2:00PM Water Cooler 2/26/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Cautious optimism in Beijing for US-China trade deal” [South China Morning Post]. “China’s senior diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday that the latest round of trade talks with the US had provided “positive prospects” on Sino-American ties and the global economy, as state media reacted with cautious optimism. The talks between chief negotiators in Washington, described by Wang at a Beijing event as “achieving concrete progress”, yielded an immediate delay to US President Donald Trump’s planned extra tariffs on Chinese imports. Commentaries from top Communist Party mouthpieces like newspaper People’s Daily and state news agency Xinhua said that the just-concluded round of talks in Washington sent a cautiously positive sign for a settlement to the friction between the world’s two biggest economies, but also cautioned that any final deal would face criticism both within China and the US.”

“Trump delays tariff hike initially scheduled for March” [Supply Chain Dive]. “Tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China will remain at the current level of 10% for the time being, after President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday evening he would delay the scheduled increase to 25%. He did not specify the future date until which the tariff hike might be delayed…. The tweets from Trump come in contrast to Lighthizer’s repeated message that March 1 is a ‘hard deadline’ for the U.S. and China to hammer out a deal. The USTR had not released a statement on the tariff delay as of press time.”

“Wary of Trump’s Approach, Governors Seek to Forge Own Trade Agreements” [Governing]. “As the Trump administration seeks to renegotiate trade deals with countries around the world, governors have been stepping up their own efforts to promote their states abroad, acting as salesmen and women for home-state companies and trying to bring in foreign investment. Appearances by foreign leaders have become almost a standing feature of National Governors Association events. At the NGA’s winter meeting in Washington this weekend, governors met with provincial counterparts and trade officials from Canada, Mexico and Japan.”


“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


Trump: “Trump’s Secret to Victory in 2020: Hispanic Voters” [Politico]. “Many expected Hispanics to vote overwhelmingly against Trump in 2016. A Latino Decisions poll conducted just before the 2016 presidential election found Trump had the support of just 18 percent of Hispanics. But the actual figure was 28 percent, which—given Trump’s incendiary rhetoric about immigrants—some analysts and pundits refused to believe from exit polls until further studies confirmed it… A party that has staked its future on a belief that America’s demographic picture is changing decidedly in its favor could find itself losing to a man whose politics of fear should be driving precisely those voters into the Democrats’ waiting arms…. A party that has staked its future on a belief that America’s demographic picture is changing decidedly in its favor could find itself losing to a man whose politics of fear should be driving precisely those voters into the Democrats’ waiting arms.” • It’s occurred to me that the Venezuelan flap is more about irrendentist Latinx votes in Florida 2020 than anything else; remember that Florida Democrat fossil Donna Shalala, and the Democrats, tried to outdo Trump with anti-Maduro rhetoric (in effect giving him the green light) way back in January.


Oh, good.

Warren: “Elizabeth Warren opens door to reparations for Native Americans” [WaPo]. “Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Friday evening that Native Americans should be “part of the conversation” on reparations, showing a willingness to expand the debate over whether minority groups that have faced discrimination should be financially compensated by the federal government. Warren is one of four Democratic presidential hopefuls who have said in recent days that they are open to providing some type of reparations to African Americans who are descendants of people who were enslaved in the United States, although they have offered varying levels of details about how the goal would be achieved.”

Sanders (1):

The responses are quite something, but (perhaps because) Axelrod is doing a very gentle form of reality therapy…

Sanders (2): “Wait, are you saying that CNN stacked the audience?” (unrolled Twitter thread) [@FaerieWhings (ST)]. Some kind soul investigated the bios of CNN’s questioners: “Tara Ebersol, former biology professor. Let see just how complete that information is. Her LinkedIn… ‘Chair, Baltimore County Democratic Party.'” • It does seem to me that CNN should have disclosed affiliations like that. Since Sanders has to run the gauntlet of the institutional Democrat Party, this doesn’t bother me all that much — so far as I can tell, they didn’t lay a glove on him — but the pretense that these are ordinary citizens should really be discarded. Sanders should really be running his own town halls, and selecting questioners using some form of sortition (you’d have to give the questioners time to prepare and a chance to refuse; not all like to speak in public). I bet the questions would be more interesting, too.

Sanders (3): “Bernie Sanders Raises $10 Million in Less Than a Week” [New York Times]. “By Monday, after less than a week as a presidential candidate, Mr. Sanders has collected $10 million from 359,914 donors, campaign officials said. But perhaps just as daunting a figure for his rivals is this: Nearly 39 percent of those donors used an email address that had never before been used to give to Mr. Sanders.” • Hopefully all those email addresses aren’t, er, burners…

Sanders (4): “Manafort Argues for Lighter Sentence; Sanders Town Hall; Biden Running out of Time; Trump Shows Strength in Polls” [CNN]. “perhaps the most surprising statistic, on the first day of his campaign, 12,000 of those donors were Republicans. And, keep in mind, the Sanders 2020 campaign, Alisyn, now only one week old.” • Presumably the sort of suburban Republican to which the DCCC hopes to appeal?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Getting Past the Door: How We Moved from Canvassing to Organizing Buildings” (PDF) [Metro DC DSA]. “For the past 18 months, volunteers from the Stomp Out Slumlords project have crisscrossed the District of Columbia, finding tenants facing eviction and talking to them about how they can defend themselves. We’ve knocked the doors of nearly 8,000 tenants being sued for eviction, we’ve spent hundreds of person-hours talking to tenants at landlord-tenant court, we’ve gotten to know militant tenants and worked alongside them to organize in their buildings. In the course of this work, we’ve learned a great deal about the dynamics of eviction and tenant struggle, and we’ve been forced to reevaluate core tenets of our project’s original strategy. We have struggled to execute the plan we started out with, but we have succeeded beyond our expectations in areas of work we had not planned to take on.” • This gives me hope for DSA. Imagine starting out with a theory of change, and then adjusting your theory based on experience!

“Political science teachers explain why more than half of Americans would fail a civics test and why that’s not the end of the world” [Chicago Tribune (JB)]. “The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation surveyed 41,000 Americans with basic questions about American history and government and only 40 percent passed. In Illinois, more than half failed, according to the foundation. Shameful? Or a reflection of how complex our government can be and how civics education often misses the mark?” • Broken by design, as programmers say.

“New Virginia poll: Northam approval weak, but Virginians not demanding his resignation” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “A new University of Virginia Center for Politics/Ipsos poll of Virginia adults shows Gov. Ralph Northam (D) with weak approval numbers, but Virginians surveyed are not demanding his resignation and do not favor the state legislature removing him through impeachment. Meanwhile, a plurality of respondents say Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) should resign, but another quarter say he should not and a third are not sure what he should do, and the public is ambivalent on impeachment. Attorney General Mark Herring (D) seems the best-positioned of all three to remain in office, with less than one in five respondents believing he should resign or be impeached.”

“Few Americans Want Open Borders— Democrats Included” [Medium]. “Trump repeatedly claims that Democrats “want open borders.” But nobody in leadership on the left promotes open borders. Nobody. Let’s clarify: not one or two people. Zero percent of the elected leadership of Democrats or independents have suggested the U.S. should have open borders. And there’s certainly no policy of open borders embraced by the Democratic Party.” • Well, the Identitarian Industrial Complex, deeply integrated into the dense tangle of NGOs that also comprises the Democrat party, as well as some segments of the press, does. (It does seem odd that nobody in the Open Borders crowd is calling for Maduro to open the Venezuelan border to Bolton and Abrams. Perhaps borders are good for something after all?)

UPDATE Sortition?!

Yeah, well, they put mayonnaise on their french fries….

Stats Watch

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, February 2019: “The Philly Fed buckled in last week’s February report but the indications for manufacturing weakness are not being confirmed by this week’s regional reports, whether from the Dallas Fed yesterday or today’s Richmond Fed index which… easily beat the consensus” [Econoday]. And: “February 2019 Richmond Fed Manufacturing Survey Significantly Improves” [Econintersect]. “The important Richmond Fed subcategories growth improved but backlog remains in contraction. This survey was strong compared to last month.”

Consumer Confidence, February 2018: “The government shutdown had a dramatic effect on consumer confidence, pushing down the Conference Board’s measure sharply in January then pulling it back up after the reopening” [Econoday]. “The consumer confidence index has shown much more volatility than the rival consumer sentiment index but both are sending the same signal: a post-shutdown bounce to levels that are, however, low relative to the past couple of years.” And: “February 2019 Conference Board Consumer Confidence Improves” [Econintersect]. “Consumer confidence had been on a multi-year upswing. The current volatility is showing uncertainty by consumers.”

