2:00PM Water Cooler 1/4/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Trade

“NAFTA at 25: A New Beginning? (Pt 1/2)” (interview) [Lori Wallach, The Real News Network] (part 2/2). “He’s trying out this USMCA rebrand. Well, that’s just not what it is. It’s NAFTA 2.0. It is not the transformational replacement of the corporate-rigged model of NAFTA, but it is in some ways improved relative to the original NAFTA. The biggest thing is the investor state dispute settlement regime under which corporations can sue governments in front of tribunals of three trade lawyers. The lawyers can order the governments to pay unlimited compensation of our taxpayer money for any claim that a corporation makes that their special rights and privileges under NAFTA have been undermined by a domestic environmental law, health regulation, court ruling. The three lawyers decisions are not appealable, and almost $400 million is paid out under that regime, and attacks the environmental health laws, tax expands, energy policies. So that outrageous system with the U.S. and Mexico has totally gotten rid of, and with respect to Mexico is largely walked back, that only a limited set of claims can be made, and only if a company has gone first to the domestic court systems, has spent–has basically gotten a final ruling from the highest court, or spent two and a half years trying to exhaust the domestic remedies. And then the big set of corporate rights claims aren’t allowed anymore. They can get money back if literally the government seizes their property through an expropriation and doesn’t pay them back. So that’s an improvement.” • Well worth a read. Wallach is great.

“Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeff Gerrish and his boss, USTR Robert Lighthizer, were cut from the same cloth in many ways. Both worked at Skadden. Both are seeking to revitalize the U.S. manufacturing base through policy. And both take a hard line on China’s practices” [Politico]. “If Gerrish and other officials like what they hear during next week’s meeting in Beijing, that could lead to higher-level talks between Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Washington the following week.”

Politics

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

2020

Christmas music in July:

Not to single out the Republicans; both parties are doing it.

“Tucker Carlson: Mitt Romney supports the status quo. But for everyone else, it’s infuriating” [Tucker Carlson, FOX News]. This is quite a rant; Romney is just the story hook. A taste: “Market capitalism is a tool, like a staple gun or a toaster. You’d have to be a fool to worship it. Our system was created by human beings for the benefit of human beings. We do not exist to serve markets. Just the opposite. Any economic system that weakens and destroys families is not worth having. A system like that is the enemy of a healthy society. Internalizing all this will not be easy for Republican leaders.” • The American Conservative even launched a Tucker Carlson trial balloon. Here is the sentence that gave me pause: “What will it take a get a country like that? Leaders who want it.” And followers. Followers who want leaders. So, modified rapture, eh?

“Bernie Sanders Slams ‘Wall Street Democrats,’ Hints at 2020: ‘Our Agenda Terrifies the Political and Financial Establishment” [Newsweek]. “In the email asking for small donations, Sanders then said that the elite in the United States would work to stop his candidacy. ‘If that happens, the political, financial and media elite of this country will stop at nothing to defeat us. You know that,’ the email read, via PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor. ‘We’ve lived through it together once before. Our ideas terrify them. So what they will do is try to divide us up with attacks—some old, some new—and our political opponents will spend obscene sums of money on ads to defeat us.’ Sanders’s email then noted that a centrist group called Third Way—which the email dubbed as “Wall Street Democrats”—was already running ads against him in early primary states. ‘They not only want to discourage or defeat a Sanders candidacy, they want to make sure that the progressive agenda is not advanced by anyone,’ the email read.” • Missed this one over the holidays.

“Racial polarization in the 2020 primary draft – 12/31/18” [Carl Beijer]. On the Suffolk/USA Today poll: “There may be significant opposition to a Sanders run – but it overwhelmingly comes from white voters. Black voters, in contrast, generally want Sanders to run again… [I]t seems clear that broad declarations about opposition to another Sanders run simplify a much more complicated racial divide.”

David Brock now: “David Brock Bernie Sanders’ fans can’t be allowed to poison another Democratic primary with personal attacks” [NBC News]. “In 2016, I ran a pro-Hillary SuperPAC which attempted to defend the candidate against false attacks, many of which came from or originated to her left. Though they were hardly in charge of our messaging, it was made very clear to us by our allies at her campaign headquarters that any efforts on our part to push back against the left-wing anti-Clinton brigades were unwelcome assistance; they feared alienating Sanders’ voters.” • I don’t know what Brock’s operational defintion of “unwelcome assistance” might be; but since the Clinton campaign gave him a million dollars to fund his troll army, it’s not mine.

David Brock then: “Dear Senator Sanders: I’m with You in the Fight Ahead” [Medium]. “The progressive movement is strong and growing, thanks in large part to your candidacy, Senator Sanders, which electrified so many voters. The bedrock American values you championed — of pluralism, equality, and opportunity — are ones I share. And I hope that we can be partners in the fight ahead.” • Ah, the right hand of good fellowship….

“Mainstream Media Is Blowing Its Coverage Of Elizabeth Warren’s DNA Test” [HuffPo]. “Oops. Neither of these stories included comments from any elected tribal leaders. The Post story didn’t include comments from Native people at all. Of the three Native voices mixed in with political pundits in the Times story, one is a known Warren critic and one is a congresswoman-elect whose positive comments were buried ― a stunning distortion of how many tribal leaders and Native people in general feel about Warren’s move.” • This looks like good reporting to me, but I’ll make two comments: (1) There is, to say the least, a diversity of opinion on almost every topic among “elected tribal leaders.” The tribes most definitely are not a homogenous mass. The Cherokees are the only ones who matter, and so far as I can tell, a high authority — though not the chief — has spoken. (2) As I keep saying, Warren should have asked the Cherokees! In what world is that hard, or not the first thing to think of?

“The Democratic Primary Doesn’t Have to Be a Nightmare” [Michelle Goldberg, New York Times]. “Eventually, I turned to the C.F.P.B. itself, filling out a simple form on its website. A few weeks later, I was notified that the bank had been [fraudulently] deducting money from my account for years, and I was being refunded more than $11,000. Having financed my own maternity leave, it was money that I badly needed…. To me [the CFPB] was an astonishingly user-friendly tool that cut through opaque corporate bureaucracy on my behalf. My experience with it shaped my perception of Warren as a brilliant policy innovator.” And the moral: “Let’s talk about whose policy proposals are most likable!” • A good story, but reading the story and what it took to make this happen, I would like to know what the CPFB’s impact is for people who do not itemize their filings, do not have a husband (or other assistant) to comb through them looking for deductions, and who can expect five figure returns. I agree it would be great to talk policy, but #MedicareForAll would have greater impact on me and everyone I know than anything the CPFB could ever do. Similarly with a Jobs Guarantee, or even (giving Warren credit, here) a Post Office bank.

2019

AOC dancing (1). Joyfulness is, apparently, a problem:

Let’s just pray a whole bunch of Democrat strategists don’t tell their marks to imitate AOC again.

AOC dancing (2). The best conservative reaction I’ve seen (although with the original tweet deleted, ha ha, too late).

AOC dancing (3). Now, the memes:

(And the fascinating history of the meme behind the meme, and the copyright issues involved.) I apologize yet again for slipping into squeeful AOC fan-age; but she’s so lucky in her enemies!

“Why the New Democratic Majority Could Work Better Than the Last” [Ron Brownstein, The Atlantic]. “Though slightly smaller, the Democratic caucus that’s assuming power is far more ideologically and geographically cohesive than the party’s previous majority 10 years ago. While the 2009 class included a large number of Democrats from blue-collar, culturally conservative, rural seats that were politically trending away from the party, the new majority revolves around white-collar and racially diverse urban and suburban districts that are trending toward it.” • Fascinatingly, Brownstein blames the Blue Dogs for the Democrat debacles 10 years ago, when it was the DCCC’s decision to back them; the DCCC’s conduct in 2016 echoes this, as they move toward wealthy suburban Republicans instead of expanding their base. For example:

Tick tick tick:

(Notice the background figure.) Authenticating the video, a contemporaneous link: “Pelosi: Dems will pass $15 minimum wage if we take power.” And yes, in “the first 100 hours.”

“House Democrats pass plan to reopen government, without wall funding” [MarketWatch]. “On their first day in the majority, House Democrats on Thursday night passed a plan to re-open the government without funding President Donald Trump’s promised border wall…. Asked if she would give Trump $1 for a wall to reopen the government, Pelosi said: “One dollar? Yeah, one dollar. The fact is a wall is an immorality. It’s not who we are as a nation.'” • Fences are who we are as a nation (and see the state of play in 2010).

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Return of the Neocons” [Stephen Wertheim, New York Review of Books]. “In Washington, D.C., liberal foreign policy hands have reacted to Trump’s presidency less by reaching out to ordinary citizens than by crossing K Street to make common cause with their neighborhood neocons. Among other efforts, the Center for American Progress (CAP), the leading Clintonian policy shop, is now issuing joint reports with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the leading neocon incubator, which this year sent John Bolton to be National Security Adviser. CAP donated $200,000 to AEI in 2017. ” • Neera Tanden even now making sure that Wertheim never eats brunch in this town again….

Stats Watch

Employment Situation, December 2018: “Put aside the dovish talk about a reluctant Federal Reserve after today’s employment report for December which far surpasses expectations” [Econoday]. “Nonfarm payrolls rose 312,000 for the strongest showing since February last year and among the very strongest of the whole expansion. And there are inflationary signs as well with an outsized 0.4 percent rise in average hourly earnings… Yet another positive in this report, which goes along with manufacturing payrolls, is a bounce higher for manufacturing hours in what will be a positive for the coming industrial production report. Recent economic data had been softening but a report like this changes the discussion, at least for now. Also kudos go to ADP which yesterday accurately foretold unexpected strength in today’s report.” • Another contradiction between data and surveys, too. More: “The household and establishment surveys both showed different growth. The year-to-date employment was the best since 2015. Last month’s employment gains were revised upward. The growth this month was well above expectations. Just considering this month’s data – this month was one of the best in 2018” [Econintersect]. “Overall, the data this month will be revised downward due to the government shutdown (as the cutoff for this data was before the shutdown). Could this be the last hurrah as the economy is slowing?” And: “Overall, this was a strong report. For 2018, job growth was been solid, averaging 220 thousand per month [Calculated Risk].

