2:00PM Water Cooler 2/5/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, this looks a bit imcomplete because it is. I got a late start, but I’m also doing a laundry, so people don’t move away from me. So I will add more in a bit. –lambert UPDATE 3:45PM. All done, including laundry. Well, not all done, I have a ton more, since it’s such a target-rich environment now. More tomorrow.


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


Booker (1) “Cory Booker confirms he has a girlfriend” [The Hill]. “‘I was about to say,’ Booker interjected. ‘I think that if Donald Trump can get elected president at this point with the personal life that he has, then anybody can.'” • So that’s a postive.

UPDATES Much more on Booker below. I don’t see quite the same fervor against Booker that I see against Harris, interestingly enough. Perhaps Booker’s relative non-involvement in the criminal justice system makes him less of a lightning rod (though he did hire a “broken windows” policing guy away from the NYPD).

Booker (2): “The tale of T-Bone: Cory Booker’s past statements haunt him on campaign trail” [Star-Ledger]. “NEWARK When he was first elected mayor of Newark, the tale of T-Bone was a staple of Cory Bookers speeches. ‘I said hello to this guy and Ill never forget he leaped off the steps where he was standing and looked at me and threatened my life,’ Booker said during a 2007 speech at the New School in New York…. Months later, The Star-Ledger tried to find T-Bone, to no avail. Those who knew Booker then said the character was a fabrication.” • Let’s not say “fabrication.” Let’s not say “fabrication.” Let’s say “composite” (like the composite girlfriend in one of Obama’s two (!) autobiographies, I forget which one. Hilariously, “T-Bone” appears to be a Seinfeld reference.

Booker (3): “Newark watershed fight emerges over disclosures from Booker’s former law firm” [Politico]. “While Booker was mayor and chairman of the board of the [Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corp. (NWCDC)], the agency’s officers skimmed roughly $2 million in illegal kickbacks while running virtually all of Newark’s water infrastructure. The agency was disbanded and put into the hands of a team of legal experts who filed for bankruptcy. Booker, who was a partner at Trenk before he was mayor, never attended a meeting of the board and he has been taken off the lawsuit.” • Phew! [wipes forehead]. So a no-show job gets Booker off the hook?

Booker (4): “Now everybody is talking about Cory Booker’s time as mayor of Newark. But how did he do?” [Star-Ledger]. “It was 2010 and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, then Newark’s Mayor, was collecting national headlines for using Twitter to find his constituents and personally dig them out after a brutal snowstorm. But at home, Booker’s celebrated valiancy was buried amid mounting complaints of snow-covered streets days after the storm. ‘The boss should have been in the command center making sure all the routes were open, not out making headlines,’ longtime Newark resident Bill Chappel, 78, said, still remembering that winter blizzard. ‘He was a good cheerleader for Newark but as far as the day-to-day management, that’s a different story.'” • The Mayor’s gotta keep the streets plowed. That’s basic blocking and tackling. Come on. Sure, I know Booker’s vegetarian, but it wasn’t meat snow, was it?

Booker (5), on health care policy:

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UPDATE Warren: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren apologizes to Cherokee Nation for taking DNA test” [ABC]. “‘Senator Warren has reached out to us and has apologized to the tribe,’ Julie Hubbard, the Executive Director of Cherokee Nation communications said in a statement provided to ABC News. ‘We are encouraged by this dialogue and understanding that being a Cherokee Nation tribal citizen is rooted in centuries of culture and laws not through DNA tests. We are encouraged by her action and hope that the slurs and mockery of tribal citizens and Indian history and heritage will now come to an end.’ Representatives for Warren’s presidential exploratory committee did not immediately respond to an ABC News request for comment on what the tribe said was her call Thursday to principal Chief John Baker.” • Good for Warren; this was the right thing to do. But aren’t we back to square one on the original issue?

UPDATE Beto: “As Beto mulls 2020 bid, Dems warn he has major challenges” [McClatchy]. “Whether O’Rourke — who as a Senate candidate eschewed a pollster, and for the most part, negative campaigning—could compete with those contenders without losing the energy and authenticity that powered his Senate bid is his central challenge if he runs for president, according to more than a dozen Democratic operatives, activists and strategists from early-voting presidential primary states and Washington D.C.” • Talking their books…

UPDATE “The Schultz effect: Liberals own 2020” [Axios]. “Michael Bloomberg and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, each of whom were virtual locks to run, are having serious second thoughts after watching Democrats embrace “Medicare for All,” big tax increases and the Green New Deal. Joe Biden, who still wants to run, is being advised to delay any plans to see how this lurch to the left plays out. If Biden runs, look for Bloomberg and McAuliffe to bow out, the sources tell us.” • But Pelosi’s shutting #MedicareForAll right down, isn’t she? So maybe Bloomberg, McAuliffe, and Biden will feel free to run after all!


NOTE: My Twitter feed was consumed by an enormous episode of manufactured outrage over how Sanders supposedly disrespected Stacy Abrams’ and her nationally televised response to the SOTU by giving his own response, after hers, on his Facebook feed, as he has done for the last three years. This after Sanders endorsed Abrams in her (losing) governor’s race. It’s going to be a long [checks calendar] 636 days, and it’s not going to get less ugly.

“Abolish the State of the Union Address” [New York Magazine]. “Nothing in the Constitution actually requires an annual personal speech by the president to a joint session of Congress, and that our third president, Thomas Jefferson, deliberately abandoned the precedent of annual speeches set by Washington and Adams because he disliked its monarchical pretensions. More than a century later, Woodrow Wilson revived the older practice, which was more or less followed by his successors until it became a highly stylized infomercial for presidents who had no need of such a spectacle to communicate either with Congress or with the public.” • Since Woodrow Wilson was a horrible human being who resegrated the Federal government, I see no reason to follow his lead. And no kidding about the “monarchical pretensions.” It would be better if Trump just mailed it in, and not just because Trump is Trump.

UPDATE “Trump’s State of Union Promises Drama, Fresh Political Fireworks” [Bloomberg]. “Pelosi, in a message to fellow House Democrats on Monday night, said: ‘I am hopeful that tomorrow, we will hear a commitment from the president on issues that have bipartisan support in the Congress and the country, such as lowering the price of prescription drugs* and rebuilding America’s infrastructure.'” • Here are Matt Taibbi’s drinking game rules from 2018. No reason to change them, I suppose! NOTE * And not #MedicareForAll, note well. See how useful bipartisanship can be?

Health Care

“Pelosi Aide Tells Insurance Executives Not to Worry About ‘Medicare for All'” [The Intercept]. “Less than a month after Democrats — many of them running on ‘Medicare for All’ — won back control of the House of Representatives in November, the top health policy aide to then-prospective House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Blue Cross Blue Shield executives… detailed five objections to Medicare for All and said that Democrats would be allies to the insurance industry in the fight against single-payer health care. Primus pitched the insurers on supporting Democrats on efforts to shrink drug prices, specifically by backing a number of measures that the pharmaceutical lobby is opposing. Primus, in a slide presentation obtained by The Intercept, criticized single payer on the basis of cost (“Monies are needed for other priorities”), opposition (“Stakeholders are against; Creates winners and losers”), and “implementation challenges.” • As I’ve been saying for some time, preventing Medicare for All is the #1 policy priority for liberal Democrats.

Paging Thomas Frank:

Co-sponsors for whatever Jayapal is doing with what was HR676:

I still want to see the text.


UPDATE “Ocasio-Cortez Raises Over $100,000 Off Of Primary Threat Against Her” [HuffPo]. “Ocasio-Cortez’s re-election campaign put out the call for donations in an email blast and Facebook advertisements after The Hill reported on Tuesday that an anonymous colleague had encouraged the New York congressional delegation to run someone against Ocasio-Cortez…. Ocasio-Cortez’s political operation immediately sought to cast the threat as an effort by the Washington establishment to tamp down on her unabashedly progressive agenda…. “We need to show how strong our campaign will be when they come after us in 2020,” the ad continued.” • My advice would be for AOC to contemplate a fluct nach vorn; say, a “listening tour” in upstate New York in late 2019. While not neglecting the district, of course. But if you don’t have to service donors on the phone four hours a day, you can get a lot done!

UPDATE “Wasserman Schultz to Lead Military-Spending Committee After Taking $160,000 in Defense Donations” [Miami New Times]. “For an example of the painfully transactional and conflicted nature of U.S. congressional committee assignments, consider the case of Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz…. Wasserman Schultz, who represents parts of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, was named to lead the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. For years she’s been a member of the committee, which handles [ka-ching] a wide swath of government and military activity — from upgrading airfields in foreign countries to building military barracks on U.S. soil to overseeing the nearly $200 billion Veterans Affairs budget. And now she’ll be the first woman to ever run it.” • Just like Gina Haspel! [hums] “I’ve looked at Dems from both sides now, from win and lose and still somehow…” Readers may wish to complete the verse.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Soccer mom in real life:

Clue stick: Not all kids play soccer!

UPDATE The Establishment speaks:

Wait, but what if… “Purity tests are stupid” is itself a purity test?

UPDATE This is a humane and courageous commentary on the Northam situation. Thread:

UPDATE A good litmus test for which Democrats want power and which Democrats don’t:

Name names!

UPDATE The Resistance eats its own:

Holy moly. Ed Rendell a Russian stooge. (Sadly, the account is sound on paper ballots and voting technology. But wowesers.)

Stats Watch

Purchasing Managers’ Services Index, January 2019: “moderate-to-solid growth” [Econoday]. “Steady and solid is a healthy combination for the economy as a whole.” And but: “Both services surveys are in expansion – but declined this month” [Econintersect].

Institute For Supply Management Non-Manufacturing Index, January 2019: “sustainable and solid growth” [Econoday]. New orders slipped but remain very strong and with backlogs building. “One sign of possible trouble is the split between industries reporting composite growth in the month vs contraction, at 11 to 7 in the January report which is narrower than prior reports. Growth is led by transportation & warehousing and includes, despite January’s government shutdown and related comments of concern in the sample, public administration. Retailers and educational providers reported the most contraction.” And: “This suggests slower expansion in January than in December” [Calculated Risk].

The Bezzle: “The Target app price switch: What you need to know” [KARE 11]. “In a two-month investigation, that began with a concern from a viewer, KARE 11 found Target’s app changes its prices on certain items depending on if you are inside or outside of the store. For instance, Target’s app price for a particular Samsung 55-inch Smart TV was $499.99, but when we pulled into the parking lot of the Minnetonka store that price suddenly increased to $599.99 on the app. To test this further, we selected 10 products on the Target app at random, ranging from toys to bottled water to vacuum cleaners. We found that when we entered the store, four of the 10 products jumped up in price on the app. An Apple Watch band went up $2, a Shark vacuum went up $40, a Graco child car seat jumped $72 and a Dyson vacuum shot up $148 on the app while inside the store.” • And Target is supposed to be one of the good guys! It’s really getting so that you shouldn’t trust anything with a digital intermediary. It’s not just electronic voting machines, it’s everything. Where there is digital, there shall phishing be. Oh, and everybody who wrote that software should be in jail: The executives at Target, the project manager, the coders, everybody. Which they would be, if they reached into your pocket and stole your cash! But with digital, nothing’s illegal!

The Bezzle: “Bitcoin dealer seeks credit protection; dead owner had sole access to $250M” [Times-Colonist]. This is the original story. “Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, QuadrigaCX, has filed for credit protection in Nova Scotia, just the latest in a series of bizarre turns for the Vancouver-based Bitcoin dealer. As many as 115,000 account holders are owed $250 million, which is locked up in “cold storage” only accessible to the recently deceased founder and CEO, Gerald Cotten… QuadrigaCX’s troubles started early last year when the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce froze accounts affecting 388 customers worth $28 million, citing confusion about ownership of those funds. Those funds were finally released by an Ontario court in December, according to a statement from QuadrigaCX. Just days later, Jennifer Robertson announced that her husband Gerald Cotten, 30, had died of complications due to Crohn’s disease in India on Dec. 9, while opening an orphanage.” • Oh.

