2:00PM Water Cooler 3/28/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

More politics in a bit; I got wrapped round the axle reading up on the Boeing story. It’s still developing! –lambert UPDATE Done!


“Why the US–China trade war spells disaster for the Amazon” [Nature (Allan)]. “We forecast that a surge of tropical deforestation could occur as a result of the fresh demand being placed on China’s other major suppliers to provide up to 37.6 million tonnes of the [soya beans] (that is how much China imported from the United States in 2016). Already, two decades of growth in the global market for soya has led to large-scale deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.”


“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


Harris: “The Human Costs Of Kamala Harris’ War On Truancy” [HuffPo]. “[Cheree] Peoples had been arrested for her daughter [Shayla’s] spotty school attendance record under a truancy law that then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris had personally championed in the state legislature…. [Peoples] has a soft manner and voice and has dedicated most of her adult life to caring for Shayla — who has lived with sickle cell anemia, a serious genetic illness that causes her acute pain and requires frequent hospitalization and medical procedures, since birth. Shayla frequently missed school because she was in too much pain to leave the house or was hospitalized for long-term care. Her school was aware of these circumstances; it had records on file from the regional children’s hospital explaining that Shayla’s condition would necessitate unpredictable absences and special educational accommodations.” • Watch out for those pot-smoking joy seeker DAs. They turn on you.

O’Rourke (1): “Beto O’Rourke Hires Former Obama Aide as Campaign Manager” [New York Times]. “Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, a data expert who was Mr. Obama’s deputy campaign manager in 2012, said in an interview Monday that she was going to work for the 46-year-old former Texas congressman because he represents ‘a new generation of leadership I think we need.’… Ms. O’Malley Dillon, who had been working on a voter data project for the Democratic National Committee… said she had not planned to get involved this early in the 2020 race but said she was moved by Mr. O’Rourke’s message.” • ThisDNC voter project….

O’Rourke (2): “The Politics of Beto and Amy O’Rourke’s Marriage” [WaPo]. “And then there were the pranks: the remote-controlled cockroach in the kitchen, the “Psycho”-style scares in the shower. One time, according to a friend, Beto collected an especially verdant turd from one of their kids’ diapers and put it in a bowl, telling Amy it was avocado. (Neither would confirm this, though Beto did allow it sounded like something he’d do.)” • Playful! Reminds me of Bush the Younger, who exploded frogs with firecrackers.

Sanders: “The Liberal Case Against Bernie” [Eric Alterman, The Nation]. “A Sanders nomination would, I fear, deliver the country to Trump. It would depress turnout among all the groups I mentioned; increase support for the likely spoiler in the race, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz; and keep a significant number of swing voters in Trump’s column. Additionally, some of the moms and grandmas who make up the backbone of the #Resistance told researcher Theda Skocpol that, owing to Sanders’s harsh treatment of Clinton in the 2016 election, they might sit out 2020 if he’s the nominee.” • Lol. I knew all that #Resistance talk about “unity” was bullshit.

Trump: “Trump’s Approval Rating Is Incredibly Steady. Is That Weird Or The New Normal?” [FiveThirtyEight]. “Trump’s approval rating has the least variation of any post-World War II president. Granted, Trump hasn’t yet served a full term, but changes in his approval rating have been remarkably small…. It could have everything to do with personality. Lara Brown, the director of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University, said that the small movement we see in Trump and Obama’s approval ratings ‘may be the ultimate expression of the personalization of the presidency.’ That is, loyalty to the president rather than loyalty to the party could be driving the intensely polarized views of the latest presidents.” • “And Obama.” Another way of saying “personalization of the presidency” is “authoritarian followership.” And as we’ve seen with RussiaGate, that’s not confined to conservatives.

Yang: “The Trailer: 2020 has its candidate for people who hate politicians” [WaPo]. “The campaign is not lackadaisical. Yang has staff in early states, takes meetings with local Democratic leaders and gets a seat at the table at Democratic events….’When people start talking about the happy talk about record GDP, well, what good is record GDP?’ he asked. ‘People are literally dying younger and dying of despair in many cases. They talk about the unemployment rate being at a record low, or they say it’s near record lows. But what that masks is that the labor force participation rate is at 63.2 percent in the United States right now, which is the same levels as Ecuador and Costa Rica.'”

“NBC News poll: Americans split on who will win in 2020” [NBC]. “According to the poll, most Americans believe that it will not matter to the candidate’s chances if the Democratic nominee is a woman (65 percent) or is nonwhite (69 percent). This feeling is shared uniformly across partisans and independents. Only about a quarter of Democrats (22 percent) believe that nominating a woman for president will help their party’s chances of winning. A similar percentage of Democrats (21 percent) believe that nominating a nonwhite candidate will help them take back the White House in 2020.” • Obviously, it’s important to double down on identity politics. Voters just don’t get it.

“Republicans May Find They Have Become The Boy Who Cried ‘Socialism'” [HuffPo]. “‘This socialism fearmongering smells like desperation,’ said Jared Bernstein, once the top economist for former Vice President Joe Biden. ‘Does it work anymore? I don’t think so.'” • They called Obama a socialist…..

“Twitter Isn’t Anything Like Meat Space: The Democratic Primary Twitter” [Mike the Mad Biologist]. “[I]f left-ish Twitter were to be believed, Sanders and Biden shouldn’t be getting any black support, whereas the reality is that black voters are supporting them at the same rate as everyone else. Mind you, just because an opinion is on Twitter doesn’t mean its bad–I remember in the run-up to the Iraq War being in the minority, and I don’t think we were wrong. Still, when someone claims to speak for a group of people, it should probably be taken with a grain, if not a boulder of salt. ….Twitter is great for finding diverse voices; it’s usually not representative at all of the actual popularity of those voices.” • Very true.


“Judicial Watch Sues for Records of Communication Between James Clapper, John Brennan and CNN” [Judicial Watch], “Judicial Watch announced today it has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) seeking records of communications between former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and CNN around the time the Clinton-Democrat National Committee Trump dossier was being pitched to key media outlets… Judicial Watch is also seeking records of communications between Clapper and Obama CIA Director John Brennan regarding the dossier , which was authored by former British spy and FBI payee Christopher Steele.” • Payback begins. And speaking of payback–

I don’t think laundering oppo into FISA warrants is a good idea, so I would like to know how it happened, and who signed off on it.



Our Famously Free Press

“Why Losing Our Newspapers Is Breaking Our Politics” [Scientific American]. “We then measured the percentage of votes cast for the Democratic and Republican candidates for president and Senate in every American county, allowing us to compare the level of split-ticketing in newspaper closure counties to the level in areas that had not experienced a closure. We used a procedure called genetic matching to construct a set of 77 comparison counties. These counties were statistically indistinguishable from the counties that did experience a newspaper closure on a host of important variables: population, income, education, broadband penetration, racial demographics, and more. Counties with a closure split their tickets about 1.9 percent less than the comparison group. This difference is more than enough to swing an election outcome: in 2018, the U.S. House races in Minnesota’s 1st district, Utah’s 4th district and Illinois’s 13th district were all decided by less than that margin.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

AZ: “A paint-by-number portrait of Arizona’s nebulous independent voter” [The Sentinel (Arizona Slim)]. “[I]ndependents often vote sporadically, showing up at the polls in smaller percentages than voters in the two major parties to perhaps largely vote Democratic one election, and a different gaggle of independent voters perhaps largely voting Republican in the next election. And, so it goes. The only candidates for whom independent voters aren’t voting? Fellow independents, but that’s not necessarily by choice. Election laws written by the two major parties take various formats around the nation, with Arizona largely keeping independents off the ballot due to prohibitively high numbers of petition signatures required for ballot access (independents must secure versus Rs and Ds)…. [T]he prevailing statement captured in focus groups for the Morrison Institute study on independent voters still resonates today: ‘We’re not a party. We’re a mindset.’ There are still some researchers who believe there really is no such thing as ‘independent voters.’ But independents are beginning to claim space in the mind of many numbers-savvy campaigns of Democrats and Republicans alike in Arizona.””

AZ: “Dems see Arizona desert blooming blue” [The Hill]. “Both Democrats and Republicans have added new voters at about the same rate in recent decades. Republicans held a voter registration edge of about 111,000 people in 2000, when about 2.1 million people were registered to vote. Today, among Arizona’s 3.8 million voters, the GOP has a 140,000-voter advantage. But the number of voters who do not align with a party has skyrocketed, from just 382,000 in 2000 to 1.2 million today. While independents once skewed toward Republicans, in 2018 those voters broke toward Sinema by 3 percentage points.” • Sinema who just voted against the Green New Deal…

“Shining a light on presidential libraries — the unrenowned pay-to-play scandal” [Open Secrets]. “As they’ve grown in size — and cost — oversight measures haven’t kept up, making presidential libraries one of the best avenues for wealthy donors to stealthily gain influence with a sitting president…. Though the Obama Foundation lists its donors — sixty-eight donors have given more than $1 million according to its website — numbers are given in ranges, actual amounts are unknown and no information is given about each donor. Additionally, the foundation has accepted several large contributions from donor advised funds such as Fidelity Charitable, obscuring the true source of the contribution.” • I’m shocked.

“What Americans Think About Reparations And Other Race-Related Questions”” [FiveThirtyEight]. “Reparations: A July 2018 survey from the left-leaning Data for Progress found that 26 percent of Americans supported some kind of compensation or cash benefits for the descendants of slaves. A May 2016 Marist survey also found that 26 percent of Americans said the U.S. should pay reparations as “a way to make up for the harm caused by slavery and other forms of racial discrimination.'”

“Reparations: Democrats renew debate over how to heal the legacy of slavery” [Guardian]. “As the field of candidates continues to expand, at least four in the current crop have signaled some degree of support for reparations. It marks a significant contrast to previous Democratic campaign cycles, as both Hillary Clinton and the country’s first African American president, Barack Obama, voiced explicit opposition…. [Jesse Jackson] describes reparations as part of the final step in ‘four stages of struggle.’ ‘We say stage one is fighting legal slavery, stage two is fighting legal Jim Crow, stage three is the right to vote, and the fourth stage is access to capital, industry and technology. We are early in the morning in this phase.'” • Hmm.

Stats Watch

GDP, Q4 2018: “The fourth quarter was a solid one, coming in at a revised and as-expected 2.2 percent annual rate” [Econoday]. “And leading the strength was, despite a very weak December for retail sales, consumer spending that rose at an annual 2.5 percent rate and showed favorable and steady balance between services and goods, both durable and non-durable…. What is surprising in today’s report is the GDP price index which was revised 1 tenth lower to a final 1.7 percent, a result none of Econoday’s panel expected. This is a very subdued reading and underscores the general lack of global inflation right now. For policy, today’s results are upbeat, that a quarter which looked dangerously weak at times came in very well and one that points to solid momentum going into the first quarter.”

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, March 2019: “The year-end slump seems to be over for the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing sample” [Econoday]. “On net, this report is positive and joins an emerging group, that also includes the Philly Fed, reporting improved activity.”

Jobless Claims, week of March 23, 2019: “easily beat expectations” [Econoday]. “February’s painful and abrupt slowing in nonfarm growth…. has raised the question whether the economy’s central strength — the labor market — had suddenly turned south. But jobless claims, though up-and-down and after an unfavorable shift earlier in the year, are back at very low levels that are consistent with strong employment growth.”

Pending Home Sales Index, February 2019: “After surging suddenly in January, the pending home sales index for February edged lower as expected” [Econoday]. “Housing is always the most volatile of any economic data and stepping back for a longer look points, after a year-long slump, to a rising curve.”

Corporate Profits, Q4 2018: Rose year-on-year [Econoday]. “Taxes on corporate income…. fell 29.7 percent year-on-year in a reading that offers a central measurement of the 2018 corporate tax cut.”

Banks: “Fear for Barclays jobs as Tim Throsby disappears” [eFinancialCareers]. “In the two years since Throsby became CEO of Barclays’ investment bank, the business has been on a hiring binge…. Throsby’s aspiration was to achieve a 10% return equity at Barclays’ investment bank. The hope was that all those hires, all that risk taking, and all that new capital would drive higher revenues and that these in turn would feed through to higher returns. Fast forward sixteen months and the divisional return on equity at Barclays’ investment bank is still just 7.1%. Equities revenues were up 29% on 2016 last year, but – after all that hiring – fixed income currencies and commodities revenues were down 18%…. In his statement today on Throsby’s exit, Barclays’ CEO Jes Staley said the bank needs, ‘a more granular execution focus’ on the corporate and investment bank if it’s to drive returns above the cost of capital.” • “A more granular execution focus.” Brilliant!

Manufacturing: “Boeing to make safety feature standard on 737 Max planes” [The Hill]. • That there’s even a headline like this… It’s not a good look, is it?

