2:00PM Water Cooler 2/20/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

All too patient readers, my schedule is complexified today. So I will toss out some red meat in the form of political news, finish up a post on the recent study on insect collapse, and then return for a latish Water Cooler revision with more of the usual featurs, especially The Bezzle. Thanks! –lambert UPDATE All done.

Politics

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

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

2020

Lots of Sanders news, as might be expected:

Sanders (1):

More than double what Harris raised on her first day. And he didn’t even have to go to the Hamptons to do it! In any other candidate, we’d see phrases like “brutal display of fundraising prowess.”

Sanders (2): “Bernie Sanders Is the Democratic Front-Runner” [The Atlantic]. The staffing question is answered: “A full operation is being put together, with the assumption that he will have well over $200 million in online fundraising to draw from. That includes top leadership of the campaign meant to illustrate the diversity of his support, demographically and geographically. Faiz Shakir, a former aide to Harry Reid, is leaving his job as the political director of the American Civil Liberties Union to be the campaign manager. In addition to his deep political experience, he will be the first Muslim presidential-campaign manager in history. Analilia Mejia, an organizer of Colombian and Dominican descent who most recently directed the Fight for $15 and Earned Sick Days campaigns in New Jersey and previously worked for the New Jersey Working Families Party, will be the political director. The deputy political director will be Sarah Badawi, who was most recently the government-affairs director for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal group that led the effort to draft Elizabeth Warren into the 2012 Senate race, and later worked on her campaign.” • Two things about the Sanders staff: First, though obviously competent and political, they’re not drawn from from the 2016 Sanders campaign. And although they’re Democrat-adjacent, none of them are currently outright (and treacherous) Democrat strategists or consultants. Second, the staff is fully identitarian-compliant. We’ll see how it all goes!

Sanders (3):

Faiz Shakir does have the right enemies:

Sanders (3): “You Don’t Have to Like Bernie Sanders to Like Bernie Sanders” [Jezebel]. “If you support things like Medicare for All, tuition-free college, campaigns funded by small donors rather than wealthy interests, an end to mass incarceration, and reducing a truly staggering level of wealth inequality, then Sanders is the candidate who has fought for those things, often consistently throughout his career, often when no one cared that he was doing it. More importantly, the response to his 2016 campaign also helped galvanize a bottom-up national movement that has—through committed organizing, movement wins, and a new wave of national progressive politicians—remade Democratic politics in the span of just a few years. None of that means Sanders doesn’t need to be pushed left or that you have to find him charming. You don’t have to actually like Bernie Sanders to like what he represents.” • Long list here! More: “Sanders, who continues to struggle with white guy political myopia and sounding like an assh*le, still has the most aggressively progressive platform of any presidential candidate running right now.” • Indeed.

Sanders (4): “5 reasons to be skeptical of Bernie Sanders’ 2020 bid” [Chris Cilizza, CNN]. “Sanders simply doesn’t look like the Democratic Party that scored across-the-board victories in 2018. What he does look like — demographically speaking — is the current occupant of the White House.” • And, ya know, #MedicareForAll “looks like” what Trump is doing to Obama’s damp squib, the ACA. Cilizza’s gotta Cilizza, and I confess a sneaking admiration for him, because he embodies the conventional wisdom of the moment so perfectly. So, not uninteresting and worth a read!

Sanders (5): A breath of reality:

It’s almost as if identitarians care more about continued funding for their NGO verticals than winning….

Sanders (6): “Time to fight” [Carl Beijer]. “The time to make your decision is now. Because the center is already fighting to win – and if you do want to win the presidency and you do not act now, you will find yourself out-organized, out-numbered, out-resourced, and out-argued before you can even throw your first punch…. The time for preparation ends when the fighting begins. And ready or not, the fight has already begun.” • The fight began at the first DNC meeting after the 2016 election, when liberal Democrats punched the left right in the mouth (defenestrating Ellison, standing up Perez, purging all Sanders supporters from the Rules and Bylaws Committee, and subsequently rigging the primary calendar to favor Harris).

Harris (1): “Freedom Rider: Kamala Harris: The Fix is In” [Margaret Kimberly, Black Agenda Report]. “The Democrats are hoping that having another biracial black person on the ticket can make up for their lack of substance and hers. All Harris knows how to do is pander, and she doesn’t even do that very well. On The Breakfast Club radio show she was asked if she opposed marijuana legalization. ‘That’s not true. Look, I joke about it, I have joked about it. Half my family is from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?’ The promotion of a stereotype didn’t go over very well, including with her own father, who was angry enough to call her out in public. Donald Harris said that his ancestors “…must be turning in their grave right now to see their family’s name, reputation and proud Jamaican identity being connected, in any way, jokingly or not with the fraudulent stereotype of a pot-smoking joy seeker and in the pursuit of identity politics.” Not only had she offended her father but she was also lying. As attorney she opposed a 2010 proposition that would have legalized recreational use. She opposed it as late as 2015.” • I continue to be amazed that Donald Harris’s denunciation hasn’t viral. (Also, Kimberly’s “ancestors” is highly charged for some segments of “the African Diaspora.”)

Harris (2): “‘We’ve Lived Under Her Regime'” [Slate]. “‘[Harris] fought to uphold tainted convictions,’ [says public defender Lara Bazelon] says. ‘That’s from my perspective as someone who ran an innocence project and is an innocence advocate. There are other cases that bothered me as well, including her real inability to respond in an appropriate way, for example, when there was a big crime-lab scandal in San Francisco in 2010. When she was running the DA’s office, 600 cases had to be dismissed’…. She continues, ‘It became clear as these cases were being litigated that the higher-ups in her office were well aware of the corruption of the lab technician whose work was at issue and did not turn that information over to the defense as they were required to do. A judge got quite angry and issued a long ruling sternly rebuking Harris, and her response was to challenge that ruling by arguing that the judge’s husband was a defense attorney who had spoken publicly about the importance of disclosures in these kinds of situations and that therefore the judge was conflicted.’ Like President Trump has done with judges in the past, Harris made things personal.” • Ouch!

