2:00PM Water Cooler 2/7/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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


“Iowa farmers teach Sherrod Brown a lesson on running in the rurals” [Cleveland Plain-Dealer].


A mini-essay on the SOTU [completed 2:20PM, do refresh if need be]: Let me start with this image from CNN politics (via):

Now, there’s been a good deal of dunking, deservedly so, on the content of the graphic. Formally, however, it represents a rejection of the linear — dare I say, bi-polar? — notion of politics as a linear spectrum of “left” vs. “right” (most popularly used in the Overton Window). Here we have a triangle, a tacit admission that today’s politics are not linear — since three points determine a plane — but a field, a terrain. Readers will be familar with my view that the vertices of a triangle that describe our current politics would be liberals, conservatives, and “the left,” and that liberals and conservatives both put markets first (with conservatives wanting few layers of indirection, and liberals wanting many), while “the left” puts the working class first. (I’m sure that libertarians, the Green Party, and anarchists would regard this as an insultingly gross oversimplification.) Hold that thought of triangular thinking, and now let’s look at the responses to Trump’s SOTU from Abrams, on national television, followed by Sanders, on Facebook:

Introduction Policy
[ABRAMS:] Good evening, my fellow Americans, and happy Lunar New Year. I’m Stacey Abrams, and I am honored to join the conversation about the state of our union. Growing up, my family went back and forth between lower middle-class and working class. Yet, even when they came home weary and bone-tired, my parents found a way to show us all who we could be… Our most urgent work is to realize Americans’ dreams of today and tomorrow… Yet this White House responds timidly while first graders practice active-shooter drills and the price of higher education grows ever steeper. From now on, our leaders must be willing to tackle gun-safety measures and the crippling effect of educational loans, to support educators and invest what is necessary to unleash the power of America’s greatest minds…. Under the current administration, far too many hard-working Americans are falling behind, living paycheck to paycheck, most without labor unions to protect them from even worse harm. The Republican tax bill rigged the system against working people…. We know bipartisanship could craft a 21st-century immigration plan, but this administration chooses to cage children and tear families apart… And rather than suing to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, as Republican Attorneys General have, our leaders must protect the progress we’ve made and commit to expanding health care and lowering cost for everyone…. We can do so much more: take action on climate change, defend individual liberties with fair-minded judges. But none of these ambitions are possible without the bedrock guarantee of our right to vote.
[SANDERS:] Let me thank all of you for joining me tonight for a brief response to President Trump’s State of the Union address. And let me thank Stacey Abrams for her extremely effective response. Now, we all know why she would have been a wonderful Governor of Georgia. I know that this will probably not shock you, but not everything President Trump said tonight was true or accurate. If Trump truly wants to govern in a bi-partisan manner, let’s take a look at what the overwhelming majority of the American people want:

A Fox News poll conducted last month shows that 70% of Americans support a tax increase on families making over $10 million.

According to Reuters, 70% of the American people, including 52% of Republicans support Medicare for All.

Another poll found that 72% of the American people, including 51% of Republicans want to expand Social Security by increasing taxes on millionaires and billionaires.

According to Gallup, 76% of the American people, including large majorities of Republicans and Democrats, want us to spend $1 trillion on an infrastructure plan to create up to 15 million good-paying jobs.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has found that 92% of Americans want Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices. 92%.

That same poll also found that 72% of Americans, including 75 percent of Republicans, want to buy low-cost prescriptions from Canada.

Gallup tells us that 64% of Americans including 51% of Republicans, believe marijuana should be legal. Let us end the disastrous war on drugs.

Quinnipiac tells us that Americans support, by 94-5 percent, requiring background checks for all gun purchases

CBS has found that 87% of Americans, including 79% of Republicans, want to allow immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to stay in our country….

The billionaire class cannot have it all. Our government belongs to all of us, and not just the one percent.

Now, I know which approach I prefer. Why? Because although Abram’s story about her family is touching, it’s really not possible to hold her accountable for her views on policy, because, unlike Sanders, there’s no precision to them. But which approach does the Democrat Establishment prefer?

Now, back to triangular thinking. You will recall that point in the SOTU when Trump said: “Here in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. Tonight, we resolve that America will never be a socialist country.” Republicans (conservative vertex) applauded. Most Democrats, including, behind Trump, Pelosi (liberal vertex) applauded. A few Democrats, including Sanders (amd IIRC AOC) did not applaud. (Interestingly, almost all the policy energy in the Democrat Party is coming from the left, which is also vastly more popular, especially among younger people.)

Abrams was not present to applaud. Which apex would she be on? As it turns out, we have an answer, from the Febuary 1 issue of Foreign Affairs. Stacy Abrams, “Identity Politics Strengthens Democracy


(As a side note, it’s a little amazing that she takes Francis Fukuyama as her interlocutor, instead of, oh, Adolph Reed.)

Fukuyama and other critics of identity politics contend that broad categories such as economic class contain multitudes and that all attention should focus on wide constructs rather than the substrates of inequality.

(“All attention” is, of course, a straw-man.)

The oppressed have often aimed their impotent rage at those too low on the social scale to even attempt rebellion. This is particularly true in the catchall category known as “the working class.”

A “catchall category” — not being mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive — is of course no category at all. I don’t need to go on to make the point, but this:

In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, enough white working-class voters abandoned the Democratic Party to put Donald Trump over the top, capping a 40-year trend of shifting party loyalties. This means that there is something going on in the cultural realm that needs explaining, and that something is concern over identity.

Or — stay with me here — it means that the Democrat Party, with its professional base, betrayed the class interests of the working class (see Thomas Frank, Listen, Liberal!) and enough of them decided they’d bad enough of that.

In other words, because Abrams denies the validity of class as an analytical construct, she cannot say, with Sanders, “The billionaire class cannot have it all. Our government belongs to all of us, and not just the one percent.” That would place Abrams firmly at the liberal apex, opposed — with conservatives — to the left; no wonder Tanden and Abrams embraced so warmly. QED!

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of February 2, 2019: “Easing in claims from Federal employees helped pull down initial claims by 19,000 in the February 2 week, to what nevertheless is a higher-than-expected 234,000” [Econoday]. “Initial claims have been erratic in recent weeks, hitting 50-year lows in mid-January then spiking 53,000 late in the month but the underlying signal, putting aside Federal workers and the effects of the government shutdown, points to strong demand for labor.”

Housing: “Landlord-tenant relationships are changing, thanks to cryptocurrencies, Airbnb, and more” [MarketWatch]. “Short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway have created a great opportunity for both homeowners and renters. Now, with an app, you can turn your property into a weekend retreat. But, it’s important to note that your tenants can do the same with their couch or spare room.” • Even better, your tenant could rent out a room, and then that renter could rent out a couch in that room…

The Bezzle: “Tesla fined $29,365 for safety hazards in Model 3 production tent” [The Verge]. “Tesla has been fined $29,365 for violating California labor laws in the parking lot tent where Model 3s are assembled… Tesla failed to obtain a permit before building the tent, and failed to inspect it for potential safety hazards, according to Cal-OSHA…. Tesla also did not properly train employees on evacuation procedures in the tent, or on how to prevent and respond to heat illness. Lastly, the tent featured exposed metal rods and rebar.” • Just another outlaw Silicon Valley company…

Tech: “How Much Would You Pay for a Foldable Smartphone?” [New York Magazine]. “The basic shape of the smartphone has remained remarkably steady for nearly a decade…. That will change in 2019 and 2020, as a host of phone manufacturers, set free by bendable AMOLED screens — and made semi-desperate by flat or falling global smartphone sales — are set to roll out smartphones that can unfold into tablets, and then fold back down into something resembling a very thick smartphone…. the price point that foldable smartphones are settling into, at least for this first generation, is eye-watering. Even the cheapest foldable phone so far will cost more than Apple’s priciest iPhone.” • As for me, not a thing.

Tech: “The real lesson of Facebook’s Apple dust-up shows why Zuckerberg’s ‘hacker way’ is even more dangerous than we thought” [Business Insider]. “Facebook long ago showed that it has no respect for its users or for conventional societal norms when it comes to things like privacy. It showed that it was willing to cross legal lines and defy government regulators years ago too. But the fact that it was willing to risk even the wrath of Apple — a company that has no small amount of power over Facebook’s ability to reach consumers, customers, and even its own employees — shows just how brazen the social networking company has become. Its appetite for data on its users and competitors is so ravenous that it’s willing to cross seemingly any and every line to get it, no matter what the potential risk.” • As bad as Uber. Worse.

Tech: “Extremely cold weather can sap electric car batteries by up to 40%” [MarketWatch]. “Cold temperatures can sap electric car batteries, temporarily reducing their range by more than 40% when interior heaters are used, a new study found…. Many owners discovered the range limitations last week when much of the country was in the grips of a polar vortex…. AAA recommends that drivers heat or cool their cars while still plugged in to a charging station. It says electric cars can still be used in extreme climates with a little extra planning.”

Tech: “Microsoft warns investors that its artificial-intelligence tech could go awry and hurt its reputation” [Business Insider]. “‘Issues in the use of AI in our offerings may result in reputational harm or liability,’ Microsoft wrote in the filing. ‘AI algorithms may be flawed. Datasets may be insufficient or contain biased information. Inappropriate or controversial data practices by Microsoft or others could impair the acceptance of AI solutions. … Some AI scenarios present ethical issues,’ it added.” • “May,” or “must”?

