2:00PM Water Cooler 3/13/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune


Biden: “The Myth of Joe Biden’s Working-Class Support” [The Atlantic]. “[M]aybe the idea that he’s a magnet for white working-class votes is yet another bit of conventional political wisdom that’s about to be blown apart. Beyond two previous presidential runs that barely got off the ground, he’s never run a race on his own outside Delaware, and the last competitive race he had there was his first one, when Richard Nixon was president. ‘We strongly believed that he would be a help in the industrial Midwest, and we used him there a lot,’ said David Axelrod, the top Obama adviser who helped bring Biden onto the ticket in 2008. Whether he was, in the end, a help in the industrial Midwest, Axelrod said, ‘that’s so hard to say.'” • Ouch. I mean, surely Axelrod had internal polling?

Biden: “The Joe Biden 5-point plan” [Axios]. “With signs pointing increasingly to a 2020 presidential run by former Vice President Joe Biden, here’s the case he’d make, based on our conversations with current and former advisers: The great white (voter) hope: I can bring back the rural, white, mostly male voters who sealed the presidency for Donald Trump. Think Wisconsin.” • That should get some knickers in a twist.



#TheFutureisFemaleFraudulentCollegeAdmissions, apparently. Who knew?

Sanders: “Democrats ignore Bernie Sanders at their own risk” [Boston Herald]. “George W. Bush’s campaign ‘strategerist’ Karl Rove is no Sanders fan, but he observes that since the first of the year, Sanders’ poll numbers have risen steadily, from around 16 percent of Democratic primary voters to 27 percent or so today. Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s numbers have been flat and Liz Warren — Sanders’ New Hampshire nemesis — has plunged. But read the smart-set punditry from the D.C. crowd, and you’ll hear a lot of the same people making the same ‘yeah, but he can’t win’ arguments they made about Donald Trump four years ago. The Washington Post’s ‘Big Crowds But Some Doubt in Early States’ was a typical headline. ‘He is not going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party,’ said Clintonista and newly elected Florida congresswoman Donna Shalala. Former DNC adviser Jamal Simmons calls Sanders ‘the MySpace or the Friendster of the Democratic left.'” • At least MySpace wasn’t raw, unmitigated evil, like Facebook…

Sanders: “Bernie Sanders hits the 2020 campaign trail with rockstar status, a far cry from the start of the 2016 campaign” [Business Insider]. “At one point in the rally, Sanders was interrupted by a man in the crowd as he began to say, ‘Tonight, we say to Donald Trump and the fossil fuel industry…’ The man shouted, ‘F–k you!’ This prompted laughter. Sanders paused and said, ‘Well, that is one way of phrasing it. I, myself, was gonna say it a little differently. I am a senator.'” • Thinking on his feet!

Sanders: “Why Bernie Sanders thinks he can win California this time” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “Sen. Bernie Sanders isn’t conceding California in the Democratic presidential primary race to home state Sen. Kamala Harris. Far from it. Top Sanders campaign officials say he’s planning to have field offices and run commercials across the nation’s most populous state…. ‘We’re going to have a robust campaign in California.’ said Ben Tulchin, Sanders’ San Francisco-based pollster, adding that ‘Bernie is extremely well-positioned’ in California. ‘It will be a well-funded media and field campaign.’… Here’s one sign that the Sanders campaign is far ahead of where it was the last time he ran for president. Then, pollster Tulchin wasn’t hired until October 2015, just four months before the Iowa caucuses. Now, we’re nearly a year away from the first voting, and Tulchin is already on the payroll.” • But I don’t want to hear about who’s on the campaign payroll. I want to hear about the volunteers! Let’s have some reporting that ins’t Rolodex-driven, please!


And it was a crappy job to begin with!

Yang: “Andrew Yang Wants You To Vote For A $1,000-A-Month Basic Income In 2020” [Fast Company]. ” Basic income is an increasingly popular concept, both on the left and right, and particularly in Silicon Valley. Hillary Clinton toyed with the idea in 2016 before rejecting it as overly idealistic. Bernie Sanders has talked approvingly of it. But Yang is the first to actually run on it. As a long-shot candidate, perhaps it’s easier to propose something that most formal politicians think is impossible. Paying $1,000 a month to every American would cost at least $2 trillion a year and the burden would be carried by everyone, not just the well-off.” •

* * *

“How Hip-Hop Talk Show ‘The Breakfast Club’ Became a Must-Stop Spot for 2020 Democratic Candidates” [Daily Beast]. “Few radio personalities keep up relationships with both presidential candidates and the most prominent hip-hop stars. But that has emerged as part of the job for the hosts of The Breakfast Club, the hip-hop morning show on New York’s Power 105.1 that has become as important a stop for politicians as it has for rappers and celebrities. Long a staple of morning talk radio since its 2010 debut, the show has morphed into a must-stop for Democratic political aspirants.”


OK, I’m gonna be a squeeing fan-boi again:

So, yeah, why aren’t oil executives held to the energy equivalent of the Dram Shop Act? Note also: “One of the notable features of AOC rhetorical style is that it often starts from the fact that non-professional classes know stuff and then builds up – a strong implicit contrast both to common liberal condescension and conservative cult of know-nothing-ism.” Absolutely.

Obama Legacy

“Obama officials failed to focus as fentanyl burned its way across America” [Washington Post]. “In May 2016, a group of national health experts issued an urgent plea in a private letter to high-level officials in the Obama administration. Thousands of people were dying from overdoses of fentanyl — the deadliest drug to ever hit U.S. streets — and the administration needed to take immediate action. The epidemic had been escalating for three years…. The administration considered the request but did not act on it.” • Thanks, Obama!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Geopolitics for the Left” [n+1]. “If the left is serious about contending for power, then the statements of its leading figures on such bedrock questions of policy and strategy merit friendly but careful scrutiny…. Looking out a few decades from now, China’s rise presents the greatest threat to US global ascendancy since its beginnings in the 1890s, far greater than the Soviet Union posed after World War II, when the US alone accounted for 50 percent of the world’s total industrial production and essentially all of its advanced technologies. If there is a rational kernel to Trump’s “America First” foreign policy, it is surely that China represents the greatest long-term strategic challenge for the United States, and that US policy therefore must be reoriented around managing Chinese ambitions. Critically, the Trump administration is doing what several generations of US administrations have largely disavowed, which is to formulate foreign economic policy with an eye towards geopolitics.” • Long-form, but well worth a read. I skipped the demolition of the Marshall Plan, an idealistic touchstone for Sanders.

“Voting machines across America are old and inadequate” [Economist]. ” Fully 45 states use equipment that is no longer manufactured, and 40 use machines at least a decade old. This makes finding spare parts and undertaking essential repairs difficult and expensive. The code for some machines is so old that they no longer receive security updates, leaving them vulnerable to cyberattacks.” • And we shouldn’t replace them. We should get rid of them, in favor of hand-marked paper ballots hand-counted in public, as in Canada, the UK, Germany, and other countries.

“Democrats aren’t serious about reparations” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “If you try to calculate the current worth of stolen slave labor, the result is roughly between $1.75 trillion and $12.5 quadrillion. Those are fantastically huge sums, which probably accounts for why every Democrat expressing rhetorical support for reparations have not come out for anything close to a program of that scale… This reluctance is probably also motivated by the fact that reparations poll extremely badly. A 2016 Marist poll found 68 percent of American adults are against the idea, while Data Progress found it 21 points underwater. Even working-class people of color only supported it by 15 points in the latter poll.” • Ouch.

Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, January 2019: “Commercial aircraft orders posted a third straight increase and drove total durable goods orders up” [Econintersect]. “But when excluding aircraft and all other transportation equipment, January orders missed expectations… Capital goods were going in the wrong direction late last year and January’s rebound is the clear positive in a report that, as durable goods orders often are, is clouded by commercial aircraft. Whether future durable goods reports will be even more clouded by aircraft given controversy over the safety of the Boeing 737 Max looks to play out in the coming reports.”

Producer Price Index (Final Demand), February 2019: “Producer prices missed expectations across the board” [Econoday]. “February’s overall weakness came despite a… jump in energy prices, a fact that underscores the lack of price pressures in the economy right now. Today’s report together with yesterday’s CPI will allow the Federal Reserve to extend their wait-and-see approach on monetary policy.”

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, March 2019: “Inflation expectations at the business level are not improving this month, holding at more than a year low” [Econoday]. “Low inflation pressures, especially weakness in inflation expectations, could tilt the Federal Reserve rate outlook, now at neutral, to the downside.”

