2:00PM Water Cooler 2/12/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I’ll have more in a bit; I got caught up in what turned out to be a mini-essay on Ilhan Omar. –lambert UPDATE 2:40PM All done!

Politics

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

2020

UPDATEs on the great pageant of Democrat candidates trying to differentiate themselves:

Klobuchar (1): “Amy Klobuchar, latest presidential candidate, faces questions about temperament, treatment of staff” [Yahoo News]. “[C]onversations with more than a dozen current and former staffers lead to a more complex portrait, one that is significantly at odds with the image of ‘Midwestern nice’ that has coalesced around Klobuchar in recent months… . [Klobuchar] has been known to grow irate at staffers who find work elsewhere, calling their new employers to have the offers rescinded. The practice, which three former staffers for Klobuchar described and one other Capitol Hill veteran confirmed, was seen as vindictive, mystifying and counterproductive. It was also a sign of how far Klobuchar would go to punish those who she thought betrayed her.” • Hmm. Does Klobuchar wear Prada?

Klobuchar (2):

This is where I am on the issue.

Harris (1):

Booker’s bill, which offers decriminalization and expungement of records, is better. (To be fair, if California did that, Harris might not be able to run on her arrest numbers.)

Harris (2): “Harris unveils California endorsements in home state show of force” [Politico]. “Harris now has the support of 21 of the state Senate’s 28 Democrats, 75 percent of the caucus.” And of course, it’s all about the benjamins: “Harris has also been crisscrossing her home state this month, picking up campaign cash at high-end fundraisers in Hollywood and San Francisco — two of the nation’s biggest and most reliable campaign ATMs for Democratic office-seekers. Last week, Harris starred at two fundraisers — one at the home of Universal’s Jeff Shell, the other at the home of David Cooley, the founder of West Hollywood bistr, The Abbey. This weekend, she’ll be hosted by Susie Tompkins Buell, the San Francisco-based powerhouse Democratic donor who backed Hillary Cllinton and recently publicly endorsed Harris.”

Booker: “Cory Booker Woos Iowans With ‘Love’-Heavy Brand Of Progressive Patriotism” [HuffPo]. One detail: “After the speech, Sue Blaisdell, 69, a homemaker who has read several of Warren’s books, wanted to hear more from Booker about how he planned to help struggling farmers. (Booker had referenced leveraging antitrust policy to help farmers; he supports enacting a moratorium on agribusiness mergers.)” • Interesting. Sounds like Booker’s been talking to Austin Frerick. Flexible and opportunistic Booker may be, but he’s not dumb.

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“How Trump wins in 2020” [Damon Linker, The Week]. “This is what Dreher means by ‘socialism’ — the attempt by the left to seize total control and use every power at its disposal (political, economic, cultural, technological) to smash its moral opponents, once and for all…. Imagine a general election campaign in which the Republican Party and the Trump campaign supplemented the president’s Twitter-based rabble-rousing and inevitable personal attacks on the Democratic nominee with a resolutely anti-socialist message — with socialism understood in this broad, comprehensive sense. The point wouldn’t be just to raise fears of higher taxes and bigger government but to fold that anxiety into the culture war, where Trump’s political skills are most formidable.” • As usual, conservative thinkers confuse liberal Democrats with the left. I’d recast Linker’s scenario to something like Trump combining (conservative) culture war with an anti-socialist message, while the [urk] Biden/Harris* ticket responds with identity politics, and weak tea policy proposals that are strong enough for the “socialist” label to stick, but weak enough not to deliver universal concrete material benefits (like CAP’s “Medicare for America,” for example). And you can’t beat something with nothing. NOTE * Not a prediction, just a placeholder.

UPDATE “Trump Finds the Formula to Defeat Democrats in 2020” [Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative]. “If the pollsters at CNN and CBS are correct, Donald Trump may have found the formula for winning a second term in 2020. His State of the Union address, say the two networks, was met with the approval of 76 percent of all viewers—97 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of independents, and 30 percent of Democrats. Seventy-two percent agreed with the president’s plans for securing the border with Mexico. Trump was not only unapologetic in defense of his wall. He seemed to relish savaging the rising radicalism of Democrats on two critical issues many of them have seized upon since their 2018 triumph: abortion on demand, right up to the day of birth, and soak-the-rich socialism.” • The irony, of course, is that liberal Democrats are resisting “soak-the-rich socialism” with all the powers at their command…

2019

“The controversy over Ilhan Omar and AIPAC money, explained” [Matt Yglesias, Vox]. “House Republicans don’t have a policy agenda that they’re planning to wield to win back the House from Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, but they do have a new favored wedge issue: Israel. Republicans, led by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, are accusing two new Muslim members of Congress, who’ve made strident criticisms of Israel, of anti-Semitism…. Omar followed up on Greenwald by saying that McCarthy’s approach to this issue was “all about the Benjamins baby”* (i.e., motivated by money)….. Offered an opportunity to clarify by Batya Ungar-Sargon, the opinion editor for the Forward, Omar instead upped the ante to say clearly that she believes the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel” • And shortly afterwards, a howling mob of representatives, led by Nancy Pelosi, forced Omar to apologize and make a hostage-style video doing so. That’s what you get from liberal Democrats for speaking the truth! NOTE * Yglesias misquotes. Omar tweeted “It’s all about the Benjamins baby 🎶”; I’m guessing the jaunty little “🎶” emoji infuriated Omar’s detractors as much as anything.

“Trump calls on Omar to resign over remarks condemned as anti-Semitic” [The Hill]. • So throwing Omar under the bus didn’t buy Pelosi a thing, did it? (Except continued access to teh AIPAC money teat, of course. So there’s that.)

Here is Puff Daddy’s All About the Benjamins (1998; #18 on the Billboard Hot 100), a cultural reference certainly available to a large part of Omar’s constituency, although not to the liberal Democrat’s withered gerontocracy:

Not my favorite genre, but clearly not ant-semitic (Benjamin Franklin *** checks notes *** was not Jewish). In any case, “it’s all about the benjamins” is, well true; this is the Beltway, after all. If Omar had said, with California’s Jesse Unruh, that “Money is the mother’s milk of politics,” would she have been beset by a howling mob of Third Wave Feminsts? Anything’s possible these days, but I’m guessing no. And I’m so old I remember “Listen to black women,” not to mention how the Blue Wave brought in a wonderfully “diverse” class of new representatives, and Omar was a “rising star.” Which I hope she becomes, in fact; the Somalis have done good things for Lewiston, Maine.

UPDATE “Ilhan Omar Was Right” [Jacobin]. “The Israel lobby, especially AIPAC, has long greased the wheels of American politics by bundling millions of dollars for campaign contributions and spending further millions on sending politicians and journalists on junkets to Israel, where they meet with government officials and absorb pro-Israel talking points under the thin pretense of a fact-finding mission. However earnest these groups may be about their support for Israel, they are explicitly in the business of trading influence for money.” • No duh.

UPDATE “‘It was definitely about the Benjamins’ — former campaign staffer details AIPAC’s far-reaching financial power” [MondoWeiss]. “A month after winning the Dem primary, we were struggling to gain attention or money….. A local Dem volunteer leader of the Cincinnati AIPAC group came over and said they would like to donate the PAC max (I believe $5000) and would also like to see Vic take a public stance on two issues that, I thought, were relatively obscure: an Iran sanctions bill and something else I can’t recall, perhaps about continuing arms sales to Israel. Suffice to say, these were not hot button issues in the race… It was definitely about the Benjamins. Never would have done it otherwise. AIPAC’s power is also about great organizing (they sent a local Dem volunteer emissary) and about diligence (they paid attention to us before anyone else and were happy to donate to both us and the pro-Likud incumbent). But money is the lubricant that makes the whole machine run. @IlhanMN is right to point this out.” • And no good deed goes unpunished!

UPDATE “Ilhan Omar’s Dilemma: AIPAC, Zionism and the Politics of Weaponized Identity” [Ghion Journal]. “Had Representative Omar replied back that Jews were paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, you would not be reading this article today–you would instead be reading a rightful condemnation. However, Representative Omar said that AIPAC was essentially bribing politicians and by extension coercing them to enact policies and legislation that favor Israel. In DC, lying is custom but telling truth is blasphemy.” • It’s occurred to me that, from the perspective of a liberal Democrat apparatchik, AIPAC might not be an outlier but a model. After all, AIPAC is identity-driven, and, well, delivers the Benjamins. Why shoudn’t there be two, three, many AIPACs? When there are enough identity1, identity2… identitynSaban and Adelson equivalents, of course.

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UPDATE “New York Democrats Could Eliminate Ocasio-Cortez’s District in 2020” [The Intercept]. “The 29-year-old congressperson noted (accurately) that it’s generally expected that New York will likely lose a seat, despite the city itself growing at a consistent pace. ‘I don’t know if that means that all of our districts are going to be redrawn dramatically, because they have been historically gerrymandered, or what will happen, but there’s certainly a possibility, if not a guarantee, that my district in the coming years will not look like my district today,’ Ocasio-Cortez said. ‘So I think it’s entirely possible, and New York politics being what it is, we have no idea where things are going to go.'” • The Democrats would never…. Oh, who am I kidding? So I’m looking forward to AOC beating Chelsea Clinton like a gong in the 2020 Senate race.

UPDATE “AOC: Can you be a democratic socialist and a capitalist? ‘It’s possible'” [MSNBC]. • Engels was a mill-owner in Manchester…

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “A Virginia politician’s novel approach to personal scandal: Tell all before opponents do” [WaPo]. “Lee J. Carter, a Virginia state lawmaker with enough proverbial skeletons to crowd a graveyard, has taken it upon himself to beat any potential rival to the punch. In a whiplash-inducing confessional on Twitter, Carter, a Democratic delegate from Prince William County [and the General Assembly’s only self-proclaimed socialist[, recently told his 18,000 followers he needed to share details of his past before unidentified foes ‘try personal smears.'” • And it worked!

UPDATE “So you are a Democratic precinct captain in Virginia, now what?” [Alice Marshall, Medium]. • A vivid portrait of electoral politics at ground level, well worth a read.

UPDATE From 2016, still germane:

Seems legit.

Stats Watch

JOLTS, December 2018: “Job openings continue to accelerate much faster than hiring” [Econoday]. “The gap between openings and hires is now… a new record. Growth in new jobs has been outmatching growth in the labor market which is a classic formula for a breakout in wage inflation, yet something that has mysteriously yet to appear. There are already lots of red signals in this report and perhaps the most important one will be if and when quits start gaining more significant traction.” And but: “Job openings remain at a high level, and quits are still increasing year-over-year. This was a solid report” [Calculated Risk]. And but: “The unadjusted data analysis shows rate of growth is well above the average seen in 2018. With this JOLTS, it is predicting improvement in the employment situation we have seen over the past year” [Econintersect].