The Bezzle: “A sudden death, an encrypted laptop and the missing wallets with $250M worth of cryptocurrency” [Financial Post]. “The company did not announce Cotten’s death until more than a month after he died, and as customers panicked and tried to withdraw their funds, Quadriga’s website went down and the company went off the grid.” • Oh. Nevertheless: “[his widow, Jennifer Robertson] provided the court with a copy of Cotten’s death certificate, court records show.” More: “Christine Duhaime, a lawyer and founder of the Digital Finance Institute, said users would have little recourse to recover the funds. ‘People have emailed me and called me saying they’ve lost their retirement money. Because (Quadriga) have been around for so long and they were the largest exchange in Canada, I think people thought their money was safe.'” • Prosecution futures, just as Yves said.

The Bezzle: “QuadrigaCX Chain Analysis Report (Pt. 1): Bitcoin Wallets” [Zerononcense Blog]. “At least some of the delays in delivering crypto withdrawals to customers were due to the fact that QuadrigaCX simply did not have the funds on hand at the time. In some cases, QuadrigaCX was forced to wait for enough customer deposits to be made on the exchange before processing crypto withdrawal requests by their customers.” • Which sounds rather like a Ponzi scheme reaching end-of-life. Now, (a) the original post, at Medium, although linked to by respected security researcher Brian Krebs, has been suspended, and (b) I don’t understand the blockchain. Perhaps readers can assess this article?

Fodder for the Bulls: “Update: The Endless Parade of Recession Calls” [Calculated Risk]. “More recently Looking at the economic data, the odds of a recession in 2016 are very low (extremely unlikely in my view). [a recession in 2019 is very unlikely]. Someday I’ll make another recession call, but I’m not even on recession watch now.” • Fun post!

Rapture Index: Unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 178. Continuing down, now that the 180 floor is broken. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

The Biosphere

“Climate Solutions: Is It Feasible to Remove Enough CO2 from the Air?” (interview) [Stephen Pacala, YaleEnvironment360 (Linden S.)]. From 2018, still germane. As readers know, I’m skeptical of BECCS. This piece provides a counter-argument. Pacala: “With the direct air capture technologies, 10 years ago you would have said that’s just like a fairy tale. But because of diligent activity by a small number of technical people, there’s been very rapid progress, so much so that knowledgeable people who are not starry-eyed, but just hard-headed, believe that there is a very high probability that a research effort within 10 years would produce direct air capture at less than a dollar a gallon of gasoline. That’s $100 a ton [of captured CO2].” When I read the piece, everything suddenly seemed very simple. Now we have giant stacks belching carbon out. What we need is giant stacks sucking carbon in. As Terry Pratchett writes in Making Money:

[VON LIPWIG:] “But I don’t know anything about running a bank!”

[LORD VETINARI] “Good. No preconceived ideas.”

“I’ve robbed banks!”

“Capital! Just reverse your thinking,” said Lord Vetinari, beaming. “The money should be on the inside.”

Reader comment on this piece very much welcome.

Health Care

“After Vox story, Zuckerberg hospital promises to change its aggressive billing tactics” [Vox]. “[T}he hospital is taking steps to change its billing. It will temporarily suspend a practice known as “balance billing,” when a hospital sends a patient a bill for the balance that an insurer won’t pay… the policy change does not affect patients who are currently fighting bills from Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, including a man she interviewed who owes the hospital more than $92,000 for an emergency appendectomy. Nor is it clear how patients who receive care during this temporary suspension will be billed when the window ends.” • So, that’s about as stingy as it’s possible to be, and still have public relations issue a press release, isn’t it? Never fall into the clutches of a Zuckerberg!

“Scales of Justice Played Out in Madison County, Indiana” [Angry Bear]. A play in two acts. Act I: “In Madison County Indiana, a school superintendent resigned her position. The reason? She took a student to a healthcare clinic seeking treatment for him because he had symptoms of Strep throat. Not a big deal and an act of kindness and charity. The problem arises with her claiming him as her son and having her insurance pay the $233 bill. Except, this was not her son, she committed fraud, and her kindness and charity does not count. The Madison County prosecutor Rodney J. Cummings who has tried ‘100 major felony and homicide jury trials’ has charged the school superintendent with three felonies and one misdemeanor.” Act II: “Two days after accidentally firing his handgun into the floor of an Anderson restaurant, Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings acknowledges he could have done more to prevent the mishap.” • There is no third act, because there are no third acts in American lives. Plus, it’s a screwball comedy!

Police State Watch

“Charges dropped for deputies accused of forcing inmates into ‘fight club'” [Guardian (JBird4049)]. “But prosecutors claim they were forced to dismiss the charges this week because the same sheriff’s department that employed the accused mishandled the investigation and destroyed evidence, including by smashing a lead investigator’s laptop with a hammer because it had gotten a virus. The dismissal of charges against the deputies once again raised questions over the effectiveness of investigations when law enforcement agencies investigate their own.” • “Raised questions.”

“Florida man spent 41 days in jail for heroin. But it was actually detergent, cops say” [Miami Herald]. Not a very sympathetic protagaonist: “‘In the past, when I have gone to jail, it’s been something where I knew I wasn’t going to be there forever,’ Crull said, according to WPTV. ‘It’s a lot different than going to jail and the charge of trafficking of heroin carries a penalty of 25 years in prison.'” • Then again, how come we never hear words like that from, say, the CEO of Wells Fargo?


“The Wealthy Are Victims of Their Own Propaganda” [Stephanie Kelton, Bloomberg]. • I’m not sure I’m convinced by this.

Class Warfare

Can you move to opportunity? Evidence from the Great Migration (Job Market Paper) [Ellora Derenoncourt, Harvard University]. “The Migration’s negative effects on children’s adult outcomes appear driven by neighborhood factors, not changes in the characteristics of the average child. As early as the 1960s, the Migration led to greater white enrollment in private schools, increased spending on policing, and higher
crime and incarceration rates. I estimate that the overall change in childhood environment induced by the Great Migration explains 43% of the upward mobility gap between black and white men in the region today.” • Hmm.

UPDATE “Howard Schultz: We’re not billionaires, we’re ‘people of means’” [New York Post]. • The butler-adjacent.

News of the Wired

“Sex-Ed Fail: This Texas Public School Has Fired The Goat-Headed Man Who Lures Students Into The Forest To Show Them A PowerPoint About Safe Sex” [Clickhole]. • OK, so the whole joke is in the headline…

“Noun pile for the ages” [Language Log]. • I won’t spoil it…

“Men’s Lib” [New York Review of Books]. Henry Miller. “We are so used to the first-person comic-oratorical (thanks in part to Miller himself) that it hardly needs explanation today, but no one had quite done it like that in English before. He dares us to disbelieve him, knowing full well he has gotten at the truth without having taken the exact measure of anything at all.” • Definitely NSFW!

“The Bleak Reality of the Instagram Experience” [The Walrus]. “The Happy Place is one of the many ‘pop-up experiences’ that now litter many of North America’s larger cities. Created in Los Angeles—seemingly as a response to the popularity of image-based social-media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—the Happy Place, which came to Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre last November for a three-month run, describes itself as a multisensory experience: visitors walk through a series of rooms in order to look at the wacky set-ups and props, touch the odd decorations, and, in one, breathe in air that smells like cookies. For all intents and purposes, though, it is a sprawling, intricate green screen; its purpose is to provide guests with myriad photo opportunities to later post on social media, all for the price of $30 per person. It doesn’t matter how underwhelming, aesthetically lacking, or void of fun these experiences are in real life—the only thing that matters is that they look good online.” • If you want to breathe in air that smells like cookies, why not (if you’re like me) go to a bakery? Or cook some?

“Finding Lena, The Patron Saint Of JPEGs” [Wired]. “Alexander Sawchuk and his team happened to be looking for a new photograph against which to test their latest compression algorithm—the math that would make unwieldy image files manageable. Lena’s glossy centerfold, with its complex mixture of colors and textures, was the perfect candidate…. Suzanne Vega had no idea that her voice had been used to create the first MP3 until a dad at her child’s nursery school congratulated her on being “The Mother of the MP3.” Two decades later, the voice actor Susan Bennett received a call from a friend who wanted to know why Apple’s new voice assistant sounded so familiar; Bennett, it turned out, was Siri.” •

“Ursula K. Le Guin Was a Creator of Worlds” [Humanities]. New documentary documentary Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, directed by Arwen Curry. “Spending summers at the Napa house, Le Guin tells Curry, was ‘heaven for an introvert.’ But, as she slowly came to realize, her heaven had a sorrowful history. Before her birth in 1929, her father [Alfred Kroeber] had spent much of his career ‘going around California, on foot, by horse, talking to survivors of destroyed peoples’ who were trying to save what was left of their culture. One of them was the Yahi tribesman who came out of the Northern California forest in 1911 as the last survivor of his people. Alfred became close to the Yahi man, who became known as Ishi, and [her mother]Theodora [Kroeber]. made his story famous in her 1961 book Ishi in Two Worlds.” • Settlers…

International Philosophy: Germany vs. Greece:

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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. Eric Patton

    I still want to see the text.

    Why? You know what’s it going to be, and why. They’ll water down M4A, pass it, and once it’s enacted, everyone will hate it — thereby killing its name a la the movie Gladiator.

    After its repeal (replete with ample market triumphalism), M4A won’t be able to be spoken for a good 30 years, if ever.

    This is what happens when Gabbard, Khanna, and Ocasio-Cortez vote for Pelosi for speaker, and the left has completely forgotten about it a month later.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Per Eric Patton’s comment, She, he and she, not endorsed, but voted for Nancy. I assume, sight (of Pelosi’s new body of work) unseen) unseen,

        Likely just some promises (heard, and not seen, unless it was written down and signed).

        Will they be primaried too?

        1. ambrit

          Considering that the DNC runs the Democrat Party like a cult now, anyone not seen to be ‘enthusiastically’ supporting the “Official Narrative” will be primaried, a political form of shunning.
          One modern locution meaning ‘of or with opprobation,’ ie. to “Democrat with faint praise.”

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Considering that the DNC runs the Democrat Party like a cult now,

            They do indeed. The contradictions between the liberal Democrat need to control the party machinery by herding all its electeds and operatives into a single bubble, and its inability ideologically- (markets first) and class-driven (professional base) willful refusal to deliver concrete material benefits to the electorate it supposedly represents becomes ever more acute.

            That’s a situation to be taken advantage of. No point complaining about it! (“Damned Wehrmacht! They’re Nazis!” Yes, and?)

        2. allan

          He who endorses sight unseen refers to the Tweet that Lambert was quoting:

          Thank you to all 69 cosponsors of @RepJayapal‘s Medicare for All Act of 2019!

          Maybe they’ve been allowed a peak, or maybe they only care about the branding.

          1. ambrit

            Being remembered as a member of the “Spirit of 69” Caucus might be embarrassing in later years. That image requires Brain Bleach just to forestall further infection of the mental processes.

    1. RopeADope

      Pelosi is very skilled at putting progressive freshman congress members in compromising positions. She understands that they need policy “wins” for that crucial first re-election. By stacking New Dems on the actual committees of power and the progressives on the hot topic committees it means the progressives can be neutralized for the remainder of their political careers.

      I honestly feel like we are within the movie Groundhog Day as we keep seeing the same routine playing out with each new Congress.

      1. Summer

        “Pelosi is very skilled at putting progressive freshman congress members in compromising positions….”

        They compromised themselves the minute they became Democrats or caucused with them.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


          Ropeadopes got a point.

          But AOC, Bernie, Carter are necessary to get people hearing about Marxist like ideas.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > They compromised themselves the minute they became Democrats or caucused with them.

          As readers know, I advocate an inside (Grant, immobilizes)/outside (Sherman, eviscerates) strategy.

          If AOC, Sanders, et al. immobilize the Democrats — prevent them from exercising their worst instincts, or mitigate outcomes — that’s really good and important work. It’s also extremely ugly and messy and hard, and I think it’s wrong to denigrate it. Grant and Sherman are not mutually opposed choices. They are both necessary. (One feels that some would denounce Frederick Douglass for meeting with Lincoln, because Lincoln was insufficiently supportive of abolition.)

