2:00PM Water Cooler 1/23/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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


These are all accounts I’ve followed since Ferguson days. I know the Twitter isn’t representative, but Black Twitter is a thing, and in their milieus, these are all what we would call “thought leaders,” if this were a TED talk:

Harris (1):

Harris (2):

Harris (3):

* * *

And speaking of Cardi B, “‘Vote for Daddy Bernie, bitch’: the political history of Cardi B” [Guardian]. • Oops.

And Harris (4):

Oh, great: “Fight for….” Always fighting, never winning! “Truth, decency, justice, and equality.” And, no doubt, apple pie. And motherhood. (Oh wait, that’s “young Mom” Gillibrand. My bad.)

UPDATE “Sen. Bernie Sanders changes his message to black voters: ‘Racism is alive’” [WaPo]. “But this time Sanders has worked to forge more connections in [South Carolina] and the broader black community, and polling has consistently shown him with high favorable numbers among black voters. Since 2016, he has endorsed strikes and union drives by nonwhite workers in Los Angeles and Mississippi, and he lent his support to new, young black mayors in Birmingham, Ala., and Jackson, Miss.” • I think WaPo has the Black Misleadership Class confused with the black electorate. For example: “‘We all have records that we have to defend,’ House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) said in a short interview near the state capitol. ‘I have no idea what all this stuff is, but the fact is, [Harris] was an attorney general, and the law dictates what she had to do. She should not be held responsible for the law.'” • Start with this: Clyburn seems never to have heard of prosecutorial discretion. What garbage.

UPDATE “Pete Buttigieg Thinks All the 2020 Democrats Are Too Old” [Politico]. “‘If you’re my age or younger, you were in high school when the school shootings became widespread; you’re going to be dealing with climate change for most of your adult life in specific, noticeable ways,’ Buttigieg told me recently over a lunch of tempura fried chicken in New York. ‘You’re going to be dealing with the consequences of what they’ve done to the debt; you’re on track to be the first generation ever to make less than your parents, unless something changes; and your generation furnished most of the troops for the post-9/11 wars. It just gives you a very different relationship to political decision makers and decision making.” • Who’s “they”? That 70-year-old Walmart greeter? Anyhow, Harris [x] black [x] woman, but Buttigieg [x] young [x] gay. I just can’t make up my mind!

UPDATE Gillibrand:

“Done enough advocacy.” Wait. What’s that sound I hear? Ka…. Ka-ching? Nah. Couldn’t be. Anyhow, how can anybody Jon Favreau plays gotcha on become the Leader Of The Free World?

UPDATE A good question:


“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Tax Hike Idea Is Not About Soaking the Rich” [Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, New York Times]. “[The] root justification [for higher top marginal income tax rates] is not about collecting revenue. It is about regulating inequality and the market economy. It is also about safeguarding democracy against oligarchy. It has always been about that.” • Indeed. (It’s amusingly ironic that the party that still reveres Alzheimer’s victim Reagan is trying to pin the label “crazy” on AOC; presumably the endorsement of Saez (and, implicitly, the Times editors who wrote the headline) is enough to refute that for liberal Democrats who, if and when they finally decide to put a dagger in AOC’s back, will do on other, more subtle grounds.)

UPDATE “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal demands the courage of the Roosevelt era” [Ann Pettifor, New Statesman]. “Until we fully understand how the monetary system functions, a wealthy elite will continue to extract rent from publicly produced collateral. Economic inequality will continue to widen across the world, while public anger and discontent deepen…. Roosevelt had the understanding, political will and ballast to confront the interests of Wall Street. Any international movement for a Green New Deal will have to summon the same courage. Campaigners in countries across the world will have to discover, and then deploy, their latent power to subordinate global finance to the interests of society and the environment. Only then will we discover that another world really is possible.”

UPDATE “Democrats’ plan to neuter Medicare for All irks liberals” [Politico]. • No. It’s liberals doing the neutering. It’s the left that’s irked. Still, kudos to Politico for being upfront with “neuter.” Two paragraphs in: “Several likely 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are pushing plans for something short of universal health care, a move already creating friction within the party’s empowered left wing, which has panned any attempt to water down the progressive dream of a single-payer system.” • So now it’s the “left wing” (a.k.a. “progressives,” historically a rebranding of “liberal,” for which conservatives poisoned the well. More: “‘It’s easy to say ‘Medicare for All’ [no, it isn’t; Max Baucus had Margaret Flowers arrested for it] and make a good speech, but see no action [which I am trying to prevent],’ said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a potential 2020 candidate, who has a proposal that would give retiring police and firefighters access to Medicare before 65. ‘I want to see action.'” • Attaboy, Sherrod. The complex eligibility requirements that liberals so love: (a) Be a cop (or a firefighter), because after all us ordinary shlubs aren’t deserving, and (b) an age limit. But if 55, why not 54? Or 53? Possibly 52? Etc. NOTE * Maybe we could add another complex eligibility requirement? Like: (c) unless you’re a cop that’s whacked more than three (say) civilians? Just a thought, Sherrod. Or heck, (d) If you’re one of the prisoners Kamala Harris got to fight California’s forest fire for a dollar an hour and plus two dollars a day. Surely our great country can afford to be generous? Just spitballing, here!

“Momentum for earmarks grows with Dem majority” [The Hill]. “With Democrats back in control of the House after eight years of Republican control, there is strong support for reviving earmarks — the power to direct money on pet projects — which caused a major scandal in Congress during the George W. Bush years… Earmarks is a dirty word, so if the specially allocated funds return, they will be referred to as ‘congressionally directed spending.’ Support for bringing back earmarks is not unanimous, but it is growing in both parties as Republicans and Democrats alike say too much power has shifted to the presidency. ‘When you discontinue earmarks, you’re saying the administration can better spend the money in my district. They know best what we need,’ said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).” • For some definition of “we.”

2016 Post Mortem

“Why Ex-Churchgoers Flocked to Trump” [The American Conservative]. “Trump’s improbable likeness to a mega-church preacher allowed him to capture the love of a huge swath of the electorate that previously tuned out or voted for Democrats. The people who came to Trump, especially early in the primaries, weren’t really joining the GOP and they weren’t primarily seeking policies. They didn’t even necessarily believe Trump would bring back their jobs. Many of Trump’s earliest and most dedicated supporters were seeking a deeper fulfillment. They came to Trump seeking what they had lost because they had lost church. When Trump caught so many political commentators off guard, we looked for an explanation amid the closing factories, but we should have been looking for the closing churches…. [E]very step down in church attendance brought a step up in Trump support, and vice versa. The most frequent attenders were half as likely to support Trump as were the least frequent attenders.” • My first reaction is simply to reject this. Can readers comment?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Young Left’s Anti-Capitalist Manifesto” [FiveThirtyEight]. “For a few years now, Democratic voters have shown they’re primed for a leftward shift, and this rising group of activists and politicians wants to push them even further. At the heart of the young left’s project is a discomfort with the free market capitalist system under which we live. It’s a system deeply ingrained in many Americans’ identities, though increasingly less so: 2016 was the first year since Gallup started tracking the question that it found Democrats had a more positive view of socialism than they did of capitalism.”

Stats Watch

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, January 2019: “Many of the regional factory samples continue to show weakness, including last week’s Empire State report and today’s Richmond Fed report” [Econoday]. “Whatever weakness small sample reports like this have been picking up, definitive data on the factory sector have proved very strong at least in December as manufacturing production in last week’s industrial production report surged an unexpected and very strong 1.1 percent. Another indication of strength came from last week’s regional report from the Philly Fed. Yet when economic indications turn mixed as they are now, the signal is likely to be one of moderation for a factory sector faced with slowing in global markets and uncertainty and dislocations tied to tariffs.” • The continuing scandal of small-sample surveys saying one thing, and data another. And but: “The important Richmond Fed subcategories growth well into contraction. This survey was weak compared to last month as the significant subcategories were worse than last month. I would expect slowing of the Federal Reserve’s manufacturing index” [Econintersect]. And: “This was another weak regional manufacturing reading for January” [Calculated Risk].

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of January 18, 2018: “Purchase applications for home mortgages fell” [Econoday].

Architectural Billing: “Architecture billings slow, but close 2018 with growing demand” [American Institute of Architects]. “Architecture firm billings growth softened in December but remained positive for the fifteenth consecutive month… AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score for December was 50.4 compared to 54.7 in November. Despite the positive billings, a softening in growth was seen across several regions and sectors, as well as in project inquiries and design contracts.”

Banks: “Fed said to probe Deutsche Bank over suspicious Danske cash” [American Banker]. “The Federal Reserve is examining how Deutsche Bank handled billions of dollars in suspicious transactions from Denmark’s leading lender, according to people familiar with the matter, further intensifying what could be one of the biggest money-laundering scandals ever. The Fed’s probe is in an early stage as it scrutinizes whether Deutsche Bank’s U.S. operations adequately monitored funds from an Estonian branch of Danske Bank, according to two people briefed on the situation, who asked not to be named because the inquiry isn’t public. Danske, which used correspondent banks such as Deutsche Bank to move money abroad, has admitted that much of about $230 billion that flowed through the tiny Estonian outpost may have been dirty.”

Transportation: “Boeing’s Flying Car Has Taken Off” [Bloomberg]. “A Boeing Co. flying car designed to whisk passengers over congested city streets and dodge skyscrapers completed its first test flight on Tuesday, offering a peek into the future of urban transportation the aerospace giant and others are seeking to reshape. The Chicago-based plane maker and arch rival Airbus SE are among a slew of companies racing to stake a claim on flying cars and parcel-hauling drones, which have the potential to be the next disruption to sweep the aerospace industry. Boeing’s push was boosted by a 2017 acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences, whose projects include a new flying taxi it is developing with Uber Technologies Inc… Future flights of the 30-feet-long and 28-feet-wide PAV prototype will test forward, wing-borne flight and the transition phase between vertical and forward-flight modes, according to the Boeing statement. The company will also continue testing to advance safety and reliability of the aircraft, it said.” • Gee whiz. Mr. Countersuggestibility speaks: I’m not sure what problem flying taxis are trying to solve; the most obvious one would seem to be ferrying executives from the airport to their downtown hotels (without having to contact any smelly proles behind the wheel).

