2:00PM Water Cooler 3/22/2019

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 (1): “Skeptical Democratic donors tell Joe Biden they will not raise funds for him at the start of the 2020 campaign” [CNBC]. “Several top Democratic donors have told former Vice President Joe Biden that they won’t help him raise funds in the early stages of the party’s 2020 presidential primary, CNBC has learned. Their reason: skepticism that Biden actually can win the Democratic primary… ‘I told him, ‘I can donate but I don’t think I can raise you money today.’ The sense we’re getting [from other donors] is yes, he’s a good guy and everybody knows him, but he has run for president a couple times and it didn’t always work out,’ said a billionaire financier who spoke on the condition of anonymity. ‘I think with Biden there’s a feeling of ‘I like him, he’s a really good guy, but he’d be running at a moment in time that a 76-year-old white guy may not be what voters want.’ I don’t want to give chits today for Joe. What’s my benefit?‘” • “What’s my benefit.” Indeed, the key question, that presumaby others are more than willing to answer!

Biden (2):

Uncle Joe might not be the sort of uncle you have happy memories of…

Biden (3): “9 Reasons a Biden–Abrams Ticket Is a Brilliant Idea for Both Biden and Abrams” [New York Magazine]. • Hot sauce for Biden?

UPDATE Gravel (1): “As Twitter fans help Mike Gravel, pondering 2020 run, his controversial past causing commotion” [FOX]. Vice reported about claims that Gravel is a left-wing 9/11 truther, believing the infamous terror attacks were an inside job. The Jewish Worker reported about claims that Gravel has attachments to conspiracy theorists who support anti-Semitism, such as appearances on a podcast by known Holocaust denier Kevin Barrett.” • FOX makes the running; we’ll see when liberal organs follow. Gravel staffers (!):

Staffers in charge of his Twitter account told Fox News via email Thursday afternoon: ‘The Vice piece neglects to note that this pales in comparison to other candidates. We will be sending in a statement to them shortly. We disagree with Senator Gravel on this specific issue. Whatever you think of these views, they have never killed anyone or imprisoned anyone unjustly. That’s far more than you can say for people like [former Vice President] Biden, who voted to send kids to Iraq, or Kamala Harris, who contributed to mass incarceration.’ They added: ‘The Jewish Worker piece has been updated. We think their analysis has been fair and they’ve been judicious in allowing us to respond. Senator Gravel has unequivocally denounced Mr. Barrett, as you can see in the statements we sent.’ They also added: “We aren’t seeking to elect him president, and we don’t expect everyone to agree with everything he has thought or has done in 88 years of life. We want to get him on the debate stage so he can issue a critique of American imperialism and push the field to the left.”

Who are these guys?

UPDATE Gravel (2):

UPDATE Gravel (3):

Sanders (1): “Bernie Sanders, at UCLA, highlights his longtime support for organized labor” [Los Angeles Times]. “Bernie Sanders’ first appearance in California as a 2020 presidential candidate was not at a mega-rally like the ones that defined his previous bid, but at a speech before sun-baked picketers in front of UCLA’s medical center. The rallies will come later — Sanders has three scheduled this weekend in the state — but the show of solidarity with striking UC workers illustrated how the Vermont senator is seeking to align himself with organized labor, a bedrock of Democratic politics.” • I’m not sure the interests of “organized labor” — i.e., the national — and the picketers are completely aligned, so I would strike out “organized labor” and write in “working class.”

Sanders (2): “Bernie Sanders’s reparations comments cause rift over DSA endorsement” [Vox]. Here is what Sanders said: “But what does they mean? What do they mean? I’m not sure that anyone’s very clear. What I’ve just said is that I think we must do everything that we can to address the massive level of disparity that exists in this country.” • This seems unexceptional to me; “What do they mean?” is, after all, what HR40 is meant to determine! I struggle not to think of reparations as a dagger aimed at at a platform of universal concrete material benefits, but the material in this article doesn’t help me.

Sanders (3):

Majority of the online poll (!) agreed with DSA National; majority of the chapters disagrees, including the Iowa chapter.

UPDATE Sanders (4): “Once an Insurgent, Sanders Now Has Front-Runner Challenges” [Bloomberg]. “No longer a fringe candidate or an outsider, Bernie Sanders will be under pressure to score decisive victories in early contests for the Democratic nomination or risk seeing his 2020 candidacy deflate.” • IA, NH, NV (Culinary Workers), SC (Firewall), basically in order of increasing difficulty. That’s the conventional take, and it could be right. For the Democrat establishment, it makes sense to take Sanders out before CA, so expect ugly race-based assaults to intensity before SC. I’m not sure the conventional take is correct, however. One way to look at Sanders strategic assets of independent list, independent media, and independent canvassing is that he can bypass the conventional, “horse race” narrative, and take hits that would kill another candidacy. We’ll see. And his interesting staff should be capable of plenty of lateral thinking, so we’ll see how they deal with their candidate’s dreaded front-runner status.

Yang: “Long-shot Democratic candidate Andrew Yang will have public debate about his anti-circumcision policy after he says procedure is ‘pushed on parents’ of newborn boys” [Daily Mail]. “He noted he is supportive of circumcision opponents who call themselves ‘intactivists’ – a reference to their desire to keep penises ‘intact.’ ‘I’m highly aligned with the intactivists,’ Yang said. ‘History will prove them even more correct.'” • Presumably there’s a constituency for this…

New Cold War

Apparently, some think the Mueller report is slated to drop today; perhaps at 5:00PM?

We will see soon enough who is right. Perhaps!

“Mueller’s fans venerate him _ and nervously await report” [Associated Press]. “Her family wanted a puppy, so Alicia Barnett dreamed they would find one that was smart, steady and a bit mysterious. She hoped their new addition could share a personality — and a name — with the man who has become her rather unlikely idol. And so, the Barnetts’ new chocolate Lab was christened Mueller…. For devoted Democrats like Barnett, Robert Mueller has become a sort of folk hero since his appointment in May 2017.” • Greenwald comments: “This is the saddest thing I’ve ever read. Robert Mueller was George Bush’s post-9/11 FBI Chief who rounded up Muslims and was a key figure in WMD lies.” Note also the confusion between liberal and left.

UPDATE Lots of dunking on Mueller in this thread:


AOC on her Time cover:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“House Democratic Leadership Warns It Will Cut Off Any Firms Who Challenge Incumbents” [The Intercept]. More precisely, the DCCC. “The Democratic Conressional Campaign Committee warned political strategists and vendors Thursday night that if they support candidates mounting primary challenges against incumbent House Democrats, the party will cut them off from business…. The main beneficiaries are the consultants in the good graces of party leadership. “It’s a commercial enterprise,” said [Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass].” • I guess one @AOC is more than enough for the liberal Democrat leadership, eh? Which means they think there might be more, unless they take action to make the Democrat Party, well, even less small-d democratic than it already is. Let’s take a moment to review what Nomiki Konst said at the laughingly named “Unity and Reform Commission” last year:

Konst: “We’re talking about close to $700 to $800 million dollars between the joint fundraising and the DNC being spend on five consultants.” So, after reviewing the 2016 election results, the DCCC has decided to double down. They have learned nothing, and forgotten nothing, as Talleyrand said. In a way, this is wonderfully clarifying. What it means is that every DCCC-backed candidate has signed a contract to spend four hours a day on servicing donors, and every challenger, by definition, has not. So it now becomes very clear to whom the Democrat Party is responsible. And to whom it is not.

“House Democrats Move to Hobble Primary Challengers” [National Journal]. “It is intended to help stymie attempts by insurgent progressive groups who plan to primary incumbents deemed insufficiently liberal on key issues, but also to shield members of the party’s ascendant liberal wing who represent safe Democratic territory and could face intraparty challenges of their own.” • Try parsing the use of the word “liberal,” there. (And since when did liberals support monopolies in what Representative Lynch calls “commercial enterprises”?

A very good question:

Stanger is COO of the Sunrise Movement, and this quote makes me more optimistic about them.

“Democrats can’t afford another ugly primary campaign in 2020. Is that where we’re heading?” [Amanda Marcotte, Salon]. • As Marcotte does everything she can to stoke an ugly 2020. Came out before the news about the DCCC, but it does seem all of a piece, doesn’t it?

What could explain the difference?

Yard men and maids.

“What getting rid of the Electoral College would actually do” [CNN]. “Unfortunately, it would take a Constitutional amendment to achieve the kind of reform I think by far best. The proposal simply to award electoral votes to whoever comes in first does nothing at all to assure a genuine majoritarian choice, and it is easy to imagine a truly perverse result should we further fragment into multi-candidacies for the presidency.” • So there’s an enormous boomlet in liberal Democrat circles about abolishing the Electoral College, which won’t happen any time soon, but does have the great merit of enabling liberals not to tallk about policy.

Stats Watch

Wholesale Trade, January 2019: “There are few indications of economic slowing that are more convincing than an unwanted build in inventories — and that apparently is what’s underway in the wholesale sector” [Econoday]. “The sector’s stock-to-sales ratio continues to climb, at 1.34 vs 1.33 in December and against 1.28 in January last year. Today’s data confirm the wisdom of the Federal Reserve’s cautious outlook.” And: “Overall, the rolling averages tell the real story – and they declined this month. This sector’s growth continues to trend down. This sector has little growth if one inflation adjusts the data” [Econintersect]. “Inventory levels this month are at recessionary levels.”

Existing Home Sales, February 2019: “Averages aren’t needed to find the good news in February existing home sales,” which jumped (above consuens). [Econoday]. “Data on new home sales have not been as strong as this report but still look respectable and, together with today’s data, should ease the pessimism for a sector that held down the 2018 economy.” And but: “Seasonally February is one of the weakest months of the year for existing home sales (See Not Seasonally Adjusted NSA graph below). Since existing home sales are counted at closing, these are properties that usually went under contract during the holidays or in early January. So I wouldn’t read too much into the pickup in February. Sales will be stronger seasonally over the next several months” [Calculated Risk]. And but: “The rolling averages for existing home sales have been slowing since the beginning of 2017. This month the rolling averages remained in contraction – but improved. Housing inventory is historically low for Februarys and the year-over-year growth slowed. Overall, this was better data than last month – but keep in mind that sales are contracting year-over-year” [Econintersect].