Purchasing Managers Services Index, December 2018: Stronger than expected [Econoday]. “Economic data, aside from this morning’s employment report, have generally been slowing including this report.”

Shipping: “Container spills are quite rare in the ocean shipping business, with less than 1,600 containers lost at sea annually on average, of more than 130 million shipped—about one thousandth of 1%, according to the World Shipping Council” [Wall Street Journal]. “Still, the industry is working on safety measures to reduce losses further, such as verifying container weights and establishing standard practices for loading containers onto ships.” • Hmm.

Retail: “The U.S. auto industry is showing signs of a slowdown. General Motors Co.’s U.S. sales fell nearly 3% in the fourth quarter… as weak business in sedans offset GM’s gains in the SUV market. U.S. automakers sold a total of about 17.2 million vehicles in 2018, defying earlier predictions of a downturn, but the outlook for 2019 isn’t optimistic as interest rates rise and more consumers are looking to used cars” [Wall Street Journal].

Tech: “Marriott Concedes 5 Million Passport Numbers Lost to Hackers Were Not Encrypted” [New York Times]. “Marriott International said on Friday that the biggest hacking of personal information in history was not quite as big as first feared, but for the first time conceded that its Starwood hotel unit did not encrypt the passport numbers for roughly five million guests.” • That’s a high price to pay for a mint on the pillow.

Mr. Market: “Stocks pull a U-turn and soar after jobs report, trade talks” [Associated Press]. “Global stocks are soaring Friday and reversing the big losses they suffered just a day ago. The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared almost 600 points in the latest twist in a wild three months for markets. Hopes for progress in the U.S.-China trade dispute, a strong report on the U.S. jobs market and comments from the head of the U.S. central bank about its interest rate policy all combined to cheer investors.”

Mr. Market: “Trump Took Credit for Stock Market Records. Does He Deserve Blame for the Plunge?” [MarketWatch]. “There’s even a theory as to why volatility remained low despite the Trump chaos: It’s that investors couldn’t read the confusing signals from Washington, so they ignored them…. Trump’s leadership style is also wearing poorly. His strategy of keeping people guessing and off balance might work well with adversaries, but it alienates friends. ‘I’m not aware of another U.S. president trying to weaponize uncertainty. And for good reason: It harms American interests as well as foreign ones,’ says Steven Davis, a professor at Booth who helped develop an economic policy uncertainty index. (The news-based version of the uncertainty index is just below the top 10th of its 34-year range of values.)…. Still, there’s rough justice in calling out the president for the stock market’s decline, simply because he so often cited its rise as evidence of his success.” • Yep.

The Fed: “Dow surges more than 600 points at peak, as Fed’s Powell emphasizes sensitivity to financial conditions” [MarketWatch]. “The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Friday jumped to a fresh peak as a trio of bankers, headlined by current Chairman Jerome Powell, underscored the health of the U.S. economy but also expressed an attentiveness to a market that has grown fragile amid a spate of interest-rate increases.” • “Attentiveness.”

Police State Watch

“Congressional report: Misconduct by federal prison leaders ‘ignored’ and ‘covered up’ on a regular basis” [USA Today]. “Serious misconduct by senior federal prison officials is ‘largely tolerated or ignored altogether’ as the agency fostered a culture in which some were shielded from discipline or even commended for their service by colleagues, according to a new congressional review. ‘For high-ranking officers, bad behavior is ignored or covered up on a regular basis, and certain officials who should be investigated can avoid discipline,’ House investigators concluded in a nine-page report for the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The review is the latest rebuke of the Federal Bureau of Prisons where severe staffing shortages, persistent sexual harassment claims and inmate violence have shadowed operations for years.” • And this is Club Fed, so you can imagine what it’s like at the state and local level. File under Everything Is Like CalPERS.

Gaia

News you can use:

I think we know the answer….

“It’s the End of the Gene As We Know It” [Nautilus]. “Scientists now understand that the information in the DNA code can only serve as a template for a protein. It cannot possibly serve as instructions for the more complex task of putting the proteins together into a fully functioning being, no more than the characters on a typewriter can produce a story…. Eggs and sperm contain a vast variety of factors: enzymes and other proteins; amino acids; vitamins, minerals; fats; RNAs (nucleic acids other than DNA); hundreds of cell signalling factors; and other products of the parents’ genes, other than genes themselves. Molecular biologists have been describing how those factors form networks of complex interactions. Together, they self-organize according to changing conditions around them. Being sensitive to statistical patterns in the changes, they anticipate future states, often creating novel, emergent properties to meet them.”

Our Famously Free Press

“Will the world embrace Plan S, the radical proposal to mandate open access to science papers?” [Nature]. “How far will Plan S spread? Since the September 2018 launch of the Europe-backed program to mandate immediate open access (OA) to scientific literature, 16 funders in 13 countries have signed on. That’s still far shy of Plan S’s ambition: to convince the world’s major research funders to require immediate OA to all published papers stemming from their grants. In December 2018, China stunned many by expressing strong support for Plan S. This month, a national funding agency in Africa is expected to join, possibly followed by a second U.S. funder. Others around the world are considering whether to sign on. Plan S, scheduled to take effect on 1 January 2020, has drawn support from many scientists, who welcome a shake-up of a publishing system that can generate large profits while keeping taxpayer-funded research results behind paywalls. But publishers (including AAAS, which publishes Science) are concerned, and some scientists worry that Plan S could restrict their choices. If Plan S fails to grow, it could remain a divisive mandate that applies to only a small percentage of the world’s scientific papers. To transform publishing, the plan needs global buy-in. The more funders join, the more articles will be published in OA journals that comply with its requirements.” • I don’t know if the world will embrace Plan S, but I doubt Elsevier will. Librarians?

Neoliberal Epidemics

“How neoliberalism is damaging your mental health” [The Conversation]. “Neoliberalised healthcare requires every patient (or rather, “client” of healthcare “services”) to take responsibility for her own state or behaviour. Mental healthcare is therefore being reframed as a series of “outcomes” geared at measurable improvement which the “service user” must manage by themselves as far as possible. Access to psychiatric diagnosis and support from public health services (and also within private or employer-run occupational healthcare schemes) sometimes depends on completion of a mood or symptom diary using smartphone or Fitbit self-tracking techniques. And there may well be more punitive future consequences for failure to self-track, as employers and perhaps benefit agencies gain more power to command this sort of performance from workers.” • From 2018, still germane.

Class Warfare

“Behind the epidemic of police killings in America: Class, poverty and race” [WSWS] (parts two and three). “This study reviews all the data available on police shootings for the year 2017, and analyzes it based on geography, income, and poverty levels, as well as race. It identifies a major omission in all the published accounts: the vast and rising death toll among working-class white men in rural and small-town America, who are being killed by police at rates that approach those of black men in urban areas. Police violence is focused overwhelmingly on men lowest on the socio-economic ladder: in rural areas outside the South, predominately white men; in the Southwest, disproportionately Hispanic men; in mid-size and major cities, disproportionately black men. Significantly, in the rural South, where the population is racially mixed, white men and black men are killed by police at nearly identical rates. What unites these victims of police violence is not their race, but their class status (as well as, of course, their gender).” • Whaddaya know. Well worth a read.

“A dozen public-college presidents are paid over $1 million, but do taxpayers see the benefit?” [MarketWatch]. “There’s no evidence that paying a public-college president more results in increased revenue for the school — either in the form of a boost in state appropriations to the college or a jump in dollars raised from private sources, according to research published this week in the Review of Higher Education, an academic journal.” • If that’s your metric…

And speaking of the grifts of academe:

“The Unsexy Truth About the Avital Ronell Scandal” [Chronicle of Higher Education]. “Hanging over all of these exchanges, unmentioned, is the question of power. This is a grad student trying to make his way in an institution where everything depends on the good (or bad) word of his adviser.” • Power is both gender and race fluid, as we see both from the Ronell story, and the recent Fryer scandal at Harvard.

News of the Wired

The meta! It b-u-u-u-u-r-n-n-n-s!

“China becomes first nation to land on the Moon’s far side (Updated)” [Nature]. “Chang’e-4 reportedly landed inside the Von Kármán Crater at 2:26 UT on 3 January, and has sent back its first images. At 14:22 UT the mission’s 140-kilogram Yutu2 rover drove down a ramp and onto the lunar terrain, according to images widely circulated on social media. As the Moon’s far side is permanently hidden from Earth, the news of Chang’e-4’s successful landing was relayed by a spacecraft called Queqiao. It has been circling around a gravitationally stable point about 60,000 kilometres beyond the Moon since it launched in May.” More:

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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 (CR):

CR writes: “Although Rose of Sharon shrubs are supposed to be deer-resistant, nobody told our local deer. Fortunately, these bloom enough to feed the deer and still leave some blooms for us to enjoy.” A look back to the summer…. I could still use some plants in ice or snow!

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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.

159 comments

  1. Wukchumni

    Asked if she would give Trump $1 for a wall to reopen the government, Pelosi said: “One dollar? Yeah, one dollar. The fact is a wall is an immorality. It’s not who we are as a nation.’”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Randolph Duke: [the Chief Executive overhears the Dukes talking in the bathroom] Pay up, Mortimer. I’ve won the bet.

    Mortimer Duke: Here, one dollar.

    Randolph Duke: [chuckling] We took a perfectly useless psychopath, and turned him into a successful executive. And during the same time, we turned a party apparatchik woman into a violently, deranged, would-be wall killer!

    [laughs]

    Reply
      1. Sushi

        Dame Nancy would need to tear down her own property wall first and talk about that Obama wall and all the other ones in the public eye. Her wall may as well have a third rail around it to prevent accidental on-the-record discussion or acknowledgement.

        Don’t expect any reasonable behavior, but do expect plenty of 100 Hour silliness. That is over the allowable news cycle duration standard (TM) so something will have to give after the Sunday morning shows. /s

        Reply
  2. Gareth

    I have to spend more time trying to figure out Tucker Carlson. Half the time I see a rant of his he sounds like a marxist, the other half the time he’s calling immigrants garbage and worrying about trans athletes like they’re the next pearl harbour. Tough to wrap my head around.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its been suggested he was once a gifted writer and good reporter who morphed into a conman. Its possible he possesses a “respectable Episcopalian” prejudices and even knows better but is fully committed to his act as a money making scheme. Occasionally he slips.

