2:00PM Water Cooler 1/28/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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


That was fast:

So much for Howard Schultz.

UPDATE Warren:

It’s a good list, but this tweet also encapsulates my issue with Warren: She lists a bunch of activities that ought to be criminal, if they aren’t; they all involve stealing money from customers. So why is she calling for Sloan to be fired? Why doesn’t she want him to go to jail? Why not take Wells Fargo’s banking license away. There’s a disproportion between Warren’s (justified) outrage at the problem, and the small-bore solution she proffers.

UPDATE Clinton:

Ugh, Hamilton. No doubt the CGI can do for Puerto Rico what it did for Haiti. Oh, and “We. Had. The. Best. Time.” I.Hate.That.Locution. I imagine a liberal Democrat fingerwagging at each “.”.

UPDATE “Hillary Clinton reportedly may run for President again in 2020” [New York Daily News]. “I’m told by three people that as recently as [last] week, she was telling people that look, given all this news from the indictments, particularly the Roger Stone indictment, she talked to several people, saying, ‘Look, I’m not closing the doors to this.'” • I say, do it! Never mind the grift, think of the entertainment value!

UPDATE “Wall Street freaks out about 2020” [Politico]. “After mentioning Bloomberg, Wall Street executives who want Trump out list a consistent roster of appealing nominees that includes former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California. Others meriting mention: former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, though few really know his positions. Bankers’ biggest fear: The nomination goes to an anti-Wall Street crusader like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or Sanders. ‘It can’t be Warren and it can’t be Sanders,’ said the CEO of another giant bank. ‘It has to be someone centrist and someone who can win.'” • Pass the popcorn.

A good idea:


A good first bullet:

Everything else is bad. “Family values”? Really? You can argue that AOC is trying to co-opt Republican rhetoric, but I think that’s like trying to co-opt hagfish slime.

Realignment and Legitimacy

On the DSA brakelight clinics:

And the ensuring thread, summarized by alert reader Martha R:

  • Doing brake lights doesn’t prevent us from doing a ton of M4A work, labor organizing, Socialist night school or candidate pressure campaig
  • We’re on #5 in Harrisburg and they are great! We owe a lot to the guide from New Orleans
  • that is great to hear, our brake light organizers are about to release a revised manual!!
  • you know I’m gonna mail you one just for you guy ;)
  • Who the hell could have anything bad to say about fixing brake lights for local working and lower class folks in the community? It’s beautiful praxis and I envy y’all with the resources and labor to pull them off regularly.
  • Mid TN just held our 3rd yesterday!
  • We have been contemplating something similar and someone mentioned a guide somewhere, do you know where we could get more info?
  • this is our 1st brake light handbook that we released a month or 2 after the first clinic. we have been doing them monthly for a year and finalizing our updated handbook that reflects the political growth we’ve had since then
  • http://dsaneworleans.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/brake-light-clinic-guide.pdf …
  • our brake light organizers (I don’t volunteer at the clinics anymore) are always down to help and I can put you in touch with them if u want, DM me

“Gimme a Brake (Light): a DIY Guide (pdf) [New Orleans DSA]. From the introduction:

It’s beyond me why anybody, let alone a putative socialist, could object to this.

Stats Watch

Consumer Confidence, January 2019: Delayed by the government shutdown [Econoday].

International Trade in Goods, December 2018: Delayed by the government shutdown [Econoday].

Retail Inventories [Advance], December 2019: Delayed by the government shutdown [Econoday].

Wholesale Inventories [Advance], December 2019: Delayed by the government shutdown [Econoday].

Capital Investment: “$1.5 trillion U.S. tax cut has no major impact on business capex plans: survey” [Reuters]. “The Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion cut tax package appeared to have no major impact on businesses’ capital investment or hiring plans, according to a survey released a year after the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in more than 30 years. The National Association of Business Economics’ (NABE) quarterly business conditions poll published on Monday found that while some companies reported accelerating investments because of lower corporate taxes, 84 percent of respondents said they had not changed plans. That compares to 81 percent in the previous survey published in October.” • So much for the Laffer Curve…

Commodities: “In the new lithium ‘Great Game,’ Germany edges out China in Bolivia” [Reuters]. “China has been quietly cornering the global lithium market, making deals in Asia, Chile, and Argentina as it seeks to lock in access to a strategic resource that could power the next energy revolution…. [ACI Systems GmbH’s] win means Germany now has a foothold in the final frontier of South America’s so-called Lithium Triangle: the Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia, one of the world’s largest untapped deposits. The triangle comprises lithium deposits in an area that includes parts of Chile, Argentina and Bolivia.”

Retail: “[C]ompanies including Walmart Inc. are starting to send the robots down the aisles to check when goods need to be replenished. Tracking goods in stores has taken on more urgency in the era of e-commerce, as more retailers try to keep inventory costs down by blurring the lines between digital and physical-store distribution channels” [Wall Street Journal]. “If retailers find in-store robots can navigate the aisles and count at the same time, they may be a step closer to turning their stores into real fulfillment stores.” • Shopping’s not fulfulling now?

The Bezzle: “The Trump presidency is paying off bigly for Uber” [Quartz]. “On Jan. 25, the Republican-majority National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled in a 3-1, party-line vote that shuttle van drivers for SuperShuttle are independent contractors, not employees. The ruling strips SuperShuttle drivers in Dallas-Fort Worth, who had sought to organize, of that right. Protected bargaining is only granted to traditional employees. This case is not about Uber, and yet it is entirely about Uber. SuperShuttle’s business model is a shabby, low-tech version of Uber. The company enlists shuttle drivers who own their vehicles and pay their on-the-job expenses. It provides them with a dispatch system to receive ride requests. The thesis on which the labor board based its decision—that SuperShuttle drivers are not employees because they “have total autonomy to set their own work schedule”—could easily have been penned by Uber.”

The Bezzle: “Chinese Self-Driving Startup Roadstar.ai Drops Co-Founder For Alleged Corruption, Faked Data” [The Drive]. “Less than one year ago, Roadstar.ai raised $138 million from the likes of Shenzen Venture Capital Group, Wu Capital, Yunqi Partners and others to build a test fleet, collect data, and develop autonomous drive systems. Now, the unthinkable has happened: co-founder and former CTO Zhou Gang has reportedly been booted from the company amid allegations that he took kickbacks from investors, and faked data both for internal reporting and for a government regulatory report.” • “Unthinkable”? Not to NC readers, I am sure. The deck: “Now they’re looking like the Theranos of self-driving.” Atrios: “Whispers: They All Are.” Indeed!

Concentration: “Amazon.com Inc. is shifting the traditional lines between supplier and seller with its latest push to build a bigger line of exclusive products. The online retail giant is asking consumer-goods companies to create brands exclusively for Amazon… after finding that developing the products on its own is too costly and time-consuming” [Wall Street Journal]. “The plan is being run through an accelerator program Amazon launched last year and means the company is effectively outsourcing the work of creating its own new brands to the manufacturers. Those companies normally would profit more from selling goods through a range of retailers, but they’re anxious for the boost Amazon can give them on its platform.”

Concentration: “Self-Regulation and Regulatory Intermediation in the Platform Economy” [SSRN]. From the abstract: “Digital platforms are not only market intermediaries between different groups of platform users. They are also providers of governance mechanisms that are essential for the functioning of digital markets. Moreover, public regulators are increasingly relying on platforms as regulatory intermediaries, drawing on their superior operational capacities, data pools and direct access to platform users.” • Yikes…

Honey for the Bears: “The Upside of Caterpillar’s Bleak Results” [Bloomberg]. “The industrial bellwether reported fourth-quarter earnings on Monday that missed analysts’ estimates by the most in a decade as rising manufacturing costs and an increase in provisions for credit losses at its financing arm weighed on results. Caterpillar expects only a modest sales increase in 2019 and a smaller gain in earnings per share than analysts anticipated. If you needed more evidence that global economic growth is losing steam, this is it. One of the biggest topics of discussion in industrial circles has been around whether stocks have sold off sufficiently to reflect that slowdown; Caterpillar’s more than 9 percent drop on Monday suggests they haven’t, and its results are a good reminder of how quickly economic momentum can shift.” But the upside: “Caterpillar’s move to add back restructuring costs as these bills fall to more manageable levels pays lip service to the idea that these really are one-time expenses. I will point out, though, that the idea falls a bit flat if you think changing economic conditions may soon force Caterpillar to again rethink its employee and factory base.” • Yes, that is the upside.