Energy: “Oil Traders Are Now Watching Workers’ Phones to Spot Problems at Refineries” [Bloomberg]. “‘For oil traders, knowing where the workers are and how many there are will absolutely help traders know how much output the refinery is producing,’ Claire Curry, BloombergNEF’s head of digital industry, said in an email. ‘Unconventional forms of data — like where people are in a plant, or the levels of oil in tankers — will become available not to just large companies who collect the data, but to the cleverest data scientist with the best algorithms.'”

Purchasing Managers’ Index Composite (Flash), March 2018: “A weak set of PMIs won’t have anyone double guessing the Federal Reserve’s dovish policy meeting this week” [Econoday]. “Today’s report isn’t citing any particular factors, just that overall demand appears to have slowed at quarter end. Still, readings… indicate growth though slower growth compared to the last couple of years.”

Manufacturing: “Indonesia’s national airline seeks to cancel multibillion dollar order for 49 Boeing Max 8 jets” [USA Today]. “It is the first announcement of a cancellation since Boeing’s new model aircraft were grounded following fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia…. ‘Passengers always ask what type of plane they will fly as they hve lost trust and confidence in the Max 8 jet,’ [the company’s spokesman Ikhsan Rosan said]. “This would harm our business.”

Manufacturing: “How the FAA delegated oversight to Boeing” [Politico]. “Congress, though, has repeatedly encouraged the FAA to continue in this direction [self-certification], ordering only minor changes in the delegation program in its last major aviation legislation last October. According to a 2013 Government Accountability Office report, FAA-approved private employees at that time were performing more than 90 percent of tasks involved in certification. Advocates for the program have included acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell, who told Congress in 2012 that pressing forward with the program was the best way to streamline the agency’s approvals. At the time, he worked for the trade group Aerospace Industries Association, of which Boeing is a member.” • Because of course he did.

Tech: “How Twitter’s algorithm is amplifying extreme political rhetoric” [CNN]. “Relying on an algorithm to insert politically-oriented tweets into the feed of users, however, appears to come with unintended consequences. Some tweets contain extreme political rhetoric and/or advance conspiracy theories. And they are regularly posted by media or internet personalities who hold fringe views (many are also verified, giving them an added sense of credibility to people who may not be familiar with them), exposing users on the platform to radical content they may otherwise have not encountered. In effect, the practice means Twitter may at times end up amplifying inflammatory political rhetoric, misinformation, conspiracy theories, and flat out lies to its users.” • Turn off the so-called “Top Tweets” feature, which Twitter allows you to do (although it randomly turns it back on).

The Biosphere

“Banking on Climate Change 2019” (PDF) [Rainforest Action Network]. “JPMorgan Chase is the world’s top funder of fossil fuels by a wide margin. It led by 68% in expansion in the last three years, and by 29% in finance for all fossil fuels globally.” • Jamie’s been on TV a lot lately. Somebody should ask him about this.

“In nature, premature springs are creating new winners and losers” [Yale Climate Connection]. “For some plants and animals, temperature is the most important sign that spring is beginning, and when spring-like temperatures start early, so do they. Other species depend on different cues or a combination of cues – like the length of light in a day or the number of chilly days – to know when to start their spring. Those signals aren’t all affected by climate change in the same way, and some, like day length, aren’t affected at all. This leads to some species starting their springs earlier, while others stick closer to their historical schedules. That puts interspecies relationships – like those between plants and pollinators or predators and prey – at risk of falling out of sync. Theresa Crimmins, the assistant director of USA National Phenology Network, said that in general, species that are adapting more quickly are increasing in abundance. “The ones that are not as responsive,” Crimmins said, are “tending to decrease in abundance or even be disappearing from the landscape.” For example: “Many invasive shrubs, like certain honeysuckles, are taking advantage of one such timing mismatch. Researchers have discovered that in forests in the eastern U.S., invasive shrubs put out their leaves earlier in spring than their native counterparts like dogwoods, allowing them to capture sunlight with less competition.” • For the projecct on invasive shrubs, note the crowd-sourcing; something that the Jobs Guarantee could definitely multiply.

“Something is rapidly killing young apples trees in North American orchards. Scientists are stumped” [Science]. One possibility: “Modern apple farming methods could also be a factor. Rapid decline is most common in dense orchards, which are increasingly planted because they are efficient to manage. Instead of about 250 trees per hectare, high-density orchards can have 1200 or more. Tightly packed trees must compete for nutrition and moisture. They also have shallow roots, which make them easier to trellis but more vulnerable to drought. ‘I’m not criticizing the system,’ [plant pathologist Awais Khan of Cornell] says, “but it’s not robust for these kinds of fluctuations.'” • You’re not? Why not?

“The Last Wild Apple Forests” [Atlas Obscura]. “In the early 20th century, biologist Nikolai Vavilov first traced the apple genome back to a grove near Almaty, a small town whose wild apples are nearly indistinguishable from the Golden Deliciouses found at grocery stores today. Vavilov visited Almaty and was astounded to find apple trees growing wild, densely entangled and unevenly spaced, a phenomenon found nowhere else in the world….

Guillotine Watch

“What Every Kid in the College Admissions Scandal Knew About the Scam” [New York Magazine]. Here’s the first one probably knew: “Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez — Manuel is the founder and CEO of a Silicon Valley hedge fund in Palo Alto — paid four separate times to manipulate exams for their two daughters. In one instance, CW-2 sat next to the older daughter and gave her the answers while she took the test. CW-2 said that after the test, he “gloated” with the mother and daughter about how they’d cheated and gotten away with it.” And the first one who probably did not know: “When discussing cheating for her younger daughter, Huffman told CW-1 she thought her daughter would want to take the exam twice no matter what score she got — indicating that Huffman did not inform her daughters that their scores were being manipulated.” • If you believe Huffman, yes.

Class Warfare

“Trust Fund Squirrels That Inherit Food Hoards Succeed at Life, Study Finds” [Vice (RH)]. “Squirrels, like humans, can be trust fund kids, benefitting from caches of spruce cones left behind by older generations, according to new research…. These privileged individuals are more successful in life, having the ‘time and energy’ to bear more offspring—roughly 50 percent more than squirrels who didn’t receive a nutty inheritance… The wealth isn’t necessarily handed down from parents to children like in humans, rather it’s more opportunistic. When young, coneless squirrels set off on their own, some are lucky enough to stumble upon abandoned stores. This in turn endows them with a cushier life; less time spent hunting for food, and more time for making babies.”

UPDATE “The American Dream, Quantified at Last” [David Leonhart, New York Times]. With handy charts. For those born in 1980:

So, little squirrels, take care to be born to parents who stored lots of pine cones! That is the road to success in life!

* * *

“Kickstarter’s staff is unionizing” [The Verge]. “[T]hey’re working with the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153… In a world of Facebook and Twitter, Kickstarter feels almost quaint in its mission — ‘to help bring creative projects to life’ — and in its charter as a public benefit corporation, which means that the company is ‘obligated to consider the impact of their decisions on society, not only shareholders.’ Its staff unionizing means the company will also have to consider more seriously its responsibilities to its employees. It also means that its fellows in Silicon Valley and beyond could be next. Kickstarter is fundamentally a tech company, and its staff unionizing with the OPEIU shows a way forward for other employees in the space.” • Exciting!

“Leaked Memo Shows Kickstarter Senior Staffers Are Pushing Back Against Colleagues’ Union Effort” [Gizmodo]. “One of the more surprising statements in the memo [from Kickstarter senior staffers] is the claim that tech employees like those at Kickstarter have it too good to merit organizing. ‘Unions are historically intended to protect vulnerable members of society, and we feel the demographics of this union undermine this important function,’ the memo states. ‘We’re concerned with the misappropriation of unions for use by privileged workers.'” • Look at that useless disempowering language, which shows the uselessness of thinking of class in terms of privilege. Eh?

“‘This is not me'” [WaPo]. “As housing costs climb ever higher in booming urban areas, the significant growth in tent encampments nationwide has become one of the most visible signs of the nation’s failure to alleviate widening inequality.” • Note that the tent-dwellers in this story have jobs. As fast food workers. Naturally.

News of the Wired

“25 Gross Old Fashioned Recipes You Won’t Believe People Actually Ate” [ThoughtCo]. “Back in the 50s it apparently didn’t count as a meal unless it was suspended in an oozing pile of gelatin.” • Fast forward to the 70s:

* * *

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 (TH):

TH writes: “I’ve read that bees pierce tubular flowers to get the nectar. There appear to be other insects on the inside if this trumpet honeysuckle vine bloom, but if they are there for the nectar, I think she’s got them beat.”

* * *

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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. bob


    The creepy Joe meme’s are no doubt true. But, can’t they at least blur the faces of the victims? It’s getting even creepier to see them used like this, again.

    1. JBird4049

      Spread your legs, you’re going to be frisked.”

      After hearing vomitous quotes like this, I have to ask, who is this man and where did he come from? I just don’t think that this type of language at a swearing in especially at the federal level has ever been appropriate or acceptable. Maybe five hours in at the party when everyone has had a few…

          1. dearieme

            I am sorely tempted to mock the odious collection of codgers, crooks, and calamities who have announced their candidature (except for the divine Tulsi, obvs).

            But my Prime Minister is Theresa May.

              1. polecat

                Catamites = big encephlo ?

                “Oh, mr. Biden … you must eat. It’s going to be a long journey. We can’t have you wasting away, like you did with your presidential campaigns.”
                … “Here, we’ve provided some reading material to wile away the time .. it’s a cooked-book entited ‘To Serve Young’ .. I sorry to say that it hasn’t yet been printed in congressional jib, so I hope you’re bi-lingual. Enjoy”

                1. ambrit

                  To thoroughly mix up metaphors here, I’ll say “catamites” as exemplars of ‘Greek Culture.’ Which ‘culture’ includes not only the ‘fluid’ sexualities of the Ancients, but also various iterations of decadence as displayed by modern “Elite University” fraternities, etc.
                  I take for granted that Politicos are all possessed of forked tongues. So, they are not only ‘bi-lingual,’ but also Zeta Reticulans.

          2. The Rev Kev

            I wonder what would have happened if she had slapped his face hard enough to shake some teeth loose. I couldn’t see this going to trial as what he said was plain as day and had too many witnesses to it.

