American concerns. I think the problem is with the casual use of the phrase “identifies as.” It shouldn’t mean the same as “says he is.”

    2. Amateur Sexual Analyst

      “I feel much younger than my age, I am a young god, I can have all the girls I want but not after I tell them that I am 69,” Ratelband told AFP. “I feel young, I am in great shape and I want this to be legally recognized because I feel abused, aggrieved and discriminated against because of my age.”

      1) Interesting as political theory theatre–comparing with transgender law.
      2) As a practical matter, many people on dating sites lie about their age. I’ve personally put 5 years younger than my age–57 rather than my actual age of 62. Though I’ve been tempted to put younger, the problem is:
      A) If you feel you must lie, it is usually better to stick as close to the truth as possible.
      B) Some women are stickers for honesty. Imagine that!
      C) I guess “5 years” is pretty common, but 10, 15, or 20 like he is claiming, is pushing or exceeding the limits.

      At 69 he’s got a “round number problem.” Some attractive women in their 40s and 50s may in their mind consider a man aged up to 65 years old, but over that seems “beyond the pale.” Hey 65 is the classic retirement age! From his picture in the article, I think he could easily pass for 59, but 49 is a stretch. My advice for him is to put “59;” try to find an attractive women in her late 40s or 50s who will go for “59,” and then take his chances with women rejecting him for his “dishonesty.”

    3. Summer

      The real problem they would have with this is that if you can just put your age back on paper, it might hurt sales of all the products that allegedly keep you young.

      Transgenders are a gold mine.

    4. ewmayer

      LOL – thanks for providing our daily dose of “Identity/Victimization Politics Gone Wild!”

      I for one feel rather older than my age, so I’d like to get a head start on that Medicare coverage, and for those Social Security checks to starting coming now, please. :)

      Question: If one were allowed to self-report one’s age, could one report as underaged in order to avoid felony prosecution as an adult? The possibilities boggle the mind…

  8. flaesq

    Sherrod or Beto would make fine vp choices for a Sanders-headed ticket. I could pass on the others. Not that anyone cares what I think, I’m not Mr moneybags.

    1. Adam1

      Umm with Sanders about 80 when he hits office you want to make sure the VP is equally as progressive. Last thing progressives need is another Harry Truman and a repeat of 1944.

      1. Terry Humphrey

        I think Harry was more progressive than many of the “progressives” around today. Universal health care and ending discrimination against Negroes in the military come to mind.

            1. Big River Bandido

              I’m not clear on this…are you referring to the Marshall Plan, the United Nations, the recognition of Israel, or Truman’s tilt against Russia in 1947-8?

              1. pjay

                Well, we could start with the almost immediate shift from Roosevelt’s more balanced postwar plan to a more hostile stance toward the USSR (favoring Britain and Churchill) after Roosevelt’s death; Hiroshima and Nagasaki (certainly directed at Stalin in part); Operation Paperclip (it wasn’t just rocket scientists); the Truman Doctrine and the acceleration of clandestine political activity in Greece and elsewhere; NSC-68 and the creation of the National Security State (NSC, CIA, etc.) and the following build-up of both conventional and nuclear arms (Paul Nitze’s vision triumphs over Kennan’s somewhat more moderate “containment”) etc., etc. Truman was a staunch “anti-Communist” who was also not that knowledgeable about foreign affairs, so he was dependent on his military/intelligence “experts” (again, a familiar story). So he may not have been directly responsible for all the Cold War acceleration during his term, nor was he as bad as Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers. But our long postwar nightmare, for which the world is still paying today, began during the Truman administration.

                  1. pjay

                    How so? I don’t follow. This is well-known history and not really controversial (with the possible exception of the motives for a-bombing Japan – though even that is pretty clear in my mind). Please explain how this is daft.

                    1. Anthony K Wikrent

                      I agree with you pjay, though what I focus on is FDR’s hostility to a restoration of the British empire and European colonialism in Africa and Asia. See his son, Elliot Roosevelt’s, memoir of his travels with his father to the Big 3 Conferences, for a recounting of the arguments between FDR and Churchill. This dispute between FDR and WC have been almost entirely written out of the “respectable” history books, including Dallek’s recent biography, which I otherwise thought very highly of. It is pretty clear to me that when FDR died, a reactionary, plutocratic element of the foreign policy establishment redirected USA foreign and military policy, much for the worse.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > you want to make sure the VP is equally as progressive

        Progressive, younger, an effective administrator, and a hatchet person, the last two characteristics supplying qualities that Sanders lacks. I think that rules out Beto (who I would rule out anyhow because Mr. Counter-Suggestible is repelled by Beto Schwärmers). I don’t know enough about Sherrod Brown to say. My personal thought is Stacey Abrams, who doesn’t take any guff and seems to be all those things (plus, well, identity politics). OTOH….

        1. John k

          But hasn’t shown she is electable, granted suppression.
          Progressive, female would be nice, Bernie supporter… why not tulsi? Maybe helps to be a vet to reign in military. Plus serving in Iraq implies some toughness.

      1. JTMcPhee

        When Quayle was Veep, there was a joke running around that if someone shot Bush that the Secret Service was to pivot and shoot some quail… Wonder if repeating this will result in a mic check from the Fibbies? Nobody gots a sense of humor any more.

    2. Massinissa

      Beto would be a terrible idea for VP. Too conservative, and Bernie is too old. It would be “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” all over again, where the nation votes Tippecanoe but gets Tyler instead because Tippecanoe/Sanders keels over and dies.