Honey for the Bears: “The U.S. manufacturing upturn may be losing momentum in one of the sector’s biggest markets. A growing number of industrial companies say their sales are softening in China…, as a slowdown in the country’s economy reaches factories on the other side of the globe [Wall Street Journal]. “That’s a big turnaround from the previous decade, as U.S. exports to China doubled over the decade through 2017 to $130 billion a year. Now, companies like PPG Industries Inc. and industrial glue maker H.B. Fuller Co. are reporting weaker demand there, a softening that ON Semiconductor Corp. Chief Executive Keith Jackson says is ‘weaker than seasonal.’ Smaller manufacturers may have more to lose.”

Rapture Index: Closes down one on earthquakes. “The lack of activity has downgraded this category.” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 178. Continuing down, now that the 180 floor is broken. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

The Biosphere

“From the Northern to the Southern Cross” [Nicholas Buer, Astronomy Picture of the Day, NASA]. Love the 1995-style site design; unfortunately, there seems no way to subscribe:

From NASA:

Explanation: There is a road that connects the Northern to the Southern Cross but you have to be at the right place and time to see it. The road, as pictured here, is actually the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy; the right place, in this case, is dark Laguna Cejar in Salar de Atacama of Northern Chile; and the right time was in early October, just after sunset. Many sky wonders were captured then, including the bright Moon, inside the Milky Way arch; Venus, just above the Moon; Saturn and Mercury, just below the Moon; the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds satellite galaxies, on the far left; red airglow near the horizon on the image left; and the lights of small towns at several locations across the horizon. One might guess that composing this 30-image panorama would have been a serene experience, but for that one would have required earplugs to ignore the continued brays of wild donkeys.

“Ancient Canadian quinoa suggests food globalized earlier than we thought” [Quartz]. “Three thousand years ago, a vast trading system existed among the people of North America, moving obsidian from present-day Wyoming, shark teeth from the Atlantic Coast, copper from the Great Lakes region, and mica from southern Appalachia. The recent discovery of 3,000-year-old quinoa seeds in Ontario, Canada suggests that food staples may have been traded in that network as well.” • And then came the Columbian Exchange

“Strange jellyfish-like ‘blobs’ found in 600 million year old rocks in China are believed to be Earth’s earliest animal” [Daily Mail] (original). “Fossil evidence of the ancient creatures, which resemble jelly fish, was discovered in 600 million-year-old rocks. The previously unknown animal doesn’t have a name yet but microscopic analysis showed similar features to comb jellies – including tentacles and mucous layers. The carnivorous comb jelly species still exist today, feeding on small marine organisms…. If the fossil is an ancient relative of a comb jelly, this would suggest that it was part of of a larger food web and a complex ecosystem.”

“The earth breathing”:

“Paving the Road To Fewer Carbon Emissions” [Anthropocene]. “Keeping roads maintained could reduce carbon emissions from vehicles by up to 2 percent, shows the research published in the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation. These savings would more than offset the pollution that road construction generates. Plus, better-paved roads would cut transportation agency spending by 10–30 percent, and would also save drivers 2–5 percent in fuel, tire wear, and repair and maintenance costs, the study found.”

“Trump rollbacks for fossil fuel industries carry steep cost” [Associated Press]. I’m pulling out this one paragraph, because the detail is so telling: “Last month, the AP revealed that the administration understated the advantages of installing better brakes on trains carrying crude oil and ethanol. Transportation Department officials acknowledged they miscalculated potential benefits by up to $117 million because they failed to include some projected future derailments.” • Holy moley, after Lac-Mégantic was destroyed by a runaway oil train whose brakes failed?

Brakes are a great metaphor for regulation, just as failed brakes are a great metaphor for the behavior of the fossil fuel industry, and its enablers in the administration(s).


“The complete guide to the impending water crisis” [Quartz]. “The 2018 National Threat Assessment from the US intelligence community notes that the increasing scarcity of fresh water driven by climate change, urbanization, and development will affect human health and fuel economic and social discontent—and possibly upheaval. ‘Water scarcity, compounded by gaps in cooperative management agreements for nearly half of the world’s international river basins, and new unilateral dam development are likely to heighten tension between countries,’ the assessment says.” • Paging Dr. Micheal Burry…

“A Water Crisis Is Brewing Between South Asia’s Arch-Rivals” [Bloomberg]. “Pakistan, India and Afghanistan are among the world’s eight most water stressed countries. Waiting for hours or going days without water supply is the new normal in some crowded South Asian cities. The Indus river, one of Asia’s longest that originates in the Tibetan Plateau and flows into the Arabian sea near Karachi, has shriveled to a shadow of its former self. Water scarcity has led to regular protests in cities from Shimla in India to Lahore in Pakistan. Most South Asian nations are heavily dependent on agriculture that consumes the majority of fresh water supply. Rice and sugarcane are grown by flooding the entire area with more than four feet of water. About 60 percent of households in India rely on agriculture while about half of Pakistan’s labor force is employed by the industry.”

Health Care

“Giant steps – the next stage in the fight for Medicare for All” [National Nurses Union]. • On Jayapal’s bill. The phrase “single payer” does not appear, so WTF?

Our Famously Free Press

“The Crisis Facing American Journalism Did Not Start With the Internet” [Slate]. “We have lost about 20 percent of local newspapers in the United States since 2004, and at least 900 communities now are without any local news source in that same time frame…. People want to blame the internet for the news industry’s troubles, but the seeds go back to the 1980s…. Owning a printing press really used to be a license to print money—there’s a reason that became a cliché. Independent and family-owned newspapers began merging into larger companies and conglomerates by the mid-20th century, and those companies were enormously profitable (to the tune of 30 percent margins) in the 1970s and ’80s even though readership declines began at the start of that run. Everyone wanted to own newspapers, and so the publicly traded newspaper chains borrowed money and went on buying sprees because the upside in that economy outweighed the risk. But big profit margins create expectations, and during the 1980s investment strategies were not built around innovation but rather keeping profits high for shareholders.” • In other words, capitalists butchered capital allocation (unless you think that the social function of capitalists is looting; many now do, and who can blame them?)

“How independent journalists are covering more than just ‘the amount of rust’ in America’s overlooked regions” [Poynter Institute]. “Local news outlets, [independent journalist Lyndsey Gilpin (Whitesburg, Kentucky)] said, play an essential role in going beyond the national talking points by providing readers with the daily coverage and insightful investigations essential to an informed populace. As an independent reporter, however, Gilpin has the freedom to regularly travel to underserved locations and suss out untold stories, something that a beat reporter at a city newspaper may not have the luxury of doing. Her freelancer status also gives her the ability to look for gaps in reporting that daily publications may not be able to consistently tackle, like the environmental struggles facing the South.” • This useful article is full of interesting examples of independent journalism. I can’t help but think, however, that there is value to being involved in a newsroom, of being involved in a collective enterprise, even if the enterprise takes the form of a firm.

The 420

“Orono’s school board wants marijuana shops banned from downtown” [Bangor Daily News]. “In a 3-2 vote Tuesday night, the school board recommended banning retail shops from downtown and urged the Town Council to consider the impact on the town’s 800 public-school students as it develops rules regulating marijuana businesses.” • Well, it’s not like the town needs the tax revenue, after all. Meanwhile, there’s a large package store catering to university party culture downtown, and every so often pedestrians must step gingerly around pools of vomit outside the bars or the convenience store. Meanwhile, Mainers still have no idea when they will be able to buy recreational marijuana. Exactly like Ranked Choice Voting. The voters express their preferences through a referendum, and the political establishment does everything it can to sabotage it.

Class Warfare

Lambert here: Most of the post-shutdown coverage has focused on horse-race level analysis: Did Trump lose and did Pelosi win? My answer is neither: Workers in the airline industry (air traffic controllers and flight attendants) won. Their collective action happened at the national level, and showed that they can use their position in our complex and fragile supply chain for political purposes. That’s a far bigger story than the teachers strikes, themselves a big story. (Just spitballing here, exercising my over-active imagination, but people in the Teamsters and the International Longshoremen’s Association — probably not at the national level, sadly — must be giving some thought to leverage they could exert over Amazon.)

