2:00PM Water Cooler 3/21/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Trade

UPDATE “A data point seen as the bellweather for global trade just tanked — and ‘the floor is not yet in sight'” [Business Insider]. “South Korean exports, widely viewed as a ‘canary in the coal mine’ for the world economy, slumped 4.9% year-on-year to $28 billion in the first 20 days of March…. South Korea’s export data is one of the first major economic indicators released each month. Even 20-day export volumes can indicate whether demand is flagging in China and Japan — two of the country’s largest trading partners — and highlight trends in global trade.”

“China’s Boeing Threat Has More Bite Than Bark” [Bloomberg]. “[N]ow, with Boeing on the defensive, China’s calculation of its political interests may be shifting. China was the first country to ground the company’s 737 Max jet after the plane’s second fatal crash in just five months, and now it’s reportedly considering excluding the aircraft from a proposal to ramp up purchases of American goods.”
Politics

“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

2020

Biden: “Scoop: Biden advisers debate Stacey Abrams as out-of-the-gate VP choice” [Axios]. “Close advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden are debating the idea of packaging his presidential campaign announcement with a pledge to choose Stacey Abrams as his vice president…. Biden’s position on the issue couldn’t be learned — we were just told about the advisers’ debate…. Abrams met Biden in Washington last week to discuss her next political steps, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Biden requested the lunchtime meeting, per AP.” • Well, I guess now we know why Abrams abandoned Georgia and started taking checks from Neera Tanden in the Beltway.

Gravel (1): Gravel has form:

Gravel (2):

I don’t know how long the Gravel account will run, but for now, the highschoolers (!?) running it are doing just fine.

Gravel (3):

As above.

Gravel (4): “88-Year-Old Mike Gravel Is the Latest Teen Sensation” [Rolling Stone]. “[Columbia University freshman Henry Williams] says Gravel is interested in running. ‘Over several conversations he articulated what he wanted to put out there and that he was interested in starting an exploratory committee,’ Williams says. ‘The senator has all these issues he wants to get into the public debate,’ Williams adds. ‘That’s the premise of the campaign and of getting his name out there as something that could raise these issues and that could get him on the debate stage. We asked him whether he would be all right with us taking over his social media and testing the waters. We worked with him on a series of policy issues that were important to him, and wanted to phrase those in a way that would get traction on Twitter.'” •

Lambert here: Gravel, like Sanders, is a consequence of the Democrat “Third Way” having blighted an entire generation of politicians. As Benjamin Studebaker writes: “The vast majority of would-be young Bernies will still be under 35 in 2020 and won’t be legally allowed to run for president…. Ocasio-Cortez is young by American political standards but she’s older than the vast majority of young people I know who might one day be interested in running for stuff. The people in their 40s who support Bernie never received the kind of grassroots support Bernie received when they were younger, and consequently they never had the opportunity to build a resume for the presidency. As a result, the overwhelming majority of Democratic politicians in their 40s and 50s are centrists who came of age politically in the 90s and 00s. • So, the old codgers who were right all along are the only candidates left standing. Thanks, Bill! Thanks, Hillary! Thanks, Obama!

Harris: “Why did Kamala Harris let Herbalife off the hook?” [Yahoo News]. “Harris declined to investigate Herbalife, the nutritional supplement company that has been accused of fraudulent marketing practices. Documents exclusively obtained by Yahoo News show that in 2015, prosecutors in the San Diego office of the California attorney general sent Harris a lengthy memorandum that argued for an investigation into Herbalife and requested resources in order to undertake such an investigation. Similar investigations into Herbalife were already taking place elsewhere. About three weeks after the San Diego letter was sent, Harris received the first of three donations to her campaign for the U.S. Senate from Heather Podesta, the powerful Washington lobbyist whose ex-husband Tony’s firm, then called the Podesta Group, had worked for Herbalife since 2013. Heather Podesta’s own lobbying firm, Heather Podesta and Partners, would soon be hired by Herbalife, too. Harris did not pursue an investigation…” • Poor optics, at the very least. Couldn’t the Podestas have laundered the money better?

O’Rourke (1): “Beto O’Rourke’s campaign received 128,000 ‘unique contributions’ in the first 24 hours. Bernie Sanders had 225,000 donors.” [Texas Tribune]. “After a campaign stop here, O’Rourke told reporters that he received ‘more than 128,000 unique contributions’ in the first 24 hours, with an average donation size of $47. O’Rourke’s campaign later corrected the average donation size, saying it was actually $48. By comparison, Sanders’ campaign said its first-day haul came from over 225,000 individual donors for an average contribution size of $27. While O’Rourke didn’t elaborate on what he meant by unique contributions, the measure is generally regarded as different from the number of individual donors.” • So if one person donated ten times, that would be ten “unique contributions,” I assume. It took O’Rourke’s campaign a whole news cycle to come up with that?

O’Rourke (2): I suppose this is what a frenzied crowd looks like in Iowa:

Seriously, who’s the staffer who picked this photo? I’d like to have a word with them.

Sanders (1): “Bernie Sanders Is Hiring a Former Hillary Clinton Staffer As Research Chief” [New York Magazine]. “Bernie Sanders is preparing for the coming onslaught of attacks by hiring someone who knows the material best. The Vermont senator’s campaign is bringing on [Tyson Brody, Clinton’s deputy research director in 2016] who helped pull together the former secretary of State’s opposition-research book on Sanders in 2016, according to Democrats familiar with the decision.” • Hopefully, Brody isn’t a mole.

Sanders (2): “The Atlantic’s Attack On New Speechwriter For Bernie Sanders Completely Unravels” [Kevin Gosztola, Medium]. • Apparently, having a “Twitter attack dog” is a bad thing.

Trump (1): “Trump could be left off some states’ ballots in 2020 if these bills become law” [WaPo]. “In refusing to release his tax returns, President Trump bucked decades of tradition and set off a Democrat hunt to obtain them. Now several statehouses are looking at making their release a condition of the 2020 presidential election: Show us your tax returns, or you can’t be on the ballot.” • The tax returns talking point is and always has been the most vacuous ever; the rich have accountants, after all. But that doesn’t prevent our Democrats from pushing it.

Trump (2): “Trump goes to Ohio to tout jobs and then attacks McCain at length” [Los Angeles Times]. “President Trump flew to Ohio on Wednesday to claim credit for keeping a government tank plant open, but distracted from his economic message with his harshest, lengthiest attack yet on Sen. John McCain, seven months after his death.” • Same pattern of Trump not being able to let go as in 2016 with the Khan family; with Trump always righting himself as part of the pattern, when poll numbers dropped.

Yang: “Andrew Yang’s Basic Income is Stealth Welfare Reform” [Benjamin Studebaker]. “It has become increasingly clear, however, that Yang thinks he is a real presidential candidate and that his UBI is for now, not later. The thing is, UBI is traditionally marketed as a post-work policy. The point of UBI has always been to give every citizen a large enough basic income to give them a real choice about whether or not they take a job. This levels the playing field between employers and employees, forcing employers to offer people more substantial inducements to get them to work. But it’s increasingly clear that this is not what his UBI is for. Its purpose is more sinister–it is a vehicle for legitimating benefits cuts for the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society…. Yang’s UBI pays less than $6 per hour with a 52-week year. This is lower than the already inadequate federal minimum wage. It cannot realistically liberate significant numbers of people from work, or achieve the objective of dramatically increasing the bargaining power of workers vis-a-vis their employers. This is no longer a post-work policy.” • Beware of Silicon Valley squillionaires with bright ideas…

New Cold War

“CNN Poll: Support for impeachment falls among Democrats” [CNN]. ” In December, 80% of self-identified Democrats said they were in favor of impeachment — that now stands at 68%, a 12-point dip. Among independents and Republicans, support for impeachment has fallen 3 points over the same time. [Among] Democrats with college degrees, support for impeachment fell 17 points from 79% in December to 62% now.”

“As Russia collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges” [John Solomon, The Hill]. “Ukraine’s top prosecutor divulged in an interview aired Wednesday on Hill.TV that he has opened an investigation into whether his country’s law enforcement apparatus intentionally leaked financial records during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign about then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in an effort to sway the election in favor of Hillary Clinton. The leak of the so-called black ledger files to U.S. media prompted Manafort’s resignation from the Trump campaign and gave rise to one of the key allegations in the Russia collusion probe that has dogged Trump for the last two and a half years. Ukraine Prosecutor General Yurii Lutsenko’s probe was prompted by a Ukrainian parliamentarian’s release of a tape recording purporting to quote a top law enforcement official as saying his agency leaked the Manafort financial records to help Clinton’s campaign.” • Big if true.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“To the White Men Running to Be the Democratic Presidential Candidate: Can You Not?” [Alexis Grennell, Daily Beast]. “There’s no substantive reason to run this time around with Warren in the field, but instead of helping his ideological twin become the first female president, he’s centering himself. ‘Not us, but me, seems more accurate.” • Since Warren doesn’t support #MedicareCareForAll, I guess Warren and Sanders are not identical twins, but fratern– Well, I can hardly use the word “fraternal.” Dizygotic. Better character assassins, please.