Brown: “Sherrod Brown’s opening: Less liberal than the liberals” [Politico]. “‘There’s nobody who says they could not get a fair hearing from Sherrod Brown,’ [Better Markets President and CEO Dennis Kelleher] said.” • Swell.

“‘Sustained and ongoing’ disinformation assault targets Dem presidential candidates” [Politico]. • If you look at the sources, it’s social media companies talking their books….

2019

Ladies and gentleman, I give you… The #Resistance:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Fracking company teams up with Susan G. Komen, introduces pink drill bits ‘for the cure” (with image of pink drill bit) [Salon]. From 2010, still germane. There’s your liberal identitarianism, right there. It’s not The Onion! I swear!

DSA collateral:

On the one hand, this is a strong effort. On the other, where’s the bullet point about the working place, the — stay with me here — (un)natural habitat of the working class?

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of February 15, 2019: “The purchase index ended its four-week slide” [Econoday].

Debt: “How Scary Are Subprime Auto Loans?” [Bloomberg]. Shorter: Not especially, since they’re not levered. • But auto loan defaults are not a good sign for the working class balance sheet, as it were, at all, assuming most need cars to get to work.

Retail: “Alden-controlled Payless to close all 2,300 of its stores, including 34 in Greater Philadelphia” [Philadelphia Business Journal]. “Payless ShoeSource Inc. intends to file for bankruptcy protection later this month and close all of its approximately 2,300 retail locations, including the 34 in the Philadelphia region. It’s the second time the Topeka, Kansas-based company has filed for bankruptcy protection in two years.” • Purchased by Alden Capital after the first time, so you know it’s being sucked dry.

Shipping: “Hedge funds hunt for shipping debt in new market push” [Reuters]. “A growing number of hedge funds are moving into shipping debt, an asset class few have invested in before, looking to buy up loans and bonds as banks cut their exposure to the troubled sector…. European banks, particularly German lenders, are trying to offload distressed and performing loans to the industry which attracts high capital requirements. The European Central Bank’s banking supervisor has flagged troubled non-performing loans in 2019 as ‘a concern for a significant number of euro area institutions.'”

The Bezzle: “Tesla General Counsel Quits After 2 Months in Latest Upheaval” [New York Times]. “Tesla said Wednesday that its general counsel was leaving the automaker after just two months on the job, the second unexpected, high-level departure in the last month. The official, Dane Butswinkas, was a Washington trial lawyer who represented the company’s chief executive, Elon Musk, when he was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission last year. The company said he had decided to return to his law firm.” • There’ll always be a lamp in the window for my wandering boy.

The Bezzle: “Hundreds Of Android Apps Found To Serve Invisible Ads” [Media Post]. “A massive mobile ad-fraud operation, involving hundreds of malware-laden Android apps, has been uncovered by Oracle. The scheme, “DrainerBot,” involved serving ads that were invisible to users, but that burned through their data allotments and depleted their batteries. The affected apps — including popular ones like “Perfect365” and “Draw Clash of Clans” — have been downloaded more than 10 million times.” • Oops.

Tech: “Apple Plans on Combining iPhone, iPad, Mac Apps by 2021” [Bloomberg]. “Apple Inc. wants to make it easier for software coders to create tools, games and other applications for its main devices in one fell swoop — an overhaul designed to encourage app development and, ultimately, boost revenue. The aim of the multistep initiative, code-named “Marzipan,” is that by 2021, developers will be able to build an app once and have it work on the iPhone, iPad and Mac computers, people familiar with the effort said. That should spur the creation of new software, increasing the utility of the company’s gadgets.” • Utility. Oh. iOS apps will be shitty on the Mac because they don’t conform to the Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines, which even today structure the UI/UX on that platform. So it’s another way for Apple to further crapify the Mac.

Tech: “Scream Time” [The Baffler]. “Silicon Valley’s awareness of the addictive, damaging nature of its products predates much of the recent self-care fad. The self-described “movement” that brought about the rise of “digital well-being” can be traced to a 141-page Google Slide presentation created by Google engineer Tristan Harris in 2012. Harris had gone to Burning Man and had an “epiphany,” according to Wired, realizing that maybe dopamine-triggering notifications on slot-machine-like pocket-sized devices weren’t geared toward users’ best interest. Back at Google, Harris was promoted by then CEO Larry Page after his memo went viral, becoming the company’s first “design ethicist.” Harris’ role would be to advise the sprawling surveillance empire on how to create more “ethical” technology. This arrangement, of course, would be like Facebook internally handling Fake News, the Sackler family tackling the opioid epidemic, or Exxon fighting climate change—the new normal.” • Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

Transportation: “Southwest cancels hundreds of flights as it struggles to get its mechanical problems under control” [CNN]. “Southwest Airlines continues to grapple with an ‘operational emergency’ after an unusually high number of planes have been taken out of service. The Dallas-based airline has been forced to cancel hundreds of flights since late last week because of mechanical problems with its fleet. Despite an ‘all hands on-deck’ staffing policy for its mechanics, the company has not been able to resolve its problems. In a statement on Tuesday, Southwest (LUV) said there was no common theme to the issues facing its 750 airplanes and it was extending a staffing protocol instituted last week to ‘maximize availability’ of mechanics. ‘We are requiring all hands on-deck to address maintenance items so that we may promptly return aircraft to service and take care of our customers,’ it said. On Tuesday, more than 40 planes had maintenance issues — more than twice the average number on a typical day. That created a domino effect, disrupting Southwest flights across the country.” • Well, at least none of Southwest’s hangars caught fire. Readers, what’s with this story? I’ve always thought of Southwest as a well-run airline. Am I not cynical enough?