      Nobody to the left of Warren for VP, IMO

      1. ChrisPacific

        I’d like to give Beto the benefit of the doubt, but I’ve been looking for a policy statement from him that isn’t vanilla corporate Democrat, and I have yet to find one.

        His main qualification seems to be that he is a hottie. While I don’t think that being a hottie precludes anyone from holding serious policy positions (see: Gabbard, Tulsi) Beto strikes me as more of an Obama-style blank slate onto which Democrats can project their hopes and dreams. A bunch of weak-tea aspirational positions that don’t rock the boat, and a cosy relationship with corporate donors? We’ve seen this movie before and we know how it ends.

        1. Carey

          I think you have “calf-cramping Beto” pegged perfectly.
          Now watch them try to ram him down our, er, um…

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Beto strikes me as more of an Obama-style blank slate onto which Democrats can project their hopes and dreams

          Beto is Obama without the resumé ***cough***

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Campaigning for PrezNom and THEN campaigning for President is very physically demanding.

        If Sanders can win the PrezNom and still be in good physical shape, then we can observe his physical stamina as he campaigns for Prez. If he appears suitably staninoid all the way through, then
        “too old” is not an argument.

        1. Massinissa

          You read my comment wrong.

          Sanders isn’t too old to be president.

          Hes just too old to be president with a centrist VP.

        2. Jen

          He’s basically been running non stop since 2015. Bernie’s got 25 years on me, an just reading his schedule makes me tired.

          Thus far I’ve seen one Bernie 2020 sticker around town, and a Bernie 2016 sticker where someone wrote 20 over 16. I’m planning to do the same.

          Beto hasn’t come up when the tavern crowd debates the 2020 field, but then, we’re small for a crowd, and live in the middle of nowhere.

    3. tricia

      please no. Hype around Beto seems manufactured. I’d like Nina Turner on the ticket. Either slot.

      1. pjay

        What?! No “Beto fever”? (I have a vision of a political ad with Beto striding down the street to the tune of ‘Stayin’ Alive’).

  9. Samuel Conner

    Re: Holiday spending — I’m contemplating limiting myself to “really useful, eco-friendly” gifts this year, or cash if the recipient does not want the “RUEF” option. 3 of my nieces/nephews are college age and I’m offering them low-cost (but decent quality and reliable, which I have already assessed in a purchase for my own use) compact folding bicycles.

    EVs may be the future of transportation for those who can afford them but, for many of us, a bicycle may be a preferred urban runabout method, at least in fair weather. In my experience, for trips of less than about 3 miles the bike takes only marginally longer than driving, and of course one gets the added benefit of exercise. It is, however, a bit stressful as the auto drivers can be inattentive.

    1. Synoia

      EVs pollute, manufacturing batteries encourages old and bad forms of pollution, mining.

      Bicycle or Shank’s pony and Optional Macintosh.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Compact folders are nice, and a good transport option, but if the wheel is 20 inches or under that’s one situation where even I recommend wearing a helmet. Those tiny wheels are tough as nails, and if a green branch or the like (squirrels. really) gets in the spokes, they will just stop. Comical but dangerous on the front wheel. Just FYI.

      auto drivers can be inattentive Oh yeah. Get ugly red led flashers for front and back. Double or triple A, coin batteries are never there when you need them. And if your infrastructure has it, cut over a few blocks to slower residential streets, the extra minutes will be paid for with less riding stress.

  10. Left in Wisconsin

    So now that our state politicos in Wisconsin and Michigan have been blindsided by the completely predictable strategy of outgoing R’s to lock in as many political advantages as they can until they can reclaim the political offices themselves, we should all prepare for the “if only we could do somethings” that are likely to emanate from them for the next 2-4 years. It is just shocking how dirty those R’s are willing to play. They have no respect for political norms!!! Or voters! Just shocking. Who could have known?

    1. Pat

      I get why the incoming Democrats might be hamstrung in Michigan, they don’t have any control of legislation. But what is to stop the newly installed Wisconsin legislature from just overturning everything the outgoing legislature did that they disliked? Call it returning to the status quo/elimination of the loser’s tantrum. Let’s face it the Republicans would.

      That is unless the Dems WANT to be disadvantaged by those outgoing Republicans….

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Legislature in Wisconsin is still Republican going forward. So what they do in the lame duck they will not want to undo in the future.

        1. Pat

          That’s what I get for just reading summaries about some state elections, for some reason I had the Dems getting a majority. My bad. Of course they also cannot undo the damage.

  11. ChiGal in Carolina

    ooh, I miss my plumbago–lovely plantidote!

    And after many years of trying in vain to at least limit gifts to one to each from each (5 in the family gathering, which would limit it to 20 instead of the typical 40-60 PLUS stocking stuffers), I have informed my family I am opting completely out of gifts, either giving or receiving and do not wish to be present for the opening of same.

    It drags on and on and NONE of us are children. I am so happy to finally quit this obscene display.

    For me, it’s about the tree, the music, the shared meals that have become tradition for us. A gift exchange is fine but not 50 for 5 people, opened one by one while everyone oohs and ahhs.

    Ditto with Thanksgiving, absolutely no shopping except local on the Saturday.

    1. skippy

      “ooh, I miss my plumbago”

      And the never ending hedging that comes with it … right – ????

      Here in Queensland people buy fast growing hedging plants to achieve an ascetic in near time, only to lose interest or buy a house with it all ready established ….. then it gets completely out of hand.

      In other news [life of a Queenslander reno] why do people request dark feature walls with off white main colour rooms, when the corners are about as straight as a Brisbane road [where horses once walked and took the easiest path].