          The missing piece is that that left does not have its Sherman. In my view this is so, (a) because of elite assault under neoliberalism, including cognitive and other forms of infiltration, (b) strategic errors dating back to the 60s New Left (romanticism), (c) the rise of identitarianism (see the previous two points, and (d) a missing conjuncture (i.e., the working class was doing OK during the eruption of the 60s, and now, after 40 years of neoliberalism they are not). Other factors may occur to readers.

          One might look for a Sherman in whatever is to come from DSA (if they don’t fall prey to elite assault, identitarianism, or the factionalism that seems to be a cultural tradition on the left). Or a Sherman might emerge from a Democrat split; an AOC-like figure, or even Sanders if the DNC perpretrates a screw-job like the last time.*

          NOTE * Just let me pre-empt any Sanders whinging by remarking that in 2016, liberals controlled “the commanding heights” of the media. Since Sanders has now added an independent media operation to his already independent, non-oligarchical funding base, the correlation of forces has changed from then to now.

      2. Eric Patton

        Pelosi’s skill is irrelevant. At the moment the three I mentioned voted for Pelosi, they held, real, honest, no-bullshit power in their hands. They could have voted no, or at least abstained (voted “present”). If at that moment, they didn’t have the balls to vote no — and if the left can so easily give them a pass and forget about it — what hope is there to ever address global warming? Pelosi’s speakership is chump change next to climate change.

        But it’s even worse. In a video put out by the Justice Democrats, Ocasio-Cortez says, “If you’re a one-term Congress member, so what? You can make ten years worth of change in one term if you’re afraid.” Those are great words, but only words if one votes yes on the odious Nancy Pelosi.

        When you write, “Pelosi is very skilled at putting progressive freshman congress members in compromising positions,” you’re making excuses. Only a movement that accepts losing can think like that. It’s always how everything we’re up against is so powerful, and gosh if only there were something we could do. But that’s just such utter crap.

        Bruce Dixon has written at BAR how Bernie has already watered down his version of M4A in the Senate. Now it’s happening in the House. If the left wants to win, it’s got to stop making excuses. I don’t care how pretty the stories are that Ocasio-Cortez et. al. tell. We’ve already seen what they will do with actual power.

        If the left wants to stop losing, it has to look in the mirror and stop being so comfortable with it. No one can stop the left but the left. You should be pissed that the great progressive hopes all voted for Pelosi. If you’re not, don’t wonder why Jayapal’s bill is what it is when it comes out.

        Oh, making H.R. 676 the “I love NATO” act was not an accident. It was a deliberate slap in the left’s face by Pelosi. It was her saying, “I’ve got your single payer right here” and gesturing at her crotch. She’s playing you and laughing about it. Letting that go, which it seems the left already has, just confirms what Rahm Emanuel said while Obama’s chief or staff.

        At some point, everyone on the left needs to ask themselves if they want to win. Seriously. Do you want to win? How do you answer that question? What’s the tone in your voice when you do? Is it some mealy-mouthed, “Well, I’d like to win, but…”

        I don’t see how anyone could answer with an honest, passionate “yes” and not still be pissed that Gabbard, Khanna, and Ocasio-Cortez voted yes when they didn’t have to. And I don’t think most people on the left can answer with an honest “yes” anyway, because I think the left is too used to losing and has no idea how to win.

        Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you.” AA says the first step is to admit you have a problem.

        The left’s record says it can’t even unseat Pelosi as speaker (so what hope is there for addressing climate change, M4A, ending U.S. imperialism, whatever). The problem is the left can’t bring itself to face this simple fact.

        1. a different chris

          Nice rants, all – but: who were they supposed to vote for? How would withholding their votes change things? The would either get Pelosi, or somebody to the right of her (as the Republicans gleefully crash thru the gap) who they would for sure have no leverage on at all.

          If you think that’s a long term plan, well maybe. I’m not 100% opposed to that thought. But I’m a privileged white guy. For the rest of everybody, it sounds a bit iffy. As Steve Gillard said, real people get affected by this stuff and they can only hold out so long.

          1. Eric Patton

            I didn’t say it was a “long term plan.” You made that up.

            As far as “who were they supposed to vote for?”, you are making an excuse. That’s fine, but it’s also not the attitude of anyone who wins at anything.

            Winners do not make excuses and they do not offer explanations. The left will continue to lose as long as it does both.

            1. a different chris

              Your reply makes no sense. What did you think they were going to “win” at? I pointed out two possibilities, neither of which you engaged:

              1) They withhold their votes, they still get Pelosi
              2) They withhold their votes, they get worse than Pelosi

              Please address this wonderful world that 1 or 2 lead to?\

              >I didn’t say it was a “long term plan.” You made that up.

              Oh, instead of “making that up” I would at this point say I gave you way too much credit.

              Winners don’t make excuses, they do make plans however. I have yet to hear yours.

              1. pretzelattack

                i think maybe withholding their votes is the only way to leverage their power. in the short term trump may well be worse than clinton, but by continuing to vote for the clinton we get an infinite series till the collapse.

                1. NotTimothyGeithner

                  The problem is there aren’t 30 or so “good” Democrats. Its closer to being under 10. There are maybe 100 Nice Polite Republicans, and another 100, people who aren’t crass enough for the GOP in the Democratic House caucus.

                  1. ambrit

                    Trump won partly by jettisoning the “Polite” part of Republicanism. So, he faces opposition from both parties in Congress. Holding the Republicans in Congress together for the support of Trump’s agenda is a political feat in and of itself. Whoever is responsible for that has a great career ahead of him or her.

                  1. pretzelattack

                    and sometimes your position gives you that power, or the chance to take it. i haven’t seen them try that. go outside the accepted limits of the box. backstab them, play hardball politics, like the republicans do with the democrats, and the democrats do with the progressives. and their voters need to back them up.

            2. scarn

              You are tossing out truths most people really don’t want to hear.

              I’ll add that most Americans see voting and politics like buying a branded commodity. The purchase identifies who you are, as a consumer in the marketplace. This is how contemporary capitalism has made people think about themselves. They think that, like the beer you drink or the car you drive, who you vote or amorphously “support” defines what kind of person you are. It makes Americans very uncomfortable when their consumer choices are criticized because they feel like it is an attack on themselves. People who vote for social democrats are definitely not immune to this. Criticize a politician they “choose” and instead of engaging in solidarity to put pressure on that politician to deliver the material goods, they will feel personally attacked and attack you right back. Social media augments this process times a billion.

              1. polecat

                Yes, Consumer vs Citizen

                Most Citizens have valid needs (and rights, or formerly had …) and expect the State, in whatever form, to carryout the functions ( building/maintaining infrastructure, for instance) that individuals cannot, generally, do …. as well as applying laws in a relatively fair, and honest manner, for the benefit, and cohesion, of the greater society under their purview … in theory, from the mopes standpoint anyway ..

                Consumers, however, have wants … some valid, many not … while simultaneously being subliminally induced towards spending $$$ they don’t have, yearning for a twisted Bernaisian form of paradise that never arrives ….

                I posit that it is a rarity anymore, where the two manifest in a ratio compatible with a civil and sustainable way of living … without falling into the hyper-partisan trap !
                Of course, it doesn’t help when much of the political establishment are pyschopathic in nature. So, the Bernies, the AOCs, and the Gabbards, those who seem to fit mostly within that magic ratio, find themselve bucking a devil’s hurricane !

                That’s my rough sketch of how things shake anyway.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  My understanding is that studies by political scientists show that most of those who vote do not, in fact, treat their votes the same way they treat consumer good.

            3. Lambert Strether Post author

              > As far as “who were they supposed to vote for?”, you are making an excuse. That’s fine, but it’s also not the attitude of anyone who wins at anything.

              And so the win would be? Seth Moulton as speaker?

              1. JBird4049

                I’m told to vote for the lesser evil of the Blessed Hilary Clinton because the “Marxist” Bernie Sanders is impractical and the Orange One is so much worse. Soon I’ll probably be told to vote for The Sleeper of R’lyeh, Cthulhu because the King in Yellow of Lost Cardosa is ever so much worse.

                Most election cycles seem to have ever more vacuous, or clueless, or stupid, or just more corrupt. Ever greater caricatures of political ideologies in the modern Kabuki that’s our society.

                I don’t know how they should vote, but at every level of politics and in both parties we’re told to be pragmatic or “realistic” for quite some time and what has that gotten us?

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  See my comments elsewhere on inside/outside.

                  It’s the very reverse of savvy to demand on insiders what only outsiders can do (pre-Tennis Court oath, at least :-). Each has their proper role to play.

            4. Lambert Strether Post author

              >Winners do not make excuses and they do not offer explanations.

              I find this Airport Bookstore, Business Section-style moralizing most unhelpful.

              If we must cite to a work from one of those shelves, why not Sun Tzu?

              If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.

              So, which faction inside the Democrat Party has more strength?

              It seems to me that “winning” requires a proper assessment of the enemy strength and the lay of the land, as it were. I don’t see empty moralizing and posturing as a strategy for winning, however gratifying it may be in the moment. In fact, I see it as a recipe for disaster.

              1. Yves Smith

                This is not only bookstore nonsense, it’s false.

                1. The most successful companies, per Good to Great, were obsessed with risks and had CEOs who’d take blame for mistakes and give credit to their execs and employees for successes

                2. Football teams do post mortems by reviewing tapes of games and relentlessly critiques.

                3. See specific examples:


                Vince Lombardi Jr.:

                Errors, mistakes are the necessary steps in the learning process; once they have served their purpose, they should be forgotten. If we consistently dwell upon the errors, then the error or failure becomes the goal.


                So the practice is not to deny mistakes, but to examine them but see them as an opportunity to get better, and not fixate them as a predictor o the future.

                This “no mistakes” is the sort of “Every problem can be fixed with better PR” that led the Democratic party to hemorrhage representation at every level of government for over a decade (and the only reason they are recovering, IMHO, is that strategy was such a big fail that it allowed Team Republican to dial it in) and is also the source of rot at GE under Jack Welch, who played CEO cult of personality games while the company was rotting from the foundations. GE had such dominant positions (once) in so many markets and good enough systems that it took a long time for the disease to play out.

                I could go on.

                1. Eric Patton

                  Was my long comment (in response to Chris) about participatory economics moderated? If so, what was wrong with it?

                  Anyway, there’s still no contradiction. You absolutely look at your mistakes. I said nothing about mistakes. I said stop making excuses and stop offering explanations.

                  AOC, Khanna, Gabbard voted for Pelosi. AOC and Khanna voted for “I love NATO,” with presidential hopeful Gabbard not voting at all. These votes tell you something about what all of them will do whenever they are in the vicinity of actual power. The first step in a “relentless critique” would be to acknowledge this.

                  I said the left can start talking about parecon right now, and no one can stop it. That alone would be a threat to the system.

          2. Mo's Bike Shop

            +1 For me these rants are up there with ‘if the new messiah doesn’t mention ‘X’ at the debate, then heck on them.’ They are politicians, they have to politic. Just count the silverware afterwards. Twice.

            +1000 for Gilliard.

        2. Chris Cosmos

          The left has squandered every opportunity it had to put pressure on the DP and I think it’s too late now. Some left-wing ideas will emerge from the public as the lay of the land is clear. More money for the rich and less for the rest of us–I think the majority of people even the rednecks are beginning to realize this fact–after all it’s been going on steadily since the late seventies.

          From a purely PR standpoint jumping on the issue of M4A is a no-brainer–stopping Imperial wars, as much as the NPR and NYT crowd would hate it would work very well and would guarantee victories of the House, Senate, and Presidency. While I’ve heard counter-arguments to this electoral strategy they are very weak. So why are Democrats not going for the pragmatic solution? You have to ask this question before you can understand American politics–not the reality TV/pro-wrestling bullshit that the media touts but real down-and-dirty Machiavellian politics where real carrots and real (and very, very, very serious) sticks are used to make sure money goes to the right people. The US government is a money cow and it attracts the greatest, toughest, nastiest hustlers on the f*cking planet and you think a few Congress people have any chance messing with those guys?