      He did laugh at my joke about his Dancing with the Stars appearance and shared it with Al Sharpton, who also laughed, on the air when he had an MSNBC show.

      Reply
        1. Richard

          Yeah, I caught that too. There is more than a hint of tribalism in Tucker, isn’t there? Or is that just the Fox environment?

          Reply
    2. Aumua

      Apparently he’s a closet Marxist. Surprise! Maybe he’s just suppressed it so much he doesn’t even know it himself. Or else it’s just a head-fake left. Either way it is further indication of the rise of an anti-polarizing blurring of traditional left/right, liberal/conservative lines that I dare say could be a good thing? I’m not sure by any means.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > an anti-polarizing blurring of traditional left/right, liberal/conservative lines

        As I tried to indicate, perhaps too gently, I think Carlson’s methods are unsound.

        Reply
      2. Temporarily Sane

        Could be Carlson’s “Marxist” schtick is from the heart or it could be a deliberate feint designed to draw in gullible left leaners looking for tribal validation. Or it could be something else altogether. Watch Steve Bannon’s Oxford Union debate on YouTube…many of his talking points, e.g. concern for “the workers”, reining in Wall Street, good blue collar jobs are straight out of the old school left-wing playbook. The mainstream left sold out and became neoliberal and the new right moved in an to occupy the ideological territory it abandoned and now uses its old language to appeal to the disenfranchised working class.

        While the fake left talks identity politics and serves its wealthy patrons as usual, and the oldschool left (what’s left of it) argues amongst itself, the alt-right consolidates its gains and plays hardball ideological chess, consciously trying to link traditional left wing concerns for jobs and economic stability with itself, thereby weakening the left even further.

        Reply
    3. Romancing The Loan

      It sounds ominously like a homegrown fascist to me – I keep saying to my yuppie family that the alternative to left wing populism is right wing populism. Elected in 2024 if the democrats (other than Bernie) win in 2020, or in 2028 if they don’t.

      Reply
    4. Craig H.

      > The American Conservative even launched a Tucker Carlson trial balloon.

      Dreher is an idiot. Every time I read a paragraph of his I feel stupider. He’s as bad as Brooks or Friedman.

      Reply
      1. Big Tap

        Years ago I remember when Tucker Carlson was a national joke for his John Stewart interview. Things have changed and in some aspects for the better. On occasion he still spouts conservative Republican stuff but than he tells some truths. Carlson had a Bulworth moment with some flaws thrown in. Where are the liberals articulating this other than Sanders and a few others? The establishment Democrats are vacant on ideas or solutions.

        Reply
      2. Charger01

        Chapo Trap House does a wonderful take down specifically about Dreher and his deliriously adherence to religion as well. Anyone can find it on podbean or their website.

        Reply
      3. Craig H.

        OK I watched the whole 15 min. Tucker Carlson spiel. It was definitely not bad for a talking head.

        I still can’t get past the third paragraph of the Dreher dreck.

        “Have you ever sat down and had dinner with a 19 year old stoned out of his gourd on weed?”

        On the other hand this is not going to be confused with the Gettysburg Address.

        Reply
    5. Social Democrats being Right

      Is he fake or not? I agreed with almost everything he said. Could just as well have been Sanders or any true Social Democrat (not the 3rd way idiots) talking.

      Reply
    6. Oregoncharles

      The “left” and “right” complexes are not as coherent as we like to think. Lots of people draw on both, and apparently Carlson is one. Maybe he’s actually an independent thinker? If so, he’s making obligatoy concessions to being on Fox.

      Reply
      1. Sushi

        There is a glimmer of optimism in people across the political spectrum looking at their lot and that of their fellow humans and then saying that it is not right. If Carlson nudges more people toward noticing their lot then more power to him and us.

        Reply
      2. Cafefilos

        I think we might finally be seeing an inversion of left versus right on economic policies between Republicans and Democrats. Because of his social conservatism, and his disarming style of always saying to social conservative, “yes, I agree with you,” Republicans seem to accept his economic positions that are to the left of most of the Democratic establishment.

        The link below to a YouTube video is of an interview by Ben Shapiro is telling.

        Shapiro is enough of an economic conservative that he confronts Carlson, But he is quickly disarmed.

        Reply
    7. False Solace

      He went to the extreme step of suggesting market fundamentalism maybe shouldn’t be worshipped as a god… but he didn’t say a word about what might replace it. He also made sure to tell us that socialism is definitely not the answer. Ok, so what does that leave as a solution to the economic policies that are destroying families (childless adults can GFY)? Fascism with handouts for male family heads. It worked for post-Weimar Germany, why not US.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Fascism with handouts for male family heads.

        “What will it take a get a country like that? Leaders who want it.” Sounds better in the original German (as the joke goes of Patrick Buchanan).

        Reply
    8. bruce wilder

      I find myself measuring my own cynicism.

      Tucker Carlson is nothing if not a determined careerist. My guess is that he has spent no little time and effort studying his potential audience over the last 20 years and saw an opening with Trump and political realignment. He may have even gotten some help from the odd billionaire with research resources. It would not surprise me.

      Clearly he knows what few on the right of left truly recognize: that there is deep dissatisfaction with the political and economic elites. There is a niche there.

      And, yes, a touch of racist disdain is no disqualifier in reaching a very large part of that niche.

      Reply
        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Jesus, I never watch that channel anymore and I see why. They are all making fools of themselves wasting airtime over nothing.

          Infotainment without the info.

          Reply
  3. Richrad

    It’s hard not to be a fan of AOC. Somebody released that video to embarrass her? How come I never get attacked in a way that makes me look like an agitator rock star?
    It’s like this horrible movie I was watching the other night “Grizzly!” (my guilty pleasure is bad movies). Along with being awash in early 70s sexism, hacky writing and clunky editing, this movie has a park ranger hero who is also very lucky in his enemies. At a key moment, his (evil, balding, beta) supervisor says he doesn’t like him because he’s a “maverick” , and doesn’t “play by the rules”.
    Stop, you’re being too savage, stop.

    Reply
    1. Richard

      Correction, late 70’s. The hair is poofier and less natural, is always the giveaway. Well, that and the credits.
      And I am richard, not richrad

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Don’t you love it when you typo your own name? Fingers faster than brain, usually. I’ve done it, obviously.

        Reply
    2. Lee

      Can we get a constitutional amendment lowering the minimum age requirement for president in time for 2020? Irresistibly charismatic and a progressive, this woman may end up ruling the world. Lucky world. Yes, I know from much experience that I should curb my enthusiasm, but not quite yet.

      In keeping with the dancing theme:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQ7gHnu4R_E

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        When the constitution was first written, the minimum age of 35 to be president or vice president was like (I am guessing here) 70% of the expected life span of a person.

        That 70% would translate to something like 55 or so today.

        From the other perspective, in the late 1700’s, people started working fairly young. By the age of 35, a worker could have been working for 20 or more years. With school and other things, to have 20 years of experience, that could mean an age of 45.

        But if we say the most important thing is one’s heart and energy for the job, then, the voting age should be the min. age to occupy the White House.

        Reply
        1. a different chris

          Don’t make the common mistake of using “average” for “expected”. The rich of the time, who basically wrote and directed the Constitution, were quite likely to live into their 70s and beyond. They didn’t have good dental care, but they didn’t have Monsanto food or industrial waste to breath, either.

          Washington lived to 67. Franklin lived to a still-impressive (given the partying) 84.

          The life span back then was heavily skewed by children and the wretched poor. Actually, I don’t know if it even was skewed by the poor? — they were so ignored as to not be counted as human.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Looking around my mid sized town and seeing the homeless tent camps here and there, I’d say that the poor are still not counted as human.

            Reply
            1. Plenue

              If my anecdotal experience with small farmers is any indication, at best they’re considered annoying. As in: “I hate how these tweakers keep setting up their tents on my property.”

              Homeless are only to be noticed in the context of finding a way to get rid of them. You keep calling the cops to run them off until the cops eventually just stop bothering to show up for your calls, at which point you have to device other strategies. Should we throw rocks at their encampment until they move, or should we stand around the fence line with our guns prominently displayed?

              People without homes are an obnoxious inconvenience to be shunned, is the attitude I encounter.

              Reply
    3. Plenue

      All they’ve done with this attempt at an attack is draw even more attention to just how young and hot AOC is, since she looks basically the same now as she did in that video. Congratulations, you guys are emphasizing how charismatic an opponent is. Great job.

      Reply
  4. diptherio

    Sci-hub exists already, and it ain’t going anywhere. Elselvier will fight it with everything they’ve got, which is a lot, but they’ve already lost this battle. They just haven’t realized it yet, imho.

    Reply
  5. JohnnyGL

    Since 2020 is heating up, I think we can do some prep by reviewing 2016….
    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/was-the-democratic-primary-a-close-call-or-a-landslide/

    Now, 538’s Nate Silver does have some good analytical skills, that’s why he has the job he has. But, of course, he’s a solid dem centrist that thinks it’s foolish to ask for, and to expect to receive, nice things from your government.

    You have to sift through a few paragraphs of “Sanders never had a chance” and “Sanders only appeals to rural whites” before you get to the interesting bits. Sanders’ total of 13M votes in 2016 was the best total of any candidate in any race that wasn’t run in 2016, or the neck-and-neck 2008 dem primary. Sanders’ vote haul was better than Romney 2012 in primaries and better than Kerry 2004 primaries.

    Now, I don’t think Sanders gets a fair shake from Silver as far as being the candidate of white liberal independents…he did poorly in the Southern primaries because of the massive gap in name recognition. I didn’t grasp how big of a deal that was at the time, but it’s huge. Look at the gap he had to cover…https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/2016_democratic_presidential_nomination-3824.html
    Do note that as late as the start of 2016, he still had a 20pt gap to cover and for a brief stretch, he seemed to pull even with Clinton. Also, keep in mind that Sanders often outperformed the polls as seen in MI, WI, KY, and Indiana, so perhaps the polls aren’t actually showing how close the race eventually was? Also, keep in mind he only lost very-diverse CA by around 7 points once they finished counting the votes (or throwing away the provisional ballots).