Manufacturing: “Lack of redundancies on Boeing 737 MAX system baffles some involved in developing the jet” [Seattle Times]. Another blockbuster: “Boeing has long embraced the power of redundancy to protect its jets and their passengers from a range of potential disruptions, from electrical faults to lightning strikes. The company typically uses two or even three separate components as fail-safes for crucial tasks to reduce the possibility of a disastrous failure. So even some of the people who have worked on Boeing’s new 737 MAX airplane were baffled to learn that the company had designed an automated safety system that abandoned the principles of component redundancy, ultimately entrusting the automated decision-making to just one sensor — a type of sensor that was known to fail. Boeing’s rival, Airbus, has typically depended on three such sensors. ‘A single point of failure is an absolute no-no,’ said one former Boeing engineer who worked on the MAX, who requested anonymity to speak frankly about the program in an interview with The Seattle Times. ‘That is just a huge system engineering oversight. To just have missed it, I can’t imagine how.'” • Presumably, the lawsuits will uncover this (unless Boeing decides to get out front of this and clean house, which seems unlikely). And speaking of that single sensor–

Manufacturing: 737MAXArticle.pdf – Google (PDF) [Greg Travis]. “That no one who wrote the MCAS software for the 737 MAX

seems to have even raised the issue of using multiple inputs, including the opposite angle of attack sensor, in the computer’s determination of an impending stall is mind-blowing. As a lifetime member of the software development fraternity, I don’t know what toxic combination of inexperience, hubris, or lack of cultural understanding led to this. But I do know that it’s indicative of a much deeper and much more troubling problem. The people who wrote the code for the original MCAS system were obviously terribly far out of their league and did not know it. How can we possibly think they can implement a software fix, much less give us any comfort whatsoever that the rest of the flight management software, which is ultimately in ultimate control of the aircraft, has any fidelity at all?” • Good point. This is a long article, but written in layperson’s terms and very interesting. I would be interested to know what our pilots think of it.

Manufacturing: “Software Won’t Fix Boeing’s ‘Faulty’ Airframe” [EE Times]. “The saga of Boeing’s 737 MAX serves as a case study in engineering incompetence, and in engineering ethics – or the lack thereof… The Boeing 737 MAX tragedies also recall the engineering decisions that led to the shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986 and the Apollo 1 fire in 1967. Boeing’s haste in responding to the Airbus challenge reminds Travis and others of the group-think curse called “Go Fever” during Project Apollo that eventually killed the crew of Apollo 1 during a launchpad simulation. In that case, crew safety was sacrificed in the name of schedule.”


Retail: “The Enormous Numbers Behind Amazon’s Market Reach” [Bloomberg]. “Perhaps more than any other U.S. technology company, Amazon has come to resemble a conglomerate, with a growing presence in multiple markets.” • Hmm. This was a long time ago, but didn’t the conglomerate business model fail? Meanwhile, lots of statistics.

The Bezzle: “Tainted Pills Force FDA to Tighten Drug-Safety Regulations” [Bloomberg]. “Currently, the FDA mostly relies on the industry to police itself, only sporadically inspecting manufacturing sites. That approach has been strained by the increasing proportion of generic drugs and drug ingredients made for the U.S. market in countries like China and India, where the regulator has few boots on the ground. The proposed rule changes will focus on the raw materials used to produce drugs. Active pharmaceutical ingredients, or API, are basic building blocks that make drugs effective against diseases and disorders. If they don’t meet certain specifications for strength and purity, then the medicines made from them may not work.”

The Bezzle: “Facebook Accused by HUD of Housing Bias Over Targeted Ads” [Bloomberg], “Facebook enables and encourages discrimination based on things like race and religion, as well as sex, by restricting who can see housing-related ads on its platforms and across the internet, HUD said Thursday in a statement. ‘Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,’ HUD Secretary Ben Carson said. ‘Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.'” • Poor Mark. Everybody’s piling on. Somebody even woke up Ben Carson!

Tech: “Robocalls: What AT&T, Comcast and Verizon are doing about them” [CNN]. “Verizon plans to make its spam detection and blocking app free for its wireless customers in the next few days. AT&T and Comcast also recently announced that they tested a new tool for identifying “spoofed” calls, which have allowed robocallers use fake numbers. Most major telecom companies plan to put the new technology to use by the end of the year…. But there’s a problem: The apps flag and filter calls based on whether the incoming phone number is listed in a database of known spammers, and that database is extremely unreliable, [Jim McEachern, a senior technology consultant at telecom industry association ATIS] said.”

Tech: “An Analysis of Pre-installed Android Software” (PDF) [Julien Gamba, Mohammed Rashed, Abbas Razaghpanah, Juan Tapiador, and Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez]. “In this paper, we present the first largescale study of pre-installed software on Android devices from more than 200 vendors. Our work relies on a large dataset of real-world Android firmware acquired worldwide using crowd-sourcing methods. This allows us to answer questions related to the stakeholders involved in the supply chain, from device manufacturers and mobile network operators to thirdparty organizations like advertising and tracking services, and social network platforms. Our study allows us to also uncover relationships between these actors, which seem to revolve primarily around advertising and data-driven services. Overall, the supply chain around Android’s open source model lacks transparency and has facilitated potentially harmful behaviors and backdoored access to sensitive data and services without user consent or awareness.” • Oh, good.

Tech: “Internal Documents Show Apple Is Capable of Implementing Right to Repair Legislation” [Vice]. “As Apple continues to fight legislation that would make it easier for consumers to repair their iPhones, MacBooks, and other electronics, the company appears to be able to implement many of the requirements of the legislation, according to an internal presentation obtained by Motherboard. According to the presentation, titled ‘Apple Genuine Parts Repair’ and dated April 2018, the company has begun to give some repair companies access to Apple diagnostic software, a wide variety of genuine Apple repair parts, repair training, and notably places no restrictions on the types of repairs that independent companies are allowed to do. The presentation notes that repair companies can ‘keep doing what you’re doing, with … Apple genuine parts, reliable parts supply, and Apple process and training.'” • Good news if true!

Regulation: “”Happy to Do It”: Emails Show Current FAA Chief Coordinated With Ex-Lobbyist Colleagues on Policy” [Pro Publica]. “A month later, [the man who is now acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration, Dan Elwell] initiated another [email] exchange. He emailed JetBlue executives, asking them for help with ‘an airport privatization issue.’ He later asked if the airline had ‘any luck finding a JetBlue exec we can throw to the lions, er, I mean, introduce to a nice reporter to say nice things about airport privatization?’ JetBlue, the airline lobbyist and the FAA then coordinated on talking points for a story about privatizing management of St. Louis Lambert International Airport.” • Refreshingly direct in his approach.

Mr. Market: “Treasury yields climb along with stocks as trade talks resume” [CNBC]. “Treasury yields traded slightly higher on Thursday, after the benchmark rate hit its lowest level in more than a year, as trade talks between China and the U.S. resumed. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note traded at 2.391 percent while the 2-year note yield climbed to 2.234 percent.”

The Biosphere

“Fukushima contaminants found as far north as Alaska’s Bering Strait” [Reuters]. “Analysis of seawater collected last year near St. Lawrence Island revealed a slight elevation in levels of radioactive cesium-137 attributable to the Fukushima disaster, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Sea Grant program said. ‘This is the northern edge of the plume,” said Gay Sheffield, a Sea Grant marine advisory agent based in the Bering Sea town of Nome, Alaska. The newly detected Fukushima radiation was minute. The level of cesium-137, a byproduct of nuclear fission, in seawater was just four-tenths as high as traces of the isotope naturally found in the Pacific Ocean. Those levels are far too low to pose a health concern, an important point for people living on the Bering Sea coast who subsist on food caught in the ocean, Sheffield said.”

“Climate–land-use interactions shape tropical mountain biodiversity and ecosystem functions” [Nature]. “Here we show that the interacting effects of climate and land use reshape elevational trends in biodiversity and ecosystem functions on Africa’s largest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania). We find that increasing land-use intensity causes larger losses of plant and animal species richness in the arid lowlands than in humid submontane and montane zones. Increases in land-use intensity are associated with significant changes in the composition of plant, animal and microorganism communities; stronger modifications of plant and animal communities occur in arid and humid ecosystems, respectively. Temperature, precipitation and land use jointly modulate soil properties, nutrient turnover, greenhouse gas emissions, plant biomass and productivity, as well as animal interactions. Our data suggest that the response of ecosystem functions to land-use intensity depends strongly on climate; more-severe changes in ecosystem functioning occur in the arid lowlands and the cold montane zone.”

Health Care

“A Healthcare Industry Built on Premature Death” [In These Times]. “The industry is an architecture of misery, extracting profits from suffering. According to a report published in 2017 by The Doctor-Patient Rights Project, insurance companies “denied treatment coverage to one-in-four (24 percent) patients with a chronic or persistent illness or condition; 41 percent of the patients denied coverage were denied once, while 59 percent were denied multiple times.” Thirty-four percent of patients who had been denied coverage were forced to put off treatment, despite having a chronic illness. An astounding 70 percent of treatments for a chronic illness denied by insurers were for conditions referred to as “serious.” The grim reaper disguises himself in many forms, in this case that of an insurance agent.”

The reformist case, sadly paywalled:

Leaving $400 billion in administrative costs on the table, all to keep the health insurance companies alive while they try to kill us. And remember the horror stories I published yesterday? This approach would address none of that.

“As All States Streamline Medicaid Enrollment and Renewal Processes, New Eligibility Requirements Pursued By Some States Could Increase Administrative Complexity and Reduce Coverage” [KFF]. “All states continue to implement new Medicaid enrollment and renewal processes that can connect individuals to coverage more quickly and reduce administrative paperwork, finds KFF’s annual 50-state survey of Medicaid eligibility and enrollment policies. At the same time, some states are pursuing new eligibility requirements, such as work requirements and monthly premiums, that would push in the opposite direction, increasing the complexity of enrollment processes and potentially reducing coverage.”

“Here’s what the GOP plans for health care look like” [CNN]. “While the party hasn’t coalesced behind a health care plan, there are policies that Republicans have long supported. Yet some Republican think tanks, particularly the influential Heritage Foundation, are looking to drum up interest on Capitol Hill in their ideas to overhaul the health care system.” • Wait. We gave their “ideas” a chance in 2009, right?

Class Warfare

“No sleep, no sex, no life: tech workers in China’s Silicon Valley face burnout before they reach 30” [South China Morning Post]. “Tech firms in China typically expect their employees to work long hours to prove their dedication. That means a so-called 996 schedule: 9am to 9pm, six days a week…. The boundaries between work and private life are further blurred by company perks like free meals and shuttles, on-site gyms and barber shops, as well as many other entertainment and leisure options. Although Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook offer similar benefits, some Chinese tech workers say they feel exploited… Such “benefits” do not make employees stay longer. The average tenure for tech workers in Silicon Valley is 3.65 years, whereas in Chinese tech firms, state telecoms operators excluded, the figure is less than 2.6 years, according to data from Maimai, the Chinese equivalent of LinkedIn.”

“The Unexpected Philosophical Depths of the Clicker Game Universal Paperclips” [The New Yorker]. “In later stages of clicker games, the exhilarating speed of accumulation flies quickly past velocity into what physicists call ‘jerk, snap, crackle, and pop,’ and the thrill is buttressed by the rarity, or impossibility, of failure. Advancement is registered as the ability to click new, more powerful buttons.” • I can’t put my finger on it, but this seems like a familiar dynamic… . I was reading recently about children’s games in Papua New Guinea, where the object of the game — follow me closely, here — is to have all the players end up with equal shares.

“In narrow victory, Miami Dade College adjunct professors win right to form union” [Miami Herald]. “The adjunct faculty at Miami Dade College have officially won the right to form a union. The part-time professors, who make up a majority of MDC’s total faculty, won a narrow 14-vote victory on Wednesday to form a union with the Florida arm of the Service Employees International Union to lobby for increased wages, health benefits, added transparency in course assignment and — most importantly — negotiating power… Adjunct faculty make $2,460 per three-credit course and are not eligible to receive medical benefits. Wadle said adjuncts can teach a maximum of nine courses per semester, but that the allocation process lacks transparency. It’s common for adjuncts to teach at multiple colleges, which poses a challenge in gridlock-riddled metro areas like Miami.”

News of the Wired

“Reading Programmes: the art of reading for the OED” [Oxford English Dictionary]. “An evidence-based approach to lexicography requires evidence. From the Oxford English Dictionary’s inception, this has been supplied by recruits to its Reading Programmes, whose task is to read books (and other texts) and note down potentially interesting instances of word use. Without their work, the OED simply would not exist in the form it does…. Our readers hail from different countries and various backgrounds and their connections with the OED were formed in diverse ways. But one thing they have in common is a sensitivity to the English language – an ability to spot a word being used for the first time, or in a new way, which the most advanced software cannot replicate.”

“Researchers estimate it takes approximately 1.5 megabytes of data to store language information in the brain” [Medical XPress]. “A pair of researchers, one with the University of Rochester the other the University of California has found that combining all the data necessary to store and use the English language in the brain adds up to approximately 1.5 megabytes. … Francis Mollica and Steven Piantadosi describe applying information theory to add up the amount of data needed to store the various parts of the English language. To make their calculations, the researchers assigned quantifiable size estimates to the various aspects of the English language…. Adding it all up came to approximately 1.56 megabytes—close to the amount needed to store a single digital picture.” • Which means digital pictures are pretty dumb, doesn’t it?

The most Philly thing ever:

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

“Halophytes, or salt-tolerant plants, are found in a number of environments: seashores, mangrove swamps, salt marshes & swamps and saline semi-deserts. This image primarily features saltgrass (Distichlis spicata) with perhaps some alkali-grass in the upper right corner.”

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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. Samuel Conner

      The thought occurred to me that BO’s “day 1” fundraising performance was also a bit inspiring to potential hires.

          1. John

            Exactly. There was a comic strip character named B O Plenty. I can’t recall which strip. He had a daughter named Sparkle Plenty. Was it Dick Tracey?

            1. Procopius

              Dick Tracy. Somehow I associate B.O. Plenty with a woman hillbilly type who saved Tracy’s life by closing his wounds with cobwebs, a folk remedy for people to whom cloth was difficult to acquire (weaving is a very labor intensive task). Good grief, that’s a long time ago. I think the comic strip is still published.

