2:00PM Water Cooler 2/11/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Trade

“1 big thing: Inside Trump’s next moves with Xi” [Axios]. “Xi may soon come to Mar-a-Lago. President Trump’s advisers have informally discussed holding a summit there next month with Chinese President Xi Jinping to try to end the U.S.-China trade war, according to two administration officials with direct knowledge of the internal discussions…. Trump’s upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un in Vietnam has complicated logistics for the Xi summit. Trump wanted to meet with Xi before his tariff ceasefire with China ends on March 1, but three sources with direct knowledge said the events couldn’t be planned so close together…. It doesn’t appear that the U.S. and China have made much progress, so far, on the biggest structural issues that Trump has promised to conquer. These include China’s rampant theft of U.S. intellectual property, forced transfer of U.S. technology and trade abuses that China’s leaders have used to grow their economy at America’s expense.”

Politics

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

2020

Warren (1): “Warren: Trump ‘may not even be a free person’ by 2020” [Politico]. “She added: ‘Here’s what bothers me. By the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not even be president. In fact, he may not even be a free person.'” • Unlikely. Warren should stick to her story of “a rigged system that props up the rich and the powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else.” Here, Warren tries to travel two “lanes” at once: The populist lane, and the Trump Derangement Syndrome lane, which reads to this jaundiced observer like pandering. She might consider intergrating the two, since elites, as a class, have impunity. Warren was poor at pandering in 2016, too.

Warren (2): This is a good thread on Warren and the tribes from a historian in that field:

Harris:

No doubt arresting marijuana smokers gave her joy, too! So it’s all good. The circle of law enforcement.

Klobuchar:

Whacking the Clintonite hornet’s nest with a stick….

UPDATE Gillibrand:

Matt 6:5: “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

UPDATE Gabbard:

UPDATE Biden: “‘Weaker candidate than Hillary’: Democrats cast deep doubt on Biden’s 2020 value” [McClatchy]. “McClatchy interviewed 31 Democratic strategists — pollsters, opposition research experts, media consultants, ex-party officials, and communications specialists — from across the country about a potential Biden campaign. Nine agreed to speak on the record; all others quoted anonymously do not plan to be affiliated with any candidate running in the presidential primary. Strikingly, these conversations yielded a similar view: The Democratic political community is more broadly and deeply pessimistic about Biden’s potential candidacy than is commonly known. While these strategists said they respect Biden, they cited significant disadvantages for his campaign — from the increasingly liberal and non-white Democratic electorate to policy baggage from his years in the Senate and a field of rivals that includes new, fresh-faced candidates. ‘Among political professionals, there are deep concerns because we know the history,’ said a Pennsylvania-based Democratic strategist, granted anonymity to speak candidly about a party elder. ‘We have reason to be skeptical of the hype.’ ‘We heard it with Hillary, and we saw it happened,’ the source added. ‘And there’s a lot of reason to think he would wind up a significantly weaker candidate than Hillary.'” • But in a brokered convention..

Somehow… Somehow they all seem similarly uninspiring:

“Beer Track, Wine Track, Get Me Off This Fucking Train” [Corey Robin]. “Now just so I’m clear: When I say ideology and argument [as opposed to/in addition to personality and policy], I don’t mean a candidate needs to channel Rawls. I mean, does she have a story about the American polity, about how we’ve come to the impasse we’re in (Trump, rampant inequality, rampant incarceration, a party of unadulterated nativism and racism and misogyny, the 1%, non-existent unions, winnowing voting rights, growing strike waves, impending extinction of the planet, etc.), about who is responsible for it (not just a villainous Republican Party but also a larger political economy and set of social actors), and how we’re going to reverse and undo this development. The great realigners had such a story. Read FDR’s Commonwealth Club speech. Read Lincoln’s Cooper Union address…. only Warren and Sanders have the kind of analysis I’m talking about, the kind of analysis that can mobilize voters to do what must be done.” • Worth a read.

“How to Evaluate a US Presidential Candidate” [Benjamin Studebaker]. “How can we tell the candidates who mean business apart from the candidates who are trying to trick progressive voters? There are four big things I look at:”

  1. What is this candidate’s history? What does this candidate actually do with power, when they have it?
  2. Who has given this candidate money? Who does this candidate rely on to run their campaign? Who can they not afford to alienate?
  3. What is this candidate’s attitude to institutions? If this candidate meets resistance within the Democratic Party, will this candidate capitulate or fight to change the party?
  4. Is this a serious candidate? Does polling and/or favorability data suggest they could really win, or are they running to promote themselves?

“Run those four tests. History, Money, Institutions, Seriousness.” • Joe Biden. I mean, obviously.

2019

“Trump divides Democrats with warning of creeping socialism” [The Hill]. “Trump’s warning of creeping socialism in the United States, deftly mentioned after a section of the speech on the unfolding political crisis in Venezuela, created an immediate public split among Democrats that was caught on live television. Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Sens. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio) were among the lawmakers who stood with Republicans to applaud Trump when he pledged that the United States would never slide into socialism. But other Democrats weren’t so happy about Trump’s choice of words — which was clearly meant to put them on the spot. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who labels himself as a democratic socialist, stayed rooted in his seat, as did Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), another leading democratic socialist, smiled in response to Trump’s remark but stayed seated.” • The headline is silly; as I urge here, the Democrats are already divided. Still, it’s interesting that consummate opportunist Booker stayed seated. Wants the youth vote, I guess!

VA: “The Latest: Black leaders: Stop telling Northam to resign” [Associated Press]. “A group of black clergy and community leaders is asking for a moratorium on the widespread calls for Virginia’s governor and attorney general to resign over their admissions they wore blackface in the 1980s. The Rev. Rodney Hunter is co-director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy and pastor of Richmond’s Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church. He said Monday that the records of Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring show ‘they are different people’ than they were when they wore blackface more than three decades ago. Hunter says the group is also calling for an end to the push for Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax to resign. Hunter said Fairfax deserves due process over sexual assault allegations made by two women. Hunter’s group plans to hold a news conference Monday afternoon on the steps of the state Capitol.” ª Fascinatingly, CAP is one of the Virginia Interfaith Center’s funders.

AOC: The best use of five minutes of hearing time for quite awhile (and better than Warren’s eviscerations of bankster CEOs’s, because AOC’s clip was not only very funny, it was about systems). A telling anecdote:

(Note that the account works for Brock’s Media Matters operation, which is the beard for Brock’s oppo operations.)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Georgia Officials Not Immune From Suit Over Risky Voting Machines” [Courthouse News]. “In a 16-page unsigned opinion issued a week after oral arguments in the case, the three-judge panel upheld a federal judge’s ruling that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and members of the state’s election board are not entitled to immunity from a legal action seeking to switch Georgia’s voting system from electronic machines to hand-marked paper ballots.” • Good!

“Review of Wisconsin voting machines could be made public” [Associated Press]. “Election security experts are watching a Wisconsin court case stemming from the 2016 presidential recount that could result in the first public conclusions on whether closely guarded ballot-counting machines were hacked or failed to perform. The key question at the heart of the case is whether former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein will be allowed to comment publicly on what her auditors find in a review of Wisconsin voting machines’ computer code. Stein’s request for a recount of the presidential election results in Wisconsin gives her the right to review the code under state law. All the parties involved must sign an agreement to keep propriety information confidential. The voting machines’ manufacturers argue that agreement should bar Stein’s group from making any conclusions or opinions about the machines’ performance public.” • That’s lovely. We can’t tell whether our elections are being stolen because of non-disclosure agreements. Priorities!

“Private Mossad for Hire” [The New Yorker (CI). “Psy-Group was part of a new wave of private intelligence firms that recruited from the ranks of Israel’s secret services—self-described ‘private Mossads.’ The most aggressive of these firms seemed willing to do just about anything for their clients…. Psy-Group’s larger ambition was to break into the U.S. election market… [Psy-Group drew] up a plan for developing more business at the state and local levels. No election was too small. One company document reported that Psy-Group’s influence services cost, on average, just three hundred and fifty thousand dollars—as little as two hundred and seventy-five dollars an hour. The new strategy called for pitching more than fifty individuals and groups, including the Republican National Committee, the Democratic National Committee, and major super pacs. [One] brochure showed a cat that cast a lion’s shadow and listed “honey traps” among the firm’s services. (In the espionage world, a honey trap often involves deploying a sexually attractive operative to induce a target to provide information.)” • Well worth a read. The good news is that the local candidate — a community college student, waiter, and Sanders activiist — won going away because the Psy-Group deliverables were so inept (and in winning, the activist nuked a corrupt contract at a local hospital). So just because these bottom feeders are out there doesn’t meant that they win. Still, Psy-Group and the rest of ’em were sending out their brochures to lots of people, so the political class knows all about this, and has for some time. So why no hysteria?

Party unity:

I think any party that has to resort to loyalty oaths has big problems. (Unless the Democrats really are a criminal syndicate, in which case omerta is thoroughly appropriate.)

“Rat invasion discovered at historic Los Angeles City Hall amid city typhus outbreak” [NBC]. “Downtown is in the midst of a typhus outbreak, according to health officials, with several homeless people who live near City Hall among those afflicted. It flourishes in unsanitary conditions and is often spread by infected fleas hitching rides on rats. It is rarely fatal when treated quickly with antibiotics but epidemics killed thousands in the Middle Ages. … He believes many of the rats are relatively new arrivals, displaced when the city began tearing down its old police headquarters next door.” • So that’s alright then.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

Banking: “Wells Fargo banking systems breakdown raises new concerns” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “this week’s Wells Fargo outage — the San Francisco bank’s second failure this month — caused some to ask whether the banking systems we depend on are too fragile. Starting Thursday and lasting through Friday morning, ATMs failed to show balances and transactions, web log-ons were rejected, and smartphone apps displayed errors. The bank ultimately blamed smoke in a data center.” • Smoke in a data center? Huh?

Banking: “Flaws in testing may be real source of Wells Fargo’s tech failure” [The American Banker]. “Wells’ troubles started early Thursday morning as it was forced to shut down a facility when ‘smoke was detected following routine maintenance,’ according to a statement from the bank. A local news report from Shoreview, Minn., indicated a fire suppression system was accidentally triggered at the Wells Fargo Shoreview Operations Center the morning of Feb. 7. The report noted the trip occurred at 5 a.m. local time, and the bank called the fire department to investigate four hours later. The cause of the alarm was ‘due to construction dust.’ What followed was a nationwide outage that affected Wells’ online and mobile banking capabilities, its ATM network and card processing. The outage also extended to the bank’s call center where an automated message told customers that bankers were unable to access account information.” • Ah, “routine maintenance.” Do we have any data center readers? Does this story make sense? Or, since everything is like CalPERS, what has to be true at Wells Fargo for this story to be true?

Retail: “N.Y. Today: Is Amazon Still Coming to New York City?” [New York Times]. A recap of the horrid press coverage, ending: “Feb. 8: The Washington Post, citing ‘two people familiar with the company’s thinking,’ reports that Amazon is considering withdrawing from New York. But The Times reports that ‘two people with direct knowledge of the company’s thinking said the article had gone too far and Amazon had no plans to back out.'” • “Gone too far” seems rather un-Amazon-like….

Shipping: “Amazon sends mixed signals on logistics intentions” [Supply Chain Dive]. “Amazon stoked yet more speculation that it intends to compete with 3PLs like UPS and FedEx when it included “companies that provide fulfillment and logistics services for themselves or for third parties, whether online or offline” in an annual SEC filing that requires companies to describe their competition, spotted by Fortune… Amazon holds that its growing network of logistics resources is intended to add speed and capacity when and where needed, not to transition away from other carriers….. But Morgan Stanley isn’t buying it. In a recent research note, analysts wrote: ‘The scale of the operation so far (en route to 100 planes, 20,000 vans, several thousand truck trailers and ramping ocean moves) does not imply a ‘peak season only’ or ‘overflow volume only’ operation to us.'”

Shipping: “Atlanta to Philadelphia spot rate lowest since February of 2016” [Freight Waves]. • Image of storm clouds, but: “Spring is always an uncertain time of year for freight movement because no one really knows when volumes will return in earnest. Weather patterns play a big role driving seasonal movements such as agricultural freight.”

Shipping: “Truck Drivers on the Lookout for Spotted Lanternfly” [FreightWaves]. “[The spotted lanternfly is] a hitchhiking bug that doesn’t bite, doesn’t sting, but can quickly destroy grapes, trees, nursery stock and apples, to name just a few of its victims. Agricultural experts believe the invasive insect came to the United States after hopping on a boat from China. It was first spotted in Pennsylvania’s Berks County in 2014…. Truck drivers doing business in affected areas are warned that if they park below a tree line, the vibrant-colored insect can hop onto their truck, hide in a tiny crevice or atop a flatbed and do extensive damage to a valuable load of agricultural commodities.”

The Bezzle: “For Boeing, juggling cash flow often means “another ‘Houdini moment'”” [Seattle Times]. “Boeing has gushed cash quarter after quarter for more than four years, sending its share price soaring yet leaving some analysts suspicious about how Boeing manages always to surpass Wall Street’s cash flow expectations…. The tricks it uses are mundane in procedure, but huge in scale. They amount to various ways of pulling forward cash receipts from airline customers — bringing in cash that’s due in the future just ahead of the end of the quarter — or pushing out the payment of accounts to suppliers into the next quarter. While many companies can massage their cash-flow results, few have as much leeway to do so as Boeing. That’s because aircraft purchases involve such large sums, on payment schedules that are negotiable and adjustable. And the process is entirely opaque from the outside because the precise financial terms of jet sales are never disclosed. Past reports from financial analysts point to very large amounts of cash involved.” • Hmm.

Tech: “Apple iPhone Shipments Dive in China as Huawei Tightens Grip” [Bloomberg]. “Apple Inc.’s Chinese smartphone shipments plummeted an estimated 20 percent in 2018’s final quarter…. The domestic market contracted 9.7 percent in the quarter, but Apple declined at about twice that pace, research firm IDC said in a report on Monday. A slowing economy, lengthening replacement times and the iPhone’s hefty price tag contributed to the U.S. giant’s decline, it said. Xiaomi Corp. fared even worse in the final months of last year, when shipments plunged almost 35 percent, the consultancy estimates. Smartphone labels from Apple to Samsung Electronics Co. are contending with a plateauing global market after years of breakneck growth, as a lack of innovation discourages consumers from replacing devices as often as they used to.” • And does Apple have a new product in the pipeline? They always have before, but thiis time robot cars turned out to be a dry hole. So…

Labor Market: “The (Modest) Rebound in Manufacturing Jobs” [Liberty Street Economics]. “The United States lost 5.7 million manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2010, reducing the nation’s manufacturing employment base by nearly a third. These job losses and their causes have been well documented… Less well recognized is the modest yet significant rebound in manufacturing jobs that has been underway for several years. Indeed, employment in the manufacturing industry began to stabilize in 2010, and the nation has added nearly 1 million jobs since then. Although modest in magnitude, this uptick in manufacturing jobs represents the longest sustained increase since the 1960s and bucks a decades-long trend of secular decline in employment in the goods producing sector of the economy.”