Honey for the Bears: “The Polar Vortex Could Freeze Economic Growth” [Barron’s]. “The U.S. economy always shrinks in the winter, with or without a “polar vortex.” Since 2002, America’s gross domestic product has dropped about 13% at an annual rate, on average, between the last three months of each calendar year and the first three months of the next one…. The polar vortex of early 2014 is a useful precedent. Despite a booming domestic economy and the normal seasonal adjustment, U.S. GDP shrank at an annual rate of 1% in the first quarter of that year. Motor vehicle sales, employment, and construction were all affected by the unusually harsh winter for Americans in the Midwest and Northeast—about 40% of the U.S. population and economy. At the time, Atif Mian and Amir Sufi found a reliable link between the weather and the decline in vehicle spending. People in places that were significantly colder than normal tended to cut their spending while people in the rest of the country, including places where temperatures were higher than normal, such as in the West, tended to increase their spending. Looking back a year later, Justin Bloesch and François Gourio of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago found that harsh winters generally lead to higher unemployment, lower home-building, and reduced vehicle sales, with the employment effects concentrated in construction, bars and restaurants, and retail. Encouragingly, they also found that the economic consequences of extreme events end up disappearing after a few months as the weather reverts to normal.”

Fodder for the Bulls: “JPMorgan Says 2020 ‘Might Not Be a Year to Think About Recession'” [Bloomberg]. “The Federal Reserve’s change in tone may mean investors should reconsider the timing of the investment cycle, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co….. The Fed signaled last week that it’s done raising rates for at least a little while, and that it’ll be flexible in reducing bond holdings.” • Also, a study is discussed that says stocks aren’t over-valued….

The Biosphere

“Last 5 years have been the hottest ever, U.S. government scientists say” [MarketWatch]. “Last year was the fourth-warmest year since 1880, according to the report by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which track annual climate trends. The record was set in 2016, followed by 2017 and 2015, with this century’s repeatedly higher temperatures largely stemming from greenhouse-gas emissions from human activities, the agencies said.”

“South Florida Family Wins Right to Drill for Oil in Everglades” [Miami New Times]. “[T]oday, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled that an investment company in Broward County — Kanter Real Estate — can build an oil well in a section of the Glades just west of Miramar, near the Broward/Miami-Dade County line. Kanter’s land sits in a state conservation area above a shale deposit called the Sunniland Trend…. Kanter’s will be the first new one in the Everglades in 50 years… the court ruled Kanter’s stretch of land was already so polluted it would not matter if an oil rig were placed there. The court also suggested the area is ‘hydrologically isolated’ enough to prevent pollutants from contaminating the rest of the Glades.” • We’re [family blogged], so drill baby drill… Can’t we just leave it in the ground?

“New Tonga island ‘now home to flowers and owls'” [BBC]. “Scientists have found signs of life on one of the world’s newest islands, just four years after it was spawned by a volcanic eruption. Unofficially known as Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, it lies in the kingdom of Tonga, and is already nurturing pink flowering plants, sooty tern birds, and even barn owls.”

“See How Much You Know About Deforestation” [Council on Foreign Relations]. • It’s a quiz.

The 420

“One of the biggest names in garden supplies is all about weed now” [Quartz]. “Scotts Miracle-Gro, the maker of home, lawn, and garden-care goods that traces its roots back to the 19th century, blamed disappointing quarterly earnings on the volatility of the cannabis market, on which it is increasingly dependent. Since 2016, annual sales growth at subsidiary Hawthorne Gardening—which owns dozens of brands selling lights, filtration systems, premium soil, containers, air filters, and more specialized supplies for hydroponic operations—has outpaced the group’s general lawn and garden business.”

“A cannabis producer just topped Apple as the favorite stock among millennials (ACB, AAPL)” [Business Insider]. “More people own shares of the Canadian cannabis producer Aurora Cannabis than Apple on Robinhood, a free trading app popular among millennial traders, highlighting the ‘green rush’ into marijuana by younger investors.”

Our Famously Free Press

“‘The News Is Dying, but Journalism Will Not’: How the Media Can Prevent 2020 from Becoming 2016” [Vanity Fair]. Better than the headline (though oddly, AOC gets many mentions, and Sanders a back-handed reference). Long quote from Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith: “‘The same social-media mechanisms that have poisoned the conversation have also elevated a sophisticated two-way policy conversation that includes experts and actual people affected by policies. The Internet has created communities of expertise and sophistication around everything from how labor law treats transgender employees to carbon taxation to economic policy. Political reporters used to bullshit their way through a discussion of the hard stuff. But you can’t get away with that anymore. Which is good! Both professional journalists and the people who don’t get paid to do it for a living and are in the same centralized conversation, mostly on Twitter, about policy.” • IMNSHO, correct. This is why Twitter is worthwhile in a way that Facebook is not (nor is any other “social media” platform). As I have urged, “a sophisticated two-way policy conversation that includes experts and actual people affected by policies” is also the function performed by the blogosphere c. 2003 – 2006. which ended up having significant policy results for the good. Now, Twitter is a far worse platform than blogging — compare doing [family blogging] “threads” with no embedded links or fomatting to actual paragraphs — but you go to war with the platform you have, and many people are making good use of it (despite the world-weary “hellscape” whining).

“Gannett rejects takeover offer from MNG/Digital First Media” [USA Today]. “Gannett Co. said Monday that its board has unanimously rejected an unsolicited proposal to be acquired by media company MNG Enterprises Inc., also known as Digital First Media, saying the proposal undervalues the company and the board doesn’t believe the offer is credible…. If MNG Enterprises ‘is really serious,’ the company will have to have a slate of board of directors candidates submitted to Gannett by Feb. 7, says Michael Kupinski, director of research at Noble Capital Markets in Boca Raton, Florida.” • So we should know by tomorrow. (Yes, I think Gannet being gutted by hedgies is A Bad Thing.)


“Wisconsin case shows how sewage plants spread unregulated toxins across landscape” [State Journal]. “Detection of a toxic chemical in a northeastern Wisconsin wastewater treatment plant’s sludge has prompted a halt to application of the material on nearby farms and raised broader concerns about how public sewer systems across the state may be spreading the chemical across the landscape. The contaminated sludge in Marinette also highlights unease and confusion in local communities over the absence of enforceable federal or Wisconsin environmental standards for the chemicals — often referred to by the acronym PFAS — despite at least two decades of research linking them to serious health problems.” • Yikes.

Guillotine Watch

“Opinion: Billionaires take more than they make” [Rex Nutting, MarketWatch]. “My own view is that most billionaires do create some value, but they generally take more than their share of money and power. Their wealth far exceeds their economic contributions. Plutocrats don’t deserve the guillotine, but neither do they deserve billions of dollars. Plutocrats are, above all, rentiers. Most wealth is created, maintained and sustained by extracting unearned rents from the rest of us. The wealthy take advantage of monopolies, asymmetric information, network effects, regulatory capture, artificial scarcities created by patents, licenses or trademarks, bailouts, subsidies, protectionism, financialization, and globalization. In economics, ‘rents’ is a word that means ‘leveraging control over something that already exists, such as land, knowledge, or money, to increase your wealth,’ in the words of economic historian Rutger Bregman. The concept dates back to Adam Smith and David Ricardo, who argued that owners of land or natural resources could demand payments in excess of what’s required to bring their land or resources into production. The classic example of a ‘rent’ is a landowner who controls both banks of a river and charges a toll on anyone who wants to sail through. The rentier did not create the river, but collects the rent anyway.” • OK, maybe not the guillotine, but how about (as Yves puts it) some government-assisted creative destruction?d

Class Warfare

“Prominent Republican wants to take student-loan payments out of your paycheck” [MarketWatch]. “Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee and the chair of the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions, which oversees higher education, proposed automatically withholding a borrower’s monthly student-loan payment from their paycheck, similar to the system already used for federal payroll taxes.” • Yeah, that should do it. For some definition of “it.”

“Why dollar stores are replacing supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods” [Quartz].

“The Decline of Historical Thinking” [The New Yorker]. “The reason that students at Yale and places like it can “afford” to major in history is that they have the luxury of seeing college as a chance to learn about the world beyond the confines of their home towns, and to try to understand where they might fit in…. A nation whose citizens have no knowledge of history is asking to be led by quacks, charlatans, and jingos. As he has proved ever since he rode to political prominence on the lie of Barack Obama’s birthplace, Trump is all three. And, without more history majors, we are doomed to repeat him.” • Then again, come on…

News of the Wired

“The Thrill of Building Space Hardware to Exceptionally High Standards” [Hackaday]. “[O]ne of the biggest mistakes you can make is designing a system that only operates within a rigid set of parameters or requirements. The rules of the game occasionally change, and if your design can’t quickly be adapted or expanded as needed, you run the risk of having to go back to zero and starting all over again. When it’s an Arduino on a breadboard you can get away with yanking out the wires and starting from scratch, but when there are boards to be fabricated and deadlines to meet, there simply may not be enough time to recover from a shortsighted design.”