Concentration: “Why are glasses so expensive? The eyewear industry prefers to keep that blurry” [Los Angeles Times]. “Why are these things so damn expensive? The answer: Because no one is doing anything to prevent a near-monopolistic, $100-billion industry from shamelessly abusing its market power. Prescription eyewear represents perhaps the single biggest mass-market consumer ripoff to be found…. for years a single company, Luxottica, has controlled much of the eyewear market. If you wear designer glasses, there’s a very good chance you’re wearing Luxottica frames….. And Luxottica is even bigger after merging last fall with France’s Essilor, the world’s leading maker of prescription eyeglass lenses and contact lenses. Do you have Transitions lenses in your frames? You’re an Essilor customer. The combined entity is called EssilorLuxottica.” • No reason hospitals couldn’t manufacture lenses as well as generics.

The Bezzle: “No Pay Stub? No Problem. Unconventional Mortgages Make a Comeback” [Wall Street Journal]. • Wait, what? Do those Big Short dudes have to go down to Florida again?

The Biosphere

“We need to rethink everything we know about global warming” [Science Daily] (original). “For a while now, the scientific community has known that global warming is caused by humanmade emissions in the form of greenhouse gases and global cooling by air pollution in the form of aerosols. However, new research published in Science by Hebrew University of Jerusalem Professor Daniel Rosenfeld shows that the degree to which aerosols cool the earth has been grossly underestimated, necessitating a recalculation of climate change models to more accurately predict the pace of global warming…. The fact that our planet is getting warmer even though aerosols are cooling it down at higher rates than previously thought brings us to a Catch-22 situation: Global efforts to improve air quality by developing cleaner fuels and burning less coal could end up harming our planet by reducing the number of aerosols in the atmosphere, and by doing so, diminishing aerosols’ cooling ability to offset global warming.”

“Expect more extreme hurricanes on the East Coast due to faster ice melts in Greenland, study says” [CBC]. “Ice is melting in an unexpected region of Greenland at a rate that is unprecedented in the past century… which could lead to rising sea levels and increasingly wild weather on the East Coast… Ice loss in Greenland’s southeast and northwest regions has been well-documented as glaciers have been dissolving into the ocean, contributing to rising sea levels and threatening communities. The southwest region, on the other hand, doesn’t have many glaciers and its ice sheet wasn’t typically known to contribute to rising sea levels. But now, it may become a major contributor… What the study found was the ice loss data correlated with a weather phenomenon called the North Atlantic Oscillation, which affects air temperature. The “unusual melting” and accelerated ice loss is thanks to the combination of global warming and the oscillation.” • More on the North Atlantic Oscillation.

“Averting Global Catastrophe: A New IIGG Blog Series” [Council on Forign Relations]. ” In a recent poll of citizens in the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, more than half of those surveyed believed that there is a fifty percent or greater chance that humanity will go extinct in the next 100 years. How seriously should we take these concerns? Over the next few months, the Internationalist blog will take a closer look at global catastrophic risk. We will analyze specific dangers, including a large-scale nuclear exchange, a devastating global pandemic, a planetary collision with a large near-Earth object (NEO), a collapse of the biosphere, and the specter of the ‘rise of the machines.'”


This 2018 thread came alive a year later. It’s still true:

One funeral at a time…

Guillotine Watch

Two cases of serial abuse:

Of Hollywood director Bryan Singer: ‘Nobody Is Going to Believe You’ [Alex French and Maximillian Potter, The Atlantic] The lead: “Over the past two decades, Bryan Singer’s films—The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie, Superman Returns, four of the X-Men movies—have earned more than $3 billion at the box office, putting him in the top tier of Hollywood directors.” Then: “The portrait of Singer that emerges is of a troubled man who surrounded himself with vulnerable teenage boys, many of them estranged from their families. Their accounts suggest that Singer didn’t act alone; he was aided by friends and associates who brought him young men. And he was abetted, in a less direct way, by an industry in which a record of producing hits confers immense power: Many of the sources we interviewed insisted, out of fear of damaging their own career, that we withhold their name, even as they expressed dismay at the behavior they’d witnessed.” • (Apparently, Singer just won a Golden Globes Award). These cases are white male vs. young male. Apparently GQ passed on this story, but it seems well-researched to me. And simultaneously.

Of R&B singer R. Kelley: “I Believe I Can Lie” [Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The Baffler]. The lead: “Now that a Lifetime Documentary series has brought the sordid details of R&B singer R. Kelly’s alleged sexual predation and abuse against underage girls and women to a mass audience, American culture faces still another moment of reckoning. Will we finally own up to the evasions and deferrals of justice enabled by the social privileges of superstardom?” Then: Even in the age of #MeToo it remains unclear whether the outrage that propelled the toppling of industry giants like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer who have been accused, for the most part, of abusing white women will generate the same outrage against men who have abused Black women. #TimesUp, #MuteRKelly and #SayHerName are all efforts to ensure that the lives of all Black women matter, regardless of what person or which entity it is that compromises their well-being. Bringing intersectional literacy into our politics can be a route forward, but will come about only by repudiating the imbalanced notions of solidarity that are grounded in patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, and the like.” • These cases are black male vs. young black female. I read Crenshaw’s twice, and readers will correct me, but my reaction is that Crenshaw, unlike Potter and French, studiously writes her away around R. Kelley’s net worth : $150 million. (I can’t find the music industry equivalent to Singer’s box office revenues online, but 30 million Kelley records have sold.) It seems odd to me that Crenshaw’s paradigm can’t “follow the money” (unless “and the like” is doing a lot more work than any mere phrase should be called upon to do.) Slightly revising Stokely Carmicheal: “”If a ____ man wants to ____ me, that’s his problem. If he’s got the power to ____ me, that’s my problem. ____ism is not a question of attitude; it’s a question of power. ____ism gets its power from capitalism.”

Class Warfare

“Parents, students celebrate return to routine as L.A. teachers end strike, head back to class” [Los Angeles Times]. “Teachers who formed picket lines outside schools starting Jan. 14 braved several days of rain in a fight for smaller class sizes, more support staff at schools and better pay. The resulting deal, which still needs to be reviewed by the Los Angeles County Office of Education and approved by the L.A. school board, includes a 6% raise for teachers. The agreement also calls for a reduction of one student per class next year in grades 4 through 12, one more the year after and two more the year after that. ‘We have started down a real path to address class size,’ United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl said Tuesday. The agreement also includes a commitment to provide a full-time nurse in every school and a librarian in every middle and high school.” • The end of the beginning, however, if ending the assault of squillionaire charter backers on public education is the goal.

“‘Venture capital money kills more businesses than it helps,’ says Basecamp CEO Jason Fried” [Recocde], “Fried told Recode’s Kara Swisher that venture capital ‘kills more businesses than it helps’ because the pressure to grow crazy-fast means companies keep raising money to keep their growth rate up. That, in turn, means they rarely have the opportunity to learn how to spend money in a disciplined, sustainable way. ‘If you have a bunch of money in the bank, you’re encouraged to spend it because no one ever … Well, I shouldn’t say no one, but hardly anyone ever goes for one round,’ he said. ‘It’s round A, round B, it’s like, you’re going back to the drug dealer. Lots of businesses could be great $10 million, $20 million businesses, but they’re not allowed to be,’ he added. ‘[They’ve] got to be $200 million or $500 million or a billion … One of the reasons you get into entrepreneurship is to control your own destiny to some degree, to not have to go work for somebody else, to not have to collect a paycheck from somebody else. And so the thing is, when you go take money, you’re working for someone else again, instantly.'” • It’s almost as if the forices of production have come into contradiction with the relations of production, ha ha ha.

News of the Wired

“The OED maketh an exact man” [Michael Ullyot]. • If you really want to know the meaning of a word, the OED is better than Google.

“Particle physics may have reached the end of the line” [Backreaction]. “Since the late 1960s, when physicists hit on the “particle zoo” at nuclear energies, they always had a good reason to build a larger collider. That’s because their theories of elementary matter were incomplete. But now, with the Higgs-boson found in 2012, their theory – the “standard model of particle physics” – is complete. It’s done. There’s nothing missing. All Pokemon caught. The Higgs was the last good prediction that particle physicists had. This prediction dates back to the 1960s and it was based on sound mathematics. In contrast to this, the current predictions for new particles at a larger collider – eg supersymmetric partner particles or dark matter particles – are not based on sound mathematics. These predictions are based on what is called an ‘argument from naturalness’ and those arguments are little more than wishful thinking dressed in equations.” • Sounds like the physicists have finally solved their economics envy problem.

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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 (TH):

TH writes: “A Red Spider Fuchsia.” Lovely!

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Everything now seems to be pointing in one direction: very few elected to represent we the people are doing it in good faith.

      But when we the people bypass the middleman, the wrath of the police state descends (think Occupy).

    2. How is it legal

      No surprise to see California Governor, Gavin Newsom, and Ex Governor, Jerry Brown, highlighted in that first linked piece:

      First paragraph:

      The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) attempted to ram through an agreement Tuesday night to end the six-day strike by more than 33,000 teachers in the nation’s second-largest school district. The deal, which was crafted by leading state Democrats, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Gavin Newsom, is a blow to teachers that will pave the way for an escalation of the bipartisan attack on public education throughout the United States.