    2. Grant

      I can see it now. On top of some table, arms waiving around wildly, thumb pointed at the crowd when he talks in an unnatural way no human really does, this or that 90’s feel good bumper sticker, some phrase you might see in a faded picture on the wall of an airport with a picture of a pretty waterfall in the background, no policy substance. So inspiring. He’s edgy too. I think he may come out to a Ramones song, on a skateboard, in a long sleeved shirt that is rolled up. You just don’t see that stuff in politicians. Sign me up. I can certainly pay for my healthcare with how edgy he is. I think the establishment is going to be in freak out mode in about six or seven months.

      1. Wukchumni

        If Beto can do some awesome tricks on a skateboard while holding one of those giant 80’s boom-boxes sprouting indie rock from a band that was so inept that paid to play venues, what more could one want in a leader?

        1. richard

          I want a leader I could stand next to, without getting smacked in the face by a poorly coached gesticulation.
          Is that so little to ask?
          But reality check: Beto is so thin and puny policywise, with so many compromises, that it makes no difference what he does with his damn arms. He’s not taking any votes from Sanders or Warren or Gabbard, and not much from Harris either I think. He’ll be stuck scrambling for votes in the remaining 30% of the pool, competing with Booker and Klobuchar for the substance free and conservative primary voters. And flattened, ultimately.

  1. Chris Cosmos

    I think identity politics will not play the role it played in the last election. Smart Democrats understand that labelling Trump voters as racist, sexist, and homophobic is not a good plan if they want to win–and not all candidates want to win. For me, while I like Sanders because he understands clearly what he’s up again and, if elected, would do a good job, I am going to do what I can to support Andrew Yang. Why? He’s the only one with both a big picture view of the country and a detailed map of where we ought to go. He’s done his preparation and he does not act like an asshole politician but a man for our time–the ultimate antidote to the BS we’ve been living with for a long time. I believe he can win despite, as will happen once he becomes more popular, the full-throated opposition of the media and Washington elites. However, I believe he will get support from some elements of the corporate and IT world because he understands their needs and is not an ideologue who would like to slap down the rich. His view is more nuanced. He wants to include everyone and, yes, will go after Silicon Valley, but someone has to at some point or we’re all screwed.

    My favorite policy is UBI and his championing of VAT. The income tax, for me, is an abomination. It takes to much time provides more perverse incentives that what we might agree are good incentives (Amazon paid no tax) and, de facto, is not a progressive tax. As a left-libertarian I don’t believe the government has the right to peer into how I make money–every year I find it humiliating and insulting. Now, Yang will not get rid of income taxes but, as I understand it, he will phase it out.

    As I go through his policies I see, if elected, we would see a true renaissance in this country from a society stuck in hopelessness (I see it in people around me, lowered life spans and so on) to one, once again, pragmatic and filled with the traditional “can-do” attitude that for better or worse built the country but this time with appropriate goals as Yang states in his desire to change our current model of capitalism to something very new. I believe we are ready for those kinds of changes while, at the same time, knowing that both parties will oppose change of any kind whether in the direction of social democracy a la Sanders or Yang’s newer post-ideological direction.

    Having said all that, Yang’s foreign policy is weak but as long as he will put in something other than Popeo/Bolton we should be alright.

    1. Brindle

      The most interesting part of the NBC poll was the “for full results click here”. Medicare 4 All came in at 63% approval and the GND at 51% approval. Dems will if they put policies first.

    2. Cat Afficionado

      I, too, am increasingly a fan of Yang. His policy positions do not 100% align with my preferences, but he speaks in real terms and makes a good effort to back up his positions with real world data. That is more than I see coming from most of the other contenders. After listening to his interview on the Joe Rogan Experience, I shot $20 his way.

      I eagerly await Yang’s presence in the debates. He may be the only one there who will speak reasonably about the reality that all of us actually live in. Sanders will probably put on a good show as well, but I have become a bit less enthusiastic about him in the last 2 years.

      1. Massinissa

        I’d rather take my chances with Bernie than vote for the guy who wants a 10% federal VAT on all purchases.

        I like the idea of UBI, but not if its going to be ‘paid for’ with something as regressive as a VAT.

        1. dcblogger

          I’d rather take my chances with Bernie than vote for the guy who wants a 10% federal VAT on all purchases.
          so good, it had to be repeated

          1. notabanker

            Amen. This is a horrible policy solution. If you want tech companies to pay taxes. make the family bloggers pay their family bloggin taxes. It isn’t hard. Certainly not as difficult as instituting a 10% Federal VAT.

            Yang says all the right things, until he starts talking about solutions.

        2. Chris Cosmos

          Income tax is taxing twice. Once for the actual tax second for the actual time, money, and requirement to have to “game” your life for its sake. In the end rich a-holes pay very little tax and Amazon and many others skate with no tax. Sorry, it may have been theoretically fairly progressive but that is no longer the case now.

          1. notabanker

            Income tax isn’t going anywhere under Yang. This VAT is a consumer tax. Go to the UK Budget office. 70% of all VAT revenues come directly from Household Consumer spending. The balance is SRS.

            Yang is being completely dishonest with this. He ALWAYS prefaces this with “[insert tech company] doesn’t pay any taxes. They are experts at this. That’s why VAT.”

            He is giving the tech companies a free pass and putting a further sales tax on all consumers, ie serfs. And he sells it as just the opposite. And nowhere does he say personal income taxes are going away, or even down.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            The income tax’s progressivity from New Deal through Eisenhower was real, not theoretical. The regressivization of it and the complexification of it since that time were legislatively engineered on purpose. A strong enough Newer Deal takeover of government could forcibly de-engineer all those changes back to New Dealish progressivity and simplicity.

            I certainly won’t support a retrogressive VAT consumption tax which favors people who make so much money they can spend some of it on buying the power to buy more money. I don’t make that much money, so VAT is retrogressive against me.

        3. Cat Afficionado

          It has to be “paid for” somehow. The upper income quartile probably spends more on goods than the bottom three, so people who can “better afford it” would likely be paying most of it.

          Let’s take a low income person who somehow spends $500 a month on goods which are subject to VAT (presumably most groceries and essentials will be exempt). That is $50 in VAT that they have to pay. Explain to me how they would NOT be better off paying $50 in VAT after receiving a $1000 check?

          This isn’t to say that the existing tax code is great, because it isn’t and needs serious reform.

          1. ambrit

            Don’t assume that food and other ‘basic’ goods won’t be taxed. Where we live, Mississippi, food is taxed at the base rate, which for here is 7%.
            Second, a VAT can be instituted at any level of governance. So, hello multi-VATs.
            Finally, at the Federal level, nothing has to be “paid for” by taxpayers. At that level, business and income taxes are strictly social engineering tools.
            A more “progressive” VAT style tax would be a “luxury tax. The board game Monopoly has that included as a ‘gotcha’ space.

              1. ambrit

                We need to “Go To Washington” and promote a 501(c)(3)5G tax exemption.
                I always suspected that whoever thought up 2G, 3G, etc had a wicked sense of humour. 2G means it costs you Two Grand a year, or $166 a month. 3G sets you back $250 a month. 4G picks your pocket to the tune of $333 a month. (Half of the Devils cost basis!) And 5G, well, let’s just say that you will need a good proctologist once you have forked over the $416 and change it’ll set you back per month.
                I can see you out in the South Forty, (degree slope,) with your easel and paints rendering the scenery.

              1. ambrit

                I’m all for ‘progressive.’
                Taxes as social engineering tools. The Reactionaries have had their try over the last forty years. Now it’s our turn.

                1. todde

                  Yes. I don’t understand the ‘income tax isn’t progressive enough so we need a VAT tax’ statement.

            1. Yves Smith

              In Alabama, EVERYTHING is taxed, even doctor visits, at the same rate (9 or 10% depending on the municipality). But not prescription drugs.

          2. Pat

            Will they still have access to.food stamps and other forms of public assistance? A thousand a month doesn’t go very far. And if you are trying to live on that, you really don’t have $50 to spare.

            (Unless UBI will actually provide a basic living with no ability for cuts and requirements It is just going be another neoliberal version of welfare reform.)

          3. Procopius

            It has to be “paid for” somehow. The upper income quartile probably spends more on goods than the bottom three, so people who can “better afford it” would likely be paying most of it.

            Do you have any data to support this? I note “presumably.” In fact from studies on income tax it’s clear that the upper quartile spends a smaller percentage of their income on consumables, so they have enough for saving/investment, while the lower three quarters don’t. I wonder if there’s suitable data at FRED.

        4. chuck roast

          Yeah, here’s my take. I know very little about Yang, so I am trying to put the basic 1 + 1 together.

          As I understand it, one of Yang’s policy position is to institute a universal basic income (UBI). Another of his policies is to institute a national value added tax (VAT).

          So theoretically, the UBI would provide a basic income for all citizens. I’m guessing that this is a kind of a subsistence level income. Citizens would probably not have to pay national or state income tax on such a low level of income. However, since they would consume most if not all of their UBI, they would pay existing state sales tax on most, and in many cases all of their UBI.

          Yang would also like to see a national VAT instituted. It’s unclear to me (and I’m too lazy to go check his website) if he wants to get rid of the national income tax, but that is usually the primary purpose behind VAT proposals. Unfortunately, for the UBI recipient, and most of the rest of poor slobs who can’t save a nickel, the state sales taxes are not going away and VAT (a sales tax by any other name) will take an additional big chunk out of their purchasing power.

          So, a VAT acts two ways: it depresses actual consumption, and at the margin (as they say in Chicago) is a tax on savings.

          Doubtless, the plutocrats have added 1 + 1 on this guy and are laughing all the way to the golf course. Don’t bother sending him $27…save your cash…there will be big chunks of change coming into Yang’s campaign. Another useful idiot.

          1. notabanker

            I’ve watched at 10 hours of Yang and gone through his entire website.

            His UBI is $1000 a month, for everyone over 18. If you currently receive Federal subsidies, like disability or EBT, it is subtracted from the $1000.

            He proposes a 10% VAT to generate $1.8 trillion in taxes to “pay for it”. So you know where he stands on MMT. He also stated on a New Hampshire TV appearance that eventually we will need to balance the budget and that the high levels of budget deficit are not good.

            No where does he mention anything about eliminating the income tax. What he does say repeatedly is that large corporations are experts at avoiding income taxes and VAT is the solution.

            So billionaires are going to get $1000 a month, someone on $500 worth of food stamps is going to get $500 a month and everything in the country will go up in cost 10-13% day one. And Amazon and Apple are going to be two of the largest tax collectors on the planet. I can’t believe people are falling for this nonsense.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              I see one good point to this plan. It will shrink consumption, which means it may well shrink carbon skydumping. If you shrink the economy enough, carbon skydumping will fall.

              1. jrs

                +1 but still folks have to eat. Carbon tax (with rebate) not VAT seems the more direct route,as proposals have been crafted specifically to deal with the issue of carbon sky dumping.

                But where we are now only recessions slow down the drive to oblivion, “good economies” like this speed it up.

                Does Yang discuss climate change and environmental collapse much?

            2. JBird4049

              His UBI is $1000 a month, for everyone over 18. If you currently receive Federal subsidies, like disability or EBT, it is subtracted from the $1000.

              Since disability and/or EBT is usually more than $1000 that would be a cut in benefits. A UBI that would make people poorer, but only those who can least afford it. Nice.

              Since even the the SSDI/SSI/SS/EBT often does not pay enough why would you not add the UBI for one can live on $2000 a month, but not on the $1000.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yang seems to be saying the right things about problems; so does Warren. In each case, I don’t see the solutions as commensurate.

      I also would need to know a great deal more about Yang. Silicon Valley executives with good bright ideas don’t have a good track record. I don’t know what his past positions have been, I don’t know his record in business, and I don’t like the details I see when I dig into UBI (it’s not an add-on to entitlements, but a replacement for them, exactly what many UBI opponents feared. Well, here it is.) The same question Stoller asked of Buttigieg applies to Yang: “Show me an example of Yang standing up to power. Corporate power. I know he wants to do good. Give me an example of him wanting to fight bad.”

      1. Chris Cosmos

        He’s not a Silicon Valley guy. Since I’m not a liberal or neoliberal I don’t care much for “entitlements” as such. What we need to do is look at what works. Income tax does not work, entitlements don’t work very well because it costs a lot to administer them and they still have way too much room for fraud. I take as an example, Social Security Disability benefits. There’s a racket, documented in one of Hedges’ books and that I know from personal encounters with people, in getting on disability with the cooperation of clinics who sign off on doctors to give people opiates to make life more worth living. Vast areas of West Virginia, Kentucky and even Tennessee have this problem but I’m sure it’s not much different elsewhere. UBI solves this problem easily–makes it up to people to decide how they will spend their extra money and take the edge of what I see the most of in my part of the world, working class people, particularly single mothers with children who have jobs but are in despair on how to make it in life and how to, also, be fulfilled.

        I refer, usually, to Buckminster Fuller, who made a pretty good argument for UBI, only his version, would be to give sufficient income to live ONLY on UBI while Yang’s income is too small to live only on that income. What he said is you give people the income they need and 99 will “go fishing” (in that era that meant doing nothing) and that one person will invent or create something that made up for the lack of labor of the other 99. As an optimist I agree with that notion.

        So what do you suggest will make up for both the debilitating “bullshit jobs” David Graeber referred to and the automation of most jobs from call-centers, to radiology, to even stockbrokers?

