2:00PM Water Cooler 3/14/2019

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: Alert reader ED throws this over the transom:

I worked at the Pennsylvania Extruded Tube Company in Clarks Summit for 13 years until I retired eight months ago. As “factory” a place as you will ever find, just north of Scranton. Biden would show up in Scranton just before elections to campaign, talk about how he was from there, and then disappear. Everyone knew an election was coming, because Joe Biden was back in town.

“It’s a great place to be from,” he’d say. And we’d say, “Yeah, you couldn’t wait to leave, and you never did anything for Scranton anyway, except leave.” In 2016, Joe showed up to campaign for Hillary. Same tired stories about how great it was to be from Scranton. A kiss of death to an already dead candidate. The factory went overwhelmingly for Trump, because he talked about trade and jobs. When you’ve been down so long, you have to jump on any little ray of hope that comes your way, even if you know it usually doesn’t work out.

Are many of my old colleagues from the factory going to welcome Biden to the presidential race? You gotta be kidding!

This story jibes with MontanaMaven’s comment yesterday.

* * *

O’Rourke (1): “Beto O’Rourke, as He Comes to Grips with a Presidential Run: ‘I’m Just Born to Do This’ [Vanity Fair]. Appropriate venue. Concluding paragraph: “The more he talks, the more he likes the sound of what he’s saying. ‘I want to be in it,’ he says, now leaning forward. ‘Man, I’m just born to be in it, and want to do everything I humanly can for this country at this moment.'” • Quite the contrast to Sanders’ “Not me, you,” eh? And as for “In it”: Cf. Clinton’s “I’m in” (2007), “I’m in” (2015), and “Is she in it for us or is she in it for herself?’” (2016).

O’Rourke (2): “Beto O’Rourke enters 2020 race attempting bipartisan appeal” [Associated Press]. “O’Rourke refused donations from outside political groups and shunned pollsters during his Senate campaign. Nonetheless, his nationwide popularity helped him rake in more than $80 million during the Senate bid, including a staggering $38 million between July 2018 and September 2018.” • But not individuals (or bundlers).

O’Rourke (3): “Beto announces bid for president” [Politico]. “his announcement could reshape the Democratic primary, unfreezing activists and donors who’d been waiting to commit to other candidates until O’Rourke announced his plans…. Seated beside his wife, Amy, in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, he said he will ‘travel this country’ on a listening tour before returning to El Paso for a campaign kickoff rally on March 30.” • A listening tour? Did O’Rourke hire the Clinton staffers Harris didn’t snap up?

O’Rourke (3): “Beto 2020 Has No Reason to Exist” [Slate]. “Beto is missing one important thing, though: an actual reason to run. O’Rourke would enter the race as a man without a clear political ideology, a signature legislative achievement, a major policy issue, or a concrete agenda for the country…. During his Senate campaign, O’Rourke was similarly open to ideas without advocating for specific ones. He specifically avoided policy-specific language like “Medicare for all,” instead saying he was open to a variety of paths to universal health care coverage, “whether it be through a single payer system, a dual system, or otherwise.” (“Beto 2020: Or Otherwise!”)” • Hello, fellow kids!\

O’Rourke (4): “Beto O’Rourke Is Running for President and It All Started With Weed” [The Intercept]. “Rumors of an impending announcement were swirling around Washington throughout the day on Wednesday, with the biggest clue that O’Rourke was preparing to announce coming when his camp emailed volunteers on the Senate campaign, telling them, “We need help sending some text messages tomorrow morning.” That’s a reference to what’s known as distributed organizing, which became a driving factor that powered the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016. In 2018, some of the key staffers behind it, including Becky Bond and and Zack Malitz, joined O’Rourke’s Texas Senate campaign and took distributed organizing to the next level. They and some other veterans of the Sanders campaign have stayed with O’Rourke, even as Sanders has re-launched his presidential bid. The request for volunteers to send text messages may seem fairly standard, but there’s something revolutionary about it from an organizing perspective. It empowers volunteers from the very start to begin to take actually useful action on behalf of the campaign. And it requires an immense amount of trust in the campaign’s supporters, but it also requires a message and a messenger that people believe passionately in.” • I am genuinely baffled and appalled at how “people” could “believe passionately” in O’Rourke. Did we learn nothing from Obama? (And boy howdy, do I remember the Obots from 2008, sharing their conversion experiences. I’m so not looking forward to that again.)

O’Rourke (5): Let the oppo being:

And this isn’t even oppo…

* * *

Sanders (1): “Senate votes to end U.S. military support for Saudi-led war in Yemen” [Axios]. “The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), leans on the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which states that if American troops are entangled in ‘hostilities’ overseas ‘without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, such forces shall be revoked by the President if the Congress so directs by concurrent resolution.'” • Trying hard to think of a present candidate, or a candidate from the recent past, who’s tried to stop a way instead of start one. (Yes, Gabbard is very good on this, but Sanders has actually managed to introduce legislation and get it passed.)

Sanders (2): From alert reader ST:

Will keep you apprised of Bernie grassroots activity in northern California.

A lot is still in place from 2016, having run local and state candidates, as well as winning 60+% of the state Dem party delegates in November.

The myriad meetings have already commenced! Just dusting off the mailing lists, seeing which signage can be repurposed, buttonmaking, t-shirt making and sign waving. All of this will be in place months before the campaign gunslingers arrive from DC

. No Tad Devine this time? Tant pis pour nous!.

And ST sends this signage from Santa Rosa:

Warren: “Elizabeth Warren’s Tech Assault Propels Fringe Antitrust View to Spotlight” [Bloomberg]. “Warren’s proposal last week to classify some technology giants as utilities and undo previous industry mergers jolted Silicon Valley. It also hit a nerve among Democrats and Republicans in Congress, who’ve grown increasingly concerned that curbs on anticompetitive conduct are poorly enforced. That all but ensures that restraining the power of dominant companies will be a focus of the 2020 campaign as Democrats seek to unseat President Donald Trump. Later this month, presidential candidates Amy Klobuchar and Julian Castro are set to appear at an Iowa event along with Warren to discuss monopoly power in rural communities.”

Yang: “Who Is Andrew Yang, and Why Do the Gen Z Kids Love Him?” [New York Magazine]. “[A]side from teens, he’s also caught the attention of some disillusioned Trump voters, white nationalists, and 4channers, all of whom appear to be drawn to Yang over his promise to give them $1,000 a month, and the fact that he’s not a politician by nature, in the same way that Trump isn’t. Many seem to see him as a guy who wants to do things differently within our broken system. His supporters have also cherry-picked his quotes and parts of his platform to argue that his values align with theirs. For example, his tweet about the opioid crisis that mentioned declining white birth rates — a major concern among white nationalists — has been held up as evidence that he supports their agenda.” • That last bit on the opiod crisis is so [family blogging] virulent and dangerous; elites playing with fire and don’t even know it (though perhaps the 0.01% are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of the coming conflagration. And be sure to read the comments from the kids; Yang could shock.



The answer is yes, the Slave Power was “good, old-fashioned capitalism.”

Realignment and Legitimacy


That’s the theory; DSA can piggyback on Sanders. I dunno.

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of March 9, 2019: “Jobless claims never did give any hint of the sharp deterioration in the last monthly employment report and they aren’t pointing to anything but steady and very solid conditions so far this month” [Econoday]. “Swings in oil can affect the headlines in this report but the underlying message is the same as yesterday’s producer price report and Tuesday’s consumer price report, and that is inflation in general, whether domestic or cross-border, remains extremely subdued.”

New Home Sales, January 2019: “In a mostly favorable report, new home sales for January came in …. roughly as-expected” [Econoday]. “The housing sector was the big flop of the 2018 economy but January’s new home results are an offset to continued weakness in sales of existing homes and should raise talk of promise for 2019. Today’s report includes net upward revisions.” And but: “New Home Sales decreased to 607,000 Annual Rate in January” [Calculated Risk]. “Even with the increase in sales over the last several years, new home sales are still somewhat low historically.” And but: “Because of weather and other factors, the rolling averages are the way to view this series. The rolling averages improved but remains in contraction” [Econintersect]. “This data series is suffering from methodology issues which manifest as significant backward revision.”

Import and Export Prices, February 2019: “Even with the petroleum lift, total year-on-year import prices remained in the negative column” [Econoday]. And: “The month-over-month price index for fuel imports increased (and non-fuel imports was unchanged) – and the price index for agricultural exports increased” [Econintersect].

The Bezzle: “World View’s return to earth shows the dangers & costs of a sucker’s game.” [Tucson Sentinel (RH)]. “I’m not saying Pima County’s ballyhooed and bluster-inducing deal with high-altitude balloon company World View is about to be consumed by fire. I’m just saying the company is falling short of jobs projections in what may be a wobble… Pima County’s supervisors approved a ballsy deal with World View amid fanfare, criticism and a ginned-up lawsuit the county won. The county would build World View a headquarters and a launch pad for the balloons. The company would pay rent on the facilities and repay the county for its end, plus a guarantee of escalating its local workforce to 100 by the end of 2018, 200 by 2022 and 400 by 2032… Three years on, there’s been a catastrophic explosion and a leadership change as World View’s promise of “Jobs!” Jobs! Jobs!” has turned into “eh … jobs …” The company has a staff of 87. That’s 13 fewer than what was promised in the contract. Because World View refused to make public its internal growth projections, the county approved the deal after its own study predicted the company would hire pushing 400 workers by now.” • As I principle, we’d like to support local operations like the Tucson Sentinel, and it’s a good deed to throw them some clicks. So thanks to alert reader RH for sending this in.

Tech: “Massive Facebook Outage” [Search Engine Journal]. “However, I was able to post part of a link if I inserted a space between the dot and the com…. This outage does not affect posts that don’t feature links. As you can see in this screenshot, I was able to make a test post… Obviously, Facebook is changing something related to how it fetches links that are intended for sharing. Facebook has been under increasing scrutiny because of fake information that is being shared on it’s platform. It’s possible that Facebook was introducing a news filter related to links and that something at the crawler level is stopping the post from completing.”

Tech: “When Facebook Goes Down, Don’t Blame Hackers” [Wired]. “[Facebook said] that while it was still investigating the root cause of its woes, it had ruled out a distributed denial of service attack. On the surface, DDoS makes for a reasonable enough suspect; as a class of attack, its whole purpose is to bring sites down. But assumptions that hackers would hobble not just Facebook but also Instagram and WhatsApp with a DDoS attack rely on a shaky grasp of what that would entail and how prepared companies are to stop them.” • That’s the odd thing, that all the platforms owned by Facebook would crash, even they are separate systems. Or have they all been integrated — making it harder to break up Facebook — much more than we thought?

Tech: “The Gmail bug that’s been stealing $187M a year from Expedia” [The HFT Guy]. “It turns out that Gmail hides new messages that look similar to previous messages.” Like password reset messages, for example. “The password reset procedure is failing for a multi billion dollar website with hundreds of millions of customers…. Let’s estimate the impact. Incidentally, all the required metrics were distilled through today’s presentations and the data team just introduced themselves. Assuming some percentages of some percentages of some statistics from users and sales. (read: private numbers). The direct impact of this bug is a direct loss of revenues of $187M dollars per year, simply accounting for people who are unable to login and place any order. Existing users cannot use the service, new users can register but not return…. The bug is still there and it’s been there all along. I got it recently when I booked a travel. It’s been going on for many years. It must be well over a billion dollar loss by now.” • Can’t somebody sue Google for this? (Or maybe break them up, so one bug affects hundreds of millions of users, and not billions.)

Manufacturing: “FAA says new data on crashes led to grounding Boeing 737 Max fleet” [MarketWatch]. “The groundings will have a far-reaching financial impact on Boeing, at least in the short term, said John Cox, a veteran pilot and CEO of Safety Operating Systems. In addition to those that have already been grounded, there are more than 4,600 Boeing 737 Max 8 planes on backlog that are not yet delivered to airlines. ‘There are delivery dates that aren’t being met, there’s usage of the aircraft that’s not being met, and all the supply chain things that Boeing so carefully crafted,’ Cox said. Even so, Boeing will recover, because planes typically fly for up to 40 years, and any needed fix will be made quickly, he said.” • Hmm. 40 years, well into Jackpot territory. Really?