“‘Replacement Theory,’ a Racist, Sexist Doctrine, Spreads in Far-Right Circles” [New York Times]. “Before the massacre of 50 people in New Zealand mosques last week, the suspect released a document called ‘The Great Replacement.’ The first sentence was: ‘It’s the birthrates.’ He repeated it three times. If the phrase about replacement sounded familiar, perhaps that was because it echoed what white supremacists bearing tiki torches shouted in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017: ‘You will not replace us.’ It is also the slogan of the neo-Nazi group Identity Evropa. Behind the idea is a racist conspiracy theory known as ‘the replacement theory,’ which was popularized by a right-wing French philosopher. An extension of colonialist theory, it is predicated on the notion that white women are not having enough children and that falling birthrates will lead to white people around the world being replaced by nonwhite people.” • More on this thread, which is extremely ugly:

Lambert here: I don’t know why liberal Democrats who for years have been relying on “changing demographics” — the “coalition of the ascendant” or “the Obama Coalition” — to bring them to power didn’t expect some sort of reaction; “Replacement Theory” is “the coalition of the ascendant” seen through the fun house mirror of reactionary politics. At this point, allow me to remark that it would be super-helpful if the liberal Democrats who still maintain a death grip on the party apparatus who run the party would address not only the opioid epidemic, and not only deaths of despair, but falling life expectancy generally, before some less-stupid-than-usual lizard-brained reactionary frames these tens of thousands of excess deaths as “genocide,” and manages to form a militant tendency. Sanders-style universal concrete material benefits would help here, of course, but liberal Democrats are fighting him and them tooth and nail….

“I Support Strong Women of Color Unless They Are Politically to My Left” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency]. “Again, my problem is not with their skin tone or sex. I love that stuff about them. It’s their hearts and minds and choices and beliefs I don’t like. And isn’t that what Martin Luther King Jr. once said — ‘Judge not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character’? I know he also talked about the dangers of the “white moderate,” but I have to assume he was talking about an entirely different white person — probably Bernie Sanders.”

“Why Democratic ‘disarray’ is not a disaster” [Brookings Institution]. “[T]he discussion Rep. Omar’s remarks triggered will actually be good for the party, not just in Congress but in the 2020 elections as well. Although few political pundits understood why that could be the case, if you have worked in a company or in a non-profit organization to improve the performance of teams, you will instantly recognize the importance and potential power of the storm that seemingly burst out of nowhere among House Democrats. It showed the world that the Democratic caucus, now incorporating 40 new members of widely different backgrounds, ages and political perspectives had passed through “forming,” the first stage of psychologist Bruce Tuckman’s four stages of group development, and had entered the second stage, “storming.” Tuckman’s critical insight was that all four phases: ‘forming, storming, norming,’ and ‘performing,’ were necessary for every team to go through in order to grow, face up to challenges, tackle problems, find solutions, work together, and deliver results.” • What MBA wrote this tripe? To call a political party a “team” is a category error, pure and simple. And at some point in 2016, the Clinton campaign dragged the Norms Fairy out behind the barn and had Tailgunner Joe stitch it up. So although performativity performing is still possible, it won’t be along this simple-minded linear progression.

“Nevada Dems revamp caucuses after 2016 clashes” [Politico]. “Rather than assigning some pledged delegates during county or state conventions after the caucus, the party confirmed that it will allocate them on Caucus Day based on the caucus-level results. In 2016, Sanders supporters, angered over Hillary Clinton’s delegate victory and alleged deceit in the caucus process, protested at the state party’s convention, forcing the Paris Las Vegas hotel to shut down the event.” • Oddly, they’ll still have chairs in the meeting rooms.

Stats Watch

Leading Indicators, February 2019: Rose modestly [Econoday]. “This index began to stall in the fourth quarter and the readings so far in the first quarter have been subdued, all pointing to generally flat conditions ahead for the economy which are in line with Federal Reserve projections, updated at yesterday’s FOMC, for moderating rates of growth this year.”

Jobless Claims, March 16, 2019: “today’s separate data on initial jobless claims are hinting at a bounce back from February’s plunge in payroll growth” [Econoday]. “In contrast to February’s abrupt drop in payroll growth in the employment report, jobless claims data have been comparatively stable even during January’s government shutdown. And today’s data point squarely to steady and strong demand for labor and should raise expectations for a significant rebound in March payroll growth. There are no special factors in today’s report.”

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, March 2019: “Arguably the most important reading of all in any report, even beyond whatever the headline may be, is new orders and they have been very flat the last two months in this report” [Econoday]. “Nevertheless, unfilled orders have continued to build… New orders are the life blood of business and a lack thereof puts this report in the uncertain category and in line with other regional reports, including last week’s Empire State, that have been pointing to uneven conditions so far this year for a factory sector, subject as it is to changing conditions in the global economy, that ended an otherwise strong 2018 in a clear slump.”

Quarterly Services Survey, Q4 2018: “Information sector revenue for the fourth quarter of 2018 rose” [Econoday].

UPDATE Finance: “Wall Street’s Latest Love Affair With Risky Repackaged Debt” [New York Times]. “Just as they did in much of 2007 and 2008, before the markets exploded in a crisis of epic proportions, investors in the debt market, which is even larger than the equity market, are feverishly chasing higher yields and are too eagerly buying up the risky securities that will deliver those yields without demanding the proper premium for the risks being taken. A decade ago, the high-yield investment du jour pushed by Wall Street was mortgage-backed securities — home mortgages that had been packaged up and sold as ‘safe’ investments all over the world. Nowadays bankers and traders are pushing another form of supposedly ‘safe’ investment, the ‘collateralized loan obligation,’ or C.L.O.” • I’m not seeing that CLOs are levered, though. Readers?

UPDATE Finance: “Revolut Is Testing the Limits of Finance” [Bloomberg]. “Racing to build what he calls the Uber of financial services, Nikolay Storonsky believes in keeping his foot on the accelerator…. Storonsky is getting a taste of the scrutiny that lies ahead as he tries to upend the world of banking with Revolut, his 3-1/2 year-old startup. The U.K.’s financial regulator is examining why the digital bank last summer temporarily turned off a system designed to automatically block suspicious transactions… Storonsky has drawn analogies between Revolut and Uber Technologies Inc. and he’s blogged admiringly of Airbnb Inc., both known for their whatever-it-takes ethos and their willingness to bend or ignore inconvenient regulations. A neon sign on one wall of Revolut’s office exhorts employees to “Get Shit Done!,” a reflection of Storonsky’s belief that the future of retail finance is a winner-take-all race.” • What could go wrong?

The Bezzle: “Tesla accuses self-driving startup Zoox and former employees of trade secret theft” [The Verge]. “[Scott Turner, Sydney Cooper, Christian Dement, and Craigh Emigh] allegedly made off with information related to what Tesla calls its ‘WARP’ system, a proprietary software platform the company built to collectively manage things like manufacturing, warehousing, inventory, distribution, and transportation. ‘These materials and knowhow were developed by Tesla over many years, and at great expense,’ the company’s lawyers write. (WARP was described by multiple former employees to CNBC last year as ‘seemingly never complete,’ which made it hard to keep track of budgets.)” • Crime makes you stupid; these bozos stole crappy software (surely not unknown at Tesla)!

UPDATE Tech: “SK Innovation breaks ground on $1.67B battery plant, bringing 2,000 jobs to Georgia” [Atlanta Business Chronicle]. “SK Innovation and Georgia officials kicked off construction Tuesday of a massive factory that will supply batteries for electric vehicles in Jackson County, Georgia. It is the largest economic development deal in Georgia in more than decade ago, and will generate 2,000 jobs over the next few years. The company, part of a South Korean conglomerate known as SK Group, said the $1.67 billion factory will be built in two phases and should reach its full jobs potential by 2025.”

Tech: “A third of tech companies are in favour of breaking up Big Tech” [Verdict]. “Blind, which conducts polls to show the inside opinion of employees, put the issue to tech workers, asking them to respond to the question “Should Amazon, Facebook and Google be broken up?” A total of 6,082 answered the survey question regarding breaking up Big Tech and although 63.94% of respondents answered no, a significant number of people, 36.06%, answered yes.”