Labor Market: “Labor Market Polarization across the U.S.” [Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis]. “Labor market polarization refers to the decrease in job opportunities in middle-skill occupations that typically involve routine tasks, such as occupations in manufacturing, production and transportation. This is simultaneously associated with an increase in employment in occupations that involve nonroutine tasks, such as jobs in managerial and professional occupations and in personal care and service occupations. Polarization in the labor market is linked to two main factors: Increased automation of routine tasks; Increased globalization and offshoring… it is worth noting that job polarization has led to a decline in the earnings for middle-skill jobs, which is linked to an increase in earnings inequality.” • Tell ’em Queen Anne’s dead…

Fodder for the Bulls: “NRF is largely bullish on 2019 retail sales forecast” [Logistics Management]. “The NRF made that very clear in its 2019 retail sales forecast for growth coming in between 3.8%-to-4.4% to more than $3.8 trillion. $3.82 trillion, to be exact. OK, so that forecast falls short of the NRF’s call for a minimum increase of 4.5% from 2017 to 2018, but it is still pretty good.”

Honey for the Bears: “Krugman Sees Possible U.S. Recession With Little Fed Wiggle Room” [Bloomberg]. “‘There seems to be an accumulation of smaller problems and the underlying backdrop is that we have no good policy response,’ he said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Dubai. The headwinds facing the economy prompted the Federal Reserve this month to halt its interest-rate hiking cycle, which Krugman said was never ‘grounded in the data’ to begin with. ‘Continuing to raise rates was really looking like a bad idea’ he added.” And: “‘Let’s put it this way, our current Treasury Secretary is no Hank Paulson,’ he said.” • Oh, Paul. See NC on Paulson’s tenure here, here, here, here, and here.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Mark of the Beast*. “Several big tech companies are working on tracking software” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 179. Back up a point, toward the 180 floor. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. NOTE * And they’re not wrong, are they?

The Biosphere

“Experts Warn” (1):

“Experts Warn” (2):

A good question:

“Scientists Discover Evidence of Long “Ocean Memory”” [Earth and Space News]. “[T]he deep Pacific Ocean is still cooling from a dip in global temperatures that chilled surface waters several centuries ago. Waters take so long to reach the depths of the Pacific that “they are still responding to the cooling trend that marked the entry into the Little Ice Age,” said first author Jake Gebbie at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass. The findings could improve climate models and may offer a clue into how future oceans will respond to modern global warming… In the latest study, the researchers pulled data from the Challenger expedition, which ‘marks the beginning of modern oceanography,’ said Gebbie. The scientific expedition took top to bottom measurements from the world’s oceans for 4 years, often using thermometers tied to hemp ropes. The new research compared the temperatures with modern-day measurements and ran an independent model using 2,000 years of climate records to search for cooling trends.”

“Evolution Is Not the Cause of Selfish Capitalism” [Medium]. “The most successful of biology’s creatures coexist in mutually beneficial ecosystems. It’s hard for us to recognize such widespread cooperation. We tend to look at life forms as isolated from one another: a tree is a tree and a cow is a cow. But a tree is not a singular tree at all; it is the tip of a forest. Pull back far enough to see the whole, and one tree’s struggle for survival merges with the more relevant story of its role in sustaining the larger system. We also tend to miss nature’s interconnections because they happen subtly, beneath the surface. We can’t readily see or hear the way trees communicate. For instance, there’s an invisible landscape of mushrooms and other fungi connecting the root systems of trees in a healthy forest. The underground network allows the trees to interact with one another and even exchange resources. In the summer, shorter evergreens are shaded by the canopies of taller trees. Incapable of reaching the light and photosynthesizing, they call through the fungus for the sun-drenched nutrients they need. The taller trees have plenty to spare, and send it to their shaded peers. The taller trees lose their leaves in the winter and themselves become incapable of photosynthesizing. At that point, the evergreens, now exposed to the sun, send their extra nutrients to their leafless community members. For their part, the underground fungi charge a small service fee, taking the nutrients they need in return for facilitating the exchange.”

Class Warfare

“Liked Evicted? — Read Maid” [Credit Slips]. “Stephanie Land recently tweeted this depressing statistic: ‘a single parent would have to work 140 hours a week at minimum wage to pay for basic necessities.’ And Land would know. Her new memoir — Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive — chronicles her time as a single mother working as a house cleaner and just scraping by on the combination of her paycheck and various forms of government assistance. In telling her story of ending up a single mother living in a homeless shelter with effectively no family or friends to turn to for help, of figuring out how to make a little money working insanely hard, and of dealing with the stigma of asking for government ‘handouts,’ Land weaves a narrative about life on the financial precipice that sticks with you.” • The Bearded One teaches that wages serve to reproduce the worker’s ability to sell labor power. As with Walmart, however, so here: These workers cannot reproduce their labor power through wages, and so the wage is supplemented through the state. I don’t know of anybody who’s theorized this, not even Kim Moody (unless I missed it) but it would seem to deserve attention. The whole piece is well worth a read. One more book to read!

“How Car Pollution Hurts Kids’ Performance in School” [CityLab] (original). “New research indicates that when students switch to schools with higher levels of traffic pollution, they tend to experience declines in test scores, more behavioral incidents, and more absences. That’s according to a National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper issued in January. The paper brings more evidence to the body of research showing that air pollution harms cognitive performance and poses a major threat to health worldwide.”

“How a Feel-Good AI Story Went Wrong in Flint” [The Atlantic]. • A salutary lesson for GND implementors.

“As Ireland goes green, rural workers feel punished” [CNN]. “When John “J.J.” Berdon joined Ireland’s semi-state peat harvesting company in 1980, he thought he had a job for life…. That job has been central to the lives of Berdon and some 60 colleagues, most of whom live nearby in small communities along the border of counties Roscommon and Galway.

But this is all soon to change, as his employer, Bord na Móna, announced last October that it would close 17 of its active extraction sites immediately, with the rest to follow by 2027. Up to 500 jobs are expected to go. The reason, the company says, lies in one word: decarbonization.” • Why the Jobs Guarantee is part of the GND.

“Workplace Theft Is on the Rise” [The Atlantic]. “Managers routinely order up to 20 percent more product than is necessary, just to account for sticky-fingered employees.” • Well, that’s better than paying them more, right?

News of the Wired

“The Most Famous Image in the Early History of Computing” [History of Information]. “The Jacquard loom did no computation, and for that reason it was not a digital device in the way we think of digital today. However the method by which Jacquard stored information in punched cards by either punching a hole in s standardized space in a card or not punching a whole in that space is analogous to a zero or one or an on and off switch. It was also an important conceptual step in the history of computing because the Jacquard method of storing information in punched cards, and weaving a pattern by following the series of instructions recorded in a train of punched cards, was used by Charles Babbage in his plans for data and program input, and data output and storage in his general purpose programmable computer, the Analytical Engine.”

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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, which is not really a plant, but a wonder of nature (SS):

SS writes: This emerged one cold morning on the top of a large Tupperware tub I had left outside (It had a battery in it to run the electric door on the chicken coop). How the heck this came to pass I have no idea. It seems impossible.” Encouraging, then!

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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.

255 comments

  1. John

    I wanted to share these posts (first, second, and third) on MMT from Michael Roberts’s blog last week. I think these discussions are very important for the left; the more its various elements engage with each other, the better they can understand and articulate their visions for the future, which are all surely more beneficial to the majority than what the nationalist right and neoliberal center can offer.

    I’ll quote the last paragraph of the second post for a bit of intro:

    MMT claims that it has an endogenous theory of money, but in reality it has an exogenous one, based on state issuance of money. It claims that government spending can be expanded to any level necessary to achieve full employment through money issuance, without any reference to the productive activity of the non-state economy, in particular the profitability of the capitalist sector. Indeed, according to MMT, capitalism can be saved and achieve harmonious growth and full employment by ‘tricks of circulation’. MMT ignores or hides the social relations of exploitation of labour for profit. And by selling ‘snake oil’ (MMT) instead, it misleads the labour movement away from fundamental change.

    I have to agree with Roberts that ‘tricks of circulation’ (unhindered fiscal stimulus through money printing) alone can’t push an economy along indefinitely. The private sector, spurred by sufficiently high profitability, must be investing at a proper rate. ‘Animal spirits,’ in my opinion, is a far less plausible explanation for a recession than the tendency of the rate of profit to fall; the real economy has actually performed very poorly since the 1970’s due to a global crisis of overproduction/under-utilization of capacity in the manufacturing sector, with growth only coming from asset bubbles. The reality is that economic growth comes not from capitalism but from the processes of industrialization and urbanization and, barring a huge source of external demand or an asset bubble, capitalist economies not in those stages have very low growth rates (17th century Europe, post-1990 Japan), and this is not something that can be fixed by fiscal stimulus.

    Reply
    1. ChrisAtRU

      RE: Endogenous v Exogenous

      As gently as I can … #NopeToExogenousMoneySupply

      The money supply is endogenous because of the role banks play in creating money since loans create deposits, not the other way around. At any given time, based on the credit-worthiness of private sector and the availability of resources, reserves will be added to banking system where necessary by the Fed.

      See here and here.

      From the 1st link:
      “When the demand for loans increases, banks normally make more loans and create more banking deposits, without worrying about the quantity of reserves on hand.”

      Reply
      1. John

        According to MMT, money was created by the state to begin with, its inherent value comes from the state, and the state is to use deficit spending to increase the supply of money (spending more than it takes in through taxes) in order to avoid the deflationary pressures of recession (lack of demand). Sounds pretty exogenous to me.

        Reply
        1. ChrisAtRU

          I don’t think you understand what exogenous means in context of the money supply. Again, from the 1st link I provided:

          “Money is taken to be an exogenous variable-whose quantity is determined either by the supply of a scarce commodity (for example, gold), or by the government in the case of a “fiat” money. In the money and banking textbooks, the central bank controls the money supply through its provision of required reserves, to which a deposit multiplier is applied to determine the quantity of privately-supplied bank deposits.”

          #MMT adheres to the endogenous paradigm because in reality, the government alone cannot determine the (necessary) quantity of privately-supplied bank deposits, because loans create deposits and the government is not the arbiter of how much credit is demanded from the private banking sector.

          Reply
          1. John

            The argument is not that MMT does not understand that banks can create money (endogenous money creation), it’s that money has an exogenous value determined by the state, and that unemployment is caused by an inadequate money supply and, thus, is to be solved by deficit spending in order to exogenously increase the money supply. Quoted from the second article:

            MMT proponent Tcherneva writes: “Chartalists propose a policy of full employment in which the state exogenously establishes an important price for the economy, which in turn serves as an anchor for all other prices …. This proposal is based on the recognition that the State does not face operational financial constraints, that unemployment is a result of restricting the issuance of currency, and that the State can exercise an exogenous pricing (exogenous pricing).”

            Reply
    2. Wandering Mind

      A couple of points. The money MMT speaks of is “exogenous” only if government is not considered a part of the economy. This would be analogous to considering credit money as “exogenous” because it is created by banks. Government is, in fact, the largest single player in the economy and therefore its liabilities (a.k.a. “money”) are endogenous in the same way that bank money is endogenous.

      Secondly, the purpose of a job guarantee is to eliminate what is now the “reserve army” of the unemployed and replace it with a “reserve army” of the publicly employed. The money/liabilities of the federal government that would be used to accomplish this are no more “tricks of circulation” than the money/liabilities that banks create when they make loans.

      Reply
      1. John

        In response to your first paragraph, so then an exogenous theory of money is impossible even in theory, because the government and central banks are very large “players in the economy,” so they’re just market actors in the same way firms are.

        In response to your second, a job guarantee is a great idea. But it won’t resolve the contradictions of capitalism that created our current economic malaise. While a job guarantee is very humanitarian in that it helps the unemployed and it does create more demand, if the contradictions in the economy go beyond simply not enough demand, a JG won’t solve them. In our case, lack of demand was not the underlying is not the issue. Levels of debt (public, household, corporate, and financial) skyrocketed but the economy was still not functioning properly. Both Marxists and Keynesians agree that recessions are the result of a decline in investment, but as Roberts has demonstrated time and time again, this fall in investment is not caused by animal spirits but, rather, a decline in profitability (the rate, not mass, of profit). Fiscal stimulus can thus only postpone the inevitable, and without a return to profitability, the economy will remain in stagnation.

        Reply
        1. Left in Wisconsin

          I haven’t reviewed Roberts’ analysis in a while but I remember being impressed when I sorted through his site a couple of years ago. BUT:
          The core distinction he seems to want to make is that Keynesians think:
          investment => future profits… while Marxians think:
          past profits => investments => future profits.

          I doesn’t strike me as that big a difference. And one thing we can say about at least the last twenty years is that higher (past) profits have NOT led to investment.

          If I remember correctly, Roberts would argue that profits are not higher now in that the Marxian profit rate is lower than it used to be. Which is basically using aggregate statistics rather than firm-specific ones. I don’t say one is better than the other but it is firms, not aggregate economies, that do the actual investing (or not). To be honest, I think a large part of the differing results is a function of the nature of modern firms – as portfolios of producers and rentiers rather than one or the other. I would argue (but would be willing to be convinced otherwise) that this probably makes the Keynesian argument more salient nowadays in the sense that portfolio firms will first look for risk-free/rentier returns before they will consider productive investments and will thus only invest when confident those risk-adjusted future returns will beat the easier risk-free ones. (I’m not sure “animal spirits” is the best descriptor of this preference.)

          Reply
          1. John

            Yes I’ve actually thought the same thing myself. Keynes said that animal spirits drive the business cycle, and what are animals spirits but confidence in profitability? Marxists argue that profitability drives the business cycle, but perhaps that’s pretty much the same thing (animal spirits=confidence in profitability=profitability.

            You’ve also brought up another point that I think is very salient–in looking at aggregate statistics, Roberts fails to distinguish between different sectors of the economy. Surely there would be a difference in how the financial and industrial sectors would behave regarding profitability and the business cycle, and I think this is rather missing from his analysis. This is why I prefer Robert Brenner–he pointed out back in 1999 (in The Boom and the Bubble) that a falling rate of profit in the global manufacturing sector (caused by the crisis of overproduction/under-utilization of capacity that began in the 1970’s with the rise of German and Japanese competition) has explained the poor performance of the real economy since the 1970’s, and that growth since then has simply been the result of asset bubbles. I think this is a much more nuanced take than Roberts’s and just as true to Marx’s theories. But Roberts is the one that blogs very regularly and I wanted to stir the pot and get some discussion going (this is supposed to be a site for heterodox economics, so there should be some diversity of thought and opinion…MMT and post-Keynesianism are not the only currents on the left), so I posted a link to his article.

            Reply
    3. paulmeli

      The reality is that economic growth comes not from capitalism but from the processes of industrialization and urbanization…this is not something that can be fixed by fiscal stimulus.

      Fallacy of composition?

      An understanding of MMT informs us (if we’re listening) that fiscal stimulus can be used to purchase idle or unutilized production, including labor, for sale in the currency of issue.

      Recessions are caused by contractions in demand, which can always be alleviated through fiscal spending. The capacity to produce is there, the income to consume is not.

      Also, you (or whomever you’re quoting) seem to have forgotten about WWII.

      …unhindered fiscal stimulus through money printing) alone can’t push an economy along indefinitely.

      How about demonstrating that this is in fact something MMT implies. It doesn’t, and it’s obvious most commentators haven’t bothered to read much of the literature (nor has the source your quoting from), or even blog posts by MMT academics.

      it misleads the labour movement away from fundamental change.

      What kind of fundamental change is possible if you think you’re out of money?

      MMT is a framework for analyzing money flows, not a political system. The “fundamental change” he’s referring to must be accomplished through politics. Ignorance of finance won’t be helpful in that fight.

      This is the big problem with the so-called “left”. Somewhere along the line the left decided that finance was beneath them, chose to ignore it, and gave up whatever political power it had.

