2:00PM Water Cooler 1/2/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Well, here we are in 2019. 2018 was quite a year! I expect continued volatility in all aspects of our political economy. –lambert

* * *

Trade

“US Trade Agenda for 2019 Is Packed” [Industry Week]. “The first quarter of 2019 will be pivotal, as the U.S. and China are trying to deescalate a trade war and Trump will have to decide whether to hit car imports with tariffs…. And: “First half of 2019: Congress may hold an up-or-down vote for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which would replace NAFTA. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said a vote is high on the agenda for the new year, though multiple Democratic lawmakers argue the administration needs to go back to Mexico and Canada to negotiate stronger labor and enforcement provisions. Those demands could significantly delay the vote.”

“Promised tariff relief for farmers uncertain in government shutdown” [Supply Chain Dive]. “With [USDA’s Farm Service Agencies (FSA)] shut down, U.S. farmers have lost their main method of interaction with the federal government. FSA offices were open until Dec. 28, after which they remain closed until a new deal to end the shutdown is reached. With harvests finished now, farmers must decide whether to sell their wares at a historically low prices or store their produce to wait for a more favorable market, assuming that is financially realistic. On top of uncertainty in the promised payouts, the USDA’s year-round programs are also suspended including farm lending programs. Plus, many storage facilities and silos are also already full.”

“The Making of a Trade Warriot” [The Atlantic]. “Lighthizer believes that the shrinking of the American steel industry isn’t a mere by-product of technological shifts, but the result of a war China has been waging for decades. He and his allies think the growing superpower will now take the fight to other U.S. interests, threatening the nation’s economic hegemony. Now he’s preparing his own battle plan, refined over a career of lobbying. He plans to bend the rules of the global economy in America’s favor—even if that means breaking the system America itself created.” • This is a very interesting article, using Lighthizer’s biography, which spans the neoliberal era, as a lens.

Politics

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

2020

“Why We’re Not Releasing 2020 Race Ratings Yet” [Nathan Gonzales, Inside Elections]. “I love elections, particularly congressional races, but I’m just not in a hurry to jump to 2020. And I’m completely fine with holding off on releasing our race ratings until next year. If I didn’t like elections, I would probably need to take a long look at doing something else with my life…. Whether it’s the increased importance of fundraising, the pressure to clear the field of other contenders, or just the constant mandate to “win the day” every day, our election “cycles” are constant…. But the analysis can wait a few weeks.” • Hear hear. But since not all agree–

* * *

“The most overrated and underrated 2020 Democrats” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. Good fun. Dark horses: “1. Oprah. Cost: 3 cents. Verdict: Buy. If there’s anything Trump has taught us, it’s not to underestimate the power of celebrity.” • N-o-o-o-o….

“Axelrod: Why Warren will be such a major player in 2020” [David Axelrod, CNN]. “I served in the White House when Warren, then a special House counsel, was pummeling treasury officials over treatment of Wall Street executives who were culpable in the financial crisis. I saw her inaugurate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the government watchdog that saved billions for consumers before the Trump administration relegated it to the sidelines. She has offered a series of serious ideas about government and Wall Street reform, and is one of the most incisive members of the Senate. Warren also has laid the groundwork for her candidacy more assiduously than most, running an extensive, sophisticated operation in 2018 to help Democratic candidates around the country, even as she ran for re-election to the Senate.” • That last point is important. Sanders did the same, but not at the same level.

2019

PayGo (1):

PayGo (2):

“Democrats Unveil Changes To House Rules On Debt Ceiling, Ethics” [NPR]. “Democrats are changing the rules regarding motions “to vacate the chair,” a procedural tool that could be used to force out a sitting House speaker. It is the procedural weapon that conservatives led by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., were planning to use to try to oust Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in 2015 before he made the decision to step down. Democrats plan to tweak the rules so that a motion to vacate can only be offered on the House floor if a majority of either the House Republican Conference or the House Democratic Caucus agrees to do so. The change limits the ability of any one member to wreak havoc on the floor and ultimately bolsters incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., against potential agitators in either party.” • Indeed.

2018 Post Mortem

“50 Interesting Facts About the 2018 Election” [Cook Political Report]. “20. Finally, a point of curiosity: Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts did not air a single television ad in her re-election campaign. Her race wasn’t competitive – she got 60 percent of the vote. But did she miss an opportunity to make some early gains in her expected 2020 presidential campaign? The Boston media market reaches about one-third of the population in New Hampshire, the home of the first presidential primary. Warren could have aired some positive ads in her re-election campaign that might have had the added benefit of giving her a head start in the “first in the nation” state. It’s possible that Warren decided to save her war chest for later; according to her post-election FEC report, she had about $12.5 million in the bank at the end of November.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Private Equity Controls the Gatekeepers of American Democracy” [Bloomberg]. “Devices made by Election Systems & Software LLC, Dominion Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic Inc. will process about nine of every ten ballots next week. Each of the companies is privately held and at least partially controlled by private equity firms.” • There is no reason for these companies to exist. One wonders what HR1 will do about that.

“Tar Heel of the Year: The Rev. William Barber — activist, advocate and preacher” [Charlotte News & Observer]. “‘You can’t follow Jesus and not say something when you see injustice,’ Barber says. ‘We’re not allowed to stand down and retreat. The prophetic call demands that we say something..”

“Dual Power: A Strategy To Build Socialism In Our Time” [DSA Libertarian Socialist Caucus]. “To accomplish these things as a movement of the working classes in all our variety, we must organize with all who are exploited and oppressed by the capitalist system. That means working together not just in the workplace…” • “Just” is doing a lot of work in that paragraph. How much DSA organizing is really done in the workplace at all?

Stats Watch

Purchasing Managers Manufacturing Index, December 2018: “Report after report are pointing to tangible easing in manufacturing activity and optimism at year-end, the likely result of falling oil prices but also tough comparisons with prior strength” [Econoday]. “This report as well as a run of regional data from Richmond, Kansas City and especially Dallas all point to trouble for December as the manufacturing sector appears to have ended a very strong year on a very soft note.”

Capital Investment: “Solid Recovery for Combined U.S. & Canadian Industrial Spending” [Industrial Reports]. “[C]ombined 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.”

Data: “Why the jobs report will continue to be produced even though it relies on the shutdown Census Bureau” [MarketWatch]. “To produce the monthly jobs report, the Labor Department relies on the Census Bureau to conduct the survey of households, which is used to derive the unemployment rate and other key facets of what’s called the employment situation report. The Labor Department itself conducts a separate survey of business establishments, which reports on job growth, earnings and other data. The Labor Department is fully funded; the Census Bureau, which is part of the Commerce Department, is not, one of a number of agencies shut due to a lapse of funding while Congress and President Donald Trump argue about funding for border protection. Labor Department spokesman assures that is not a problem. The Labor Department has always paid the Census workers.”

Commodities: “The most unexpected prediction is that a sand shortage will “grind the gears” of the global construction industry” [Logistics Management]. “‘Urbanization and infrastructure development are resulting in a global shortage of sand, the second most extracted natural resource after water,’ states [A.T. Kearney’s Global Business Policy Council (GBPC)]. Two-thirds of construction material is concrete, which itself is composed of two-thirds sand.” • Hmm.

Commodities: “NYSE warns Wyoming coal producer it could be delisted” [Bozeman Daily Chronicle]. “The Casper Star-Tribune reports the NYSE notified Gillette-based Cloud Peak Energy that it had six months to remedy its low stock price or it would be delisted…. As of September, [the company] employed about 850 miners in Wyoming.”