Manufacturing: “What could be wrong with the 737 Max — and what it means for Boeing” [CBC]. “Boeing is on track to rake in just over $110 billion US this year in revenue from selling planes. But more than a third of its profits will come from the 580 Max jets the company was on track to deliver this year, more than twice what they sold in 2018. There are 5,000 more — more than $600 billion worth — on back order, according to Bloomberg data.”

Manufacturing: “Here’s What Was on the Record About Problems With the 737 Max” [The Atlantic]. The reports have already been published in the Dallas Morning News (Water Cooler yesterday). But here’s interesting information on the venue: “While the fundamentals remain unknown, here are some relevant primary documents. They come from an underpublicized but extremely valuable part of the aviation-safety culture. This is a program called ASRS, or Aviation Safety Reporting System, which has been run by NASA since the 1970s. That it is run by NASA—and not the regulator-bosses at the FAA—is a fundamental virtue of this system. Its motto is ‘Confidential. Voluntary. Nonpunitive.’… The ASRS system is based on the idea that anyone involved in aviation—pilots, controllers, ground staff, anyone—can file a report of situations that seemed worrisome, in confidence that the information will not be used against them.”

Manufacturing: “Can Boeing Trust Pilots?” [Air Facts]. “What’s critical to the current, mostly uninformed discussion is that the 737 MAX system is not triply redundant. In other words, it can be expected to fail more frequently than one in a billion flights, which is the certification standard for flight critical systems and structures. What Boeing is doing is using the age-old concept of using the human pilots as a critical element of the system. Before fly-by-wire (FBW) came along, nearly all critical systems in all sizes of airplanes counted on the pilot to be a crucial part of the system operation…. I am sure the future belongs to [Fly-By-Wire] and that saying pilots need more training and better skills is no longer enough. The flying public wants to get home safely no matter who is allowed to be at the controls.” • Hmm. I would like to know what our pilots think of this article. The reasoning would also seem to apply to robot cars.

Manufacturing: “A second 737 Max crash raises questions about airplane automation” [Technology Review]. “The remarkable safety record of commercial airliners is an achievement of bureaucracy rather than technology. Airplanes are not safe because they are made of strong materials, nor because the computers that help fly them are so sophisticated. They are safe because of an elaborate international system of regulation that, with scores of checklists and reams of systematized procedures, makes ‘Safety first’ not a slogan but a reality. That system is now showing signs of strain…. within a day of the crash, 23 airlines had grounded their 737 Max fleets. None of these are American-flagged… This demonstrates a fracturing of technocratic consensus…. Taking things at face value, maybe China is showing an abundance of caution, and the FAA is not jumping to conclusions. But it sure looks as if China is taking the chance to undermine confidence in its global rival, while the US government is doing what it can to protect America’s largest exporter, which is an important source of manufacturing jobs.” • In national security discourse, “rules-based international order” is a polite fiction (or mostly polite; see under Iraq). But in the commercial airline industry, it has been real. So this is a problem…

The Biosphere

“California’s super bloom attracts swarms of migrating butterflies” [CNN]. “This year’s wildflower super bloom is not only filling California deserts with eye-popping displays of color — it’s also providing a feast for swarms of painted lady butterflies making their way north from Mexico ‘This is the biggest outbreak since 2005,’ said Art Shapiro, a professor at the University of California, Davis, who’s been studying the migration of butterflies in the state since 1972.” Nothing to do with Monarchs, however: ‘It has nothing at all to do with the monarch. It’s like asking whether a good year for the economy of Tanzania will be helpful to the economy of Sri Lanka,’ Shapiro said. ‘Probably there’s no relation.'” • But it is good to see one pollinator doing well!

“Ilhan Omar’s 16-year-old daughter is co-leading the Youth Climate Strike” [Grist]. “[Ilhan] Omar is not the only environmental influencer in her family — her daughter Isra Hirsi, 16, is one of the three youth leaders planning the U.S. component of Friday’s International Youth Climate Strike, in which young people will walk out of class in order to call for urgent climate action. Isra Hirsi: “These strikes are happening all over the world. Getting young people out, going to state capitols, going to city halls, going to the nation’s capital and talking about these things, that says something. That’s what we’re trying to do: Change the conversation not only about things like the Green New Deal but so much more. Obviously, one strike isn’t going to change everything, but this isn’t the last strike.” • I’m a fan, but I don’t like dynasties either….

“Deadly 2017 wildfire found sparked by So. California Edison power lines” [Reuters]. “An investigation of the [Thomas] fire’s origins found that high winds blew Edison power lines into one another, creating an electrical arc that ‘deposited hot, burning or molten material’ into dry vegetation on the ground, setting off the blaze, the Ventura County Fire Department said in a statement. In a 70-plus page report, investigators also cited several possible criminal violations by Edison in connection with the fire, including involuntary manslaughter, reckless arson and a health-safety code breach for carelessly or negligently causing a fire. A review by the state attorney general will decide whether criminal charges will be brought.” • Not PG&E (for which see NC here and here).

“Horizon by Barry Lopez review – magnificent on the natural world, and furious too” (photographs, absurdly gorgeous) [Guardian]. “Ralph Waldo Emerson described the horizon as the “point of astonishment”, mischievously converting it to a thing that it is not. For a horizon is always a line and never a point. The word comes from the Greek hóros, meaning “boundary”; whether that boundary seals the eye in or summons it on depends on circumstance. Early on, Lopez describes setting up a telescope on Cape Foulweather and “working the ocean’s horizon from right to left … the beckoning line where the dark edge of the ocean trembled against the sky”. The sweep he makes is a probing of space, but we understand it also to be a prospecting of the future. To look to the horizon has long been – for mariners, explorers and fieldworkers of all kinds – the simplest form of augury. What weather is coming?” • Good question!

The 420

“Kentucky farmers gamble on the South’s first organic hemp cooperative” [Southerly]. “[Tony] Silvernail thinks joining forces through a regional cooperative could provide a sustainable solution. By combining their acreage, equipment, and expertise, small farmers hope to increase access and lower their investment in hemp production. At least fifteen farmers recently formed the Kentucky Organic Hemp Cooperative (KOHC), which is one of the first organic hemp cooperatives in the nation. ‘There’s a huge amount of money being absorbed through the production chain,’ Silvernail said. ‘If we can control more of that, we can get more money back into farmer’s hands.'” • “Absorbed” puts the matter rather delicately…..

Class Warfare

“8 elite schools hit with first lawsuit in massive college admissions bribery scam” [ABC]. “The suit was filed Tuesday in a Northern California federal court by two students at Stanford University, one of the eight elite colleges named in the lawsuit, all of which had associated individuals implicated in the bribery case. In the suit, students Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods claimed they both went through the legitimate and rigorous admissions process to Stanford and were ‘never informed that the process of admission was an unfair, rigged process, in which rich parents could buy their way into the university through bribery.’ …. Olsen contends she had been damaged by the admissions scandal because her degree from Stanford ‘is now not worth as much as it was before, because prospective employers may now question whether she was admitted to the university on her own merits, versus having parents who were willing to bribe school officials.”

News of the Wired

“What is Pi Day? Everything you need to know about celebrating” [USA Today]. “Thursday marks Pi Day, held on March 14 in honor of 3.14, the measurement calculating the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. The number itself is rounded up [sic] to 3.14 but it can go on forever…. Several pizza chains are offering a variety of pizzas priced at $3.14 honoring Pi Day. It’s also a great time to buy pie. For example, fast food chain Bojangles is selling three sweet potato pies for $3.14. This is the kind of math we can get behind.” • Tell me it’s not a great country! Albert Einstein was born on Pi Day, and Karl Marx died.

“Pi in the sky: Calculating a record-breaking 31.4 trillion digits of Archimedes’ constant on Google Cloud” [Google]. “In honor of Pi Day, today March 14 (represented as 3/14 in many parts of the world), we’re excited to announce that we successfully computed π to 31.4 trillion decimal places—31,415,926,535,897 to be exact, or π * 1013.” • So when does it start to repeat?

“Why Do so Many Egyptian Statues Have Broken Noses?” [Artsy]. “‘[I]conoclasm on a grand scale…was primarily political in motive,’ [Brooklyn Museum’s Egyptian antiquities curator Edward Bleiberg] writes in the exhibition catalogue for ‘Striking Power.’ Defacing statues aided ambitious rulers (and would-be rulers) with rewriting history to their advantage. … ‘The damaged part of the body is no longer able to do its job,’ Bleiberg explained. Without a nose, the statue-spirit ceases to breathe, so that the vandal is effectively ‘killing’ it. To hammer the ears off a statue of a god would make it unable to hear a prayer…. Bleiberg appraised the skill evidenced by the iconoclasts. ‘They were not vandals,’ he clarified. ‘They were not recklessly and randomly striking out works of art.’ In fact, the targeted precision of their chisels suggests that they were skilled laborers, trained and hired for this exact purpose. ‘Often in the Pharaonic period,’ Bleiberg said, ‘it’s really only the name of the person who is targeted, in the inscription. This means that the person doing the damage could read!'” • So the iconoclasts were like priests!

* * *

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 (jsn):

Looks like an alien being!

* * *

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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. JohnnyGL

    How to get Trump Re-elected in 2020:


    Trump: America 1st!!!

    Castro: No, Central America 1st!!!

    To be honest, it’s not a terrible idea, in the abstract. But when you put it in context, this is a guy who, just the other day, criticized Bernie for “writing a check to solve problems” while refusing to write a check for reparations (while not proposing anything himself, mind you).

    Now, he proposes to write a check…..but for people who aren’t American!!!

    1. Porteño

      what is Castro doing attacking Bernie on reparations given his record? is it tin foily to think his campaign is a Bernie torpedo more so than a realistic run?

      1. richard

        No. But as jabs go, his was a pretty puny one. It seemed weak, didn’t make sense, because he doesn’t really believe in it or even know what it means himself. If I’m buying a torpedo, I want a lot more than that.
        I suspect they’ve bought more than one.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        Castro is polling at 1% or <1% in most polls, gotta try something I guess. Swing for the frontrunner

  2. Carolinian

    O’Rourke would enter the race as a man without a clear political ideology

    Sounds perfect. Worked for Obama.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Obama believed in Obama. Beto seems a Democratic version of Shrub. As soon as he loses interest, the costumes will come out. Biker, airplane dude, ranchman, and what ever costume Shrub wore when he was Presidentin’ will be replaced by Skater, Hackey Sack, and Pogs under the Beto Presidency!

      1. Wukchumni

        The Pog bubble was a ‘kids’ financial saga similar to baseball cards, but with a shorter shelf life. As it goes with most bubbles (aside from the housing bubble) the item of feverish interest, meant nothing in the overall scheme of things.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Who drove pogs? I’ve read about the comic book bubble in detail and items such as baseball cards, but did Pogs ever get too crazy? They definitely had those different sized metal “slammers.” Was it pushed as an investment? It seemed like it was more of an accessory game. They sold “mouse pads” as “Pog boards.”

          I actually have Simpsons Pogs. including Milhouse. Its camp!


          1. Wukchumni

            I really have no idea what was the driver of the Pog bubble, but I was able to watch the baseball card bubble up close in that a friend had a card store and the Dow Jones Index was a magazine called Beckett, and sometimes i’d hang out behind the counter and watch 11 year old boys buy a sealed deck of cards, open it up feverishly while comparing ‘values’ in the Beckett guide, often leaving all the ‘commons’ on the counter, if their luck came up empty. A Wall*Street of sorts for the kinder set.