“The single most important pro-labor speech of the shutdown was not given by AOC” [Salon]. “Yet, the Jan. 20 impassioned speech given by Association of Flight Attendants CWA International President Sara Nelson deserves not to be lost in that blur because it grasped the potential power of organizing a national general strike in support of 800,000 Federal workers and their families… ‘We need to follow Dr. King’s lead and think big,’ Nelson said. ‘Think big like the hotel workers who took on the largest hotel chain in the world and won. Think big, like the teachers in Los Angeles who this very minute are taking on powerful hedge funds to save public education for our children…. Go back with the Fierce Urgency of NOW to talk with your Locals and International unions about all workers joining together — To end this shutdown with a general strike.” … When Nelson appeared on MSNBC after that speech she wasn’t asked about her radical, but essential call for a general strike.” • Hmm. Perhaps if there’s another government shutdown in three weeks?

“How air traffic controllers helped end the shutdown — and changed history” [WaPo]. “Air traffic controllers revectored the course of U.S. history once before. The illegal strike of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) in 1981 led President Ronald Reagan to fire and replace more than 11,000 controllers, inaugurating an era of diminished worker bargaining power. In time, we might come to see the controllers’ actions on Friday as a historical bookend, signaling — finally — the end of that era. It also shows that labor still has some power, at least when public opinion is on its side.”

“Nancy Pelosi Ended the Shutdown, Not the Air Traffic Controllers” [Kevin Drum, Mother Jones]. “Do we really want the folks who run our air travel system to have this kind of power? I’m not so sure that would be a great thing.” • Wowsers. I wonder what Mother Jones would think about that?

* * *

Who knew?

“World’s Billionaires: Taxing Us Our Fair Share Would Be ‘Disastrous'” [Vanity Fair]. “This year, attendees at the ‘Money Oscars’ are particularly concerned about slowing economic growth, spiking sovereign debt, central banks’ limited ability to fight recessions “or worse,” and uncertainty over geopolitical events such as Brexit, and the U.S.’s trade war with China. Also scaring the bejesus out of them? The prospect of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez forcing people in what’s known as the ‘fuck-ton of money tax bracket’ to ‘contribute more.'” • I like “Money Oscars.” Plenty of deliciously horrid details…

“Southern communities revitalize their connection to electric co-ops” [Southerly]. “It took Cleotra Tanner more than 60 years to learn he was a partial owner of Twin County Electric Power Association in rural Mississippi. Tanner, a longtime local NAACP leader, said that he never heard about meetings, potential changes to energy sources, or board elections, and was not informed about how the relationship between electric cooperatives and members worked. He only knew the bills were exorbitantly high — and figured there was nothing he could do…. In 2016, One Voice started a free annual program that teaches a class of 20 to 25 members from around the state how to decipher bylaws and tax forms so they can understand how cooperatives spend money, and shows them ways to impact co-op decisions. Afterwards, some attendees host monthly meetings in their own communities to share successes and challenges. The next round of leadership training begins in spring 2019. There have been small successes since it began: one group used rebate money to revamp a playground in a community; another got funding for a college radio station.”

“How to Suck at Business Without Really Trying” [Popula]. “At the contemporary office (or “co-working space”), you are your own taskmaster. You and your colleagues are not members of a collective, but a competitive market. I found this out slowly, after mistakenly assuming I was not under scrutiny. Yet no matter how hard I tried, how much earlier I came in, at least half the writing staff would be there before me. There was too much content to harvest for anyone to get away with sleeping in. Even more alarmingly, no matter how late I forced myself to stay, I was never the last one to leave.” • Life on a content farm. This is very, very good.

News of the Wired

“Neanderthals could have been long-distance killers” [Science]. “Scientists know our archaic cousins stabbed prey at close range. But past experiments suggested Neanderthal-style spears—about 2 meters long and probably weighing a bit less than a kilogram—were too heavy to throw with the force and accuracy required for hunting. Those experiments relied on humans who were often first-time spear throwers, however. So in the new study, researchers recruited the next best thing to experienced Neanderthal spear hunters: trained javelin throwers… The athletes hit the target only 25% of the time when it was 10 meters away. But they achieved the same 25% accuracy at 15 meters, and even managed to hit [and would have penetrated] the target 17% of the time at 20 meters—double the range at which scientists thought a hand-thrown spear could be useful for hunting.” • Samples matter!

“A New Test Predicts When You’ll Die (Give or Take a Few Years)” [Medium]. “In a paper published this week in Aging, [Steve Horvath, a biostatistician at the University of California, Los Angeles] and his colleague Ake T. Lu formally announced a project they’ve been teasing for a couple months now: a “time to death” clock called DNAm GrimAge that they claim can predict, better than any other tool, when a given person might die. It was announced in tandem with AgeAccelGrim, which provides a countdown to the year you’ll develop cancer or coronary heart disease. Horvath said he can estimate the number of cigarettes someone has smoked in their lifetime and predict when they’ll go through menopause…. The research has already captured the attention of the life insurance industry… [T]he hope is that if and when legitimate anti-aging drugs are developed, GrimAge could be used to test their effectiveness. In a world with functional anti-aging drugs, ‘doctors could test [your GrimAge number] and say, ‘You know what, you’re aging too quickly. Take this,’ Horvath said.” • If you could afford a doctor, and if you could afford the drugs…

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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 (via):

From an ice storm in Bucharest!

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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. Henry Moon Pie`

    Kevin Drum has not changed from the days of Calpundit: pro-imperialism, pro-capitalism, pro-Establishment. Unlike Markos, Drum has never attempted to pretend he was anything else.

    1. Darthbobber

      He’s gotten lazier, though. He’s practically saying that he really couldn’t be troubled to follow out any of the implications himself, so just dumps basically an impressionistic hodgepodge on whatever readership mojo still retains, and leaves them to make whatever they will of it. Must have taken all of 5 minutes, then he was free to nod out again.

    2. urblintz

      Indeed… he thinks Rachel Corrie deserved to be run over by an Israeli tank. I stopped reading the milquetoast liberal Mother Jones decades ago.

  2. Tom Doak

    Somehow the “paths to power” left out whether daddy was an elected official. We’ve got at least two of those just in my home state, and I think it’s unquestionable that it has more to do with their descendants’ election than which degree they got at college.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Excellent catch! Especially considering the political dynasties that have dominated the scene: The Bushes, the Clintons, the Kennedys, the Pelosis, the Daleys, and on and on and on. I’m sure readers can come up with more examples.

        1. ambrit

          Look at the bright side here. This ‘list making’ exercise is supplying a target group for future “People’s Revolutionary Tribunal ‘Executive Action’ Cadres” ‘Action Exercises.’

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that mention should also be made of those who married into money and then went big time on their political ambitions. Kerry comes to mind here.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Good catch that. I had forgotten him. Didn’t he dump his first wife when she was sick in hospital to go and marry this second rich woman?

            1. ambrit

              That’s the anti-McCain side of that story. I haven’t yet heard a pro-McCain version of it.
              Even though he married into money, I cut Johnson some slack. He started up the hard way. He was a school teacher in Texas in the 1930’s.

          1. Big River Bandido

            Claudia Taylor was not from a wealthy family. The Johnsons made their money the old-fashioned way.

    2. Craig H.


      Nevertheless a beautiful data visualization. The only things that stood out to me is there seems to be a bias in the Blue folks going to private v. public U. And most of the military path goes Red.

      Who went through the Skull and Bones ? :)

        1. ambrit

          More generally, what percentage of elected officials went through fraternities or sororities versus the average of all college attendees? (Strip out business majors and the disparity will probably be even greater.)
          [A general descriptor of Government bound students.]

        1. Brian

          Atlatl with a wooden spear with a fire-hardened tip isn’t that hard to do, from a manufacturing stand-point. Near the top of my list of technologies to use if dropped naked somewhere.

          [Mom’s an anthropologist which is how I learned this.]

    1. Tyrannocaster

      Probably because most people don’t know what an atlatl is. I’m an archer, a spear thrower, and I can use an atlatl (though I’m not great with aiming – need more practice, plus I never used one until I was over sixty). Atlats are astonishing, that’s all there is to say.

      I too wondered why they weren’t mentioned.

    2. Lee

      It is worth noting that atlatls seem to be geographically limited to populations who were either contemporaries of and are in part descended from Neanderthals. That is, prehistoric human populations everywhere except those in sub-Saharan Africa. But, as the article itself demonstrates, our current knowledge is always subject to revision. At the very least it could be reasonably claimed that our inner Neanderthals had the technology.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We have tended to under-estimate Neanderthals, I think, except maybe their jumping.

        I doubt they were good at that.

        1. Wukchumni

          The Neanderthal arms race was slow in getting going, generally the individual with the longest ones could expect to get to whatever they were gathering, first.

            1. Wukchumni

              It’s fun to erranthamorphise about them, for nobody’s gonna get hurt, as long as they didn’t jump too high and twisted an ankle or landed funny.