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, January 2019: “Doubts about future economic growth diminished optimism among small business owners to the lowest level in 26 months” [Econoday]. “Despite a less glowing outlook, current small business operations remained quite strong, with strong hiring, hiring plans, and job openings, as well as solid inventory and capital spending… A net 60 percent reported capital outlays, just 1 point less than in December and well above the recovery average.”

Retail: “When Amazon Went From Big to Unbelievably Big” [The Atlantic]. “According to its latest annual report, Amazon now has 288 million square feet of warehouses, offices, retail stores, and data centers. In 2017—the biggest growth year for the company’s properties—alone, it added more square feet of building (74.6 million) than the company had total in 2012 (73.1 million), when it was already the largest online retailer in the world. Amazon has added more building space from 2016 to 2018 than it did in all the rest of its history. Go back a little further in time, and the growth is even more astounding: Amazon has 48 times the square footage it did in 2004… This is not due to the growth of Amazon Web Services (the company’s data-center business), or the acquisition of Whole Foods. All of its retail locations add up to less than 20 million square feet; the whole Amazon Web Services business occupies only 10 million square feet. Amazon’s recent growth has been in the service of logistics, the work of getting stuff you order on the internet to your home or business… At a site visit I took with one of Amazon’s major warehouse developers—Prologis—one employee pointed at a huge building under construction and noted a crucial change in the American economy: ‘People don’t realize this is where the future is,’ he said. ‘No one’s going to shopping malls. Shopping malls are going into here, right?'” • 

The Bezzle: “Waymo CTO on the company’s past, present and what comes next” [TechCrunch]. After 10 years, this is where we are: “This is what they’re doing today as a result of all of that work. Ride hailing is the first commercial application that we’re pursuing. Beyond that we are working on long-haul trucking, long range deliveries. We’re interested, at some point, deploying the technology in personally owned cars, local deliveries, public transportation, so forth and so on.” • Well, let me know how that works out…

Tech: “Saying Goodbye to Louisville” [Google Fiber]. “Over the years, we’ve said a lot of hellos. (Or, more accurately, “Hey there’s.”)…. Today, we’re saying goodbye to one of our Fiber cities. And it ain’t easy. After a lot of analysis, we’ve made the tough decision to leave Louisville, Kentucky. As we told our customers today, we will be turning off the network on April 15 and their next two months of service are on us. The lessons we’ve learned in Louisville have already made us better in our other Google Fiber cities. We’ve refined our micro trenching methods and are seeing good outcomes elsewhere. For that, and many other reasons, we are deeply grateful to Mayor Greg Fischer, the City of Louisville and its residents for their partnership and spirit of innovation over the past two years.” • Google’s breezy tone is unsufferable. Coverage includes phrases like “humiliating setback,” “fiber installation failures left cables exposed in the roads,” and “Google Fiber is required to restore city streets to their previous condition.” At least “Google Fiber received no financial incentives from Louisville Metro Government.” So there’s that.

Tech: “The government is using the wrong data to make crucial decisions about the internet” [Recode]. “The Federal Communications Commission, the government body charged with overseeing internet connectivity, among other things, uses data that is self-reported by the internet service providers… ISPs have to report whether a census block — an imprecise geographic area that ranges from a tenth of a mile to 8,500 miles and can contain anywhere from zero to 600 people — has access to “advertised” broadband download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second, the minimum requirement to be considered broadband…. A whole census block is considered “served” if broadband service is available anywhere within it. So even if it’s impossible to get internet in your home or business, your area could be marked off as having 100 percent availability because someone hundreds of miles away is connected… In essence, the government data is measuring areas in which an internet connection could exist rather than where it is…. Broadband usage data from Microsoft — which was released late last year and is based on anonymous data the company collected on how fast its products were actually being used and updated — paints a much bleaker picture. It shows that most counties in America are without high levels of broadband usage.” • Unlike, say, First World countries like South Korea. Here’s a handy map:

So when you hear the phrase “rural broadband,” that means most of America besides the coastal enclaves.

Tech: “The fundamental problem with Silicon Valley’s favorite growth strategy” [Tom O’Reilly, Quartz]. “Uber and Lyft have developed powerful services that delight their users and are transforming urban transportation. But if they hadn’t been given virtually unlimited capital to offer rides at subsidized prices taxicabs couldn’t match in order to grow their user base at blitzscaling speed, would they be offering their service for less than it actually costs to deliver? Would each company be spending 55% of net revenue on driver incentives, passenger discounts, sales, and marketing to acquire passengers and drivers faster than the other? Would these companies now be profitable instead of hemorrhaging billions of dollars a year? Would incumbent transportation companies have had more time to catch up, leading to a more competitive market? Might drivers have gotten a bigger share of the pie? Would a market that grew more organically—like the web, e-commerce, smartphones, or mobile mapping services—have created more value over the long term?” • Funny to think of Uber and Lyft as enormous debacles caused by central planning….

The Biosphere

“The Tiny Swiss Company That Thinks It Can Help Stop Climate Change” [New York Times]. “The technicians had in front of them 12 large devices, stacked in two rows of six, that resembled oversize front-loading clothes dryers. These were ‘direct air capture’ machines, which soon would begin collecting carbon dioxide from air drawn in through their central ducts. Once trapped, the CO₂ would then be siphoned into large tanks and trucked to a local Coca-Cola bottler, where it would become the fizz in a soft drink.” • Cites to the Haber-Bosch method, which is indeed a process that pulls a chemical from the air on an industrial scale. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the use case, though.

UPDATE Thoughtful thread:

“There are 3K tons of infrastructure for every person. We live by a huge exoskeleton of energy systems, food systems, concrete & cable, etc.” Tonnage seems like a strange measure, but it’s evocative.

Our Famously Free Press

“The #XRPArmy, Explained” [Trolly McTrollface’s Blog]. The context is bitcoin wars and the Ripple app, but here is the conclusion: “One thing that surprised me most, is that I found no evidence of bot activity. The amount of human work, as shoddy as it might be, that the XRP Army is ready to invest in their mission to destroy all Ripple – related criticism, is just mind-boggling. This makes it very hard for Twitter to police their activity: they are genuine accounts, run by real people, who are simply ready to waste incredible amounts of time producing low-quality content.” • Algos aren’t gonna work. The platforms are gonna have to forget their scale bullshit, too, because moderation doesn’t scale.

Class Warfares

“The Military Targets Youth for Recruitment, Especially at Poor School” [Teen Vogue]. “As enrollment drops, recruiters are finding new ways to market the military favorably to teenagers. For example, the Army recently began recruiting through video game tournaments in hopes of connecting with young people, according to Stars and Stripes.” • And then, of course, there are the economic incentives. I keep waiting for video games to make their way into electoral politics. If it’s happened yet, I haven’t seen it.

“Will Growers’ Demand for Wage Cuts Get Help From U.S. Government?” [Portside]. “The Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Workers Survey, the best analysis of farm worker demographics for over two decades, says there are about 2.5 million farm workers in the U.S., with about three-quarters of them born outside the U.S., and half undocumented. Last year growers were certified to bring in 242,762 H-2A workers – a tenth of the total workforce and a rapidly rising number. Holding down their wages would save growers a lot of money.Farmworker Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy coalition, says the average annual income for farm worker families is between $17,500 and $19,999. A quarter of all farm worker families earn below the federal poverty line of $19,790, the coalition says.”

“Suburb Socialism: Chapter I: Mass Transit” [Medium]. “I want to explain just how desolate the suburbs actually are with a brief but deep dive into a single aspect of suburban living. Bear with me if you would and say a prayer for my soul…. The amount of space we devote to parking in the suburbs is fucking psychotic” (about the size of the state of Maryland on the high end). If I take an aerial view of my town in Google Maps, yes, psychotic is the word. More: “Even if we were to win massive electoral victories up and down the ballot; even if we were to secure federal funding for national free mass transit; we still have to ensure that as the number of buses and trains rise, the number of personal cars on the road falls. And really I think the best way to do this is to reverse the process that made cars convenient; as we expand our van/bus/rail services, we’ve got to tear up parking lots and certain roads, and replace them with more ecologically/socially friendly installations.” • Yep. The dreaded lifestyle changes.

“What Happens When a Metropolitan Area Shares the Wealth” [Washington Monthly]. ” The confidence people have in the area’s public schools is one effect of a law passed back in the 1970s called the ‘Fiscal Disparities Act’… The Minnesota state legislature passed a law requiring all of the region’s local governments—in Minneapolis and St. Paul and throughout their ring of suburbs—to contribute almost half of the growth in their commercial tax revenues to a regional pool, from which the money would be distributed to tax-poor areas. Today, business taxes are used to enrich some of the region’s poorest communities.” • So, no race to the bottom on taxes to attract business which, paradoxically, is better for business.

News of the Wired

“Stonehenge, other ancient rock structures may trace their origins to monuments like this” [Science]. “By about 4300 B.C.E., megaliths had spread [from Northwestern France] to coastal sites in southern France, the Mediterranean, and on the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Over the next few thousand years, the structures continued to pop up around Europe’s coasts in three distinct phases. Stonehenge is thought to have been erected around 2400 B.C.E., but other megaliths in the British Isles go back to about 4000 B.C.E. The abrupt emergence of specific megalithic styles like narrow stone-lined tombs at coastal sites, but rarely inland, suggests these ideas were being spread by prehistoric sailors. If so, it would push back the emergence of advanced seafaring in Europe by about 2000 years.”

“Drunk Witnesses Remember a Surprising Amount” [Scientific American]. n = 136. “The investigators found that both the inebriated and sober people who were interviewed immediately demonstrated better recollection of the film events than their drunk or sober counterparts who were questioned later. The effect held even for people with blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 or higher—the legal limit for driving in most of the U.S. (Intoxication levels varied because different people metabolize alcohol at different speeds.) The results suggest that intoxicated witnesses should be interviewed sooner rather than later.”