Construction Spending, January 2019: Did jump, but follows a decline [Econoday]. “The gains for private nonresidential spending together with the jumps in both capital goods orders and shipments for January released earlier this morning will be positives for first-quarter business investment, yet first-quarter residential investment, given the declines underway for single-family homes, looks to hold down GDP once again.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of March 8, 2019: “purchase index climbed sharply” [Econoday]. “This is the fourth weekly improvement in a row in for the yearly rate in what, going into the spring selling season, is a positive signal for an ailing housing market. The report notes, however, that loan sizes continue to rise indicating that high-end buyers, not first-time buyers, are in the market.”

Banks: “Waters calls on regulators to consider ousting Wells Fargo CEO” [Politico]. “‘This hearing has revealed Wells Fargo has failed to clean up its act, it’s too big to manage, and the steps regulators have taken to date are inadequate,’ [Maxine] Waters, a California Democrat, said Tuesday at the end of a four-hour session where [Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan] was grilled by lawmakers.” • When are we going to put some executives in jail?

Banks: “Wells Fargo Says Its Culture Has Changed. Some Employees Disagree.” [New York Times]. “Wells Fargo workers say they remain under heavy pressure to squeeze extra money out of customers. Some have witnessed colleagues bending or breaking internal rules to meet ambitious performance goals, according to interviews with 17 current and former employees and internal documents reviewed by The New York Times…. Two mortgage-processing employees in Minneapolis said managers pressured their team to send documents that they knew contained incorrect information to borrowers to meet internal deadlines…. Workers recently flooded the bank’s internal blog with hundreds of angry comments about Wells Fargo’s sales incentives, pay and ethics and leaders’ “doublespeak,” according to screenshots of the blog reviewed by The Times.”

Cash: “Philadelphia Becomes the the First Major U.S. City to Ban Cashless Stores and Restaurants” [Fortune]. “Lawmakers who supported the ban said cashless stores were unintentionally discriminating against people in the community who don’t have debit or credit cards, since they would be unable to make purchases. Cash is also an appealing choice for people who want to keep their purchasing history private from retailers, credit card companies, or perhaps even spouses. It also negates any potential risks, in the event a company is breached and customer information is leaked to hackers. While cash and coins are legal tender, there is no federal law that requires businesses to accept them, according to the Federal Reserve’s website.” • Huh?!?! Anyhow, good for Philly. Why not make this a Federal law?

The Bezzle: “When Elon Musk Tried to Destroy a Tesla Whistleblower” [Bloomberg]. “On June 4, 2018, Business Insider reported that Tesla Inc. was scrapping or reworking 40 percent of the raw materials at the Gigafactory…. The leaker, [Musk’s goons team of investigatprs] determined, was one Martin Tripp… [T]he company sued Tripp for $167 million. Later that day, Tripp heard from the sheriff’s department in Storey County, Nev. Tesla’s security department had passed a tip to police. An anonymous caller had contacted the company to say Tripp was planning a mass shooting at the Gigafactory…. When the police confronted Tripp that evening, he was unarmed and in tears. He said he was terrified of Musk and suggested the billionaire might have called in the tip himself. A sheriff’s deputy attempted to cheer up Tripp and then called Tesla to tell the company that the threat, whoever had made it, was bogus. Tripp wasn’t dangerous… Tesla’s PR department spread rumors that Tripp was possibly homicidal and had been part of a grand conspiracy.” • Such a nice man.

The Bezzle: Dead birds:

The Bezzle:

I’m playing the world’s smallest violin…

Tech: “Gmail, Google Drive hit with global outage” [CNET]. “Gmail and Google Drive are back up after an hours-long outage affecting people around the world…. Google confirmed the outage to CNET. It was widespread and appeared to cover North and South America, Europe and Asia, though not all users we impacted.” • That’s nice. An enormous single point of failure.

Manufacturing: “Several Boeing 737 Max 8 pilots in U.S. complained about suspected safety flaw” [Dallas Morning News]. “Pilots repeatedly voiced safety concerns about the Boeing 737 Max 8 to federal authorities, with one captain calling the flight manual “inadequate and almost criminally insufficient” several months before Sunday’s Ethiopian Air crash that killed 157 people… The disclosures found by The News reference problems with an autopilot system, and they all occurred during the ascent after takeoff. Many mentioned the plane suddenly nosing down.” • Here are the pilot reports. Read them all, in the light of Lion Air and now the second crash. This is extremely bad; not forensic proof, to be sure, but why on earth was no action taken?

Manufacturing: “FAA Faces Stunning Rebuff as World Races Ahead to Ground 737 Max” [Bloomberg]. “Since shortly after the dawn of the jet age, the world has followed the U.S.’s lead on aviation safety. Now, in a remarkable rebuke, nations from the U.K. to Australia have rejected public reassurances from the Federal Aviation Administration and grounded Boeing Co.’s 737 Max jet. They’ve not only told their carriers not to fly the jets, they have in some cases prohibited the plane from flying through their airspace.”

Manufacturing: “The 737 Max and the changing world politics of regulation” [WaPo]. “If the European Union and China are grounding the 737 Max, that affects two-thirds of those planes. The standard has been set. Blogging at the Monkey Cage, Ashley Nunes writes, ‘the swift action from the E.U., together with tweeted complaints from President Trump, may transform a regional market crisis into a global one.’…. The United States still retains significant reservoirs of structural power. But in the arena of regulation, the United States is not even first among equals.” • Well, French is no longer the language of diplomacy. Standards change…..

The Biosphere

“Why the Amazon River Can’t Be Crossed By Bridge” [Conde Nast Traveller]. “[T]he Amazon is the world’s longest river not crossed by any bridges… For most of its length, the Amazon isn’t anywhere close to too wide to bridge—in the dry season. But during the rainy season, the river rises thirty feet, and crossings that were once three miles wide can balloon to thirty miles in a matter of weeks. The soft sediment that makes up the river bank is constantly eroding, and the river is often full of debris, including floating vegetation islands called matupás, which can measure up to 10 square acres. It’s a civil engineer’s worst nightmare. But the real reason for the lack of bridges is simply this: the Amazon Basin has very few roads for bridges to connect.” • Let’s keep it that way. Leave the trees in the ground!

After watching the movie Vice:

And those solar panels ended up at Unity College in Unity, Maine. And when [genuflects] Obama was elected for the first time in 2008, a group of students drove down to Washington, DC and to the White House with the panels, assuming that Obama would wish to re-install them. He did not. The students were, however, given some brochures on their way out. So Reagan wasn’t the only missed opportunity.

“How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is being built” [Grist]. • Backgrounder and origin story. Interesting!

Health Care

Because everybody loves their private health insurance. Thread:

Our Famously Free Press

Seems legit:

(Yes, I Googled it.)

“Forget fake news stories. False text posts are getting massive engagement on Facebook.” [Poynter Institute]. “When Facebook started letting users post text on top of colored backgrounds in 2016, it seemed like a fairly benign way to get people to share more personal thoughts on the platform…. But since then, like other formats on Facebook, the text post feature has been weaponized into an effective way to spread misinformation on the platform. Over the past few weeks, some of the most viral hoaxes on Facebook have spread in the form of text posts. … And, according to data from BuzzSumo, an audience metrics tool, those kinds of hoaxes are getting more reach on Facebook than articles from fact-checkers that partner with Facebook to limit the reach of misinformation.”

“Why Being Mean Online Is Never the Way to Go” [OneZero]. “[O]ne reason it’s so much easier to express anger or frustration online, or even to mock someone, than it is in real life: The perpetrator doesn’t have to see the expression on their target’s face when they attack them in a tweet. In a 2004 paper in the journal CyberPsychology and Behavior, psychologist John Suler defines this as the “disinhibition effect.” “Invisibility” is one factor that contributes to disinhibition — both “benign disinhibition,” in which people might feel more open and comfortable, and “toxic disinhibition,” in which cruelty and negativity become easier to express. And in a 2011 study, researchers found that the lack of eye contact that comes with communicating via screens, even more than anonymity or invisibility, contributed most significantly to negative online disinhibition.” The article concludes: “Save your hot takes for the stuff that’s actually worth a public expression of anger or indignation.” • So the headline shouldn’t use the word “never” then?

Guillotine Watch

But what about Mars:

Somebody who never listened to the Revolutions podcast:

I mean, even I know what The Vendeé is.