Gentleman Prefer Bonds: “Should Pensions Own Utilities? Congress Has Considered It Before.” [Governing]. “This year, a proposed House bill would have cleared the way for pensions to buy municipal assets, such as water and sewer authorities. The idea has advantages for pensions and is likely to be attractive to governments with major pension funding issues. Think: Chicago, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky and New Jersey. For one, it would immediately boost the value of the pension fund because the utility’s worth would be based on its future revenue expectations. New Jersey did something similar by transferring ownership of its lottery to the state pension fund in 2017. At the time, the lottery was valued at $13.5 billion, which helped reduce — on paper at least — the pension’s unfunded liabilities. Proceeds from the lottery also helped lower how much the state had to annually contribute to pensions. Another appealing aspect is the potential benefit to struggling municipalities. Offloading the asset to a pension fund would result in a one-time cash infusion for the local government…. Municipal Markets Analytics’ Matt Fabian warns that the idea’s attributes are largely based on accounting gimmicks. ‘It’s only really the appearance of better funding on the assumption that the pension fund could sell the asset,’ he says.”

The Bezzle: “Lost in space: They paid $100,000 to ride on Xcor’s space plane. Now they want their money back” [Los Angeles Times]. “The story of Xcor and its ticket holders — 282 of them, as of the most recent count — is a cautionary tale for the space tourism age. In purchasing tickets for a brief bout of weightlessness at the fringes of space, would-be astronauts are placing the ultimate speculative bet. None of the space vehicles developed by the two major players, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, are fully operational yet. But some tourism firms have collected money upfront; Virgin Galactic’s price is as much as $250,000. In the case of Xcor, the bet came up snake eyes.” And: “When Xcor unveiled its plans for the two-seat Lynx space plane in 2008 at a press conference in Beverly Hills, company officials estimated flight tests would begin in 2010.” • Oopsie.

Tech: “YouTube faces backlash on Twitter over lifted, uncredited holiday video” [The Verge]. “When Lily Hevesh opened Twitter and saw YouTube’s Christmas video, it looked very familiar. That’s because it was her own. YouTube’s tweet doesn’t credit Hevesh at all, or mention her YouTube channel. The tweet also cuts Hevesh’s intro, which acts as a welcome to her channel for those who stumble upon the video. Hevesh’s original video, uploaded to YouTube on December 23rd, has just over 60,000 views, but YouTube’s lifted version boasts more than 250,00o.” • What a nice Xmas gift from the good folks at Google.

Mr. Market: “Here’s (Almost) Everything Wall Street Expects in 2019” [Bloomberg]. “Morgan Stanley called theirs The Turning Point. One Bank of America Merrill Lynch note went with The Big Low. Another from JPMorgan opted for Countering the bears. The titles of Wall Street’s 2019 investment outlooks say it all: The world’s largest banks and money managers are gearing up for the last hurrah of one of the longest bull markets in history. This is the reader’s digest of research notes for the year ahead.” • Sounds like this is the sort of thing you’ll like, if this is the sort of thing you like.

Honey for the Bears: “This month the Econintersect Economic Index (EEI) significantly declined, and is now below territory associated with normal expansions. This is a departure from the previous three months where the index’s growth rate was little changed” [Econintersect]. “The economic data produced this month has significantly degraded. This is the nearly the largest single month drop in our index this century. Our major worry is the rapid deceleration of growth in rail transport data – a usual flag for a slowing economy. And then there is housing growth going negative – never a good sign (but this time buyers are not buying because housing is not affordable – time will tell if this could be a recession signal). The forward looking leading and coincident data trends are mostly indicating deceleration of the rate of growth..However, the predictive coincident indices are still showing positive rate of growth trends.”

Rapture Index: Unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. –>

MMT

“The Minsky Millennium” [Jacobin]. From November, still germane.

Gaia

“How an ant colony remembers” [The Week]. “From day to day, the colony’s behavior changes, and what happens on one day affects the next. I conducted a series of perturbation experiments. I put out toothpicks that the workers had to move away, or blocked the trails so that foragers had to work harder, or created a disturbance that the patrollers tried to repel. Each experiment affected only one group of workers directly, but the activity of other groups of workers changed, because workers of one task decide whether to be active depending on their rate of brief encounters with workers of other tasks. After just a few days repeating the experiment, the colonies continued to behave as they did while they were disturbed, even after the perturbations stopped. Ants had switched tasks and positions in the nest, and so the patterns of encounter took a while to shift back to the undisturbed state. No individual ant remembered anything but, in some sense, the colony did.” • Another aneural biological cognition system. Perhaps when we speak of, say, the liberal Democrat “hive mind” we are being something more than metaphorical?

“Root branching toward water involves posttranslational modification of transcription factor ARF7” [Science]. “Plant roots grow not in response to architectural blueprints but rather in search of scarce resources in the soil.” • Cool.

Health Care

“Democrats Winning Key Leadership Jobs Have Taken Millions From Pharma” [Kaiser Health News]. Your winnings, sir.

“The light alternative to Medicare for All” [Axios]. “‘Medicare for All’ is the idea that’s been getting attention from progressive Democrats, but Forbes flags another one that could get attention over the next two years: letting people buy into Medicare between the ages of 55 and 64. Between the lines: It’s a more incremental, centrist option for Medicare expansion than the sweeping idea that’s generating excitement in Democratic circles. (Bill Clinton floated a version of it during his presidency, and moderate House Democrats are its main backers now.)” • Why 55? Why not 54? Or 53? 52? Why not 0?

‘Medicare for All’ Gains Favor With Democrats Looking Ahead to 2020 [New York Times]. “Asked if his vision of Medicare for all included private Medicare Advantage plans, Adam Green, a founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, an advocacy group, said: ‘No, absolutely not. Why would it? Medicare for all, in the end, means fundamental systemic change. People would no longer be at the mercy of for-profit insurers that make money by denying people care..” • “Fundamental systemic change” is, however, not necessarily attractive in and of itself….

Our Famously Free Press

“Politics in 2019 will have a lot more backbone” [Alternet]. • This story is vacuous, but it was a placeholder for me to count how many times the word “reveal” appeared in Alternet’s front page. Now it’s four; when I stashed this link, it was seven. I’m not sure what this says about the zeitgeist, but nothing good.

Class Warfare

How intersectionality ought to work:

“Q & A with Avner Offer & Gabriel Söderberg” [Princeton University Press] (authors of The Nobel Factor The Prize in Economics, Social Democracy, and the Market Turn). “Nobel prize-winners provide a high-quality sample of economics. The prize has a halo that makes economics credible to the wider public, for policies which are often inimical to the public interest. It arose out of the long conflict between the interests of the wealthy in stable prices, and of everyone else in social and material improvement. Between the wars, this conflict became focused in central banks, which became a brake on social democracy. After the Second World War, the Swedish Central Bank clashed repeatedly with the social democratic government over financing the welfare state, and extracted the prize as a concession. The prize was then captured by conservative Swedish economists, who used it to provide credibility for sustained resistance to social democracy. This story shows how ideas and arguments work through society and politics, and how the prestige of science has been mobilised for political ends.” • Princeton, eh?

“I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America.” [HuffPo]. • Hmm. Well written, but I’m not sure about that title.

News of the Wired

“A strange museum at the ‘centre of the world'” [BBC]. “In 1985, the French-born parachuting pioneer [Jacques-André Istel] cajoled California’s Imperial County Board of Supervisors into designating a spot on his property as The Official Centre of the World. (Audacious, perhaps, but not necessarily inaccurate, given that anywhere on the Earth’s surface could be the centre.)… Today, 20 granite monuments, arranged at artful angles across the desert floor, collectively make up The Museum of History in Granite, a sort of open-air bank of knowledge for the ages.” • The monuments remind me of the Watts Towers. There must be a word for life-long idiosyncratic projects like this, but I don’t know what it is. Maybe in German?