The Biosphere

Left on the cutting room floor from today’s post:

“Helping Farmers Prevent The Insect Apocalypse” [Exploring the Problem Space]. “Three words: sustainable intensive agriculture. Sure, organic and local help in little ways – but the planet needs help in a big way. Organic and local require more land to produce less food and we need to shrink the terrestrial footprint of agriculture. The less land used, the better – at least as a general rule.” • Hmm. However, the USDA’s list of suggestions looks pretty good. Yes, it allows herbicides and, through Integrated Pest Management, insecticides, but I think separation of concerns applies: Get the Filter Strips, Contour Buffer Strips, and habitats in place, and wean ourselves from the *cides as we go. Readers?

“Five things you can do to protect our insects from population collapse” [CNN]. “3. Be less tidy: Insects don’t like manicured lawns and whilst cultivated double-flowered plants look lovely in the garden, they are bad news for pollinators as they typically don’t produce pollen and their nectar is hidden deep inside their flowers…. You can help the insects in your garden by letting the grass grow longer and sowing some wildflowers. If every garden had a little patch for insects collectively it would probably be the biggest area of wildlife habitat in the world.” • That sounds good, because it’s less work. Also, CNN using the word “collectively”…

“Using Parking Meter Records and Tweets From Local Businesses for Sea Level Rise Research” [Weather Underground]. “Little is known about the social and economic consequences of these events, since these high-tide floods, also called nuisance or sunny-day floods, typically last for just a few hours at a time and rarely leave lasting damage. To document the occurrence of these floods, the researchers used tide gauge data in combination with satellite and photographic evidence of the flooding. An important source of these photographs were tweets from local businesses. When periods of flooding were identified, receipts from the parking lot flooded by the ocean were studied to determine by how much visits to the Dock Street area [in Annapolis, Maryland] were affected. During the period May 2016 – November 2017, 4584 hours of parking meter records were reviewed. They revealed that when the parking lot flooded, people did not go to nearby unflooded parking areas–they simply avoided coming downtown, resulting in a loss of revenue for local businesses. Even after the flooding ended, there was a more than six-hour lag until visitation returned to its usual levels.” • Interesting, and shows more potential for citizen science.

Water

“Fighting pollution: Toledo residents want personhood status for Lake Erie” [Guardian]. “Called the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, it would grant personhood status to the lake, with the citizens being the guardians of the body of water. If passed, citizens could sue a polluter on behalf of the lake, and if the court finds the polluter guilty, the judge could impose penalties in the form of designated clean-ups and/or prevention programs. ‘What has happened in Toledo is that we have lost our faith in the current mechanisms of power, and decided to take things into our own hands,’ said Bryan Twitchell, a Toledo school teacher. ‘We decided it was our personal responsibility to take action and pull us back from that brink so we can live near a healthy lake.'” • Next up: The Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri rivers?

“Lake Erie Bill of Rights issue to go to Toledo voters” [Ohio Country Journal]. “The Ohio Supreme Court recently decided that a ‘Lake Erie Bill of Rights’ [LEBOR] initiative could be placed before Toledo residents in a special election Feb. 26, 2019…. the Supreme Court decided that based on a reading of case law and the Ohio Constitution, the board of elections in Toledo had no option other than placing LEBOR on the ballot. This outcome does not necessarily mean that if Toledo passes LEBOR, it is a done deal; if and when it passes, courts could determine it is unconstitutional and/or beyond the scope of the city’s power.” • That’s less than a week away. I hope our Ohio readers will keep us informed!

Class Warfare

“Known Assailants” [The Baffler]. “[T]he baseline skills of construction in the brick-and-mortar world—wiring a conference room, framing a house, fixing a transmission—aren’t lesser forms of intellectual work; rather, they call on different types of intelligence than the kind necessary to compose a quarterly process improvement report or a PowerPoint presentation on category strategy. Neither brand of labor is better than the other. Work is work. Everyone toils beneath a boss; most of us will never earn what we’re worth. And now that we’re on the other side of the interregnum, there are some real advantages to blue-collar jobs, at least in my world. None of the guys or women I know who skipped college and went straight into the trades are burdened by student loan debt. They own houses and motorcycles and go on vacations; they have good healthcare and can expect to collect on a pension when they retire.” • Until the unions are destroyed, along with the pension system. But I take the point.

News of the Wired

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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 (Unna):

Unna writes: “Harvey’s Lake, Barnet, Vermont.” Since Vermont is in the news lately!

Some people who have not sent in pictures of plants did so. Thank you! But more would be nice…

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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.

143 comments

    1. Tyrannocaster

      Outstanding! Just great stuff, especially when Carlson loses it entirely. There are finally some seriously good videos happening from the non-mainstream perspective. And there’s Greta Thunberg, and AOC; it’s about time.

      Reply
      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Add Rutger the Dutchman to the list!!!!

        See this is exciting stuff here!

        Rutger does lose control a bit in the end with his snarkiness but Tucker and the Cato Institute and the Koch Bros need to be put on blast.

        Reply
      2. GramSci

        If Rutger had attempted this coup in the US, would Fox have sued him for illegal wiretapping and theft of Fox’s proprietary interview? Can they still do so? Can they sue him for libel in London? If not, will Fox ever again do an international interview with a potential critic? Has Rupert taken Tucker to the woodshed yet?

        Reply
    2. Lynne

      I’m just disappointed in the segment all around.

      First, anyone familiar with even the most rudimentary basics of taxes realizes that the marginal rate and effective rate are two very different things. Carlson asked the guest how to address that and tackle tax avoidance. The guest’s response was that the US was the most powerful country in the world and then kept repeating that Carlson had never talked about that. I don’t care whether or not Carlson meets this guy’s criteria for authenticity; I wanted to hear how he suggested tackling avoidance.