“The Last Incan Suspension Bridge Is Made Entirely of Grass and Woven by Hand” [Slate]. From 2013, but I didn’t know this. “Five centuries ago, the Andes were strung with suspension bridges. By some estimates there were as many as 200 of them, braided from nothing more than twisted mountain grass and other vegetation, with cables sometimes as thick as a human torso. Three hundred years before Europe saw its first suspension bridge, the Incas were spanning longer distances and deeper gorges than anything that the best European engineers, working with stone, were capable of…. Today, there is just one Incan grass bridge left, the keshwa chaca, a sagging 90-foot span that stretches between two sides of a steep gorge, near Huinchiri, Peru. According to locals, it has been there for at least 500 years…. the tradition of rebuilding the keshwa chaca each year has not abated. Each June, it is renewed in an elaborate three-day ceremony. Each household from the four surrounding towns, is responsible for bringing 90 feet of braided grass cord. Construction takes place under the supervision of the all important bridge keeper, or chacacamayoc. The old bridge is then cut down and thrown into the river. Because it has to be willfully, ritually regenerated each year, the keshwa chaca’s ownership passes from generation to generation as a bridge not only across space, but also time.” • Perhaps, as well as pre-industrial, post-industrial?

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (via):

From the UBC Botanical Garden: “Grevillea longifolia is a narrow-range endemic with a distribution restricted to New South Wales in Australia. Within New South Wales, Grevillea longifolia is primarily found in the southern half of the Sydney Basin and the Woronora Plateau. It grows in moist forests on yellow clay soils and Sydney Basin Hawkesbury Sandstone, typically along the banks of rivers, streams, gullies, and creeks.”

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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. Summer

    Re: Short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway have created a great opportunity for both homeowners and renters…”

    Walk around Hollywood, CA and homelessness is all around. But you know what else I notice? Plenty of apt buildings and more being built with the recently finished ones not at full capacity and lots of what looks like Airbnb’ers rollinf their luggage around.

    1. JBird4049

      Unfilled luxury apartments in San Francisco with more being built and a range of 5-12 thousand homeless in the city. As to how many in the rest of the Bay Area there are, never mind the one’s the car, van, and campers? Who knows?

      Something is wrong.

          1. Procopius

            Maybe they can make it comprehensible. I gave up in Chapter 1 of Volume 1 of Capital, when Marx had to create a new definition of “value,” making three that he was using with abandon while not making clear which one he was using and often meaning “price.” Then I discovered that he knew the first two volumes to be wrong but wanted to write in order to present the truth in the third volume, which he did not live to complete. I’ve been advised to go back and start in Chapter 10, then, when I feel comfortable, go back to Chapters 1-9. He did have many valuable insights.

          2. Anonylisa

            Only the oldest millenials like myself are on FB anymore. All the younger ones use snappyface or instasham and the like. Among my peers (early 80’s babies), i see the use of FB for personal stuff declining. Its more for organizations like the PTA or small businesses who dont want to make a real website.

    1. Rajesh K

      I was going to write the same thing. At this point, the users are at fault. Basically they are saying invasion of privacy is ok. But then I am not surprised. After the holidays, people in my office were comparing XMas gifts and basically people were super happy to get things like Amazon Echo, etc. I must be the last guy in working in tech with minimal tech gadgets. Just my laptop and my dumb phone.

      Here’s one more thing to add to the bipartisan note: 99% of Americans want to have their cake and eat it too e.g. Facebook, etc.

  2. John k

    Why not the guillotine?
    Consider the advantages…
    Wealth usually divided among youth, who might spend it. Plus a little gets taxed.
    The new wealthy often less interested in politics as they get serious about playing.
    So imagine, say, the K brothers… they never would be missed…

    1. dcblogger

      The Koch brothers and their fellow oligarchs will escape to their villain hideout in NZ, while members of the NC community get the guillotine. Very few of the people executed in the Revolutionary terror were aristocrats, mostly ordinary people who fell on the wrong side of the Committee for Public Safety.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        A friend of mine once pointed out, “No matter who has power, they always come for the unions.”

    2. Charlie

      Agree. There will be no government assisted creative destruction when that very government is composed of rentiers.

  3. JohnnyGL


    At risk of spamming WC readers with Yvette Carnell ripping up Kamala Harris, she’s got another good story today. She interviews Mitrice Richardson’s father about his daughter’s disappearance and eventual death.

    Lots of evidence of staggering incompetence and lying to cover it up….Harris’ office said, “nothing to see here”.

    Crazy how a massive police search party couldn’t find her remains, but the mom found a finger bone in the canyon when she wasn’t even looking. Honestly, it reminded me of how the FBI, ATF, and Boston Police Dept couldn’t find a wounded, bleeding teenager hiding in some guy’s covered boat after the Boston Marathon bombing.

    1. dearieme

      Boston: that’s a strong point. They presumably wanted to murder him, so the search would have been in earnest.

  4. rd

    Re: Guillotine watch.

    I view creating the thing and maintaining and extracting rent on it in the future as two different things. The US and successful countries were built by people who created (or greatly improved) things and made buckets of money in the process. That is different than simply collecting dividends etc from the previously created wealth, especially when inherited.

    So a company creator can own the company and grow it without incurring taxes on his invested capital. Once he starts to receive cash for his shares, then it gets taxed. I believe the capital gains tax rate should be the same as ordinary income such as wages, interest, and dividends. so tax rates don’t need to go close to 70%. 40%-50% federal tax rates should be plenty high enough of a lot of income is exposed.

    Similarly, I think one of the goals of people is to leave something behind for their spouses and children. So having a standard exemption of up to several million dollars is conscionable. Above that, estate taxes should be getting quite severe (say up to 50% at federal level) without the ability to shelter it, so that future generations have to earn their way.

    The hedge fund/PE “carried interest” provision was is unconscionable. It is not the carried interest part that is the problem – that is simply putting your capital in and letting it sit for multiple years. The problem was that the fund managers were allowed to simply roll their performance fee into carried interest without paying ordinary income tax on it first as simply another form of performance bonus, similar to a salesman commission. So all of their performance bonus was deferred income that was then taxed at a long-term capital gains rate. they would have been much less wealthy with far fewer fund manager billionaires if each year’s performance bonus was taxed as ordinary income before becoming “carried interest”.

    We don;t need 70% income tax rates that don’t apply to much of the rentier income. We simply need to expose much more of the rentier income to ordinary tax rates. Our federal and state budget deficits would look much better and income and wealth inequality would be greatly reduced.

  5. Lambert Strether Post author

    Finished up the Abrams mini-essay. Sorry for the delay. I’m actually more sympathetic to the Foreign Affairs article than I seem here, but ye Gods. Francis Fukuyama as an expert in class analysis? Really?

    1. Roger Smith

      Someone needs to mail Abrams a copy of Listen, Liberal. Yikes. As soon as she started labeling blame with the “republican” qualifier and calling for bipartisanship I was done. Now I know why I keep hearing about her. She has a skin color and politics schemers find useful.

      1. Martin Finnucane

        She ran a strong campaign for Governor that directly and concretely addressed vote suppression and election-related corruption, matters that our national elite liberals won’t touch. She didn’t pander to the mythical “Jon Ossoff” electorate. Unfortunately, after the election she appears to have cashed in her chips.

    2. DJG

      Lambert. Sorry, she lost me at this:

      Growing up, my family went back and forth between lower middle-class and working class.

      This is the kind of class analysis that liberals just love, because it is meaningless. My father was a member of a union. That makes my background working class, especially given that he was in the trades, which have a culture that they have developed. “Lower middle class” is a term that people toss around and that is based solely on income. There are no cultural valences to “lower middle class,” except maybe Velveeta.

      So did Abrams’s father working the trades? Did he keep changing careers? Would it be okay to recognize that working class means people who work for wages–and that explaining away the rather poor relationship between wage earners and their bosses doesn’t serve the Democrats?

      Next up, Democrats on how right-to-work laws are good for the “lower middle class.” And Velveeta.

      1. jrs

        It may not have been once, but surprising these days it’s very easy to imagine someone bouncing around between not exactly that but something like temporarily working for middle class wages and driving for Uber for months in the meantime when that gig ends.

      2. PKMKII

        I wouldn’t say it’s meaningless. Rather, it removes ones relation to production and where one sits in that process from class, and turns it into a measure of consumption power. It encourages people to think of their class demographic as those who buy the same amount and quality as themselves, not based on what they do. Which, conveniently for TPBT, removes real class solidarity, and lays the trap for people to mortgage their way into a “higher” class via loans/credit cards.

      3. Roger Smith

        Right to work always gave me a charter school feel. I’m sure Democrats are itching to cut into that action.

      4. Darthbobber

        Yes. I’ve been in the printing industry most of my adult life, and- a good pressman is definitely as “blue-collar” as they come, right down to coverall uniforms to keep the ink off. But many of them earn six figure incomes. Customer service and office people are largely white collar and would generally see themselves as “middle class” (whatever that is), but unless they’re upper management they invariably make less than a pressman. (Or people in a number of other production jobs).

        1. joe renter

          Re Darthbobber.
          I was a feeder for a 4 color Heidelburg back in the day. You are wrong on the wages you state. I found this from 2012.

          As of 2012, half of all printing press operators in the United States reported hourly wages ranging from $12.67 to $21.28 and annual pay ranging from $26,350 to $44,260. The lowest-paid 10 percent of press operators made $20,550 or less, while the highest-paid 10 percent made $54,480 or more per year. The average pay rate for this occupation was $17.35 an hour and $36,090 a year.