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The US government is a money cow and it attracts the greatest, toughest, nastiest hustlers on the f*cking planet and you think a few Congress people have any chance messing with those guys?

            Er, yes? It’s happened before, even in the US. The Civil war ended slavery, the populist era brought improvements to working conditions (weekends), the New Deal more. And so on and so on. Of course, all these were partial, sucked, yadda yadda yadda. But I don’t really buy counsels of despair. They’re satisfying to some temperaments, but I think not only disempowering, but wrong, historically.

            I’ve been listening to Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcasts again. Starting with English Civil War, he moves through the American Revolution, the French Revolution through Napoleon, the Haitian Revolution, the Latin American Revolutions under Bolivar etc., the revolutions of 1848, the Paris Commune, and the Mexican Revolution. (He leaves out the Civil War, understandably, but I think that’s a revolution, too.) And he’s closing in on the Big One: The Russian Revolution. And hopefully he’ll deal with China’s Revolution as well.

            That’s rather a long list, and it leads me to conclude that enormous changes in the Constitutional order are the rule, rather than the exception. I would bet that for every one of them, significant actors where making comments just like yours. Sometimes, of course, they were right (a show of failed or abortive revolutions would be interesting). But very often, they happen (see my review of Crane Brinton here).

            I would rephrase the part of your comment to say that we Americans bear the greatest responsibility, and our thinking, attitude, and efforts should reflect that. It’s OK to say “It’s too hard” after some serious analysis, but “it’s too h-a-a-r-r-r-d” should not be an option).

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Pelosi’s skill is irrelevant. At the moment the three I mentioned voted for Pelosi, they held, real, honest, no-bullshit power in their hands. They could have voted no, or at least abstained (voted “present”). If at that moment, they didn’t have the balls to vote no — and if the left can so easily give them a pass and forget about it — what hope is there to ever address global warming? Pelosi’s speakership is chump change next to climate change.

          This is, to put it politely, moralizing (and therefore useless). If AOC et al. succeed in immobilizing the Democrats, that is probably the best that can be done. It’s also not nothing, and it really does no good to fume about it. (See my views on immobilization vs. evisceration here.) The key issue is parallel structures outside the Democrat Party, not what happens within it. And if you want to make space for such structures, what do you do? IMNSHO, you split the Democrats (as happened to the Whigs). And you need people inside the Democrat Party to do that (again, like the Whigs). “E-e-e-e-e-w, Lincoln, he was a Whig! We don’t want him in our new, Republican Party.” If you want to move toward power, you need people on the inside, as well as the outside. You just do.

            1. Yves Smith

              You seem to forget that NC is read by policy people in DC and we do know people on “the inside”. And all of a sudden, the party is in a panic to at least feign being more to the left of where it was. It looks like all it took was two people who can command attention, Bernie and AOC to articulate what in fact are widely held views among the public to make it difficult for Dems to be the total corporate sellouts they’ve been since the Clinton presidency. That’s not a win but it’s a lot of progress in shifting the Overton window, which is a precondition for getting different policies.

              1. Eric Patton

                You seem to forget that NC is read by policy people in DC and we do know people on “the inside”.

                I did not forget this, and I know you do. And that’s a good thing.

                And all of a sudden, the party is in a panic to at least feign being more to the left of where it was.

                I think the strikes in Matamoros have more to do with it. But I do agree that the Democratic leadership is simply feigning.

                It looks like all it took was two people who can command attention, Bernie and AOC to articulate what in fact are widely held views among the public to make it difficult for Dems to be the total corporate sellouts they’ve been since the Clinton presidency.

                Yes, they can talk. I agree. I’m saying that’s the extent of it. Bernie has already watered down his bill.

                That’s not a win but it’s a lot of progress in shifting the Overton window, which is a precondition for getting different policies.

                I don’t mean this to sound like a backhanded compliment, but I respect you for acknowledging it’s not a win. I agree with the need to shift the Overton window to the left, and I agree that Bernie’s and AOC’s talking are in fact doing that. That’s not a bad thing.

                I, however, want results. And I’m not giving AOC et. al. a pass just because they say nice things. When they have actual power — and having a vote on Pelosi’s speakership was actual power — they simply have to be held accountable for how they exercise it.

                As someone mentioned above, Gabbard, Khanna, and AOC have already endorsed the “new and improved” M4A without even seeing it. Even if they’ve had a peek — and it wouldn’t surprise me if they haven’t — the old H.R. was the gold standard. A truly left bloc in the House would be raising hell about what has happened and is happening — with the old 676 being flushed, replaced with “I love NATO,” and what’s inevitably coming in its place.

                A truly left left would be pissed at AOC and the others for their capitulation.

    2. dcblogger

      they may try to do that, but whether they can succeed is an entirely different question. It is not 2009 anymore.

    3. Roger Smith

      Diving into this with the Intercept article in mind, the counter-argument from these con-artists is that we need to strengthen ACA… okay well what exactly does that mean? How can you strengthen ACA? Give insurers MORE tax cuts and cash? Maybe we can reinstate the mandate and get goon squads to homes and force people to sign up, then laugh about how scared they were later. Seriously, what can you actually do? I wish someone would go on primetime TV and say, “look, we can either pay these middlemen profiteer guys to lower their prices and you can still pay them to pay the bills… or we can just pay the bills directly and you can pay us. Which makes more sense?

      1. a different chris

        Hey have said goon squads make them “eat right” and exercise! On camera!!

        I put “eat right” in quotes, of course, because our betters in the Medical Industrial Complex have no idea really of what that entails. It would be stuffing them with Total cereal not that long ago, for instance.

        1. polecat

          Total cereal ?? Dood … it’s Lucky CEOCharms !!
          …. with a hefty sprinkling of Captn Crunch-the-Actuarial$ ….

    4. katiebird

      Regarding, “Top Nancy Pelosi Aide Privately Tells Insurance Executives Not To Worry About Democrats Pushing “Medicare For All””

      If this is so (“Democrats would be allies to the insurance industry in the fight against single-payer health care.”) then the Democrats are my enemy.

      1. neo-realist

        As long as there are individual democrats in favor of Medicare for All, one should probably get behind those democrats or those organizations that support democrats that support Medicare for All, e.g., Our Revolution.

        Throwing out the “baby with the bathwater” may leave a progressive with no options to penetrate the establishment to create the policy changes we need. Support enough progressive viruses penetrating the establishment cell so that the entire cell eventually gets infected. Change won’t happen overnight, but at least there are progressives at work chipping away bit by bit trying to create change.

        1. katiebird

          I guess that will depend on the nature of the candidates support. I have fallen for a lot of pretty speeches over the years and I am not likely to make that mistake again.

          I appreciate your reminder that I support organizations (other than Democrats) that support and work for (expanded and improved) Medicare for all. Someone earlier today mentioned that Physicians for a National Health Program accepts non-doctors as members. Also, I’ve just been invited to a planning meeting with the National Nurses United.

          I have spent most of my life working for both the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates. It is not an easy decision for me to walk away from them. But I have. At least to the point that I don’t assume the Dem Candidate is on my side….

        2. anon in so cal

          Evidence suggests Nancy Pelosi is against Medicare for All. Some of her statements also suggest she’s in favor of open borders.

          MMT notwithstanding, is Medicare for All compatible with open borders?

      2. integer

        I still think it’s a shame that Sanders, after it was clear he wasn’t going to get D party nomination for 2016, didn’t denounce Clinton and the D party, and announce his intention to form a new party. At the time, his supporters had a lot of energy – IMO more than they have now – which had been turbocharged by anger over the DNC (successfully – the D party establishment is always successful in its efforts to disenfranchize the left) rigging the primary for Clinton. With a bit of leadership from Sanders, I expect a significant percentage of his base, perhaps half of the approximately 13 million people that voted for him in the primary, would have mobilized and focused their energy and frustration towards making progress overcoming the difficulties involved in setting up a viable third party.

        Of course, this is all hypothetical, and I get that turning over tables and/or burning bridges is not Sanders’ style. I do, however, think that Sanders’ fear of the R party, which he has explicitly mentioned, creates a huge vulnerability as the left’s real enemy is the D party establishment, not the R party. The R party is always going to be there, and so they should be, considering the political system in the U.S. is, at least theoretically, based on democratic principles (yes, I am aware the U.S. a republic) and there is a significant number of U.S. citizens that hold conservative views. What is undemocratic, though, is for the D party establishment to systematically drown any and all attempts to return the D party to being the party of the working class in the bathtub via back-room ratfuckery.

        1. Eureka Springs

          considering the political system in the U.S. is, at least theoretically, based on democratic principles

          Well that’s a rather tortured and false consideration.

    5. KB

      I concur…..I am part of a M4A group here and am privy to Kip Sullivan’s expert analysis..he and we are waiting for the text as well, but not holding my breath.

      I met John Conyers in the mid 2000’s as part of a single payer town hall in town. It’s too bad he was forced to retire. IMHO he would not allow the re-writing of his bill…

      1. dcblogger

        Conyers could have held Obama’s feet to the fire in 2009 and insisted on Medicare for All, he didn’t. It is a good thing he is gone.

          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            I’m pretty sure that he is implying that Conyers was Lucy van Pelt. Universal Healthcare is The Football.

            Obama was a tourist with a great seat on the front line of the history unfolding before him.

            1. Swamp Yankee


              “a tourist with a great seat on the front line of the history unfolding before him.”

              Great line!

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      >> I still want to see the text.

      > Why? You know what’s it going to be, and why.

      On what it’s going to be, see my comment here.

      On Democrats and how to deal with them, see here.

      > After its repeal (replete with ample market triumphalism), M4A won’t be able to be spoken for a good 30 years, if ever.

      This is not merely defeatist, it’s silly. The #MedicareForAll movement will not disappear, much as liberal Democrats would like it to do so. NNU will not go away (ditto). The suckitude of our health care system, and more importantly, people’s awareness of its suckitude, will not go away. The political class is not the driver here. (“”What is dead may never die, but rises again harder and stronger.”)

  2. Mark Gisleson

    “Clue stick: Not all kids play soccer!”

    I’m still trying to figure out why the Democratic leadership thinks everyone watches HBO. Wild guess but I think most people still associate red dresses with prostitution and not a 34-year-old novel by a Canadian science-fiction writer.

    1. L

      And to sick with the tortured analogy, how do you make “your side” better without even critiquing how they play? Or do you just cheer and send cheqes as they continually score own goals and slide tackle each other in the name of “electability” and then throw turf at the audience in the name of “triangulation”

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Hulu too


      I do like HBO tho, The Leftovers and True Detective are must watch. Season 2 of TruDet is so so.

  3. Henry Moon Pie

    I’m sympathetic to what Kelton is trying to do by eliminating the Pete Peterson objection to M4A, free college, etc., but given the momentum that AOC and even Warren are giving to raising taxes on the rich, Kelton’s timing may not be great. We need to tax the billionaires any and every way we can because they are the biggest threat to our political health.

    1. JerryDenim

      “We need to tax the billionaires any and every way we can because they are the biggest threat to our political health.”

      Absolutely. Concentrated money is concentrated power, and as such is terribly corrosive to democracy. That said, I think Kelton makes an excellent point. Taxation alone is highly unlikely to be successful in generating the kind of redistributionist outcomes I believe most fair-minded progressives would like to see. After decades of Grover Norquist style, neoliberal assault, our enervated institutions and austerity budgets have produced a system that can only perpetuate and amplify inequality. Our current broken political system is the plaything of the 1%. They will likely be able to repel any heavy-handed tax grabs by politicians, and if not they will buy backdoor loopholes that let them hide and expatriate their money allowing the already heavy tax burden on the middle to upper middle-class to become unbearable. Building up government capacity and services for the poor with deficit spending will pay equality dividends in a short time, shrinking the chasm between the rich and poor while building public faith in progressive government.