“How the Brain Creates a Timeline of the Past” [Quanta]. “The kind of memory-linked time Tsao wanted to think about is deeply rooted in psychology. For us, time is a sequence of events, a measure of gradually changing content. That explains why we remember recent events better than ones from long ago, and why when a certain memory comes to mind, we tend to recall events that occurred around the same time. But how did that add up to an ordered temporal history, and what neural mechanism enabled it?” • This is fascinating. My problem with Quanta is that it’s almost impossible to excerpt…

“Gym Class Is So Bad, Kids Are Skipping School to Avoid It” [The Atlantic]. “. Analyzing data out of the state’s Texas Fitness Now program—a $37 million endeavor to improve middle schoolers’ fitness, academic achievement, and behavior by requiring them to participate in P.E. every day—the researchers concluded that the daily mandate didn’t have any positive impact on kids’ health or educational outcome. On the contrary: They found that the program, which ran from 2007 to 2011, actually had detrimental effects, correlating with an uptick in discipline and absence rates. As for why this particular P.E. program was counterproductive, Analisa Packham, an economics professor at Miami University in Ohio who co-authored the study, points to bullying as one potential reason. Students are more likely to be bullied in middle school than at any other point in their academic careers, and P.E. presents a particularly ripe opportunity for abuse, whether because the class forces them to use a locker room, where adult supervision is limited, or because it facilitates the teasing of overweight or unathletic kid.” • As an unathletic kid, I identify.

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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 (ChiGal):

ChiGal writes: “Confusion reigns here in Chapel Hill as trees burst into full bloom the first week of February. It’s been in the 70s, but is supposed to drop back down below freezing tomorrow…” Global wierding. My forsythia has been blooming in September for several years.

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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.

194 comments

  1. micha

    I just (1:55 PM) saw a Austin Goolseby give a travesty denunciation of MMT on MSNBC. The usual neoliberal crap. He says that the government needs to borrow from Wall Street or it will be inflationary. This shows the hatred of the DNC toward MMTrs — while ignoring how QE created credit to pump into the stock, bond and real estate markets.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > how QE created credit to pump into the stock, bond and real estate markets

      And what did we get for all that stupid money sloshing about? Uber… The iPhone… Stock buybacks… Robot cars… Rockets to Mars… An enormous bezzle in Silicon Valley. No infrastructure at all, of course.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        The frackers and the leveraged loan underwriters are quite appreciative, I’ve no doubt. CLOs may yet cause some trouble, give them time!

        Reply
    2. JohnnyGL

      To their credit, MMTers understood that QE was always going to accomplish very little for the real economy. It’s an asset swap of money of zero maturity (cash in checking accounts) for money with a longer maturity (treasury or GSE bonds).

      The inflationistas that screamed about hyperinflation right around the corner failed to grasp that holding bonds isn’t really a constraint to spending. If bondholders wanted to spend that money, they could have easily done so via a variety of mechanims like repo, securities lending, outright sale.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That sounds like the saying, money can’t buy you happiness.

        Only the right kind of money, or certainly not the wrong kind of money.

        Reply
        1. lambert strether

          “They say that money can’t buy happiness. But it can sure take the sting out of being unhappy.” —John D. MacDonald

          Reply
    3. Pelham

      If Goolsby were to take any other line, however, he would instantly discredit himself and all his ilk. These guys simply have to mount the stiffest possible resistance to MMT; it’s a matter of professional life and death for them.

      Reply
      1. GF

        I don’t understand denouncing MMT when the government already is a MMT entity?? I know we “have to” borrow money from wallstreet or the oligarchs wither away.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          This is about Goolsebey’s legacy. His time in the Obama White House is what he will milk the rest of his life, and he isn’t likely to go anywhere without a centrist resurgence. After all, why would a generic Democrat type administration bring in Goolsebey?

          If people ever figured out Goollsebey and his ilk were priests casting chicken bones and demanding donations…being a top top level adviser to a well liked former President is a better gig than being a disgraced adviser to a largely forgotten former President everyone is too embarrassed to remember

          Reply
    4. Grant

      “He says that the government needs to borrow from Wall Street or it will be inflationary”

      Someone like him can say a simple sentence like that and be wrong on so many levels. How would government “borrowing” create inflation? And who creates our base money? Do those private banks create US dollars, coins, etc.? Seems that the Fed is responsible for dollars, the treasury for coins, and they work together on monetary and fiscal matters. So, does it not lead to a bit of curiosity to ask why a government has to borrow a currency only it can create? I wonder how he thinks the state creates actual money, how does it inject new money into the economy? And what role does private credit creation have on inflation, since most money (defined broadly) is private credit money?

      Am I missing something? Am I off logically somewhere?

      Reply
  2. Henry Moon Pie

    Military recruiting–

    So the Army has added to its new “Warriors Wanted” ad campaign that openly appeals to guys looking for a little action. The first one was set in a mud-walled village located in a treeless, arid location. The one I saw while catching some college b-ball on the weekend was an artillery battalion located in a hilly, deciduous forest. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a subtle signal of a change of focus for our military.

    Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        they lead deplorable lives, and we will only improve them by making the tough, courageous choices and bombing the ozarks.

        Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      What species of trees grow in Ukraine? Or in how many other places with extractable resources on the Neo-Neo lists of upcoming conquests (sic)?

      Anyone recall John Wayne’s great opus, “Green Berets”? That attempt to spin and sell the whole “enterprise?” The Brass made many copies available to the Troops in Vietnam, so by repetitive showings on Movie Nights, the “good” movies being diverted into officer country, we would know “what we were fighting for” and how to identify the “enemy.” Most of us knew we were just trying to stay alive so we could get back to “the World” and get some (excuse the expression) “round-eyed pu__y,” or go punch out “Jodie,” the draft dodger who was screwing one’s wife or girl friend. Each showing of that totally non-credible fable, accompanied by many troops who recited all the lines along with the cast, played to hoots of derision. There pretty much ain’t no pine trees and scrub growth and red-clay soil like you get at Ft. Benning, where most of the action scenes were shot. http://www.answers.com/Q/Where_was_the_john_Wayne_film_green_berets_filmed

      You’d think they would have at least moved the filming down to some Central American spot where at least the forest and jungle and terrain looked more like what you got in Vietnam. But such confidence in the ability to manufacture consent!

      Too many College Boys amongst the draftees, I guess, though a lot of less advantaged types showed they understood the Big Lies and scams too.

      And I recall one door gunner who was told to shoot the water buffalo that the peasants used to work their fields. This was a tall, skinny guy from Iowa farm country. He responded that shooting a farmer’s water buffalo would be like having someone blow up his John Deere tractor at home, and would not dispose him kindly to the people that did that. He got killed during Tet, by the way.

      Reply
      1. Isotope_C14

        Though, I believe the insurance industry uses Des Moines as a secret base of operations. I have a relative who assists the rich to deny the poor medical care there. She is paid the new York rates which is a hefty sum in Iowa.

        Reply
  3. Carolinian

    “withered gerontocracy”

    Now you’re talking! Think I’m far enough along to call out the gerontocrats without being accused of anti-oldism.

    And one could argue that almost everything that has happened in America since the middle of the 20th century was about the socialist menace. For example: did LBJ go heavy into Vietnam to avoid being called a commie because of civil rights, medicare, the Great Society? Even with communism dead the neocons have had to reinvent the cold war to keep the liberals in line. Putin, like Stalin, is coming for our way of life….

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        Analogous to but not synonymous with “geezer.”
        If I dismember correctly, “Aunty Oldy” was a character in the sequel to “Wizard of Oz.”
        And, “withered gerontocracy.” I am told, on inside authority, that recent advances in ‘infantile blood transfer’ technology have made great advances in “gerontic turgidity enhancement” possible.
        Makes me pine for the days of the old “Super Adventure Club.”

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Gabbard was on PBS Finding Your Roots tonight. Definitely not withered. Maybe it’s time for some non-Boomers to finally take over. We seem to have made a hash of things.

          Reply
          1. Isotope_C14

            The time is likely passed, but I wouldn’t mind the generation of “VCR’s flashing 12:00” bowing out gracefully.

            Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes. None of those whinging about “tropes” are capable to providing tropes it would be appropriate to use. The idea seems never to have occurred to them. A person with a cynical twist of thought might conclude that the agenda is to silence all discussion of the entire subject. But that would imply that the entire exercise is being conducted in bad faith, which is, of course, absurd.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There is an unwritten rule that says one can insult oneself all one wants.

        So, an online exchange might go something like this (and happened at least once here):

        Poster A: “Those xxx….”

        Poster B: “That’s degrading” (or something to that effect)

        Poster A: “You can’t tell over the net, but I’m one of them*.” (them* could be any group).

        Poster B (or C or D): “That’s OK then.”

        Now, I don’t know if Friedman is entitled to that consideration or not, or if he is invoking that.

        Reply
    2. allan

      It would be irresponsible not to point out that Rep. Gottheimer’s companion
      in demanding Omar’s head was none other than Elaine Luria (VA-02),
      familiar to fans of Lambert’s 2018 worksheets for her M as in MILO designation.
      Which will only redouble the DCCC’s drive to recruit such in 2020.

      Reply
  4. Randy

    Alas, Amazon again!

    After spending 2 hours of my time and 2 gallons of gas and wear and tear on my vehicle looking for a winter coat I returned home without a coat. An hour later the coat was ordered from Amazon and will be delivered today by my mailman who is driving down my road every day. Whose fault is it that my somewhat local merchants can’t be bothered to have a decent selection of winter coats in stock available for sale to their customers who want one in the middle of the winter?

    Sheesh!

    Why should it surprise anyone that Amazon is kicking traditional retail”s ass?

    Reply
      1. Randy

        Bottom line, you NEED a winter coat in the middle of winter. What are you supposed to do, layer 10 layers of flannel shirts?

        Also, my local Fleet Farm type store got bought out by private equity types, most likely soon to be run into the ground. Bezos or private equity, hell of a choice. Sad but those are the choices here in flyover country. I’ll take Bezos for $200, Alec.

        Reply
        1. Big River Bandido

          You missed the point.

          Local retailers are so hard pressed that they keep only a small amount of stock on the shelves as a form of self-protection — a direct result of competition from the Wal-Marts, Dollar Stores and Amazons of the world.

          In buying from Amazon, you are acting as part of the problem.

          Reply
          1. Randy

            I am not part of the problem if the local retailer won’t even try to satisfy the demand for an item by providing the supply. Also it has historically been difficult to find winter merchandise after Xmas in brick and mortar stores even before Amazon showed up. IOW it has always been that way.

            MalWart? Their shelves are chronically poorly stocked with even everyday items. I wouldn’t even consider shopping for a winter coat there.