        1. amfortas the hippie

          while i generally find myself on the same side as you around here, i would challenge the idea of disability as either simple to get or all that rife with fraud. in texas, its anything but easy to access. took me 6+ years, with even their own doctors saying my case was obvious. as for fraud, im on the road and on my fone so unable to be comprehensive. nutshell: the fraud is at the levels of pfizer and 2 guys with a truck delivering wheelchairs, not the level of po folks with disabilities.
          this is welfarequeenism 5.0

          1. Chris Cosmos

            Hedges and others have written about the racket in places I described. And I’ve talked to people who had to move to avoid the horrors. The docs and drug companies are involved in this fraud–it is not an individual cheating the system, thought that happens when others have to go through piles of paperwork to get benefits. It depends on who you know and the particular office in the system you are working with. The opioid crisis is not something I just made up and much of this problem is aided and abetted by drug companies and the hustlers who run clinics.

          2. chuck roast

            You go Texas bro’.

            Disability is a “racket” like 3-card monte in Times Square. Sad, sad, sad…

          3. Sol

            Amfortas, I’m not sure that sniping at the unfortunate who are “overly benefited” is what Chris was communicating. I think – and I beg forgiveness of both of you if I am wrong – that Chris’ essential point was that our social safety net is irretrievably broken, a joke, that it does not do what it says it will do.

            If that’s what he’s saying, then y’all seem to be in vehement agreement. You shouldn’t have been put through BS. That’s messed up. Our social safety net is a joke.

            1. Procopius

              I read Chris as speaking more about the opoid crisis and then claiming there’s a lot of disability fraud as an afterthought. I think, in fact, Amfortas is describing the normal state of affairs. It’s not easy to get Social Security. More than 50% of applications are denied. Will Chris tell us how many people he spoke to who told him they had successfully gamed the system, and were drawing disability even though they are in good health?

        2. Grant

          “Income tax does not work”

          What do you mean by this?

          “entitlements don’t work very well because it costs a lot to administer them”

          What is the overhead in the Social Security Administration? A little over 1%. Chile’s much lauded (by some) privatized system is far more inefficient. Overhead in traditional Medicare is about 2%. I don’t think managing programs like that cost tons, unless I am missing something. Since UBI would also be a government program, I don’t know why it wouldn’t be open to fraud like any other or wouldn’t suffer from whatever problems you think exists with administering those other programs. I can’t imagine it would be an improvement in regards to efficiency, if you compare that program to things like Social Security and traditional Medicare. Seems that a UBI program would use the infrastructure those programs have already put in place and already utilize.

          I don’t have a problem with UBI per say, but there is a lot of support for it replacing existing programs on the right and some do support a UBI as a means of doing that. Given the state and the trajectory of the country, it COULD be administered in such a way that makes a bad situation even worse for lower income people. But, given automation and inequality, the only way you can have the economy have broad support, I would think, would be to either have some type of universal basic income or to start questioning the assumption on private ownership in many parts of the economy.

          Given that we already have decades of stagnating wages, massive inequality, lots of private debt, given that the costs of healthcare, housing and education have been rising at rates above wage growth for most for some time, I do have concerns about gutting or cutting programs that aren’t keeping peoples’ heads above water as is, especially if replaced by something that is a net negative for the most vulnerable. If there is a UBI, I would prefer that it not be included in the eligibility for programs like Medicaid or food stamps.

          1. Cal2

            And versus 33% overhead for ‘health care’ administration and profits. When are the Disruptors, Free Marketeers, Efficiency Experts and Austerians going to get behind M4A?

          2. Chris Cosmos

            Medicare and Social Security retirement payments are insurance systems technically. SNAP has a 15% overhead. Yang supports universal health-care and other programs. Look on his site.

            1. Grant

              Where are you getting your numbers? I have seen data showing overhead for SNAP being half that. Give me a source for that number. Seems that you choose a higher number because you think it helps your argument. Why not assume UBI would be run with that type of overhead, as opposed to Medicare and Social Security? Wouldn’t a UBI program have some regional variation based on differences in the costs of living? Would it not involve some administrative management on the state level too, and wouldn’t that complexity lead to more inefficiencies? The SS Administration and Medicare system are efficient because of their simplicity.

              To be honest, you make me less interested in Yang.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Yang supports universal health-care

              “Universal health care” is a liberal Democrat exercise in brand confusion. Not impressed! So I went to Yang’s site and under the heading “Medicare for All” I find this:

              Access to quality healthcare is one of the most important factors in overall well being, and yet America is one of the few industrialized nations to not provide healthcare for all of its citizens. Instead, we have a private healthcare system that leaves millions uninsured and bankrupts even some of those who do have health insurance. At the same time, our cost of care is higher than in almost any other industrialized country while providing worse outcomes. The Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction, providing funds to states to innovate while expanding Medicaid substantially. However, it didn’t address the fundamental issues plaguing our healthcare system:

              / Access to medicine [Huh? –lambert] isn’t guaranteed to all citizens

              / The incentives for healthcare providers don’t align with providing quality, efficient care

              This must change.

              Either through expanding Medicare to all, or through creating a new healthcare system, we must move in the direction of a single-payer system to ensure that all Americans can receive the healthcare they deserve. Not only will this raise the quality of life for all Americans, but, by increasing access to preventive care, will bring overall healthcare costs down.

              “Either through expanding Medicare to all, or through creating a new healthcare system, we must move in the direction of a single-payer system” is liberal bafflegab* of the same order as Harris or O’Rourke or anyone else.


              NOTE * “Oh Lord, make me pure. But not yet, not yet!” –Saint Augustine (paraphrasing?

        3. dcblogger

          Social Security works very well and has the lowest over head of any pension program. The eligibility needs to be lowered to 60 and the benefits need to be doubled and everything will be fine. We have a fiat currency, we can easily pay for it.

          1. Chris Cosmos

            Ok, whatever, the retirement end of Social Security is not an “entitlement” but an insurance system. You just say you’re you and they give you the money. SS disability is quite different and they have to deal with fraud, as I mentioned, through corrupt pain clinics and other scams. But conventional welfare and food stamp programs do have overhead issues. SNAP’s overhead is about 15%.

            1. Carla

              SNAP has been outsourced to Wall St. That accounts for the high overhead. Jamie Dimon has to have his cut.

            2. jrs

              Social security is basically a UBI :) Yes people pay into it when working, but it comes closer to a UBI than any other program we have

            3. Grant

              You keep on citing that figure. Give a source, cause most studies show much lower overhead in the SNAP program than 15%. UBI would be more complex as a program, so no way it has an overhead that is lower than comparable programs. That is fine too, because the state is just more efficient than private interests on stuff like that. It just means your claim about administering these things costing so much isn’t factually accurate.

            4. chuck roast

              Thanks for all your compassion Chris.

              Disability scams are basically chump-change for losers. I’ve seen some of them cruising around in their wheelchairs…so what!?

              We should use this cruel rationale to screw the guy who has humped bricks all his life and shoulders are failing him long before he hits the magic 66 or 67? What about the fisherman who has been hanging over the transom since he was 15 and his back is giving out at 50? What about the painter who fell off the ladder and just can’t do it any more? What is he going to do at 45? Are all these guys going to get jobs with the nomenklatura?

              Fraud? Small price to pay. Please, knock it off.

            5. Plenue

              1. I’m guessing your claims of overhead are bullshit, 2. who cares? The US government cannot run out of money. The overhead could be 500% and it still wouldn’t matter.

        4. Plenue

          “Since I’m not a liberal or neoliberal I don’t care much for “entitlements” as such.”

          Which in fact puts you in perfectly with the neoliberal crowd. As do your asinine conservative talking points.

          1. Wukchumni

            According to my statement from Social Security, i’ve donated $XXX,XXX.XX to my future entitlement over the course of my working years.

              1. WobblyTelomeres

                FDR said it was to make it that much harder for Republicans to cancel the program.

        5. Shonde

          When are we going to stop bemoaning small potato fraud such as disability fraud when the really monstrous fraud is walking around saying they are godlike and robbing/cheating the rest of us in addition to our tax system? Come on. This sounds like Ronald Rayguns2.0 with his welfare queens in Cadillacs. If and when Yang starts talking about the FIRE frauds that need to be prosecuted, then I might listen to him. Also the bulging tummies of the MIC.

          As to the automation of jobs, why not take away all the tax incentives for it. You can’t depreciate a human worker but you certainly can depreciate a robot and charge off every software change or repair. There is much that can be done to de-incentivize automation but I have yet to hear anyone talk about it.

          1. jrs

            If people use disability because no matter what they try, they can’t find work (disability is very hard to get but so sometimes is a job) then who could ever judge them for it? One has to survive!!! And survive no matter if one’s society denies them the means of survival.

            Oh sure a UBI might be a more honest implementation when it’s being used for that reason, but that’s not a mark on anyone collecting – as well we simply don’t have a UBI now.

            The people who can’t find work now, aren’t going to be helped by future measures to limit future automation. Some live in dead areas. But also it seems to me, one reason people can’t find work is age discrimination. But suppose one is 59 or 60 and can’t find work, too young for SS, but old enough that they might not be 100% healthy even if healthy enough to work, and if employers refuse to hire due to age …

            1. Elizabeth Burton

              The sole criterion for obtaining disability is being “unable to perform meaningful work.” It doesn’t matter whether the kind of work you might be able to do is available. As long as it’s determined you would be able to perform it if it were to be had, your application for disability will be denied.

              Also, fraud in SSDI is extremely rare, probably for the above reason, so I hope I’ll forgiven if I compare the “I see it everywhere” theme strikes me as on a par with the people who claim they see SNAP users buying steak and lobster.

              1. jrs

                Isn’t it murderously cruel not to at least have some program for those whose kind of work they might be able to do is not available? How are they supposed to live, at all?

                1. JBird4049

                  That is the point. Getting rid of the surplus population.

                  As long as it’s determined you would be able to perform it if it were to be had, your application for disability will be denied.

                  And since so many lived either in economic dead zones or in limited kinds of employment, that means that they don’t qualify. How nice.

        6. Sol

          Chris, I kind of feel as if you suggested we abolish the VA due to massive incompetency and fraud, and move the whole kit and kaboodle over to a Nordic system, and then people got upset.

          I don’t fully understand why.

          1. super extra

            why not replace ‘the whole kit and kaboodle over to a Nordic system’ first, then abolish the ‘entitlements’ if they’re so riddled with incompetence and fraud? after 40 years of bait and switch nobody believes this any longer. if it’s taken away without a plan first, it isn’t coming back.

            1. ambrit

              Right. The old “Trust Us” gag.
              Has any proto candidate for 2020 yet uttered any sort of “I welcome their hate” statement?

              1. Wukchumni

                When we were pitched the state lottery in the mid 80’s, the plan was that it would pay for schooling, and man did we get an education.

                Our schools went from being in the top 50 in states, to the lower echelon 50 in education test scores.

                1. ambrit

                  Louisiana did the same thing with their State Lottery and later Casinos. The switch happened when the gambling ‘winnings’ were later shifted into the General Fund. Even when the money went into the Education Fund, an equal amount that used to come from other sources was rerouted to ‘pet projects.’ Net result, a mediocre school system, poorer poor people, (see the figures on who mainly buys lottery tickets,) and a much more corrupt social matrix.
                  But Louisiana cannot claim innocence as to what could have been predicted anet the lottery revenues. Right after the ‘War Between the States,’ PGT Beauregard and Jubal Early were appointed to supervise a private Louisiana Lottery in 1868. Hilarity ensued, for the next twenty-five years.
                  See, all that is old is new again: https://64parishes.org/entry/louisiana-lottery

                2. JBird4049

                  Well, they said it would help in our education, but they didn’t say what we we would be educated on; so we all got schooled in the Art of the Grift. So technically the weasels weren’t lying.

            2. Sol

              Okay, sure.

              I can see why you’re upset at the people in charge of our safety net. What I can’t see is why you seem to be upset with me.

              A bad-faith horrible system meant to screw those in need was not a given in my post. It wasn’t even close to what I was communicating. If this is what you are so certain is the eventual result, that my suggestion had to be scanned for the future screwing that is surely buried in the fine print… then I must ask why we postulate solutions that involve a system of people who would act this way in the first place.

              If the problem isn’t the VA, or Medicare, or TANF, or the Nordic model, it’s that the humans administrating them can’t help but turn any handy system into a heartless machine designed to enrich or destroy at will, then we don’t seem to need to replace the program, we need to replace the people.

              People, program, or some innovative third, fourth, or seventy-sixth solution, I’m not really fussed so long as we start solving problems.

              1. super extra

                What I can’t see is why you seem to be upset with me.

                There is nothing in my comment that would indicate that I am ‘upset’ with you. We discuss ideas respectfully here, I told you plainly why nobody is willing to believe remove and replace. Civility policing only works when you’re arguing in good faith.

                1. Sol

                  That’s what I’m saying. You seem to have concluded that lacking pre-knowledge of how everyone thinks is the same as lacking good faith.

                  This talk of ‘civility policing’ may feel comforting to you to say, and yet it excludes the possibility that there might have been a more productive end here.

        7. tegnost

          “…entitlements don’t work very well because it costs a lot to administer them and they still have way too much room for fraud. ”
          “UBI solves this problem easily” along with “would be to give sufficient income to live ONLY on UBI”
          square this circle for me please.
          Who administers this program? How is this program not vulnerable to what ever made up fraud that you fail to cite (chris hedges editorial opinion doesn’t count as citation)? No cite for buck’s feeling re ubi either we should just take your word for it? And as you admit to having a problem with “entitlements” why is ubi not an entitlement?
          This is a citation
          https://www.usa.gov/disability-benefits-insurance, read it, it doesn’t sound easy to get into or all that fantastic once you do, remember being disabled is not that great, even if you can watch tv all day. Not likely that many of the recipients spend their time fishing, have you seen tackle prices lately? And how do you get to the lake/ocean? It’s right up there with the people who think there are surf bums and ski bums. There may be those things, but they aren’t funding it with ssdi, they’re blowing their trust funds is much more likely.

