2:00PM Water Cooler 1/22/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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


“First thoughts on Elizabeth Warren’s prospects in Iowa” [Bleeding Heartland]. • Worth reading in full for a look at Warren on the trail, and the first of a series at Bleeding Heartland. This caught my eye: “The second half of Warren’s Des Moines event consisted of Q&A for about 25 minutes, followed by the last portion of her speech. The questioners were not pre-screened. Rather, numbered tickets were drawn out of a bucket to determine who would get a turn. Warren explained that they use this system to give everyone an equal chance to be heard, not just the people who rush to the microphone first. The following day in Ankeny, they did random drawings again.” • That’s very good (and, as sortition, distinct from Occupy’s progressive stack). Somebody on Warren’s campaign staff is really thinking. If your read Warren carefully though, you will see a major disjunction between her structurak message (e.g., “corruption”) and her policy recommendations (e.g., “access* to health care”). This is a consistent pattern for Warren. The mountain will labor, and bring forth a mouse! NOTE * So, Warren has dropped #MedicareForAll.

“Warren demands details on Mnuchin’s December calls to bank CEOs” [American Banker]. “Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is asking Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin why he called chief executives of the six largest U.S. banks to confirm they had adequate liquidity in the midst of market turmoil in December. ‘The public announcement of these calls was a rare step for a Treasury Secretary to take,’ Warren said in her letter to Mnuchin dated Jan. 18. ‘Moreover, your calls sought to assuage a concern — the liquidity of banks — that neither banking regulators nor executives had publicly indicated was a problem.’…. ‘Given the outsized role of liquidity problems in the 2008 financial crisis, we would like to better understand the nature of the call you had with Secretary Mnuchin regarding risks to the U.S. banking system,’ Warren said.”

Harris (1):


As Mark Blyth says: The Hamptons are not a defensible position.

Harris (2):


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Some clever campaign operative or elected on the left needs to find people who fought foreclosure and fought Harris, and make a video compilation.

UPDATE “Dehumanization by Deification: On Kamala Harris and ‘Black Women Will Save Us'” [Verso]. “[T]here is a duly irresponsible and unacceptable idea that an individual’s politics are beyond reproach because they possess a marginalized identity (or multiple ones)… This superficial politics of representation (i.e. the idea that elevating minorities to positions of power is an unquestioned social good regardless of their politics) and a weird fetishization, rather than actual respect, for non-white womanhood.” • Yes, it certainly is odd that Harris’ campaign site has no mention of policy…. In 2017, we didn’t have a name for devotees of this “irresponsible and unacceptable idea,.” Now we do: identitarians.


Very true:


So many #Resistance members seem to think that malevolence is a recent discovery, and discovered by them. Worth remembering what a horror show the Iraq War was. And on top of that, we had the PATRIOT Act, warrantless surveillance, torture…. You know, all the things Obama normalized and consolidated, and handed off to Trump.

Realignment and Legitimacy

If you want to be owned by class reductionists, keep doing this:


“THEY SAW A PROTEST”: COGNITIVE ILLIBERALISM AND THE SPEECH CONDUCT DISTINCTION” (PDF) [Dan M. Kahan, David A. Hoffman, Donald Braman, Danieli Evans, & Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Stanford Law Review]. “The Free Speech, Equal Protection, and Due Process Clauses all mandate governmental evenhandedness. Within their respective domains, each forecloses the state from privileging particular affiliations, ways of life, or points of view and mandates that law be justified by its contribution to secular interests—physical security, public health, economic prosperity—valued by all citizens. But if decisionmakers (particularly adjudicators) unconsciously apply these provisions to favor outcomes congenial to favored ways of life, citizens who adhere to disfavored ones will suffer the same array of disadvantages for failing to conform that they would in a regime expressly dedicated to propagation of a sectarian orthodoxy. This distinctively psychological threat to constitutional ideals, which we will refer to as ‘cognitive illiberalism,’ has received relatively little attention from commentators or jurists…. The study results thus highlight the need to fortify constitutional theorizing with psychological realism. Normatively ideal standards for enforcing the Constitution are of little value if applying them defies the capacities of constitutional decisionmakers.” • Seems like recent events at the Lincoln Monument provide a test case. Much food for thought, here.

Yesterday, the FBI. Today, the CIA:


UPDATE “Many 2020 Democrats Silent On Trump’s Afghanistan, Syria Withdrawals” [HuffPo]. • Many responses, most focusing on Trump’s “government by tweet.” But this:

The following Democrats have made no public statements on the withdrawals, and did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment:

  • Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.)
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Former Housing Secretary Julian Castro
  • Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas)

Biden was at the dentist, too?

Stats Watch

Existing Home Sales, December 2018: “Mortgage rates began to move down in December but it wasn’t soon enough to help the month’s resales” [Econoday]. “The housing sector may have ended a soft 2018 on a down note but the outlook for 2019 — as long as the labor market stays healthy and rates hold steady — may well be positive.” And: “December 2018 Headline Existing Home Sales Decline and Remain In Contraction Year-over-Year” [Econintersect]. “The rolling averages have been slowing since the beginning of 2017. This month the rolling averages remained in contraction – and worsened. Housing inventory is historically low for Decembers. Despite the NAR’s assertion that “After two consecutive months of increases, existing-home sales declined in the month of December” – even using their wackiy methodology to determine rate of growth – the rate of growth year-over-year has been in contraction and declining for the last 4 months.” And: “Comments on December Existing Home Sales” [Calculated Risk]. “The current YoY increase in inventory is nothing like what happened in 2005 and 2006. In 2005 (see red arrow), inventory kept increasing all year, and that was a sign the bubble was ending. In 2018 (light blue arrow), inventory followed the normal seasonal pattern…. Also inventory levels remains low, and could increase much more and still be at normal levels. No worries.”

The Bezzle: “The Cab Ride That Nearly Killed Me Changed How I Think About Ride-Hailing Apps” [Bloomberg]. Excellent article. On tidbit: “On my way home, I wrote down in my notebook only some of what the accident had cost everyone. Me: left vertebral artery. Driver: livelihood + S$3,700 in fines and expenses. Grab: S$20, the refund they’d given me after the accident.” • And there you have it. Well worth a read.