    3. a different chris

      And why are we even assuming Neanderthals couldn’t whale that sucker in a way that would have our premier javelin throwers standing there agape?

      Seems like there is some research that says humans of, say pre-linguistic times were way stronger than us. And Neanderthals were apparently way stronger than them.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Excellent point that. Anybody here heard of the Schöningen spears? They were found in Germany back in the 90s and are reckoned to be about 300,000 years old which means by presumption that these were the sort of spears that Neanderthals – or their cousins – were throwing around.


        It was nothing short of a miracle that they ever survived.

    1. polecat

      Is it just me, or does Bubba look like he had a visit with a taxidermist …. he looks awfully .. uh .. ‘wooden’ …

      1. ambrit

        I’m not going to touch that one with a ten sigma poll. (Who knows where it’s been?) [Also, an overachiever like Ol Bill would be a non-standard deviant.]

    2. Darthbobber

      I think Mrs Clinton has been so firmly contained within her own bubble for so long that all she comes into contact with is adulation.

      1. nippersdad

        Funny quote from the story:

        “I mean, we have confused everybody in the world, including ourselves. We have confused our friends and our enemies. They have no idea what the United States stands for, what we are likely to do, what we think is important, so the work would be work that I feel very well prepared for……………”

        Might some of this have to do with her public positions vs. her private positions? People outside of the Martha’s Vineyard bubble would like to know.

  3. Joe Well

    As someone who was pulled over for a brake light (and certainly not for driving in NH with Mass plates and a poc in the passenger seat), I think brake light clinics are a great thing. The little humiliations by the police and society’s self-appointed cops are one thing I absolutely do not miss when I’m outside the US, and I can only imagine what it’s like for “Black and Brown” people and people who are actually poor.

    1. BobW

      One night a few years ago, after working second shift with two hours overtime, I got off work at the same time the bars closed. A patrol car in the oncoming lane passed me, popped a u-turn, and was sure he had a DWI stop. He was very disappointed, but ticketed me for a cracked windshield. Very minor crack, but I had to get it replaced. There went the overtime money, and then some.

  4. Summer

    “Nancy Pelosi Ended the Shutdown, Not the Air Traffic Controllers” [Kevin Drum, Mother Jones]. “Do we really want the folks who run our air travel system to have this kind of power? I’m not so sure that would be a great thing.” • Wowers. I wonder what Mother Jones would think about that?

    I think that mag should now be called: Evil Step-Mother Jones.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Mother Jones would have despised the current magazine, which is purely aimed at management status quo rather than labor or its interests. I’ve long thought that it’s shameful how they’ve co-opted her name and twisted it into something antithetical to all she stood for

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      I can tell you what Mother would say: “Some day we will have the courage to rise up and strike back at these great ‘giants’ of industry, and then we will see they weren’t ‘giants’ after all—they only seemed to because we were on our knees and they towered above us.” — Mary Harris Jones

      As for renaming the magazine, I flat-out told David Corn on Twitter he was an embarrassment to everything Mrs. Jones stood for. It was fun.

      “The first thing is to raise hell,” says I. “That’s always the first thing to do when you’re faced with an injustice and you feel powerless. That’s what I do in my fight for the working class.”
      ― Mary Harris Jones

  5. Hepativore

    Does anybody else think that it is only a matter of time before ever more accurate lifespan calculators will lead to even more exorbitant rates and more frequent denials of coverage from health insurance companies? I fear the gatekeepers to medical care in the US will use this to their advantage and grossly inflate rates long before any sort of healthcare reform comes in my country, if it ever does.

    1. The Rev Kev

      There was an old Robert Heinlein story that was written way back in 1939 that had the main character invent a machine that could predict accurately how long a person would live. It was called “Life-Line” and was very good but I will not spoil the ending-


      And I have just learnt that there was a TV series based on this idea called “Lifeline” but it had a neoliberal twist. “The show tells the tale of an insurance agency that uses time travel to prevent the deaths of their clients.” Get it? If you are rich enough, you can hire them to cheat death. The series has since been canned after one season. One character says it is playing God for profit which is apt-


      1. Lee

        Well, we have elected at least one president without “the vision thing.” If I wanted a Big Coffee CEO to run the country, I’d vote for whoever runs Peet’s. Darker and more bitter than Starbuck’s weak shite, it better suits my turn of mind. Even better, I’d sooner vote for the gal who runs the little cafe down the block from me.

        1. Wukchumni

          If it wasn’t for the little problem she’s been dead for over 20 years, Mrs. Olson would be my Big Coffee choice for President.

      2. Glen

        At least that’s an honest answer, but it means he would lower taxes again. F

        After all, forty years of lowering taxes has made everybody extremely wealthy just like Reagan promised.

      3. sierra7

        Considering the cookie-cutter cardboard “baked” goods Starbucks sells I wouldn’t put to much faith in any “expertise” that Mr. Shultz might be dreaming of bringing to the table……

        1. dcrane

          Yeah, they’re more manufactured than baked. Suffused with fats of some sort, coated with shiny sealant…designed to last as long as possible on a shelf while remaining somewhat edible. Even the “sliced” pound cake, shown stacked as if recently cut, comes in individual plastic wrappers, invisible behind the counter – the employee removes the plastic wrapper from one of those before putting the slice into another (!) bag for you.

          But I have to admit that I still buy their coffee.

  6. katiebird

    That new Medicare for All bill…. “Key elements are expected to include”…. And a list of stff from the original bill. But that seems unlikely to me …. why rewrite it if that’s the case?? Also some of the language seemed mushy In the article

      1. JTMcPhee

        DSA’s recent email implies that some in the organization may have seen the text of the bill.

        And here is the list of must-haves, per the same email:

        Our job is to make it clear that we will accept nothing less than a single-payer healthcare plan that meets our campaign’s five underlying principles:

        It must be a single, public program — not a patchwork.
        It must provide comprehensive coverage — that includes dental, vision, hearing, abortion, and all other necessary services.
        It must be free at the point of use — no fees, copays, no deductibles.
        It must be truly universal — all residents must be guaranteed an equal standard of care, including the undocumented.
        It must include a generous jobs program — with severance, jobs training, and retirement assistance for all impacted workers.

        Probably a few more items should be in there too, of course. I’m too burned out to think what those ought to be. Wiser folks please chime in.

        Obviously cost savings (mostly benefitting UNsurance customers, who pay them and pay them and pay them in exchange for grudging, crappy “care”) can be yuuuuge. Obviously those are neoliberal rents, that the pigs at the trough will kill in the cradle if the mass of us remains disorganized, ignorant and divided behind multiple “leaders” mostly representing the Briber Class. It sort of likely won’t be improved in my lifetime — though as with the Gilets Jaunes phenomenon, maybe “the sleeper is awakening,” eh? So I pray.

        I called Jayapal’s office, made my points, and I guess the answering staff are busy today. Do these efforts ever actually get toted up and weighed by the Elected?

    1. katiebird

      Nevermind. Carla’s note below covers my questions (I do agree with Lambert and want to see the actual bill)

  7. Carla

    After receiving the following email message this a.m. from Single Payer News Editor, I made the call. Her aide made no promises except that he did read back to me comments, verbatim, and indicated he would deliver the message. Here’s the email:

    Contact Congresswoman Jayapal (again) now (202) 225-3106

    Dr. Ana Malinow is a former president of Physicians for a National Health Program. She recently moved from Pittsburgh to the Bay area in Northern California. After a briefing on Congresswoman Jayapal’s soon to be introduced new Medicare for All legislation, she wrote the letter below to the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Single Payer Healthcare and asked them to circulate it.

    If you agree with Dr. Manilow’s concerns, we urge you to call Congresswoman Jayapal’s office (202) 225-3106 and urge her (1) to keep the HR 676 ban on for-profit hospitals and other institutions and (2) to include coverage for everyone regardless of citizenship status.

    From: Ana Malinow

    Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 1:05 AM

    To: Single Payer Activists

    Subject: Must contact Congresswoman Jayapal (again) now!

    Dear friends:

    While I have not had a chance to read Congresswoman’s Jayapal’s single payer bill, I found out tonight that it does retain many of the critical components of HR 676. She is to be commended for improving upon the Senate Medicare for All Act by including global budgets, the separation of capital and operating expenses, long-term care, prohibiting value-based payment systems and ACOs and overturning the Hyde Amendment (which is an improvement on HR 676). All of this is great news. And a reflection of all the hard work you’ve already done.

