2:00PM Water Cooler 1/17/2019

Dear patient readers,

So so sorry, but as we announced in a post that is already up, we are cancelling our NYC meetup that had been set for this Friday, the 18th. Some readers said they will still go to the venue, Slainte, at 304 Bowery, informally. Normally I would come out, but I haven’t left the house for days except to go to the drugstore to try to get some OTC relief from the flu.

Yves

* * *

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Trade

“Shutdown could delay trade talks with EU, Japan, Grassley warns” [MarketWatch]. “The estimated start dates for two major trade negotiations appear to be in jeopardy amid significant reductions in staff at the U.S. trade representative’s office, the White House and other key offices, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said. ‘I think they’re going to be delayed,’ he said, referring specifically to talks expected to start with the European Union and Japan.”

Politics

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

2020

“Bernie Sanders meets with 2016 campaign staffers who raised sexual harassment allegations” [CNN]. “Sen. Bernie Sanders and senior aides met on Wednesday with a group of women and men who requested a face-to-face discussion about what they described as ‘the issue of sexual violence and harassment’ on the Vermont independent’s 2016 presidential primary campaign. The meetings, which stretched for almost a full day, began near Capitol Hill on Tuesday evening and picked up after the full group convened for breakfast on Wednesday morning. Their goal, according to participants on both sides of the table, was to confront past failures while forming more robust plans of action for future campaigns, including a potential second run by Sanders in 2020… Sanders, who was present for a midday session of the meeting, told CNN the discussions were “private” when asked about them afterward on Capitol Hill. Sanders wife, Jane, also took part. … There is no organized push to dissuade Sanders from running, but the revelations about mistreatment of women on the 2016 campaign has stoked concerns, even among some supporters, over his ability to secure and broaden his coalition — especially in a year when so many other progressives are expected to run.” • “No organized push.” But a weirdlly synchronous and selective yet totally spontaneous series of deliverables from people who have worked together closely in the past… So, ok!

“Democratic leaders fret: Can we keep our big tent in 2020?” [McClatchy]. “‘The anti-Trump backlash will excite the base to some level, but you need someone you can believe in,’ [Brady Quirk-Garvan, the Democratic chair of Charleston County, S.C.] continued. ‘How do you toe that line, being someone that’s enthusiastic and inspiring, but also has statesman-like qualities?'” • You pick Joe Biden. Obviously.

Gillibrand:

No (1), now:

No (2), then:

2019

From AOC’s policy director:

2016 Post Mortem

“Getting arrested for nunchuck possession was the best thing that ever happened to me” [The Outline]. “Struggling for some abstract notion of justice in a country ruled by a hulking reality-show clown now felt like a huge practical joke, and I couldn’t bear the thought of being part of the punchline. So I vowed to protect myself from disappointment and despair by retreating behind an impenetrable shield of irony. I decided to deflect every punishingly cruel and stupid action taken by our new president with a cruel and stupid joke. This strategy worked for approximately four months. Then I was arrested for bringing nunchucks to the airport.” • Insight into — I assume — the Brooklyn demographic…

New Cold War

“Another good day for Putin as turmoil grips US and UK” [CNN]. • Outside agitators. That’s the ticket.

Not getting less ugly (1):

Not getting less ugly (2):

I wonder which Jew WaPo contributing columnist Fish has in mind…

Realignment and Legitimacy

“How the Klan Fueled Prohibition” [New York Times (DG)]. “Today, as we find ourselves in the midst of another fight over immigration, it is worth revisiting the role that nativism played in driving, and later enforcing, Prohibition. The consequences of that battle reverberated for decades to come. It sparked a vast expansion of the repressive capacities of the federal government and a rise of right-wing extremism, led by a revived Ku Klux Klan. It also forged a new political coalition that would bring ethnic working-class voters into the Democratic Party, where they would remain for much of the century…. A volunteer enforcement army coalesced. The Anti-Saloon League and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union forged two of its phalanxes, adopting an increasingly shrill tone toward immigrants. Compliance among this “great problem” class required coercion, with “officers of the law” acting as “schoolmasters.” The W.C.T.U. in 1923 called for the deportation of noncitizens convicted of Prohibition violations.” • The same working class — then “ethnic,” now “white” — the Democrats have been trying to desperately to eject…

“America has never worried about financing its priorities” [Financial Times]. “Modern monetary theory is simply a different way of looking at fiscal policy, a way of describing what the real-world constraints on spending look like. It is in fact very close to how people in Washington, D.C. already approach spending. Again, we’re not talking about what they say. Rather, we’re talking about what they do.” • Kelton comments: “This is exactly right. This is how everything is paid for. A Congressional appropriation *is* the ‘pay-for.’ When members of Congress say, ‘We can’t afford that’ they’re actually saying, ‘I don’t think that’s very important.'”

Stats Watch

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, January 2019: “However much the factory sector may have slowed late last year, Philly’s sample is reporting clear acceleration so far” [Econoday]. “Given that Philly’s sample often reports greater strength than other regional reports, the verdict on the factory sector is still uncertain. Tomorrow’s much more definitive data on December’s industrial production may help clear up the picture for a factory sector that roared through most of 2018 before apparently slowing at year end.” And but: “Consider this a stronger report than last month. But it does not make sense that new orders improved and backlog declined” [Econintersect]. And: “This suggests the ISM manufacturing index will show expansion again in January, at about the same level as in December” [Calculated Risk].

Housing Starts, December 2018: “Delayed by the government shutdown” [Econoday].

Jobless Claims, week of January 12, 2019: “Initial jobless claims fell” [Econoday]. “This level is up from 1,148 at this time last year in a rise that very likely reflects furloughed workers from the government shutdown. This reading rose nearly 4,000 in the prior week to first indicate an effect, though still modest, from the government shutdown…. Whatever happens over the next two weeks won’t be picked up by the January employment report the sampling for which has already finished. And the indications from today’s report point to another month of strength.”

Brexit: “UK lenders see demand for mortgages, credit cards plummeting before Brexit: BoE” [Reuters]. “The Bank of England’s gauge of demand for mortgage lending over the next three months fell to -17.5 in the fourth quarter of 2018 from 0.2 in the third quarter, its lowest level since the end of 2010.”

Retail: “The Hot New Asset Class Is Lego Sets” [Bloomberg]. “Collecting Lego — yes, the plastic toys made of interlocking bricks that become cars and castles and robots — returned more than large stocks, bonds and gold in the three decades ending in 2015, says a study by Victoria Dobrynskaya, an assistant professor at Russia’s Higher School of Economics. Aspects of the performance even align with returns sought by owners of smart-beta ETFs.”

Retail: “Full Q&A: Glossier CEO Emily Weiss on the ‘art and science’ of the beauty business” [Recode]. CEO Emily Weiss: “The way we look at it is that we’re building this people-powered ecosystem. We have co-created since we launched four and a half years ago, with our consumers. The reason we’re able to do that is because we know who they are. We have a direct relationship with every single person who buys something from us, unlike all of the incumbent companies that have been built through retail channels…. At Glossier, we’ve really taken user feedback and asked them for things like what products to make, where to go in terms of pop-ups, or countries, and fundamentally, have been able to really change the relationship between brands and customers.” • Sounds rather like K-Pop.

Tech “Hacked Instagram Influencers Rely on White-Hat Hackers to Get Their Accounts Back” [Vice]. “Motherboard recently reported on an emerging trend of hackers taking control of Instagram influencers’ accounts and holding them ransom. Now, a wave of fresh attacks and internal Instagram documents obtained by Motherboard provide more detail about the issue. Victims say that Instagram’s process for recovering accounts is so cumbersome that they’ve had to rely on third-party social media experts and, in some cases, white-hat hackers to help them regain access while Instagram itself was largely silent.” • Facebook owns Instagram…

Tech: “Facebook’S ’10 Year Challenge’ Is Just A Harmless Meme—Right?” [Wired]. “Imagine that you wanted to train a facial recognition algorithm on age-related characteristics and, more specifically, on age progression (e.g., how people are likely to look as they get older). Ideally, you’d want a broad and rigorous dataset with lots of people’s pictures. It would help if you knew they were taken a fixed number of years apart—say, 10 years… [I]t would help if you had a clean, simple, helpfully labeled set of then-and-now photos…. In other words, thanks to this meme, there’s now a very large dataset of carefully curated photos of people from roughly 10 years ago and now…. Is it bad that someone could use your Facebook photos to train a facial recognition algorithm? Not necessarily; in a way, it’s inevitable.” • Inevitable? It would be a lot less so if Facebook weren’t a ginormous monopoly; the datasets would be smaller and less homogenous.