      In the meantime I agree there is absolutely no reason for AOC, Warren, Sanders or any other ‘tax-the-rich’ politicians to let up with their jeremiads and battle cries. It does seem they are making progress, at least with the Overton window. The only reason Roosevelt was successful pushing high progressive tax rates and New Deal policies was because the rich were genuinely afraid of violent revolution in the 1930’s. Absent the 1930’s threat of Communism and bomb chucking anarchists the left must provide the pressure. The good news is unlike the 1930s, we have fiat money. That’s the beauty of MMT though, it’s a bit like identity politics in that it doesn’t cost the rich a dime or directly threaten their power, but unlike IdPol it has the power to directly and materially benefit ALL poor people. It’s a far more attractive proposal to the rich than ‘soak the rich’. If the .01% can be made to feel they have to pick a poison, MMT deficit spending on social programs is going to be the winner by a mile. Taxing the bejeezers out of billionaires should be the next step once the most egregious excesses of inequality have been curbed and progressive governance has built up some much needed credibility and social capital. If Washington ever attempts to reimplement 1950’s style progressive taxation the billionaires are going to squeal bloody bloody red murder. They will ratchet up their media organs to an 11 in an effort to sow societal and political chaos. I’m not sure our enfeebled democratic institutions and our immiserated and disillusioned electorate could weather such an onslaught currently without a civil war or a regression into authoritarian rule. Pincer the rich between high progressive tax rates AND MMT style social spending, but it’s probably a good thing if we get the social spending first.

    2. Big River Bandido

      MMT doesn’t say “don’t tax”. It says “don’t tax to ‘pay for’ things”. Taxation serves other purposes unrelated to spending…there are good reasons for it.

  4. Spring Texan

    Sanders did more than endorse Adams, he supported her in the Democratic primary, which many establishment Democrats didn’t.

  5. Jason Boxman

    On Target, I didn’t even use the app. I needed a pair of cheap earbuds with a cord so when I rarely use my phone I can keep it away from my head.

    Anyway, the online price was $9.99, but in-store it was physically marked as $19.99. I spoke with a CSR and he price matched it to the online price.

    So this isn’t a digital only phenomenon.

    1. PKMKII

      Did that with a dining room buffet once, got several hundred knocked off the price when we told the salesman it was cheaper on the website.

    2. Craig H.

      This article in the New York Times, How Companies Learn Your Secrets, from February 2012, was one of the first broadcast wakeup calls to the little guys on what the big data processes were bringing to everyday life. Target’s computer figured out a girl was pregnant, mailed targeted advertising to her house, and her father confronted her after seeing the mail, “surprise I know you are pregnant for god’s sake I hope Lambert is the father and you are getting married”.

      (not actually a direct quotation from the New York Times article)

    3. The Rev Kev

      I guess that the lesson is to check out prices at home on a ‘puter and when you go to get what you want, leave your mobile at home. Maybe print out screen captures of priced items as well.

    4. JeffC

      And fwiw, keep bluetooth and wifi and location services off when in stores, and for good measure, never give a phone app permission to use location services unless it’s the map app you need to get around (when you temporarily turn location services back on).

      Yes, fighting the system is a pain, but when has it not been so?

      1. crittermom

        >fighting the system is a pain, but when has it not been so?

        Umm… before ‘smart’ devices invaded peoples’ lives?

        IMHO society has done this to itself from a desire to have the latest & greatest & becoming dependent on them, without thinking of the consequences of such actions. ‘Ooh! Shiny! Gimme, gimme!’

        Greed has fed that desire at an ever-increasing pace.

        I finally activated a 10+ yr old flip phone so I can call a tow truck if needed, only because I drive an old vehicle & have had to travel a lot of miles lately. That was done due to much urging by friends, but still with ‘kicking & screaming’ on my part.

        I’ve lived to this ripe age without someone needing to get ahold of me every moment. They can leave me a message on my landline answering machine at home, as I don’t leave said cell phone turned on.

        I will never have such a contraption as an Alexis in my home, nor do I harbour a desire for a new car that has been computerized crapified.

        But then, that’s just my choices (which have served me well), keeping my life simpler.
        It allows me the time to ‘smell the roses’–& take lots of pictures! (With my camera, not a phone)

        Tho’ I obviously now use a computer, I did not grow up with them so I do remember when having to turn off devices to avoid being spied upon wasn’t an issue, because they didn’t exist.
        That’s when it “had not been so”, & I hold fond memories of those ‘simpler times’.

        I suspect our apparent age gap is showing! lol

        1. ambrit

          We’re on the right hand slope of the Bell curve too.
          I wonder what all this extra complexity in daily living is doing to people’s brains. Since almost every “Spiritual” system of philosophy I’ve encountered promotes contemplation and meditation, I fear the ‘modern’ ethos can’t be doing us much if any good.
          One could say, with a straight face, that the “Modern World” is the Devil’s Playground.

      2. human

        I install Blix sensors (it pays the rent). These sensors query every networked radio device within range and send any data retrieved on to aggregators (those companies that collect, compile and sell your data).

        So, turn off all of your radio services, even, especially, when you are “just” window shopping or driving along a shopping district.

        1. Angie Neer

          Human, thanks for mentioning this. I was not aware of Blix sensors. Going to their web site, I see they have an opt-out page, but turning off the Wi-Fi on the phone seems like the safest option.

    1. Pat

      Not if you read the comments. Lots of excuses and buts and even some Russia!Russia!Russia!

      Don’t get me wrong, chinks in the Democratic wall of innocence are always good. There is just still too much denial regarding the effect of the neoliberal deeply corrupt policies advanced by Obama, Clinton, Pelosi, Reid, Schumer, etc. The bipartisan sell out of the public good has been very effective. Trump just ripped back the curtain. It is slow because people just do not like admitting to themselves they have been conned.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Eschaton was strange. Atrios by most standards was pretty tough on Obama, and his commentariat just kind of ignored him and made the TalkingPointsMemo crowd look like Obama critics.

        Trump didn’t break “liberals” brains. Obama did.

        I believe Lambert has definitely referred the “nerds” and “technocrats” of the Obama Administration with less than adulation, but my memory is Atrios himself pushed back on the claimed competence of those “nerds.” Perhaps snark created a fog, but I always thought he made good points about ACA.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Like Moon of Alabama, or heck, Kunstler, I see Atrios’ comment section as a Web 1.0 holdover. We were greener then. Sticking to the topic only became a custom after years of ‘first!’s. I’ve yet to read MoA btl for anything other than laughs. There’s probably some great nuggets, but I don’t have the time.

  6. Badbisco

    Hussman gives his thoughts on MMT.


    While his dismissal of the theory as a cure-all will likely not be well received here at NC, I do think it is a simple and well thought out criticism. He accepts the government is never actually logistically constrained by a budget, but emphasizes that expanding the deficit should only be done for a project that benefits the economy in the long-term or “benefits that might be measured in public well-being rather than cash.”

    I think that reforming the current health care system to strip out the fraud, rents, and inefficiencies meets that criteria with ease. The recent tax cut for businesses and HNW individuals with a lower propensity to spend is just as easily funded with expanded deficits with none of the benefits. The difference between these two deficit spending programs highlights his case for “thinking carefully about what the money is being used for”.

    1. David Carl Grimes

      What are examples of MMT in action? Civil War Financing? Financing the New Deal? WWII Financing? Marshall Plan for Europe? Financing the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? Can all of these be considered MMT?

        1. Oregoncharles

          The US did not have full fiat currency until 1972 – though Lincoln did print “greenbacks”for the Civil War.

          One factor in MMT is that it takes that long for the full implications to sink in, especially giventhe number of people who’d rather not understand.

          1. aletheia33

            not to mention the number of other people who have not been helped to understand it (MMT) or even to know of it.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        MMT is alwasy in action, in that the account identity is always true, of everything we and the government do, good or bad.

      2. Badbisco

        MMT describes why deficits are now logistically possible with a truly fiat money system but the spending itself isn’t “considered” MMT. Examples of large expansions of deficit and federal debt detailed below. Interesting that the explosion in inequality as well as recent financial market volatility line up with the extended period of tax cuts post 1980.

        Based on Federal Debt as a percentage of GDP, the largest deficit expanding periods include:

        1861 to 1870: Civil War and Reconstruction 0%-32%
        1917 to 1919: WWI 9%-34%
        1929 to 1934: New Deal 9%-40%
        1942 to 1946: WWII 45%-120%
        1981 to 1995: Reagan Tax Cuts (1981 & 1986) 31%-64%
        2008 to 2014: Financial Crisis 60%-100%
        2017 to 2018: Trump Tax Cut 104%-108%

        Please note, numbers and years are estimated based on a small difficult to read graph.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If any deficit is possible (under the current fiat currency system), what deficit is the appropriate amount, in any given time?

          It seems like the accountant identity is an indeterminate equation. Like 2x = y. What is the value of x, or y?

          If F-35 doesn’t work, just spend more (before the real resources of a $20 trillion economy become restrained)?

          1. Grant

            I have a particular background in ecological economics, so maybe I am biased in saying this, but many of the things that bring collective benefits and costs have no market values. So, telling me, personally, that the government spent this much, and it had this macroeconomic impact, and here are the opportunity costs, it wouldn’t tell me all that I need to know, since the spending would have large social and environmental costs that lack market values. I don’t believe, personally, that everything could be given a market value. So, I think, we could analyze what we spend on and think about other things we could apply that money to (say repairing our crumbling infrastructure, radically changing our society to deal with the environmental crisis, or giving a poor person healthcare), but then also include non-market impacts. Since not everything can be given a market value, and since we will have to compare heterogeneous impacts that don’t have a single metric like a market value, answering your question is difficult. It will be highly subjective, even more than if we could reduce everything to market values. But, some things are clearer than others. If we spend money as a subsidy to oil companies, we could conclude that it will be a larger net loss to society than supporting a subsidy of the same amount going to renewable energy, or reforestation programs. To me, it is a problem as far as the limits of markets than anything to do with MMT.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              With things or ideas, we make similar statements to the one about anyting to do with MMT.

              For example, it’s the faulty nature of humans more than, say, the theory or idea of neoliberalism itself.

              Though, I think, nothing can exist in a vacuum.

            2. Cal2

              We need M4A, not M$F, Money for a few corporate overlords.

              Today’s Water Cooler on Zuckerberg Hospital billing is a warning about the local misapplication of “giving a poor person healthcare.”

              The hospital is run by the San Francisco Department of Public Health. As in most city departments it’s a politicized and corrupt disaster.

              There’s a lot of money available. All large San Francisco employers have to pay into a 1.5% payroll tax, except the tech companies in special tax free zones, like Twitter. Stock options? Nope, no payroll tax on those millions, you’re welcome tech bro!

              Restaurants collect an additional “Healthy San Francisco” charge for employee health care administered by the city.

              Larger employers pay a brand new special homeless tax.

              But, where does this money actually go? The city offers free health care to the city’s homeless. (7,499 in 2017)
              Great site with informative graphics.

              With the new homeless tax, Proposition C, the per person, per year, cost of all services to the ‘homeless’ is $70,000 each.

              Also, free city I.D. cards are provided to 44,000 illegals in the city so that they can apply for free healthcare and other city services.

              Most importantly, that gives them the right to vote in local elections.

              Someone has to pay for that in the hospital:
              The poor man who owes the hospital more than $92,000 for an emergency appendectomy and gets and adjusted bill for $90,000, or the woman who goes to the E.R. after a bike accident, who has insurance, and is billed for $20.000+

              San Francisco is an example of why we need national healthcare, not the corrupted local version of it that is politically expedient for the political class.

          2. John k

            Dollar savers, us and foreign, drain dollars from the economy. Gov should spend enough new dollars to compensate. If unemployment is high after including workers that give up, deficit but spend until full employment is reached.

            1. Cal2

              How about this John?
              “The personal savings in the United States amounted to just over 384 billion U.S. dollars in the fourth quarter of 2017.”

