2:00PM Water Cooler 2/28/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


USTR to suspend China tariff hike ‘until further notice’ [Reuters]. “The U.S. Trade Representative’s office said on Wednesday it would move to formally suspend a scheduled tariff increase on Chinese goods “until further notice” following President Donald Trump’s decision to delay his Friday deadline for a U.S.-China trade deal amid progress in their talks. The statement was issued after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s testimony to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, in which he said USTR was following a legal process to implement the delay.”


“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: Christmas music in the stores in July. Nevertheless:

Trump may not be that strong a candidate. That does not mean his position is weak strategically. (Note that PA is a toss-up. Sanders’ backing the Erie strikers — which oddly, or not, he is the only Democrat to do — is not only principled, it’s smart politics. So is WI. Perhaps this time, candidates will visit?

Sanders (1): “It’s time to complete the revolution we started” [Bernie Sanders, Guardian]. “The only way we will defeat Donald Trump and the special interests that support him is with a grassroots movement – the likes of which has never been seen in American history. We must stand together – women and men, black, white, Latino, Native American, Asian American, gay and straight, young and old, native born and immigrant – to address the challenges we face as a nation.” • Something Tad Devine, et al., are completely incapable of delivering. If his new staff can — to the extent a movement can be a deliverable — then we are in for the ride of our lives through 2020.

Sanders (2): “Sanders: ‘I fully expect’ fair treatment by DNC in 2020 after ‘not quite evenhanded’ 2016 primary” [The Hill]. “‘In 2016, I think I will not shock anybody to suggest that the DNC was not quite evenhanded. I think we have come a long way since then and I fully expect to be treated quite as well as anybody else,’ he said during a CNN town hall Monday evening. Sanders gave the answer after an audience member asked whether Sanders believes he can get a ‘fair shake’ in the Democratic nomination process.”

Harris: “Kamala Harris’ big question mark” [Politico]. “Harris is a product of California campaigns, where TV ads and name ID are king. So one of the biggest unknowns about Harris is whether she can consistently nail the retail and performance pieces of presidential campaigning — and at the same time exhibit the nimbleness and policy depth to match the very high expectations she’s already being held to.” • I’ve commented before that if you watch Harris with the sound down, you’ll be reminded of Clinton; others have said the same thing (and that they thought they were the only ones). Clinton, in the post Mark Penn 2008 phase, was actually a good retail politician, stomping through high school auditorium after high school auditorium, but had lost either the skill or the inclination by 2016. Read the next link for the technique Harris is using, which begs for a gotcha video.

“Iowa Will Make or Break Both Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris” [The Atlantic]. “Already in two weeks as a candidate, Klobuchar has started wearing creases into some of the lines she keeps using. Harris, meanwhile, has been delivering the same stump speech almost verbatim since hitting the midterm trail (including here in Iowa) in October, telling the same jokes, as if each time an ad lib has just come to her, like when she mocks smooth-talking candidates for sprinkling “lovely dust.” Beyond the performance skills as a candidate that Harris is demonstrating as she continues to introduce herself to voters who’ve never seen her in person before, she notably does not vary the speech much, no matter who’s in the crowd.” • A reminder, however, that even a movement must win at the precinct level and at the state level. Filling stadiums is good, but not enough.

Health Care

“The Biggest Obstacle to Medicare for All Is Other Democrats” [Splinter News]. “the outlook of her fellow Democrats on single-payer is more proof that on top of batting the healthcare industry and the full force of the Republican Party on Medicare for All, lefty Democrats are going to have to fight colleagues in their own party tooth and nail in order to get a healthcare system that works for everyone.” • Yep. As I showed with my worksheets over the summer. The DCCC didn’t make being against #MedicareForAll a litmus test, but they certainly didn’t encourage it, and at the very best, the center of gravity of the party did not shift toward it. (Note that apparently the idiots who think “we should do something that will pass” — a minor pharma reform, say — clearly can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Do both!)

2016 Post Mortem

Repurposing the video, which summarizes the 2016 campaign in visual form:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Democrats didn’t get what they wanted out of Michael Cohen. Neither did Republicans.” [The Week]. “While these and other august matters of state were discussed on Capitol Hill two nuclear powers in South Asia went to the brink of war and the president met with the dictator of another in a country we fought our second longest war with.” • And let’s not forget Venezuela!

“Michael Cohen Worries There Won’t Be ‘Peaceful Transition Of Power’ If Trump Loses In 2020” [Yahoo News]. “‘Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power,’ Cohen told the House oversight committee at the end of his hourslong testimony.” • That strikes me as red meat for Cohen’s new masters (long-time Clintonite fixer, Lanny Davis, let us remember, is Cohen’s lawyer). David Brock did much the same thing when he changed his jersey from red to blue. And just as Brock was still Brock, so Cohen will still be Cohen. (For example, I think Cohen’s tears at the close of the session were a bit over the top.)

“The Left’s Latest Demand: Race-Based Reparations” [The American Conservative]. “The questions that instantly arise are: who would qualify as a beneficiary of reparations? And who would pay the immense transfer sums involved?” • They do, as do other questions. Nevertheless, remember Lincoln’s words:

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

“Sunk” in the sense of a debt paid off. Is it? Of course, debts that can’t be paid, won’t be. So there’s that.

The Biosphere

“The Economic Case For The Green New Deal” [Forbes]. “Carbon pricing definitely has a role to play, but market approaches have limits. Markets are effective at allocating resources when the required adjustments are small and the outcomes clear and immediate. Yet, there’s a reason that during World War II, the government built aircraft factories and allocated scarce materials like steel and rubber through the War Production Board. Closer to home, there’s a reason that large businesses have professional managers to plan their operations, and don’t rely on internal markets. The limits of leaving large-scale planning to markets should be even clearer today, especially after the experience of the housing bubble and crash, which demonstrated a colossal failure of financial markets to direct investment to productive uses. We shouldn’t count on the same financial system that so mismanaged the housing market to guide the shift away from fossil fuels on its own.” • I dunno. Crashing the human population might be a pretty good solution to our fossil fuels problems. And the pilot projects are going pretty well.

“Climate change means more floods, great and localized” [Waxahachietx Daily Light]. “One thing that local governments must do is use forecast tools that predict several different scenarios based on possible temperature rise, rather than relying on flood maps of the past, when severe inundations were rare, said Larry Larson, a former director and senior policy adviser for the Association of State Floodplain Managers. They also should be prepared to alter landscapes, divert runoff, and to buy up houses and other private properties that frequently end up under water, and to elevate those buildings if necessary, Larson said. ‘These owners won’t sell after the first flood; they think they have another 99 years to go,’ he said. ‘But they will sell after the second flood.'” • We’re not at the point where they can’t’ sell before the first flood, I guess…

“Sub-Acute Effects of Psilocybin on Empathy, Creative Thinking, and Subjective Well-Being” [Journal of Psychoactive Drugs]. “Participants attending a psilocybin retreat completed tests of creative (convergent and divergent) thinking and empathy, and the satisfaction with life scale on three occasions: before ingesting psilocybin (N = 55), the morning after (N = 50), and seven days after (N = 22). Results indicated that psilocybin enhanced divergent thinking and emotional empathy the morning after use. Enhancements in convergent thinking, valence-specific emotional empathy, and well-being persisted seven days after use. Sub-acute changes in empathy correlated with changes in well-being. The study demonstrates that a single administration of psilocybin in a social setting may be associated with sub-acute enhancement of creative thinking, empathy, and subjective well-being. Future research should test whether these effects contribute to the therapeutic effects in clinical populations.” • Volunteers, please!

“How DNA from snow helps scientists track elusive animals” [National Geographic]. “Scientists have now begun using a new technique to track these animals down, by detecting trace amounts of DNA left in the snowy tracks of these and other creatures…. [S]cientists from the U. S. Forest Service were able to confirm the presence of a lynx in the Northern Rockies through genetic analysis of snow it had stepped in. Experts say this non-invasive approach will improve the accuracy of wildlife surveys in snowy environments and help conservationists identify and preserve critical habitat for lynx and other snow-dwelling species.”


Krugman needs to stay in his lane (which heads toward the exit). Thread:

“Pavlina Tcherneva on MMT, Feminism, Intersectionality & Momentum” (podcast) [Macro n Cheese]. • Interesting combination of topics…

Guillotine Watch

“Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows” [Pro Publica]. “Sackler had an email conversation with another company official, Michael Cullen, according to the deposition.’ Since oxycodone is perceived as being a weaker opioid than morphine, it has resulted in OxyContin being used much earlier for non-cancer pain,’ Cullen wrote to Sackler. “Physicians are positioning this product where Percocet, hydrocodone and Tylenol with codeine have been traditionally used.” Cullen then added, “It is important that we be careful not to change the perception of physicians toward oxycodone when developing promotional pieces, symposia, review articles, studies, et cetera.’ ‘I think that you have this issue well in hand,” Sackler responded.” • Harvard’s Sackler Museum should not merely remove the Sackler name; it should put up a plaque excoriating the Sacklers as murderers, and explaining that Harvard doesn’t want their blood money.

“To Honor Gift, Public Library Will Add Donor’s Name a 6th Time” [New York Times]. “Some of them are the five spots on the landmark building’s floor and stone exterior where Mr. Schwarzman’s name is inscribed, courtesy of his $100 million gift to the library system in 2008…. Now the library plans to carve his name onto the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building for a sixth time. ‘It is silly and it is too much signage for a single benefactor,’ said Layla Law-Gisiko, the chairwoman of the landmarks committee for the local community board, which was informed of the planned changes to the library building. Having the name so many times is crass.’ … Mr. Schwarzman, the co-founder and chief executive of the Blackstone Group, a private equity firm, declined to comment.'” • Why stop at six?

Class Warfare

“Networked but Commodified: The (Dis)Embeddedness of Digital Labour in the Gig Economy” [Alex J Wood, Mark Graham, Vili Lehdonvirta Sociology]. “We use interview and survey data to highlight how platform workers in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are normatively disembedded from social protections through a process of commodification. Normative disembeddedness leaves workers exposed to the vagaries of the external labour market due to an absence of labour regulations and rights. It also endangers social reproduction by limiting access to healthcare and requiring workers to engage in significant unpaid ‘work-for-labour’. However, we show that these workers are also simultaneously embedded within interpersonal networks of trust, which enable the work to be completed despite the low-trust nature of the gig economy.”

“The biggest winners of a minimum wage hike might not be who you think” [MarketWatch]. “A mere 9% of the 39.7 million workers who would directly and indirectly benefit from the raise were 19 and younger. More than half of workers, 53%, who would benefit were between the ages of 25 and 54. Workers aged 55 and above accounted for the remaining 14.6% of estimated beneficiaries.” • Walmart says “Hi!” to the 55+

“Stark black-white divide in wages is widening further” [Economic Policy Institute]. “Overall, the [EPI’s new State of Working America (SWA) Wages] findings indicate wages are slowly improving with the growing economy, but wage inequality has grown and wage gaps have persisted, and in some cases, worsened. In this post, I will highlight one particular worsening wage gap and look at it from multiple dimensions. Since 2000, by any way it’s measured, the wage gap between black and white workers has grown significantly. The findings here support the important research by Valerie Wilson and William M. Rodgers III, which shows that black-white wage gaps expanded with rising wage inequality from 1979 to 2015. Where their report is incredibly comprehensive, the trends outlined here are rudimentary, but reinforce the same basic truths.” • Like a difference engine…

News of the Wired

“How I’m still not using GUIs in 2019: A guide to the terminal” [Lucas F. Costa]. “TL;DR: Here are my dotfiles. Use them and have fun. GUIs are bloatware. I’ve said it before. However, rather than just complaining about IDEs I’d like to provide an understandable guide to a much better alternative: the terminal.” • One thing: The terminal is far more Jackpot-ready than GUIs. Portable skills, and less bloat means less powerful hardware is fine. VIM, though. I dunno….