            Reply
            1. Darius

              Amazon has gamed it so you have little choice but to buy from them or go without. Our leaders enabled it by abandoning antitrust enforcement for the Benjamins. Boycotts are useless unless organized. What to do is elect more AOCs.

              Reply
            2. Big River Bandido

              If you’re getting it shipped to you, just about any real clothing store will do that; and it’ll probably be a better product rather than one made with the cheapest materials and shoddiest workmanship available for the lowest price. “Bargain” outlets are never real bargains when you figure in poor quality and short product life. (You mention a coat that fell apart after two years. I’ve been wearing the same Old Navy winter coat for…I’ve lost track…at least 6 years already. The previous one I had for 10.)

              You DO still have options in who you buy from.

              Reply
              1. lambert strether

                Since it takes me a whole day to get to the mall via public transport, I sometimes use Amazon.

                Bought the same pair of pants from the same vendor at the same link three years running. The third year, the pants — note that the brand, image, and spec were identical each time — had been crapified; worse stitching, worse fabric, worse zipper. The price was the same.

                So, you don’t know what you’re getting when you shop for clothes on Amazon. (And so-called “free returns” are a tax on my time.)

                Reply
    1. zagonostra

      Same frustration. I went to local Dicks Sporting goods to buy bungee chords and they were about 30% more expensive than listed on Amazon. So I said the hell with, I’ll just do more push-ups…I certainly see the seduction of going online to make purchases.

      It made me wonder how local Sporting Goods stores, or any other stores, will survive. I personally refuse to give my business to Amazon and Walmart, but damn if the rest of the world seems to give a fly flea…

      Reply
      1. marie@tecumseh.mine.nu

        I find the best way to deal with amazon prices is not to look at them. That way I never know how much of a deal I just missed out on.

        Reply
    2. Lee

      Hope it fits and otherwise lives up to your expectations. Evidently, the return rate for clothing through Amazon is >25%. If you know what you want, some decent quality vendors, REI or Ben Davis stores, for example, will ship you stuff directly. Not having brick and mortar stores really, really sucks.

      Reply
      1. Randy

        Thanks, I bought a Carhartt J130, same model and size as the one I wore out. It will fit. Suitable for work and for the classy restaurants I frequent occasionally.

        Reply
          1. Randy

            Around here jacket can be obtained new for $100. Same on Amazon.

            That one will be threadbare like my present one in 2-3 years. New one will last 6-7 years.

            SWMBO will not allow me to buy Carhartt brown, looks too much like a work jacket. Which it is.

            Reply
        1. BoulderMike

          Maybe buy directly from the manufacturer? Free shipping also! Instead of contributing to a Billionaire who is putting your local stores out of business. Looks to me like they are charging the same as Amazon. Amazon is scary as they are growing horizontally and vertically. And what makes you think that Jeff Bezos isn’t a big part of private equity also? Where do you think he puts some of his extra billions?

          https://www.carhartt.com/products/Sandstone-Active-Jac-Quilted-Flannel-Lined-J130

          Reply
          1. landline

            I buy little clothing. I try to buy union made products. Yes, they still exist. Union Line is my favorite brand. Here is their website for information only because they do not sell retail: http://www.unionmadeclothing.com/

            Here are a few online retailers that sell Union Line and other union made or USA made clothing. The best prices vary from seller to seller depending on the item.

            https://www.theunionshop.org/
            http://allseasonsuniforms.com/
            https://www.unionlabel.com/
            https://allusaclothing.com/

            Reply
          2. Randy

            After checking out Carhartt dot com the inventory problem at the stores is apparently caused by Carhartt. The available coats are the odd sizes on both ends of the size charts (and colors I didn’t want). The middle more common sizes are sold out. The coats are imported so I would guess Carhartt orders what they think will sell and if they don’t order enough, that’s all folks, wait until next year. Supply chain too long and not responsive to changes in demand?

            Reply
    3. John Ashley

      Amazon should be in the GND.

      Of course, to have a small group running efficient routes to deliver all goods right to your door would cut down on useless travel by individuals and then all the excess parking lots could be plowed under.
      Perhaps only robot trucks and vehicles would be allowed on the few open roads.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        That’s assuming that when you go out to shop you only buy one thing. I seriously doubt that an all delivery retail setup would be more carbon efficient than making people go to stores. Also, not only does Amazon still enjoy a sales tax subsidy–third party vendors on the site generally don’t seem to charge it–but Trump may be right that they are getting a sweetheart deal on post office delivery. Then there’s the over the top Taylorism of the warehouses–a result of having to keep shipping as cheap as possible in order to compete on cost. New Deal, or the same plutocratic old deal?

        Reply
        1. Monty

          What you suppose is possibly true for residents of Manhattan or San Fransisco (for some items). Most certainly not true in rest of the US, in so far I have seen. In AZ, I live 25+ miles from the mall.

          Millions of folks driving to the mall, on the off chance of finding what they need, is obviously much less efficient that centralized e-commerce. Not to mention all the energy used to light and heat those stores.

          The sad state of many US cities is that there is pretty much nothing to do there, apart from go shopping. That’s why it is traumatic for retail locations to die off. Hopefully they will be replaced in time with more leisure activities.

          India has a good idea. Separate the platform and the sellers. Amazon is “the mall” and allows retailers to “open stores” and use its property and logistics, for a cut. Amazon may not “open stores” in “the mall” itself to undercut successful retailers.

          Why not nationalize the platform, and run it as a utility, you really only need one.

          Reply
          1. Carolinian

            Having spent a fair amount of time in the desert state of AZ I can assure you that it is hardly representative of most of the country where shopping tends to me a few miles or less, not 25 miles, away.

            And in any event replacement of all stores by Amazon or other e commerce is a pipe dream. As Yves has commented the Whole Foods purchase was dubious and I’d say the notion that people will be buying all their staples, and not just a winter coat, via computer is even more dubious.

            Finally, as I tried to say upthread, it’s not at all clear even now that Amazon is a viable business model once you take away the sales tax and other subsidies and the wall street largesse that props the company up. This house of cards may yet collapse.

            Reply
            1. Monty

              Thanks for your reply. You’re right. It’s not for everybody, but I believe i could do 100% of my shopping there now if i wanted to.

              You might want to check out Whole foods one day. I think it isnt that bad either. Much improved since the takeover, and the Amazon tie ins work well. I like the 5 step system that describes the welfare of the farm animals used in the food they sell. If you are a meat eater, that is reason enough to shop there vs. those other cruelty mongering supermarkets.

              I’d be astounded if Amazon didnt outlive me and most other current corporations. I wouldnt hold your breath for a collapse!

              Also… I have been paying sales tax on there for years. Do they not pass that on to the state?

              Reply
              1. Carolinian

                Amazon is now required to collect and pay sales tax on items sold by Amazon but apparently not on items sold by third party vendors and “fulfilled by Amazon.” I just bought such an item and was not charged sales tax.

                Instead those vendors pay a hefty fee to Amazon (30 percent I believe) for the service while still having to compete with other third party vendors for lowest price or nobody will buy from them. So a tax is collected which goes to–Amazon! Such a great deal, having a quasi monopolistic “platform.”

                Apparently the vendors abide by the traditional mail order rule which says you only have to collect sales tax if you have a physical presence in the customer’s state. Amazon now has a physical presence in all states it seems and no longer gets states to wave the rule as part of their corporate welfare.

                Reply
          2. John

            Nationalize it! Now yer talking! At any rate when full climate chaos takes over, there will be a convenient national platform for distributing rations throughout the country. The govt can take it over until “normalcy returns”. In the US the military can run it. Sorta like WW2 rationing, but more corruption and grifting. Or else, if things really go bad, it will be the Alibaba platform and we may need to use s little pidgin Chinese.
            Malls will be used for refugee housing. Fun and games for everyone.

            Reply
          3. lambert strether

            First, the malls destroyed downtown. Then, Amazon destroyed the malls.

            I would prefer to roll back the economy to downtowns (public, convivial) than to the malls (private, commodified).

            Does anybody even know what “green retail” would look like, not from the consumer perspective, but from a revised supply chain perspective?

            Reply
          4. tegnost

            I have never found anything I wanted at a mall. If you go to one to shop, unless your headed to spencers gifts you’re going to come back empty handed. Arizona is an interesting case because it’s citizens can’t survive without resource imports, think air conditioning and water as just a couple, and you have to drive 25 miles to get to a place that you say doesn’t have what you want. So yeah amazon has never bothered anyone who doesn’t consider the externalities and just wants their stuff to appear with as little effort as possible. I have to drive a boat to the store, and I never need to use amazon, although nothing is stopping me except I just don’t like them, I don’t like what they stand for, they’re a crappy employer, and they rely on a taxpayer funded organization for the last mile delivery of their almost universally crappy products, but hey you don’t have to get off the couch to get them. As to whole foods, firstly you’ve got to be kidding, right, and secondly how far from your house is whole foods and is there truly no other retail around the whole foods?

            Reply
    4. Nancy kramer

      You should try local secondhand stores if they have any in your area. Nice coats and cashmere sweaters at cheap prices abound in these places. I bought an Eddie Bauer down jacket right after Christmas at one of these places for $15.99. Looks like it was designed for arctic temperatures.

      By the way buying used is also considered green if you are into that. I buy secondhand because I am poor and cheap.

      Reply
      1. wilroncanada

        Nancy kramer
        Thanks for trying to promote secondhand stores as sometimes a viable option. When living in Nova Scotia 15 years ago, i bought a 3/4 length leather lined winter coat at a Salvation Army store for $25 (if I remember correctly). Later, at ‘Frenchy’s’ i bought a full length London Fog lined topcoat for $10. The thing weighed a ton but was warm without layers underneath to minus 20 celcius. At the same time I bought a second London Fog 3/4 length topcoat, lighter, also for $10. I brought all three back to BC, and finally donated the two London Fog topcoats to a local church thrift shop, still in excellent condition.

        Reply
      2. Yves Smith

        I don’t have time to shop but when I did I was usually between work and hence very careful re spending…and found some really good bargains at “resale’ stores, as they like to call them here.

        Reply
    5. Roger Smith

      We’ve had the same problem trying to find a toddler coat after the one we had broke. We did eventually find one, but you’d be amazed at what stores DON’T carry.

      Reply
    6. Oregoncharles

      Any thrift stores in the area? that’s where we mostly buy our clothes. I hear they’re overflowing – although the local ones aren’t.