              Note money sent out of our local economies that does not circulate through the multiplier effect:

              January 23, 2018
              “Migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean sent a record amount of money to their home countries in 2016”

              “Remittance growth was robust in Mexico [6.6 percent], El Salvador [9.7 percent], Colombia [15 percent], Guatemala [14.3], Honduras [12 percent], and Nicaragua [10 percent],” the report said. “In 2018, remittances to the region are expected to grow 4.3 percent to $83 billion, backed by improvement in the U.S. labor market and higher growth prospects for Italy and Spain.”

              Cannot break down the exact number for the U.S., but it’s the majority of the above figures. So at least $50 Billion leaves the U.S. never to be seen again, nor spent here, nor taxed.

              I hope some diabolical politician doesn’t propose putting a 1% tax on remunerations to Latin America and the Caribbean, which would pay for the wall in a decade.

        2. David Carl Grimes

          These numbers amaze me. After such a huge run-up in the Federal Debt, the Debt to GDP went down dramatically, indicating that economic growth itself enabled the debt to be paid down eventually. For instance, in WWII, we were literally spending money on stuff that would be blown up or destroyed (such as bombs, planes, tanks, etc) yet we were able to pay that debt down or reduce it to more manageable levels.

          1. John k

            Post war was special case. Depression debts were written off, and forced savings during war meant population had money to spend after armistice. Plenty demand. Plus young population. Today economy has large debts, gov spending on wars instead of infra, and older population.

      3. Monty

        It describes how everyday government operations are funded. Every government penny is created by the process known as MMT. It’s not reserved for special occasions.

      4. Grant

        “What are examples of MMT in action?”

        Seems to be how things work in action. It isn’t as if MMT says, hey, let’s try this for once. It says, hey, this is how things actually work, so if you object to more government spending you cannot use particular arguments about “affordability” and what not. MMT has a theoretical component, but its main insights are just about how things are. Misconceptions of how things are lead to inaccurate, and often dishonest, policy discussions. If we really don’t borrow in the way that people seem to think, and if there is no real constraints on spending outside of inflation, the economy’s ability to produce more stuff to match an increase in base money in the economy, then we would have different policy discussions than we do now.

      5. xformbykr

        MMT in action is the current MIC funding. What’s that number that can’t be accounted for in the audit? $22T ? (something like that). It was a couple of months ago here, may in J D Ait’s article, where I read that MMT is what the ruling class does while pretending to the lower orders that deficits matter.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Most of that is probably stuck in various generals’ overseas accounts. “Can’t be accounted for” usually means stolen.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Stripping inefficiencies in the current health care system does not necessary lead to deficits.

      In fact, stripping inefficiencies in the current military spending system should lead to smaller deficits, and likely the same with the current health care system.

      1. jo6pac

        My thought also when I read that. Then by doing so on both we on Main Street might be able to have a few nice things;-)

    3. paulmeli

      Uh, without deficits the money supply (spending) can’t grow.

      Without that expansion the economy can’t grow (sustainably). It will become a bubble, which will burst.

      Every time a bubble bursts, ordinary citizens lose.

      Rinse and repeat.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        1 How does money supply (spending) not growing lead to the economy not growing sustainably?

        2. Does it mean money supply not growing could lead to economy growing, but not sustainably?

        3. Conversely, does a growing money supply (spending) always, all the time, lead to the economy growing, either sustainably, or not sustainably?

        1. Grant

          “How does money supply (spending) not growing lead to the economy not growing sustainably?”

          It depends on where in the economy that money goes. If it goes to someone that has a high propensity to save, or if they buy lots of imports, or use it to buy up shares in their own company, if it gets horded, then it won’t lead to much, if any, growth. If a poor person gets money, they will inject the money back into the economy at a quicker rate. Money going to a low wage worker at Amazon would have different macroeconomic impacts than if that same amount of money went to Bezos. If they spend on local businesses, that money will not leak out of the economy, and it could increase the local money multiplier. And it also depends on things like macroeconomic expectations. Like, if I own a business, I will not be more likely to invest if I think the effective demand won’t be there to buy what I want to produce. More money could mean more demand, but it depends on where that money goes. If there is a great need for something, but capitalists aren’t investing in those things (say things that aren’t profitable but result in lots of benefits for human health and the environment), then a lack of money could be extremely damaging.

          Personally, when we talk about a growing money supply overall, we are necessarily talking even more about commercial banks making most of the money in the economy. We aren’t spending enough on things we need to spend on, we spend too much on things we shouldn’t spend on, and we leave these decisions too much in the hands of private financial capital. If we had single payer, for example, we would likely spend less, not more, collectively but it would be spent more wisely and within a far more efficient system. Right now, we can control (at least indirectly, through who we elect), the portion of money creation that we can attribute back to the national government. Unless we are talking about public sector or cooperative banking, or controlling what private banks can spend on, we aren’t really addressing private money creation.

          “Does it mean money supply not growing could lead to economy growing, but not sustainably?”

          The problem with capitalism is that it is an economy based on endless growth, and the reality is that there are limits to growth in throughput and pollution generation, which we are approaching. So, in the medium to long term, environmentally sustainable growth will only be possible in the financial and monetary parts of the economy (since there are no natural resource or pollution limits there), unless there is unprecedented gains in regards to efficiency. And the growth of the financial superstructure is itself often extremely socially damaging, especially when growth in producing actual things is increasingly difficult.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That’s the point, or a good point – there are many times money goes where it’s not helping.

            That is to say, new money (or deficit) is not necessarily good.

            And there are times when removing inefficiencies in a system (health care or military, etc) can reduce deficits and is helpful.

            That is, while deicits don’t matter, it’s not always good to have more deficits.

            1. polecat

              Yes, it’s the externalities not factored-in by most economists, high finance, and big corpse in general that is ..uh .. problematic.
              Through in corrupt government .. well here we are.

  7. Anon

    Building a Marsbase is a Horrible Idea: Let’s do it! [youtube.com]

    “Unfortunately, Mars is actually a cold, radioactive desert where the ground is poisonous and breathing is impossible. Mars is awful. You almost certainly don’t want to go there.”

    Ah well. Maybe we should just go bulid a Dyson sphere instead.

    1. The Rev Kev

      We could build underwater domes under the sea and colonize there. It has been portrayed in many sci-fi films. Of course what was not depicted is that the dome will be covered with more and more pieces of plastic drifting down from the surface making for a wretched view of the sae. And because of the depth of the sea, it would be too expensive and dangerous to send crews out to clean that garbage away.

    2. polecat

      In Space, no one can hear you vacuum …

      If you’re moving your company to Singapore, however …

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      I enjoyed the Mars bit. Felt like one of Dmitry Orlov’s ‘positive’ essays. But the Dyson Sphere one makes it obvious to me that they’re trolling for cornucopians.

      I may watch more though, because I agree a Dyson Sphere is stupid. It should be a swarm, or a nanotech net of blah blah carbon fiber receptors. Imagine all the hydrogen you could collect. I’m a bit of a collector of half-baked ideas.

  8. Roger Smith

    The Target app story is really interesting. Of course Lambert is right and there are no (or hardly any) digital laws to protect consumers. You will regularly see websites advertising lower web prices and claiming that in store prices are different. Here Target is using location data to manage one system to alter the price on the fly. This is essentially feeding the death of Target’s lively hood. If you can get it cheaper online, why would they come to the store? And after stories like this, why would anyone go to Target?

    1. GF

      Try turning off the location part of the phone and leave the app page in place and viewable. Then go to the store and use it if the store price is significantly higher than the app shows.

    2. Carolinian

      I believe Best Buy also, at least in the past, has had an online price and an in store price and this may apply to other businesses. Meanwhile Amazon is well known for gaming prices which may vary according to factors particular to you and determined by an algorithm. What Target does would only be illegal if they specifically misrepresent the in store price, so stated, on their app.

    3. bruce wilder

      The guest post, Artificial Intelligence, Algorithmic Pricing, and Collusion by Italian economists Emilio Calvano et alia illustrates the subtle way neoclassical economics frames these problems in ways that make public policy impotent or impossible.

      Calvano et alia summarize their frame:

      From the antitrust standpoint, the concern is that these autonomous pricing algorithms may independently discover that if they are to make the highest possible profit, they should avoid price wars. That is, they may learn to collude even if they have not been specifically instructed to do so, and even if they do not communicate with one another.

      Collusion, particularly tacit collusion, implies that the problem is a problem of “markets” and the solution is to somehow enforce on sellers an idealized repression of the strategic awareness among sellers that there are other sellers.

      The Target app does not operate in a “market” per se; it is part of a system of administered pricing, an extension of a bureaucratic apparatus for price discrimination. That is a reality far more common than the “markets” touted by neoclassical economics.

      Every where in our economic system we are confronted with the overweening political power of large-scale organization and everywhere we are asked to think about the problems involved as if we are all equals meeting in a market-place of opposed bidders.

  9. Steve H.

    > Climate Solutions: Is It Feasible to Remove Enough CO2 from the Air?

    This irritated me, so I’ll rip it, but understand it’s a tranche/wedge, so yeah, do it. Why not? Read below & judge, my own comments will be in {these brackets.}

    a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University
    {not an engineer, but okay for a chair}

    The panel recommended several billion dollars be directed to research on NETs. {Ka-Ching!} Such technologies, it suggested, ought to be viewed as a “component of the mitigation portfolio,” rather than as a futuristic, last-ditch effort to reduce atmospheric CO2 {so, a wedge; semi-details below}

    First of all, in the last 15 years, wind and solar went from extremely expensive green luxury items maintained by subsidy to the cheapest forms of energy ever. {um, picking up sticks off the ground and burning them is pretty cheap}

    a direct air capture machine that for $100 a ton takes CO2 out of the atmosphere and puts it in the ground to compensate.

    Underneath our feet are minerals, and because they’ve never been exposed to the atmosphere, they are in a state that would spontaneously bind CO2 and turn it into carbonate minerals: rocks. How much of this rock is there? It’s hard to measure exactly, but some estimates say that something like 1,000 times the amount exists that would be necessary. {‘some’}

    Now there are some pretty strong indications that CO2 inside the salt reacts and turns into rocks really quickly. One of the things the report calls for is large-scale injection into the salt. {‘some’, ‘pretty strong’}

    {Link to the source article, which is semi-detail; better, but where’s the data?}

    Carbon mineralization – which essentially accelerates “weathering” so carbon dioxide from the atmosphere forms a chemical bond with reactive minerals – is currently limited by lack of fundamental understanding.
    {Oh. So, billions to gain a fundamental understanding, which might be ‘nope’}

    The committee found that NETs have not yet received adequate public investment despite expectations that they might provide approximately 30 percent of the net emissions reductions this century. {Wow. Too little too late. Did they not see the infernado of the Carr Fire?}

    1. Rosario

      Yeah, though I dislike “wisdom” in all its forms there is one thing that comes close that I have learned from working on projects.

      Doing things takes energy (work, thought, etc.), and the amount of energy scales with project size and complexity.

      This is true without fail, or at least I have never seen this not be the case.

      Geoengineering away CO2 makes good TED talks I suppose and it (more than) kinda misses the whole point. We need less not more.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Geoengineering away CO2

        I’m not sure the proposal for (in essence) Giant Smoke-Stacks Working in Reverse is geo-engineering as such.

        I think of geoengineering as lunatic schemes like metallic nanoparticles in the upper atmosphere. Of course, I could be wrong. Under the GSSWR proposal, the carbon ends up being, as I understand it, liquified and injected deep underground, and (of course) the lithosphere is part of the biosphere (crawling with life, as it happens).

        I guess what I’m saying is that I’d welcome a defintion of geo-engineering with clear boundaries (other than lunacy). Is there one?

        1. Steve H.

          > some estimates say that something like 1,000 times the amount exists

          The issue is permeability. Try blowing air into a rock. Not so easy, you need void space. The ‘frac’ in fracking is fracturing the rock, which increases surface area, needed for lithification. The reference to salt domes indicates using the brine they contain, which may work very well but is the low-hanging fruit.