Tech: “Facebook Stored Hundreds of Millions of User Passwords in Plain Text for Years” [Krebs on Security]. “Hundreds of millions of Facebook users had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by thousands of Facebook employees — in some cases going back to 2012, KrebsOnSecurity has learned…. Facebook is probing a series of security failures in which employees built applications that logged unencrypted password data for Facebook users and stored it in plain text on internal company servers.” • Again, crime makes you stupid.

Tech: “Google may rank sites for queries that don’t appear on the page at all” [Unlike Kinds]. “We thought we understood how Google’s reading between the lines worked, until recently we noticed that an article published on this site about how Uber’s code texts don’t keep your account safe was being returned for the queries 2109085405 and 4843218317. These numbers never appeared in the article. Not even close.” • From the original paper on the Google pagerank algorithm: “[T]he World Wide Web is hypertext and provides considerable auxiliary information on top of the text of the web pages, such as link structure and link text. In this paper, we take advantage of the link structure of the Web to produce a global ‘importance’ ranking of every web page. This ranking, called PageRank, helps search engines and users quickly make sense of the vast heterogeneity of the World Wide Web.” Read the whole post; it looks like whatever Google search is today, it’s nothing like PageRank. Maybe that’s why it sucks?

Concentration: “Disney Closes $71.3 Billion Fox Deal, Creating Global Content Powerhouse” [Hollywood Reporter]. “The Walt Disney Co. has closed its $71.3 billion acquisition of large parts of 21st Century Fox, expanding its global reach and content portfolio ahead of the planned launch of its own video streaming service…. Using fiscal-year 2017 data, Disney said in a regulatory filing that the new assets could quickly add about $19.3 billion in annual revenue and $1.6 billion in net income. In that fiscal year, Disney reported $55.1 billion in revenue and $9.4 billion in net income. Disney has promised $2 billion in cost savings from the Fox takeover, with some in the industry expecting between 4,000 and 10,000 layoffs.”

The Biosphere

“On a Remote Island, a Lost Part of the World Is Found” [State of the Planet]. “Anjouan stands alone—the only island in the world formed by volcanism that also contains an intact chunk of continent. ‘This is contrary to plate tectonics,’ said Class. ‘Quartzite bodies do not belong on volcanic islands.’…. It now seemed like a pretty good bet that they had a whole mountain of quartzite, and their work was just beginning.” • Geology mavens?

“Danish billionaires plan to rewild large swath of Scottish Highlands” [Guardian]. “[Adviser] Tim Kirkwood said that Anders and Anne Holch Povlsen, who own more than 80,000 hectares (200,000 acres) across Sutherland and the Grampian mountains wanted to become pioneers of rewilding by reversing years of mismanagement by previous lairds… In a report for the Scottish government, the Scottish Land Commission said the heavy concentration of land ownership in a small number of hands, including private owners, charities and government agencies, constitutes a monopoly, which undermined the public interest.” • Deathbed conversion?

Health Care

“Kentucky governor says he exposed his children to chickenpox rather than getting vaccine” [CNN]. “Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said he made sure all his nine children were exposed to chickenpox and caught the disease instead of giving them a vaccine. ‘They had it as children. They were miserable for a few days, and they all turned out fine,’ Bevin said…. ‘This is America,’ he said. ‘The federal government should not be forcing this upon people. They just shouldn’t.'” • I support The Right To Infect™!

Alrighty then:

The 420

“Socialize drugs” [The Week]. “But if ‘war’ is our policy model for dealing with drugs, what should replace it? Here’s a sensible, moderate proposal: full socialism for drugs. Recreational drugs should be legalized, but only sold through a restrictive government monopoly.” • I hate the idea of corporate marketing weasels getting involved, so yes, scoring drugs should be about as exciting as going to the Post Office to buy stamps.

Gunz

We are ruled by the Harkonnens:

“Iowa House approves bill to let kids hunt with handguns” [Bleeding Heartland]. “Children supervised by a responsible adult would be able to hunt deer with a ‘pistol or revolver’ under a bill the Iowa House approved on March 20, mostly along party lines. House members rejected a Democratic effort to restore language that had gained bipartisan support in committee and would have required minors to complete a hunter education course before using such weapons for hunting.” • Why stop there?

MMT

“A Beginner’s Guide to MMT” [Bloomberg]. “his state of confusion isn’t good because Modern Monetary Theory, once confined to blogs and a handful of colleges including the University of Missouri at Kansas City, suddenly matters. In the U.S., the left wing of the Democratic Party is citing MMT to make the case for massive federal government spending on a Green New Deal to wean the U.S. off fossil fuels and fund Medicare for All. It’s virtually certain that MMT will be dragged into the debates of the 2020 presidential race. So the time is right for a semi-deep dive into Modern Monetary Theory—what it is, where it comes from, its pros and its cons.” • I don’t have time to evaluate this article; perhaps readers will. However, we should remember that MMT, as late as five years ago, was unknown to the mainstream. Change can and does happen!


News of the Wired

Fun with Google:

This has gone meta, and now all the top hits are all about the tweet, not the search. And I don’t know if I want Google to know my birthday….

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

LO writes: “Bromeliad: the plant equivalent of a big old carp or catfish that lives in a quiet hole in a stream and just\ grows bigger year after year. This one passed at least a decade on a partially shaded step at my neighbor’s, until it broke open the terra cotta pot she had it in. She whacked off a chunk and gave it to me. I repotted it and it spent a couple of years thinking over the situation, then seems to have finally said “why not” and started flowering. Buddying up nicely with the dwarf Meyer lemon tree that is giving it afternoon shade.” Feed me….

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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.

161 comments

  1. But What Do I Know?

    What’s so vacuous about having the people who want to run the government and tax us prove that they are actually paying taxes themselves in roughly the same proportion? Knowing that the president is paying his taxes makes me feel a whole lot better. . .

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      If the accountants are doing their job, which presumably they will be well paid enough to do, the tax returns will be sufficiently clean for no attack to take hold. In general, I deprecate the attack mentality that purports to reveal what is hidden, when what is in plain sight is so horrid.

      Reply
    2. Samuel Conner

      It would be nice to be confident that the person responsible for taking care that the laws are enforced is not him/herself a scofflaw.

      Of course, the major choices in 2016 were not great on that count.

      Reply
    3. sleepy

      I believe there are constitutional questions about the tax-return requirement. The constitution sets the qualifications for a presidential candidate and furnishing tax returns isn’t one of them.

      Reply
    4. edmondo

      I believe that that requirement might be a Bernie Sanders problem in the primary.

      You can’t tell the players without a program.

      Reply
    5. Pavel

      In Sweden (and/or Norway) I believe everyone’s taxes are published online. That’s one way to solve the problem.

      I don’t know too much about Andrew Yang so I browsed his web site. I must say he has clear and well-displayed policy positions on a number of policies. On taxes, he proposes making it simpler (duh!) and tax day would be a national holiday (“Revenue Day”). He says every taxpayer could designate 1% to a specific area. Why not 10% or 20%?

      Reply
  2. Wukchumni

    Beto looks as if he’s teaching a bunch of laid off over 50 workers a new trick in the trade, sophistry?

    Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112550630

        “Can Obama Get His Groove Back”

        This article is from 2009. I don’t remember these stories starting quite so early, but this picture reminds me of the narrative of Obama losing his groove. Ultimately, Obama asked everyone to not worry and to feel good, and when everything was still going to pot, those same soaring speeches didn’t hit home. Instead of assessing the old speeches, Obama was declared to have lost his mojo.

        I see O’Rourke who has been promised as a game changer who “actually” confronts Trump performing an Obama cover. Now these poor people realized they showed up to find a cover band of a one hit wonder that doesn’t even play the one hit. These people have seen O’Rourke’s Cousin Oliver Act, but the reality is the Obama Bunch was a lousy show in the first place.

        Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Elizabeth Bruenig of the Washington Post tweeted a few months ago that Robert O’Rourke missed his calling as a youth minister.

        Reply
        1. Plenue

          In that he tries to connect with the kids but everyone there secretly knows he’s completely lame? Yeah, seems about right.

          Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      “I know a lot of you used to operate forklifts at the factory, but a whole new world of possibilities just opened up. Take a moment to be thankful you’re in the most amazing country in the world. You can start a new career and learn to code software, day-trade penny stocks, start a home-based telemarketing robo-dial business, or even drive for ride-sharing companies.”

      Reply
      1. jrs

        Is that myth that software isn’t mostly rock bottom competition for gig jobs with H1B’s still active, like at least 15 years past it’s sell date. People don’t get out much.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          This is a bedrock of Free Trade cultists’ faith. Without the retraining myth, they are largely just advocates of a cruel parasitical structure, and Chelsea Clinton not receiving sufficient adulation will seem like the good ole days.