      In other words, it guarantees absolutely nothing. The Democratic Party, which controls every lever of political power in the state, has spearhead the decades-long war against teachers and public education in California. Governor Newsom has promised to follow the “fiscally prudent” measures of his Democratic predecessor, Jerry Brown, who oversaw the largest growth of charter schools in the nation. [While Gavin has always supported charter schools as laboratories of education… . Indeed, most vocally, while Mayor of San Francisco – How is it legal]

      They’re also highlighted in this piece from yesterday, Los Angeles teachers have the right to know the details of the negotiations, for example, here:

      None of this can be done in “a period of hours.” The fact that the UTLA would even propose such a limited time frame points to its complicity in conspiracy against the interests of educators and public education as a whole. This is further underscored by the union’s repeated promotion of Democrats like Garcetti, Newsom and others, even though teachers are in a direct battle with the Democratic Party, which has spearheaded the assault on education in California.

      and further down:

      To sustain the strike in Los Angeles, rank-and-file committees must raise the demand that the union’s strike fund be immediately distributed to teachers, including an immediate $1,000 benefit to cover lost wages from the first week on strike and $1,000 per week for the duration of the struggle. The last strike happened 30 years ago and the UTLA has amassed a war chest from monthly dues, and the strike fund should be valued in the tens of millions of dollars. If the strike fund is depleted, where has that money gone? Was it siphoned off into the election campaigns for Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom and other Democrats? Has it gone to subsidize union officials’ salaries?

      1. Anon

        I suggest you read more about the LA teachers strike, including articles in the LA Times.

        Governor Gavin Newsom had little to do with the negotiations. Although he has expressed support for improved funding for K-12 schools. (California requires over 50% of general tax revenue to be spent on public schools, K-12.)

        Newsom’s 2019 State budget earmarks an increase of $230 million for the Cal State University System (the largest public higher education system in the world).

        Public K-12 schools in California are under the purview of local elected boards. The fight in LA is over Charter schools which are allowed to co-locate at existing schools and skim funding and take classroom space for non-charter students; forcing larger class sizes. The teachers union exposed this arrangement during the strike and won massive public support.

        While neither side got all that they wanted, the teachers strike has changed the discussion on charters, gained the concession of 30 new community schools, greater oversight of Charter school administration, permanent nurses and counsellors in EVERY school every school day.

        As the teachers explained on the picket line, it’s not about their pay it’s about the students (80% of whom are from low-income households). The current agreement is up for negotiations again in 2020 (two short years).

        1. How is it legal

          I suggest you do way more reading up on Governors Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom, and the California Demoratic Millionaire Party – outside of the Los Angeles Times, the [San] Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle/sfgate.com, the Sacramento Bee, the New York Times, and the Washington Post – in addition to actually getting out in the California public among the mostly voiceless and increasingly falling through the cracks and homeless more often.

          Good night, sleep tight.

          1. Anon

            As I mentioned, the LAUSD is NOT controlled by ex-governor Brown, nor Governor Newsom, or the Democratic Party. Millionaire Money is involved: Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and Betsy DeVos have spent millions to swing the LAUSD to a “Charter shool majority” on teh Board.

            It is the LA teachers union that is giving voice to the plight of “…the mostly voiceless and increasingly falling through the cracks and homeless…”. You would discover that by reading the LA local newspaper.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > As the teachers explained on the picket line, it’s not about their pay it’s about the students (80% of whom are from low-income households). The current agreement is up for negotiations again in 2020 (two short years).

          From what I read of union strategy (readers, please correct) the Teachers Union did a lot of “embedding” in the community (hence the tacos, etc.). That seems to me to be, over time, the way to bypass the Newsoms of this world. A long road, but the only road.

          I like WSWS, but on a case-by-case basis. Some of the writers seem a little schematic in their thinking, and not necessarily up on local detail, which is all-important.

          Does anybody know of an article comparing the various teacher’s strikes over the last year in terms of strategy, tactics, success, etc.?

  1. Wukchumni

    In the Bolivar’d of broken dreams, a nobody has proclaimed himself interim President, which quickly set into motion our President, Ivanka & Pence singing his praise…

    Venezuela could be the 4th Latin American country to use the US $ as their currency after Ecuador, El Salvador & Panama, in order to solve their everlasting hyperinflation stance, and it would also turn all of that nasty oil of theirs into Dollar-denominated crude.


    1. Eclair

      Read late last night that Pence sent his love to Guaido. And, this morning, apparently, the upstart has been recognized by several governments. Can’t let leftists control oil!

      The only thought that provides a small ray of happiness, is that ‘what goes around, comes around.’ On second thought, nah.

  2. Carolinian

    Re Trump and churchgoers– that article was giving me a headache but in general: if you are a sincere social conservative then why would you vote for a candidate who obviously isn’t particularly religious and whose lifestyle is that of a Hugh Hefner with a bad haircut? Perhaps the real takeaway is the weakening hold of evangelicals on the Republican party. If those Trump voters have stopped going to church then perhaps it’s the churches that have been turning them off rather than Trump turning them on. Establishment churches like the ones in my town are close to being middle class clubs where businessmen network and the well paid pastors play golf. Meanwhile the hard core evangelicals had other choices in the primary. Seems there just weren’t enough of them to stop the Donald.

    1. DJG

      Carolinian: Agreed, the analysis may have mistaken alienation in general from alienation from the church.

      This paragaph caught my eye:

      Packed with a handful of overflowing Lutheran churches, Winnebago is a little Norway on the plains—35 percent of the county claims Norwegian ancestry (another 35 percent are German). Buffalo Center boasts Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Lake Mills has Salem Lutheran Church and Winnebago Lutheran Church. For the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Winnebago County is the densest county in the country, according to ARDA.

      Well, well, well. Norwegian Lutherans are social minded and not all that conservative, and they have passed those values along. Quelle surprise.

      I think that the article should have done more research within denominations. It may be that the evangelical churches are all about the alienated. No one ever accused the Graham family of being Saint Francis of Assis.

    2. Tomonthebeach

      I think that the article makes a lot of sense once you leap over all the stats on church attendance and focus on the last bit of sense-making in the article. TRUST and COMMUNITY; not church attendance per se, were the drivers of Trumpism. The author merely used Church attendance as a proxy variable.

      Our neolib economy has had a significant negative impact on community integrity. People work so much that they do not even know their neighbors. In many places, there is no time for community participation. They have law enforcement officers; not peace officers. You need law enforcement when there is no trust and no community because that enables crime.

      I grew up in Whiteflite, a fictional burb of Chicago. If you left your bike out overnight, you were not concerned about theft – all the kids in town knew your bike. You were concerned that it might rain and make it rusty. Then I grew up, moved away, relocated 13 times before retiring to one of those “elite neighborhoods” mentioned in the essay where community is strong and growing because our worklife success robbed us of the luxury of community. Of course, you do not realize this until around age 60 because you are so involved in your career.

      As a kid, we did, most of us, go to Sunday church. I always felt it was because not going was perceived to be anti-social or unChristian or something.

      So yes, psychologically-speaking, Trump did evangelize his base. His sermons on the mount, like those of any successful fascist leader, vindicated their hatreds and frustrations and anxieties by making it clear that the large world was their enemy. Logically, that made America seem like their community – the one at war with evil Globalism. Trump’s alternative facts are seen as righteous rebuffs of media facts – Globalist propaganda threatening their new found community. In Trump They Trust.

    3. PKMKII

      Establishment churches like the ones in my town are close to being middle class clubs where businessmen network and the well paid pastors play golf.

      If the Trump voters wanted to throw a spanner in the elite establishment worlds of politics, money, and culture, then it stands to reason that they would want to do the same to the elite establishment of American evangelical Christianity.

    4. Amfortas the hippie

      aye. I think it’s a silly analysis…likely trying to muddle the mind retroactively so a New Narrative can be shoehorned in.
      this: …”When Trump caught so many political commentators off guard, we looked for an explanation amid the closing factories, but we should have been looking for the closing churches…”…struck me particularly.
      I remember being shouted down and lambasted for suggesting that maybe it was the stupid economy that made a hail mary trump vote seem like a viable option.
      “they’re all racists and evil!!!—economics had nothing to do with it!” was the orthodoxy.

      meanwhile,over in freedomland, this was removed from the Baffler:

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m drawing a blank on actual data for church closings. Is it possible that the day of the mega-church is over? I just wouldn’t know.

        Readers, anecdotes?

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          my local sample size is small, and not representative, I’m sure.
          county pop: +- 4k-5k, depending on decade.
          we went from 15 churches in late 90’s, to 23 during the Bush Darkness–due to church planting/steeple jacking and an invasion by 2 distinct groups of politicized evangelicals, taking advantage of the political climate of fear and loathing to hive off new churches from established ones.
          now it’s around 19-20….and the decline, to my knowledge, has to do with re-consolidation, the fever breaking…not a decline in faith or church-going.
          This article is the first and only mention of “church closing” I’ve seen…ever.
          (given the local/regional fondness for “war on christian” rhetoric, I pay attention to these sorts of things)
          The great big “churches” I encounter on my infrequent forays into the rest of Texas seem to be doing just fine….cops and sheriff deputies tasked with traffic control, etc.
          as far as local church attendance, I have no idea. Wife’s catholic church seems stable enough.
          driving from Mason to San Antonio, I note much remodeling/additions, if not construction of brand spanking new churches.
          I know of only one abandoned church—one of those “non-denominational” affairs—but am ignorant of the circumstances(could be some scandal…or just inability to compete with the numerous others in the vicinity)

        2. Wukchumni

          We have scads of mini-mega evang churches in Visalia that can hold up to around 1,000-1,500 people, and i’ve not seen any of them closing up.

          This in a city of 136,000

        3. Phil in KC

          Of the twenty-four families on my block, I believe mine is the only one that goes to church on a regular basis, although I might be wrong, but not by much. We are Catholic, and our parish is known for its vibrant congregation. There’s a Methodist Church and a Presbyterian Church in our little neighborhood, and the impression I get is that they are struggling to retain members. Expanding outward, the newer, non-mainline churches, mega and otherwise, seem to be doing okay. The older, mainline churches seem to be filled with the bald and the silver-haired. The demographics don’t look good for them. This is in the near-in suburbs of Kansas City, MO

    5. DonCoyote

      A lot of this article is misleading, including the title (nothing in the data says the “religious” people ever went to church, hence ex-churchgoer is inferred). Also, the first few paragraphs (which admit that Obama got a similar reaction) are just reinforcing that Trump (and Obama, and Sanders) ran as populists, and that political rallies for populists look different than political rallies for politicians.