            In the heat of the bubble, various baseball card manufacturers sprang up (there used to only be 2: Topps & Fleer) and offered full sets of cards that had every player in it, and for a few years prior, there were great rookie cards in these sets and they appreciated nicely, so underfinanced card dealers saw the writing on the wall, and instead of buying a few full sets, why not beg borrow & do whatever it takes to buy 20 instead?

            And then came that day of reckoning, and prices collapsed and boys (almost all-I can’t remember a girl buying any) with their first taste of making money, were perhaps looking for the next best thing, in Pogs?

          2. Jaye L

            POGs = passion, orange, guava, as in juice, and the original pogs were the caps for the juice. They were quite the thing in Hawaii for awhile, even the politicians had them made and passed them around. It was once my goal to get one from each politician, but I don’t think I made it.

          3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

            Pogs got crazy back in 6th grade in ’95.

            Also as a former lover of pogs, slammers are even better. I had one that looked like a saw blade and had a hologram skull on the sides.


      2. Carolinian

        Shrub had Daddy issues. The other day I finally saw Oliver Stone’s W. with Josh Brolin as the man himself. Surprisingly good.

    2. John k

      I see him as an excited puppy chasing his tail.
      He wants to finish Obama’s job of getting tpp over the line. Beyond that, status quo because we’re already great.

  3. Carolinian

    Re Warren–as already stated that “fringe” antitrust theory was the basis of United States versus Paramount in the 1940s that forced Hollywood studios to divest their theater chains. Maybe it’s Bloomberg that is “fringe,” historically speaking.

      1. JBird4049

        It all only works when we forget.

        “When” we forget or are made to forget?

        I had some great history teachers in high school, and I already have one college degree, but much of what I know about history came from studying outside of my classes. My teachers never lied to me, but inconvenient facts were not taught.

        Whitewashing by deliberate omission. It works and I cannot blame people for not understanding their past because of it.

  4. NotTimothyGeithner

    Is Beta even real? Or is this just performance art?

    Beta: He’s like Joe Biden, but instead of groping, he plays hackey sack!

    1. Gary

      I saw Beto speak a couple of times. He’s not afraid to answer questions and take discussion. He admits he doesn’t have all the answers but we have to try something different. Being as popular as he is in South Texas, which politically went hard Hispanic decades ago says a lot of the guy. I am very skeptical of him because you just can’t be too skeptical of anyone in politics. He is a Democrat that has survived in a state that has been hard Republican since 1995.

      1. Baby Gerald

        ‘He is a Democratt hat has survived in a state that has been hard Republican since 1995.’

        More like he is a Republican-lite in a state that’s been hard Republican. Did you not see the Peter Douche Liaison tweet? Beta O’Bama is a Republican in denial. Just because he runs as a ‘D’ doesn’t make him anything close to the sort of democrat we need.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Right…he lost to Ted Cruz, so he’s not viable state wide. He held a relatively safe blue district. Not every district is Red.

        I see a guy who has Annie Liebowitz doing photography and he says, “unleash the genius.” Hes a clown, just like Biden.

        1. richard

          I think that’s a good read. I just saw a couple minutes of his launch speech, and he must have pumped his arms up and down 30 times. I don’t remember a single, goddamn thing he said, but I remember he pumped his arms up and down. A lot. And I get it’s about him. Goodbye beto.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Some months ago, there was a simultaneous flood of Beto hagiography, Beto sweating would be mentioned in the lead or very near the top. And there would be a photo of Beto, his face beaded with sweat, or his shirt soaked with it. All that seems to have stopped with this round of reporting, if reporting is the word I want. Odd.

      3. carl

        He’s from El Paso. That’s not South Texas, it’s West Texas. And what’s a city in Texas doing with its own time zone?

      4. WJ

        His job is to take delegates from Sanders is Tx. Harris’ job is to take delegates from Sanders in CA and (hopefully) the “deep south.” Biden’s job is to take delegates from Sanders in Florida and the eastern corridor (VA, MA, PA). Warren’s job is to take delegates from Sanders here and there all over but esp like Biden in the eastern corridor.

        The aim is to flood the race and to prevent Sanders from winning enough delegates to be nominated in the first round of voting at the convention. Then the superdelegates will pick a “compromise” candidate. This way the Democrats can be assured of losing again and keeping their donor $ and consulting gigs.

        The writing’s on the wall.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          For a while now, I have said, be prepared for many surprises, just in case, as well as a ‘Draft HIllary’ possibility.

        2. RopeADope

          No, Beto’s job is to update the fundraising/mailing list from which the consultant class derives their grift. If he can nationalize that list it will be worth many hundreds of millions. The best thing about it is that he can get the marks themselves to pay for its development.

          Beto is another Jesse Karmazin.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Beto’s job is to update the fundraising/mailing list

            Worse, because Beto has Sanders staffers, to refresh the DNC list with Sanders-adjacent entries (since they will use the same techniques they used for Sanders).

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The aim is to flood the race and to prevent Sanders from winning enough delegates to be nominated in the first round of voting at the convention. Then the superdelegates will pick a “compromise” candidate. This way the Democrats can be assured of losing again and keeping their donor $ and consulting gigs.

          Another reason the race is so long… Plenty of time for attrition to do its work on the Sanders campaign.

        4. Mac na Michomhairle

          I was just thinking the same thing.

          There is no strategic advantage otherwise to the Democrats in having so many candidates, and the lineup reminds of the Spice Girls–trying to cover all fan/voter bases at once. Since the lineup will only spread the primary vote very widely, which is no advantage to a party trying to focus its voter appeal, it can only be intended to block one candidate.

    2. Hana M

      We’re not sure if he’s real or virtual but The Company announced he’s the beta version of Beto.

    3. Summer

      Beto is for the kiddies that didn’t get an Obama mania experience. I think that is the plan along with raising his profile for his next Senate run.

      And it’s not performance art. He truly has to wait for his marching orders. It truly is a family decision…with his heiress wife.

    4. flora

      Beto. ho hummm. Another Dem estab consensus candidate, exactly as are Harris and Biden, etc. What do they think the most important issue are, and how will they address those issues? What do they want to accomplish and why? Who knows? I’m ready for a conviction candidate, that is, someone who has independently formed their own ideas; not someone who’s waiting to receive a list of committee generated talking points.

      1. flora

        Shorter: Dem estab consensus candidates reflect the consensus of the Dem estab thinking, not the thinking of the voter base. I know how well that’s worked out for the economics of the 90% over the last 25 years.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Another Dem estab consensus candidate, exactly as are Harris and Biden

        Beto’s campaign operation is different, however. You can look at it as Sanders staffers (who worked for him) porting the Sanders 2016 campaign to a Democrat establishment candidate. And it seems to have worked (though not enough to win): (a) big fundraising numbers from small donors (b) very enthusiastic campaign volunteers (really. I can’t understand it myself, but he really does have enthusiastic supporters who believe in him personally, like Obots in 2008 except with even less reason).

    1. a different chris

      Pi is interesting, because if you look at it you can take it two ways:

      1) (negatively) A circle is a pretty fundamental unit of, well everything. But our supposedly mad math skills can’t even properly represent the circumference of it, just a shrug and a symbol. Anytime you have to actually do anything it’s an approximation. Why didn’t we ever come up with some better enumeration system that naturally works properly with such a common object?

      2) (positively) We have a symbol for Pi, we basically know what it is in relation to the circumference and the diameter, and we can proceed just fine with the 3->6 digits approximation in our “practical” maths. Life ain’t perfect, why fight it.

      Me? Depends on my mood, I guess.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Many years ago I was reading a semi-simple biography of R. Buckminster Fuller. In his youth, Fuller was disturbed by just that question. Why can’t we exactly represent the circumference of a circle . . . such a fundamental shape in nature?

        And then one day it struck him. The “circles” or “spheres” we think we see in nature are not circles or spheres at all. They are ultra-hyper-mega polygons. The smallest “fundamental” bits of atomic-level matter which make them up are connected by . . . straight lines of attraction between each atom and/or molecule.

        So the “circle” is a human analytical contrivance. There are no actual “circles” or “spheres” in nature. Just polygons with facets so tiny as to appear circular to us. And thinking of these hyper polygons as “circles” allows us to measure them and analyse them well enough to be able to function in the real world we function in.

          1. Chris

            Yep. Achilles foot race on a line, trying to touch every point :)

            Bucky Fuller was an inspiration of mine when I was growing up. We need people like him who ask why not about everything.

    2. hunkerdown

      But what’s discounted on 6/28? Flax? Hemp? Hmm, as a resident of a legal state, getting tau-headed sounds like just the ticket.

      1. Wukchumni

        Announcing that your previous words weren’t meant to be taken at faze value isn’t all that.

        1. Yves Smith

          You are already in moderation for previous violations. Lambert regularly makes sarcastic and deadpan remarks, and pretty much never uses an /s tag.

          Don’t pick fights when the cost of losing is having your comment privileges revoked.

          1. Wukchumni

            I’m in cahoots with Lambert, as i’ve never utilized a “/s”, as it’s tantamount to a magician revealing how they do a trick.

            1. Lee

              My problem is that when writing I often rely on tone of voice to convey irony. Can you hear me now?

            2. Jeff W

              “…as it’s tantamount to a magician revealing how they do a trick.”

              I’m in complete agreement—perfectly said. I’d sooner not write anything at all than use an “/s” tag. (Do I have to add a “no /s” there?) I suspect a lot of the “/s” tags should be “/i” (i = irony), anyway.

                1. drumlin woodchuckles

                  Well, as Will Rogers once said . . . . ” I never meta meta I didn’t like.”

      1. Lee

        Speaking of zealous faith in the rational, Hippasus was probably murdered by his fellow Pythagoreans for revealing the terrible truth of the existence of irrational numbers such as pi.

  5. Samuel Conner

    re: Pollinators doing well, a garden project for this Summer is to start up to (will not reach that, of course) 1000 Swamp Milkweed plants. The variety is “Carmine Rose” (seeds are cheap; I won’t pollute comments with a commercial link, but they are easy to find). Swamp MW is a perennial and the seeds require cold treatment. So far, 13 of the first 500 seeds have germinated. From prior experience, the ones that don’t germinate may after a 2nd, or 3rd or nth cold treatment.

    Will put clover into the less public parts of my yard (not yet bold enough to risk antagonizing neighbors with a full-on revision to the front lawn) for the bees; noticeably fewer last year than the prior year.

    1. marieann

      I am working towards a clover lawn.I’m not sure if I should pull up all the grass or just sprinkle the clover seeds over the existing lawn.

      We did a small test area last fall, we had an clear patch from a tree dying and the clover seeds are coming up nicely.

      I shall investigate the Milkweed.

      The Swallowtail Butterfly comes to visit our garden every year, their babies like dill and parsley and I always grow extra so I am allowed a few for me.

      1. Samuel Conner

        Purple Coneflower is also a good nectar plant for butterflies; it’s perennial and pretty hardy so quite low maintenance; also is attractive until well into the gone-to-seed stage. I also like Tithonia/Mexican Sunflower though it is only annual. It’s become an annual ritual to start a bunch of these and send several to a local social services non-profit. They attract hummingbirds which, it is reported, give a welcome lift to the spirits of the staff.

      2. Whoamolly

        We went dwarf clover (short) for lawn.

        Year 1, cover existing lawn with recycled cardboard. Water well. Soggy cardboard kills old lawn.

        Year 2, cover cardboard remnants with layer of clean topsoil. Broadcast clover seeds. They are tiny so an inexpensive spreader is worth it.
        Water appropriately.

        Year 3 +, nice low maintenance dwarf clover lawn

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          That’s a good technique, but did you really have to wait a whole year on the soggy cardboard? If you only had to wait a month, you could kill the lawn and get the clover going in one season.

      3. taunger

        my big issue with the full clover lawn is that if you then go walk barefoot, the possibilities of getting a sting increase significantly

      4. polecat

        I’m converting our little pond (pre-formed) into a larger bog garden, due to the former inhabitants (fishes) having expired due to our big month long freeze .. so the insects this year should be pretty stoked once thing get established. Plus, the raccoons should be of little concern going forward !! ‘:]

        1. polecat

          Well, ixnae on the bognae ..