Class Warfare

Everything is for sale:

“Varsity Blue” (1):

(Word of the day: habitus: “It refers to the physical embodiment of cultural capital, to the deeply ingrained habits, skills, and dispositions that we possess due to our life experiences. Bourdieu often used sports metaphors when talking about the habitus, often referring to it as a ‘feel for the game.’ Just like a skilled baseball player ‘just knows’ when to swing at a 95-miles-per-hour fastball without consciously thinking about it, each of us has an embodied type of ‘feel’ for the social situations or ‘games’ we regularly find ourselves in. In the right situations, our habitus allows us to successfully navigate social environments.”

“Varsity Blue” (2):

“Colony of Hell’: 911 Calls From Inside Amazon Warehouses” [Daily Beast]. “Dozens and dozens of times over five years, calls were made from Amazon warehouses to 911 dispatchers about men and women on the brink…. Between October 2013 and October 2018, emergency workers were summoned to Amazon warehouses at least 189 times for suicide attempts, suicidal thoughts, and other mental-health episodes, according to 911 call logs, ambulance and police reports reviewed and analyzed by The Daily Beast. The reports came from 46 warehouses in 17 states—roughly a quarter of the sorting and fulfillment centers that comprise the company’s U.S. network.” • That’s not a bug. It’s a feature. It’s important for Bezos to know how much he can get away with.

“Union Employees Authorize A Strike Against Their Own Union” [HuffPo]. “The union representing SEIU workers at the Washington, D.C., headquarters said Tuesday that employees have voted to authorize a strike. The Office of Professional Employees International Union Local 2 added that SEIU managers have been outsourcing union work to non-union contractors, cutting the size of SEIU’s unionized workforce…. Another major concern, he added, was the proposed elimination of layoff protections for new employees. … [Shop Steward David] sHoskins said members were concerned that such a “two-tiered” system would degrade the union over the long term and undermine the principles they work to promote every day.” • Ugh! Two-tier! Avert!

“Stockton’s ‘Guaranteed Income’ Experiment: Why Mayor Tubbs Is Doing It” [KQED]. “This week, more than a hundred Stockton residents will receive $500 debit cards in the mail — no strings attached. It will be their second cash distribution since this city began an experiment in February to test whether offering residents a “guaranteed income” can alleviate poverty…. Stockton is one of the first cities in the U.S. to run a trial of this size, which will continue for another 18 months. The money goes to a small group of randomly-selected residents who live in neighborhoods where the median annual income is at or below $46,033….. Partial funding for this experiment comes from The Economic Security Project, with the goal of testing the viability of a universal basic income. The group is co-chaired by Chris Hughes, one of the founders of Facebook.” • Oh, great. Beware of geeks bearing gifts, especially when they’re squillionaires…

News of the Wired

“Graying Out” [Tim Bray]. “For many years I’ve interacted with my fellow humans, I think perhaps more than any other way, via the medium of Internet chat. But in my chat window, they’re fading, one by one. This problem is technical and personal and I felt it ought not to go unrecognized…. What’s happening is, they’re going away. The chat connections I mean, although many of those underlying [chat] services are winking out too, one by one. For those to whom those terms “Jabber” and “XMPP” are new, they represented the idea that any chat service should be able to talk to any other chat service, so you could use whichever you liked best, and hang with your friends wherever on the Net they hung their chatty hats. There was a time when commercial chat services supported XMPP because it was felt to be the right thing to do. But that was old-school hippie thinking, because if chatterers can just go ahead and talk to anyone anywhere, then your service probably won’t go viral and how are you going to monetize? You can simultaneously think markets are a useful civic tool and recognize obvious, egregious failures. So the links were severed and a whole lot of services just died.” • Very sad, elegiac piece as Bray names the accounts and tells stories about them. I feel the same way about the blogosphere, in a way.

“Physicists reverse time using quantum computer” [Phys.org]. “Researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology teamed up with colleagues from the U.S. and Switzerland and returned the state of a quantum computer a fraction of a second into the past. They also calculated the probability that an electron in empty interstellar space will spontaneously travel back into its recent past. The study is published in Scientific Reports….. The researchers then attempted to reverse time in a four-stage experiment. Instead of an electron, they observed the state of a quantum computer made of two and later three basic elements called superconducting qubits. The researchers found that in 85 percent of the cases, the two-qubit quantum computer returned back into the initial state. When three qubits were involved, more errors happened, resulting in a roughly 50 percent success rate.” • So now I can watch all those Game of Thrones episodes I missed!

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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. Deschain

    > Paying $1,000 a month to every American would cost at least $2 trillion a year and the burden would be carried by everyone, not just the well-off.”

    So – what? We pay $1K to everyone, and then they pay it back?


    1. Louis Fyne

      that comment reminded me of a 2003 Dave Chappelle skit re. reparations—but substitute basic income for reparations.


      (and to spare someone from making an indignant comment—Dave Chappelle is making a tongue-in-cheek joke, or perhaps he’s an armchair monetarist?)

      to be realistic with a basic income, the US would have to openly discuss end jus soli citizenship and replace it with jus sanguinis–just saying) And good luck having a civil, clinic public discourse with that.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        He’s right. 40 acres and a mule is a productive asset you can go back to and fits Jefferson’s vision of New England being replicated across the continent. With 40 acres and a mule, you get community. Succession. Then of course, the processes to support those operations. With cash, you get markups. Eastern Massachusetts isn’t any nicer than it was twenty or thirty years ago. Prices are higher.

        I volunteered for the Obama campaign during the 2008 primary in the Philadelphia area. The area had once been prosperous and populated largely by African Americans. Gosh, industrial policy changed, and the area collapsed economically as the life blood was removed. They couldn’t simply switch to a new industry because those goods and services were already provided in a fairly competitive marketplace. A check to each individual is never going to replace the economic calamity. They don’t need charity or a one time payment. They need jobs or secure retirements. Debt free education.

        I’m not even bringing up effects of slavery. This happened in the last few decades. Its not as bad as Flint as far as we know, but the price tag of 40 acres and a mule is not sufficient for rebuilding this country.

        1. JohnnyGL

          “I’m not even bringing up effects of slavery. This happened in the last few decades.”

          I think ‘reparations’ advocates understate and undermine their case by not paying enough attention to recent history. Subprime crisis basically eliminated black housing wealth. It hit the hispanic population, too. But many immigrants go for subprime mortgages because they don’t have social security numbers. Not sure how that factors in, but banks/lenders have a stake in keeping the immigration gravy train going in its current format, too.

          A predatory business model targets the most vulnerable first.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Plenty of reparations activists are aware of the effects of the foreclosure crisis. But, again, there’s no real proposal on the table. Which is why I think — reluctantly, because I hate proposals to “study” — that HR40 is the way to go.

          2. Ptolemy Philopater

            Not to mention “red-lining”, again losing access to housing, namely appreciating assets, being excluded from New Deal programs and the GI bill.

            It is little appreciated that the vaunted “White” wealth is not about productivity, but asset appreciation and laundering money handed out by the Federal Reserve. It’s no accident that the descendants of slaves were given “:housing projects” and not ownership of housing. The great mortgage fraud of the nineties was aimed at the DOS.

    2. Moelicious

      It is a redistribution of aid from the needy to the well off. Everyone would get $1000, but no more Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, SNAP, TANF, public housing, etc. Right now many poor and old people get more than $1,000 a month in benefits. Universal basic income would knock down the benefits while giving middle class and rich people money they don’t really need. And it is closer to $3 trillion than $2 trillion.

      1. jrs

        some poor people may get more than $1000 a month in benefits, but many really, this isn’t passing the plausibility test.

        Besides not having 100 different special qualifications to get benefits when you need them would be in many ways a real improvement (only if at a certain age, only if there isn’t a 10 year wait for public housing where you live and there is many places, only if you fall in exactly the right income bracket for Medicaid and TANF etc. even though you might be poor and not.). I mean $1000 without strings would do the homeless that fill our streets and a lot of other impoverished people some real good I think. The programs are almost too complex to navigate.

        But is it really enough for most to live on? No. An approach that looked at reducing the costs of necessities would work better I suspect.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Think of it as an interest-free loan, from youself to yourself.

      In a high interest rate environment, or for investment savvy people, perhaps that $1,000 can turn into $10,000.