    Now, think ahead to Sanders starting a race with a strong social media presence, and at or near the top of the polls with Sen. Warren amplifying his message, to a degree. Legacy media is going to struggle to ignore him and will have to focus on more transparent smears. Sanders’ focus on policy with a crystal clear agenda is going to make a lot of other candidates very squeamish about the positions they publicly take. I fully expect the electrifying crowds to come back in short order and the small dollar fundraising totals will likely be brisk.

    tl;dr version: Sanders is still a strong prospect for 2020, much stronger than 2016.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Now, 538’s Nate Silver does have some good analytical skills

      The knock on Silver was when he did baseball analytics that he didn’t grasp players and managers could move the needle, so despite his rising popularity, other new stat math guys managed to pull the GM type jobs he was angling for.

      With scouting reports, the numbers Silver would deal with didn’t indicate how a player did in the minor leagues. I’ve noticed it with runners on first. The math says, “take a lead” this pitcher has never thrown anyone out at first in the majors. The scouting report says, “my god, I thought it was a fake ball trick. I’ve never seen the ball get to first so fast.”

      The same problem appears in his political predictions.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth Burton

        They’re prepared for that. When David Sirota made note of Biden’s position on SS/Medicare, complete with video of his actual statement of same and his intentions for their future, the MSM doubled down on attacking him as a shill for Bernie and his credentials as a journalist.

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          Yeah, it seems the strategy to deal with inconvenient journalists with inconvenient facts seems to be “always shoot the messenger, then moan about unity”

          Reply
  6. theories and games

    Sad story of people chasing some version of an American Dream: How to Lose Tens of Thousands of Dollars on Amazon [Atlantic] , with an insightful observation:
    “‘The best indicator of whether someone will be amenable to being defrauded has to do with financial insecurity,’ [said] David Vladeck, the former director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.”

    So I wonder what the trend is on being scammed. Perhaps fairly level at the moment.

    Reply
    1. cnchal

      > So I wonder what the trend is on being scammed.

      Amazon is a multi sided scam.

      Sad story of people already successfully selling on Amazon, living the American dream which turns into a nightmare. Consider it a companion piece, in links about a week ago.

      Prime and Punishment

      . . . But Amazon is the only platform that has a $175 billion prize pool tempting people to game it, and the company must constantly implement new rules and penalties, which in turn, become tools for new abuses, which require yet more rules to police. The evolution of its moderation system has been hyper-charged. While Mark Zuckerberg mused recently that Facebook might need an analog to the Supreme Court to adjudicate disputes and hear appeals, Amazon already has something like a judicial system — one that is secretive, volatile, and often terrifying.

      Amazon’s judgments are so severe that its own rules have become the ultimate weapon in the constant warfare of Marketplace. Sellers devise all manner of intricate schemes to frame their rivals, as Plansky experienced. They impersonate, copy, deceive, threaten, sabotage, and even bribe Amazon employees for information on their competitors.

      There are six million sellers on Amazon Marketplace and it looks like a snowballing disaster that is controlled by AI algorithms fighting each other.

      Abuse by Amazon™

      Reply
  7. flora

    re: Tucker Carlson on FoxNews

    Our system was created by human beings for the benefit of human beings. We do not exist to serve markets.

    Wait,… you mean the old ‘Twilight Zone’ episode about Martians landing and handing out booklets titled “To Serve Man” weren’t Martians at all? They were neoliberals?!? /s

    Great rant. Fox is a bellwether of sorts, knowing where the public is going, and following for the ratings, imo.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am beginning to think Martians are not Martians after all, but are from the Gliese 581 system.

      Perhaps we will know more in 2048, it being 20 light years away, and the first attempt to ‘phone them’ was in 2008.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Good heavens MLTPB! Don’t give the game away. All the ‘discovered’ planets around Gliese 581 are at least 3.5 Earth masses. Our ‘Gliese Cousins’ would be built like tanks! (Let us not rule out silicone based life forms.)

        Reply
        1. Richard

          Dr. Hibbert (quizzing Homer about an alien he saw) “Is the lifeform carbon or silicone- based?”
          “That first one you said, sillyphone!”
          Lambert opened the door for doing Simpson quotes the other day. I’m very sorry that I’m walking through it, unless it’s okay to, in which case I’m as happy as bird.

          Reply
          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Quoting “The Simpsons”? Have you lost your perspicacity which is always in the last place you look? You could be making cromulent points which embiggens the larger discussion instead of quoting a television or “Tee Vee” show once denounced by President H.W. Bush.

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

            Reply
            1. Richard

              I love “embiggens”. Every time I hear it, I hear Donald Sutherland saying it and I feel about 8% better.
              Kiefer can kiss my a$& though.

              Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      It’s very difficult to disentangle class and race in the US – there’ve been discussions around this before.

      In this case: blacks are roughly 10% of the population but nearly half of those killed by police; that’s 5 times their share of police killings. And I gather unjustified killings are even more disproportionate.

      OTOH, as a matter of strategy, I think it’s important to emphasize that whites are also endangered; otherwise we leave blacks hanging out there by themselves. And to some extent, you also leave white victims of police killings unsupported – this has sometimes been apparent in their families’ reactions. If you frame the problem as police impunity and lawlessness, compounded by racial prejudice, it’s clear that it’s everybody’s problem. For one thing, it might make juries more willing to convict police murderers.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well, if the BAR wants to stay with Black Lives Matter and never ever perMIT even the mere considerAtion of Poor Lives Matter, then the BARists can very well just stay alone on their own.

        Reply
    2. Richard

      I saw that too. I also noticed some name calling and labeling going on (“tiny and ineffectual” and “Troskeyite”). Is there a longer standing emnity between BAR and WSWS?

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        I’m not sure, but ‘Trotskyite’ sure sounds like Communist/Socialist infighting. You know, something like Catholics and Protestants in old North Ireland.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          BAR’s main people are Greens. I think they’re accusing WSWS of being doctrinaire. Which is correct: the emphasis on class is basic to socialism. I already commented on the relationship up above.

          Reply
          1. scarn

            Ford is accusing the SEP of being more than just doctrinaire. He calls them anti-black Trotskyites who mis-interpret statistics to advance a white-settler agenda, and that they are tiny and ineffectual, and that they are crazy.

            I’m a fan of Dixon, Ford, and Kimberly and their work at BAR and elsewhere. I do not like the SEP’s contemporary positions on lots of subjects, most often on issues of race, gender, and sometimes on imperialist war. I have encountered some very nice (and some not very nice) people who are or have been members of SEP. Personally, I would hesitate to accuse anyone at SEP of purposefully proposing politics that harm oppressed communities unless I had more evidence than an article on the internet.

            Ford’s accusations are pretty concrete. Do they hold water?

            1. Is the SEP crazy? Got to go with no on this one. It’s not a collection of insane people.

            2. Is the SEP tiny? By most definitions, I’d say yes. BAR is tiny too, and significantly smaller than SEP.

            3. Is the SEP ineffectual? IMO, no. wsws gets a LOT of traffic, and sometimes from surprising sources and for surprising reasons. It’s definitely an effective media outlet. It has surprisingly large reach given the small size of the SEP. I’d say the same of BAR!

            4. Is the SEP “trotskyite”? Yes, though that’s just a rude way of saying that they are Trotskyists. I assume that Ford brings this up because the history of Trotskyist parties and black // POC nationalism and emancipation in the USA and Latin America is pretty poor in comparison to other Marxist tendencies, in his estimation. Or I’m projecting, because that’s my estimation, ha.

            5. Is the SEP (or the authors of the article in their newspaper) misinterpreting data? It’s hard to say. They conclude that your own statement about black people dying at a much higher rate than white people from police violence is wrong, at least in recent years. They appear to reach this conclusion by removing data from parts of the USA where no police violence occurred in a given year. Why is it impossible to conclude what they are doing with precision? They label the parts of the USA that experienced police violence ‘USA-“. They don’t share the data on what “USA-” is in the article. It could be counties. It could be zip codes. It could be city boundaries. It could be any combination. I can’t see the data and they aren’t clear in text. If I missed it, and another commentarian can find it, please show me!

            This conclusion is counter to what most professional sociologists who study this subject would argue, I think. Ford mentions Michelle Alexander several times, and she is far from being a lone voice on this. The prevailing academic position is counter to the one published in wsws, and without the data it’s tough to see how they can be making a good case. But sure, perhaps they found something that the professionals, blinded by so called pseudo-leftist ideology, refused to see.

            6. Is the SEP objectively anti-black, and did they run this article to advance white-settler politics? I’d go with a “kind of”. I think their article is unsupported by any public data (again please point it out to me if I missed it!). I think it’s ideologically and philosophically confused to argue (as they do) that police brutality is entirely a function of class oppression, but that black people are over-represented in the poorest of the north-american prole class because of…historical racism. That’s just bad history. Does SEP think that the civil rights movement solved “racism”? I don’t think they argue that. It’s just…a mash and a mess. Either capitalism evolved a racist caste system to justify super-exploitation of a group of people based on an invented category of “race”, or it didn’t. Or, it did, but the Kennedy-Johnson admins solved the vestiges of that in the 60s. It just makes no sense as a framework. They want “racism” to be a bourgeois product when it suits them but not when it doesn’t. And when doesn’t it? When they think it gets in the way of class solidarity, naturally. I’m not sure I would call anyone “anti-black” because they hold this position. But it’s a really silly position.

            Reply
            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              >They don’t share the data on what “USA-” is in the article. It could be counties. It could be zip codes. It could be city boundaries. It could be any combination. I can’t see the data and they aren’t clear in text.

              The article has a section on methodology. Quoting in part:

              We used the 2017 data from the Washington Post database for our analysis. These were cross-referenced with the KilledbyPolice.net website to ensure accuracy and attempt to fill in missing information such as race, name, and age of some of the victims.

              News reports from approximately 15 to 20 percent of these events were reviewed to glean the context of some of these killings as well as help locate the site of shooting for further in-depth analysis. We used information on the location of the shooting to perform a ZIP Code analysis for some of the metropolitan centers and medium-sized cities where blacks were killed at a much higher proportion than in the population. The US Census Bureau website was used to obtain demographic and economic data on states, cities and towns where police killings took place. Data USA and City-Data.com websites were used for population centers under 5,000 people. Economic data used included Median Household Incomes (MHI), Percentage in Poverty (PP), and employment and “not in the workforce” categories to determine the role of these factors in police killings.