      There is a pattern emerging whereby people make MMT seem way more complicated than it is. It isn’t. It also doesn’t cure the common cold.

      Reply
      1. RMO

        A pretty weak article from Roberts – he’s misrepresenting what MMT says, either out of ignorance or deliberately as a rhetorical tactic, and then attacks it based on his flawed representation.

        Reply
      2. John

        I don’t follow what you’re saying is the fallacy of composition. And your explanation is tautological. You claim that a recession is caused by a lack of demand, but what causes the lack of demand? Not enough “income to consume.” But why isn’t there enough income to consume? Because there’s a recession. This is the problem with Keynesianism. It doesn’t resolve the contradictions of capitalism, and it assumes that any recessions are a natural part of the business cycle (animal spirits). What drives an economy is profitability. Without profitability, an economy is not healthy. Fiscal stimulus can soften the blow and keep things chugging along, but if it does not restore profitability, the economy will continue to be mired in recession. This is why the 1970’s and 80’s were so bad. The rise of Germany and Japan had created a global crisis of overproduction/under-utilization of capacity in manufacturing, causing the rate of profit to fall. Fiscal stimulus couldn’t change that. The only good periods since (Clinton and Bush II years) were from asset bubbles (stock market and real estate, respectively).

        The issue isn’t the left ignoring finance; it’s the opposite. The left has become too fixated on finance and ignores the contradictions in the real economy that actually caused the crisis. The ’08 financial crash was simply the catalyst.

        And regarding the “fundamental change,” I think he’s referring to organized labor seizing the means of production and nationalizing the ‘commanding heights.’ Certainly much more fundamental than putting more money into the economy to keep the system going (and subsidize Chinese firms).

        Reply
        1. Left in Wisconsin

          1. This is a good point and one too often glossed over by MMT: it makes a huge difference what that government spending is spent on. The fact that governments are not constrained by deficits does not mean that all government spending is of equal value. I’m not sure there are any MMT-ers that would deny this but it often goes unstated. But if the government invests “productively,” there is no arbitrary limit to how much it can spend.

          2. The 1970s weren’t that bad in retrospect and, to the extent they were, it seems that the oil shocks – truly exogenous shocks – were the prime culprit. The first part of the 1980s were bad, a combination of the Volker interest rate shock and the effects of Japanese competition. And this is when we really began to see the transition to portfolio firm management. In part, this was because there was no point in further manufacturing investment because no US manufacturing investment was cost-effective vs. the Japanese (and then Koreans and then Chinese). This continues to today.

          Maybe that bolsters your point: US MNC profits are not driven by US production. In that sense, it is the lack of profitability that drives lack of investment. But, again, the firms are profitable, more profitable than ever. And a Keynesian would argue that the prime driver of lack of investment is lack of confidence in future profits, which seems justified based on the lack of past profits.

          Reply
          1. John

            1. I agree completely. And I’d add that fiscal stimulus is most beneficial when it improves the conditions for capital accumulation. This was the case for the New Deal because all the infrastructure it built in the West, coupled with the large-scale migration to the region, enabled the huge growth of industry and commerce there in the post-WWII era. My concern is that we don’t have such low-hanging fruit anymore. The Green New Deal will surely create a lot of temporary construction jobs, some permanent new jobs in public transportation, and a net increase in energy workers (renewable energy is more labor-intensive than the fossil fuel industry), but I don’t think this will be enough, in the long-term, to lift us out of our current malaise (and imagine how bad things will get after the stock market and real estate bubbles pop). That’s because the underlying problem–a fall of the rate of profit in the manufacturing sector due to a global crisis of overproduction/under-utilization of capacity–has not been solved, and fiscal stimulus alone can’t solve it, it can just alleviate the symptoms.

            In response to the rest, I can agree with much of this. But what I’ll say about profitability is one has to look at the difference in the rate of profit vs. the mass of profit. And we also have to look at the different sectors of the economy–I can imagine the rate of profit for the financial sector is much higher than the industrial sector, but the latter is perhaps more relevant here. One more detail would be the amount of income that some industrial firms now gain from the effects of financialization (Ford and GM now make a lot of their money just off of the loans they issue to consumers).

            Reply
            1. Left in Wisconsin

              It might be worse than you think. Robert Gordon argues it wasn’t so much the New Deal as WW2 that drove profit and productivity growth after the war. In particular, the US gov spent virtually all of the money on investments in plant and equipment during the war and then basically just gave it for free to the corporations. It is not at all clear to me that without the war they would have made comparable investments.

              I think ultimately capitalism is doomed, though the time between now and then is likely to get horrifically bad. But the only way to justify trying to maintain the profitability of private corporations is to insist on social production – full employment, adequate provision of public goods, etc. – as part of the deal.

              Reply
              1. John

                Big fan of Gordon too.

                And I think the phrase “late capitalism” is very fitting. I’d like to bring up once again the example of Japan after 1990. This is the future of any capitalist economy after its asset bubble(s) have popped (barring some large source of external demand). Japan isn’t such a bad place to live though. If we redistribute our resources justly (not saying that Japan does), 0-1% GDP growth every year isn’t so awful. The question is whether or not the populace will put up with it. Americans are very addicted to 2-3% growth rates, and I’m afraid that anything less than that will only lead to more right-wing “populists” like Trump.

                Reply
  2. NotTimothyGeithner

    I’m inspired by these logos. Look how much money can be raised. Enough to hire a person to design a logo. The first step for running for office is to get your name out there.

    Also is “Kamala Harris For the People” a television show?

    This is a rule general. Don’t put red in signs! Its hard to read, even if you are Cory Booker and want to send a message to your former charter school associates.

    “One Nation, One Destiny” Does he mean entropy? Or just settle for the sun expanding…eesh…who writes this garbage.

    Reply
      1. dcblogger

        I am interested to see what happens to the Marianne Williamson campaign. I have not read her books, but everyone else has. I am tempted to put her in the clown car, but she could be a surprise performer. Also she is another voice for truly progressive policies, building critical mass for progressive victory. So lets see how she does.

        Reply
        1. Pat

          Funnily enough I would be more likely to put Marianne Williamson in the category of authors who sell a lot of books that don’t actually get read. (It is a wide category, for instance I think Obama also falls into that category.)

          Reply
        2. Chris Cosmos

          Williamson’s claim to my heart is that she touches on the most important aspect of our malaise which fundamentally moral and spiritual. We live in a culture of narcissism where real action on ANY major policy issue we have is, at this time impossible, not just because all parts of our government are systemically corrupt but because this corruption is in the heart of the American people who don’t care if the planet is on fire, that the rich are getting all the money, that their kids may not have a civilization to live in, that children in our country are suffering from a lack of resources and continual trauma. Without values, which we require not just as a civilization but as individuals, all other issues are irrelevant. Corruption will simply gobble everything up as it has been doing for some years. We don’t have any chance of righting things until we start having a conversations about morality and that’s what Williamson is trying to do. I know, sadly, that most people on what’s left of the left don’t like spirituality or mysticism but without it we have not one f*cking chance in hell to bring the population to its senses or solve any collective problem you can name.

          Reply
          1. jrs

            Don’t care or not willing to budget the time to get heavily involved, or not willing to have their heads beat in or lose their jobs to get involved? Those may not be noble either, but they aren’t entirely equivalent to don’t care. Do you imagine people will be more willing to get involved if they are promised what exactly, heaven? nirvana? Mostly people are living the lives they are conditioned to live in this society, but with a lot of real external pressures as well.

            Reply
            1. Chris Cosmos

              Of course, but that’s not enough now. We have examples from our past of people who were not entirely obsessed with materialism, hedonism, comfort and security. Martin Luther King comes to mind. The situation today DEMANDS almost heroic activity starting with self-transformation (heaven, nirvana if you will) to a live based on love not fear.

              Reply
          2. jrs

            and actually no I usually don’t care that much what anyone’s religious or spiritual beliefs are in politics, I care about political beliefs because then one can be a political ally. But if what’s left of the left don’t like spirituality and mysticism and have good values (well many of them do) then clearly it’s not necessary in order to have good values.

            Reply
            1. Chris Cosmos

              Look leftists may have good values but, generally, they don’t extend beyond the left ghetto because most can’t articulate the BASIS of their values. If you want to influence others you need to have some common values and be able to articulate, in some way, the metaphysics that lay beyond those values. Most values stem from spiritual insights not materialism. I think all this comes down to a failure to understand what spirituality is.

              Reply
          3. freedomny

            I agree with this. We have religion, but we actually don’t have morality. I’ve not read her books, but I’m curious to hear what she has to say.

            Reply
          4. c_heale

            I think you’re wrong. People do care about all these issues. Everyone has values, otherwise society wouldn’t exist. The problem lies in governments adopting neo-liberal values which are basically f*** you, I’ve got mine, and f*** the planet, too. Most people I know on the left have as much spirituality as people on the right.

            I’m starting to believe the fundamental problem, is that since industrialization, part of us, of humanity has started worshipping machines, and believing we are machines. We and all of life are far more than that.

            Reply
            1. Chris Cosmos

              Yes, I agree. As Jacques Ellul noted some time ago the problem with technology is that we focus on the mechanical part of the human organism by reproducing it in the material world. We are much, much more than stimulus response machines.

              Reply
        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Also she is another voice for truly progressive policies,

          The word “spiritual” was a trigger for me; I assumed she was a snake-oil merchant.

          It has long seemed to me that a spiritual awakening of some sort would be helpful the GND, but one that’s acceptable to me would probably involve some sort of animism, so probably not acceptable at scale. Then again, you’d think that Christian stewardship would be getting some traction, but apparently not.

          Reply
          1. amfortas the hippie

            radical pluralism with respect to the numinous.
            see: huxley’s “perennial philosophy”: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Perennial_Philosophy
            or zimmer-bradleys “all the gods are one”.
            both with a healthy dose of socratic circumspection/agnosticism.
            different lenses to look at the same thing.
            i prefer french intensive with raised beds— mom insists on neat rows. our veggies go into the same pot.
            certainty and its resulting intolerance is where we screw it all up.

            Reply
          2. Procopius

            I dunno, my reading of the Great Awakening in the nineteenth century is that it was not so great. I may have my timelines confused, but didn’t that coincide with the rise of Andrew Jackson? Was that ‘spiritual?’

            Reply
    1. Richard

      I wish tulsi’s stood out a little more
      she certainly does
      uninspiring is right except for ‘one nation one destiny’ which inspires gorge to rise.
      Slogans will not focus group very well this year, I think

      Reply
      1. polecat

        I was captivated by Gabbard’s LoGo … at once a ‘new-day sunrise .. and a hydrogen bomb at the moment of detonation ! ALL coalesced in-between the letters U and L …

        It’s Brilliant !! It hits both the ‘Hope for a good future’ AND ‘The Fear of Amaggedon’ buttons, in a very subtle way …

        That’s my shrinky bernaysian take, anyway. As for WARREN …. all I can come up with, is ‘RABBITS !’

        Reply
    2. foghorn longhorn

      The logos look just like the one Beto had, fwiw.

      Pretty odd they are all basically the same, could use a graphics program update it appears.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        I have no idea who .. ‘JULIAN’ is .. but ‘one nation, one destiny’ slogan … when I read that, all that comes to mind is .. KHAN!!!!

        “In the 20th Century, I was a Prince ! … with Power over MILLIONS !!”

        Reply
    3. Roger Smith

      No doubt arresting marijuana smokers gave her joy, too! So it’s all good. The circle of law enforcement.

      HAHA! Fantastic. I really wish Gabbard would have included the Hibiscus in there behind the right or left side.

      Reply
    4. Pavel

      After looking at these logos I came up with my own… a bonfire image. Let’s burn the whole g.d. thing down and start again. I suspect if that were the party’s motto it would get a huge amount of support.

      Bah bloody humbug. I like Tulsi for her very sincere anti-war message, but already note how the NYT and others are shadow banning her or whatever the phrase is. God forbid there be an anti-military-industrial candidate!

      Reply
  3. Another Scott

    That Elizabeth Warren story made me sad. If I wanted mindless attacks on Trump, I’d watch Rachel Maddow. I remember hearing and reading her arguments about bankrupcty and the two-income trap and thinking how interesting and thoughtful her work was. I find it hard to believe that Prof. Warren would like the way candidate Warren was (not) discussing the serious issues of the day.

    Warren, unlike many of the other Democrats, seems to have multiple ways to attack Trump without resorting to Trump Derangement Syndrome. She can talk about how he benefited from bankruptcy and walked away without consequences, while poor and middle class Americans aren’t so lucky. He got a second and third chance, why can’t the average American? She could paint Trump as pay-to-play much more easily than Harris, who should have to deal with the Mnuchin. She could attack Trump for decrying some monopolies while doing nothing to stop mergers like BB&T and SunTrust (I haven’t seen him do anything). These issues all seem to be up her comfort zone, and she has credibility in all of them.

    But this points to another problem for her as a candidate: what’s her base? Over the past four years, she has lost her luster with the left. The other women in the field appear to have stronger support and ideological alignment with professional women, who increasingly determine the winners of democratic primaries. I don’t see her as being the preferred choice of any minority groups either.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      But this points to another problem for her as a candidate: what’s her base?

      Upper class, college educated white women. I don’t think she has a viable path forward, but being positive, I’ll make two suggestions:

      -one, she presents a second potentially progressive voice in a field of people who are “better than Biden.”

      -two, her recent 23 and me debacle might make her more appealing to the Panera Democrats who liked HRC but maybe weren’t so hot on Obama…you know…the ones with Republican friends. People won’t vote for Sanders in a primary. Warren could be trying to get Sanders to say a 55% finish in the first couple of primaries. If he comes out with huge wins early, its over.

      She isn’t running as much as serving a purpose.

      Reply
      1. foghorn longhorn

        A big issue for Warren is the she may be the ‘whitest’ person in all of the USA.
        She should at least hop in a tanning booth and try to get some hue going if she is gonna claim American Indian heritage.

        Reply
      2. Another Scott

        I don’t think upper class, college-educated women are “her base.” Her base might be in these voters, but why should they pick her en masse over Harris, Klobuchar or Gillibrand? They all seem to have a longer history of acting in the interest of this group of primary voters.

        I’d also note that while this base is enough to win democratic primaries in Massachusetts (when was the last time their preferred candidate lost a primary in the Bay State?), it likely isn’t strong enough in many other states. I suspect that many people here know that.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Well…I don’t know about Klobuchar or GIllenbrand, but they aren’t going anywhere. I mean…but I don’t think the “woke” among us are exactly the “wokest” of people if you catch my drift…wink wink…Warren’s debacle probably made her more appealing to a subset of people in the Northeast. Boston isn’t exactly known for its history of positive race relations.

          My mom’s best friend was black and lived in Boston until she had to move to warmer climes for her health, and her little brother went to West Point. My mom went to the local ado for the future cadets in Eastern Mass. The family has a last name which happens to be the same name as a prominent family in Taxachussetts. The event was hosted by another famous family up there, and she asked everyone except the darker skinned people if they could point out the assumed scion. Mom said she had the distinct honor of pointing out the lone black teenager. The host’s face is why Harris might have trouble. Yes, this was 40 to 50 years ago, but its just become worse as they’ve become “woker.”

          Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Harris, Klobuchar or Gillibrand?

          Note that both Harris and Klobuchar have a law enforcement background, in keeping with the liberal Democrat embrace of conservatives I keep pointing to.

          FiveThirtyEight on Warren in Massachusetts:

          I calculated the difference between Warren’s and Clinton’s vote shares for all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts as well as the 255 voting precincts in the city of Boston….