          1. Darthbobber

            Depends partly on what they’re calling a press operator, maybe. Nobody on a full size sheetfed or web press hereabouts is at anything like the lower levels listed. Though this is the northeast. Last employer, lead pressmen were at 28 per hour, second pressmen at 24. Most offset shops are above that, some substantially. And when business is good, their overtime can be massive.

            But flexo is another thing, and black and white work is yet another, and feeders and roll tenders are also operators of a sort,

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      Excellent, pointed and succinct SOTU analysis–thanks again for putting the pieces together and choosing just the right visual aids and references.

    4. Detroit Dan

      Fukuyama makes good sense. He got me thinking about the relationship between nationalism and identity politics.

      “The first major expression of modern identity politics was nineteenth-century European nationalism, when cultural groups began to demand recognition in the form of statehood… Even as Americans seek to right injustices suffered by specific social groups, they need to balance their small-group identities with a more integrative identity needed to create a cohesive national democratic community.”

  6. Brooklin Bridge

    So Airbnb provides cascading rights to rent? The renter can have a renter can have a renter and so on? Yikes!

    Can that be limited?

    1. ambrit

      Actually, AirBnB is yet another company basing it’s business plan on breaking the law. Many municipalities have sub-letting restrictions available for landlords to use. It’s restrictive. So? There are multiple competing interests here. Which one(s) shall prevail? And, more importantly, why?
      This is a basic “design of the social contract” question. Outfits like AirBnB want to tear up portions of the social contract to benefit themselves.

        1. Joe Well

          @lyman, are you serious?

          You’ll probably never see this, but a motel at $80/night * 90 nights = $2400/month, and in a place where there are $80 motels (I’ll leave aside that towards the centers of great metro areas in the US they do not exist), there are much nicer $1500/month studio apartments on airbnb.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        I’ve considered the camping version of airbnb(don’t remember the name, atm).
        I’ll trade tent/cabin space for farm labor.
        great views…wildlife(not just me)…clean air…if not silence, then a lack of human noise…
        the hoes and shovels and such are over there…

        1. The Rev Kev

          I’m still waiting to see if they bring out a version of airbnb that rents out rooms by the hour.

          1. Rajesh K

            The concept does exist in Asia. It’s called a “love motel”. You can imagine what those are used for,

            1. Procopius

              They may also be called “privacy hotels” or “curtain motels,” where you can pull your car into a garage, they pull a curtain across the door so no one can see the car or the license plate, and the entrance to the room is from the garage.

            2. Joel Well

              Once upon a time, we had love motels here in Boston, but they got gentrified out decades ago. In one case, a municipality actually used eminent domain to seize a motel and sell the property to a developer.

              I am saying Boston but I’m sure it applies to other big US cities, too.

  7. Enquiring Mind

    Everglades, eventually Neverglades with intrusions of more petroleumish and extraction substances to crowd out all that salt water and brackish water. One braces for news of flare-offs or spontaneous combustion events with resulting barbecued gators.

    When there is seemingly no place left unpolluted, and a Judge opines to that effect, the official word, or fix, is in. Let the games begin.

    1. DJG

      Enquiring Mind: Yep, judges offering opinions on science, a dangerous thing. In fact, letting any lawyer talk about any rigorous intellectual discipline or a trade is a dangerous thing. Lawyers should be kept to their speculations on Shakespeare’s birth and their debates on the best golf clubs–things they do better than the average human being, who usually has other responsibilities.

      I note that in Wisconsin (the article that Lambert cites a few down) a dangerous chemical was pulled after some tests of the the sewage. Don’t get a judge involved: Poisonous waste is already hazardous, so why not offer more?

      1. allan

        That would be 4. I’m praying to Diety that #4 in the order of succession (after Northam, Fairfax and Herring), the House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox, has something in his past.
        (And how couldn’t he? He was preceded in office by Chip Dicks.)

        Going out on a limb here, I’m guessing that the 1981 yearbooks of Richard Bland College are in short supply.

  8. Broke

    Re: Republican wants to deduct student loans from paycheck

    I’m in the student loan forgiveness program. If you don’t know, you have to make 120 qualifying payments to get rest forgiven. The easiest way to do this is to set up auto payments from your bank account.

    Basically then, as far as I’m concerned, the feds (or rather, my provatized federal student loan processor) are already doing this to me.

    1. kurtismayfield37

      If the Fed is backing the loan, and is collecting the money, why aren’t you getting a sweetheart interest rate? They should be charging the Federal discount rate.

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Haven’t paid a dime of my 100k.

      Let Lamar Loose This Poisonous Arrow.

      And watch how quickly Loan Forgiveness is passed.

  9. clarky90

    Re “The biosphere”

    Our climate no longer “sparks joy” in us, as it did when I was a child

    I love “the climate.” I am out in the sunshine, the rain, the wind, the storms, the snow. I spend about 120 nights a year in a one person tent.

    I live in a beautiful place, yet I hardly see anybody outside The outside has become a fearful place now. (OMG, skin cancer!)

    People reside inside their homes, cars, workplace and entertainment place.

    Our, formerly, precious climate is now portrayed as “The Other”. It is no longer the the source of our pride and joy. “The Great Ohio River flood of xxxx” or the “beautiful, hot Southern Ohio summer of xxxx” or the “The terrible wind storms of xxxx, that toppled the giant oak tree”. Our climate used to be the historical marker of the lives of local communities; just as births, deaths, marriages, falling-outs, afflictions…. are the historical markers of a life.

    The MSM characterizes Our Climate as no longer “Ours”, but, actually, an alien death force. The Climate (The Other) is portrayed as a dark, evil stranger; lurking around our communities. Stalking us. Conspiring to kill us all! And soon. (within decades)

    1. pretzelattack

      you’re talking about weather, i think. at any rate it’s not ours, and the evil stranger is exxon and the like. you are as i understand it less likely to get skin cancer after a bunch of governments got together and partially addressed the ozone problem

      1. c_heale

        I think it’s too easy to blame only oil companies (although they appear to have acted much like the tobacco companies, regarding dangers with their products). How often do you turn on the air conditioning, by plastic crap, or electronic toys, eat in restaurants, see the latest movie, “love progress”. No-one wants to give up all these unnecessary pleasures, but if we are going to slow down climate change, we will all have to change. If we all cut down how much we buy, and how much energy we use that will be a start. But of course, that will destroy our “economy”. But we have no choice if we want humanity to survive.

        1. pretzelattack

          well i keep the thermostat at 72 in winter, 78 in summer, buy little plastic crap or electronic toys (still have the flip phone), eat in restaurants, and rarely see movies because most of them are awful imo. and i’m blaming coal companies, too. individual choices are necessary, but the best immediate thing we could do to mitigate is get off fossil fuels asap, which is hard to do because the whole system is set up to use them, the regulators are captured, and the politicians corrupt.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            True enough, within reason. You can’t take the bus if there isn’t one, and you can’t take the train where no trains go.

            So what purpose does individual conservation living serve? It helps you live and display your sullen rejection of the pro-waste anti-conservation basis engineered into every aspect of the mainstream civilization. It may lend you credibility if/when you want to suggest society-wide pro-conservation engineering throughout the civilization itself. And if enough millions or tens of millions of individuals do it against certain targeted pain-infliction pressure points, those tens of millions may weaken a particular target enough to make in vulnerable to legal and regulatory forcible conservation-engineering.

    2. c_heale

      Clarky90: This is great. I think something similar could be said about horror movies (and not only horror movies) – so many have a subtext of a fear of nature. Our ancestors knew nature was dangerous, but they also knew they were part of it. Nowadays, many people think they are above nature, in part due to a fetish for technology (the latest perfect tablet that you can immerse yourself in, is a completely artificial world – a world made entirely by man, although it often contains representations of nature), partly due to religions putting us above and separate from nature, and partly due to many people living in cities – being isolated from the natural world.

      Ironically cities are most vulnerable to climate change.

  10. Chris

    File this perhaps under The Bezzle?

    I can’t imagine my bank telling me the CEO died and now I can’t get my money out of my account. Yeesh :(

    1. kurtismayfield

      This whole thing smells like an exit scam

      CEO goes to India to build an orphanage, dies.

      Wife of two months changed the names on all their property so that she is the sole owner weeks ago

      According to documents obtained by The Chronicle Herald, since Gerald Cotten’s death on December 9, Robertson took out collateral mortgages on four Nova Scotia properties the couple owned and were left to Robertson in a will Cotten signed off on just days before his death.

      These documents show that within a few days at the end of January, Robertson took her deceased husband’s name from the ownership of the four properties, worth a combined $1.1 million, then took out collateral mortgages on all four in favour of a trust of which she is a trustee, and finally transferred ownership of at least two of those properties to that trust.

      That is a lot of Financial cover to take for a trip to India to build an orphanage!

      1. Procopius

        There used to be many small shops on Khao San Road in Bangkok where I could buy a death certificate for anybody you cared to name. University diplomas were more popular. So were driver’s licenses. I’m sure you could buy a death certificate from India there, too, or Berzerkistan if that suited your fancy. None of the stories I’ve seen have stated where (what town) the death was supposed to have happened, nor have they said what was done with the remains.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      When the Everything Bubble is chronicled centuries from now, this story will be up there with the tale about the Dutch servant cooking up the tulip bulb that was worth more than the entire house.

