2:00PM Water Cooler 2/22/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

As before, my daily schedule has ended up complexified and I’m working on a post on HR1, the Democrat bill reforming the voting system. So I’m going to put up some red meat now, and then return later with more. –lambert UPDATE All done!

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“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


Weld: “Potential GOP primary challenger: Trump’s ‘contempt for the American people’ behind possible bid” [The Hill]. “Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R) told CNN Monday that Trump’s 2017 Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then Ambassador Sergey Kislyak struck a bad tone with him, priming him to consider a run against Trump. ‘That showed contempt for the American people if anything I’ve ever seen does,’ Weld said.” • After the Dukakis era ended, Weld became Governor of Massachusetts, beating the (truly noxious) John Silber in 1990. Interestingly, the same Rush Limbaugh mini-me, Howie Carr, who was responsible for launching Elizabeth Warren-as-Pocohontas, also dominated the media environment in 1990 through his radio talk show, and successfully savaged the Democratic establishment.

Biden: “Why Joe Biden shouldn’t run for president” [Philadelphia Tribune]. “The Democrats should not assume that an older, moderate white man is inevitably the strongest candidate. Even Bernie Sanders offers a fresh perspective with his left of center, Democratic Socialist positions (he would also be notable as a Jewish-American nominee).” • [x] Jewish. Finally somebody gave “even” Sanders an identity checkbox.

Harris (1): “California needs to take another look at its Catholic Church sexual abuse cases” [Los Angeles Times]. From 2018, still germane: “Many of the still-alive monsignors, bishops and cardinals involved in California’s part of the pedophile priest problem have never faced appropriate consequences for their inaction. In New Jersey and New York, the attorneys general have launched new investigations…. Our sainted Sen. Kamala Harris, who trumpets her prosecution of Backpage.com as evidence that she’s tough on sex crimes, is also among those tarred in my mind… In 2005, while she was San Francisco’s district attorney, Harris rebuffed a public-records request by SF Weekly to release personnel files from the Archdiocese of San Francisco. (Her predecessor had planned to make them public after prosecuting criminal priests, but the California Supreme Court stopped those cases when it declared unconstitutional a 2002 law that lifted the criminal statute of limitations.) Similar archives in Boston had exposed the scope of the scandal there…. And she never prosecuted any pedophile priest.” • As opposed to Mnuchin. Or threatening to prosecute the parents of truants.

Harris (2): California’s move to Super Tuesday hands Harris a big edge in 2020″ [Politico]. “California’s Super Tuesday primary is foundational to Harris’ plans to win the nomination. Her home-state advantage is an enormous asset, holding the promise of a huge haul of delegates early in the nomination fight…. Well aware there’s no guarantee of success, Harris and her team of longtime operatives there started working the state long before many of her 2020 Democratic rivals arrived for their first fundraisers and retail campaign stops. Harris has already held seven fundraisers in the Golden State, lined up endorsements from Gov. Gavin Newsom plus dozens of state legislators and congressional members, and brought on a top delegate expert and senior strategist with deep ties to powerful organized labor groups in the state. Harris’ strength in her past campaigns of running up her vote counts in the bluest regions — such as the Bay Area congressional districts of Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee — could give the freshman senator a significant edge over her competitors.” • If everything is like CalPERS, the “powerful organized labor groups” won’t mean much. We can also see Harris recapitulating the 2016 Clinton playbook — pretty well-thumbed, at this point. The Sanders campaign has a very different vision of “working the state” — as they had best do.

Harris (3): Lost in the totally authentic and spontaneous hot sauce eruption, this:

I don’t know about the fashion, except it’s not Nina McLemore (or it’s McLemore with sequins, I’m not sure). But what’s with that “we forced”? Maeve Reston is the CNN National Political Reporter covering Kamala Harris, not an embed. One would think. (Though if you want a fine look at the odd dynamics between candidate and reporter, read Amy Chozick’s Chasing Hillary, which is also good on the cluster that was 2016).

Harris (4): Dolores Huerta is a Harris campaign co-chair:

One more reason to put the Harris and Clinton campaigns in the same box.

Sanders: “Are Democratic Primary Voters Feeling “The Bern”? [Cook Political Report]. “Sanders, however, commands less enthusiasm from Democratic voters than Biden. Seventy-seven percent said they’d support Biden if he ran (including 44 percent who said they would be very likely to support him), while 20 percent said they wouldn’t (including 8 percent who said they definitely wouldn’t). Overall, the prospect of a Biden candidacy comes in at +57 percent positive. Support for Bernie was solid, but a smaller +36 percent. More important, the intensity of support — those who said they were very likely to support Sanders minus those who said they were very unlikely to vote for him was half of Biden’s (15 percent to 36 percent).” • It’s hard for me to believe there’s enthusiasm for Biden, at least according to any definition of “enthusiasm” I know. Readers, do you know anybody who’s enthusiastic about Biden?

Sanders: “Sanders has early lead over Warren in battle of the left” [Politico]. “Warren has sought to head off comparisons with Sanders by creating her own space where she hopes she’ll catch fire. She’s gone out of her way to avoid the “socialism” tag — declaring she is “a capitalist to her bones” — putting her in a position to step in if Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, is rejected for being too far left. (On Thursday, he came under fire from Florida Democrats after declining to answer whether Venezuela’s socialist dictator, Nicolas Maduro, should step down.)” • Looks like Florida Democrats are going for the Batistista vote. Don’t they know Batististas always vote for the real Batististas?

UPDATE Klobuchar: “How Amy Klobuchar Treats Her Staff” [New York Times]. “An aide, joining her on a trip to South Carolina in 2008, had procured a salad for his boss while hauling their bags through an airport terminal. But once onboard, he delivered the grim news: He had fumbled the plastic eating utensils before reaching the gate, and the crew did not have any forks on such a short flight. What happened next was typical: Ms. Klobuchar berated her aide instantly for the slip-up. What happened after that was not: She pulled a comb from her bag and began eating the salad with it, according to four people familiar with the episode. Then she handed the comb to her staff member with a directive: Clean it.” • (1) Eeeeeeew! (2) I assume that this reminds the old-timers among us, if any, of Paul Wolfowitz, “Godfather of the Iraq War: “[H]e is the unedifying figure captured in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, licking his comb as he smooths down his hair for an interview.” Good detail, though.

“Hillary Clinton met with Biden, Klobuchar on 2020” [CNN]. “The assumption among people who have talked to Clinton is that the former nominee will sit out the Democratic primary and get behind the eventual nominee, but one source cautioned in January that things could change based on how the primary plays out.” • Scorpions mating.

“The Obama primary: Which Democrat can claim his legacy in 2020?” [Los Angeles Times]. “In the rapidly growing Democratic candidate field, an under-the-radar competition is brewing over who is the clearest heir to former President Barack Obama’s political legacy. Many of the Democrats running or thinking about it have made a pilgrimage to Obama’s office to seek his counsel. Some have found ways to casually drop that fact into televised interviews. Obama is unlikely to weigh in with a public endorsement [lol no]. But the competition to ignite an Obama-like spark and to reassemble the coalition of young voters, women and people of color that carried him twice into the White House testifies to his lasting impact on his party.” • A coalition that disintegrates after two election cycles isn’t much of a coalition.