              I agree it would be useful if they simply published the spreadsheet.

              “White settler politics” strikes me as the sort of framing that rules out any solution from the get go,” much as other identitarian framing does. (Not saying it’s the same, because at least there’s some historical grounding there, but if the SEP position is as you say, it and “white settler politics” seem to have the same degree of precison…..)

              Reply
          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > WSWS of being doctrinaire

            They are. There are worse things to be.

            NOTE Adding, if SEP were ineffectual, then it’s unlikely that Google would be suppressing their hits.

            Reply
        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well . . . as J. P. Morgan once said: ” I can always hire the Sparts to shoot the Trots”.
          Or was it the other way round?

          Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              I don’t think that the first link is from Triumph of the Will. At least I don’t recognize it as such. It could be from one of the Nuremberg gatherings instead. It was a good thing for the Nazis that Horst Wessel got himself killed and thus became a martyr for them. Having a street-brawler who was also a pimp that got killed in a rental dispute is not exactly the stuff of legends if the guy is still running around.

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                I think the images used are from the end part of “Triumph of the Will.” The end section is about the ’34 Nuremberg Party Congress indoor speeches. The “dignitary” giving the ‘salute’ is, I believe, Goering. The clip is not the full song. I didn’t think I could get away with linking to the entire thing. It is nearly four minutes long, and most of the associated videos look a little too nostalgic for the days of snappy dressed soldiers and racial cleansing.
                Part of my point, and I do have one, (in addition to the one on top of my head,) is that, to be a little too snarky here, Hitler ran on a platform of “Make Deutschland Great Again.”
                Never say that “It Can’t Happen Here.”

                Reply
      2. Zzzz Andrew

        No, I don’t believe there is any longer standing enmity here. Just as an example, Bruce Dixon of BAR wrote a powerful three-part piece on the limits to identitarian analysis vs. a class analysis, which Lambert has quoted several times in the pages of Naked Capitalism — see here:

        https://blackagendareport.com/intersectionality-hole-afro-pessimism-shovel-we-need-stop-digging
        https://blackagendareport.com/looking-down-deep-hole-parasitic-intersectionality-and-toxic-afro-pessimism-part-2
        https://blackagendareport.com/are-intersectionalism-or-afro-pessimism-paths-power-probably-not-part-3-3

        and in that piece Dixon relies heavily (see part 2 especially) on a WSWS article. Not to say that Dixon and Ford are coming from exactly the same place, but Ford is saying what he means, not making a tactical maneuver. His argument can and should be taken at face value.

        To the extent that there’s a bigger context, I think it’s this.

        In the 2016 election, and even since, questions of racial justice (for example) have been cynically weaponized against American class consciousness to thwart the inroads being made by the left. (I presume most NC readers share this understanding.) Of course this has been happening for hundreds of years, not since 2016, but this dynamic was particularly evident in the measures taken to hobble Bernie’s candidacy, and became as a result a deeply felt problem with a lot of currency in alternative media and non-mainstream political organizations.

        The issue is that the pushback to that, post-2016, has taken on dimensions that are often felt by real, genuine, class-conscious leftists *who happen also to have a deep personal stake in racial justice* to go too far and too violently the other way. As an exercise, go back to the election, and look at any author of color for whose articles or tweets *against* identity politics (e.g. in support of Bernie) you were grateful at the time. See how many of them are unhappy with this WSWS article, and how many of them are expending effort *now* (in 2018, with Trump actively running the show and no end of real-world problems to contend with) trying to temper certain angry expressions of the 2016-era indignation against identity politics. As I read it this has nothing at all to do with doctrine, it has to do with trust and fear. From an experiential and historical point of view, there’s plenty of reason to fear that doctrinally zealous blowback against identity politics will lead places we really shouldn’t be going.

        Even Adolph Reed, in his recent article about DSA and issues of race, is fighting over questions of *practical paths to power,* not doctrine; and you could argue that his concern too is one of trust and fear — “if we go the both/and route, it could be exploited by Clintonites.” In any case, for me at least, focusing on the trust aspect of this is way more helpful/clarifying than arguments about defintions and theory.

        Reply
        1. Zzzz Andrew

          Ugh, sorry, was writing in a hurry and messed up the second link; it should be

          blackagendareport.com/looking-down-deep-hole-parasitic-intersectionality-and-toxic-afro-pessimism-part-2

          Reply
          1. scarn

            I don’t find a single link back to wsws or SEP stuff in any parts. Sorry if I’m missing something obvious, friend. I do see one link in part two to an ISO article on socialist worker. Also Trotskyist, but not SEP.

            Reply
            1. Zzzz Andrew

              You are absolutely right, my apologies, it is the socialist worker article that I was thinking of, incorrectly recalling that it was wsws. Thanks for the correction, as well as for your detailed and informative comment above, which was great. The education is definitely appreciated.

              Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > As an exercise, go back to the election, and look at any author of color for whose articles or tweets *against* identity politics (e.g. in support of Bernie) you were grateful at the time. See how many of them are unhappy with this WSWS article, and how many of them are expending effort *now* (in 2018, with Trump actively running the show and no end of real-world problems to contend with) trying to temper certain angry expressions of the 2016-era indignation against identity politics. As I read it this has nothing at all to do with doctrine, it has to do with trust and fear.

          Perceptive. Examples?

          Reply
          1. Zzzz Andrew

            Yes, I should do this, and in fact I have a few in mind but combing the twitter to find nicely representative 2016-era evidence is taking way longer than I’d hoped, and now I need to run out for a bit. Will try to come back here with something tonight or if not, by tomorrow morning.

            Reply
          2. Zzzz Andrew

            My weekend was a mess; it’s now past midnight on Sunday, and I haven’t had a chance to come back to this the way I wanted to. But I knew I was getting into a minefield when I posted the comment above, and I do want to make a gesture of response to the request for examples, even if it’s via a comment on a two-day-old post that is unlikely to be read (Lambert, perhaps you will see it). So this is going to be shorter, with more corner-cutting and less documentation, than I wanted. I hope it will be useful anyway.

            Step 1 of the exercise I proposed was to “go back to the election, and look at any author of color for whose articles or tweets *against* identity politics (e.g. in support of Bernie) you were grateful at the time.”

            In order to link what follows firmly to NC, let’s cast a net starting with Progressive Army founder Benjamin Dixon, whose anti-identity-only stance apropos of the election was cited here in Water Cooler (https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/11/200pm-water-cooler-11222016.html), and in another NC post examining his interview with Adolph Reed (https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/06/adolph-reed-identity-politics-exposing-class-division-in-democrats.html). Dixon hasn’t been out there much lately (he’s been busy getting The North Star off the ground) and didn’t comment on the wsws series, so I can’t use him as one of my examples. But we can look instead at a couple of close associates of his at the Progressive Army, Wendi Muse and Anoa Changa, both of whom I’ve been following for a while.

            Wendi Muse is the creator of the Left POCket Project, a podcast covering the history of leftists of color, and a researcher in the history of leftist and anti-racist organizing in Brazil and lusophone Africa. In 2016, she published a relentless examination of the Clinton campaign’s engagement with race for the Progressive Army (http://progressivearmy.com/2016/11/07/hillary-clinton-doesnt-care-black-people/), which included identity-politics critiques like the following:

            “Fast forward to the 2016 election. This time around, Clinton leaned heavily on an identity-obsessed campaign that sought to cast Senator Bernie Sanders as a racist sexist while simultaneously painting his entire group of supporters – a large subset of which was composed of young people of color and women – with the same brush. In order to counteract Sanders’s growing contingent of diverse voters, the Clinton campaign and its allies engaged in a smear offensive with people of color at the helm.”

            I could do a lot more to establish her class-conscious bona fides (to say nothing of her erudition and nuanced views), but in view of the hour let me leave it at that. To the point, she, too, deplores the wsws article, as documented in this twitter thread: https://twitter.com/MuseWendi/status/1080727086275407872

            Anoa Changa is a lawyer, activist, organizer, editor at the Progressive Army, and creator of The Way With Anoa podcast; she organized for the Bernie campaign in Georgia, and I’m certain she’s done work in labor organizing as well, although I haven’t gone back to find the links documenting that. Here’s an election-era tweet of hers about the use of identity politics to shut down discussion of class interest (https://twitter.com/TheWayWithAnoa/status/749197153352896512), and another promoting Adolph Reed’s “Identity Politics Is Neoliberalism” (https://twitter.com/TheWayWithAnoa/status/734214394238881792). Again, she takes exception to the wsws article, although in her case she confines her critique to an amplification of some of Glen Ford’s points: https://twitter.com/TheWayWithAnoa/status/1080745411239919616

            So that’s two examples of leftists of color whose 2016 stand against abusive identity politics I, at least, appreciated, who had a problem with the wsws series (Ford being a third). It would take a protracted look at their writing, I think, to establish the point that they (like Benjamin Dixon) have recently been expending significant effort trying to *temper* expressions of the 2016-era indignation against identity politics, and I really need to go to bed. But let me add a final link to an episode of The Way With Anoa that touches on this topic in a particularly informative way:

            The Negro Subversive on Leftist Struggle with Identity Politics
            https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-way-with-anoa/id1131078756?mt=2

            This interview did a lot to inform the idea about trust that I floated above; the interviewee Victor Bradley’s take on Adolph Reed’s One Percent that is itself twelve percent black, fourteen percent Latino, half women etc., is a real eye-opener, not least because it is so obviously sincere. I really have to stop, so with that I will. Again, I hope this is useful.

            Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > BAR is not impressed with the WSWS police killings article:

      Ford writes:

      With all this slicing and dicing of numbers, the WSWS study has only “proven” that cops are much more likely to shoot a poor person than an affluent one

      OK, so it is class then?

      And as far as this:

      The World Socialist Web Site has brought in the New Year with a scurrilous and sectarian assault on “Black Lives Matter”

      It seems to me that Adolph Reed says the same thing in nicer words here. In any case, WSWS wrote:

      As a response to the growing tension within these communities associated with these killings, BLM was used to channel the anger along racialist lines and, ultimately and politically, in support of the Democratic Party.

      Where’s the lie?