Tech: “In the Shadow of the CMS” [The Nation]. “[Content Management Systems (CMSs)] are becoming a more important force in the media, as news businesses branch out into developing and selling their own.” • Better than Facebook or Blogger, for sure. More: “The homogenization of digital content is happening, in part, because of the rise of mobile browsing: Everything has to look good on a phone screen, so the layout becomes as simple as possible, and no one CMS produces that much better of a visual result than the rest. Any amateur can design a suitably minimalist, mobile-ready site—perhaps using the point-and-click Web-design-and-hosting service Squarespace, a kind of 21st-century GeoCities—and become a publisher, on a small scale. It used to be that branding, graphic design, and high-resolution imagery signaled editorial quality, whether in print or online. Now, the markers of quality are more important but perhaps less superficially apparent: good copy editing, coherent headline writing, and diverse bylines.” • Not such a bad thing…

Health Care

“Meeting Individual Social Needs Falls Short Of Addressing Social Determinants Of Health” [Health Affairs]. “Hospitals and health care systems have started to address these social determinants of health through initiatives that buy food, offer temporary housing, or cover transportation costs for high-risk patients. The prevalence and initial success of these efforts are clear in headlines such as: “What Montefiore’s 300% ROI from Social Determinants Investments Means for the Future of Other Hospitals,” “Social Determinants of Health Gain Traction as UnitedHealthcare and Intermountain Build New Programs,” and “How Addressing Social Determinants of Health Cuts Healthcare Costs.” But when you take a closer look, these articles aren’t about improving the underlying social and economic conditions in communities to foster improved health for all – they’re about mediating patients’ individual social needs. If this is what addressing the social determinants of health has come to mean, not only has the definition changed, but it has changed in ways that may impede efforts to address those conditions that impact the overall health of our country.” • Important.

The Biosphere

“To Stave Off Winter’s Chill, Honeybees Hug” [Scientific American]. • An animation, but still something to learn from it.

Our Famously Free Press

“Facebook is putting $300 million toward stabilizing local news” [Poynter Institute]. “Facebook already started focusing on local news in 2017 and 2018 through efforts including the Facebook Journalism Project, “Today In,” which helps surface local news on Facebook, an initiative to help local independent newsrooms better use Facebook tools, and a membership and subscription accelerator.” • I dunno. Remember the pivot to video?

“Newsonomics: Let the 2019 Consolidation Games begin! First up: Alden seeks to swallow Gannett” [Nieman Labs]. “What all this means is Gannett, like it or not, is in play. Even two years ago, that statement might have been dropped jaws — Gannett was clear it wanted to be the consolidator, not the consolidatee. But no longer: In an industry of unending downturn — and in a world flirting with a who-knows-how-deep recession to come — all bets on the conventional wisdom of newspaper ownership are off. Anyone with the appetite and dollars to buy can, whether it’s a Patrick Soon-Shiong or an Alden Global Capital.”

“This obscure company is doing more to destroy a free press in America than Trump” [Will Bunch, Philadlephia Inquirer]. “[M]ost citizens in Boulder didn’t know what [Dave Krieger of the Denver Daily Camera] knew: That the newspaper’s shrinkage was the direct result of a distant Wall Street hedge fund that — through its investment vehicle with the Orwellian-like dishonest name of Digital First Media — had since 2013 been sucking money in full vampire-squid mode out of the Daily Camera’s newsroom revenue stream. Much of the cash that formerly paid reporters, editors and photojournalists instead went into the pocket of billionaire Randall Smith as Smith added to his collection of multi-million-dollar mansions around Palm Beach and the Hamptons (said at one point to be 18 — that’s not a typo — and counting).” • Why are 18 mansions more important than local news?

Guillotine Watch

“Red Dead Redemption 2’s Pinkerton agents are at the center of a lawsuit” [The Verge]. “In a statement responding to the lawsuit, Pinkerton president Jack Zahran claimed Take-Two’s villainous agents were a ‘baseless’ and ‘inaccurate’ portrayal of Pinkertons. ‘Pinkertons are seen shooting horses, shooting guns and firebombs into buildings where women and children are present, and as violent villains in the community. History tells a different story,’ he said. He also argued that Pinkerton employees now ‘have to explain to their young game players why Red Dead Redemption 2 encourages people to murder Pinkertons.’ Nonetheless, Zahran expressed hope that Pinkerton and Take-Two could come to an ‘amicable solution’ to their dispute.” • No doubt!

Neoliberal Epidemics

“What’s Causing the Rise of Hoarding Disorder?” [JSTOR Daily]. “The original understanding of hoarding, however, had nothing to do with clutter; it was financial avarice. King Midas hoarded gold, as did the tight-fisted clergy who, Dante wrote, would be condemned to the fourth circle of hell. Only in the twentieth century did people begin engaging in the eccentric over-accumulation of random, not terribly valuable stuff.” • I’m not clear from the article — which is very interesting — why being a squillionaire isn’t a priori a case of “clinical hoarding.” Maybe we could aim Marie Kondo at Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, and have her straighten them out.

Class Warfare

“Student debt hinders millennial homeownership” [Curbed]. “A new study by the Federal Reserve further quantifies what many millennials and mortgage lenders have long suspected: rising student debt burdens have significantly hampered homeownership among today’s young adults…. The study found that 20 percent of the drop in homeownership among this age group can be attributed to student loan debt. Researchers concluded that 400,000 more young adults would have owned homes in 2014 if they didn’t have to deal with rising debt burdens.”

News of the Wired

“Unscrambling the Hidden Secrets of Superpermutations” [Quanta]. • If you want to learn the secrets of permutation, this is the article for you!

“Screen time: how much is too much?” [Nature]. “Current evidence for an association between digital-technology use and adolescent well-being is contradictory and comes mainly from household panel surveys and other large-scale social polls, with thousands to millions of respondents. The questions represent a compromise between usefulness and not placing too much burden on respondents. They are simplified, are not standardized and often do not map straightforwardly onto the validated instruments that clinical or social scientists use to measure constructs such as ‘well-being’ and ‘technology use’.” • The rich of Silicon Valley, however, have already made up their minds

Our cool dystopia (DK):

DK comments:

Probably limited by wind/weather factors, but within the usable range, some possibilities.

For instance military application. Surround an airfield with a dome of crones, and trap the aircraft / prevent landing. With or without a small explosive payload on each drone, it’s expensive but could get a lot of mileage compared to a missile.

Also, the tight square gird configuration may be usable for video display. There are some tricks with sound that could let small speakers on each drone have their signals timed to enhance/focus sound in some particular direction/place.

“How To Find Hidden Cameras & Spy Gear Like a Professional: The Definitive Guide” [Sentel Tech]. “If you do encounter a surveillance device, do not disturb it. Immediately walk out of view of the camera and call the authorities. Most of the newer surveillance cameras use motion detection with a loop-recording feature for the SD card. There have been quite a few cases of the perpetrator inadvertently recording themselves placing and walking away from the device because of this feature. By staying out of the camera view, you reduce the chance of recording over any of the old footage should the SD card become full. If the perpetrator did record themselves on the camera, it is obviously best to minimize the chance of that footage becoming recorded over.” • News you can use!

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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 (SM):

SM writes: “I’d like to send in a plant picture. My curry leaf plant paid me back for a near death experience with frost, by developing the most showy, knotty, strange-looking root ball. Imagine the aroma of curry leaf (Murraya koenigii) as you look at this.” Yum!