          Reply
    2. Gary

      Ya’ll don’t be hatin’ on Beto. He’s not a bad guy. He was against the war on drugs way before anyone else was in Texas and in El Paso, which is like being anti-automobile in 1970’s Detroit. He was also anti-private prisons way early on. He won’t last long. Much of the enthusiasm for him in Texas was he was running against Ted Cruz. He does good speechifying in the right crowd. But he’s like a surfer, if the crowd is dull he can’t catch a wave.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        So, you’re saying that if he would’ve hang’d 10 in Texas, he might’ve beaten all hat and no Canada?

        Reply
      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Good. He should stay in Texas. This is the Presidency of the United States, and he’s adding another side show because he’s finding himself. They killed Caesar. If you can’t be ready to roll, you aren’t ready to be President. Its good to set an example.

        Reply
      3. zagonostra

        You need to look at his voting record. He is more closely aligned to Republicans than Democrats, much less Progressives. His stand on Healthcare alone disqualifies him in my book.

        Anyone running for President that does not strongly support M4A is not getting my vote. Right now Tulsi Gabbard and Bernie are my favorites, donated to both.

        He’s just a distraction thrown into the mix to re-direct the electorate. I will be curious to see the break-down of those “unique contributions” (as opposed to individual contributions).

        Reply
    3. aletheia33

      FYI all, i believe this photo was taken in conway, nh, not iowa, as posted in the WC.
      local broadcaster WMUR (manchester) in a video mentions him “even hitting up a brewery in conway” while displaying a photo of what appears to be the same audience as in the widely tweeted and mocked photo.

      Reply
  3. Summer

    Re: “It looks like whatever Google search is today, it’s nothing like PageRank. Maybe that’s why it sucks?”

    Maybe Google has two rankings: 1) paid and 2) national security state

    Reply
  4. doug

    A slick way of getting you to reveal your birthdate for sure.
    If only they could put that cleverness to work for something other than greed.

    Reply
    1. Paul Boisvert

      um, google already knows your birthday…it also knows the day on which you’re going to shuffle off this mortal coil.

      so send not to ask for whom the engine trolls…it trolls for thee.

      Reply
  5. kareninca

    Over the past couple of days people have written here about how discussions re Rachel Maddow have led them to lose friends, when they point out her obvious lies and misdirections. I have a way of replying to people that has worked for me, though there are no guarantees! I don’t address Maddow per se. I say, “My problem is that I now can’t stand either political party. They are both warmongerers now. In the old days, the Republican party was the warmonger party, and the Democrats were at least kind of against that. But now they are both warmongerers.”

    I realize that this is pretty simple, maybe that is why it gets through. Because they suddenly look back at what they saw on Maddow and realize that it was warmongering. And they don’t want to think of themselves as warmongerers.

    I don’t mention Russia per se, and actually I am not talking about Russia per se. And if I had said “We should get along with Russia since they are a major nuclear power” they would tell me that I was a traitor (never mind what we did to them after the end of the Cold War, or many other things). But now they are primed to look for warmongering. They still say, “Oh, you must be a Fox News fan,” (that is their only other mental category than Maddow), but their heart isn’t in it anymore.

    Reply
    1. zagonostra

      I’ve tried the approach you suggested, not framing in terms of either of the two parties or in terms of both. However, once the propaganda has infiltrated it’s as though “mind-forged manacles” have taken hold.

      I realized I’m just as prone to suggestibility and propaganda but I try and inoculate myself against it by getting information such as that provided by NC, friends tend to shy away altogether from politics, they seem to pick it up as a process of osmosis. I often ask, “where do you get your news?” But, they always give me vague answers…anyway appreciate you suggestion…I’ll certainly give it a go next opportunity.

      Reply
      1. kareninca

        I never, ever ask where they get their news. That would put them on guard. Besides what’s the point, it is no doubt somewhere stupid. I almost only talk about war. For one thing, it is what I care about. And it is actually what they care about when it is presented.

        Sometimes instead I talk about the wealth of individual politicians. I say: “The big problem is that both parties are now the parties of the rich. It used to be that the Republicans were the party of the rich, and the Democrats were sort of the party of working people. But Obama got twice as much in donations from Wall Street as McCain (https://uk.reuters.com/article/analysis-shares-obama/wall-street-puts-its-money-behind-obama-idUKNOA53525520080605), and didn’t prosecute a single bank. And Nancy Pelosi’s net worth is 100 million.”

        The bit about Nancy always causes them to have a sick look on their face.

        Yes, I know this is simple minded. So be it; I’ve had luck with it. It hasn’t ended friendships, and I have gotten to make my point.

        Reply
    2. WheresOurTeddy

      if someone’s only two mental categories for someone is “Maddow” or “Fox News”, that is a very small world

      Reply
  6. allan

    “The black plague disappeared without a vaccine”
    … and led to the best wage growth in centuries. Microbioticized Keynesianism.

    Since, with the outbreaks of medieval diseases among the homeless making it only a matter of time
    before one of these bugs jumps to the general population, it’s good to know there’ll be an upside.

    Reply
    1. Krystyn Walentka

      Those who survived the Black Plague were more likely to have a genetic resistance to the bacteria. (And also ate better) While it did mean the death of millions, it also meant there was a natural resistance favored in future populations.

      That same resistance also protects against HIV.

      So while I am not an antivaxxer, I can appreciate the complications and dependency vaccines cause in a population. This is a trade off which has much longer term effects than the short term issues antivaxxers bring up.

      http://discovermagazine.com/1997/jun/immunetoaplague1147

      Short term suffering is sometimes the sacrifice we pay for future generations and a more balanced environment.

      Reply
      1. Jeotsu

        I was reading recently (though cannot remember the source) that more recent scholarship suggests the death rate from Yersinia Pestis (the Black Death) was higher in rural areas. (Rate, not total number of deaths.) It all came down to the rat:human ratio, rural farming areas could support a very large rat population, thus plenty of vectors for the fleas. Cities also had active anti-rat measures (professional rat catchers). Just an interesting tidbit when your considering running for the hills when the dark times come, understand the plague vectors first!

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I remember seeing a Nova episode about that many years ago. Yersinia pestis bacteriums attach to a certain kind of little protein projection on the surface of the relevant cells. If someone was missing that certain kind of little protein projection to to some mutation, the Yersinia pestis found nothing to grip onto for attacking the cells. The program called it “immunity”, but to me it seemed more like “invisibility”. The people with this particular mutation were “invisible” to the Y. pestis bacteria introduced into their bodies by flea bites. The bacteria didn’t “know” that there was a person all around them.

          And it so happened that the HIV virus attached specifically to the exact same kind of projection on the relevant cells which the HIV virus targets within the human body. So someone with that mutation will be “invisible” to any HIV viruses introduced into that person’s body. The viruses don’t find their specifically required cell-membrane docking site.

          I found what may be a link to this program or at least a script.
          https://www.thefreelibrary.com/AIDS+and+the+black+death%3a+a+new+PBS+documentary+connects+HIV+and+the…-a094079748

          Reply
          1. Jeff W

            No, that’s not a link to the program or a script—it’s just a summary of the main highlights of the show, “Mystery of the Black Death,” which aired on PBS’s Secrets of the Dead (not Nova) in 2002.

            You can watch the show (in four parts) on YouTube, starting with Part 1, here. It remains, close to two decades later, a fascinating story.

            Reply
        2. Joe Well

          I got fascinated by this and did some Googling.

          It turns out, some scientists argue that the Black Death and other medieval European plagues were not bubonic plague but a now extinct (I hope) hemorrhagic viral disease similar to Ebola.

          Wikipedia has an article devoted to different theories of the medieval European plagues. Even if it were bubonic plague, its transmission would have had to have been different from modern bubonic plague, probably through body lice (gross) rather than rat fleas.

          Reply
      2. aletheia33

        i find the phrase “short term suffering” unclear and am confused as to your point.
        do you mean to recommend that our species cull itself by actively choosing “sacrifice”?
        or are you just suggesting that nature will cull
        and when humans have no way to prevent that culling
        we should at least try to appreciate that it is happening to us?

        Reply
        1. Krystyn Walentka

          I have no suggestions, only observations.

          There is a complex outcome when we prevent human death and suffering through complex technologies.

          Another example, if we cured sickle cell disease, those people would loose their natural resistance to malaria.

          Reply
          1. Procopius

            I know that when I had measles my mom was scared. Really scared. That was pre-vaccine, and I’m sure if a vaccine had been available I would have had the shot. Exposing your kid to that means you resent your kids surviving their first year. Nine kids! He’s assuming only two will survive to adulthood to feed him if he grows old.

            Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      “The black plague disappeared without a vaccine”… and led to the best wage growth in centuries.