      I feel like this – https://au.news.yahoo.com/definition-lazy-workers-paint-roadkill-marking-lines-221926542.html

      1. ChristopherJ

        Because they saw it on the Block, Skip…

        Gone right off the flat wash and wear. Up here, you need paint surfaces that can be pressure washed, so been going the gloss, even on walls and ceilings. As you say, not straight anyway…

        Plumbago, years since I’ve seen that word in print. Nah, don’t do the pressies either

  12. Doug

    The “Rapture Ready” index makes the common mistake of thinking that the capital of Alaska is Anchorage.

    Juneau has that distinction.

    1. Carolinian

      As in “Juneau the capital of Alaska?”

      It’s funny if you’re a kid.

      I did laugh at Lambert’s alien ship reference. Those outer space explorers never learn.

      1. polecat

        Just don’t touch any bulbous clumps of weird sh!t, with a tendency to spew particulates … you never know what you’ll contract.

  13. Pat

    One thing that has been nice about the George H. W. Bush lovefest has been that it has pretty much made my point about the ridiculous nature of the claim “Most Qualified Candidate for President ever!” for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Whatever you think of the *family blog*, his resume makes Clinton’s look like incredibly slim.

    I also was a sucker for the photo of his service dog by the coffin. But the news story snapped me out of it since the dry announcement he would be returned to the group who provided him, was just so throw him back. (At least indicate some regret at having to say goodbye, but joy that others would be helped by such a faithful companion, IOW follow through on the PR front).

    I’m pleased as punch to be working without media access on Wednesday.

    1. Off The Street

      Yeah, well, but did he make us energy independent like Obama, huh, huh?

      The latter will have people muttering ‘get the frack outta here, and drag HRC along with youse’. /s

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      “Most Qualified Candidate for President ever!”

      With the exception of John McCain, every major party nominee has met the Constitutional requirements. Its technically true.

      1. Pat

        Not really. If meeting the Constitutional requirements is the sole criteria, there can be no most. All candidates who do meet those requirements are EQUALLY qualified, along with a significant portion of the American population who don’t run.

        I would actually posit that HRC didn’t even meet the criteria for “most” qualified female candidate for President, but then I have a soft spot for Shirley Chisholm.

  14. John A

    I’m looking forward to seeing Victoria Nuland distributing cookies to the plucky brave gilets jaunes on the Champs Elysee protesting against a terrible regime.
    Oh wait, that’s our terrible regime.

  15. nippersmom

    My family (five siblings plus spouses and offspring) opted decades ago for a name-draw amongst the adults and gifts from everyone only to those under 18. That eventually evolved to gifts for the “kids” only. All of my nieces and nephews are now over 18, most are married with children of their own, and a couple are grandparents. We siblings now typically send each family some type of small gift, usually a consumable, in token of the season. Gifts to neighbors and friends also generally consist of baked goods. Our holiday spending is pretty much limited to postage, ingredients for seasonal baking, a tip for our letter carrier, and our annual Reed & Barton Christmas bell for our own collection.

  16. ambrit

    I’m telling everyone that Santa was put on the “No Fly” list, so, no presents. Homeland Security it seems takes gifts away, it does not give them.

      1. ambrit

        It’s one of the few public entities that actively advertises for Trolls.
        “Make the Internet safe for America! Battle against unofficial “fake news!””

    1. polecat

      Hire some russians ..

      …they’re get everyone believing it was Trump what gave ol’ Nick a raw deal !

      1. ambrit

        Good catch. I had forgot that “Old Nick” was a name for the Devil, not just Santa. It makes sense that Fundamentalist Capitalists would think poorly of a fellow who gave stuff away. Just like certain ‘official’ malefactors claim to be doing “God’s Work,” Saint Nick’s corybants are doing “The Devil’s Dance.”

  17. Summer

    I wonder if our deductibles and out-of-pocket fees are agonizingly similiar to AOC’s congrssional health care plans.

    1. Arizona Slim

      In 2009, I attended a Bernie Sanders town hall in Vermont. Congressional health insurance was one of the topics raised by those in attendance. About his health insurance, Sanders had this to say:

      “I have the same insurance as my secretary. It ain’t that great.”

      1. Summer

        Guess they’ll bite the bullet for private insurers, as with the gun industry.
        Not even Congressmen and women getting shot will make them mess with that industry.

  18. dcblogger

    Considering the energy the conservative movement has put into building an authoritarian political culture The American Conservative has a lot of nerve attacking Hillary voters. I really don’t understand the need to attack Hillary voters. We can’t elect Bernie without most of them. We can’t win single payer healthcare without most of them. So what is gained by the endless attacks on them? So they got it wrong in 2016, we all get it wrong sometimes. So some of them still hold Bernie and Russia responsible, not good, but so what? Most of them can be won over. But the American Conservative does not want that, they certainly do not want single payer healthcare.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      It is – undeniably – a case of the pot calling the kettle black. AmCon editors and most of their writers still like to imagine conservativism is a small government, anti-regulation movement. One devoted to empowering non-urban rugged individuals. Based on the history of the last 4 decades, that’s even more off-true than the mainstream Dems’ view of themselves as defenders of working people. Which is not an easy stretch. It takes real work to roam that far from reality.

      1. marku52

        Yes but there is an interesting current in the comments over there. Which are moderated and often rationally argued. They (the conservatives) are waking up to the fact that one of their values (libertarian capitalism as anti communism) is destroying some of their other values like community,. family, religion and love of nation. There is an exploding head or two occurring.

        At least their is some thinking and back and forth in those comments. There is almost nothing but rabid hate and ad homs over at Kevin’s. You are either in the tribe, or brother are you out of it.