        8. Yves Smith

          He’s a Silicon Valley wannabe, even worse. Started dot-coms that didn’t make him notably rich. Now an “entrepreneur”. As one myself, I don’t see anything particularly estimable or accomplished about that.

        9. Lambert Strether Post author

          > So what do you suggest will make up for both the debilitating “bullshit jobs” David Graeber referred to and the automation of most jobs from call-centers, to radiology, to even stockbrokers?

          A Jobs Guarantee, of course. Haven’t you been reading the site?

      2. Big River Bandido

        Benjamin Studebaker wrote a pretty devastating takedown of Yang’s UBI proposal about 10 days ago.

        Your skepticism of squillionaires is, at least, polite. Mine is not. I wouldn’t consider any of them for dogcatcher.

    4. Cal2

      “I believe he will get support from some elements of the corporate and IT world because he understands their needs and is not an ideologue who would like to slap down the rich.”

      Uh huh, and he serves as yet another distraction and siphoning off of votes in the primary from Bernie or Tulsi.

      His proposals are, I believe, an entree to a cashless society, a national I.D. card and further institutionalized feeding opportunities for Silicon Valley.

      The guaranteed minimum income. It’ll be in a special new federal account based on an I.D. number, or a social security number. No withdrawal possible, strictly a debit card, probably mostly used to offset tax liabilities, or, shunted over to another electronic system like food stamps. You will pay to get your “free money.” Watch the banks get their mitts on this, for a service charge of course.

      Cash? “Too easy to counterfeit, used by terrorists and tax avoiders. Now we have this great new system that every American can use, unless they don’t want their ‘free money.’

      e.g, J.P. Morgan’s cut of every welfare payment sent out through special accounts.


      1. Chris Cosmos

        Needless to say I don’t agree. However, go to his site and see that he has quite a lot there unlike most other candidates. I’m not for cashless society but I would be more for it if there was no income tax and money didn’t have to go through our corrupt banking system but there were other institutions that cost nothing to ease paying for stuff.

    5. DJG

      Chris Cosmos: Not buying it. The income tax is, even in its current mess, less regressive than the VAT. If you want to have a 17 percent tax on a pair of jeans and a 25 percent tax on an armchair, by all means, let’s have a VAT. Our French colleagues can tell you how VAT, which ostensibly is a tax on goods of higher value bought with disposable income, drives up prices.

      We already have state and local sales taxes, which are regressive. And there is the U.S. health-insurance system which is regressive and cruel, to boot. Pay and die.

      I often define libertarians as White Guys Who Don’t Want to Pay Taxes. Like the flat-taxers, who pretty much don’t want to pay taxes, the let’s-phase-out-income-tax crowd want the benefits of civilization without having to pay for it. Or: They want the black family down the block to pay for it.

      I will investigate Yang, because the quotes that Lambert produces above are interesting. But if Yang is just watered-down Ayn Rand, and Rand was just watered down feudalism, then I’m not buying it. I have had enough of all of the bright ideas for ending the Age of Enlightenment.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        VAT only taxes. Income tax has become more regressive as time has passed, clearly. But, as I told someone else, it taxes twice and this you seem unable to grasp. You have to spend a lot of time filling out tax returns at a cost of, my estimate, about $500-1000 a year it terms of taking time organizing receipts, filling out the return, paying for this years TurboTax or a tax preparation service. In addition you have to re-arrange your life in order game the system to some degree. In addition the system is highly intrusive–it rather surprises me that this angle is never mentioned. If you want a truly progressive system that is not easily gamed then a national real-estate tax might be in order. Yang’s VAT, fyi starts at 10% to pay for his programs which include universal care and other programs.

        1. notabanker

          Again, what does income tax have anything to do with Yang’s VAT proposal. This is intellectually dishonest.

        2. Yves Smith

          VAT is an absolutely horrible tax. Regressive AND very costly to administer. A huge tax on businesses. I had to deal with the Australian version and it was God awful. Advocating a VAT is an utter disqualification for anyone unless you like punishing poor people.

          I was doing debate in the goddamned 1970s and every kid on the debate circuit knew better than to advocate for a VAT to pay for a guaranteed minimum annual income, the proposition one year. A VAT is far more costly to administer (even on the government level, putting aside the compliance burden on businesses) than a simple sales tax and produces no more in tax revenues. A VAT is just a stupid tax whose only justification is making businesses report like crazy, not the revenues.

          Yang pretends to be serious about policy when he shows he is either badly informed or has bad intentions.

          In addition, the US has progressive income taxes. Stop making shit up.

          The US has regressive spending and this UBI (replacing benefits with a UBI) won’t change that. The subsides at the high end swamp tinkering with the low end.

          Yang is a total headfake as far as redistribution is concerned and you are peddling his tripe uncritically.

    6. upstater

      VAT is highly regressive. How is this a good policy?

      Progressive income tax does not need to be complex. Our income tax is complex because Congress and both D and R presidents make it that way to benefit their masters.

    7. Todde

      VAT taxes are regressive and can be gamed with transfer pricing also.

      But they do raise a lot of revenue.

      Why no sales tax on investments?

    8. Aloha

      I usually find peoples comments on here informative and worth the read but you guys are all ignoring the gigantic elephant in the room… OUR VOTING RIGHTS WERE TAKEN AWAY DECADES AGO and the system is rigged. Here is an excellent video on the current situation and after watching it ask yourself why not one of the candidates has worked to fix it? Here’s a thought “Maybe because they are all in on it and are making $ for the seriously corrupt DNC”

    9. scarn

      IMO Yang is a Trump figure for “leftists.” He’s a capitalist who wants to buy votes with his “freedom dividend” UBI trap while serving his segment of his class up some additional regressive taxation and an even more business-friendly environment. Tech capital is happy to have the feds pay for everyone’s healthcare and help fund consumer purchases with UBI if the trade off is one of their own scammy operators running the empire. He is able to make a coherent critique of neo-liberalism in interviews, but does not attempt to replace it with something leftist. He’s paid for some good memes, so I guess I will allow that he’s a talented investor. Bernie is far from perfect, but I can look at his record and make a pretty good prediction of what he intends to do. Yang is literally a rich guy who bought a hashtag that trended because maga kids think it’s funny.

    10. drumlin woodchuckles

      The Income Tax was progressive when it raised in bracket increments set during the New Deal and maintained during the Eisenhower Administration.

      It has been de-progressivised since that time, but it could be re-progressivized again.

      Meanwhile, adding VAT to all the standing sales taxes is very regressive indeed. People who only make enough money to where they have to spend it all on life’s necessities and a few niceties besides . . . will be taxed on all their income. Whereas people who make so much money that they can buy everything they want or can even think of . . . with only ten per cent of their income . . . will be untaxed on the other ninety per cent of their income. This will perpetuate the power growth of the Overpayed OverWealthy Moneyistocracy.

    11. Procopius

      Yang sounds interesting, but I don’t like VAT. We have it here in Thailand, and it’s not too burdensome to me, but it’s regressive. It’s only 7% here, which might be tolerable in America, but I’d much rather see five more income levels with progressive rates up to 70% for over $10 million a year. Thanks for the input, though. I hadn’t heard about this jamoke and I’ll see what I can find about his policies. My initial impression is that anyone who likes VAT is probably making a mistake in his arithmetic.

  2. Lee

    Additionally, some of the moms and grandmas who make up the backbone of the #Resistance told researcher Theda Skocpol that, owing to Sanders’s harsh treatment of Clinton in the 2016 election, they might sit out 2020 if he’s the nominee.” • Lol. I knew all that #Resistance talk about “unity” was bullshit.

    So they would prefer Trump to Sanders. Good to know. If only we could get them to sit out the primary. My god, these people are douche bags. Do people still use those things?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Are #Resistance people worth it?

      If yes, maybe reaching out to them: “What can I do to earn your votes?”

      If not, if they are d bags, should it be ‘forget you, #Resistance,’ we will do nothing to earn your votes, even if that means Trump over Sanders (their votes deciding the outcome)?

      1. Chris Cosmos

        No, from a political point of view the “resistance” is quite small and their “resistance” is largely a result of hating Trump as a persons like the idiotic Colbert as well as hatred for working class Americans, particularly white men. I’ve noticed they care more for appearances and style than policy. Sanders was not nearly as harsh as he should have been towards Clinton.

      1. ambrit

        I used to see a lot of them whenever I had to visit the headquarters of the “Chicken Palace” salvage store chain. (Said place was infested with Hedge Fund anthromorphs.)

    2. a different chris

      >they might sit out 2020

      This is so beyond BS it’s not funny. People who vote, really tend to vote. People who don’t vote, really tend to not vote. The voters will show up, and they will vote for or against Trump at nearly 100% correlation with if they voted for him in 2016 or not.

      Non-voters is as always the gold to dig. How about a voting holiday? — oh, yeah that’s crazy talk. And “Suburban Republicans” can find the time to vote, can’t they? Just target them!

    3. jrs

      from the article:
      “who refuses (thus far) to release his tax returns and thereby robs the Democrats of a potent weapon against Trump;”

      oh yes that’s a potent weapon against Trump, LOL. Taking a butter knife to a gun fight I take it. Not that I think Trump is a strong candidate but that’s gonna be one pathetic campaign if they really plan to run on Trump’s tax returns.

    4. WheresOurTeddy

      never forget that more Clinton primary voters from 08 voted for McCain than Bernie primary voters went to Trump in 16.

      If Sanders is the nominee, I expect both of those numbers to be smaller than the number of Clinton 16 primary voters who vote for Trump in 20. It will have to be offset by new voters and working class people.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      ” Do people still use those things?”

      Well . . . . the Mainstream DemParty LeaderStablisment still used them. It will use them against Sanders all through the primaries and then if Sanders is nominated, all through the election.

  3. roxan

    On newspaper closures–I lived in and around Charlottesville, VA in the mid 2000s. Charlottesville had a wonderful paper at one time, but I think it was bought out. It seldom had any real news. Likewise, there were no local TV stations, so all the news and weather was about D.C. which gave everyone the impression that gangs and murders were rampant. It was the same when I lived in W.Va.in the early 2000s. There, I had 3 TV stations, and 2 were the same! The third came from Pittsburgh. There was no major newspaper available, and no bookstore or news stand, so I had to depend on the radio for actual news. Computers and the internet had not yet penetrated. People who could afford it, subscribed to cable TV.

  4. Synoia

    Boeing 737 Max: The people who wrote the code for the original MCAS system were obviously terribly far out of their league and did not know it.

    And these “people” made the decisions? Or executed Executives’ commands while living under a threat of termination?

    There is little difference between:

    “Do what I say or you will be terminated” and
    “Do what I say or off with your head.”

    Why blame the workers for management’s decisions?

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      I doubt senior management had much input, if any, into whether the team sampled one or two sensors to make a decision. More likely, management input was deciding which engineering group wrote the software. I can certainly see a case where an ambitious 25yo mechanical engineer modeled a solution in BASIC or Python or (kill me now) Excel, declared it good, showed it off to a collection (murder?) of clueless MBAs, and that was that.

      That is, as Lambert suggests, it is quite possible that no one with any advanced training/education in critical software resiliency was involved in the “solution”.

            1. John

              Excellent. Imagine you with a caucus of leeches. Think Humphrey Bogart in African Queen. The scenes where he is pulling the boat through leech infested waters. His facial expressions are priceless unlike a caucus of leeches (MBAs) which would be ridiculously pricey.

                1. ambrit

                  A diploma of MBAs.
                  Bringing up ‘African Queen’ is truly beyond price. Bogart is the engineers sweating through the toxic environment while Hepburn, as the Management sits all pristine in the stern. After the enterprise blows up, then the Managers will have to get down in the muck amongst the leeches.
                  If any particular managers can be proven to have given orders that resulted in passenger loss of life, allow me to suggest an appropriate form of execution. Toss them into the intake of a running jet engine. To justify the loss of an engine that way, make it an experimental model.

          1. Jeotsu

            I would go with a smothering of MBAs. Since they smother all discussion with charts KPIs and other such fragrant BS preventing all involved from getting their head high enough to se what is actually going on.

            How many projects have the readership seen smothered to death by quarterly reports, steering committees, and other business-speak?

            1. JCC

              Maybe a smothering of Accountants to go along with a murder of MBAs, like pilot fish going along with sharks.

            1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

              A CUL of MBA’s

              ‘Cul’ French style, but hey!, it works both ways.


        1. richard

          A mourning of crows. Because they do mourn each other, that’s something I’ve always remembered about them.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            I’ve always been fond of both ” a conspiracy” or even better, “an unkindness” of ravens.

            1. richard

              Half of my experience with crows is driving in Seattle, and pushing 2 or 3 of them in the air each time I pull into a parking spot. If they are conspiring, then I am continually breaking it up.
              “This goddamn guy again! Jesus on a bike!”

      1. jonhoops

        The senior management input was, get it done cheaper and faster or you are fired. Everything flows from that.

        1. Synoia

          Someone micro managed the program. That’s how it works. To beliee decisions are assigned to an “engineering group” is unrealistic.

          In big aeromautical projects engineers are like specialized insects.

          Boeing, produce the org chart.

      2. Charlie

        Senior management says “I want it cheap and I want it now.” And the workers say, “Well, one sensor is cheaper and quicker than three sensors. Hey, it works. Sort of.”

        And senior management pockets the difference. That’s how you murder for profit.

  5. Summer

    Re: The Liberal Case Against Bernie (BTW: same as the last Liberal case against Bernie)

    “Eight years of a Trump presidency could mean the end of meaningful democracy in the United States, along with many of the rights that women, minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and others now take for granted.”
    OMFG! Those ARE the people constantly fighting for their rights because of the money in politics that rules the duopoly. “Take for granted”??? There are a ton of rights self-defined liberals in govt destroyed right along with the Republicans…shredded the Bill of Rights.