The container for the thing contained:

All labor is skilled labor:

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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 (CW):

CW: “Attached is my backyard during one of our heavier down pours. Had over a metre of rain in December, not a new record, but it surprised many of the locals. Time you guys travelled down under, would give you as much ‘perspective’ as me in your place.” Yves has been to Australia; I have not. But rain? Rain? Can any readers send pictures of plants in snow? It’s about that time.

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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.

130 comments

  1. NotTimothyGeithner

    If there’s anything Trump has taught us, it’s not to underestimate the power of celebrity.

    He beat Jeb! and Hillary, both celebrity candidates. Oprah like Trump did more to get their names out there than those two, but “celebrity” isn’t the key to Trump’s success.

    The U.S. President is the biggest celebrity. The second biggest celebrity is the person who gets the nomination to run against/for (if there is no incumbent) the President. Trump is still a story of widespread dissatisfaction. The South Carolina primary exemplifies what happened. Pundits confidently predicted Trump would collapse down in Bush country (which apparently South Carolina is for reasons…with no elaboration needed). Not only did Trump beat Jeb! down there. He insult Saint McCain along the way.

    Carson and Fiorino had an element of celebrity (his books and she’s always be whispered about as a GOP candidate), and GOP voters looked at them. If you see Trump as a “none of the above” candidate, the whole election makes sense including how Trump could commit so many sins and transgressions against normalcy.

    As far as Oprah, wasn’t that Michael Moore from 2002?

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Trump didn’t win because of celebrity. Lots of celebs run for prez or other offices and get nowhere.

      Trump didn’t win because of racism. Lots of racists win office, most are just better at shutting up about it. Trump’s not actually more (or less) racist than the Bushes, the Clintons or lots of other major political figures.

      Trump ran on immigration, trade, DC corruption, and being anti-stupid wars. He also ran on humiliating the Republican establishment, which, as it turns out, is incredibly popular with Republican base voters.

      His 2020 campaign will be the same, plus more fiscal stimulus. To those who wonder why Republicans win at all, I theorize it’s because of fiscal stimulus, even if it’s got a low multiplier. Republicans get MMT, Democrats refuse it.

      Also, Trump doesn’t push austerity. Dems do. It’s a loser. Clinton cut welfare, Obama did the sequestration cuts, that’s why they both lost congress.

      That’s my rant for the day, enjoy!

      Reply
      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        It’s a weird dynamic: the only reason Dems refuse MMT is because Republicans beat them with the deficit stick bigly come election time.

        But the Republicans run up the deficit with impunity. Guess nobody can risk being seen as unpatriotic by opposing military spending.

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          Please, let me fix that for you….

          “the only reason Dems refuse MMT is because…” they don’t want you to have nice things. :)

          Reply
          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            Damn! Is that really true? We’re effed for sure. I guess despite reading NC for years I still have old habits of thinking.

            I can only plead that your framing confused me: it’s NOT about Dems and Republicans, it’s about the–how did that Atlantic article put it–9.9% vs the rest of us.

            [bangs head on desk]

            Reply
          1. John k

            Dems refuse spending for domestic issues their donors don’t like, like m4a. They never refuse mil or deep spending.
            Actually, both parties are exactly the same, except only the dems have a few progressives that they have to control, so pay go is on deck and likely to pass. Dems will naturally set aside pay go for mil and deep spending.

            Reply
            1. jsn

              The function of the D party is to turn the R garrote just slowly enough that the middle class suffocates before it revolts.

              The Rs can’t help themselves, as a sole party they’d all end up with their heads on pikes, wondering what went wrong.

              Reply
        2. Summer

          They only refuse MMT for all things except the merchants of death and their wars. The way its described (MMT) sounds exactly like the attitude these tools of empire take when it comes to coming up with money for degenerate war.

          I despise all of them.

          Reply
      2. fajensen

        To those who wonder why Republicans win at all, I theorize it’s because of fiscal stimulus,

        Well, Republicans actually want to win. They seem quite capable of doing whatever it takes with zero ‘effs given for style or ‘optics’!

        What Democrats wants is to grab all that juicy sponsorship money and some fawning media attention. They can perhaps do that work more effectively when “trying” to win, since, if one is kinda planning to lose, more efforts can be directed on the money grubbing work instead of wasting energy on winning.

        Reply
        1. Octopii

          “Fighting”
          “She’s a fighter”
          “I’ll fight for hardworking Americans”

          The Bob Shrum school of losing campaigns.

          Reply
      3. Richard

        I think you are dead on about who’s really pushing austerity for social programs. It’s not like the repubs haven’t taken that role before, and wouldn’t again if they had to. But they don’t need to, the dems do it for them.
        As far as rants go (I speak as a veteran ranter), this was high quality :)

        Reply
      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Trump didn’t win because of celebrity

        Perhaps not, but seven years on The Apprentice was a lot of earned media, and certainly did him no harm. (In my view, many voters felt that Trump’s — let me be extremely nice, here — foibles were “in the price,” and I can’t help but wonder if the persona Trump created on national TV, before his run, had a lot to do with that. For example, wrestling Vince McMahon and then shaving his head.)

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Its great free media, and it led to Trump being the “none of the above” candidate early in the GOP contest. Jeb! and his sheepdogs attacking Trump as “not a true conservative” etc made Trump. The participation in the big show of Hollywood for Ugly People made Trump.

          Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Re Oprah–having previously declared Obama to be The One will she now declare herself to be The One? She seems smart enough not to go there. Maybe it’s only the dumb celebrities who run for president.

      And I like Warren. She might get better as a politician and surprise people. Certainly the Dems could do worse.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I like Warren. She might get better as a politician and surprise people.

        I don’t dislike Warren, and yes, the Democrats could do worse. (I do think she is a “because markets” person, but on a spectrum that starts on the right with, say, Terry McAuliffe, she’s at least an order of magnitude less odious.) That said, good political instincts are a requirement for the job. The whole DNA episode makes me think she lacks them. The right course of action would have been to ask the Cherokee Nation, which she did not do.

        Reply
        1. skippy

          Hay mate ….

          Got to say I really don’t get all the baggage loaded up on Warren that really has no bearing on anything to do with her acumen – contracts e.g. do some realize that 90%+ of all the issues are relative to contracts.

          I mean even MMT is adjudicated by contracts e.g. public health is a contract at the end of the day or say the deliberations of SCOTUS.

          I guess what I’m saying is people are focusing on or projecting on her aspects that are not relevant to her field of expertise, and because of that, knee cap some one that has the gravitas to challenge all the ideologically afflicted.

          Then some lament why the left of progressives have a tendency to shoot themselves in the foot and then complain about how the neoliberals always are in control – too bloody picky and fussy ….

          Reply
        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          The right course of action would have been to ask the Cherokee Nation,

          Warren skipped the Standing Rock protests. The Cherokee Nation leadership went.

          Reply
  2. noonespecial

    Re: A strange museum at the ‘centre of the world / There must be a word for life-long idiosyncratic projects like this

    Maybe a Mandarin term exists.
    From South China Morning Post:
    https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/long-reads/article/2163906/chinese-artist-who-his-inspiration-gaudi-will-not

    Song Peilun is an artist whose project in China’s Yelang Valley whose quest to leave a mark began in 1993. “[The] buildings spread around the 20-hectare… only half of his master plan has been completed…Song is bringing ancient Chinese legends to life…[and says that he uses], ‘pieces of old jars, and even discarded construction materials I take from nearby developments, to give the figures their unique look…Flowerpots become eyes, and old roof tiles form noses…I’ve always been aware of the need to reuse and recycle.”