Housing Starts, December 2018: “Housing starts proved unexpectedly weak in December and will pull back residential investment in Thursday’s GDP report” [Econoday]. “Today’s report, a one that is truly mixed, points to trouble for immediate economic data — particularly fourth-quarter GDP — but also to building strength in coming data based on the strong showing for permits.” And but: “Comments on December Housing Starts” [Calculated Risk]. “Even with the year end weakness, total starts were up 3.6% in 2018 compared to 2017. The weakness at the end of 2018 has been blamed on higher mortgage rates (that have since come down to around 4.5%), the stock market volatility (since stabilized), trade and immigration policies (impacting foreign buyers), and the partial government shutdown (started in December, but mostly in January). My sense is starts will pick up in Q1 compared to Q4 2018.” And: “S and P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20 City Home Price Index December 2018 Year-over-Year Growth Unchanged” [Econintersect]. “I continue to see this a situation of supply and demand. It is the affordability of the homes which is becoming an issue for the lower segments of consumers.”

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, December 2018: “Like FHFA’s report issued this morning, Case-Shiller’s 20-city index is showing slowing rates of home-price appreciation” [Econoday]. “Case-Shiller data continue to show trouble for once high-flying names on the West Coast including San Francisco which has now posted three sharp monthly declines in a row…. Case-Shiller data continue to show trouble for once high-flying names on the West Coast including San Francisco which has now posted three sharp monthly declines in a row.” • I hate the whole concept of houses as wealth. For one thing, houses matter as homes (not assets). For another, a house is a money pit!

FHFA House Price Index, December 2018: “Sellers were looking uneasy late last year based on this morning’s home price data” [Econoday]. “Total year-on-year prices slowed to 5.6 percent growth which actually isn’t bad at all in a low inflation, low wage growth economy. But the pace is definitely slowing.”

Shipping: “Study: e-commerce trends are shrinking average length of truck trips” [DC Velocity]. “Emerging e-commerce shopping trends are changing the face of the trucking industry, with the growth of last-mile delivery cutting the average trucker’s trip length by 37 percent since 2000, according to an industry study released today. Just as the average trucking haul distance has shrunk, the number of truck trips and urban vehicle miles traveled have increased for much of the same 19-year period, thanks to an increase in more regionalized retail supply chains and the proliferation of urban last-mile deliveries.”

The Bezzle: “Let it go: Frozen Elizabeth Holmes wanders the snowy streets of NYC looking for a cab after ditching the private jets and personal drivers following the collapse of her billion-dollar Theranos blood testing empire” [Daily Mail] “It was a shocking sight to behold as Holmes desperately attempted to hail a cab while lugging her own suitcase…. She was seen exiting The Mark at around 4:30pm, where rooms start at just under $1,000 per night.” • Looks like she’s got some money stashed away somewhere….

The Bezzle: “Confessions of a location data exec: ‘It’s a Ponzi scheme'” [Digiday]. “I met with a programmatic leader at one of the agency networks recently who asked my firm to help him verify the location data in the bid stream because they believe up to 80 percent or more of the lat-long data available there is fake. No one has stopped to think about where that data has come from and why a publisher would choose to sell it all to a vendor who is going to build a business on top of their data. What’s actually happening is these ad tech vendors are trying to pad out the limited data they already own with other data sets from competitive vendors or other unknown sources. Most reputable publishers would rather use their data across their own business than sell it to ad tech vendors, as the revenue potential is greater against their own content.” • it would be pretty ironic if we destroyed the Fourth Amendment and the very notion of privacy, all to enable a Silicon Valley scam.

The Bezzle: “SEC wants Tesla CEO Elon Musk held in contempt for tweeting” [Associated Press]. “[T]he Securities and Exchange Commission asked a federal court in New York to hold Musk in contempt for violating a $40 million settlement he begrudgingly reached with the U.S. stock market’s chief regulatory agency five months ago. Allegations that Musk broke the agreement by tweeting without company approval could renew a debate about whether he has become too reckless to continue as Tesla’s CEO…. Contempt charges are typically brought against individuals who defy a court order. The SEC settlement was approved by a judge last fall, exposing Musk to potential fines or even jail time if he is found to be in contempt. ‘He is looking like a repeat offender and a bad actor,’ said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. ‘The SEC is taking action because it has a responsibility to protect the interests of consumers, investors and the public.'” • Repeat offender? Silicon Valley squillionaire? What?

Tech: “The Value Chain Constraint” [Stratechery]. “It is understandable why the Internet giants in particular move into seemingly adjacent territories: the growth imperative is strong, both for financial and strategic reasons, and the technology seems easy enough, particularly given the resources these companies bring to bear. And yet, the truth is that those massive resources do not stem, at least in the long run, from technical excellence, but rather integration in specific value chains that produces positive feedback loops and outsize profits…. It follows, then, that without that integration, the positive feedback loops quickly disappear, along with the profits, which is the exact pattern we see again and again. Microsoft spent billions on phones and consumer Internet services, Amazon spent billions on Whole Foods, Google has spent billions on not just Google Cloud but a whole host of initiatives that have nothing to do with Search, Facebook has spent billions on Watch and VR, and now Apple is getting in the game with billions spent on Video, and the expected outcome of all these should be that they will fail… What does work are (1) forward and backwards integrations into the value chain and (2) acquisitions. This makes sense: further integrations simply absorb more of the value chain, while acquisitions acquire not simply technology but businesses that are built from the ground-up for different value chains. And, by extension, if society at large wants to limit just how large these companies can be, limiting these two strategies is the obvious place to start.” • Hmm. Maybe I should have filed this under concentration.

UPDATE Tech: “Facebook as an American geopolitical weapon” [Surveillance Valley]. “As I explain in my book, Facebook (and American Internet companies in general) have always been an instrument of American power. Yet for years, the company had tried to sell itself as a totally neutral platform devoid of any national and geopolitical interests. And for a while it succeeded. But these days it doesn’t try to hide it anymore. After 2016, the mask has come off. Facebook now openly functions like an extension of American imperial power. What made this so obvious was the glaring double standard that’s guiding Facebook’s takedown of Maffick. On prodding from a U.S. government-funded thinktank, it suddenly demanded transparency for Pages run by a media company funded by Russia (and then shut them down with no warning). Yet Facebook continues to allow the U.S. government and powerful U.S. corporations to operate their Pages without hinderance — even when these Pages are obviously set up by lobby groups and government initiatives to covertly manipulate people and influence democracy.” • Kinda like Google News using Polygraph.info, jointly sponsored by state organs Radio Free Europe and Voice of America, as a fact checker. It’s right out in the open, isn’t it?

Tech: “Algorithmic Justice Could Clear 250,000 Convictions in California” [Artificial Lawyer]. “‘California has decriminalized recreational cannabis use, but a marijuana conviction continues to serve as a barrier to employment, housing, student loans and more. Lack of access to employment and housing are two primary drivers of recidivism, so until we clear these records it’s government that is effectively holding these people back and impeding public safety. I’m hopeful that this partnership will inspire many prosecutors who have cited resource constraints to join this common sense effort and provide this relief,’ [District Attorney George Gascón] added. And, Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director, Code for America, said: ‘At Code for America, we believe government can work dramatically better than it does today, and the criminal justice system is one of the areas where we are most failing the American people. By reimagining existing government systems through technology and user-centred design, we can help governments rethink incarceration, reduce recidivism, and restore opportunity.'” • The project automated filling out forms only (which I suppose is “justice”). Maybe this is OK?

The Biosphere

About Page [Youth Climate Strike]. Our Mission: “We, the youth of America, are striking because decades of inaction has left us with just 11 years to change the trajectory of the worst effects of climate change, according to the Oct 2018 UN IPCC Report. We are striking because our world leaders have yet to acknowledge, prioritize, or properly address our climate crisis. We are striking because marginalized communities across our nation —especially communities of color, disabled communities, and low- income communities— are already disproportionately impacted by climate change. We are striking because if the social order is disrupted by our refusal to attend school, then the system is forced to face the climate crisis and enact change. With our futures at stake, we call for radical legislative action to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people. We are striking for the Green New Deal, for a fair and just transition to a 100% renewable economy, and for ending the creation of additional fossil fuel infrastructure. Additionally, we believe the climate crisis should be declared a national emergency because we are running out of time.” • Today is my day to be nice, but I’ll point out that these demands, too, do not put greenhouse gas reductions against policy proposals. (Yes, the numbers can be ballpark figures at most, but plenty of good projects go ahead on that basis.)