            1. Carey

              And somehow this clown (Biden) claims to be a good candidate for President of the United States?


  2. Henry Moon Pie

    French philosopher and anthropologist Bruno Latour has a new book, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime, that looks interesting. Here’s an excerpt of a Resilience.org review:

    Why are so many zones of the world descending into chaos and confusion? There is no single reason, of course, but the French scholar of modernity, Bruno Latour, has a compelling overarching theory. In his new book, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime (Polity), Latour argues that climate change, by calling into question the once-universal dream of “development” and globalization, is leaving a huge void in our consciousness.

    This has resulted in an “epistemological delirium.” As the ordering principle of “the modern” dissolves into thin air, we don’t know which way is up or how to proceed…
    Humanity no longer has a shared framework of “becoming modern,” says Latour. It is hard for everyone to believe that globalized markets, “development,” and consumerism will yield a steady march toward civilization and progress. Corporations have proven themselves to be consummate externalizers of cost and risk. And climate change among other eco-crises suggests that relentless economic growth is simply preposterous — and grossly mal-distributed in any case.

    And here’s a recent interview of Latour about his book with some discussion of the gilet jaunes.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      I’m reading it right now. It’s more of an essay than a book. As I interpret it, he is trying to get at the problem of the need for a comprehensive/global response to climate change in a world of nations. His “solution” involves a (renewed?) focus on human life in earthly context – I think akin to the French notion of terroir – as opposed to what I would call “human-only” constructions like nations. So “place” not simply in the geographical sense but in terms of real connection to the (specific parts/places of) earth of which we are part.

      I always find him interesting even when I don’t always get what he is saying or I don’t quite see how to get from where I see things to where he wants us to get to. In this case, as a USAmerican, my fear is that he sees humans as having a much closer connection to specific earthly places than I do. Or perhaps he thinks there are policies that could make that so. I started the book but I didn’t get too far into it before other things intervened.

    2. Eclair

      Hmmm, Henry, I rather like the phrase, ‘epistemological delirium.’ It might help explain a lot of the infuriating behavior that goes on right now. I don’t mean outright ‘denial.’ But the kind of thing where you have an intense conversation about climate disruption with a friend and then they tell you about their plans to jet off to hike in Nepal. And then take delivery of half a dozen packages from Amazon. Or watch the steady double line, both ways, of car traffic along Aurora Avenue in Seattle. Traffic that is increasing, not the opposite.

      1. ChrisS

        “Epistemological delirium” really aptly describes how I feel as I read NC every morning and then do my super corporate university job the rest of the day.

    1. Robert McGregor

      “The Rushkoff takedown of UBI”

      Yes, he has a point about wealth being more important than income, and of the possibly nefarious designs of the .01% in supporting UBI. But hey, one thing at a time! A $1000 month UBI can be gotten through a lot faster than wealth transfer. It will have a more positive effect for younger people even than M4A. Also remember it is not $1000 per household, but per person! So if you have one father now supporting a wife and two millennial children, there will be an extra $4000 per month coming into the household. Where will the money come from? Remember MMT.

      1. Katy

        I consider a $1,000 per capita UBI a nightmare scenario. The natural result of that policy is “hey honey, let’s have a fifth child so that we can make an extra $12,000 per year in income! BAD idea. We have too many humans on the planet as it is.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Make the UBI apply ONLY to NON-dependent POST-minors and you remove that particular bribe-centive to have more children.

  3. Hepativore

    The alarmists that pushed the whole “RUSSIA!” hysteria have already invested so heavily in the idea, that I doubt that any finding by Mueller stating otherwise is going to change their minds. Not to mention that the political sources that push this narrative probably feel that it is too politically useful as a potential distraction from other and more important issues. The Clintonites, establishment Democrats, and the media that supplicates to them are simply not going to let a goldmine of angst and false outrage go to waste.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Actually, I think this is about to backfire on Team Blue elites. John Dean wrote about authoritarian followers and leaders some years ago (this is where I learned the idea), but authoritarian followers will obey dictates from their leaders as long as they don’t violate certain commandments. In the case of the GOP, a drive to lower taxes on the wealthy, climate change denial, and a lack of human decency are all things that can’t be violated. What you will see is a split among people who had their macguffin taken away and people who are devoted to the cause. There were reports of a Pelosi rapid reaction taskforce trying to explain Pelosi’s devoted followers needed to stop the impeachment crusade and about half the followers being outraged.

      Pelosi and friends made the mistake of setting a hard date with the release of the Mueller report.

      1. Eureka Springs

        The irony is at the time many liberal and slightly left people saw this as being exclusively a right-wing/republican problem. FDL book salon, Greenwald hosted Dean on his book and the salon. It was probably the most popular salon they ever had, so popular it spilled over into a second week. I was a mod during salons for years. Including Yves debut.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Perhaps there’s a word for the opposite of a purity test — maybe one of those German words. An impurity test, a basic lie that you have to accept, or some other form of abuse, that’s a ticket to entry. Like the casting couch.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      And you’d be right. I engaged just this morning with someone who flatly stated that, even if Mueller had nothing to report, “we all know the facts.” In other words, they embrace the unvarnished truth as presented (based on the links offered as “proof”) in the NY Times and Mother Jones. This despite my repeating twice I had followed the issue since its inception, but obtained my information from many sources rather than just the ones who fed my confirmation bias.

      The mention of which, btw, ended the discussion for some reason.

      1. Hepativore

        Odds are that Mueller will also be branded a Russian stooge as well if his report does not include findings of Russian collusion.

        1. Carey

          Seeming like there are fewer than a thousand USians who are not in fact
          Russian stooges, and all happen to be well-fed establishment Democrats.

          We’ll see how that goes.

          1. richard

            I am breaking out the “lol” again
            because I really do think it is okay for occasional use (plus I saw Lambert use it, and he is a good guide for style)
            But it really did get overused there
            so let’s be smart about this people!
            We don’t want another “proactive” on our hands.

      2. ambrit

        “…ended the discussion for some reason.”
        The discussion was ended because you introduced reason. I have that happen to me all the time nowadays.

        1. ambrit

          The plot of the film of the same name is apropos of American politics. How long can ‘they’ keep the plates spinning?

      3. BCD

        Bias works in this strange way where humans choose the things they like and all humans are subject to bias if you’re human! Saying you obtained you information from many sources means nothing because all of them could be bias just like you’re accusing others of.

        The hypocrisy of embracing “the unvarnished truth as presented by” everyone speculating what a report nobody has read might say while simultaneously criticizing other people for speculating on what the outcome of criminal investigations might produce seems apparent to all but the people proving their own ability to wildly speculate.

        1. ambrit

          Re. “wildly speculate.”
          What would be the status of “sedate speculation?” Received wisdom?

  4. WJ

    “House Democratic Leadership Warns It Will Cut Off Any Firms Who Challenge Incumbents” [The Intercept].

    The full title to this piece actually reads:
    House Democratic Leadership Warns It Will Cut Off Any Firms Who Challenge Incumbents Except Those Firms Hired by the Leadership Itself to Challenge Ilhan Omar”

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      “House Democratic Leadership Warns It Will Cut Off Any Firms Who Challenge Incumbents” [The Intercept].

      These firms lost a thousand seats. Is that supposed to be a threat? ‘If you continue like this, you’ll find no professionals to bleed your humours or apply leaches. And then where will you be?’

  5. WheresOurTeddy

    The American Dream, Quantified (with chart for those born after 1980)

    As someone born in 1983, this seems just about right.

  6. ChrisS

    Before Trump won the election, I read Emptywheel every now and then and found it occasionally interesting. Since the night Trump won the election, it has become a complete garbage fire of all-Trump, all-RussiaRussiaRussia!, all of the time that I occasionally peruse for sheer amusement. The writers over there have gone full Captain Ahab and Trump/Russia “collusion” is their white whale.

    1. pjay

      Wheeler already has her bases covered:

      “I happen to think there’s a great deal of evidence a quid pro quo conspiracy took place, but certainly entertain the possibility that Mueller thinks he wouldn’t have an 85% chance of conviction, which DOJ would likely require before he indicted it. But even if I’m right, it still leaves open most of these options.”

      See, even if she’s right Mueller might not indict (hmm — that’s kind of catchy).

    2. Roy G

      Same here. I remember how deranged the ‘Barack Hussein Obama’ truthers seemed, and how I felt at one time that this kind of thinking was the sole province of the right. Oh, how naive I was! At least one good thing has come from the Trump fiasco, that if you have the right optics (ie. critical thinking intact), the crazed and blinded Dem establishment zombies are practically glowing as they shuffle around looking for brains to eat while they await Godot, er the Mueller Report.

      1. pretzelattack

        at this rate, godot might show up before the mueller report. i mean jesus, just put the vaporware out there and the true believers will find something in it to support their cause. the rest of us can move on (in theory).

        1. pretzelattack

          ah, mueller reportedly delivered the report the barr sometime this afternoon. is the friday delivery date significant, as far as minimizing press coverage, or does it matter in this case?

            1. pretzelattack

              yeah that’s what i’ve heard too, but in this case it wouldn’t be buried; maybe they just want to get out in front of the narrative, though.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              If there is a big story anticipated, you release it on Friday so it dominates the Sunday talk shows. (Other small stories are then released under cover of the big story.)

              If there is a story not anticipated, you release it on Friday so the other stories already teed up for Sunday bury it.

    3. Roger Smith

      I didn’t know about this until today. I had read it before the election as well and what I had seen was some good stuff. That probably explains why I never happened across it since then.

    4. Plenue

      Is that really the right comparison though? The White Whale actually, you know, existed. The obsession with it is what led to disaster. Whereas ‘Russiagate’ has been obviously stupid and fake from the start. The true believers just look like morons.

      1. polecat

        All cooked up like an overdone ShakeShack burger !

        And it seems the clinton wrecking crew spared no small amount of secret sauce ….