Health Care

“For 2020 Dem Hopefuls, ‘Medicare-For-All’ Is A Defining Issue, However They Define It” [Kaiser Health News]. “Front and center are three words: Medicare. For. All. That simple phrase is loaded with political baggage, and often accompanied by vague promises and complex jargon. Different candidates use it to target different voter blocs, leading to sometimes divergent, even contradictory ideas. ‘People are talking about this as a goal, as a commitment, as a value as much as a specific program,’ said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster.” • Celinda Lake, not unexpectedly, is a horrible human being. When the State of Maine ran a poll on health care policy, Lake conducted it. Activists had to force her to put single payer questions in the survey (and that ended up being the preferred choice). More journalistic malpractice: “Vague promises and complex jargon.” That’s because liberal Democrats are, in bad faith, obfuscating the policy issues, just as they did in 2009. There are three bills to look at, and a third coming: S1804, the late-lamented HR676, and Jayapal’s forthcomong bill. It would be better if KHN simply summarized them, surely not impossible. Oh, and “Medicare. For. All” echoes a classic Clintonite trope on the Twitter: It. Goes. Like. This. You are, I think, to imagine a finger wagging at each “.” I loathe it.

“How Mainstream News Coverage Distorts the Policy, Politics, and Polling on Medicare For All” [34Justice]. “If you tell people that the policy will result in them losing their current insurance, paying higher taxes, and interacting with a bankrupt federal government, they’re less likely to support it. If you tell people the truth, however – that public insurance in the United States is well-liked and more cost-efficient than private insurance, that other countries with Medicare-For-All-type systems spend way less money while covering a much higher percentage of their populations than we do, and that, under a Medicare For All system, all but the richest among us will get better coverage while paying less than they do today – people are fully on board. We need our news media to start telling the truth.” • Tell people the truth… What an odd strategy!

New Cold War

“The Mueller joke” [The Week]. “Has there ever been a better shaggy-dog story than the one about the crooked lobbyist for the Ukrainian government who failed to fill out some forms and cheated on his taxes and then years later advised a TV star who went down an escalator before running for president against someone who refused to campaign in the states she needed to win both before and after her emails got hacked and some D-list political operatives sent some messages asking about the emails after they were in the news and then the guy won the election and an incoming member of his administration engaged in diplomacy? We haven’t quite arrived at the punchline yet, but let me go ahead and spoil it for you: Ohio goes Republican again in 2020.” • Yep.


UPDATE Smooth move:

No doubt forcing everybody else to do the same. Imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth! (Klobuchar could take some hints from AOC, I think.)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Man Bites Blue Dog: Are Moderates Really More Electable than Ideologues?” [The Journal of Politics]. From the abstract: “Are ideologically moderate candidates more electable than ideologically extreme candidates? Historically, both research in political science and conventional wisdom answer yes to this question. However, given the rise of ideologues on both the right and the left in recent years, it is important to consider whether this assumption is still accurate. I find that, while moderates have historically enjoyed an advantage over ideologically extreme candidates in Congressional elections, this gap has disappeared in recent years, where moderates and ideologically extreme candidates are equally likely to be elected. This change persists for both Democratic and Republican candidates.” • Well, so much for the centrists, or at least rationalizations on behalf of the centrists by pundits. From the Bonica (DIME) database, n = 70,871 candidates over 35 years.

Stats Watch

There are no statistics of note today.

Retail: “Nike stock market value plunges by $1.1bn after basketball star Zion Williamson’s shoe breaks” [Independent]. “The company’s value tumbled by 1.7 per cent on Thursday as it was repeatedly blamed for a sprained knee to rising basketball star Zion Williamson, seen by millions live on TV. Sports lovers across the US watched in horror as the teenager was crocked when his Nike trainer tore apart mid-shot during a high profile college match. Barack Obama, who had gone to watch the match live, could be seen in his court side seat apparently saying with disbelief: ‘His shoe broke.'” • Apparently, it didn’t break. It exploded. I certainly don’t have any shoes that explode. How could this be?

Retail: “Nike’s smart sneakers are breaking when used with an Android phone” [The Verge]. “Nike’s brand-new Adapt BB smart sneakers have stopped working for some users because of a bad Android update just days after they were released. Affected owners say either their left or right shoe no longer pairs with Nike’s app, meaning it can’t be used to tighten their fresh pair of $350 self-lacing shoes.” • Self-lacing shoes are the very definition of apparel that is not Jackpot-ready. But did they turn their shoes off and then on?

Tech: “YouTube loses Hasbro, AT&T as brands flee pedophile problem” [Ad Age]. “[A]d executives on the Thursday call said that YouTube ‘dodged’ questions about implementing a system that would vet all videos before ads run. They believe Google won’t allow that type of monitoring because it wants to keep its inner workings private [I’ll bet!]. YouTube says it has to think about user privacy before opening to third parties that could poke around its platform. The offending videos were exposed earlier in the week by a YouTube personality who has been criticizing the company for months for featuring videos of children that could be construed as sexual. In many of them, children are playing or trying on clothes, and while this could be considered harmless content, the comments sections are filled with child predators sharing links to worse content or directing other pedophiles to moments in the videos. YouTube’s algorithm was also suggesting videos that featured children, even when a viewer wasn’t looking for them or only viewed a tangentially related video.” • So the algo is working as designed?

Tech: “You Give Apps Sensitive Personal Information. Then They Tell Facebook.” [Wall Street Journal]. “Millions of smartphone users confess their most intimate secrets to apps, including when they want to work on their belly fat or the price of the house they checked out last weekend. Other apps know users’ body weight, blood pressure, menstrual cycles or pregnancy status. Unbeknown to most people, in many cases that data is being shared with someone else: Facebook Inc…. The Journal tested more than 70 apps that are among the most popular in Apple’s iOS store in categories that handle sensitive user information. The Journal used software to monitor the internet communications triggered by using an app, including the information being sent to Facebook and other third parties. The tests found at least 11 apps sent Facebook potentially sensitive information about how users behaved or actual data they entered… just seconds after users enter it, even if the user has no connection to Facebook.” • Facebook is an outlaw company, worse than Uber. Can’t we put Zuckerberg in jail? (Assuming you can jail an android; the Zuckerberg’s handlers have to do something about the way its hairpiece melds with its skin; there’s something really odd about it. That picture!)

Tech: “Google fails to disclose microphone in Nest Secure” [Reuters]. “‘The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part. The microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option,’ Google said.” • Of course, of course! A strange definition of “secure”!

Tech: “A former social media evangelist unfriends Facebook” [Evgeny Morosov, WaPo]. “Perhaps data itself could become a platform on which all the others, from a town hall to a small local start-up, build new services.” • You’d have to standardize data to do that. It was tried….

The Biosphere

“A Green New Deal Is Technologically Possible. Its Political Prospects Are Another Question.” [New York Times]. “The Green New Deal, in other words, is an exciting idea for many liberals and an enticing political target for conservatives. But, most of all, it is an extraordinarily complicated series of trade-offs that could be realized, experts say, with extensive sacrifices that people are only starting to understand… But while the scope of the Green New Deal is enormous, experts believe that the economic trade-offs — saving trillions on potential catastrophe by spending trillions to prevent it — are worth serious consideration given the scale of the threat, and that a deep policy discussion would help voters and other Americans grapple with the environmental threats.” • Gosh, I hope preventing the grandkids from frying when they go out to play in the sun doesn’t cost a lot of money!