      Reply
      1. tegnost

        dedicated thrifter here…a great place to browse thrift stores are vacation towns/2nd home towns. The denizens will have visitors who leave things behind, or last years stuff needs to clear out for this years stuff, books, etc… but it’s important to stop in regularly and for myself I try not to have an objective item in mind and don’t mind walking out empty handed. I have scored majorly. socks shoes undies pajama bottoms and jeans new, but everything else is thrifted and the quality of clothes (you know the ones from back when you would touch the clothes before buying them) used to be way higher, so cheaper for better stuff.

        Reply
    1. Eureka Springs

      Yes, or coaches. In our day they all carried long wooden paddles. And their pets were the biggest kid bullies. Most were cops and or worked at the State prison nearby for their second job. I’m willing to wager a substantial sum at that time they were all Democrats…)

      Reply
    2. nycTerrierist

      In days of yore in the ’70s, my public high school offered Modern Dance —
      a life line and a joy for nerds like me, and for some non-nerdy kids as well.

      Damn shame public schools are now merely marks for corporate greedsters to ‘reform’, i.e. gut and loot…

      Reply
      1. laughingsong

        Mine did too but not at first (high school ’73-’77). Gym was run by sadists and had boring sports, so I pretty much cut Gym (and many other classes) for the first two years. I of course had to make up the credits in summer, but as bad as that sounds, it was great because I could take stuff like Karate, yoga, and tai chi instead.

        Then we got modern dance – a specific teacher was hired for the purpose. And my attendance kind of improved. At least, I stopped getting caught because except for the insurance form filled out at the beginning of each year, all of “Mom’s” signatures were mine. I signed everything and wrote all of the excuse notes. Even when I was really sick, I copied her note, threw that one away and presented mine. After that, I never had to go to truancy court again (yeah, I was dragged there at first, before I got the above scam going — saw the ugliest 70’s 5-inch tie ever at that court.)

        Reply
          1. Laughingsong

            Mom would have driven to Sacramento and given her what-for, at least before they jailed her. The whole way to court in the car, Mom was reading the riot act to me. I remember being so upset that I almost threw up. But when we got to court, she ripped those people a new one, saying that the curriculum was not challenging and engaging so what did they expect? If they tried to jail her I expect she would have been even nastier. Seriously you’re already going to jail right, so why not give ‘em hell?

            But that was an era where people still knew their rights and also had a reasonable expectation of getting them (white people anyway 😟). Seriously as Mom was a single parent this would have been devastating to us. Much worse than my truancy was to the state or county or school. So my question to Kamala is: what do you think you’re fixing here? I may have moderated my behavior but for f*** sake, I was a bad teen with raging hormones! I would have directed my rage at the “man” for doing that to Mom. Counter productive.

            Reply
      2. richard

        Not quite yet, my nycTerrierist friend, not quite yet. The K-8 public school where I work offers music and dance, along with pe and art. We have plenty of nerd activities, paths to social activism, light team sports (volleyball, ultimate, basketball) Ymmv obviously, but I don’t think we’re all that unique. And we are a tremendous public good.
        I think the concept of public education as an indispensible public good will be very hard dying. It will be the last thing they manage to kill, if they manage it.

        Reply
    3. Angie Neer

      I experienced that kind of gym teacher too (including one who was brutally abusive to his son, a friend of mine). But I also have fond memories of one who wore a burly tough-guy persona for crowd management purposes, but was also quite good at defending the defenseless, without drawing negative attention. A great teacher.

      Reply
    4. Clive

      I’m not ashamed to ‘fess up (forty years later, so safe in the statue of limitations!) that in the cold, wet months (you want to see cold and wet, I suspect a unique English, or Northern English to be accurate, climate zone, the county of Yorkshire should win a misery award) I happily forged a note from my Mum to get out of gym class. Cross country run days being ground zero for my subterfuge.

      I was actually excellent at track and field. And running in particular. It was the people who were keen on sport that did the most to put me off. Generally very objectionable sorts, I found. And dishonest too. Always exhorting others to “do better for the team” in soccer, usually looking at me. And asking for more enthusiasm. But when I left them flagging and at the back of the group in a 1,500 metres race, suddenly they proclaimed it a waste of time and not a proper sport. Or a 400 metre hurdles race where they couldn’t heave their short legs over the second set and, strangely enough, they didn’t exactly demonstrate the quality of enthusiasm which was, supposedly, expected in others in their teams when it was a team sport being played. The keen sorts were only interested in a sport when they could win or, alternatively, set themselves up as self-appointed “leaders”.

      It dawned on me then how stupid the whole thing was. I could run a sensational 1,500 metre time or trot over hurdles without a second thought or even any real effort simply because I was tall, slim and had ridiculously long legs. Genetic accidents, in other words. So what, even then, I wondered did it prove? Nothing whatsoever.

      Not sure what it signifies but here, BBC is going sport mad nowadays. Some weird attempt at nudge theory or social engineering, I suspect, is being tried out. To what ends, I can only guess. It’s probably not anything good.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        I absolutey Despised ‘junior-high’ PE absolutely ! During our “track-n-field” time, I had the misfortune of breaking an arm whilst practicing high jumping …. going over the bar, but NOT tucking and rolling, little polecat’s arms straight as arrows instead ..the supposedly ‘soft sawdust’ receiving pile did not do much to break my fall. Poor Coach … he was more freaked than I was !! The silver lining in all this was that I was excused from playing softball for the rest of the semester … relieved that I didn’t have to waste my time around the various punk psudo-jocks that otherwise made PE … uh, unfun.

        Reply
      2. Yves Smith

        I was so slow (feet that absorb shock badly, weak and unstable ankles, plus fat!!) that gym teachers would regularly scream at me, I couldn’t possibly run as slowly as I did and I had to be faking it, when I was trying as hard as I could. It was horrible. Bad enough to be so lousy at it and then to have the teachers single me out for abuse on top of it, and on false premises.

        Alway chosen last for the stupid team sports in class too.

        The godsend for me was in 7th grade. We were doing gymnastics, including with a regulation height balance beam. This was very scary. I could barely walk on the damned thing, let alone attempt a routine, which we were required to do.

        I had been seeing orthopedists as soon as I could walk and had my annual visit shortly after this had started. I told him about it.

        He sat bolt upright. “This is insane. There is no way I am allowing you to participate. You are far more likely to get injured than get anything out of it.”

        He wrote a note. I never went to phys ed after that.

        This was also my introduction to gaming systems. Phys ed was a requirement in every state we had lived in, so it never occurred to me that I could get out.

        Reply
    5. Joe Well

      This was also my experience. Also, the most unathletic person in the class (not all my PE teachers, but at least two I can remember).

      Edited to add: I had a number of easily treatable medical ailments that were not all finally treated until I was in my 30s. Like most Americans, I got brushed off by doctors who all but stated outright that I was a crybaby malingerer. Decent healthcare would have done much more for me than any amount of physical education or organized sports.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        That reminds me of my school days. I had undiagnosed exercise endured asthma which made outdoor sports in winter agony for me. It was only diagnosed at 15 when I was carted off to hospital after a sports teacher eccourages me to do a 30 mile cycle to build up my fitness. I learned later from a doctor relative that this was by far the most common misdiagnosis, for decades kids were given antibiotics for ‘bronchitis’, when they actually had asthma.

        Reply
    6. Cat Burglar

      We played out the mandatory PE drama in our California high school in the 70s.

      All of the long-haired and misfit kids hated the boot camp approach to PE and the constant bulllying from the jocks. And, of course, we hated having to play the same team sports over and over, every season, every year of school.

      One day a clever kid actually read the law — every student must be enrolled in PE. It did not say you had to attend, and enrollment only required you to show up for the first couple days of each quarter. So for nearly a year, that’s what happened, and nearly a third of my class were no-shows.

      There must have been a crisis in the administration, because they actually changed the PE curriculum the next year. Special PE classes for members of sports teams separated out the bullies. There might have been another category of standard PE sans jocks. A third group were given individual-skill directed non-competitive classes: yoga, self-defense (was there a message here?), gymnastics, aerobics — and it was co-ed. It was great fun, there were no issues between boys and girls, and I still use the yoga poses, and remember how to distribute the energy when I fall today — and I got stronger, which would never have happened on a diet of stupid ball sports.

      You have to wonder how much of the barking militarism of boys PE is really just about managing cheap, huge classes. The constant diet of basketball, football, and baseball represents a huge subsidy and propaganda effort on behalf of pro sports, and boy is it boring.

      Reply
    7. Janie

      Gym was a joke when I was in school in the 50s – mostly change, get on gym floor and mill around, do something for a few.minutes and shower and redress, then go to your next class with your hair a mess. The family doctor, who with his wife played bridge with my parents weekly, signed medical exemptions annually for me. I was a hall monitor or library aid. Read a lotta good books.

      Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am curious about the use of AOC vs. Ocasio-Cortez.

      Cortez sounds similarly to the name Cortés…of the conquest of Mexico. Some say Cortez is an English adaptation of Cortés.

      Kind of like Brasil morphing into Brazil.

      Is the use of AOC, instead of Ocasio-Cortez, an unconscious attempt to avoid the link? Probably not.

      In any case, it’s better to not use the other side anything to use.

      Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Anyone’s initials are always this way.

          NP – Nancy Pelosi.

          JB – Joe Biden.

          AK – Amy Klobuchar.

          EW – Elizabeth Warren.

          DDE – Dwight D. Eisenhower

          HRC – Hilary Rodham-Clinton.

          Reply
          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Err…B.O. (BHO just sounds better) and HC (healthcare was a big deal in 2007/2008; every call sheet was marked HRC). HRC dropped Rodham for a long time. I only say HRC because of call sheets.

            Also, FDR, JFK, LBJ…AOC.

            Reply
            1. richard

              When did we start using initials for leaders? Was it a wartime thing? A new deal thing? A newspaper save room thing?
              I can’t think of anyone before FDR.

              Reply
      1. Darthbobber

        Probably not. In her campaign, she used her full name in her ads. I think AOC was either handy for twitter or popularized by supporters. And way handier for journalists.

        Reply
    2. Henry Moon Pie

      So is Murray Bookchin smiling somewhere at the way his ideas continue to be discussed and even implemented (Rojava)? If so, that old atheist, rationalist Red would be surprised.

      Bookchin’s idea that human vs. human domination is intimately tied to human vs. Nature domination is an appealing one, though Bookchin’s theory that it all started with shamans might reveal about him than the past.