      Kinda funny if you think about the possibilities. Imagine five years from now when an American President goes on TV and says: “My fellow Americans. We can now say that the Black Death has finally run its course here. Over 120 million Americans are dead and I myself was just the head of the Department of Agriculture two years ago but found myself here by the line of succession. The good news is that there are more jobs than survivor but do not think about asking for increased wages or conditions. That might hurt the economy as it tries to recover and shareholder have lost more than enough value already. Good night.”

      Reply
    3. Craig H.

      The plague is not dead; it’s just resting.

      Between 1900 and 2015, the United States had 1,036 human plague cases with an average of 9 cases per year. In 2015, 16 people in the Western United States developed plague, including 2 cases in Yosemite National Park.[34] These US cases usually occur in rural northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, southern Colorado, California, southern Oregon, and far western Nevada.

      This fellow has got the greatest lectures on communicable disease epidemics including three on the plague:

      Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600 with Frank Snowden

      (some of them are Not Safe For Lunch).

      Reply
  7. DJG

    Bevin, anti-vax lunacy, and nine kids. It is criminal that someone like Bevin would expose his kids to chicken pox, especially now that we know that the same virus causes shingles. And where’s the mother? I suppose that with nine kids, she’s off genuflecting in front of the altar of patriarchy.

    Shingles won’t be a couple of days of itchiness:

    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/shingles-virus-rash-chicken-pox-complications

    Much of this lunacy seems to stem from fantasy religious beliefs (that kid who was displaced from Catholic school for impairing his Right to Infect also thinks that vaccines are related to abortions) or fantasies about science (mercury, vaccines, autism). But what most of these nuts don’t recall is that not so long ago–a hundred years ago–delivery of a child was a dangerous event for a woman. Infant mortality wasn’t low, as it is now. Many people, if not most, lived with chronic pain. Most Americans lost their teeth. Very few doctors understood or treated autoimmune diseases.

    So the loss of historic memory means that we seem to be condemned to let these nutcases bring back the horrors that humankind has spent generations trying to flee. Nine kids! Maybe I’ll drive down from Chicago with a big box of condoms.

    And then there are the “raw water” people–what’s more yummy than cholera? And polio, which once caused swimming pools across America to be closed. But, hey, a few days of discomfort. And then a coffin!

    The black plague comment has to be from someone who thinks that Game of Thrones is historically “authentic.”

    And I’m wondering if the cultural complex under it all has to be the Continuing Crisis of Monotheism, radical dualism, and hatred of the body. I’ve always suspected it with tattooing. And the suffering of children is built right into monotheism, in which Governor God exposes his kid to a knife or a cross.

    Reply
    1. Krystyn Walentka

      The link between shingles and chicken pox exposure is complicated to say the least. It is more likely that the senator reduced his risk of shingles by exposing himself to the virus. I included this excerpt but you might want to read the whole paper. It’s fascinating. There will be an initial spike in shingles in the elderly if we vaccinate all children.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2563790/

      We know that exposure to chickenpox can significantly prevent or delay shingles (by exogenous boosting of immunity).6 Increased annual chickenpox rates in children under 5 are associated with reduced shingles in the 15–44 age group. Having a child in the household reduced the risk of shingles for about 20 years, the more contact with children the better, and general practitioners and paediatricians have a statistically significant lowering of risk,7 possibly because of their contact with sick children (teachers did not have a significantly reduced rate).8,9

      Reply
      1. curlydan

        the paper you cite is 13 years old and released the same year that the first shingles vaccine started being used in the U.S.

        Given there is a new shingles vaccine (yes, another vaccine) released in the past 1-2 years that reportedly is much more effective and is a protein not a live virus, it would be interesting to see if it could be easier to get the vaccine based on the above paper’s findings. So far, doctors don’t really want to give out the vaccine to people under 50.

        I’m under 50, and I’ve had shingles. My doctor told me 5-6 years ago not to get the older vaccine (I have stronger immunity apparently), but I believe I’ve had some minor re-occurences. I just called to see if I could get the new vaccine, and like the following article, I’m on a waiting list.

        https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/03/18/shingles-vaccine-shingrix-glaxosmithkline-michigan/3134917002/

        Reply
        1. Joe Well

          I also had a (very mild) case of shingles in my 30s having been among the last cohort of American children to get chickenpox. I would love to never have to go through shingles again and I’m wondering why we can’t get this vaccine. None of the news articles I’ve read, nor the GSK website, say why.

          Oh, to be (not quite) young in America: you’ll never have your own house, you’ll work until you die, and now, you’re gonna get shingles! And we can’t be bothered to explain why! Don’t worry, you couldn’t have afforded the vaccine anyway!

          Reply
      1. DJG

        Harold: Thanks. I should probably have put it as: A hundred years ago, a woman still had a strong chance of dying during childbirth, being infected during delivery, not surviving a caesarian, and losing the newborn to infant mortality:

        http://www.pbs.org/fmc/timeline/dmortality.htm

        Infant mortality in 1900 was 165 / 1000. It is now about 7 / 1000 (which is why so many delude themselves into thinking that childbirth is easy).

        But if we wish enough, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will get on their ponies and fly away. Because we sure don’t have to be vigilant anymore, now that there’s Go Fund Me.

        Reply
        1. a different chris

          >A hundred years ago, a woman still had a strong chance of dying during childbirth, being infected during delivery, not surviving a caesarian, and losing the newborn to infant mortality:

          I’m on your side, dude, so don’t take this the wrong way! – in fact that’s why I am replying. But none of those things have anything to do with vaccinations. You’re just saying “progress is good!” and that’s not cutting it so much anymore.

          This is the type of painstaking work the medical profession, which seems to have gotten everything wrong at least once, needs to do:

          https://www.post-gazette.com/news/health/2019/03/21/Social-media-study-doctors-vaccine-opponents-Pitt-Facebook-Wolynn-Primack/stories/201903200145

          Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      A bit more history of our family’s visit to the chicken pox from last thread…

      Our neighbor’s daughter that got spinal meningitis on account of our chicken pox was sick for 2 years afterwards, and my mom told me we all had to take gamma globulin shots, as a precaution.

      People nowadays take everything for granted, but you get the idea back in the day that these various maladies caromed off of one another, looking for the next host.

      Reply
    3. Summer

      “The black plague comment has to be from someone who thinks that Game of Thrones is historically “authentic.”

      The black plague comment is from somebody who thinks?

      Reply
    4. Kurtismayfield

      Comparing giving your kid chicken pox by the exposure when they were young to anti vaxxers is a bit over the top. Before the vaccine came our in the ’90s this is how we *all* did it. We found a sick kid, we were brought over to “play”, and then we suffered for a week. It’s not like people were smallpox lancing like in the olde days

      On June 26th 1721, after much research with Reverend Cotton Mather, the first inoculation in American history was completed by Dr. Zabdiel Boylston at Boston.

      Dr. Boylston made a small wound in three patients, and the pus of active smallpox was smeared into these wounds.

      The exposure of small children to chicken pox was normal for most of the US pre vaccine. Yes I understand the risk of shingles and the compilations including death from it, but wanting to self expose to herpes voster is a far cry from anti vaxxers

      Reply
  8. toshiro_mifune

    The black plague disappeared without a vaccine ….

    Looking through the rest of that users tweets and its pretty obvious they were trolling.

    They have such other gems as;

    Sorry guys, my parents took away my swords so I won’t be able to defend the school like normal

    Prayer should be outlawed in sports. It gives athletes such an unfair advantage. God is so much more powerful than any performance enhancing drug.

    Thank you everyone who has supported my antivax stance. But, my wife, her boyfriend, and I have been having some talks and I might change my mind. #illgetvaccinatedforanintedoswitch

    Reply
    1. DJG

      Thanks, Mifune-san: Yep. Note the ethnic breakdown: 1/8 Native American + 7/8 All American. Plus the blue Buddha statue.

      Fun with epidemics!

      Reply
  9. Mark Gisleson

    On my birthday a Florida man was attacked by a squirrel. A squirrel who had apparently been raised and trained by the man’s neighbors.

    Reply
    1. Expat2uruguay

      Apparently we have the same birthday. But the main story for our day is about the man who stabbed a woman with a fork for serving him an undercooked potato

      Reply
  10. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: “The Coalition of the Ascendent”

    When I read “The Emerging Democratic Majority”, it seemed to me it meant despite the loss “The Third Way” was no longer a necessary compromise. Its been embraced by The Third Way to delay necessary reforms or purges of the Democratic Party. The central conceit of the 50 State Strategy was that it was about organizing and winning likely Democratic voters, not wasting time appealing to Moderate Suburban Jackbooted Thugs.