      Then, the guest went on a tangent about how much higher tax rates were under Eisenhower, noting he was a Republican, and how strong the US economy was then. Yep, while it was fueled by cheap resource exploitation and not bogged down by that MIC that Eisenhower so famously warned about.

      Then, the guest went on a tangent about how much money Fox anchors make.

      All the while, the guest had this annoying, smug half-laugh and condescending tone. And he REFUSED to say anything substantive about current tax policy. I’m amazed that Carlson didn’t swear more at the jackass.

      I’m also amazed that the jackass thinks that posting it makes *him* look good, or that it was in his words “speaking truth to power.” Goodness knows, we all should want more of smug, snide sound bites rather than policy. /s

      Reply
      1. Hana M

        +[a billion $ or so]

        Thank you for typing faster than I do! Carlson is correct about tax avoidance. Naked Capitalism has been all over this topic for ages. The wealthiest don’t report normal income, instead they have what are politely called among the Davos class “Tax Minimization Strategies”. Also, please, let’s welcome all the friends we can get no matter what channel they broadcast on!

        Reply
        1. Heraclitus

          Only eight people paid taxes at the 90% rate in at least one year in the ’50s/’60s. I don’t recall which year, or where I read that.

          Reply
          1. Procopius

            That’s OK. We don’t want lots of people at that income level. We want very, very few people to be required to pay that marginal rate. That’s the point. Of course, we do need to appropriate a lot more for the IRS, and require they beef up their enforcement, and it would be nice if we could close some loopholes so the rich would have to pay more to shield their revenue. The purpose of the tax rate is not to raise revenue, after all, it’s to discourage people from stealing that much from society.

            Reply
          1. Jeffrey Fisher

            …and give them a nice ‘thanks for contributing’ and a pat on the back… as long as they don’t whine about it too much.

            Reply
      2. notabanker

        I respect your opinion here and it has merit, I too am not happy about how smug a lot of the progressive platforms are getting when there is a real need to fix problems.

        But I do see it a little different. These people have been spreading propaganda for decades as paid shills for corporate oligarchs and now they are getting called out on it. I am deeply skeptical of Carlson having any altruistic intent here, and I think the point Rutger was determined to make is that he is not going to be part of his Fox sideshow and put any legitimacy behind it. And for that, I would completely agree with him and his tactics here. Carlson is the one monetizing the platform, not Rutger.

        Reply
        1. Lynne

          I do agree that Fox presenters have been spreading propaganda for decades (as have the presenters for other networks) and I do not believe that Carlson had any altruistic intent. So we agree on that part, I think. But Rutger seemed to admit that Carlson’s questions were asked with the intention of hearing an answer; he was just more interested in beating a dead horse in saying Carlson wasn’t asking them two years ago. Of course, Rutger hadn’t gone to Davos and told them to raise taxes two years ago, either.

          What I wish Rutger would have done is discuss the substantive issues that Carlson asked about, and then posted the segment with his full substantive answer. It might have been enlightening to see how much it was chopped up for air on this side of the Atlantic. I think Rutger missed a golden opportunity so that he could feel superior.

          Reply
          1. Jeffrey Fisher

            The super rich don’t spend hundreds of millions lobbying for more favorable tax treatment year after year because they can easily avoid taxes.

            They do want you to think they can easily avoid taxes so that you will allow them to change the tax laws to further reduce their taxes.

            Reply
          2. Semprinius

            I disagree. I think he did discuss substantive issues: tax avoidance, propaganda, oligarchs, and corporate shilling.

            Reply
      3. Pookah Harvey

        I think the historian made it very clear as to tax policy. According to Bloomberg “The U.S. Is the world’s second-largest tax haven, behind Switzerland and just ahead of the Cayman Islands” As Bregman stated “the US is the most powerful country in the world”. How about we pass some laws for the US and then shut down the other tax havens. Sanctions on the Caymans and Switzerland is much more called for than sanctions on Venezuela.

        Reply
      4. mucho

        (Disclaimer: I’m Dutch).

        I feel the same as poster Semprinius below. He adressed Carlson’s reply: Carlson stating that, he too, wished for higher marginal tax rates like the 50’s and 60’s, but alas, the economy was different then. I think that category of arguments – basically TINA – is wrong, and I think that the strenght, or at least the stability, of the US economy and society at large in those years was a consequence of tax policy. I think Bregman’s focus in that regard was in the right place.

        In addition: there is a tendency on the right to argue that they are stalwart warriors speaking truth to power – to the ‘globalists’, the government, who are afflicted with ‘political correctness’ etc.

        Carlson seemed to want to focus on the tax avoidance point, but above all, seemed excited to have another argument to paint the Davos elite as hypocritical, contra Carlson: a righteous warrior for truth. However, when Bregman talked a bit about Carlson’s own hypocrisy, he didn’t seem too enthousiastic.

        A little background on Bregman: Here in the Netherlands, he is accused of not being intersectional, not caring too much (or dowplaying) the role of identity politics, and focussing too much/exclusively on class struggle. He is also accused of being smug.

        The last five years or so, there is an increasing amount of identity politics being discussed in the Netherlands. Class struggle is being relegated to the sides (of course, a feature, not a bug) and every year, there is months and months of discussion about our decemberholiday traditions, and why stores don’t say ‘merry christmas’ but ‘ happy holidays’. Sounds familiar? Within the Dutch left, there are voices – and I would gather Bregman among them – trying to adress this, which I applaud.

        Regarding his smugness: in this context – making Carlson lose his shit like that – I am loath to hold him up to a standard which I myself would probably also fail.

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          The last five years or so, there is an increasing amount of identity politics being discussed in the Netherlands.

          Identity politics worked really well in the United States as a means for the power structure to stay intact for roughly fifty years. If you look at racism, it has been successful for over four centuries. Why not try to head off another gust front with it?