Tech: “The design flaw behind MacBook Pro’s ‘stage light’ effect” [iFixIt]. “The Touch Bar generation of MacBook Pro always had its quirks, but the thin-at-all-cost design may finally be proving more trouble than it was ever worth. The latest issue to crop up—dubbed ‘flexgate‘ by one of our users, Alex—reveals that the compact design for the display’s flex cables is prone to fatigue and failure, leading to a host of display problems that can’t be easily (or cheaply) fixed…. The issue is fairly simple: the current generation of MacBook Pro laptops (2016–present) uses flexible ribbon cables to connect the display to a display controller board beneath the Touch Bar. These cables wrap over the board, where they’re secured by a pair of spring-loaded covers—and they’re subjected to the stress of bending with every opening and closure of the laptop. Within a seemingly short time, those cables are starting to fatigue and tear. The backlight cable is generally the first to go, producing the infamous ‘stage light‘ symptoms, and eventually giving out entirely when the laptop is opened more than about 40°…. In an apparent effort to make the display as thin as possible, Apple designed the cables as part of the display, so they cannot be replaced.” • Hey, Tim. Still waiting for that new MacBook Pro you promised….

Concentration: “Panel discusses the past and present of monopolies” [Gainesville Sun]. “About 40 people crowded into Pugh Hall on the University of Florida campus to listen to the panel discuss the history of anti-monopoly on Thursday at 6 p.m. The panelists, Richard John, Victoria Woeste and Matt Stoller, spoke with the audience about the large businesses that control their own industries — Facebook and Google included. ‘They’re not tech companies,’ said Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute. ‘They’re advertising companies.’ With control of about 63 percent of the online ad market, Facebook and Google have a monopoly on advertising, Stoller said. The revenue they receive used to go to newspapers, arts, sports and more.”

Rapture Index: Closes down two on wild weather (“The lack of activity has downgraded this category”), global turmoil (“The lack of activity has downgraded this category”). [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 179. Breaking through the 180 floor! Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

Health Care

“25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System Is Better Than Obamacare” [Ralph Nader, Common Dreams]. • Missed this over the holidays! Put it in your fridge for skeptics to read.

“Cancerous Growth” [Jacobin]. “A new study reveals that the US cancer death rate has dropped 27 percent since 1991. This is fantastic news: the nation’s number-two cause of death is getting less deadly by the year. For some people, that is. At the same time, the gap in cancer mortality between the rich and the poor is actually widening. The concurrence of these trends can mean only one thing: we’re making breakthroughs in medicine, but our deeply unequal system means that not everyone is benefiting from them.” • Everything’s going according to plan!

The Biosphere

“Surprising Network Activity in the Immature Brain” [Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, Nautilus]. “[L]ocal connections build a network activity scaffold. Following the well-accepted plasticity rule “what fires together wires together,” activity mediated by local connections can then guide the subsequent formation of long-range network connections. In a twist of the oft-used phrase, “think globally, act locally,” developing cortical circuits act locally to achieve global effects. Future studies will test the prediction that activity dependent plasticity mechanisms shape the structure of long-range connections based on the instructive activity patterns derived from local cortical connections.”

Neoliberal Epidemics



“Activists Call on Harvard to Strip Art Museum of Sackler Name” [Harvard Crimson]. “Local activists and at least one public official are calling on Harvard to remove the Sackler family’s name from their buildings after a memorandum filed in federal court Tuesday alleged the family knowingly understated the risks of its company’s addictive opioid product… For years, members of the Sackler family have sought to distance themselves from Purdue and its addictive narcotic, which many have blamed for its role in spurring the opioid crisis…. But this week’s filing sheds new light on the extent to which multiple members of the family remained involved in the company and its efforts to deceive the public about the risks associated with OxyContin, even after they agreed to a Justice Department settlement in 2007.” • How odd that Harvard’s administration isn’t on top of the issue, and hasn’t taken action voluntarily.

Guillotine Watch

“From Kim Kardashian’s bestie to dining deity: The rise of Foodgod” [Los Angeles Times]. Photo caption: “Jonathan Cheban, also known as Foodgod, getting a ‘truffle shower’ at Il Pastaio in Beverly Hills.” • No.

Class Warfare

Fun with excavators:


Precarity Training (1):


Precarity Training (2):


No safety nets here!

Bright college days:


“LA Teachers Strike with Sarah Jaffe” (podcast) [Blubrry]. “The teacher strike wave continues as more than 30,000 members of United Teachers Los Angeles walk picket lines not only for the higher wages that they deserve but also for the well-funded and great schools that the city’s working-class students of color have long been systematically denied—a situation that has been exacerbated by a corporate reform-led school board and superintendent dead-set on privatizing the district. UTLA has in recent years been led by a militant, rank-and-file caucus that has shunted aside the old guard’s narrow vision of service unionism in favor of a big-picture movement unionism that makes the struggles of teachers, parents and students one on and the same. Sarah Jaffe is [Daniel Denver’s] guest for a discussion of the strike, social reproduction and lessons from Rosa Luxemburg.”

“Federal Workers: Shutdown and Out” [Labor Notes]. “Forty percent of the government’s civilian workforce besides postal workers are being deprived of money to pay for rent, gas, groceries, and car and student loan payments… Federal unions are legally prohibited from advocating a strike against the federal government. The specter of a mass firing, as Reagan did to striking air traffic controllers in 1981, always looms large. But Joseph McCartin, the foremost historian of the public sector labor movement, suggested in the American Prospect that unpaid federal workers might use a tactic with a long history among public sector workers: spontaneous sickouts. Some workers have begun taking such initiatives. Uncoordinated sickouts by TSA officers forced Miami and Houston’s biggest airports to shut one terminal each over the weekend…. By January 14, the TSA itself was conceding that the national rate of sick calls was three times as high as the same day a year ago.” • Why we need the history (and historians). As next–

“Kinky Labor Supply and the Attention Tax” [Kortina]. “Over the past few decades, labor force participation has sharply dropped for men ages 20-34. Theories about the root cause range from indolence, to a lack of skills and training, to offshoring, to (perhaps most interestingly) the increasing attractiveness and availability of leisure and media entertainment. In this essay, we propose that the drop in labor participation rate of young men is a result of a combination of factors: (i) a decrease in cost of access to media entertainment leisure, (ii) increases in both the availability and (iii) quality media entertainment leisure, and (iv) a decrease in the marginal signalling utility of (conspicuous) consumption goods for all but the highest earners.” This is fascinating:

Consumers are no longer signaling on a local scale, but rather on an internet scale. On the one hand, this amplifies signal, because you can reach likeminded people who aren’t part of your local community, but on the other hand… As an example, consider how this increased competition plays out in online dating platforms. On Tinder, the top 20% of men are competing for the top 78% of women. Why? It’s a matter of the breadth of selection. Offline, due to the constraints of physical space and time, any given woman would have a finite set of potential partners to choose from. Online, the selection is much more vast and most women only “like” the most attractive men. The Gini coefficient for the ‘Tinder economy’ is 0.58, which means that it has higher inequality than 95% the world’s national economies – in other words, it’s pretty grim if you’re a man in the bottom 80%…. We believe that this effect can be extrapolated into most contexts where digital distribution is used for signalling purposes.