          I just walked past said pond to see how the bees were doing and low and behold, I sighted a ‘Lazarus fish’ .. so a reprieve is in order for another year, I guess.

      5. Oregoncharles

        To add clover (white clover, right?) to grass, just broadcast the seeds into the grass, esp. the thin spots. Fall is the best time, here in maritime Oregon. Try to cover the seed with something like sawdust.

        OTOH: I find it’s very difficult to grow a pure-clover stand for very long, at least here in the grass seed capital of the world. At least around home, I find the best way to reseed lawn is by planting clover. The pure stand yields to a grass mixture within a couple of years.

        The deer do enjoy those pure stands of clover while they last. Better than invading the garden, which has a spooky monster that keeps jumping out and chasing them. Trouble is, he’s slowing down a bit.

        After thought: look for “Ecology Lawn” mixtures, which include two kinds of clover, yarrow, and English (dwarf) daisies for a flowering lawn. Or get seeds separately; there are pink varieties of both yarrow and the daisies. Yarrow is an important herb.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      I wouldn’t have considered a link to where to find Carmine Rose Swamp Milkweed to be polluting the comments.

      When I or others have offered the names and contacts of decent worthwhile seed companies, we didn’t feel we were polluting comments. And at least some of the people reading those names and links considered them information rather than commercial pollution.

      So I wouldn’t have minded at all if a source-link to Carmine Rose Swamp Milkweed had been offered.

  6. Carolinian

    I’m not a pilot but here’s suggesting that the distinction between flight software and hardware is an artificial one. It sounds like the problem with the 737 was not automation but rather horribly designed automation. Clearly the software engineering was not put through the same rigorous testing as, say, a wing.

    All of us who drive these days are depending on a computer inside the car to make sure the engine doesn’t conk out while driving down a busy freeway. And arguably these critical systems have been holding up very well over the last several decades. Turning the 737 incident into a philosophical argument about AI may be off the mark. A computer is just a machine, like an engine or a wing.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Clearly the software engineering was not put through the same rigorous testing as, say, a wing.

      As you say, clearly the problem. Have been on the other side of this, pleading with management to allow time to test some very intricate (embedded telecommunications) code before shipping, getting overruled, and having the fielded units go nips up when the very first expansion card was shipped. But, at least in my case, no lives were imperiled by senior management’s override (unlike, say, the Challenger).

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Boeing is simply the poster child for financialization, they went from a company based on making things, really complicated and good American things known the world over for their quality, to being a company driven by Wall Street’s desires. Move the HQ to Chicago, start an assembly plant in South Carolina so they can thwart the unions, shift the focus from quality to cost cutting, buybacks, and balance sheet fun, and outsource everything possible, bleeding the very DNA of what made the company great in the first place.

        1. Jerry B


          Great comment. I would add that like a lot of companies, Boeing has put way too much faith in technology. Not just technology per se, but the current “in” technology of automation, self driving/flying, sensors, software, algorithms, etc.

          If I remember I thought there was a plane crash recently that was a combination pilot error and technology. Apologies for the vagueness, but I thought it was the pilots received a message from the automation, which the pilots overreacted to, which caused a crash.

          I just do not see this ending well. In my mind there will NEVER be a time where I will fully trust a self driving car completely. Why?? Because, who designed the self driving car or advanced technology airplane??? Humans. As Open mentions above, humans used to “make things, really complicated and good American things known the world over for their quality”. But the art of craftsmanship, workmanship, and skill is being lost and taken away.

          Full Disclosure. I have a 2009 Subaru Forester. It has some technology such as electronic stability control, vehicle dynamics control, and all wheel drive. It is one of the best winter and bad weather cars I have ever owned. My wife and I love it because when it starts to slip or slide in the snow the Forester does a great job of minimally “taking over”. If you try to fight it for control it does not go well. It’s best just to use your hands to guide the Forester as the technology navigates the slide. That being said I am still driving the car. Also,there is a button on the dashboard that allows me to disengage the stability control.

          I think any of these advanced systems can cause complacency and people put too much faith in the tech and drop their guard. It’s either my plane or car (i.e. I have complete control) or it’s not.

          Apologies for the digression. Again great comment Open!!

          1. Jessica

            Jerry B,
            Good comment.
            I think that what creates trouble is not the worship of technology per se, so much as the worship of technology to replace humans, especially skilled humans. Technology that enhances human skills is beneficial.

          1. Jerry B

            Thanks Casey. It looks like a long read but being a former plastics engineer (and still an engineer at heart) I will definitely give it a read.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      But when Boeing with-held information about this “stealth-action-taking” program from the pilots, Boeing put all those pilots and planes and crew and passengers in potential deadly danger.

      And if Boeing withheld this information from the pilots and everyone else in order to fake the appearance of “expensive training not needed” in order to artificially up-hype the value of the planes, wouldn’t that be fraud? And considering the consequence of this fraud upon the pilots and crews and flying publics and plane-buying airlines . . . such consequences already revealed in two baked-in crashes and counting . . . wouldn’t certain deciders at Boeing be subject to arrest and prosecution for depraved indifference to human life?

        1. jsn

          One wonders now how bloody a white collar must get for its killings to rise to the level of crimes?

      1. ChristopherJ

        Thank you, dm. Have beenn telling others today I thing Boeing is dead. Cannot sell planes if you compromise safety in their making. After these last two crashes, the only ones I will get on now are the 747s.

        I’ll add that my drone knows how to fly and avoid obstacles and to land, it flies itself much better than me. Flying the bigger jets is much more computer aided than many realize. When turning to the left, the pilot simply moves the stick left. It’s no longer connected to anything, other than the computer, which correctly interprets the command as turn left safely…

        So, the future very well could be aircraft that fly without any humans. I would not be surprised at all

  7. Synoia

    O’Rourke (1): “Beto O’Rourke, as He Comes to Grips with a Presidential Run:


    O’Rourke (1): “Beto O’Rourke, as He Comes with a Grasping Presidential Run:

  8. ChiGal in Carolina

    Your comment on the AOC tweet struck me as a bit dismissive. To know that class struggle must be addressed it is not necessary to equate 18th and 19th century slaves with today’s workers victimized by crony capitalism.

    Possibly there is more of a similarity to those brought over from England and forced into indentured servitude back in the 16th and 17th century, who were mostly poor and white. In some colonies at some times, they were forbidden to marry, subject to the discipline of the families they served, and had to buy their freedom (see White Trash).

    Yes, as per A Reed, it is not all about race (are you paying attention, Ta-Nehisi?). And while from another (safe) planet being branded and lynched might look no different than the deaths of despair, up close and personal there is an enormous lived difference in experience.

    What we have in common is crucial as a basis for action, but there are differences to be respected. Black lives matter.

    1. Baby Gerald

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt that way, ChiGal. Now how about the remark about Omar’s daughter taking a leadership role in the youth climate strike- ‘I’m a fan, but I don’t like dynasties either….’

      A ‘dynasty’? Really? While Omar’s daughter is actually out there doing something positive for our planet, let’s see what our other leaders’ progeny have been up to or what sort of activism they were into at the age of 16. How about those Bush girls? The Obama girls? Chelsea Clinton? Those are actual dynasties. Isra Hirsi is simply a young woman trying to draw awareness to the destruction of our world and the need to change our ways before it’s too late. And if you read the interview with her, it was her who got Omar on the schedule to speak at the climate strike. If it was a dynastic situation one would expect the motivation from the opposite direction, as in Omar encouraging her daughter into the role.

      1. Darthbobber

        Yeah. I suspect it’s a bit premature to speak of political activism by the daughter of a first term congresswoman having dynastic implications.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I hate to see the impulse, and I think it should be rooted out. Much of our celebrity culture is about second-generation celebrities.

          Adding, I like Ilhan Omar a lot, and I think she’s going to keep rising, as we say of stars. That’s exactly why I’m worried! If she were a mediocre time-server, I wouldn’t care so much.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I didn’t think through what “Because if so, I’m happy to consider your point” meant. In fact, I think her answer is mine :-)

      Capitalism that treats people as things for sale (slavery) and capitalism that treats people as things for rent (wage labor) is still capitalism.

      1. dk

        Yes that was my takeaway too, but I think it’s kind of clumsy.

        It sounds like a teased out argument I heard in a poli-sci class a long time ago. IIRC the TA’s point was that there was a lot of collectivism on the ground, locally, in early colonial 17th century America.

        My response was, local economies always have collective characteristics, unless they’re totally oppressed as in extremes of fascism or Soviet communism. It’s a practical phenomenon, not an ideological one.

        I just think it’s an over-complex and nuanced analysis that doesn’t simplify well and as a kind of elitist cast to it, categorizing things for the sake of distinction instead of looking for functional elements that people in place can relate to.

        But maybe it’s all over my head, we’ll see how AOC plays it out.

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        still capitalism, yes, but the thingery of those owned or rented is qualitatively different, was my point.

        an abstraction indeed. no problem for drumlin below, though

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          If I am sold, I am property. If I am rented, I am property.

          I’m not sure how the essence of thingery is different; the experience would seem to depend on the terms of the sale, or the terms of the rental, and not rental or sale as such.

          1. vlade

            I disagree. if I’m sold, I’m someone’s else property. I can rent myself out, so if I’m anyone’s property, it’s my own.

            Of course, here’s an important caveat. Rent assumes I have at least some choices (apart from the obvious like die and similar) who I rent myself to, how much for etc.

            If there are no choices, then it’s really slavery (which takes out all choices except the obvious ones).

            TLDR; slavery = no choices except the baseline (die), rent = at least some real choices possible

      3. Swamp Yankee

        There’s a significant line of historiography that profoundly disagrees with this assertion (that slavery is a kind of capitalism). See, for instance, Eugene Genovese’s Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World The Slaves Made, as well as The World The Slaveholder’s Made. Genovese argues that Atlantic slavery ought to be understood as a seigneurial, patriarchal, feudal mode of production, not a capitalist one.

        There, of course, those who disagree with this; my own dissertation advisor, J. Mills Thornton, an historian of Alabama and its slave society, would also point to the largely Whig big planters in the state’s Black Belt who were experimenting with using slaves in things like factories and mining, and say, look, there’s no reason slavery was inherently non-capitalistic.

        At the same time, I think the great weight of evidence, including my own dissertation on Plymouth County, Massachusetts, demonstrates that early America was not a capitalist economy in the modern sense. For instance, see the essays in Stephen Hahn, ed., The Transition to Capitalism in Rural America or Christopher Clark’s The Roots of Rural Capitalism: Western Massachusetts, 1780-1860. See also Charles G. Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846.

        What are the essentials of this argument? That in agriculture, for instance, we see a disjuncture in the 19th century between production for home use, with some excess traded with near neighbors (“safety first agriculture”, as anthropologists label it), vs. production for world markets by the end of the 19th century, with farmers’ livelihoods determined in important ways by world crop prices (cf. all the early roots music on 11 cent cotton, and so on). This is echoed in first-hand accounts of people living through this transition, who remark on the world of difference in their communities between the world of 1800 and the world of 1860.

        Socially, you see a transition between a far more communitarian world in 1800 vs. one that by the end of the century has become increasingly individualistic and liberal, in the 19th century sense.

        There are many more lines to the argument that I won’t go into here.

        Finally, the problem is that if we are to define capitalism as merely being about things for sale (slaves or wage labor in Lambert’s example), then the definition becomes so broad as to lose any real explanatory power. By this reckoning, societies as diverse as ancient Persia to medieval England to present-day Cuba could be understood as capitalist. At that point, I would suggest the meaning is lost.