“Green New Deal is big, but ‘big’ is what America does best” [Des Moines Register]. “While many on the right have responded with predictable hysteria — calling it communism, fascism and the end of air travel — there’s one criticism, coming from both left [i.e., liberals] and right, that speaks volumes about what America is in this moment. It says the GND is simply too big an idea. As in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dubbing it, ‘the green dream;’ columnist Jonah Goldberg ripping it as a ‘fantasy;’ the Washington Times calling GND supporters ‘the unicorn caucus.’… it has always been in the country’s DNA to believe it had the power to transform destiny. Given the frightening state of our affairs and the planet’s imminent meltdown, we could do a lot worse than to reclaim that conviction. Instead, we get dour pragmatism and lectures on limitations.” • That’s your austerity talking.

“Young climate strikers can win their fight. We must all help” [George Monbiot, Guardian]. “A central task for any campaign is to develop a narrative: a short, simple story explaining where we are, how we got here and where we need to go. Using the narrative structure common to almost all successful political and religious transformations, the restoration story, it might go something like this. “The world has been thrown into climate chaos, caused by fossil fuel companies, the billionaires who profit from them and the politicians they have bought. But we, the young heroes, will confront these oligarchs, using our moral authority to create a movement so big and politically dangerous that our governments are forced to shut down the fossil economy and restore the benign conditions in which humans and other species can thrive. This restoration narrative, I think, could be greatly strengthened by recent findings suggesting that ecological recovery – restoring forests, salt marshes, peat bogs, the seabed and other crucial ecosystems – could, by drawing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, make a massive contribution towards preventing climate breakdown.” • It took more than the hobbits to throw the ring into Mount Doom…

“New England is losing 65 acres of forest a day” [The Harvard Gazette (Joe Well)]. “The region, heavily deforested in colonial days, is today one of the most densely wooded in the world, thanks to forests that regenerated over the past 150 years as farms were abandoned for city life… Thompson said that about 88 percent of New England is forest or farmland, but that development — 50 percent of which is residential — amounts to a ‘hard, permanent’ deforestation that removes the land from natural uses for the foreseeable future… While climate change threatens to alter natural communities and favors some species over others, development eliminates ecosystems altogether, Thompson said. In addition, he said, land is our biggest asset in fighting climate change, with growing trees locking up carbon and natural areas buffering the effects.” • Get on your local zoning or land use board and be an obstructionist! Leave it in the ground applies to trees too, besides oil!

Health Care

Oregon efforts:

Guillotine Watch

“Patriots owner Robert Kraft charged for soliciting prostitutes in Florida” [AOL]. “Kraft, 77, has been the principal owner of the Patriots since 1994, shepherding the franchise to one of the best runs in NFL history. That has included six Super Bowl titles, including the latest in February. He’s revered in New England for saving the Patriots from moving out of the region, as well as his family’s myriad philanthropic endeavors.” • Kraft is worth somewhere between $4.36 and $6.6 billion. Maybe when his lawyers have this misdemeanor charge dropped, he can pay it forward by dropping a billion or so on a decriminalization campaign.

Class Warfare

“Universal Basic Income in the US and Advanced Countries” [NBER]. From the abstract: “We develop a framework for describing transfer programs, flexible enough to encompass most existing programs as well as UBIs, and use this framework to compare various UBIs to the existing constellation of programs in the United States. A UBI would direct much larger shares of transfers to childless, non-elderly, non-disabled households than existing programs, and much more to middle-income rather than poor households. A UBI large enough to increase transfers to low-income families would be enormously expensive. We review the labor supply literature for evidence on the likely impacts of a UBI. We argue that the ongoing UBI pilot studies will do little to resolve the major outstanding questions.”

News of the Wired

“I love taking long-distance trains. Here’s why I’m thrilled Amtrak might cut them back.” [Grist]. “Amtrak is planning a major restructuring of its national network, which could finally make shorter-routes competitive with air travel…. According to the Wall Street Journal, Amtrak is gearing up to replace its aging equipment, and is leaning towards replacing traditional dining and sleeper cars with sleek intercity cars designed for quick travel between nearby cities. The move would effectively chop up cross-country routes and prioritize travel between higher-traffic city pairs. The reallocation could boost ridership by millions with the same (meager) funding levels.” • Which is good for greenhouse gas, at least!

“#131 Surefire Investigations” (podcast transcript) [Reply All]. “GOLDMAN: Um, so our boss Alex Blumberg comes to us with stuff from the internet that he doesn’t understand and we do our best to explain it to him. Uh, hi, Alex…. BLUMBERG: All right. So I have a Tweet. It’s from somebody named Maya Kossoff, and Maya’s Tweet says I just left a hipster coffee shop in Philadelphia, all the young libs there were sipping disposable cups full of SEPTA sewer sludge and murmuring among themselves how Gritty is actually the Phanatic’s son. (laughs) And there’s 1,163 likes and a bunch of retweets. And uh and I really don’t know–” • This transcript is weirdly relaxing, and very Philly.

“The Communal Mind” [London Review of Books]. “Close-ups of nail art, a pebble from outer space, a tarantula’s compound eyes, a storm like canned peaches on the surface of Jupiter, Van Gogh’s Potato Eaters, a chihuahua perched on a man’s erection, a garage door spray-painted with the words ‘STOP NOW! DON’T EMAIL MY WIFE!” • This, on the other hand, is not relaxing at all.

“An Interview with Nick Harkaway: Algorithmic Futures, Literary Fractals, and Mimetic Immortality” [Los Angeles Review of Books]. “People like Anthony Giddens and Bruno Latour have been talking for decades about late or liquid modernity: what happens when the traditional axes of self are cut loose. For example, people no longer define themselves so much by their family name; we’re all singleton individuals. We know where we come from, but we don’t for the most part see “The Name” as a living entity to which we add. Likewise we are from a place, but we don’t any more expect to be born, live, and die within a couple of kilometers of that location, and we don’t define our identity by our village in the way that our forebears did. The same phenomenon is occurring with religion, profession, or trade — almost every traditional domain of human identity. Any one of these things — even all of them — might still be important to you, but at the same time they’re less absolute than they once were. The distance from one coast of the United States to another might be vast to walk, but it’s a day in a plane.” • Don’t worry. When the Jackpot hits, we’ll be thinking very hard about villages, and how to make them work. In fact, we should be thinking about that right now, and not this… liquid…. stuff.

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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 (TH):

TH writes: “Early morning—Aloe Vera, backed by ornamental grass.” Winter in California, I guess.

Readers, I’m still a little short on plants. And it would be very nice to see plants from readers who’ve never sent in pictures before!

Also, readers, if any of you have access to the “online Web of Science database” (which is subscription only), would they kindly get in touch? We might be able to pose queries that the Bayo-Wyckhuys review study did not.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Grant

    “Man Bites Blue Dog: Are Moderates Really More Electable than Ideologues?”

    These terms don’t have to have any ideological meaning at all. The difference between a “moderate” and a “radical” or whatever term you want to use, is that a moderate thinks that things are fine overall. At their root, the system, the economy, our society, the healthcare system, infrastructure, the environment, are okay. There might be a need to tinker around the edges, but foundationally, things will stay as is. A radical, by definition, thinks that changes are needed at the root level. Either way, there is a factual basis in determining what camp you are in. It isn’t just how you want the world to be, it is your ability to make sense of the world as it is, how things work and have historically worked. Many Republicans support single payer. Republicans that support single payer do not do so for ideological reasons, in fact, all of the ideological stuff they get should lead them to oppose single payer. They don’t though, at least nearly as much as you would think if you put this in overtly ideological tones. Republicans that support single payer do it for class based reasons, and because the alternatives have been tried and are clearly inferior. Seems that working people are able to look at data and facts on traditional Medicare versus private insurance in the US, and single payer systems versus ours and draw obvious logical conclusions. Given that the costs of healthcare have been rising at a much quicker rate than wage growth for decades now, objective reality and their material existence forces them to focus on facts and to be honest about the system. Those on TV, those in power, are fine. So, they can and do live in a bubble, and don’t care that 45,000 of their fellow Americans will be dead this time next year because of this healthcare system. The “adults in the room” probably know the facts too, they also know that their jobs depend on them pretending that they don’t understand the issue, and the people in the dominant media have a class bias.