      Along those lines I remember a great WSJ piece after the first dotcom bubble popped. It proposed a Pepsi machine as a tangible memorial to the mindset of those days: at first they were free to the startup workers, then subsidized, then full price, and finally written into the business plan….

  11. JohnnyGL


    For those who enjoyed Tulsi Gabbard making heads explode in this morning’s links….it reminded me of the last time someone made heads explode on the topic of Syria on Morning Joe.

    Jeff Sachs absolutely crushed this one. He even NAMED the CIA operation to arm the rebels, Timber Sycamore! That’s how much truth he dropped in that 5 minute segment.

        1. Tvc15

          Gabbard seems to have hit a nerve with the corporate media with her crazy talk about Medicare for all and peace. CNN egregiously omitted her from their presidential image Lambert posted. She’s getting the 2016 Bernie treatment and the recent Morning Joe interview was a disgusting attempted smear from the “left” leaning MSNBC.

            1. Big Tap

              MSNBC for most of its life has skewed to the right politically except for the short stint of the Keith Olbermann years. MSNBC hosts include(d) the likes of Michael Savage, Alan Keyes, Don Imus, Pat Buchanan, Tucker Carlson, Joe Scarborough, Chris Matthews, and Andrea Mitchell plus their current Republican/libertarian people. These are not progressive but establishment Democratic/Republican party types who are conservative by nature.

              MSNBC was considered ‘left’ only in its relation to Fox News. Now it is a network which seems to support all foreign incursions. Wars are good financially for Comcast and for some of the hosts and pundits such as military people with their MIC investments. If you are anti war Comcast will try to destroy you. It’s in their interest to do so.

      1. integer

        It’s been fun watching Jimmy Dore’s hatred of the ruling class and their toadies (heh, that word is always going to remind me of Bari Weiss’s pathetic performance now) evolve over the last couple of years. I used to find him a bit mild in his criticisms, but he’s really been nailing it lately. Morning Joe really is a disgrace, and whenever I see Mika Brzezinski and her husband shamelessly propagandizing the public from their prime time slot on MSNBS, all I can think about is how Mika’s father, Zbigniew Brzezinski, said this:

        “Shortly, the public will be unable to reason or think for themselves. They’ll only be able to parrot the information they’ve been given on the previous night’s news.”

        And this:

        “People, governments and economies of all nations must serve the needs of multinational banks and corporations.”

        And this:

        “The society will be dominated by an elite of persons free from traditional values who will have no doubt in fulfilling their objectives by means of purged techniques with which they will influence the behavior of people and will control and watch the society in all details. It will become possible to exert a practically permanent watch on each citizen of the world.”

        And how Mika said this:

        “[Trump] could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think, and that is our job.”

    1. DonCoyote

      Yes, I would have loved for her to have brought in a tape of that Jeff Sachs interview, and for her to do a Jon Stewart-esque “roll 212” when the “why are we in Syria” bullshit starts. On their own show. Really makes the MSM agenda transparent.

    1. Oregoncharles

      It’s hard to imagine bridges like that as highways, magnificent as they are, but the Inca did not use wheeled vehicles – though they had toys with wheels. Their roads were for foot traffic, both humans and llamas; they used runners for long-distance communications. Look at the map – they covered what is now 4 countries. A remarkable civilization that happened to be in disarray when the Conquistadors found it, and didn’t have guns or horses.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I recall they had housing or lodging along those roads, for those runners, so they did not become homeless.

      2. Joe Well

        It wasn’t the guns or horses. It was the germs and steel.

        Pizarro wiped out Atahualpas private army with just a few dozen men armed woth steel swords that cut right through the Inca shields. And then an epidemic badly damaged the ability of the rest of the Empire to fight back.

    2. Procopius

      I was interested to read an article some years ago that explained the quipu was far more complex than just an accounting device. They were actually historical records, and a few years ago there were still a couple of people (at least) who were able to read them.

  12. BoyDownTheLane

    Just thinking out loud, but maybe Senator Warren could salvage something of her career by standing in for Ariana Grande at the Grammys. “… A reporter on Wednesday asked if she would drop out of the race and she responded, “Thank you.” … Fox News’ Shepard Smith called Warren’s actions “cultural appropriation.” A Boston Globe columnist wrote flatly: With latest revelation, Elizabeth Warren can’t beat Donald Trump…” https://www.foxnews.com/politics/warren-apologizes-for-native-american-claim-signals-there-may-be-other-documents-out-there

    1. JohnnyGL

      I’ve come to think of the possibility that AOC, Gabbard, Warren and Sanders have come to at least a tacit agreement that the former three are to act as the fullbacks who are lead blockers charging ahead and smashing open the left side of the Overton window like Viking raiders. Bernie will then race into the space provided and come across as occupying ‘the new center’ in American politics.


      Now, AOC gives some wonderful answers (claiming private sector failure was excellent, the externalities thing too) but I winced at a couple of others.

      She seems to kind of understand MMT, but not quite well-enough to crush the more sophisticated deficit-hawk scare-mongers like Inskeep who skillfully baits her into saying ‘investments will pay for themselves’ and then springs the trap with the retort, “that’s what republicans said about their tax cuts”.

      Instead, I’d have preferred to see her reverse the “how you gunna pay for dat?” trap and say, “what’s the plan to pay for the cost of inaction??? We’re looking at large chunks of the east coast being under-water within a few decades. I’m not about to fret and moan about some charts and graphs of future debts and deficits when we’re going to see millions of Americans lose their homes to storm surges over the course of our lifetimes.

      I didn’t have the fortune to meet my grandfather, but he could proudly claim ‘we beat the nazis because it was what we had to do’. No one said, “but what about the deficit?”

      People like Inskeep will have to tell their grandchildren, “sorry, we couldn’t stop climate change, it would have cost too much”

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        I hope you’re right…but based on the “Bernie stole a black woman’s shine!” pearl-clutching re: SOTU (despite doing one every year…and doing his an hour later….on Facebook…and praising Abrams…and Kamala Harris doing hers before and actually trying to steal Abrams’s thunder…with nary a peep from oligarch media), I fully expect a large enough % of “liberals” to sit out or poutily vote for a Bloomberg/Schultz oligarchy-safety-release-valve candidate in the event they can’t fix the primary effectively enough this time.

        The Trump presidency is gauche and offends their sensibilities but the war machine keeps turning and the poors keep getting ground to dust, so they play-act at #Resistance.

        Sanders is the asteroid that kills all the dinosaurs, and they know it.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s often said that first impressions are important.

        For a lot of people, this is their first MMT exposure…and is it possible she is…

        Personally for me, I struggle when learning something new, and many times, I have to go through a doubting period…arguing against it. When I overcome that, the understanding is deeper for me.

      3. notabanker

        I’m with you on this. Not sure if Warren is in the club or not though. A Sander / Gabbard ticket is starting to look kind of interesting.

        AOC doesn’t say all the things I want her to say either, but man, she’s only 29 and what she is doing is nothing short of remarkable. People are listening to her in droves. I really hope the DCCC crew is fat dumb and happy. They can keep spouting off the commie russian stuff on the corporate owned media because I really believe that gig is up. People know and aren’t buying any of this canned stuff anymore.

        I spent some time looking at the super delegate stuff today as well as the register voter rolls in my state. The next election is going to be won in the primaries. Unaffiliated voters out number registered Dems and Repubs 2-1 in my state. Primary voter turnout was 30% in 2016. 1/3 of those cast Dem ballots.

        There is a massive opportunity to take ticket in 2020 if you can mobilize turnout for the Dem primary. 66% wins it outright and eliminates the super delegates. North of 50% could take it on the first ballot at the convention where the super delegates are not allowed to vote in 2020.

        AOC won her seat doing just that, mobilizing voters for the primary. She could be a serious difference maker in American politics with the right slate of candidates.

        Conversely, DCCC strategy HAS TO be diluting the primary vote so there is no first ballot majority and letting the super delegates come in to save the day. That’s why identity politics are crucial to them. They have to split and dilute that vote.

        1. John k

          I’ve been touting sanders Gabbard for a year. She is providing cover for rational foreign policy.
          AOC better than tulsi domestic but too young until 2024.
          Everybody scared sanders would win the general, indies are the biggest voting block.
          The Agreed need to win first ballot, but seems likely, he’ll get too much attention this time, blogs now bigger, msm smaller… old farts that went for Clinton now older, some have left, meanwhile the young uns that went Bernie now supplemented with former 14-15-16-17 year olds…. dem elites think old reps will go away, making the general easier… this looks at demographics from a different direction.

            1. RMO

              This is a very small sample size to go by but I recently took a dive into the Twitter sewer as I was trying to find out the background on something that seemed to have happened with some of the video makers I watch. They and most of their viewership are largely twenty to mid thirties and are left leaning Democrat voters judging by their politically oriented writing. For the most part it’s difficult to read because they certainly suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome and Russia!Russia!Russia! – encouragingly however AOC seems to be very well liked among them – lots of posts with her tweets. They also seem to have trouble buying into the “Bernie is a Russian asset and besides he’s old and white and only racists and misogynists support him” rubbish. I noticed with some of them a certain difficulty with opposing Trump’s move to get the U.S. out of Syria too – I could almost see the grinding gears being caused by having to reconcile their own, understandable, contempt for Trump and reflex opposition to anything he does, with the clear reality that getting out is by far the logical thing to do. It gives me a little hope for the future.