So perhaps all that incel foofrah has a material basis….

“Re-envisioning Socialist Feminism for a New Century” [Christine R. Riddiough, Democratic Left]. A new DSA publication: “On the July 4 weekend of 1975, about 1,600 women gathered in Yellow Springs to discuss socialist feminism theory and practice. The conference was organized by about ten socialist feminist women’s organizations from around the United States, joined by two chapters of the New American Movement (one of DSA’s predecessor organizations)…. The 1975 conference referred to above was the culmination of the work of these organizations. And it was also its downfall. In the two years after the conference, almost all of the sponsoring organizations disbanded. This was, in part, due to the changing political climate that resulted in the rise of the Right and the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. In addition, the attacks on women’s liberation groups by sectarian groups intensified after the conference. These groups were not interested in advancing socialist feminism but rather in siphoning off members from the women’s movement and in suggesting the “correct line” the groups should take. They were extremely divisive within these organizations and undermined the ability of the women’s groups to fight for women’s liberation.” • Leaving those “sectarian groups” unnamed seems oddly decorous. Nevertheless, interesting history from one who was there.

News of the Wired

“How Buke and Gase built a huge indie rock career—and its own guitars, software” [Ars Technica]. “In manufacturing their own instruments, gear, tools, and software solutions, Buke and Gase may have had great sounds in mind, but perhaps they did it for a greater purpose: to engineer the tools needed for such an intense working relationship. Albums as remarkable and fully formed as Scholars couldn’t emerge from anything less.” • Fascinating and hopeful. Not sure on the music, but my tastes are not universal, and perhaps readers will disagree?

“Life Without the Tech Giants” [Gizmodo]. “Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple collectively make products that we love, products that we hate (but can’t stop using), and products that dictate how we communicate and how we are seen….We’re now realizing it’s as possible to get addicted to these buttons, clicks, screens, and scrolls as it is to get hooked on nicotine or heroin….The common retort to these concerns is that you should “just stop using their services.” So I decided to try…. Over the next few weeks, I’ll tell you—and show you, there’s video documentation by my colleague, Myra Iqbal—the tale of blocking these companies. It wasn’t easy. You have no idea how hard it is to find a phone that’s not touched by Apple or Google. ” • A series to look forward to. The technical approach was to block their IP addresses.

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

CW write from Queensland, Australia: “My backyard during one of our heavier down pours. Had over a metre of rain in December, not a new record, but it surprised many of the locals.” Impressive!

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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. bob

    RE: Fun with excavators:

    There’s a second part to the video from inside the building, further down the tread.

    That’s a “mini-excavator”

    1. ambrit

      Mini-excavators are fun to work with. Good for both building and tearing down.
      I’ve been on jobs like that. Suddenly, a lot of the more expensive machinery and tools ‘goes home’ with unpaid workers. Store said goods at a friends garage for a week. The cops will come and search your place, if you work on the affected job. (It has happened to me.) Don’t try and pawn anything. Wait your time. When the arrears comes in, the tools ‘magically’ reappear on the jobsite. Good job managers understand the dynamic.
      On one medium sized job, some machinery went missing. The superintendant asked around for the skilled worker with the most ‘run ins’ with the law. He had to explain that he wanted that person to scour the regional pawn shops that said semi-crook knew to be bent for the missing goods. My friend Sid came forward after that assurance. Ten days later, Sid found the missing tools at a pawn shop a hundred odd miles away. Everyone was happy except the pawn shop owner. He had to write that one off as a “cost of doing ‘dirty’ business.” I can tell that story now since Sid has passed away. He can’t be harmed now. Criminals tend to hold grudges and have long memories. Just look at the Clintons. (Gratuitous snarkery there. But, H—. Good politicos have thick skins.)

    1. diptherio

      According to thems that maintain the index.

      Of course, if all the fundamentalist Christians suddenly disappeared I don’t know that it would be a bad thing for the rest of us….just sayin’.

    2. Geo

      The “good people” all get to go to heaven and live in eternal bliss while watching the “bad people,” the masses of heathens, sinners, etc (you and I), fight it out for survival as society collapses and the demons emerge to wage a battle for souls that brings a literal hell on earth.

      Basically, it’s a big ol’ Revenge fantasy as belief system.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        while watching the “bad people,

        The overt racism of the cottage industry does draw attention away from the idea of enjoying the carnage from afar.

        The kid from that Catholic School in the MAGA hat if he’s Catholic would be “Left Behind” but has enough purity (wink wink) to learn the error of his ways and fight George Soros funded activists for the amusement of God and the super pure before the main event in Israel.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      So God can smite everyone you don’t like…duh…and yes, in this strain of Christianity God can be tricked into starting the end of the world with enough effort. All the Southern Baptists who are pure enough (because modern democracies mean anyone can be let in through the doors) will be taken to heaven with Kirk Cameron to watch as lesser Christians who aren’t so pure kill a sufficient amount of people who don’t believe in Jesus (wink, wink) can come if they are “pure” (So Obama wouldn’t make it through if you catch my drift) enough and everyone can get back to enjoying 1850’s America!

      Since its likely a song/poem about the Jewish Revolt in the first century, later Christian bookish busybodies tend to ignore it. Its the only book of the Christian Bible John Calvin didn’t write a commentary for. It feels like its the kind of thing less scrupulous ministers can latch onto because in general Christianity doesn’t provide much scriptural evidence for accumulation of wealth and smiting enemies.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Does God smite other gods?

        That’s one way to stop humans from worshiping false gods.

        Of course, we wouldn’t have any chance to be tested, in that case.

        Speaking of being tested, really tested, being new, will AOC be tested going forward? Probably not about money, maybe about power, or more likely about fame, place in history or reputation.