    Besides, I also am tired of treating “moderates” as if they are free of an ideology of their own. In fact, I think they cling to a world view and push aside facts that are inconvenient to their ideology more than anyone else on the ideological spectrum. You have to work really hard to pretend that “centrist” policies make an ounce of sense, given our massive structural issues domestically and internationally. I find that their logic is often incoherent and has little relation to objective reality. And it isn’t clear what centrists are in the center of. Certainly not popular opinion.

    1. Tim

      Your response is correct if you think everything lies on a left-right spectrum. Reality is it is more of a plane, and a centrist is also somebody that wants policies that work best for the majority of the people, not just for those that behave and construct their lives in either a very conservative or very liberal manner. We all have to get along.

      SO, you can be a centrist and understand that at some point something radical does need to be done, like perhaps a new, third, centrist party, one that doesn’t have the baggage of the extremes positions, or the leash of our overlords, one that can propose meaningful reform with real tangible benefit to society, with minimal leaching by the elite.

        1. Gregorio

          “Centrists” are the radicals. Only an ideologue will insist on keeping on doing the same things that have provenly not worked, whereas, a true realist, will admit that something isn’t working and be willing to change direction.

        2. Jeff W

          “Centrism typically refers to itself as the ‘rational middle’ but really it’s a fringe movement trying to defend the economic preferences of the 1%.”
          —Waleed Shahid

            1. Jeff W

              Thanks, Carey! And, speaking of which, I think your comments are always perfectly phrased. I really appreciate them.

      1. jsn

        I think political ideology is 3D with power at the center. Resources flow to power. The quality of the ideology and its agents determine the size of the bubble it forms wherein there is positive use of people and material resources.

        Our ideology has a small, nearly impenetrable bubble (the lens effect of the bubble’s thick wall makes saving the ecosphere on which we all depend look “too expensive”), this is what “centrists” are near the center of.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            That’s horseshoe theory which I don’t accept.

            Note this is not true for a triangle. If you start at the liberal apex, and head toward the conservative apex, then you are not automatically heading to the left apex.

          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            I’m going to stick with 11 dimensions. It references String Theory (as I recall, they had to drop a dimension). Spinal Tap (11). And Dennis the Menace (I read it as ‘eleventy’).

            But seriously, four people have twenty four distinct relationships between themselves. Politics is hard.

      2. Darthbobber

        Not at all sure how changing the spatial image from a line to a plane changes much. What’s the y axis?

        And if a centrist is “somebody who wants policies that work best for the majority of the people”, it would seem to follow that most of the politicians labeled “centrist” haven’t been that at all.

        This definition is so subjective that if I decide that Lenin, or lePen, or Bernie Sanders, or Donald Trump are advocating policies that I think would work best for a majority of the people, that person becomes a “centrist” to me by definition. This seems less than useful.

      3. WJ

        “and a centrist is also somebody that wants policies that work best for the majority of the people”

        By this definition, a centrist is a democratic socialist. Thanks for clarifying things for us!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          On Global Warming, for example, the majority of the people are not doing the right things to prevent a coming disaster.

          Does it mean dictating policies (that work best for them, though, not at the moment, approved by them*)?

          *educating and informing is key. And if not succesul, what then?

      4. Michael


        I’ve always thought that a “Centrist” as a corporatist. A “Liberal” apparently is now anyone who wants to appeal to people who don’t bother reading for some reason or another.

      5. Grant

        “Your response is correct if you think everything lies on a left-right spectrum.”

        A moderate thinks that structural changes are not needed. People that are not moderate think that structural changes are needed. The changes can be from the left, or the right ideologically, or people can support changes for non-ideological reasons. As I said, many Republicans support single payer. Ideology will not help you make sense of that. It isn’t about ideology at all, it is a class issue, and people simply think that the system requires root changes. It does, clearly. You can oppose free trade not because you read Ha Joon Chang, but because you lost your job to outsourcing and think it is bad for the domestic economy. There is data there to help on that.

        “centrist is also somebody that wants policies that work best for the majority of the people”

        You have to explain what “centrist” means. Single payer, for example, has strong majority support. It is in the center of popular opinion. What Nancy Pelosi supports is to the right of popular opinion. Yet, if we use the term “centrist” as people often do, Pelosi is the centrist. Bernie an “extremist” (LOL!). Okay, then what is she in the center of? If we have a democracy, or if you want to be picky with terms, a democratic republic, I would think that popular opinion determines what is or isn’t centrist. Otherwise, we are talking about the centers of power, not popular opinion, and power is concentrated in this country. But beyond that, for you to claim that a centrist position is to the benefit of everyone, necessarily, you have to show that what is in place, in the absence of structural changes, is to the benefit of everyone or at least a majority of people. You have to at least show that things that are in place can benefit most with minor tinkering around the edges, and that the system as is would be better than something else that does call for radical changes. We are long past time where the status quo should just be assumed away. Go back to the healthcare system. Centrist in the way you are using it will result in what a system that kills up to 45,000 people by this time next year. Massive amount of bankruptcies, job lock, most expensive system in the world using every metric, horribly inefficient system. Please, give me the logic as to how keeping the system as is, and fighting against what you call “the extremes” is best for the majority of people. Would it result in a system that kills only 20,000? Leads to half the bankruptcies? Real wages haven’t grown in decades, inequality has exploded, as has private debt. We have a massive infrastructure gap, the costs of college education, housing and healthcare have been far outpacing wage growth for decades. We have an environmental crisis. Explain how we keep the system as is, in the absence of structural changes, and solve our biggest problems? Seems to me that you first have to prove that we can solve our biggest problems while keeping things as they are at their root level. As someone with a strong background in ecological economics, I would say that is fantasy.

        “you can be a centrist and understand that at some point something radical does need to be done”

        Assuming there is time. The moderates seem to want to pretend we have more time than we do for their “pragmatic” solutions to the environmental crisis.

        But, I agree with Dr. King anyway:


        First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

        …I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth of time. I received a letter this morning from a white brother in Texas which said, “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but is it possible that you are in too great of a religious hurry? It has taken Christianity almost 2000 years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” All that is said here grows out of a tragic misconception of time. It is the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time is neutral. It can be used either destructively or constructively. I am coming to feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.

        1. Steely Glint

          Moderates: “Possibly solving yesterday’s problems 30 years from now with incremental steps. H/T Mike the Mad Biologist
          Moderates: Limit temperature rise to 1.5 C or 2 C is radical? How much temperature rise is moderate? H/T David Roberts

      6. marku52

        I think this addresses your outlook exactly:
        “If the latter is a more compelling way to understand what’s happening in our politics, then maybe we need to abandon the inherited left-center-right ideological schema altogether. Maybe the more salient cleavage in our politics is the one that divides those who remain broadly happy with how things have been going from those who do not, those who’ve been winning from those who’ve been losing, those who benefit from those who don’t, those who’ve been in charge and running the show from those who’ve been placed permanently in the role of spectators,”

        A pretty good article at the The Week

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I couldn’t get to that article in the time available, though I had good intentions! This is what resonated for me:

          In a world defined by this dispute — a fissure separating top from bottom far more than left from right — there would be room to fashion a new center, one no longer defined by its proximity to or distance from the formerly fixed left-right ideological alternatives. Instead, the middle would be defined by wherever a new consensus in public opinion emerges, along with whatever mixture of policies and ideal visions of the country’s future end up galvanizing that consensus.