              Seems funny now that there was once a time, not long ago when saying war is bad wasn’t a controversial opinion.

        2. John k

          Four years later, old dems are leaving, young ones are joining the rolls. Has to be good for Bernie.
          And tulsi is helping move the window left, IMO a good fit.
          Warren looks to be flaming out.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      Remember Jesse Helms?

      You needed that job….

      That ugly old dinosaur didn’t even bother to dog whistle. But he knew his voters, and that ad rang true to a lot of undecideds who didn’t share all his paleo views.

      So now we have another humorless New England school marm, preaching white guilt at flyover country, while taking a rung up herself.

      It is *you* who must sacrifice to level the playing field. Me, I’ll keep stacking my $8M Gov-Ed-Complex benefits package, plus my keen eye for cattle futures (oops wait, that was our last would-be Global Head of HR).

      Forward she cried, from the rear, as the front rank died….

  13. William Hunter Duncan

    “OK, maybe not the guillotine, but how about (as Yves puts it) some government-assisted creative destruction?d”

    “Prominent Republican wants to take student-loan payments out of your paycheck”

    What about Bezos, Buffet, the Koch brothers, Blankfein, Dimon, Schultz, Hedgies, Lamar Alexander etc washing bedpans for the elderly for $10/hr for a decade. Monopolize that, fckstcks.

  14. Carolinian

    Re that silly New Yorker premise–how did a once presumably more history-fied populace save us from the “quacks, charlatans, and jingos” who preceded Trump? To give but one example: J.K. Galbraith said of Milton Friedman, “the problem with his ideas is that they have been tried.” This didn’t stop a thing. To modify a well known saying: those who (willingly) forget history are (eager) to repeat it. The New Yorker assumes that the engine of “history” is an ignorance of the past when it quite obviously is in fact self-interest.

    1. pjay

      The first question that came to my mind in reading this was: how many Yale history majors at the upper levels of our dominant institutions are true believers in the anti-Russia narrative? I flagged a number of quotes from this relatively short essay, but here’s one:

      “Donald Trump is the king not only of lies but also of ahistorical assertions. It’s hard to pick a favorite among the thousands of falsehoods that Trump has told as President, but one recent shocker was when he insisted, ignoring everything we know about the Soviet Union’s lawless behavior, that “the reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there.” (The usually Trump-friendly Wall Street Journal editorial page claimed, “We cannot recall a more absurd misstatement of history by an American President.”) Republicans, for the past few decades, have depended on Americans’ inability to make sense of history in judging their policies.”

      Hmm. While obviously simplistic, there is actually a lot of historical truth in this statement. Off the top of my head I can think of many more absurd misstatements by American Presidents — including some by Trump. Since Alterman has a PhD in history (albeit from Stanford – which is just a “science” school after all), he must know this, right? It really doesn’t matter, because this is really just another New Yorker article to buck up the Resistance while trying to explain the irrational actions of the Deplorables.

      Thanks Lambert for the antidote article on Obama.

      1. Hameloose Cannon

        In 1978, a communist do-over coup of 1973’s coup toppled the Afghan government, again, killing the first family, and began a series of fatal policies. One of which, banning sharia-compliant rural financing and replacing it with an apparent system of soviet-style bribery. Forbidden under sharia, bribery did not go over with the tribal elders and mullahs, who soon found themselves in prison. Another oops was executing 27,000 prisoners, many of whom were those same beloved protesting Papa’s of young angry men. The Afghan government tried to self-correct with another palace coup led by the foreign minister. Remembering their own Muslim southern republics, the Kremlin did not find any of this amusing, and sent the Spetsnaz to the Kabul palace before things escalated any further.

        But think about the context, at the time, Moscow, Washington, Beijing were going out of their minds over India’s nuclear program. Having a knack for engineering, the Indians were hitting it out of the park. The first nuclear test in 1974 was named “Smiling Buddha”, which given the penchant of Buddhist monks for self-immolation, basically triggered a global existential crisis. Psychological stability among the world’s Brass was at level “Looney Tunes”. Things in South Asia were– In the immortal words of Jimmy Carter, when asked, in layman’s terms, what business he was in –“It’s Nuts!”

        1. pjay

          “Remembering their own Muslim southern republics, the Kremlin did not find any of this amusing, and sent the Spetsnaz to the Kabul palace before things escalated any further.”

          This is in part the “historical truth” in Trump’s statement – that the Soviets perceived a real threat and took action. Part of this action was certainly directed to removing a corrupt and brutal regime. Trump’s statement is muddy, of course. But I also think your account is somewhat one-sided, since the Saudis, Pakistan, and the CIA (among other interests) had been stirring up trouble for some time. The Soviets were aware of this as well. Not all the “tribal elders and mullahs” were the good guys — though you are right about the pre-invasion governments.

          History aside, however, my main point is to emphasize that of all the ridiculous Trump statements one *could* have used as examples, Alterman chose this one. Why? It seems pretty obvious to me; it’s an example of Trump “ignoring everything we know about the Soviet Union’s lawless behavior” and making excuses for the Rooskies. The other example more briefly cited by Alterman involves immigration. Both topics are currently red meat to the liberal “Resistance”.

  15. Jerry B

    My two cents for today: I for one am tired of US Politics. I feels like I am in high school. Or it feels like a product of the world’s religious history or our authoritarian family past. For those of you close to 60 yrs old, remember the TV show Father Knows Best?

    We have been socialized to believe some religious figure or authority figure will rescue us. Parents, Teachers, Religious Figures, Bosses, CEOs, Authority Figures. We have been socialized our whole lives to rely on someone else to tell us what to do. Now it’s Kamala, Hillary, Bernie, Donald, Stacey, Kirsten, etc. will save us. Please. Its so narcissistic. Our politics has become a mix of Huxley’s A Brave New World and Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death.

    I think Bernie is different though in he continually reiterates the point that it is not HIM but the revolution.

    I read somewhere either on Black Lives Matter or Black Agenda Report this statement: Supports only policies. Never political parties or candidates.

    I wish I could remember Lambert’s phrase about concrete material benefits or something like that. The voters of this country need a manifesto much like Sander’s response to the SOTU. These are the policies we want irregardless of who is in what office. I very much appreciate Lambert and Yves pulling back the curtain on each politician and keeping us informed.

    I do think, maybe too optimistically so, that change is coming and it’s going to be a pitchfork type of change. I have noticed that it seems the elites are becoming even more concentrated and “pulling up the ladder” so to speak.

    You can see it in the sports leagues where the owners are obscenely wealthy and are starting to squeeze the salaries of players and managers. They talk about “rebuilding” but they are just lowering the payroll in order to make money. There are maybe a handful of teams in each league that have a realistic chance at a championship and everyone else is “rebuilding”. What a crock. The owners are raking in money. Forbes just put out their list of NBA team valuations. The New York Knicks are worth $4 billion. The top three most valued teams won-loss records currently are near the bottom of the NBA. But the owners are making money!!!


    Apologies for the sports digression. I tend to see a lot of similarities between sports and society.

    There is going to be an obscenely wealthy elite living in the major cities and then there is the rest of the country.

    The recent property purchases of Illinois billionaire Ken Griffin is the yearly budget of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.


    And at some point the rest of the country is going to reach a breaking point and then hopefully pitchforks.

    Thanks for reading my rambling and crabby rant! Chicago is currently cold and wet and my arthritic 60 year old body is not happy!!

    1. zagonostra

      > I tend to see a lot of similarities between sports and society.

      Absolutely. Not only sports, but music, and popular culture in general (Adorno always comes to mind).

      I had an interesting exchange recently on the use of Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind” to sell Budweiser beer during the Superbowl. I am trying understand why the “re-contextualization” of the song struck me as sickening, as did the voice over of MLK to sell trucks the year before, but others are just fine with it.

      Enjoyed your 2 cents’ post…I’m about to turn 60 myself

      1. Jerry B

        Thanks Zag!. I am a huge fan of Adam Curtis’s Century of the Self. It is mostly on You Tube as Parts, 1, 2, and 3. I cannot recommend it enough. On different posts over the last few years Yves has recommended Century of the Self as well. After watching Century of the Self, I never viewed politicians or the media the same way again. I miss the days when politicians just did their job and were not rock stars. Now it’s propaganda, public relations, focus groups, messaging, Super Pacs.!

        Lambert, Thomas Frank and others have written about the duplicitousness of the professional and meritocratic classes and their entitled behavior.

        IMNSHO if a person wants to run for state or federal office then all voters should be able to see a complete dossier of them. Where did they go to school? (Not looking for Ivies just want to know), What was your major? Job history? Family background. Copies of transcripts from high school and college. And they would be subjected to a battery of tests that measure IQ, Personality, Emotional Intelligence, etc. Something like what NASA astronauts go through. Show the voters the results and then maybe.

        I watched some of the Kavanaugh hearings and I could not believe that the people on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The inane and moronic questions! They are the best we can do??? From my comment above it felt like I was watching the high school jock getting soft balled by the prom committee!

        Lastly Robert Kegan, the author and developmental psychologist has mentioned in his books especially In Over Our Heads that most people (IMO including politicians) are not very advanced developmentally. Many are adult adolescents or barely adults. The educational (primary and higher ed) system in the US over the last 40 years has focused too much on cognitive skills and job skills and not enough on psychological and emotional development. That has to change. I have known my share of people with advance degrees who are cognitively very smart and have high IQs but are developmentally and emotionally stunted.