      2. Ptolemy Philopater

        What is not admitted here is that as stupid and vacuous the Russiagate narrative was, it did the job, distracting from the real issue, the complicity of the corporate Democrats with the Trump agenda, vilifying Russia for obstructing the destruction of the Syrian state, jettisoning the Iran nuclear deal, sidelining discussion of the trillion dollar bailout of the financial elites and how they launder money distributed by the Federal Reserve, ginormous tax cuts for the power elite, ethnic cleansing in the form of mass incarceration and extra-judicial murder, the rigging of the Democratic primaries that delivered the 2016 nomination to the Queen of the power elite, Billary Clinton, the de-industrialization of the United States, the complete corruption of the Federal Government by unlimited campaign contributions, a corrupt electoral system, the lack of prosecution for world wide war crimes and crimes against humanity in the forms of mortgage fraud, college student debt, privatization of the public school system, presiding over the collapse of the US infrastructure, mass homelessness, jobs that do not provide a living wage and mass immigration to dilute the labor pool and the complete submission of the United States to a foreign power. Job well done, Brownie.

    5. WJ

      Emptywheel so quickly transmogrified from what seemed to be a smart site of social democratic commentary into Rachel Maddow’s hipper subtler sister that it has to make you wonder whether what we have here isn’t another Counterpunch situation….

      1. Carey

        Yes, I’ve had the same thought. The blizzard-of-text obfuscatory interpretations seem telling.

      2. pretzelattack

        what was the counterpunch situation? haven’t followed it regularly since alexander c. died.

        1. WJ

          It’s increasingly become an “alternative” avenue for liberal-interventionism marketed as woke social democracy. Especially with regard to Syria and the canard about the danger of (virtually nonexistent) “left anti-semitism”.

          1. richard

            That’s a shame; they used to have good coverage of syria, I thought
            was it mike whitney?
            I don’t go there so much
            without the reason of reading alex

          1. richard

            Yikes. Jeffrey St. Clair does not come off well. He is all guilt by association, and drops alex’s name every 3rd graph.

          2. Temporarily Sane

            Counterpunch head honcho Jeffery St. Clair has an oversized ego and is a bit too precious for his own good (he denounces C.J. Hopkins for the crime of having his own opinions yet he still publishes Louis Proyect’s stuff even though Proyect, on his blog, regularly unloads expletive riddled diatribes on anyone who doesn’t share his saintly view of the Syrian rebels) but CP is basically an aggregator that publishes a wide variety of articles, many of them quite good. St. Clair’s attitude is unfortunate and does his “brand” no favors, but he’s easy enough to ignore as far as that goes.

            (I miss the days when people who didn’t see eye to eye on every single issue were able to have a civilized discussion/debate or simply agree to disagree. Twitter and “social” media have done far more harm than good.)

            1. The Rev Kev

              It may not be just Twitter and “social” media. I heard about a book a very long time ago which talked about how democrats and republicans were physically separating themselves and choosing the suburbs where they lived on that basis. It might have been the book “The Great Divide” by Geoffrey Layman but am not sure. The point being that this was happening decades before the arisal of social media. But you are right – civil discord is now wrecking families, friends & neighbourhoods on the basis of “politics” of all things. Stupid that.

            2. WJ

              I agree with this. The problem with Counterpunch since Cockburn’s passing is not that they publish pieces with differing opinions about the same set of facts, but that they have increasingly become an outlet for authors trading in fictions, particularly as regards Syria. That conflict revealed and continues to reveal much about the limits of allowable dissent.

  7. Grant

    So, with Biden, we have someone with a pretty horrible record, someone that has said a mountain of stupid, racist and tone deaf things (to this day), someone thoroughly corrupt and someone that can be trusted to keep things as they are. In Abrams, we have someone now on Neera Tanden’s payroll at the CAP, someone that was objectively cheated out of the governor position. So, this is a brilliant strategy, if you think the system as is should stay the same. If you aren’t bothered by the actual impact of this healthcare system, if you think that a proper response to the environmental crisis is nice words in a speech and tax credits for solar, and if you are really put off by people liker Bernie criticizing the rich, that is a dream ticket.

    I thought that if by some miracle Biden lasts more than a few months (he only survives as long as people ignore his actual record), and if Harris kind of flatlined, that they might join forces like this. But with Biden doing this, I have to conclude that he and his team realize how weak of a candidate he is. If I were Abrams, I would think critically about attaching myself to him, but whatever. Anyone thinking of doing this and working at the CAP with Tanden isn’t someone I am likely to support in any national race anyway. If she is running against a ghoul like Kemp, fine. Nationally, no thanks.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The purpose for putting Abrams on a Biden/Abrams ticket is to extort votes on the basis that you are a racist mysogynist if you don’t vote for Biden/Abrams.

  8. Hameloose Cannon

    From the looks of that Bernie endorsement poster, the DSA’s fight includes smashing graphical hierarchy. Mix the faux hand-lettered Banknote Roman font with the [tasteful, but inexplicably diminutive] utopian san-serif Manifold font, into a Diplo block filling every bit of negative space: Art-Brut guerrilla eclectic? [Burn, typography, burn.] Inclusive, sure, but discord is the opposite of solidarity. And strictly speaking, Bernie isn’t a suffragette. [And to be fair to suffragettes, literacy was a new phenomenon to them.] The roller-coaster kerning of “FOR PRESIDENT” all-caps on a banner betwixt “20’s” lifted from US currency? Baffling. Look to John Heartfield’s work fighting fascism 90 years ago. THAT is revolutionary.

    Maybe taking DSA’s visual aesthetics in good-faith, as opposed to kitsch, is folly. But the Ocasio-Cortez campaign’s visual language was a radical subversion of the social-constructivist ideal. Powerful. And she wasn’t even running for President.

    1. neighbor7

      Very nice graphic analysis! That little “FOR PRESIDENT” banner looks like something from a flyer for “Garden Club President.”

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Look to John Heartfield’s work fighting fascism 90 years ago. THAT is revolutionary.

      Yep. I don’t mind the DSA “trade dress,” as it were. Red is a hard color to domesticate. That said, it does look like they went to a down-market competitor of whoever did the Obama campaign’s look in 2008 — just no Gotham! There is the same overly precise, slightly retro feel. Yet still hip!

  9. el_tel

    Re Electoral college reform. I might have incurred the wrath of moderators earlier today with a comment on a similar subject since all my comments are now moderated but hopefully not as they are (ultimately) getting through. Reform of FPTP (plurality) voting is close to my heart. I gave an example on the Brexit thread illustrating Yves’s comment that a three-option referendum could lead to controversy if there was a plurality but no majority (same issue as a three+ candidate in a presidential election).

    Let’s keep things simple with just 3 candidates. Alternative Vote (not really proportional but often seems “logical” to voters – though not Brits recently!) is not really mathematically/philosophically sound at all: if your candidate is eliminated you get “another bite of the cherry” with your second preferences being used. In short, not every vote is equal – the maths are beyond a comment but it’s been shown. Of course not every vote is equal under current FPTP (plurality) as loads of votes are wasted, but AV could be argued to be quite insidious as it was explicitly “sold” as a step to Proportional Representation in the UK referendum when it can be just as “unfair” with unequal voting strength. Those of us who have lived in Australia have seen it in action and know that the “theoretical” problems are matched by empirical ones – “nobody” candidates have ended up in the Senate, to general amusement and anger.

    Voting schemes that preserve some concept of “equal voting strength in the maths” are uncommon but most-minus-least voting is one type, which at least has some history of use in the USA (Nevada) . It has the benefit of being only a minor change to the current system. A voter must choose their most preferred candidate (as now). But, for their ballot to be valid they MUST choose a least preferred candidate too. “Least” counts are then subtracted from “most” counts. Every voter has (mathematically) a +1 and a -1 in their “voting function” (so has equal power). But it is attractive because it is known to “knock out” nasty politicians who repulse lots of people (see article). For instance had most-least voting been used in the 2016 Republican Primaries, Trump, getting around 40%, would have not got the nomination, since the other candidates all loathed him and he’d have had 60% against him (40-60=-20). O’Malley might have survived longer on the Democrat side (with Sanders and HRC knocking each other out in Iowa for starters) but with their superdelegates etc IMO it would have been harder to predict who’d have got the nomination.

    One thing’s for sure – in an age of populists and a “collapsing centre”, most-least voting tends to ameliorate the tendency for nasty populists to take power. And it’s fairly trivial to show that with 3 candidates, you can get a very different result from AV, even though you might think that ranking three candidates and noting the “best” and “worst” must give you the same answer. Maths is fun.

    1. Odysseus

      … So anyone who promotes a necessary but unpopular policy never gets elected. That’s a recipe for great results.

    2. JBird4049

      So there’s an enormous boomlet in liberal Democrat circles about abolishing the Electoral College, which won’t happen any time soon, but does have the great merit of enabling liberals not to tallk about policy.

      Currently, any issues or grass roots organizations are usurped by the political establishment, slotted into the designated political party and then zombified into impotent irrelevancy. Also, everything is separated from everything else as looking at things together means looking at policies which means honest debate and long term thinking.

      Using the Electoral College is a good example. The Republic of the United States of America is a federation of states that are theoretically (semi) independent states, which is why they can, have, and do have their own military currently called the national guard, which if they wish to give up that sweet, sweet federal funding (hah!) could become independent again. Or even create a second parallel military completely separate from the regular military and the National Guard. It was only when the leadership of the Confederacy based their then (somewhat) acknowledged right to succeed on the “right” to own human beings and then lost the war that the right of succession died.

      I am being long winded and I am sure some will disagree with me on somethings, but consider this.

      Before the Civil War when referring to the United States the statement “these United States are united” was the accepted usage and after the war the statement “the United States is united” is the correct usage.

      The Electoral College was created for these United States of America in part so states (not provinces) like Maine, Delaware, New York and South Carolina could be separate states, and in some ways be separate countries doing what they want as separate countries, just as California, Colorado, Texas, Alabama, and Florida are now; for example, each state deciding who it wants for president not the whole citizenship of the whole nation. Is anyone really comfortable with a policy of forcing all fifty states plus assorted territories like Puerto Rico and about 325 million people into more of an “is” without a serious policy debate?

      If so great. If not, it’s just another kind of distraction like identity politics being used to have us not look at why Clinton lost the election to Trump (of all the people to lose to).

      1. el_tel

        Thanks, there’ve been some constructive comments here like yours. My comment was already long so I didn’t get to make the other point I really wanted to make: namely that reform of the EC may be necessary but it is certainly not sufficient. If you eliminate the “states’ rights” there, then you must re-introduce them somewhere else in government. Reformers are too often not looking at the bigger picture and instead seem suspiciously partisan.