        1. bassmule

          “The rapture concept is relatively new. It started with an Anglo-Irish theologian, who in the 1830s invented the concept. This may come as a shocker to many, but it’s a fact: Before John Nelson Darby imagined this scenario in the clouds, no Christian had ever heard of the rapture.

          The idea was popularized by Cyrus I. Scofield, an American minister who published a famous reference Bible in 1908, one that developed the idea of an elaborate series of final periods in history known as dispensations. Scofield, like Darby, read the Book of Revelation as a vision of the future, not a fiery dream of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70.”

          Elaine Pagels: “…the word “rapture” doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible, unless you’re willing to think in broadly metaphorical terms. Rapture thinking is most often traced back to the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, where he writes: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God. The dead in Christ will rise first; then we, who are left alive, will be snatched up with them on clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

          “…it’s important to note that Jesus himself never talked about the rapture, ever. We read in Mark about the “Son of Man coming in the clouds,” but this is a reference back to the Old Testament Book of Daniel, where we get the image of a “son of Man” who is actually going the other way, up to meet the Ancient of Days.”

          Even Jesus wouldn’t buy ‘the rapture’

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That sounds familiar, at least for Western Europe.

            Apparently, getting married at a church, and the marriage vow, ‘…till death do us apart,’ were farily recent tradtions (recent, as in, only 1,000 years, and not dating to the first century AD).

            Or the song “Silent Night,’ or the gift giving traditioin at Christmas, or the celebration of Christmas itself, as some Christians still don’t.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              If it was invented by the Anglo-Irishman John Darby, it would be a peculiarly Anglo-Irish concept, later transplanted to America.

              I wonder how it overlaps with the British Israelite theory, the made-in-Britain theory that the British are direct descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

        2. LifelongLib

          “Does God smite other gods?”

          According to Psalm 82, yes. Originally each nation had its own god, son of the Most High God, of which Yahweh was one. Eventually Yahweh was elevated to Most High status, and demoted (made mortal) the other gods, supposedly for not upholding justice on earth.

          1. Plenue

            Not quite sure where you got all that from. The academic consensus is that that Psalm is a relic from when what would become Yahweh was still El, head of the Caananite pantheon.

            The editors of the Tanakh/Old Testament tried to present things as if it was about seperate tribes or nations, each with their own deity. But the real story is a set of different tribes all subscribing to the same Pantheon, with one (or rather, the elites of one) emphasizing, and eventually exclusively worshipping, just one.


            This guy gives an interesting rundown of the disconnect between what the Bible claims, and the reality of the archeological evidence. Including the existence of a complete second temple, separate from the one in Jersualem. Something that literally shouldn’t exist, going by the Biblical account. The Bible is at best the idealized opinion of elites about how things should be. Meanwhile the illiterate masses continued on doing things the way they’d always done them, happily ignoring all the scary threats of stoning and a wrathful Yahweh.

            1. LifelongLib

              My source was Robert Alter’s translation of Psalm 82. I was just referring to the issue of God smiting other gods, not the historicity of the Hebrew Bible. My understanding is that early Hebrews were polytheistic (and actually the same people as the Canaanites), and that many of the stories of those times were rewritten by later monotheists. Psalm 82 somehow slipped through.

        3. polecat

          I kinda like the idea of the old gods duking it out, while mere mortals take bets to see whose cult wins the wine-n-women .. oh, excuse my grave error – I meant to type in ‘womex’ …

          1. ambrit

            Not Patriarchal enough. It should be “womb-bots.” That defines the role of the ‘feminine’ in the Holy Dispensation according to a bunch of ecstatic old men. (There are competing Dispensations.)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Moral debts as well?

        Say, a debt to slaves, or victims.

        Are some of those debts we can never pay off?

  2. allan

    Pelosi works her health care strategy from the ground up [AP]

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is laying out her strategy on health care and first up is improvements to “Obamacare” and legislation to lower prescription drug costs. “Medicare for all” will get hearings. …

    But the biggest health care idea among Democrats is “Medicare for all,” and on that, Pelosi is cautious. To those on the left “M4A” means a government-run health care system that would cover every American. That would require major tax increases and a big expansion of government.

    Pelosi has tapped two committees, Budget and Rules, to handle “Medicare for all.” Health care legislation doesn’t usually originate in either of them.

    Says Pelosi: “We’re going to have hearings.”

    Many hopes will have been ground up in the working of this strategy.

    1. Roger Smith

      Pelosi’s thinking here is, “how can I make it look like I am doing something without actually doing it?” And seriously, how is cost even a question anymore. Just point to the Pentagon anytime someone starts making that bogus argument. If they can have Nancy, we can have it. Even still, as framed, the real question is, will “higher taxes” be cheaper than the price we are paying for care now?

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          The House Democrats have decided that their single payer Medicare for All bill will not carry the HR 676 number.

          They let that number go this week to a bill that reiterates “the support of the Congress of the United States for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

          Some in the single payer movement see the abandonment of HR 676 as a betrayal of years of grassroots activism, activism that drew 124 co-sponsors to HR 676 in the House last year.

          1. allan

            Hijacking the bill number has a nice Memory Hole feel to it.
            Medicare-for-All has always been at war with single-payer.

            1. Carey

              At least the Enemy makes itself clearer and clearer, in this case.

              Just a very small group, slow-walking the citizenry to oblivion…

      1. Lemmy Caution

        Medicare for All will save $2 trillion over ten years compared to the current system. A more pertinent question would be, “Can we afford not to switch?”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The battle to be fought in the Budget committee and the Rules committee, and not, say, the Financial Services committte.

      The question then is, who can we count on in those 2?

    3. Grant

      Pelosi’s problem is standard in dying, neoliberal democracies like this one, all under the control of mediocre people like her. How do I ignore what large majorities want on policy, and over 80% of my own party, while pretending to not ignore them and offering inferior alternatives that my donors will approve of? Anything they touch gets worse, they don’t offer actual solutions to our problems or alternatives to what they have been offering for decades now, or what the right offers.

      1. jsn

        The problem is that “our” (the 90%) problems ARE their (the 10%) solutions: the worse our problems, the more money they make until we die, which is just fine with them.

        M4A is a second term for Trump just waiting for him to pick it up: the Dimmercats are setting him up to be unbeatable for a second term.

        They’re sure he’s too stupid: we’ll see.