    However, unlike HR 676, her legislation would not ban investor-owned, for-profit hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis centers and other institutions, all of which provide inferior care at inflated prices. HR 676 called for the buy-out of investor owned facilities, and recently, Himmelstein and Woolhandler showed that this would not only be affordable, but would lower costs.

    Two other items are important to mention as well: the transition period would last 2 years (instead of 1 year under HR 676 or 4 years under the Sanders’ bill) and while the term “all individuals residing in the United States” is apparently still in the bill, it is important that we insist that “all individuals” include everyone in and nobody out. This means citizens, non-citizens, immigrants and undocumented. Everyone.

    The bill will likely be introduced the first week of February, so we must again, exert pressure on the Congresswoman. The bill must include:

    1. A ban on all investor-owned, for-profit institutions; they should be converted to not-for-profit status.

    2. Define all individuals to include everyone residing in the United States, regardless of citizenship status.

    Please contact Congresswoman Jayapal today at:

    Phone: (202) 225-3106

    Fax: (202) 225-6197

    DC Office: 1510 Longworth House, Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515

    Please circulate as widely as possible!!

    Carla, again: And please, if you possibly, CALL !

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks very much! Again:

      Please contact Congresswoman Jayapal today at:

      Phone: (202) 225-3106

      Fax: (202) 225-6197

      DC Office: 1510 Longworth House, Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515

  8. kareninca

    I went to a potluck dinner a few nights ago in Silicon Valley. It was at a liberal Protestant church; one of those ones that is so liberal that they don’t believe in much of anything. Unfortunately politics came up at my table; Elizabeth Warren was mentioned. I said that I thought she seemed less corrupt than many politicians but that I wasn’t thrilled that she had a net worth of 5 million (I’ve since rechecked and it is really more like 8 million) and so is rich.

    Naturally the other ladies (all in their 60s or 70s) at my table immediately told me that you could have a net worth of 5 million and in no way be rich. They themselves (they said) all owned houses that were worth 2-3 million (with no mortgage) but none of them were rich because they had modest incomes. I pointed out that (the last I checked, which was a few years ago) the median household net worth in the U.S. is about 50k (everything included); for black Americans it is about zero; for white Americans it is about 100k. And so they (and even I, without a house) are rich by any reasonable measure. But I did not convince. And they still believe that Elizabeth Warren may well not be rich.

    1. nippersdad

      Not just to play the devil’s advocate, but I think there is a lot to be said for their viewpoint.

      My Grandmother, for example, bought her house for $15,000 in 1953ish, and by the time she died it was estimated at 1.5 mil; it would have been valued even more highly had it not been so run down. I don’t think she ever viewed the house as part of her net worth, but more as something to keep her out of the rain. After a lifetime of careful spending (mostly on her family) she died with a $100,000 dollars in the bank, three pensions and Social Security. She hoarded jars of picallilly and pepper jelly that she, literally, could not eat because “you never know.” She grew up picking pokeweed from the side of the road for dinner, and even after the Master’s Degrees and successful careers in education she never quite got away from that mindset.

      Houses aren’t a source of wealth, they are there to keep you out of the rain. A viewpoint that differs radically from those of my parents, who made most of their money from arbitraging the types of real estate that such as my Grandmother had.

      I suspect that her bank statements had a much greater impact on her views of what she was worth than her technical net worth balance would have shown. In California, amongst the older generations, that is probably even more of a factor. If just a roof over your head makes you a millionaire then there are a lot of people suffering for the privilege, judging from the run-down multi-million dollar houses that my Grandmother and her contemporaries lived in.

      Had you discussed Warren’s investment portfolio, receipts from her books and two familiy salaries (that are each more than four times the norm for a four person family) the conversation might have been much different.

      1. marieann


        I agree about the house not being a source of wealth, and have read the same on financial blogs……unless of course one has 2 houses and only lives in one of them.
        We paid $57,000 for our home in 1978, today it is worth around $300,000 if the going rate around here stays the same.

        It doesn’t mean we have more money to spend, it does mean if the prices stay high and we stay healthy that our sons will benefit :)

        My definition of wealth is when your income exceeds your desires, and as we have few desires, we are wealthy beyond belief

        1. sierra7

          May I extend the conversation a bit on the value of “wealth”…..Me: “When you are healthy you are truly rich!”
          Everything else is just mumbo-jumbo!

      2. kareninca

        ” I don’t think she ever viewed the house as part of her net worth, but more as something to keep her out of the rain.”

        A person can see their multi-million dollar art collection as a decoration to make their wall pretty. However, if it – like a house in CA – is readily fungible, they are rich.

        “After a lifetime of careful spending (mostly on her family) she died with a $100,000 dollars in the bank, three pensions and Social Security.”

        Holy cow. 100k, a 1.5 million dollar house, three pensions and Social Security??? What percentage of the U.S. population has anything like that??

        “Houses aren’t a source of wealth, they are there to keep you out of the rain.”

        Houses typically aren’t a source of wealth. If they turn out to be worth 20+ times the net worth of the typical American family, then they have become a source of wealth in that instance.

        “She hoarded jars of picallilly and pepper jelly that she, literally, could not eat because “you never know.””

        Yes, there are a lot of rich people from the Depression generation, who are very frugal.

        I know someone who for years got crappy dementia care because her kids didn’t want her to sell the $2 million house and thereby be able to afford excellent care. There are often family members in the picture who are motivated to encourage the elderly person to keep living frugally in place, so that they can inherit it unencumbered. It can be pretty ugly. I’m sure your family let your grandmother know that she had options, but not every family does that.

        Look, I’m not saying that the ladies I chatted with would want to sell their houses and live elsewhere for cheap, for instance in a 55+ community in Florida (you can do that for 50k to purchase, and then $500/month), and spend the balance on gigolos and booze. But they can. They have that option. My 74 y.o. friend who is living in her car on a street near that church where I attended the potluck does not have that option.

        1. nippersdad

          Yes, there were people who discussed her options. I was one of them. But I really don’t think you get the mindset. She had lived there for fifty years; there was nowhere else to live for her, and I believe that is why she lived to such a ripe old age.

          I’m sorry about your friend on the street, but understand that that would have been as unthinkable for her, someone who helped to manage the food pantry at her church, as moving to Florida with her unearned millions.

          It is possible for most of us to do the unthinkable, but the mere fact that something is unthinkable is what makes it impossible.

          1. kareninca

            What does mindset have to do with it? If your grandmother had needed costly specialized medical care, she could have gotten it by selling her house. Someone who does not have a house to sell (or the equivalent assets in another form) cannot get that care. I’ve seen that. Money is money. A mindset is only relevant until something comes up.

            1. nippersdad

              I was probably being a little flippant about it just being a place to get out of the rain, but not the money part. Maybe this would be clearer for you.

              I remember when I was just a kid, five or six years old, the big thing every year was my Great Great Grandmother’s birthday. Every year we would all troop out to west nowhere, Alabama, to take her to her house from the nursing home and spend a few days there. The place was a virtual shack. One of the bedrooms had a hole in the window where a storm had broken out a pane. There were stalactites of mud daubers nests running down every available surface; on the ceilings, walls, wardrobes, bed…everywhere. My Great Uncle just got the pane fixed and never told her about it. All five generations of us would sit on the porch and listen to the crickets and the cicadas, talking. She would tell my Mother not to let us play on her car; an old Ford Model T, just before she was taken back to the nursing home for the night. My Mother didn’t want to tell her that the little barn that it had been housed in had collapsed on it years ago. The barn was way out in back, why worry her about it?

              It was her house. Nothing, nothing whatsoever, could have torn her away from it. People tried. Money was never the issue. I don’t even think anyone knew what it was worth. It was her house. That was enough.

              I tried with my own Grandmother. The place was drafty and cold in winter, hot as blazes in summer, with staircases and cast iron bathtubs that were dangerous for her. We proposed other newer, smaller, more efficient houses near to family, houses that she could have gotten for ten percent of what her own was worth. We offered to cook and clean for her, told her she could go on exciting trips with all of what was left over. She was smart as a whip and knew what the cost benefits of that place were. It didn’t matter. It was her house, and she was going to die in it. Just like her Mother, my Great Grandmother, did in her own house.

              Even though I live fifty miles away, I managed that place when she was in the hospital and I managed it when she was in the hospice. I dealt with the arborists, I dealt with the neighbors. I visited her and her house twice a day, and told her what was going on in her neighborhood; I brought her camellias from her yard in the winter, and daffodils in the spring. Those were the things that interested her. It was her house. They were inseparable. It would have killed her to leave it, and money was never the issue.