          One clear trend is that Warren underperformed in extremely wealthy, highly college-educated communities…. I identified the state’s 12 upper-crustiest cities and towns. The list is a veritable where’s-where of elite Boston suburbs — and Warren did worse than Clinton in all 12.

          So where are the voters who love Warren? Here are the 10 cities and towns where she outran Clinton by the biggest margin… They have a lot in common. They are all small towns in Western Massachusetts. With a few exceptions, they have incomes lower than the statewide average. Most of them have fewer college graduates than average as well. And Trump improved upon Romney’s margin in all but one of them.

          Warren exhibited moderate strength in Massachusetts’s 10 youngest municipalities….

          There’s one demographic variable we haven’t mentioned yet, and it’s a big one in a Democratic primary: race. Both the places where Warren did especially well and the places where she did especially poorly were overwhelmingly white.11 How did Warren’s vote share compare with Clinton’s in Massachusetts’s predominantly nonwhite communities (yes, they do exist)? Overall, the differences were minimal, implying that Warren is no better, nor any worse, at wooing these voters than Clinton was.

          So perhaps Warren doing her campaign opener at the mill in Lowell wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

          OTOH, Thomas Frank liberals hate her. For some, that could be a plus.

          Reply
    2. Odysseus

      Warren’s base is anyone who wants to see sane financial systems. As a 47 year old white male in Tech, she is my first choice candidate because she gets the big things correct. Antifraud is important.

      Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I see Warren as a back bencher, and she’s too much of a nose to the grindstone type. She’s good when she pays attention, but what doesn’t enter her sphere doesn’t warrant attention.

          She’s very good at explaining relatively complex issues and putting them into context for main stream consumption. There is a criticism to be made the focus on fines at the CPB is misplaced energy over the need for a more criminal justice style approach, but she could be better. Politics is a morality game. Given the alternatives…

          It may not seem like much, but Warren’s willingness to explain an issue sets her apart from the Democratic Party’s preferred narrative of being SMRT because they hire SMRT people or “nerds” who seem to know nothing.

          AOC and Sanders (there are a few others) are better, but Liz is pretty good. She can be better. Political leaders are moral leaders at the end of the day. They hire experts if they need them.

          Reply
          1. notabanker

            What I struggle with here is what she says vs what actually happens. There is always a lot of bark but never any bite. She raises tons of money. Has she just never had the power to actually effect change / consequences? Or is she a neolib shill whose job it is to bark at the banks? She had oversight of TARP, set up CFPB, was heavily involved in Dodd-Frank. None of those things did anything meaningful for consumers. There were marginal benefits from Dodd-Frank that were mostly internal risk capitalization reforms. No one’s ever been prosecuted for anything unless they were a whistleblower or they scammed the banks themselves.

            I’m extremely skeptical here, but perhaps my expectations are just out of line.

            Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > What has she actually done?

          The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which at the very least shows Warren to be a skilled and effective bureaucratic infighter (i.e., an excellent Secretary of the Treasury for the Sanders administration :-)

          However, I don’t think all that much of the CPFB as a category. It’s not consumer protection that’s the issue, but worker exploitation, in the workplace (wages, working conditions, precarity) and elsewhere (debt, healthcare, screw-jobs everywhere you look, especially in the legal system).

          It wasn’t a failure to write contracts in plain English that caused the foreclosure crisis (though of course contracts that humans can read are good).

          Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Warren’s base is anyone who wants to see sane financial systems.

        This isn’t a base. The base is the people already in her back pocket or who like her already. You might like Warren (I like her. I don’t believe she’s Presidential material or she might be already be President), but she doesn’t exist outside of a relatively narrow population (upper class, white women) and Taxachussetts.

        She can build a base, but right now, its more of a wait and see approach with people who might agree with wanting to see a sane financial system.

        Reply
    3. Chris Cosmos

      Warren, and others are very conscious that there are several major constituencies that must be handled gently. First, of course, is the media and their owners and clients in the power structure who determine, it appears, what gets covered in what way by the mainstream. I’m not saying the mainstream is all one voice but they all represent some factions within the oligarchy. These forces are pro-(any) war, anti-labor and working class, anti-spiritual, anti-humanistic, pro-capitalist, pro-all the major power lobbies and so on. Second, are the American people who can now be reached through other than mainstream media on the internet like this site. You can’t totally piss of either one. Sanders must not say anything anti-war or end up, as he has said in the last cycle, like Ralph Nader. You might make anti-war hints but you cannot attack the US military without being whacked by both the power-elite and the people who love the military. Warren and Sanders both understand this and are very and must be careful.

      Having said all that, I think Warren has a chance–she’s younger than Sanders, more famous than Gabbard but I worry that’s she’s has too powerful an intellectual to catch on–Americans like people with good minds only if, like Obama, they affect some down home rhetoric–Warren is ultimately a nerd. I think she has a chance if she becomes more assertive and a bit funkier. As for constituency–since our cultural life is fast-changing I’m not sure anyone has a constituency except the right-wing Democrats who align completely with the oligarchs.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        I’m sorry, but I just can’t see Warren doing ANYTHING remotely Funky … she ain’t no Bootsy Collins, THAT’S for sure .. !

        Reply
        1. foghorn longhorn

          Instead of Cherokee affiliation, she should have claimed Wuktuwhiteokee.
          That might have got off the ground.
          As mentioned above, what has she done?
          Tulsi-Bernie, Bernie-Tulsi is something that makes sense and something the young folks can get behind.

          Reply
          1. John k

            Bernie is the nominee. Tulsi has no chance of winning this cycle.
            There will be pushback if he picks tulsi, he would have to just tough it out.

            Reply
      2. woof

        never thought there’d be a politician more awkward and physically dispossessed of themselves in public than Richard Nixon. Warren doesn’t inspire confidence even when her ideas do.

        Reply
    4. Carey

      E. Warren’s saying that Trump! “may not be a free man” in 2020 makes me think bad thoughts, and not about DT. Is her judgment really this bad? The word “goofy” comes
      to mind.

      She made a lot of pointed sense on Maddow, but man.. Cherokee Budweiser TDS

      Yeah, goofy.

      Reply
  4. Henry Moon Pie

    Re: Corey Robin and Studebaker–

    I don’t know about beer track and wine track, but it seems to me that Robin’s non-ideological candidates are auditioning for the lead in the “That’s Entertainment XLVI,” and what the producers are looking for is someone who is able to screw over the citizenry and make them like it.

    Reply
    1. laughingsong

      On Studebaker, I quibble a bit with:
      “Is this a serious candidate? Does polling and/or favorability data suggest they could really win, or are they running to promote themselves?”

      Not strictly necessary, in one way: if they are popular enough to cause a buzz, and their message moves the Overton window a smidge. I am talking about how Bernie got inequality and Single Payer/M4A into the mix, and (hopefully) this campaign, the usual suspects are now going to have to defend 4EverWar-RegimeChangeCuzOil because of Tulsi.

      I would love to see Tulsi inspire other anti-war candidates the way Bernie inspired Dem-Soc candidates to run. And I can’t wait to see the hawks defend their right to go stomping around the world like a herd of 50-foot toddlers. Seriously, lads, 3-year-olds can destroy too. It takes some maturity and discipline to actually build something!

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        Agreed. It’s been a long time since anyone in Congress screamed “no more war” good and loud so the American public can hear it.

        I suspect it’s going to resonate, whether or not Gabbard’s campaign catches on. The public may not vote for her, but many will grow to respect her.

        Also, make the war-mongers show themselves in the open. There’s value in that alone.

        Reply
  5. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

    Buttigieg? Delaney? Marianne? Yang? Who ARE these people? I try to remain connected, but without searching online, I haven’t the foggiest.

    Reply
    1. Chris Cosmos

      This brings us to the subject of who gets coverage, who doesn’t, and why. That in itself is interesting. One thing is certain we have a dramatic realignment in this country going on. The splits are no longer liberal vs. conservative there are many more and very different voices out there and many candidates is a good thing. Another thing may be certain people may be less likely to go for the lesser of two evils at this point–but I could be wrong.

      Reply
      1. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

        Normally a fair point, but I look quite warily upon anything making it to an official CNN twitter feed. Other than Gabbard (and I have my reservations with her), everyone I recognize on that list is absolute weak sauce.

        Reply
      2. notabanker

        Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong here, because I would very much like to be, but many voices and many candidates is not a good thing. The right voice and the right candidate is.

        The DNC created the super delegate system to specifically combat grassroots organizing. This was their stated objective. Those delegates represent 15% of the nominating vote. That means a coalition of 36% can decide who is on the ticket vs Trump.

        It sure seems to me this slate is specifically designed to pander to special interest identity groups for the purposes of diluting the primary vote where turnouts are historically 30%. 12% of the electorate is all you need to win the party nomination, if you belong to the powers that be. 1-5% could get you a sweet appointment if you pledge to the right coalition. Conversely, a non-PAC funded candidate like Sanders will have to capture at least 51% of the delegates via votes or coalition to have a shot at not bringing the super delegates into play. If the DNC even lives up to the agreement they made in 2016.

        Harris supports the GND? Really? I mean come on. They are going to parade as many progressive imposters as they can to splinter that vote, and they don’t have to have big numbers to be successful.

        Reply
        1. Chris Cosmos

          Well, in “normal” times I would say you have a good point–but the situation today is very, very fluid as I see it. I’ll give you a quick example. Back in the 2008 campaign I supported Kucinich and everyone else said–but he can’t win. I said I know he probably can’t win but if you support him and give him some votes he will have some delegates to bargain with so that the eventual nominee will have to make a deal with K. Instead most progressive went over to the con artist Obama. Ok, whatever. But today that argument is much weaker. We don’t know who is electable–f*cking Trump got elected so, in my view, anyone can get elected if they hit the right notes during the debates and primary season. Trump won the RP nomination because he had swag and he was not part of the hated System and he won the Presidency because he outsmarted Clinton and this ought to be clear. I believe there are a number of candidates who could come out of nowhere and win so it is to our advantage to vote for and support that candidate that supports who we are and what we think is the right direction to go in. We should welcome this bizarre world we live in because change can happen–whereas in 2008 the system insured that it was impossible for any major change to happen.

          Reply
          1. jrs

            Yea some political experience is a good thing (and Tulsi does have some, others are more extensive). But yea, f*cking Trump got elected, all bets are off. Now of course the election of Trump was a disaster, so he kind of points out what not to do (if we want someone decent). But he did get elected.

            Reply
        2. cocomaan

          They are going to parade as many progressive imposters as they can to splinter that vote, and they don’t have to have big numbers to be successful.

          Enter Hillary Clinton, Stage Right. Far to the Right of these others.

          Reply
      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > many more and very different voices out there and many candidates is a good thing

        A Gish Gallop of candidates is a good thing for establishment Democrats. Not so good for “serious” (Studebaker) insurgents, since it puts them into a war of attrition with a gaggle of forgettable figures.

        I’m thinking Warren made a mistake to declare early. because now she’s got to fight all the other logo candidates, who are also trying to differentiate themselves. Maybe Sanders should wait for the pack to thin out before stepping in.*

        Sanders v. Klobuchar, Warren, Harris, Buttegeig, Booker, Gillibrand et al. is a very different race from Sanders v. (say) Harris.

        NOTE * It has also occurred to me that Sanders is struggling to assemble a sufficiently diverse staff to hold identitarian whining down to a dull roar (without ending up with establishment moles in his campaign, either). Probably not easy.

        Reply
        1. cocomaan

          That’s a losing game for Sanders.

          Better off just never saying you’re sorry. These identity politics worriers smell fear.

          Reply
    2. jrs

      humanity first is kind of a cool slogan, I guess I should find out who yang is.

      “GEARING UP FOR 2020, ANDREW YANG LAUNCHES A NATIONAL HUMANITY FIRST TOUR TO BRING HIS UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME MESSAGE TO WORKING AMERICANS”

      alright that’s why you’ve never heard of him, outside the acceptable discourse right there (also really too inexperienced, but considering the whatever the heck even happened we have in the white house now, no wonder everyone’s running).

      From his website:
      The Freedom Dividend, a $1000/month basic income provided to Americans aged 18-64, no strings attached;
      Medicare for All, ending the fear of medical bankruptcy while removing one of the largest costs associated with starting a small business; and
      Human-Centered Capitalism, changing the focus of our economic measurement from GDP to numbers that reflect the well-being of the average American.

      Reply
      1. Briny

        Those certainly work for me! Which, I suppose shows how far this ex-military, California Libertarian has been radicalized. I can even see how to make the budget numbers work. Ending our forever wars would have to be part of it… Thank you!

        Reply
      2. Plenue

        He also runs a ‘nonprofit’ that wants us to eat training and turn us all into startup entrepreneurs. Wolf in sheep’s clothing as far as I’m concerned.

        Reply
      3. Massinissa

        ‘Human centered capitalism’ sounds like an oxymoron, I think Green New Deal is better PR wise, but M4A is always good.

        Reply
  6. Duck1

    The bank ultimately blamed smoke in a data center.” • Smoke in a data center? Huh?

    Actually it was the mirrors that were to blame.

    Reply
      1. Clive

        Well, they all set out with good intentions or at least stated good intentions. And perhaps a few of them might even be able to deliver on that, given a chance. But some of them are almost setting themselves up for failure and destined to be just another disappointment — and you can’t help get a sense it’s almost intentional.

        Harris is the stand out there, but even Warren — if she did absolutely everything she set out to do, so modest are the aspirations, when viewed objectively, you get nothing more audacious than some incremental tweaking. Is that really going to make anything better? Are are we now so conditioned to see “not any worse” as a step up?

        Reply
        1. Angie Neer

          Thank you for that, Clive, and I’m sorry my request for context needed some context. I simply didn’t know the origin of the photo you posted! It’s a marker of my cynicism that although the fella on the billboard strongly resembles Richard Pryor, I considered it within the realm of possibility that this was a genuine attack ad of some sort.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            As Tim says below, it is Richard Pryor from “Brewster’s Millions.” Pryor also skewered politics on his short lived television show. He portrayed the first Black President, back in 1977.
            Substitute the head of Candidate ‘X’ for Pryor’s and it would be a great attack billboard.

            Reply
      2. Tim

        Movie: Brewster’s Millions. Object was to spend as much money as possible in a short a period of time as possible to inherit a massive fortune. So he ran for election recommending people vote for “none of the above”. Everybody liked him so much he started to win the polls, at which point he had to bow out.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          “None of the Above” would do very well, if they were on our ballots.

          If you really want to start a new party, call it that.

          Reply
      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Probably WP Role for contributors vs subscribers. Clive seems quite responsible, although maybe it’s just recognition of his good looks.

        Reply
  7. L

    Whacking the Clintonite hornet’s nest with a stick….

    Which is interesting because According to the Daily Mail (h/t The Guardian). Both Klobuchar and Harris sought, and received, Clinton’s counsel (and pocket endorsement?) before announcing their candidacy.

    While they may score points off of her mistakes in passing they still felt it necessary to make the pilgrimage and kiss the ring. I wonder what they think they got for it?

    Reply
    1. Richard

      Introductions to donors they haven’t met yet? Assurances from them to the machine that they won’t stray too far policy-wise, and from the machine to them that they wouldn’t then be smeared and red-baited? Your conspiratorial?-no-not-really guess is as good as mine.
      What does clinton actually have to give? Protection from a smear machine mostly. Also, access to a lot of donors, consultants and fixers who did her no good in ‘16. But why anyone would want that, idk

      Reply
    2. Mark Gisleson

      I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Clinton coached them on how to avoid being tarred with HRC’s mistakes.