    4. notabanker

      It’s a little worse than that. I’ve watched Yang’s pitch many times now. He starts with automation taking jobs and knows the numbers cold. He’s asked what is the answer, which is UBI, know those numbers cold. He’s then asked how is he going to pay for it, and does the math to get to the final portion that has to come from additional taxes. Then starts that answer with tech companies are experts at not paying taxes, then US is the only major country without a VAT, so implementing that is a way to capture more revenue from techs.

      He can dive into tremendous amount of detailed numbers and facts about automation, job losses, projections. He prides himself on being a fact-based numbers person. I have never once seen him explain how exactly the VAT would work, what portion would come from corporates, let alone techs, what portion from household incomes etc…. It literally has never come up in any interview I’ve seen, and I’ve seen over a half dozen of them. 2 hours with Rogan and it was skipped right over, yes, VAT is the answer, everyone else is doing it, next question?

      According to the UK Budget office report, 70% of UK VAT revenue comes directly from household consumer spending. His pitch is clearly selling this as a way to extract income from techs, and I think it is misleading.

      YangGang if you are reading, tell me I’m wrong!

      1. skippy

        Kelton thread on the topic …


        In my observations this is just increased welfare with a one way road to “the Market Place”.

        My other concern is the Chicago school sort thinkers which ruminated over the need to limit democracy for the fear of voters giving themselves more money every election cycle. Funny how that’s a concern for the unwashed but …. the elites and their political hand maidens get a free [tm] pass …

        As Yeves is want to say …. the devil is always in the details …

        1. notabanker

          Yeah, I have an issue with giving $1000 a month to someone making $100K and $300 to someone getting $700 worth of food stamps too. But the VAT is the kicker. If implemented like the UK, the price of everything will instantly increase 10%, everything.

          If you want Amazon to pay taxes on their $11.5 billion profit, make them pay the tax or put them in prison, like every other stiff in this country. If they want to domicile overseas, fine. No more Amazon in America. Go compete with Ali Baba. This stuff really isn’t hard.

        2. Paul Boisvert

          Agree that UBI replacing other benefits is wrongheaded; VAT however is moot, given MMT. I think MMT’ers oppose UBI a bit too much, fearing it will harm support for the JG, which we certainly also need–but why not both/and, instead of either/or?

          So here’s a modest proposal for the JUBIG–Job Und Basic Income Guarantee. [This is not a final, utopian scheme, merely a big improvement on current practice, and details could certainly be debated.] Give UBI of $5,000 per year per adult over age 20–all tax-free. No extra taxes to “pay” for it, just put it in the budget and write them Treasury checks, MMT-style. All other welfare benefits stay, and we also install a $15/hour JG.

          I see the UBI causing maybe a 6% extra inflation one-time bump the first year, the difference between which and normal (cumulative) inflation must also be paid in the next few years–maybe equivalent to an extra 4% per year for a few years. But those already solid middle-class and above folks will save part of it for retirement or rainy days, mitigating some of the inflation. And since the economy is not at full capacity, real growth from the spending will mitigate inflation further. [And let’s cut the defense budget and other waste big-time, as well, and raise taxes on the rich, both to cut inflation and for other reasons–though no taxes on their–leetle–UBI :) ]

          Crucially, one big part of the JG should be merged into the UBI: pay one parent per family for the JOB of parenting. Over and above the UBI, one parent of any family should get another, say, $10,000 from the JG, solely for the WORK needed to be a parent, a crucial part of our social reproduction. Now a single parent is getting $15,000 up front, and can decide if they want more work in the external labor market (or JG) as well. [A half-time job at $15/hour or more will bring their total income up to at least $30000.] A two-parent household gets $20,000 up front, plus a lot more if (as is likely) one parent wants to work close to full-time. And of course one other use of the JG to set up free-ish daycare is in order…

          The “parenting” cash will add a bit more inflation, but kids growing up in poverty are the main source of other “welfare” benefits (and lost opportunity costs, as poverty reproduces itself), which should diminish for real, not nominal, reasons, as real poverty diminishes substantially. Regardless, all such extra inflation is “one-time”, though it takes a few years to distribute the extra bump over normal inflation. And anyone less than solidly middle-class comes out well ahead of the inflationary impact (one good feature of “universal” schemes–the poorer the beneficiary, the proportionally better off they do w.r.t. inflation; and wage increases will propagate upwards as well…)

          The inflation math above is back-of-the-envelope, and details can be tweaked, and I’d be extremely happy with even more generous pay and ubi–but regardless, I say both/and is better than either/or: JUBIG all the way… :)

          1. skippy

            Not that long ago some in the MMT camp said it a partial UBI was what it took to get the JG that was not the end of the world – albeit the big issue is to get rid of NAIRU.

            The UBI does nothing in that regard.

      2. a different chris

        > I have never once seen him explain how exactly the VAT would work,

        I don’t know if you are right or wrong, but the internets tell me “166 of the world’s approximately 193 countries” have VAT. So like everything else, the devil may well be in the details.

        But VAT obviously is mainstream, maybe so mainstream they aren’t bothering to explain it carefully to us unwashed. I think we probably need to get with the program, myself.

        Or, shorter me: “yes, VAT is the answer, everyone else is doing it, next question”

        1. Eureka Springs

          Isn’t VAT a sales tax, as in regressivo? At the very least it looks like a lot of links in a VAT chain could be jury rigged for the right price. And we know everything has a price in D.C. for those who can afford it. How about we chop defense by at least 80 percent and health GDP by at least 50 while providing care for all and see where the sales taxes we have go from there first?

    5. Daryl

      2 trillion? Yeowza. Imagine how many F22s we could buy for that amount of money! And then divide by four to get the amount of planes that will actually be flightworthy at any given time.

  2. pretzelattack

    re: photoshopping body parts on politicians, seems like coal to newcastle.
    stephen colbert evidently distinguished himself in being a toady for propagandists by smearing tulsi gabbard, who was his “guest”, per caitlin johnstone. to think i once had respect for this guy.

    1. Katy

      I used to love the Colbert Report. He exposed a lot of hypocrisy all around. After he moved to CBS, Colbert turned into a liberal mouthpiece. I can’t watch him anymore.

        1. Carey

          ..or after a certain point, they’re made an offer they can’t refuse.

          “Lovely family you have there..”

          it’s all one thing now

        1. richard

          Man, what has happened to colbert? I know this is probably an old story to most of you, but it just did hit me that he used to seem funny and cool. That amy sedaris show that I am blanking on the name of.
          That was then.

  3. NotTimothyGeithner

    Ouch. I mean, surely Axelrod had internal polling?

    Axelrod is clearly wrong. The reason Biden wasn’t successful in 1988 or 2008 was because Iowa and New Hampshire have such low populations of white, working class people. When I think of multi-racial and cosmopolitan, I think of New Hampshire.

    Biden just needs places where white working class people live because if white working class people love him, they don’t live in Iowa or NH.

    1. Duck1

      Joe just brings a unique point of view to the blue team table. Avuncular, parochial, not particularly bright, blurts out this description of 0bama:

      “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” Biden said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

      1. Carey

        I guess there might be some non-insiders who can see Biden that way.

        “Oleaginous, reptilian fossil” is another possible take.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          don’t forget “handsy around women” and “has no problem sending racist dog whistles”. That’s before we even get to the Anita Hill hearings.


    2. Montanamaven

      I worked the primaries in Iowa in 2004 and 2008 before giving up on electoral politics. My beat was Newton, IA in 2004. The home of Maytag (hence the name of the blue cheese from there). Iowa is filled with small houses in suburbs around Des Moines where there were many factories.
      But they were closing down and the people were depressed and becoming desperate. I went into those homes campaigning for Edwards. The blue collar working class vote went both times to Edwards and not Biden. Biden is a schmoozer; a glad hander, a pitch man with no concrete policies for workers. He’s Mr. Credit Card Banker guy. Edwards at least went on to the picket lines from hotel workers to Writers Guild strikes. Nope, Biden is not any kind of friend to the white working class. They know it.

      1. Pat

        As I have often said, I proudly voted for Edwards in the NY primary, at a point when that obviously was not going to change anything. I may regret my one vote for Obama (term two was third party) and the one vote I ever gave Clinton, but I do not regret that Edwards vote. He was the only one talking about the stacked economic system. His term ‘two Americas’ still applies. Yeah he was stupid about sex and a jerk personally, but he was the one who had a clue about the real condition of the United States.

        People have been telling the Democrats for a long time they were full of shit.