        1. Carey

          Your first sentence says it perfectly.

          Immiserate the many, extract various rents for healthcare, et al, “access”, and
          when there’s nothing left to extract, well, you know…

          1. notabanker

            Which should give clues to their strategy. The parasite can’t kill the host, and to assume they are not smart enough to figure this out I think is a mistake.

            Instead, how can the host be kept in stasis to continue the cycle for as long as possible. Watered down medicare for mostly all. Tax fossil fuels and give the money to the consumers.

            It doesn’t change the game itself, just tweaks a few rules to keep it going longer.

  3. a different chris

    DIdn’t we see Today’s Plantidote once before? Or am I now completely adrift in time?

    1. crittermom

      Yes, I believe we did.
      But for those of us in areas still suffering drought in the US west, that much green is worth a second look, & appreciated.

    2. The Rev Kev

      December’s rain seems a long time ago here in Queensland, Australia. I suspect that that foto was taken up north where it is more tropical. Right now the American dustbowel of the 1930s has nothing on my paddock and our horses are hard pressed to find a blade of grass..

  4. TiPs

    Re the cancer gap and the assumption it could only mean ONE thing, access to care. I’m thinking that access to healthy food could be a contributing factor and it is also an class issue???

    1. Geo

      Good point. Access to healthy food, living in areas with less pollution, less anxiety getting f rom day to day… all factors I’d imagine.

      1. jrs

        They are all probably larger factors in health outcomes. Medical care has it’s limits.

        And not just living in areas with less pollution, toxin exposure at work and often as part of work. Sometimes earn a living ends up killing a person. But what can one do, one needs to eat and a roof over their head today.

        And then as a victim of circumstance, made sick by toxic workplaces, toxic environments, plus stress of poverty and precarity etc.. one is denied medical care at the point of dire need.

        1. roxan

          These specialists in cancer centers also tend to be snooty. It’s not easy to extract information from them, and not hard to imagine Medicaid/Medicare patients just get ignored and shoved around. Cancer care has improved a lot even from 10 years ago, but sadly, still relies on surgery and radiation. There is still a long ways to go.

  5. Baby Gerald

    Great WC today. The date, though, is incorrect in the title header and in the link from the NC main page.

  6. allan

    Foreclosing on a Faculty Critic [Inside Higher Ed]
    Ave Maria University and its president, James Towey, call the loan of a former professor who sued the university, possibly forcing him, his wife and their nine children from their home.

    As an early faculty member at Ave Maria University, the Roman Catholic institution established by the Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan, Michael Raiger was also the first professor to move into Ave Maria, Fla., the planned community Monaghan opened near the university in 2007.

    To encourage professors to live close to the campus, for their benefit and that of their students, university administrators offered employees like Raiger and his wife loans of $150,000 to make homes more affordable. With their loan from Ave Maria, the Raigers bought their home for $353,000.

    “We were basically the pioneers,” Raiger says.

    This month, Ave Maria sought and won a court order to sell the house out from under Raiger, his wife, Caitlin, and their nine children who call it home.

    The stated reason is that the Raigers did not repay Ave Maria when the university and its president, H. James Towey, notified them last spring that it was calling the mortgage loan.

    The real reason, Michael Raiger asserts, is because he and his wife are suing Ave Maria, and Towey and other administrators want the couple, and their lawsuit, to go away. …

    Read the whole thing. Intersectionality doesn’t get much more intersectional.

    1. voteforno6

      Hmm, I think that I know a family member of the couple in question. I might have to ask a little more about this.

  7. Summer

    Re: Harvard Biz School cost

    Not to mention part of the price is leaving criticism of the establishment out of the question.
    That’s an “either you are with us or against us” price.
    That’s a price that will have some people (more) willing to kill for their supper.
    That’s the feral sheep price.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some elite prep schools are also quite expensive, here or in Europe (I was reading up on one in Switzerland, the other night).

    2. David Carl Grimes

      Maybe their all going to tech. In the last dotcom bubble, a lot of students went into tech vs business school.

      1. Summer

        In many cases, I thought they were going from Business school into tech.
        Hence, the standardized crapification.

    1. voteforno6

      At some point some of her detractors are going to realize they made a huge mistake in being so aggressive in their opposition to her. They’ve only elevated her status, and if she keeps saying things like that, she’ll become truly formidable.

    2. Summer


      Ha…just about to comment on this.
      One of the key things to point out:
      “It’s not just that there seems to be a direct correlation between how much money the rich make and how little everyone else gets. There’s also evidence that vast inequalities stifle economic growth, and that redistribution of the sort that Ocasio-Cortez proposes can kickstart the economy. Money in the hands of working people is spent, and stimulates the economy, much more than money being hoarded by the wealthy few, after all. Inequality also breeds crime and other forms of social instability.”

      It must be stated that then that the billionaire class then cleans up on the social instability…privatized prisons, the insurance companies tied in to the bail bonds, etc.

      It must then be stated how poverty creates conditions for profiteering.

      And then it must be stated that the government should stop aiding in the creation of billionaires by enforcing anti-trust among a host of other things.
      There is one self-made billioinaire. They all got a hand from their Uncle…Sam.

        1. Richard

          Gustavus Myers wrote a book a little over 100 years ago, “The Great American Fortunes”, where he goes over this idea in some detail. Essentially, before monopoly capitalism, no billionaires. There seemed to be a natural limit to the size of fortunes, how much one man could accumulate in one lifetime, in full competition with other capitalists. J.J. Astor was Myers’ prime example of this. The preeminent capitalist of the 1830s and 40s, he died with a fortune in 7 figures, IIRC.
          After the war, industrialists started to monopolize the only way it’s possible, by securing corrupt privileges. Once the corrupt privileges are in place (eminent domain, right of way, tariff, cartel pricing, what have you), then bingo, you get billionaires. And always from corrupt privilege, right to this day.

      1. Summer

        Correction to: “There is one self-made billioinaire”

        There are no self-made billionaires….

        And it’s important to remember now that the govts have been used to concentrate wealth, the move is on to get rid of them. They need some govt for the regions of labor (they don’t really want to consider nations anymore, so all evidence point to the corpo overlords viewing the world as regions of labor to be policed not served).
        Then they’ll have their appointed global tribunes to pretend to be…what? Bigger tools?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Self made billionaires?

          No billionaire is or exists as an island.

          The first dollar of those billions must have come from somewhere…unless, he or she printed that him/herself.