      Many of the problems with the article come from analysis of disparate sets of data. Specifically, an analysis of the primary data (especially the Iowa primary), in which there were several other explicitly religious candidates (Cruz, Santorum, Huckabee, Carson) is going to give different results than an analysis of the general election data. So it is entirely unsurprising that Trump got more votes then less church a primary voter attended–for churchgoers the Republican primary was a “target-rich” environment (although Santorum & Huckabee withdrew after the Iowa primary).

      Contrast this with the general election data, on which the American Preservationist” subgroup (the group of general election voters who most strongly support Trump) analysis emerged:

      American Preservationists have low levels of formal education and the lowest incomes of the Trump groups — and non-Trump voters as well. Despite being the most likely group to say that religion is “very important” to them, they are the least likely to attend church regularly…American Preservationists are trade skeptics and look more like Democrats on domestic economic issues, particularly on the nation’s wealth distribution, concern over old-age entitlement programs, and animus toward Wall Street. They feel powerless against moneyed interested and the politically connected and tend to distrust other people. They also share liberals’ views on the environment, believing that global warming is a serious threat and human activity is primarily to blame.

      So obviously there are several characteristics of the APs, other than their religion important/non-churchgoing that one might point to as important in their preference for Trump over Clinton (e.g. trade skepticism). I could certainly spin a narrative that Trump at least pretended to offer poor people something (e.g. bring back every coal job) while HRC called them deplorables. And we don’t know, from the data, who APs voted for in the primary.

      And yet…and yet I think there is a grain of truth in there somewhere. I don’t think Trump takes the place of going to church (only a very small number of his supporters go to one of his rallies). But another “piece” of the AP “puzzle” is: “Despite watching the most TV, they are the least politically informed of the Trump groups.” So maybe APs are the hardcore FOX news-ians (“American is a Christian nation”) who believe in symbols (religion, the flag) without much consideration of what is being symbolized.

      1. RWood

        Raul Hilberg:
        “The manipulation of history is a kind of spoilage and kitsch is debasement.”

        Alexander Cockburn, “You Remember It, Don’t You? An Incredible, Hope-Filled Year,” Counterpunch Weekend Edition January 2 – 4, 2009

    6. Unna

      My take on this is that the Trump voters are “culturally christian”, even though they are not church goers. So the question comes to, First, what does it mean to be culturally christian to them? And my thought is that it means the IDEALS of the intact traditional family, traditional intact community, as well as an intact and secure economy that allows the family and community to thrive.

      The idea of such a world, now somewhat gone but still existing in many places, represents their “identity”. This identity is cultural but not particularly racial. Unlike the past, there is room now for non whites in this world so long as they conform to the cultural norms and behaviours that form this identity. That’s why there are non whites at Trump rallies. Conformity to this cultural norm is very much a requirement for whites as well.

      Those norms include a belief in the idealized value of christian belief, but as identity and not necessarily as church going christian practice and christian faith (Something the writers at AmConservative don’t seem to get). This identity includes patriotism with emotional loyalty to America first, acceptance of the “truth” or at least of the value of the belief in an idealized narrative of American history, decent and respectful comportment and appearance, and the primacy of the heterosexual procreative family, and the value of children. Gays, who otherwise conform to behavioural norms – excepting traditional marriage – are with caution, accepted so long as they do not openly challenge the primacy and value of the traditional family. Trump himself accepted them publicly at the Republican convention.

      My guess is that the fact that Trump voting rates go down among Christians who are regular and active participants in local conservative churches is, at least in part, because organized conservative Christianity is as much a political establishment as a religious establishment. These religious establishments have political ties to establishment conservatives and bend the political voting behaviour of their congregations to Republican establishment politicians, so not to Trump. See especially Mormons who, at least by reputation, vote as they’re told. And this, even though current establishment Republican politicians’ economic policies are detrimental to most conservative Christians, much like Southern black church goers voting against their economic interest for Clinton as opposed to Bernie in the 2016 primaries.

      But culturally traditional voters who were disconnected, for what ever reason, from a conservative christian religious establishment, and without the cultural stress lowering atmosphere they might have enjoyed in a local church community and social support system, were freer and perhaps more emotionally desperate to vote in a more unorthodox manner than their more organized “brethren.” They hoped Trump might bring them better things, and “Hope” is, after all, a christian religious virtue as well as an encouraged christian emotional response. So Trump rallies were, and at least for now, still are full of hopeful, and thus, joyous people.

      This, I think, explains at least some of it.

      1. Expat2uruguay

        This reminds me of what Chris Hedges says about magical thinking. Trump is definitely a carrier of magical thinking.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Many years ago I found and read, and then never found again, an article by Chris Hedges about how the Clinton Free Trade Agreements destroyed the lives of millions of Americans so totally and comprehensively that those millions psychomentally retreated as best they could from a “reality world” which no longer offered them anything . . . to a “magical” world which at least offered them some emotional solace and relief.

          Hedges predicted that these millions of people would find their way to the Magical Religions and the Magical Political Communities. Hedges literally-I-believe called these millions of people “Clinton’s children” and “Clinton’s gift to the future”.

          But I never have found that article again.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      Two kinds of reality – alterable by man, and not alterable.

      For example, the reality described by the theory of gravity can not be altered (yet). Gravity is gravity, and you weigh 500 lbs. at the spot on planet. You can’t alter that.

      On the other hand, the Modern Monetary Theory describes the other kind of reality (the current monetary system), and if you want the people to spend money into existence, instead of the federal government, via the Pentagon often, you can change that reality – because the people ‘own’ the country….the sovereignty lies with the people, so they can change that reality anytime they want and can show off their awesomeness.

    1. kurtismayfield

      It isn’t a settlement until it’s voted in.. let’s see what happens.

      The district was offering $500 a day to substitutes to cross the picket lines.”

      That is 90k a year.. I think they were getting the subs on the cheap to come in as scabs.

    1. Carla

      You did great, ChiGal — I followed your link in this morning’s comment and forwarded it on, pissing off several people who don’t want anybody jumping to conclusions about Democrats… as if that were possible at this stage. Anyway, thanks.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Doesn’t feel right to be thanked for being the bearer of such shinola, but you’re welcome, Carla. And thanks are due to you for piping up so persistently about Democracy in Chains–I knew of it of course from several long reviews when it came out but you were the catalyst for me actually getting a copy.

        And how would I for example replace the link above with for example the words “RIP HR 676” as I have seen others do?

        1. Carla

          Unfortunately, I don’t have the technical chops to answer your question — I’ve never mastered hyperlinking text — but now I see marym has answered you below. It sure looks complicated.

          Thanks for letting me know you got “Democracy in Chains” — I keep recommending it, and it’s so nice to know that now and then, someone actually bites ;-)

          1. marym

            Nooooo … it’s easy! Here’s an alternative. Save this template somewhere convenient. xxx is your text. The other stuff goes before and after it.


            1. marym

              Too easy apparently as that final xxx turned itself into a link. Sorry. PeterVE @ 7:43 pm below has the template format.

        2. PeterVE

          What you want is a link, and the instructions are here.
          The basic structure is:
          (Less than symbol)A HREF=”http://www.nameofpage.com”(Greater than symbol)Title or what you want to say.(Less than symbol) /A(Greater than symbol)
          > is the greater than symbol. I can’t remember what I have to do to get the less than symbol to show up – the website thinks I’m sending it an HTML instruction

          1. Grebo

            <a href=”http://rest.of.url.com/here”>text to display</a>

            You can type it manually or use the link button. First press starts the link, you paste the URL in the popup (usually you have to delete the http:// it puts in for you), then you type the display text, then press link again to finish.

          2. JCC

            Also,this site actually makes it pretty easy to do what you want.

            In the header of the comment box you have 4 buttons to use, b, i, link, and quote.

            1) Go to the url of the site you want to link and copy that url, for example, if you wanted to post a wikipedia reference to Christopher Lasch, the url would look like this – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Lasch

            2) Type out the words Christopher Lasch as usual in your comment box and then highlight those two words with your mouse.

            3) While those two words are highlighted, click the link button where you will see “http://” which you will delete (backspace) and then paste your link in that box and click “OK”.

            4) and Bob’s Your Uncle

            The other three buttons work the same way, using your mouse, just highlight what you want in bold or italic or in a separate block quote and then press the appropriate button.

            Hopefully that helps a little, too.

    2. marym

      Thanks for posting this. The Dems are probably only sorry that Dr. Flowers wasn’t there to get arrested this time around.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Yeah, it’s a done deal and nobody got to say a thing.

        I believe you know how, so could you please tell me how to substitute words for a link?

        Someone told me a couple years ago but it didn’t work for me so I gave up. Really wish I could do it. And does it work for links in emails or only online?

        1. marym

          Copy the actual url. Select the text in your comment with your cursor, same as if you were going to copy it. Click on the “link” button in the comment box. You get a box pre-filled with http:// which can confuse things since http:// or https:// is already in your copied link, so delete all that. Paste (or control-V) your copied url. Click OK.

          You can copy the url from anywhere (email, a site you’re accessing, a document on your pc, etc.).

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            Woo-hoo thanks so much marym!

            It really is simple, Carla, you just have to type the word(s) you want to transfer the copied link to first so when you highlight it the box pops up. Clear the box and then paste, and you’re there!

            1. Jeff W

              Yeah, it’s easy.

              You can do it without typing the text of the link first—so the sequence is click link, clear the field for the URL and enter/paste your URL, click OK, enter the link text, and click /link—but you risk not closing the link tag. The way you did it is a little easier.

              The code you’re embedding looks like this:

              ‹a href=”your_URL”›your text‹/a›

              with the single guillemets (‹ and ›) replaced by standard less than and greater than signs

              Using the preview of your comment, always test the link you’re embedding by using it to open a new tab or window to avoid broken links.

    3. ewmayer

      “I don’t really know how to link comments, or how to replace URLs with words”

      Hey, ChiGal in Carolina — I believe the WordPress user interface allows you do that fairly easily, but I find it quicker to keep the following HTML link-with-annotation template in a text edit window, and insert the needed URL and caption as shown by the {} snips (the {} are only for emphasis, they’re not part of the actual HTML link syntax):

      [a href=”{URL here}”]{link caption here}[/a]

      You need to replace the left/right square brackets with left/right angle brackets, I needed to use [] above to keep the template from being rendered-as-live-link by the WordPress software used by the NC platform.