“Judge OKs $120 Million Deal Over Massive Methane Leak” [Courthouse News]. “A state court judge in Los Angeles approved a deal Monday in which Southern California Gas Company will pay $120 million to state and local agencies over the 2015 Aliso Canyon methane gas blowout that forced thousands of residents to flee their homes…. A portion of the $120 million agreement will go toward capturing methane expelled by dairy farms as mitigation of what was released during the blowout, but Earthjustice and other environmental groups argue this gives SoCal Gas a chance to take credit for reduction efforts that are paid in part by state funding.” • Seems low.

“The Water Resource Right Outside the Window” [Governing]. “Landscape irrigation is estimated to account for almost one-third of residential water use — nearly nine billion gallons a day. And as much as half of the water used outdoors is wasted due to evaporation, inefficient equipment and overwatering… Local decision-makers may wonder if residents are truly ready to alter their landscapes. Our survey of more than 3,000 North American homeowners indicates that the time is ripe to promote a new landscape ideal. While beauty and appearance was the most important aspect of their landscapes, nearly half of respondents also wanted their landscapes to be water-conscious. And contrary to popular belief, for most people a beautiful outdoor space doesn’t always conjure up visions of endless expanses of thirsty grass. More homeowners desired trees, flowers and functional spaces for entertaining.” • Also pollinators?

“An Inside Look at How the Varroa Mite’s True Diet Was Discovered” [Entomology Today]. The bottom line: “These discoveries provided the study with the very last line of evidence needed to say conclusively that Varroa are not blood-feeders but rather feed on fat.” • This is a neat piece of detective work!

Health Care

“Underwood worries about debt as she considers universal healthcare” [Daily Herald (JB)]. “Underwood answered several health care questions by an audience that seemed largely in favor of universal health care. The problem, Underwood said, is universal health care means something different to almost everyone she speaks to. Some people want Medicare for everyone 55 and older, or 40 and older, or even from birth” • So liberal Democrats leverage the brand confusion they themselves created. More: “Underwood explained she’s especially mindful of the costs given the growing federal debt. ‘This tax plan put us in the hole read bad,’ she said. ‘It is unsustainable. This level of deficit spending is one that should make us pause. To be honest, part of the challenge in our ability to do our jobs is finding these pay-fors. My commitment is to put forward policies that don’t make the situation worse.'” • Sigh…

Guillotine Watch

“Bill Gates: Being free from worry about financial things is a real blessing” [MarketWatch]. Gates: “Yes. I don’t have to think about health costs or college costs. Being free from worry about financial things is a real blessing. Of course you don’t need a billion to get to that point. We do need to reduce the cost growth in these areas so they are accessible to everyone.” • “Accessible.”

Class Warfare

“Listen to Ep. 92: Austerity and Class Agony: Writing the Crisis w/ Adam Rensch in Podcasts” (podcast) [Dead Pundits Society]. • I like this podcast a lot, and here they do cultural criticism: Friends (!) especially. And they really dislike Marie Kondo!

“The ‘Hidden Mechanisms’ That Help Those Born Rich to Excel in Elite Jobs” (interview) [The Atlantic]. “I think the image that we have—or the ideology, if you want to be political about it—is once you’re 18 or so, you make your own way and your class origin is not an important part of how your career goes from there. But what my co-author Sam and I found was, that’s not at all true. In the book, we talked about people pursuing acting, which is a very contingent, hard path to pursue. Most people, when they start, aren’t making most of their money from acting, and so people who are able to rely on their parents to help them are much more able to pursue acting fully, because they don’t have to worry about maintaining a regular, full-time job just to eat and live.” • Another Friends subtweet?

News of the Wired

“Different Kinds Of Loneliness – Having Poor Quality Relationships Is Associated With Greater Distress Than Having Too Few” [ResearchGate]. “The first class – which they called “low loneliness” – was characterised by low scores on both types of loneliness, social and emotional. Just over half the participants fell into this category. The second class – “social loneliness” – making up 8.2 per cent of the sample, comprised people low on emotional loneliness, but high on social loneliness. The third class – “emotional loneliness” – made up just over a quarter of the total sample and was characterised by the opposite pattern of high emotional loneliness but low levels of social loneliness. People in the fourth and final “social and emotional loneliness” class, accounting for 12.4 per cent of the sample, scored high for both types of loneliness. The researchers found a clear gradient of psychological distress across the classes. People in the low loneliness class were, predictably, least distressed, followed by people in the “social loneliness” class, then the “emotional loneliness” class, and finally the “social and emotional loneliness” class. In fact, people in both these last two classes had levels of symptoms of depression, anxiety and negative psychological wellbeing that were reflective of a psychiatric disorder.” • Another Friends subtweet?

“All You Will Ever Know of This Must Be Read from the Shape and Size of the Bubbles Which Rise Toward the Surface, Shimmering in a Lucent Green Dimension in Which the Course of Your Existence Is Steeped” [BLCKDGRD]. “Do you do this: open a novel somewhere in the (my habit) middle third and read a good page then start from the beginning for that deju vu tingle you read the page before? if no, try!” • No. And why? Don’t I have enough excitement in my life already? Readers? (What I have done, often, is think of a passage in a book, and then open the book to that passage. How my memory does that I have no idea. I must really love books!)

“Choose Wisely” [Scalawag]. “Alright, boy, I talked it over with some people and it’s been decided that you can invite someone to the cookout this year,’ Pops hollered from the bathroom. Splashing water and the light tap of a razor blade bounce down the hallway. I heard him humming S.O.S. Band’s ‘Take Your Time.’ ‘DO IT RIGHT!’ He hollered at the mirror. • A really fun piece.

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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 (Carla):

Carla writes: “Sedum on Presidents’ Day.” Finally, some real snow!

Thank you for all new plants, readers, especially people who sent in photos in for the first time!

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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. Arizona Slim

    Slim here. I don’t have a Hispanic bone in my body, but I have lived in Arizona for more than 30 years.

    Here’s the thing about Hispanics in my state: Quite a few of them are entrepreneurial. They may own their own business, or work for a relative who does, or they have a full-time job and do side hustles during the evenings and on weekends.

    So, it stands to reason that some of them would be attracted to (ay caramba!) Donald Trump. Why? Because he’s a businessman. Not a very good one, but he is a businessman.

    And that’s my take on a sunny day here in Tucson.

    1. todde

      I have a few Muslims for clients. They are all business people.

      They don’t like Trump. They hate the democrat party

    2. JohnnyGL

      I’d 2nd that, and add that a lot of them are coming from countries where all the problems in the US, like racism, inequality, etc are at least as bad, often worse.

      They don’t leave those bad ideas and attitudes behind them when they arrive.

    3. Cal2

      “attracted to (ay caramba!) Donald Trump. Why?”
      Are you forgetting the Catholic and Fundamentalist religion aspects of being anti-abortion?

      1. Big River Bandido

        Once you start talking about subsets of voters, simple pluralities are meaningless. It’s not a zero-sum game. Allow me to illustrate using a state (rather than a demographic group) as an example. I’ll use Iowa, since it’s a politically competitive state that I know well, and it’s one in which the dynamics of subsets are fairly straightforward.

        To oversimplify: The “Democrat areas” of the state are: the Mississippi River counties (especially Scott and Dubuque), the university counties (Johnson, Black Hawk, and Story) plus Polk (Des Moines) and Linn (Cedar Rapids). The “Republican areas” are the Missouri River counties (minus Woodbury and Pottawattamie, which are competitive) and most of the remaining rural counties, particularly in the western part of the state. Statewide, the “urban” population outnumbers the “rural”…but not by much.

        This means that order to win a statewide election in Iowa, a Democrat needs to carry those urban counties by large pluralities, and hope for high turnout. They need the large majorities in the cities to make up for the high margins that Republicans will roll up in the rural counties. By the same token, a Republican running statewide must bank huge vote margins in the rural counties, keep the margins in the urban counties as close as possible, and hope for low turnout. And in fact, this is exactly what happened in 2016. Out of 99 counties, Hillary Clinton could only carry six. One of them — Scott County, the state’s second-largest — she couldn’t pull more than 47% of the vote. This is in her strongest area. It was one of the most pitiful performances I’ve ever seen. Donald Trump followed the classic Republican strategy in Iowa — and it paid off handsomely.

        What happens when you turn to demographic questions rather than geographical? Politicians develop similar “targets” for demographic groups. Any Democrat running for President needs to carry the black vote by about 90% in the general election — any lower than that and they’re likely to lose, even if they “win” the black vote. A Democrat who gets less than that is losing votes from a core constituency, votes which cannot be “made up” elsewhere. That’s why Clinton called black voters her “firewall”. (She was wrong on that, too, as we saw in WI and MI.)