      And this:

      Big money donors lined up behind BLM. The Ford Foundation made a six-year $100 million investment in the organization. BLM garnered endorsements from companies such as Facebook, Nike and Spotify. BLM has gone on to partner with Fortune 500 New York ad agency J. Walter Thompson (JWT) to create “the biggest and most easily accessible black business database in the country.”

      Again, where’s the lie? (I should make a distinction here between BLM/Ferguson activists at the local level, left behind in all this, at least as far as I can tell from the press, and the BLM activists at the national level, where we have characters like Twitter influencer Deray swanning about in Paris and questioning his Uber driver about the gilettes jaunes.

      I would have thought that, at least from the perspective of the long dreamed-of united working class, information that white working class people are getting whacked by cops in rural areas would be good news. Apparently not.)

      BAR is great. If the WSWS article what Ford says it is, it would be nice to see a more principled response to it.

      NOTE I thought the “two countries” methodology (“US-“, as they call it) was interesting, at least. I’m not a statistician, but intuitively, the idea that “Averages conceal. So let’s look at where the killings really take place” appeals.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Adding, I think that the article uses the phrase “killing zone” for the US- area where police killing takes place. The term is familiar to me from the military historian John Keegan. I’m too lazy to find the book, but the idea was that at Agincourt, the killing zone could be measured in tens of yards, at Waterloo, hundreds of yards, and at the battle of the Somme, thousands of yards. If you think of class warfare as something more than a metaphor, the killing zone is now on a continental scale, at least for the police.

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          Continental size kill zones, Chris Hedges’ economic sacrifice zones, Hilary Clinton’s Disposables. Anytime now I expect to hear about search and destroy missions. I do not like to think of my country as some gigantic carcass being rendered.

          I am not hearing anything like hope, or solidarity, or dreams, or FDR’s “famous nothing to fear but fear itself, ” or even Ronald Reagan’s City on a Hill, but only grim, dark, almost nihilistic speech and actions from the top down. America has in its base, even soul, the idea of the always reaching for the better future, of always getting better, among the other darker, even evil things that compose its soul.

          It is an essential glue of ours that encompasses the nation and the individual, maybe even the national federal state as well as the individual states. Take away this dreaming and we, more than almost any other society, will likely just fall apart.

          Reply
      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        I’m too lazy to look it up, but I seem to recall Malcolm X later in life acknowledging the various troubles in the world but pointing out the immediate and greatest problem that could be addressed was the lack of Civil Rights problem for black Americans.

        In the case of the non black deaths at the hands of the “police,” are they police or yokel sheriffs? Eric Garner was a victim of the police in a nominally Democratic city with a professional police force.

        Poverty and perceptions of powerlessness are at the root of the problem, but the police forces terrorizing black America shouldn’t be behaving like they are. The resources are there for them to be better, now.

        Reply
  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    DNA comment from above.

    Together, they self-organize according to changing conditions around them. Being sensitive to statistical patterns in the changes, they anticipate future states, often creating novel, emergent properties to meet them.”

    1 Being senstive to statistical pattens in the changes
    2. Then anticipate
    3. Often creating novel, emergent properties

    These make an egg or a sperm more intelligent than many whole humans.

    “Should you have stayed as an egg? You would have been smarter.”

    Reply
    1. Lee

      Just how do all those little bitty things we’re made of know what to do? And why do they want to do it? I have no idea but right now they’re making me go grocery shopping.

      Reply
        1. Lee

          Well they got me home safe with the groceries. I guess the trick is to simply surrender to their greater wisdom.

          Reply
      1. BobW

        My (layman’s) understanding is that everything is tried, more or less randomly, and whatever survives to reproduce will succeed. It only takes a single-digit percentage of increased success to quickly spread through a population.

        Reply
  9. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    Re: Tucker Carlson’s epiphany: Well it’d be nice if the Republicans ascendancy from the 80s to Bush II marked the high water tide of the Libertarian Future. I always hope they’d figure out that Free Market worship is idolatry and it’s not a god that gets you any results. Unless you have ‘grace’ (being born into a connected lineage, like the Vanderbilt or deVos noble houses.

    Reply
  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I googled it, but it seems AOC voted for Pelosi.

    How does it compare with Sanders endorsing HIllary?

    1. Don’t compare
    2. both are required 11 dimensional chess moves
    3. not as bad
    4. worse

    Reply
    1. Another Scott

      I’m giving AOC a pass on it. I don’t think many people care either way about a vote for Speaker. AOC would also have to vote for someone and explain it. It’s really an unforced fight and she doesn’t need one. This being said, I want to see what she actually does rather than what she says over the next few years. What matters is how she acts when no one is looking.

      In contrast, I think Sanders had to endorse Clinton or he’d be blamed for the loss even more than he is. So they’re not comparable.

      Reply
    2. johnnygl

      I think both incidents are fine, not in and of themselves that big of a deal. What is more important is what each of them have done right afterwards, which is to immediately go back on offense and press for more. If either/both had declared victory and quieted down, you know they’ve given up.

      Bernie post-election went right down to a union organizing drive in mississippi and did a series of town halls on primetime tv pushing for M4A.

      AOC immediately said: “i support you for speaker, now get me on the ways and means committee and give me a separate committee with power to subpoena and write legislation for a green new deal.” you know she’s making progress when other party leaders throw a fit about turf wars.

      Focusing on some inevitably imperfect compromise as part of deal making is missing the point.

      The clear signal is whether they get right back to work pushing for MORE!!! NOW!!!

      Obama told everyone to go back to sleep, post-election. Bernie and AOC have never stopped trying to get people fired up.

      Reply
    3. aletheia33

      i think aoc stated, when a challenge was mounted against pelosi in december, that she would vote for pelosi because the challengers had no one better to put up.

      sorry, i can’t provide a link to verify this, which also means i could be misremembering, but maybe other readers will weigh in.

      btw i am heartened to see these initial house dem moves being so closely watched as they are now. maybe i just missed it in the past, but the sanders people, the sunrise movement people, the medicare for all and the living wage people, etc. etc. seem to be all over every move the dems are making. these activists are framing, both among themselves and to anyone else who will listen, every vote as a litmus test for the 2020.

      so i am seeing (romantically and/or accurately) a new generation who have no doubt that following the $$$ explains the congresscritter’s vote and who are eager to convince others of that reality. only quite recently, it seems, there were so few who could recognize or would publicly call out the corruption. i credit this development primarily to sanders’s decision to run and spread his arguments as widely as he could in 2016. (not to overlook NC of course and many other people and groups who are working so hard to educate the electorate!)

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > i think aoc stated, when a challenge was mounted against pelosi in december, that she would vote for pelosi because the challengers had no one better to put up.

        My recollection as well. And she was correct; Pelosi’s challengers were centrists like Seth Moulton, who really couldn’t come up with any rationale for their (never-happened) candidacies than that they were younger.

        Reply
  11. Oregoncharles

    AOC dancing: we were all in high school once, but most of us couldn’t dance like that, even then. What I see in the video is an even younger version of the verve and energy that’s visible in contemporary photos, and presumably took her into Congress. I agree with Jeff: publicizing that is a big mistake for her enemies. She couldn’t wish for better.

    Says nothing about policy, of course; but you need people with that kind of drive and luck to carry whatever policy.

    Reply
    1. voteforno6

      That video was made when she was in college. But yeah, I’m not sure how that’s supposed to be a negative. Some of the reactions to the original post on Twitter are rather amusing.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        https://twitter.com/60Minutes/status/1081162243327356928 – Yikes, she’s killing it. It’s like Anderson Cooper is setting her up for it.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0KwQ6Hsoso – apparently, she’s making heads explode on team Dem…turf wars breaking out.

        https://theintercept.com/2019/01/04/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-pay-go/ – Broader story on pay-go fight. The new, noisy lefties are winning ground, inches and feet at a time. Incrementalism as it should look.

        Reply
        1. aletheia33

          thank you for these links. clarifying.

          in the last one, jayapal calls aoc’s vote-down-paygo move a “disservice to . . . the movement.” hmmm.

          everything jayapal says in the article comes across to me as carefully crafted, strategic argument from a careful, strategic operator. who is saying (between the lines) that aoc needs to learn to be more like her if she hopes to be effective in congress. and so the “schooling of aoc” begins. but as the article acknowledges, aoc appears to be doing some schooling of congress, of a different kind.

          Reply
          1. JohnnyGL

            I think this can very comfortably slip into a nice good-cop, bad-cop strategy. Or, for the DC-insider types, the inside-outside strategy

            AOC: Nancy, you better give me a spot on Ways and Means!
            Pelosi: Are you even 30, yet? WTF?
            Jayapal: AOC, can you wait outside? I need to have a chat with Nancy.
            Jayapal: Nancy, you’re going to have to give her the committee she wants, with full subpoena powers and authority to craft legislation, or give her ways and means. Give her one of those and we’ll do business on the House rules.
            Pelosi: Okay, fine. Can you keep a lid on her? She’s on 60 minutes saying only radicals get $hit done, this is awful and a massive insult to my career.
            Jayapal: I’ll do what I can, but she’s a tough one to manage. Her heart is gold, but she’s a little iffy on negotiating, but I’ll be ‘the adult in the room’ and we can work out the details.
            Pelosi: I like adults.
            Jayapal: Yes, I know. We’re all adults here. We’re going to need those M4A hearings to happen soon.
            Pelosi: Okay, I can deal. It’s just noise right?
            Jayapal: Yes, that’s right, just noise. It’s definitely not building consensus to demand progress on real issues that affect millions of Americans.
            Pelosi: okay, whew, if it was, the donors would get mad.

            Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          It’s vastly more entertaining. (Looks to me like a rehearsal for a performance.) She may have missed her calling.

          Reply
  12. Carla

    Lambert, re: Plantidotes — if it would only snow, I could — and would — send you winter plantscapes. 49 degrees and sunny in NE Ohio today. There was one snowfall before Christmas but we were out of town for a couple of days and missed it.