          Yeah, [family blog] material conditions! Let’s talk about consensus and ideals!

      7. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Your response is correct if you think everything lies on a left-right spectrum. Reality is it is more of a plane

        I’ve been saying for some time now that (oversimpifying) that US politics has three poles: liberal, conservative, and left. (Both liberals and conservatives are subclasses of neoliberal, with different attitudes about the complexity of the public sector and professional services).

        And three points determine a plane, so yes.*

        NOTE * “Left” implies a two-dimensional spectrum, like the Overton Window, so it’s an unfortunate term. But it’s the term we have.

    2. todde

      There was a time when most people I knew were a mixture of left and right ideas.

      That seems to be less and less now a days

  2. Another Scott

    It’s really interesting to see the revisionism towards the 2016 Democratic primary. As I remember, the primary was a contest between two individuals. The first was a cult of personality around an aging ideologue clinging to an old, discredited belief system. The other, of course, was a (democratic) socialist.

  3. Summer

    “Readers, do you know anybody who’s enthusiastic about Biden?”

    Better questions: “Biden has been in government over 50 years, why hasn’t there ever been any broad enthusiasm for him to be President? Why is now suddenly different? Why is the average Joe supposed to give a rats about how he ends his career?”

    1. Carla

      I live in a heavily Democratic area in a red state, and I know lots of Democrats who are enthusiastic about Biden. It actually makes me ill.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Louisiana here, my black aging coworker likes Biden, but most of the young coworkers like Bernie or dont know.

        The aging coworker is a bit of a sexist if that counts.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        People want to be optimistic, but it never hurts to be conservative…wrong word…to play it safe.

        What are some of the reasons for Biden, instead of some shining new object?

        1. He is not talking about forcing insurance industry workers to train for new jobs.

        2. He is not talkiing about making homeowners upgrade their houses, or renters to indirectly pay for them.

        3. He is not talking about making airline workers re-fashion themselves for more virtuous work.

        4. He may be for highter taxes, but not as high as some of the other guys or gals.

        Now, these are some of the ‘perceived’ reasons. They may or may not be totally accurate, or half accurate. Ten percent or 90% accurate, in some cases, maybe. The point is there is room for hestitation to support our guy or gal, openings for opposition, and plenty of opportunities for work to overcome or perpetuate them.

      3. richard

        I don’t see much love for joe in the nw. now, or ever really. I get that we got to give time and room for people to grow, but c’mon, he clearly hasn’t. And we’ve already said no twice.
        Who the heck are they polling?
        Anyway, I say run Joe. His policies aren’t popular, nor are his actions defensible. Run joe.

      4. Summer

        Wasn’t it the 80s or so when the Democratic Party establishment last even considered him a front runner?
        Now they are clamoring? It’s not Biden they are clamoring for….they are waving a big signal at the big donors: Hey, lookie, we aren’t changing.

    2. Janie

      Re: enthusiastic about Biden. I’m in Oregon. A couple of acquaintances are luke-warm, kinda, about him. That’s the good news. Bad news? They like Kamala Harris.

      1. edmondo

        Hence the article in the Philadelphia Tribune.

        The Tribune is the African-American newspaper of the record for the black misleadership class in Philly. They don’t want Biden to run because it could imperil Kamala Harris’s quest for the Oval Office. They are all feeding off the same teat as Hillary did in 2016.

      1. emorej a hong kong

        Biden has to be both Trump’s and Bernie’s favorite opponent:
        >”Are you better off today than before Biden’s forty years influencing National politics?”

  4. laughingsong

    “but one source cautioned in January that things could change based on how the primary plays out.” • Scorpions mating.”

    I was drinking coffee when I read that, now it’s sprayed all over my monitor. Well done, LS! :-D

  5. Jason Boxman

    Democrats are hopelessly depraved. The beatings must continue until morale is improved (op-ed NYTimes):

    Amy Chozick
    Can Peer Pressure Defeat Trump?
    In 2020, Democrats need millennials to turn out. Vote shaming apps can help.

    It’s hard to properly characterize in words how disgusting a position Chozick takes.

    1. nippersdad

      It sounds like it is going to be a fairly common viewpoint. I saw this a little while ago.:


      Holdsworth added that she hopes the former Secretary of State will continue to meet with Democratic hopefuls–“except” for Bernie Sanders (I VT), her chief rival in the 2016 Democratic Primary.”

      The bitterness is strong with the people whose rice bowls stand to get smashed.

    2. clarky90

      I had assumed that Jussie Smollett was a young man who had grown up in Chicago. No, he is a Californian, with a white Russian!!!/Polish father, from a family of Democrat activists.

      Jussie Smollett siblings speak out about alleged attack: Who are his brothers and sisters?


      “The 36-year-old actor’s sisters are fellow actresses and activists. Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Jazz Smollett-Warwell also worked under former president, Barrack Obama as leading campaign surrogates….”

      “(Jussie Smollett) has three brothers and two sisters: Jake, Jocqui, Jojo, Jurnee, and Jazz, several of whom are also actors…… His father was Jewish (his family emigrated from Russia and Poland). Smollett’s mother is African-American.”

      1. Rhondda

        My foily take is Someone put Jussie up to this spectacular act of stupid. Your comment dovetails with the group I suspected. Because, as I understand it a) he was staying at someone else’s place and b) the route he took from his temporary digs to the sandwich store and back again had video cameras everywhere except the exact area where he was “attacked.” Now, who would know that? A LEO Fusion Center worker perhaps? It takes a village.

        1. integer

          I disagree; everything I’ve seen on this suggests that Smollett came up with the idea himself. Along with the statements from the Chicago police department, I also watched his interview with Robin Roberts, which took place before any questions were raised about his version of what happened, and what he says is revealing. Also, Smollett chose the location because of the presence of the surveillance camera, and was unaware it was facing in the opposite direction. His actions appear to have been a product of unhappiness with what he was being paid for his acting role on Empire, TDS, a desire for attention, and insecurity (he explicitly told the Osundairo brothers that he wanted to make it look like he fought back, and he talked a lot about this in the aforementioned interview).

          “And then I see the attacker, masked. And he said, ‘This is MAGA country, n*****.’ Punches me right in the face. So, I punched his ass back,” Smollett said. “I think what people need to hear is just the truth.”

    3. polecat

      “Vote shaming apps” …

      Yeah, like that’s gonna work. Disgusting indeed .. and shamless to boot !

      1. The Rev Kev

        Oh man, just finished reading that article. If I lived in the US and some jerk tried to shame me about voting, I would tell him that it was none of his business just what the **** I did with my private life and that if he kept it up, I would vote for Trump to show him what I thought of him. I think that people that try to do this should be careful, especially with Millennials. They are savvy about social media and if they harass Millennials enough, are liable to find themselves on a shaming list on social media for their voting bullying for all the world to see. And then that would be Public Information.

    4. notabanker

      This myth that millennials are attention-deprived video game zombie-ified mindless dolts is going to backfire on some people in a big way. My kids, nephews, nieces and their friends are all millennials. These kids are switched on, know whats going on in the world around them and are not happy about it. They work jobs and go to school, even in high school and are interconnected in way my Gen X generation cannot relate to. This kind of propaganda isn’t going to work. These kids know this game.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I keep thinking that the first candidate to somehow enter the gaming world with an avatar is going to win big. Not being a gaming person, I don’t know quite how it would work, but perhaps readers could suggest something.