    But once you get past the first big dose of arrogance and paternalism, he proceeds the entire article without laying out exactly how Sanders’ opponents will govern on behalf of all those “taking for granted” the wonders of neoliberalism – creator of the boogeyman in the White House.

    And from other articles, you read that Liberals will stay home if Bernie wins. But the Liberal case against Bernie is that Trump is too scary for anyone to stay home.

    You. Can’t. Make. This. Sh**. Up.

    1. jrs

      Everyone is absolutely sure they know what will lead to the reelection of Trump and seldom useful critiques like let’s make sure people are not disenfranchised of their vote, and that the voting machines aren’t hacked.

      But no, centrists are convinced it is nominating an FDR liberal like Bernie (but their record of predicting stuff is bad, since Hillary literally did lead to Trump) as independent voters and some Dems might vote against him. Leftists are convinced it’s nominating a centrist as the most passionate members of the base might stay home. There are those whose pet peeve is immigration who are sure unless Dems start putting endless distance between themselves an open borders (as if they really support that anyway) immigration will lead to the reelection of Trump (I don’t think people whose entire litmus test is immigration are Dem’s to win). Almost none of it seems to be supported by much real reliable data.

      So why not just “go after what you love” as the expression goes? To lose with someone like Bernie would be to lose with honor, to lose with say Beto, would be sad and pathetic beyond all measure (though I might vote for such a lightweight in CA in the general (not the primaries) where my vote doesn’t count, just to have Trump losing this time by 5 or 10 million popular votes even if he does “win the electoral college”. Because yea, nontheless, F Trump).

    2. russell1200

      The article describes why a “Liberal” might be cautious about voting for Bernie Sanders. It does seem fuzzy at times.

      But the main point seems to be that at one time Bernie Sanders was at one time a true Socialist-Marxist: as in Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party elector. And well into his political career he approved of positions that someone within the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party would be expected to approve of. Further that the Republicans are not idiots and have rounded up every sound bite, scrap of video, etc. of him supporting these views to make use of when the general election comes around.

      He notes that 74% of Independents versus 9% approve (no citation) of a socialist candidate. And that I presume in most minds would be a European Style Socialism not a Trotskyite.

      So the point is, that Bernie is not as electable as some might think. As someone who finds the New-Deal style politics of Mr. Sanders the most compelling reason to support him, the points Mr. Alterman (horses-rear or otherwise) makes do give me pause.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        Most people I know, who didn’t accumulate wealth in decades past, are hurting–particularly young people with children. They will vote for a democratic socialist. The people who are worried about socialism are corporate types and right-libertarians. The “liberals” are not any longer liberal they are neoliberals who favor the needs and privileges of the upper-middle-class as per Thomas Frank’s *Listen Liberal.* Despite their disgusting tendency to virtue signal this class is, at best, Romney Republicans. They have virtually no interest in the welfare of the majority of American.

        1. amfortas the hippie

          aye! i could definitely sell bernie new dealism in the feedstore beer barn and produce aisle in my backwoods part of texas.
          dems dont want to win. washington generals,etc

        2. Joe Well

          CC, you said it perfectly.

          I would just add, the age divide is strong here because:

          1. The younger you are, the further you are from the pre-Reagan world, the worse off you are economically.
          2. The younger you are, the less likely are you to be exposed to toxic MSM influences, especially TV news.

          And with the age divide, the older you are, the harder it is to grasp the discontent. Things like housing costs, childcare and job security seem like abstracts rather than your daily life.

          I’m in my 30s and my life is already more like that of someone in the Soviet Union that we were warned about when I was a little child: strangers crammed together into apartments because supposedly we can’t make enough housing for everyone; being spied on by the state and the powerful; arbitrariness on the part of the police and the “justice” system; conspiracy-theory driven lying media that divides the world into enemies and allies; collapsing transportation and infrastructure; shoddy consumer goods. If someone said we’re turning America into Gorbachev’s USSR there would be a lot of bright sides: fewer people in prison, less economic stress, less surveillance.

          1. JBird4049

            The sad part is that housing, medical care, and education were a given. Don’t have money and live?

            It is true that most of the Eastern Block became corrupt and dysfunctional like our neoliberalized countries, but but housing, medical care, and education is not guaranteed in America. Don’t have money so just die?

            There are evermore of us who don’t have money despite often having the skills, education, experience, and drive, but the Oligarchy of Free Market deem us disposable. Money over all.

            And people wonder why the current economic system is under attack?

      2. Grant

        You think a video of Bernie from 1974 supporting Trotsky would cost him an election? In 2019? He has never run from the word socialism, so what would that show to people that they already don’t know about him? Seems that the scandalous position these days is anyone wanting to maintain the system as is. Why be afraid of some decades old video when we have the environmental crisis coming for us like an out of control train and when those in power offer no solutions to any of our problems? Anyone that would be swayed by some video like that is already not voting for him. Bernie is still a popular politician, and his ideas have become more popular since he ran against Clinton.

        Turnout in the last election dropped off, lowest it has been in decades. The drop in turnout was the largest in black communities in places like Wisconsin. Why? Why was turnout in 2014 the lowest in the post-WWII era? Why, in mid term elections, is turnout sometimes under 30% in some races, with the victor entering office with support of 10-15% of the electorate? Our own governemnt often doesn’t recognize elections elsewhere when turnout is that low. Trump wins again if turnout was as it was in 2016, when he entered office with the support of about a quarter of the voting age population. Turnout among the poor is very low, turnout in communities of color is far below turnout in white communities, turnout among the young is lower than middle aged and old people. Any candidate on the left can win if they get people that don’t often vote in high numbers to vote. Appealing to the same people means not solving our structural problems, things getting progressively worse and all of that makes it more likely that those that aren’t represented in this system see no reason to vote.

        1. Sanxi

          Grant, all true, then, but not now. My friend get a grip, people indeed are suffering and Trump isn’t an answer, it was an accident, let’s focus on what we can do not on what we can’t.

          1. Grant

            I don’t know exactly what you are arguing. What do I need to get a grip on? Is something I talked about not relevant now? If so, what exactly? How was I arguing we can’t do something? I was arguing to appeal to people that don’t often vote, people that feel under-represented in this system. Can we not do that? Is it not possible to win elections and to get people in power that are serious about long overdue changes? Where did I say Trump was the answer? You saying Trump was a fluke is a bit naive. If the Democrats nominate the wrong candidate, he could win again. That would not be a good thing.

            Please clarify.

      3. Pat

        While I realize that a significant number of Democrats would sit out 2020 if Sanders we’re nominated, the thing to remember is that Independents now determine the winner. The parties are both tribal in that they vote for the party’s candidate and yet are not enough to win on their own. If 74% of Independents approve of socialism the case can be made that the Democrats should nominate a socialist if they want to win.

        The real question is can the Dems fix the primaries AND by extension how fixed will the general be? As in I am not worried about Sanders winning if the election is honest, I am far more worried about who is counting the votes and how much access they have to the software and the voter rolls.

      4. voteforno6

        After 2016, I don’t think we can trust anyone’s pronouncements on who is – and who is not – electable.

        1. jrs

          +1 and literally based on NO DATA but just “gut feel”, when even the best statistical guesses have been wrong. But at least make an argument based on data … because if one wants to pretend to fortune tell “the mood of the electorate” it’s the only real thing we have with which to do so.

          Now my gut feels is: the R’s will do their worst regardless of who the candidate is (plus cheat), they will eviscerate a Biden (and still Biden might win), they would dogwhistle a minority candidate and win some votes for it etc..

      5. vegasmike

        Bernie was never a Trot. He was a member of the Young People Socialist. He was more actually a social democrat, not a hard left Marxist.

        1. Grant

          Michael Hudson has pointed this out. He gave an interview recently and said that he knows someone that recruited Sanders to join a leftist group decades ago, and the woman complained to him that he was a social democrat even then, which is fine. Whatever he is, our country would benefit from moving in that direction.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If Trump is too scary, and the Left and the Liberals are divided,

      1. The Liberals yield to the Left and join them to beat Trump. As many have pointed out here, the Liberals won’t.


      2. The Left yiedliing to the Liberals, joining them to beat Trump. That assumes beating Trump is paramount. Unless…unless of course the Liberals are like Trump, in their neoliberalism, and there is no point in yiedling to the Liberals. In that case, the Left a) will not want the Liberals’ votes and b) will not get their votes. Likely, in that case, either with them abstaining, or voting for Trump (if they are mad – as in angry, or insane – enough), Trump wins, again.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        I know for me, personally, that I will not vote for a politician who wants to continue the no-change conservative agenda of the mainstream Democratic Party. One caveat, if that candidate is for decriminalizing marijuana than thumbs up–I have a family member and other people I know who need medical cannabis (cancer) but can’t since we live in the South.

    4. PKMKII

      And from other articles, you read that Liberals will stay home if Bernie wins. But the Liberal case against Bernie is that Trump is too scary for anyone to stay home.

      Highly ironic, too, given that Alterman had an intense, visceral hatred for Nader and his voters during the Dubya administration for spoiling the 2000 race. But now that it’s the suburbanite liberal moms that are threatening to be the spoilers and staying home or going third party, they have to appeased.

    5. zagonostra

      Bernie was cheated out of the 2016 election. Russiagate was designed and invented and succeeded in deflecting attention away from this perfidious fact. All this talk about Yang, Beto, and the other candidates, in my view, is just clogging up the airways. I see this as the incipient stage of a long process that the ruling class has embarked on to distract, deflect, and pull out every other dirty trick at their disposal to stop any progressive policy from getting passed.

      They learned their lessons well and they’ve honed their skills to deadly precision since FDR, with all the benefits of big data and tech at their disposal to manipulate and propagandize the masses.

      For me it’s quite simple, I’ll vote for Bernie (or Gabbard if she can get momentum) and then vote 3’d party if they put in some faux progressive/dem in the general election.

      1. jrs

        Why are all the other candidates a distraction but Gabbard not a distraction? This isn’t even logically consistent.

        She’s taking votes away from Bernie too (unless she’s really running for VP and plans to drop out before the primaries, and if so probably not the only one – only she simply won’t get the VP slot, and some of the others might). I mean Beto just sucks and he’s a distraction due to pure suckage, not due to running.

        1. zagonostra

          Because the goal in for me is M4A, a reduction in the MIC, stronger social security benefits and a more just polity….Bernie is weak on resisting MIC and foreign police, otherwise, your right, she too would be a distraction.

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          I’m told only on company in the US is employed to do exit polling. If so, then that’s no guarantee of accuracy.

          I notice there’s been no mention so far of the Democrats’ new movement to abolish the Electoral College in favor of the popular vote. Has that not been brought to anyone’s attention? It made a brief appearance right after November ’16, as part of the “she won the popular vote!” sour grapes, but it has suddenly taken on new life with a bunch of Democrat governors signing up to support it. I also noticed that when sensible opposition started being applied to the social media cheerleading, the topic suddenly disappeared. I remain on the alert, however.

          The January Harvard/Harris Poll, which is right-leaning, placed Sanders’ support among those who identified as Democrats at 50%. Make of that what you will.

          There is a small consensus among the Sanders crowd that Kamala Harris is the new Anointed, and that the increasing number of entries in the race is intended to bleed off enough votes from Bernie he won’t make the necessary 51% on the first ballot. At that point, the Superdelegates are in charge, and the DNC has already allowed its lawyers to state in public it isn’t required to pay any attention to the expressed wishes of its party delegates.

          The “vote Blue no matter who” agents are also already out and about, trying to make anyone who says “fool me twice, and you’ve lost my vote” responsible if Trump wins again. It doesn’t work, but I suspect it will get worse as the next year and a half progresses. Worse are the ones who flat-out order you to vote for whoever the Dems nominate. Point out to them that’s dictatorship, not democracy, and they usually mumble something about Trump and go away.

          I’ve commented here and elsewhere in the past that the Democrats had no intention of impeaching Trump because he’s all they’ve got, despite the fact more than a few of their New Dem candidates ran on that last year. Pelosi has now gone on record saying impeachment isn’t in the playbook for now. I feel vindicated.

          Last year the DCCC warned potential candidates they’d be dropped if they mentioned support for Medicare for All. This year, having learned there are progressives preparing to primary the likes of Pelosi and Feinstein, they’ve issued the fiat that anyone who dares work for such a candidate will be permanently persona non grata with the party.

          Finally, Bernie has once again committed himself to supporting the Democrat nominee. I think it was a huge mistake, even though I understand the necessity from his point of view. I believe he truly does want to save the party from itself. However, to my knowledge, Tulsi Gabbard, being already unassailably a Democrat, hasn’t made that commitment.

          The eternal snag, of course, are those @*#! Superdelegates. Four of which came out for Harris within days of her announcement, hence the belief she’s THE ONE. Buckle your seatbelts, people, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

          1. ChrisPacific

            Not only did Pelosi say that, she also said that Trump was good for Democrats (in terms of fundraising and rallying interest). So there you have it.

            I think the Electoral College is the dumbest thing ever and eliminating it would be a great idea. However I also know that when you raise the issue with a lot of Americans, they get misty-eyed and start talking about forefathers and principles of our great nation and assert that allowing a few thousand people from Florida to create a 5% swing one way or the other in the national vote is what makes America great. You can practically hear the Star-Spangled Banner playing in the background. Until the electorate develops the ability to look at stupid things and recognize that they are, in fact, stupid, it’s not a battle I would want to pick. Until then I’d focus on critical thinking and better education (especially civics education) and trust that it would take care of itself in time.