      The comment-preview feature will let you know if you’ve done it right – you should see only your caption, in form of a clickable link … “open link int new tab” to test the URL before saving the comment.

    4. Elizabeth Burton

      When you go into the posting composition window, one of the menu items on the bar is “link.” Type the words you want to use for the link, highlight, then click on that button. A window will open for you to past in the link.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      Sadly, I work under time constraints.

      The loss of the 676 number is bad — now searches won’t work — and using it for a NATO bill is liberal MILOs kicking the left in the teeth.

      That said, the key thing to await is the next of the Jayapal bill, which we have not seen. It would be nice if it weren’t worse than S1804.

      1. tegnost

        I’m afraid her constituency in seattle is heavily tech/biotech/health care complex. Remember that poor people have been moved out of seattle…so I’m unguardedly pessimistic, especially with this change the number maneuver it’s obvious that the game is afoot

  3. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Trump and ex-church goers.

    I still stand by Trump’s support was “none of the above” until Jeb!’s sheepdogs started accusing nominal Trump supporters of being conned. Like in 2012, there was a serious shopping around for a new George W. Bush, someone who would appease the hard K conservatives and the more business right wing without being completely off the wall. Mike Huckleberry wouldn’t fly in a general election, and there are people who would like him but understand he’s not ready for prime time.

    To me its still the Reagan/Bush 1980 primary. The GOP base isn’t really high on Blue Bloods. 43 with his “born again”/black sheep status could appeal to Republican voters in a way Jeb! never could. Mittens had just lost to Obama. I don’t think the 41 wing has much credibility after Romney did everything right. Having Jeb’s sheep dogs attack Republican voters for not embracing Jeb was a final straw. I find this article and others like it are ways of avoiding acknowledging the Bush family and its cronies don’t hold the sway over the electorate they once did.

    It should be noted Jeb! and the Bush family are so beloved Jeb! lost in 1994. LOST in 1994.

    1. shinola

      I agree that Trump voters were probably more of the “none of the above” variety rather than fallen away churchgoers looking for some sort of replacement of/alternate to a preacher.

      I saw Trump’s primary victories as a giant middle finger to the entrenched political establishment.

      (Meanwhile the Dem’s pushed forward the most pro-establishment candidate they could come up with, resulting in the current situation).

      1. Stephanie

        My still-very-much-in-attendance-Sunday-mornings-and-Wednesday-nights evangelical dad’s take on Trump was “Don’t care for the man, but at least he’s not Romney.”

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        I also see politics as generational or certainly see social compacts that either work or need to be renegotiated. In the case of the GOP, Nixon’s Southern Strategy was from 1968. Shrub bridged the divide by both being a Bush and being a reformed, evangelical drunk with a black sheep status. Also, he ticked off liberals which might have been his most important asset.

        George W. delayed the break up in the GOP, and in 2008, the GOP primary wasn’t relevant. McCain kind of won because he had lived in New Hampshire for the previous 10 years. He knew everyone, and Huckleberry is a doofus. Romney? Yikes. I don’t even remember the other clowns. 2012 was a fight between candidates looking for a new Reagan and Mittens, backed by the 41 establishment.

        Cruz was too loathsome, and Kasich was too low energy to be alternatives except for a few. Fiorino and Ben Carson were both given try outs. As candidates, they were too problematic for the GOP which has no problem with an actor, but they need to play the part. Wimpy can’t play John Wayne. I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday, pilgrim, for a hamburger today, pilgrim. It just doesn’t work.

      3. BobW

        Ha! I once described Trump’s general election win as a brick through a plate-glass window – essentially an act of vandalism.

        1. RWood

          More likely Kristallnacht — the new authority of triumphant repression and destructive power over the Other.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The Southern strategy is still a coalition of tribes. Shrub could speak to the various tribes (neocons, oil men, WASPS, evangelicals, business, car dealerships) and was their unified leader. They’ve united against the libs, but they don’t necessarily care for the leadership of the other tribes.

    1. jo6pac

      Thanks for the info.

      Political groups on the right and left have been hoping to attract support from the Yellow Jackets movement in the European election, including the far-right leader of the National Rally, Marine Le Pen, and the French Communist Party.

      What there doing, by going it alone is better than joining already failed parties that don’t have the citizens of France in mind other than their votes.
      The best of luck to them and if they can win some seats at the table maybe other countries will follow. The devo club might want to?

  4. bob mcmanus

    The aerosols, biosphere article 1, is one of the main reasons Guy McPherson of Nature Bats Last says it is game over and extinction is inevitable. With an economic crash or the end of carbon emissions we will find that the warming is at least 2-3 degrees centigrade higher than we thought.


    “It gets worse, of course: United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres says we have until 2020 to turn this ship around. The only known means by which humans can change the global-average temperature in any direction between now and 2020 is the reduction of industrial activity, which will alleviate the aerosol masking effect and therefore drive the global-average much higher very quickly. The impact of the aerosol masking effect has been greatly underestimated, as pointed out in a 17 January 2019 article in Science. As pointed out by the author of the paper in Science on 22 January 2019: “Global efforts to improve air quality by developing cleaner fuels and burning less coal could end up harming our planet by reducing the number of aerosols in the atmosphere, and by doing so, diminishing aerosols’ cooling ability to offset global warming.” This Catch-22 of abrupt climate change, termed the McPherson Paradox, takes us in the wrong direction regardless of the direction of industrial activity if we are interested in maintaining habitat for vertebrates and mammals on Earth. Loss of the aerosol masking effect means loss of habitat for human animals, with human extinction soon to follow.”

    1. Lee

      Damned if we do, damned if we don’t. OTOH, it seems Mr. McPherson, is not only still buying green bananas, I assume, but has other future plans as well.

      Thanks to my all-volunteer booking team for seeking additional volunteers in support of my speaking tours. If you would like to host me in your area, please send me a message at guy.r.mcpherson@gmail.com

      My latest book is available in audio, and can be purchased here. Ms. Ladybug and Mr. Honeybee: A Love Story at the End of Time is intended for ages 11 and up.

      Mugs, tote bags, iPhone cases, tee shirts, and other pragmatic goods affiliated with the book are available here

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        I “knew” him(guy mcpherson) for years on LATOC(a peak oil forum of some moxy, back when)
        He’s depressing as hell, and often strident and unpleasant…but I never thought him insincere.
        That sort of Heavens Gate Style Doomery…while prolly accurate(!!)…is the last thing “we” need at the moment,lol.
        I, for one, am not ready to embrace near term human extinction.

      2. polecat

        “other ‘pragmatic goods’ …” like an N•P•R approved tote-bag .. or something ?? But by my sh!t cuz the world is ENDING !!!

        Yeah, right ! Pull the other one, Guy

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, could the right kind and scale of landscape and seascape restoration and agriculture redesign suck down enough more carbon so as to counterweigh the “McPherson aerosol deprivation effect”
      over the next few decades?

      1. Kael

        Probably not. All that takes energy, which means carbon emissions and what McPherson and friends call “global dimming, ” i. e. these cooling aresols. Probably no way out using conventional solutions, if this estimate is not wildly high.


        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If the restored landscapes and seascapes suck down more carbon than was burned in restoring the landscapes and seascapes, then it would be using more solar energy to suck carbon down over the lifetime of the restoration than the fossil energy spent to do the restoration.

          So the question is . . . would it? I believe the question is answerable. For example, how much energy would it take to plug up the drainage canals and undersoil tile lines which keep drained wetlands drained? And then how much carbon would the re-established swamp and marsh plants suck down and pack as peat under the water surface of the restored swamp and marsh wetland? Over the whole life of the restored wetland?

          Or in the specific Gabe Brown carbon-farming case . . . how much carbon does Gabe Brown burn with all his machinery on his farm? And how much measurable in-soil carbon is built up in that same soil? And which is greater within the isolated system of Gabe Brown Farm? This is an answerable question. Someone or someones should really do the research to give us really real reality-based answers.

          The Truth is Out There.
          I Want to Believe.

    3. Skip Intro

      I suspect the massive forest fires that will become commonplace as long as there are massive forests outside the polar regions will help offset the collapse of human-generated aerosols.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      As I said in Links, I think the biosphere is too complex to model. To me, that’s what this aerosol study shows. What will the next study show?

      Which doesn’t mean I don’t think the biosphere isn’t in terrible trouble; obviously (no more bug splats) it is. But I think we need a different mode of coming to decisions than models, or even “the science.”

  5. Summer

    Re: R. Kelley

    “..but my reaction is that Crenshaw, unlike Potter and French, studiously writes her away around R. Kelley’s net worth : $150 million.”

    That really comes into play when you realize Aliyah and others (including a girl in the tape) had relatives that worked for R. Kelley.

  6. Detroit Dan

    I’m guessing Steve Randy Waldman is referring to Krugman. Or are there other economists who have similarly adopted MMT without giving credit where due?

  7. Carla

    Very glad Lambert clearly sees the light with regard to Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown’s position on Medicare For All. As a dedicated–and very successful–Democrat, “obfuscation” is Sherrod’s middle name.

  8. Big River Bandido

    Ex-churchgoers vis-a-vis Trump support: I am distrustful of any analysis that compares Fremont County (southwest Iowa) with Winnebago in the northeast of the state…as though being within state borders acted as a control on the experiment. These two parts of the state are quite different in social and economic terms (the author hints at these things but doesn’t pursue it) and I have a hard time accepting these two locales as a valid comparison for this purpose. But I have noticed that outsiders are apt to fall into the trap of viewing Iowans as politically and culturally monolithic.

    As I read the piece, it seems the author is saying that religion might be an indicator of other cultural and political factors, but to my view (s)he is merely using religiosity as a proxy for socioeconomic factors (especially ethnicity and the base of the local economy) that are probably more politically salient — and probably much easier to document and quantify — than trying to extrapolate church affiliation and (especially) rate of attendance.