    Reply
  3. Pat

    I have to admit that if I had money to burn, I would see about buying advertising pointing out that Nancy Pelosi’s rules make it clear that the Democratic leadership not only doesn’t really want to resist or provide an alternative to Trump’s policies, they want to make sure that no one who might get elected without their okay cannot do it either.

    Ending with just voting for Democrats is NOT voting for any real change. That both parties are fully owned subsidies of a small group of very wealthy donors, and the leadership and select minions of both need to go. You have to change the Democrats as much as you have to change the Republicans to get the government the people of this country deserve.

    (I kept saying that every choice made by the party regulars in the election was saying that the Democrats didn’t really want to win majorities in Congress. I think this probably successful action to make anything but symbolic outrage impossible for House Democrats proves they have no desire to really shake the status quo even if that status quo is headed by bete noir Trump.)

    Reply
    1. Summer

      Check out how they’ve rolled out Elizabeth Warren to test drive their PR for 2020.

      And that’s all that is going on there.
      She won’t be the nominee because she is not Goldman Sachs approved and her reform attempts have been minor at best. They still hate her. That’s how feral they and their DNC lovers are.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        It is telling that the liberal Democrat establishment and their assets in the press rolled out Harris (last year) and then Beto (this year). If you’re looking for “the most qualified candidate” — or is that so 2016? — than Warren is clearly better than either.

        Reply
  4. flora

    re: Paygo

    There are 196 Dem reps in the current House of Representatives, 115th Congress.
    They only need 18 NO votes to stop Paygo. Only 2 are a definite NO on Paygo? 2 out of 196?

    Reply
      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Crap! Yup, it’s back
        https://theintercept.com/2019/01/02/nancy-pelosi-pay-go-rule/

        small consolation:
        The pay-go rule House Democrats will institute is actually an improvement on what House Republicans put into place in 2011. They created a rule called “cut-go,” which required any new spending to only be offset with budget cuts instead of tax increases…

        The Democratic leadership replaced that rule with the 2007 version. The new rule establishes a point of order against any bill that increases the deficit within a 10-year budget window, based on figures from the Congressional Budget Office. The House could attach an “emergency” designation to legislation to get around the pay-go rule: Congress did this in 2009 to pass the economic stimulus package under President Barack Obama. The point of order could be waived by a majority vote of the House. But this gives the Democratic leadership another lever of control on what legislation can advance, as their assent would be critical to exempting bills from the pay-go rule. And members of Congress tend to resist voting to waive the rule, as they worry it creates readymade attack ads.

        There is also a Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act, passed in 2010 under pressure from Blue Dog Democrats, which allows the president to enforce across-the-board cuts if Congress violates pay-go. But the prospect of a president implementing such an unpopular policy is remote. So the House rule looms large by constraining new spending at its source.

        Liberals, of course, have plenty of ideas for how to raise revenue. The Trump tax cuts alone offer nearly $3 trillion in potential offsets simply by restoring corporate tax rates, “pass-through” rules on individuals, and inheritance taxes. But the pay-go rule forces Democrats to propose tax increases that Republicans gleefully broadcast. Meanwhile, Republicans, unconcerned with deficits, get to play Santa Claus, freed from having to match tax cuts with anything unappealing.

        Reply
        1. tokyodamage

          I assume ‘paygo’ isn’t meant to stop military spending. . .so I’m not going to bother asking IF there’s a loophole.

          But I’m still morbidly curious – HOW does the loophole function?

          Reply
    1. Lee

      FWIW, I just called Barbara Lee’s office to see how she would vote and was told paygo was a component of larger rules package and that how she would vote had yet to be decided. Being “part of a larger rules package” sounds like a dodge to me. I’ve been voting for her since forever. Maybe forever is over.

      Reply
      1. Fiery Hunt

        Yep…hand waves but goes along with anything the corp Dem leadership wants. Definitely part of Oakland’s Black Misleadership class.

        Reply
        1. Pat

          of course they are, that is the point. Just as the poisonous items are stuck in the big omnibus bills.
          How often have we heard variations on “Well we had to fund X!!!, we’ll work to overturn it later”.

          Reply
      1. Richard

        Jayapal is my representative. I have found her to be:
        1) Wordy and evasive on policy matters.
        2) Given to identity politics postures.
        She seems completely without fire on med4all, and she is the leader, or chief sponsor or whatever, of the house bill! She seems to have no stomach for this. J. Dore reported several weeks ago that she took part in a no media allowed conference with big money dem donors. She and many other “progressive” politicians. I am not actually accusing her of corruption (yet), but a number of warning lights are going off, and I feel compelled to check into her contributions, and who she meets with, as much as I can. Any leads or bright ideas about getting started?

        Reply
        1. flora

          Opensecrets is a good starting point. Here’s the entry for her. You can click across all the tabs for a finer grained break out of contributions/contributors.
          Interesting that big unions are reported to oppose M4A, for whatever reason. Jayapal appears to have a lot of union donations. Maybe no connection. I really wonder why the big unions oppose M4A. (A question for another day.)

          https://www.opensecrets.org/members-of-congress/summary?cid=N00038858

          Reply
          1. Richard

            Thanks Flora for that great link!
            I am actually a member of a smaller union (Seattle Education Association, SEA) who I’m sure endorsed Jayapal. I never notice that stuff because I find it meaningless and don’t think my union should be endorsing anyone. I haven’t joined and won’t join the WEA or NEA.
            Now I need to check where my union stands on med4all, too. A little embarrassing, quite the oversight on my part.

            Reply
          2. Richard

            You are right, there are a ton of union contributions at the 10,000 and 5,000 dollar levels. Lots of trades unions. American Federation of Teachers, which is interesting, because I don’t think they even represent any teachers in her (our) legislative district. My union either didn’t contribute, or didn’t crack the top 100.
            The biggest thing I noticed was less than 20% small contributions, 64% were large contributions.
            Another red flag, Pramilla! We don’t appear to have your ear…

            Reply
          3. Carla

            Politicians — unions — all workin’ for the same people, and it ain’t us.

            Don’t get me wrong — working people need to form unions to represent them, but all too often, the unions working people need are not the unions we have.

            Reply
      2. Richard

        Just checked out her contributors on Opensecrets link that Flora was kind enough to send to me. 64% from large donors, 19% from small donors, the rest in PACs.
        I’m with K. Kulinski on this. If you’re not 100% small donors at this point, or pretty close to it, then you don’t get it. I can’t count on you at all.
        I don’t really know what “progressive” means. We have to pick a label the liberals won’t just steal when it suits them. Like they stole “liberal” for instance, if that isn’t too confusing an example :)
        I’ve got to say it: “labor” wins. The rest of the world might just be on to something! It does seem harder for the retired software execs and identity warriors to steal.
        It’s either that, or monkey butts. We could call ourselves monkey butts. They’d never steal that.

        Reply
      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        Jayapal is a co-chair of the Medicare for All caucus. From Roll Call, November 20, 2018:

        Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who founded the Medicare-for-All Caucus earlier this year and is chief among those calling for a vote on a single-payer measure, acknowledged those priorities are important and should be addressed, but said it was also the time to turn to a broader overhaul of the health system.

        “We should continue to try to shore up health care as we have it, but we really have to be pushing to a complete transformation of our health care system and not just trying to do little fixes here or there because we’re still leaving out too many Americans who are literally cutting their pharmaceuticals into half because they can’t afford it, or getting off of health care because it’s not a choice to pay another $300 a month,” she said.

        A bill has little chance of winning support from Senate Republicans and Trump, so some Democratic advisers are wary of highlighting an issue that divides the party and could open up lawmakers to outside attacks.