        What I do think, still tentatively, is that capitalism is an historical economic system, arising in northern Italy in the late Middle Ages, that has spread widely but highly unevenly throughout the world since that time. Key features of it include the logic of endless accumulation; the cash nexus (moving beyond barter); the use of large-scale (national and international) markets to determine value, as well as towards which production is geared; the enclosure of the commons; alienation of labor and the wage system; the importance of credit and financial instruments and institutions. There are other factors I’ve surely missed.

        Thus, in large parts of the United States, these conditions are only ever entirely realized in the decades around and after the Civil War, if ever. Non-market and non-capitalist modes of production persist even today (for instance, southeast Asian migrants to old New England mill-towns like Lowell engage in large amounts of subsistence fishing, often disregarding catch limits and destroying breeding populations, leading to conflict with both local fish and game authorities as well as the local fishing communities).

        Ironically enough, the schools of historical thought that Lambert seems to be leaning toward, with the US (or British America) as capitalist at a quite early date, is associated with both the Liberals (Louis Hartz, say) as well as the neoliberal turns amongst historians. Not to do guilt by association, but I think that might give Mr. Strether some pause.

        As I see it, while pockets of capitalist production exist in places like New England or Southeast Pennsylvania by 1815, it is really only by the last third of the 19th century that the economy of the US as a whole becomes recognizably capitalist.

        [steps off historiographical soap-box.]

        1. jax

          Swamp Yankee, Thanks for your considered response on capitalism in early America. I enjoyed your point of view – thought provoking.

          1. Swamp Yankee

            Thank _you_, Jax! I appreciate it. I certainly love discussing this stuff here on NC.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I have read Genovese’s The World the Slaveholders Made and, more recently, The Mind of the Master Class, although of course I’m not a historian. That said, I think it is correct to think of the Slave Power as capitalist, which we can see if we apply your checklist to it:

          What I do think, still tentatively, is that capitalism is an historical economic system, arising in northern Italy in the late Middle Ages, that has spread widely but highly unevenly throughout the world since that time. Key features of it include [1] the logic of endless accumulation; [2] the cash nexus (moving beyond barter); [3] the use of large-scale (national and international) markets to determine value, as well as towards which production is geared; the [4] enclosure of the commons; [5] alienation of labor and the wage system; [6] the importance of credit and financial instruments and institutions. There are other factors I’ve surely missed.

          [1] Surely true for the Slave Power; IIRC, the capital invested in slaves was the same order of magnitude as constant capital in the non-slaveholding north; $4 billion, I think, though I’m too lazy to find the link.

          [2] Also surely true. Plantations were well-run businesses and highly profitable.

          [3] Cotton, with infrastructure (especially rail) optimized by the Slave Power for that international market.

          [4] Don’t know, but I’d check out what happended to the “waste lands” where the “white trash” lived; and of course one might look at colonization and westward expansion as such as a form of enclosure

          [5] Alienation of labor. Hard to see what’s more alienating than being owned. As the Bearded One wrote:

          Hence the Negro labor in the Southern States of the American Union preserved something of a patriarchal character, so long as production was chiefly directed to immediate local consumption. But in proportion, as the export of cotton became of vital interest to these states, the over-working of the Negro and sometimes the using up of his life in 7 years’ of labor became a factor in a calculated and calculating system. It was no longer a question of obtaining from him a certain quantity of useful products. It was now a question of production of surplus-labor [sic?] itself.

          [6] The Slave Power developed very sophisticated financial instruments. (It will be highly ironic if records kept by insurance companies of slave property insured become the basis for reparations based on “lineage.”)

          Of course Marx is a journalist/historian, not an oracle; but his views on the production of a surplus would I think be shared by modern historians. (It’s not “things for sale” that is at issue, but the accumuluation of surplus value; slavery in the Slave Power (not ancient slavery) is M-C-M’.

          1. Carolinian

            This discussion above my pay grade but just a suggestion that the Slave Power (aka Dixie–there’s even a song) may have been culturally feudal while being practically capitalist at least in its late stages. That was Mark Twain’s view and he lived it. Also one should perhaps make a distinction between slavery pre and post the cotton gin. Jefferson’s rural arcadia (for him at least) turned into a cotton agribusiness and a global enterprise that kept the mills of Manchester humming.

            Meanwhile the plantation owners continued to pretend that it was a benevolent system of patrons and their slave “children”–members of the family (oftentimes literally). They were so committed to this view that they entered a horrible war partly as response to what they saw as northern slurs against their “honor.”

            1. Swamp Yankee

              Thanks for your replies, Lambert and Carolinian. I think Carolinian is right that it very much depends whether we’re talking Mississippi in 1855 or Georgia in 1755 or Virginia in 1655. That said, I think you’re both on to something in terms of the Slave Power also transitioning to capitalism by the 1850s, though not culturally. I want also to thank you both and NC as a whole for helping me to work through these issues in my own thinking — believe it or not, you’re far more useful to discuss these things with than most academic historians.

              But I do think there are some problems with Lambert’s application of my (admittedly incomplete and tentative) checklist to the Slave Power, ones that again, are dependent on questions of who-what-where-when, and so forth.

              1) This one is on me, for defining it too narrowly — but I think it is possible to interpret the Slave Power’s endless drive for new western lands to expand cotton agriculture as not capitalist per se, or at least ambiguously and only partially so. E.g., Mongols and Romans also had notions of limitless conquest, and the economic benefits thereof; I am not sure if that’s the same as limitless accumulation in the sense of the Vanderbilts or Carnegie. An open question for me. The corollary would mean that any conqueror throughout history could be interpreted as capitalist. FWIW, I think your $4 billion figure is roughly correct, though I’m also in a lazy mode today. :)

              2) I don’t think this is correct, Lambert; yes, plantations were tightly coordinated and well-run businesses, often. But they were not, to my mind, part of the cash nexus — the medium of exchange in most of the South was still barter, and the planters still required Slave Factors, like the Lehman Brothers of Mobile and later of New York City, to exchange cotton on world markets for them. They lacked the means and knowledge, mostly, to do it themselves. The South internally was a cash poor society through the early 20th c.

              3) I think the infrastructure one is again, a question of who-what-where, so it’s hard to talk in sweeping terms. However, as much as Whig great planters wanted railroads and canals, on the whole, the South rejected internal improvements (thus the CSA’s Constitution’s prohibition on them at the federal level).

              4) As far as the wastelands where poor white farmers lived, these were in many cases not enclosed until well after the Civil War (e.g., 1890s in much of Upcountry Georgia). Open hog range agriculture was essential to the Southern diet, and explains why Southern cooking is still comparatively heavy in pork compared to more beef-based Northern cuisine.

              5) Re: alienation of labor, that’s a fair point, and one that I need to think more about. I think Marx is certainly right that market production shaped Atlantic slavery by the middle decades of the 19th century — but is that market production enough to characterize the entire system as capitalist? I don’t know that it is. The analogy I like to use, as opposed to the binary [capitalist vs. non-capitalist] is brackish water — there are capitalist elements mixing, certainly by the 1840s and ’50s, but I don’t know if that makes the entire system so, just as fresh and salt-water are mixed in brackish water, with neither entirely dominating.

              Another way to think of it might be to look at the Spanish encomienda system in Mexico, Colombia, etc. Things like gold and silver, yes, are going on to world markets, but the mode of production within these systems is still essentially feudal. Or when small northern farmers use free time to weave baskets and make straw hats to sell locally for cash, yes, these are forms of market exchange, but they’re still coming out of a subsistence system. Both of these strike me as participating in “the market” but not being “of the market”, to use a New Testament analogy.

              I do tend also here to think of the observation, I believe by Oliver Wendell Holmes, that the evolution of modern law is the move from status to contract. In this formulation, slaves still exist in the feudal world of status, whereas wage workers, at least in theory, exist in the world of contract (however unfairly and coercively applied). I do think that suggests putting most of Atlantic slavery in non-capitalist, pre-modern modes of production (markets alone, for me, do not equal capitalism).

              6) This is a strong argument about surplus value, one that I need to revisit. But I’m not sure why it would apply to Alabama plantations but not latifundia in Roman Sicily.

              In general, I think you make very strong arguments, Lambert, but I think they risk two things we historians are obsessively concerned with: ahistoricism and teleology. An ahistorical approach reads the present back into the past; teleology (telos = end) sees the end point of a certain historical process and interprets the past in terms of that end-point.

              This isn’t to say you’re wrong — you and the many historians who agree with you offer excellent points! — but it is to say, that at least to my mind, in four out of five cases, to describe early America (pre-1860) as capitalist is to not quite encompass what it actually was. Were there capitalist elements? Yes, absolutely. But there were also non-capitalist elements, many of which were quite strong. Even within the South, let’s suppose, arguendo, that the Slave Power was capitalist — the upcountry white farmers were decidedly not. So where does that leave the South as a whole?

              So, with that said, thank you all for a fine discussion. I have my own view on these questions, but I very much enjoy hearing other perspectives on it, and thanks again for helping me apply it to my own thinking.

              And Lambert — you may not be fully trained as an academic historian, but you do better work than 3/4 of the ones I’ve encountered.

              p.s. Read, when you have the chance, Roll, Jordan, Roll — agree or disagree, it is just wonderful.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Will the Rayciss Pigg extortionists at ADOS who demand Reparations also support Reparations for the Poor White descendants of all the Indentured Servants and Convicts sent here from the British Isles? If not, why not?

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        “Reparations” is truly a complete own goal as an issue, especially since in its current form it’s based on race. Now if we could start talking about reparations based on class then we’d have something that is not just a divisive, distracting, dead-end sideshow

        1. Steve

          Totally agree that reparations based on class would re-package the current discussion, but not sure how sustainable it would be if it was also rooted in perpetuating a “false” basis of unity by ignoring race (i.e. ‘I don’t see color”) within a class context. History does tell us two things: 1. Codified slavery on the basis of race is at the heart of capitalist economic development in America; (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/store/books/half-has-never-been-told-slavery-and-making-americ/) and 2. Some of the most profound examples of class based socioeconomic/political economy progress in our nation grew out of real hard struggles (not the BS soundbites of left and right extreme identity politics politicians) about racism between Black, White and Brown working class people who had to deal with racism (no zero sum luxury of choosing race or class) in order to organize themselves to fight for more control over their conditions of life.

        2. dk

          Yes but wouldn’t we then be perpetuating the underlying class structures? Reparations reinforce a particular social order based on ownership, “what’s mine is mine, what’s yours is yours”. Rebalancing the components while keeping the underlying paradigm does little to inhibit future abuses.

          Is equity in the system, or in the amount each individual holds at a given point in time? What happens in the next moment, the moment after that? I can make reparations to you, and then turn around and continue to cheat you out of what you got back. Not saying reparations should be off the table, just think it’s bass-ackwards to start with them. Making reparation becomes an excuse to continue to indulge hoarding and predatory investment, are these okay simply because the disenfranchised got a turn at them too?

    4. Summer

      “And while from another (safe) planet being branded and lynched might look no different than the deaths of despair, up close and personal there is an enormous lived difference in experience.”

      True. No one has ever said the worker’s today aren’t human.
      The establishment just wishes they weren’t.

      Everything in this global economy is a longing for the good ole days of slaves.
      They want the robots to be humanlike for that reason. It’s a vile nostalgia of degenerates.

    1. Hana M

      I love it too. As an urbanite these sorts of encounters with the natural world thriving in all its glory give me daily joy. Last week I saw a gorgeous Red Tailed Hawk right above me on a utility electrical power line cross beam. Look around! Look down! And look UP!

      1. Eureka Springs

        I’ve been entertained by a hawk who visits daily and resident roadrunner in my yard all winter. They cannot figure out the movement of moles in the yard comes from under the surface, but they keep trying. I’m really surprised sir roadrunner hasn’t figured it out.

      2. BobW

        An encounter with the natural world in a homeless camp came in the middle of the night, when a neighbor’s tent had a skunk chew its way in looking for the source of a Doritos odor. The neighbor’s exit was rapid and quite loud, with fatal damage to the door zipper. The skunk was unimpressed and calmly finished the bag. No one was sprayed, or got much sleep.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > And look UP!