  8. Polar Donkey

    Regarding the drop in labor participation rates for 20 to 34 year old males, the average guy in his early 20’s is hard to employ. They care way to much about video games, have short attention spans, are tardy or don’t show up. Weirdly, when they do work, they think they are great. When I do talk with these guys, they always ask if I play video games. My responses is usually “no, I’m 45, married, with 2 small kids.” Then, they ask if I played video games when I was their age. I tell them ” not much. Playing too many video games made you a loser and didn’t help meeting women “. They usually chuckle at that. Sometimes it is a funny joke chuckle, but most of the time it is an awkward chuckle of realization they are sitting in their room playing games alone ALOT.

    1. PKMKII

      Thanks Dad, got any advice about how we should just go down and deliver that resume in person, instead of using one of those new-fangled online applications?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Thanks Dad,

        My dad would have asked, “what the hell is a ALOT? Is it a ANOUN, a AVERB…” Then he would have belittled me for three or four weeks.

      2. Bugs Bunny

        Strangely enough, in certain cases* that’s exactly what might work.

        *where your Dad calls his friend the COO to tell them you’re coming by HQ.

      3. Summer

        “Thanks Dad, got any advice about how we should just go down and deliver that resume in person, instead of using one of those new-fangled online applications?”

        That still actually works better than appealing to the data miners for a job.
        Somebody on the inside needs to deliver it if you can’t.

    2. Cat Afficionado

      Many of the guys in your own age demographic can be 100% described by substituting “video games” with “football” in your comment. Also, the “loser / unemployability” thing is not gender-specific as far as I can tell. One group tends to be more into video games, and the other into being Insta-famous, with plenty of overlap.

      Honestly, I know more hard working people in their 20’s than lazy ones. Some of them do play games in their free time, but they also know how to hold a job.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Not to put too fine a point on it but you were born in the mid-1970s. Tonight, when it is quiet, think about what your life would be like if you were born in the mid-1990s instead. Would you have been able to get married still? Could you have easily afforded to have children? How would you have done career wise? No college debts? Can you see that you would probably have led a very different life instead – with an older guy complaining that you were a slacker to boot.

  9. JohnnyGL

    Wow, HuffPo had to slip in this smear on Gabbard:

    “Gabbard is a longtime apologist for Bashar Assad, even meeting with him in 2017, and has been heavily critical of U.S. intelligence linking him to crimes such as deadly chemical attacks in Syria.”

    Funny how hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees ran AWAY from areas controlled by rebels and returned after the government (under Assad) regained control. It seems the Syrians that voted with their feet think Assad isn’t quite so bad.

    1. jrs

      Much of the U.S. intelligence linking him to deadly chemical attacks have been PROVEN false in time. It was Obama’s fake red line etc.. I don’t know about all, but at a certain point it becomes the boy who cried wolf. So if she is skeptical, that is only rational. Are you a long time apologist for Saddam Hussein if you think he didn’t have weapons of mass destruction?

    2. Plenue

      For the sake of argument, let’s accept the critique. Okay, cozying up to dictators is bad. Got it, great. So HuffPo will be condemning Obama in an article next week, right?


  10. kurtismayfield

    RE: Tinder dating 78% of the women going after 20% of the men

    Rules of life:

    Rule #1. Be born rich
    Rule #2. Be born pretty

    Also this is some great validation for the classic urban female’s lament of “There are no single men to date.” It’s more like “There are no single handsome men who are in my socioeconomic class to date”.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Looking at the picture of Kamela Harris above, I’d say she is Hollywood-acceptable.

      I notice a lot of singers are like that, and that makes me wonder if it’s marketing, or if singing is correlated with the Hollywood standard of beauty.

      1. Summer

        Great, if everyone uses Tinder to vote, Harris wins.

        As for singers, it’s the female singers who have to concentrate on their looks more.

        Check the music awards shows lately?
        The men come casual.
        The women still do evening wear of some kind.

          1. Summer

            And we should remember that (Hollywood) is where the standards started that we now see on display on social media. That’s where the narratives that reinforce the standards are cultivated.

      2. Carey

        What has being “Hollywood-acceptable” to do with potentially being President of the United States?

        Not getting the connection, so far.

    2. Cat Afficionado

      At least in my area and social circle, most of the still-single people over 35 are women. A lot of the reason for this that I have observed, from both genders but more commonly in the women, can ultimately be traced to a refusal to accept that you only get to pick 2 of the following 3 things when looking for someone marriageable:
      – Physically attractive
      – High income (with a female-specific addition of “& makes more money than me” in some cases)
      – A respectful & honorable partner

      Really, even getting 2 of 3 items is pretty good, with 1 of 3 being a little more common. Most of the men I have known seemed a lot more willing to “settle,” which is just another word for “compromise,” and the ability to do that is one of the core pillars of marriage. Many people have an aversion to the notion of compromising in their life, and many of them end up in their late 30’s still dreaming of picket fences & 2.4 children despite 95% of the marriageable people all having been married for 10+ years by that point. Hence, we are left with copious lamentation about how awful the pool of singles is, because a good portion (NOT all) of the available people are still single for various reasons. I also know a handful of people who are single by choice because it is their preferred way of living, which is also totally fine. The social stigma of “oh, they are still single, I wonder what is wrong with them” needs to go.

      1. False Solace

        Marriage is a bum rap for women. If you have kids you end up doing 80% of the work and are still expected to bring home a full time paycheck. Sadly if you want kids you don’t have much choice because single parenting is even worse. Fortunately the world already has too many people. No thanks! I’m sure men have objections to marriage too, but at least they get a full-time unpaid house cleaner, family relationship manager, health director, and nanny out of it.

      2. jrs

        Why assume that it’s pickiness and not trauma? Lots were sexually (and otherwise abused, verbally, physically etc.) as children, raped as teens and adults etc. and the sexual abuse does effect more women than men, and then we expect them to enter the dating market un-scarred. But it’s often not so. Then if early relationships crash and burn (or are avoided) and they aren’t happily married by their late 20s as they should be (because white picket fences) we blame them again and attribute it to “pickiness”, when even in the cases where it seems to manifest as pickiness, it’s often really trauma. Some of these traumas even take place in dating and add additional reasons to avoid it (I don’t mean rejection, I mean abuse, date rape etc.). Mostly they happen so long as #3 isn’t found, but just more jerks. Respectful is everything.