* * *
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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.

146 comments

  1. Pat

    Am I the only one who is ticked off because Pelosi’s State of the Union stunt is so meaningless. Yeah, I get it could backfire on the Dems, but as far as our elected officials are concerned it is a stand that means nothing. As much as most of us dislike the State of the Union, would you like to have to attend as a Congress person? Nah, they love that it won’t happen. And how does that even pretend to help the mistreated government work force?

    You want a stunt. Pass a bill making it illegal for the government to request workers work without pay, and for them to volunteer to do so. Make a couple of carve outs for hospital and security workers and overseas military, and codifiy that they get retroactive pay with a 25% penalty for being late. Send it to the Senate and make Schumer does every friggin’ trick to get an identical Senate version to the floor for a vote. Make people defend the idea that a government shutdown doesn’t actually shut down the government it just makes their employees slaves.

    But that bill might have consequences for everyone involved. Like a real government shutdown. Like no staff. Like voters remembering and having a stake in the choice. Can’t have that.

    Reply
    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Well, there was great elation in my house when it made the news. More accurately, my furloughed better half leapt off the sofa, pumping her fists and yelling “Yesssssssss!” when she heard of the “stunt”.

      Sure, it accomplishes nothing. Doesn’t mean it is meaningless.

      Reply
      1. Pat

        Just for the record, it took Congressional interns going public for the Democratic Congress Caucus to start paying them, and putting them into the pay schedule didn’t happen until 2018 – when Pelosi was not in charge. So she has had no problem with not paying people to work.

        I’m glad it made your better half feel better. I’m happy for any joy the government workers find in this situation. I just think they deserve more actual effort from those who are supposedly championing them.

        Reply
        1. WobblyTelomeres

          I’m glad it made your better half feel better.

          She surprised me! Normally, she is far more reserved. We know a lot of civil servants who are really hurting right now, some of whom are having to work for free. Civil service jobs don’t pay that well; one has to really want to serve. Thoughts and prayers don’t help. Potlucks do, though. :)

          Reply
    2. Roger Smith

      This stunt goes perfect with an AIAG hat. Reality is lost on this group of people. She and Schumer should have matching, opposite shirts letting us all know they are each ‘with stupid’.

      Reply
      1. rps

        POTUS sent Nancy a sweet love note 30 minutes prior to leaving for her Triumph Victory World Tour vacation…er-uhm diplomacy trip during the shutdown

        Dear Madame Speaker,
        Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over, In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate. I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the Shutdown.
        Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative..

        I look forward to seeing you soon and even more forward to watching our open and dangerous Southern Border finally receive the attention, funding, and security it so desperately deserves
        Sincerely,
        Donald J. Trump

        Nancy’s Congressional Delegation Triumph World Tour Trip: $1million taxpayer dollars
        New travel wardrobe: $25000 taxpayer dollars
        Sitting on USAF Bus going no where: Priceless
        Having a President who has a sense of humor: There’s some things money can’t buy.

        Reply
          1. pjay

            LOL. US politics has been a reality TV show for a long time. But Trump and the “Resistance” have managed to destroy the last vestiges of pretense and make this obvious to most average Americans. Personally, I wonder what Pelosi and the NATO leaders had on their agenda?

            Reply
            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              These kinds of trips exist to beget themselves. The schedule for future meetings will be of top priority.

              Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Liberal Democrats seem to have moved on from smearing people as Russian stooges to smearing people for being gay (or, to be fair, both). Like so much else that’s been happening since 2016, it’s wonderfully clarifying.

            NOTE Yes, I know, Denny Hastert. But no evidence is presented, and the smirking tone is a dead giveaway of bad faith

            Reply
        1. Chris

          That is hilarious. In the if I’m not laughing I’m crying sense, but still, really funny.

          These people really thought that the Norms fairy would still protect them if they built up the Presidency and the executive branch into an imperial state for 20 years? After Nancy walks into office and says she’s going to mess with Trump delivering his SOTU? It is so sad to see how little imagination all of these people have.

          Word to Nacy and all the other Dem$: Trump isn’t like you. He doesn’t think like you. He has no norms. He has interests. He will pursue them in the most feral manner. He’s running the White House like a ‘roided out real estate brokerage: hire fast/fire fast, move to the next goal quickly, there can be no failure if you can keep selling, always be selling, etc. And you think some polite message with poorly hidden threats on official stationary is going to send him to the fainting couch like this was some Jane Austen novel? No! He’s going to try and hit you back, harder if possible.

          I can accept the idea of there being no lucid individuals involved in these negotiations. I’m really scared now by how stupid and small minded our leaders really are.

          Reply
      2. Pavel

        Pelosi, Schumer, DWS… same bunch who managed to lose to the biggest jerk in history are still running things. What could go wrong?

        Reply
    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Not that you don’t present better options, this is still Pelosi, and the Congress critters do get off on the whole pomp and circumstance. Denying them this is like not having cameras at the entrance to the Oscars. What is the point?

      What goober was it that made a big deal about being first to shake the President’s hand of either party for decades?.

      Reply
    4. L

      No, you are not alone. While she is right that it would be improper for the president to take time in front of a captive audience to do the “America is great because of me kibuki” the fact is that it is mostly being celebrated because it got under his skin, the fact is that isn’t hard.

      Put another way it is at best a tactical victory but not a strategic one.

      Reply
      1. John

        Exactly. This denies Trump feeding his narcissism by being the center of attention of the whole country. It may not matter to anyone else.

        Reply
    5. XXYY

      I have the same reaction. Seems very small-ball and smug.

      If Pelosi wants us to think her party is better than Trump’s, they better get busy doing things that have an actual impact on the situation and forget the cutesy tit-for-tat procedural infighting.

      People are dying.

      Reply
    6. JP

      Why should Pelosi give Trump a forum for his wall nonsense. And now we have Kevin Mcarthy saying shutdown is the dems fault because they won’t compromise but so far it is Trump that has refused to compromise, walking out of meetings, refusing all of his own and the GOP efforts to compromise and just grandstanding.

      The shut down legislation the house has passed is not a stunt like repealing the ACA 44 times. It actually gives the senate the option of stopping the theatrics.

      Reply
    7. Unna

      Historically presidents didn’t give a State of the Union Speech but just submitted a report to Congress to fulfill the constitutional requirement of Art II, Sec 3 of the Constitution.

      And just so that both parties can wallow further down in the political mud and roll around in it together, Trump ought to do one of those grotesque political rallies of his – jokes, insults, “recommendations”, screaming, with the MAGA hatted crowd in the background – and send a video of it to Pelosi in fulfillment of his Art II, Sec 3 duty. I mean why not? What? People would be offended? It wouldn’t be commensurate with the dignity of the office of the President? It would be insulting to Congress?

      Then again, this is just one of many reasons I have no future as a political advisor.

      Reply
    8. clarky90

      Is this significant? It could be.

      Donald Trump grounds Nancy Pelosi

      right before the military plane was due to take off.

      “We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over,” Trump says.
      Trump’s action comes a day after Pelosi urged him to reschedule his upcoming State of the Union address to Congress or deliver it in writing. In a letter to Trump, Pelosi had cited potential security concerns related to the shutdown.

      https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/17/trump-postpones-pelosis-overseas-trip-because-of-shutdown.html

      Donald Trump’s letter to Nancy Pelosi;

      “Dear Madame Speaker:

      Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over. In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate. I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the Shutdown. Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative.

      I look forward to seeing you soon and even more forward to watching our open and dangerous Southern Border finally receive the attention, funding, and security it so desperately deserves!”

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Hello, wall – (hello) (hello)
        I grounded Nancy today
        As if the country would miss her
        Were she allowed to up and walk away
        And I’ll bet you dread to spend
        Another lonely night with me
        Lonely wall
        I’ll keep you company.