    1. ultrapope

      I’m partial to your interpretation Big River Bandito.

      Frankly, Carney’s overall message isn’t clear. Is he trying to say that churches were primarily meeting spots in the community, thus the lack of church attendance resulted in a lack of cohesion in the community? Or is he trying to say that church attendance results in a more profound sense of selflessness, which in turn generates a more cohesive community? Admittedly these are not mutually exclusive arguments, but he doesn’t really address either one head on, but oscillates between the two.

      I would also like to float the idea that, part of the reason for the overlap between ex-church goers and Trump voters might have to do with the incredible emptiness of modern Christianity in America. It kinda parallels the empty campaign slogans and politician speeches where the greatness and goodness of America is repeated ad nauseam. When all one hears is greatness, love, charity, etc. yet everyday they experience a world that falls far short of that – that breeds spite, which I think tells us much more about why people voted for Trump

      1. Big River Bandido

        incredible emptiness of modern Christianity in America

        That sentence still works this way:

        incredible emptiness of modern Christianity in America

        Maybe the decay of government, institutions, “society”, “community”, and the hollowing-out of trust in all of those things is what’s behind the piece. Once political/cultural establishments are exposed as unserious and incompetent, all bets are off, politically. Voters are apt to punish those they perceive to be in power. Rebuilding that trust is hard, especially if you’re a business-as-usual pol with no interest in rocking the boat. Some people see that as a spiritual crisis, and perhaps if I were an evangelical Republican I might, too. But the whole argument to me just seems…contrived. As if it were just a run-of-the-mill article dressed up around a clickbait “angle”.

  9. Roger Smith

    While the Singer article presents some vivid and seemingly solid personal accounts, the article self is complete rubbish; selling a narrative instead of reporting the news. For instance, the author seeks to tie Singer’s ‘obvious guilt’ to characters and dialogue from the Usual Suspects. ‘See the parallel, he is speaking through his work! It is all connected!’ It is disingenuous and does nothing but a disservice to the truth of what happened. I also disagree with the attempt to paint all of one persons life failings as the responsibility of Singer. It is pretty obvious Hollywood has some huge issues.

    It will be interesting to see how this develops. When Weinstein was exposed you could feel the bottom dropping out of the scene. It was clear everyone knew about that guy. For as long as Singer has been painted this way, it is interesting that there hasn’t been a similar reaction.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Weinstein (like most of the other high profile targets) was already way past his prime of influence in the business. Singer’s hits are more recent and he will likely have more defenders as a result.

      1. Pat

        Singer has made some very stupid moves lately. It wasn’t just the threat of this article that got him fired off Bohemian Rhapsody. But that aside, you are right that Weinstein’s influence was not only waning, it was dying quickly by the time Farrow’s article was published. And that Singer is still a player. Despite the firing, BR is considered his and it made a lot of money (the real award in Hollywood).

        I hate to point it out but there is yet another more troubling self serving reason for people to be protective about what was known, the underage aspect. Considering the rumor is that a fair amount of it was WAY underage, not just barely under. There is no arguing it is he said/he said, there is no consent regardless. And people could be protecting themselves and not just their bank accounts since depending on location and circumstances not reporting that can be a crime in itself.

        Large numbers of people are greedy and amoral.

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Apt Pupil is an old dark favorite of mine. Like Kids. The author basically implies Singer set it in a High School to f high school boys.

      Whether he did or did not, Singer blew my 13 y/o mind. Ian McCellan? was a tour de force!

      Also, Brad Renfro kicked ass as a Nazi Hunter. Sucks he died.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > selling a narrative instead of reporting the news

      Nonsense. Surely when you read the piece, you saw the names and photographs of people who were willing to be quoted? This isn’t the Rolling Stone UVa debacle; it’s multiply sourced, and sources confirm each other.

      > the attempt to paint all of one persons life failings as the responsibility of Singer

      Straw manning. “All”? Really?

      As for Hollywood has huge problems, yes. Yes it does.

  10. woof

    ‘We all have records that we have to defend,’ House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) said in a short interview near the state capitol. ‘I have no idea what all this stuff is, but the fact is, [Harris] was an attorney general, and the law dictates what she had to do. She should not be held responsible for the law.’

    I’m reminded of Eric Holder alot when reading about Kamala Harris record. When I saw this quote, I suffered a little death of despair.

    1. Skip Intro

      That defense would be stronger if she had not ignored her staff to let Mnuchin and OneWest get away with their crimes. I think the case for selective prosecution is strong.

  11. Steve H.

    > Why Ex-Churchgoers Flocked to Trump

    Do not reject.

    First, note the Putnam reference. That’s a direct link to the study of social capital, which is higher with a dense network, and churches provide heterogeneous hubs. Church attendance could be considered a direct proxy that can be measured.

    The article touches on a chicken-or-egg causal situation. Are churches closing because support (cash and attendance) is dropping due to economic hardship, or are communities with higher social capital more resilient and thus able to hold off decay? There are indications of the latter. However, it’s a given that without a hub in time and space (marketdays as well as church), the opportunities for social interaction decay.

    Are bars closing their doors at the same rate as churches in those communities? Hmm…

    Another aspect is the internal life of individuals. Hope or anger? I have been told that spiritual maturity correlates most with time spent in prayer. Churches provide support, with bible study and life groups, for prayer. ‘Wherever two are gathered in my name…’ So you get your hearts desire, but only after prayer has a changed what you desire. There is an intentional act of giving thanks which alters perception. Dilbert wrote about it, in a secular frame.

    A proxy I can’t pin down is education. Homeschooling requires a level of discipline that sending your kid to a charter school doesn’t. The religious charter schools I’ve put an eye on have had squirrelly aspects that were not aligned with the parents, but o well. Point being, there is a big difference between DeVos-style exploitation which leverages ideology and puts MAGA hats on kids, and people who take raising their children as the most important thing they can do on this earth.

    The wall is another proxy here. There is an evangelical fervor for the plight of refugees that is based on the plight of the tribe of Abraham. Same for the abolition of slavery. Do not discount this as a fissure amongst those who call themselves ‘evangelical.’

    There’s what you say you are, and then there’s what you do.

    1. DonCoyote

      For an IMO decent long-form case study of this, try one of the links in the original article:

      Where the Small-Town American Dream Lives On

      (Full disclosure: I got my BA from Northwestern College, which is located, as the article mentions in Orange City. Fun fact: When I went there, college always had to end at a certain time (at least a week before the Tulip Festival), because the college would rent out the dorm rooms to Tulip Festival attendees and it needed the students out).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The other choice (or in addition to) is to go in there with elephants.

      “We will make Hannibal proud.”

      Of course, we know the Secret Service agents are dutybound to protect the commander-in-chief as well.

    2. BobW

      The State of the Union was not always a speech – from Jefferson to Wilson they were written reports submitted to Congress. Maybe the prez can just tweet one.

    3. flora

      I bet if he read the State of Union speech from the Oval Office that Fox News would broadcast it… and the Dems would demand equal time. ha!

    1. JohnnyGL

      “It might sound trite, but I do think pop culture shapes our long term views.” – Yes, clearly action movies helped to build a consensus in favor of torture.

      Mr. Sorkin’s points were, amusingly, but hardly unsurprisingly for a TV producer, all superficial ones around presentation and speech quality.

      It seems Mr. Sorkin wants a calming, presentable liar to run the empire. Trump’s too embarassing.

      Of course, Trump’s ridiculousness comes across as sincerity to a lot of people who’ve grown accustomed to seeing liars with poise, polish and unifying eloquence…..and hating each one more than the last.

    2. Charles Leseau

      There’s a terrific podcast on ‘West Wing Democrats by Chapo Trap House titled ‘Post hoc ergo propter hoc’. I’m typing this on a phone and can’t be arsed to c/p the link because I’m a phoniot. I know it’s on YouTube, but it should also be on their soundcloud channel too. They do a good job of dissecting the formula of the show, which mostly boils down to clever debate club argumentation (straw manning as dialog) masking the weak real world efficacy of debate in changing opinion; the desire of modern liberals to fetishize the show as a viable template of governance; and the show’s penchant for sewing together democrat-conservative coalitions as some great positive.

      Otherwise, just want to note my admiration for the superb job Lambert has been doing in cutting through the language games of the new 2020 candidates. Bravo!

      1. bob

        Citations Needed, Episode 51: How ‘The West Wing’ Poisoned the Liberal Mind
        Wednesday, September 26, 2018 11:53 AM
        Post-Cold War liberal chauvinism knew no better ideological conduit than the hit NBC series The West Wing. Foreign policy was imperial, staffers were self-satisfied, and Serious Democrats fended off radical leftists and made the Tough Choices needed to run a benevolent superpower.

        The West Wing, created and primarily written by Aaron Sorkin, heavily influenced the politics of dozens of high-status Obama-era liberals. By their own admission, we know it had among its superfans Obama staffers Sam Graham-Felsen and Eric Lesser, Vox founders Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias, The New Statesman’s Helen Lewis, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell (who produced and wrote for the show), Democratic party hacks Meredith Shiner and Micah Lasher, and many more. Indeed, it’s fair to say anyone under 40 who came up through the ranks of liberal public relations and politics during the Obama years was either directly impacted by The West Wing or, indirectly, by those under its comforting, Starbucks-color-palette worldview.

        On this week’s episode, we discuss how this Sorkinized worldview both informed and reflected prevailing thought in the Democratic Party, promoted smugness as the highest virtue, and––more generally––how ideology is spread through seemingly benign cultural products like schlocky television dramas.

        We are joined by Toronto-based writer and co-host of the Michael and Us podcast Luke Savage.


      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Otherwise, just want to note my admiration for the superb job Lambert has been doing in cutting through the language games of the new 2020 candidates. Bravo!

        [lambert blushes modestly]

        It’s not easy. That stuff is crafted by professionals!

  12. Mark Gisleson

    Regarding The American Conservative’s ‘ex-churchgoer’ story, they use Winnebago County as one area of focus. This is part of my old high school athletic conference and nothing they say is wrong, but they’re not describing the Winnebago County I know.