              If it had been, we would have dealt with that, too, and then not told her about the garage collapsing on her car in a storm when we took her back home for her Birthday. That is the way it was. I have known a lot of people like her in my life. There are things more important than money, and one’s home is often one of them. The soil, or more likely the lead paint, gets in your blood. It is a part of you. That is an attitude that subsequent generations don’t have. I don’t know if that is a good thing or not, I just know that it is.

              And I am sorry that you don’t get that.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                I agree. Homes are not wealth (and so the “wealth effect” from home ownership is bogus, unless you’re in the business of flipping houses). More abstractly, homes are not wealth because wealth accrues from profit or rental extraction, and home-ownership does not fall into either category (yes, a home with rooms that you rent is an edge case, but IMNSHO not significant)). Therefore, houses are not fungible.

                See also The American Conservative on What It Actually Costs to Maintain An Older House:

                Example: My house, built in 1947, is 72 years old. I bought it back in 2003, and have owned it for nearly 16 years. It is currently valued by the county fiscal office at around $100,000.

                I’ve tallied-up what I’ve spent on renovating it over the past 15 years. For the purpose of this calculation, I’ve stuck to core systems, exterior features, and structural elements, and eliminated expenditures on things like new appliances, interior cosmetic improvements (painting, flooring, wallpaper, etc.), and routine plumbing and electrical work.

                The bottom line, which jibes with what nippersdad wrote and with my own experience, is that the writer put about $100K into a property that’s worth $100K. That doesn’t sound like a very good business to be in. He might as well have buried the money in coffee cans in the back yard.

                All of which is not to say that the not-rich ladies do not have a class position, or that home-ownership does not affect one’s view of the world. They do and it does. But homes are not fungible, and are not wealth.

                1. kareninca

                  If houses are not fungible, then how do you account for people who sell their house and move into an assisted living facility with the money that they have gotten from selling their house? And then live in the assisted living facility for many years thereby? I know plenty of people who have done that. Sell for money, buy something else. That seems like fungibility to me. And if owning a 1.5 million dollar house outright doesn’t count as wealth – well, okay, so there is some technical use of the term wealth that doesn’t match everyday usage.

                  I agree with the author of the American Conservative article – as a general rule. But that general rule does not apply to a lot of homeowners in California. I’ve known a lot of people who have hit the housing “jackpot”. And others who have been smashed by the housing anti-jackpot. It’s not like a regular housing market.

                  The sentimental stuff that nippers dad wrote doesn’t do much for me. I conserve my sentimentality for people who own (outright) houses that are worth less than $350k. Or who live in their cars. Just my personal sentimental cut-off.

                  1. nippersdad

                    I don’t think that “sentiment” even really comes into it. This is a matter of respecting someone’s wishes about what they elect to do with their property. If someone would rather live in needless comparative squalor and potentially risk their lives than leave their home, that is not sentiment. That is a choice that a family has made on behalf of their loved one because that is what their loved one has asked for. There is really nothing more to be said about it at that point.

                    That you would sell out to play tennis in the sun is a choice that you would make, and it is a valid one. There is no sentiment there, and there shouldn’t be. If that is your thing, then more power to you. My only real issue with your story, and this is going to out my own privilege, is why anyone would allow their family member to live in a car. Even the poorest of families make do, get by, find a way.

                    That is when you bring them home and read them the riot act; sit their asses down and tell them that there are things that are not done. No one in their generation ever had much, but no one starved, or lived in a car, and I have to question the principles of anyone who would allow it.

                    1. kareninca

                      “My only real issue with your story, and this is going to out my own privilege, is why anyone would allow their family member to live in a car. Even the poorest of families make do, get by, find a way.”

                      That’s not what I see. I’m surrounded by people living in cars and RVs here in Silicon Valley. A lot of them are old. It’s great that you have a family that takes care of one another, but come out here and take a look around sometime and you’ll see that there’s a lot of other stuff going on. So I can’t get too excited about someone’s housing preference, given what is in my face every day. Just being housed with an actual toilet is quite a bit at this point.

                      I wouldn’t “choose” to sell out to play tennis in the sun. Sure, I’d like to stay where I live until I die. But I know that likely won’t be an option. I expect to be booted when I’m old, just like nearly everyone else around here. Since I’ll probably have some money I won’t then be homeless. As far as I can see that makes me pretty lucky. I won’t have relatives at that point to try to take my sentiments into account, just as the old homeless people around me presently don’t.

                      I have an acquaintance who is not poor; she is a retired teacher in her 80s. She thought that she would have the company of her sister and niece in her old age. Then her sister died. Then her niece died. She has no family left at all, but she has the company of the people in the church she has belonged to for years. And she has made new friends in her assisted living facility. In the years to come there are going to be a lot of old people without family members – look at the demographics. The big problem is that they will also mostly lack money, too.

          2. Joey

            Agree with kareninka, unthinkable isn’t the same as unfathomable.

            Also agree with nippersdad, a housing bubble does not a fortune make. Selling an asset eliminates the asset. Holdings are thus rightly named.

        2. Oregoncharles

          $100,000 can disappear in one hospitalization. Then she has to sell the house and move. And that house valuation can change suddenly, as various areas have learned lately.

          So, better off than a lot of people, but still very vulnerable to our “healthcare” system. I think it takes more than that to be “rich”.

          1. tegnost

            I’d say that 99% of americans can’t even conceive of what “rich” is…In other words the people who are actually rich are so rich you can’t imagine it. I agree if all of your wealth is your house, no matter how much it’s nominally worth, you’re not rich.
            getting the mopes to point fingers at each other works wonders for the .01

      1. kareninca

        Yes. People in CA look at the tech billionaires and plead poverty. Even if their own net worth is in the millions. They don’t look at the homeless encampments around them and realize that they are actually rich. The tech billionaires of course look at Gates and Bezos and think, “well, I’m not really rich; it is all tied up in stocks/real estate.” No-one wants to think that they are rich; the thought has uncomfortable consequences.

        AOC gets this I am sure. She is going to make a lot of people very nervous.

    2. Darthbobber

      I really am not inclined to demand that a candidate be, or affect to be, of modest means, as long as I can see a clear and believable commitment to policies that will advance working class interests and power. But THAT is where Warren falls short, in my book. (Though less short than Booker, Gillibrand, Biden, Harris etc.)

      She can be as patrician as Roosevelt (or Engels) if she can successfully advance the cause. And if not, she can reduce her assets to three robes and a begging bowl without interesting me in the slightest.

  9. Synoia

    Ancient Canadian quinoa suggests food globalized earlier than we thought” [Quartz]. “Three thousand years ago, a vast trading system existed among the people of North America, moving obsidian from present-day Wyoming, shark teeth from the Atlantic Coast, copper from the Great Lakes region, and mica from southern Appalachia. The recent discovery of 3,000-year-old quinoa seeds in Ontario, Canada suggests that food staples may have been traded in that network as well.

    I didn’t know Warren Buffet was that old, and owned the trade trails then as well as now.

  10. flora

    re: UPDATE Warren:

    “It’s a good list, but this tweet also encapsulates my issue with Warren: She lists a bunch of activities that ought to be criminal, if they aren’t; they all involve stealing money from customers. So why is she calling for Sloan to be fired? Why doesn’t she want him to go to jail? Why not take Wells Fargo’s banking license away. “

    Maybe she’s been drinking the neoliberal kool aid that says really big companies are tbtf because they are “global competators” and as such must be protected from laws the smaller companies, who don’t claim to be “global competitors”, have to follow? It almost like the claim “global competitor” is a get-out-of-jail-free card for the bigs. (Wells isn’t the biggest big, but big enough to get the same treatment, lest the neoliberal order be overturned.) imo.

  11. DJG

    May I suggest a new rubric? Any mention of Hillary Clinton’s continuing attempts to inflict still another presidential run on us should go under the heading:

    HRC: Leonid Brezhnev Resuscitation Society of Glorious Stagnation

    I note in his Wikipedia entry that Leonid Brezhnev (1) was constantly photographed in pantsuits and (2) the writers at Wikipedia assert that even on his deathbed he refused to relinquish his party position. I detect a similar stick-to-itiveness in Madam Clintonskaya.