          Reply
      5. Roger Smith

        First off, Now This is terrible, Breitbart tier junk food propaganda for a subset of ‘the left’; quick videos edited to appeal to the specific emotions and lazy socioeconomic comprehension. I normally never watch these and given that Rutger himself authorized them to publish his recording (based on his tweet), that makes me more skeptical of him immediately. Carlson was likely his ‘target’ all along (which follows from the illogical “gotcha” he manufactured in the middle of the interview).

        I agree with your points. Rutger comes off smug and insincere. Say what you want about Carlson, hell I don’t always agree with him, but he is the one reporter with a MSM show willing to speak a lot of truths. Take what you can get and for what it’s worth. Further, this ‘left’ oriented subscription belief that immigration isn’t a problem at all is a completely absent minded. For Rutger to switch gears from a decent interview, to randomly claiming Tucker is Carlson is racist and part of the problem is very disingenuous (and they weren’t even talking about it). Rutger had an opportunity to say something real and reach people who might not hear this stuff normally and he was too concerned with his political subscription. Rutger essentially came on to purity test Carlson and show off. Great. Bruce Wayne had a lot of money too, is he ‘part of the problem’ (for one pretty exaggerated comparison)?

        Reply
        1. mucho

          I think your reply contains a lot of assumptions, and it’s not very clear to me with which of points my you are in agreement. Can you specify? I have a feeling we agree on the basic tax issue. I would advise thought, that instead of basing your assumption on Bregman on the medium of publication, reading some of his books or articles. Or suspend judgment and focus on the content of the video.

          I also don’t quite understand with what you mean by claiming that Carlson was Bregman’s ‘target’ all along. Could you elaborate on this?

          Regarding Bregman switching gears and the blaming of immigrants: I disagree. Bregman starts talking about elites blaming the disintegration of the social fabric on immigrants, while avoiding the tax issue. He states this is so because of corruption, given the Murdoch media empire as an example. You disagree with this? Note that it is then Carlson who makes the argument personal (” So you say I take orders (..)”) and then loses his cool. I would have loved to see him give a good argument of why Bregman is wrong.. cause I can’t think of any.

          I have to admit I can’t make much sense of your Batman comparison.

          Note: here is what Bregman himself says of his exchange and his decision to publish. (It’s in Dutch though, but maybe a (google) translator can help). See:

          https://decorrespondent.nl/9202/waarom-ik-besloot-mijn-interview-met-tucker-carlson-van-fox-news-openbaar-temaken/3719099027666-f23d8830

          Reply
      6. Temporarily Sane

        Rutger called Carlson out for his faux concern and working for a media organization that is owned and controlled by a member of the billionaire class. A class he (Carlson) clearly supports. His rants against socialism and “big government” and affiliation with the Cato institute speak for themselves. His unscripted temper tantrum was a massive own goal.

        Reply
    3. JohnnyGL

      Wow, that escalated quick! :)

      It was amusing to see Tucker steer the conversation away from higher taxes towards….tax avoidance….then, once that failed, throwing out the bizarre idea that high tax rates don’t work in an economy oriented towards services (instead of industry).

      But then once he went after Carlson’s resume….”you worked for Cato, taking Koch Bros. money. You’ve been bribed.” After that…..BOOM! Tucker lost it.

      Reply
    4. Henry Moon Pie

      I get a kick out of Bregman, but the thing seems like a cute social media way to promote his book. Bregman was so anxious to offend Carlson when it was apparent that Carlson was inclined to be a friendly interviewer. Bregman even suggested that perhaps the segment would never air.

      And Bregman had this tape of the interview done by the studio where he was present ready to go up on social media where we see the paperback of edition for sale.

      Have we reached the age where it can be better to market by blowing up an author interview and trying to get social media attention that way?

      And it’s good for Tucker Carlson’s character to get used that way. Maybe the embers of empathy might be stirred. I know. I know.

      Reply
    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s diversionary. The issue is not taxes (fun though it is to gin up outrage about them — for, or against). The issue is capital allocation. Who does it, how it is to be done, where and why it is to be done, etc. That’s one of the issues that the GND is really about, for example.

      “A decade of bailouts and quantitative easing and all we got was this lousy ride-hailing app. Plus fracking.”

      Reply
  1. Veri

    Sanders (4): “5 reasons to be skeptical of Bernie Sanders’ 2020 bid” [Chris Cilizza, CNN]. “Sanders simply doesn’t look like the Democratic Party that scored across-the-board victories in 2018. What he does look like — demographically speaking — is the current occupant of the White House.” • And, ya know, #MedicareForAll “looks like” what Trump is doing to Obama’s damp squib, the ACA. Cilizza’s gotta Cilizza, and I confess a sneaking admiration for him, because he embodies the conventional wisdom of the moment so perfectly. So, not uninteresting and worth a read!

    CNN, other “Left” websites. A poster – highly critical of Trump and certain Democratic candidates – just had his entire posting history scrubbed from a “Left” website for legitimately criticizing Kamala Harris.

    Poster was called a “Trumpbot’, etc… Seems to be the new “BernieBros”.

    Seems that the Democratic Establishment has fine-tuned the mechanisms for squashing dissent. They learned from 2016.

    Reply
      1. Veri

        Ironically enough, the article in question was about the use of media in disinformation campaigns.

        Harris was featured in the lead photograph and was mentioned 3 times, even as the “presumed front runner” while other candidates received a brief mention.

        Readers are supposed to associate the threat with being against the most mentioned candidate, the “presumed front runner”. Examples used of media disinformation campaign being used against a candidate, also came from Harris as the victim.

        Nope. No bias there.

        What was also amusing was the lengths of the censorship, deleting every post ever made on that site.

        Reply
          1. Isotope_C14

            In 2016 I was 100% deleted by Commondreams.org.