        Hello, window of opportunity – (hello) (hello)
        Well I see that you’re still here
        Aren’t you lonely
        Since give & take disappeared
        Well, look here, is that a slight drop
        In the corner of my fame
        Now, don’t you try
        To tell me that it’s not a rich vain

        She tried to go away and leave me all alone
        The way she planned
        Guess we’ll have to learn to get along
        With her if we can;

        Hello, tweeting – (hello) (hello)
        I’m gonna stare at you awhile
        You know I can’t sleep
        So won’t you bear with me awhile
        I must castigate all others or else
        I’ll lose my mind
        I’ve got a feelin’
        The shutdown will be here a long, long time.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMSWAUAKJn0

        Reply
    9. dcblogger

      Not at all meaningless. It deprives Trump of the thing he craves most, a stage. It is the first time the shut down had consequences for Trump.

      Reply
        1. wilroncanada

          Ah!!! the playground, Just a little tit for tat, or tat for tit, except I don’t think generalissimo Trump has any tats, except maybe for the hair implants. But schoolchildren will be schoolchildren. there was a piece on last night’s news locally about the calming effects of giving dolls to play with, to seniors suffering from alzheimers or senile dementia. Could be useful in the US political system at the moment.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            What about the colouring-in books that they give adult college students that are stressed out about things like Trump being President or hearing words that they do not like.

            Reply
      1. Pat

        You think this dust up hurt him? You think it deprived him of a stage? Really?
        For all the fact that the press doesn’t fawn all over him (and yes that does bug him) being ignored bugs him more. Who has been talked about, been the lead news story, why Donald Trump. He owns the media, even though none of them will admit it.

        Get a reality check. We aren’t in the usual playground anymore. Trump has brought the WWF and street fighting to Washington. WWF – NOTHING stops Trump from staging his own State of the Union address in front of a far more adoring audience and then sending Pelosi the video. Want to think that won’t also get massive air play? Perhaps even more than doing it on Capital Hill. But for the moment he brought his street fight and just went screw me, screw you. Pelosi and friends are losing. Big Time. That tit for tat just stripped away her self righteous bull and she gave him that opening. WTF was she thinking. That friggin’ tour should have been cancelled by HER. Instead it makes it very clear to anyone paying attention that they don’t give a *family blog* about this shut down and the government being broken except as a political fund raiser. And any self righteous pontification to the contrary is hypocritical garbage. Not only does her BS get called, they get to send Hoyer out to be indignant and that is their big Misdirection to try to disguise they got played. Hell they aren’t even bringing bats to this street fight, and they have even less on the WWF performance and PR skill front.

        The incompetence is staggering.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > NOTHING stops Trump from staging his own State of the Union address in front of a far more adoring audience and then sending Pelosi the video

          Trump, for Trump, has been relatively restrained. He hasn’t used his Emergency Powers, either (though perhaps he is awaiting the right story hook).

          Reply
  2. nippersdad

    Just a thought, but Marie Kondo might actually be delighted by all of the strictly regimented boxes of little things that give oligarchs joy. The only real limitations to her usual projects, AFAIK, are ones of space availability. She might find buildings entirely devoted to the orderly storage of safety deposit boxes her idea of heaven.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      How the (family blog) did Ms. Kondo actually get famous? This whole “clean your life up” thing* has been out there for about twice her lifetime. She’s doing nothing new.

      Man I need a better publicist.

      *and has apparently worked as well as the 99,000 diets Americans have tried…

      Reply
      1. Robert McGregor

        “Man I need a better publicist.”

        C’mon, you never came up with the definitive question, “Does it spark joy?” If you did, then you would be the famous, multi-millionaire Organizer.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          Forty years from now the great majority of the citizenry who are left (for better of worse) will be again working farms, and “does it spark joy” will not be a first question.

          Reply
        2. Dwight

          She also had a name, Kondo Marie, that was easy to convert to an action and verb: Kon-mari, Kon-mari suru (do Kon-mari). Kondo may have been helped by the fact that Konmari sounds like Danshari, the art of physical and mental decluttering, which was coined by Hideko Yamashita in her popular 2009 book, borrowing from yoga ideas.
          .
          https://crsny.org/index.php/event/lecture-by-hideko-yamashita-decluttering-guru-multi-million-selling-author-of-dan-sha-ri/

          Reply
  3. NotTimothyGeithner

    An AIAG hat? Yep, I can’t think of a single reason DWS’s tenure at the DNC didn’t go better.

    As for the “children’s book” thing, its a great way to put out a narrative and then put any blame on amorphous children.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.”

      Can you imagine how the 2008 nomination process would have gone if people actually read Obama’s books? Fraudulent children’s book just seem safer as forms of propaganda.

      Reply
    2. Roger Smith

      Remember when Camel used to market to children… it is like that. Just as abhorrent. Reminds me of videos of kids who should be doing something real getting dragged along to “pink” hat rallies and being filmed talking about how great Obama was or how bad Trump is, or related things they don’t understand and shouldn’t have shoved in their faces.

      Reply
    3. Pookah Harvey

      America is already great? Great way to alienate rural voters and make sure you never regain the Senate. Want to get back rural voters? Watch Ojeda. He may not be the best candidate but given enough media coverage he could pull in rural America. Vice Presidential material?

      Reply
      1. Carey

        “..regain the Senate”? Where’d you get the idea that Our Democrats want to do that?

        They want to lose, quietly rule for their “benefactors”, and get vastly wealthy.
        There are a couple of end-runs around their bipartisan program visible, though..

        Action for the Common Good

        Reply
  4. Stanley Dundee

    Matt Taibbi on neocons hooking up with Democrats:

    The neocons are trying to create with Democrats a true political movement of shared goals and common adversaries. Apart from “liberal interventionism,” they’re emphasizing stridently anti-populist leanings, making little distinction between Trump and “mouth-breathers” like Rep. Steve King on the one hand, and Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the other.

    Onetime neoconservative icon Max Boot even went so far as to compare Ocasio-Cortez to Sarah Palin, bemoaning the fact that she has more Twitter followers than Nancy Pelosi — more evidence of democracy’s imperfections!

    Reply
      1. Richard

        Well, it would take some fancy arguing to say Henry Jackson (dem-washington, back in the day) wasn’t a neo-conservative. The dem/neocon intersection goes back quite some time. Not sure if Taibbi got to that

        Reply
    1. Geo

      So bad on so many levels. The obvious is that most people in the country disagree. But, is she implying America is currently great under trump? If it’s “already great” then why change anything in the next election?

      The cluelessness is mind boggling.

      Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I clarified the headings. I got a late start, and didn’t have time to add the brain-bleaching “Why Mommy Is a Demoocrat,” which would have made clear this is a continuum over time. Here is is:

          (The 2015 date is in the tweet, actually….)

          Reply
  5. Jerry B

    ====I’m not clear from the article — which is very interesting — why being a squillionaire isn’t a priori a case of “clinical hoarding.===

    This is a quote from a video by mathematician Cathy O’Neill describing her experiences working at hedge fund D. E. Shaw. She also wrote a book about the use of Algorithms https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weapons_of_Math_Destruction

    I knew that those people wanted to be rich. I wasn’t offended by that idea. It seemed like a pretty typical American goal, in fact. So I was used to it. But I think the aspect that I ended up realizing I didn’t share was a kind of fear, and as sort of a driving fear, if I could describe it that way.

    When I would ask somebody, you know, “Well, what’s the point of being this ruthless to get so much money when no why isn’t it enough money? If it’s enough money for you to retire now, why do you need more than that?” And I’d often get the response: “Well, you know, Cathy, my grandfather was a coal miner, or my father was a coal miner. I don’t want to be a coal miner, and I don’t want my children to be coal miners.”

    And it sort of seemed like this almost infinite hunger for insurance, personal insurance. It also seemed like this kind of — this concept of, you know, “my people” was very limited to my family. So it was almost like a tribal mentality.

    And at that point I realized, I mean, I just didn’t — I don’t get it. You know, when I think about “my people,” I think about everyone in the world. And that was something that really separated me, at least in my mind, from the people I worked with, and not everyone I worked with, but a lot of the people I worked with.