    2. marku52

      I invite you to saunter over to Kevin Drum’s site at MJ and offer up any comment that might be remotely construed as criticizing Obama or HRC. You will be descended on by wolves. Their echo chamber is completely hermetic. Which is funny cause they are all the time going on about how “conservatives have closed their minds to data”

      They have a case of TDS as bad as any Repubilcans ever had ODS.

      Good luck getting them onboard with MFA, The Satan Worshiper Bernie thought of it first.

    3. DJG

      The author of the article, Zaid Jilani, mentions that he usually posts at The Intercept, hardly a hotbed of reactionaries.

      And there’s this paragraph:

      Perhaps surprisingly, the researchers found that the divide over authoritarianism among Democratic voters was unique to the party. While they noted that Republican voters were significantly more authoritarian than Democrats, the variation in authoritarianism was also significantly higher between Democrats than between Republicans. They even found that “the difference between Clinton and Sanders supporters is larger than the difference between Republicans and Democrats.” A similar authoritarianism divide between supporters of Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz and President Trump was not found in any of their samples. They concluded that the “intraparty distribution of authoritarianism is largely unique to the Democratic Party.”

    4. DJG

      And then Jilani has this to say about Sanders:

      Importantly, he hired foreign affairs-focused progressive Matt Duss, formerly the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace and an ex-colleague of mine, as his top foreign policy advisor. He has been outspoken on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and given speeches about combating the rise of global authoritarianism. He has introduced comprehensive legislation to seek to end the national usage of cash bail.

      This is hardly red meat for the conservative base.

      Meanwhile, up top, Obama is bloviating about how much oil (or awwwl, as he says) he produced in a slouchy speech to a bunch of rich Texas. How does Obama do that? Because no one in the Democratic Party will take him to task.

      1. polecat

        “But but but .. the Awwwl Companies They lieeeeeeeeeeed to us”

        With Presnit Trol eum however …..’crickets’…..

    5. hunkerdown

      Au contraire. With Hillary voters and other neoliberal shills “physically removed” from the Party, the 40% or so who don’t vote at all might have something worth showing up for. The endless attacks are simply punishment for them doing the same to the actual left every chance they get. Why do you believe they don’t deserve to be bullied to tears for everything they’ve ever done to us in the name of their own class interest?

      Also, why do you so rarely reply to your replies?

      1. dcblogger

        I get distracted by other things, so I don’t always reply.

        As someone who has done a great deal of grassroots GOTV work, I am skeptical of the suggestion that if we just stood for the right things people would turn up on election day.

        The Green Party has been doing that for decades and it does not seem to be working. They do win from time to time, but only at the municipal level when they have candidates who do actual GOTV work. So getting rid of the Hillary people and standing for the right things does not, by itself, generate turnout of non-voters.

    6. Darthbobber

      Except that the article clearly acknowledges that the Republican voters are higher than either set of democrats on the authoritarian scale. They are hardly trying to hide that, and indeed the conservatives who still see themselves as a libertarian Bastion see that as a problem.

      Secondly, the American Conservative is summarizing here research not done by ideological conservatives, so if this were indeed an attack it would not be originating with them, and

      Thirdly, it isn’t an attack at all, unless every attempt to understand human behavior that fails to flatter the humans in question counts as an attack.

      1. Jeff W

        Thirdly, it isn’t an attack at all, unless every attempt to understand human behavior that fails to flatter the humans in question counts as an attack.

        That was my impression as well.

    7. drumlin woodchuckles

      Many voters for Clinton did so because they considered Clinton the Lesser Evil as against Trump. They may well be prepared to listen to the SanderSocial Democrat agenda and give it some due consideration.

      Other many voters voted for Clinton out of Cult Worship Love and Loyalty. They will expect some kind of grovelling apology from Sanders and the SanderBackers for having dared to run against Her Imperial Herness. They will not get that grovelling apology. They will not get any apology whatsoever.

      If Sanders were to get the nomination, those millions of Jonestown Clintonites will all vote against Sanders out of pure hatred and revengeance. I would not be surprised if they all vote for Trump to get the most revenge against Sanders that they can possibly get.

      They cannot be reached. They cannot be fixed. They are damage which can only be routed around.

  19. Confused

    Ummm, just a minor request – could we lighten up a little on the acronyms? What’s a MILO? Somehow I doubt it’s a Magnetically Insulated Line Oscillator…

    1. flora

      Military Intelligence Liaison Officer

      Not, as I’d thought, for Milo Minderbinder in ‘Catch-22’. ;)

      1. emorej a hong kong

        “Military Intelligence Law Enforcement Officer”

        “MILEO” acronym would have the benefit of sounding a bit like “Paleo”.

    2. ewmayer

      OK, I’ll ease up on the acronyms ASAP, but you’re gonna have to pry the initialisms out of my cold, dead fingers. :)

      1. Confused

        Arrg! I’m triggered! Used to work with a PhD who seemed to think this distinction was the height of intellectual achievement.

        Thanks for the clarification, the intended use was one I considered but didn’t realize it fit in this circumstance.

        “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

  20. anon y'mouse

    Sanders is doing more out of the Presidency than he ever could do within it.

    let him stay where he is and continue his work. presidency=lapdog for the interests and Distractor In Chief.

    is this the bargain he drove for essentially rolling over after that fraud of an election? is this what crumbs are being thrown from the tables of the elites now? is he doing their dirty work, which just happens to coincide with his own goals, or what? that is what i really worry about.

    someone less jaded might say “who cares, as long as it helps (some) people.” i say “New Master, same as Old Master—now sustainably sourced and 100% fair trade!”