      Klobuchar is probably the most health insurance/health industry friendly candidate running, yet has not taken any money from insurance or medical PACs. (I’d love to see which industries her major donors work in but that would take a lot of research). Lots of scrubbing has been done to make old faces look fresh.

      They are going to do everything they can to hijack the revolution and when that fails, I’m guessing they’ll find a way to work with Trump.

      Reply
      1. Another Scott

        The largest publicly traded company (by revenue) in Minnesota isn’t 3M, General Mills or even Target, it’s UnitedHealth. Medtronic had the largest tax-inversion in history. I really doubt that she hasn’t taken a lot of money from employees of these companies.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Always copy your comment before pressing “Post Comment.” The internet is a hostile computing environment, and if there’s a glitch, you can paste the comment somewhere to save it and try again.

          Reply
    3. Chris Cosmos

      The answer should be obvious. Clinton heads a network of completely ruthless operatives that in the Machiavellian world of US politics are very useful. I think Harris, in particular, is very attuned in that way of doing politics and, so far, its worked–she’s been getting good coverage from the mainstream which is closely aligned with Clinton and her gang.

      Reply
      1. notabanker

        To the extent that mainstream is even relevant. Mainstream went all in on Clinton in 15/16 and we see how that worked out. People are even more skeptical of it now. Harris has been the subject of complete takedowns on social media. I haven’t seen one iota of support for her that isn’t generated by a PR firm.

        Reply
        1. Chris Cosmos

          Clinton didn’t make it because she was incompetent at elections. She should have won but was, frankly, too stupid and deluded. The operatives are still useful. But you’re right we live at a time when the conventional approach is not very good. However, Harris is very clever and will manage to be on the right and left at the same time maybe because those classification are completely confused at this point.

          Reply
      1. polecat

        ‘sigh’ .. I meant HELL ….. H • E • Double L .. HELL !

        Purgatory is for when they need an extended staycation in an elevator.

        Reply
    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Both Klobuchar and Harris sought, and received, Clinton’s counsel (and pocket endorsement?) before announcing their candidacy.

      “Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me.”

      Reply
  8. Tommy S.

    regarding ‘evolution is not…” kropotkin wrote about this very well a hundred years ago…this anarchist still doesn’t get his due…

    Reply
    1. Dan Mangan

      This is why Huckleberry Finn was NOT included in the list of the 100 best American novels published recently by NPR.

      Reply
    1. barefoot charley

      Why doesn’t any story note how many millions of dollars AIPAC pays its representatives every year? I mean, I know why, but would it be less anti-Semitic if we call their benjamins money? (I didn’t even know Ben Franklin was Jewish!)

      Reply
      1. Monty

        They made a statement that they spend zero dollars on political campaigns. I haven’t looked into it… Maybe it’s just the threat of being dragged through the mud and having your career ruined by their omnipresent goon squad that keeps everyone in line?

        Reply
        1. integer

          The Best Congress AIPAC Can Buy Foreign Policy Journal

          AIPAC itself does not make political contributions and is in fact legally prohibited from doing so. Instead it uses its considerable resources ($3 million annual lobbying budget) to link current and aspiring members of Congress with pro-Israel donors. AIPAC’s projection of invincibility encourages political candidates and officeholders to accept pro-Israel contributions or risk seeing those funds go to their opponents. For example, former Congressman Paul Findley and former Senator Charles Percy lost their seats for failure to adhere to the AIPAC line.

          The AIPAC-led pro-Israel lobby is probably the strongest, best organized and most effective lobby network in Washington DC. For the 2015-2016 election cycle, the pro-Israel network has already dispensed $4,255,136 in contributions. The largest single amount ($259,688) went to Senator Charles Schumer of New York.

          Among interest groups that lobby on behalf of a foreign government, none ranks higher in contributions to members of Congress than the pro-Israel lobby.

          Reply
          1. amfortas the hippie

            its crazy the were not allowed to question a foreign gov purchasing our government.
            at least if its israel.
            ….for all the hooplah about russia….lol

            Reply
      1. barefoot charley

        I’ll be pleased if any actual progressives dare defend her–which to be fair would only lead to another reality-tv screaming contest, and more Democratic disarray, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Look what it did for the Republicans!

        I bless the holy fools who would steal the Democratic Party from its owners.

        Reply
        1. nippersdad

          There is the question of Citizens United and the First Amendment that would have to be deepsixed to continue the farce that AIPAC is the only legitimate lobbying organization for Israel, something that J Street is going to be really annoyed by. Progressives will ultimately have to close ranks.

          I don’t see how they can sidestep it now; it was written in the stars when McCarthy decided to make it his mission in life to split the Party on this issue. There is something deeply angering about being called anti-semitic by those who consort with actual Nazis. I am really looking forward to the affray.

          Reply
          1. Darius

            Ilhan Omar is smart. In her position, every day is a tremendous education. I hope she learns that, if she’s going to take a punch at AIPAC, it had better be strategic, and she had better be sure it lands.

            Reply
      1. Adam

        Why on Earth are you posting this? Ignoring the fact that the content seems like something you would in spam email, the link itself is laughable. It can’t even decide whether it means 89 Senators/Congresspeople or 89% of Senators/Congresspeople. It then goes to list about only 40, some of which no longer hold office, and includes Bernie Sanders, who has specifically debunked that.

        This isn’t a list of dual citizens, it’s basically just a list of Jews who have served in the house and Senate at some point.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Actually whether it is Israelis, Germans, British or whoever, it is a really bad idea to have people owing two or more allegiances deciding laws for a country. That is why the US Constitution goes out of its way to say that the President must be a natural-born American citizen. It would have said the same for the Senate and the Congress probably but in that era, natural-born Americans who could serve in that jobs were still a small pool. I picked on Israel here as it is the most notorious case whose lobbyists – AIPAC – has never had to register as a Foreign Agent in spite of its out-sized influence.

          Reply
      2. integer

        Dual Citizens in Congress? (part I) CounterPunch

        Why is it important for citizens to know if their representatives in Congress are dual citizens? Because both real and apparent conflicts of interest erode the public trust. If there are dual citizens in Congress or in top levels of the Executive Branch, citizens may reasonably demand that all foreign citizenship be renounced as a condition of high political office.

        At the level of individual members, transparency is essential. For example, a constituent should know whether or not another state loyalty is involved when his or her representative speaks out on a major issue, such as on military assistance to Israel or recognition of Palestine as a state. Only if we know who are the dual citizens in Congress and what are their second countries, can we intelligently assess the credibility of their policy statements and actions.

        Dual Citizens in Congress? (part II) CounterPunch

        This week I received the information I sought, in the form of a telephone call from a legal officer of the Library of Congress. After reminding me that Congress (and the CRS by its connection with Congress) is exempt from FOIA requests, he verbally confirmed my suspicion that CRS does not currently collect dual citizenship data…

        Without transparency on dual citizenship, Americans remain in the dark, free to speculate on which representatives may have divided loyalties. Current entries on the Internet reveal a wide range of such speculation. The lack of transparency is dangerous, for it erodes trust in government, creating credibility doubts where there should be none and allowing some conflicts to continue undetected, without question or debate.

        Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks for the Omar link. I was in the meltdown when it was happening but I couldn’t bear to post on it, it was all so stupid. So far as I could tell, Omar’s comments were innocuous to everybody but AIPAC, its assets, the Bibi’s Foreign Ministry, correct?

      Reply
      1. Kasia

        Omar’s comments were completely innocuous but I would say the Pro-Israeli Industrial Complex’ (PIIC) hysterical reaction was a Donor Class warning shot aimed at AOC and her anti-donor video she recently released. While the Donor Class hate the white-all-too-white Deplorables and preach “diversity”, in reality, on certain issues, they will allow no wavering from established dogma–for example on Israel and related subjects. They want surface diversity but core conformity. The tool they use to manage “diversity” is the smear of anti-Semitism. Although not diverse himself, Jeremy Corbyn certainly does to some extent represent an increasingly diverse population’s view of Israel, and so he has been under a barrage of artillery fire from the PIIC in Britain. He seems to handle it pretty well with occasional, plausibly deniable trolling exercises.

        So this public lynching or Omar is in fact a warning to AOC to watch her step on Israel and attacks on the Donor Class. I noticed in AOC’s video she attacks “oil and gas” and “big pharma” but steers clear of attacking the banks or Wall Street. And I’ve never heard her mention “neo-cons” or discuss US never-ending wars so she is wisely flying under the radar.

        I also cannot find any evidence that AOC has supported Omar in this AIPAC dispute. Ironically enough, the only political grouping that has for the most part enthusiastically supported Omar’s blindly obviously true statements on AIPAC is the alt-right.

        It will be interesting how the Donor Class manage the actual diversity of opinion in the US on Israel and related subjects that will inevitably arise from diversity of people and representation. The classic strategy is to support your friends and attack your enemies. Kamala Harris is a trusted set of diversity hands for the donor class and will get their support. If AOC wants to get anywhere she will have to take on the Donor Class and win. So far she seems to be avoiding direct confrontation which is not necessarily a bad strategy for now.

        Reply
    1. Cal2

      Trump campaign slogan:

      “Biden, the man who broke the back of student borrowers.
      Trump, the man who got them a job.”

      Reply
  9. SerenityNow

    Regarding the Green New Deal–a lot of the discussion seems to be hyperventilating about high speed trains when one of our biggest problems with sustainability is continuing to subsidize private motorized vehicles and sprawl development. Spending billions on rail won’t make a huge difference if we are still spending even more billions on highways. Why don’t we focus on fixing what we have before going all in on something new?

    Reply
    1. polecat

      The idea of just switching to EVs, and all will be right is delusion … to swap-out the entire U.S. fleet of gas/diesel vehicles with EVs is not sustainable, and would mean enormous additional negative externalities to get there. As stated above by SerenityNow, rail (high-speed), .. but also electric light-rail, trolleys, and buses … is where the advantages lie – “more bang for the communal buck” ..

      Reply
      1. SerenityNow

        You make a great point, and we’ve seen it discussed on NC before that EVs/AVs are not the magic bullet that so many people think they are. But many in government/planning seem to truly believe that we are just on the cusp of having everything solved by technology.

        Reply
        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          I’ve been rolling my eyes about fleet replacement for a few years now. Two to three hundred million vehicles. But vehicles sized like tuktuks or smaller could do a lot to fill in changes in transportation. Encouraging the bike industry to converge on standards for electric bikes the way it has with previous technologies would be good.

          Here in Florida, a couple of 80 mph trains to cover the mind-numbing distance between all the major cities might actually turn this place into a state.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Encouraging the bike industry to converge on standards for electric bikes the way it has with previous technologies would be good.

            What a good idea. Do you have an links on that? Could you send them to me?

            Adding, 80mph trains? That slow? Basically, 1930’s-level tech?

            Reply
            1. Mo's Bike Shop

              Despite nym, I’m not in the industry-just became my own wrench out of exapseration–so would not know how to move standards. I’m afraid that’s just a bright idea that’s been rolling around my head.

              Conversion choices from simple to hardest are front wheel, rear wheel, and mid-drive attached to the bottom bracket. Since conversion kits are attaching to existing frames, they are pretty standardized mechanically but not so much at the battery/controller point. On the other hand most dedicated ebikes are such customized beasties that you’ll want to check the history of the company before committing.

              1930’s-level tech?

              I wouldn’t mind faster but I’d like something I can afford to use personally and sooner rather than later. Just anything would improve over hours of concentrating on asphalt and savanna. Speed is far less important if I can use the travel time for my own interests.

              Reply
      2. Cal2

        EVs, Lithium batteries?

        We’d have to invade Bolivia to rescue their people,
        and their massive lithium deposits, from Socialism.

        Too bad they don’t have a common border with Venezuela, we could have a common Gauliter running them for the price of one.

        Reply
        1. Big Tap

          Note that the U.S. has toppled before and tried again in 2008 to change the Bolivian government. “Stop backing illegitimate rebellions” sure sounds familiar.

          “The alleged support by the United States of wealthy landowners, business leaders, and their organizations tied to the violent uprising in eastern Bolivia has led U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg’s expulsion from La Paz and the South American government’s demands that the United States stop backing the illegitimate rebellion.”

          https://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-zunes/us-intervention-in-bolivi_b_127528.html

          Reply
    2. BobWhite

      Hmmm, not sure where the supposed emphasis on trains and fleet replacement is coming from, other than what the MSM outlets tend to focus on.
      As I read the actual document, the only relevant part I see is here:
      >
      (H) overhauling transportation systems in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible, including through investment in
      (i) zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing;
      (ii) clean, affordable, and accessible public transit; and
      (iii) high-speed rail;
      >

      It seems like an attempt by MSM to detract from this useful plan, to avoid discussing the important topic of recognizing and fixing serious climate change problems (if not already too late).

      Read for yourself:
      https://ocasio-cortez.house.gov/sites/ocasio-cortez.house.gov/files/Resolution%20on%20a%20Green%20New%20Deal.pdf

      If I were to add anything to the GND, it would have a plan to deal with the #1 contributer to greenhouse gases… animal agriculture.

      Reply
  10. BoulderMike

    I have comments on two topics from above:
    (1) Amazon – My guess is Amazon has thousands, probably tens of thousands of LLC’s to hide the fact that the more it appears that they have diversity in terms of vendor/third party sellers on their site, the less and less actual vendor/third party sellers there actually are. They are running third party sellers and/or manufacturers out of business and replacing them with Amazon owned, otherwise branded LLC’s.
    (2) Wells Fargo – where to start? As a soon to be former customer of Wells Fargo I can attest to their long standing and continual fraudulent and/or incompetent behavior. Regarding the Data Centers, even many, many years ago when I worked briefly for now defunct global data center company, FirstWorld, they being the early version of what we now call the cloud, they had global redundancies built into their network. Even for small companies, not in the cloud, redundancy is standard operating procedure. Say 2 servers, one at the office, 1 at my home, for a really small firm. As company size increases and/or the business complexity and criticality increases, the absolute requirement for not only multiple redundancies, but also for them to be global increases. For financial activities, especially banking, it is unthinkable to not have global redundancy. As to maintenance in the Data Center; bull! If standard maintenance can cause a outage that is not handled by redundancy than as noted above, they don’t have redundancy, or worse, their redundancy has never been tested. Which brings me to my last point; as IT has become more outsourced and farmed out to contractors, both domestic and internationally, the resources coding have become more culturally biased towards not testing. Also, management encourages poor or no testing as testing cost a lot of money. You need redundant systems for testing (unit, system, performance, etc.). They need to be kept Production “like”, or they aren’t good indicators of impact on Production. Etc. Anyway, clearly testing was not done for whatever reason or this would never have happened.
    Finally, if Amfortas the Hippie is reading: I wish you and your wife all the best, and everything good, and that everything goes well with the surgery. I really enjoy reading your posts, and hope things go well.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      All I know is that I keep trying to buy things on ebay to avoid Amazon, and then the
      item ends up coming from- guess where- Amazon.

      No me gusta

      Reply
  11. Pelham

    I’ve never quite understood Marx’s statement that wages provide the means for workers to reproduce their labor power. Why would capitalists look that far ahead and shell out that much?

    Granted, they’d want to pay enough so a worker could just keep plodding from one day to the next. But reproducing labor power is a years-long process, and wages sufficient to ensure workers’ health and vigor for reproduction and more labor supply for the mill a few years hence is way beyond the quarterly-report horizon.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Because by the 1800s, post enclosure in Britain, there was a lot of migration to cities and slums grew rapidly. Wages were driven so low and working conditions were so bad it was a public health issue. Life expectancy was falling quite a bit compared to the pre-industrial era.