        So, on Hispanic voters. I don’t know what the “magic number” is that a Democrat needs to get nationally to win…probably not easy to determine especially since it floats from one election to another as coalitions shift and is widely and unevenly dispersed throughout the nation. But George W. Bush pulled in about a third of the nationwide Hispanic vote — significantly better than he was expected to get. You say “he only got a third”…but that’s a third of the vote that he wasn’t expected to get and that he didn’t “need” in order to win, and in getting those votes it gave him some electoral cushion and put his opponents in a real bind. Gore and Kerry needed those Hispanic votes, and they weren’t there for them. So even though they still “won” that subset, they didn’t win by a big enough margin to make up for the “non-Hispanic” subsets where they expected to (and did) get pummeled.

        1. VietnamVet

          There are powerful human urges to vote for someone who thinks and looks like you. For identifiable minorities, there is equally powerful need to vote together to have any power at all and avoid marginalization. When blacks became the majority in my county, politicians became black too. There wasn’t any change in my life. But I think that is due that enough jobs being available here for families to afford suburbia. Without adequate income, equality and cheap energy; the system falls apart. The corporate political parties are facing an inevitable failure since both are against economic equality. That they deny that inequality is at 1920s levels with a vast rural urban bi-coastal divide that borders on despair is incredible.

    4. mraymondtorres

      I have to constantly remind white people that other ethnic groups are no less politically diverse than they are. What is the weird white logic that says that oppression leads or should lead to progressivism?

      That’s before even getting into the fact that my ethnic background may be a tiny or even non-existent part of how I view myself. Assimilation is the price of the ticket.

      AND many of my family are completely against undocumented workers. Some because they see it as exploitation, but many because they think that the undocs reflect badly on the rest of us.

      Yes! We latinos are as complicated as anybody! And please stop speculating amongst yourselves about what makes us tick. Just f*ing ask us. We’re everywhere.

    1. bob

      “Director, UChicago Institute of Politics. Senior Political Commentator”

      His ideological minions are as awful as his pedigree.

      1. notabanker

        Can we just give them California and New York as their own republic, let them elect Hillary and live in bliss while the rest of us actually fix the problems?

        1. John

          Hillary? Bliss? I live in New York I did not vote for her in 2016, nor did I vote for Trump and would do the same presented with that lineup in 2020. It would be nice to have someone under age 70 on the ticket. Let the younger generations have a chance. But not Harris or Booker. I have had it with corporoid candidates. I am over 80 and I would like to have a candidate I can be enthusiastic about before it is too late.

        2. polecat

          Walls would have to be built to keep the bi-coastal invaders at bay .. lets charge both states .. er .. I mean ‘nations’ .. to fund the construction.

        3. blowncue

          Re: Golden Bear Republic forever!

          With apologies to Heinlein and Kettle Belly Baldwin, a California republic will be a bit harder to pull off than perhaps assumed.

          Cut off access to the Pacific Ocean, and behold! An American blitzkrieg to grab Oregon and Washington before they secede and form Cascadia.

          Plus various and sundry military bases.

          Social security payments get shut off in retaliation. Yen and Yuan are your new best friends.

          Someone should develop a board game.

    2. philman

      They are cringe worthy for sure; some people definitely swallowed some bad kool-aid. Attacking his record (which is actually very good), his age, bernie bros, supporter of Russia, his ‘tired’ policy positions, his ‘bad mouthing’ of HRC for her loosing… The kicker is how many support Harris, Clinton 2.0. I think I need a drink.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        Hillary fighting the last war over again, where she was out-sloganed.
        She cringed at Trump, not as bad as Hillary.
        New and improved to Hillary 3.0, not as bad as Bernie.

    3. Earl Erland

      I took your comment a challenge and went over take a look. I especially enjoyed the multitude of respondents who accused Axelrod of misogyny because of his observation of “lingering bitterness” among some of HRC’s 2016 supporters. Bitterness denotes anger and bitterness for being treated unfairly, and many of HRC’s 2016 supporters argued that entrenched misogyny harmed their candidate.
      Axelrod-uncritically-acknowledges their point by his word choice, and gets labelled for it.

      Some argue that the charge of anti-semitism is being diminished by its use against people whom the accuser simply does not like, usually based on politics. Misogyny, as used by those posting on Axelrod’s feed has entered that realm.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        posting BITTERLY on his feed… as toxic a brew as balloon juice…cannot stomach it but #fieldwork…Botox??

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          The NC commentariat should pick a blog post on Balloon Juice. Then we troll the regulars and invite dissatisfied lurkers to here.


      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        The word “bitterness” might trigger them. It might remind them of “bitter knitters” which somebody threw around once.

  2. Grant

    It was obvious that CNN basically thought, “Hey, we usually have overpaid journalists (being kind) say really stupid things that shows that they either don’t understand core issues or pretend to not understand core issues. Like Jake Tapper with his ignorant fact check on single payer. Why don’t we have regular people ask those same stupid questions for us, as if they also don’t understand things and also have a salary paid by a corporation and people that pay that corporations ad revenue?”

    On single payer, for example, we could just move on the from the how can we afford it type of question, to more informed questions. Like, why are single payer systems more efficient? Why is there less overhead? Why are there less social costs? Is single payer equally open to a legal challenge as the ACA? But no, they cannot let the conversation progress because once the facts come out, their arguments immediately crumble. As a result, Jake Tapper will ask the same question over and over and over again, pretends that it hasn’t been explained to him many times, and just keep the conversation stalled where it is. If Jake or Wolf isn’t available, have someone in the audience ask the same stupid question, with the same stupid framing.

    By the way, anyone ever seen the old debate between Norman Finkelstein and Wolf Blitzer? Fun thing to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Dq2JMSCr-8

    1. Montanamaven

      I heard Juan Williams on Fox ape Bernie on “How to pay for Medicare for All.” It’s about taxing the rich corporations. . But if you go to the Physicians for a National Health Care Plan “ site, they carefully explain how you buy out the for profit heath institutions and how much it costs. Is Bernie, Juan, OAC, ignorant or purposefully making sure you don’t hear the real story. OAC …I will give her a break since I was naive as to how insidious this whole system is. But Bernie? Why has he not got the PNHCP talking points down?

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        it’s not either/or, it’s both. PNHP includes a progressive tax as one source of funding, including possibly something called the Tobin tax, and the top 5% of the wealth distribution ARE expected to pay more. They claim everybody else will come out ahead cuz the tax they pay will be less than the premiums, deductible, and copays they now fork out.

        But IIRC neither Bernie’s plan and definitely not what we have heard about Prayapal’s will actually eliminate for-profits. Per Prayapal it will not be feasible to buy them all out.

        1. marym

          Vox reporting that Prayapal is introducing the bill tomorrow. Sounds similar to summaries we’ve been hearing lately – no out of pocket, comprehensive benefits, 2-yr transition).

          The Jayapal plan goes into great detail on what kind of coverage a universal plan ought to offer. But it does not do any work explaining how to pay for such a generous benefit package.

          Jayapal says that this is an issue that will get dealt with in the future. “Most bills don’t have that when they’re introduced, that comes later in the process,” she said of a financing plan. “I actually think the question is not about how we pay for it, the question is where is the will to make sure every American has the health care they deserve and have a right.”

          This is getting tiresome. Vox won’t be the only one to go negative on this aspect. The supposed leaders of this effort need to do better on this.


          1. a different chris

            What is tiresome? There is enough money sloshing around in our current medical-industrial-ripoff system to pay for a good chunk of it even if you don’t kill off many of the profit centers.

            And how do you expect somebody to “cost out” something that isn’t even close to being law? You find out what the people want, trim it as best you can, and then figure out how to “pay” (with dollars you get to print, remember) for it.

            Now looking more closely at your quote, I’ve pretty literally said exactly what Jayapal says.

            And you know why? Not because I read it. Because I’ve spent a lifetime working on big engineering projects. New development rarely winds up very close to what all us MBA/engineer/scientist brainiacs put on the initial project proposal, and even if it’s close the distribution is generally way wack. Thought the enclosure would cost this? Haha didn’t survive the fall test. Thought the electronics would cost that? Well fortunately turns out all of Asia wants our business.

            And that’s for 3 year development programs (which usually take 5) on, compared to the US Health care mis-system, very focused projects.

            1. marym

              Tiresome that they don’t have a consistent response to this.

              Maybe include how much we already spend in public funds. How much people won’t spend out-of-pocket. Maybe a study based on a couple of funding scenarios. A goal like xx% of people will pay less in any new taxes than they pay in premiums/copays/out-of-network now. Probably not (as in the Vox quote) a reference to a non-existent wealth tax until a general argument about that can mature – maybe something more down-to-earth in terms of types of taxes and funding that already exist.