    Reply
    1. flora

      February in my part of the world brings snowdrops and crocuses… crocuses that bloom brightly even right up out of snow cover. Snow with yellow, purple, and pink flowers pushing through and blooming in the sun on the lawn. I love crocuses. :)

      Reply
  13. Alex Morfesis

    Generalismo Donaldo Trumpo to chuckycheese schumer…willing to keep govt closed for months…months I tellya…

    Real world translation=

    Emperor distracto folds by next Friday, claiming victory by photo op military parade at border with soldiers juggling galvanized prop fencing…

    Reply
    1. voteforno6

      It’s all fine and dandy to make Trump look bad, to some extent, but my concern that they’re all approaching it as if it’s a zero sum game. If that’s the case, a lot of innocent bystanders are going to be hurt.

      Reply
    2. a different chris

      >Emperor distracto folds by next Friday

      Uh, we’re talking Shumer and Pelosi here. They will be the ones to fold, I’m not a betting man but I think I could bet the house on this. It’s what they do. It’s all they do.

      Reply
  14. Craig H.

    Class Warfare section missing Drouet arrest?

    French police arrest “yellow vest” spokesman Eric Drouet
    By Anthony Torres
    4 January 2019
    ( World Socialist Web Site)

    More than 70 percent of French people support the “yellow vests,” who have evoked broad sympathy from workers around the world. But the established political parties and the union bureaucracies, totally integrated into the state and already furious that the “yellow vests” have outflanked them, are violently hostile.

    Does anybody know where a good poll can be seen?

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      So Macron actually WANTS an insurrection. If the Yellow Vests still control the roads, he may be sorry.

      Reply
  15. ChiGal in Carolina

    Re Medium piece on mental health care: none of that is new. I and my colleagues have been fighting those battles as psychotherapists in community mental health since the 90s.

    Everything to be concrete and measurable so once your goals are “operationalized” the treatment plan sounds more like marching orders, not to mention being nonsensical:

    “Client will achieve 25% reduction in depression as evidenced by daily crying spells reduced to 2x/wk and social interactions increased from 0x/wk to 2x/wk”

    Believe me, therapists for the elite don’t take insurance because they know the paperwork requirements are bullshit.

    Not to mention the records insurance require totally blows confidentiality. It took me several years to accept that there was no way around making dual sets of notes, one in the official chart for purposes of compliance, and another handwritten one for purposes of actual treatment. Sad!

    HIPPAA btw is about portability, not privacy. Don’t let ’em fool ya.

    Reply
    1. Off The Street

      That business seems like a time bomb ticking away. Hackers at Daniel Ellsberg’s neighborhood psychotherapist, or similar. All it would take is one disgruntled contractor to provide some WonkyLeaks or WackyLeaks or anyleaks entertainment. In future, Party hack you.

      Reply
  16. allan

    News you can use:

    Slow-Motion Footage Captures Rubber Band Ripples [Physics]

    … The videos show that after release, the band initially takes on the form predicted by previous models—a teardrop shape with straight sides. But as it moves, ripples develop at the rear of the band and propagate with a well-defined speed and wavelength. These ripples were not predicted in previous models. The researchers were able to replicate the shapes of the band and the properties of the ripples using a model that accounts for bending and thickness of the elastic material in addition to stretching and inertia. The videos also show why the shooter’s thumb isn’t struck by the rubber band. …

    More useful than mainstream macro, and with fewer victims,
    but on the downside, seems hard to monetize.

    Reply
  17. ChiGal in Carolina

    The University of Michigan Has At Least 82 Full-Time Diversity Officers at a Total Annual Payroll Cost of $10.6M.

    so applying some crude arithmetic, 8 cost $1M meaning they are paid upward of 100k apiece? Or if it’s differently apportioned the Chief Executive Officer of Diversity makes some unimaginably astronomical salary and the others are in the 60-80k range?

    Maybe they are including a travel allowance as part of “payroll”? I know much of what they do is recruitment since back in the 90s my then-bf was one of only two–count ’em, TWO–Blacks in the entire graduate physical sciences division at the University of Chicago. He was in Computer Science (machine learning) and the other was in Chemistry. They would send him back to Atlanta where he gone to school at Morehouse and the University of GA.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      >they are paid upward of 100k apiece?

      Don’t forget that medical is a good 15K, prolly more like 18k, so “paid” is a fluid term here.

      Not that there is anything wrong with your post, I just want to make sure our ridiculous medical costs get into every possible discussion… :)

      Reply
        1. David Carl Grimes

          What do diversity officers do? Do they try to recruit more underprivileged minorities into the school?

          Reply
          1. Alex morfesis

            No…diversity is the Chloe Hardin magic word for Medgar Edgar’s died for nothing… Ya see…if the civil rights fought and died for by blackfoke remained just in the hands of blackfoke…they would have jumped to middle class by 1985…but…see…since anyone who is not white is now included…none of which have any historical basis of having their ancestors and forefathers actually break a sweat for the infrastructure building and creating in America…

            Nope…diversity today is now making sure blackfoke never get to cash in…by including everyone who is not a white male and them taking “their fair share” of what blackfoke paid for…

            In Tampa event a few months back..in a newish diversity organization created by a young black woman…she was encouraged by the Asian fake superstar from Chicago who had been basically a half notch above receptionist at a loud and proud but not very effective incubator… Said superstar ivy league grad brought in by Hockey team owner turned business genius who is going to show “us” how a kid born in Deal, new Jersey with a multimillion dollar trust fund can “scratch and claw” his way to a few hundred million…

            The poor young black woman had a few loud Hispanics and some Lbgqtxyz123 types…but the fun part was the white Catholic real estate agent insisting she should be and is a protected class because she regularly walks into events of agents selling commercial real estate and there are very few women in the room….

            that is the ticket…

            Everyone is a minority

            And if believe not…follow along the clues and then look for it on pharsbook…they recorded it…it is there for all to see…

            While history shows us
            Medgar Evers was killed for distributing t-shirts that said Jim Crow must go…

            Obviously it never went…it just changed the language of enforcement…

            Chloe Hardin sleeps well tonight…

            Reply
    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      Oops sorry, was on my phone earlier and it doesn’t show tweets, now I see on my tablet no need to guess. So there’s a bunch at under 100k salaries who do the work and a whole raft of adminstrators covering all divisions making grossly inflated salaries.

      I note a number of positions seem to be related to legal issues; it’s partly a giant CYA operation…

      Reply
    3. Sushi

      Michigan students miss out in droves due to that diversity program. The Uni could subsidize tuition, room, board, books and other costs for a couple hundred or more students for that $10.6 million. For discussion, at an all-in student cost of $50.3K, that makes about 210 would-be students sidelined so that those diversity officers can swan and prance around. How about slashing that grift or bezzle to $1.06 million for a few handfuls of staff to let in about 190ish students?

      Would the little dears suffer that much without an egregious misapplication of other peoples’ money? How much do those swans donate to the alumni fund? Seems like useless eaters, and they need a Wolverine to get the flock out of there.

      Reply
    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      I would think that “free college” would drastically cut down on the need for “diversity officers.” Perhaps opposition from these highly paid professionals is a political factor to be considered?

      Reply
  18. The Rev Kev

    “Marriott Concedes 5 Million Passport Numbers Lost to Hackers Were Not Encrypted”

    Marriott: “What is this “encryption” of which you speak?

    Reply
  19. Long time listener

    Clinton openly choosing to court Bush republicans…….probably won’t alienate Sanders voters.

    Reply
  20. Nat

    It’s the End of the Gene As We Know It

    While I agree we have historically ascribed far too much to genes and DNA, the way this article hangs strikes me as far too much of an over-reaction in the opposite direction.

    Scientists now understand that the information in the DNA code can only serve as a template for a protein

    That isn’t true at all. DNA code also serves as a template for RNA regulation factors and other RNA constructs (most notably the ribosomes and tRNA, but others as well). DNAs own 3D folded structure has a huge effect on gene expression patterns some of which are speculated to be sensors themselves (DNA regions that may refold into Holiday junctions and other bizzare non-double-helix structures based on things like temperature, acidity, osmology, etc… and then these regions effect regulation and expression patterns elsewhere). DNA also encodes for transcription factors which are a critical part of gene expression and regulation patterns in conjunction with proteins (… proteins that are themselves coded for by DNA). Even the DNA that encodes for proteins has 5′ and 3′ leaders/tailers on mRNA that are key for regulation and expression at the translation stage. DNAs code can even determine the possibility of what epigenetic markers can take place at it / on it (epigenetic markers being as important as DNA regulatory elements, but are themselves limited where certain ones can occur based on the underlying DNA and neighboring epigenetic markers).

    Along these lines, when using statistics to locate the HAR – human accelerated regions, i.e. the regions in the the human genome that are statistically significant for being the result of strong evolutionary selection pressure to cause humans to diverge from their common ancestors with chimps – none of the HAR were found in regions of DNA coding for proteins. If “…the information in the DNA code can only serve as a template for a protein” were true none of these HAR could exist. So while we don’t know exactly what the HAR do in any detail, we do know for a fact they are a result of strong evolutionary selection pressure (i.e. can’t be junk DNA, it must do something) and they sure as heck don’t encode for proteins. Current hypotheses suggest they are all regulatory elements (i.e. determine the timing and patterning of when certain protein should be templated from the DNA that does actually encode for proteins – which again is only one of its many functions despite what is implied in the article above). Their is some initial evidence that a few of the HAR are regulatory elements for the timing and patterning of the development of the hands, and the brain. These hypotheses fit nicely with the fact that some of our most critical differences from chimps are in our hands (such as opposable thumbs) and our brain – and that is ALL DNA and genes (just not ones that we understand the details of, but know they determine body plan/shape and don’t code for proteins).

    It [DNA] cannot possibly serve as instructions for the more complex task of putting the proteins together into a fully functioning being, no more than the characters on a typewriter can produce a story…

    But it serves as a template for all the proteins that aid in those those functions, and in higher organisms with a body plan, DNA does indeed include more regulatory elements then it includes templates for proteins. If DNA wasn’t a critical thing necessary for “putting the proteins together into a fully functioning being” then how come we can reliably move, copy and delete segments of the HOX, FOX, and BOX genes to get fruit flys to: 1. grow an extra body segment (e.g.e the classic demonstration being a second abdomen below its first abdomen and above its terminus, and yes this second abdomen has a second set of working abdominal legs), 2. delete a body segment of our choice with the body forming around it correctly as if we had just pulled out the middle lego blocks in a lego model, and 3. reliably change the places where many body parts grow – the classic example being that just by playing with the HOX genes you can get a second set of front legs to grow out of the head in place of the antennae. This is ALL DONE WITH DNA PATTERNING and nothing else, so yes in fact DNA and genes are a very key part in “the more complex task of putting the proteins together into a fully functioning being” despite what the author thinks. Certainly their are others, but to say that “DNA … can'” what we clearly know it can and does is just plain wrong. Similarly as far as the “Scientists now understand…” sentence, if that were true then most biologists and all developmental biologists aren’t scientists according to this author, because they don’t understand that.