        “Until they do a better job of selling this thing*, I don’t want to see this become a litmus issue for 2020,” said Jim Manley, a Democratic operative who worked for then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

        As I keep saying, preventing Medicare for All is the liberal Democrat faction’s #1 policy goal for this election cycle. That’s what PayGo is about, and that’s what Jayapal is enabling here. A step up on the leadership ladder for her, I am sure.

        NOTE * This in an article that starts out by saying Medicare for All polls well, i.e., that voters want it.

        Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      Surely this doesn’t surprise you. The Democrats, after all, spent the last election campaign chasing after the votes of suburban Republicans for a reason. Having succeeded in electing a Democrat caucus that is actually more *conservative* than it was in the last Congress, they are now prepared to give their big donors exactly what they want.

      Reply
  5. allan

    Greenland melt drives continuous export of methane from the ice-sheet bed [Nature]

    Abstract: Ice sheets are currently ignored in global methane budgets1,2. Although ice sheets have been proposed to contain large reserves of methane that may contribute to a rise in atmospheric methane concentration if released during periods of rapid ice retreat3,4, no data exist on the current methane footprint of ice sheets. Here we find that subglacially produced methane is rapidly driven to the ice margin by the efficient drainage system of a subglacial catchment of the Greenland ice sheet. We report the continuous export of methane-supersaturated waters (CH4(aq)) from the ice-sheet bed during the melt season. Pulses of high CH4(aq) concentration coincide with supraglacially forced subglacial flushing events, confirming a subglacial source and highlighting the influence of melt on methane export. … Overall, our results indicate that ice sheets overlie extensive, biologically active methanogenic wetlands and that high rates of methane export to the atmosphere can occur via efficient subglacial drainage pathways. Our findings suggest that such environments have been previously underappreciated and should be considered in Earth’s methane budget.

    N=1, so no problemo.

    Reply
  6. Lee

    Class Warfare

    How intersectionality ought to work:

    In the 1934 S.F. General Strike, Harry Bridges convinced strikers that full equality for Black longshoremen was necessary. He urged Blacks to join strikers on the picket, saying that when the strike was won, Blacks would work on every dock on the West Coast. He kept his promise.

    When I ran away from home to join the circus that was Berkeley in the 60s, I ended up for a time as a longshoreman on the San Francisco docks in the waning days of hand loading pallets in the holds of ships. I was then a skinny white kid from the suburbs and had had hardly any contact with African Americans. Most of the guys I worked with were really big black guys and I was at first rather intimidated. But they were so damned nice to me. It still warms my heart to think back on those days. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
  7. JohnnyGL

    Laundry coin arbitrage….I’m going to lever 100×1!!!

    “Hey can I borrow $10K?”
    “Huh? For what?”
    “I’m going to take Amazon for like $200!!!”

    Or maybe I’ll just chuckle and drop the idea :) Seems like a low-margin business. :)

    Reply
    1. turtle

      Since that’s a third-party seller, it means that Amazon is not losing any money on the deal. They are probably keeping between $2 and $3 for each roll, meaning the seller is selling $10 for about $7 or $8.

      Definitely stolen quarters.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        So does that mean that the seller is engaged in….money laundering of laundry money?

        Sorry….I couldn’t help myself…. :)

        Reply
  8. marku52

    Epic rant by Andrew Sullivan on Trump and Syria….
    “We should be asking how on earth did the Establishment find a way to occupy yet another Middle Eastern country without any democratic buy-in at all. At least there was a congressional debate before the Iraq War and a robust public discussion. This time, they have launched a new war, occupied a third of another country, changed the rationale so they stay for ever, and tried to hide it!”

    http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/12/andrew-sullivan-establishment-will-never-say-no-to-a-war.html

    Reply
    1. allan

      “a robust public discussion”

      Where robust means writing stuff like

      The middle part of the country—the great red zone that voted for Bush—is clearly ready for war. The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead—and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column.

      Sullivan, like all of the War Hawks from the Bush years who are now treated as serious voices of conscience,
      should spend the rest of his life contemplating in silence the carnage he helped foist upon the world.

      Reply
        1. marku52

          Yup. from the article:

          “Sorry, but I also fail to see how it will endanger the United States. I’ve heard these arguments so many times before — and I used them myself, to my eternal shame, before the Iraq catastrophe.”

          Sounds like he has learned, unlike so many others

          Reply
      1. ambrit

        And, a buy in? Like in a permanent floating poker game? Money is needed up front to gamble on your health? Thus, those of constrained means get to go off and die under a bridge somewhere, with the governments approval. Will the ‘buy in’ get prorated? Gives a new/old spin to ‘Wheel of Fortune.’

        Reply
        1. crittermom

          “Money is needed up front to gamble on your health?”

          Yup.
          I know someone who is retired, on SS, & paying for supplemental insurance for dental, etc.

          He broke a molar, had a crown put on & sent the bill to the ins co.
          They refused it, saying he was ten days shy of coverage since he hadn’t paid in for a full year yet!

          Apparently, for some policies, you must gamble on your health for a year without coverage (but while still paying in), even before said coverage begins. Wowsers.

          And that’s under current policies. It scares me to see what they’ll come up with next as those in power prefer to dismiss the wishes of so many citizens wanting coverage for all.
          What a racket.

          Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For people who were 54 in 2009, and still living*, they are 64 now in 2019.

      *Too late for not a few.

      Reply
    2. John k

      I think it was bad joe killed the extension… so think this may be the best, or only, way to move the needle.
      Oppo to this in the absence of a majority in Congress for m4a is repeating joes work.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Oppo to this in the absence of a majority in Congress for m4a is repeating joes work.

        Or oppo to this in a situation where all Democrats can do is frame the debate is exactly the thing to do.

        Reply
  9. ChiGal in Carolina

    Traditional Medicare paid for 80% of treatment it covered, and paid the same government-set price for those services regardless of provider. From the get-go, people had the option of buying supplemental insurance policies from the private sector which would cover the other 20%. Supplemental policies ONLY paid for what Medicare paid 80% of.

    I do not recall that there is a plan to do away with supplemental policies and increase Medicare to covering 100% of the cost of services it deems needed at the price it sets. Thus even if Medicare Advantage goes away, AS IT SHOULD, there will probably still be a role for private insurance.

    Maybe someone can correct me since at the moment I don’t recall this being addressed.

    Reply
    1. KB

      HR676 (Rep. Conyers bill) has NO cost sharing whatsoever in it. No co-pays, no deductibles no nothing….Of course the Dems are up to changing a great bill as I type.

      Reply
      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        There is cost-sharing, but you pay your premiums to the government. (It’s funded by various progressive taxes on both individuals and employers as well as a surtax on those with the highest incomes. Also it saves $$ by eliminating redundant bureaucracies and containing costs through setting prices for provider fees and pharmaceuticals.)

        Not sure why I’m confused…

        Reply
        1. marym

          Both House and Senate bills provide for full coverage, no cost-sharing, and no duplicate coverage to be offered by private insurance.

          HR 676

          SEC. 104. PROHIBITION AGAINST DUPLICATING COVERAGE.
          (a) In General.—It is unlawful for a private health insurer to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under this Act.

          SEC 102c
          (c) No Cost-Sharing.—No deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, or other cost-sharing shall be imposed with respect to covered benefits.

          S 1804

          SEC. 107. PROHIBITION AGAINST DUPLICATING COVERAGE. [ by private ensurers or employer benefits]

          SEC. 202. NO COST-SHARING.
          (a) In General.—The Secretary shall ensure that no cost-sharing, including deductibles, coinsurance, copayments, or similar charges, be imposed on an individual for any benefits provided under this Act, except as described in subsection (b).80 [exceptions for some capped copay for prescription drug costs and cost of long-term care which this bill, unlike HR 676, expects to be covered b Medicaid ]

          I’m not clear on the proposed status of the current Medicare premium. HR 676 includes “existing sources of revenue” and other progressive “tax” revenue as you describe. In S 1804 I think it’s excluded (SEC. 701), but there aren’t funding provisions in this bill (Sanders produced a white paper at one time, with alternatives for funding). I think the intent is to replace the current premium, but there would be some form of progressive tax for individuals, such as those in HR 676.