        1. ForFawkesSakes

          Perhaps something like Black Mirror’s “The Waldo Moment”?

          A cartoon character runs for office.

          I’m reluctant to give more information without spoiling the dark fun of the episode.

              1. rowlf

                He just said it was done a while ago by someone, old news:

                Domain Name: BERNCRAFT.COM
                Registry Domain ID: 2013206996_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
                Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.wildwestdomains.com
                Registrar URL: http://www.wildwestdomains.com
                Updated Date: 2018-03-15T08:10:37Z
                Creation Date: 2016-03-17T18:30:17Z

    5. Annieb

      If the dems need millennial support then Biden can’t be the candidate.
      Here he is talking about the “old days” and what a tough time we all had it in the ‘60s. Totally irrelevant! When millennials complain, Biden says “Give me a break.”
      What a jerk! He sounds like the old guys in the 1960s who said the same thing about activists protesting the Vietnam war ( cut your hair! Get a job! Fight for your country!)


      And vote shaming as an effective tactic? I give up. These people are just so *familyblog* ridiculous.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      I can see it now: stick figure villagers with torches and pitchforks chasing a stick figure Biden across my rear window.

    2. Cal2

      “I’m Biden my time until bankruptcy–still have to repay student loans–Thanks Joe!”

      Do a print run of at least 44 million of them.

  6. Carolinian

    It’s hard for me to believe there’s enthusiasm for Biden

    It’s the teeth I’m tellin ya. Nobody believed me two years ago when I said Biden would have beaten Trump.

    Also Caitlin on upcoming Mueller report and rumors that Mueller is now a Putin puppet. Russiagate cannot fail, it can only be failed.


    And here she is on Bernie 2020. She makes some good points.


    1. Pat

      Well Biden may be as bad as Clinton, but I honestly cannot imagine him refusing to campaign in states he needed to win in order to become President. I imagine turnout and enthusiasm would have been about the same on the part of the voters but he would have carried every state she did, and squeaked by in enough of the others to win. One should never forget how incompetent Clinton was.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        One should never forget how incompetent Clinton was.

        No one has, but Biden has been on display for a long time with two Presidential runs under his belt. Hillary without the selling points is an apt description for Biden. The only reason he wasn’t hammered in 2008 was Palin and he was preferable as VP to Bayh and Kaine.

        1. Pat

          Oh, I think lots of people have forgotten how incompetent Clinton was and is. Not here, but in general that is still a controversial position (although I have been seeing a break in the dam where the stupidity of the campaign actually gets mentioned.)

          Biden did not and does not have the standing negatives that Clinton has. He should but he doesn’t. And honestly Trump is and was vile. It wasn’t just people around here who had a hard time picking who was worse Clinton or Trump. If the Dems had realized that Clinton was a loser, and pulled Biden out at the Convention, despite alienating Sanders supporters, I honestly believe he would be President today.

          But that is not the situation, anyone who thinks Biden makes it through a Democratic primary without crashing and burning has a short memory for the brief time he was around before being thrust to the curb in his previous runs. He seriously underwhelms on the campaign trail. Even nostalgia for Obama (why, I do not get, but it is real) will not be enough to save him.

    2. integer

      They’ll probably just find a way to blame Trump, but after Mueller’s report fails to live up to their fantasies, I won’t be surprised if I see TDS-afflicted liberals start floating the theory that Mueller’s involvement in the Uranium One deal is proof that he’s a Kremlin asset. Personally, I’m starting to consider the possibility that the apparent damping down of Russiagate expectations is the result of the permanent establishment having realized that Sanders, who they may not be able to prevent from winning the D party primary, is a bigger threat to their interests than Trump, who it appears they have managed to fully domesticate.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Johnstone’s last thought is, IMNSHO, the best:

      6. Sanders is more interesting as a phenomenon than as a candidate.*

      Sanders will be one of the few candidates in the race who will be consistently promoting clear, specific progressive policies instead of wearing a plastic smile and reciting scripted talking points designed to offend the smallest number of people possible, but we’ve seen him do that already, probably in exactly the same way he’s going to do it this time around. What makes Sanders interesting is not Sanders himself, but the Sanders movement.

      I personally do not believe that the establishment is afraid of Sanders. Sanders is just one man, and even if he really is hell bent on destroying the oligarchy and bringing power to the people, they can deal with just one man. What they truly fear is millions of people rising up in a populist movement to take power for themselves, and using every tool in their toolbox to make that happen. If millions of Americans can resist the attempts to manipulate and herd them in directions which pose no threat to the plutocracy and insist on economic and institutional justice to the same extent that the Yellow Vests in France are, for example, that would absolutely terrify our rulers.

      And that’s what we can expect to be the area of narrative control emphasis with regard to Sanders’ campaign: not keeping Sanders from being elected, but keeping the public from developing a revolutionary spirit. An enthusiastic Sanders campaign will get the mass media manipulators working very hard to control the narrative and keep everyone herded into their lanes, and they often expose themselves for the malignant liars they are when they do that. Anything that causes the propagandists to lose control of the narrative is a good thing, and the Sanders campaign may do just that.

      NOTE * Sanders is an interesting candidate, too. Besides disciplined messaging, he’s got his own list, his own media, and (one hope) his own canvassing operation. Those are impressive strategic assets.

  7. Big River Bandido

    I was in school in Boston in 1990, and though I wasn’t registered to vote there, I followed the Weld-Silber contest pretty closely. If Michael Dukakis was the epitome of the meritocratic, technocratic neoliberal present, Silber represents the epitome of the racist ward heeler. I’ve watched politics a long, long, time, and it’s hard for me to conceive of a meaner, nastier, more horrible human being than John Silber. There were an awful lot of MA Democrats who cheered Silber’s loss. Of the choices that year, Weld was clearly the most “liberal”, in every sense of that term.

  8. zagonostra

    “If you tell people that the policy will result in them losing their current insurance, paying higher taxes, they’re less likely to support it. If you tell people the truth…” this is related to earlier post “how Stupid Do They Think We Are? – Plutocrats Using Logical Fallacies to Defend the Health Care.”

    As long as the M$M controls the narrative an uninformed electorate can always be manipulated. Until that critical point is reached where that narrative loses it’s purchase, they’ll pull another legerdemain this election cycle.

    1. Carey

      Your last paragraph sums things up well, I think. Will 2020 mark a change? So far I don’t
      think so, but we will see.

      1. polecat

        Hell ! I might be dead by then …How’s THAT for change !
        I’ve been waiting for ‘change for near on 20 yrs now, and what have I gotten for my
        waining anticipation in all that time .. ??
        A baling-wired cracked rice bowl, with a spooned-out dollop of CONnived Gee !

    2. bstamerjon

      If those who have health care coverage paid by their employer were told that the premium paid by said employer would be added to their paycheck, they might be more receptive to finding other insurance.

      1. Pat

        Not if they have an idea of the state of the policies available to them for purchase. Individual purchase really does not have the same negotiating power as the larger companies do.

        The way the insurance market is gamed is obscene.

  9. Big River Bandido

    The amount of “support” claimed by some of these candidates strikes me as laughable…and then I remember this is merely the “shadow primary”, where there’s no real polling and every “impression” is just a result of astroturfing and working the corporate lamestream media. The only real metric at this point is fundraising.