“About Face” [Popula (JB)]. “This is about surface and style normalizing the language of force.” A comic book (very good), so hard to quote from. Here’s a panel:

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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 (PS):

PS writes: “You asked for winter scenes; well, this is one although it might not look it!”

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. Big River Bandido

    re: The Hill: “Hacked emails in 2016 showed DNC staffers criticizing Sanders and his campaign and speaking more favorably of Clinton.” (emphasis mine)

    This is a lie. Clinton’s emails were leaked, not hacked.

    1. Morgan Everett

      What? What about 17 intelligence agencies? I could have sworn I heard that repeated as a mantra.

        1. Morgan Everett

          I was just snarking. That talking point just had an obnoxious durability even after it was shown to be false.

  2. Synoia

    Sanders (2): “Sanders: ‘I fully expect’ fair treatment by DNC in 2020 after ‘not quite evenhanded’ 2016 primary”

    Personally I expect the DNC is inflict Bernie and his canpaign with much Harrisment.

    1. Eureka Springs

      This has to be the worst possible approach to deal with known/proven liars and thieves. And the worst prep/pep to his supporters.

      Unbelievable. Except that it’s so damn predictable.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        OED, sense 8 “Look for as due or requisite from another” (e.g., I expect students to have done the reading. That’s a much nicer way of saying “do the reading or I take off points,” but it comes to the same thing).

        1. Kurt Sperry

          That’s how I read it, for sure. Bernie would never have got as far as he has if he were half *that* naive.

      2. Adam Eran

        What is he going to say? “Please attack them at all times?” … then he has to deal with the enemies he didn’t have before that he’s created within the DNC.

        This reminds me of Yves criticism of Warren, saying she wasn’t threatening prosecution enough.

        You need to sneak up on your prey, not scare them into threatening you back.

        1. Jeff W

          What is he going to say?

          Right—if Sen. Sanders says anything else, then the media—which loves to focus on in-fighting, among any number of endless petty trivialities—kicks off a host of “Sanders anticipates unfair treatment from the DNC” stories, which devolves into charges and counter-charges and pointless squabbling all around, and that leads to…what exactly? Sanders is actually quite skilful at avoiding those battles that he knows better not to fight.

          And the multiple senses of “expect” allows him to subtly not dodge a question about what he “believes” while, at the same time, per that OED, sense 8, stating what is due him, which no one, least of all the DNC, can reasonably take issue with. Polysemy can be quite effective at times.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        No. Bernie is laying down a marker in front of God, the Public, AND C-SPAN. He is telling the Mainstream DemParty that he knows what what they would like to do and he will be watching . . . and commenting if needed.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          so many olds have died in the past 4 years and everyone 14 or older in 2016 gets to vote…2016 may have been the last time they could enforce message discipline on a majority of the electorate; information is too decentralized now. Feinstein talks down to people and we know within hours. CNN tries to run a “retired biology professor” and DC PR flacks past everyone as “concerned citizen” and it’s blown up within the hour. That and no consensus on a mainstream empress to be rightfully crowned means the game has changed.

          I secretly hope Biden runs so he can learn firsthand just how Schultz-level-unwelcome that development would be outside the ACELA corridor.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I recall, if correctly, that he had to seek permission to run in 2016.

      Does he have to do the same this time? If not, what is different now (does being better known have anything to do with needing to get permission)?

      1. John Zelnicker

        February 28, 2019 at 3:39 pm

        I believe he will have to sign the DNC Loyalty Oath (as will other candidates) to run as a Democrat, to support the ultimate nominee, and not to attack other Democrats or the ultimate nominee, or something like that.

        1. YankeeFrank

          Yeah, he signed something saying he would govern as a democrat if he wins, which I think means he would populate his administration with democrat hacks. The funny thing about that is once he is president, he won’t have to follow that silly piece of paper he signed at all. So I bet he’s playing them as much or more than they think they’re playing him. If Sanders wins the presidency he will not staff his administration with party hacks and neoliberal grifters. He didn’t come all this way to sell out the people at the last minute, if I am any judge of character.

          1. polecat

            The hell you say ! Why why a-as soon as he’s elected, the DNC will strap him in one of those STAR TREK psychiatrist ‘therapy’ chairs rejiggere … where his thoughts will no longer be his to spare !

          2. WheresOurTeddy

            I cannot imagine the amount of joy I would derive if he agreed to all their terms, got elected president, and then said “I owe you parasites nothing. Primary me in 2024 if you don’t like it.”

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Sanders has said he will do this (which is fine with me; somebody else should do the outside part of inside/outside anyhow). However, the wording of the loyalty oath is important; I wouldn’t count on the DNC not to screw it up, because that’s what they do.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        “Do you mean am I aware of the bag of neoliberal snakes who at their core really hate poor people known as the DCCC and DNC are snakes? Yes I am aware and watching everything they do. Next question.”

  3. a different chris

    >Trump may not be that strong a candidate. That does not mean his position is weak strategically.

    Correct. He is a weak President, but he is the President. This was true of Dubya, and he got a second term. In fact, I am beginning to believe that Americans are so disconnected nowadays you might as well make it an 8-year single term. At least the good Presidents could get something done without the need of a second campaign. And the bad Presidents might finally inspire Congress to take back some control.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Shrub was strong until he went after Social Security. After all, he actually won in 2004 against a Democrat who actually went to Vietnam (Kerry’s campaign was as close to the Third Way wet dream as one could get; “Reporting for Duty”), and he had a loyal party in control of Congress. He was weak until 9/11 to a certain extent, but even then, he passed his tax cuts.

      1. John k

        Can’t get much credit for tax cuts because so bipartisan… the parties vie to pleasure the same donors.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        every president since 1981 has cut taxes on the rich in some way or form. Those of us born in after 1981 are still waiting for our first democratic president.

        Sanders 2020

    2. Big River Bandido

      There’s the institutional advantage of being the incumbent.

      There’s also the uselessness of an electoral map in which one candidate is named Generic Democrat.

  4. dcblogger

    about Trump not leaving peacefully, Michael Moore has the same view. I dunno. don’t see how he can refuse to leave. During the gov’t shut down the Secret Service were one of the agencies required to show up at work and not get paid, so I don’t see them violating the constitution for Trump’s sake. On the other hand when Bernie wins we can expect the establishment to lose their minds. So it might make sense to look at what happened in Chile in 1973, Brazil under Lula and Venezuela, because the same forces are going to come after Bernie.

    1. Roger Smith

      Michael Cohen stated multiple times that Trump never intended to win the primaries or the general election… why then would there be no peaceful transition of power? Why would Trump skirt campaign finance laws? Why would he actively play a role in finding dirt on Clinton or colluding with Russia? I cannot believe that people buy this transparent nonsense (someone is giving these stories traffic), unhinged radical Moore included. It’s a real shame he wasted his career being dishonest about social truths.

      On Russia, this morning something clicked for me. Clinton parties hired Steele to dig up Russian dirt on Trump. So this clown goes to Russia, takes statements coordinated and designed to sound exactly like what he wants to hear (intentionally) and our government and media has been in disarray ever since with people like Maddow eating the report up and barfing up headline after headline. Russia did subvert our social sphere! Were are the butt of their joke and they are all laughing. It was a good one.

          1. ambrit

            The “official” version is still “Beltway Bandits.” Make of that what you will.

      1. Hameloose Cannon

        Did Steele go to Russia? I doubt he would step foot there without diplomatic cover, being former MI6. The Dossier was hearsay, rumor, and conjecture gathered from peripheral sources, only a modest attempt on a budget to find a surface understanding of truths worth knowing. The substance of the Dossier turned out to be wrong in a specific way: the blackmail material remains elusive, but Trump business dealings in Moscow were real, reversed, as if by design. Did the Steele Dossier print the prerequisite counter-intelligence cover story circulating about Trump and Russia cooperation, saying it was coercion rather than bribery? And I heard Cohen state Trump does anything he can to win, including cheating, which given Trump’s acumen, the cheating comes early and often. Trump is anything but predictable, so assigning rational motives is a fool’s errand. We could all use a good chuckle at the absurd, including the Russian Foreign Ministry.

      2. Yves Smith

        Help me. A lot of people skirt campaign finance laws. Clinton has never been held to account for her 2016 violations (joint fundraising with state where the Clinton campaign impermissibly took over 90% of the monies raised, which led to widespread violations of individual contribution maximums [and that was the point of this, to skirt those limits]). Normally all that happens with a campaign finance violation is you pay a fine.. And please stop on this “colluding with Russia”.

        Trump is a terrible President, but the way all sorts of charges against him are either made up (RussiaRussia) or hyped up when similar misconduct by others is shrugged off is getting old.

        1. Hameloose Cannon

          McCutcheon, et al. v. Federal Election Commission (2014) ruled the joint fundraising agreement as described in the manner Clinton wielded it [like a cudgel wailing away on the bleeding edge of compliance] is legal. The existing limit was struck down by SCOTUS, max donation was $5,200 per candidate and $32,400 to a party committee. Sanders campaign signed a similar joint fundraising agreement with the DNC two months after Clinton. Only the Sanders committee was MIA, probably because the big-donors went underground after they found out the line about “hitting their aggregate limit” failed to satiate the Clinton fundraisers.

          On the other hand, the campaign finance violation payment to Stormy Daniels establishes a pattern of law-breaking behaviors, being coerced into unlawful behavior at the risk of personal information being made public. To put the current President’s behavior into perspective, the Teapot Dome Scandal, to every sixth grader’s chagrin, was over an unpaid mortgage to a Cabinet member, of which the collateral was foreclosed upon anyway. Presidents are held to the highest standard of conduct. If “Russia” is getting old, I’ll raise you “House of Saud”, “Emirates”, “against Qatar”, and “T-Mobile’s extended stays at Trump Hotel prior to merger approval”.

          1. Yves Smith

            No, McCutcheon did NOT approve of what the Clinton campaign did in 2016, which is allow Clinton to exceed limits on individual donors. This is from the ruling:

            Lest there be any confusion, a joint fundraising committee is simply a mechanism for individual committees to raise funds collectively, not to circumvent base limits or earmarking rules. Under no circumstances may a contribution to a joint fundraising committee result in an allocation that exceeds the contribution limits applicable to its constituent parts; the committee is in fact required to return any excess funds to the contributor.

            More detail:

            Here’s what you can do, legally. Per election, an individual donor can contribute $2,700 to any candidate, $10,000 to any state party committee, and (during the 2016 cycle) $33,400 to a national party’s main account. These groups can all get together and take a single check from a donor for the sum of those contribution limits — it’s legal because the donor cannot exceed the base limit for any one recipient. And state parties can make unlimited transfers to their national party.

            Here’s what you can’t do, which the Clinton machine appeared to do anyway. As the Supreme Court made clear in McCutcheon v. FEC, the JFC may not solicit or accept contributions to circumvent base limits, through “earmarks” and “straw men” that are ultimately excessive — there are five separate prohibitions here.