          So the ‘1,000 times’ means ‘pre-processed’ and processing takes energy. If you don’t exclude oxygen, it will preferentially bind over CO2. Naive &/or bait&switch.

          Geoengineering also refers to making underground structures, in the mining industry. The charts indicate the same tools will be used for a new purpose, in this case altering the chemistry and physical structure of the stone itself. There’s an implicit consequentialist framework in the idea that geoengineering is meant to create a habitable environment. But consequences of engineering geology include, for example, increased earthquakes in Oklahoma.

    2. Linden S.

      Yeah as far as I can tell direct air capture is a pipe dream, at least at the scale it would be needed to run alongside a full-throttle fossil fuel economy. My main question: if it will work at scale, why aren’t there huge demonstration plants? Maybe the oil majors will wait another decade before unveiling plans for negative emission tech at the order needed, but not likely..

      Here is a little thread on carbon capture and storage. @peters_glen is a good follow for Negative Emission Technology research: https://twitter.com/Peters_Glen/status/1072779320198860801

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      First of all, in the last 15 years, wind and solar went from extremely expensive green luxury items maintained by subsidy to the cheapest forms of energy ever.

      Thanks for saving me from reading it. ‘Cheapest’ is doing a lot of work there. Maybe cheapest with a few hundred million to invest and the appropriate corporate subsidies, in a world where fracking is seen as sensible. It’s still cheapest for me to do more weatherstripping and use conventional utilities. Luckily between zoning and our climate I won’t have to personally take out a neighbor’s windmill when the bearings go bad. Your best bet personal bet on solar returns is mounting the panels on the roof and hoping insurance pays you off when the system is a total loss in a windstorm.

      We produce the CO2 to harness energy. The idea that we’ll grab the CO2 back with tech magic does not even inspire me to do a back of an envelope thing.

      Offering homesteads and subsidies to coppicers–creating fleets of roving pyrolizers–paying people to dig holes and fill them up again with biochar amendments strikes me as far more effective. I’m not saying it will be terribly effective against Global Warming. But it will be effective in shaping a cultural economy that is better able to cope with the realization that Petroleum is Bad for Children and Other Living Things.

  10. Trick Shroade

    “The Target app price switch: What you need to know” – From the article: “How does Target know when you are inside the store? When you download the Target app, it asks you if it can access your location.”

    It’s amazes me how many people don’t think twice about giving their corporate overlords access to all their day-to-day movements.

  11. Big Tap

    So Nancy Pelosi is not going to push for M4A but try to stabilize Obamacare. No surprise there since the M4A negotiations are being done in private. What I thought would happen if the House Democrats won in 2018 is sadly starting to come true. Pelosi will stomp any enthusiasm the voters have by disappointing them and doing nothing remotely progressive. As a result this may tamp down the progressive 2020 vote and may help Trump get reelected and the GOP retake the House. Donald Trump supporting Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House was brilliant thinking on his part. Pelosi can do his dirty work for him.

    Also the quote “The biggest obstacles facing Medicare for All right now are Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump” should add the name of Nancy Pelosi too.

  12. richard

    I read the Pacala thing. It’s a little confusing for me, but I understood 2 things clearly. He feels that the “mineralization” of CO2 is the most promising way to take it out of the atmosphere. I didn’t really understand the reference to fracking; would that have to do with injection technologies? Anyway, that other clear thing I came away with, is that part of what’s holding us back is that there’s not an easy way to make money on this, we need public spitrited billionaires, etc.
    Somebody needs to get rich on this? Ex-squeeze me (sorry, ventured into wayne’s world there)? I think our new rule of thumb, on everything going forward, that if somerthing really matters, we take the market right out of it. Health care, retirement, education, saving the world from co2 death, all social contract baby!
    I mean, do we really want billionaires to research tech that allows human civilization to exist, and then to sell that back to us? what about a green new deal instead?
    I don’t get the sense that Pacala is very wired into any of that. He seems more excited that the tech might actually work now, as it wouldn’t have worked 15 years ago (according to him). I have no idea about that end of it, but hopefully others can enlighten.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I think our new rule of thumb, on everything going forward, that if something really matters, we take the market right out of it.

      I’m already working on stealing that:

      But markets don’t do that.

      But markets have never done that.

      You’re just going to wait for the markets?

      If you are serious, you will not leave it to the markets.

      When have markets ever done that?

      Nice idea.

  13. Rosario

    RE: Carbon Capture

    My first impulse is to write CO2 capture off. It is fusion energy, Mars colony theoretical as far as I am concerned. Devil in the details and such.

    Humoring it for a moment, I have to ask how this model would work under Capitalism? Would carbon taxes provide the compensation for the companies managing and operating the capture facilities? No doubt the cost would be incredible, and this process would have to be ongoing, for hundreds (thousands) of years. Geologic chemistry can only be pushed so quickly. Alternately, would the cost be wholly assumed at a federal level (MMT)? Though a better prospect WRT political-economy, it raises another concern, would we simply continue using fossil fuels so long as consumption did not offset capture? Isn’t this, ahem, stupid, given that there are alternatives?

    I still think less is more.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      would we simply continue using fossil fuels so long as consumption did not offset capture

      I’m pretty sure the ‘not easy’ half of the oil after the peak will be eating up the capital we got from the upside slope of petroleum fairly rapidly. When energy returns on petroleum approach what we get from coal, we’ll adopt a new outlook.

  14. Tertium Squid

    Bitcoin dealer seeks credit protection; dead owner had sole access to $250M

    The reddit cryptocommunity is, to put it mildly, skeptical about this excuse.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Do they think he’s in hiding with $250 M? And his wife is in on it?

      Because I do, and probably so do most of his “creditors.” OTOH, this might be the very rare event when somebody cashed in on their Ponzi scheme while the getting was good.

      Incidentally, I don’t know Canadian law, but his “directors” just might be on the hook for the money.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        Hiding a white Canadian tech bro in India is probably not easy.

        Then again, maybe he wasn’t even in India.

        1. ambrit

          People I’ve spoken to who have lived in India say that, with enough money, anything can be done. Literally anything.

  15. Andrew DeWit

    > Climate Solutions: Is It Feasible to Remove Enough CO2 from the Air?

    We will almost certainly need negative emissions. The big questions are the energy-intensity of the process as well as the portfolio of uses for prodigious quantities of extracted CO2. Though the 100% renewable energy Green New Deal emphasize wind and solar as THE solution, they need to get a grip on the constrained supply of critical materials (cobalt, lithium, rare earths and so on). Their path will quickly run into very hard choices about massively ramped-up and environmentally harmful mining, the power-density and material-density of non-fossil energy deployments, integrated technocratic planning (vs overly inclusive do-nothingism), etc. The IEA (eg, WEO 2018), UN Resource Panel, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, etc have already assessed the critical-materials crisis, so it’s dismaying that US progressives don’t pay attention to that work. In any event, a handy and sobering introduction to the ecological and other constraints is “Mineral supply for sustainable development requires resource governance,” in Nature 15 March, 2017.
    One might add – a la Tyndall Centre’s Kevin Anderson – that immediate and dramatic emissions reductions can be achieved by stopping flying and eating a lot less meat, but few developed-world people – even climate activists – seem willing to do that.

  16. JohnnyGL


    For those who need a laugh….”Howard Schultz says billionaires should be referred to as “people of means” or “people of wealth.””

    I’d also point out he basically says, “don’t blame us, blame the people we’ve bought off to do our bidding”

    It’s almost like Schultz is a cartoon character version of billionaire, I struggle to believe he’s real when I hear him talk. :)

    1. bun

      Monte Python were geniuses. No one does comedy like that anymore.

      (and if you have counter examples to the above assertion – please forward the links along. I could use all the laughs I can get in these times!)

          1. ambrit

            Wait a minute. Larry David is a billionaire? The divorce alone should have made that milestone remote.
            And, I’m wondering about how that fortune came about. Absurdity in private and public lives. How droll.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I would make two points. Much of their work wasn’t funny, and like the Beetles and a handful of other outfits, usually comedy troupes aren’t all funny and bright. I might suggest the original writing group on The Simpsons along with Conan was comparable, just a different outlet. Although they aren’t as prolific, David Cross and Bob Odenkirk (outside of Trek and The Simpsons, “Better Call Saul” I get crazy about this show) have “Mr. Show with Bob and David.”

        Its not a sketch show, but “Bo Jack Horseman” might be the smartest comedy when it was still a comedy out there. It starts out a little slow, but its different.

        1. flora

          their work wasn’t funny….
          erm, zeitgeist of the times lends a color and humor that often fades in later times. aka, end of empire, end of the Raj, vietnam, and absurdity, where absurdity was a stand in for so much more….

          what path, then, for boys raised to manage the empire when the empire becomes only a faded hope?

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            This isn’t about the zeitgeist. Plenty of their sketches were simply bad or more importantly forgettable, like other sketch shows. We just remember the good. Like shock, absurd for the sake of absurd has a certain mileage.

            I almost shudder when I think about the kind of movie Python was cooking up for “Life of Brian” at one point.

            1. witters

              Those bad and forgettable sketches. Can you list them for me? (I suspect I’ll enjoy them immensely!)

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                They exist, although (naturally) most them them were not archived on YouTube. For example, this, helpfully labeled “Monty Python[‘]s best sketch ever”:

                No it isn’t.

                1. Richard

                  I’m not sure if there’s any one sketch from Python that I’d pick, although Life of Brian is a brilliant piece of work.
                  I watch more for the insane glint in Palin’s eye, could happen anytime, or Cleese just going off batshit at any time, or Idle being sly and presumptious…
                  the skits tend to run together a bit for me, not the most tightly written
                  not that I hold that ahanst them…

            2. Wukchumni

              When you creep into uncharted waters of a humorous nature, not all of it is going to stick.

              There were a lot of shitty skits on SNL in the 70’s, and I don’t remember any of them. But the ones that were memorable, have stuck with me to this day, and it’s similar with Monty Python.

        2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Trey Parker and Matt Stone- South Park, Team America, Fractured But Whole Video game.

          Broken Lizard was funny for awhile- Super Troopers, Beerfest, Slammin Salmon

  17. Pat

    The Democratic leadership has managed to use the bullshit of the ‘possible’ to make all advances impossible. Hence so many people who should know better signing on to Jaypal’s Medicare for All hit job. And yes, even without reading it I’m pretty damn sure it is a hit job.

    Pelosi wouldn’t have let it happen if it weren’t. And I still think she was the best of the bunch regarding trying to straddle the public and the donors during the ACA debacle. But she is not ignorant of her role as gate keeper.
    Actually providing health care for the public is NOT and has never been on the agenda for the Leadership of our current Democratic Party.

    I think once we do get the text, we need to urge the best of the sponsors to also sponsor a few amendments that actually does advance long overdue access to health care free on demand for the American public. And never let them forget THAT was the promise NOT protecting the insurance and for profit medicine.

    1. Richard

      Every time I’ve mailed her office, jayapal has positively referenced pelosi’s leadership. She doesn’t see pelosi as a problem, despite pelosi’s staffers reassuring industry lobbyists that m4all won’t happen. Despite signal after signal from pelosi that she intends to be an obstacle to m4all, jayapal refuses to see her as an obstacle. so
      the repub isn’t my first enemy here, especially so if you live in a “blue”(I hate those colors) area

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      To be fair (really!), PNHP thinks the Jayapal bill is OK, and the National Nurses Union is organizing for the rollout.

      While those two institutions are IMNSHO trustworthy, I have seen the Democrats play “Lucy and the Football” much too often so trust them. That’s why I want to see the text of the bill. PNHP, after all, has only seen a draft, and the sausage is, apparently, still being made. (We should also note that Pelosi will strangle Jayapal’s bill in its cradle, because liberal Democrats opposed #MedicareForAll both on principle (markets-first) and from class interest (jobs guarantee for professionals and rentiers)). That doesn’t make the bill kabuki, it makes it a terrain of struggle, but that’s what it is, and not Democrat policy as such, assuming there can be such a thing. (Now, it would be fun to see Jayapal stick her knife into Pelosi’s back and take over the leadership — which as a [x] woman [x] of color she is clearly entitled to do, by the identitarian rulebook — and I think that’s part of the game here, but I doubt that will happen this year.)