              This is one of the main scare criticisms. Just as we can say “Medicare, post office, roads….” as a reasonable and politically useful response to scary “socialism,” there should a be a confident response to the cost issue.

              1. Carey

                I’m curious too about why there is not a quick and
                straightforward response to the disingenuous “how
                will we pay for it?” question.

                “How do we pay for this week’s war?”

                “What shall we do with the single-payer dividend?”


            2. Carla

              For heaven’s sake. It’s not “How can we afford to pay for M4A?”

              It’s “How can we possibly afford to pay for NOT having M4A?”

              God, can’t anybody get this right?

                  1. drumlin woodchuckles

                    Good article. Someone should send it to those particular kids so they can deepen their contempt for this particular Senator.

                    It is one thing to be old. Sanders is old. It is something else to be Oldist.

          2. richard

            Okay, I have to ask because she is my congresswoman, is Prayapal a new thing now? Like Kiersten Jello-Brand. Or Amy Cloud Boot Jar.
            It’s like Cracked magazine is taking over again…/jk

            1. marym

              Sorry, I caught myself making this mistake again on an internet search today. I usually find that kind of name-mocking really annoying to read.

              1. richard

                I’ll admit to being juvenile, and getting a tiny kick out of it when it’s punching up.
                But a pretty poor argumention tactic, I agree.

  3. NotTimothyGeithner

    Sanders should really be running his own town halls, and selecting questioners using some form of sortition

    Town halls are tough when the crowds start showing up. Putin’s, yes that Putin, marathon Q and A sessions might need to be the model. Advertise. Have specific themed areas of questioning, but have live vote in questions from both general public and a more limited group to that can formulate questions on the fly? I bet the YDs at a place like UNH could form a question writing committee for a Southeast New Hampshire event. Let them have a spot and decide on the questions and have them brought up between other questions. That way they could address a crowd overly focused on one issue or provide for appropriate follow up questions.

    Plants at town halls are bad, but once you get over 300 or so, the groups can’t be managed through having a microphone up.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Perhaps lead in with a caucus process? Show up early, eat some corn on the cob and mill around to decide what should be asked.

      Is there really any proven use to these televised things? I can see a stadium full of 2,500 people having a galvanizing effect on those present. But I watched W blink, and blink, while trying to think of a mistake, and it really didn’t seem to make a difference. Baked in, as it were.

  4. Jerry B

    ===We do need to reduce the cost growth in these areas so they are accessible to everyone====

    Following Lambert who mentioned the “accessible” language, I will take issue with the “reduce the cost growth” wording. No Bill, it is not reduce cost growth, its reduce costs period!

    If we only reduce “cost growth” then nothing really changes in terms of the high costs of healthcare, college, and others. But if costs get reduced then the gravy train for the upper classes ends, basic needs become more affordable for everyone, and everyone (i.e. the upper classes) will have to live more modestly!!! The horror!!!

    1. jsn

      I read it that way too!

      The past cost growth has already priced out a tremendous number, maybe most people.

      It’s comments like this from Gates the give people good reason to believe the elites really want most people to die off as a solution to climate change.

    2. Gary

      I don’t think the upper classes have to worry about living more modestly. They already have so much more than then need to live exactly as they are. It gets to the point where if you have so many resources that you can’t eat any better, dress any better or live any better, you are just keeping someone else from having it.

      1. Pookah Harvey

        I’ve done this previously but I feel it can’t be overstated. People have a hard time conceptualizing the amount of money the rich actually have. Gates has dropped in wealth ratings so he is no longer the richest man in the world but is thought to be worth about $90 billion. He left school in 1975, 44 years ago. That is 2,288 weeks. This means his average accumulation of wealth per week since leaving school is $39,335,644.
        $39 million per week…every week…. for the last 44 years.

      2. Jerry B

        ====you are just keeping someone else from having it====.

        Hence the need for higher taxes on the wealthy, a wealth tax (and strict enforcement), a higher capital gains tax, etc.

        ===It gets to the point where if you have so many resources that you can’t eat any better, dress any better or live any better====

        You would be surprised. I was talking with a realtor in Door County, Wi about housing as my wife and I were thinking of Door County as one option for retirement location. The realtor mentioned that she recently sold a house where the buyers who were wealthy retirees paid CASH for a a $500,000 house. The realtor used the term “cash out”, probably to imply that the buyers sold some of their financial assets (stocks, etc.).

        A lot of the wealthy are buying property in the places least likely to be affected by a hotter planet, (i.e. northern states, Vancouver, etc). And the wealthy are also buying up a lot of property in vacation areas, even modest one’s like Door County, Wi which used to be a middle class family camping destination but is having more wealthy people buying first or second homes which is also driving up housing prices for even modest cabins.

        A former yacht and ship builder, Palmer Johnson, used to be headquartered in Sturgeon Bay, WI in Door County. A few years ago they had a ship called the DB9. Think the ship in the movie Overboard. On one of our vacations to Door County my wife and I saw a newly built DB9 sitting in the literal Sturgeon Bay waiting to leave for the Mediterranean. It is beautiful!! BUT: To charter the DB9 in the Mediterranean for one week costs $100,000k per week!

        Here is a version of the DB9 and a link for a used DB9 for 18 million euros!!!



        1. The Rev Kev

          And if the billionaire class wants to get away from the environmental catastrophe that they are bequeathing us, they could try going to a DS9.

          1. Rhondda

            My husband and I used to call it Deep Sh*t 9. So, umm, yeah. Yeah! The billionaires should consider going there.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Wasn’t a fan myself of this series and I have heard it described as the “Laramie” of the Star Trek franchise. Yeah, they should totally go there.

              1. a different chris

                Hmpf I thought it was the best, alongside the original. Didn’t somebody make a joke about TNG being about “committee meetings in space”?

                1. Rhondda

                  I agree. It was the best, after the Orig — which is Untouchable. Still, I do think it would be best to slingshot the Billionaires into the Alpha Quadrant.

                  1. polecat

                    We need to cut to the chase, and fling the whole lot of scum and villainy to LG 425 … just to be sure …. Hey, maybe Hillary can hitch a ride. Apon arrival, she can settle down and get chummy with the other queen .. you know, the one with the samurai tail action, and those glistening silver pearlies …

                    It’d be quite a match !

                    1. The Rev Kev

                      Reminds me of that line from the 1987 Aliens when Ripley says to Burk: “You know, Burke, I don’t know which species is worse. You don’t see them f***ing each other over for a goddamn percentage.”

  5. ACF

    Re: Holding Musk in contempt.

    As parents understand, and as abuse victims understand, bad behavior escalates. Once a line is crossed and not policed (by discipline or leaving), it becomes harder to uncross. The boundaries of the acceptable have shifted.

    That’s part of why not jailing the bankers was so devastating. Not only was it wrong not to punish them because they committed crimes with huge numbers of massively victimized people–they lost their homes and life savings–it was wrong because it set a new standard for the level of billionaire/multimillionaire criminality that the federal government would tolerate.

    Engaging with Musk they way they did in relation to the ‘taking Tesla private for $420’ tweet, rather than criminally prosecuting him for textbook securities fraud, was bad enough. And looking the other way as he smacked talked the SEC on 60 minutes. With this latest tweet, if they didn’t pursue contempt charges, there would be no lines left to cross.

    Surely we are reaching peak impunity?

  6. Cal2

    “still lingering bitterness among some HRC supporters from 2016; questions about his age and the practicality-or even wisdom-of his ideas.”

    Well then, they should support the female candidate, Tulsi Gabbard, who is 38 and has carefully articulated ideas and policy positions and has introduced bills in the house that back up their palaver…

    The interview with her by Joe Rogan is enough to show that she alone, or with Bernie, would kick Trump’s ass. The woman is an intellectual, a combat veteran and has leadership gravitas, in spite of her age.


    Question is, would the DeMICrats prefer to win with Tulsi, or lose to Trump again with a boring identitarian mediocrity like Kamala or Biden et al, so that they have something to whine about instead of advocating for real Democratic policies?

    1. nippersmom

      I think they demonstrated the answer to that question in 2016. Neither their behavior nor their rhetoric since has given me any reason to believe their preference has changed.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      I take it as established fact that the Mainstream Clintobama DemParty would rather lose with a Mainstream Clintobama DemFigure than win with Sanders or Gabbard or even Warren.