    It’s interesting. You don’t describe it as greed. You describe it as a hunger for insurance.
    Yeah. And fear.
    Fear. Fear of not having enough.
    Yeah

    Sounds like hoarding to me. However IMO greed does play some role. Something has to pay for the huge yachts, the private islands, the newest supercar, the multiple homes around the world, etc.

    This is from a profile of Illinois billionaire Ken Griffin

    Griffin still owns a considerable amount of residential real estate. He continues to own the 37th-floor unit in the Waldorf Astoria, which during his divorce was identified in public records as his legal residence. He also still owns two full-floor units in the Park Tower — both the 67th floor and the full-floor, 66th-floor unit, which Griffin bought in 2012 for $15 million. He also owns homes in Aspen, Colo., Hawaii and Florida. Topping all of this is his recently reported, $200 million purchase of three full floors of a luxury condo tower under construction at 220 Central Park South in midtown Manhattan. That 950-foot-tall tower isn’t due to be completed until late this year or early next year

    Yup greed too.

    Reply
    1. Rajesh K

      “Well, you know, Cathy, my grandfather was a coal miner, or my father was a coal miner. I don’t want to be a coal miner, and I don’t want my children to be coal miners.”. That’s love there, not fear. Or maybe they are both different sides of the same coin.

      Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that love isn’t the answer either.

      Reply
    2. Geo

      Spinoza on greed as a mental illness: “Many people are seized by one and the same affect with great consistency. All his senses are so affected by one object that he believes this object to be present even when it is not. If this happens while the person is awake, the person is believed to be insane. … but if the greedy person thinks only of money and possessions, the ambitious one only of fame, one does not think of them as being insane, but only has annoying; generally one has contempt for them. But factually greediness, ambition, and so forth are forms of insanity, although usually one does not think of them as ‘illness.'”

      Reply
    3. Hana M

      Hoarding disorder among the wealthy as part of the global inequality story makes perfect sense. See:
      https://www.yourmentalwealth.com/mind-over-money-hoarding-excerpt/

      Also don’t miss The Queen of Versailles a 2013 documentary of David and Jacqueline Siegel’s ill-timed push to build a New Versailles–the largest house in the US. The scene with Jacqueline doing down market holiday shopping with their appalled Latina nanny is diagnostic proof. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2125666/

      Reply
      1. Hana M

        At the Boston area social service agency where I volunteered signs of pathological hoarding among the (mostly) elderly wealthy was a well documented problem.

        Reply
    4. Todde

      People love money because money is power.

      The man wants the power to control his life and his families lives enough that nothing bad will happen to them.

      Money is power. People love Power.

      Reply
    5. Henry Moon Pie

      You know, when I think about “my people,” I think about everyone in the world.

      Harold: You sure have a way with people.

      Maude: Well they’re my species!

      Trailer

      Reply
        1. Henry Moon Pie

          It’s a beautiful movie that manages to find time to ridicule some of my favorite targets in hilarious fashion.

          Reply
  6. Roger Smith

    “Red Dead Redemption 2’s Pinkerton agents are at the center of a lawsuit” [The Verge].

    Sure… a detective/risk agency I have never heard of before (had to look it up). No one cares. This is a stunt for settlement $$$, CHA CHING! Pretty sure this is why all media includes disclaimers regarding similarity to names, real life events… etc… etc… More frivolous lawsuits.

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      “a detective/risk agency I have never heard of before (had to look it up).” — If you’d never heard of the Pinkertons before, perhaps you should set aside some time to read up on the history of organized labor in the U.S. That having been said, I agree that the modern-day version of the agency getting its panties in a bunch over their notorious squads of paid thugs of yore being caricatured as such in a video game is inane.

      Reply
      1. Todde

        Well they cant sue the publisher of a history book so….

        Lucky for them, no one apparently reads a history book anymore

        Reply
    2. Plenue

      The protagonist of BioShock Infinite, from 2013, was also a former Pinkerton. He segued into the Agency after being part of the US Army and taking part in the Wounded Knee Massacre, with the implication that he was too brutal even for the Pinkerton’s to employ for long.

      Reply
  7. Geo

    Sanders 2016 campaign has stoked concerns, even among some supporters, over his ability to secure and broaden his coalition

    Broaden his coalition? He’s more popular with women then men according to polls. Also, already the most popular politician in he country.

    Seems the myth of the Bernie Bro just won’t die no matter how much reality negates it. Glad he’s addressing the issue better than the other 2016 Dem campaign did: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/us/politics/hillary-clinton-chose-to-shield-a-top-adviser-accused-of-harassment-in-2008.html

    Reply
    1. Cal2

      Therefore, he should stop groveling and apologizing to this invented sexual harassment horseshit and get back to policy, which is the only thing that matters and will get him elected.

      This is the Democrat’s last stand coming up.
      After that it’s the Duopoly Party.

      How about Hillary shielding a top Democrat, i.e. her husband, who engaged in a “consensual affair”. No imbalance of power there, an 18 year old psychologically unstable intern has the right to say “NO” to the most powerful man in the universe.

      Reply
      1. Pat

        People want to let her off the hook for that, like so much else. Someone in my presence was discussing an interview which happened after Monica Lewinsky made news again. They weren’t asking about Lewinsky but about Clinton’s remarks about Lewinsky made around the time of the interview and the blow back that had received. (She had insulted Lewinsky again). They were all why are they asking her about that it was years ago, and wouldn’t even back down when told the remark she was being asked about happened recently.

        I honestly don’t get the forcefield her continual claim to victimhood has given her. And while I appreciate that Sanders doesn’t play victim, I’m pretty sure it would never give him the same kind protection even if he did.

        Reply
      2. dcblogger

        It is not horseshit, volunteers were harassed. It is good that he met with them personally, something no one else has done. It will help him make sure there is no repetition of the problem. This is a serious issue in our society. It is possible to sympathize and admire those who came forward and still support Bernie Sanders, the two things are not incompatible.

        Reply
        1. Ian

          Sadly this serious issue will be weaponized likely solely on Sanders campaign with a psy op in the future during the 2020 campaign. Koodos for the serious and respectful manner in which Sanders has handled it.

          Reply
          1. Carey

            “Koodos for the serious and respectful manner in which Sanders has handled it.”

            -And we can be assured that the Biden/Booker/Harris et al campaigns will do the same, to the same close, scrutinizing MSM coverage.

            “trust, but verify”

            heh

            Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > It is not horseshit, volunteers were harassed.

          The horseshit part is weaponizing the allegations to apply to only one campaign. OTOH, since this was going to happen, it seems to be happening in the best possible way. Early, by people not evidently book deal-seeking liberal Democrat shills, and with a meeting with Sanders. Presumably, the campaign can hire somebody trustworthy to deal with this; after all, a “gold standard” is useless without the staffing to implement it. (The issue is that plenty of identitarians are not trustworthy with respect to Sanders, because that’s their job, and they will never accept that one of their own doesn’t have power in — by which I mean power over — a Sanders campaign. I mean, the columns from Doyle and Marcotte et al. write themselves. “He didn’t hire a real feminist” etc. etc. Here again DCBlogger’s suggestion to tap the NNU is a good one.)

          Reply
      3. Carey

        Thank you for the first sentence of your comment, in particular.
        *No one cares* (sorry); the pro forma PC stuff is a misdirection, only.

        Action for the Common Good (how shall we-the-many we begin? we own this thing)

        Reply
    2. Eureka Springs

      I’m surprised someone hasn’t turned it into positive. A riff off of an old song like – He Ain’t (Bernie) Heavy, He’s My Brother.

      Reply
      1. DJG

        L: Yep. I read that article at the Intercept when it was posted, and I found her to be remarkably naive in thinking that going public with allegations of sexual harassment in the Sanders campaign somehow, miraculously, would not end up in an attempt to stop a new Sanders campaign. And here we are having a two-day conference on the last Sanders campaign.