        Unfortunately we seem to be going backward where money buys political office. i.e. the last two Illinois governors have been billionaires!

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          aye. while the aristocracy pulls up the ladders…what I’m noticing in my portion of the Bottom is that the hyperpartisan insanity appears to be on the wane.
          My cousin in law’s husband(!?) is a right wing business repub…dyed in the wool…now retired, and older and sicker(and comfortable…and has rediscovered Weed!).We never got along, at all, until last year.
          I got high with him over 2 days this week and rode around our place and the neighbors bigger place(so, the whole little valley), looking at trees and grass and the too early flowers… and talked about everything from taxing the uberrich to medicare for all to a new new deal to killing Big Ag to a pox on both parties….and he agreed without reservation! Him: ” I don’t need a billion bucks…and I can’t see why anyone does…”
          This is an extreme and extended version of a thousand tiny symposia I find myself in, everywhere from the feed store to the produce aisle to the mom and pop gas station where I get beer.
          this apparent sea change is below the surface…and it directly correlates with the ascension of the Orange One.
          Clintonists engineered a stalking horse, lost to it, and that horse then broke everything.
          (add the usual caveats about small sample size, anecdote, etc)

          1. Stillfeelinthebern

            Enjoyed this! Find a similiar flip in my rural Midwest community, but it is formerly legacy Republican women who voted Republican because their parents did and their husbands do. They can stand how mean POTUS is and they all say ,”I’m so sick of my husband watching Fox news.”

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > This is an extreme and extended version of a thousand tiny symposia I find myself in

            Thank you for this continuing series of reports. More like this, please, readers.

            1. Amfortas the Hippie

              ja. too bad they killed the Humanities, and all….
              arlie hochschild is the only actual anthropology type that I’m aware of who’s rejected the reliance on “Models” and polls and statistical augury, and went forth among the Mundanes to learn what’s really happening.
              I do it out of long habit…thinking of myself as an anthropologist embedded with a hostile tribe is how I learned to cope with being a weirdo smart kid in rural Texas
              …and I wasn’t always so circumspect…almost forgiving…of these often violent morons as I am now,lol.
              it hit me around the second iraq invasion:”who are these people? and why do they believe these things?”
              answering that entailed listening, rather than preaching.
              This is not always easy (see: Tea Party, Hillary=”Socialist”, etc) , but it has been eye opening.
              If I put on my tinfoil hat, I can’t help thinking that the lack of such close fieldwork(and the evisceration of the Humanities, in general) is intentional…like Nixon killing his own marihuana(sic) report because it negated everything they were trying to push as “reality”.

              1. Jerry B

                Brilliant stuff in that comment Amfortas!

                ===who are these people? and why do they believe these things?====

                Since I was born I have viewed most people that way especially in the US. While knowing my whole life that I was particularly sensitive it has been in the last few years that I have embraced being what the author Elaine Aron calls a Highly Sensitive Person–her book.

                Recently I have become aware that I have aspects of myself that are very anthropological. In other words getting imbedded in cultures. Too much of what occurs on the internet is focused on single issues which is fine. However much of what is happening in the US is cultural, sociological, and products of history.

                You might enjoy this: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2013/10/17/in-praise-of-the-flaneur/

                ====answering that entailed listening, rather than preaching====

                As much as I love NC one of my issues with blogs and the internet in general is that it lends itself to more preaching than listening. To listen IMO requires
                at minimum phone calls (i.e. not texting or emails!) and ideally face to face human contact. Which leads to:

                ===I can’t help thinking that the lack of such close fieldwork====

                We need more “fieldwork”. Like an army of anthropologists, social workers, activists, etc. doing fieldwork and listening.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  Very happy to publish such fieldwork even as snippets; I’m sure there are other NC commenters out doing this.

                  Sharing in comments is great; might help us as moderators in hoisting such comments if the “fieldworkers” could agree on a tag of some kind for their comments so we could search.

                  1. Jerry B

                    Thanks Lambert. I think one aspect of “fieldwork” are the meetups that Yves and you do around the country.

                    I think one reason fieldwork in the US has become more difficult is the atomization and isolation of the country. The suburban sprawl has also had a large effect on “on the ground” activism. Many suburbs lack sidewalks and/or a type of downtown where fieldwork can be done. Not impossible just more obstacles to overcome.

                    Also post 9/11 and in the age of terrorism and mass shootings people are very paranoid, anxious, and anti social. My wife and I are the type to say hi and try to strike up conversations and usually are met with no reply at all or are ignored ….by both men and women.

                    Also the author Sherry Turkle has written books such as Reclaiming Conversation and others.

                2. Amfortas the Hippie

                  re: Flaneur.
                  coolness! My sort of unconscious model for this(aside from Eliade, or CL Strauss) was Jack Kerouac…specifically the Dharma Bums(“rucksack nation of wandering Bhikkus”,lol)
                  as I said, I’ve always been an outsider(initially a defense mechanism), and “doing field work” in this manner has been my hobby/entertainment/sanity pill.
                  all that time in and around the big med center in san antone…i’d get stir crazy and go wander…to smoke, to eat. I was afraid of getting lost, and of losing my parking spot…and am no longer adept at traffic,lol…so I walked.
                  In spite of cripplehood.
                  it’s an entirely different world than the one we drive through.
                  overgrown lot, real estate signs=homeless ad hoc encampment. right there in a shiny professional part of town. never see it from a moving vehicle.
                  I talked to all kinds of people…those homeless souls, folks waiting for the bus, family members of other patients,cops taking a break from directing traffic through the construction mazes,nubile nurse trainees, weathered experienced nurses….even Suits descending from on high.
                  I still loathe the city, and will happily never leave the farm again, but it was definitely a different perspective.
                  prior to all this mess, I’ve been a hermit for 20 years…venturing into town(pop:3000) for work and supplies….and “doing anthroplogy” in those kinds of brief, limited encounters.
                  I’m still thinking about the correlations and commonalities between the two realms.
                  -it becomes more and more obvious to me that we…I’d venture all of us…don’t know much about the people we share our part of the world with…even though we insist to ourselves that we do. the labels and categories we rely on as a sort of lazy shorthand are obsolete.

              2. Procopius

                I’m reading an Elmore Leonard novel, one of his Westerns, called “Gunsights.” A young, inexperienced newspaper reporter is interviewing one of the two main characters, both of whom are being played up as gunmen by the other many reporters.

                “It’s said you’ve killed between ten and twenty men. How many exactly did you?”

                “That’s not the question to ask.?”

                Maurice Dumas thought a moment. “Did you know their names?”

                And saw Mr. Early pause over his breakfast and look at him with interest.

                “That’s the question. How did you know to ask it?”

                “It seemed like a good one,” the reporter said.

  16. Oregoncharles

    I think that “mini-essay” deserved its own entry.

    ” (I’m sure that libertarians, the Green Party, and anarchists would regard this as an insultingly gross oversimplification.) ” Yup. (And incidentally, links might have been nice: http://www.lp.org and http://www.gp.org; no idea, for anarchists.) But I like the idea of a “field.” Can’t speak for the Libertarians (upper case L), but the Green Party draws, in part, from wide parts of the field. And I think many people’s personal politics do, too – Noam Chomsky is an example.

    Then there’s “If Trump truly wants to govern in a bi-partisan manner, let’s take a look at what the overwhelming majority of the American people want:” Bernie’s first quoted sentence seriously misrepresents our politics. He equates “bi-partisan” with ” the overwhelming majority.” According to polls, the majority are far, far to the left using the shorthand), on most issues, of BOTH “major” parties. His “look” would condemn the Democrats, too.

    The misrepresentation is especially serious if you’re using a “field” description of politics, because it’s purely bi-polar, accepting the particular division made by the corporate parties. Disappointing, at best, but, to be fair, that’s the world Bernie has always worked in.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks for that comment. Small parties are being ignored.

      I’m reminded of that film, Black and White in Color, about the French and Germans fighting in West Africa in 1915.

      The little native guys: “But they are our houses you two are bombing away!!!”

      Because they were invisible.

  17. Watt4Bob

    So Wells Fargo is suffering a major systems failure, and all the news organizations are parroting the initial company explanation that there was a fire at one of their data centers, and have been reporting that story for hours, but also as recently as 30 minutes ago.

    However, Data Center Dynamics, an industry website reported 3 hours ago that there was no fire, and the local fire department says the same thing.

    What DCD reports is that a fire suppression system went off due to ‘utility work’ and that caused the data center loose power and shut down.

    Our company banks with WF, and my team mates told me they went to the bank to do the deposit and the tellers were standing around looking embarrassed and nothing worked, no lobby systems, no mobile apps, no ATMs.

    Also from DCD;

    A Wells Fargo employee told DCD under condition of anonymity: As of 7:30 EST- All 3 Wells Fargo Auto locations are down too (Chandler, AZ; Irving, TX; and Raleigh, NC)

    Isn’t it nice to know that these big banks have back-up systems that allow us to have peace of mind concerning our ability to do business?

    And isn’t also nice to know that our MSM will tell us what’s going on, even if it irritates the rich and powerful?

    um, yeah.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      They’ll tell you all about it tonight on Rachel Maddow, and you’ll never guess who’s really responsible.