    The GOP has moved to far towards being a whites only party, and elite Republicans were worried. Shrub jumped on his rotating slave labor bill that enjoyed support from Ted Kennedy to appeal to Hispanic voters while not seeming horrible unless you thought about his policy. Economic conditions were still such that the GOP and conservative economics wasn’t so obviously intellectually and morally bankrupt. So natural conservatives still became GOP voters. The numbers were shrinking.

    Reply
    1. WheresOurTeddy

      “To the White Men Running to Be the Democratic Presidential Candidate: Can You Not?”

      I held my nose as hard as I could and voted for a Goldwater Girl, aka the most offensive (D) candidate in my lifetime last time, but ask a centrist to get behind a guy who’s been fighting injustice for 50+ years and literally marched with MLK and you get bigotry presented as wokeness thrown at you.

      He’s a Jew, by the way. Every time I hear “old white guy” it’s offensive, but there I go forgetting again that something’s only offensive if the astroturf-woke IdPol left says it is.

      BS like this is why Democrats lose nationally, and get obliterated locally and at state-level. This progressive white guy is sick of the circular firing squad.

      Reply
  11. dearieme

    About the tedium of the Democrats: a blog called Naked Capitalism would do us a suitable service if it could reveal which candidate is in the pocket of which capitalists.

    Reply
  12. Pat

    Well my long dead mother’s birthday got a florida man being hit in the face with a singing big mouth bass during an argument. Funny but not amusing enough to test other dead relatives’ birthdays.

    As for Beto’s crowd, the sad thing is that probably is the best photo they had that wasn’t him entering a place shaking hands. They are skeptical but listening. I’m pretty sure he is surprised, as so many Democratic candidates have been, that those early states take their politics seriously enough to be well read and up to date on the issues they care about. And they do expect you to address those issues with more than hand waving and “I hear you”.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      that those early states take their politics seriously enough to be well read and up to date on the issues

      I’ve heard its not different in Iowa, but NH primary voters are so much better than other states. Admittedly, they like the attention every four years, so they do a good job. With so much focus on the celebrity sized draws of Hillary and Obama, I predict a major story of this primary will be a Team Blue establishment that was completely unready to deal with retail politics, having invested so much time in large rallies and celebrity endorsements in recent years.

      Despite Warren not gaining attention now, this is a reason she might not disappoint. She does take time to do the grind, and she’s ready for more than deflecting onto the GOP. Buttigieg and Yang are out doing the grind, but in a way, they seem to be too aimless, auditioning for a job else where.

      DiFi and the Children is what is going to happen in little ways to these candidates on a daily basis. Safe seats and nomination processes dominated by insiders hasn’t prepared the others for what happens. If HRC was President, does O’Rourke crack 30% in his Senate race? Did he move the needle or the mood of the base? I think it was the mood of the base, and it didn’t win against a repulsive guy.

      Reply
    1. Yikes

      Seems a plurality (if not a near unity) of America is composed of the willfully blind killing the rest of humanity too. Any MSN reporting on Somalia, Yemen, etc would plumit in popularity.

      Reply
    2. Tom Stone

      Teri, 12 states are “Constitutional Carry” ( Vermont was the first) States which means that if you legally possess a firearm you can carry it concealed.
      No training or licensing required and being blind doesn’t affect your right to carry.

      Reply
      1. rowlf

        Vermont firearms regulations are interesting. Maybe demographics are different there, different dynamics in play.

        A poke in the eye for those who think the whole world should have the same rules.

        Reply
        1. Dan

          I lived in Vermont for a few years. It’s an interesting mix of both progressive and old-world conservative thought. I grew up in a suburban town in northern New Jersey and lived in Florida and California before Vermont, and I had never seen a gun holstered to anyone other than a police officer. In Vermont I used to see people in the supermarket with guns visible on their person. Not frequently, but they were around. Nice folks.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            We see the same thing here in Mississippi, which is an ‘open carry’ state. I have noticed that those ‘proudly displaying’ their ironmongery were by and large, upper and upper middle class looking volk, and a lot of ‘officially sanctioned practitioners of coercive violence.’ (Hat tip to S M Stirling.) For most of these people, I can see the display as a form of Virtue Signalling. (For some definition of ‘virtue.’)

            Reply
    3. Cal2

      Civil Rights Act of 1964, you cannot deny civil rights to people based on disability.

      I bet a blind man could hit a target in total darkness better than a rookie cop could in the same situation.

      Reply
  13. Dun

    I definitely recall a Dem spokesman talking about an “emerging Democratic majority” sometime in early 2001. I think it’s time to file that one next to “lesser of two evils”, “reach across the aisle”, and “we need to keep our powder dry”.

    Reply
    1. Geo

      Whenever I hear talk about demographics bringing a permanent Dem majority it reminds me of the infamous “Friedman Units” where victory is always just around the corner and we should just keep doing what we’re doing without questioning the course.

      I wonder if these same people use continental drift as their means of transportation.

      Reply
  14. Lee

    Replacement Theory

    How ironic. The most successful genetic replacement of one anatomically modern human population by another was Europeans replacing New World indigenous peoples. And this was only made possible because of the disastrous effects of unintentionally introduced human pathogens to the ancestrally naive immune systems of the native peoples.

    On another point, not to worry, the blue-eyed gene cannot be eliminated from the human genome prior to our extinction as a species no matter how much race mixing we get up to.

    Reply
    1. Bob

      The real question is if the demographic change is organic and inevitable, or enabled (and therefore possible to disable) via policy?

      Reply
      1. marym

        The real question is what are people afraid of if they become a demographic minority? Is the fear that they’ll have to sit in the back of the bus, or pay a poll tax, or not be allowed to use the restroom, or have cops shoot them at a traffic stop?

        Maybe the answer is that they should reach out to the current minorities on behalf of common class interests to fight for equal rights and equal protections for all, instead of divisive white identity politics.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Divisive anti-white identity politics was designed to stop that from happening and to destroy any hope of it ever happening.

          Racism-of-color will be used against Sanders all through the campaign by the RPOC Clintonites and the RPOC Obamazoids.

          If the anti-white Racists Of Color can prevent Sanders from getting nominated, they will get Trump re-elected by default. They can then hold another four years of self-indulgent snowflake tantrums about racist identity white people.

          Reply
        2. Cal2

          And where whites are a minority, should others reach out to them?
          Or, is it just a one way street in your mind?

          Reply
          1. marym

            Politics of the 90% needs to be based on goals of equal rights and universal benefits, even if some people are working on specific issues that mostly impact a particular identity group (like unequal pay, bail and sentencing practices, impediments to voting rights).

            Many forms of identity oriented politics have always been about about equal rights. As indicated in my initial question, “in my mind” white supremacy and the goal of preserving a white majority aren’t in that category, the proponents not having articulated any particular civil, voting, or human rights that would be infringed by becoming a minority or by joining (instead of objecting to) efforts of other identity groups to support those rights.

            Reply
  15. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    *types into google – Florida man July 27th*

    Florida man steals Ice cream truck.

    I like ice cream too!

    Reply
    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Mine was “Florida man threatens family with Coldplay lyrics.”

      Shudder. The horror, the horror.

      Reply
    2. BobWhite

      Have a few good ones…:

      “Florida man arrested for trying to buy McDonald’s food with marijuana”
      “Florida Man Rescued From Fountain After Swanning Around”
      “Florida man is accused of duping the Crowley Independent School District out of almost $2 million.”
      “Florida man takes down 18-foot, 150-pound python”

      All a little different… not sure which is my favorite…

      My wife only had one:
      “Florida man stole a Subway footlong by shoving it down his pants.”

      (tip – use DuckDuckGo instead of the BigG to search – won’t track you)

      Reply
  16. Summer

    “This has gone meta, and now all the top hits are all about the tweet, not the search. And I don’t know if I want Google to know my birthday….”

    They already have your birthday.Didn’t credit rating agencies sell all that info ages ago?

    Reply
      1. Cal2

        The least he could do its spell it correctly.

        Good way to lose an election, meddling hardwarephobia into presidential politics.
        Trump will jump on that.