        Does anyone see a two-day conference on sexual harassment in the Clinton campaign in the future? Or was all sweetness, light, and homemade cookies over in Clintonlandia?

        Weaponized allegations, indeed.

        Reply
        1. Hepativore

          I wonder if various anti-Sanders elements in 2020 will use this as a form of “swiftboating” Sanders should he decide to run again.

          They might decide to hire a group of random women to pass themselves off as former Sanders campaign staffers or associates and claim that they were sexually harassed and/or assaulted to try and portay it as a systemic problem with Sanders and his team. If the opposition to Sanders coordinates it properly with enough “victims”, they might be able to generate enough of a media circus to portray Sanders as having a “woman” problem. While it would be highly dishonest and underhanded, the damage that such a tactic could do would be done, even if the facts surface later.

          Reply
          1. Carey

            This sounds not unlikely at all. Will it work? It wouldn’t have to, directly, in my opinion; just introduce enough FUD that that the
            few can re-introduce/invent/ the allowed, Safe Choices, so that
            norms/decency can be restored.

            Mussolini2020

            Reply
          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > They might decide to hire a group of random women to pass themselves off as former Sanders campaign staffers or associates and claim that they were sexually harassed and/or assaulted to try and portay it as a systemic problem with Sanders and his team.

            Or they might activate more plants, like Simon Bracey-Lane but female. Sorry to be foily.

            Reply
  8. Roy G

    Re: Facebook, a very good read from Time (?!) from Mark Zuckerberg’s mentor about the problems around Facebook. However, it is marred by a casual assertion that Russia used FB to affect both the 2016 election and Brexit. It is amazing to me how the Deep State has so effectively propagandized against ‘the Russians’ that it is now an article of faith for most people, as seemingly obvious as the sun rising in the east, sigh..

    http://time.com/5505441/mark-zuckerberg-mentor-facebook-downfall/

    ps. Seeing that crooked harpy DWS preening in her insipid hat just throws gas on the dumpster fire!

    Reply
    1. Eureka Springs

      The twitter thread is a hoot! They put her through a pasta machine. I said, it’s a terrible slogan and a hideous cap.

      Reply
  9. prodigalson

    On the “not getting less ugly” tag, we’re in for a looooonnnggg election season. If people are this worked up now will they even make to election day without an aneurism? Irrespective of who wins 2020 we may all need to wear flak vests outside the following day(s).

    I checked both twitter feeds. Ugh. The “righteous anger” on display makes me worry for our future, and it’s getting harder to differentiate violent right wing nuts from violent left wing nuts from generally non-political yet violent nuts. The underlying anger on all sides, demonization of “the other” as evil needing purging, and combined with the general availability of large amounts of firearms in this country is worrying.

    Reply
  10. Summer

    Re:“America has never worried about financing its priorities” [Financial Times]. “Modern monetary theory is simply a different way of looking at fiscal policy, a way of describing what the real-world constraints on spending look like. It is in fact very close to how people in Washington, D.C. already approach spending. Again, we’re not talking about what they say. Rather, we’re talking about what they do…”

    Yes, three cheers.

    So much of is realizing there is no “invisible hand” only hidden hands…in the cookie jar.

    Reply
  11. ambrit

    I had the rare bad luck to take the washing to dry at the local washateria. Lo and behold. The place had CNN on the jumbo TV.
    I couldn’t take too much of it. The “talking points” were so obviously forced or altogether fake as to make a rational being despair of finding any intelligent life on this planet. there certainly no intelligent life working at CNN. (Glad even more now that we left cable TV in the dust after Katrina.)

    Reply
    1. Geo

      My local laundromat plays HGTV which is odd in a neighborhood where home ownership is less than 5% (and I’m guessing those that own homes aren’t at the laundromat).

      It’s fascinating to watch tv after years of not having one isn’t it? The subversive messaging is so much more apparent. It’s all about selling the myth despite the reality we can so clearly see outside the TV. Seems all tv programming is just a variation of The 700 Club at this point.

      Reply
      1. BlueMoose

        Good point about tv viewing. Similar to not being in the US for a few years (watching from the outside). You get an entirely different prospective when you are not plugged into the machine.

        Reply
      2. ambrit

        Ah hah! Chuck and Nancy as Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker!
        Oh, the cognitive dissonance is soooooo intense.
        Watching the TV in the laundromat or pharmacy waiting area is almost like having an LSD flashback. Reality has been rendered obsolete.

        Reply
        1. polecat

          The diff is that at least Tammy Faye had a face under all that pancake and mascara .. madamn speaker’s just trying, unsuccessfully, to hide her ghoulish purple spots of intersectionality .. and it shows.

          Reply
  12. pjay

    Re Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk)

    Could anyone fill me in on this person? What is scarier than her words is how pervasive she is all over the social media. She bills herself as a “behavioral scientist” who who studies media disinformation, among other things, and seems very influential among a certain type of “liberal”.

    Reply
    1. Richard

      Don’t know about Orr, and not sure I want to. Eeych.
      Tulsi does seem to inspire a lot hatred, especially among clinton voters, dem loyalists. By thy enemies I will know thee.
      Here’s J. Dore on Tulsi. Makes a case that she scares the s*^% out of republicans.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        WRT Gabbard- I want to be believe, but the “highly-calculating careerist” case
        makes substantial sense to me, so far. I am **not saying it’s so**, just exceedingly
        wary of Lucy-and-football schemes from attractive persons.

        Reply
        1. Richard

          Yeah, but policy…
          all I care about is policy – I myself am wary, of argumentation that leads away from legislative acts, and public positions on policy, things we can prove. Personality, relationships, influence, all this s&*% we can’t measure, argumentation along those lines seems to me laden with mines, which we do not fail to trip. We should learn from this and stick to policy.

          Reply
  13. Vikas

    Re Social Determinants: The authors are right. Big medical empires are getting into treating populations and some of them are calling that “population health” though it is actually “population medicine”, since they are treating patients, not the whole community. That approach represents a medicalized framing of the problem that keeps public health solutions at a distance. Of course, that’s in part because healthcare is where the money sits. Similarly, the individual provisioning of social services by health care systems is an atomistic neoliberal solution to something that calls for major social policy initiatives. Things like HealthLeads, a sort of Teach for America of health care, comes to mind.

    We need a new health and social support system far beyond what Medicare for All implies.

    Reply
    1. Hameloose Cannon

      When thinking about healthcare, perhaps we should consider Black-6 lab mice, virtual clones of one another, generation to generation, bred for responsiveness to a variety of experimentation. The rodent strain is sensitive to pain, suffers from obesity, prone to morphine and alcohol addiction, and yet dependable to reproduce a litter of pups, replenishing the supply. To be vulnerable is to be useful, a want for more leads to the requisite sacrifice for the greater good. The evolutionary niche of the Black-6 mouse is to agonize just like we do. The disproportionate suffering of one vulnerable population leads to greater methods of intervention by another sector, leading to increasing reinforcement of the current healthcare system. There is a strong biologic component to the current state of the US healthcare system that cannot be explained by moral failure alone.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > There is a strong biologic component to the current state of the US healthcare system that cannot be explained by moral failure alone.

        At some point I need to write a post on epigenetics reproducing class structure across generations.

        Reply
        1. Steve H.

          So important, I’ll ask for caution. It will immediately become racial, as thousands of effects stem from vitamin D deficiency, and that is related to skin color at various latitudes. (Particularly valuable are the interview pdf’s at M*rcola.)

          Note the inherited teratogenesis from the Bhopal disaster.

          An excellent related discussion is in ‘Dirty Hands” (Battlestar Galactica – S 3 E 16 – Dirty Hands). The whole episode has great value, tldr at 24 minutes.

          Reply
  14. Summer

    Re: “At Glossier, we’ve really taken user feedback and asked them for things like what products to make, where to go in terms of pop-ups, or countries, and fundamentally, have been able to really change the relationship between brands and customers.” • Sounds rather like K-Pop.