            …on the other hand, if you wanted to pick an issue that would have almost zero impact one way or another on people’s daily lives, and yet would be hugely controversial and divisive and generally suck up a lot of the available oxygen and draw attention away from things you didn’t particularly want discussed, you couldn’t do much better.

            1. Yves Smith

              It would take a Constitutional amendment to get rid of the Electoral College.

              We couldn’t get one for equal rights for women during Peak Feminism.

              Small states would never go along and they can prevent this from happening. I wish people would drop this idea and focus on winnable fights.

              1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

                Electoral College:

                Reminds me of Tolstoy: …each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

                Us Brits have the House of Lords – not really a brake on the executive but what else is there?

                Anachronism and anocracy; seemingly one leads to the other.


              2. ChrisPacific

                Yes, it’s both superficially appealing and guaranteed to fail, those two qualities so beloved of establishment Democrats.

            2. Elizabeth Burton

              The biggest problem with the Electoral College can be resolved the way Maine and Nebraska did it—by distributive apportionment of the electoral votes. Is it perfect? No, but it’s still a lot fairer than turning the presidential election into a high-school popularity contest. And if presented properly would likely get bipartisan support because it really does help all parties.

              The only reason this is even being discussed is because Hillary lost. The Democrats had no problem at all when the EC worked in their favor, but in their rampant narcissism they’re prepared to tear down the house.

              1. jrs

                Yes those Dems were all for the electoral college when W won. 2 out of the 5 last presidential races lost the popular vote. How far back would we have to go to find a case where the electoral college worked in the Dems favor?

  6. urblintz

    Not only is the “resistance” and its “unity” pledge BS, but so is Eric Alterman. He thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room and beyond his arrogance has always been, essentially, the most partisan “Democrat” at The Nation. I take everything he writes with a huge grain of salt.

    1. Chris Hargens

      If the overriding goal is to defeat Trump, then unity ought to prevail. However, I suspect that if Sanders (and perhaps Warren also) is given the 2016 treatment by the MSM and the dems, then all bets are off, and there may be serious third-party stirrings. I’ve already seen several instances of the MSM decrying the dems supposedly too-far swing to the left, claiming that much of what the left wants doesn’t reflect what the majority of Americans want. And, of course, a centrist, incremental approach is what’s needed.

      1. Sanxi

        Arggg, old media who cares. Why are people hurting, you read NC and have learned what? You know why people are suffering, speak it and speak often of it. Make sure those that wish to be elected are speaking it and are heard, then get out the vote, hard work yes, but what, you thought A. Lincoln had it easy. There is no admiring him without following him in giving whatever you have for your country. Is being a patriot something to be ashamed of? To me it means to believe in the people of your country, by, of, and for the people, so hang me then.

        1. Procopius

          To paraphrase Charles P. Pierce, “Fk the MSM. People got no jobs, people got no money.” It’s having an effect, slowly, slowly.

    2. Carolinian

      Exactly. Some years back Alterman tangled with Alexander Cockburn. Cockburn pointed out that Alterman once followed AC around like a puppy dog when he was an up and coming “demi pundit.” Once The Nation mistakenly hired Alterman it went to his head.

      1. chuck roast

        Wow…a Junior Correspondant!

        And all this time I thought there were only Senior Correspondants.

  7. 737 Pilot

    Re 737 MAX Articles

    Since you asked, here’s this pilot’s opinion. First some qualifiers – I have over 30 years in transport class jet aircraft, most of them Boeing. I currently fly the 737 with well over 4000 hours in that type. My company operates the 737 MAX, though I have much less total time in this sub-type. My thoughts are based on my current knowledge of both the MAX design and whatever reliable information I have received regarding the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines accidents.

    I will concur with many of the published opinions that the MCAS design was seriously flawed, and the lack of information provided to operators prior to the first accident indicates a serious problem in the certification process. In the specific accident scenarios, I think we will also learn of significant issues with training, maintenance, and airline culture. Aircraft accidents are almost always the result of multiple causes. However, I have faith that the accident investigation process will identify most, if not all, the contributory factors to these accidents and prescribe appropriate remedies.

    That being said, I do not believe the 737 MAX is an inherently unsafe design, and I think a number of commentators are reaching beyond their expertise to promote this line of argument. Flight augmentation systems to correct for undesired aircraft handling characteristics have been around for at least three decades. The need for something like MCAS is not, in itself, a sign of a fundamentally faulty design.

    In fact, if the original MCAS system was designed in the manner which is now going through the approval process, its features were advertised to the operators, and procedures were developed to deal with a system failure, then it is highly unlikely that the term “MCAS” would ever had entered the popular lexicon.

    1. Hana M

      “Aircraft accidents are almost always the result of multiple causes.” Thank you for this. I just finished reading an extraordinary book, Trapped Under the Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness, about the highly experienced team of commercial divers who were sent to complete Boston’s water treatment outflow tunnel. Five men went into the 10 mile tunnel–only three made it out alive. It was a tale of terror but also of the several seemingly small mistakes that were made at multiple points along the line that led to the disaster.

    2. readerOfTeaLeaves

      I suspect that many readers will skip over your mention of ‘airline culture’, but that factor can’t be underscored enough. It is a critical factor, as are pilots.

      Really appreciated your comment.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Can you, or anyone, say more about ‘airline culture?’

      I think that will be educational (for me). Thanks.

      1. 737 Pilot

        Ok, I have a little more time now…

        I would prefer to give this and some of the other issues raised in today’s commentary a more thoughtful reply. Unfortunately, I am a bit logistically constrained because I’m on the road with only a tablet and no keyboard which I find incredibly tedious for anything but short responses.

        The short response is this: A robust aviation safety culture assumes that things break, people err, and the unexpected happens. A robust safety culture builds in multiple layers of protection that attempt to trap and correct safety issues before they lead to an accident. This culture must allow anyone at any level to feel comfortable with raising a safety concern without fear of negative consequences and with an expectation that those concerns will be given serious consideration. A robust safety culture will make every attempt to learn from its mistakes as well as the mistakes of others.

        It was not always this way. The early history of U.S. aviation is littered with bent metal and broken bodies. There is a saying among aviators that our procedures are not written in ink, but in blood.

        Ideally, countries without a mature aviation industry would learn from our painful history and not repeat the same mistakes. Sadly, this has not always happened.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author


          The short response is this: A robust aviation safety culture assumes that things break, people err, and the unexpected happens. A robust safety culture builds in multiple layers of protection that attempt to trap and correct safety issues before they lead to an accident. This culture must allow anyone at any level to feel comfortable with raising a safety concern without fear of negative consequences and with an expectation that those concerns will be given serious consideration. A robust safety culture will make every attempt to learn from its mistakes as well as the mistakes of others.

          A culture which the MBAs at Boeing, plus their executive superiors, seem determined to destroy for a few quick bucks.

        2. readerOfTeaLeaves

          It was not always this way. The early history of U.S. aviation is littered with bent metal and broken bodies. There is a saying among aviators that our procedures are not written in ink, but in blood.

          Thanks for your observations and insights.
          We need a system that puts safety ahead of profits. Good pilots know that.

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      Point of clarification of your statement: “I do not believe the 737 MAX is an inherently unsafe design,” — are you speaking about the air-frame design or the aircraft programming and deployment design or all of the above?

      I like to think that a company with the long and truly outstanding history of Boeing might design fail-safe aircraft with multiple component failure backups and safety-critical software — but I don’t get that impression from the recent performance of the 737 MAX. Would NASA fly a 737 MAX to the Moon [rocketry issues aside]? Would you? That may seem a little much to ask of a commercial aircraft … but are we too poor to ask so much? Why can’t some very excellent air-frame design, combined with multiply redundant sensor and actuator systems, safety-critical software, thorough pilot training [and pilot pay] be the gold standard for U.S. aircraft and flight safety? What the Market provides seems to fall far short of anything close to an ideal … unless we might tie executive compensation and stock gains into the calculations of an ‘ideal’.

  8. Alex V

    Regarding the 737 MCAS issue: one theory I have read (can’t remember where) is that the system was designed as it was because of the possibility of frequent disagreements between the angle of attack sensors, if they were used to backup one another. As they are located on opposite sides of the nose, they receive different air flow in a banked turn, resulting in different readings. The decision was then perhaps made to keep them separate for each pilot. If that was a valid design choice is certainly up for debate, especially in the context of it being the primary sensor used in the MCAS system.

      1. RMO

        What I have read so far indicates that the MCAS was first designed with the total trim travel being very small, then in flight testing it turned out that considerably more travel was needed to allow it to moderate the flight characteristics enough. It was also apparently not realized that the system would basically reset to zero when the pilot used the trim to counteract a malfunctioning MCAS thus allowing it to move the trim through its entire range. As first envisioned the MCAS running away as a result of a faulty AOA sensor would only move the trim a small amount so it wasn’t thought necessary to give it redundancy as a failure with that amount of authority wouldn’t be too serious. It really should have been given redundant inputs from the start anyway especially since it seems the only thing stopping such redundancy was a few lines of code. Not telling the pilots about the system and selling the aircraft as requiring no type specific training seems egregiously wrong too. As far as I can tell from the information I’ve seen the engineering failure here seems to be much like the 767 thrust reverse system problem.

        We’ll find out in time exactly what went wrong and when, but this usually takes a while.

      2. Sanxi

        I’m a military pilot, and PhD Engineer and non of it is credible. Damn thing was wrong day one. Oh, as a option you could buy an indicator to tell you so. Great. All this software boo hoo, my bad, oh how could it happen really doesn’t ring true either. Again, who benefits from all this nonsense? Isn’t still all about the money, second, we don’t care, third, go away or some such. My god.

      3. Alex V

        I’m not an aeronautical engineer either, but I thought the theory/explanation was interesting enough to post for critique.

        If anything reading, about these crashes and others related to flight automation (AF447 for example) has taught me is that when designing redundancy for these systems there are no easy or obvious answers.

        In many cases having multiple sensors makes the problems more difficult, not easier to solve. Redundancy does not necessarily increase safety.

        As RMO states, we need to wait for the final reports on what occurred to be able to really say what went wrong. It could easily turn out all of this theorizing is completely wrong and another cause is identified.

          1. Alex V

            I believe this is largely in part due to the different approaches to how the plane is flown.

            An Airbus essentially always has a computer flying the plane. The pilot provides an input telling the plane what he want to do (turn left 10 degrees, for example), the computer decides what this means, and makes the plane’s control surfaces respond, given current inputs from sensors to achieve this goal. This approach requires a high degree of redundancy and diversity in software and hardware – as the presentation says, it must be fault tolerant at all times, hence the features you listed.

            This has some additional background on the Airbus approach:


            and what happens, even given all of this redundancy and diversity:


            Boeing does not use the same basic approach in how the 737 is flown.

            Boeing’s approach is that the pilot more or less directly moves the control surfaces until the desired change in direction is achieved. So for a left turn of ten degrees, the pilot moves the control surfaces until the turn desired has been achieved, and he then moves them back to a neutral position, since the goal is achieved. Computers are there to assist the pilot by preventing movements outside of the permitted flight envelope, but are not designed to directly “fly the plane”. As the flight computers are not dependent on sensors in the same way as an Airbus to make decisions, the requirements for redundancy and diversity are also lower. A Boeing plane is more fault tolerant, in that sensor inputs are not used to the same degree in order to direct the aircraft. In any case, reducing the number of AoA sensors to zero (instead of increasing them) could have also saved these flights – the pilots would have used things like airspeed to determine that they were not in a stall (this is why the AoA display could be an option, not a required feature). These planes did not crash because they stalled due to readings from a non-redundant AoA sensor.

            My best understanding is that an Airbus is less likely to let a pilot get into trouble of his own making. A Boeing on the other hand will be easier to comprehend if one does get into trouble.

            Both are valid strategies to designing aircraft control systems.

            The crux of the current problem is a lack of training and transparency in the changes to the aircraft.

  9. barrisj

    Thanks for highlighting the Seattle Times’ most recent article on the MAX/MCAS clusterfuck. The paper and its reporters are courageously taking on a regional heavy-hitter, who has allies in the state and federal government, and does not take kindly to journalists nipping at their pant-cuffs. Credit also inside sources for providing valuable and documented evidence of the slip-shod job done all round to get this baby off the ground.
    Today’s reports focussed upon FAA (acting) Administrator Elwell’s Senate testimony about
    Agency oversight, or the lack of it:

    FAA chief stands behind Boeing 737 MAX certification, confirms it delegated part of review to the plane-maker

    The head of the Federal Aviation Administration fiercely defended the agency’s oversight of the Boeing 737 MAX Wednesday, insisting during intense and sometimes combative Senate testimony that the agency retained final authority over approval of the plane’s safety.

    “We do not allow self-certification of any kind,” FAA acting Administrator Daniel Elwell said, even as he confirmed that his agency delegated review of a new safety system on Boeing’s 737 MAX to the company itself, as The Seattle Times reported in an investigation earlier this month.


    And there you have it.

  10. Hopelb

    China RX Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine by Gibson and Singh is a must read on this big pharma topic. Gibson was on c-span a while back if you would rather get her summary.
    This reminds me of that piece in the American Conservative, Going to Pieces, about Boeing’s outsourcing of their own legacy tech and know how in order to profit from low wage outsourcing.

    1. barrisj

      Johnson’s website was taken down some time ago…he never was much of a fav here at NC, but is posting a few interesting pieces of late…to be read with a small note of caution, however. Ex-CIA guy, who doesn’t have a lot to do with the VIPS crowd.