        Reply
    1. cm

      As a Sanders supporter, this is truly disappointing. I gave him $27 and Gabbard $50. Guess I’ll stick w/ Gabbard…

      Reply
  17. Wukchumni

    Concentration: “Disney Closes $71.3 Billion Fox Deal, Creating Global Content Powerhouse” [Hollywood Reporter]. “The Walt Disney Co. has closed its $71.3 billion acquisition of large parts of 21st Century Fox, expanding its global reach and content portfolio ahead of the planned launch of its own video streaming service…. Using fiscal-year 2017 data, Disney said in a regulatory filing that the new assets could quickly add about $19.3 billion in annual revenue and $1.6 billion in net income. In that fiscal year, Disney reported $55.1 billion in revenue and $9.4 billion in net income. Disney has promised $2 billion in cost savings from the Fox takeover, with some in the industry expecting between 4,000 and 10,000 layoffs.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    It’s a world of layoffs
    A world of tears
    It’s a world of hopes
    And a world of fears
    There’s so much that we share
    That it’s time we’re aware

    It’s a smaller world after all
    It’s a small world after all
    It’s a small world after all
    It’s a small world after all
    It’s a small, small world

    Reply
    1. Geo

      Damn you for getting that song stuck in my head! Props for the creative twist, but that melody is pure evil and has burrowed into my brain now. :(

      Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More jobs lost via robots…like that TV announcer?

      It’s possible to shoot a movie with fewer robot actors (each robot can play several roles, by putting on a different face for each role, and voice, height and weight can be easily adjusted).

      Reply
    3. BoulderMike

      Many years ago my family was on the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyworld and it got stuck between two zones. For what seemed like an eternity we could hear the song in two different parts of the song overlapping, one part from each zone of the ride. It was like being in the Seventh Circle of Hell. Much longer and I think I would have attempted to drown myself. Having that song in your head is about as annoying as my very high pitched, constant tinnitus that I am constantly dealing with these days.

      Reply
    4. Eclair

      In the It’s all how you look at it category: “I’m not an ‘unemployed layabout,’ I’m a ‘cost-savings!'”

      Reply
  18. Gary

    I used to hunt for food. I don’t want to hurt anything at this stage in my life. YOU DO NOT HUNT WITH A PISTOL. You might carry one for snakes, but you would never chance wounding an animal with a handgun.
    Any true sportsman should know that. Guns have become a pathology in this country.

    Reply
    1. Tom Stone

      Gary, the .44 Magnum was designed as a hunting cartridge by Elmer Keith and S&W back in the 1950’s and the first modern pistol specifically designed and marketed as a hunting pistol was the Thompson Center “Contender” in the early 1960’s.
      Hunting with a pistol is quite popular in the USA and it has been for decades.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Hunting with a pistol is quite popular in the USA and it has been for decades.

        Yeah, but we’re not counting humans…

        Reply
      2. bob

        Its a well know fact that the 44 magnum was designed and developed by Clint Eastwood. Further, according to the 2nd amendment it can only be used while driving a Gran Torino.

        Reply
      1. ian

        That’s nonsense. It’s not as common as hunting with a rifle, but there are plenty of people who hunt with pistols.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          My father hunted all his life (deer, ducks and waterfowl, turkey, quail, elk….) in Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Texas, South Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia, and Canada. I’m sure other states but these are definites. Also would get game from buddies who’d hunt more of the year than he did.

          In places where deer hunting is a thing for men and their son, it’s always a rifle. I’ve never heard of pistols being used for hunting in any of the small towns in which we lived. It would have been seen as amateur hour. At most, they are a secondary tool, say to finish off a wounded duck. They are used in trapping but that’s a different story.

          Reply
    2. Baby Gerald

      Exactly, Gary. My dad used to hunt with a muzzle-loading rifle (the only guns I think should be legal for civilians to own) and would bring his pistol only in case he got jumped by a mountain lion or bear. In all the years he hunted, never once was it with a pistol. What kind of animals do you even hunt with pistols? Nothing you expect to eat, I would guess.

      Thank you, Senator Sanders, for taking a stand that no other politician has the guts to do. I’ll donate extra to help make up for people like cm who can’t feel safe without firearms.

      Reply
      1. cm

        to help make up for people like cm who can’t feel safe without firearms

        Wow, thanks for impugning my motivations. Instead, how about addressing things like Constitutional obligations?

        How do you feel about Wilson’s treatment of Eugene Debs? Was that just?

        Wilson’s “Espionage Act” has been supported by the Supremes and remains the law of the land. Is this just?

        “Crying fire in a theater” is considered law of the land, yet is this just? Consider if the theater is radioactive? Supremes consider it an imprisonable offense to cry for the exits, even though that would be in the public interest.

        ***You*** are the threat to the republic. You who cannot envision a state where the State is the threat. We read daily about police abuses, yet you wish to muzzle me, a private citizen.

        The state is the treat, not me. Yet you bleat to prohibit weapons that protect people against corrupt governments.

        Reply
  19. Summer

    Harris: “Why did Kamala Harris let Herbalife off the hook?”

    Herbalife, Steve Mnuchin – no problem. But damn those parents of truant kids!

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      It’s all about the downlines, baby!

      If you’ve ever been involved in multilevel marketing, and, sorry to say, I have, the downline is the group of people you recruit, the ones they recruit, and on and on it goes.

      The bigger the downlines, the more kickbacks on sales.

      Methinks that someone close to Kamala had built up quite the downline in Herbalife or another business like it.

      Reply
  20. Phillip Allen

    Regarding today’s Antidote: It is one of the many Ananas (Pineapple) hybrids/cultivars, and should produce ornamental, maybe edible, fruit. Individual plants increase from offsets, which generally take 3 years or so to reach flowering size. Thus the delay in flowers for this example. Individual pups (if you will) will flower only once. The current leaves from which these blossoms emerge will die off in a year or two, and new flowers will develop in coming years from the smaller plants you can see peaking out beneath the two largest stems.

    Reply
  21. Wukchumni

    When I was a kid, California was derided as being the land of fruits & nuts, and now we pretty much are in an upright manner-trees far outnumbering humans by a 10-1 ratio, while Florida man has picked up our considerable slack in merriment of outsiders, thanks.

    Reply
  22. Wukchumni

    A timely Billy Idol song for our age inspired by William Gibson’s book: Neuromancer

    Age of destruction
    Age of oblivion
    Age of destruction
    Age of oblivion

    Discovered love,
    In the rancid days of ruin
    My body’s sweatin’ toxins,
    Of my own demise

    Only from space, can you see
    How much earth is burning
    Smokin’ out the innocence inside…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftew9JpoxC0

    Reply
  23. Eureka Springs

    Indiana teachers twitter thread is just beyond the beyond. Stockholm experiments on PCP. Please tell me a teacher or student threw a chair! Or something!

    Reply
  24. Wukchumni

    A corpse is a corpse of course of course
    And no one can talk to a corpse of course.
    That is of course unless the corpse
    Is the famous Mister Dead

    Go right to the source and ask the corpse.
    He’ll give you the answer that you’ll not endorse
    He’s always on a steady course.
    Talk to Mister Dead

    Presidents yakkity-yak a streak
    And waste your time of day,
    but Mister Dead will never speak
    Unless he has something to say!

    Reply
  25. WJ

    I did a quick search on ‘difference between “unique contributions” and “donors”‘ and it won’t surprise many people here to learn that Beto’s 128,000 “unique contributions” is being regularly misreported in the media as 128,000 “unique contributors” or “unique donors.” Articles from ABC, Politico, and The Hill all conflate the two, as well as several mainstream journalists’ (from CNN and MSNBC) twitter accounts.

    I know that journalists are stupid, but I didn’t think they were quite this stupid. It’s almost as if the lot of them have collectively agreed to enable O’Rourke’s possibly intentionally misleading conflation of “contributions” and “donors” to enable his grassroots marketing schtick while hiding his continued reliance on max donors….

    Reply
    1. zagonostra

      All athe speeches that I’ve heard Beto give he gives special emphasis to the point that he did not take PAC money from corporations and, he always inserts this, he received contributions from all 50 states.

      Can’t wait to see the break-down…

      Reply
  26. Joe Well

    As far as politicians over 40 being “blighted:” the obvious answer is to look at people with state-level rather than national-level credentials, like Nina Turner. Or people from the nonprofit world. Not being soiled by our national politics is a qualification in most people’s eyes, hence Trump.

    Reply
    1. Geo

      Good point. But I think the issue is that anyone truly on the left has been sidelined for decades and pushed out of institutions and organizations that would have allowed them to build a name and infrastructure to mount a national campaign.

      The article in Sirota is a perfect example. He worked for Bernie 20 years ago and says it’s something that he’s been condemned for ever since by mainstream publications.

      The neoliberal institutions suck all the funding and attention from progressive ones. Just look at now the DNC/Clinton teams Co-opted support from leaders at groups from trade unions to reproductive rights orgs back in ‘16 even though she’s the last person a worker’s union should back and Kaine was anti-abortion.

      Basically, if you were a real progressive the past few decades you were not allowed to step into the spotlight so no one knows who you are. Bernie broke through that in ‘16 and now others are following but it’s going to take a while to make up for all those lost years.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        As the season progresses, people who don’t pay much attention are going to wonder why there isn’t a 55 year old Sanders. Its important to recognize what has happened to the Democratic Party as it became the unholy offspring of Bill Clinton.