    2. c_heale

      There have been a lot of IT screwups in major banks recently. One will take a bank down one day. That day may not be too far away. Bank systems don’t seem to be very resilient or have anywhere near enough redundancy. And I think that will lead to major civic disorder. If you’ve no money, you can’t eat.

      1. Angie Neer

        I remember reading here about the IT meltdown at TSB in the UK last year (https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jun/06/timeline-of-trouble-how-the-tsb-it-meltdown-unfolded). That should have taken taken the bank down, but apparently most of their customers considered those massive problems less of a hassle than changing banks. I still marvel at that. Certainly it’s another data point that the banks will remember, indicating that they can take the crapification way farther before they suffer any serious consequences.

      2. AdamK

        No IT system, or any computer system, is immune from outages and going down. There could always be scenario which isn’t covered. The more complicated the system the more failure is probable. It is laughable to watch the experts claim otherwise. I’m using apple phone and at the beginning it was impressively stable, now with so many apps added it is functioning poorly. There are so much scenarios that can be tested, race and timing. Each change requires endless regression tests which are time consuming and costly and this is why every software has a shelf life.

        1. Grebo

          I was working in a bank HQ once when the power went out. They had a massive UPS which worked, and a massive diesel generator which failed to start. This was the middle of the night and only a lowly operator was present. He hadn’t been trained to start the generator so after 30 minutes the UPS was exhausted and the mainframe was silenced.
          I sometimes wonder how much money was lost that night.

  18. Carolinian

    Latest Moon: maybe the Dems are showing a little spine on Venezuela.

    But the U.S. Senate is already quarreling about the potential use of U.S. forces in Venezuela. The Democrats strongly reject that.

    A Senate resolution to back Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, once expected to get unanimous support, has been torpedoed by a disagreement over the use of military force, according to aides and senators working on the issue.

    “I think it’s important for the Senate to express itself on democracy in Venezuela, supporting interim President Guaido and supporting humanitarian assistance. But I also think it should be very clear in fact that support stops short of any type of military intervention,” [Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.] told NBC News.


    Trump brought in Abrams–Ollie North next?

    1. John Ashley

      Shows Bobby is not serious about much,maybe too much time spent on vaca in PR.

      If you support one side and as part of that you send humanitarian aid(ha ha) and that goes sideways or the aid gets diverted then you just throw up your hands and it’s all on you guys now.
      We talked it up but won’t support our talk.

      Then don’t talk it up.
      Cheap tricks by normal pol as usual.

  19. notabanker

    AOC has spent all day lighting up twitter unveiling GND today.

    This from Pelosi in Politico:
    “The California Democrat did agree to launch a select committee on climate change, similar to the one she created back in 2007, when she first became speaker. Pelosi said Wednesday, however, the panel would not be tasked with writing a specific bill, and brushed off the idea of the Green New Deal as a “suggestion.”

    “It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” Pelosi said. “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?””

    Let them eat cake moment here.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think AOC admitted as much that they lacked leverage to elect someone other than Pelosi, and it looks now that they didn’t extract any meaningful promises.

      Not on that new select committe: AOC, the day (Wednesday) before the unveiling of GND (today).

      How much leverage do they have over Pelosi now?

  20. Skip Intro

    I think the CNN graphic was fabricated with two purposes, any incidental similarity to actual policy or ideology is unintentional.
    1. They needed a way to put Kamala in the center.
    2. They needed to disappear Tulsi Gabbard.

    1. Richard

      Well, I’m just blown away that charter school fanatic Cory Booker is almost a democratic socialist. I guess I pretty much have to vote for him now!
      CNN: Gaslighting you since gas and light were invented.

  21. FreeMarketApologist

    RE: Extremely cold weather can sap electric car batteries by up to 40%
    AAA recommends that drivers heat or cool their cars while still plugged in to a charging station.
    And how well is that going to work out for calculating overall efficiency? And now how many people will be heating their garages, so the car is warm and ready when they head out the door on a 20 degree morning? More energy burned to work around the current limitations of chemistry/engineering/technology.

  22. verifyfirst

    I bought a used 2015 Chevrolet Volt plug in hybrid with 18,000 miles last summer as a second car, to dip my toes into electric, and it has been interesting. The morning range indicator (battery full) in summer says 45 miles, in winter it says 25 miles. I don’t know how they calculate that, but they don’t know how I will drive it (heat on, heat off, etc.). at that point in time. (I’m in Michigan).

    During the polar vortex, I got an alarming e-mail from my car (well, from Onstar, technically). It said:

    “Weather forecast predicts temperatures cold enough to immobilize your vehicle. As a precaution, always keep your vehicle plugged-in when not being driven.”

    I was a bit shocked, since I had the impression that as long as I had gas in the car to power the generator engine, that would keep the battery warm enough to run (the car automatically turns the gas engine/generator on–even when the car is not in use–to power a heating/cooling system for the battery, whenever it detects temperatures too cold or hot for the battery).

    For me, keeping the car plugged in when I am not home is not practical.

    So I don’t understand this “immobilize”. I found nothing online or in the owners manual.

  23. ambrit

    In reference to the cannabis investment story; am I right to say that there seems to be a concerted “pump and dump” program going on concerning cannabis stocks in the MSM financial sector recently? I see “Savvy Kindergarten Class Makes Millions on Pot Stocks, You Can Too!” ‘sponsored’ “news” items on CNN all the time now. Someone is pushing these stocks for all they are worth. In a few years are we going to be fondly remembering the “Bong Bubble?” To torture the analogy, I fear that the naive investors are going to be “rolled,” double wide.

  24. Summer

    As the Flint woman said in Micheal Moore’s 11/9…”coming soon to your city.”

    And this is what the establishment has in mind for those with “change” on the brain that doesn’t involve making the wealthy more wealthy:


    “Don’t worry, those low-flying dark helicopters buzzing around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach this week belong to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

    The Army is conducting military training around the cities through Saturday to “enhance soldier skills by operating in various urban environments and settings,” according to a statement released through the LAPD earlier this week.”

    For practice foe what they encounter overseas….wink, wink.

    Yeah, they plan on bringing the troops home alright….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There are winter storms coming…this coming Sunday or next Wednesay (just checked the weather).

      Hopefully they practiced for that as well…how to hold back the raging Pacific Ocean.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          According to Wikipedia, the wise king (a wise monarch?) who warned of the limits was later slandered (by turning it 180 degress) to be a fool being taught the wisdom.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            That’s what I remember reading in an encyclopedia whose name I don’t remember. That King Canute was tired of people over-idealizing him so he went to the seaside in view of the adoring crowd and waited for the tide to start coming in. And at that point commanded it to go out, in order to demonstrate that he couldn’t change the incoming tide out of its own natural cycle by commanding it.

  25. Pookah Harvey

    Sometimes I think people have a hard time conceptualizing how much money the rich actually have. Take Bezos. He graduated Princeton in 1986. He has been working for 33 years, approximately 1,716 weeks. His worth –$120 billion. This means his average accumulation of wealth per week, every week for the last 33 years is $69,930,000.

    There is something very wrong here and I don’t think it is my math.

    1. phemfrog

      With a full time working job coming in at 2080 hours per year, that comes to $1,748,251 per HOUR.

      I make $12 per hour.


  26. Gregorio

    It’s interesting that the CNN graphic with the candidates doesn’t bother to include Tulsi Gabbard who’s a declared candidate, yet they put Bloomberg, O’Rourke, Biden, and others who haven’t even declared. I have also noticed similar treatment of her in polls and discussions in the rest of the corporate media. I guess they’re hoping that if they ignore her, she’ll just go away and make room for Joe, Kamala or Cory. The DNC and their corporate donors will have no trouble backing a corporate shill, a law and order prosecutor, or a guy with imaginary friends, but will never forgive Gabbard in a hundred years for not supporting Hillary. That’s enough reason right there for me to support her.

    1. cm

      This happened on the R side w/ Ron Paul. He came 2nd in the Iowa primary, but all the mainstream media ignored him. IMO the Sanders people should have researched Ron Paul’s treatment, because it was a preview of what Sanders would experience.

      This time around I’m liking Tulsi Gabbard (over Bernie). I hope her people know Sanders’ & Paul’s treatment.

  27. Gregorio

    “Cold temperatures can sap electric car batteries, temporarily reducing their range by more than 40% when interior heaters are used”
    I wonder how long it will be before someone asphyxiates themselves using a propane heater in their Tesla?

  28. ChrisPacific

    I’ve just seen a report that US travel sites like Expedia have stopped offering flights to destinations in Venezuela.

    Navigating to the Expedia site confirms it’s true, although amusingly the very same search that turns up news articles about it also shows Google ads from Expedia for travel to Venezuela. So you can click through to their Venezuela destination page, see all the comments about choices of itinerary, various airport options complete with maps, booking links and so on, and then when you click through you get a ‘destination not found’ error.

  29. ewmayer

    o “The Decline of Historical Thinking” [The New Yorker]. “…A nation whose citizens have no knowledge of history…” — That line is especially guffaw-worthy coming from the magazine which banished the legendary, inconveniently-truthy Sy Hersh. It seems The New Yorker only wants a nation whose citizens have knowledge of the official-narratives-masquerading-as-history of which it approves.

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