            They can rot for all I care. They were fully infested with Brock trolls and HRC “toadies” (Can someone check if I’m using that word right?) haha.

            Reply
    1. DonCoyote

      I remember when that black guy couldn’t win the 2008 Democratic primary, let alone the general election, because he didn’t “look like” the majority white electorate. What was his name again?

      Maybe someday voters will vote for someone who doesn’t “look like” them. We can only hope, right Chris?

      Reply
      1. Veri

        Ask a Republican why they voted for Bush or Trump?

        “He seems just like me.”

        As if the son of a wealthy Republican ex-President and a supposed billionaire, are anything like Joe & Jane Average American.

        People just don’t research their candidates. More are.

        Reply
        1. neo-realist

          Both are wealthy and come from privilege, but when they were on the stump, they could speak like the “people”: Bush would turn on the Middle American Goober (“Everybody likes a pancake”) and Trump would sound like a white ethnic working class guy with a chip on his shoulder. Both could feed into white middle american resentment over being overlooked and disrespected by the democratic beltway bougie elites, but Trump puts a franker racial spin on the resentment..

          Reply
  2. Samuel Conner

    fat finger arithmetic?

    200,000 X 27$ = 5.4 MM

    1.1 X 5.4MM = 5.94MM

    It looks to me like Sanders’ supporters almost unanimously clicked the “27 dollah” button

    Reply
        1. Shonde

          Tulsi said she would stay in the race just to get her message out. I felt the need to encourage her to stay in so have donated to her and now also to Bernie. Plan to continue doing same.

          Did Danny DeVito support Bernie in 2006? I saw a retweet today showing he is supporting Bernie 2020.

          Reply
    1. bob

      After the 56th time, a trope becomes tripe.

      The digested bile of the DNC elite wrapped up in the packaging of a has-been media paunch.

      Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            If the guy wasn’t Jewish they would try to bog him down with charges of anti-semitism like they do for Corbyn in the UK. Just waiting for someone to come forward and say that Bernie did something “inappropriate” back in 1964 and should therefore step down as a Presidential candidate.

            Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              And if they can’t find something, they can make something up. We don’t just have photoshop, we have videoshop and audioshop too.

              Reply
              1. Hepativore

                Actually, being jewish might not protect him from the smear of anti-semetism, as they media might play up the “self-hating jew” trope.

                Reply
    2. General Troper, 2nd Earl of Acela

      Re-claiming hill # 203 was going to be a battle. All the tropers were ready for the fight, setting up sandbags and claymore’s to defend their positions.

      “But thats not how offense works!”

      You clearly don’t understand politics or trope war.

      Reply
    3. Mark Gisleson

      I did some volunteer work, was behind the curtain part of the time and I can say with certainty that Bernie pees standing up. There was an unused stall right next to the urinal. He didn’t care.

      Reply
      1. Podman: A New Awakening! Hipper Than Ever

        He pees himself? As in he has to actually visit that filthy bathroom? He probably uses public bathrooms too!

        It figures. I knew I didn’t like him for some reason.

        Reply
    4. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      I barnstormed for Bernie in 2016 but im concerned hes a Lizard Alien in cahoots with the Rothschilds.

      William Cooper is alive in a bunker in Mexico.

      FACT

      Reply
  3. richard

    I hadn’t seen Donald Harris’ remarks. Pretty wild! It’s hard to imagine any other candidate getting rebuked by dad, and that’s not huge news. But I’m not sad. Kamala could only wish that the “pot smoking joy seeker” handle would stick! Pot smokers are maybe the key demographic she needs to convince, about being a human being and whatnot.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Couldn’t believe that when I saw it…..absolutely brutal…

      There’s also been a lot of pushback from black, ADOS (American Descendents Of Slaves) activists after MSNBC’s Joy Reid show had the nerve to call them Russian bots. Now the rest of the MSDNC crew are working hard to silence organic opposition among African Americans.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCHy__-6_KY

      Reply
  4. Duncan Idaho

    Re: Sanders (1)

    I think you’ve reversed your figures there, Lambert. $5.9m / 223,000 = $26.46, so it seems like most people checked off the $27 option if not the $3 one.

    Reply
  5. Carey

    I think Margaret Kimberly’s take on Harris is precisely right:

    “..It is painfully obvious that Kamala Harris is unprepared for the scrutiny that comes with waging a presidential campaign. But it is equally obvious that her lack of gravitas may not matter at all. The fix is in as the old saying goes. She is the choice of the Democratic Party leadership, the black misleaders, and their partners in corporate media. They will give her cover whenever she needs help. Gaffes and comical pandering at the expense of black voters may not hurt her chances at all..”

    https://www.blackagendareport.com/freedom-rider-kamala-harris-fix

    Reply
    1. neo-realist

      But if Harris turns out to be a failure, is Cory Booger Plan B? Checks the dots for the big donors and the black misleaders–appealing black dude who supports Wall Street and Private Charter Schools.

      Reply
      1. Alfred

        For some in the party, perhaps, Booker/Harris (in no particular order) looks like a bi-coastal dream-team ticket. It simultaneously excludes the middle (flyover states), uplifts identity politics, caters to neoliberalism, and promises a loss. (Please pardon my snark.)

        Reply
        1. Carey

          I think the Dem Establishment are fine with another “loss”, so long as policy
          that might help the great majority of the citizenry is stopped as well.

          Reply
          1. Anonymal

            How would a democrat losing stop policy that helps citizens? If anything that will help citizens more. Unless we think citizens are only those who are absurdly poor or those who are absurdly wealthy.

            Reply
    2. Louis Fyne

      beyond Kamala Harris, sitting US senators becoming president is a historical anomaly.

      But looking like 2020 might be the outlier with so many senators and not one governor (yet if I remember correctly) on the Democratic side.