      Reply
  5. Cal2

    Talking about Kamala’s nose under the Democratic tent and her arrest records:
    “However, as a career prosecutor, Harris is a lifelong operative in the mass incarceration machine. She is so wedded to the beast, she opposed compliance with a court order to dramatically reduce California prison overcrowding, because it would shrink the number of inmates available for work in the prison system. Harris can be effectively neutralized from the Left, as being even more pro-mass Black incarceration than Hillary Clinton, who never personally put anyone in prison.”

    “Therefore, an austerity regime requires the revving up of the state coercive and carceral machinery. In the Age of Austerity, the Lords of Capital need a Jailer in the White House. A Black female jailer like Harris is ideal for the ruling class. As a career prosecutor, Harris is a lifelong operative in the mass incarceration machine.”

    “Most importantly, the rulers need to give people something to feel good about — the illusion that progress is being made, despite their own frozen or worsening economic realities. The trick is to promote racial and gender “firsts” and market them as socially transformative, in the midst of actual social and economic decay. Kamala Harris fits the bill, perfectly – which is why she is the most dangerous to a Sanders project, and why Sanders should jump into the race right away, before the corporate media declare a “front-runner” and otherwise make him appear irrelevant….”

    https://blackagendareport.com/bernie-sanders-vs-kamala-jailer-and-her-corporate-backers

    Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      History shows that the early “front runners” (in other words “media darlings”) mostly ended up being nothing but “stalking horses”. George Romney and Gary Hart come immediately to mind, but there are lots of these. Oh yes, Rudy 91ul1ani was a classic. Lit untold millions on fire…all for a single convention delegate.

      Reply
      1. neo-realist

        Jesse Jackson in the 84 campaign struck me as a stalking horse for Mondale—Sucking the press coverage and the black votes away from Hart and dividing and conquering the anti-Mondale vote.

        Reply
        1. Darthbobber

          There were no black votes to be sucked from Hart. Division among blacks was between Jackson and Mondale. Jackson’s criticisms of Mondale were pretty caustic.

          Reply
    2. zagonostra

      >Also from same piece by Glen Ford:

      You don’t have to be a Democrat to root for Sanders in the primaries. What there is of a mass Left – and virtually all Black political activity — is locked up in the Democratic half of the corporate duopoly. The tens of millions of social democrats that are effectively neutered within the Democratic Party must leave, if there is to be a mass resistance to late capitalist austerity, war and mass incarceration.

      Although Bernie Sanders is probably the most popular politician in the nation, with the most favored political program, the billionaires that control the Democratic Party will move heaven and earth to prevent him from getting the nomination — as was done in 2016.

      The best scenario for the Left is for Sanders to do so well in the primaries that corporate party leadership is forced to resort to dirty tricks and transparently undemocratic means to steal the nomination from him in the clear light of day. At that point, progressives would have yet another chance to escape their subordination, humiliation and ultimate irrelevance in a corporate-owned party, and to create or join a social democratic formation.

      Reply
      1. lambert strether

        > to create or join a social democratic formation

        Let’s move out of handwaving mode and get material. If what you say is possible, I’d expect to see signs of such a formation now. What are they? GP? DSA? Union movement? My money would be on DSA, if they don’t get wrecked by identitarians, but I think they need more gestation, as it were

        Reply
    3. dcblogger

      The Green Party would hate it if the Bernie all left the Democratic party and showed up at the local Green Party. In fact, in many places the Bernie people HAVE taken over the Green Party to the horror of the locals. Bernie people want to win and they will actually do things.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Yes, in Oregon some Bernie supporters did join the Pac. Green Party. They’re good organizers and were most welcome.

        Don’t know where you are or what Green Party you’re talking about.

        Reply
        1. Isotope_C14

          I attended a green party meetup in San Jose. My suspicion is that they are 100% infiltrated.

          We had a guy who would NEVER stop talking about what books to read. I believe he was there to prevent organizing more than anything else. Dragged the far too nice group off on tangents and irrelevant discussions.

          Very dad that the 1% is able to find accomplices in planetary ecocide, all for money…

          Reply
  6. Summer

    Re: “Here is Puff Daddy’s All About the Benjamins (1998; #18 on the Billboard Hot 100), a cultural reference certainly available to a large part of Omar’s constituency, although not to the liberal Democrat’s withered gerontocracy….”

    Well, just as a side note, Diddy did provide a platform for Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Dem Primary. His hip hop Revolt TV network aired a town hall with Sanders at its studios.
    Can probably still see clips of it on YouTube.

    Reply
  7. Alex V

    Carbon capture for soda production is perhaps one of the dumbest things I have ever read when it comes to climate change. It’s mind blowing that this is cited as a serious application. Carbon dioxide found in carbonates beverages is simply the gas in a water solution. The hiss you hear when you open a bottle or the gas you burp out is the gas re-entering the atmosphere. Very little of the dissolved carbon dioxide is absorbed by the body. This concept is an absolute waste of energy for essentially no carbon capture benefit.

    Can’t believe the pathetic state of science comprehension in journalism.

    Reply
    1. RMO

      CO2 is soluble in water – perhaps some of the CO2 doesn’t come right back out again when the container is opened? I can’t see this as being a significant amount though. I am embarrassed to admit that until now I had been under the false impression that industrial CO2 was sourced through fractional distillation of the atmosphere like many other industrial gasses so I was at first even more confused why this process was newsworthy – I thought (wrongly) that we were already getting our CO2 from the atmosphere.

      Reply
    2. Jeff W

      I’m glad you said that because I was thinking “Wait a minute—doesn’t that ‘fizz’ mean that all that CO₂ is going back into the atmosphere? How is that supposed to work?”

      Reply
    3. polecat

      Sounds like came it straight from the Onion.
      If this is an example of what’s being given serious consideration in dealing w/ excess atmospheric CO2 then We .. Are … Screwed

      …. but what the hell, let’s all just knock down some colas instead of developing better methods of actually reducing our collective gaseous energy orgy ! It’s all hunkydink, right ?

      Reply
    4. c_heale

      +1000. This technology is f******* waste of time. This is the problem with the technological solutions to climate change. They don’t work.

      Reply
      1. Cal2

        Idiots!
        What you all forget is the time lag between drinking the coke and farting or burping out.
        Billions of people drinking tooth rotting, bone calcium stripping soft drinks act as human carbon sinks.

        The more that is drunk, the less that is in the atmosphere. ;->

        Reply
    5. Alex V

      Finally read the piece in a bit more detail, after giving up due to the soda inanity. This tidbit was also painful:

      “From an environmental standpoint, air-capture fuels are not a utopian solution. Such fuels are carbon neutral, not carbon negative.”

      Sooooo, building the infrastructure will incur zero carbon emissions, and I assume will run on completely renewable energy?

      Reply
  8. DJG

    Ahhh, the royal “ain’t”

    And it ain’t easy. [sez Google]

    Whenever I see that ain’t (and NY Times columnists like it in an ironical grammatical way) I know that I’m dealing with good old-fashioned buncombe.

    Reply
  9. DJG

    Midwestern Nice and Amy Klobuchar. There is no such thing as Midwestern nice. (Or using the royal ain’t, Midwestern nice ain’t gonna happen.)

    Years ago, I heard the saying, The difference between Midwesterners and the rest of the county is that at least Midwesterners will stab you right in the chest.

    What is being interpreted as Midwestern nice is the prevalent Scandinavian politeness, which is still common in northern Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota (especially). But no one ever accused the people of Wisconsin and Illinois of Midwestern Nice, especially not when they are calling each other cheeseheads and flatlanders.

    Minnesota is also the standoffish Great Lakes State. Hardly the nicest. Well, maybe they have the nicest Lutheran churches. Michigan has the most water, and it is nice, except if you are from Flint, where there is no water to drink, which is kind of a perverse miracle when you think about it.

    Indiana nice, from my point of view as someone from Illinois, is when the Hoosiers try edging into the twentieth century. (The twenty-first is a stretch.)

    And I’ve stayed in towns in Ohio that are best described as Economic Apocalypse Nice.

    So nice is very stretchy here in the Great Lakes States. The biggest point is that no one in their right mind calls a new employer to say weird things about a past employee. Klobuchar is borderline something or other–the irony here is that it is borderline Trump behavior. Too many Jell-O molds, I guess. Absolute green gelatine corrupts absolutely.

    Reply
    1. Mark Gisleson

      Very good takes. I’d never heard of Flatlanders before moving to SE Wisconsin, and now that I’m back in MN no one here knows what those are!

      From Iowa originally and even in the Scandinavian NE there’s a very clear difference between Iowans and Minnesotans that I used to comment on to clients of my St. Paul resume service who were from Minnesota.

      “Iowans,” I would say, “hate to brag about themselves almost as much as Minnesotans do, but at least they don’t interrupt job interviews to say, ‘Well no, not really, but there’s a guy out in your waiting room who really seems to understand that stuff.'”

      I had a thin, flat plastic ruler on my desk. Everytime a Minnesotan would say something deprecatory while we were writing their resume, I’d whack them in the head with that ruler. No pain but a loud THWAP that really worked. Rarely had to whack someone twice. After one time, clients would usually revise what they were saying as they saw me reach for the ruler.

      Reply
    2. voteforno6

      Calling up other employers out of spite? That should be disqualifying for any position of responsibility. What does this say about how she would behave as President, when there’s some real pressure and stress? Her being President would be outright dangerous, I think.

      As far as that Scandinavian politeness goes, don’t forget North Dakota, with all those Norwegians. I don’t know if it’s politeness, but there’s definitely an understated way of expressing themselves.

      Reply
      1. dearieme

        “What does this say about how she would behave as President”: she’d fire the White House travel office staff and appoint her pals in their place?

        Reply
  10. Martin Finnucane

    I’ve been Twitting lately, just in time for the sliming of Ilhan. I’m so confused – “It’s all about the Benjamins” equates to anti-Semitism? The only insult here is to AIPAC – and AIPAC deserves all the insult that we can muster. Or is this the formula?: insulting AIPAC entails insulting some Jewish people (assuming that most AIPAC functionaries are in fact Jewish), and insulting some Jewish people is inherently anti-Semitic, provided that the insult concerns money or influence (the “trope”). The problem there is that it would be impossible to criticize (“insult”) AIPAC (or The Lobby more generally) at all.

    Reply
  11. Carla

    I just received this email message from Adam Gaffney, President of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and think it’s significant enough to share it here:

    Feb. 12, 2019

    Dear colleague,

    Single-payer health care has swung into the center of our national political discussion. Since its founding some three decades ago, PNHP has played a critical role in this achievement.