    3. Tomonthebeach

      The great white (voter) hope: I can bring back the rural, white, mostly male voters who sealed the presidency for Donald Trump. Think Wisconsin.”

      Clintonites must think that Wisconsin, not the other 49 states, is who expects presidents. Guess Wisconsin gored HRC’s ox more than it first appeared. My take is that like most the country, people wanted change – still do – and HRC ran on the “no change from Obama” platform.

      1. Carey

        That she chose Kaine for VP, rather than an ineffectual lip-service “prog” like Sherrod Brown, with whom she would have won, says something.
        Not sure what.

        “Like it, proles!” ?

          1. Cal2

            How about Gore sheckling himself to Joe Lieberman?

            W wouldn’t have won if Gore had picked someone better.

    4. Big River Bandido

      because Iowa … [has] such low population of white, working class people

      Head, meet desk.

      Montanamaven, below, refers to the Maytag plant in Newton. The Amana plant is in the Amana Colonies. Cedar Rapids has (or had) a cereal manufacturing plant. There are meatpacking plants all over the state. The Quad-Cities are the HQ for John Deere and major plant sites for other farm implement manufacturers, concrete, Purina, and ARCONIC (formerly part of ALCOA). This is just a cursory, seat-of-the-pants listing of the companies I could think of off the top of my head. There were so many factory layoffs in the early 80s that the region’s unemployment rate was 25%.

      As far as the politics go…in 2004 the caucus where I was stationed was in the same precinct as an Oscar Meyer plant, and about half the attendees were employees. By and large, they went overwhelmingly for Edwards and Kucinich. In 2016, the most industrial counties — Scott, Dubuque, Black Hawk, Woodbury — all went heavily for Sanders in the caucus. Of those four counties, Clinton only carried Scott and Black Hawk in the general election, and just barely.

      A Democrat cannot win a statewide race in Iowa without the support of working class people. Period.

  4. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Sanders and California

    Hiring people now means there is a place for enthusiasm to go. Campaigns need discipline and order. I can’t imagine Sanders ever expected to be in a position to win Iowa last time, but as the months progressed, they were close. One problem Sanders had that Obama didn’t was the students were at school, not at home. With better organization, Sanders might have been able to get those kids at Iowa schools home and flip individual caucuses.

    Showing up and looking like a winner matters too. Many people won’t bet on a horse they don’t see. There reports anecdotal reports people are donating to Gabbard and Pete B (I’m not going to try to spell it) to give them a chance to show up. HRC had a constant media presence. She definitely invested in appearing like she would be ready for the general, communicating with state parties and so forth. Especially after Obama shut down the 50 state strategy, it did seem like HRC was vaguely interested in rebuilding, so the attention she gave to state parties probably played well.

    Being able to talk to debt laden millennials and win them if they show up is a good attribute, but you need to get the people who aren’t paying attention so early. That involves identifying “trend setters” at these rallies. Asking them to commit to reaching out in a disciplined way. There should always be tablers at every university when classes change with registration forms and instructions on how to vote absentee. Make it as easy as possible for the voter and don’t give them an opportunity to miss out on voting.

    1. Carey

      Will the Primary and General Election votes be accurately counted, and will there be
      exit polling in places like California, where last time there was not?

    2. The Rev Kev

      Saw a Jimmy Dore video recently where he talked about how Sanders lost in California. He was talking about how 900,000 votes were discarded and that there were a lot of votes for Sanders in all those votes. Read that there was already a lawsuit over 45,000 California voters being unknowingly disenfranchised so I wonder if that 900,00 total was for all California.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Maybe they take their orders from a really large Seattle-area aeronautical firm. I know of a few other agencies that appear to have a similar arrangement.

      What’s it called with a parasite kills its host? Ah. Parasitoid.

        1. Carla

          I imagine everyone knows by now — Trump grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes this afternoon.

          1. Craig H.

            Except the ones which were in the air. They let those guys finish their last scheduled trip.

            Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don’t do one.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Correction: Chicago-area aeronautical firm (with facilities in Everett, WA and many, many, other cities, states, and nations)

        1. Carla

          That’s part of the problem, ain’t it? The damned multi-nationals will get us every time.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            I keep telling people the only way to beat global capital is global labor. Their heads spin.

  5. JohnnyGL


    I found this guy who looks at polling on a regular basis. He seems to be a Bernie supporter. Interesting point from the recent Monmouth poll. The group they polled consists of a group that voted for HRC in 2016 primaries by 2-1. So he might have more upside, since the polling group is skewed towards former HRC supporters.

    It’s also really interesting that if Biden’s out, his supporters go to Bernie, more than anyone else.

    Always important to remember….very early stages, but still…

    1. JohnnyGL

      Also interesting that Bernie’s favorable/unfavorable ratings are trending slightly up….Biden’s slightly down…

      again, more caveats, too early to say if it’s a trend or not.

      But, in defense of this sort of thing. Candidates are making decisions over the next few months and the shape of the field depends on whether there’s an opening or not. So, arguably, Sherrod Brown, Bloomberg and a few others that have declared they aren’t running may be signs that they don’t think they can compete for one reason or another.

      The morning consult poll seems to be running weekly, at this point. I’ll keep an eye on it.

      The big question at the moment is how much of a pop Joe Biden gets from his declaration? Does he start declining like Harris, Beto, and Warren?

    1. prodigalson

      What happened to Colbert? I know he’s been awful for awhile, but his take down of Bush, during the Bush administration, to Bush’s face, was epic.

      I’d never have believed back then that he’d eventually adopt Dick Cheney’s talking points. I mean he’s basically turned into Cheney on foreign policy at this point. He’s now further to the right, in real life, than the character he portrayed formerly as satire on comedy central, how sad is that?

      Ditto for Maddow, she seemed like a nice girl then turned into a neo-McCarthy’ist.

      1. pretzelattack

        james risen seemed like a hero at one point. it’s different when democrats are lying, apparently.

      2. Carolinian

        He’s a chameleon–a boy from South Carolina trying to make good in the big city. Not being one of the natives he has to stick to the group think. He did go after Bush, but only after Bush had become quite unpopular in hipster circles.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Conan and Olbermann spring to mind. Donahue was clearly fired for opposing the war, but my gut is Conan and Olbermann aren’t reliable company men. They may not be rabble rousers, but companies would prefer their positions be held by people clearly devoted to the elites. Stewart would ask conservatives (sans McCain; Stewart does owe McCain) and even Team Blue elites good questions and do more than go, “HAHA they are dumb HAHA.” He was too big in a small pond to be replaced.

          My guess is Colbert is doubling down to keep his job. Joy Ann Reid claims MSDNC doesn’t edit the shows, but I think Comcast and other companies prefer people who don’t need to be edited. This could be why Maddow is so nutty. She has shown she knows better in the past and is still deemed risky. I use to listen to her Air America show. Please don’t judge me.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            I was on Maddow’s show once. Well, my butt was. Or, rather, a photo of my butt. Sort of. She showed a photo, copied from al.com, of the front of a women’s clinic I was escorting at, and the moment the photo was taken, I was bending over changing the CD in the boombox we used to counter the hymn singing and shouting of the antis. So, a photo of my butt was on Maddow. That’s my story.

            But, hey, SOMEONE had to play “This Land is Your Land” when the antis started singing “God Bless America”, right? When I was feeling particularly peckish, I’d play Queen’s “Another Bites the Dust”. Oh, the howls.

      3. WheresOurTeddy

        Colbert got RUSSIA RUSSIA RUSSIA disease. He’s as credible as Maddow now. I used to really like him.

    2. zagonostra

      Caitlin Johnson is spot on. I was blown away at what a seedy shill Colbert has transmogrified into…wow!

    1. a different chris

      then sermonized about how US military intervention is a force for good in this world. All without telling a single joke.

      What, that seems like a joke to me?

      Seriously, though, I would have to watch, really see if I can get his underlying drive. Because this is actually exactly what Gabbard needs, hit and hit hard. Because it will get a lot worse. For example, she needs to get her (family blog) together on this:

      Colbert: Do you believe he is a war criminal? Do you believe he gassed his own people or committed atrocities against his own people?
      Gabbard: Yes. Reports have shown that that’s a fact.
      Colbert: So you believe the intelligence agencies on that. Because I heard that you did not necessarily believe those reports.

      To be more specific, this doesn’t necessarily mean what the truly estimable Ms. Johnstone thinks it does:

      these are carefully constructed narratives that he is reciting, and they weren’t constructed by him.