        Electoral college reform would lead me to quote Chandler from Friends: “Can. Open. Worms. Everywhere.” IMHO the likely large boost to enfranchisement and turnout is worth it. But you’d have to make a big change elsewhere – likely the Senate – to protect States from becoming toxic waste dumping grounds (as mentioned elsewhere in this thread). Someone on another NC thread mentioned something I’d already thought about in the context of the UK: having larger regions in a second chamber whose responsibilities are explicitly tied to things like environmental stuff (like water rights, what happens when States go underwater in 100 years etc).

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      There is nothing wrong with the Electoral College. The problem is that all but two of the states award all of their votes to the winning candidate. In the other two (one of which is our humble host’s own Maine), they are apportioned based on the popular vote in each Congressional district, and the remaining two awarded to the overall winner. All that is needed is to extend that process to the remaining 48 states.

      The movement to eliminate the Electoral College was launched shortly after the beginning of the “Russia elected Trump” campaign. The rousing cry was “Hillary won the popular vote!”, with subsequent insistence that she’d have won were it not for an outdated method of electing presidents that was written by slave owners. Since many of those hearing this have no understanding of the real reason for the Electoral College, and that said reason is probably even more valid today than it was then, turning the election of the country’s chief official into a high-school popularity contest sounds eminently fair.

      What’s odd to me is that these same people were noticeably silent when the states skewed the vote counts to award the majority of their Superdelegates to Clinton even when the race was extremely close or even tied. No, the only time that sort of thing matters is when there’s a Trump to be overthrown.

      Don’t get me started on those who think the entire process at all levels should be turned into direct democracy, where every decision is concluded via an internet-based plebiscite. After all, it works in Estonia, right?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s a good point about winner take all in all but two states.

        The same problem exists with senators and represnetatives voting in both chambers.

        A congressperson of a particular party could win with, say, 55% of the votes. Yet, often, in congress, the vote (by that congress person) is along party time, almost every single time a vote is taken. And the other 45% who voted are not represented. That is, in a sense, winner take all, for most of congress persons and senators.

        1. Duck1

          Yeah prime, elide the whole campaign donation lobbiest thingy.
          Nice job on the last thread, by the way. Foot in keyboard award today.

      2. none

        The problem is that all but two of the states award all of their votes to the winning candidate….. All that is needed is to extend that process to the remaining 48 states.

        That’s a terrible idea if you do the math. It dilutes the votes of the highest population states even more than they are diluted now. Since the high-population states vote mostly Democratic and the low-population states vote Republican, splitting the EV in all the states would result in a Republican every time. (Remember that the EV itself puts disproportionate power into the small states).

        That’s also the motivation behind the various rich-guy proposals to split California into multiple states. Same idea, on a smaller scale.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          It dilutes the votes of the highest population states even more than they are diluted now.

          The point is diluting that vote. I live in a populous state, I’m golden. But if we remove the Electoral College and Senate, within four years North Dakota will be declared a toxic relief zone, we’ll dump all our externalities there, and wags will start calling it North Haiti. The Empire is shrinking, it will eat anything.

          1. richard

            The point is diluting that vote? What am I missing here? I think one person one vote is a terrific idea, and we ought to try it.
            I get what you’re saying about n. dakota and thinly populated states, but that isn’t an argument against democracy surely. Where do we dump our externalities now? Is the oligarchical dispensation fairer in some way?

          2. none

            I live in a populous state, I’m golden.

            The proposition at hand is to keep the EC but change the way the EV is allocated, so all the state EV’s are split up like Maine’s and Nebraska’s currently are. That gives a huge boost to Republicans, who already win presidential elections that they have no business winning. It’s much better to keep the EC/EV the way it is now than split it up everywhere. Going to an entirely PV system (dumping the EC) is a different ballgame altogether, with good and bad points that we know about.

          3. Prairie Bear

            I agree that there need to be safeguards against the dumping of those externalities against small states, but I don’t think the EC and the Senate setups will really do that. A lot of people were ready to dump nuclear waste on Nevada, in addition to the actual nuclear testing itself done earlier, until the Obama administration killed the Yucca Mountain Depository. Just one example of many.

      3. Prairie Bear

        Since many of those hearing this have no understanding of the real reason for the Electoral College …

        This will sound very stupid or like I’m being sarcastic, but I’m not. I actually wonder which reason you are referring to? I took high-school civics, and have read various other explanations, and I’m not seeing how the EC actually works to solve the problems that come up.

  10. pjay

    Well, that was easy. OMG Gravel is a “9/11 Truther”! That means that the “educated classes” or any non-deplorable must now ignore anything he says. Further, anyone who positively acknowledges Gravel’s comments is the equivalent of a “Truther” and also deserves to be ignored or ridiculed. So much for an actual critical voice entering the discussion. This label will now be attached to anything anywhere that mentions Gravel’s name.

    The Blob oozes on.

    1. ambrit

      The part of the 9/11 Truth agenda that I saw Gravel associated with is the Building Seven controversy. Ask any competent structural engineer about how that last of the World Trade Center buildings to collapse did in fact go down, which is all on video from several vantage points, and he or she will suggest that the process most resembles a controlled demolition.
      An actual unbiased investigation of how the World Trade Centre disaster occurred has not happened yet.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      If he were only playing to the truthers, yeah. But he’s been appealing to any freaks who understand that it’s all BS for years. Have you seen his fire video from 2008? God bless cranky old guys from when ‘we’re working on many levels here’ was a popular phrase.

  11. Kevin

    Regarding Young Apple Trees

    From Michigan: MSU is calling what they experienced in Michigan a “fire blight”.

    1. albrt

      My two young apple trees in Arizona went through something that looked like a mild case of fire blight last year. They look better now after heavy pruning, but we’ll see what happens when the weather heats up.

        1. Lee

          Thanks for your link and suggestion I try McKenzie exercise for sciatica. So far the effect has been nothing less than miraculous.

            1. pretzelattack

              i don’t know the names of the exercises, but a physiotherapist gave me a group of them to do that really helped; it hasn’t really come back since. i used to just curl onto the ground when the pain hit.

    2. Wukchumni

      I’ve always relied on gophers & deer to kill young apple trees, but i’m up for another challenger…

      My order of new arrivals from Raintree nursery was supposed to show up last last month, but they had 3-4 feet of snow in the Cascade foothills and it messed up delivery schedules so much, that i’m expecting 17 trees later this week. I’ve been changing out weed barrier fabric and fertilizing the old guard.

      My quickest growing apple tree is a Sierra Beauty, it must feel @ home.

  12. Malabarba

    Couples of things re: DSA endorsement of Sanders

    The primary sticking point in the endorsement was the backdoor way in which it was done. There’s a national DSA convention in August, and that’s where business that effects everyone is supposed to be discussed. As it stands, it’s not clear what this endorsement even means, and since the Iowa chapters have their own things going (tenants union, housing justice campaign), they worry national will expect them to work on Sanders’ behalf even if their own membership is opposed to the endorsement. This, then, feeds back into general animus about how national controls all the funds from dues, and chapters have to make due with local fundraisers for their own projects.

    And there is contention even among the chapters. Central Iowa came out publicly against endorsing at this time, whereas Iowa City (full disclosure, my old chapter) voted in favor. The other chapters have taken no public stand, but members of each came out in support of Central Iowa’s statement on Twitter.

    The sense that I’ve gotten, from my friends back at Iowa and at the most recent regional convention in NYS, is that people wanted to discuss what an endorsement would actually mean, so that the chapters in early primary states could voice concerns over the burden that would be placed upon them. This never happened, and once again it feeds into the idea that the NPC does whatever it feels like with little regard for chapters need or are doing on the ground.

    It’s classic union politics all over again. National orgs want one thing while locals often want something completely different.

    1. Rojo

      Well the national org reached their endorsement decision after an online vote of all members.

      What it really means is that the casual $10/month no-show members are into the endorsement and the core chapter activists were not.

      The thing is, as much as DSA has grown, I don’t think a national endorsement means much. Where DSA could really help the Sanders campaign is in local organizing. Which means that chapter-by-chapter endorsements would be as useful as a national endorsement and would’ve preserved the peace.

      1. Malabarba

        It could be no-shows, it could also be that the larger/older chapters are MUCH larger (hundreds as opposed to dozens) and way more into electoral politics. Most of the foot soldiers in AOC’s primary were DSA.

        Just going off what I heard from people who attended the regional convention, people in New York fully intend to parachute themselves into early primary states to “help” without any sense of whether that help will be wanted. And it’s a mixed bag. They’ll probably be warmly received by the peeps in Iowa City and Dubuque but get a frosty reception from members in Ames and Des Moines. I don’t know how Quad Cities would react.

        Chapters are still making their own endorsement decisions which, as you noted, seems to render the national endorsement meaningless.

        1. none

          The “orange hats” from the Howard Dean campaign in 2004 weren’t well received in Iowa and I don’t think anyone has tried that again since.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      I think the national felt it needed to address this issue now because the candidates are springing up like dragon’s teeth, and with the first debate coming this year instead of next when the primaries are actually underway felt a need for the organization as a whole to express support for at least one of those candidates as a way of staying in view.

      That’s why it was made clear the locals could make their own choice independent of the national. Anyone who’s been watching the repetition of the same media blackout that struck Bernie in ’16, and observed the ongoing efforts to undermine him as a candidate, including outright lies about his level of support, knows it’s going to be a vicious fight just to counter the attacks. For me, having the national say “This is who a lot of our members want us to support” has an important psychological effect.

      Are online polls not the best method of seeking consensus? Probably. On the other hand, while waiting for August would have been a more appropriate choice, the first debates happen in June of this year. I’m not sure stepping in that late afterwards with an endorsement would be as effective as doing it this way.

      And please, people, don’t snark about those low-end membership fees. At least DSA recognizes people who can only afford that much exist, which is more than can be said for a lot of other organizations.

      1. none

        In the org I used to be in (not DSA), you didn’t have to pay anything, but you could only vote after showing up to two meetings and doing some work at each.

      2. Malabarba

        I have no problem with people paying what little they can. The more the merrier.