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      No, he is not. No one can do more than the President. The President of the United States sets the agenda for everything. The President gets to write a budget. The President gets to bump the Kardassians for an interview. The President draws the biggest crowds. People will flock there. The President directs the bureaucracy. Federal Law enforcement is almost entirely operated by the President. The War on Drugs could be ended in the next five minutes.

      The primary reason people care about Bernie Sanders is he ran for President, challenging one person with close to the standing of a President.

      As far as crumbs from the table, the President can stomp on anyone. Obama’s problem is he has severe father issues and craved the attention of the wealthy. Even his petulant remarks about demanding a “thank you” reflect that. He needs their approval and simultaneously he was what protected Wall Street from pitchforks.

      Trump is an openly racist pig, and the leader of the opposition in the Senate can only muster up a refusal to only fund so much of Trump’s Wall. Thats how powerful the President is in our society.

      1. JBird4049

        Presently, in theory, and in actuality in the past the Congress was the senior and most powerful branch of the United States Federal Government. All decisions spending, taxes, tariffs, legislation, senior federal appointments, War, and ultimately impeachment. On paper Congress is mostly supreme.

        It used to be a very competent, powerfull, and active body. It is only because the members gave up the power to avoid the responsibility that that entails because it makes making deals and getting those sweet, sweet bribes campaign donations and arranging future very generous sinecures after leaving office and continuing their work for their patrons the American people. They’re slick crooks running a con game with us the mark. In someways, the courts and the president have been forced to take on some of the duties although not completely unwillingly.

        1. RMO

          The position of president is extremely powerful, that’s why Trump is an existential threat to the U.S. and the world and must be removed by any means. When a Dem takes the White House the position of president is a powerless figurehead sort of thing which is why they can’t accomplish any of the things that would make the U.S. and the rest of the world a better place… even when the party has a majority in both houses. That might seem to be contradictory to those like me who are of little brain but I’m assured by very smart people in DC that there is no contradiction there at all.

  21. Summer

    Re: Housing – “Rent Growth”

    Growth for some, gauging to the rest. Beware that rising rents has the “growth” word attached…

    And a notable comment from a French protester interviewed in the NY Times:

    “Mr. Dou said he had joined the movement from the beginning, and he was an assiduous presence over several days last week on the traffic circles at Guéret. He was there at 11 p.m. on a rainy Thursday, after putting in several hours that morning, and he was there the next day as well.

    “We don’t even need the social networks anymore,” he said.

    Smart, if true. That’s what law enforcement is monitoring. Better to make them walk among you for information…you can find out about them too.

  22. DJG

    Considering the various posts about the wonders of open borders and how any left critique of unlimited immigration must be wrongheaded, I note from above:

    Anyhow, the reason that laid-off steelworkers in Ohio are left behind and cardiologists in New York are not, is that we designed our system of trade to subject the former to international competition while protecting the latter. It is incredibly dishonest for policy types to pretend that the current situation is an inevitable outcome of globalization.

    So let’s stop dragging in arguments about accidents of birth, remittances (? wow, transnational poverty), lack of papers, and other such extraneous matters till the U S of A at least starts making motions of addressing class warfare.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well, as long as the Closure goes both ways. For example, a closure of the pipelines taking Canadian tar oil into the US. Close every pipeline Enbridge has. For example. Zero Canadian lumber entering America. Etc. etc.

        “Closed” should mean Closed.

  23. Hameloose Cannon

    As a member of a political party of one, Bernie Sanders represents the outer steppes in a political body designed for vague consensus without exercising authority. Sanders represents a geography that has perhaps the smallest economic footprint in the Union. After all these years in office, Sanders seems to have accumulated next to no political credit to redeem, having not participated in the Democratic Party, and offering no financial support for down-ballot candidates. [Where’s the Vermont Machine?] It takes more than a little canoodling to acquire political allegiances. It takes finagling. Should we let it all ride on the efficacy of Statins managing a candidate’s arteriosclerosis through 2020? –Gee, I don’t know…

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Whats the alternative? A person who is being judged on his sex appeal? A drunk Kennedy who loves to love blacks for pot? Spartacus? Going through the list, its a who’s who of a future book called “Profiles in Craveness.” Maybe the Kennedy brat can get someone to ghost write it? The Democratic elite are the people who thought convincing Evan Bayh to run again was a huge recruitment despite the guy polling so poorly he withdrew his reelection bid for 2010.

      Gillenbrand might be the least awful. Shes a better Senator than she was a congressman. She at least challenged party leadership over sex assault in the military.

      Could Jim Webb make an appearance? How many Washington figures have been responsible for killing someone in such a public manner outside of Laura Bush?

      1. Hameloose Cannon

        Elizabeth Warren, Gavin Newsom –his firm “not running” is exactly what he should be saying right now if he’s running. –All “appeal” is sexual in nature. Power is sexual. Intellect is but peacock feathers. –Substance abuse is a disease, but I don’t like the clannish Kennedy’s either. –lot to think about… I dunno know, Wesley Clark probably has a few notches, John Kerry…Washington figures. Collect them all.

        1. polecat

          “Collect them all.”

          A model collection of dozens of anti-acton figures, many painted in vexing and garish colored enamels ….

    2. nippersdad

      The other candidates who have purportedly jumped onto Sanders’ bandwagon may have noticed that while his constituency represents a small economic footprint, the sheer number of footprints belonging to those registered voters that ran over Hillary’s carcass to back him could portend a derailment of their attempts to secure more valuable real estate. Who needs political credit from hacks when you can bypass them and go straight to the source? I am very impressed with his growing media presence, both mainstream and social.