    Improved Medicare-for-All’s rising fortunes are reflected by developments in Washington. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ single-payer bills had zero co-sponsors prior to 2017; that year, it earned 16. And the number of co-sponsors of H.R. 676—the single-payer bill first introduced in the House of Representatives in 2003 that was based on PNHP’s “Physicians’ Proposal”—also surged.

    The House bill is being revised under the leadership of its new chief sponsor, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wa). PNHP played an important consultative role in the redrafting process. There were initial concerns that the revised House bill might replicate some shortcomings of the Sanders bill, which (unfortunately) adopted current Medicare payment strategies for hospitals and physicians. At the same time, however, H.R. 676 had notable shortcomings, notably its failure to explicitly cover the full spectrum of reproductive health care.

    The revised House bill will launch soon (under a new bill number), and I’m happy to report that drafts reviewed by PNHP leaders indicate that it will be a strong, though not a perfect bill.

    The revised bill includes almost all of H.R. 676’s key provisions: It will eliminate all copays and deductibles; cover long-term care; exclude private insurers; and reform hospital and physician payment as PNHP has long recommended, adopting global budgets for hospitals and eliminating Medicare’s value-based payment approach, which has added waste but little value to the system. The bill’s two-year implementation period is a bit longer than in H.R. 676. However, it improves on H.R. 676 by overriding the Hyde Amendment that bans public funding of abortion, and includes an additional mechanism to control drug prices—allowing the override of drug patents when drug firms demand extortionate prices—a provision recommended in PNHP’s recently launched pharmaceutical proposal.

    The bill has one disadvantage compared to H.R. 676: Although it constrains opportunities for profit-making by investor-owned hospitals and other providers, it lacks a mechanism for the orderly transition of these facilities to not-for-profit status. We fear that managers of for-profit hospitals and nursing homes faced with a ban on profit-making would either circumvent the ban through subterfuge, or convert their real estate to condos or office space, depriving communities of vital health care facilities. In contrast, H.R. 676, following PNHP’s advice, included a provision for a bond-funded buyout of these facilities.

    Given the new bill’s strengths, PNHP’s Board recently voted to endorse it. We are also calling on legislators to co-sponsor the bill, and we encourage you to call your representative at (202) 224-3121 and amplify our request that they become an early co-sponsor, and vocal supporter, of improved Medicare for All. At the same time, we will continue to publicly advocate for improvements in both the House and Senate single-payer bills.

    This is an exciting moment for the single-payer movement, but also a dangerous one. Confusing “faux” Medicare-for-All plans are proliferating, attacks on existing public health care programs are on the rise, and powerful corporate interests are mobilizing against our movement. We have many allies in this cause, but PNHP has a unique role. We will continue to articulate the case for our evidence-based vision of salutary reform, and our voice will be needed more than ever in the days to come.

    Onward,

    Adam Gaffney, M.D., M.P.H.
    President

    Reply
    1. notabanker

      Thanks for this.

      Are there any credible cost research sources on this? The stuff I’ve searched on the interwebs are generic categories of costs with no actual numbers. I’ve seen anecdotal numbers thrown around on massive potential cost savings, but those have just been headline bits.

      Reply
  12. Richard

    I just got my invitation from P. Jayapal to a town meeting on the 20th. If I get a chance to speak, what should I ask?

    Reply
    1. zagonostra

      Ask why they eliminated “H.R. 676” to refer to a bill that everyone knew was “Medicare for All” to a different one that referred to support for NATO.

      Reply
      1. richard

        I definitely want to ask her when nancy pelosi gets treated as the enemy she is. When someone takes action to thwart you, to bring your actions to nothing, that person is your political enemy. So how long does she intend to pretend?

        Reply
    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      Ask, given that the ACA had various regulatory elements (% of funds supposed to go to direct care vs bureaucratic overhead/profit) meant to keep for-profits in line BUT WAS AN ABYSMAL FAILURE IN MAKING ACTUAL HEALTH CARE AFFORDABLE for many, how are people to believe that the”constraints” on profit-seeking will work any better this time around?

      Wouldn’t it be better and cleaner to eliminate profit-seeking from basic healthcare altogether? If the cost of buying out owners is prohibitive, use eminent domain to capture the facilities! They already made enough $$ killing off those forced to go without treatment anyway, this would just be a correction…

      And thanks, Carla!

      Reply
  13. Tenar

    After reading Water Cooler, I usually share an article or two with friends. Most of the time I don’t hear anything back, but today a friend responded to let me know that the Baffler article “It’s Bernie, Bitch“, which Lambert linked to back in mid January, had been taken down. When they clicked on the original link, the following message appeared:

    Editor’s Note: We have removed the January 11, 2019, column by Amber Frost from our website after determining that it does not meet The Baffler’s guidelines for coverage and commentary concerning political candidates. The essay is an expression of Ms. Frost’s personal views. While The Baffler supports a robust discussion about political issues and candidates, as a nonprofit organization it does not support or oppose any individual candidate or potential candidate for political office. We are sorry for any inconvenience to our readers. We appreciate Ms. Frost’s other contributions to The Baffler, which you can find here.

    If the Baffler is a non-profit it makes sense that they would have to follow these rules, but why then did the editors agree to publish it in the first place?

    It’s a shame they took it down – that article was a thoroughly good read.

    Reply
    1. Left in Wisconsin

      In my experience with 501c3’s, which is what I presume The Baffler is, the ones on the right do anything they please and the liberal ones live in fear that they will be called out (by the ones on the right) for “engaging in political activity.” I don’t believe the FEC has ever prosecuted a 501c3 for political activity but the ones I am familiar with self-police to absurd levels. (Liberals are rule-followers if nothing else.) Of course, one side benefit to many (though not necessarily The Baffler) is that they are “constrained” from advocating for real political change. Which makes them (not) sad.

      My guess is that some Koch-affiliated operative contacted The Baffler and said they were going to file some kind of complaint, The Baffler consulted their lawyers (always keen to play it safe) and they caved and took the article down.

      Reply
  14. Katy

    “Amazon’s recent growth has been in the service of logistics, the work of getting stuff you order on the internet to your home or business.”

    When the US Post Office goes up for sale, Amazon will be the only buyer. Bezos has to be contemplating this.

    Because Trump hates Bezos, this will not happen for at least another few years.

    Reply
    1. Johnk k

      Rumor has it the secret deal with amazon was too sweet. But clearly PO business has increased, presumably they’ve nad to hire, and maybe their net…

      Reply
  15. Rees

    Hi all,
    Just wanted to leave some positive news here for the Biosphere. Looks like Bavarians voted to save the bees and other insects. Well over a million people voted in a plebiscite to change the regulations around farming here in Bavaria. More wild flowers, stricter controls around pesticides. The state government basically has to implement the new rules set up in the plebiscite. Here’s a link to the plebiscite webpage. Sorry, it’s in German: https://volksbegehren-artenvielfalt.de/

    Maybe it will brake on international news. It’s certainly huge for Germany.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      If any such measure was going to pass anywhere, it would be Germany leading the way. Though a powerful country, it is actually smaller than Montana in size so the environment is more close to people’s awareness.

      Reply
  16. Big Tap

    Regarding AOC possibly losing a congressional seat. I remember when she endorsed Andrew Cuomo for reelection and got criticism from many on why she did it. Maybe that was her way of self preservation. Cuomo has been known to acknowledge favors and might repay that endorsement by saving her seat.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not sure if it’s conservative (playing it safe, not right wing) to count on that.

      She voted for Pelosi. Will the Speaker save the seat?

      Reply
      1. Big Tap

        Her district seat is decided upon by the New York State legislature and ultimately the governor. Congressional District locations are a state function so Pelosi I guess could influence Cuomo to deep six her. You may be right.

        Reply
    2. allan

      Speaking of Cuomo, now that his popularity is at an all time low,
      he’s decided to change jobs and become a performance artist:

      Donald Trump hears pitch from Andrew Cuomo to repeal the SALT cap [Rochester D&C]

      President Donald Trump met Tuesday with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Washington, where the Democratic governor made his case to repeal a measure capping state and local tax deductions.

      The meeting came as Cuomo tries to rally Democratic states and lawmakers to fight against the measure, known as the SALT cap, which was a key provision that helped fund cuts in the Republicans’ 2017 tax-reform plan.

      It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday how the meeting went. …

      You can imagine what Trump said the moment Cuomo left the room.

      It’s possible that he might tilt left in 2020 by pretending to save AOC’s seat in the inevitable downsizing
      of the NYS delegation, but he might have lots of other things on his mind as well.

      Reply
  17. Mark Gisleson

    Did some googling to figure out how much of my 3000 tons of infrastructure was tied up in my house. According to people who move houses, most weigh in between 40 and 80 tons.

    It would be fascinating to see which industries are most responsible for the very heavy ecological chains we’ll all apparently be wearing if Dickens was right about how the afterlife works.

    Reply
  18. Watt4Bob

    Amy Klobuchar has the same problem as the rest of us, that being she is, could be, the perfect candidate to obscure, cover-up, and sanitize the mess that is the democratic party.

    I’m not sure what it says about Amy that she’s willing to accept this job, if I were her, I’d be waiting for the smell emanating from the DNC’s direction to subside a bit, but hey, someone has to be the ‘first woman president‘ so why forego the chance of a lifetime just because your party has lost all credibility, and they now want you to lead the slow-rolling parade of grifters past the flaming wreckage of the 2016 debacle.

    Sorry Amy, I just can’t support you for POTUS, but I hope you understand that it’s because I’m Minnesota nice, and I wouldn’t wish you to suffer the humiliation of leading the nest of vermin who denied us a winning candidate in 2016, gave us Trump, and call themselves democrats.

    Reply
  19. JohnnyGL

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GR7GuB0mWQ0

    AOC on the radio station Hot 97 in NYC. She describes her issue with ICE in more detail that I hadn’t heard previously.

    To be clear she didn’t say “open borders” for/against or anything like that. She didn’t give an emotional plea to save all the migrants.

    What she did say is that when ICE picks someone up, it’s a black-hole of accountability and transparency when people are trying to find out what’s happening to their loved ones. What she described are problems of human rights, civil liberties, rule of law, and due process. She specifically mentioned trying to help people while working as an intern in Ted Kennedy’s office.

    That was the best I’d heard from her on the issue so far.

    Reply
  20. John k

    Tear up the roads and parking lots…
    So infra spending is wrong?
    Or, if at least some is wrong, say new roads and parking lots certainly, airports, are bridges for cars etc… then, if trump and dems make the infra deal we’ve been hoping for, we might assume it will be the wrong infra? Given, as might be, that fossil is at the table?