        I do find it quizzical that so many people pay dues but don’t show up to do anything. In IC we had something like 100 paid dues members on the rolls but meetings/events rarely had more than 30 members show up. On occasion, we would actually have more non-dues paying people than otherwise. Again, not bad, but odd.

        My primary beef is with national, which sends only a small fraction of those dues back to chapters, leaving most of us to have to constantly fundraise. Every union I’ve ever been a part of, you pay your dues to the local and then a fraction of that gets paid to the national org. With DSA, it’s the other way around for some reason.

  13. JohnnyGL

    So the CNBC article on a possible donor-class strike on a Biden candidacy is interesting. It also helps illustrate the pickle the centrist/moderate/establishment wing is in.

    If they bury a Biden candidacy before it even gets off the ground, they might be handing Sanders a glide-path ride to the nomination.

    How is that possible, you ask? Aren’t they desperate to avoid a pro-establishment circular firing squad, much like the one that’s already beginning to emerge with the Beto vs. Harris camps? And, yes, that’s their way of thinking. It’s the way the left often thinks too, including a lot of commenters here at NC (I’d include myself in the mix).

    The problem is that it does NOT seem to be the way the dem primary electorate thinks. Most polls right now indicate that Biden supporters’ 2nd choice is…..wait for it….Sanders. In fact, Sanders potentially brings a large plurarity of Biden voters (30-40% potentially) on board if Biden doesn’t run.

    At that point, Sanders has a big lead in name recognition, well ahead of the rest of the pack. And if the polls keep consistently showing him with sizable double-digit leads, adoring crowds, strong fund-raising totals, he’s going to look awfully tough to beat.

    Dem voters have been primed to the idea that beating Trump is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ON EARTH, so there’s a good chance that primary voters throw their support behind Sanders since he’ll look like he’s got the best odds.

    I’m sure Harris and O’Rourke will raise tons of money and blow those tons on heavy ad buys (consultants win again!!!) but it would be a very uphill climb for either of them to knock off Sanders, at that point.

    My point: don’t underestimate the stupidity of the establishment!

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      My point: don’t underestimate the stupidity of the establishment!

      Its not just that. Gerrymandering is blamed for Democratic losses, but it also protects bad politicians. Instead of people who cut their teeth winning elections running the party, its just good ole boys who trade favors and their staffers. Pelosi hasn’t faced a general election challenge in decades if ever.

      I think its Neera Tanden who goes on ant-Susan Sarandon rants as if Sarandon cost HRC the election. From the good ole boy way of politics, its natural to think the lack of a united front did cost HRC the election. It has nothing to do with organization and so forth. Neera and friends are used to interacting with people who are part of the network, but they haven’t demonstrated success outside of being Clinton lackeys. Obama was a stronger candidate (mostly his start and organization) than Sanders, and Team Clinton lost.

      1. JohnnyGL

        “Gerrymandering is blamed for Democratic losses, but it also protects bad politicians. Instead of people who cut their teeth winning elections running the party, its just good ole boys who trade favors and their staffers. Pelosi hasn’t faced a general election challenge in decades if ever.”


        The flip side of giving Repubs a bunch of 55-45 wins, is that it leaves a small cluster of 70-30 districts going the other way. Primary challengers were already on strict rations, and are now going to be starved into submission. There’s so many untouchable incumbents in true blue districts in coastal citadels in states like NY, MD, MA, CA.

        I’ve been watching this phenomenon for a few years now in MA, and have started to realize how many big decisions are made behind closed doors, ahead of time, before anyone runs for anything. I’ve watched politics for years and really underestimated this sort of thing prior to, say, 2016.

    2. Another Scott

      I still think a lot of the Biden pushing is being done to avoid a critical look at the corporatist Democratic candidates, especially Harris. She has had a good amount of substantive criticism in articles such as the Herbalife one earlier this week. But they don’t seem to have picked up much traction. By focusing on Biden, when the stories come around again in the fall or winter, her supporters can start dismissing them as old news.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Harris is turning out to be a pretty poor campaigner. Her track record as DA and AG is problematic as it makes her look opportunistic.

        Also, she seems to have assumed that black voters would flock to her immediately and give her a solid base of support. Right now, black voters appear to be breaking the same way as the larger electorate, according to polls. This isn’t out of line with past campaigns. Black voters didn’t flock to Obama in decisive numbers until after he won Iowa. I think there’s a logic to that, they want to make sure that a candidate is ‘electable’, like most Dem primary voters, before they back that candidate.

        538 posited that it might be problematic for Beto to win black voters as well as for Harris to win conservative white dems. They might be onto something.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The key to Harris AG victory was the collapse of the front runner, not her chipping away and winning. Then her jump to the Senate came in 2016 when she ran against a Blue Dog. Why should a Senator from California be an obvious 3rd Way Cultist? Newsome chose to not jump in the race, and he’s Governor now and probably has an easy chance to slide into DiFi’s seat when she leaves the planet or drowns from rising seas while yelling at children.

    3. Rojo

      Yeah, I never bought the argument that the Establishmentarians were trying to “flood the field” to knock out Sanders.

      Firstly, that’s a little too simple and conspiracy minded. When Hickenloopers and Klobuchars hop into a race you can more safely put that down to individual ego and ambition than some grand plan.

      Secondly, the idea that the crowded field helped Trump in the 2016 primary is conventional wisdom, and also happens to have merit. Yes, Trump continued to win big, even bigger, as the field winnowed. But that’s likely because front-runners pick up steam in later states due entirely to their front-runner status. His early victories were in large part due to a dozen clowns splitting the establishment clown vote.

      However, I think your right about Sanders picking up Biden votes. I don’t think those Biden supporters who show up in the polls are the same Daily Kos/Establishment types who show up on Twitter. Those people don’t like Biden much better than Sanders.

      1. notabanker

        Democrats don’t have winner take all primaries and Republicans do not have super delegates. You cannot compare Trumps win to a Democratic strategy.

        You can debate their intent or strategy but the math is crystal clear. Sanders needs 50%+ majority of delegates on the first vote to prevent superdelegates from voting. If you believe those superD’s are going to support Sanders than it is ignoring the cold hard facts of 2016.

        Once that first vote is taken and there is no majority, the supers join in. It is all about consensus building until there is a clear nominee. To think that centrist coalitions will not be built based on the delegates they choose seems quite naive to me.

      2. John k

        Large number of centrists has to help Bernie. And early success will snowball unless somebody like smiling joe can keep pace. IMO he has to get big money early because he will spend it fast, just like jeb, on ads and especially consultants, as Clinton did. Obama and sanders had has .org, seems critical in the modern era.
        Joes a two time loser.

      3. Elizabeth Burton

        When CNN, which has been publishing the polls being referenced that show Biden leading, released the last one with the headline that Bernie’s popularity was “slipping,” enterprising Berniecrats did some digging.

        Those polls are done solely using landlines. Which means all of the results are skewed to responders 50+. The last one literally had no respondents in the 18-24 age group. It’s been known since forever that Bernie tends to poll low in the 50+ age group because we’re the ones who had the message “socialism is evil” imprinted in our bones. Some of us recovered. Others became Reagan Democrats.

        All of which is to say I wouldn’t put a lot of weight into those polling numbers. As you’ve noted, people will hold back to see who’s the front-runner. Propagate a campaign to imprint them with the idea Bernie’s losing the popularity he’s enjoyed since ’16 and the people whose only source of information is the MSM will begin to doubt his ability to win. I saw a poll today that put him only 2% ahead of Trump in a head-to-head. Even allowing for departure of the disaffected who “lost all respect for him” because he made good on his promise to work for Clinton, it’s a bit hard to buy that the man who led by double digits three years ago is now only ahead by 2 percentage points.

        1. notabanker

          The Monmouth polls are misleading as well. They list Democratic Primary voters, which in Ohio in 2016 was 1.2 million of the 8.8 million registered voters. A 20% turnout of independent voters to the Dem primary would double the voting base.

          In Michigan, Sanders won the primary with 600K votes. Trump won the Repub primary with 38% of the Republican vote, or circa 500K votes. BTW, Trump lost the Republican primary in Ohio but won the GE. To think Biden is going to well in the rustbelt is delusional.

      1. Craig H.

        I like sausages and tomatoes and I love peas.

        That plate does not look presentable to me. Is that supposed to be something like Betty Crocker or Good Housekeeping?

        Here is my hypothetical thought experiment I like to try out on foodies or gourmands or whatever the current slang for those folks is: go to the most expensive restaurant in the city. Get one of everything on the menu. Get a gigantic blender. Throw everything in there. Blend at high speed for two minutes. How do you think that is going to taste?

        Maybe you should toss in just a touch more garlic. :)

    1. Wukchumni

      That 70’s sausage platter would’ve been the cat’s meow, compared to breaded and baked cow brain cuisine I consumed circa 1972.

  14. Earl Erland

    I received an Email today from “TrainDemocrats.Org”, the email address for the National Democratic Training Committee. Here are portions:

    Friends — We’re still reeling from the 2016 Presidential Election.

    Even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost three MILLION votes — Donald Trump won because of Russian interference.

    We don’t think that’s fair. What if Hillary had another shot?

    That’s why we’re reaching out to our strongest Democratic supporters to get their opinion. You’ve been chosen to represent your area! Take our poll immediately:

    Should Hillary Clinton run for President in 2020?

    YES >> NO >>
    Look, we need a strong progressive candidate to take on Trump in 2020.

    And we think Hillary Clinton could be the one!

    This is beyond deranged.

    1. NotReallyHere

      I hope you answered yes to that! The collective groan would like set off car alarms across America.

    2. jhallc

      Meet the Team | National Democratic Training Committee
      Mar 4, 2019 – Kelly Dietrich. Founder. Kelly spent eighteen years in Democratic politics working campaigns all across the country at every level of .

      “In June of 2016, its first year in existence, the site had fewer than 10 courses online. As of September 2016, there were just a few dozen users.

      That changed when the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign linked to the NDTC as a campaign resource. The move caused a spike in signups which continued on through the 2018 midterms. Dietrich says that last year the NDTC raised $4.7 million and hit 24,000 registrations.

      Grifters gotta grift.

    3. Summer

      Everybody that gets that should vote “yes.”

      They expect the voters to be straightforward with them while they lie all the time.