      Yeah and he’s a funny guy with a funny show. Not the center of the world. He’s doing, I could argue, Tulsi a favor. She’s going to have to deal with those narratives, the sooner the better. She doesn’t get to set the rules, she needs to break through them. Did Conor McGregor get to throw a single kick in his fight with Floyd Mayweather? Nope. And she won’t usually have near the time that Colbert gives her to find her footing.

      Again, I don’t know. But for sure don’t expect our fave candidates to get asked the questions we would ask them. If you’re going to get wound up about that then where have you been the last 40 or so years?

      1. pretzelattack

        i would prefer republicans to be catapulting that kind of propaganda, instead of purported progressives.

      2. Carolinian

        It’s not just about this interview. He is rabid on the Russiagate stuff. I admit I don’t watch his show, but from the accounts I’ve seen he’s really turned into the “comedy” Maddow.

      3. Mel

        Having watched the 1:10 snippet, it doesn’t look so bad. Her answers are put front-and-center, and get full time. He talks over her once, for a couple of seconds, in asking his second question. Some applause for her first point. If the world audience remembers her answers over his questions, that will be OK.

        1. richard

          I wish she had told him, that anyone had told him or any of the other nimrods who shout “assad gas attacks”, that there is no actual evidence of any such fu&*ing thing. The last was clearly staged by the white helmets you doofus, and out own state dept. maddux or whoever admited there was no evidence at hand linking assad to the first two supposed state gas attacks. And of course the media treated that admission as an aside, barely worth mention, and focused instead on some other triviality, because of course they do that you doofus.
          I really appreciate what she is doing; I hate what they are doing to her.

          1. Yves Smith

            As one of my friends who became a very successful columnist early said, it is much harder to persuade people if you argue over facts. You do better if you take “facts” as a given and reason to different conclusions.

            You may not like her not arguing over the gas attack claim, but she’s here to win, not to correct the record.

            1. richard

              Well, yes. But what if the facts really happen to matter? And what are you trying to persuade someone about, if it’s not the facts? (I hope that wasn’t just some dumb rhetorical trick, or error in argument. Because it really sounded like one. But I mean it more literally, but maybe that’s a premise I’m asking you to accept)
              What if you think the fact that our government lies to us about atrocities of our official enemies is a vital fact? It is a collection of lies that amount to a criminal conspiracy, several wars these people are responsible for now, so what if I think those lies are a bigger deal. To my mind at least, everything, their whole premise, depends on that lie. Show me the proof. You want people to die? Show me the proof!
              I like tulsi a lot, and I do understand why confronting this lie is not a centerpiece of her campaign. Hopefully her supporters can still make a lot of noise about it. We need to confront it; it’s getting worse, not better.

              1. Yves Smith

                You have shifted grounds. We were discussing the charge that Assad gassed his citizens. There is no way Tulsi could have made a case that convinced anyone on TV, particularly with a hostile interviewer.

                And you argue with me while conceding the general premise. If you can make a persuasive argument while not arguing with what your counterparty takes as fact, you have a much better chance of persuading them than by staring out and effectively telling them they are idiots because they have their facts wrong. There is evidence from studies that when you go that way, people double down on their beliefs.

  6. a different chris

    That poor woman and her encounter with the health “care” system. But I actually question this:

    We do not care about one another.

    We stratify each other based on identity and discriminate at will.

    Actually, we do. We just don’t really know it, we live in a world constructed by the media. By and for the Murdochs of the world. Did you ever, especially the first time when you were young, see two actors whose characters were at murderous odds with each other on your fave TV show, suddenly chatting happily with each other and, I dunno Johnny Carson on his show. Wasn’t that a bit disconcerting? The thing was, your impression of those “people” – who weren’t actually real people, but characters – were fed via the media where you most often encountered them.

    Ricardo Montalban was not Khan, and William Shatner was not his arch enemy. The people that abuse you on Twitter are not representative of the population. What the WaPo or Fox News tells you about your neighbor is so far from reality it isn’t even wrong.

    As usual, I don’t know how to “solve” this. But AOC’s “all your deplorables belong to us” is a good start. Reach out, and keep doing it. I now doubt there is a single bartender in America, no matter how white nationalist right wing he or she is, wouldn’t seriously consider voting for her just on that simple acknowledgement of them that she made.

    1. blowncue

      I might tweak the woman’s statement and say:

      “We care about those of us about whom we care.”

      or more simply:

      “We care genuinely about [some] people [more than others].”

      Hence, my friend of forty years, of whose love and care I am truly assured, mother of three children, Ivy-schooled attorney drawn to public service, is tired of the endless parade of white male presidents. She resonates with the narrative of being passed over for promotion.

      But does she tip the ticket-taker at the movie theater on Christmas, who must work on Christmas? Doubtful.

      As you infer – deplorables may be deplorable, but deplorables vote.

      Harvey Milk didn’t demand that he be installed in office to remedy the absence of civic leaders representative of his community. He went out and got Coors beer thrown out of every gay bar in San Francisco. Only then did the unions help install Milk in office. The key to this – Milk followed through on his promise.

      I fear my friends have forgotten this, having felt taken for granted by those imploring them to carry someone else’s banner in the name of coalition.

      Everybody can’t hold everybody hostage and insist their demands be met.. One group will be able to do so, however – with elections this close – some tail will wag the electoral dog. But who? The “deplorable?” The suburban female republican disgusted at L’affair Kavanaugh?

      Even if our neighbors are the ones on Twitter, they wouldn’t be if the factories and the shops were still open. HRC lost the moment she uttered the word “deplorable.” Behavior can be altered, and recognized as a symptom of something else – namely, destitution and despair. Gandhi knew this. Gave up his finery to succeed in do so. His metanoia was deemed credible.

  7. notabanker

    “If we don’t fill the void, then Russia and China will.”

    How long before NYT and WaPo jump on that train? I’m guessing days.

    1. prodigalson

      Past tense, Colbert got those talking points from the media/blob. I don’t remember where i saw it online but this “fill the void, russia/china, blah blah blah” is the new narrative goalpost for the MSM and blob and was gaining steam in the recent days/weeks already.

      1. Carey

        An argument could be made for Empire, if it served most of its citizenry, I think.
        This one serves only the very few, and that needs to be pointed out,
        again and again and again.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        this line of thinking is in line with Rudyard Kipling imploring Europeans to “take up the white man’s burden”

        it’s as imperialist now as it was then

    2. JCC

      Not to mention that since around 1963, these voids we constantly “need to fill” always seem to be primarily created by Washington D.C.

  8. ACF

    Re Steve Cox’s take on trying to make billionaires’ wealth and inherent greed and hoarding visible

    The best way to intuitively grasp billionaires’ relationship to money is to watch the scenes in the movie version of the Hobbit that feature Smaug the dragon. Yes, billionaires really hoard like that–sitting on giant piles of wealth, “waste” in the classical econ sense, and yet they know if the tax man dares take a single golden goblet, an insignificant sum out of the hoarded pile.

    1. Monty

      Usually its not in a pile of cash ready to spend, it’s all invested in businesses they created. Their business became incredibly successful and the value of it became humongous. Whether that was through fair means or foul, they need to retain a certain amount of equity to retain control of their company.

      1. ACF

        Well, “a certain amount of equity to retain control of their company” is not necessarily the same as “the amount they have retained”– this report has Bezos owning 78.88 million Amazon shareshttps://www.investopedia.com/articles/insights/052816/top-4-amazon-shareholders-amzn.asp, more than the top three institutional investors combined https://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/amzn/institutional-holdings –so he could certainly liquidate more without losing control but that’s not really the point. Nor are all billionaires that rich simply because they founded and control a company–a not insignificant number had their parents or grandparents found a company–but even in the case of the true billionaire entrepreneur, it’s not obvious that they have to control the company for it to remain a success. https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/#1a6c2d7b251c

        The bigger picture is $1 billion is a number that is very hard for people to grasp, and in one person’s possession, it is immoral and represents a tremendous waste of resources. As Cox points out, just one billionaire could pay to fix Flint’s water system–protecting many from brain damage and other consequences of its pollution–and not even notice having spent the money. When you consider the US has 540 billionaires, think how many assets are just sitting there, unused, unneeded by the Smaug who hoards them.

    2. Bob

      You know that’s not true. Take Bezos. His wealth is primarily in the form of Amazon stock. Reducing his fortune means reducing his stake in the company he founded. Reduce it enough and that puts his position as Chairman of the Board at risk. I really can’t blame him for holding onto his stock.