    Church attendance doesn’t mean squat. In rural areas, some of the worst hell raisers rarely miss a service (appearances). Of those classmates I know who stayed, almost all go to church regularly. Conversationally, it’s clear that it’s mostly a social thing and that they are mostly godless just like those of us who left. But they still go to church. Most don’t expect that their kids will after they are gone. It’s taken for granted that churches will be closing with greater and greater frequency as parishioners die off.

    But speaking as a former Iowan, I would have been surprised if southern Iowa wasn’t Trump’s strongest area. It’s not just the most religious, it’s right next to Missouri. Winnebago Co. borders Minnesota and is a very different culture. And, not to be rude, but the most popular Iowa political joke I’ve heard (and I’ve heard it often) goes like this:

    In the 1870s the legislatures of Iowa and Missouri met and based on the science of the day, they determined that they could raise the IQ of both states by having Iowa cede its lowest tier of counties to Missouri.

    Or you could call it Trump Country.

    1. Big River Bandido

      I grew up in Davenport, and I’m in complete agreement with you. Nothing factually wrong, but still the author missed the essence of things.

    2. Summer

      Some people are just going to do what everybody else around them seems to be doing. It’s the easiest way to fit in, especially when you feel like you don’t.
      Do it enough and you start to feel like it was a choice.

  13. allan

    Large influence of soil moisture on long-term terrestrial carbon uptake [Nature, paywalled]

    Abstract: Although the terrestrial biosphere absorbs about 25 per cent of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the rate of land carbon uptake remains highly uncertain, leading to uncertainties in climate projections1,2. Understanding the factors that limit or drive land carbon storage is therefore important for improving climate predictions. One potential limiting factor for land carbon uptake is soil moisture, which can reduce gross primary production through ecosystem water stress3,4, cause vegetation mortality5 and further exacerbate climate extremes due to land–atmosphere feedbacks6. Previous work has explored the impact of soil-moisture availability on past carbon-flux variability3,7,8. However, the influence of soil-moisture variability and trends on the long-term carbon sink and the mechanisms responsible for associated carbon losses remain uncertain. Here we use the data output from four Earth system models9 from a series of experiments to analyse the responses of terrestrial net biome productivity to soil-moisture changes, and find that soil-moisture variability and trends induce large CO2 fluxes (about two to three gigatons of carbon per year; comparable with the land carbon sink itself1) throughout the twenty-first century. Subseasonal and interannual soil-moisture variability generate CO2 as a result of the nonlinear response of photosynthesis and net ecosystem exchange to soil-water availability and of the increased temperature and vapour pressure deficit caused by land–atmosphere interactions. Soil-moisture variability reduces the present land carbon sink, and its increase and drying trends in several regions are expected to reduce it further. Our results emphasize that the capacity of continents to act as a future carbon sink critically depends on the nonlinear response of carbon fluxes to soil moisture and on land–atmosphere interactions. This suggests that the increasing trend in carbon uptake rate may not be sustained past the middle of the century and could result in accelerated atmospheric CO2 growth.

    Doesn’t sound good. The hits just keep on coming.

    1. Eclair

      Lordy, allan! Brexit morass, 800,000 unpaid government workers, probable-CIA-backed coup in Venezuela, despair from Davos (yeah, I know, playing the world’s tiniest violin here) …. and now you sprinkle more rain on our parade with the news that drying soils will probably stop taking up CO2 … allowing it to float up into the atmosphere, increasing the rate of global climate change. Is it time to climb back into bed and pull the duvet over my head?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Restore the prairies; I recall reading here that grasslands captured more carbon than forests and doesn’t have the emissions problems either (emissions is the wrong word, but the chemicals that trees give off communicate with.

          Just give the people who want to live there a JG/UBI for not screwing it up, or better, taking care of it.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            So far Gabe Brown ( and a few lonely not-enough-yet others) have been doing half of just-this-very thing on his ( and theirs) farms. His rotational-moving perennial pastures are short-term prairie-equivalents moving from place to place on his operation every few years. And even his no-tillage cash-cropping is non-disturbing the soil involved so as to preserve the gains made during every pasture-under-livestock phase.

            His soil moisture and hence his soil carbon keeps going up. Or so he claims. ( And if anyone has counter-proof, let them take it to the media).

            And since Brown charges, and GETS, premium prices for his high-nutridense production, he has become able to write himself his own privately customer-funded JG/UBI on his farm, based on not screwing it up. And actually, based on unscrewing it back down.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      This soil-moisture-fluctuation and deprivation stress and what it does to compromise plant growth and skycarbon suckdown seems to be just exactly what Gabe Brown and other Carbon Recapture Farmers are successfully neutralizing and then reversing in their on-farm operations.

      Brown describes everything he does as being successfully meant to increase his soil’s ability to intake every bit of skywater landing on it, and to grip n hold every bit of skywater it intook until passing plant roots can rip the water molecules off of the water-retaining soil molecules and complexes.

      “Carbon Farming” texts and videos would be worth watching in light of the just-above warning about what soil moisture deprivation and fluctuation does to soil’s carbon-capture ability.

  14. Wukchumni

    Deep down, evangs want a dominant person to lead them, and an all knowing deity is the usual choice, but you never really get any satisfaction aside from in your mind-with the usual omnipotent overseer upstairs, so enter a pseudo dominant contender for the Presidency, and there you have it.

  15. Amfortas the hippie

    on the OED.
    I gave myself a copy of the “Shorter OED” after I finally got my hip.
    it is perhaps a measure of my nerdhood that I have always wanted one.
    2 hefty volumes, at around $360.
    I encourage the boys to use it, instead of their phones, whenever a question of meaning or definition comes up(often, around here)
    I must use both my reading glasses, and the magnifying glass(grandad picked it up in Tokyo. sez “made in occupied Japan”,lol)…for the type is tiny.
    It’s a cool exercise, if y’all ever get the opportunity.

    1. Steve H.

      Words about words: I slake my thirst with the etymology of the American Heritage Dictionary. Midwinter I spend too much time with Roget, and my ‘Children’s Writer’s Word Book,’ which I suspect uses Roget as a source.

      An OED, I might get lost in.

    2. Ook

      I think you’re describing the “compact” version, not the “shorter” version. What Ammon Shea calls “that malicious version they put out that has four pages of text condensed on each page”.
      Some day I’ll have to get the 20-volume set.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        this one:

        prices have come down…I almost feel shafted,lol

        the unabridged is still rather pricey…and where would one keep it?

        I’ve managed to accidentally accumulate some 15 old dictionaries in my library…oldest is Funk and Wagnalls, 1908. changing meanings…and especially the changing maps and things in the appendices..are fascinating.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I encourage the boys to use it, instead of their phones, whenever a question of meaning or definition comes up(often, around here)

      Well done. I still have mine, but lost the magnifying glass long ago!

    4. makedoanmend

      I particularly like the Merriam-Webster dictionary for its brevity and clarity. OTOH, there is much to be said for a dictionary that explores word origins and various meanings in more depth.

  16. Oso

    thank you Lambert Strether for keeping up with Kamala Harris launch. Ashley Yates speaks for Oakland on the matter.

  17. blowncue

    The Bryan Singer story hits close to home. Why it does I will not say here. But if I could throttle Singer at this moment, I would. The article mixes cases of rape and molestation with barely legal subjects trading sex for cash, drugs and shelter.

    But Singer’s playing of the homophobia card is truly rich. Really, those two writers are really working for Green Book. Hearst had nothing to do with spiking the story.

    To paraphrase Malcolm X, the chicken are coming home to roost. Singer is not troubled. He’s a chicken hawk, a pedophile and a rapist. I predict more boys will come forward. More actors will say they are shocked – shocked! – here comes the parade stretching all the way back to X-Men.

    1. How is it legal


      Admittedly not very PC of me, but the oft repeated California Pink Washing of Bipartisan, obscenely wealthy, white, LGBT™ male Predators who are Politically Connected ($30K to the DNC in that linked Brian Singer instance); such as Demorat Contributors Brian Singer and Ed Buck, or Robber Baron, youth blood Vampire Libertarians and Republicans such as Peter Thiel – is obscenely off the hook.

      Brian Singer was originally accused of being a predator by a 14 year old ‘extra’– in the failed Apt Pupil Film lawsuit – as early as 1997. Singer has repeatedly been accused – by others continually mustering the nerve to – since then, 21+ years later.

      Perhaps Brad Renfro, whose first role at only 10 years old in The Client, with Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones (odd that the Atlantic piece made no note of it?), brought him a Young Artist Award, and fame – who was only 14 years old when he was the “Star” of Apt Pupil and said to be 31 year old Singer’s proclaimed ‘boyfriend’- might have eventually been one of the recent accusers, had he not tragically overdosed in 2008, at the age of 25. Hollywood appears to eat youth alive, particularly when they have no wealthy connections to begin with, its seems very few survive it to live happy lives.

      Like you, I’m betting that Brian Singer is guilty as sin.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > LGBT™ male Predators who are Politically Connected ($30K to the DNC in that linked Brian Singer instance);

        I should have thought to mention “Ed Buck.” Now I will: Ed Buck.

        Interesting, as we say, that #MeToo took out Medicare for All supporters John Conyers (with Jayapal conveniently erasing “676”) and Al Franken, and yet Ed Buck and Singer was still doing their things, whatever they might be. I guess the Democrat donor class has impunity.

  18. VietnamVet

    The recent poll of citizens in four of the Five Eyes Nations more than half believed that there is a fifty percent or greater chance that humanity will go extinct in the next 100 years. This is colored by the American Taliban’s belief in the Rapture. Not to mention, not one of the participants surveyed will be here in a 100 years. But, if you need writing on the wall that points to the coming apocalypse; nothing is better than the current stalemate in the British and American governments. This is simply due to people trying to get richer while denying the truth of what is happening to the earth and human society. Monopolistic capitalism is not stable. Resources are limited. There are way too many people. There is an ongoing no holds battle in the West between Oligarchs who believe in the free movement of people, capital, services and goods and those who don’t. The winners get to pillage the ruins.