      They have pre-engineered and pre-tilted the process to try to near-as-possible guarantee a Warren/Sanders/Gabbard defeat and exclusion. The superdelegates will “not vote” ONLY on the First Ballot. The plan is that neither Sanders nor Gabbard nor Warren each by themself will win enough delegate votes to win on the First Ballot. Every vote thereafter will be the “dels” and the “supers” conspiring together in pursuit of Anyone But Those Three.

      The only way I can think of to crash through that barricade would be for the 3 Camps to be closely consulting together for months and months before the Convention. The purpose of the consultation would be to work out whether the Three Runners and their separate sets of Three Support Bases would trust eachother enough to show eachother eachothers’ primary-process election-assigned First-Ballot-Committed delegate votes. If they could trust eachother enough to show eachother those numbers, then they could decide whether the Second and Third of the Leftish Three would quietly work with their delegates to get their delegates to vote for the First (highest) committed delegate vote holder on the First Ballot. If the Unwanted Three could do that, then those delegates might add up to enough to win the victory for the First Among Three on the First Ballot.

      But that could only work if all the millions of supporters of the Three Put Together all near-unanimously understood the logic and enthusiastically agreed to it. Ahead of time. With the delegate-votes-pooling trigger then ready to be pulled at the Convention.

      1. Eureka Springs

        It would be reasonable in your hypothesis at this point to think Gabbard and Sanders would cooperate. Warren however has a clear history of supporting the neo-liberal Clinton/Obama wing of the party. Perhaps in self interest she might join those two if she really thought they would prevail and she lands a sweet position if they do, but with 15 percent of the delegates being lobbyist/supers that could still be quite a hurdle. And it assumes Sanders might really stand up for himself and his supporters this time.

    3. Kurt Sperry

      Losing in 2020 will have no personal consequences for the DNC machine cogs. Why should they care? Winning with the wrong candidate might well. Of *course* they’d rather lose with some reliably corrupt corporate-bought cipher like Biden or Harris than win with an actual change agent. It’s not even a close thing.

      1. Oregoncharles

        In 2020 it will still be the Republicans’ turn – no matter how bad Trump is, or how much the Dems scream about him. They might win back the Senate, but not the presidency. That’s the deal.

  7. Lee

    Southern California Gas Company will pay $120 million to state and local agencies over the 2015 Aliso Canyon methane gas blowout that forced thousands of residents to flee their homes…. A portion of the $120 million agreement will go toward capturing methane expelled by dairy farms as mitigation of what was released during the blowout

    That could buy a lot of readily accessible seaweed here in CA.

    How Eating Seaweed Can Help Cows to Belch Less Methane

    The results have exceeded everyone’s expectations, including Kebreab’s. His three-month study of Ginger and her cohort found that spiking cows’ ordinary rations with one kind of marine macroalgae in particular, Asparagopsis, reduces enteric methane by 58 percent. More than other seaweeds, Asparagopsis contains compounds that inhibit the production of methane, or CH4, and interrupt the process by which carbon and hydrogen bind together.

    “We did not expect these numbers in the doses we used,” Kebreab says. Milk production held steady or increased. A panel of tasters detected no differences among the different cows’ milk.


  8. Cal2

    “The Water Resource Right Outside the Window”

    How about the water resource inside the windows?
    Learn about Greywater and the ability to irrigate landscaping with otherwise wasted
    shower, bath, washing machine and sink water.


    Might at well jump topics to save space.
    Video after video of Guaido’s minions on the border bridge throwing Molotov cocktails over the heads of the Venezuelan border cops to firebomb the aid trucks coming from the Colombian side to create an incident. When everyone has a high quality video camera in their phone it’s hard to create false flags.


  9. John

    Look in the middle of a book before I read it? I look at the end…for non fiction, sometime conclusions is enough…for fiction, to find out if its gonna be worth it. Deja vue is yet another reason.

    1. Sanxi

      I don’t know about the middle, but I do hop about in a book and not for Deja vue, rather why I’m I bound by the authors intent of having to read it in a linear fashion? I do like the idea though, it is something I do with movies.

      1. The Rev Kev

        In movies, the first few minutes is sometimes taken from the middle of the movie before going back to the beginning too. As an example, in “Starship Troopers” the first few minutes showed the hero in the middle of the first battle of Klendathu against the bugs before going back to how it all started a year previously.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          In Medias Res is a narrative device created by the great Roman State Propagandist, Virgil, in the Aeneid.

          And Starship Troopers made me the Citizen i am today!

          “Come on, you Apes, you wanna live forever!”

          “Everyone Fights; No one Quits.”


  10. Gfx

    Yes, it’s important to know how a bill becomes law, says social studies teacher Edwin Lipowski, who works at Oak Forest High School.

    “What people don’t understand is the complexity behind that,” he said. “For example, it takes 60 votes to get anything done in the Senate. Or the relationship between special interest groups and congressional voting. Those things are more complicated. I don’t think people fully understand it because there’s too much emphasis placed on the minutia of things that are probably not as important as the big picture stuff.”


  11. nippersdad

    Wow! Those comments on the Axelrove tweet really are bitter. I hope the next time he tweets he can acknowledge that and suggest that Bernie run as an Independent.

    That would be a real hoot.

    Re: Facebook not even hiding it anymore. I have had about nine comments censored in the past few days. Everything from the American conservative to Bible quotes to Wikileaks; the one thing that all of them had in common was that they ran counter to the Washington Consensus narrative. They REALLY don’t like articles that point out Putin was elected to fix the mess that the Clintons unleashed on Russia when Yeltsin was President; that he is the Russian response to US meddling in their country. Anything in that vein immediately gets zapped.

    1. Donald

      How does that work? I have a Facebook account, but never use it, so I don’t understand it very well. So if you make a comment on your own site or somebody else’s site that they perceive as pro Russian does your comment get deleted? I know some websites you can sign in with a Facebook account to comment—do they go after those?

      1. nippersdad

        I think all of the different sites must have different levels of moderation. The sites that I visit on FaceBook are moderated by those who put them up, but they aren’t the ones deleting my comments. As for places like Politico, they have their own moderators who will let you post pretty much anything.

        But the comments that I have posted all had a common denominator. If they had anything in them, whether it was a comment or a link, that contradicted the Washington Consensus narrative, regardless of the source, it was zapped. They zapped the Bible today in a comment that featured the line “By their fruits they will be known.”

        Censorship is very much alive at FB.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        some years ago, i got banned from facebook for almost a year…because i went on my senator’s page(tedfuckingcruz) and linked to a WSJ article laying out that Obamacare was really Heritagecare.
        no editorialising on my part.just the link, who’s title said it all.
        suddenly, i couldn’t get on fb.
        all it takes is a few random people to report your comment to the bots…and once the bots have it and figure out that nothing’s wrong…to report your comment again.
        first time, it was for a month….after which time, i immediately went to tedfuckingcruz’ page to complain….it’s a de facto public forum, with my employee, dammit,lol…and was immediately reported and banned again…this time for 3 months.
        and so on.
        i never once used any abusive language like i sometimes do here…i called him Senator, and everything.
        of course, i was…in addition to being reported, subjected to quite vile language from others on that site…so it’s only verboten to question the narrative in civil speech. it’s perfectly fine to lambaste someone who disagrees with your preferred reality tunnel, using language i’d slap my sons for using.
        remembering all this…just let me say: Thank You for NC.

        1. richard

          J. Dore just dropped a video about further demonetizing and supressing of content at you tube. Not the same, but it really is, because it is the same kind of faceless, usually nameless, unaccountable bastard you are dealing with. Under no obligation to make sense, let alone to not infuriate you.
          Take social media for the people.

        2. nippersdad

          Trolling my Congressman on a daily basis is the sole reason that I remain on Facebook! It is nice to see I am not the only one. It is strange, but FB will censor the Progressive pages I am on but never his.

          He would delete comments just like yours when I first got on, and so a cabal of us notified the House Ethics Committee and the ACLU about “the routine and blatant abuse of our First Amendment rights to free speech on a public forum engaged in by our Congressman, and that lawsuits would soon be in the cards………” He stopped that pretty quickly. Since then we have plagued his existence and run off most of the true believers. They finally figured out that they only served to provide further ammunition. No one really even tries to bother us anymore, unless they are from his home town and try to defend him as a nice guy.

          To which we say: “By their fruits they will be known.”

          One guy never lets him forget about his having posted a picture of a Nazi tank on a post honoring D-Day soldiers, or the Robert E. Lee book prominently displayed in his District Office this past Black History Month.