            On top of that, six-figure donations either never actually passed through state party accounts or were never actually under state party control, which adds false FEC reporting by HVF, state parties, and the DNC to the laundry list.


          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Presidents are held to the highest standard of conduct.

            We finally have a President who cheerfully, even gleefully, behaves as members of the billionaire and the political class all do. He is right at the baseline, and I do mean “base.” I think it’s wonderfully clarifying.

            1. WheresOurTeddy

              They don’t hate his policies. They hate that he’s so gauche while implementing the policies they like. Obama was such a better figurehead. So smooth. Even got a significant % of the poors, young, and POC to believe his charlatanry. This guy? A hotelier? Who eats KFC? THE HORROR

        2. Roger Smith

          Exactly Yves. And wow, Lost in the immediate, I had completely forgotten about the DNC suck-the-states-dry scam last season. Oy!

      3. Peter VE

        Two degrees of separation.
        Pablo Miller worked for Christopher Steele at Orbis Intelligence. Miller is a retired MI6 agent who originally recruited Sergei Skripal in the early 90s in Spain, and served as his handler until Skripal was caught. Both Miller and Skripal live(d) in Salisbury. The British government issued a D Notice 3 days after Skripal’s poisoning, forbidding British media from mentioning Miller.
        Steele didn’t need to go to Moscow to get a (former) Russian insider’s speculation about Trump, he just went to Salisbury with his employee Miller. Someone realized that a weak link in the entire “Russiagate” story could be Skripal and his daughter, and presto: poisoning! Why hasn’t Skripal met with the media to confirm the Official Story? Is he even alive?

      4. John A

        “Clinton parties hired Steele to dig up Russian dirt on Trump. So this clown goes to Russia, takes statements coordinated and designed to sound exactly like what he wants to hear (intentionally) and our government and media has been in disarray ever since with people like Maddow eating the report up and barfing up headline after headline.

        Steele was declared persona non grata in Russia many years ago as they realised he was a British intelligence operative.
        Steele was actually closely connected to the handler of Skripal, the Russian who was gaoled for selling secrets to the west then swapped and was rehomed in Salisbury, England, home of the British chemical warfare lab centre. You dont have to join too many dots to find it most credible that Skripal was the real author of the Steele report. If that were ever to become public knowledge, it would inflict damage (how serious depending on whether the poodle MSM even covers it) so best he were disposed of. Now if he could be disposed of and at the same time point the finger at Russia being behind the smoking gun, that would be a two fer.

      5. Rhondda

        “So this clown goes to Russia…”

        Not to be disagreeable but…not true. Clown-boy Chris Steele could not go to Russia because he had been caught out for fake spy rocks. The piss-dossier (my preferred terminology) is naught but hearsay….or just plain extracted from where the sun don’t shine.

        1. Rhondda

          Sorry, didn’t scroll down to see that others had responded re this assertion. Didn’t mean to create the impression of “piling on,” Roger; I enjoy your comments.

          1. Roger Smith

            No harm done. I wasn’t precise enough. My main point is that it occurred to me that this obvious western dolt ‘starts making calls’ to former Russian agents who… tell him what the Russian government wants them to say, which is to ham it up for him. Then after all of this nonsense about Trump and Russia, the real Russian joke disinformation came from these hacks all along. I don’t know if that is what happened, but the pieces clicked together in that way and I hadn’t considered that before.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > don’t see how he can refuse to leave.

      I don’t think he’s got a power base with sufficient weaponry, literally or figuratively. And yes, I’d expect the same refusal to accept a Sanders victory as legitimate as we saw with Trump, but worse.

      1. dcblogger

        Arlington County, Virginia, home of the Pentagon and Ft Myer gave Hillary 76% of the vote. Fairfax County, home of the CIA gave Hillary 63%. In fact, Hillary carried every jurisdiction from the Chesapeake Bay to the Blue Ridge Mountains, from the Susquehanna to the Rappahannock. I just don’t see any base of support for Trump.

          1. dcblogger

            In a coup situation, if Trump really wants to defy the electorate, control of the capitol city is essential and that shot is not on the board.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            DCblogger means in the capital area. There are no sans culottes who would rise to Trump’s defense. (And the prospect of a gaggle of Clintonites rising from brunch and marching to surround the White House to save the Republic by preventing a coup…. All I can say is I hope that never has to happen.)

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          yeah rich and upper-middle-class Americans who live in silos aren’t really the type to take to the streets in opposition to, well, anything. They hire proxies to do it for them. See: Venezuela

      2. Joe Well

        I’d expect the same refusal to accept a Sanders victory as legitimate as we saw with Trump, but worse.

        The MSM (joined at the hip to the DNC) are in rapid decline. Their audience trends very old and passively consumeristic–the kind of people who don’t take to the streets. So how bad can it get? (I know, still very bad, but they can’t block out the sun like before.)

    3. JohnnyGL

      “On the other hand when Bernie wins we can expect the establishment to lose their minds. So it might make sense to look at what happened in Chile in 1973, Brazil under Lula and Venezuela, because the same forces are going to come after Bernie.”

      I’m actually a lot more optimistic on this front than I might have been. There’s a lot of factional infighting that’s been underway during the Trump admin. It seems there’s at least minor splits in law enforcement (FBI) intel (CIA, NSA, etc) and in the Pentagon (who don’t really want war with Iran), really all of the supposed ‘deep-state’ instutitions that are supposedly pulling all the strings behind the scenes. I don’t think any of the top villans that have been involved in Russia-gate like, say, Comey, McCabe, Brennan, or Rosenstein are going to jail, but I think they’re very uncomfortable with having been under the spotlight of late. There’s definitely people in the Trump base who’d like to see several of them in pinstripes. They’ll be more wary of trying to pull off any stunts like they did against Trump.

      Also, don’t forget Sanders used to chair the Veteran’s Affairs committee….I’m sure he’s got friends.

      I think the ‘permanent government’ spends it’s time during a Sanders administration making sure the Empire is consolidated, instead of consolidating all of its enemies into one block, like Trump seems to be doing with his bone-headed moves with Iran and Venezuela.

      I think the Supreme Court could emerge as a problem during a Sanders administration. Then, Clintonites and Republicans will make accusations of overreach and power-grabbing if Sanders tries to plow through their decisions.

    4. The Rev Kev

      I wouldn’t worry about the Trump transition in 2020 or 2024. It will be just as relaxed and peaceful as the Obama transition was back in 2016. Worst case scenario? The s***sstorm that Trump has faced for the past two years becomes standard procedure for every incoming President for their entire time in office through that magical word – precedent!

  5. Roger Smith

    Electoral Map: Wow, it’s almost like Democrats should attempt to recognize Wisconsin as a state this season.

    1. Oregoncharles

      What I see is only 3 “swing” states. Could that be right? Certainly gives a lot of scope for “strategic” voting.

  6. Ptb

    Re: 2020 map

    Battlegrounds again looking like the border states.

    For the south strip, take a look at latinodecisions.com , for specific polling. Latino turnout nearly doubled in ’18 vs ’14 in the key states, with room for another doubling. FLA, TX, AZ.

    For the north strip PA, OH, WI, I think Sanders did well with the middle=working class demographic. However, Trump not to be under-estimated here.

    Lastly, few of the early (Super Tuesday and before) Dem primaries are in different parts of the country.

    Take-away: attend to regional breakdowns in polling.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I couldn’t get to this thread, which is a deep dive into the FL electorate (granted, from a Republican):

      Latinx turnout was weak in FL (hence, I am guessing, Venezuela).

      1. Tom Doak

        Do not the turnout numbers depend on the candidate?

        The Democrat candidate for Florida governor was black. We can assume that resulted in strong black turnout, but is it not fair to assume that might also have affected the weaker Latinx turnout? The Dems have spent years assuming they will be the party of choice for the coming majority of non-white voters, but not all racial and ethnic groups will support each other’s favored candidate.

        1. ambrit

          Don’t assume a solidarity between Latinos and Blacks, and, more interestingly, which Latinos? The Latino population is comprised of numerous, and often inter sub-group antagonistic factions.
          The mere fact that the Latin American countries have so many revolutions and revolts so often should tell the attentive observer something about the underlying Latino social structures.
          The Democrat Party taking the fealty of the Latino Block for granted would be a major mistake. For instance, just look at all those Republican Cubans. Now they are beginning to splinter. That dynamic is no respecter of ideology.

            1. neo-realist

              In other words, maybe Gillum was too dark skinned for the critical mass of the Latino American electorate in FL.

              1. Carey

                No, I meant just the words I wrote.

                And WRT Gillum, he had Mrs. Clinton campaign for him, and quickly bailed on single-payer when politically expedient. Another limited-hangout Dem Op, maybe.

                1. neo-realist

                  But was single payer an issue the Latino American voting bloc in FL valued a great deal enough to reject Gillum because he wouldn’t support it or was this a case of this bloc in their cultural conservatism not giving a damn because it did not identify with or want a person of dark skin ruling over them and the state of FL?

                    1. ambrit

                      Sorry to butt in, but I grew up in South Florida. The initial wave of Cuban refugees back in the early sixties were the upper strata of Cuban ‘society.’ The Doctors, Lawyers and Indian Chiefs. They were mainly white, the descendants of the old Spanish conquistadores and later European settlers. (Cuba was taken over by Spain before Mexico or anywhere else in the New world except, perhaps Hispaniola [the Dominican Republic and Haiti.]) The rest of the Cuban population was black or some creole mixture. (Sugar was and is the main cash crop. Hence slaves were imported to do the hard work involved in growing and harvesting sugarcane.)
                      So, there was and probably still is a strong racial based bias in the American Cuban community.

        2. John k

          Depend on…
          Imagine a candidate that credibly pledges to deliver for working class… lots of those in lean rep states such as fl and tx.
          And such a candidate is more credible in pres race than state.
          Someone at the bully pulpit could say ‘I will campaign against any person that votes against m4a or infra.’

          1. Dana

            And Ohio. The only Dems who won statewide races in Ohio in ’18 were two Supreme Court justices and Sherrod Brown.

            We need Brown’s azz in the Senate at least until we have a better governor. I can’t support him for Pres for that reason. But a candidate with real working class cred *can* pull the lean-R states and he’s proof.

      2. neo-realist

        Good to know. Some things that strike me—I suspect there was a white tribalism/white power thing going on with a majority of white voters, including cross over white centrist blue dog dem votes for DeSantis (“The racists say he’s a racist’). Why just a good black turnout as opposed to a great black turnout? Voter ID laws? black voter felons denied (up until the Nov election) the right to vote? and possibly some plain ole black voter registration disenfranchisement, but on a subtle level?

        Re the 2020 map, a dem better hit the midwest and PA really hard in the general election campaign, e.g., be an Un-Hillary, in order to have a shot.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I wouldn’t identify white “tribalism” (or “white supremacy,” those are synonyms) with “white power,” which I regard as organized militancy (exactly the worst outcome — the missing piece of fascism — and the one in which, in my current thinking, the logical outcome of identitarianism).

          I don’t know about the causes for differential turnout. Racism isn’t an explanation for everything. For example, low turnout is also associated with Hurricane Michael.

      3. dcblogger

        The Florida gubernatorial was stolen, just like Georgia if not so obviously. So in Florida we need to win by theft proof margin and we have to do it with a thoroughly dysfunctional state party.