      Reply
    3. Big River Bandido

      Harris has no chance of being elected President in 2020. She’s the personification of the “coastal liberal” (machine politician from a large, one-party state, champion of neoliberal policy, and bearing a share of responsibility for neoliberal epidemics.

      Such a candidate cannot carry Ohio or Michigan in 2020, and as a Democrat there’s no route to the White House other than through those two states.

      Louis Fyne: Yes, Senators who become President are an anomaly; there are only three who’ve been elected to the White House direct from the Senate: Harding, Kennedy, and Obama. The dearth of actual Democrat executives is a clear symptom of the party’s troubles.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        You are right, if *accurately counted votes* have anything to do with the 2020
        election. There were no exit polls in the last few 2016 Dem primaries,
        including California. Will there be in 2020?

        Reply
      2. Kurt Sperry

        You will be forgiven for not noticing but our Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee has announced his candidacy. He doesn’t strike me as the brightest knife in the deck but he hasn’t always been horrible either.

        Reply
    4. jrs

      I’m not sure she will even be the choice of that, they may have Biden and Booker, plus a few other moderates. Why her? Even for them?

      Reply
  6. a different chris

    Can I vote for Donald Harris? That was an epic smackdown. I suspect he’s more tired of her crap than we can even imagine.

    Reply
    1. Milton

      But the misinformation comes from team blue. No? I’m not understanding what this is from the link offered. Maybe you can enlighten this hopeless leftist that, more often than not nowadays, has to hold hands with the right – because the Dems are so thoroughly corrupted – in the hopes that same opposition party will one day see the light and again become the party of the working class.*

      * not holding my breath.

      Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        The post dcblogger linked suggests that at least one member of the alt-right has tried to meme Hillary support into existence. Then again, that post is almost two months old and their attention might have moved on to something else, as it does.

        Personally, I think it’s more likely that the Democrat establishment or its student minions have found 4chan and are working it just as hard as Bannon & Co. did.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          It could be “anyone”. It could be “everyone”. The only way to gain functional immunity from the effect of this kind of false-flagging, false-false flagging, double-triple-reverse false-flagging and etc. . . . is to become the kind of non-dank, non-damp sunny-upland type of spirit on which these mold spores cannot germinate and grow into fungus.

          Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      This little imgur should be headlined on every possible leftish and sorta-leftish blog, and its meaning should be carefully explained.

      People should perhaps begin doing spiritual and analytical discipline exercises to toughen up and resistify themselves against having their emotions hijacked by the kind of false-flag fight-starting being revealed as being advocated in this little imgur here.

      Reply
  7. Big River Bandido

    $5,900,000 ÷ 223,000 donors = $26.4573391 per person. How they manage to cut up those pennies, I’ll never understand.

    The Harris tweet: We’re not accepting a penny from corporate PACs or federal lobbyists. • Contributions directly from corporations and rich people, though? Not a problem. Do read some of the responses on the thread, they’re hilarious.

    And speaking of hilarious, those leaked DNC/Podesta emails are a treasure trove that just keeps on giving. Not only does Faiz Shakir have the right enemies, but Sanders just locked up the MN and MI primaries with this choice. Coming right on the heels of the Democrat shaming of Ilhan Omar, this sends a clear message to the voters that supported him in those states in 2016 that he’s with them.

    Reply
  8. zagonostra

    >”Freedom Rider: Kamala Harris: The Fix is In” [Margaret Kimberly, Black Agenda Report]

    It is very revealing that the Breakfast Club interview with Harris garnered twice as many dislikes as likes, which for this program I don’t think has ever happened.

    When you read/scroll down through the comments you see that most viewers are not biting. So, I’m not sure that Kimberly is correct in saying that “If Harris prevails in early primaries and caucuses and looks like a winner she will become a black voter favorite, just as Barack Obama did in 2008.”

    I think as people gravitate to alternative media, the M$M narratives will continue to weaken. There is probably a small window of opportunity for alternative views to reach sizable audiences, as recent Google/Facebook and their “partnerships” with media conglomerates makes evident.

    One only has see rankings of YouTube news stories to see how the thumb presses on the status-quo side of the scale.

    Reply
  9. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Sanders

    Apologies if it’s been mentioned already as I haven’t had time to do much in depth reading about this yet, but the assumption seems to be that Sanders will be running as a Democrat and will participate in the party’s primary. Glancing through some articles yesterday I noticed that they listed Sanders as an Independent since he did drop his Democrat party affiliation after the 2016 elections.

    Did he actually re-register as a Democrat yet or indicate that he was planning to? Or are people just assuming he will?

    Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      Sanders has the support of the local party, top to bottom. Legally, that might be enough. But even if it isn’t, the national Democrats can’t come out and disqualify a nominee put forward by one of their own state parties without running into a political buzzsaw from their own members, who naturally expect the national party to accept their own legitimacy.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Party membership is determined at the State level, by the State parties, not at the national level (and I imagine that the state parties would like very much to keep it that way). I believe that the DNC has circulated some sort of loyalty oath (not just Florida, but the DNC) but that it does not bar a candidate from running.

        Reply
        1. Big River Bandido

          Thank you. It was probably something you wrote where I first read about this, but I can’t remember the exact day/source so I couldn’t retrieve more detail. When it comes to remembering facts I have read, my mind is a steel trap. When it comes to recalling where I read them (unless it’s a source I have re-read many times), it turns to a colander trying to hold melted butter.

          Reply
  10. Robert Hahl

    Some partial open-thread dancing:

    Samba dance steps for beginners
    https://youtu.be/CimlZ1Vaqzc
    The dance master in this video would not tell me who wrote this samba, or even what it’s called. It is that good.

    Danny Mac & Oti Mabuse Cha Cha to ‘Cake By The Ocean’ – Strictly Come Dancing 2016
    https://youtu.be/vaxHg6UsUis
    Great song too.