          It is, honestly, an addiction for me at this point. I put up allof the news of AOC (“My new favorite congressperson!”). I ask him why he can’t be more like Ilhan Omar and call out war criminals too. I put up rap Bernie videos. I have put on pictures of children’s brains in Yemen and children separated from their parents on the border, thanks to our Family Values Congressman doing absolutely squat to stop it. Today it was a chart by the Nurses Union comparing and contrasting the ACA to M4A and an article that went into the details…..He has informally been awarded the honorary title of Assistant Whip of the Orcs………As I say, it is just addictive. I, too, take my hat off to NC. You really cannot imagine how much of your stuff ends up on my Congressman’s page.

          Anyway, you might try what we did. It worked really well.

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          The nasty language probably does not get those people banned because nasty language like that attracts more nasty people to revel in the more nastiness. That means more eyeballs to sell to advertisers.

          The nasty abusive people are probably part of Facebook’s bread and butter. Facebook won’t ban someone(s) who is helping keep Facebook profitable.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps Facebook is auditioning to be left alone by the DC FedRegime and Official Washington. Perhaps Facebook hopes that the Governators will be nice to Facebook if Facebook censors “all the right people”.

  12. Pelham

    Re these civics tests that Americans are always failing: So what?

    I studied civics in high school and learned all about bills up on Capitol Hill, etc. But I didn’t learn a blessed thing about the immensely more important fact that lobbyists write the bills and even the speeches congresscritters give in support.

    Or very much about revolving doors and campaign funding and the fact that average congresscritters spend 70% of their time raising funds for re-election. Or, even more important, how our banking and financial systems work systematically to dismantle the real economy the rest of us have to scrounge in.

    It’s too bad we either don’t learn or we don’t retain basic civics lessons. But perhaps we’d perk up an pay attention if high schools taught us something relevant, engaging and verifiably factual about how we’re all being so roundly screwed.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I was just thinking about what you wrote. I would imagine that in the US that there would be some sort of text book for those civic courses in schools, right? Can you imagine getting one, and then completely re-writing it to match how civics is actually done in real life? So that bills originate in lobbyists and ALEC and mention that that Harvard study found that the bulk majority of what people wanted done is never even considered in government. Such a book would be almost considered seditious by being so truthful. But it would be fun to read.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Florida Schools were not required to have Civics in the 80s. I instead took a required semester of Americanism vs Communism. Once in class my teacher informed me about the switcheroo in funding, required us all to turn in a paper about some Communist country by the end of the semester, and then taught us Civics. So my point is that civics education in this country is spotty. There was a Saturday Morning educational cartoon that really informs this whole generation about the Constitutional Process. I mean, if there’s a disagreement, you refer to it as a reminder.


    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      I think its important to note that the avg student in the 50s took about 2 1/2 Civics classes compared to today where students hope to get one.

  13. DJG

    Can we put aside these protestations that the Democratic Party’s permanent management somehow doesn’t want open borders? And I can assume that their reasoning is that open borders will have no dire economic consequences for them.


    Kass is a crab, but this speech has been reported elsewhere. Or is Hillary going to claim that nobody really understood that it was just the speculation of HRC, wise abuelita? (Of course, as brasileiras e os brasileiros não têm uma “abuelita.”)

    1. Jerry B

      Living in the Chicago Metro area for most of my life I have read the Chicago Tribune on and off as well as others such as the Sun Times and back in the day the Chicago American I think it was called.

      I remember a Chicago Tribune that had Mike Royko, Bob Verdi (sports), Bob Greene, Anna Quindlen, etc. and other excellent journalists. It was a decent rag.

      In the last several years the Tribs journalistic standards have gone down and they have moved to the right or even far right of the political spectrum. They do some good investigative journalism, however their investigative work mostly picks on the public sector (i.e. schools, police, teachers) while bowing to the Mayor 1% Rahm Emamuel and the elites.

      When I used to read the Trib regularly I actually like some of John Kass’s columns. He came across as a typical Chicago guy and his columns often were funny. Now??? Since Trump’s election I have seen Kass’s writing go completely off the reservation. He has become an angry, far right, hate filled writer whose writing is so one sided he might as well go work for Fox News.

    2. Darthbobber

      Blathering on about this or that thing being a fond dream of hers while doing literally nothing to make it happen and indeed often taking concrete actions that go the other way is actually a common Hillary thing. Back in ’13, when she gave this speech, I believe she was into additional border militarization and had briefly argued for turning away central American children. And the stuff about this in the Brazil speech is so obviously in the pie in the sky someday department that it really says nothing about anything, except what she thought her audience might like.

  14. bob

    At what point does twitter have to be written off entirely as bad faith concern trolling for regime change?


    This kind of thinking is more or less why everyone ‘had to’ vote for the Iraq war

    Jasmin Mujanović
    Verified account @JasminMuj
    Identify as a progressive or w/ democratic political left? Then your foreign policy views can never, ever tolerate authoritarianism of any sort. This may occasionally join you in league w/ the political right. That is not shameful & is preferable to authoritarian apologetics.
    Show this thread
    8:17 AM – 25 Feb 2019

    Number one concerner-


    I spent a lot of time organizing against the war. What you describe had Jack shit to do with the war starting, buddy

    1. JohnnyGL

      There’s a lot riding on who gets to make the call on who/what ‘regime’ meets the criteria of ‘authoritarian’, isn’t there?

      The blue check crowd would like to trap everyone into ignoring how ‘human rights’ arguments have been deployed throughout history, even very recent history.

      I actually think twitter’s one of the most effective platforms for the ‘masses’ to get their voices heard. It gets messy, it gets maniuplated, a ton, in fact, but it’s still a vector where the blue check crowd feel compelled to interact with with the rest of us. It seems SO much harder to manufacture consent from the top than it did even 10 years ago.

  15. PKMKII

    de Blasio and Cuomo announce 10 point plan for MTA reform

    The condensed version:

    1. MTA will develop a reorganization plan to make the agency more efficient and effective. Shuttle redundant function across the sub-agencies into a central hub.

    2. The MTA Transformation Plan would include a congestion pricing financing model. Also funding from cannabis tax and internet sales tax.

    3. The MTA fares for public mass transportation must be controlled in future years through cost containment actions and improved management.

    4. All MTA Board appointments will be modified so that all terms end with the appointing elected official’s tenure.

    5. Partnership between the State and City is necessary to combat fare evasion.

    6. The MTA will undergo an independent audit to determine their actual assets and liabilities.

    7. The Capital Plan shall be reviewed by a committee of transportation, engineering and government experts who have no existing financial relationship with the MTA.

    8. The MTA will have all major construction projects and planned projects pursued as “design build.” Translation: more outsourcing to contractors.

    9. The MTA will immediately expedite the completion of the Subway Action Plan

    10. The Governor and Mayor will work closely with the Legislature to effectuate provisions in this framework. (hah!)

    1. Synoia

      After they have finished shuffling the Titanic’s deck chairs, when will they fix the signalling? When will funds taken from the subway for other initiatives be returned?

      Why charge fares at all? Generally the revenue from transit fares pays just enough to continue the collection.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Why charge fares at all? Generally the revenue from transit fares pays just enough to continue the collection.

        One reason really, it keeps alive the toxic narrative that users should pay the costs of public transit, or the even more toxic narrative that public services generally should or must “pay their own way”.

    1. nippersmom

      That sound like the type of “pact” that would be enforced against Sanders, Gabbard, and possibly Warren but no one else. Any comments by so-called centrist candidates would be rationalized as reasonable questioning of bona fides or policy positions, not “aggression”.

      1. nippersdad

        That was my reading of it too. Man, if they thought the “Bro’s” were mad last time……We may get to see some actual chairs thrown this go-round.

      2. Carey

        I just watched the CNN thing w/ Sanders, and sure got the same feeling from it.
        And his resounding “I will support the Dem nominee!” straight out out the blocks is… strategically unsound, IMO. 2016 = 2020?

        Matt Stoller is right

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Uninformed Question: Does any of this troll, counter troll stuff have any measured effect in the real world?

      I guess Putin made me ask this.

      1. nippersdad

        My only sustained opportunity to see actions and reactions on social media trolling comes from my daily appearance on our Congressman’s page. In that instance, over about two years, I have noticed that his page went from extreme right wing tin foil hattery to a reduced membership of comparatively polite conservatives. It has worked well on that page, but I couldn’t say about others.

        As regards real life, the constant refrain on that page is to ask why he never does public forums. If that counts as a measured effect in meat world then I would say yes. The guy is afraid of meeting his own constituency despite sixty percent of the District having voted for him.