      Better that he chooses a running mate early so that such issues never occur. I vote for Nina Turner, myself.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Does Sanders have arteriosclerosis? Does he manage it with statins? Do you know this for a fact?

  24. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Im buying Voodoo concert tix for my sis, Nintendo Switch games for my lil breaux, and prolly 200$ worth of other gifts.


    Xmas Rulz the Becnel Family!

    Merry Fn Xmas, NCers!!!!!!!!!

    1. djrichard

      LoL, our family too. I think we’ve hit the wall though compared to previous years in coming up with ideas on what to get each other. Hard to get too excited with what’s out there. And the clothing many times is too expensive to rationalize – hard to believe the margins on the stuff that comes from China.

  25. rd

    I am utterly baffled by Democratic messaging on “Medicare-for-All”. They are allowing the Republicans to paint it as a “Tax Increase” without pointing out that it would replace the health insurance premiums that people and their employers pay. Given that Americans pay more PUBLIC money into health care than almost any other country per capita and are off the charts for private money, repurposing from one insurance premium to another, is not creating a tax, it is an insurance premium.

    Nobody views their healthcare premiums at work as a tax nor do they view buying an over-priced annuity form an insurance salesman as a tax, but as soon as Social Security is mentioned, its annuity payments become a tax even though it is far more cost-efficient that the private insurance annuities.

    1. Carey

      Whaddaya mean? The Dems’ job is to make sure M4A does not happen, while appearing
      to be for its passage. Is that seemingly-cynical conclusion not what best fits the evidence before us?

    2. RMO

      It’s almost as if a significant portion of the party elite doesn’t actually want universal health care…

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps someone should invent the word “privatax” to help people get a feel for what “premiums” really are.

      ” Under Canadaform single payer for all Americans, your privataxes go down twice as much as your govertaxes go up. Does that put you behind? Or ahead?”

  26. allan

    (Amazon) News You Can Use:

    Amazon News Verified account @amazonnews 12:22 PM – 3 Dec 2018

    Amazon Flex allowed this woman to lose 100 lbs in 18 months by creating a workout while delivery packages.

    Otherwise known as The Bezos Diet.

  27. pjay

    The Daily Howler piece was a blast from the past. I use to read it regularly. I was always sympathetic to Somerby’s critique of the condescending liberal media. He was also one of the earliest to expose the Rachel Maddow charade who was not just a right wing ideologue. But his choice of villains and victims was idiosyncratic, to say the least, and I finally quit following him. Case in point: holding up Krugman and *Charles Blow* (on Russian collusion yet!) as positive examples in this piece. I imagine he felt pretty lonely. So much of what he says about the media in general is true, yet he often missed the bigger picture (perhaps he should have read Chomsky). I guess we are all prisoners of our particular lived experience and conceptual universe.

    1. polecat

      Your last sentence kinda says it all – humans’ particular personal experiences make it virtually impossible to agree on any issue on a mega-scale, we’re too into me .. and not enough into he, she, or they.

  28. knowbuddhau

    The Tweet that says, half of whites view Sanders favorably, half unfavorably, made me wonder, based on what sample? The graphic is from Gallup Poll.

    I couldn’t find out how Gallup found out. There’s no explanation of methodology on their Methodology Web page. Just sales pitches.

    But I did find something helpful from Rasmussen Reports:


    Data for Rasmussen Reports survey research is collected using an automated polling methodology.

    Generally speaking, the automated survey process is identical to that of traditional, operator-assisted research firms such as Gallup, Harris, and Roper. However, automated polling systems use a single, digitally-recorded, voice to conduct the interview while traditional firms rely on phone banks, boiler rooms, and operator-assisted technology.

    For tracking surveys such as the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll, the automated technology ensures that every respondent hears exactly the same question, from the exact same voice, asked with the exact same inflection every single time.

    All Rasmussen Reports’ survey questions are digitally recorded and fed to a calling program that determines question order, branching options, and other factors. Calls are placed to randomly-selected phone numbers through a process that ensures appropriate geographic representation. Typically, calls are placed from 5 pm to 9 pm local time during the week. Saturday calls are made from 11 am to 6 pm local time and Sunday calls from 1 pm to 9 pm local time.

    To reach those who have abandoned traditional landline telephones, Rasmussen Reports uses an online survey tool to interview randomly selected participants from a demographically diverse panel.

    After the surveys are completed, the raw data is processed through a weighting program to ensure that the sample reflects the overall population in terms of age, race, gender, political party, and other factors. The processing step is required because different segments of the population answer the phone in different ways. For example, women answer the phone more than men, older people are home more and answer more than younger people, and rural residents typically answer the phone more frequently than urban residents.

    For surveys of all adults, the population targets are determined by census bureau data.

    For political surveys, census bureau data provides a starting point and a series of screening questions are used to determine likely voters. The questions involve voting history, interest in the current campaign, and likely voting intentions.

    Rasmussen Reports determines its partisan weighting targets through a dynamic weighting system that takes into account the state’s voting history, national trends, and recent polling in a particular state or geographic area.

    Additional Information on Methodology [several very useful looking links follow]

    I know it’s not as sexy, but it’s more like “X% (weighted) of respondents to last week’s automated, possibly robocalled, survey.” Tired of getting my dog wagged by the stats tail.

    1. knowbuddhau

      Oh, that magic feeling: waiting for a comment to show up so you can edit it before someone sees you’re not perfect.