  10. Jerry B

    ===Lost in the totally authentic and spontaneous hot sauce eruption, this===

    Ok, I can’t resist:

    Harris: Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the most presidential of them all??

    Mirror: Commentariat please fill in the blank/contribute your own mirror response!

  11. Philip

    Three things…

    Tulsi! Has been on the stump in NH and now Iowa. She appears to be receiving a warm welcome from the disposables deplorable’s. (disposables supposed to have strikethrough)

    The Great White Hope Larry Krasner shit’s the bed.
    The Real News Network https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0_llqtCr_E

    Abby Martin exposes “An Ocean of Lies on Venezuela” with UN investigator and human rights Rapporteur Alfred De Zayas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii5MlQgGXyk

  12. Hameloose Cannon

    [Re: tweet] Dolores Huerta is a labor leader and civil rights activist who, with Cesar Chavez, is a co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. So, what is pathological about a Clinton Foundation donation to a labor leader? Isn’t that what you want? And C’mon, do you really think “d car” is a real person and not a clearinghouse for a gigolo politi-bot reeking of Sobranie Black’s, aftershave, and BS. [D] car’s profile gif is the Shining Twins with the heads of Hillary and Donald wearing dresses made from Israeli flags [It’s not even coherent. Kubrick’s The Shining is an allegory for Native American Genocide.] Would you consider this a reliable source?

    On the other hand, I have not seen any checks cut from Bernie Sanders’s camp go toward labor. Not only does he not use a single Vermont bank or credit union as a depository for campaign funds [as a Vermont Senator, that is incredibly strange], a large portion of his 2016 funds went directly to a an ad-buying LLC, Old Towne Media, ran by a solo Shelli Hutton-Hartig, owner of Canal Media Partners, the same group of Democratic operatives grinding DC as always. About as grassroots as an indoor putting-green, and as transparent as cataracts. Bernie Sander’s Rolodex is the same as everyone else’s.

    1. edmondo

      Shhhhhhhh. You aren’t allowed to say anything negative about Bernie. He’s the most popular politician in the country (registered trademark) even though he lost to the most hated woman in America.

      1. Plenue

        The NC commentariat has plenty of negative things to say about Sanders. Sounds more like you’re projecting.

        Also, he lost the nomination after he was cheated. Would he have won in an actually fair fight? I don’t know. But it wasn’t a fair fight.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Dolores Huerta is a labor leader and civil rights activist

      That was a long, long time ago. See next comment from Darth Bobber for what’s happening today, that a big fat check just might have had something to do with.

      Bernie’s vendors: I don’t see links, and I don’t see a reason to care. Start with the links.

  13. Darthbobber

    I’d forgotten the Huerta fake news from the Nevada caucuses. There were so many of these things from Clinton operatives one can’t recall them all.

    Of course, it’s followed later by Boxer’s antics at the allegedly violent and scary Nevada convention, that left her breathlessly claiming to have feared for her safety, though all the available footage showed her just having a grand old time bating the Sanders support.

    The total inability of anybody to document any violent behavior at all didn’t interfere with several days of pearl clutching news coverage of the myth, and claims of (non-existent) chair throwing continued to be trotted out for many weeks thereafter.

    All of this nonsense went down in spite of it being clear by then that the Clinton campaign had no literal need of such antics to comfortably win the nomination. Worth remembering that they were sore winners before they became sore losers. I’ve seen a lot of democratic faction battles, but 2016 Was The first time I ever saw a campaign going out of its way to attack the SUPPORTERS of the other candidate, as opposed to the candidate themself.

    A preference they continued into the general election, with predictable results.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Of course, the chair incident, “reported” by Jon Ralston, still on the job today.

      > 2016 Was The first time I ever saw a campaign going out of its way to attack the SUPPORTERS of the other candidate, as opposed to the candidate themself.

      2008 was like that, but only, so far as I know, on-line. In 2016, it was online and in real life.

      1. wilroncanada

        …drifting snow banks O’ high…That doesn’t seem very high.
        Oh Lambert, the irony! You’ll get a flurry of responses to that response.

  14. DJG

    First, Big Jim Comey, Republican barnacle of the “intelligence” “community” was going to save us, once he untangled his big self from the drapes where he was hiding from the Trump.

    Then Andrew McCabe was going to save us, offering us the groovy new spectacle of a not-so-soft coup and a GoFundMe page for his well-deserved pension after years in the “intelligence” “community.”

    Now Robert Mueller is going to save us.

    Well, at least, I haven’t been forced to sing Amazing Grace lately.

    I am reminded, though, that the same people hanging on Comey’s every word are the same people who think that they should be the change in the world.

    All of this would be as absurd as pumpkin-spice latte, except that these years of pumpkin spice sure haven’t been good for the Bill of Rights.

  15. Janie

    Lambert: Re voting reform post. Please don’t forget about Oregon. Easy registration and vote by mail. We do lack hand-counted in public, though.

  16. Briny

    I personally do not believe that the establishment is afraid of Sanders. Sanders is just one man, and even if he really is hell bent on destroying the oligarchy and bringing power to the people, they can deal with just one man. What they truly fear is millions of people rising up in a populist movement to take power for themselves, and using every tool in their toolbox to make that happen. If millions of Americans can resist the attempts to manipulate and herd them in directions which pose no threat to the plutocracy and insist on economic and institutional justice to the same extent that the Yellow Vests in France are, for example, that would absolutely terrify our rulers.

    .This. Time for me to start rummaging in my “toolbox.”

  17. Carey

    What was it, exactly, about President Trump meeting with the Russian FM and Ambassador that “showed contempt for the American people”, per Mr. Weld?

    Dog, there are dark times.

        1. rowlf

          I like an old retired Air Force civil engineer at church a few years ago complaining why can’t the US have someone like Lavrov.

  18. DJG

    Okay, fashionistas: This may be the defining Harris moment.

    Just how much did Kamala’s Amazing Technicolor Dream-Coat cost?

  19. Captain Patch

    Can we get Gilbert Godfrey to read “The Mueller Joke” like it was an outtake from “The Aristocrats.”

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If we can’t, then we will have to become the Gilbert Gottfried we wish to see in the world.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      A shortened and sanitized but still definitely NSFW version of “the Aristocrats.” I saw the movie when it came out, and it struck a lo of people in my blogging cohort at the time as a fine metaphor for our elites, including me. Still does!

      1. ambrit

        I always thought that “It Happened In Hollywood” was closer to the marks. Sort of like “Eyes Wide Shut” meets “The Greatest Show On Earth.” [It’s a Big Tent folks…..]

  20. ambrit

    I just had to laugh when I read that Bernie Sanders is a “Jewish-American.” Will he ever be surprised to find that out!
    So now we have a severe eruption of “Religious Spectrum Disease” re-re-reinfecting the oligarchiosphere.
    “Catholic-Americans” and “Baptist-Americans” and the ever unreliable “Deplorable-Americans,” all have their proper niche to fill. Procrustes Bed for consumo-citizeneons.

      1. Carey

        Hey, at least our Thought Leaders are having to try to think, for the moment.



    1. Robert McGregor

      Finally! You have certified “Deplorables” by granting them their own hypen–“Deplorable-Americans.”

      1. ambrit

        Thanks for the laugh!
        I have been told by many that “Deplorables” are certifiable. At last, validation!
        Now on to figuring out how to “Credentialize” the “Deplorable Class.” (Otherwise known as ‘Papering Over’ the voids.)