      If wages weren’t high enough, industrialists wouldn’t have a labor force to employ and imperialists wouldn’t be able to put together a decent army to fight in major wars. By 1900 or so, the elites realized that conditions were so bad, that it was becoming a problem.

      Control by the landowners and capitalists among the British elite was so complete and unchallenged that they had the freedom to think long-term, about things like empire and world domination. European rulings classes, like say, the Hapsburgs had been in charge for so long that they thought quite a bit about their legacy.

      Don’t confuse the much more recently ascendant culture among corporate executives who often take a smash-and-grab approach to leadership with the way things worked in Marx’s time. CEO tenure these days is only a few years in many cases. If you’re not going to be in charge very long, you’d better rob and steal whatever you can while you’ve got the chance.

      There’s definitely articles in the NC archives about the early industrial era and about shortening CEO tenures. I know I’ve read them here! :)

      Reply
      1. divadab

        Baden-Powell formed the boy scouts because the recruits for the Boer war were so unhealthy they made bad soldiers. The idea to rain boys to be better healthier soldiers.

        Reply
      2. John

        Great post, and I just wanted to add that a)the stock market was not nearly as developed then as it is now (and the quarterly reports have a strong effect on stocks, which is where much more of the world’s wealth lies than in the 19th century) and b)you have to look at the liability structure of corporations as well. Before the limited liability corporation, if your business venture went bankrupt, you could end up in debtors’ prison.

        Reply
    2. Darthbobber

      Marx actually deals at some length with situations in which the price of labor power is pushed even below the amount necessary for reproduction.

      This is also one of the reasons for government as an agent for the bourgeoisie as a whole, doing things that are in the common interest of the class but that the individual members of that class will not (and indeed cannot) do in their capacity as employers of labor power.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Marx actually deals at some length with situations in which the price of labor power is pushed even below the amount necessary for reproduction.

        Chapter and verse? It’s been a long time…

        Reply
        1. Darthbobber

          There’s a fairly long section that he illustrates with the English bakeries of the era, in which there was no shortage of new candidates for an early death due to immigration from the rural areas and the low countries, in spite of an age of death in the early 30s from that line of work.

          Not the only illustration, as I recall.

          He’s also at pains to render explicit the ceteris paribus assumptions that underlying his theorization. (that he’s assuming equal supply and demand to elucidate what happens even within those assumptions, but is well aware that such rarely happens.)

          Reply
          1. Left in Wisconsin

            I recall that somewhere in Capital is a long footnote about the French having to continuously lower the minimum height and weight standards for Army recruits – if I recall correctly from something like 5″8″ to 5″3″ or 5’4″ over a relatively short period in the early-middle of the 19th century because they could not find nearly enough recruits at the previous standard.

            Reply
    3. Alfred

      Because labor power has both individual and social forms, its reproduction occurs over both short and long terms, the former of which has more of a personal character and the latter more of a class one. In the short term, the labor power of a worker who is actually employed will be exhausted over the course of any given working day. That power must then be reproduced (by eating and sleeping, which mean using wages to buy provisions and rent a lodging) if any power is to be available for extraction from the same worker over the next day. A certain portion of the labor power thus reproduced on a daily basis must be reserved to furnish the stamina and other resources required for the reproduction of labor power over the longer term; namely, though the bodily production and then social reproduction (upbringing) of a subsequent generation of workers. All of the costs attending proletarian pregnancy and child-rearing must be paid by wages, since there is in principle no other means of defraying them. Interestingly, a given day’s wages are seldom the wages used literally to purchase the means of reproducing the labor power exhausted on that day. Instead, it is typically the wages earned on some previous day(s) that do so, those wages having been received on a payday falling after some delay during which — according to Marx — the worker has ‘lent’ his/her labor power to the capitalist against a promise of future ‘reimbursement’. In so rendering to the worker his/her ‘earnings’ the capitalist both blurs to his/her own advantage the distinction between labor and labor power, and insists that in fairness he/she can only pay for ‘labor received’, not ‘labor merely promised’. (That’s all from memory; please don’t take it at face value without checking the primary source. I apologize for leaving out what I more dimly remember of Marx’s analysis of the working day. I think he argued that part of the working day is nominally paid while another part of it nominally remains unpaid; yet the capitalist who pretends to purchase only some hours’ of ‘labor’ with wages accruing only during those ‘paid’ hours, in fact acquires all of the labor power reproduced during both the paid and unpaid portions of the previous day.)

      Reply
      1. Briny

        Been far too long here but under a labor theory of value, all of the return of value (essentially price of a unit of production) should accrue to labor. However, that isn’t the case in a capitalist system, one partial or complete, instead a certain amount is removed by the capitalist to form the return to capital. Thus the partial wage.

        What I do like about Marx is that you have to stand sideways and use a lens on examining the power relationships between actors in the realm of political-economy for the points to make sense. Or, at the least, that’s the only way it makes sense here.

        Reply
    1. barefoot charley

      I suppose it’s hardly worth quoting but, from the article above:

      “The AIPAC-led pro-Israel lobby is probably the strongest, best organized and most effective lobby network in Washington DC. For the 2015-2016 election cycle, the pro-Israel network has already dispensed $4,255,136 in contributions. The largest single amount ($259,688) went to Senator Charles Schumer of New York.”

      That was two years ago. We can hear how effective they are at pole-axing a Muslim congresswoman like a, er, whatever. And of course she’s just telling the truth, so she had to grovel in apology. Democrats in Disserarray!

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        Omar’s receipt of a swift, firm backhand and her acquiescence to being put in her place is a reminder of how weak her position is in the party and how strong AIPAC’s grip is on the commanding heights of the party.

        Yes, the left has gathered strength, and it’s causing nervousness within the democratic party, but it’s clear that any direct attacks on the castle won’t succeed, at least not yet. Keep building strength, assault the castle walls later.

        Reply
        1. nippersdad

          Castles are made by many small stones cemented together. The advent of the trebuchet showed that many small stones catapulted at a castle will quickly bring one down.

          Democrats hoarding their gunpowder didn’t do much against Bush, holding back on the stones now against AIPAC won’t do much better. And there is something so very Biblical about a good stoning that seems apropo in this case.

          Reply
        2. Darthbobber

          It’s also a reminder that before staking out a position it pays to give at least cursory consideration to how you’re going to respond if (in this case when) you’re attacked. And if the answer is that at that point you’re going to run away and apologize for going there in the first place, perhaps you might just take a pass in the first place. If you don’t make plays you aren’t willing to back, you’re less likely to wind up kowtowing.

          Reply
          1. johnnygl

            I wouldn’t be too critical of the retreat. Sometimes, it’s worth seeing how far you can go before you get zapped by the electric fence.

            The leaders of team dem went nuclear in an instant…threatening her committee seat. Retreating was the right move.

            Now omar know’s what sort of thing gets you zapped the hardest!

            Reply
            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              I thought the Omar episode was wonderfully clarifying.

              I don’t blame Omar for the apology; I think everybody knows it was an empty ritual, and if anything it makes her point for her even more strongly.

              Nice job, liberal Democrats, suppressing turnout in Michigan for 2020. First the engineered Ellison smear, now a beatdown from Pelosi.

              Reply
  12. Odysseus

    Do we have any data center readers? Does this story make sense?

    I’ve worked in datacenters before. Whether this makes sense depends a lot more on the business managers than the technical folk.

    When I worked at Yahoo!, a strict requirement for all services was that they be hosted in at least “two datacenters on two different continents”. So it’s possible to architect a corporation so that single-outages don’t hurt you. Wells Fargo should have that kind of global infrastructure, but they may be restricted by law in where they can harbor data.

    The supposed four-hour response time to a fire alarm is surprising. This kind of failure cascade is entirely plausible.

    “It starts to create a couple of errors,” Sloane continued. “The backup system recognizes that the first system corrects itself, and then the [backup] system thinks everything is OK, things get out of whack and the original system dies. Now, the backup system doesn’t know the status of the primary system and has a bunch of transactions it doesn’t know what to do with and can’t take over.”

    Sloane added that it’s unusual for a bank to have all its channels connected the way Wells did.

    Reply
    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Sloane added that it’s unusual for a bank to have all its channels connected the way Wells did.

      I think the relevant question is whether it is unusual to see a criminal organization do that.

      Reply
  13. Watt4Bob

    Normally, when fire supresion systems activate, it automatically trips the fire alarm systems as well.

    If the system thinks you have a fire, the fire department thinks so too.

    We’ve had the fire department respond to our locations due to people bumping into the device that detects movement of the main sprinkler system shut-off valve.

    There is also a switch that responds to drops in water pressure in the sprinkler system, same result, fire trucks on the way.

    So I don’t believe WF called the fire department four hours later, I believe it more likely that the fire department was on the phone moments after the system kicked in, even more likely they were on the scene within minutes of the event.

    Reply
    1. cm

      I worked in a data center, and completely do not buy WF’s explanations as to what happened.

      The obvious lack of redundancy in their production network is completely negligent.

      Reply
    2. JayKay

      Agreed. I have worked for multiple companies with mid to large sized data centers. The article says the suppression system was activated, which means Halon or some other chemical agent is dumped into the data center and everything is powered off immediately. You generally have to engage the fire department to ventilate the facility as data centers don’t train staff on SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) or other procedures required. Halon and it’s replacements effectively remove all of the oxygen from the air to extinguish a fire. Entering the area would fall under OSHA IDLH (immediate danger to life or health) regulations so recovery from a suppression dump is a major endeavor and not something you can rush. Which also goes back to the question as to why they waited 4 hours. If the suppression system trips, what were they doing until they called for the fire department?

      I’ve seen where electrical work accidentally powers everything off by tripping the power cut-off, but that’s not usually referred to as “fire suppression” and doesn’t require the fire department as the data center area is still inhabitable.

      If “construction dust” set off the fire suppression system, then that implies someone was sawing or sanding in the data center, in the room with all of the computer hardware. No one does that, just like you don’t let the “bring your kids into work day” tours into that room. And why would you be doing that at 5 AM local time during the work week? You would normally try to schedule this sort of work on the weekend at least.

      We’ve had plenty of fire alarms set off by food burning in the cafeteria, but that data center itself is usually not impacted. You wouldn’t risk a total data center shut-down every time someone burned some toast, so the building has firewalls (the physical kind) and dedicated HVAC for the data center so smoke from the cafeteria doesn’t get into the room with all of the expensive boxes in it. Data center staff may have to evacuate until the alarm is validated, but the data center itself doesn’t shut down.

      Finally, some of the commentary in the article doesn’t make sense since a fire or a similar service disruption is something foreseeable and testable.

      Most organizations large enough to have a data center have an annual Disaster Recovery exercise specifically to test out failing over to the DR systems. These are also typically reviewed by the company’s external auditor since DR and business continuity are huge deals in ensuring a company can weather a business disruption. There is a large body of literature on the subject, along with certifications and professional organizations and so forth.

      In any event, there are so many process and control failures here that the story provided doesn’t make sense. The timeline provided also doesn’t make sense.

      Reply
        1. Clive

          I will chip in here although JayKay might add even more pertinent commentary.

          After a major outage you get crawled all over and picked apart by internal audit and, even in the lame US regulatory environment, increasingly by federal bodies especially if you’re a TBTF.

          Immediately — and I do mean immediately, it’s like a parallel activity for those involved — the arse covering and creative writing school worthy fictionalisation of what transpired begins by the technicians who might have cocked things up, the local management potentially exposed to criticism, executives wanting a simplified narrative which is so dumbed down it ends up removing any valid content, possibly too third party suppliers facing legal liabilities, software vendors, Uncle Tom Cobbly and all.

          There’s inevitably going to be post incident review, a Lessons Learned report drawn up, a no-blame culture of open and honest feedback and revised procedures promised (which, of course, means the precise purpose is to find someone to blame) — none of which you want to get dragged into or, if being dragged into it is unavoidable, you want the record to show you did everything right or if not right you were only doing what someone else told you to do.

          The timeline, therefore, is an important part of the emerging make-believe which these events become. In fact it’s probably the most important part to turn into a fairy tale because if the schedule of events is bogus, every other part of the sequence of actions and reactions becomes impossible to reconcile.

          My hunch is that they tried, Fukushima-style, to vent the halon or other fire suppressing gas in order to begin recovery work (you can’t enter the protected environment until the gas is removed because as noted above, the suppressant gas is heavier than air and displaces the oxygen so you can’t just walk around without a respirator) but couldn’t either get the outside air-supplying air handlers operational as the power had tripped and no backup could be switched in or else the air handler(s) couldn’t let outside air in because maybe the conditioned space was over-pressurised and there wasn’t available fan power to overcome this (or there wasn’t an external ducting system capable of dumping the halon safely and it was being blown into occupied spaces elsewhere — or some variation on this dynamic). It was only after trying and failing to resolve the situation for a considerable amount of time they threw in the towel and called the fire service.

          It’s worth keeping in mind that, when you involve outside agencies — public services for example — they have completely different priorities and are not necessarily aligned in the slightest to corporate goals, corporate politics, corporate rule books, corporate structures of command. Their job and their sole responsibility is to resolve a situation preserving the safety of the emergency service personnel and the public. I’ve certainly seen heated arguments between the emergency services and company big cheeses. The emergency services always win these arguments, much to the chagrin of the corporate a-holes. Once you involve the emergency services, you, as a corporation, have lost control of events. The actions emergency services deem appropriate may well result in a total loss of the facility — water damage, for example, will usually render a data centre and all non-backed up data irretrievable.

          This leads to all manner of counterproductive actions by the business. I have literally seen a c-suite executive collapsed due to a serious medical issue and a varied assortment of corporate flunkies, management and PRs incapacitated and unable to take any action at all like calling for an ambulance to take the unfortunate corporate royalty to the ER because it might get into the media and the press office needs a bit more time to write the press release. I kid you not.

          Reply
          1. JayKay

            I agree with the timeline management theory, but then that opens a whole lapse in that they didn’t have automated fire alarms to the local fire company and are depending on a local safety resource to ensure prompt communication with emergency services. Maybe some organizations do that, but it goes against my experience in that you don’t want local staff trying to identify and possibly extinguish even a minor fire. Local staff will not have SCBA or lights so they should not be poking around in a large, dark, smokey, hard to navigate space. That’s what kills people in building fires, even firefighters. You want the trained professionals doing that. And you want your on-site emergency staff to be ensuring everyone is out and accounted for, securing access for emergency vehicles, etc.

            Which isn’t to say that they aren’t managing the timeline, but it would seem to me that auditors are still going to be asking unpleasant questions. Maybe the thinking is to push the blame down the chain of command to local staff who “didn’t follow established procedure” or “made poor decisions”. But if you are depending on the lowest ranking people to prevent catastrophic failure, then you have an organizational failure. Business continuity is practiced specifically so everyone knows what they are supposed to do in the middle of a crisis when you don’t have good access to decision makers.

            OTOH since this is Wells Fargo who blamed thousands of their front-line staff for not following process in creating extra account, this seems like their corporate strategy.