      4. Ptb

        Hmm, not FL then. The Mexico border states, per the latino-decisions presentation, have a different story w/ increasing turnout. This is up against white conservative voters in AZ and TX being also more energized. Ted Cruz had a hard time getting reelected, for what it’s worth, AZ senate flipped blue in a very close race.

      5. ptb

        Ok I had a chance to re-look at it. The 80% turnout increase from 2014-2018 was specifically TX. Below — #’s for 2018 TX US Senate general election

        category : latinx / general pop
        voted : 1.9 MM / 8.4 MM
        registered : 3.6MM / 16 MM
        eligible : 5.6MM / ~20MM (voting age pop, uncertain)
        voted, compared to 2014: +80% / +18%

        from latinodecisions.com, wikipedia, google

  7. John

    Crass? I thought that was a class of behavior that is no longer recognized in the English speaking world of oligarchy. I’m certain.
    Oh, and where can I sign up to volunteer for the mushroom study? Are you organizing that? I’m ready!

    1. divadab

      Not to be crass, but you can organize your own study quite easily. Shroom spores are readily available, you need a woody base layer for the mycelium to feed on and produce the fruiting bodies you want (alder chips are the best but any hardwood will feed the fungus), set up your shroom bed in a shady spot (3 hours of sun daily is about right), and note that they don’t like a hard frost so in the midwest or new england your mushroom garden needs to be protected from frost.

      That’s it – happy experimenting! Note that the experience is actually better extended over several days, so keep a pot of mushroom tea going and sip away! The mushroom spirit will teach you much, if you have eyes to see and ears to hear.

      1. divadab

        mycelia. or even myceliums for english language nationalists.

        God sends messengers. And they are not necessarily bearded men wearing robes.

      1. Wukchumni

        You can advance to the retreat here in town, and nearby Salt Creek on BLM land (the other BLM) is a fine place to indulge in studies.

      2. ambrit

        True on many levels, not all of which are in our heads.
        I advise against partaking while depressed. The Cosmos most definitely has a Morbid ‘side.’
        Underpinnings for consciousness raising exercises: Zen meditation mat, Yoga exercise mat, Mycelial enlightenment mat.

        1. farmboy

          swear by the curative, regenerative properties of all psychedelics. A shame our culture has suppressed their use. fav was ballpark acid. see Micheal Pollan, How to Change Your Mind and Dennis McKenna, The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss.

          1. ambrit

            I’ll agree with your assessment of the curative properties of psychedelics, but with the proviso that the “trip” has to be structured and curated in the interests of personal ‘growth’ and healing.
            I’ve become quite firmly convinced that psychedelics are not for recreational use. Too many ‘things’ can go wrong. I’ve had to talk someone having a ‘bad trip’ through the experience and it is almost as dangerous for the ‘helper’ as it is for the ‘tripper.’
            I remember, dimly, Mr. Natural blotter acid and the roller coaster ride that was Windowpane. Psilocybin now, that was a mellow ride.
            As I said earlier though, I would not partake now without a serious therapeutic plan in place.

            1. GramSci

              We always kept thorazine at hand for when a trip turned sour like when everything in a small town closed down at 10 pm and sleep seemed a more enlightening experience than a night long contemplation of nothingness. We came down and were asleep in an hour. But mostly we used ikept thorazine at hand as a security blanket for those new to acid and whose anxiety could otherwise throw a trip into paranoid panic.

    1. xformbykr

      thanks for the link correction. sorry it seemed like Martian to you.
      that guide was written for a particular type of user. :-)

  8. flora

    re: Harris
    So one of the biggest unknowns about Harris is whether she can consistently nail the retail and performance pieces of presidential campaigning —

    Harris gestures and word-waffles like Clinton. Speaking of “nailing performances”, another comparison occcurs to me, this from Broadway play ‘Damn Yankees’: the character of Lola here played by the wonderful Gwen Verdon in the movie version. 4 minutes. (The character has nothing to do with idpol, it’s about shape shifting to lure the innocent.)


    1. dcblogger

      I have been surprised by Harris, she seems to be pulling ahead of the other establishment candidates.

      1. neo-realist

        With her plethora of appearances on Cable news shows, radio and tv talk shows and the focus on her appearances in Congress dressing down republicans, there appears to be a subtle, maybe not so subtle manufacturing of consent to Kamala as the democratic nominee — The “Hill apparent” so to speak.

      2. Massinissa

        So did Rick Perry at this point before the 2012 election. Then he blew up in the debates.

        Anything can happen at this point, its still so early.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        The primary calendar (surprise!) favors Harris:

        Here are the early 2020 primaries, assuming nothing changes:

        1. February 3: Iowa caucus
        2. February 11: New Hampshire primary
        3. February 22: Nevada caucus
        4. February 29: South Carolina primary
        5. March 3: Super Tuesday (Alabama, California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia primaries)

        I’ve helpfully underlined the states the Harris campaign might regard as gimmes: Nevada, for what remains of the Reid machine; South Carolina, for the 2016 “firewall” (hot sauce; hip hop; dope-smoking*); and California. Combine those wins with an identity politics-based denunciation and disempowerment of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary (white; old; rural) and it’s pretty easy to construct a narrative where Sanders is knocked out early. NOTE * I regard all of this as almost unbearably clumsy, but I’m trying to get into the hive mind of the Harris campaign, here.

        Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania… All later.

        A Rovian would say that Sanders should attack the enemy’s strength, which would be California… That’s a heavy lift!

        1. Skip Intro

          I think CA may surprise you, Harris is widely loathed and Bernie’s legions have not forgotten how their will was thwarted. Kamala can easily be an Obama-like projection screen in most of the country, but not as well in CA. It is good that the expectations are going the way they are though, since it may be that anything less than a crushing Harris victory will be regarded as a disappointing sign of weakness.

        2. R

          Bernie contingent pretty riled up in Nevada too after the whole state convention riot with stolen delegates and fake allegations of chair throwing.

        3. Big River Bandido

          I grew up in IA and I just can’t see Harris having much popular appeal there. She’s too transparently phony and shallow. Iowans have high detection and low tolerance for BS.

          Now, whether the outcomes could be manipulated by the precinct and county chairs? It’s possible…happened last time and in 2004, certainly. OTOH, Bernie’s supporters know they got cheated last time and are more likely to be prepared this time. I’d also bet that he’s likely to improve on his “official” performance from last time, which was already around 45%. It’s also quite possible that the “anybody but Bernie” vote will be unable to coalesce around a single candidate, although this would depend on how many candidates are still left after the shadow primary is done.

    1. notabanker

      Holy cow, thanks for that. Below that article is a link to this:

      I was commenting about this technology the other day wondering why it wasn’t being researched at a consumer level and wallah, here it is.

      How can we not be pouring billions into this? This makes wind and solar baseload technologies. We can take any house that can fit solar panels or a windmill off the grid permanently. Using this to generate heat and cold is more efficient than converting wind and solar to electricity to generate the same. Musk is getting billions to develop lithium ion powerwalls at 10 grand a pop? This economy is insane.

      This is a really big deal. It took me less than a month to figure it out and I’m just some random guy sluthing on the interwebs. Gates and Thiel had a CAES startup they put $80 million into and then shut it down. Something is really wrong here.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Interesting. I always wondered about this. I was told th emain problem is the heat and cold developed when it’s compressed/decompressed. Using it would solve the problem.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          that’s a neat website.
          and…one can store energy by pumping water uphill, too.
          as for direct solar heating…on several occasions, when an old, extant gas or electric water heater went the way of the buffalo suddenly…while we were waiting on the funds to replace it(once, waited for 3 months for an electric tankless(440V)…ordered from germany, before anyone around here had heard of them)…
          I rejiggered the plumbing: running the line that went to the water heater to a couple of 100′ hoses that I literally threw onto the roof, then into the shower and kitchen sink.
          even in winter, so long as there was some sun, the water was far too hot to shower with undiluted with cold.
          currently, in my little attached greenhouse(numerous old windows liberated from the teardown we lived in in town), I have 2 50 gallon poly barrels of rainwater, painted black. given even partly sunny day, they keep the temp up all night…within reason, lol: full sun one day, next morning’s outside temp 28, in the greenhouse using only those barrels, temp was 38.
          If I also fill the clawfoot tub out there with hot water at 4am, that raises ambient to 45.
          now, i finally have installed the old, POS woodstove out there…with a menudo pot of water(around 18 gallons?) on top. 25 degrees outside, around 50 in the greenhouse.
          all these containers of water are heat sinks(ie: storage), releasing heat over time.
          the coolest part…so long as it’s sunny, I can loll around nekkid out there when it’s in the 20’s outside, with high winds, even. I feel like royalty soaking in the clawfoot, watching shivering guinneas wander by outside.
          3 windows between house and greenhouse, with old, slow box fans, also supplement woodstoves in heating the house, proper.
          only $$ spent on this greenhouse was for 6 corrugated clear poly panels for the roof, and nails and screws. Rest of it was salvaged material…including several 4×4 posts that had warped, that i got for free from the hardware lady(professional carpenters laugh at me, until they sit out there. crooked posts have router gouges and paint to look like tropical trees and vines.)
          would be better if I had doubled the roof panels(for dead air space in between)…and the old, liberated windows, while free, are single pane.

    1. bondsofsteel

      To be fair almost without exception, the public that hated it hasn’t seen it. They hate the idea of it.

      Which idea? I’m guessing it’s the idea that the hero is a non-sex symbol female. The internet hates women.

      1. Geo

        And Bree Larson, the actress playing Capt Marvel, is an outspoken feminist who talks public ally about the importance of diversity in media. Something the online mobs of “incel” dudes hate as much as a written words unframed by bright pictures of freakish hypersexualized humanoids in spandex and capes.

        But you’re totally correct: No audiences have seen the film yet so an audience review should be deleted. The fact they’ve ever allowed audience reviews of unreleased films has always bothered me.

      2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        We dont hate the idea of Captain Marvel and Alison Brie is an Oscar Winner who kicks ass in GLOW.

        What we hate is the incessant pandering to the #MeToo movement, fake feminism, and Identity Politics. Check out the NIN t shirt shes wearing in the trailer.

        Sure there are disgustingly rude reviewers out there and we cant have them ruining Cpt Marvels character arc where she saves 50% of the Avengers wiped out by Thanos.

        Black Panther, Captain Marvel…All ruined by generic film plots.


        1. Geo

          Comic books have always been political. They were used as propaganda in our wars and anti-communist messaging of American exceptionalism in their earliest days (and still are), Superman fought the Klan, race relations and LGBTQ struggles have been story lines in X-Men and others for decades.

          On the flip, if you don’t want progressive SJWs you’ve got Frank Miller and all the libertarian pro-war messaging you could ever want.

          And, all superhero stories in their essence are Ayn Randian ideas of social power dynamics filtered through the lens of capes crusaders written primarily for adolescents anyway so I don’t see why all so many need to be so outraged that there’s some sprinklings of vapid progressivism in these newer films. The day a superhero doesn’t resort to face-punches as the solution (try diplomacy?) or they get rid of this myth of super-people (and by contrast the masses being useless) they’re all just propaganda from the perpetual mythologizing of oligarchs and MIC ideals.

            1. Geo

              Ha! She already is super and hasn’t had to resort to punches and laser beams but instead uses words and ideas to solve problems.