      1. ACF

        See my reply above.

        Even if Bezos had actually sold his shares to the level at which he didn’t have voting control, the idea that he gets ousted as Chair is because a majority of shareholders believe Amazon would be better off without him in charge. If that were true, why is would that change be inherently wrong?

        Beyond that, if the US taxed billionaires appropriately, and he chose to borrow against his shares rather than liquidate them to pay the bill, that would be up to him.

        Allowing a single person to possess more than a billion dollars in a country where most people face financial stress (note how few are able to save money) is immoral.

      2. ACF

        Also, in the case of Bezos, you can see the Smaug level greed in many ways; see how he exploits his workers (today’s story about the suicide reports, just the latest in so many such reports), see how he shakes down local governments for subsidies, see how he designs his operations to avoid paying any corporate income tax (how much Amazon $ gets spent on lobbying for such a tax code I don’t know). I mean, maybe if he didn’t do all those things his 78.88 million Amazon shares would be worth a mere $1 billion instead of over $100 billion. Or maybe they’d be worth even more. Counterfactual are hard to know. But the greed involved in the wealth extraction from his workers and governments is stunning, particularly when you consider how much of Amazon’s value is produced by its employees and the postal and other infrastructure governments built.

      3. notabanker

        He owns 78.8 million Class A shares, about 16% of the voting rights of the company. He does not have a controlling interest in Amazon.

        He could lose half his stock in his divorce, sell the rest and earn $32 million a week in interest on one year t-bills, about $1.66 billion a year. In interest, never touching the principle.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          notabanker –

          Your statement is cogent, reasoned, and correct. It is not inflammatory in any way.
          It still pisses me off something fierce.

        2. Paul Boisvert

          …nothing wrong with earning $1.66 billion a year…as long as we set effective tax rates on it at 99.99%. That way he’ll still take home $166,000 a year–which, in the (likely) case it was found insufficient to feed, clothe, and house his god-like persona, would still leave open the remedy of occasionally “touching” the principal… :)

      4. cnchal

        >. . . Reducing his fortune means reducing his stake in the company he founded. . .

        An Amazon stawk crash would do it too. What would it’s price be were it sporting a depression era P/E of 6?

        The actual reason Amazon pays no income tax is the deep well of carry forward losses it can dip into to offset profits for years to come.

        1. Duck1

          Wish I could do that. Don’t remember much gain over the years. Oh, the property bubbles, forgot.

  9. Gary

    RE: Carter and the Whitehouse solar panels:
    He also wanted to put a solar panel on every U.S. Post Office building. If that much investment had occurred, where would solar be today, 40 year later?

    1. pretzelattack

      good point. he was ahead of his time on that issue. also in calling on americans to transform their lifestyle to use less energy, for which he was widely mocked.

      1. polecat

        While ALL options were on his table !! … like securing our oil, under their sand dunes ….

        Only half-ahead in my book …

    2. Carey

      The “malaise” speech did him in, I think. You just don’t get to say that here.
      Hit too close to home.

  10. jo6pac

    The trumpster has grounded all bad boeing planes. WOW only a few months late for the faa to act but then again?

  11. David

    Brexit no-deal has been ruled out “for good”, whatever you think that means, by tonight’s vote. And the Speaker seems unlikely to allow May to put the WA to a vote for a third time. So:
    No Brexit with agreement.
    No Brexit without agreement.
    Therefore ….

    1. ChrisS

      Withdraw the Article 50 notice and no Brexit? (If I were a betting man, I would put a small amount of money on this being what happens at the very last moment.)

    2. super extra

      I was in an office with Bloomberg streaming portions of the vote this afternoon (nowhere USA, central time – the business has offices in East Anglia that they making arrangements to move to Belgium). They had the sound on so I was able to hear that the anchor asked if Article 50 would possibly be withdrawn now? The reporter couldn’t possibly say, of course. That is the first time I’ve heard this mentioned on the news, but Bloomberg isn’t great re: Brexit topics, historically.

      The other night Juncker said that there could possibly be no Brexit at all – can the EU refuse to recognize May’s prior triggering of A50 and hold the UK in contempt (or equivalent) if they don’t hold new elections and seat new MPs at the EU parliament? Effectively saying, since you had 3 years to get your sh!t sorted and you can’t even agree on how to leave, in the interests of preventing a humanitarian crisis, we refuse to recognize your attempt to leave until you come back with a real proposal following the rules.

  12. madarka

    Regarding the Boeing 737 grounding and subsequent FAA isolation:

    Even the multilateral institution I work at, with HQ in D.C, has ignored the FAA advisory and banned all employees from flying in these planes.

    1. pretzelattack

      not much; mayoral candidates in dallas tend to be puppets, but if the dallas morning news smears him, that’s a point in his favor. he opposed the trinity toll road, which was rammed through by the mayor and city council.

  13. Summer

    Stockton’s ‘Guaranteed Income’ Experiment: Why Mayor Tubbs Is Doing It” [KQED]. “This week, more than a hundred Stockton residents will receive $500 debit cards in the mail — no strings attached….”

    These debit cards don’t have fees? The USA can’t do a damn thing without cutting in bankstas. It would really be $500 dollars without the middle man.

  14. Cal2

    So, Felicity, do you want your daughter to emulate this behavior?, in or out of politics?

    Harris got her start in 1994 by having an affair with Willie Brown, who was serving as the California Assembly Speaker and then became the mayor of San Francisco. Brown was 60 years old and Harris was 29 when their affair became public knowledge.

    Harris was so brazen that she came out publicly as his date at his 60th birthday party, despite Brown’s wife of 36 years being in attendance.

    More about Willie’s newest girlfriend;
    “Brown writes that there are two categories of women that he won’t date—those who want to use him to advance their own political career and those who can’t handle him working the room. Molodetskaya fits neither spurned class…”

    The New Democratic Party: Making Trump look good, one horrible candidate after another.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      There are dozens of horrible policy positions to disqualify her without getting into the salaciousness. Let’s win on ideas, not salaciousness. This kind of mindset is why people think Bernie having more than one winter coat is newsworthy.

      That said, #KamalaIsAcop and I will not vote for her under any circumstances.

  15. Summer

    Geopolitics for the Left” [n+1]
    “Should genuine social transformation within the United States ever appear imminent, we certainly do not want it truncated by a hostile capitalist power on the other side of the world.”

    That’s the last line. And it’s not any new geopolitics.

    Genuine social transformation from “the left” will not happen until it becomes more than a Eurocentric left with little respect for the opinions and needs of outside the West.

    1. Carey

      They are running out of ideas, no? That particular attempt at a high-toned FP essay fell flat, to me.

  16. Lee

    While cash and coins are legal tender, there is no federal law that requires businesses to accept them, according to the Federal Reserve’s website.”

    So the fine print on every bill that states “This note is legal tender for all debts public and private” is what? Decoration? It would seem that any debt or purchase cost expressed in a dollar amount would constitute a binding contractual offer to prospective buyers. Any lawyers in the group care to weigh in?

    1. Mel

      If they sold you the merchandise, they would have to take your money to settle the payment.
      But they don’t have to sell you the merchandise.

    2. ewmayer

      “So the fine print on every bill that states “This note is legal tender for all debts public and private” is what? Decoration?” — I looked into this once, and turns out it boils down the crucial legal difference between “may” and “must”. Most folks read the legal-tender text as meaning “must be accepted as a form of settling all debts”, but the by-now-well-established legal interpretation is “may be accepted as a form of settling all debts”. IOW it is up to the merchant as to whether they accept it, hence the importance of local laws saying they must, within reason (e.g. a customer paying large sums in pennies might be considered an unreasonable thing to require a merchant to handle).

  17. Cal2

    “Why Bernie Sanders thinks he can win California this time” [San Francisco Chronicle].

    The Chronicle has run at least 58 stories flogging Harris since the first of the year. Chronicle readership and long term commenters hates her mostly, yet the paper keeps on running adulatory opinion pieces about her, fictitious biographies of how “local” she is and airbrushed photos of her looking oh-so-pensive in the Kavanaugh hearings with lots of low angle, make her look important portraits of her. They routinely trash or ignore Sanders. They’ve mentioned Gabbard a couple of times.

    Willie Brown, Harris’ protegee and her ex boyfriend writes for that newspaper.