          It’s confusing, imo, because it’s past the point now where there should be more definite specifications on funding. Now that the D’s have the House, wouldn’t a CBO score be nice? There’s also a recent study for the Sanders bill here (link to summary, link to PDF) based on funding alternatives.

          Reply
          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            Thanks marym, I actually think that is the source of my confusion, so much talk and nothing concrete. I read the bills, the white paper, all of the charts and breakdowns of PNHP and HOPE, the hopelessly outdated Friedman study so long ago that it is all turning into mist in my head.

            It was interesting to me that the response of PNHP to the latest study was basically, “Whoa there, we’re not gonna realize those cost savings that quickly…”

            The one thing I really wish is that we would start framing at least the individual tax as paying the premium to the government…the T word is deadly.

            Though how that will work for those at the upper end of the scale who use little health care and will be paying higher premiums is a head-scratcher…

            Reply
          2. SpringTexan

            The 20%/supplemental policy coverage possibility was put in in the first place as a sop to industry and it’s been huge for insurance companies while they still don’t bear the bulk of the risk. Yes the REAL MfA proposals get rid of it.

            Reply
          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Now that the D’s have the House, wouldn’t a CBO score be nice?

            Not in a context where PayGo is a constraint. That’s exactly the same scam the liberal Democrats used in 2009.

            We might as well admit that #MedicareForAll is going to net out negative when the Federal budget is the only thing that is taken into account. It nets out massively positive when our entire political economy is taken into account, which it is the happy task of the CBO and PayGo to obscure.

            Reply
    2. Jon S

      “letting people buy into Medicare between the ages of 55 and 64”

      At what price? Sounds like a cool, progressive thing until you get that buy-in invoice for $25k.

      Reply
      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Last year I paid $15,600 in premiums for Obamacare. Nowhere near met any deductible cuz it wasn’t a surgery year.

        This year they have a bronze plan with set copays instead of percentages, which are risky, and I am paying $600 less a month in premiums. More than enough savings to offset the higher copays since mostly all I need is routine preventive care which is free and meds, which cost the same BCBS negotiated price whether silver or bronze.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Sweet Yeshua Incarnate! Your last year premiums are more than I make! There really is a two tier system here now. Indeed, a graduated series of ‘systems’ that manage to keep actual medical care just out of the reach of most of the public.

          Reply
          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            Half what I make, yup. I’m in a temporarily difficult situation having relocated to provide mom care and been without a job.

            I am SO angry with Obama for caving on health care.

            Reply
            1. allan

              “angry with Obama for caving on health care”

              All evidence points to Obama knowing exactly what he was doing and getting the results he wanted. What is unclear is whether or not he actually thought that by giving Big Pharma and the insurance industry what they desired they would then leave the ACA alone.
              A periodic reminder that the “or” in “Stupid or evil?” is nonexclusive.

              Reply
            2. ambrit

              You are bordering on: A) Saintliness for helping your Mom to your own disadvantage, and B) firmly in the region of Psychopathy, as defined by the Neoliberal Dispensation Code Book. (To them, anyone exhibiting selflessness is ‘Certifiable’ as ‘Not With the Game Plan,’ etc.)

              Reply
    3. Jeremy Grimm

      We need Medicare for all. But why is the Medical Industrial Complex allowed to set the price on a service like Medical Care and the associated Pharma?

      We also need to break the AMA unions and professional boards that set prices for services; the outrageous charges for medical school and the ridiculous methods used for selecting our doctors and then hazing the ‘lucky’ winners in residency indentures; the local hospital monopolies that charge whatever they feel like; the Medical Equipment industry that creates the over-priced instruments, machines, accessories, and software which physicians and hospitals purchase; the blood-sucking malpractice insurance paying for the nonexistent professional policing of incompetent physicians; and the outrageous charges for medicines and vaccines by the Pharma faction of the Medical Industrial Complex. And what is worse still — I have probably missed a large number of the parasitic charges and expenses that plague what is called ‘medical’ care. Hippocrates, even allowing for the clear guild and collegial-fraternal elements in his oath — IS spinning in his grave. If we could hook his corpse to a generator we might power a great city.

      Reply
      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Well spoken sir! Why? Because it’s the American way, of course. The rights of the individual taken to extremes at the expense of the collective.

        M4A will set prices for all those things and there is much evidence to suggest that in fact providers will be happier earming less and actually being able to provide CARE for their patients.

        Reply
      2. Kurtismayfield

        The Federal Govt puts in $5B a year into medical training and funding residencies.

        The total costs for running all of the Medical Schools in the US is $20B.

        If we wanted to, we could subsidize the education of every doctor in the country for $15B more. But that would mean Doctors would be free to do whatever they want to. Debt slavery is a feature of the system, not a bug.

        Here is an article from the grey lady estimating the cost to subsidize Medical tuition:

        https://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/opinion/29bach.html

        Reply
  10. Geo

    How intersectionality ought to work:

    He kept his promise.

    That’s a novel approach Dem leaders could try when appealing to black voters.

    Reply
  11. Knifecatcher

    I’m not forklift certified. But through a strange set of circumstances I find myself the owner/operator of a forklift. A telehandler, to be specific, which is kind of like the love child of a forklift and a crane.

    While I’m nowhere near the level of ability shown in the video I’m prouder of having learned to operate that machine than anything I’ve done in my career in at least the last decade.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      The guy who lives downstairs works forklift. I’ll share your comment with him. The trouble with the blue-collar guys is that they are so damned skilled they make what they do look easy — and it isn’t.

      Reply
    2. ambrit

      I am forklift certified and I would not rate my chances of pulling off that stunt with my rudimentary skills very highly.
      As to a telehandler, well, your depth perception has to be nurtured. Eat lots of carrots!

      Reply
  12. Geo

    “I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America.”

    Amazing article. Thanks so much for this link. Well worth the read.

    Reply
    1. Annotherone

      I agree, the writer enticed me to read her piece right to the end – quite an achievement for me these days! Oh, and thank YOU too. I’d probably have missed the piece completely had I not noticed your comment.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      You’re welcome!

      My comment on “worst of”… I’m thinking of Virginia Woolf’s comment that “Those comfortably padded lunatic asylums which are known, euphemistically, as the stately homes of England.” People who are ordering cable and then dealing with the cable guy, instead of having their people do that, have no real power.

      Reply
  13. JohnnyGL

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/21/opinion/sunday/immigration-border-policy-citizenship.html

    I’m not sure if this Michelle Alexander piece has been featured here or not, but it’s worth a look. She’s written some really excellent stuff (New Jim Crow) and made a strong case against HRC in 2016, a very courageous thing to do.

    That said, I find this piece to be a disaster. It’s nearly open advocacy for open borders. It follows a kind of bizarre moral logic, painting Americans as a bunch of undeserving beneficiaries of the fruits of citizenship.

    One argument I don’t hear enough about from the open-borders crowd is how we’re supposed to function as a democracy if we can’t control who lives here and who decides who gets to lead the country. It’s clear the Dem Party wants to bring in a new bundle of people who will bring them some kind of demographic electoral bailout from it’s own failures. Open borders advocates refuse to acknowledge that they’re actively trying to dilute our power as voters/citizens, and they’re beating us over the head with moral arguments to disempower us.