        Looking up is very important. In the depths of February there is often a tendency to shuffle along looking at one’s feet. But looking up allows one to see the moment when buds appear on the tree branches (and also gets the sun in one’s face, always a good thing).

  9. Wukchumni

    I’m proud to announce* my intention to run away from watching the donkey show’s rear echelon join in the fray.

    *I’m Wukchumni and I approve this message

    1. Carolinian

      Books are good. Also movies. Some of us depend on Lambert to keep up updated on political events.

  10. Jerry B

    ===I am genuinely baffled and appalled at how “people” could “believe passionately” in O’Rourke. Did we learn nothing from Obama?===

    Lambert – it should be no surprise to you how many people, even in today’s day, fall for great rhetoric. It is very disappointing but not surprising. One thing they do not teach enough in primary schools and in higher ed is the craft of critical thinking and debate. And in our history one thing the elites have relied on is how easily the masses fall for a great speech especially from an “authority” figure. It says a lot about our education system that in 2019 we still fall for words, style, oration, and rhetoric instead of evaluating an argument/opinion on it’s merits.

    While naturally cynical and skeptical, I did not completely drink Obama Kool Aid, but like many people tried to be optimistic. But during the last couple of years of Obama, I read Kenneth Burke’s A Grammar of Motives and A Rhetoric of Motives and realized that Obama was spewing a lot of rhetoric without much substance.

    Prior to reading NC, I had read much of Daniel Kahnemann’s and others work on heuristics, logic, etc. But, when I started reading NC and looked up the logical fallacies links in the policies page I learned a lot more about evaluating an argument and not just falling for words.

    As Cleavon Little’s Super Soul said in the movie Vanishing Point, “We’ve got a long way to go today, baby!”

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      fall for great rhetoric.

      You know…I got to say…its maybe…perhaps…rhetoric…hmmm…I don’t know. Its actually the vaguely attainable attractive nature without being too good looking of Obama and apparently Beta. Anyone of their supporters could be the next Disney Princess or prince.

      Obama isn’t widely quoted for a reason. His rhetoric was more “unleash the genius” than say “ask not.”

      1. Duck1

        Something to the effect of all that drilling, that was me. And we thought Palin was a loon with drill baby drill. I guess to 0bama’s credit he didn’t bomb bomb Iran.

      2. The Rev Kev

        ‘Obama isn’t widely quoted’

        You know, after eight years of him being President, I cannot recall a single quote of his on par with any of Kennedys.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          How about “If you like your plan, you can keep it.” ?
          “We don’t look backwards, we look forward.”
          “I’m all that stands between you and the pitchforks.”

          He was exactly what we think he was.
          Liar and coward, neoliberal greedhead.

        2. Jeff W

          From Current Affairs’s “The Obama Boys” two days ago in the Links:

          Christopher Hitchens once observed that while there is almost universal agreement that Barack Obama is a memorable public speaker, almost nobody can actually remember or quote any lines from an Obama speech.

          President Obama could “put over” a speech, in terms of delivery, but I never thought of him as “a memorable public speaker,” if that means he had anything memorable to say.

    2. Whoamolly

      Re: fall for great rhetoric

      I think high cost weaponized persuasion has more to do with it.

      Think of how CNN is elevating Harris this 2019 or the 2016 Russia Russia Russia campaign designed by HRC persuasion team the day after HRC lost. Powerful stuff. It works.

    3. Synoia

      I was led to understand the US has a great History of Snake Oil Salesman.

      The English not so much. The Poorer classes in England had an affection for disposing rotten fruit at those engaged in dubious commerce.

      1. Jerry B

        ===disposing rotten fruit at those engaged in dubious commerce===

        Ha. Thanks for that. Do you remember the guy that threw a shoe at W. Bush??? At least at first, a shoe is a bit harsh. I like the idea of rotten fruit. The agribusiness food-industrial complex generates so much waste there has to be plenty of rotten fruit. It can serve as a metaphor too —–rotten to the core!

        1. The Rev Kev

          The guy that threw a shoe at W. Bush? That was Muntadhar al-Zaidi and last year he ran for Parliament though I do not know if he won or not.

      2. polecat

        I had a civics teacher in high school (when they still taught such things) who referred to what was thrown at the deserved as “rubbish” .. which I took to mean whatever was on hand, including offal.
        He also had a penchant for decribing, in quite vivid detail, the sentencing of those accused of high capital crimes to the practice of being drawed and quartered … complete with, as he put it to us impressionable youngsters “your guts on a burning spit of hot coals !”
        Although I should’ve probably paid more attention in that class, I definitely remember his rather extemporaneous ‘lectures’.
        In my defence, I was more concerned about being drafted, and wisked off to Vietnam after graduation … when not being harassed by various class thugs & miscreants.

      3. rowlf

        Don’t forget the Anglo-American tradition of flinging dead animals. I can’t remember if it was Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn who sensed dead cats in the stump speaker’s audience but it was based on an older tradition of properly appreciating an orator.

      4. JBird4049

        The British government has had an excellent record in military and political propaganda of all kinds as has the United States. It is not the same as the propaganda spewed out by businesses but there often very little different between Madison Ave and the intelligence agencies. The people can and have worked for both using the same techniques.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > fall for great rhetoric

      I forget where I saw this in my recent travels, but it’s remarkable how many people, especially pundits, call Obama a great speaker without being able to remember a single thing that he said. I think the idea of Obama being a great rhetorician is what appeals. The same with Beto. Everything I have read from him seems eminently forgettable. I am amazed that people could attribute meaning to it. “I see that your house is on fire, and I’m here to listen.”

      1. Jerry B

        ===I see that your house is on fire, and I’m here to listen===

        IMO that applies to most of the presidential candidates with the exceptions of Sanders, Warren, and maybe Buttigieg.

        BTW Lambert- you definitely have a creative ability with the one liners!

  11. Geo

    Regarding the elite college scandal, the response should draw comparison to the Atlanta public school case a few years back were 8 teachers received prison time and large fines for cheating on standardized testing to elevate underperforming kids’ scores out of fear of school closures – or privatization – and other penalties for their already underfunded schools.

    These teachers were all black and poor so it’s doubtful the rich white parents in this current scandal will be treated as harshly. But, their crimes are very similar (in action if not motive) and anyone looking for leniency in this current case needs to reflect on what our justice system did to those teachers a few years back.

    Atlanta educators in cheating scandal sentenced to prison

  12. Wukchumni

    Sporting tip:

    We had the best gawldurn 4 days of skiing ever @ Mammoth, and it’s gonna be bomber blue in the mid 40’s for the next week or so, but don’t go on a Saturday. We were told there were 30 minute lift line waits, er no thanks. There was essentially nobody there on Sun-Weds, just a few people in front of you waiting for a chairway to heaven.

  13. Will S.

    Funny to see Dr. Shapiro in the national news, though he is undoubtedly one of the nation’s (perhaps world’s?) leading experts on lepidoptera. I grew up in Davis, and his daughter is a close friend of mine. Every year he used to hold a competition for who could catch the first cabbage moth, with the prize being a pitcher of beer; and every year he would catch the first cabbage moth, and buy himself a pitcher of beer. He is almost the archetype of the eccentric academic, with a disheveled style that earned him the nickname on campus of the “Hobo Professor.” The front yard of the Shapiros’ house was (and probably still is) a wild tangle of flowers, trees, and brushes, disdained by the more yuppie residents of the town but quite a bit more beautiful than a sterile lawn, IMNSHO.

  14. marku52

    “737 was not automation but rather horribly designed automation”

    Yes. AFAIK, this is what occurred with the 737Max. Airbus put new engines on their single aisle plane, and got 10+% increase in fuel efficiency. Boeing had to reply or lose market. They could design a new plane (the 737 is 30 years old) or hang larger engines on the 737 to create the Max. They chose that path. However, now the problems start popping up. The AB craft has longer landing gear so it was able to accommodate the larger diameter engines without them hitting the ground. Boeing’s landing gear was not tall enough. Rather than change the landing gear, B moved the larger engines forward and upwards on the mounting pylons. More problems. The larger engine nacelles, and their more forward location, changed the planes performance in pitching up. The lift from the air hitting the bottom of the nacelles has moved forward of the center of gravity of the plane, reducing its stability, and making it more prone to stalling.

    How to fix? In a series of decisions, Boeing manglement always chose the cheap and fast way out. How to get out of the box? Enter the MCAS system, which would use the horizontal stabilizer to push the nose of the plan down based on data from an angle of attack sensor and airspeed.

    Also, to avoid the expense of retraining pilots, Boeing based hid the existence of this new piece of automation in the technical manuals, but not in the pilot manuals.

    Lion Air had a defective AofA sensor that kept turning on the MCAS system when it shouldn’t have been.
    The Lion Air pilots perhaps didn’t even know that a piece of automation kept putting the nose of the plane down as they kept trying to pull up. The pilots of the recent crash should have known about MCAS.

    Also, MCAS relies on only one AofA sensor, even tho the plane has 2. A single point of failure is never a good idea.

    Boeing’s MBA management has nosed their company into the ground. And taken the reputation of the FAA with it, as the FAA approved all this.

    Best updates are at the Leeham News. Lots of industry and pilots commenting.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The comments at Leeham are very good. This one is a nice summary:

      The question is more like, why wasn’t it grounded after LionAir?!

      Once it became common knowledge that the MCAS would turn on based on a single bad input, and there is no MCAS alert, and there is no MCAS shutoff, and it takes over the tailplane motor, and leaves the pilots with a handwheel to return it to a non crash setting, right after the flaps are retracted, at low altitude?

      1. marku52

        Presumably the FAA approved all of this, so there is a lot of blame to go around. Another pilot comment (paraphrased)
        ” I found I was flying a Max driving into the airport. I had about an hour to read the manuals”

        To which the internet replied:
        “I work as a barrista. I have to be trained to make a new drink and have to make it for the manager and get his approval before I can make it for a customer”

        Freaking Barristas get more training than Max pilots (at least as far as flying a Max is concerned)

        1. wilroncanada

          Boeing designed a faulty aircraft in order to get it into the market quickly–more profit. Because the design was faulty they tried to solve it with a faulty designed bit of software, which they essentially kept secret–more profit. Now they intend to repair it again with another bit of half-fast software–ding ding.

        2. Late Introvert

          I think the best sentence in that utterly chilling article was:

          The company’s apparent PR approach of “move along, nothing to see here” has become so de rigueur that its denials have come to feel more like implicit confessions.

          I’m going to have to paraphrase that in the future, denials that feel like implicit confessions.

    2. Carolinian

      Don’t forget adding Nikki Haley to their Board of Directors. Obviously Boeing has a screw loose.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Or a screw firmly in place. Grifting is now the only game in town, best to get the inside pipeline to the best grifts

    3. blowncue

      Aside from strict liability standard applicable to product liability, if I didn’t know better, you just mapped out a negligence claim for the estate of the deceased pilots.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > to replace a software kludge with a proper system can take at the very minimum months to develop and test.

        And if it doesn’t, that means Boeing was already working on it, which doesn’t speak well of Boeing either.

  15. dcblogger

    it is startling how openly our political elite regards us with contempt, not just the white working class, all of us. They think they can press some buttons and the white working class will vote for them. No need to offer policies with real benefits.

    1. notabanker

      Been doing some watching and reading on the roots of neoliberalism in the last week. It’s baked in the recipe. That’s how you can spot ’em.

    2. urblintz

      ““The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.” – Frank Zappa

    3. John k

      Well, it worked for bill and Obama, maybe woulda worked for Biden in 2016, hill had even more baggage.
      Hopefully it doesn’t work any more… I do worry about polls showing smilin joe in the lead, but remain hopeful.

  16. notabanker

    But it sure looks as if China is taking the chance to undermine confidence in its global rival, while the US government is doing what it can to protect America’s largest exporter, which is an important source of manufacturing jobs

    So MIT is saying China is taking advantage of the situation.