      Bit of a sloppy broad brush at the end. I don’t know that Gallup polls are anything but “traditional.” “Last week’s landline/online survey” is more accurate. AFAIK.

      If they’re really still using land lines, I’d call that “antiquated,” but I admit to being a bit of a data purist. I like to get a whiff of it in my own nostrils. So much reporting looks more like Rorschach with stats.

  29. Arthur Dent

    Re: Occupational Licensing

    I am a Professional Engineer. There are specific requirements in building and environmental codes that require a P.E. to certify to. This requires the work being done in order to provide the certification to be performed by us or under our direction and supervision. It is a primary reason why building failures, etc. are rare. Many of the failures that do occur turn out to be deferred maintenance problems or old structures that do not meet modern codes. both of those are typically budgeting decisions by the owners, not by any engineers. Those of us that are licensed take the responsibility very seriously. It is pretty rare to run into stories of corrupt PEs.

    In the US, there are numerous exemptions for government and industry engineers so they do not have to be licensed as PEs to do their work. Only a small percentage of graduate engineers get their PE licenses, so those of us that are licensed are effectively competing with an unlicensed group of engineers and near-engineers (technologists, technicians, scientists). A high percentage of the engineering failures you read about in the newspaper related to industrial projects did not have a PE involved with the project.

    The PE laws clearly state that the licensing is to protect the health and safety of the public. I firmly believe licensing should generally be limited to the few cases where people have significant personal responsibility for somebody else’s property, health, and safety. Along with engineers and medical staff, I would put individuals with fiduciary responsibility in the licensing category. I don’t count haircuts and manicures in those categories. However, licensing boards need to be willing to pull licenses of incompetent or corrupt licensees. Errors and omissions will happen, but gross negligence should be very rare.

    1. knowbuddhau

      You know what? Thank you for your service. It’s day-to-day diligence, unsung heroism some might call it, like that that keeps alive and unhurt us building users. As a janitor, I appreciate good building design. I feel a similar sense of duty to care for the people who use the spaces I (don’t just) clean.

      In fact, every time I hear of a building collapse or some such thing, I say, “And people complain about building regulations.”

      We disagree, though, on barbers and stylists, which I can’t help but observe that you reduce to the least of their roles.

      They use the same sharp blades on multiple people. Controlling for cross-contamination is very important to all of us. Scalp and facial skin is easily cut. The elderly need special attention. The wrong setting on a hair dryer can give someone a nasty burn that might not heal in the time they have left. For reasons beyond me, women use more chemicals on their heads than I used when I worked on yachts.

      Barbers, of course, used to be one-stop health care providers. IMNSHO, there’s a lot more to barbers and stylists than you imply. Enough, I think, to warrant specialized training. I don’t want just anybody wielding just any blade near my head, tyvm.

      1. JBird4049

        Often it is not the need for certification or license but the overextensive, expensive, and time consuming training required. I’ve read of cases where the controlling boards or associations ask their state legislature to add on requirements for new members thereby reducing competition.

  30. How is it legal

    No Housing as a Human Right (and, if not, No Banning of ‘Feeding,’ and Allowing to Sleep and Sit in Place, Homeless Human Species) Platform? NONE? REALLY????

    No Doing Something About the Horridly Damning Us Suicide Attempts Rate Platform? NONE?

    No ENORMOUS/Cut Back on The Deadly DOD, CIA, et al, and Bombing/Threatening the Hell Out Of Everywhere the US Can Get Away With It – To Spend Instead On Life Enhancing Repairs of Utterly Dilapidated US Infrastructure Platform, NONE?

    No Major Revision of Labor Laws with actual SHARPLY HONED TEETH Platform? NONE?

    No Major Anti Surveillance Roll Back Of That Horrifying Surveillance Going On Laws Platform? NONE?

    No Major Anti Monopoly/ Oligarchy and Pricing Discrimination Laws Platform? NONE?

    No Major Constitutional Amendment Regarding Judicial Terms and Impeachment Platform? NONE?

    No Prevention of the Lethal Total Digitalization of Currency Platform? NONE?

    Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera

    Yeah thought so. F every single one of them, won’t be voting for a one of them, particularly those now well over retirement age who never said a peep, EVER, about the rampant age discrimination which has contributed to so many homeless and deaths of despair; and, those far younger, who not only don’t acknowledge that deadly, well under retirement age, Age Discrimination, but quite subtly,( and not so subtly sometimes) imply that those over forty and even less, are over the hill; which has also contributed to so many deaths of despair, despite the fact that some of their Elite Mentors and Heroes™, are/were well over retirement age, and still making bank.

    One thing, for sure, the 2020 Elections will be interesting as to how many (if not prematurely dead, or non-voting Homeless by then) will even show up to vote for a President™, if they’re even able, or allowed to by then.

      1. How is it legal

        Very sorry you feel that way. Carey, but many thanks for paying so very much attention to all that I’ve posted!

        Frankly, I wrote the above comment with far less Caps and Bolding than what the typical House or Senate Bill uses, which my comment was mocking.

        I read a lot of comments here which I don’t understand, and worse, which hurt and offend, yet bite my tongue, you’re certainly capable of ignoring mine without punching down at my emoting. Since you’re apparently so very familiar with my comments, you must know that I’m facing homelessness, therefore, I’m in a rather emotive mood.

        So what do you think about housing, eating sleeping and sitting as a human right, Carey, I know my comment wasn’t that illegible?

        1. Carey

          I am sorry to hear that you’re facing homelessness. I was in a similar situation
          five years ago, and hope things work out OK for you.