  21. Parker Dooley

    “Scorpions mating”

    Apologies to Ogden Nash:

    Put some scorpions in a bottle
    One may live, but not a lot’ll

      1. ambrit

        Ooooooh. I knew someone who had one in running condition. (Better ‘running’ condition than most of the prospective candidates today.)

    1. Plenue

      It’s like she’s too old to even care about pretending her job is anything other than one giant power-trip for her.

  22. ewmayer

    o “Maeve Reston is the CNN National Political Reporter covering Kamala Harris. She’s not supposed to act like an embed, or an advisor.” — Well, what *should* she act like? A journalist? Ha, ha, ha, nice one, Lambert! You’re in fine form today, my friend.

    o “The Obama primary: Which Democrat can claim his legacy in 2020?” [Los Angeles Times] — Ugh … which Dem would want to? Oh yeah, a corrupt neolib establishment-favored one.

    BTW, I still think HRH HRC’s strategy is to stay noncommital w.r.to all the various ring-kissers, then hope for (as in, have her DNC operatives actively foment) gridlock at the Convention, then save the day by graciously putting down her knitting and yoga mags and sacrificing herself for self and country by swooping in in her magical flying purple pantsuit and and agreeing to accept the nomination.

    1. Whoamolly

      My thoughts exactly.

      It is Possible we will see bumper stickers saying: Clinton/Harris 2020 one day.

      If so I believe Trump will win again.

      1. ambrit

        No. I think that the DNC ‘spin doctors’ will consider Harris as damaged goods and fall back on what I predict will be the Democrat Party ticket: Hillary/Michelle 2020. (Someone has to put forward the pun about any candidate with 2020 after the names as being the “Clear and Visionary Choice for America.” After that campaign is done, the analysis, if there is one, will have to be cast as the “20/20 Hindsight.”)

  23. Duck1

    Reviewing some sort of alt-right aggregators and looks like Saunders is not recognizing the random guy in V. So kudos if true long term, looks like coup attempt is weak, but this weekend is the Maidan so to speak.

  24. Plenue

    “Readers, do you know anybody who’s enthusiastic about Biden?”

    Me. I’ll take great pleasure, possibly sexual, in casting a vote against him.

  25. Cal2

    “do you know anybody who’s enthusiastic about Biden?”
    MBNA, all the way!

    Biden has been particularly cozy with MBNA, a financial services company from Delaware, and now a subsidiary of Bank of America.


    “Over the past 20 years, MBNA has been Biden’s single largest contributor. And as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal note, Biden’s son Hunter was hired out of law school by MBNA and later worked as a lobbyist for the company.

    The Times also details just how helpful Biden has been to MBNA and the credit card industry. The senator was a key supporter of an industry-favorite bill — the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005″ — that actually made it harder for consumers to get protection under bankruptcy….”

    How Biden pushed it and who is affected:

    1. Cal2

      Wonder what laser pointers do to those cameras? (If you can figure out where they are).
      Caution, the glass can reflect the beam and damage your eyes, or those of bystanders. Only use them when alone and with your eyes temporarily closed.

  26. Chris

    Re: “For 2020 Dem Hopefuls, ‘Medicare-For-All’ Is A Defining Issue, However They Define It” [Kaiser Health News].

    The first time I recall hearing that kind of locution (idiom?) where someone in the media, “Says. Some. Thing. Like. This.” was back when Trump’s “The Apprentice” was on the air. There was an ad for a season of the show that said, “We have three words for you: O. Ma. Rosa.” But I’m sure it was use before that.

  27. Carey

    Just a general comment that the un-personing seems to be starting at the (relative) left
    and right “fringes”, and will, I think, proceed until all who are left are thoroughly with
    the program; the neolibCon one.

    Apologies if this is too obvious.

  28. Carey

    From Movement for a People’s Party:

    “..The primary rules have determined the result a year before the first vote is cast, leaving just a veneer of democracy to keep us hoping that this time might be different. Furthermore, as a private corporation with no accountability to its members or voters, the Democratic Party has the power to change the primary rules and violate them at will..”


  29. Oregoncharles

    I’ve had a shoe explode, after a fashion. They weren’t Nikes or trainers; they were some fancy brand with crepe soles that I bought used. Looked good, but after i wore them for an hour or two, the soles burst open and disintegrated. I was walking around in sock feet, but with shoes apparently on – nothing wrong with the leather. It was at a political event where I was tabling, so I called home and my son had to bring me other shoes. The only useable parts are the insoles, which I put in other shoes.

    Very funny, once it was over.

  30. Unna


    Canada’s Rag of Record writes: “U.S. President Donald Trump is again hinting that he might drop charges against Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. (and Ms Meng) as part of a trade deal with China – a move that would threaten judicial independence and undermine American law enforcement.” Gadzooks!

    And despite the dastardly statements of Gotham’s Criminal in Chief, Canada’s own crime fighting duo, Bat Woman Crystia Freeland and her young partner, Boy Wonder Trudeau, insist that, “The extradition process is a criminal-justice process. This is not a tool that should be used for politicized ends.”

    And we wait, breathlessly, to see if Canada’s Boy Wonder, having taken on the Great Yank himself, ends up like this. And it’s a grand Stan Rogers song, indeed:


    1. The Rev Kev

      There is the possibility that Meng was set up and arrested without Trump understanding the significance of such an action. Those around him though would have known. If so, he may be saying stuff like this to short-circuit any legal proceedings for extradition to the US on the basis of the comments that he makes. I’m guessing that the Chinese might be picking up on those signals and would owe him if successful.

      1. Unna

        That’s an interesting thought. And you think the Canadian judge will figure this out all by himself? Like, without being nudged from above? But that would be interference.

        What’s the Dune phrase, “…plots within plots.”

  31. Carey

    Watching from the outside, it looks to me like it’s Freeland who wears the pants
    in that pairing. Nothing wrong with that, of course. Of course.

    1. Unna

      As they say up here, Trudeau is still in short pants. Freeland wears the glitter costume…. Ah, what a world.

  32. KPC

    So, Yves and others, why are you not taking the train for these “meet ups” and other matters? You know, the “Green New Deal”. Ellites such as you have an explicit obligation to walk your talk.
    Amtrack from Boston to Chicago was actually rather well done back in the post 911 time through the early 2000s.’. The staff on that train were delightful including in coping with 100 year old tech but did very well.
    Europe? I often use and used the train.
    Goes to the heart of your latest theme “climate change”.
    Just projecting a bit.

    1. Yves Smith

      1. I live in a 900 square foot apartment, do not own a car, do not have a daily commute, and almost always take public transportation. And my apartment is heated by the NYC steam system, and that steam is a by-product of electricity generation. So I have a lot lower carbon footprint from my regular life than the overwhelming majority of people.

      2. I have a chronically inflamed ankle and a hip injury. I have needed to carry a portable seat with me all the time since 2000 and since a 2017 injury, now walk with a limp. It hurts to climb stairs, for instance. I am effectively handicapped. When I travel, I need to get a wheelchair. I can’t walk long distances and certainly can’t handle walking and managing even a wheelie bag. At an airport, I can get a wheelchair from the curb at departures and it takes me to the gate. I can’t in any US train station. So it is either air travel or no travel.

      3. I am not a member of the elite. My tax returns confirm that.

  33. Joe Well

    New Zealand bans foreigners from buying homes

    Has there been any discussion of this on NC? I thought it was striking. It’s pretty common for North Americans to buy retirement/vacation homes in other countries without a second thought to the impact on the locals, and here an entire country was apparently impacted. Will this be a trend among other countries?

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