        Reply
  27. Cal2

    If Bernie doesn’t want Tulsi as a V.P. Choice, maybe
    Gravel/Gabbard would be an interesting ticket?

    He’s 88 and has nothing to lose, she’s 37 and has a long political life ahead of her.

    She’s about 20,000 unique donors shy of being up there on that stage humiliating the warmongers in the Democratic Party. Imagine her in the debates versus
    Veto O’Dork,
    Clumsy Hands Biden,
    Frau KoBlucher,
    Kamela Embarrass,

    Remember, she voted for Bernie last time and if running as his V.P., would demolish Trump and be in the right place to replace Bernie should the need arise.

    Got a checkbook and a stamp? A movie costs ten bucks, the least you can do to buy an evening of true entertainment, or, possibly elect our first woman president who would withdraw our troops from expensive losing wars.

    Listen to her clearly articulated policy positions on this interview with Joe Rogan last September;
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIb2lmHgd5s

    https://www.tulsi2020.com/splash/for-the-country-we-love

    Reply
  28. Geo

    Biden & Abrams: If he does this its admitting, right out of the gate, that he isn’t a good candidate on his own. It’s like applying for a loan with a co-signer – “My credit is terrible but her’s is good so will you approve me?”

    Reply
  29. allan

    An intersectional trifecta of health insurance coding, machine learning and asymmetric warfare.
    Insurance companies’ AIs vs. providers’ AIs, with the patients used as cannon fodder.
    Summary of paywalled article. The proof-of-concept illustrations in the full article are wild.

    Adversarial attacks on medical machine learning [Science]

    With public and academic attention increasingly focused on the new role of machine learning in the health information economy, an unusual and no-longer-esoteric category of vulnerabilities in machine-learning systems could prove important. These vulnerabilities allow a small, carefully designed change in how inputs are presented to a system to completely alter its output, causing it to confidently arrive at manifestly wrong conclusions. These advanced techniques to subvert otherwise-reliable machine-learning systems—so-called adversarial attacks—have, to date, been of interest primarily to computer science researchers (1). However, the landscape of often-competing interests within health care, and billions of dollars at stake in systems’ outputs, implies considerable problems. We outline motivations that various players in the health care system may have to use adversarial attacks and begin a discussion of what to do about them. Far from discouraging continued innovation with medical machine learning, we call for active engagement of medical, technical, legal, and ethical experts in pursuit of efficient, broadly available, and effective health care that machine learning will enable.

    Reply
  30. Redlife2017

    Lambert – to your question if CLOs are levered. I know that the ones created at the large asset manager I work at are not levered in the sense that the instrument as a whole (i.e. there is no leverage in the CLO to go buy the loans). So, not exactly doomsday from that point of view.

    But the loans inside of CLOs are crappy leveraged loans. The FT had a great write up that I can’t remember if you linked to (https://www.ft.com/content/64c9665e-1814-11e9-9e64-d150b3105d21). Nothing like giving loans to firms that are actually levered themselves (up to 6 times)! Hey. Presto. We moved the leverage around. So the CLO isn’t levered but the loans are being given to firms with tons of it on their balance sheets.

    The thing that seems to be outside of some people’s radar is the fact that more asset managers are engaging not only in creating CLOs, but also in something called loan origination. That is, asset managers are now making the crappy loans as well. One reason is that you can have an easy way to stuff the CLOs with loans, but these originated loans are also being put into segregated accounts. It is the newest thing (last few years) to get money off of pension schemes so they can pump some yield by owning those orginated loans directly. And yeah, like nothing could go wrong with that!

    I’m still trying to figure out how this is going to not end badly…

    “Sane is rich and powerful. Insane is wrong and poor and weak. The rich are free, the poor are put in cages. Res Ipsa Loquitur, amen. Mahalo.” Hunter S. Thompson, Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century

    Reply
  31. Tom Stone

    Here’s a short tale of how the Gun laws are actually enforced.
    Once upon a tine the City and County of San Francisco ( Famous for “Sensible” Gun laws) had a Sheriff named Ross Mirkarimi.
    Ross went through a contentious divorce and during that divorce he was charged with beating his wife and pled guilty to one count of domestic violence.
    This made him a “Prohibited Person”, which means that if he possessed a firearm, any firearm for any length of time after his plea he was committing a Felony punishable by a $25K fine and ten years in the Federal Pen.
    State law mirrors that.
    Ross was still Sheriff and he just didn’t look right wearing his beautiful dress uniform dripping with gold braid without his trusty side arm.
    As Ross was not one to violate the SHeriff’s department policies he called up the range safety officer to make an appointment for his required annual qualification to carry a gun.
    The Range Safety Officer felt uneasy about running a prohibited person through the qualification course, so he contacted internal affairs to find out if it was OK.
    That RSO was transferred to a shitty post with a shitty schedule shortly after he contacted Internal Affairs, which was purely coincidental.
    The new RSO duly ran Sheriff Ross through the qualification course ( Committing a Felony himself by doing so, conspiracy) which Sheriff Ross passed with no problems.
    And Sheriff Ross once again was able to give press conferences while wearing his sidearm, which made him feel much better about life.
    Yup.
    He showed up on TV and in pictures in the SF Chronicle while clearly committing a Felony.
    The consequences?
    The SF Chronicle’s Matier and Ross brought it up once in their column.
    That’s it.
    “Sensible Gun Control Laws” and Laws restricting or banning Abortions are framed as Moral Issues when they are really issues about class.
    NYC and SF have some of the most restrictive laws on firearms in the world, however Dianne Feinstein had no difficulty obtaining a Concealed Weapons Permit and Neither did Donald Trump.
    And the laws banning or restricting Abortion do not apply to those who can afford airfare to a civilized country.
    Poor women end up sterile, crippled or dead.
    It’s about class.

    Reply
  32. The Rev Kev

    Bernie Sanders Retweeted CBS News
    Sen. John McCain was a friend and a man of great courage and integrity. We need a president who will fight for our veterans, not attack the memory of an American here

    Well maybe not all veterans. He did help let all those hundreds of American POWs rot in Vietnam after the war finished instead of demanding that they be found and brought home. But yeah, otherwise he fought for veterans.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      I realize that you are making a point about a Vietnam atrocity, but not so surprisingly McCain was not all that well rated by most Veteran’s groups. I remember stumbling across a thread where Iraq war 1and 2 vets were discussing that McCain was not anyone they could depend on. Oh he would show up for a photo op, but any heavy lifting…no chance. Apparently Vietnam Vets got better access and response, but everyone else…

      IIRC correctly most groups gave him a D not an A rating.

      Reply
  33. pjay

    Re: Gravel

    I just went through Gravel’s tweets. I recommend them. Here are the first two from March 19:

    “I am considering running in the 2020 Democratic primary. The goal will not be to win, but to bring a critique of American imperialism to the Democratic debate stage…”

    “The 2020 Democratic field pretends to progressivism, but don’t buy the lie. @KamalaHarris kept innocent men on death row. @JoeBiden voted for the Iraq War. @CoryBooker invented a drug dealer friend (and voted with Big Pharma).”

    More of this please!

    Reply
    1. Shonde

      I also went through Gravel’s tweets. Loved the way Gravel’s policy was framed in the tweets. Once he has officially announced,I will contribute to get him into the debates. We need his voice added.

      Reply
  34. none

    Brexit is delayed

    LATEST DRAFT TEXT

    “The European Council agrees to an extension until 22 May 2019, provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons next week. If the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by the House of Commons next week, the European Council agrees to an extension until 12 April 2019 and expects the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward before this date for consideration by the European Council,” the latest draft text says.

    https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-summit-live-blog-march-2019/#1266412

    https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/38744/21-euco-art50-conclusions-en.pdf

    Reply
  35. Plenue

    >“A Beginner’s Guide to MMT” [Bloomberg]

    It’s actually a decent summary. It’s intellectually honest, and points out how the critics keep strawmanning MMT

    Though near the start it says that MMT says government can always create money to pay interest on debt. It misses that the national ‘debt’ is essentially just money owed by one part of the government to another part of that same government. MMT is never going to get anywhere if it can’t hammer into the public consciousness that the US doesn’t owe money to any outside party, China or otherwise.

    Reply
  36. The Rev Kev

    “On a Remote Island, a Lost Part of the World Is Found”

    Great article that. Don’t you love a whatdoneit?

    Reply
  37. Matthew G. Saroff

    I am not worried about Tyson Brody being a mole.

    I am worried about their being a complete incompetent.

    After all they ran a campaign that lost to in inverted traffic cone.

    Reply

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