  31. Richard

    My congressional rep, Pramila Jayapal just responded to my messages urging support for Barbara Lee, and protesting her vote for Pelosi. In her short defense (which I can find no way to copy and present here, I-pads are fun but not very useful for editorial work, as you might know), she states that Pelosi is “tested, smart, strategic, and effective as a leader”. She also copied and pasted a statement she made with another rep (Pocan), about speaking with Pelosi about representation on committees for the ProgCaucus. Doesn’t ever say that the ProCaucus was underepresented before, but implies that it will be better represented in the future. Awesome passive voice doubletalk!
    Doesn’t get into what the payoff for better comm. representation will be, or what progressives intend to do with it, or why anyone should even care. And we don’t. As J. Dore likes to say: “try running on that in 2020!”
    There is no mention of any specific policy items at all. The closest she gets to any vision is a “just economy that works for everybody, fairness and equality, health and safety and livable communities”.
    She does tout our district, WA 7, as a “home for incredible diversity, innovation, and progress”.
    Sorry I couldn’t figure out how to provide you with the first-hand document. You’ll have to settle for this, or my 7 word summary: “Pramila Jayapal is as empty as sh&*”

    1. RMO

      “incredible, 1: too extraordinary and improbable to be believed”

      Perhaps that’s the definition she’s using:-)

    2. Richard

      ps, a clarification: I was writing Jayapal about B.Lee for the speakership, before I knew Lee wasn’t intending to run, etc.
      I have no idea who Jayapal voted for caucus chair – I assume lee, but then again, it’s a secret ballot
      how in tarnation did we ever let that be legal?

    3. How is it legal

      Trapped in the Ghastly and Poverty Ridden [Elite] Republic of California™, I deeply feel your pain, Richard.

      Pramila Jayapal … states that Pelosi is “tested, smart, strategic, and effective as a leader”

      What a bunch of horrid nothingness weasel words, an open door to more horror:

      tested by whom, and for what?

      effective as a leader, of what, leading towards what? I don’t recollect any gains whatsoever for the vast majority of US residents, and certainly no gains for impoverished countries. Hitler was a quite ‘effective’ leader, and?

      smart, strategic already applies to every murderous sociopath serial killer who ever walked the earth; therefore that’s no consolation whatsoever.

      Noticeably missing, were the words: “wise” and “empathetic,” or words very closely resembling those words; without which, life is a deadly nightmare for most humans. The more humbly and peacefully they live, the more they are at threat.

      1. Richard

        Thanks for the fine dissection of Jayapal’s letter! Dead on. I didn’t have any heart left to do it. Good luck with your fakes down there; they must be legion.

  32. audrey jr

    John “Beto O’Rourke hit someone in a drunk driving accident in Houston from which he tried to flee but was held by a good citizen and his wife runs charter schools in El Paso.
    That would be all that I would need to know about O’Rourke if I lived in Texas.
    The thought of the Dem’s trying to shove this fake progressive down our throats on a national basis is terrifying.
    But then terrifying is what politics in the ol’ USofA is nowadays, isn’t it?

  33. Carey

    ‘The French, coming Apart’:

    “In France, a real-estate expert has done something almost as improbable. Christophe Guilluy calls himself a geographer. But he has spent decades as a housing consultant in various rapidly changing neighborhoods north of Paris, studying gentrification, among other things. And he has crafted a convincing narrative tying together France’s various social problems—immigration tensions, inequality, deindustrialization, economic decline, ethnic conflict, and the rise of populist parties. Such an analysis had previously eluded the Parisian caste of philosophers, political scientists, literary journalists, government-funded researchers, and party ideologues…”


  34. rhcaldwell

    I made a point of watching the entire Rice Univ. / Baker Institute gala video with ex-President Obama, John Meacham, and James Baker. It piqued my interest — why on earth would Mr. Obama agree to appear in such a forum; was he paid for it? What would he say? What did he actually say, beyond the excerpts being so roundly criticized?

    I still don’t have an answer to why he accepted this invitation. What surprised me about what he said there was his glancing acceptance of joint responsibility as a member of the elite in this country for the pain and suffering meted out to the non-elite by 40 years of neoliberal experimentation, from Carter to Obama. For the failing of being out of touch completely with the effect on working people. For the creation of the precariat, a “who knew?” byproduct. Frankly, his honesty here surprised and impressed me.

    I totally agree that the above, plus his claiming credit for our disastrous frack-a-thon and Wall-St.-only “recovery”, are egregious proofs of his neoliberal credo and general suck up to elites tendencies. That said, I remain impressed by the sharpness of his political analytical skills, and his willingness to show up in such a venue and experience the near-constant racist microaggressions of his hosts and still speak his mind, often counter to the likely prejudice and sentiment of the room, which I thought he did; however obliquely and cautiously.

    My other lingering question about the video was whether there was even one other non-white person in that ballroom beyond staff? It does not seem likely. I don’t know what he hoped to accomplish by going; I hope it was more than to line his pocket. I hope that it was to change minds, and that he succeeded in that, however minutely. Definitely a strange moment; I recommend taking the time to watch the entire video on Youtube. It is a subtle experience.

  35. Carey

    This is just great news, that they have won a suspension, at minimum, of the fuel tax.
    People Power!

    Now on to the reinstitution of the Wealth Tax, and may the spirit of Gilets Jaunes (sp?)
    spread around the world…

  36. djrichard

    O’Rourke brings the Left’s ideology, but adds charisma, skills and–let’s face it–sex appeal.”

    I know who I want as noble pirate to ravish me. Trump is obviously not meeting this requirement of sex-appeal.

    And Bernie is just a scold. He’s not even pretending to try to seduce me!


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