    4. ambrit

      This is more than just a trial balloon. This is a trial zeppelin!
      Hillary-Michelle 20/20!
      “Because America Needs Two Mommies!”

      1. notabanker

        Hindenburg please. It pains me to see Zeppelin preceding Hillary. It was bad enough she ruined Fleetwood Mac.

        1. ambrit

          I empathize and grovel in apology.
          I prefer the pre-Buckingham-Nicks Fleetwood Mac.
          As for the Zeppelin meme, well, you have a point. Hillary will have to cut the power chord sometime. (This might end up like Bohr’s rendering of the ‘Advance of Science.’ [This is as specific as my Pink Bunny Slippers prompts me to be.])
          “Calling Fresno Dan. If you cannot reply on the physical plane, please do pay a visit during Dreamtime.”

        2. polecat

          I hear what you’re sayin, but F Mac was far less credible after Peter Green’s departure .. from then on, it was all just junk pop ! .. quite suitable for the likes of the clintons and their associated scum and villainy.

          Oh Well ….

        1. ambrit

          Ouch! Not to mention the curious case of the “Gender Confused First Partner” as regaled by numerous alt-right acquaintances of yours truly. (That is one of the more outrageously “funny” conspiracy theories I’ve encountered.)
          I’ve always wondered about ‘Kharis’ Abedin’s connections to the Valley of the Kings. She was obviously the ‘High Priestess’ to Princess Hilananka.

    5. Mo's Bike Shop

      My one DNC snail mail in 2016 was Trump!Trump!Trump! and the only mention of Hillary’s name was in the ‘Paid for by the Campaign to Elect’ statement.

      Fascinating view of sunk costs behavior. They are systemically stuck with the decision at some meeting back in 2015 that no one would ever vote for Trump.

      There’s probably plenty of time for a ‘Pox on Both Your Houses’ campaign for 2020.

    6. drumlin woodchuckles

      I used to get that group’s emails. It looked to me like their “message” was just a trick to get you to stay and read long enough to fill things out to give them even more information than your email, and also to ask you for money.

      After deleting enough times, I didn’t get them any more.

  15. Summer

    Re: The American Dream Quantified

    The study should have picked age 45 instead of 30 or 36 for comparison.
    Or should do the same with a higher age reference.

    1. Summer

      And for the “American Dream” quantified, it would be more interesting to take note of how well incomes were sustained over time and how often jobs were changed. This would be snapshots at 30, 40, & 50.

  16. VietnamVet

    The WP has a Pew Poll that elicits the reaction; “How can the American people be so negative when the economy is so great? What will happen with the next recession?” 2020 is that last stand for DNCC and corporate Democrats. They must keep things the same or lose their gravy train. Donald Trump, the Boeing 737 Max crashes and Brexit document that the promise of a better future is dead. Western governance is corrupt and incompetent. Environmental degradation, tax cuts and deregulation solely enrich a few Billionaires at the expense of everyone else. No wonder modernity is dead. The latest report on the unbelievable negligence of Boeing is that they disengaged the “yoke jerk” function in the 737 Max that turned off trim control without telling anyone. The pilots and passengers on the two flights had no chance. They didn’t have the information they needed to survive.

    Corporate plutocracy kills. Unless doing business includes the costs of the death and destruction it causes, pessimism about the future is warranted.

    1. jrs

      because the economy isn’t so great? Sometimes the answers are right in the question. I’ll stick to the same category of “self-evident” for $1000 Alex.

      1. Summer

        Even if it was “great”….anybody paying attention would know that is a temporary condition in a sadists’ society.

  17. Jerry B

    =====The American Dream, Quantified at Last/The Chance of Making More Money than Your Parents===

    First of all I have not dived in and read the research in the article as it takes some time so my thoughts are just from reading the summaries.

    Let’s see, where to start. It seems the article and the research it refers to focus on the idea of “progress”, “growth”, and upward mobility. Why does that have to be so? I understand in terms of poverty that upward mobility is a great thing i.e. lifting more people out of poverty.

    But why is it important that my children need to make more money than I do? And if that is soo important then what does that say about US society??? What about bringing the upper ends of the upward mobility bell curve back closer to the mean?

    Also over time the income quartiles seemed to have moved according to the links below. In other words if I was making $40,000/year in income in 1970 according to the links below I would be solidly a middle income person. Today that same $40,000 would put me in the second quintile, a step below the middle or one step above the bottom depending on your point of view.



    Also does the research in the article mention countries outside the US? By most accounts a person in the low income brackets in the US would be considered middle class or rich in many other countries.

    Lastly as Yves, others, and myself have mentioned, going forward in order to deal with climate change, resource scarcity, etc. we as society will have to exhibit radical conservatism in our way of living. So 20 -50 years from now will the author Raj Chetty conduct the same research showing a lack of upward mobility when we are all living as luddite farmers??

    Again I think the authors of the study in the article have their “hearts” in the right place. They are trying to show the extent of income inequality in the US and the extent of poverty in the US and how hard it is to leave poverty and move into the middle class compared to decades ago.

    My point is the needle has moved in the US and also the “middle income” is not the same when you compare the US to the rest of the world. Poverty to someone in the US may be entirely different than someone in a third world.

    Also the purchasing power of a dollar is much less today than it was decades ago. In the 1960’s my father had a small meat delivery business and my mother was a beautician in a salon. They were able to carve out a nice middle class life for us in the northwest side of Chicago. Today I do not think that with the same jobs my parents would have been able to afford a “middle class” life in Chicago. The salaries of those jobs would not go nearly as far today as they did in the 1960’s especially in an expensive city that Chicago has become.

    Lastly upward mobility has become harder due to governmental policies (or lack thereof) and the choices and behavior of businesses, corporate America, the oligarchs, etc. that move/change the “out of poverty” goal line or make it harder to cross that line.

  18. Cal2

    Re Apple orchards

    1200 trees to an acre? Not only root competition for nutrients, but probable compaction from either machinery or workers boots compacting soil.

    Those espaliered trees on the wire fence, has anyone ever measured the current that metal fences like that would produce and transmit to the young trees?

    “Rosenberger has noticed that decline appears to be more common in orchards with fewer weeds, leading him to suspect herbicides play a role…”
    No shit Sherlock.

    Glyphosate binds (chelates) vital nutrients such as iron, manganese, zinc, and boron in the soil, preventing plants from taking them up and the plant quickly succumbs to disease(s).

    How about in the the human gut? Cheerio!

    Roots are as important as the trees. They are “smart”. The founder or Rhode Island, Roger Smith was buried next to a huge ancient apple tree that people ate off for decades. When his coffin was moved,it was discovered that the tree roots had grown along his leg bones in search of calcium. People were literally eating their state’s founder.

    1. JBird4049

      Neoliberal farming techniques? From my admittedly old memory at even 250 an acre the orchard is not all that open. I am guessing that they are bombarded with fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides while being difficult to properly water. Treated long lived trees like short term tomatoes is moronic.

    2. Synoia

      Finally. a good use for politicia

      But, moden buriral methods is the US are very unfriendly to politician recycling.

    3. ambrit

      That’s 1200 trees per ‘hectare,’ which measure of area equals two and a half ‘acres.’ So, that works out to 480 trees per acre. Still too dense for optimal growth and health.

    4. Wukchumni

      I’ve noticed greedy behavior in new orchards here of all kinds of fruit & nuts, with trees placed way too close together, compared to established 20+ year old orchards, but greed is good, right?

      Nothing here is in a row, but they tend to hang out 20 feet away from one another wondering, why am I here, and why did this ‘tree killer’ (not all of them, but last year’s attrition rate was no bueno) plant so many different varieties of us in the Malus Palace?

    5. petal

      What is being put in are dwarf trees(mature at 8-10′ at the highest) so they can be packed in tight. Ladders are no longer really necessary to harvest(and thus a lot faster to harvest), easier to prune due to being short, more efficient spray dope application(whole tree gets it due to lower height). This produces more apples per area than the old “normal trees”. For the greedy farmers it’s a win-win. The bigger trees were ripped out when I was a kid(in the 80s). Acres and acres torn out. It was so sad.

    1. RWood

      “The document also elaborates further on the First Amendment basis for Manning’s refusal to answer questions before the grand jury. Manning’s lawyers write, “First, there is a likelihood that this grand jury to be used expressly to disrupt the integrity of the journalistic process by exposing journalists to a kind of accessorial liability for leaks attributable to independently-acting journalistic sources. This administration has been quite publicly hostile to the press, and there is reason to believe that this grand jury may function to interfere profoundly with the operation of a free press.”
      In other words, the Trump administration intends to make examples of both Manning and Assange and threaten any future journalists who report the truth about the crimes of American imperialism and its criminal military and intelligence operations around the world.

      Finally, and most significantly, Manning’s motion to quash the grand jury subpoena exposes the fact that she has been subjected to massive unlawful electronic surveillance in violation of her First Amendment rights.
      The legal team writes, “There can be little doubt that local police, federal agencies, and possibly the military have been involved in surveilling and communicating about Ms. Manning, people with whom she is lawfully associated, and the entirely lawful activities in which they engage. Likewise, there is reason to believe that non-state actors may have enabled the state to circumvent legal constraints on electronic surveillance, by surveilling Ms. Manning, and then conveying their intelligence to state actors.”

      1. RWood

        “The internet, our greatest tool of emancipation,” Assange writes, “has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen.”

        That is where we are headed. A few resist. Assange and Manning are two. Those who stand by passively as they are persecuted will be next.

        Chelsea Manning and the New Inquisition
        By Chris Hedges

        1. Carey

          I agree. We have been generously given the tools with which to enslave ourselves. “Bring milk and honey, Alexa.”


  19. ambrit

    That chart “showing” the shifts in ‘acceptance’ of immigration has only Democrat and Republican Party affiliations shown. No mention of ‘Independent’ affiliation trends. This is questionable to me because the Independent cohort is the largest single group out of all, and people who voice party affiliations tend to have a stronger sense of identification with a discrete ideology. Thus, the chart represents the views of a small, focused segment of the general population.
    I want to see what a poll of the general population shows.
    If the poll was to try to figure out what the part of the population most likely to vote wanted, even then, some better filtering mechanism than strict Party affiliation should be possible.