      3. Summer

        “Many people have an aversion to the notion of compromising in their life, and many of them end up in their late 30’s still dreaming of picket fences & 2.4 children despite 95% of the marriageable people all having been married for 10+ years by that point….”

        A lot of them could end up #2 for the early wedders….

        1. jrs

          What does “marriageable people” even mean? The only definition that makes any sense is: 1) wants to get married 2) isn’t already married 3) won’t cheat (at least if it’s not an open marriage – which hey is it’s own thing I guess). Ok maybe not incarcerated or lives on the other side of the world unless someone is willing to move. No other definition broadly applies to what is marriageable to someone. So 95% sounds like nonsense.

  11. PKMKII

    FYI, the name of the host of The Dig podcast is Daniel Denvir, not Denver.

    Also: for anyone who finds the DIY musical instrument approach of Buke and Gase fascinating, I recommend you check out the self-made equipment (even if the sound is too extreme for you) of Author & Punisher.

  12. Lee

    “Activists Call on Harvard to Strip Art Museum of Sackler Name” [Harvard Crimson]

    Perhaps the Harvard Business School won’t allow it.

    From Vanity Fair article linked here yesterday:


    One of Skilling’s H.B.S. classmates, John LeBoutillier, who went on to be a U.S. congressman, later recalled a case discussion in which the students were debating what the C.E.O. should do if he discovered that his company was producing a product that could be potentially fatal to consumers. “I’d keep making and selling the product,” he recalled Skilling saying. “My job as a businessman is to be a profit center and to maximize return to the shareholders. It’s the government’s job to step in if a product is dangerous.” Several students nodded in agreement, recalled LeBoutillier. “Neither Jeff nor the others seemed to care about the potential effects of their cavalier attitude. . . . At H.B.S. . . . you were then, and still are, considered soft or a wuss if you dwell on morality or scruples. [emphasis added]”

    From the same people who spend squillions making sure the government doesn’t do its job. So, should the U.S. be added to the official list of narco-states?

  13. cm

    It wasn’t easy. You have no idea how hard it is to find a phone that’s not touched by Apple or Google.

    Poor baby. Never heard of tracfone?

    I’ve got a Verizon flip phone. This isn’t rocket science.

    1. RMO

      It’s easy for me… I can just look to the left of my desk where my rotary-dial phone sits resplendent. (It still works here in the Vancouver area)

      Admittedly, it’s not a great solution for when I’m out of the house…

      I’m probably going to go back to a flip phone if a good one is available the next time I need to replace my cell. Right now I have a Sonim (2014 vintage) which runs Android (and has a huge battery that lets it run for a month between charges). I find I almost never use any of the “smart” features. Very occasionally I find it useful to look up an address when I’m out and don’t have access to wifi. Other than that, I just use it as a phone.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        FB/GOOG/ATT/etc uses it as a locating beacon no matter how YOU use it. Btw, the same is true of a tracfone. Your location is monetized.

        1. Dita

          I almost always forget and leave my cel at home. Google et al must think I never leave the house teehee

          1. Carey

            Same here. I have an “android” smart!phone, but it spends 99.99% of
            its time in a Faraday cage. Poor dear

        2. RMO

          WobblyTelomeres: Well… probably not ATT, Telus perhaps. I’m aware of the others and the sort of tracking that can be done with a cell phone. I don’t use the “smart” features simply because I seldom have any use for anything more than looking something up online via the phone data a few times per year, not because I think that it keeps my privacy to do so.

          I almost (almost) feel sorry for anyone actually paying for my location data though… what with the times I leave it at home and my oddball travel patterns whatever they pay, they’re getting ripped off. Privacy does concern me but I’ve noticed that many people younger than me who know quite a bit about digital security assume they have no privacy and are resigned to that. I would point out though that many of the same group are just the opposite – very concerned about privacy and taking great trouble to do their best to maintain it. The “if you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to hide” attitude I find spread evenly across generations. To them I usually give the “six lines” bit. Whether genuine or apocryphal the point it makes is valid.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            ^^^”…assume they have no privacy and are resigned to that…”^^^
            this has been my stance since even before Snowden…considering where all this gee-whiz comes from(Darpa, etc)
            I don’t care that the Feebs know that I’m a libertarian socialist curmudgeon…all they need do is ask, if they’re all that interested in what I think.
            If I want to move around unobserved, I put my fone in the truck tool box or leave it at home.
            given where I live, this doesn’t happen all that much…local leo’s monitor faceborg and such, but have too few resources to do the stingrays and other high tech stuff(i cultivate counterintelligence as a matter of course).
            and since we’re an isolated place with a low population, it’s far easier to drive around in their personal vehicle and observe first hand.
            …or just lend an ear to the rather robust rumor mill(the smaller the town, the more vicious and comprehensive the rumor mill)

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Bring back the payphone, or bring back more payphones (are there still some around).

      Then, it’s possible to need no handies at all.

      It’s like the street car story here in LA. Without them, you have to buy one (phone or car).

      1. Skip Intro

        YES!! Payphones are, I fear, gone forever, but bringing that usage of ‘Handy’ into the English language is a very promising innovation. I applaud you, sir.

  14. Stillfeelinthebern

    Apple laptop story. Sibling bought child a $2500 apple laptop for college (all the child wanted). Two months later, Said child closed the laptop on a paper with a paper clip and that broke the screen. $700 to repair.

  15. Samuel Conner

    re: Yesterday, the FBI. Today, the CIA:

    I can’t be first to be reminded of an old saying, that goes something like:

    “your ancestors killed the prophets, and you decorate the tombs of the prophets”

    1. Craig H.

      Luke 11:47

      Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.

    1. notabanker

      Of thousands of the post apocalyptic movies, Idiocracy may be the most prophetic. We are going to run out of water to make Coke. OMG we’re family blog doomed.

  16. Carolinian

    Mexican auto parts plants are on strike.


    Since the WSWS often has a bone to pick I was skeptical when they claimed a media blackout, but putting “Matamoros” in the search box of my RSS reader (with many sites including MSM) only yields World Socialist Website coverage. DuckDuckGo doesn’t do much better. From the above

    The strike by 70,000 auto parts workers in Matamoros, Mexico is beginning to affect production at US automobile assembly plants, raising the possibility that auto production across North America could be brought to a standstill.