  11. Off The Street

    “Why the US–China trade war spells disaster for the Amazon”

    And here I was hoping that it was about that other Amazon! Fewer cardboard boxes with evil pointy smiles, lower carbon emissions, less employee burnout. There was even a potential save-the-rainforest element with that reduced box count even if in rainy temperate zone softwoods. Bonus prize would be fewer readers at Amazon, er, Washington Post.

  12. drumlin woodchuckles

    About this from the top-of-the-post offerings . . .

    Sanders: “The Liberal Case Against Bernie” [Eric Alterman, The Nation]. “A Sanders nomination would, I fear, deliver the country to Trump. It would depress turnout among all the groups I mentioned; increase support for the likely spoiler in the race, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz; and keep a significant number of swing voters in Trump’s column. Additionally, some of the moms and grandmas who make up the backbone of the #Resistance told researcher Theda Skocpol that, owing to Sanders’s harsh treatment of Clinton in the 2016 election, they might sit out 2020 if he’s the nominee.” • Lol. I knew all that #Resistance talk about “unity” was bullshit.

    Pardon my pardonable pride as I say: let the record show . . . that I predicted this some time ago. I predicted that the millions upon millions of fecal scum Clintonites would boycott the election or even vote FOR Trump in order to MAKE Sanders lose; both to express their vengeful hatred and to brag about how right they were in predicting that a “Candidate Sanders would lose.”

    And let me also repeat that I do not care that a Candidate Sanders would lose because of the vile Clintonite scum.

    1. Another Scott

      To be fair, many of them would vote for Trump for less cynical reasons, namely that they’re policy in views on a number of positions to Trump and the GOP than they are to Bernie.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Really? Some Clintonite voters would support the policy positions of Trump more than the policy positions of the Sanders? What would that tell us about the Clintonites?

        Let it happen. Let it be done. Let it be revealed.

        Let the “closet case Clintonites for Trump” come out of their “Clinton closet” and vote for Trump out in the open public view.

    2. Pat

      Call me wild and crazy but one of my secret desires is for a winning Sanders candidacy just to watch the rabid Clinton groupies have an almost worse election night then they had in 2016.

      Mind you similar to my desire to wake up with an 11 figure bank account I am also aware enough to know the joy would be fleeting and the complications and skull duggery that would follow would over shadow the momentary glee. And yes the first years of a Sanders Presidency would probably make the last couple of years like a cake walk. (The real problems being the entrenched powers…)

  13. allan

    Boeing: the good news just keeps rolling flying in:

    WTO appeals court rules against Boeing; Airbus claims minimum $15bn in harm
    [Leeham News]

    The World Trade Organization appeals panel today upheld European claims that Boeing received billions of dollars in illegal tax breaks and subsidies from the US Department of Defense, Washington State, Kansas and South Carolina. …

    More than $3bn Washington State tax breaks were granted in 2003 to incentivize Boeing to locate the 787 production line in Everett. These were extended in 2013 for the 777X wing factory and final assembly line, amounting to an additional $8.7bn.

    Kansas tax breaks amounted to several hundred million dollars. South Carolina tax breaks, the amount never revealed publicly, are believed to be in the vicinity of $1bn, issued to incentivize Boeing to locate the second 787 FAL in Charleston. …

    So, economic development tax breaks, which have gotten a lot of bad press lately, actually turn out to be
    remarkably effective – at creating jobs for $1200/hour international trade lawyers.

  14. KLG

    Eric Alterman. I used to read him; does he still write, “Thanks, Ralph” a lot? And the The Nation, of which I was previously a long-time subscriber. People still do those things? Really?

  15. Michael Hudson

    Re the Boeing plane that doesn’t fly straight
    NC readers may be glad to know that I have enough background in airplane design to participate in this discussion.
    When I was in 6th grade, I made paper airplanes. They could fly all the way across the class room. A few went so far that they banged into the wall.
    Even then, I knew more than a lot of Boeing engineers. It took a little trial and error, but I realized that if I bent the “wings” of the paper too far forward or backward, the plane would quickly crash down. That would simply have annoyed whatever classmate they fell on.
    So here’s my question: Why can’t Boeing – and the FAA – hire a 6th grader to explain to them that planes need to have a stable center of gravity.
    Needless to say, I couldn’t have put a computerized “fixer upper” on my paper airplane to compensate for having made it with a wrong center of gravity. But since I didn’t know computer programming at that time, it didn’t matter.
    Boeing’s problem seems obvious to me: The FAA shouldn’t permit any plane to fly that doesn’t have a properly balanced center of gravity. You shouldn’t HAVE to compensate for a bad design. You make as GOOD design, so you don’t NEED a computer fixer-upper – that may turn the plane’s nose down when the plane has just taken off and is still near the job.
    Nose jobs rarely work for long.
    When the Boeing official told the FAA yesterday that his company was making the 737 MAX plane “more robust,” all planes should have been shut down then and there – permanently. To be “more” robust means that they were robust from the beginning. By definition, they don’t have a clue as to how to make as safe plane as an intelligent 6th grader.

    1. marku52

      If you really are interested, go over to Leeham News and look up “Bjorn’s Corner” especially
      Pitch stability” Bjorn explains aeronautical engineering in user freindly terms.

      Unfortunately, modern swept wing aircraft do not really want to fly very well at cruising speeds, and they all have varying degrees of computer aiding to allow them to do so.

      (Short version of one of many problems: as speed approaches mach, the airflow over the wingtop separates from the wing, the faster you go, the more forward the separation becomes. EG, the center of lift moves farther forward of the center of gravity, and hence becomes more unstable in pitch)

      All modern AC have “speed trim” to automatically compensate for this. Sadly, an aircraft at cruising speed and altitude is flying near stall, ALL THE TIME.

      MCAS is only one of many automated systems running to make these things fly. It was kind of scary to learn how far away we are from old school “stick and rudder” flying.

      1. 737 Pilot

        While I respect Bjorn’s aviation knowledge as it applies to the tactical aircraft that he flew, much of what he has posted simply does not apply to either the 737 design or the manner in which it is operated. The 737 does not suffer from any of the effects you mentioned during normal operations.

    2. 737 Pilot


      The 737 is not an unstable aircraft. In fact, no commercial airliner or even civil aircraft can be certified with an inherently unstable design.

      The 737 (both the previous model, the NG, and the MAX), have multiple flight augmentation systems to improve the handling characteristics, not because the design is unstable. The 737NG actually has a system similar to MCAS to help push the nose down when approaching a stall. In fact, every airliner I have flown had a system to push the nose down when approaching a stall. Stalling large transport aircraft is to be avoided at all costs, and these stall protection systems have an important function. The problem with MCAS is not that the MAX needed it. The problem was that MCAS 1) activated when it wasn’t needed, 2) it provided too much input, 3) it’s failure mode was masked by other warnings, and 4) aircrews had insufficient knowledge and/or training to counteract the malfunction. These issues are being addressed in the redesign. And yes, Boeing should have gotten it right the first time.

      Particular to the MAX, the problem was not related to the center of gravity. Specifically, the additional pitch up moment created by the engines necessitated a different solution than employed on the 737NG. Even so, this pitch up moment still did not make the aircraft unstable.

      Every modern airliner have flight augmentation systems. When designed and maintained correctly, they are an asset, not a liability.

      1. Sanxi

        Your splitting hairs, minus the software systems and being all ‘modern’ and getting into the entire ISO standards process, and the meaning of modern and when the modern era started, I’d still stay that aircraft can not inherently fly right. That we need all of that stuff is not a sign of progress but of MBAs.

  16. Tim

    “Boeing said Tuesday that the company’s internal analysis determined that relying on a single source of data was acceptable and in line with industry standards because pilots would have the ability to counteract an erroneous input.”

    I can pretty much guarantee this “internal analysis” was an engineering trade study, and given the prior statement in the article which walks through the other option of the trade study:

    “He said that if the group had built the MCAS in a way that would depend on two sensors, and would shut the system off if one fails, he thinks the company would have needed to install an alert in the cockpit to make the pilots aware that the safety system was off.

    And if that happens, Ludtke said, the pilots would potentially need training on the new alert and the underlying system. That could mean simulator time, which was off the table.”

    …I can pretty much guaranteed the responsible engineers didn’t make the call on that trade study. Some employee(s) wearing dual engineering/manager hats made the call, and as they say “it’s difficult to understand something that your job depends on you not understanding.”

  17. Phacops

    Re: Tainted Pills

    There are many reasons for this. What I still see is the allowance for reduced or skip testing of raw materials and intermediates. For instance check out section VII.C (7.3) of active pharmaceutical guidance https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/ComplianceManuals/CompliancePolicyGuidanceManual/ucm200364.htm#P744_47422 Especially for materials coming out of China and India the practice of reduced testing based on a cert of analysis creates a greater risk of product adulteration than I am comfortable with. I still see seminars promoting reduced testing in the pharma industry and cannot agree to that approach where it is suggested that quality oversight of suppliers by the manufacturer is a reliable means to eliminate full testing for strength, quality, and purity of materials.

    This is exacerbated by the way facilities are inspected. Inspections are conducted for compliance with regulations and guidance and no thought is made for looking at quality engineering metrics of process outputs because many inspectors are BA grads. It is only when you get to specialized staff in the agencies that training in the sciences is common.

    More needs to be done by the Agency to eliminate testing and production shortcuts for critical materials and processes.

    1. Carl

      Wasn’t the FDA warning us of the dangers of Canadian pharmaceuticals just a couple of months ago?

      1. Phacops

        I would rather trust the HPB (Canada’s analog to the FDA). In inspections I have sat through with them I had noticed that they are not as adversarial as the FDA and are more concerned about ensuring productive solutions to manufacturing quality issues than to mere compliance with regulation.

        The FDA is slowly changing with inspections against quality systems, but still have not required adoption of quality engineering practices.

  18. Wukchumni

    I’m open to the idea of reparations for robo calls, there’s been an onslaught of them that grows steadily, and the only solution is to mess with their heads.

    One of today’s was obviously from somewhere in India and once he mentioned ‘medical’, I went right to Chlamydia, explaining that it wasn’t a life threatening situation, but embarrassing and only I and he knew that he had it, lets keep it a secret, eh.

  19. TroyMcClure

    It’s official. Seven consecutive months of lower home sales here in southern California according to local news.

    Probably nothing…

    1. Wukchumni

      It could put a dent in my proposed SoCalist program to save the country from itself, in that we all buy and sell domiciles to each other in a race to get closer to the coast, upgrading our way to prosperity, while taking advantage of the first national bank of your home along the way, to pay for living expenses.

  20. 10x

    “Researchers estimate it takes approximately 1.5 megabytes of data to store language information in the brain” [Medical XPress]

    “Next on the list was semantics for those 40,000 words—that added up to approximately 12 million bits.”

    That’s 300 bits per word… 38 bytes per word. All the other stuff made a comparatively negligible contribution to the final estimate, so they basically just estimated how much information it takes to store a dictionary and called it a day.

    Advancing the frontiers of science through the careful application of… business math!

  21. Wukchumni

    “Why the US–China trade war spells disaster for the Amazon” [Nature (Allan)]. “We forecast that a surge of tropical deforestation could occur as a result of the fresh demand being placed on China’s other major suppliers to provide up to 37.6 million tonnes of the [soya beans] (that is how much China imported from the United States in 2016). Already, two decades of growth in the global market for soya has led to large-scale deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.”

    China has already gotten used to not buying soybeans from us, and our farmers are in a world of hurt from flooding, so if I was them, i’d twist the economic knife in flyover another 1/4 turn by only buying from Amazon. (no, not that one)

  22. allan

    No call for simulators in new Boeing 737 MAX training proposals [Reuters]

    Boeing Co said it will submit by the end of this week a training package that 737 MAX pilots are required to take before a worldwide ban can be lifted, proposing as it did before two deadly crashes that those pilots do not need time on flight simulators to safely operate the aircraft. …

    At Boeing’s factory in Renton, Washington, managers told engineers working on the MAX, including its anti-stall system known as MCAS, their designs could not trigger Level C or D training designations from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the three former Boeing employees and a senior industry executive with knowledge of MAX development told Reuters. Otherwise, pilots would have to spend time in simulators before flying the new planes. Instead pilots will need to complete a roughly 30-minute training program on a computer. …

    In other word, the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. As always, that turned out well.

  23. VietnamVet

    I read Ernest Gann’s “Fate is the Hunter” back in the ‘60s. Plane accidents are a chain of errors; dispatching a loaded passenger plane with a faulty sensor, single sensor input, disabling yoke yank trim disengage, no pilot training, bad software the drove the stabilizer screw jack to the full nose down position and marketing the 737 Max as being identical to 737 NG. Fixing any one of these contributors to the crash and the Lion Air flight would not have dived in to the Java Sea. The second crash in Ethiopia is due to ignorance, greed and arrogance. Railroaders have a phrase “Rules are written in blood”. In the rush to make more money the ruling elite forgot why air travel was regulated. These deaths are on the top 1%; every President since Jimmy Carter, FAA, Congress, Airlines and Boeing. Deregulation killed 346 people.

  24. Carey

    ‘No call for simulators in new Boeing 737 MAX training proposals’:

    “..In making that assessment, the world’s largest planemaker is doubling down on a strategy it promoted to American Airlines Group Inc and other customers years ago. Boeing told airlines their pilots could switch from the older 737NG to the new MAX without costly flight simulator training and without compromising on safety, three former Boeing employees said..”


  25. Jeremy Grimm

    “…The grim reaper disguises himself in many forms, in this case that of an insurance agent.”
    What a great idea for Halloween costumes! It would put a new twist on the old image of death and kids might help fashion opinion for a better future. I think there might be a lot of new ideas for Halloween costumes generated through a close examination of the many monsters that lurk about us. It could make for an interesting ground game for 2020.

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