    And there is this:

    Brezhnev has fared well in opinion polls when compared to his successors and predecessors in Russia. In the West he is most commonly remembered for starting the economic stagnation that triggered the dissolution of the Soviet Union.[7] In an opinion poll by VTsIOM in 2007 the majority of Russians chose to live during the Brezhnev era rather than any other period of 20th century Soviet history.[124] In a Levada Center poll conducted in 2013, Brezhnev beat Vladimir Lenin as Russia’s favourite leader in the 20th century with 56% approval.[125] In another poll in 2013, Brezhnev was voted the best Russian leader of the 20th century.[126]

    What’s not to like about stagnation? It’s so regular. You can count on it. The present just grinds on and on and on ever so pleasantly.

  12. mle detroit

    “Giant steps – the next stage in the fight for Medicare for All” [National Nurses Union]. • On Jayapal’s bill. The phrase “single payer” does not appear, so WTF?

    Quote from the post: No premiums, no deductibles, no co-pays.

    Given this, I somehow doubt that many other potential payers will step up, so it’ll be single payer by default.

    1. katiebird

      The problem is, that is what is Expected To be in the bill. We need to see (and read it) to know for sure what is in it.

      Do we know for sure the co-signers? I wish one of them would leak the text.

    2. marym

      “Single payer” doesn’t appear in HR 676 and S 1804 either. Both bills prohibit private insurance from covering benefits covered by the bill, and S 1804 has the same prohibition for employers.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > it’ll be single payer by default

      Possible. But there’s been an awful lot of “Lucy and the Football” on this. Obama advocates claiming ObamaCare was “univerfsal” long after it was obviously not. And also Neera Tanden’s Department for Bait and Switch Development is hard at work, along with an entire liberal Democrat industry dedicated to brand confusion.

  13. Tim

    The thing i like about Howard Schultz running is he says he has done the math, with independents making 40% of the electorate, they now have critical mass. Republicans that can’t stomach voting for a Democrat might also voter for an independent and vise versa, so the numbers are there.

    Therefore the strategy for winning the election would be quite simple. He must focus on convincing people that an independent can win the general, and secondarily remind everybody what they already know that the Dems and Reps are looney toons and don’t represent the general populace’ best interest.

    Time for moderate independents to take back their country from the divide and conquer parties.

    1. Summer

      If the 40% registered Independents hold a convention and have a stated platform…I think then and only then will we know how much “Independent” means “moderate.”

      1. Elizabeth

        I watched the first few minutes of 60 Minutes last night and Schultz said that he’s concerned about the trillions of $$ of debt the U.S. owes. After that, I turned off the tv. He needs to read up on MMT.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          This is a memory from an old Doonesbury, but anyone who doesn’t immediately say raise taxes on the wealthy or cut MIC spending after mentioning the deficit is a person who is lying or flippant.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Not really. Polling shows large popular support for a very progressive laundry list of policies. That does not include open immigration which is quite unpopular. Independents most likely track the general populace, especially both extremes. Remember that “independent” in this case means “everybody else” – including Green, Libertarian, etc.

      3. Eureka Springs

        A stated platform means nothing if it comes from D’s or R’s. A stated binding platform might mean something. The question to me is how to make it binding? Also, any platform should be democratically, bottoms up established. Rather than say… The candidates yell out anything and fear the other, while a few people in a hidden room peck out a platform at the last minute.

        1. Summer

          Notice I said convention and a platform.
          I would like to see generic independents get together and really find out what binds them. The platform would come from the convention.
          I bet after that, you wouldn’t see as mamy people claiming “Independent.”

          1. Oregoncharles

            In Oregon, Independent is a party. However, it’s a party with low voter loyalty, because most members don’t realize they’re registered with a party. However, it’s also a “major” party by dint of registrations.

            Otherwise, it’s primarily a polling category, meaning “neither D nor R.” Everybody else, and just as diverse as you’d expect.

            While it’s true that they’re a very solid plurality (40% vs. 30% for either “major” party), that’s mostly a way to say how far the “majors” have fallen. It’s an indication that the party system is collapsing, but not really a potential party. Schultz may be confused about that.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > A stated binding platform might mean something. The question to me is how to make it binding?

          Since personnel is policy, one way to at least increase one’s credibility would be to name cabinet members, as suggested in Aidan Smith’s tweet.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Time for moderate independents

      There really aren’t that many Republicans who can’t pretend to like Country Teen Pop. There may be dozens of you.

      1. Darius

        I heard Michael Brooks say working class people aren’t looking for a prochoice moderate who’s going to ship their jobs to Mexico.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Centrists are “pro-choice.” They would never fund access to abortions or try to undo restrictions on abortions and would always be willing to listen to ideas from the anti-choice crowd with some wishy washy excuse about an exception in the case of the health of the mother. Its the “moderate” positions of very serious people.

          1. Joey

            You don’t live in the sticks, do you. We have churches out here.

            Still some punk and math rock fans. Nashville is Hollywood on Cumberland

      1. Summer

        Of all third parties, the generic independent seems to have good coverage or am I mistaken?
        And how would that change once the generic “Independent” ever becokes an official party with a platform.
        Right now only the media equating generic “Independent” with “moderate” or “centrist” has been the talking point.
        There are a whole host of different reasons why someone may not register as a Democrat or Republican. It does not verify any shared ideology other than Dems and Repugs suck.
        It’s the protest placeholder waiting for parties (plural) that would represent the views.

      2. Oregoncharles

        He has money, lots of it. He’s planning to do a Perot. Perot got 18% and saved Slick Willy’s bacon. There’s nothing in the middle but yellow lines and dead armadillos.

  14. Lee

    “A New Test Predicts When You’ll Die (Give or Take a Few Years)” [Medium]

    ….The research has already captured the attention of the life insurance industry…

    Half the fun of buying life insurance is dealing with dark and imponderable uncertainties. if people can be medically assured of their longevity, they will buy only accidental death coverage. The profit margins are better on these policies for insurance companies but the premiums are generally much lower, thus leading to a lower dollar volume of sales. And what if the test gets it wrong? Are the medical malpractice insurers also paying attention?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If the world or our existence in the planet is ending in 12 years, you would think life insurance premiums would go down, based on the implication that the corporations would have no one to pay out for, afer 2031.

    2. ambrit

      This can be abused so many ways, it boggles the mind.
      I’m reminded of a section in Frederick Pohl’s book “Gateway.” In it, the protagonist is now offworld at a centre dedicated to far exploration. The author describes some of the “prospector” groups. One such group is a family. In passing, it is revealed that due to really hard times earlier, the family sold one of the children to a human parts scavenging company. In true frontier spirit, that missing child made the families continued success possible. Essentially, a genetics based classification regime would facilitate such a grisly future. Think the Hollerith machines of IBM and the facilitation of the efficient liquidation of “undesirables” in the Reich. (One of the first large scale deployments of electronic data mining.)
      My fear: The Past as Future.

  15. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Hamilton will be at my theatre for no less than 3 Fn Weeks…

    Lot of locals happy beyond measure!

    Ill be happy when i dont hav to listen to the advertisements anymore…WE GOTTA RISE UP, TIME TO TAKE A SHOT

    1. BobW

      That Hamilton is nothing like the Hamilton I learned about in kollij. Maybe cuz the textbook didn’t cost $200.

        1. ambrit

          I saw the Grateful Dead at the Saenger when they finally returned to town. I used to share a house with some guys from college, one of whose fathers owned the hotel the Dead stayed in back when they got busted. He says that his dad knew ahead of time about the bust. “Set up like a bowling pin…”
          The best concerts I saw happened at the old Warehouse.
          Professor Longhair at Tipitinas.
          The Mardi Gras Mambo show with Dr John.
          I don’t know about now, but you could go see some good live music at lots of places in N’Awlins for cheap. (Like the Iguanas at some bar off of Tulane Ave. for a $5.00 cover charge. A pitcher of beer was $5.00. “Drinkin with Lincoln.”)

  16. tegnost

    Banksters for Biden/Booker!
    Guilty for Gillebrand!
    Corrupt for Kamala!
    Delaney and O’Rourke could be an inspirational acoustic duo

  17. Grant

    ““Nancy Pelosi Ended the Shutdown, Not the Air Traffic Controllers” [Kevin Drum, Mother Jones]. “Do we really want the folks who run our air travel system to have this kind of power? I’m not so sure that would be a great thing.” • Wowers. I wonder what Mother Jones would think about that?”

    The editor of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery, is absolutely horrible. The fact that she heads a magazine that is named after a well known socialist is bad enough, but she has been acting like a clown for years now, and not surprised that someone writing for a mag run by her would say such a thing. Workers of the world…vote for corrupt capitalists and then beg them to throw you crumbs. The rallying cry of the 19th century Marxists. It’s how we got the weekend.