              Would be nice if we could have more Superheroes like that in our culture. It’s actually a big theme in my next lil’ indie film. Tearing down the old hero archetype and trying to propose a new one. No more of the hero through force and I attempt to create a hero who does it through empathy.

              1. Fiery Hunt

                I dunno….I think we could definitely use some more face-punching and well-placed laser beams in Congress…in the self-dealing backrooms of the elites…

                but then again, maybe I’m just a toxic cis male…or I still have adolescent’s maturity (or lack of it)!


        2. False Solace

          Please. It’s pretty fantastic to claim that a movie series with around a dozen entries is pandering to fake feminism when not a single title has a female lead. Last I checked the source material has countless popular female heroes. Hollywood does indeed have a major problem, but it isn’t pandering to feminists… it’s kind of like, how do I put this, the opposite of that. The rest is lip service.

        3. Geo

          Two questions:

          1. How do you know Capt Marvel has been ruined before it’s even been released?

          2. What’s wrong with a NIN shirt? I would have loved one if my parents had let me when I was a kid. If it was RATM then it might mean something. NIN was the perfect rage for privileged white brats like me who didn’t know why I was diagruntaled but knew there were “pigs” out there holding me down. RATM or Public Enemy would be more fitting for a true SJW with actual ideas.

          Personally, I find all ranting about feminism and identity politics to be funny since it never bothered these frothing masses that their comic books have perpetuated a (white) hypermasculine archetype for generations that is completely unrealistic, destructive to the male psyche, and very political yet they’ve embedded it so much into their own identity (and politics) that they can’t stand the fact that characters differing from their own identity politics are usurping the thrown in a few movies now.

          If it offends your own identity politics then don’t watch it. Black Panther did fine without the angry white demographic. Capt Marvel probably will too. You’ve always got the hypersexualized and vapid Wonderwoman and Harley Quinn to ogle over at DC.

          1. The Rev Kev

            How about a middle course where you have a strong female character like an Ellen Ripley who has strength of character and competence in contrast with a character that says I am strong because I am female. Since you mention Black Panther, may I point out that lots of conservatives thought it a hoot because Wakanda had a wall, kept out emigrants because they brought their own problems and used their technology to keep them safe? In short, a message of misandry does not help the cause of female equality but sets off counter reactions harmful to the cause.

            1. Geo

              How many male characters are stong for no reason than because they just are? Batman? He’s rich so he’s strong? Superman? He’s an alien so he’s strong? Ironman, he’s rich (again)? You’re projecting the woman aspect onto the fact that all superheroes are “super” for no deeper reason than “just because”.

              To compare Alien to Marvel is like comparing The Godfather to Home Alone. One is a smart sci-fi made before the dawn of Michael Bay, the other is a Happy Meal for the masses to turn their brain off and watch things go boom.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Isn’t it amazing that two of the heroes that you mentioned – Batman and Ironman – that their real superpower is that they are billionaires! Our heroes. Look, this is not about the Marvel Universe or the DC Universe or any other franchise. This is about the character of the hero or heroine that I am talking about. With a lot of modern films, take away the fancy costumes and massive budgets and take away the digital effects and ask yourself if the characters run deep and the plots are rich and can stand by themselves. Is that crickets that I can hear? This is why a low budget indie film can crush a massive budget Hollywood film when going head to head. character beats vapidness.

            2. Geo

              As for the Black Panther issue. That’s why I said in my other reply that all superhero movies – at their core – are Ayn Randian libertarian mythology propagating narratives. Any story that has a select few “super” humans that protect the useless masses of one chosen group is a propagandistic selling of jingoistic nationalism and rightwing tropes from the of rugged individualist gunslingers and John Galt oligarch heroes that save us nobodies from things beyond our control or even comprehension.

              It’s deification of “supers” and feeds on our yearning for strong man leaders (dads) to protect us from the “others”. It’s infantile and that is why I personally think superheroes, knights, wizards, and all these other “chosen ones” are lazy and destructive stories.

              As a lowly indie filmmaker I try to work in smarter stories and characters but I don’t have nearly the reach. But, from Harry Potter to Katniss to Neo to Luke Skywalker (or Rey) there’s a never ending litany of “chosen ones” and “super” exceptional beings that are fed to us telling us that society is the problem and only the most powerful can save us from ourselves.

              I wish more films were like Alien but we don’t live in that era anymore. There’s no time for character development when you need to make it all spectacle. The closest we get to Alien as a blockbuster now days is Guardians of the Galaxy which is a garbage movie for people who don’t care if one scene relates to the next as long as they see lots of shiny objects.

              If we lived in a smarter era Arrival (Amy Adams is the hero) would have made a billion dollars and Captain Marvel would be direct to video. Annihilation (Natalie Portman as hero and Chris Pine dies) would have been a blockbuster and Wonder Woman would have been a bomb.

              But our mainstream audiences don’t want to do deep anymore. They’re paying $40 for two imax tix and they want spectacle.

              1. Fiery Hunt

                People have always, and will ever will want heroes, super or male or whatever, that re-balance the scales punitively against the bad or evil.

                Empathy for evil is not a good formula for a movie.. :)

                Dissing a human history full of myths as just “daddy issues” is to miss truly one of the only universal things that could unite humanity.

                Whether it’s Gilgamesh or Batman, whether it’s Jesus or John Wick, hero stories are more than the action/violence scenes…they’re about the why not the how. That’s why Black Panther and Wonder Woman were absolute messes.

                Coherent stories with interesting characters always matter…

                Faulkner’s Nobel speech talked of universals. We need more of the things that bind us…less Dukakis and more the Punisher.

      3. Roady

        Give me a break. Disney isn’t hiring unattractive men for these blockbuster movie roles either and nobody’s pitching a fit and disrupting a profitable business model over that. Wonder Woman was a huge hit and audiences loved it despite some iffy CGI and a terribly predictable big-boss villain.

        The problem with the Captain Marvel movie is that the character, the studio, and the lead actor come across as privileged, self-indulgent narcissists. The movie looks as exciting as a gender studies lecture, which astonishingly is what they’re promoting this movie as.

        The first female Captain Marvel was a black woman who rose to become the leader of the Avengers. In the 80’s. During that same period, the biggest multi-media super-hero franchise was the X-Men, a team led by another black woman. In the 80’s!

        Disney is the only thing that stopped Disney from hiring a charismatic black actress with a broad dramatic range for this role. If Janelle Monae was the lead in this movie, Disney wouldn’t need one of their former executives who now works at Fandango, which owns Rotten Tomatoes, to fundamentally alter that company’s public interface. But this is a movie where Disney can’t hide a leading black woman as a green frog for most of her screen time.


    2. Massinissa

      They should have removed the ‘Want to See/Don’t Want to See’ button years ago. Who cares how many people ‘dont want to see’ a movie that isn’t out yet?

      1. Geo

        Agreed. Makes it even harder for us small indie filmmakers to get seen. We don’t have marketing budgets so know one knows about our films before they’re released – thus – no one “wants to see” our films on those sites even when our reviews are stellar.

        My last film too four years from release to find an audience but then skyrocketed to being one of the top “War & military” movies on Amazon (ranked #15 at its peak) and in the U.K. reached #2 in the “indie art house” category just below Reservoir Dogs. But, according to Rotten Tomatoes nobody ever “wanted” to see it.

        There’s a reason we have professional critics as the gatekeepers of a sort: without them everything is Youtube and the only movies we’d be getting would be Beauty tutorials and prank videos.

        Audience reviews are great and important – after they’ve actually seen the movie.

  9. Wukchumni

    Had a pair of F-35’s dogfighting over the all cats & no cattle ranch for about 10 minutes @ 5,000 feet, loud as all get up. The 1st time i’ve seen them flying in months~

    1. Louis Fyne

      Supposedly the F-35 has awful/non-existent sightlines for the sky that’s below or behind it. With the reasoning that missiles make dog-fighting obsolete and poor visibility is a reasonable trade-off.

      The Pentagon said the same thing before the Vietnam War. But I guess the Pentagon’s procurement left hand isn’t talking to its flying right hand.

      1. JBird4049

        I am sure that the left and right hands are talking, but the American military, and to be fair the entire nation, seems to have always had a thing for the latest, sexiness, wünderbar toy weapon. If it looks like it willl do the job on paper then it is assumed that it will work in the wild.

        Sadly, the average car model seems to go through a more rigorous and empirical design and testing than much of the equipment for the American military; the average car buyer is often concerned with reliability and safety whereas the military seems to be a jobs program with equipment being made actually useful in a war, second (third? fourth?) in priority.

        1. prodigalson

          In good news, the F-35 seems to be the best platform we’ve ever made for static displays and stadium flyovers.

      2. The Rev Kev

        You weren’t kidding about the Pentagon during the Vietnam war. The Phantoms that went into combat against the Migs had no guns as the Pentagon thought that they would not be necessary in any future war. The Migs still had theirs. The Phantom pilots had an incredible frustrating time of it because they had not worked all the bugs out of their missiles and it was not unknown for a heat-seeking missiles to go shooting up at the sun. When their missiles ran out, the frustrated pilots almost wanted to ram the Migs to take them out and kill ratios went way down as the Pentagon had in their wisdom decided that modern pilots did not need dog-fighting skills in a aerial missile war either. US pilots died because of that bit of anointed wisdom. During a break in the war the Phantoms were equipped with guns and dog-fighting schools like Top Gun were set up and when the aerial war started up again, the losses dropped right back and kills went up too.

  10. neighbor7

    True to form, Herzog does something uniquely odd in that “volcano” film — includes a strange visit to North Korea. And also has best volcano/lava footage I’ve ever seen.

    1. ambrit

      Anything by Herzog is worth taking the time to watch.
      “Strange” is what I believe Herzog is trying to educate us about. It’s everywhere.
      He even makes fun of himself: “Incident at Loch Ness.”

      1. Geo

        If you like “strange” in the vein of Herzog I highly recommend Eugene Jarecki’s latest doc “The King” where he uses the life and myth of Elvis as a way to analyze American society and the trajectory of our nation’s rise and impending fall.

        It’s an odd one but kind of brilliant.

      2. Charles Leseau

        Herzog is good to read too. Herzog on Herzog is an excellent book. Conquest of the Useless is a lot less accessible, but also has its moments. It’s difficult to read his words without channeling his particular voice, which adds a bit of fun to it.

          1. Charles Leseau

            Yes, although I’m a pretty big fan of almost everything, so it’s hard to pick faves. A bunch of his documentary films used to be on YT, including My Best Fiend, Wings of Hope, Ecstacy of Woodcarver Steiner, and his truncation of the wonderful Dmitri Vasioukov documentary about Siberian fur trappers, Happy People. Might be worth a look for anyone looking for something to watch (if they’re still there; Vasioukov’s stuff is all there on his own channel, tho most is in Russian)

  11. Summer

    Re: “To Honor Gift, Public Library Will Add Donor’s Name a 6th Time” [New York Times].

    At some point it’s just graffiti.

      1. JBird4049

        The invasion and occupation of Poland, which killed ⅕ of its entire population, is just as bad as the wealthy paying the same percentage in taxes as poor people?

        Well, okay then. I see my place in this great nation of ours.


      1. liam

        Vim through Emacs, aka. evil mode :)

        Commit to Vim for a week and you’ll never look back!!!