            Reply
            1. Adam1

              I work for a $6B financial institution and we have a complete disaster recovery data center located off prem. We’re not real-time yet, but in 20 minutes we can be fully online on the back-up system, which is practiced annually. When we do have the rare outage, one of the first things to occur is to start assessing the situation to determine if and when cut-over to the DR site should occur. A couple years ago we came our closest to cutting over. I don’t recall the technical issue but we were down and out around 6am. By 7am the decision had been made that if we weren’t back on line by 8am we’d cut over to the DR data center before our branches opened. It should be noted that as a $6B FI we don’t process our own debit transactions so our ATM’s were still up and running in standby mode with our processor, which automatically kicks in when we’re disconnected from them for any reason, so prior to our branches opening it was basically an internet banking outage. We’d never allow the nonsense to occur that seems to have happened at Wells

              Reply
  14. Pat

    Regarding Studebaker’s four point test for candidates: I have an issue with number four as I think it misses the point regarding many candidacies, including some for President. It says “Is this a serious candidate? Does polling and/or favorability data suggest they could really win, or are they running to promote themselves?”

    Would any real lefty, liberal, old school Democrat say that Bernie Sanders run for President did not have any value? Did anyone think there was a real chance of his winning prior to and near the beginning of the run? And forget deciding based on political ideology – Edwards, Perot, Paul all have broadened the political conversation because of their appeal, even if that appeal was not enough to gain them the Presidency. Trump was not considered to have a route to the nomination much less President, and…

    But not for nothing without primaries, our incumbents and favorites face no real push to reexamine their poltical positions and interests. Having prepared and passionate people running for office based on policies is important regardless of how the prognosticators think they will do. This applies for local office as well as National. We need them garnering as many votes as they can, because even if they cannot win, the ‘favorites’ will increasingly see that the outliers can mean they lose. It is the only way to ‘hold their feet to the fire’ and push them to change.

    Reply
    1. Chris Cosmos

      I agree. Look the term “serious” candidate once was code for a candidate the mainstream media cartel favored. Sanders and Trump were not “serious” candidates until they were.

      Reply
      1. Morgan Everett

        Yeah, Studebaker is essentially replicating the obnoxious gate-keeping that Democrats always seem to want. Can’t have other candidates, they might hurt the anointed one, y’know?

        Reply
    2. Benjamin Studebaker

      I thought Bernie Sanders had a real chance in 2016! If you can get 10% in national polling, give it a shot! My complaint is about someone like Warren, who does 4% in Morning Consults after a month of national media attention and still thinks she should run

      Reply
      1. Morgan Everett

        It’s a little early to tell who are going to be the “serious” contenders, since we are still a year away from any actual voting. Polling still claims that Biden is a dominant contender, and I don’t believe that at all, I think he’s still relying on superior name recognition. If we get to Super Tuesday, I might rethink the merit of having Warren or Gabbard drop out to strengthen Sanders. But perhaps currently we shouldn’t bet everything on one (old) horse?

        Reply
        1. Benjamin Studebaker

          Surely you realise that if Bernie comes third in Iowa rather than second, or third in Iowa rather than first, because Warren and Gabbard depress his vote share by 4 or 5 points, that can have catastrophic effects for political momentum heading into NH, SC, and Super Tuesday? We absolutely cannot afford to be so flippant

          Reply
  15. JohnnyGL

    ““Evolution Is Not the Cause of Selfish Capitalism”” – really enjoyed this article. Looked at some other stuff by the author….
    https://medium.com/s/douglas-rushkoff/some-liberals-are-experiencing-civic-amnesia-a4b9fbd113e0
    This was decent. Could have been better. The correct response to “Maybe 150 years is long enough.” would be to ask:

    “When are we going to start that 150? Because from what I know about what’s happened during the last 150 years is a LOT more abuse and exploitation including convict leasing, sharecropping, Jim Crow and the Klan, red-lining, the Vietnam war, drug wars, CIA drug smuggling (that was know of) in places like S. Central LA, mass incarceration, gentrification and displacement, policing for profit, and the sub-prime fraud. So yeah, you want to give African Americans 150 years to catch up? Sure, when do we start?!?!?!”

    https://medium.com/s/douglas-rushkoff/how-we-all-became-russias-useful-idiots-4df90bf9dea0
    This was flat out horrifying. Propaganda swallowed whole.

    Reply
    1. richard

      So, I’m going to ask you a question that maybe sounds confrontational, but isn’t meant that way:
      Does finding this russiarussiarussia article make you reevaluate anything you read earlier by that same author, which you said you liked? I’m asking because I genuinely interested in hearing what you and others think. To me this seems like a most human, normal, reasonable response: “Oh, you think that too? Well then, let’s reevaluate this previous stuff.”
      But argument from source as a flaw in argumentation applies here too, doesn’t it? Just because someone holds a view you consider counter to reason, this shouldn’t affect your opinion of their other views, right? Even though we all do it anyway. How do other people experience and handle this?

      Reply
      1. johnnygl

        I think it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

        1) people, even the smartest ones, can get some things spectacularly correct and get other things spectacularly wrong. Michelle Alexander wrote ‘new jim crow’, great stuff. She also wrote for NYtimes recently advocating for near open borders. Horrible stuff. Another example, jeff sachs of columbia u. Was involved in russian ‘shock therapy’ in the 90s. Horrible stuff. But he also went on msnbc and shredded the US policy in syria in 5 min better than anyone i’ve seen. Great stuff.

        2) people make snap judgements without all the info. This is especially true when they don’t know they don’t have all info. I suspect if the author saw more of stephen cohen, watched more larry wilkerson, real news network and NC, knew more about CIA misinformation campaigns like operation mockingbird, read more glenn greenwald, etc, the author would think more skeptically.

        3) trust matters, if you think someone is acting in good faith, you cut them more slack. Clearly the author gives NYtimes too much slack.

        Reply
    2. ewmayer

      Oddly, the author seems to have an issue with the misuse of Darwinian evolutionary theory as used to promote kleptocapitalism, but in using evolutionary mutualism as a counterexample, he omits the obvious evolutionary pro-example of parasitism. The thing is that unlike “blindly evolving” ecosystems, our human societal institutions are not the result of immutable natural processes. We have a choice in how we guide their “evolution”, and the problem is that for far too long in western nations the policymakers, typically well-bribed by the parasites, have allowed the latter free rein to metastasize as they like. In other words, evolution works perfectly well as a model for what happens when public policy is hijacked to serve the parasitical rentier class. There’s a reason Michael Hudson’s book is titled Killng the Host.

      Reply
      1. ZP

        I actually would like to push back a bit on a part of this comment. I don’t have concrete data or evidence for you, but I’ve recently begun to question the assumption that individual humans or groups are capable of altering long term societal “evolution.” It strikes me as possible that the evolution of society is an emergent property of a complex system. For an illustrative thought experiment, I think of the impact of fossil fuels on society. They enabled the capitalistic rapid growth, the creative destruction of technological innovation, etc. It seems reasonable to me to postulate that our institutions are within some sort of stable plane in the system’s dynamic landscape, an “attractor” to a society that has developed fossil fuel tech (which itself could be an “attractor” to a society with agriculture!)
        If we can properly conceptualize and analyze that system, perhaps we can change its trajectory, but I think it’s also plausible to suggest that this is unlikely for the obvious challenges of modeling and, more importantly, the massive “inertia” likely to exist in such a system.
        Sorry for not having anything better in terms of analysis. I hope to explore some of this modeling work as I get time! In the meantime I’ll just keep being an extremely (ironically) uncertain determinist.

        Also, I still like the analogy of the parasites (:

        Reply
    3. Hameloose Cannon

      “Evolution Is Not the Cause of Selfish Capitalism,” …no, that would be complexity. Eusocial insects, Hymenoptera [Bees, wasps, ants], are in a genetic sense, altruistic, because every member of the hive is related, as if identical twins. Your neighbors’ survival is the survival of you, because they are 99.9% you. But the reality of the hive is extreme inequality: the queen coerces other insects to develop into workers, for rearing relatives, by giving the larvae less food. The altruism is a ruthless enforcement mechanism to ensure the workers support the eggs in lieu of reproducing themselves. –Bottom line, nature is a nightmare from which one can’t derive comfort, survival strategies, or a manual on how to live green and happy. We are on our own.

      Reply
      1. c_heale

        I disagree. Firstly bees are a superfamily, the queen, the workers and drones all share a proportion of the same genes. Secondly the workers aren’t given less food, they are given a normal amount of food. It’s only when more queens are necessary, that some larvae are given special food (royal jelly) in order to allow them to develop.

        But many animals live in conjunction with bees: hornets, mites, and others. Bees also fertilize flowers. What happens in nature is that every animal occupies a niche, and their population (and survival) is dependent on every other species in their ecosystem.

        What nature teaches us is that everything is interconnected, and our actions will have unanticipated consequences. Quite unlike the bullshit that is neoliberal economics.

        Reply
        1. Hameloose Cannon

          Nature knows no balance; the only constant is instability. Example, coyote and deer populations do not find equilibrium. The respective populations dwindle and explode at variable rates that are not an inverse relation nor is there a direct correlation. Their specific niches in an ecosystem are so complex that there is never synchronicity, only a Gaussian blur of data, out of which noise is filtered, to reveal patterns. Relevant only to us as humans, and only on at specific cognitive order, these patterns move in and out of existence, at different cognitive orders. For instance, “neoliberal economics” could be an entire branch of neurology, studies done to map the areas of the brain that light up when reading the latest issue of Jacobin. It is a matter for future geologists, the rings on our fingers as so much of the earth has been moved in search of precious minerals. It is the radiocarbons etched into the dental matrix, for which other, future hominids will learn our levels of nutrition when compared to political reigns.

          Reply
        2. tegnost

          Hameloose has done us a great service and described neoliberalism in its true sense…

          altruism is a ruthless enforcement mechanism to ensure the workers support the eggs

          throw those parents of truants in the pokey pronto, that’ll show ’em…

          Reply
      2. Darthbobber

        Depends partly on whether you see the entity here as an ant or bee, or the nest or hive. It seems in a sense that the colony is the being, and the individual bees and ants are specialized components of its body.

        Reply
  16. SpaceMtn

    The Studebaker article appears to me as rather disingenuous. In the picture showing the 2020 ‘candidates’ Gabbard’s image is not even included. Although it seems to me that the criteria listed to vet an appropriate candidate (‘one who means business’) strongly militates in support of Gabbard. Then later in the article he writes —

    If a candidate polls terribly and has a weak favorability rating, you know that they are seeking to promote themselves and aren’t worried about taking resources and votes from other progressive candidates (Warren, Tulsi Gabbard).

    I for one know no such thing. It is still very early in the campaign, and to say putting an end to ‘regime change wars’ front and center, and getting pilloried for it from right and left, is very far indeed from any form of shameless self promotion — at least in terms of how I understand the term.

    Reply
    1. Darthbobber

      Yes. It is worth bearing in mind that it’s February of 2019 at the moment, and there’s time for things to settle in a bit before campaigns are at a level where most of us would have to make significant commitments. Some of these people will be gone before any ballots are cast. A few may not even still be there by the earliest debates.

      An actual announcement or withdrawal by Sanders would have a clarifying effect on the cloudiness.

      Reply
    2. richard

      “putting an end to ‘regime change wars’ front and center, and getting pilloried for it from right and left, is very far indeed from any form of shameless self promotion”
      agreed. That last category studebaker created didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

      Reply
  17. nippersdad

    And Pelosi folds to AIPAC:

    https://www.politico.com/story/2019/02/11/house-democrats-ilhan-omar-antisemitism-1163728

    ” …we must use this moment to move forward as we reject anti-semitism in all forms.”

    So, if Omar’s one word tweet,” AIPAC,” is a form of anti-semitism toward a group specifically dedicated to lobbying for Zionist Israel, then money is implicitly speech. I wonder how J Street, which routinely argues against Zionist policies, is going to take the pronouncement that AIPAC is now the only legitimate representative of Israel’s best interests. It is also good to know what has been holding up legislation that would repeal the Citizen’s United decision. Money just talked.

    Other Dem leaders tried to walk it back a little:

    “Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech, and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share.”

    A: See Pelosi tweet above. Apparently it is not.

    B: As of 2011, Columbia Journalism Review begs to disagree that Israel shares even what passes for the US’s commitment to free speech and assembly.

    https://archives.cjr.org/behind_the_news/speech_in_israel_is_not_free.php

    My take is that Pelosi is desperate to avoid the anti-BDS legislation that passed in the Senate with 2020 looming on the horizon. She can’t give the impression that they think it is anything more than a smash and grab of the First Amendment to protect Israel, but she still wants their money (“Ilhan! Don’t poke sticks at the AIPAC hornets nest! We all spend four hours a day begging for money from them!”). I don’t think that McCarthy is going to let them get away with it, though, that is after all the point of the exercise, so they need to get their stories straight.

    Time to lay in some supplies of popcorn.

    :

    Reply
    1. Cal2

      Pelosi’s bumper sticker:
      “Let me tell you about my grandchildren”

      “Before a packed meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee three years ago, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) connected her political support for the Jewish state with her personal life.
      “My daughter is Catholic. My son-in-law is Jewish,” she said. “Last week I celebrated my birthday and my grandchildren–ages 4 and 6–called to sing ‘Happy Birthday.’ And the surprise, the real gift, was that they sang it in Hebrew!”

      Reply
  18. clarky90

    VA Gov Ralph Northam Discusses Third Trimester Abortion Bill

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx5QKTY-3MY

    “In a Jan. 30, 2019 interview on WTOP Radio, Washington, D.C., Democrat Virginia governor Ralph Northam discusses what would happen to a baby delivered alive in a late-term abortion procedure.”

    Notham “then (after the birth of the living baby) we will have a discussion.” (a conversation about whether to kill the baby)

    This is a difficult 22 seconds to watch. Northam is so calm and matter of fact.

    Very few people, left or right, object to early abortion (as early as possible). But anybody who is a parent, uncle, aunt, KNOWS that the baby is alive and kicking, well before birth. Both of my extant children, and my other two lost innocents (lost to miscarriage} were referred to by baby names from early on in the pregnancies.

    My marriage was destroyed by a miscarriage. My wife was was overcome by grief at the loss……… I said, “get some antidepressants so you feel better?” She replied, “I don’t want to feel better.”

    The abortion debate was “supposed” to be about a clump of undifferentiated cells. Not a baby.

    I do not care about the idiotic dress-up actions of Northam when he was a drunken teenager, However, legal infanticide……..? This is unbelievably upsetting

    Reply
    1. Eclair

      The abortion of a fetus, whether induced or though misfortune, is distressing. And I am sorry, clarky90, that you and your wife had to endure this tragedy.

      But, can a seven or even an eight month fetus survive by itself? And, what if that fetus is deformed in some way? What if the mother and father have other children who need their attention and their financial resources?

      A family member who is an investigative reporter has just finished a series on state foster care. It is heart-breaking. These children are abused, emotionally and physically, then set loose to live on their on at age 18. Most are totally unable to cope. They have no family or social safety net. They end up homeless or incarcerated.

      We throw money at keeping babies born prematurely alive with expensive medical technology. We throw money at foster care facilities that are worse than jails in many cases. We throw money at schools that are little more than pipelines to jails. But, somehow, a group of people have seized on abortion as a moral horror. If, as a society, we really cared about caring for our children, we would be caring for each child in foster care, each child in a mold-ridden inner city school, as if she were our own. But we don’t. And we aren’t.

      Look at it this way. We have a problem with ‘terminating’ a 7 month fetus. But we have no problem with putting a child through a decade or more of daily torture in Dickensian foster care situations. The first, takes a life. The second, corrodes and destroys a soul.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Amazing isn’t, that we’ll argue and fight over abortion, but once the child is born it’s see yah! If life is precious, why are we not just burying children with the resources they and their families/caretakers need to flourish?