    Eggs and sperm contain a vast variety of factors: enzymes and other proteins; amino acids; vitamins, minerals; fats; RNAs (nucleic acids other than DNA); hundreds of cell signalling factors; and other products of the parents’ genes, other than genes themselves.

    … and yet all those things are either templated from DNA or are produced from things templated from DNA. Absolutely environment and epigenetics has a huge impact on these things too, but how the environment and epigenetics are allowed to effect these things is also largely regulated by DNA … so we are still back to DNA and genes.

    Together, they self-organize according to changing conditions around them. Being sensitive to statistical patterns in the changes, they anticipate future states, often creating novel, emergent properties to meet them.

    … and yet many of the regulatory functions of these things cited is in how they interact with DNA which is limited by the code of their region of interaction. Even for those which do not interact directly with DNA, ALL the possible states and interaction of ALL these elements are determined by their structure which is encoded in DNA that they are in-turn templated from – so we are back to DNA and genes bounding all the possible states and interactions for these things.

    This is an article clearly written by someone with a poor understanding of biology regardless of what degrees or credentials they might have in the field of biology.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The NC commentariat is the best commentariat. My simple-minded takeaway, however, is the passage we both quote:

      Together, they self-organize according to changing conditions around them. Being sensitive to statistical patterns in the changes, they anticipate future states, often creating novel, emergent properties to meet them.

      Along with epigenetics being a valid discipline, if that’s the word (because I think that epigenetics is one way class reproduces itself across generations, beyond mere wealth, and even more so in these days of The Big Sort).

      Reply
      1. skippy

        “Along with epigenetics being a valid discipline, if that’s the word (because I think that epigenetics is one way class reproduces itself across generations, beyond mere wealth”

        Some argue this is a self awarded ownership [tm] dilemma … usual suspects ….

        Reply
      2. Nat

        Oh absolutely. There are a ton of environmentally responsive states and variables beyond DNA. Epigenetics is a very valuable and critical study that we have only just begon. There are indeed outcomes and other things where DNA has at best a small minority vote in determining the outcome relative to other factors. My point was that in all outcomes DNA does indeed have a vote, even if its an easily overidable minority one for many outcomes. The author is downplaying genes and DNA (as well as incorrectly stating limits on their roll) by as much as the genetic determinists the author is rallying against were downplaying environment and other effects. Both perspectives are equally incorrect, shallow and biased.

        Reply
  21. ambrit

    Just coming back online after doing the weekly shopping and reheating some turkey gravy for Phyllis. (She absolutely loves the stuff. Until she doesn’t, at which point it will be; “Honey. Could you steam me some vegetables?” Reply: “Your wish is my command.”)
    Checking e-mail, for which I must run the gauntlet of Yahoo “news” page first.
    So, did anyone else notice the outright anti-progressive headline?
    “Brash freshman Democrats taught an early lesson.”
    An absolute demand for subservience on the part of the Dem leadership.
    First, this establishes that Yahoo, in all it’s iterations, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the DNC.
    Second, it establishes that the Dem “Leadership” is playing hardball from the very outset.
    Third, I believe it sets the tone for the next two years of Democrat Party internal politics. The present head honchos will yield nothing to the new kids on the block.
    Fourth, I believe this indicates that the nomination will be stolen a second time from Sanders. Bernie had better have an independent campaign apparatus waiting in the wings for 2020.
    Fifth, if it really is Hillary/Michelle 2020, then it will set back “real” feminism for not one, but two generations.
    For now, I’m interested on what committee positions the Dem nomenklatura deal out to AOC and the other ‘progressive’ freshpeople.

    Reply
  22. rd

    RE: Police killings

    I wonder if any of the academics have ever simply plotted their stats of police killings against the number of guns in America over time?

    While I do believe there are implicit bias issues in play, I suspect the biggest single factor is that the police are simply encountering far more guns in general now and so every encounter has a high likelihood of a gun being present. So they will be far more likely to be prepared to shoot in any encounter. Race and other biases just become amplifiers for the System 1 brain to respond with shooting.

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      One would think that would be the case that more guns makes for more police homicides as it makes sense, but the little research I have read suggests that is not so. Overall, American society is not much more heavily armed than before as many are collected by enthusiasts as well as the paranoid. For some people gun collecting and the is a hobby so it’s the AR-15 and the Arisaka bolt action that’s equally important. There are the paranoid or fanatical but there are not that many in number. The number of police deaths have going down since the crack wars, but between the increasingly militarized police increasingly using heavily armed SWAT units sometimes for nuisance tickets, search warrants, arrests including misdemeanors as well as the “better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6” or other world’s the lives of everyone else is less important than their own, so shot first and ask later.

      The increasing use of no knock predawn or very early morning raids on often asleep people often either innocent, unsuspecting, or peaceful people being awakened by screaming heavily armed people dressed in black often with no easily discernible identifications has also caused problems. Many people are worried about armed robbery, which is a real threat in places, or are just paranoid are likely to react to a home invasion as a home invasion by a gang and not the police. Out come the guns. These incidents are about the only ones in which the person shoting a cop is not convicted of it. Especially when there is videos of the police not identifying themselves or start shooting without warning or even reason which does happen.

      The little I have read of older cops being interviewed on the newer one ones in general is that they are too violent, fearful, with less regard for the general population. The cause is usually said to be the changes in weapons, doctrine, and most importantly training. The older police could be corrupt or racist or incompetent themselves however they much less armed, often with a handgun and maybe a shotgun, were not trained to be fearful of everyone, and for a while there was movement to attempt to professionalize the police as public servants so the mindset of the older (say that re 9/11) was different.

      Nowadays, despite the general decrease in violent crime including homicides which includes those by guns, and with a concurrent decrease in police deaths we have instead fearful, heavily armed prison guards. Something like 1100-1200 Americans are killed with around 900-1000 shot every year by the police (this does not include as the deaths in jails nor the more than twice the numbers injured); of those at least 15% will be completely unarmed. Not “they had a gun in the glove box or the nightstand or a pocket knife in their pocket or a piece of wood or a golf club in their hand” (all of which has been used as justification for fatal shootings) but completely and totally unarmed in anyway.

      Please do not think that all or even most cops are bad people uncaring of others. Most want to be decent officers. It is the bad training, militarization, and the institutional mindset of being an occupying army (most people including the police might disagree with me, but reading the justifications, explanations, tactics, and equipment, it’s hard to say otherwise.)

      Reply
  23. knowbuddhau

    As a companion piece to “It’s the End of the Gene As We Know It” [Nautilus], may I suggest Stephen Jay Gould’s February 19, 2000 brief NYT op-ed, “Humbled by the Genomes Mysteries,” in which he proclaims the end of two ways of thinking: that there’s a gene for everything; and reductionism.

    I am no lover, or master, of sound bites or epitomes,
    but I began by telling my students that we were sharing a
    great day in the history of science and of human
    understanding in general.

    […]

    The implications of this finding cascade across several
    realms. The commercial effects will be obvious, as so much
    biotechnology, including the rush to patent genes, has
    assumed the old view that ”fixing” an aberrant gene would
    cure a specific human ailment. The social meaning may
    finally liberate us from the simplistic and harmful idea, false
    for many other reasons as well, that each aspect of our
    being, either physical or behavioral, may be ascribed to the
    action of a particular gene ”for” the trait in question.

    But the deepest ramifications will be scientfic or
    philosophical in the largest sense. From its late 17th century
    inception in modern form, science has strongly privileged
    the reductionist mode of thought that breaks overt
    complexity into constituent parts and then tries to explain
    the totality by the properties of these parts and simple
    interactions fully predictable from the parts. (”Analysis”
    literally means to dissolve into basic parts). The reductionist
    method works triumphantly for simple systems — predicting
    eclipses or the motion of planets (but not the histories of
    their complex surfaces), for example. But once again — and
    when will we ever learn? — we fell victim to hubris, as we
    imagined that, in discovering how to unlock some systems,
    we had found the key for the conquest of all natural
    phenomena. Will Parsifal ever learn that only humility (and
    a plurality of strategies for explanation) can locate the Holy
    Grail?

    The collapse of the doctrine of one gene for one
    protein, and one direction of causal flow from basic codes to
    elaborate totality, marks the failure of reductionism for the
    complex system that we call biology — and for two major
    reasons…. https://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/19/opinion/humbled-by-the-genome-s-mysteries.html?search-input-2=humbled+by+the+genome%27s+mysteries

    Reply
  24. JBird4049

    And this is Club Fed, so you can imagine what it’s like at the state and local level. File under Everything Is Like CalPERS.

    Considering how bad and unaccountable many police departments are, think on how awful some of the jails and prisons are; much of it hidden because of the same methods as the police use, but my God, some of the stories that do escape censorship are just horrific.

    Don’t think it’s only the South as a Californian I have heard some stuff that would make you sick although the Southern jails and prisons do seem more callous. But whether it’s secret illegal sterilizations or the death of a mentally ill who was asphyxiated after being restrained and massively pepper sprayed in California or the man who was broiled to in a shower in Florida almost nobody gets even investigated not mind charges.

    It also seems (and it is only an gut feeling of mine) that the increasing, often murderous, violence by the police is being paralleled in the jails and prisons.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      To your last point. Consider that a large part of the prison guard population is comprised of police force rejects.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        Knew a neighbor kid few house down the street where I grew up as a tyke .. the stories of pyscopathy I could tell .. but I won’t, as some are too painful to recite. Let’s just say he ended up becoming a state prison guard, a position I can bet he enjoyed. As a teen, he was the epitome of the dumb insufferable stoner .. that liked to bully, harangue, and gererally act the a**hole. Probably retired now, sucking a pension for ‘work well done’.
        I need to grab a vomit bag now, and purge some bad memories !

        Reply

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