    US workers are reporting to the World Socialist Web Site that management is slowing production at General Motors and Ford assembly plants as a result of the strike. Production at Ford’s assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan will stop this week due to a shortage of parts caused by the walkout.

  17. JBird4049

    So many #Resistance members seem to think that malevolence is a recent discovery, and discovered by them.

    Could this be deliberate stupidity? American (and British) double-dealing, back stabbing, lying, betraying, assassinating, warmongering, and general corruption at all levels by every national party often (usually) so that the already wealthy can get wealthier has been well documented for a few centuries; if they do not already know this, they are incredibly stupid, ignorant, or mendacious.

  18. knowbuddhau

    Here’s something to think about, next time someone suggests we can “avoid” or, even more preposterously, “reverse” climate change:

    ‘Massive lags’

    The process through which rainwater is filtered through bedrock and accumulated underground can take centuries and varies greatly by region.

    As climate change delivers longer droughts and bigger superstorms, the extremes of rainfall become more pronounced, impacting groundwater reserves for generations to come.

    The team found that reserves in arid areas took far longer—several thousand years in some cases—to respond to alterations in climate than reserves in more humid parts.

    “Parts of the groundwater that’s underneath the Sahara currently is still responding to climate change from 10,000 years ago when it was much wetter there,” Cuthbert said. “We know there are these massive lags.”https://phys.org/news/2019-01-scientists-climate-world-groundwater.html

    Now think about all those “miracles” of “making the desert bloom.” The climate already is changing for the worse, and that’s going to be a fact for millennia. Maybe ask them how they propose to “avoid” catastrophes already upon us, or “reverse” repaying debts no human power can forgive.

  19. integer

    How We Destroy Lives Today NYT

    In this case the facts happened to support the right-wing tribe. But that’s not the point. The crucial thing is that the nation’s culture is now enmeshed in a new technology that we don’t yet know how to control.

    In this technology, stereotype is more salient than persons. In this technology, a single moment is more important than a life story. In this technology, a main activity is proving to the world that your type is morally superior to the other type.

    The Covington case was such a blatant rush to judgment — it was powered by such crude prejudice and social stereotyping — I’m hoping it will be an important pivot point. I’m hoping that at least a few people start thinking about norms of how decent people should behave on these platforms.

    It’s hard to believe that people are going to continue forever on platforms where they are so cruel to one another. It’s hard to believe that people are going to be content, year after year, to distort their own personalities in service to a platform, making themselves humorless, semi-blind, joyless and grim.

    C.S. Lewis understood the danger of this social dynamic in the early 1940s:

    “Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything — God and our friends and ourselves included — as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.”

    1. Joey

      Thank you. I feel better agreeing with CS Lewis than David Brooks. Identitarian virtual flashmob mentality is a proximate danger.

      1. integer

        FWIW I’m not a fan of Brooks either, and I think his opinion piece minimizes the role of liberal media establishment in creating this dynamic. IMO the neoliberal-ideology-supporting, identity-politics-obsessed liberal cohort has been radicalized by the liberal media establishment since the 2016 election.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Doubling down on identitarianism, post-2016, across all fronts. (“Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.”)

          I haven’t had the time to sort out the Lincoln monument thing, because I haven’t had time to watch “the full video,” which is an hour long. Whether that’s a ploy, and the original, viral video is to be trusted, or whether it’s been cut, are all things I don’t know. As in Syria, and indeed everywhere, digital evidence is not evidence. (Granted, Covington sounds like a horrid school, the border state version of Kavanaugh’s horrid school. Hard pass from me on “school spirit” in all its forms.*)

          The Kavanaugh debacle, the last identitarian moral panic of his order , was engineered by liberal Democrats on an extremely fragile foundation, to say the least (I mean, why not just assault the guy on his rotten jurisprudence? Oh, that’s right, they voted for him on the way up.) So here we go again.

          NOTE * I think “the kid”s’ mother is high up at Fidelity. Hence the ability to hire a lawyer, do PR, etc.

          1. integer

            Here is a link to the full video, taken by one of the Black Hebrew Israelites. It is 1 hour and 45 minutes long and the BHIs are preaching the whole time, so is pretty grating to watch. I watched it while riding an exercise bike, doing dishes, and making a batch of pizza sauce.

              1. integer

                For me it was. Watching the complete uncut video provided the information required to properly evaluate the reaction by public figures and the corporate media.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Ever since i first heard about the so-called “Black Hebrew Israelites”, I have wondered when someone will discuss them as an example of “cultural appropration” of Judaic cultural/religious creations.

          2. teri

            I think the kid’s parents obviously had a good lawyer telling him what to say after the fact. The kid’s smirk speaks for itself. No, it is not a “smile, because I was hoping to defuse the situation” (kids don’t talk like that anyway; someone coached him). That is a smirk and was not meant to do anything but insult and antagonize. Who’s kidding whom?

            What I got stuck on was three things: 1) the kids came wearing their stupid MAGA hats. Which chaperone thought that was a good idea? 2) Even if the Hebrew Israelites caused some trouble, that does nothing to explain smirking white boy’s confrontational attitude toward a totally different person. And note that other Covington boys are clearly mocking Nathan Philips, as well. 3) Take a bunch of boys from an all-male Catholic high school to a march aimed at taking away abortion rights from women – good lord, that deserves a long rant all by itself. And Covington takes its boys to the March for Life rally every year. Nothing like a little brainwashing, adult exploitation, and religious claptrap to get the boys’ thinking set onto the righteous road early in life.

            And this:

            “[…] Covington Catholic sends students to D.C. for the anti-abortion March for Life rally each year. The Times reports that the Diocese of Covington also publicly prints the name of each Catholic who opposes abortion rights in a multi-page ad in The Cincinatti Enqurier. The list includes the names of minors — including the son of Michael Schwartz, who says his son did not want to attend the March. ‘The peer group pressure on these kids is enormous,’ Schwartz told the Times. ‘I feel the diocese should not be putting these kids in what has become potentially more contentious situations, as the inevitable protests to these ‘Right to Life’ marches increase.’ ”


            1. integer

              The kid’s smirk speaks for itself… That is a smirk and was not meant to do anything but insult and antagonize. Who’s kidding whom?

              “It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself__anything that carried the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.”

              – George Orwell

  20. GlobalMisanthrope

    “Ormer Rep O’Rourke”

    Hahaha! An ormer is an abalone. Inside used for food, shell for decoration. Brilliant faux pas!

Comments are closed.