      1. Pat

        I will dial down my cynicism, I trust those groups as well.

        While taking out M4A in the early legislative stage would be the most straightforward, it isn’t as if there were not tools to crapify and destroy it later in the process. For instance amendments work both ways, and there is always pay go. And that doesn’t even consider the various parliamentary tricks Democrats ignore as the opposition party.

  18. todde

    Politics – a tad bit more consequential than an 8 year old’s soccer game.

    Even for the most die hard soccer moms out there.

  19. ewmayer

    Re. Noun pile for the ages — On reading the comment by LL resident sinologist Victor Mair, it’s clear the pile could well be extended via e.g. “… government cover-up scandal, Tibetan buddhist outrage.”

    Oh, and the family of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy continues to deny any involvement by Teddy, contrary to the “spotted fleeing the scene!” allegations by several well-known conspiracy-theorist bloggers.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’ve visited Chappaquiddick and seen the site, and Teddy’s story is ridiculous, laughable. But, like Bill Clinton (workplace abuser and rapist, of [x] women) Teddy (killer, of [x] woman) was highly placed in the liberal Democrat hierarchy, hence has impunity.

      (I’ve helpfully [x]’ed the marginalized identities on whose behalf you should, were the circumstances other than they are, be outraged.)

  20. Tom Stone

    Betcha I could buy a genuwine death certificate in Alabama for $500K…or a number of other states.
    I would want to make sure the “Body” was cremated locally, exhumation could prove to be embarassing…

    1. ambrit

      Go to France. The last I heard, a Doctor there can write out a Death Certificate without having to provide proof.

  21. Carolinian

    Re the KKK suit–Julian Bond was once on the Donohue show with the Grand Dragon and said he had a Klan outfit at home in his closet and would put it on for laughs at parties. Perhaps the earlier Civil Rights generation had a little more perspective on their cracker foes. It does seem our current era is long on moral indignation about the past while downplaying the skeletons in their own closets. Joy Reed comes to mind.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Not that its in good taste, but Julian Bond probably isn’t Ralph Northam. Besides being black, Bond was also Julian Bond, not a two time George W. Bush voter.

      Northam isn’t a Republican either or from the Solid South Democratic Party. Its absurd he’s a leader in the Democratic Party, and this isn’t a case of Robert Byrd who demonstrated contrition. Northam thought it was a joke.

      1. Carolinian

        Agreed that any public figure who voted for (or hugs) George W. Bush is beyond the pale. I wasn’t taking a side–really up to you Virginians isn’t it? I do think the media frenzy is, as usual, a bit over the top.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Perhaps, but its a state capitol in driving distance from the DC media.

          The “Emerging Democratic Majority” sort of came true for Virginia. Half the state isn’t Southern. HRC enjoyed the support basically Republicans in blue areas who were worried Trump might alter the distribution of defense spending. Northern Virginia could get wiped out if MIC jobs were moved. In the early 90’s, parts looked like a neutron had gone off. Then lets look at the figures involved. Northam beat Ed Gillespie, former chair of the RNC. TerryMac is tangentially involved.

          I don’t know if you watched Northam’s press conference, but wow, he set a new bar for “out of touch.” His staffers shouldn’t be strangers to DC people. Who recruited Ralph Northam in the first place? We make jokes about millenials and what they leave on social media, but did anyone check on Northam when he ran for statewide office? What did they find?

  22. Oregoncharles

    “believe that there is a very high probability that a research effort within 10 years would produce direct air capture at less than a dollar a gallon of gasoline. ”
    10 years is too late – and that’s for just the RESEARCH. How long to build out a working system?

    Solutions have to be off-the-shelf to do much good in time.

    And that begs the question of “how much energy does it take to capture that gallon’s worth?”

  23. VietnamVet

    Austerity caused Brexit.

    Similarly neoliberalism and austerity elected Donald Trump. On top of this in the USA there is unaffordable housing and inadequate health care. The western political class cannot face the facts and instead blames Russia. With perpetual wars, identity politics, and media propaganda, the ruling class is working full force to assure that the lower class doesn’t gain a majority. What is reminiscent of the past today is that again there is a war at the top between globalist and nationalist oligarchs over who controls human and environmental exploitation. Chaos is spreading. Only regaining the consent of the governed and restoration of the rule of law will prevent the impending middle class revolt that may well have been started by the Yellow Vests in France.

  24. Oregoncharles

    ” It doesn’t matter how underwhelming, aesthetically lacking, or void of fun these experiences are in real life—the only thing that matters is that they look good online.” ”

    How do you photograph “the smell of cookies,” let alone put it online?
    And isn’t this a problem for the whole premise of the review?

    1. ambrit

      You can pull the old trick of claiming to be able to two dimensionally describe a three dimension phenomenon and dare anyone to nay say you. The old “Emperors New Clothes” trick. An appeal to some sort of non-extant authority.

      1. polecat

        So what you do is ‘toss’ your quasi-cookies into the waste basket, wipe your chin … and delete. Problem solved !

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Your selfie is you, sniffing the air and looking happy in the Cookie Room. You can add some cookie emojis (???????*) later, in Instagram itself. Then embellish with some free-form swirls to signify the odor.

      Really, Charles, even an old codger like me can figure this out! I’m totally hip to the Youth of Today!

      * There’s an emojipedia! Who knew?

  25. Darthbobber

    So is Cohn’s beef with Randell the “echoing Russian talking points” thing? Which seems to mean venturing a post-election opinion that maybe she hasn’t been the ideal candidate? Certainly during the primaries he was all in for Clinton.

    And his observation that the state was in play, after the Democratic convention, was the warning he should have been giving. (Plenty of bones to pick with Randell, but that Clintonites should be so irate at a longtime reliable ally is funny. He even helped saddle us with hapless Clinton clone McGinty, helping to gift us with 6 more years of Toomey.)

    The no-show job for the “shady” Saipan casino (no shadier than the norm) of now-retired “Trump protege” Brown, who had been in the industry for years before going to work for Trump hotels, from which he departed in 2005, more than a decade before the Saipan venture, is the kind of grift she could find plenty of examples of among Democrats she’s fine with. The outrage seems selective.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      At times, I think Obama with the assistance of most Democrats damaged the party to such an extent, HRC was maybe the only viable candidate without going for a Sanders style candidate. Biden would have been a terrible campaigner and had a terrible record to match. If you don’t buy into the HRC candidacy for the importance of her celebrity, nostalgia, and promise of appealing to White Flight Republicans who watch HGTV all day, what was the argument for her candidacy?

      The whole candidacy was a disaster. Her experience? Her legislative record? The Team Clinton electoral track record? Obama isn’t the first Democratic President to oversee a destruction of the party at all levels, culminating in an unthinkable GOP President.

      Rendell was probably more self-serving than simply a true believer, but how does a true believer and member of the “fact based community” reconcile HRC’s inevitable coronation and Athena like qualities (snark) with the results or track record? Bill Clinton was elected with 42% of the vote, the lowest percentage of a President since 1860. The warning signs were there. They weren’t discussed or addressed. HRC was simply the most electable because she was. No explanation was needed. Rendell’s point exposes the children of Aaron Sorkin as believers not as informed citizens. Because he exposes the sins not of HRC but her followers, he can be framed as a blood traitor.

      It still boils down to, “why should HRC be the Democratic nominee for President?” Trump makes sense as the GOP nominee. One, they fetishize “business” and ticking off liberals, especially ones obsessed with “norms” and “politeness.” Trump does this. The third one is Trump isn’t from the 41/Romney wing of the GOP. Four, he doesn’t have the albatross of Iraq which even GOP voters sort of have soured on. Trump is the ideal generic Republican. He’s stupid, crass, and a showman. AOC, she’s a natural talent, but part of her fame is due to simply being a generic Democrat as presented by FoxNews. She’s for higher taxes on the wealthy, taxing corporations to curb pollution, and universal healthcare. With HRC, we have to overlook her openness in 2015 to a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. Her terrible foreign policy? Her promise to put her husband in charge of straightening out the economy? She pushed a “New Democrat” as much as possible. The Democratic base isn’t there. Energy revolved around pretending she was a “generic Democrat.”

      HRC had the email server, but lets be honest, she didn’t lose a single vote over it. It may have confirmed suspicions, but she’s not President today because of a Ralph Northam/George Allen like incident. Trump survived an incident, but who didn’t believe he was scummy before the ET tape? She’s not President because of her 25 years at the center of American politics. She makes an element of sense in a fantasy goldilocks style of politics of “run to the extremes in the primaries and the msm definition of center for the general”, but if its a fantasy…Ed Rendell’s point is an acknowledgement the HRC was a fantasy.

    2. Big Tap

      I have mentioned this before but you’re right about McGinty. Rendell and the DNC wanted someone to play ball with them and do their bidding plus accept their campaigners. They made sure that McGinty won the Dem primary by dumping large amounts of money in ads late that gave her the primary win over the better candidate Joe Sestak. Sestak would of beat Pat Toomey. McGinty had a close loss.

      Rendell also is a friend of Hillary Clinton and has been for many years so this criticism of him is laughable. Now everyone in the party is a potential ‘Russian stooge’ if you disagree with their thought leaders or say something that may violate the Russiagate narrative. This is what happens when you lose but can’t admit defeat and blame others for it. Rendell who was PA governor for eight years should of warned Hillary that her approach of campaigning in the state was to drop the TPP much sooner than she did and not take along pro TPP Kaine as the VP pick. Also maybe have Bill Clinton speak in the middle of the state which he won twice.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Now everyone in the party is a potential ‘Russian stooge’ if you disagree with their thought leaders or say something that may violate the Russiagate narrative.

        Exactly. It’s not gonna get less ugly.

  26. integer

    Watching the SOTU and Pelosi has donned her RBF. Trump just mentioned the amount of new jobs that women are employed in, and newly-elected D party congresswomen engaged in what I perceived to be a narcissistic and self-congratulatory celebration that they had been elected. Also, Pence’s programming has been clearly been updated since the meeting over the wall between him, Trump, Pelosi, and Schumer. As well as sitting motionless, he now has five added capabilities: smiling, nodding his head, tilting his head, clapping, and standing up, and is able to perform two or more of these new capabilities simultaneously.

    1. ambrit

      I still can’t figure out why the Biden Control Group didn’t just hire Disney Animatronics. They did a superb job with their Ronald Reagan Mark 2 model thirty plus years ago.

    2. integer

      Reflecting further on the SOTU, some of it really was a disgrace. Trump went on about how dysfunctional Venezuela is, which, as NC readers know, is due to the U.S. providing the CIA-trained opposition with practically unlimited resources, enabling them to tear Venezuela’s social fabric to pieces, while simultaneously crippling its economy via economic warfare. The Western ruling class clearly considers destroying socialism-based economies a high priority. Trump also shamelessly pandered to Israel, no doubt hoping for more of that Adelson-money for his 2020 campaign. Ugh.

  27. ambrit

    I was weaseling about the Internet and found this. Ah, for the days when the MSM did real reporting and interviewing.
    Mike Wallace interviewing Aldous Huxley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alasBxZsb40
    From 1958, on Network television. A lot of what the two spoke about then is pertinent to today.
    Some of the other Wallace interviews look interesting too. One with Erich Fromm was next in the queue.

  28. JBird4049

    On those gladiator fights arranged by the SF Sheriff Deputies, this is the second group of deputies who have done so. About a decade earlier some deputies were fired for doing the same thing. Sheriff Michael Hennessey always was an honest one. I don’t think that they were prosecuted either because of the DA but I should check out on that last bit

  29. William Beyer

    “I’ve looked at Dems from both sides now,
    from win and lose and still somehow…”

    Our Dems’ delusions need rebuke,
    That Kamala, she makes me puke.

  30. Lupemax

    Great parody of Kamala Harris’s poster “Kamala Harris is for the People…” who work for Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Monsanto, Prisons of America, etc. and the list goes on, all corporations…

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