  16. allan

    Florida man tries to intimidate congressional witness. Hilarity ensues.
    Former prosecutor and current criminal defense lawyer Ken White, take it away:

    EmergenHat @Popehat Retweeted Matt Gaetz

    Dear Representative @mattgaetz …. are you represented by federal criminal defense counsel?
    Let me tell you why I ask. /1

  17. marym

    Close To 2,000 Manufacturing Workers Just Went On Strike In Pennsylvania

    After a merger with GE Transportation, the new employer “wants to turn this into an Amazon warehouse,” the union says.

    Nearly 1,700 workers at a GE Transportation plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, went on strike Tuesday, marking the first large-scale work stoppage in the U.S. manufacturing sector in three years.

    Union members with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) say the factory’s incoming owner, Pennsylvania-based Wabtec Corp., is trying to impose mandatory overtime, a lower pay scale for new employees, and the use of temporary workers in the facility.

  18. JohnnyGL


    Good article from Brihanna Joy Gray. Give Yvette Carnell and Antonio Moore credit, they’ve forced Dem primary candidates to have a conversation that they’re not comfortable having and probably preferred to avoid.

    On their side are some very clear and uncomfortable facts about the distribution of wealth, by race, in this country. Saying it’s just about slavery and Jim Crow and even redlining probably undersells it. Even before the 2008 financial crisis, the racial wealth gap was stark, varying between 12-1 and maybe 15-1. Post crisis, it’s like 75-1.


  19. Brindle

    AOC schools Ivanka Trump on low wages:

    “As a person who actually worked for tips & hourly wages in my life, instead of having to learn about it 2nd-hand, I can tell you that most people want to be paid enough to live.
    A living wage isn’t a gift, it’s a right. Workers are often paid far less than the value they create.”


    1. Rajesh K

      Hm, to be fair, Ivanka’s objection is more along getting paid to do nothing. A living wage is still predicated on working. Here’s the pertinent quote: “So, I think that this idea of a guaranteed minimum is not something most people want. They want the ability to be able to secure a job. They want the ability to live in a country where’s there’s the potential for upward mobility.”

      I read “guaranteed minimum” as people getting this no matter what i.e. whether they have a job or not.

      1. JBird4049

        Actually, a lack of having any money is sometimes the problem.

        Millions of Americans have dropped completely out of the labor market which is why the employment numbers are baffling to economists. The know how many people are available for work and they know how many are working and the numbers don’t match. The have become more divergent over the decades.

        There are a few million Americans living on roughly $2 a day. $2 a day with the money coming from odd jobs or illicitly coverting food stamps to cash. The maximum monthly allotment for a single person in California is $192. That is rather “high” as California adds to the Federal allotment.

        Then there are still some in a few states making below minimum because it’s “tipped” work. You don’t get much at the Waffle House.

        Then the involuntary part-timers.

        Followed by those who only make minimum wage.

        All those people add up to tens of millions of people and many of them are raising children.

        Then finally, adjusting for inflation, the minimum wage was roughly $11 in 1968. Since wages use to increase along with productivity with the increased productivity added since about 1973, the minimum wage should be something like $21+.

        Most people want work because they want to contribute something. It seems to be hardwired into us. From 1947 to 1973 if you wanted a job, you probably could easily.

        Most people want a wage that they can live on. I guessing into the very early 80s having a job got you that. Most people want enjoyable or at least work that they could like. Much of the different kind of jobs have been shipped overseas and getting technical training or colleges education is getting harder all the time.

        I think we should demand a guaranteed job that pays a living wage to do something useful or productive as that is better for body, mind, and soul. Strangely, most people do want that.

        So saying a minimum income is needed is a Trojan Horse. There with always be some who will not or simply cannot work, but they are few and just giving a dole to someone without an offer of work is just telling them to go away and die.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Yeah, well, they put mayonnaise on their french fries….”

    I am shocked, shocked at how that is not a good idea. Frieten met mayonaise is great and the Dutch eat take-away chips like this too. Next thing you know, people will be saying that vinegar on chips is also not a thing.

      1. Oregoncharles

        My wife uses tartar sauce, often combined with ketchup. I prefer just the ketchup.

        The local burger joints all seem to have their own version of “fry sauce.”

      2. pretzelattack

        no mayo! i will fight them at the ketchup, i will fight them at the mustard, i will fight them at the relish!

    1. Jeff W

      Speaking as a US person, I’d have mayonnaise or vinegar on my fries (chips) any day of the week. Ketchup not so much (as in never). (That equal parts ketchup/mustard/mayo concoction sounds like something that I’d probably avoid also.)

  21. The Rev Kev

    I think that I am reading too much on American politics. I was watching a trailer on TV for that new movie “Captain Marvel” and in the middle of it were the words “WITH HER” that expanded to “WITH A HERO” and I thought, wait a minute – that was almost Hillary’s slogan there, as in “I’m With Her”. See the film clip at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LHxvxdRnYc about the 1:38 mark to see what I mean. Saw a clip too from that “Madame Secretary” series which I always reckoned was a TV series about Hillary to help her get elected and who should the lead character be talking to? You guessed it. Hillary. She is seriously getting to be the Hamlet’s ghost of American politics and culture at the moment.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Having recently beaten Far Cry 5, theres a scene towards the end where you press triangle to give up or press x ‘to resist.’

      These video game writers have no fn clue the explosive story potential of making a futuristic socialist alien sci fy plot ala Resistance (theres that word again!).

  22. djrichard

    13 week treasury yield reached a new high today of 2.4%. That’s an increase of 9 basis points from when it had a relative low about 1 month ago. If it keeps that trend line, the Fed Reserve will likely be raising rates at their April/May meeting. If not then, certainly at the next Fed Reserve meeting.

    Separately, the 10Y yield looks to breaking to new relative lows. Currently at 2.63%. So only 23 basis points separating the two and getting narrower if both trends continue.

  23. Joe Well

    Thank you for sharing the article on “The Class Ceiling.”

    Sociologists have known forever that qualifications and merit are only a tiny part of career success. After a basic level of competence in a particular field, social networks (especially family) are the primary factor. Racial, gender, and other kinds of discrimination also factor in.

    And now we have a new dimension to inequality: having parents who can pay the rent in the early stages of one’s career. That only matters so much now because the top 10% have collectively decided to enrich themselves and maintain segregation by throttling new construction of housing so that housing now costs several times what it did (in real terms) 50 years ago.

  24. John k

    Open borders…
    Dems that want that…
    Clinton claimed to dream of open trade and open borders throughout the americas in a paid speech to a Brazilian bank in 2013.
    One might think her donors want open borders…
    If that is true, and given the dem hierarchy share the same donors, I assume this is a popular view even if today’s climate does not support it.
    Certainly dem and rep rank and file don’t… I think even Hispanics don’t…
    wonder how many prefer spending military money on walls vs bonds…

  25. Rhondda

    “Few Americans Want Open Borders— Democrats Included”
    The article tries to wend-a-way between small-d democrats (voters) and Party Operatives and then The D Platform. Author seems to maintain that as long as “the official D platform” doesn’t say it then “democrats” don’t want it. Pfaugh! Bullpuckey. Be careful in your slice n dice you don’t slice your finger (or sumpin’ else) off. I hear Democrat friends say this ALL THE TIME. They use the term Open Borders. They agree with the idea. They think it is Good. Now, perhaps they’re speaking mistakenly or without edumacation, but they say it. Just sayin’.

  26. Carey

    “..Feinstein is 85 and looks like she’s held together by nothing but formaldehyde, contempt for the working class, and a wig.”

    -Caitlin Johnstone, from above link. (Thank you!)

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    I was thinking about something I read in a past thread about South Park and the ManBearPig episodes. So I watched a little bit of those episodes on You Tube.

    And I remembered that Reagan Campaign ad called ” The Bear” about a bear in the woods. Here is the short version.

    Since Trey Parker and Matt Stone have come to understand that global warming seems awfully real to them now, what if they were to make a campaign commercial based as closely on this one as possible?
    It could be called ” The ManBearPig”. Its theme would be: ” there’s a ManBearPig in the woods” . . .
    And it could be made available to any Democratic Nominee or Nominee-wannabe who wanted to use it.
    Just imagine ” there’s a ManBearPig in the woods” . . . running, and then Sanders coming on screen to say: My name is Bernie Sanders and I approve this message.”

    1. Plenue

      It’s not clear at all what’s actually happened. Pakistan is claiming it shot down two Indian planes, and captured a pilot, whom they’ve shown off. India is claiming all that happened was a helicopter crashed for non-combat reasons, with both pilots dead.

      What does seem clear is that a Pakistani jet was shot down subsequent to the above. So at minimum there’s an F-16 now turned into scrap. Pakistan PM has called his nuclear advisory council.

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