    Angela Nagle’s piece in Current Affairs made the very important point that the country from which people emigrate loses the energy and vitality of its people and is made worse off because of it. Where’s the moral quandry from Alexander about America as a parasite, robbing other countries of their best human capital?

    This kind of lunacy will guarantee Trump’s 2nd term…and the next Trump after that.

    Reply
    1. Another Scott

      I’m not sure the Dems want to bring new people into the country for the demographics as much as they do for the same reason people like Bush and the Koch brothers did – to increase the supply of labor for low- and medium-skilled workers. This will drive down the costs for the owners, including businesses and 10% with maids and lawn services. It’s about economics for many of them, just like it is for many people opposing immigration.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Could be both. Remember that Rey Teixeira’s theory, on which the partisan version of identity politics is built, is that demographics must inevitably bring Democrats to power. Maybe the liberal Democrat hive mind has decided that’s not working out fast enough, and so they need a demographic boost.

        Reply
    2. jrs

      I’d need evidence ACTUAL Dems want any such thing. Maybe in rhetoric some do, but in rhetoric they are for a lot of things. It’s not how Obama governed and that’s a pretty good template of actual mainstream Dem government.

      Of course Dems are not to be confused with the Left some of who actually DO want open borders.

      And of course the reality is Dems don’t need any new voters to win in all liklihood, they just need to stop R’s from disenfranchising existing voters.

      Reply
      1. John k

        I assume dems are good with reps success in evicting voters from the rolls on account many might be progressives. My evidence is that dems do nothing to resist it.

        Reply
    3. Octopii

      I don’t understand the open borders thing – it’s completely reactionary and makes no sense whatsoever for anyone wanting a stronger social safety net in this country. A better thing to support would be stable governments throughout Latin America to stop them coming here. It’s hard to cover all with Medicare when “all” means the half the neighbors too.

      Reply
    1. jrs

      one does what one can but yes one is bombarded with real industrial toxins, including those left by the MIC as well as industry (and that’s some extreme levels of toxicity the MIC generated in the 20th century and on). And that’s not even counting our stressful lives. The poor get even more toxin exposure than those better off who are also often bathing in industrial toxins, and then they don’t get healthcare.

      Reply
  14. Gregorio

    Why is Tulsi Gabbard never mentioned in any of these potential candidate ratings. The last I looked she had an exploratory committee gauging a run.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Because she hasn’t released a video that features her life story while saying nothing about her policy proposals. Y’know, like Elizabeth Warren.

      Reply
      1. SpringTexan

        Elizabeth Warren said a LOT in that video and laid down a marker. If you can’t see that, you are blind.

        And Tulsi Gabbard is horrible, she’s pro-Modi and anti-Muslim with a bunch of rightwing stuff in her background. Good personality? Yes. Good candidate? No!!!

        Reply
          1. RWood

            Daily K wants “congrats to Nancy”
            rat-faced familybloggers to the right of us
            familyblogging hypocrites to the other right

            Reply
        1. Richard

          If you’re talking about Warren’s first campaign video, then I challenge you to find where she mentions a single policy proposal. Or commits herself to fight for any material benefit, for a nation that sorely needs it.
          imo, warren wants wiggle room, which only ever works in one direction, to water down, reduce, delay and obfuscate. The video had its strengths, but saying a lot wasn’t one of them.
          I obviously need to look into Tulsi’s bg a bit; I see she does get some heat. Her opposition to u.s. imperialism has earned respect however, as it seems to be principled and steadfast. “Anti-muslim”, especially with no evidence, seems like inflamatory name calling.

          Reply
    2. John k

      She would be running against Bernie. Her best shot is as his vp… suspect she and aoc will campaign with him to help with female vote.

      Reply
      1. SpringTexan

        I would love to see Sanders/Warren or Warren/Sanders, yes prefer the first. I want them both in the race cuz there’s a lot of educating about Wall Street hegemony yet to do and both of them can do it from their differing but negative perspectives.

        Reply
        1. SpringTexan

          And I’m sending $$ to both. There will be a lot of people in the race and the more anti-Wall-Street people there the less that will get marginalized.

          Reply
      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Maybe if Sanders and Warren and Gabbard and all sorts of people LIKE THAT ran through the primaries and caucuses, it could bring out a bigger voting public to vote for one or another of them. That might amount to a bigger-than-otherwise aggregate vote total for their kind of Democrats.

        Perhaps between the last primary and the Convention, all the leaderships of the Sanders, Warren, Gabbard, etc. groups could conspire together to have all their delegates vote for ONE of the three . . . . logically THE one who had the most delegates to begin with. He or she could then pick the one who had the SECOND most delegates to be his/her running mate. That might be a way to frustrate the mainstream Democrats’ plans to deny one of the “Lefter” Democrats a first ballot victory.

        Reply
        1. John k

          I wonder a little if Warren was recruited to run to cut into sanders total. I see her with very little chance, far down in the polls at 4%, and will always be anathema to the banks even if she might have made up with ins and pharmacies… really can’t see her winning on first ballot, and she will never get the supers if the banks have their thumbs down.

          Reply
  15. chuck roast

    I am looking forward to the day when we have Improved Medicare for All. Medicare Advantage may well be a foot-in-the-door-grift for private healthcare clinics. After all, what self-respecting member of the bourgeoize would want to wait around with the great unwashed to get his blood-pressure checked?

    It is my understanding that in Canada, private health care providers are not allowed to deliver services provided by Provincial Health Authorities. Although private providers may maintain a private practice. This provision may be seen to undermine the entire system. The brethren from the great white north are welcome to weigh in here.

    This from http://www.canadian-healthcare.org

    Private Clinics
    In addition to public health care providers such as primary care doctors and hospitals, many private clinics offering specialized services also operate in Canada. Under federal law, private clinics are not legally allowed to provide services covered by the Canada Health Act. Regardless of this legal issue, many do offer such services.
    The advantage of private clinics is that they typically offer services with reduced wait times compared to the public health care system. For example, obtaining an MRI scan in a hospital could require a waiting period of months, whereas it could be obtained much faster in a private clinic.
    Private clinics are a subject of controversy, as some feel that their existence unbalances the health care system and favors treatments to those with higher incomes. Costs in private clinics are usually covered by private insurance policies, which will typically pay around 80% of the costs.

    Let’s hope the day comes soon when we can have this discussion.

    Reply
    1. Roger Boyd

      Public healthcare in Canada is provided by the provinces, not from the federal level. Each province has its own range of exceptions for private providers, with the more right-wing ones like Alberta providing more exceptions. Still more around the edges, such as blood test centres and physiotherapists etc.

      In Germany, if I understand correctly, they have single payer but a lot of privatized providers. The important thing is the ability of the single payer to control costs, including on the rentiers in the drug industry and not making multi-millionaires out of doctors. They still pay well in Canada for specialists, an anaesthesiologist makes over C$400,000 per year for instance.

      Reply
      1. Isotope_C14

        You have a choice between private and public insurance. The vast majority of folks I know are on public. They take the fee out of your wages, and drugs are free. I had a ER visit in the summer for a pneumonia, and what would have been 50k stateside was nothing.

        “Pie in the sky, and will never come to pass”

        Reply
  16. The Rev Kev

    “YouTube faces backlash on Twitter over lifted, uncredited holiday video”

    And this is a major reason why I have grown to dislike tech companies. They steal, even when they don’t have to. It is in their nature to take something for themselves whether it be a public space or good or the work of an artist and use it for themselves for free. They could have contacted that woman, asked to use that video and given her full credit for it and that would have also given them a feel-good story of how anyone on YouTube can have their work achieve fame. The PR department would have loved it. Instead, they swiped it, filed off the serial numbers, and tried to pretend that it was an in-house thing.