        There is something not just Dickensian, but something mechanistic, even nihilistic about the heart of mainstream ideologies labeled “liberal” or “conservative” that does not consider people as people; a checklist or even a hodgepodge of actions and ideas that form no coherent system of beliefs.

        Reply
      2. Summer

        The established order only wants the benefits of any sacrifice you make.

        That’s why I don’t give a rat’s about it.

        Reply
  19. MC

    If you’re interested in the role of state in social reproduction read Social Reproduction Theory: Remapping Class, Recentering Oppression edition by Tithi Bhattacharya. Nancy Fraser’s article is particularly good, as she’s the scholar I can think of whose worked on this problem the longest.

    Reply
  20. Carolinian

    Evolution Is Not the Cause of Selfish Capitalism

    The bad headline of this book excerpt is immediately contradicted by the subhead.

    Cooperation is imprinted in our genes just as unmistakably as competition

    In other words selfish capitalism is in fact a result of evolution just as social cooperation and every other human behavior. Liberals pretend the selfish gene doesn’t exist–selfish capitalists are just “bad”– while conservatives cast doubt on cooperative instincts with their appeals to “human nature.” Perhaps scientists, not polemicists, can weigh in and set both of them straight and progress will begin to be made.

    Reply
    1. c_heale

      What about people who are not liberals or conservatives. Maybe people shouldn’t be put in boxes. And the Victorian idea of progress leading to some kind of paradisiacal seems like nonsense too.

      Reply
  21. Roger Smith

    No doubt arresting marijuana smokers gave her joy, too! So it’s all good. The circle of law enforcement.

    Where do you think she got her stash from exactly? “It’s good to be da D.A.”

    Reply
  22. clarky90

    1. “What is this candidate’s history? What does this candidate actually do with power, when they have it?”

    WTOP’s Ask the Governor with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam – Jan. 30, 2019

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6WD_3H0wKU

    This is the full 55 minute interview in which Gov Northan talks about late term “abortion” of an infant who has just been born alive. I wrote a post linking to a 22 second out-take. Here is the interview in it’s entirety.

    IMO, this is important. It cannot be brushed aside.

    Reply
  23. polecat

    So, underground fungi are the original intermediaries … cool !

    Thank Gaia they haven’t learned to do derivatives yet.
    …. oh, wait a minute !

    Reply
  24. Darthbobber

    “Trump divides democrats with warning of creeping socialism.” Please. Trump just encouraged some to for the umpteenth time demonstrate the obvious to a small child division that is already there.

    Some of the Democratic leadership would perhaps rather not be seen publicly sharing his economic views at the moment, because that makes it more difficult to either
    A. Stick the shiv in from behind the smiling facade of pseudo unity, or
    B. Maintain plausibility while running the bait part of the bait and switch.

    But when push comes to shove, a lot of them (and their backers) have been largely aligned with Friedmanite economics for a very long time.

    Reply
  25. JBird4049

    Managers routinely order up to 20 percent more product than is necessary, just to account for sticky-fingered employees.” • Well, that’s better than paying them more, right?

    In fairness, when I was in charge of office and maintenance supplies for an office building, the company’s actually well paid employee would routinely waltz off with almost everything especially whole bags of coffee.

    When asked they said it was all free for them to use within the office so why not outside? The idea that it was to help do their job didn’t quite compute with some. I couldn’t lock up all the supplies because often people would need it quickly and they were trusted.

    Mind you, people wouldn’t tell when they did it or tell me if what I just restocked was gone already. But I would get complaints about there not being enough supplies for the office especially their preferred caffeine fix. See me banging my head against the wall…

    Reply
    1. fumo

      I recently heard the story of the wife of one of the most successful businessmen in California stealing cookies to take home at her bridge club lunches, to the point she had to be confronted. She’s worth billions.

      Reply
  26. Chris Cosmos

    As an artist I find Gabbard’s logo wins the prize. Perhaps she has cooler arty friends–which counts for something. Harris wind the prize for worst logo. Most of the others are not very good.

    Reply
    1. edmondo

      As someone who, in a former lifetime, bought a lot of printed materials, Both Booker and Tulsi have three color logos which are quite expensive to reproduce on printed materials. I guess we know who expects to have a bulging campaign coffer and who doesn’t just by looking at their logo designs.

      Reply
  27. Craig H.

    According to Pew Gillebrand is a Catholic. Mount Moriah is a Baptist church.

    (I am not a Catholic or a Baptist or a New York voter but I was curious enough to look them up.)

    Reply
  28. FluffytheObeseCat

    The Atlantic article on employee “theft” is professional class clickbait.

    This: “Association of Certified Fraud Examiners reports that theft of “non-cash” property—ranging from a single pencil in the supply closet to a pallet of them on the company loading dock—jumped from 10.6 percent of corporate-theft losses in 2002 to 21 percent in 2018.” is the only genuine piece of hard data cited, and it comes from a source that is talking its book.

    It is surrounded by biased language (i.e. the cutesy opening sentence: “Your office is a den of thieves”. Such winky-wink charm in that opening sally!)

    It’s followed by dire, unsubstantiated assertions: “Managers routinely order up to 20 percent more product than is necessary, just to account for sticky-fingered employees.” Increasingly defective, ‘Made in China’ supplies, and top-down requirements about using Corporate-approved purchasing software and vendors couldn’t be the cause of the observed trends. Only moral defects among the lowly can account for it.

    It’s full of insinuations about non-theft issues, like the assumption of pure self-dealing when employees trade up as new iPhones come out. (Employees couldn’t possibly have been holding onto nearly non-functional devices until the new releases, eh? They couldn’t possibly have decent, results-oriented bosses, who advise them to work the system to maximize their ability to function by trading up every chance they get? It must be pure vanity!)

    This type of article shows up far too often in The Atlantic. The piece is designed to promote nervous embarrassment in lower pecking order readers, and genteel contempt for the lower orders in higher ranked readers.

    Reply
  29. Fiery Hunt

    Got an insider who works IT at Wells…very senior, very much in the know.

    The fire suppression system was Halotron (?) or something like that…the issue was on the first floor, but the “trip over” didn’t happen so they had to go a long circuitous route to reset the servers on the second floor. Basically the first floor was uninhabitable for humans because of the fire suppression chemicals and the redundancy plan took several hours to get access to the unharmed servers.

    Was told they (the corporation) had all transactions; direct deposit, on-line, cards…just the “public facing” parts didn’t. I got the impression the worst part was the lack of communication to the public….Employees know “Trust Us!” isn’t the best strategy for Wells to adopt but HQ keeps playing it that way.

    Reply
    1. Fiery Hunt

      We didn’t get that far into what happened to cause the failed trip over but my guess/impression was the fire suppression system didn’t take the need to have separate cues for the actual servers and the “control room” into account….the design being that human access to one area wouldn’t be curtailed by lack of access to another.

      IT was more concerned with the ongoing PR issues…

      Reply
      1. foghorn longhorn

        Halon is/was the fire suppressant used back when I was involved in the data world in the late 90s, early 00s.
        It sucks the oxygen out of the room and is quite fatal to bipeds.
        It also doesn’t destroy your equipment when deployed as would a drenching with water.
        Pull the fire alarm trigger and run like hell.

        Reply
        1. pricklyone

          Halotron is one of the newer, less ozone depleting agents. Replaces older Halon 1301
          They do not suck oxygen from the room. They interfere with the flame chemistry.
          This myth was based on the CO2 or other inert gas blanketing systems, which lower the oxygen content by ADDING other gases in large proportions. It only takes 5% or so of the
          Halon to do its job, so you can still breathe, although the by-products of the interaction with flames can be toxic, hence the need to leave the area.
          If you google Halon deaths on the ggoogle, you can find the case of the woman who died in a bank basement, (from CO2), which is one source of the mythmaking. The rest are mostly from Halon 1211 which when deliberately concentrated can cause heart problems. Youth were inhaling the stuff.
          Like most chemicals, fluorocarbons particularly, the less exposure the better, but the fire suppression system aint gonna kill you under a normal scenario.
          The datacenter/WF thing seems bizarre, as there doesn’t seem to have been any actual flame, so a quick air out, and back to work, would be the normal result!

          Reply
    2. JayKay

      Interesting. It sounds like they had to physically interact with the second floor servers or some other physical infrastructure like power which implies that the second floor servers were physically powered off. In a large corporate environment you often have redundant data centers so that you can fail over systems to another site. This could happen if the fiber into the data center is cut outside of your facility. That can take hours to fix and is outside of your control so you typically have a way to move your computing work to another site. This sort of fail over isn’t even really considered “disaster recovery” so much as high availability. Stuff breaks and for critical systems you need to allow for that.

      So either they didn’t have this capability or they chose not to invoke it. In either case, I’d wager it’s a cost-cutting decision. Either they cut costs by not having that capability or it costs money to invoke it and they decided it was cheaper to try to recover the original data center. Maybe the underestimated how long recovery would take. Maybe they just don’t regard an outage on their public facing services to be worth the cost.

      Still doesn’t explain why they were doing dust-producing construction in an active data center.

      Reply
  30. ilpalazzo

    Lambert,

    I just made a google query and got results that I think may be of interest concerning Fieldwork. I googled “Identity politics as divide and rule”. First result was this:

    http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/Identity_as_wedge_issue/identity_politics_as_divide_and_conquer.shtml

    I clicked through the site a bit and frankly am amazed to find that such a thing exists, myself coming from Poland where IT people and code “jockeys” are legendarily right wing/libertarian, probably because many are self employed and get relatively good money – say four times median. NC is often linked as are other usual sources.

    The second result was this:

    https://www.quora.com/How-is-identity-politics-used-to-divide-and-rule

    I’m an old school PC gamer and hobbyist computer enthusiast, as such I frequent (mostly passively) certain internet fora that have been completely overrun by so called alt-right vocal minority few years ago. Not 4chan but close. I do this because these people know their stuff about classic computer games and this can be useful.

    Anyway, having class struggle discourse completely internalized it is hard for me to put my finger on what is the general idea for people holding such convictions. This second link leads to four short paragraphs that sum this up nicely. Perhaps this is obvious for people from the US but it was quite revealing for me.

    Reply
  31. Summer

    “That’s lovely. We can’t tell whether our elections are being stolen because of non-disclosure agreements.”

    Did Putin make them sign those?

    Reply
  32. The Rev Kev

    Tulsi Gabbard won’t be winning over any people in Saudi Arabia over their destruction of Islamic heritage sites in Mecca and Medina but damn, she nailed that one. It has been reckoned that 95 per cent of Mecca’s historic buildings have been demolished since 1985 (https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/why-have-meccas-historical-buildings-been-destroyed/5869064) and that is including lots of heritage site that involve the family of the Prophet. Mostly it is about the money but there is a strong degree of the demands of the Wahhabi element involved.
    Remember that when this lot took over this region two centuries ago, that twice they went to destroy the tomb of the Prophet as being profane (as are all buildings like this) but that was a bridge too far for the people who backed off. Their avowed aim is to demolish eventually the tomb of the Prophet, erect a civic building or some such in its place and stash the bones of the Prophet and his family in an anonymous grave in some cemetery somewhere. More on this at-

    https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/saudi-arabias-proposal-to-destroy-prophet-mohammeds-tomb-and-move-remains-to-anonymous-grave-risks-new-muslim-division-30557589.html

    Reply
  33. Matt

    On the GND: the jobs guarantee is Player Piano. Vonnegut was truly ahead of his time.

    As my grandmother used to say: the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      well sure but that’s one of those malleable social proverbs such that in your grandmothers kids days the saying was the road to hell is paved with republicans, but now we find ourselves needing another iteration of the old theme. The road to hell is paved with silicon, or maybe the road to hell is paved with i phones, or maybe apps, or maybe the road to hell was paved by halliburton, or, my personal favorite, the road road to hell is a toll road! If I’m a pharma lobbyist, I am ripping people off with good intentions. What are these good intentions you are referring to?

      Reply
  34. Chauncey Gardiner

    Think Steve Randy Waldman has identified an important and potentially damaging outcome from the use of prediction markets as a “markets-based solution” to address the anticipated consequences of global warming. As Charlie Munger, former Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, once said, “Show me the incentive and I’ll show you the outcome.” Creating poorly considered or structured incentives can lead to counterproductive behavior that causes undesirable outcomes or has unintended consequences. Engaging in practices that lead to personal financial gain in prediction markets, whether intentionally damaging or not, is a possibility under this approach. Setting aside the essentially zero-sum game of participation in markets generally, I don’t consider prediction markets as offering a constructive solution. I do suspect this won’t be the last we will hear of this proposal by the market-makers, however.

    Reply
  35. allan

    November, 2018: Utah voters pass Prop. 3 to expand Medicaid down to 138% of the federal poverty level.

    February, 2019: Utah governor and GOP legislature tell the voters to talk to the hand:

    Utah’s Legislature gives final approval to limited-Medicaid expansion [Salt Lake Trib]

    Utah’s voter-approved Medicaid expansion initiative was replaced Monday with a program that is more restrictive, initially more costly, and contingent on a series of uncertain federal concessions. …

    While SB96 allows the same population of Utahns to access subsidized health care as under Proposition 3, it does not provide coverage to the same number of people. Low-income Utahns earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level could have enrolled in Medicaid under the initiative, while SB96 caps enrollment at 100 percent of poverty.

    The remaining expansion population is left under SB96 to purchase subsidized health insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act individual marketplace, with accompanying premiums, copays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for care. …

    Next voter-approved referendum up for gutting is Prop. 4 on redistricting.

    Brought to you by the party of Lincoln one man*, one vote, one time.

    * suitably hued

    Reply
  36. pricklyone

    >> He believes many of the rats are relatively new arrivals, displaced when the city began tearing down its old police headquarters next door.”
    ROFL. What about the rats in the NEW police HQ?

    Reply
  37. pricklyone

    >> The Washington Post, citing ‘two people familiar with the company’s thinking,’ reports that Amazon is considering withdrawing from New York. But The Times reports that ‘two people with direct knowledge of the company’s thinking said the article had gone too far and Amazon had no plans to back out.’”

    Mind Blown… who is arguing against what, here, again?

    Reply
  38. Richard

    No one has any “experts warn” additions?
    Here’s mine:
    “Experts warn that abolitionism could lead to the end of slavery, which would really cheese off slaveowners!”
    “Experts warn that giving votes to black people may backfire by making their white oppressors unhappy. It’s not win-win!”

    Reply
  39. richard

    Another snowbound seattle day, outside my door on a busy street it looks like a russian play, waiting for the train to come in
    several days now, and again no school tomorrow
    what will my students be like on our return?
    A rambunctious lot
    a what fresh hell is this lot
    and now a snowbound for 5 days lot

    Reply
  40. ChrisAtRU

    Ummm this just came across my #Twitter TL:

    Netanyahu has made enemies of the Democratic Party and AIPAC has become an arm of the GOP. The sooner Israelis get rid of their corrupt PM and make peace with the Palestinians, the sooner the strain between our countries will dissipate. https://t.co/pAgCVowZ4b— Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) February 11, 2019

    I’m thinking a “I’ve been hacked” tweet will be on my TL come morning CST. If not, I’ll be waiting to see if anyone will be asking Howard to apologize.

    #BonneNuit

    Reply
  41. dcrane

    Apologies if already posted – a Pat Buchanan essay on the Green New Deal, “a Democratic Party suicide pact”.

    Yeah, he’s an old rightwing codger, and there isn’t much substantial criticism in the article, but he does often reflect the thinking of a fair number of people. Perhaps people we have no chance of reaching, but I would like to hope otherwise.

    Reply

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