    1. divadab

      Yup. Why anyone watches the propaganda outlets is beyond me. Frack them, frack their fracking academy awards, frack the war mongering lying scummy lot of them. They lie as a default. They consider you to be cattle to be managed and exploited. They are the salesmen for a traitorous ruling class, the greediest and most useless ruling class in history. Actively destroying the country for their short-term gain.

      1. Clive

        I watched it the other day just because I mislaid the remote and was too lazy to find it. As a minimum (before I gave in and went to look for the lost piece of sanity-saving plastic) it was half an hour of pure uninterrupted Trump Derangement Syndrome. They were still going when I switched over to something less dispiriting like Air Crash Investigation.

        1. pjay

          I remember in the old days being incensed at having to watch Fox News while waiting in an auto repair shop or even a doctor’s office. Now, though Fox is still a joke, I’m *much* more irritated by being involuntarily subjected to CNN, as I was at a couple of major airports last week. It was literally hours of yapping Derangement.

          1. Clive

            Here in the U.K. we used to get Fox, ‘til Comcast got so embarrassed to carry it, they dropped it from their lineup. Yet they still have CNN! Obviously they genuinely think it’s a step up from Fox. It is, of course, just the same sort of crazy shills. But they speak nicer, often getting as many as three syllables in their words. And don’t dribble. At least, not on camera.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              in the main entry lobby of the hospital we’ve been frequenting, there are 3 big screens. usually, they are tuned to cnn, msnbc and faux.
              sound off, with subtitles(mercifully!)
              sadly, faux seems to now be the less breathlessly lunatic in it’s coverage(still breathlessly lunatic, of course, but the others have really gone to hell)
              also, wife…in a bid for mindless normality in our crazy situation of late…has taken to watching the network morning shows…GMA, and the like.
              I can’t abide any of it.
              vapid, vociferous…”all is vanity…and vexation of spirit…”.
              if this is where the majority get’s their worldview and/or framing of reality, we’re a doomed species.

      2. polecat

        They’re all ghouls talking their galactic book ! That’s EXACTLY how I See them, without the need of any vision aids.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I expect a scorch-Democratic-earth battle plan to deny Sanders.

      Better to rebuild completely than to let the party be captured. The Soviets did that, and after Stalingrad, they were hopeful their Great Patriotic War would end soon.

      1. Arizona Slim

        When it comes to casualties, no country topped the Russians during World War II. ISTR reading that the Soviet Army lost 100,000 men just in the taking of Berlin. And, yes, the Russians got there first.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe more died in China?

          I don’t know, but I wonder about that (when I remember the famine in Honan province in 1942, which was made into a movie, Back to 1942).

            1. Harold

              The casualties in Nanking include both executed soldiers and massacred civilians. In the Battle of Berlin, Arizona Slim is talking about Soviet military losses only, in a two and a half week period.

              To tell the truth the figure of 100,000 sounds a little high, though not that high. It’s 81,000 according to Wikipedia’s article, which includes the mid-April Battle of Selow Heights outside Berlin which was very costly. The battle inside the city itself lasted only a few days, but involved extremely brutal house-to-house fighting. Thousands of fallen Soviet soldiers and officers lie buried in Berlin today in great mounds.

              According to Wikipedia, 50 to 60 thousand Chinese (mostly civilians) perished in Nanking, though these figures are very contentious. (Some historians claim as many as 300,000 were massacred others estimate as low as 20,000. I gather these kinds of disagreements are not uncommon in histories of massacres and battles.)

              Wikipedia’s chart puts the total of Chinese WW2 deaths, civilian and military, at 15 to 20 million; and of the Soviet Union at 20 to 27 million. For comparison the United States lost 413,000 in the entire war, according to the same chart.
              Please correct me if I have made any errors.

              1. Big River Bandido

                The numbers in your last paragraph sound about right, although the Chinese casualties are impossible to estimate accurately and could be wildly lower than actual. China was on the knife’s edge of the Japanese war machine for 10 years before the United States got in. The civilian casualties in Nanking alone were horrifying (both in numbers and method).

              2. JBird4049

                The post war worries about the mighty Soviet military conquering the rest of Europe did not take into account of the lack of available manpower. Had the Germans somehow continued fighting into 1946 the fighting on the Eastern Front would probably have become stalemated as both sides would simply have been out of human beings to use up. It would have required stopping the Normandy landing/breakout and/or Operation Bagration both of which were possible.

                Operation Bagration is often said to be a great victory of the Soviet Union, which it was as it broke the German Army, but the fact that the Soviet prisons and jails were being emptied because there was nowhere else to go for the replacement canon fodder is not often mentioned. I read somewhere of the area between Germany and Russia during the war as “the Blood Lands.” Both sides were amazingly careless about the lives of their people. Reading in detail is a going “wtf, WTF, WTF!” adventure. Then again Hitler and Stalin were in charge.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Scorched earth is a strategy that trades space (scorched space) for time (to prepare for a counter-attack). I’m not sure the Democrat establishment can make that trade. If Sanders’ strategy is, in fact, building a canvassing operation (“movement”) completely parallel to the Democrats (as his list and media operation already is) then, to continue the metaphor, he will only get stronger on his march toward Moscow, as people flock to his banner. So the Democrats have to fight him at the frontier, as they are doing now. Not sure this metaphor is perfect…

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          bernie’s focus on movement building and door to door is akin to a parallel institution, a la the best parts of Anarchism.
          I think(and hope!) that the machine doesn’t know how to counter this…it’s outside of their narrow worldview…and is prolly as close to a third party run as we can come, given the hydraulic despotism engineered into all the electoral machinery.

        2. Big River Bandido

          The Democrats’ (meaning the institutional Democrats, DNC, DSCC, DCCC, etc.) trouble here is that their own canvassing operation is a shambles, thanks to:

          1) decades of control by neoliberal/DLC/ThirdWay/NoLabels strategy designed to depress, rather than stimulate, turnout (see AOC’s successful primary campaign); and

          2) the culmination of this trend in the craptacular failure of “the wonderful Robby Mook” and Hillary Clinton’s team of incompetents.

  12. Jim A.

    Reparations. Don’t get me wrong I do not believe that those who profited from the labor of slaves have any moral right to the wealth created. And their descendants do not have any moral privilege to it either. But “Who owes whom?” is just about impossible to answer with the passage of 150 years. Do those whose families immigrated after the Civil war owe or deserve payment? Do those whose ancestors fought to end slavery get a break on their payments? Certainly those who are descended from the families that were left behind when their relatives were kidnapped and shipped to the US are as deserving of recompense as those families that have been able to make a home in the US. What about those who are descended from slaves AND slave owners?

    People say that reparations are about the current, lingering legacy of racism. And there certainly IS plenty of that. And we can and should fight against racism. But I can’t help but think that the REASON that racially based payment schemes being characterized as “reparations for slavery,” constitutes people currently suffering from racism claiming that is as bad as the system of chattel slavery that has existed for much of the history of the US. Which to me seems to disrespect the suffering of those who spent their entire lives under the threat of torture and murder.

    Justice delayed is justice denied, and at this point it is too late for justice. But we should and can fight HARD to ensure that TODAY all Americans have opportunities that are not constrained by their race.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        The Reparations talk so far has also reinforced the idea that it’s all about money. We need a polity that does not treat it’s citizens as a natural resource to be strip mined.

    1. Skip Intro

      A transparently cynical wedge issue for advanced idpol pandering, I think we need to go all the way and include paying fair value for the land conquered from the First Nations of North America.

      And indeed, it would be good to also stop doing the things that will require future reparations.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “…stop doing the things that will require future reparations.”

        this +100.
        like being Pro Veteran by being Antiwar(stop producing wounded Vets).
        or like me turning off the water into the house before this big, hard freeze….so I don’t hafta be a plumber when it’s cold.
        or…dammit…endeavoring to limit CO2 emissions going forward, rather than extreme geoengineering later.
        Looking forward, into the possible futures, once was a pretty cool hominid trait.
        Nobody hollering about “reparations” on TV right now are in any way serious about making it happen…so they don’t need to think about implementation.
        it’s rolling a big red ball through the romper room and watching us chase it while the candy bowl is hidden away.
        I think that it might be a sort of corrective as to our beliefs about our aristocracy(that they’re smarter than us) that they have apparently forgotten the main FDR-ism that applied to them: angry underclasses are dangerous to blue bloods, and it’s cheaper and easier in the long run to palliate them somewhat.
        the old dog whistles don’t work as well as they used to…so they’re trying out all sorts of noisemakers to see if one will.
        eventually, they’ll figure out that it’s not the whistles that need updating, but the paradigm that requires them.
        It’s gonna be a painful lesson, I’m afraid…and will be interesting to observe as it plays out.

  13. Carolinian

    Re Schwarzman–one inscription is one too many. To be sure previous generations of robber barons plastered their names all over everything but the Rockefellers at least waited until John D. was a dottering old man, giving out dimes, before putting up Rockefeller center.

    Perhaps it’s strategic (on top of the $100 million). If billionaires have their names on public institutions they won’t be trying to privatize them. In my town when a new downtown library was needed local businesses and tycoons were given free rein to name various sections. And this has kept the business community quite sweet. Everyone loves the library even if some of us don’t care for all the branding.

  14. Lee

    Guillotine Watch

    “Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows” [Pro Publica]. “Sackler had an email conversation with another company official, Michael Cullen, according to the deposition.’ Since oxycodone is perceived as being a weaker opioid than morphine

    If you go to the link below, used by paitents and/or providers I assume, it currently and perhaps dubiously indicates that morphine is 1.5 times more powerful than an equivalent dose of oxycodone.

    In large part due to physician obfuscation and their reliance on my lack of knowledge, for a long time I did not find out that morphine, at a fraction of the cost of oxycontin, is both equally effective and currently considered possibly less and certainly no more addictive than Purdue’s product.

    After 10 years of being on, at first oxycontin and then the much less expensive morphine (my insurance changed), I tapered off the latter over an 8 month period with the help of clonidine. By this time my doctors agreed with the now prevailing view that immediate release morphine was easier to quit than time release versions of either opioid.

    Taking morphine for chronic back pain improved my quality of life and allowed me to engage in more physical activity. The only reason I quit was so that I can now experimentally try another medication for a separate chronic condition that is contraindicated for patients on opioids. Should the new medication fail to have the desired effect, I would without qualms resume the use of morphine.

    I know these drugs are tragically killing a lot of people. But some number of us, I don’t know how many, have been using them responsibly much to our benefit. As for the particular case of wide spread oxycontin abuse it appears to have been the result of a criminal conspiracy combined with medical malpractice resulting in mass murder.

  15. XXYY

    “Michael Cohen Worries There Won’t Be ‘Peaceful Transition Of Power’ If Trump Loses In 2020”

    By far the most interesting thing in Cohen’s statement yesterday was authoritative confirmation that Trump ever expected to win the presidency when he entered the 2016 race, seeing it merely as a brand builder and a drawn out personal homage. (I recall hearing the story that when Trump’s victory was announced on election night, Melania burst into tears and ran from the room. We can assume Trump had been placating her with stories about how it would all be over soon!)

    Yet now we are supposed to believe that The Man Who Had No Intention of Being King would somehow fight to the death to retain his unsought post!

    Trump will probably be as relieved as anyone else when he loses.