    Bloomberg has a little different view, and reminds everyone that Japan prompted a similar Boeing acquiescence on the 787.


    According to Aljazeera, Ethiopia and Cayman were the first countries to announce the grounding on Sunday. China followed on Monday, along with Indonesia. Airlines in South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, UAE and Mexico also announced bans on Monday. On Tuesday, every other country other than the US and Canada announced their groundings.

    China also has the largest fleet of these planes and the most to lose:

    US is the outlier on this. They waited until Wednesday afternoon. This from Guardian on Monday:
    Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general of the US transportation department, told CNN the latest disaster was “highly suspicious” and “rings alarm bells in the aviation industry, because that just doesn’t happen”. She said Boeing should “take the lead” in telling airlines to ground the plane.

    Perhaps the “fracturing of technocratic consensus” is because the technocrats in the US work for Boeing instead of the US Government.

    1. Carla

      Your last sentence is totally it, except the truth of it begs the question: who does the US Government work for — the American people, or Boeing? I think we know the answer.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I can never forget that in the early days, what we call the neocons found a protective home under the wing of Senator Henry Martin “Scoop” Jackson. Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle served as aides to him. And this was a man who was nicknamed the “Senator from Boeing”.

  17. Joe Well

    Re: Gmail

    As someone who has managed email lists, I’ve seen firsthand how Google (Gmail) and Microsoft (Hotmail/Outlook) dominate email, since seemingly 90% of lists are composed of their addresses, and much of the remainder is a few major companies (yahoo, apple, aol, and some heavy hitters in other countries).

    If one of those two marks your email as undesirable, you lose half your audience immediately. They regularly automatically blacklist entire domains. Every domain and isp also have something called a “sender reputation” that different companies manage without transparency or recourse, much like social networks and somewhat worse than credit bureaus. The world needs to put these functions in the hands of a neutral nonprofit like they did with domain names (ICANN replacing the for-profit and abusive Verisign).

    These companies absolutely mediate the relationship between the sender and recipient, and so companies that use email in addition to or instead of social networks to keep in touch with customers are still at the mercy of the big four.

    1. Jerry B

      Thanks Joe. ==These companies absolutely mediate the relationship between the sender and recipient==.

      I am a Apple Macbook Pro user and my email is Yahoo through MacMail. I have had yahoo mail from my first computer in the late 90’s to today and so far no issues but I do not do a lot of email lists.

      Yves has pointed out the crapification of Apple products, especially the Macbook Pro, so my next computer will probably be a PC Laptop like a Lenovo ThinkPad. I will probably have Linux in the future as I loathe Microsoft Windows. That being said, are you familiar with any Linux type email servers? Linux email seems to be the only alternative to the big four but I am not familiar with the Linux email options.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        I think you mean mail client… If so, you can use Mozilla Thunderbird, Kmail, Evolution, or a great flood of others.

        1. Jerry B

          Thanks Wobbly. If I remember, previous NC posts that discussed computers had commenters that spoke highly of Thunderbird.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Just to add a sour note, I just had trouble with Thunderbird – though it’s arguably my fault.

            It has a “Junk” feature, which I had been blithely ignoring, because it was consistently, completely wrong. Not sure how it’s supposed to work, bu tturn it off. What I didn’t realize was that it had hidden 480 emails, including the Spam Digests from our email provider.

            Which leads me to the Spam filter. We have a rare local, small ISP (actually one; one handles just our email.) It uses a spam filter called Edgewave, which is irritating to use but mostly pretty accurate. Thanks to that combination, I’d been ignoring it, too. Turns out it had been stopping my BROTHER’s emails, sent in his capacity as executor of an estate. IOW emails I wanted to get. I think it was because his name on the account is in all-caps; also it’s a longish list destinations.

            IOW, it isn’t just the big guys. Any automated system will screw with you. Now I have to check over the spam digests regularly. What use is a spam filter you have to read through?

      2. Joe Well

        Jerry, how would you know if you weren’t getting the newsletters from some organization or company? That is the power of Yahoo to mediate what you see. It either goes to spam or gets deleted before reaching you.

        What I keep hearing about is Thunderbird as Wobbly noted, with your own email domain (namecheap.com will do this for you for $10/year on top of the the $11/year domain registration). However, I don’t know how well they handle spam filtering.

        1. Jerry B

          ===how would you know if you weren’t getting the newsletters from some organization or company==

          Thanks Joe. Good Point. In the 20 or so years I have never felt like Yahoo was mediating my email but your point is valid.

          I use Google Chrome a lot but try to put a lot of privacy extensions on it to at least slow it down. I accept the downside of being in bed with Google. I used Firefox for a long time but IMO Firefox is not what it used to be and they have no print preview in their print function.

          When I first got my Macbook Pro I used Safari a lot but realized if I ever switched back to a PC that PC’s have trouble with Safari files and Apple no longer supports Safari for Windows. On top of which Safari webarchive files use A LOT of memory compared to html files.

          BTW I have used Namecheap in the past and like them a lot.

          1. steve

            Yahoo’s spam filter has taken to deciding on it’s own what is spam. Previously only emails identified by the user as spam would influence the spam filter and worked quite well. I rarely if ever found false positives in my spam folder. Now, starting nearly a year or so ago, I find quite a few, including Bernie emails. There hasn’t really been a common thread in the false positives that I can discern but the frequency has certainly risen.
            Keep tabs on your spam folder if you use Yahoo Mail!

          2. The Rev Kev

            ‘Firefox…..have no print preview in their print function. ‘Not true anymore. I can see it in my menu just above ‘Print’.

            1. Jerry B

              Rev, I take it you have a Windows PC and not a Mac? Well ….wait for it…..Firefox for Mac does not have a Print Preview function as standard. There are Firefox add-ons that provide a print preview but they do not work that well.

              Imagine if you will our loyal Firefox user Jerry, who has used Firefox for over a decade. Then Jerry gets a Mac in 2014 and for awhile uses Safari. But then due to Safari webarchive files being a memory hog and Safari not being supported for Windows, Jerry looks for a Safari alternative and goes back to old faithful, Firefox. But then like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, Jerry finds out that lo and behold Firefox on Mac is different than Firefox for Windows in some small but significant ways like no print preview. #head on desk (hat tip Lambert)

              And yes I have updated Firefox and looked online on Mozilla’s site and in various Firefox forums to no avail.

                1. Jerry B

                  Yea, the crapification of Apple continues. And the beat goes on and on!

                  That being said, I love my 2012 Macbook Pro. No Windows BS. No continual Microsoft Updates. No Viruses, etc. And I have yet to see a Windows PC with as good a multi-function touchpad as the Mac laptops

              1. Anon

                Firefox on Mac appears to use the native Mac printing dialog. Although previewing isn’t directly shown in the print dialog (unlike in Safari), you can click on the PDF button menu and “Open in Preview.”

        2. dk

          I can recommend https://spamdrain.com/en/index.html for a 3rd party spam filtering service. sends an email report every day (optionally) which makes it easy to quickly review blocked mail. Filtering is adjustable both ways, to block or release by clicking on message icons. And if you have to go back a few weeks or months to find something, it’s easily searchable. $27.99/year, owned/operated from Sweden, performs well here in the USA. They do need your email account password to do this, so there is some inevitable exposure there; been with them for years and satisfied so far.

          Been using Thunderbird since it came out in 2004, it can be a little tricky to setup for some email hosts, but that’s also because companies like Google and AOL (my longtime host) periodically change their configurations or require special “app passwords” for 3rd party clients like T-bird. Available for desktop Linux, Mac and Windows.

  18. allan

    Jeffrey Epstein prosecutor was previously rebuked for handling of a child sex case [Miami Herald]

    Nine months before cutting a covert plea deal with sex trafficking suspect Jeffrey Epstein, Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta was notified that the lead prosecutor in Epstein’s case had concealed victim information in another underage sex crimes case, the Miami Herald has learned.

    The prosecutor, A. Marie Villafaña, was harshly rebuked by a federal judge in January 2007 for what he called her “intentional and/or serious lapse in judgment’’ when she failed to explicitly inform him that the defendant, a Texas man who traveled to Florida to have sex with a 14-year-old girl, had a prior history of predatory behavior with minors, court records show.

    Acosta, her boss at the time, not only knew about Villafaña’s breach, but records show that he subsequently defended it. Acosta assigned another prosecutor in his office to write a treatise for the judge in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade him to soften the stinging language in his order.

    Senior U.S. District Court Judge William J. Zloch copied Acosta on his order, noting, “The court is at a total loss as to why the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, as well as the Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the above-styled cause, found it appropriate to intentionally withhold … information from the court.’’ …

    Only the best people.

    Hard to imagine that this didn’t come up during the Senate’s tongue bathing
    rigorous screening process for Trump’s nominees. /s

  19. drumlin woodchuckles

    O’Rourke appears to be modelling himself eXACTly on Obama. He’s from a “cool” ethnodentity group. He’s bipartisan. He’s got some personal “in it” in the game. And etc.

    Someone should invent a whole bunch of Trumpian personal put-downs for Mr. Beto, in hopes that one of them will deflate him fast and hard. Here’s an offhand suggestion.

    And one could refer to his conversionised cult-worshippers as Betobots.

    Little Betito, el pequeno Latinobama. ( This keyboard doesn’t have a tilde, so just imagine one over the “n” in “pequeno). ( And yes, I know that “Little Betito” is one for the Department of Redundancy Department. I like to think it increases the tone of dismissive diminishment).

    1. Charles Leseau

      If you’re using windows, you can create characters from other alphabets using charmap. Type it into start button search, or simply locate “character map” in the “accessories” folder in the win10 start menu, then maybe make a charmap shortcut if you want to access it more quickly in the future (e.g. by simply dragging it to the task bar). I know Mac has something similar, but I’m no Mac user, so search for it maybe

    2. Jen

      “O’Rourke appears to be modelling himself eXACTly on Obama. He’s from a “cool” ethnodentity group.”

      He’s not even that, unless the cool ethnodentity group you’re referring to is Irish.

      Can’t remember if it was here or elsewhere that someone referred to him as Bob-the-fake-Mexican O’Rourke.

      1. Joe Well

        not Bob, Frank :)

        And no, Irish American is absolutely not a cool ethnic grouping. Some of the few times I’ve met Irish people I’ve gotten the gratuitous “fake Irish” comments. If I have to be associated with a country I have no ties to whatsoever, I’d rather pull a Beto. Mexicans call Mexican Americans “pochos” (rotten) but at least not to their faces.

    3. kilgore Trout

      “O’bama 2.0” would be accurate, but possibly too techie-sounding for the Cheeto-in-Chief.

    4. John k

      Obama became pres because he could write and deliver great speeches filled with hope for change while convincing donors he would always stand between them and the pitchforks. Good looks didn’t hurt.
      Haven’t seen Beto do the great speech thing, and hopefully it won’t work in this era anyway.

  20. Wukchumni

    That trunk show has some of the best natural camoflauge, you’ll ever see.

    It’s funny, we always laugh at 1%* backpackers dressed in camo, with snide remarks, as “oh, I almost didn’t see you”.

    *Thank goodness 99% of us wouldn’t be caught dead wearing those frocks in the protected wilderness of the National Park here

  21. Foomarks

    I was a huge fan of Becky Bond and Zack Malitz work during the Bernie 2016 campaign, and then became a bigger fan of their book Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything.

    So I’m a little disappointed given everything that we now know about Robert, that they may have broken some of their rules in their own book.

    I empathize with political workers whose life-work and income depends on their specific expertise, but man: how treacherous it must be if you gotta do work for candidates who are sub-par.

      1. Geo

        That’s depressing. Like a vegan found binging at McDonalds.

        Would be funny if she still endorsed Sanders even while dating Booker!

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Worse, I think. If Booker is a charismatic sociopath* who has determined that she will be very useful on the campaign trail (where he may/will attempt to pick up some Bernie supporters), she’ll be really surprised to learn just how quickly he will drop her when she is no longer useful.