    The current California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, in a blatant conflict of interest, worked for Hillary Clinton’s election when he mangled the instructions to the state’s county registrars of voters in 2016. Result?

    Independent voters and Decline to State, those most likely to voter for Sanders, were disenfranchised and their votes were in some cases, literally shredded.
    Uncounted” is a video about 2016 that illustrates with dozens of interviews with county officials, voters what happened as well as video of the shredding trucks at work in front of certain county registrars of voters on election day.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      CA (I) voter here, switched to (D) in 2015 to vote Sanders, showed up in June for primary, LO AND BEHOLD i needed to cast a provisional (aka not counted) ballot since SOMEHOW the place I’ve voted at for years was not my designated voting place. Somehow I had been changed to vote by mail.

      Dozens of stories like mine in my deep-red rural CA county area here.

      If they fix it this time, I fear for the peace of the republic.

  18. VBA

    “a hostile capitalist power”? So n+1 is asserting that China will be trying to head off moves toward socialism in the United States…?!

    I have no words. Even Karl Rove wouldn’t have touched that.

  19. Lee

    “Should genuine social transformation within the United States ever appear imminent, we certainly do not want it truncated by a hostile capitalist power on the other side of the world.”

    It’s hard to take such a concern seriously unless imperial dominion over distant lands is crucial for national survival, which for the U.S. is not the case. Also, if there is any lesson that can be drawn from the example of North Korea it is that even an economically weak, teeniny nation with a smidgen of nuclear capability is pretty much immune to exogenous regime change and internally can do what it pleases.

    Perhaps the biggest problem faced by the U.S. Left is from our own financial sector, which will monkey wrench the economy and blame it on the Left once the government stops standing between them and those of us with the pitchforks.

  20. LawnDart

    737 Max?
    I don’t see any need to ground these aircraft– they seem to be doing an excellent job of grounding themselves.

  21. ewmayer

    o “Obama officials failed to focus as fentanyl burned its way across America” [Washington Post] — “If you like your fentanyl-overdose-death epidemic, you can keep your fentanyl-overdose-death epidemic.” BHO surely had more important stuff to worry about at that point, like planning the post-presidential high-paid speaking circuit and the hollow presidential tower to the hollow self in Chi-town. Priorities!

    o “Democrats aren’t serious about reparations” [Ryan Cooper, The Week] … Even working-class people of color only supported it by 15 points in the latter poll. — Gee, maybe even working-class people of color are interested in reducing socioeconomic injustices in the here and now. Whodathunkit? But the whole reparations kerfuffle fits in perfectly with the Dems’ IdPol fetishization. Distract the rubes from organizing against the rampant thievery and elite abuses occurring in the here and now, using shiny bits of colored foil in the guise of identitarian issues. White and colored working-class folks put at odds over slavery reparations, are white and colored working-class folks no longer threatening the kleptocracy.

    1. Carey

      Divide and rule seems to be working for our elites, for the moment. That doesn’t rule out a phase shift, of course, and where I am (Central Cal Coast) I’m getting hints of one, from
      surprising sources.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      the ones dying were the ones clinging to their god and their gun anyway, why try to save them?

      I’m not religious or conservative, and I felt talked down to as a rural person in 2016…and 12…and 08…and 04…

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Voting machines across America are old and inadequate”

    That is the attraction of these things. Every coupla years you have to buy news ones, give out contracts to repair, maintain and service them. Most of the time they sit in storage somewhere between elections which incurs storage costs as they are electronic equipment. From time to time you may have to upgrade the secret code used in these machines as they have all sorts of vulnerabilities in them. And when it comes time to use them, they can send tens of thousands of votes to a server in Chicago during a temporary “blackout” of these devices whereupon they return back to that State as votes for another candidate instead. Try and do that with paper votes!

  23. allan

    Lori Loughlin’s daughter Olivia Jade was on yacht of USC official when mom was charged [NY Post]

    Lori Louhglin’s daughter was celebrating spring break on a yacht owned by USC’s board of trustees the same day her mother was ensnared in a widespread college bribery case, according to a new report.

    Loughlin’s daughter, Olivia Jade, was on Rick Caruso’s yacht in the Bahamas when federal prosecutors announced her mother would be charged with allegedly paying bribes to get her daughter accepted to USC, TMZ reported.

    Olivia Jade and Caruso’s daughter, Gianna, are friends and appear in social media posts together, the gossip site reported. …

    And who is Rick Caruso? Thank you for asking:

    USC Board Flap: Roski Chastised Caruso Over Meeting Conduct
    [LA Business Journal]

    USC board member and industrial development tycoon Edward Roski Jr. chastised fellow developer magnate and USC Board of Trustees Chair Rick Caruso for his conduct in running the board meeting in early December at which the board upheld the decision to cut short the contract of Marshall School Dean James Ellis, according to a letter obtained by the Business Journal. …

    The letter from Roski, who ranked No. 9 on the Business Journal’s 2018 Wealthiest Angelenos list with a net worth calculated at $5.3 billion, was sent to Caruso on Dec. 19, one week after the board meeting. Roski in the letter called Caruso’s behavior at that meeting unprofessional, saying Caruso cut short the speaking time and ordered escorted out board member and Fulgent Genetics Inc. Chief Executive Ming Hsieh, a supporter of Ellis. The letter concluded with Roski urging Caruso to apologize to Hsieh and the board.

    Caruso, who ranked No. 13 on the Business Journal’s 2018 Wealthiest Angelenos list with a net worth calculated at $4.8 billion, issued a statement in response to the letter. In his response, Caruso said that the decision to ask Hsieh to leave was made because of a conflict of interest: Hsieh is represented by the same attorney – Skip Miller of Miller Barondess – as Ellis.

    If D.C. is Hollywood for ugly people, maybe the “Angeleno” business community is D.C. for 8th graders.
    I’m sure that all the parents of kids who didn’t side-door their way into USC are happy that their tuition dollars
    are being spent on adolescent billionaires wagging their net worths at each other.

  24. Jeff W

    Actually, the thing that comes to mind when I see Kieran Healy’s name is not the word habitus but his appreciation of Bruce McCall’s uniquely and utterly absurd 1985 “sociological” New Yorker piece, “In the New Canada, Living is a Way of Life,” even if he bungles quoting it and messes up one of McCall’s lines. (The quote is properly “…careful not to not look us straight in the eye.”) It’s one of my all-time favorite New Yorker pieces—I still get tickled by it more than 30 years after first reading it (but lots of people don’t get it at all).

  25. Oregoncharles

    ““Colony of Hell’: 911 Calls From Inside Amazon Warehouses” ”
    Not to defend Bezos, but this is a context-free statistic – an anecdote, in effect. How does it compare with other workplaces? If in fact there are thousands of people in those warehouses, the numbers given aren’t so outrageous.

    The real focus of American mass violence isn’t one of those that have had a lot of play; it’s workplaces (including schools, which are children’s workplaces). Remember “going Postal”? Directly related to those Amazon warehouses.

  26. Conrad

    The Dram Shop Act reminds me of Emile Zola’s incredible novel L’Assommoir, which explains the need for such legislation. The whole Rougon Macquart series is worth reading. You’ll get a fantastic insight into the entire Second Empire plus a good preview of where the neolibs are sending us.

  27. Chris

    Re: Wells Fargo

    This is a public service announcement:

    My wife and I are purchasing a new home. Our current mortgage is through Wells Fargo, and our new mortgage will also be through Wells Fargo.

    As we proceeded through the finance and credit review process for the new mortgage, Wells Fargo finds a lien for $11/month on our existing mortgage. Baffled, I request more details from Wells. I do my own exhaustive search of our property and can find no evidence of this lien.

    Wells eventually comes back to me and says it’s their mistake, there is no lien but they have been incorrectly charging us for a tax they shouldn’t have been for years. They will be reimbursing us immediately and will send details of the situation in the mail.

    Bottom line: I have yet to receive details of the incident, and given Wells shady history in this regard, I am concerned that Wells could be doing this to other customers. We would never have discovered this phantom $11/month tax/charge if we hadn’t been applying for a new mortgage, being that our mortgage statements don’t itemize the charges to that level of detail.

    Does this make any sense to the Naked Capitalism readers? Any advice on how to proceed?

    I definitely want to lodge a formal complaint, just not sure how to do so. And I’m still waiting for Wells to send me the details of the incident. I can see that they are deliberately slow-rolling the release of the details, and I’m concerned I’ll never receive them – or they will be doctored to the point of being useless.

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