  20. Saint-Elsewhere

    Ok, I like what you have to say and it all seems to come from a good place. I’d ask you to consider this though, that people just are determined to act in a manner, for whatever reason contrary to their own best interest. If that is the case which I do believe it is, is it not best, to allow, argument like yours to proceed and then abide by whatever people decide in their localities? Someone once said, clearly not Lincoln, that politics was always about adopting the second choice.

  21. barrisj

    Mueller Report handed to AG Carr…

    Mueller sends report on Trump investigation to AG Barr
    The transmission of the document ends a lengthy probe into the president and Russian interference in the campaign.


    I predict that there will be many long faces on those lib/prog websites that have pushed mightily the “ Russia-collusion” narrative…well, they now can hope that Schiff, Nadler, et al can float up something “linking” Trump to Putin…aaaargh.

    1. barrisj

      Typo…AG Barr…but an “unindicted co-conspirator” call-out re: obstruction of justice may certainly be in the report.

      1. Carey

        Good to see our Dems on the back foot, at least by appearances.
        I wonder how much is *not* theater.

  22. ewmayer

    “Something is rapidly killing young apples trees in North American orchards. Scientists are stumped | Science” — Ha ha, ‘stumped’. The Science headline writers are punmeisters – who knew?

    1. wilroncanada

      My daughter sometimes uses puns in her headlines, as do some of the reporters she works with. At times I chide her with headline puns she has missed.

      1. ewmayer

        How does that joke go? Ah yes: “Didja hear about those new corduroy pillowcases? They’re making headlines!” [I’ll be here all week, make sure to generously tip the waitstaff, etc]

  23. John Beech

    Lambert, honestly, I could have done without the link to the Jello foods of yesteryear – yuk!

    1. Duck1

      But imagine the food mavins were making 200 Benjamins a year, a suburban house cost 200 benjamins, health care and military were not strangling the economy, college for the kids at UC was virtually free, gas 27 cents gallon, maybe we require more collagen?

      1. JBird4049

        As much as I whine about the worsening in the economy of between then and now, the food from back then is so not one of them. I mean hearing “Hey how about a spam and jello casserole. It has pineapple in it!” was a real possibility. Barf.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I remember a couple of times in my childhood that our father fried slices of spam and fried pineapple rings and put a ring on each slice with a candied red cherry in the center of each ring.
          I remember liking it at the time.

          Maybe I’ll make it myself someday just for the nostalgia.

          1. ambrit

            We still use a variety of Spam to season ‘Beans and Rice’ with whenever real ham is budgetarily proscribed.
            “Cheap” cuts of meat, like ham hocks or soup bones are now a thing of the past. Everything food related has been ‘rent extraction maximized’ in terms of retail cost.

  24. Lee

    Mueller Report

    Godot has arrived and be careful what you wish for. Jonathan Turley on BBC America News, to paraphrase: Democrats may be disappointed in the about to be released report if there is no evidence of Russia/Trump collusion or, if there is such evidence, they may be forced to impeach, which would deliver us unto a Pence administration that would galvanize the Republican base. Better to face a wounded Trump than a tan, fit, and rested Pence.

      1. barrisj

        Actually, that was the press’s description of Dick Nixon, after he recovered from the disastrous 1962 CA governor’s race v Pat Brown, and then later made himself available for the 1968 Repub presidential nomination. And we know how that ended.

    1. chuck roast

      They could spin it or scrub it even.

      I have been looking on the internet for the original January 2017 (17 agency) report on Russian meddling in the election. That original report contained the estimation by 14 agencies that they did not have a “high confidence” level that the Russians meddled. It seems to have gone down the memory hole.

      The original report, which had 16 pages, appears to have been expunged from the internet. All I can find is a subsequent report issued by the NASA, FBI and CIA which says the three have “high confidence” that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

      The three agency report has all the same nonsense about Russian propaganda and RT bloviation as the 17 agency report, but of course comes to a far different conclusion. I used to tell my Russia Hysteria friends to go read it because it was such a crock.

      Somebody please post a link to the original report.

        1. pjay

          I don’t recall an earlier report as described by chuck roast. I remember this one, the ‘Grizzly Steppe’ report, because it was ridiculed by a number of critics, in part for its opening disclaimer:

          “DISCLAIMER: This report is provided “as is” for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within…”

          This would be a preview of the quality of “evidence” we would be presented from that point on.

          1. pjay

            I don’t recall an earlier report as you describe here. I remember the one linked by EB, the ‘Grizzly Steppe’ report, because it was ridiculed by a number of critics, in part for its opening disclaimer:

            “DISCLAIMER: This report is provided “as is” for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within…”

            This would be a preview of the quality of “evidence” we would be presented from that point on.

            (For some reason my earlier response was apparently blocked. Not sure why.)

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Gentlemen prefer blondes , and Democrats prefer Pence.

      Pence was a Senator and a Governor. Pence is part of the Big Club. The Democrats would be perfectly fine with a President Pence.

      1. JBird4049

        Vice President Mike Pence? The reactionary “conservative” Republican who is the one that keeps me hoping that President Trump serves out his full term(s))? How nice.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Yes, that Pence. He’s a member of the same Big Club that the DemSenators and DemReps are. He’s one of them, even if they disagree sometimes on certain things and stuff. They’d rather see Pence be President than see Trump stay President.

  25. Plenue

    > Presumably there’s a constituency for this…

    Oh, there definitely is. There are plenty of people who think circumcision is at best pointless, at worse downright barbaric. It’s not as bad as FGM, but you’re still cutting off what will ultimately amount to several square inches of highly sensitive erotic tissue for no good reason.

  26. anon in so cal

    “Yard men and maids”

    Nails it, IMHO.

    Our solidly Democratic neighborhood is in the solid blue portion of California.

    Many, if not most, neighbors have a seemingly permanent household staff that includes dog-walkers, gardeners, cooks, childcare, housecleaning, and general maintenance. Anecdotal, but probably widespread.

    These tasks don’t include major construction, house painting, masonry, etc.

    These services appear to be performed by (fairly recent) immigrants. Could people afford these services otherwise?

      1. polecat

        If they can pay gross benjamins to push little Muffy and Conner beyond the college admissions choke-point, then they can certainly afford the ‘help’ …

  27. notabanker

    “This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities,” said Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center, in a press release. That represents about 60 percent of all Americans.

    Baked Alaska

  28. a different chris

    OMG they let they guy who shot Anton Rose off scott-free. Not even a wrist slap. If I was black I would be trying to burn this country down now. I say “OMG” but don’t take that as me being surprised, at all.

    However, I’m not black so I can look it over a bit – and you know, it isn’t really Rosfeld that is the problem. This is like your roommate getting a “pit bull”* and it kills your cat. It’s not the dog’s fault, it’s the roommates’. But this ties into the overall lack-of-accountability of our “betters” that we now see in every aspect of life.

    And in this case, death.

    *they ain’t all like that, thus the quotes… hell the ones blamed often aren’t even really pit bulls…

  29. Carey

    I think the Chait piece on Biden-Abrams long-windedly explains why the Dems continue to be capital-L Losers.

    They seem to be fine with that.

    “did the check clear?”

  30. blowncue

    The first play I ever saw was Steppenwolf Theater’s Balm In Gilead by Lanford Wilson at the in NYC. I believe John Malkovich directed. Early 1980s.

    Basically, boy meets girl, boy decides to push heroin for Chuckles – big bad neighborhood drug dealer – boy changes his mind, Chuckles has him killed with a syringe filled with enough heroin to take down an elephant. Girl is sad.

    That’s the play.

    At first blush, there’s Joe (boy), Darlene (girl), Dopey (as in heroin, not as in stupid – narrator), and about a dozen-and-a-half other characters, who also serve as a Greek chorus, of sorts. Really there are four characters: boy, girl, chorus, and Chuckles, who we never see. Joe spends most of Act 2 sitting on a pile of heroin he is supposed to be selling, only to tell Chuckles’ emissary that he is out. Said emissary proceeds to stab him with a needle full of smack, and the moment loops repeatedly to Bruce Springsteen’s “Jungleland.”

    The play starts off with those dozen plus characters hanging out in a diner in the Village, all in a line from stage right to stage left. Suddenly my late father points out what was the very first time I saw a same-sex relationship unfolding. Such a thing was inconceivable to me – never knew one was possible. Absolutely no media representation to a boy growing up in suburban New Jersey. Two African-American women kissing – passionately. Then one taking the other by her afro and banging her head upon the table. My father is laughing. I was gobsmacked.

    It occurs to me that UK parliament is Joe, and the EU is Chuckles. And everyone here is, well, the chorus.

    Although in the play, Dopey implies to the younger, inexperienced Fick that Joe needed to let Chuckles know. Joe didn’t – (weak) – and

    FICK: And now?
    DOPEY: Now? Now he’s gonna kill him.
    FICK: We ain’t seen this before, have we?
    DOPEY: [thinks – shakes his head]

    Macron certainly would make a good emissary, and had a needle at the ready. But Merkel threw things off – no Jungleland, as of yet.

  31. nechaev

    Maybe this one has already been linked to – if so, apologies. A compelling read.

    H. Bruce Franklin on Trump vs McCain & the MIA Myth


    When Trump says, “”I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad,” he is sending a message, very lightly coded, to this movement. These are the “second amendment people” he threatened to unleash during the 2016 presidential debates. When he picks a fight with McCain’s ghost, he revels in the responses from the corporate press and the political establishment because these responses are proof that they don’t know the code language that Trump shares with his most devoted followers.

    Remember when the election of 2016 was going to be a showdown between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton? Well of course Donald Trump deftly disposed of the Bushes and Clintons. Now he evidently thinks that the ghost of John McCain is interfering with his consolidation of power. Why? To answer that question, we need to understand why the black and white POW/MIA flags still fly all over America.

  32. Sordo

    It may be construed as botanically particular but a squirrel inheriting a cache of cones would be receiving a “seedy” inheritance, not a “nutty” one.

  33. Basil Pesto

    Presumably there’s a constituency for this…

    The woke and, more seriously, the vehemently irreligious. C Hitchens was big on the silliness (and, in his view, barbarity) of male circumcision. All terribly hard to disagree with, but having said that I’m both irreligious and circumcised and I honestly just do not care.

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