    Here Comes The Hotstepper – Evian remix by Yuksek
    https://youtu.be/r3X_i627ELQ

    JustSomeMotion (JSM) Parov Stelar – Josephine
    https://youtu.be/gco8UHZHNg4

    Swingrowers – Pump Up the Jam
    https://youtu.be/QUOQG4qM8uU

    Reply
  11. Marco van Leeuwen

    I’ve been reading both the links as well as the water cooler for some time now, and I think this is becoming one of my top sites to get my daily news digestion. A funny thing I noticed a couple of weeks ago during the Economic Forum in Davos was that a (in my opinion, Rutger is one of our better ones, he writes for a small media outlet called ‘De Correspondent’, from where I first learnt of NC) Dutch reporter was there and I guess he caused a bit of a rouse when he had his speech and basically made the argument that there should be more (if not only) talk about taxes instead of all the other stuff that’s being discussed over there.

    He got quite some attention by this even in international media, including an interview with Tucker Carlson, which apparantly went horribly bad and the interview never even got aired.

    I just wanted to share the talk they had here, some readers might appreciate it. Apparantly mr. Tucker really doesn’t like this guy, at all:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_nFI2Zb7qE

    Reply
  12. dcrane

    Sanders (2): “Bernie Sanders Is the Democratic Front-Runner” [The Atlantic].

    “Sanders running when he’s part of a big field of enticing candidates is a whole lot different from Sanders running as the single fresh alternative to a candidate who never inspired much passion throughout her entire career.”

    ???

    I can call three of the candidates enticing, if I stretch the definition.

    Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    “Using Parking Meter Records and Tweets From Local Businesses for Sea Level Rise Research”

    All those building being constantly flooded by sea water as it encroaches inland – surely that could not be doing the foundations any good. Or any buried infrastructure like water mains, electrical, etc. either.

    Reply
  14. audrey jr

    Don’t comment much anymore, but I must question whether the statement that McCabe’s book is #1 at Amazon is factual.
    My own son writes fake five star reviews for Amazon and gets paid by them per review.
    I wouldn’t believe any reviews on Scamazon.

    Reply
    1. Louis Renault

      Let me get this right. We can trust what you say here, but your son’s 5 star reviews are bought and paid for?

      Reply
  15. Brandon Thill

    On the topics of agriculture and insect populations, bringing the soil back to life (and balance) is the only solution. The methodology goes by the name of Regenerative Agriculture, and is a small but growing movement of farmers and USDA researchers. I highly recommend “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life” as a primer. It’s one of those books that leaves you with that “duh” moment when you realize the solution was in front of your face the whole time.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      I like the energy, but… should this really be about “Bernie”? Cult of personality stuff
      worries me. What about when Bernie is gone, or if he gets sidelined?

      Collective action for the common good

      Reply
      1. nippersdad

        It’s a campaign ad. And, more importantly, it was really charming.

        I loved the part about a little birdie told him. That was awesome. If such as this was what got us AOC and Omar, more cannot be far behind. Good advertising for the brand.

        Reply
    1. Carey

      I see Cillizza’s column more as part of the continued, gentle deflation of expections for the #resistance crowd.

      “He clearly colluded with the eebil Rooskies, but…”

      Reply
      1. ewmayer

        Maybe Ferris Mueller will use the ol’ non-sequiturial-evidentiary-circle-jerk ploy: We have no actual evidence of collusion with the Deplorable Rooskies, but the MSM ‘papers of record’ have been telling us for months and months that it’s patently obvious that there was collusion to rawb Queen HillzBillareez of HRH’s coronation and hack those DNC e-mails thus exposing all that true pre-general-election shenaniganeering by the DNC to rig the primaries. So if the MSM keep saying there was collusion it must be true because after all they wouldn’t lie about such important stuff would they? Ergo, Mueller simply opens with “It is now beyond dispute that the evil orange-haired oaf-of-office doofus colluded most evilly with Teh Putin because NYT and WaPo and CNN said so.” Case closed, let the rotting fruit fly and the impearment hearings commence!

        Reply
    2. Big Tap

      Well if the Mueller report is much of nothing and doesn’t hurt Trump it will have a TV impact. CNN and MSNBC ratings will begin their slow but inevitable decline. People don’t like being played for fools even Russiagaters. They’ll still retain the true believers. If the two networks ever admit they’ve been wrong for over two years non-stop both CNN and MSNBC will be called Russia bots by those believers.

      Reply
      1. Late Introvert

        “The union says Southwest has fewer mechanics per plane than other airlines, so its workers deserve to be paid more. “

        Reply
  16. The Rev Kev

    I’m seeing lots and lots of comments about the upcoming 2020 election and who is running here today. Just as a reminder, that election is still 621 days away so lots can happen between now and then.

    Reply
    1. rowlf

      … and how well did the past-their-sell-date pundits do in the 2016 election? Should we still respect these haruspexers?

      Reply
  17. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is an article suggesting we think about the difference between eco-teardown farming and eco-rehab farming. It is titled: It’s Not WHAT You Eat, It’s HOW It’s Produced That Matters.

    https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-02-20/its-not-what-you-eat-its-how-its-produced-that-matters/

    “Sustainable Intensive Agriculture” . . . ? If SIA is still eco-teardown ( even if less eco-teardown than current mainstream USDA paradigms) and Organic is eco-rehab, then two acres of Organic is eco-better than 1 acre of SIA, because 2 acres of modest eco-upgrade is better than one acre of modest eco-teardown.

    Now . . . if the proponents of SIA can show that it is also eco-rehab, then I will give it a hearing.

    Reply
  18. Basil Pesto

    The whole “Sanders is white and therefore box office poison” notion is bizarre, especially considering that, as far as I know, he is the only candidate with close relatives who were actually murdered in an actual genocide

    Reply

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