    Reply
    1. Watt4Bob

      So infra spending is wrong?

      No, so long as it’s not building toll roads coast to coast, or Public-Private Partnerships involving water rights, sewer services, the power grid, municipal utilities or services, more extraction, more militarization of law enforcement, or the surveillance state.

      We need infra spending that puts people to work, and provides tangible material benefits to working class people, not just Wall $treet banks and Trumps family and cronies.

      And make no mistake, other than Trumps family, his cronies are the dim’s cronies too.

      Reply
  21. SerenityNow

    Regarding “Suburb Socialism: Chapter I: Mass Transit”:

    I think the article is generally good—let’s building so much that subsidizes private motor vehicles. But I do take issue with the no pricing stance, which I see popping up more and more frequently as a defense against actual reform:

    I would discourage anyone from seeking a punitive route (i.e. fining people for parking here or there, for driving in HOV lanes, etc) because these misguided “solutions” will disproportionately impact the poor.

    We don’t make electricity free for everyone because the cost disproportionately impacts the poor. We don’t make food free for everyone because the cost disproportionately impacts the poor. We have better ways of dealing with this. For that I’ll cite a professor from UCLA, disciple of Shoup:

    Congestion pricing could reduce urban congestion, but might disproportionately benefit the affluent and burden the poor. We show that this common concern also applies to free roads. Free urban highways primarily subsidize richer people, and the resulting congestion creates pollution that disproportionately burdens poorer people. Furthermore, the poor drivers burdened by peak-hour road pricing would be a small minority of total peak-hour drivers and a minority of the poor. These facts suggest that the revenue generated by pricing could compensate any poor drivers harmed. Free roads, in contrast, generate no revenue to compensate the people they harm.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      A simple approach is a tax on parking spaces. It’s very easy and cheap to administer and would fall mostly on big box retailers. It would force them at the very least to consider how many spaces they really need for customers and might encourage them to provide buses for workers.

      Another simple policy would be to make subsidies for road works to be dependent on giving up lanes for public transport and/or bikes. Turn 3 lane roads to 2 lane with dedicated bus lanes, etc.

      Reply
  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    UPDATE “AOC: Can you be a democratic socialist and a capitalist? ‘It’s possible’” [MSNBC]. • Engels was a mill-owner in Manchester…

    And young Marx constantly struggled to work out (to get paid by his publisher) as a self-employed businessman – in this case, a 19th century blogging-contactor equivalent of today. By participating in that scheme, separate from his ideas, he was validating the system…to those today who bleieve in reject capitalism completely.

    Others will counter that, sometimes, or often, you have to work within something, even while opposing it…like hiring foreign visa workers.

    Reply
    1. Left in Wisconsin

      I have to say I was a bit leery of what I would hear upon clicking on the video but I thought she did an excellent job of threading the needle, given the question.

      Reply
  23. John k

    Amazon…
    Long ago and far away (dc) I made dimes by hauling folks’, mostly women, groceries home inmy has little red wagon from the local grocery store (one on every block.)
    Later cars prevailed, suburbs happened, and supermarkets prevailed. The many corner grocery stores died, though no blogs to express the angst.
    A little later Walmart came along, and later still sol price built the first price club (Costco) near where I lived at the time.
    All of these places require one drives a car, mostly fossil, some miles to pick up stuff. If I want a can of maroon spray paint I have several options to drive to, including lowes, true value, etc… might have to go to more than one place to get the right shade. Maybe use a half gallon gas.
    Or, now, I can pick from a palette of shades from my hand held while reclining on the couch, and post office delivers next day on their usual rounds. Plus big A packaging is mostly paper. Isn’t this greener?
    Granted big A mistreats workers… as do most corps because neo whatever’s have driven up unemployment to drive down wages and thereby boost profits and, the real motive, inequality.

    Reply
  24. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Stonehenge:

    Interesting article, but it’s been know since the 19th century that the megalith builders must have been seafarers. It’s very obvious when you look at a map that they coincide with coastal areas and big rivers such as the boyne valley in Ireland. The theory that Brittany is ground zero for megalith builders has been around for more than half a century at least.

    One interesting fact that is emerging from dna analysis is that they may have not just brought technology with them, but also animals. They were terraformers. Most animals in Ireland are closer related to Iberian types than British relatives, that strongly indicates they were introduced by the megalith builders.

    A confounding factor is that we now know that most megaliths were matches with timber henges that didn’t survive. It may be that this has hugely distorted our understanding of them. Maybe inland peoples just used wood more.

    Another fascinating feature is that they rarely exist in isolation. I’m Sligo in Ireland nearly every one of the several dozen known is in line of sight with others, even over 10’s of kms. It’s quite remarkable when you climb into one to see this for yourself on a clear day.

    A sad insight from dna analysis though is that the people left little genetic trace. They seem to have been entirely supplanted by later Bronze Age people. Maybe disease, maybe genocide, who knows why?

    Reply
  25. The Rev Kev

    “I keep waiting for video games to make their way into electoral politics. If it’s happened yet, I haven’t seen it.”

    So I’m thinking about Lambert’s throwaway line as it inspires a vision. I can see it now – PUBG for politicians! A hundred Presidential candidates parachuted onto an island where they have to pick up weapons, ammo, medical gear, vehicles and armor and shoot it out until there is only one player left standing. They would all be there – Trump, Pelosi, Harris, Booker, Warren, Biden, AOC, Sanders – the whole lot of them. It would be glorious! Even if you had them set up with just laser-tag systems you could televise the whole game and I am betting that its ratings would go off the chart. For those unfamiliar with this game, here is a quick video talking about it-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1I-TULRm5l8

    Reply
  26. Hameloose Cannon

    Whether one’s response to Rep Omar’s $100 AIPAC tweet is “Yay” or “Nay”, the feedback volume is a result of the comment being just wrong. Because if you believe using Israel to feather your US Congressional political nest, thereby passing up campaign cash, will be the sum of the political fallout, you have severely underestimated the effectiveness of AIPAC’s lobbying toolkit. The organization will come down on you like a Mack truck, and all your office’s energy will be left at that intersection. And only the Israel lobby could be denigrated for its efficacy. Do people taunt the gun lobby, the alcohol lobby, or the CPA lobby for being professional? For promoting their cause? The Left should get real, emulate AIPAC’s infrastructure, adopt their discipline, and draft some legislation that can be dropped on a desk.

    Reply
    1. integer

      Because if you believe using Israel to feather your US Congressional political nest, thereby passing up campaign cash, will be the sum of the political fallout, you have severely underestimated the effectiveness of AIPAC’s lobbying toolkit.

      So let me get this straight, you are saying that Omar is “feather[ing her] US Congressional political nest” by telling the truth about AIPAC? If so, that is such a ridiculous statement that I all I can say is: Your hasbara is showing. Also, regarding your attempt to draw an equivalence between AIPAC and the gun lobby, the alcohol lobby, and the CPA lobby, the comparison is seriously flawed as the latter are all concerned with domestic issues and interests, rather than the interests of another nation. Oh, and FWIW, my impression is that public awareness of, and outrage over, the amount of influence that the Israel lobby wields in U.S. and U.K. politics is steadily increasing, and that many people are waking up to the fact that Israel played a leading role in fomenting the wars in the Middle East.

      Reply
        1. integer

          Having found many of HC’s previous comments on issues such as Russiagate to be questionable, I’m less inclined to give the benefit of the doubt, but that’s just me. Maybe he/she will return and clarify their intentions.

          Reply
  27. Rosario

    I am a bit bummed about the Google departure in Louisville. Not that I am in love with Google as a company, but I had some hope that a third fiber provider would improve overall service a tad. Maybe lower costs, etc. Looks like it is down to AT&T or Spectrum again, not good.

    I agree with Lambert that their flipping the bird after they smile and drive away irritates me, though I should point out that severe corruption and envelope passing between tele-com giants and KY state legislators has made/makes it practically impossible for any other providers to use the utility poles, hence why it was all but inevitable that Google would bounce, short of their charging more than the other providers for service. This is why they had to use the bullshit trenching method. It worked as poorly as everyone says. Wires came out everywhere. I’m sure Google was using some low cost installation methods as well. Being that they saw the whole thing as a gamble. So, we got what we got. This is why the city didn’t provide the inevitable tech giant subsidy. I think Google was upfront that it was an experiment. They wanted to see if they could do the minimum and make it work. We can see now that it didn’t work.

    KY as a state is racing to the bottom right now, and this kind of stuff is a symptom of that. Poor governance everywhere.

    Reply
    1. Joey

      AT&T, as ma bell descendants, denied Google the right to use poles installed not by Louisville, nor Jefferson county nor kentucky, but South central bell. Something tells me Google won’t have to decline any microtrench access requests.

      Reply
  28. Anon

    Kamala Harris talks legalizing marijuana: “Half my family is from Jamaica, are you kidding me?”

    Half? Which half? Oh, right?! Your father (whom divorced your India mother after seven years) and was working as a professor at Stanford University (Palo Alto) was probably blowing spliff smoke into your face as a young girl?

    Not likely, since your mother was determined to inculcate structured India culture into your (and your sister) lives; That’s how you got the Kamala name. Remember?…it’s in your memoir.

    Half my family is from England, but I’m not Royal.

    Reply
  29. William Hunter Duncan

    From Minnesota:

    On Minnpost.com, after Ms Klobuchar decided to run, I pointed out that she is not a moderate, but a clintonite neoliberal ever favoring corporations, banks and billionaires over economics for working people, and otherwise generally ruinous for the land and waters of MN with her big ag favoritism, and that she is generally unquestioningly of eternal privatized war.

    To which I was called a privileged racist.

    When I tried to point out about Ilhan that if I advocate for working people over corp, bank and billionaire, I am called a socialist (formerly known as a communist); if I point out that russiagate is a lot of bs excuse for Dems not to look at their war or economic policies, I am called a putinstooge; if I call for strong borders I am a racist; If I call out AIPAC perverting Democracy with money, I am an anti-semite?

    Twice they wouldn’t print it. But they let people call me names.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      I can say with confidence, without even checking, that the original Green New Deal opposes both nuclear power and frackig – because the Green Party always does.

      Reply
  30. Summer

    RE: Green New Deal?
    Looks like many people will be priced out of driving anyway – especially with expected insurance costs added.

    This story from HuffPo:

    New York Fed: Record 7 Million Americans Are 90 Days Behind On Car Payments

    The number of people with serious delinquencies on auto loans is 1 million more than when Americans were recovering from the Great Recession.

    Reply

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