  19. Elizabeth Burton

    So, the Trump administration has accepted the guy who just swore himself in as the President of Venezuela as legitimate, and has apparently hinted military intervention is not off the table if Maduro refuses to step down. Given there’s been military buildup on several of the country’s borders, the only remaining question seems to be whether the MSM will bother to cover the overthrow of yet another democratically elected head of state.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Last I heard, this guy made his announcement and then ducked off to hide in the Colombian Embassy. What a jerk.

    2. John k

      I wouldn’t say Maduro was democratically elected.
      I would say their economic nightmare is on account of his gov policies, not least the dual exchange rate that allows cronies to export 4x to Swiss banks. Granted, deciding the state can run the oil biz even after sacking both local and foreign experts, plus mandating grocery stores sell goods at a loss, accelelerated the descent.
      Nothing wrong with socialism, us could use a fair bit more, but don’t put incompetents in charge of production.

  20. Richard H Caldwell

    Exquisite prose, verging on poetry, relevant and satisfying — “Attaboy, Sherrod. The complex eligibility requirements that liberals so love: (a) Be a cop (or a firefighter), because after all us ordinary shlubs aren’t deserving, and (b) an age limit. But if 55, why not 54? Or 53? Possibly 52? Etc. NOTE * Maybe we could add another complex eligibility requirement? Like: (c) unless you’re a cop that’s whacked more than three (say) civilians? Just a thought, Sherrod. Or heck, (d) If you’re one of the prisoner’s Kamala Harris got to fight California’s forest fire for a dollar an hour and plus two dollars a day. Surely our great country can afford to be generous? Just spitballing, here!”

    Nice job, Lambert!

    1. aletheia33

      seconded! new heights of irony and laughter in today’s WC! & so razor sharp i almost can’t take it.

  21. allan

    Federal workers affected by partial shutdown to be billed for dental, vision coverage [WaPo]

    The 800,000 federal employees furloughed by the partial government shutdown and working without pay were warned Wednesday that they must pay their dental and vision premiums beginning this week or they could lose their coverage.

    The workers are not at risk of losing their health insurance benefits, which will stay in effect through the duration of the shutdown — and for as long as a year — even if they are not receiving a paycheck, with their accumulated premiums deducted from their pay once their agency reopens.

    However, that protection does not extend to vision and dental insurance, and starting with their second missed paycheck at the end of this week, employees will be billed directly for premiums for dental and vision coverage. If the shutdown continues for another two weeks into a third missed pay period, the company that provides long-term care insurance to federal workers also will start billing them directly. …

    American 1387, I’m #1 in the phone queue with Vision Guard, so hold at 5000.

    1. Pat

      Speaking of legislation more supportive of furloughed workers than cancelling the State of the Union, how about some that requires those insurance companies to continue coverage throughout the shut down. And making sure that retroactive pay and premium payment is tops of the budget…

      Just a thought.

      Although I’m really of the belief that they like this. All of them. (And that it is past time that being put in stocks on the mall surrounded by boxes of spoiled produce happen for all of Congress, most of our appointed government and the President at a rate of eight hours for every day of the shut down. One of the edifying things is that they really aren’t doing anything all that important as far as the wellbeing of the country so they might as well suffer as much as those they are abusing and endangering.)

  22. integer

    If I lived in the US I think I would get a MAGA hat and a Kamala Harris “For The People” t-shirt and wear both at the same time. It’s a shame no candidates are offering anything in the way of pants.

    1. Pat

      The pants, tote bag and travel mug are a market waiting for the right combination. I’m thinking Biden 2020 for the Tote Bag. I’m with Castro (double entendre intended) mug, and either McConnell or Booker ‘He’s the man’ pants.

  23. french75

    > is complete. It’s done. There’s nothing missing. All Pokemon caught.

    It’s really and truly a shame to read excerpts like this. The Standard Model is a model for three of the four fundamental forces: Electromagnetic, Strong, and Weak (plus an additional field, the Higgs field, from which much of matter is expected to garner its mass). Notably missing is the only macroscopic force: gravity.

    There are fundamental open problems remaining in physics, in particular:

    a) The Hierarchy Problem (why is the gravitational force so much weaker than the others, see http://www.slac.stanford.edu/econf/C040802/lec_notes/Lykken/Lykken_web.pdf)

    b) The Cosmological Constant Problem (a massive discrepancy between the observed near-zero free energy in the universe, and the Standard Model’s prediction that it should be about 10^(120) (that’s 1 followed by 120 zeros!) higher than what is observed.

    c) Unifying quantum field theory with general relativity. (This is often called “quantum gravity” — but really it’s identifying a view of “quantum spacetime”)

    Supersymmetry (the hypothesis that there are previously-unidentified superpartners to the fundamental particles we all know and love) and string theory (various hypotheses involving the nature of particles, the dimensions of space, and existence of additional scalar fields) have particular instances where one or more of the above problems disappear; and some of these instances predict that there should be additional particles. And if there aren’t, there has got to be something else.

    In other words, if all the pokemon are caught, we know that there should be digimon too.

    (If you have an enthusiast’s interest in these topics, you will enjoy The Theoretical Minimum — a layman’s introduction to these topics taught by Susskind himself)

    1. John k

      Seems likely there will always be stuff we don’t know, especially if we’re not around much longer, so better hurry and discover what we can just in case. Never stop trying to ferret out the mysteries.

      1. Jessica

        This is the real question. There is plenty more to learn – no end to that – but the next generation collider would cost huge amounts of money for a marginal increase in power.

      2. french75

        “Need” injects a great deal of personal perspective. In the 90s the US was building a collider in Texas (the Superconducting Supercollider) which would have been 3-4x more powerful than the LHC that recently found the Higgs. The project was cancelled because politicians concerned with saving a few million dollars thought there was no “need” for such a thing.

        From a purely “returns on fiscal expenditure” point of view, large-scale technology projects are generally a good idea. Engineering the LHC resulted in quite a few advancements in superconductor electromagnet technology (required to keep a beam of charged particles traveling at 99.999% the speed of light on-course), sensor design (required to collect data from the thousands of particle decays happening in less than a second), and software/network design (required to process and store such a sudden burst of data). See https://kt.cern/cern-technologies-society for the ra-ra-propaganda; but in general spending a billion dollars on a high-tech infrastructure program has better technological returns than spending a billion dollars building highways and bridges. On the other hand, physicists (and academic scientists more generally) largely subsist on government grants (or indirectly on government-guaranteed student loans) already, so injecting more money in this sector won’t magically make it a continuing source of economic activity (compared to, say, lowering the production costs of vertically integrated farming or alternative energy technologies).

        From a “how do you test the predictions of new physical theories” perspective, there are alternatives to bigger colliders, such as low-energy high-precision experiments. This involves measuring well-known physical properties (such as neutron decay times, magnetic moments of the electron, muon, and tau letpon) to many many decimal places. Fermilab does this kind of thing using ~300 MeV electron beams. A neutrino observatory (IceCube) looks over a huge area to try to form precise measurements of neutrino oscillations. If we wanted to make experiments like these “20 times more powerful”, it’s not necessarily as straightforward as putting more energy into a collider, nor necessarily cheaper. This is not my area of expertise, but it could be you hit some fundamental earth-bound noise sources that can only be dealt with by building the next high-precision electron beam in space. It’s safe to assume that whether it’s a bigger supercollider, massive cosmological measurement array, or much more sensitive high-precision experiment; the price tag to be of any value should be double (or more) than CERN — $15-$20B. A good 5% of the ARRA or TARP.

        I can imagine a few better ways to spend the money; but I can imagine lots of worse ways. Perhaps that in itself suggests “moar colliders” might be a good idea.

  24. JBird4049

    Who’s “they”? That 70-year-old Walmart greeter? Anyhow, Harris [x] black [x] woman, but Buttigieg [x] young [x] gay. I just can’t make up my mind!

    Should we choosing the best person or the best identity?

      1. JBird4049

        That’s my point. Too many are focused on an individual’s identity because it is thought of as the most important thing instead of their qualifications, and forget their humanity; it’s like the Neoliberal Church’s Curse of Ham. Maybe an algebraic equation with its variables. The correct predestined solution(s) do not require humanity or the ability to solve reality’s problems but instead are modern macroeconomics’ oversimplifications that are not meant for reality, but only the predestined question and answer.

    1. Wukchumni

      Wal*Mart only has ‘exiters’ now-no greeters, who go over your receipt as you’re leaving the store to make sure you haven’t stolen anything, and the ones i’ve seen are all young.

    1. JBird4049

      That could explain why they decided to stop production of all cars except the Mustang and the Focus and just produce pickups, SUVs, and crossovers. Rather than dealing with quality control and producing cars as good as anyone else that people want, they will make vehicles that are usually cheaper to make then sedans and hatchbacks.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      A law forbidding age discrimination in new-hiring would maybe fix that. If enough people could torture the system into creating such a law.

    2. jrs

      I think some states have their own laws about this (and job seekers in those states might still have some protections).

  25. RS

    Pardon me if I’m mistaken, but someone sent this Water Cooler link to me regarding Sherrod’s Brown Medicare at 55 Act, which references a Politico article. Politico says the bill is for cops and firefighters to buy into Medicare at age 55 and on Naked Capitalism there is commentary about this article stating:

    Attaboy, Sherrod. The complex eligibility requirements that liberals so love: (a) Be a cop (or a firefighter), because after all us ordinary shlubs aren’t deserving, and (b) an age limit. But if 55, why not 54? Or 53? Possibly 52? Etc. NOTE * Maybe we could add another complex eligibility requirement? Like: (c) unless you’re a cop that’s whacked more than three (say) civilians? Just a thought, Sherrod.

    I have done my best to research this and it looks like Sherrod’s bill is for all Americans between the age of 55-64, not just police and firefighters. The Politico article mentioned that the bill is for cops and firefighters, but I think they left out the fact that’s it’s also for every other American in that age group. Again, forgive me if I am wrong on this but I think points A and C of the commentary are based on an article that is a lie. Point B is very legitimate, however.

Comments are closed.