    1. ewmayer

      Or maybe he’s realized what an unprecedented brand builder the position of POTUS represents. Example: it’s well-known that DJT, like all mega-narcissists – and their numbers are legion in the uppermost circles of power – loves being THE MAN, the center of attention. So when my usual weekday-evening Korean dramas were preempted the last 2 nights by live nerly 24/7 coverage of the Hanoi summit, I found it interesting, despite the lack of English-anything (except for the occasional clip of a USian talking on camera) to watch the body language of the principals. My impression was that Trump was just basking in the attention – he seemed to relish a break from the US nattering classes, and spending a few days in a place where’s he’s the center of attention by way of his position, taller and physically larger than just about everybody he met and stood next too – Trump loves primitive displays of physical dominance, we know this from the handshake incidents – and in a region of the world where oligarchs who build successful brands and operate from the tallest glass-and-steel phalluses in town are generally highly respected by simple virtue of their wealth and ostentatious displays thereof. Even departing after a “no deal” summit, Trump clearly enjoyed shaking the hands of the select few dozens of movers&shakers in the tarmac receiving line – or in this case, I suppose it would be a departing line – next to Air Force 1, getting handed a big bouquet of flowers from some attractive asian lady in the line, then solo walking up the very long mobile staircase to entry door of the biggest plane around … you get the picture.

      Now to what extent that sort of basking-in-it-all carries over to a generally hostile press and messy politicking at home is unclear, but remember the extent to which Trump – and surely he is not unique in this regard amongst the oligarchy – operates within his own personal Reality Distortion Field. NYT and WaPo articles shredding his every move? Well, they’re run by Clintonite and establishment stooges, still smarting from their humiliation in 2016. And those are forms of attention, after all – “they may not like me, but they can’t look away because they know I’m THE MAN.” No such thing as bad publicity – and the 2016 campaign already showed us that in Trump’s case, that really seems to be true.

    2. Matt

      We are also expected to believe that he committed high treason by consorting with Putin to obtain a position that he didn’t want.

      1. Ape

        It’s possible he both didn’t want it and did. That with some audiences he fought for the position while elsewhere he was protecting himself from a loss by saying the grapes were sour.

    3. VietnamVet

      I can think no better avatar of the Democrats triangulation into Republicans than John Kerry. Foaming “Russians, Russians, Russians”; he helped restart the Cold War. But he’s forgotten that he threw his medals over the fence in the first war.

      Donald Trump has made it two parties again. Will there be a peaceful transition? Western governments and politicians are subsidiaries of the ruling plutocracy. National and Globalists Oligarchs are in a sumo wrestling match to see who gets to run the big casino. None cares a wit about the 90%. This is the plutocrats and credentialed class’s biggest blind spot. If the world remains habitable, the faction that gets in front of the marching mob wins. The one sure thing is that it’s not Donald Trump. Unless I too have a blind spot and TDS.

    4. Skip Intro

      First, Cohen was just going over the script he was fed. His statements on 2020 are pure B.S.
      More importantly, the Dems are doing all they can to motivate Trump to stay in office by threatening him with prosecution for various misdeeds in the campaign and before. He can’t be tried for any of those things until he is out of office, and nothing mentioned can be considered grounds for impeachment as he wan’t even in office then.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > authoritative confirmation that Trump ever expected to win the presidency when he entered the 2016 race

      To the extent Cohen is authoritative, yes.

      That said, we know that Clinton (“Pied Piper Strategy”) thought Trump was her weakest opponent, and got the press to “elevate” him (with “earned coverage.” Not that Trump isn’t a one-man click bait factory). And now we now Trump agreed with her and didn’t expect to win! And yet the Clinton campaign lost to him anyhow! What does that say about the liberal Democrat establishment? And why they have never conducted a post mortem?

      NOTE I’m not sure that Trump never wanted to win. He was always — as I pointed out at the time — within striking distance, and he exhibited a weird oscillating pattern of indiscipline followed by discipline. And he was disciplined down the stretch run. So I feel the best we can say is that Trump was ambivalent about winning (no matter what he might have said to Cohen).

  16. duffolonious

    Re: vim – well, that’s what I use. But there is also evim (Easy Vim), nano and others is you don’t like a test editor with “modes.”

    Here is the link (I think): https://lucasfcosta.com/2019/02/10/terminal-guide-2019.html

    Re: Jackpot: there a number of nice cheap ARM SBC’s (RPI3+ and literally dozens of others) that when coupled with a long life LCD (8 years of continual use) and manually soldered keyboard (thus repairable) can last a very long time using very little power.

  17. Katy

    “Iowa Will Make or Break Both Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris” [The Atlantic].

    A bizarre thing happened when Klobuchar announced. My gun-concealing, Trump-loving, weed-smoking, make-Minnesota-red-again cousin publicly announced on Facebook that he would vote for her.

    I was blown away. I couldn’t wrap my head around that.

    1. Stephanie

      I am not at all surprised. I did some dial-for-dollars for the MNGOP in 2010 – 2012 and the anti-Klobuchar scripts were all duds. A lot of the people I talked to (all previous small-dollar donors) told me they liked her/were planning to vote for her. Vets liked her, farmers liked her, ruling elders of the Presbyterian Church USA liked her. The only people that didn’t seem to like her were the audibly hammered guys who fancied themselves talk radio talent.

      My take on that experience (and what an experience it was) was that post-2008, the MNGOP couldn’t get their act back together. They were still paying off the recount debt, most of their small-dollar donors seemed to actively loathe the party leadership and the 2012 convention that produced Kurt Bills read like an organized revolt against it. I don’t know if the organizers were making a statement or if they really thought they had a chance. I would bet Bills got the 29% of GOPers who later caucused for Ted Cruz and Amy got the 64% of them who caucused Rubio/Trump/Kasich.

  18. prodigalson

    The popula link was interesting, but got a little too “high-falutin” at times with analysis.

    Early on he attribute the move to combat fatigues in the office as ” a stylistic shift that seems to entertain a stunted childs play acting fantasy.”

    Yeah, OR combat fatigues don’t need to be dry cleaned, or re-ironed at home, are more comfortable, don’t require shoe shine for business shoes, can just be thrown into the washer and dryer, don’t become useless if you get them stained/dirty, don’t require 15 different uniforms for various occasions, and allows a service branch to get efficiencies of scale across services (assuming they aren’t too proud about cross service sharing, and they always are).

    Laziness and comfort tend to win out as explanations than over overly-complex fruedian analysis.

    By the end of his comic though he just nose-dived into #resistance stereotypes. ” southern white dudes are evil and the alt-right is coming to get us” is a pretty good summary if you don’t click the link.

    Somewhere on 4-chan an alt-right guy is making a very similar comic with similar points about ANTIFA and with the stereotype of the Popula writer and the scary, scary left as the villian, however all the analysis on vehicles has been swapped to espresso based drinks and bands you’ve never heard of.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > combat fatigues don’t need to be dry cleaned

      Then don’t do camo. That’s the signifier, and quite a signifier it is. Camo gives me the creeps.

      1. prodigalson

        Unfortunately, the service leadership wants the “combat uniform” as THE uniform to signify you’re always the same person, a military person, irrespective of being based at home or abroad, in the field or in the office. It removes the mental dichotomy of “this is my photocopying and dithering with PPT persona” and “this is my turning poor brown people in other lands into chunky salsa persona”. For as long as the foreverwars continue the camo as the primary focus will remain.

        This is another item where the popula author’s comment of “a stunted childs play acting fantasy” is off base. Because it’s neither play acting nor fantasy, instead it’s the sheeps clothing coming off the wolf, probably why it creeps you out so much as the implicit violence is now in the forefront.

  19. Carey

    I just read that Atlantic piece on Klobuchar and Harris, and it seems to me that
    nothing at all has changed among those who rule us. Not a word on policy,
    just idpol and aspirational ideology to (continue to) obscure the iron fist
    of the very Few.

    1. polecat

      Is kinda seems that in poltics anymore Everything is like Westworld. Take X no. Of States .. and X no. of Representatives, throw in a vat, spin dry .. to be placed in a distorted parasitic environment, then plug and play. Defections are neutralized and ‘repurposed’ …

  20. marku52

    Kruggles just refuses to learn. The BOE tried to tell him how money is actually created, but he had no interest in learning, instead referring to his sacred LS/IM model that failed to model falling interest rates for 30 years. He argued in bad faith with Steve Keene, and was part of the mob of economists that rat-trolled Gerald (Weber?), the fellow that stuck Bernie’s economic plans in a standard model and found them not-implausible. Of course he was aching for The Trs position after the Coronation of HRC, so slamming Bernie every chance he got was par for the course.

    I’m sure he will be busy telling us how M4A will be “unaffordable”.

    I don’t care what he says. Tho he may have value as a contrary indicator.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Maybe our age will be noted as the time when the people who were wrong about everything all the time (Krugman, William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer et al) were idolized instead of being laughed out of town

  21. Plenue

    >Afghans distinguish between bearded and clean shaven American soldiers

    Bearded troops are pretty much guaranteed to be special forces ‘operators’. Their elite status gives them certain privileges, one of them being that no one complains about breaching protocol if they have giant beards, which supposedly allow them to blend in with locals better. So we get nonsense like this: http://i.imgur.com/pS6wt9m.jpg

    That they’re viewed as especially dangerous is long established: https://foreignpolicy.com/2009/11/03/one-reason-you-shouldnt-go-to-afghanistan-with-a-beard/

    These are the ‘elite’ ‘warriors’ who knowingly walked into an ambush in Yemen and then went on a civilian killing spree after one of their number was killed.

  22. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Re About Face Comic.

    1) About Face is a military command. “About” is the prepatory command and “Face” is the command of execution. Its fun learning how to do this right.

    2) in the Army, the only people who could have beards were RECON soldiers. And Special Forces. IOW not Big Army.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I bookmarked that page to slowly go through later. That is a death cult that that guy is talking about there. Reminds me of the old 19th Prussian black Uhlan cavalrymen who wore black and had skulls for emblems. It is not only the beards but the muscles as well that are a thing. I have seen film clips of these bubbas who spend the time exercising to give themselves big muscles as that is part of the image. I have read that Russian special forces troops are unimpressed though as they reckon that it is the little guys that you have got to watch out for and not the bulked out he-men.

      1. Plenue

        Those Russians may well be right, but given that Spetsnaz has its own bizarre, pointless macho rituals, like training its guys to be able to do pushups over a flaming rope passed underneath them, I’m not particularly inclined to pay much attention to their critiques.

  23. ewmayer

    “Networked but Commodified: The (Dis)Embeddedness of Digital Labour in the Gig Economy” [Alex J Wood, Mark Graham, Vili Lehdonvirta | Sociology] — Good grief, talk about a hifalutin ivory-tower word sald. Here, let me take a stab at translating that sociological-academese gobbledygook into English:

    “We use interview and survey data to highlight how platform workers in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are normatively disembedded from social protections through a process of commodification. Normative disembeddedness leaves workers exposed to the vagaries of the external labour market due to an absence of labour regulations and rights. It also endangers social reproduction by limiting access to healthcare and requiring workers to engage in significant unpaid ‘work-for-labour’.”

    Translation: platform workers in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are classic examples of ruthless exploitation resulting from neoliberal race-to-the-bottom offshoring of manufacturing to countries having no effective protections for workers. (And typically no effective environmental protections, either).

    “However, we show that these workers are also simultaneously embedded within interpersonal networks of trust, which enable the work to be completed despite the low-trust nature of the gig economy.”