    Reply
  17. Alex Morfesis

    Yeehhaaa…copyright freedom day…another excuse to not get things done on my todooz list for 2019…this stuff will carry me thru to at least June…and can then recycle this years planned excuses into 2020…people around me have short memories…1923…yeeehhhaaa…

    Reply
  18. Carey

    Last two paras of the NYT Medicare for All article:

    “…Some health policy experts have suggested building a national health insurance program on Medicare Advantage rather than on the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program.

    “Medicare Advantage for all — that would be a much more politically feasible and a uniquely American spin on single payer,” said John K. Gorman, a former Medicare official who is a consultant to many insurers. “It would be Medicare paying all the bills, but it would be privately administered by heavily regulated plans that would effectively serve as utilities.”

    Reply
    1. flora

      “Medicare Advantage plans are administered by private health insurers and you’ll be required to follow your plan’s rules. Original Medicare allows you to see just about any doctor and go to any hospital that accepts Medicare , which most providers accept. With Medicare Advantage plans, you’re typically restricted to the doctors and hospitals included in the plan’s network. You might need referrals to see a specialist.”

      https://www.webmd.com/health-insurance/medicare-advantage-private-health-insurance-through-medicare

      So, basically, Medicare Advantage plans are HMOs. yippee….. and

      “Medicare Advantage plans must follow rules set by the federal government, but they can charge different amounts for co-payments and deductibles and have their own requirements, such as getting a referral from a primary care provider before you can see a specialist.”

      I’m sure Wall St. loves the idea. Is that what Mr. Gorman, quoted in NYT, means by “much more politically feasible.” ? As far as a ‘uniquely American spin’, that’s exactly what we’re trying to get away from, imo.

      Reply
  19. drumlin woodchuckles

    Are there 18 House Dems who hate Nancy Pelosi enough to vote no on paygo out of pure spite and revenge? Are there 18 Rustbelt Dems in the House who would use this vote to get revenge on Nancy for NAFTA, WTO, MFN for China, etc. whether they are progressive or not?

    Reply
  20. Gary B

    Speaking as a long-time forklift operator, I have to question the “All labor is skilled labor” trope. I mean, it’s a generous, affirming thought, the kind that looks good lettered in white at the bottom of the black border found around the kind of motivational posters they used to have in the meeting rooms of the warehouse I work in. It’s the kind of thought that management regularly nods its head to.

    But the kind of “skill” that “all labor” can claim is the kind of skill that Starbucks will give you a tall cup of coffee for.

    If you also have two dollars.

    I don’t say that to demean unskilled labor. I say that because, for Labor, the only point in talking about “skilled labor” is not some happy talk about how everybody has a talent. It’s the leverage of employing such a complicated, hard won aggregate of skills that you can’t be easily replaced by someone “off the street.”

    A few years ago, I read Harry Braverman’s Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century. When I read what he said about Capital’s “deskilling” of labor as the disintegration of the various trades, with their years-long paths through apprentice, and journeyman to “master,” breaking them down into isolated subroutines that are then aggregated, not in a person, but in a factory, I knew he had me pegged. Not that I hadn’t acquired a lot of skills in the course of passing through a variety of jobs. It was that each of those jobs had involved minimal training at a tightly limited set of operations. Some of those operations involved great precision, like when I was cutting the rotors for industrial airlocks on a massive machinist’s lathe to tolerances of five ten thousandths of an inch. Some of those operations required precise hand-eye-machine coordination, like when I was moving pallets of over a ton up and in and out and down from racks twenty-five feet overhead, with a computer prodding me to move from pallet to pallet and slot to slot as fast as possible. Those were significant skills, but each of those skills, in isolation, could be learned in a few weeks time, at most.

    Braverman noted that such dis-integrated functions were identified as semi-skilled, but then went on to dismiss such designation as management puffery. When skill is keen but fragmented, labor is defenestrated and saying that “All labor is skilled labor” is little more than an epitaph for craftsmanship and trades effectively lost.

    BTW: Flicking lighters is a new one to me. Using forklifts to pick up quarters off the floor is what we used to play at.

    Reply
    1. Richard

      The same labor history prof who introduced me to Harry Bridges (as a historical figure, not literally, I’m not that old:)) had me read Braverman’s book. It’s stuck with me as very few required readings ever have. Very few books, even.
      The process he illuminates where skilled journeymen devolve into “semi-skilled” employees, where job-related independence was replaced by wage slavery, gets woven in for me with all the other great tragedies of our past. That book played a big part in how I see our past. Thanks for the reminder.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > When I read what he said about Capital’s “deskilling” of labor as the disintegration of the various trades, with their years-long paths through apprentice, and journeyman to “master,”

      I experienced the last of that when I worked in the mills, so perhaps my views are colored by the past.

      >When skill is keen but fragmented, labor is defenestrated and saying that “All labor is skilled labor” is little more than an epitaph for craftsmanship and trades effectively lost.

      Ugh. I’m picturing a warehouse with, say, twenty forklifts, all operating remotely. Is that accurate?

      Reply
  21. How Is It legal

    Re the Ro Khanna Pay Go Nay Vote

    I’m commenting as someone who has lived in one of Ro Khanna’s District 17 cities well before he was elected, and Silicon Valley in general for at least four decades; certainly longer than he has, and certainly during his Peter Thiel and Marissa Mayer supported campaign, along with his recent Pwogwessive House Rep years whereby he’s been promoting an amoral Silicon Valley Ideology across the US (most especially in Ohio, where his quite wealthy Republican Father in Law is quite ‘active’ in State Politics).

    Has no one noticed that Ro Bama Khanna still sports this, on one of his three Twitter mini Bios,

    Bridging national divide w/ a 21st century economic vision for new jobs & more pay in places left behind. No PAC $$ [his NoPAC$$ spiel has already been discredited- How is it legal]. Pro-growth progressive. Obama Commerce alum

    while he has never once addressed how it is has that Silicon Valley has a record number of unsheltered homeless people who were born here, and had jobs for decades, yet live in increasing despair, fear and homelessness.

    I’ll give Ro Khanna credit when his vote is actually a necessary and defining vote, versus a cheap identity trick in a perversely likely, already doomed vote (because Lifer Demorats gut from the back, while Lifer Republicans gut from the front), in order to eventually run for president on the Ro Bama Khanna, Identity ticket.

    He has been a quite vocal ally of Nancy Pelosi, up until winning his recent re- election, and likely still is, when ‘need be.’

    Reply
  22. ChristopherJ

    Thank you, Lambert. My place in your picture.

    Weather has modified, but we’re prepared for big one here, given global changes we see…

    Had third car (indulgence) under a cover. Snake gets underneath and under bonnet. Dog (mini foxy) destroys car cover.

    Next night, he scratches all over the hood (bonnet) and there are teeth marks in the fender (guard).

    Yes, I know what the cheaper option is too. Lovey thinks she’ll be able to claim on insurance…

    Reply
  23. drumlin woodchuckles

    Resilience.org has run an interesting little article on shrubs and why shrubs are such fast growers and high-rate photosynthesizers that they deserve to be considered and used as the powerful carbon-suckers and carbon-bio-sequesterisers they really are.

    https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-01-02/native-shrubs-and-why-theyre-essential-for-carbon-sequestration/

    And the article itself contains a link to a fairly detailed little article on the science of why-how that is.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4961008/

    And if all this is reliably true, then perhaps shrubs and shrub-assemblies should be considered for use in shrub and pasture/range systems. It could be called shrubopasture in honor of silvopasture.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Thanks for that one. It’s interesting.

      It’s also a reminder that I need to come up with a plan for spring planting! Hopefully, my raspberry canes start spreading around the way raspberries generally like to do.

      Reply

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