    I’m thinking with all this talk about relationships with brands, someone will claim to have gotten pregnant by an institutional or corpo brand any day now.
    Imagine: paternity suits against brands (that aren’t entertainment or sports stars).

    Reply
  15. Summer

    Re: “Facebook is putting $300 million toward stabilizing local news” [Poynter Institute]

    Why do I think this is going to work out like “stabilizing” Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc?

    It sounds more like “stabilizing” their own tentacles into the affairs of the other organizations.

    Reply
  16. Pat

    Seriously, Pelosi was supposed to go overseas?!?!?!

    Yes, it was tit for tat. Yes, none of this should be happening. But frankly I partially agree with the toddler President when he said Pelosi should be staying in town to work on an agreement even if by agreement he meant give me what I want. Yeah, I get that they made an offer and McConnell won’t let the Senate go near it. Don’t care. If the government is shut down now is not the time for a trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan.

    There are NO grown ups in the room. NONE.

    Reply
  17. notabanker

    The CEO of GS apologized to the people of Malaysia, so it’s all good now. Turns out it was a rogue partner and they are really upset about that and are doing everything they can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Since it’s the first time anything like this has ever happened in Malaysia, they probably deserve the benefit of the doubt, if one can question the prestige of this historical institution and their immaculate track record of integrity. They will assuredly apply lessons learned from this mistake, after a thorough and objective internal investigation and apply it in all areas to make themselves an even more responsible firm going forward.
    It must have been really tough to admit that and apologize to 30 million people. I’m glad they can now put this behind them and continue on with God’s work.

    http://fortune.com/2019/01/16/goldman-sachs-ceo-apologizes-malaysia-1mdb/

    Reply
  18. Carolinian

    Drone swarm: they had one during the ceremonial sessions of the last Olympics. It was pretty cool.

    At any rate it’s a thing.

    Reply
  19. Wukchumni

    “What’s Causing the Rise of Hoarding Disorder?” [JSTOR Daily].
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I remember when I was a kid, one friend’s 2 car garage couldn’t be used for cars, as it was loaded to the gills with ‘stuff’ his parents couldn’t bear to live without, and it was kind of the joke of the neighborhood, being the only one we were aware of, but now that describes a lot of garages.

    It seems to have really gotten going in the 1980’s (he/she who dies with the most toys-wins!) and has mushroomed, combined with all the easy ways to acquire more stuff. You might only have $400 in ready cash for emergencies (funny how that one area of hoarding doesn’t play along) but you’ve got a very lightly used exercycle, a collection of limited edition dinner plates celebrating the first public bathrooms of each state, and box-fulls of computer junk of no value whatsoever, other than the thousands you spent on it originally. And that’s just making a small dent in your holdings.

    I’ve zealously hoarded memories, but thankfully keep the garage door of my mind closed, so nobody can see the clutter within.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Found a solution to hoarding some time ago and it is pretty simple. Just every day get rid of one thing a day and that is it. If you get something in then get rid of two things that day. Doesn’t matter how small it is, just one thing per day. Weeks go by and it is dead easy but then comes the pay-off. After a time it gets harder and harder to get rid of that one item and you have to go looking for stuff to get rid of. By the time that you are left scrambling for that one item you know that you have gotten rid of all the junk and clutter out of you life. Repeat when necessary.

      Reply
    1. notabanker

      We need a national debate on all the issues, because, you know, people will do the right thing once they have all the facts. Let’s start with whether the Constitution is the right set of principals in today’s world.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Either O’Rourke’s contempt is very deep, or his opinion of the great majority of
        the citizenry is, um, low. Or for a third option, NTG’s “they don’t think about
        you; why would they?”

        skateboards earnest™ conversation

        Reply
  20. Wukchumni

    Got a robo call from the county last night warning of 3-4 inches of rain and 30-40 mph winds on top of it, which is a perfect recipe for fallen trees, but the storm wasn’t all that, nor the wind much more than a strong breeze.

    Being a warmer storm, it rained up to 8,000 feet, which if combined with 3-4 inches of rain, would’ve caused massive flooding down in the foothills, as it melted off existing snow from 6-8k, but the scene on the river was ho hum, yes it was up quite a bit, but no biggie. The 2nd act of storm is in progress now-a colder air mass that’ll push the snow level down to 6,000 feet.

    Most importantly, there will be a lot of white stuff above 8k from this lashing, deposited in the First National Snowbank of the High Sierra.

    Reply
      1. Carey

        Here seven miles from the Diablo Canyon nuke, we haven’t had *that much* rain, but winds that I have truly never seen before, for the past week. FWIW.

        Reply
    1. Carolinian

      I’ve been reading a book about Ansel Adams that talks about your area. It says he saved Mineral King from having a giant Disney ski resort in the 1960s. Disney won in court but gave up the idea.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        A lot of factors entered into it, the 25 mile road that’s woefully inadequate in the winter being the longest obstacle, combined with the ecological movement being at it’s strongest, along with a Sierra Club that once upon a time had a little clout, and throw in a pinch of pissed off cabin owners in Mineral King, whose existence was threatened. Another factor was Disney having a team of experienced ski mountaineers winter over in the biggest snow winter in the last century in California in 1968-69, resulting in the death of one of them.
        If they had done the same in 1967-68 or 1969-70, it would have been normal winter conditions.

        A key role in it not being developed into a ski resort, was Walt Disney dying in 1966, after the Disney Corporation was awarded the contract to build it in 1965. He was a winter outdoorsman, a skier, and the Disney Corporation had put on the 1960 Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

        Post Walt, the powers that be must’ve realized that focusing on all-year-round Florida made a lot more sense than carving a ski resort out of Mineral King.

        For what it’s worth, the Disney Corporation still owns around 30 acres of land in Mineral King that they bought in 1963-64 through as many as 3 and 4 shadow buyers, in anticipation of being awarded the contract, none of which can be developed as it’s in Sequoia NP now. I regularly park my auto @ what is known as ‘The Disney Parking Lot’ @ the Eagle-Mosquito Lakes trailhead.

        It’s easily the worst kept Disney property in the world, an ugly mixture of broken asphalt, dirt, gravel and occasionally protruding rocks.

        Reply
  21. anon in so cal

    Hoarding….

    UCLA’s 2012 study everyday families in Santa Monica, California uncovered hoarding:

    “UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families continues its fascinating study of contemporary suburban America with a book titled Life at Home in the 21st Century. Thirty-two Los Angeles families opened their doors to CELF’s researchers. What they found: a staggering number of possessions and an array of spaces and furnishings that serve as the stage for multiple family activities—and tell us a lot about who we are as a society…..

    ….Get stuff. Buy stuff. Keep it . Get more of it . Keep that, too. Display it all, and proudly.

    Walk into any dual-income, middle-class home in the U.S. and you will come face to face with an awesome array of stuff—toys, trinkets, family photos, furniture, games, DVDs, TVs, digital devices of all kinds, souvenirs, flags, food and more. We put our stuff anywhere in the house, everywhere there’s room, or even if there’s no room. Park the car on the street so we can store our stuff in the garage. Pile the dirty laundry in the shower because there’s nowhere else to store it and no time to wash it.”

    http://magazine.ucla.edu/features/the-clutter-culture/

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Everyone is a dragon now, because that’s what dragons do.

      Except perhaps in China, though there, dragons were, at times, in the past, deemed to be mischievous and dangerous… dragon sightings often foretold natural disasters (see the book, the Nine Sloughs, Profling the Climate HIstory of Yuan and Ming Dynasties, 1260-1644)…and not always propitious.

      Reply
    2. jrs

      but it’s well organized usually in any middle class home or thereabouts. It’s a skillset, not everyone has it, and if they don’t then they go on hoarders …

      Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > stuff

      I remember this realization coming over me years ago when I was watching a compilation of reaction shots to the climatic moments of The Red Wedding. I started watching the backgrounds, and the sheer amount of stuff in the backgrounds, even in the “lower-rent” shots, was really amazing. None of it looked very well-made, either.