    Translation: “If you don’t do whatever it takes to finish the work on time – even if that means staying up all night, making your kids help out, what have you – you and your family will suffer.”

  24. Kurt Sperry

    The beauty of being Donald Trump is that nobody is on the fence about Donald Trump, they all either hate him or love him. Every last one. Nothing he can or will do or say will move significant numbers of voters from one category to the other. He can do whatever the fu*k he wants, alienate and insult whomever he wants, break any existing norms of Presidential conduct, and it means nothing in terms of the electoral calculus. He is free to act in a way that few elected heads of state could even dream of being.

    1. Carolinian

      It’s good to be the king

      –Mel Brooks, The History of the World Part 1

      Trump is also lucky in his clueless opposition party enemies who insist on regarding him as the new Hitler.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Has there ever been a US President with such freedom to act? Trump is the first President I am aware of to be elected with nearly the full weight of the national press completely directed against him, he has forever broken the assumption that you need the mainstream press on your side to capture the White House and in so doing diminished, probably irreversibly given its plunging repute and influence, its power. He has publicly trampled all over all kinds of previously sacredly held-taboos that could be planted into the pliant press to control a leader. The old “gotcha”s — sex scandals, lurid personal stories, controversial unguarded comments — demonstrably can no longer reliably be deployed by the PTBs to control high profile politicians who dare to challenge them.

        I, for one, am by no means sorry to see these media and establishment constraints on the exercise of executive power cast aside. If Trump can win with the whole of the establishment trying to prevent it, it says to me that Sanders, who is a hell of a lot more popular and dangerous to that establishment than Trump, can as well. And the usual personal destruction tricks employed to keep people seeking and holding high office in line may no longer work.

        1. Carolinian

          I’ve always thought that when it comes to US politics the establishment press has too much power and that’s by design.

          Trump attacking them just makes them worse, that much more incapable of self-criticism.

        2. WobblyTelomeres

          the first President I am aware of to be elected with nearly the full weight of the national press completely directed against him

          I think you and I must have been watching different media. As I saw it, every TV and radio station was all-Trump-all-the-time during the 2016 election. Considering 90% of the media in the US is owned by 6 corporations, 6 corporations which are all right-wing controlled, your arguments make no sense at all.

          1. Yves Smith

            All Trump all the time WAS against Trump. Please tell me what print outlets favored him. Even the Journal was flogging every gaffe he made. Only Fox was on his side and Fox reaches only 2.4 million viewers. It is the most heavily watched cable network, but it lags the networks and cable collectively also lags local TV news collectively.

          2. Kurt Sperry

            It’s obviously complicated. The media *loved* Trump as a character in their political drama. He was ratings gold, a great story. Until, of course, until he actually — impossibly — became a viable candidate. Until his appointed time to exit the race, the release of the Access Hollywood tape designed to remove him from the race, didn’t work as designed, as it should have. Until the media suddenly discovered they had lost control. From that point on, Trump was something they no longer had an off switch they could flip to neutralize. Once Trump had survived the release of the Access Hollywood tape deployed to remove him from the race, the press had to face the fact that they were no longer in control as they believed. Something unthinkable to them. Something they in their hubris had never thought possible.

            Since then, he has been a daily reminder of their loss of influence, of their impotence, of their gathering irrelevance. To say the press hates Trump would not do justice to the threat he represents. Every time they attack him, every time they try to take him down and fail, their new impotence is brought into high relief. Attacking him has lost its charm. Now, instead, it only hurts and brings new pain.

            It’s not, I think, that the press is ideologically right-wing. I don’t think the press is ideological at all. The press are whores, a mindless tool of power, and they will follow wherever that power and the money that flows from that power leads. Their power, their leverage, derives from the influence they wield, and their inability to take Trump out when ordered to is a stark illustration of how little they now matter, how weak, how limited their influence had suddenly become.

            1. VietnamVet

              Presidential Elections were a great con until 2016. Oligarchs gave money to the political class who passed billions back to media moguls while taking a cut to pass laws that favored the elite, transferred taxpayer money upward and ignored corporate law breaking. Bernie Sanders campaigning on individual $27 donations and Donald Trump’s free media, broke the circle. The credentialled class will have a hell of a time making themselves relevant in a Sanders-Trump Campaign. If nothing is done to solve the rising inequality and if instead it is Kamala Harris verses Mike Pence in 2020, democracy is dead.

  25. Carla

    Oh, boy, I LOVE this:

    “The problem with philanthropy is that it depends on and trusts the voluntarism of the people with the most to lose from change to be our changemakers. I don’t think philanthropists are all horrible people. This is not about individual morality. That is hardly the point. This is about whom you trust to play a leadership role in deciding what the common good is, what our policy priorities should be, and how we make the world better.

    In so many ways, we have outsourced the betterment of our world to people with a vested interest in making sure we don’t make it too, too much better.”


    1. Katy

      Great article, if depressing. This is great: “[There is] a pretty significant spike in inequality and capture when you start getting into the 1% or .01%. And this is where you see people making private, bottle-service public policy – that is, policy that has almost no public benefit other than to make society work well for the wealthy.”

      “Bottle-service public policy” is my new favorite metaphor.

  26. Left in Wisconsin

    Apologies if posted already but epic twitter rant from Brad Delong now helpfully consolidated as a blog post. The first part:

    I think it is fair to say that the already-broken American political public sphere has become significantly more broken since November 8, 2018.

    On the center and to the left, those like me in what used to proudly call itself the Rubin Wing of the Democratic Party—so-called after former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin, and consisting of those of us hoping to use market means to social democratic ends in bipartisan coalition with Republicans seeking technocratic win-wins—have passed the baton to our left. Over the past 25 years, we failed to attract Republican coalition partners, we failed to energize our own base, and we failed to produce enough large-scale obvious policy wins to cement the center into a durable governing coalition.

    We blame cynical Republican politicians. We blame corrupt and craven media bosses and princelings. We are right to blame them, but shared responsibility is not diminished responsibility. And so the baton rightly passes to our colleagues on our left. We are still here, but it is not our time to lead.


    1. Kurt Sperry

      That’s an “epic rant”? I don’t know Brad Delong from Adam, but he refers to two organizations — the Niskanen Center and The Bulwark — and seems to take them both seriously and further assumes we know what they are. He even admits to being on the board of the Niskanen Center which describes itself as “libertarian”. Bulwark “Conservatism Conserved”(link) is pure neoliberal evil. It seems like a safe room for people who find right-wing Clintonian neoliberalism too crazy socialist left but also are repulsed by Trump’s rough populism. Read the homepage for yourself. The piece itself reads to me like neoliberal boilerplate with the proviso that Trump is too philistine to address. “I think that the first piece of advice to give is: restrict yourself to #nevertrump.”

      It’s hard to think of a less important or consequential voice today than that of the anti-Trump Republican right and this seems to be directly from where Brad Delong hails. I’d reckon he cannot ignored hard enough. He has nothing interesting or original to say, and what he does have to say is banal neoliberal boilerplate mixed with incoherant insider jargon and a heaping side of Trump Derangement Syndrome. I’m sorry but that’s my take. Am I wrong?

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Delong is basically another Krugman – Clinton adviser, very strong advocate for centrist economic policy, and IMO major blowhard. To see him admitting his ilk have basically failed is something.

        It was more epic as a 20+ twitter thread.

    2. marku52

      I read it as far as:
      “Trumpists are either morons, grifters, or deluded. ”


      Many “Trumpists” are just people whom globalism has destroyed their communities. And they aren’t “Trumpists”. They are voters, who saw correctly, that you, and the technocratic democratlc party you are the shining example of, have nothing to offer them.

      Sure. leave your family, hitchhike to SF, and live under a bridge while you learn to code, competing with H1Bs all the while.

      And you supported every bit of this. A***hole

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    Ooooh! Ooooh!

    I thought of a perjorative word for “green-house gas emission source”.

    Flaming gas-hole.

  28. dk

    HuffPo is low on my reading list due to preponderance of redundant puff and breathlessness, but there’s some value here (all emphasis and notes mine):
    Behind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Masterful Interrogation Of Michael Cohen

    Ocasio-Cortez edited the copy with her own flourishes and ad-libbed some of the delivery to make it as accessible as possible to the ordinary viewer. [Quite a few pols do this, but most have been at it a lot longer (and aren’t necessarily very good at it, see next para).]

    “She worded the question in a way better to suit her voice,” Reynoso said. “She’s also a very unique Congress member in that you can completely trust her to basically succeed in asking” the question that Democratic committee staff wanted her to ask. [So she edits without losing meaning.]

    One advantage Ocasio-Cortez has over some colleagues is that she consistently attends even the most mundane committee hearings, since she does not spend any of her day calling donors for money. Her online presence is strong enough that she has chosen to rely on it exclusively to raise contributions in smaller increments. [And on top of that, she pays living-wage staff salaries.]

    But Reynoso and Abreu insist that her knack for clever questioning, which is a marked contrast with other members’ preference for grandstanding, is ultimately rooted in a commitment to moving the needle for her constituents.

    “She’s an organizer and you can see that in her questions. She is asking questions that advocates need to know,” Reynoso said. “That is unique among most members.”


    Obama was an organizer too, though reputedly not much of a canvasser. Still, face to face interactions with the constituency teaches distinct rhetorical skills. Similarly, Ilhan Omar was a community nutrition educator for years; Ayanna Pressley was an organizer for the Chicago Urban League, and worked constituency services for her fed. cong. district.

    For contrast: Pramila Jayapal started as a financial analyst (Paine Webber), Rashida Tlaib and Ro Khanna took more academic/professional paths through study of the law, and entered politics as aides (in state and fed government, respectively); backgrounds like these are suited for crafting incisive legislation (H.R.1384, BEZOS Act) and negotiating it forcefully and effectively, on and off the Congressional floors.

  29. Ape

    “Krugman needs to stay in his lane (which heads toward the exit).”

    Why doesn’t anyone point out that Fig. 1 is trivial nonsense? Besides the usual nonsense from economists of getting the x & y axes wrong, not well defining them, and just slapping lines on them — he seems to be trying to “prove” that parallel lines intersect a third line in distinct points, which I believe Euclid showed a while ago.

    The question is the shape of the curves, their meaning, and which parameters are the necessary parameters, and not the trivially known fact that Euclid’s laws hold for a plane.

    1. ape

      Kelton: “debt-to-GDP ratio of 300 percent”.

      Shouldn’t she say a debt-to-GDP ratio of 3 years ($ / ($ / year)). GDP: “Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced in a period of time, often annually.” The GDP isn’t the “domestic store”, but the first derivative of the “domestic store”, while I think that “debt” is an actual absolute value.

      Why is almost every last damn term in economics said poorly or incorrectly? How can we expect either in orthodox or heterodox economics to get *anything* of value when everything is said so badly that your thinking is completely distorted? The problem isn’t the mathematization of economics — the mathematization is nonsense because the thinking is so distorted by abused language (arrg, don’t start with Coase’s “thereom”), inside jokes and just simple garbage terminology, and misunderstanding of the meaning and implications of simple mathematical structures (“hysteresis” for example, which it appears many economists don’t understand that the fundamental structure of living systems is memory).

      If you start from 1+1 = 2+”something greater than 0 and less than infinity” — don’t be surprised that you’d be better off working in your garden. (Unless you’re intentionally digging into obscure mathematical fields).

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