          *charismatic sociopath – am I getting accustomed to spotting these?

          1. RopeADope

            Booker is not a sociopath. A sociopath would not show moments of a decent person from time to time. Booker suffers from the John McCain syndrome. They both have made really poor political decisions and allied with the wrong people yet on the rare occasion they show you the better person they could have been. It is worse for these people because you can see the tragedy and understand it was their decision to be who they turned out to be.

            A true sociopath like Bill Clinton would be able to be elected because that dissonance is not present. Whereas Booker has no chance because that dissonance is there.

      2. Tom Doak

        There is a huge risk inherent in his strategy: they’ve got to stay a couple until the convention, or he’s toast.

        1. nippersdad

          That is an interesting point. I had thought that Booker was playing her, but it would make much more sense if she were playing him. She isn’t a stupid woman, and she was very outspoken about first Sanders and then Stein. To think that she would be all in for Booker now requires efforts conducive to intellectual whiplash to believe.

          A break-up late in the Primaries would be some real political theater!

          1. jrs

            no a lot of people think Booker is pretty far left, so he could steal Sander’s *voters*.

            As for lovers, eh well that’s a whole other ballgame.

      3. Fooomarks

        The drama!

        Also, a correction: the Zack in the Beto campaign is Zack Malitz, but the Zack in the organizing book is Zack Exley. (Oops, sorry!)

        1. Chigal in Carolina

          Speaking of drama, she is a good actor. Watching Booker emote is straight up embarrassing, it is so overdone.

          On those grounds alone, a strange pairing. But yes, she could influence Booker to throw his supporters to Bernie when that inevitable moment arrives.

  22. Arizona Slim

    Thanks for linking to Blake Morlock’s Tucson Sentinel article about World View. It’s yet another example of how cronyism rules Pima County, Arizona.

    And, for the record, this slender Arizonan was a World View skeptic from the get-go.

    1. Geo

      Much like AOC’s comparison of bartender liability for their drunk customers to fossil fuel companies and the environment, it would be nice to see accountability for selling dangerous products like guns.

      I still think the best solution I’ve heard (considering solutions that could actually work in our nation) is the gun insurance idea: make gun owners insure their guns similar to cars. Rate determined by risk factors and special insurance and licenses required for “specialized” weaponry. Those who are just collectors can have their old vintage ones displayed but if they’re in working condition still need insurance

      As an example: if a teen boy wants a gun, they pay higher insurance rates just like a car. This would also solve the risk analysis issue because you can bet insurance companies would compile the data on it no matter how much of a fit the NRA pitches, even if our government agencies are afraid to do so.

      1. Tom Doak

        The best part of that idea is, it would be simple job re-training for all the health insurance leeches who lose their jobs to Single Payer. Can’t wait to see the gun lobby tie themselves in knots over opaque pricing, etc.

        1. Geo

          Good point! Turn all the health insurers into gun insurers.

          “Sorry but your plan doesn’t cover ammunition. You need to purchase the platinum policy for that. Oh, wait, I see here you were disciplined in ‘97 for starting a fight in grade school. That’s a pre-existing condition and will increase your monthly rate by 25% and restrict you to only having one small caliber handgun.”

      2. rowlf

        Would teens that were on a high school or college shooting team get a discount on insurance due to supervised safety training?

        Would foreign nationals be able to go after defense contractors for damages from the products they sold?

  23. Joe Well

    Re: “playing with fire” what has NC had to say about reparations?

    To me, it just feels like some kind of evil plot to destroy the left and solidify open white supremacy. How are people who have suffered so much injustice in their own lives ever going to support handing over a fortune in cash to other people on the basis of injustices suffered by their great-great-great grandparents (and deemphasizing all the injustice they’ve faced in the present day)? And if you thought Brexit was impractical, wait till we try to figure out how to determine eligibility for these grants.

  24. Oregoncharles

    “The answer is yes, the Slave Power was “good, old-fashioned capitalism.””
    VERY old-fashioned. The plantation owners (a lot of people owned slaves, but the plantations were the core) were Landed Gentry, not merchants. More feudal than capitalist. Of course, they sold their goods to capitalists; so did the feudal lords.

    A look at their houses tells the story: they’ve very like the contemporary country great houses of the aristocracy, pointedly palaces (not forts; that’s even further back). Not at all the townhouses that merchants would have lived in, at least until they bought their way into the gentry.

  25. Hameloose Cannon

    As opposed to the ’87 A320, the 737 is a nicotine-fueled design of the 60’s, born within a slide-ruled kingdom populated by tie-and-short-sleeved subjects, row after row of engineers huddling before drafting papers filled with flight surfaces designed to move, pre-set to pre-set, by mechanical actuators. Pipe-smoke and highballs with Strategic Air Command brass was the order of day; sales reps from Sperry Rand and Burroughs Corp had not yet put those engineers out of work. Aeronautics has since changed, but instead of designing new airplanes for the age of the personal computer, Boeing just kept bolting bigger and more efficient engines to the 737’s nacelles, requiring the wings to be pushed further aft, until the 737 was lifting vertical like a dirigible. But the 737 is not a blimp, air must move across the wing, airspeed, and must display flight characteristics that would not be completely alien to pilots of existing aircraft. Whether the design kludge is addressed by software or training, any single weird behavior from the aircraft should still lead the pilot to rely on training and memory to compensate through redundant control mechanisms and shutting down problematic outputs. Therefore, below the surface, the 737 Max must be passing a spaghetti plate of multiple contradictory signals for the pilots to run down procedures until the plane turns belly-up and drops out of the sky. The decision to address customer needs with Franken-plane, as the logic of the market led Boeing to do, was vetoed by terra firma, who has the last say in matters of flight.

    Implicated in the LionAir crash, a faulty AOA [angle of attack] sensor, which is basically a small fin that swivels with airflow, normally has a large margin of error with regards to meaningful data and is not an accurate enough instrument to issue definitive flight commands. [One would think, is there a pilot in the house?] But it is small enough to replace and reconfigure at a relatively low-cost without having to address the staggering complexity of aircraft production.

    1. Lee

      They need a big red button that turns that crap off and lets the pilots fly the damned thing. Of course, providing adequate pilot training and pay will have to prove cheaper than sacrificing a few hundred souls to the gravity god now and then.

  26. Wukchumni

    The 2005 Death Valley super bloom was the finest of my life, the one a few years ago was a B-rated sequel, not bad if you hadn’t seen the one a dozen years prior though.

    Late 2004 December rains fueled flora in March-April of 2005, with the signature scene being that Lake Manly sprang back to life, as just happened last week, which should herald an explosion of color, albeit running late this year.


  27. VietnamVet

    The major symptoms of stage 4 neoliberal capitalism are clearly seen with Donald Trump’s election, Brexit catastrophe and now 737 MAX 8 crashes. First is the utter contempt of the elite for workers, middle class or otherwise as seen in the rush to automate truck and taxi drivers or airline pilots. Second is the triumph of multi-national corporations over government regulation. For the MAX 8 Boeing designed a hybrid fly-by-wire hydraulic control system and updated the cockpit display system on a decades old re-engined airframe and everyone concerned agreed that no new pilot training was required. Finally, there is hubris. The Elite deserve their increasing wealth and power gained at the expense of everyone else. Airbus pioneered fly-by-wire for passenger planes. They have had at least three planes fall from the sky because of inadequate training and the bad interface between pilots and the flight control system. The pilots were blamed rather than the system that failed them. China’s grounding of the 737 Max (followed by everyone else) documents the end of the global reign of the Atlantic Alliance. Here’s hoping it will be a soft crash.

  28. rowlf

    In what way is the 737 MAX stall protection system any different from the systems that controlled stab trim during stall on past 737, 757, 767 and 777 aircraft? All with stab trim commanded by stall protection would trim nose down. Pilots were trained at US airlines to fight the commanded input while reaching for the stab trim cutout switch on the pedestals behind the throttles.

    Also, did Lion Air and Ethiopian Airline implement the Boeing Service Bulletin to add AOA monitoring and disagree warning to their pilot displays?

  29. tokyodamage

    Re: Santa Rosa groups for Bernie. . .
    reader ST, if you’re out there, where can I find these groups? I’m in Sonoma county. Thanks!

  30. richard

    The kids were pretty excited it was pi day at school! We don’t really do circumference in 2nd grade, but we sure do puns. 8 year olds never get tired of puns. I could pun all day and always get a smile, plus help them think about multiple meanings. But puns weaken the wit, so I am torn between popularity and mental health.
    Here is J. Dore with Judah Frielander and Steph, talking about the worst dem ever, donnie deutsch, on that contemptable morning joe show. Worth a watch.

  31. Oregoncharles

    ” it’s also providing a feast for swarms of painted lady butterflies making their way north from Mexico ”
    At least some good news for insects, charismatic ones (painted ladies are black with orange and white markings – very showy. This happened back in the 90’s, and waves of them arrived in Oregon. They’re useful: the larvae eat thistles, notably the highly noxious Canada thistle, so multitudes of them actually kept the pest plants from setting seed. Didn’t kill them, of course, which would have been nice.

    I’m looking forward to a new invasion.

  32. ewmayer

    Re. Pi Day: “The number itself is rounded up [sic] to 3.14 but it can go on forever…” — *can*? As in, there is an element of subjectivity involved?

    [Lambert] “So when does it start to repeat?” — Never, but today’s entire 2PMWC rendered in, say, binary form occurs in the binary-form expansion of Pi, as does every other finite digit string – the trick of course, is that *finding* where a given long digit string occurs in Pi is, I believe, an exponentially-hard problem as a function of string length. Regarding Google’s computation, 2 notes:

    1. They used Alex Yee’s Y-Cruncher code, not developed at Google, and simply threw ungodly amounts of hardware at the problem (discussion of latest record starts at post 150, and post 154 is by the author of Y-cruncher) — this is a problem that is easily scalable this way, unlike, say, testing numbers for primality, where one quickly hits parallel scaling issues as one throws more cores at the computation;

    2. It’s nice to see that they took a little break and actually did something non-evil, even if just for a small % of their overall compute infrastructure for this one day.

  33. Cal2

    “A thousand a month given to everyone…” Yang

    How? A check? Tax Credit? Or, more likely, a debit card or electronic credit which allows
    A. A service charge to “cash” it like EBT cards. Wonder if J.P. Morgan will bid on that too?

    B. Elimination of cash in the American economy. “Since everyone has an electronic account, we will just deposit tax refunds and welfare and all direct deposits to that. Payroll companies will love it as well. Currency is too easy to counterfeit. This will stop terrorists…”

    C. Combine that account with a National Medicare For All or Single Payer I.D. Card and you have a de facto National I.D.

    My Social Security card has “Not to be used for purposes if identification” written on it.

    We need and should demand Medicare 4 All with the proviso that “Not to be used for purposes of identification” be part of it.

  34. ACF

    The income inequality article is inane because of the limitations of the data set. Sure, the concept of measuring inequality by identifying the size of the middle class is reasonable–fewer middle class people, more income inequality. But the income brackets for “middle class” ($24,626 to $121,116) make no sense for a definition of middle class that corresponds to that anodyne American Dream: earning sufficient purchasing power to buy financial stability–housing, food, medical care, education, child care, family vehicle, the occasional vacation, retirement, and savings for emergencies, peace of mind. Something that used to be possible with one good union job. And the article doesn’t account for the different cost of living in each state. $24,626 goes farther in Mississippi than it does in NY. (Note, $15/hr for 40hr/week for 52 weeks/year is $31,200; for 50 weeks/year it’s $30,000 hard to understand $24,626 as “middle class” when it’s less than $15/hr.)

    A real analysis would figure out what salary range in each state is needed for the American Dream type of middle class, and then would figure out what percentage of people in that state were in that range. But it’s not clear how to get that data.

    1. ACF

      oops this comment was for today’s WC (3/15), sorry didn’t realize I had more than one open.

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