  18. ewmayer

    o “Wall Street freaks out about 2020” [Politico]. “After mentioning Bloomberg, Wall Street executives who want Trump out list a consistent roster of appealing nominees that includes former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California. — Spellchecker fubar alert: I think they intended ‘appalling’, not ‘appealing’.

    o The Bezzle: “Chinese Self-Driving Startup Roadstar.ai Drops Co-Founder For Alleged Corruption, Faked Data” [The Drive] — Scott Adams had a funny take on the self-driving woo-woo industry in Saturday’s Dilbert.

  19. alex morfesis

    WSJ ? Tracking goods in stores, including walmart ?? is there some massive problem with inventory that is not making its way to the quarterly footnotes from what is now the big 4 recounting firms(was 8)…why would one need to “visualize” the inventory when the scanners and barcodes are supposed to be counting inventory…is there a story behind the story or just someone trying to justify the next theramos type hydrant flow of money before anyone notices there seems to be no there there…and why would one not just use existing camera technology to “see”…

    cerramos theramos pero no aguanto…otro dia, otro juego…

  20. Krystyn Walentz

    On “The earth breathing”: I have never seen a better justification for the #Gaia hypothesis than that animation. There she is, breathing.

    1. grayslady

      Medicare doesn’t cover dental. Medicaid has networks, just like PPOs. As for private insurance, there is one insurance company that pays for people to travel to and from Mexico, in addition to paying for the medical procedure, but I don’t believe that insurer offers a dental plan. So, short answer: no.

    2. Janie

      If you need extensive work, it can be cheaper to fly to a city near the border and rent a car. Combine it with a vacation. We used to go to an excellent dentist in Tecate whenever we were in San Diego.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        My grandparents used to go to Juarez for dental care back in the 60s.
        Also remember them buying sugar in 50 lb. burlap bags.
        So traveling to Mexico for dentistry has been going on a long time.
        Also remember throwing coins in the Rio Grande and the Mexican kids diving in and retrieving them.

    3. Joe Well

      No. And Mexico no longer allows expat retirees to get on the national insurance. Emergency care is effectively free but it’s very limited. And no private insurer will cover someone over 65. So there are a ton of Boomer and older Americans living in Mexico and also living in total denial. Many have massively underestimated the cost of major medical treatment in Mexico. They could just go back to the US and get Medicare treatment but then who would cover their housing? And some cant even afford the travel expense back to the US.

      How many impoverished Americans and Canadians die of preventable causes in Mexico? We will probably never know.

  21. flora

    Concentration: …. Moreover, public regulators are increasingly relying on platforms as regulatory intermediaries, drawing on their superior operational capacities secret and proprietary algorythms, data pools and direct access to platform users.” •

    fixed it for them. (nothing like secrecy in intermediaries for avoiding regulations by obfustcation). heh.

    1. Briny

      I looked at the paper, did some thinking, and can only conclude that “hyper-regulatory-capture” is about to become a thang.

  22. a different chris

    >Everything else is bad. “Family values”? Really?

    Mmph. Not sure – hate to use a sports analogy, but good competitive teams try to match their strengths against the other teams weaknesses and hope for the best. But the best teams go right for your strengths like a dog at your throat.

    The (family blogging) Patriots are normally a really good example of this — the AFC championship game was actually an exception because the Chief’s defense was just so, so bad compared to their offense. But normally they simply take away what you do best and watch your confidence fall away.

    So is AOC already at the level when she can challenge the Rethugs on their (fake) core values? Again not sure, but “All your deplorables belong to me” has got to have the smarter ones sweating. They are cowards and she knows it.

    1. Rosario

      I cringed with Lambert at that stupid list, but on thinking about it I have to kinda agree with you on this one. I can’t say I feels the idea of family with the same mushiness that most people do. Family was never really the refuge for me that I hear many people talk about it being for themselves. I was/am usually happiest with friends or by myself. Anyway the “ma fam n’ tradition n’ values” BS doesn’t work for/on me, but it works for/on some people.

      I guess I read from von Clausewitz, “Strategy is art, and tactics are science” in war. The politics today sure as hell looks like war to me, so I’ll put this one under strategy.

      It has the power to completely consume Republicans cuz they are full of s***. She is already pulling back the curtains on the Democrats, and I think it is having some success.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      The trouble is that when people read “family values” they put the emphasis on “family” when it should rightfully be placed on “values.” The former would include the GOP, but the latter is a splendid basis for expansion by progressives.

      Think what is most valuable about “family”. Cooperation. Sharing. Respect. Support. What’s not to like? That those values have been corrupted, like most everything else good, for political purposes doesn’t matter. It’s just a matter of expanding the meaning of the word “family” the way a UBI expands the definition of the word “work”.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the best teams go right for your strengths like a dog at your throat

      True, that was Rove’s strategy (and thank gawd Trump has no Rove).

      That said, I don’t think Rove simply adopted his enemy’s talking points, down to the exact wording.

      “Family values” activates the lizard backbrain all over the country (mine, too, though with an impulse at horrified revulsion, similar too, but stronger than, the phrase “working families,” which does not apply to me.

  23. nippersdad

    I thought this was funny:

    “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin described the state owned company (Petroleos de Venezuela) as a “vehicle for embezzlement and corruption” and argued the sanctions would further pressure Maduro to cede power.”


    Ironic, to say the least. I wonder what Kamala Harris has to say about this; someone should ask her.

  24. Epynomymous

    Re: recreational marijuana. The symbolic issue in northern mass is not schools or crime but “traffic”

    It’s amazing how quick people pick it up and how little thought they put into its implications.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The symbolic issue in northern mass is not schools or crime but “traffic”

      How does that work? Who are the Others messing with Our Traffic, and what are their inscrutable motives?!

      1. Epynonymous

        The ‘issue’ crosses race lines and is propagated by conservative facebook groups.

        Larger town committes okay MJ, but traffic regulating ‘safety’ committes push back legally with middle class hand wringing.

        The safety committes are captured by local police who use them to shake down business and control patronage thru dept. of public works jobs. And occasionally they help actually keep roads safe, to be fair.

        Just like legal opiates, money washes all hands clean.

    1. hunkerdown

      During the 2016 campaign on The_Donald subreddit, “The Trump Train has no brakes” was a popular meme. One could post “no brakes” in a message and receive a breathless reply from a bot that incremented the “speed” of the train for each post and calculated the one-way time to Alpha Centauri.

  25. The Rev Kev

    “The online retail giant (Amazon) is asking consumer-goods companies to create brands exclusively for Amazon… after finding that developing the products on its own is too costly and time-consuming”

    So Amazon is telling companies you have the idea, do the research, develop the tooling, test the product, analyze the results, do the marketing, do the sales, take all the risks – and we will take a chunk of your net.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Anyone and everyone who ever buys anything or everything at Amazon is doing their part to push this process along.

      Anyone and everyone who every buys anything or everything at NOT-Amazon is helping to slow this process down. Thingmakers can’t sell their things at NOT-Amazon if so few people buy things at NOT-Amazon that NOT-Amazon goes extinct.

      1. Late Introvert

        I stopped. After 15 years. They are family blogging evil and I will go out of my way to shop at all local outlets first, and choose any other online outlet or do without. I feel bad enough that I played a tiny role in their onslaught, but never again.

        Jeff Bezos. Guillotine Watch.

    1. allan

      Hilary Rosen @hilaryr

      On @CNN #HarrisTownHall @KamalaHarris comes right out of the box as an effective policy wonk/thinker with the twinkle for caring about people.

      Surely this must be a parody account. … oh wait.

  26. Richard

    Okay, whatever Matt Stoller was responding to has been deleted. Can someone tell me what schultz said/did? Duck duck go is no help…

      1. Richard

        Twitter isn’t letting me in, telling me I’m “rate limited”, whatever that means. I’m not actually joined, which may be the problem? They’ve always let me look at anything before. Anyway, I’m all caught up on Schultz now (as much as I need to be for a clueless oligarch with zero chance), and thanks for the assist.

  27. oaf

    RE: Candidate 2020
    ” I say, do it! Never mind the grift, think of the entertainment value!”

    Hilarity Clinton!

  28. ewmayer

    “Neanderthals could have been long-distance killers” [Science] — My surmise is that real Neanderthals would put even our best trained javelin throwers to shame … Neanderthals much more physically robust to begin with, and a lifetime of you-miss-you-don’t-eat training on top of that. A 1kg spear is much heavier than a modern javelin, so the Neanderthal physique would be much better for throwing the heavier implement.

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