      Reply
  22. Wukchumni

    Galavanted around town today, to get a gauge of how the shutdown is effecting the community, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon NP has yo-yo’d from open during the xmas-new years break, to closed down shut, to back open again. The owner of the bar-restaurant on the river (…a liver runs through it…) was singing the blues, cancellations are rife among various lodging possibilities, and tire chain rentals are way off.

    Reply
  23. Steely Glint

    2020: off today’s topics, and sorry for lacking Lambert’s skill as far as lead in’s, but living in fly over country, I thought these articles about my part of the country were very informative. Money in politics is one thing, but living an elite, comfortable life style in coastal big $$ cities ( and therefore garnering votes) at our expense is another.
    https://washingtonmonthly.com/2019/01/14/how-democrats-solve-their-geography-problem/
    “While the notion that all Trump voters are motivated by “economic anxiety” has been thoroughly debunked, there’s no denying that America’s agricultural communities have been starkly declining for years-struggling to turn profits through farming, suffering epidemic levels of opioid addiction and suicide. Democrats thus have both an opportunity and a moral obligation to try to win these voters back by offering policies that will improve their livelihoods in a way that stoking white cultural grievance never will.” Me, get rid of monopsony, long promised but never achieved. Also Scholten’s near miss to unseat Steve King.
    https://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/january-february-march-2019/to-take-back-the-map-democrats-need-a-plan-to-revive-heartland-cities/
    Simply painting a vision for how America can restore that kind of broad-based growth, and the specific policies we’ll need to achieve it, could go a long way to helping Democrats win elections in the near term. But it’s the long term they need to worry about most. Despite repeated predictions that America’s increasing diversity will eventually build a wall around the GOP, Republicans’ willingness to double down on white rural voters, franchise restrictions, and gerrymandering—plus the “natural” advantage they accrue from the unrepresentative Senate and Electoral College—is continuing to pay dividends. Democrats need to make this template impossible for the GOP to keep following. And to do that, they need to vigorously enforce policies that make America’s purple and red state metro areas too big and too vibrant for Republicans to ignore or suppress.

    Reply
  24. Annieb

    Re: Our Famously Free Press. Philadelphia Inquirer on Dave Krieger. He was editorial director for the Boulder (not Denver) Daily Camera and was fired for writing on his personal blog a scathing criticism of the new owners of the paper. Brave man! The article below is interesting for background on the hedge fund buying up and crapifying all the small newspapers.
    https://www.westword.com/news/dave-krieger-on-his-boulder-daily-camera-firing-for-alden-global-capital-hedge-fund-attack-10253892

    Reply
  25. Wukchumni

    Wow, 25th anniversary of the earthquake in L.A. today.

    I was across town from the event, 25 miles east of downtown L.A. when it hit, at my parents house and it was a solid shaker, but not damaging.

    I tried to drive to Santa Monica, but part of the 10 freeway was missing, and traffic was diverted to the newly opened 105 freeway, which routed me to the 405 and back onto the 10 freeway, where I watched a transformer blow in the distance like somebody lighting up a fireworks stand in the pre dawn dark, and then turned onto Lincoln Blvd and had to avoid the side of an apartment building that had fallen onto the street, as I was looking up @ somebody’s medicine cabinet on the 3rd floor. Santa Monica was hit hard. There was an all-brick old church on Arizona St that had collapsed unto itself and there would have been no survivors had anybody been worshiping @ 4:17 am on a Monday. Every other plate glass window in Santa Monica was broken on retail businesses, a glazier’s whet dream.

    Reply
  26. ambrit

    A mini-report from down in the trenches in Mississippi.
    I did the weekly shopping today. As someone mentioned a few weeks ago in response to my mentioning perusing the shopper paper and store flyers for best prices, I must be in dire straits to be looking through the Fred’s flyer for bargains. Too true. Too true.
    In search of funds preservation items, I start out in the west side of town and work my way back east, (close to where we live.) Furthest west is near the edge of the middle class zone. That is where the Target store is. That chain has a strategy that aims some good sales on basic items towards the middle class. A big portion of those sales are only easily available by using the chain app on your smartphone. So, that narrows the target demographic to smartphone users. Which skews heavily younger and ‘hipper,’ plus of course, higher income since those electronic items are not cheap. Nor is the electronic information service for them. As a result, I notice a distinctly more “upscale” clientele at the Target store compared to Wal Mart, Winn Dixie, Ross, and the regional stores.
    All that is to set the background for the short conversation I had with a burly, well dressed white man in his thirties standing outside the Target canvasing for signatures for yet another run up to legalize medical cannabis.
    I walked up to the man after having put my purchases from Target away in the back of Phyl’s PT Cruiser. (Can we say Geezer vehicle kids?) [I had managed to save 40% on about seventy dollars worth of paper-goods there. Target does compound sales offers.]
    Me: “Hi there. I noticed that you approached the younger people and ignore the older ones. Any reason for that?”
    Him, a little surprised: “Well, sir,” (I look my age,) “I’m getting signatures for a Medical Marijuana ballot initiative in the next election.”
    Me: “Oh well. That’s a shame. I’ll sign it because I support it.”
    Him: “Really? Wow. That makes you the third white person overall today, out of,” he lifted the clipboard and counted lines off of several sheets, “oh, about fifty.”
    Me: “D–. That’s depressing. Here. I’ll sign. Why are you doing this?”
    Him: “My grandmom died last year from wasting away due to cancer.”
    Me: “I’m sorry about that. My wife is dealing with cancer now herself.”
    Him: “Make sure she eats enough. My gran just stopped eating very much the last year.”
    Me: “How does cannabis fit in?”
    Him: “You know the ‘munchies?'”
    Me: “Oh no. Don’t remind me. Three o’clock in the morning and nothing in the fridge. I remember those days.”
    Him: “It has been discovered that straight CBD oil without much if any THC in it still stimulates the appetite. If we’d had even that, gran would still be with us. And that made me mad, that faceless zealots,” (he used that word,) “would deny sick people something natural to help with their pain and suffering. That’s why I’m here.”
    I left him with a bit more of a hope for us all.
    However, upon later reflection, I found it curious and disheartening that there was evidently such a Puritanical streak left in the white middle class.

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        Hmmm….
        “Valley of the Dolls” meets “The Sacklers.”
        We have pills too. Red ones and Blue ones. (That imagery can be ‘spun’ off in so many directions.)
        Just a thought on how ubiquitous the pill meme has been in Westyern Culteyure. I googled “pills in songs” and came up with a ton of stuff.
        “Mothers Little Helper” by the Rolling Stones.
        “Go Ask Alice” by the Jefferson Airplane.
        Even The Chemical Brothers, with something offbeat for them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hgELxiURLk
        People have been conditioned to expect miracles from whatever Gods they bow down to, be it Yehovah, Allah, Woden, or Science.

        Reply
        1. todde

          I’ve often thought about how do you have the highest population of your citizens in prison when you are supposed to be ruled with ‘the consent of the governed’.

          How does that happen?

          I am starting to realize that we might be the type of people that consent to putting others in prison.

          We are quite ok with other people suffering.

          Reply
    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      Puritanism is not that great in the middle class in the Gulf coast south. Fear is a big thing however. They don’t want to risk putting their names on a document like that. Many are teachers, hospital or state agency employees, need state licenses to practice their trade, etc. They are mainly disinterested and pressed for time, but even more than that, they are afraid.

      Also, seeing a burly young white man with a petition in front of a Mississippi Target store? I’d have been assuming he was touting some ultra-gun “rights” initiative, not medical marijuana. And I would never have learned otherwise, cause I would have evaded him like he was a plague carrier.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Strange you should say that. I at first considered the “Second Amendment” angle too. However, the man was approaching people on his own volition.
        As for Fear. It lurks all around us and permeates the civic spaces like a miasma from off the tarn.
        So, perhaps I should modify the category to “Public Puritanism” and write a modern day version of “The Scarlet Letter.”
        I’m going to have to dig out my copy of “Varieties of Religious Experience” and re-read it. Southern Gothic is a real thing I fear.

        Reply

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