2:00PM Water Cooler 4/11/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“China and US reach milestone agreement on road to trade peace” [South China Morning Post]. “China and the United States have agreed to set up enforcement offices to monitor implementation of trade pledges, making a breakthrough that paves the way for ending their tariff war. The enforcement mechanism and the establishment of the offices have been major hurdles to an accord between the two nations, with China concerned that checks on its policies by US officials would be an infringement of sovereignty. But the agreement will also allow China to monitor US behaviour, a reciprocal concession which analysts said showed determination from both sides to reach a trade deal.”

“Incentivising Pro-Labour Reforms” (PDF) [Alice Evans, Center for International Development]. From the abstract: “This paper shows that countries may reduce labour repression if they perceive this as conducive to export growth. This paper traces what happened before, in the presence of, and then following the withdrawal of international economic incentives for pro-labour reforms in Vietnam and Bangladesh. The Government of Vietnam announced it would allow independent trade unions, in order to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and increase market access. Similarly, the Government of Bangladesh rescinded restrictions on unions, following global condemnation of Rana Plaza and fear of buyers leaving en masse. Both governments reduced labour repression to promote export growth. With high-level authorisation, Vietnamese and Bangladeshi activists and reformists became less fearful, and mobilised for substantive change. However, these economic incentives were short-lived: after Trump’s election, the USA withdrew from TPP; buyers continued to source from Bangladesh, and squeezed prices (without requiring labour reforms). Both governments then amped up labour repression – notwithstanding private regulation, economic upgrading, industry growth, and mass strikes.”


“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


Buttigieg (D)(1): “Midwest mayor gives Democrats hopes of taking the White House” [Financial Times]. “For some Democrats who are still reeling from Donald Trump’s victorious presidential campaign, Mr Buttigieg represents their greatest hope of winning back the White House. His rapid rise from small-time mayor to presidential contender feels almost quixotic: the Indiana high school valedictorian turned Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar who went from McKinsey to the navy reserves before being elected mayor of his home town at 29.” • That’s an intelligence officer in the naval reserves, in Afghanistan. Doing what? Gathering intel for the Afghan Navy?

Buttigieg (D)(2): “What Happened When Pete Buttigieg Tore Down Houses In Black And Latino South Bend” [Buzzfeed]. “‘Part of the propaganda around this was, ‘Oh, my gosh, these are absentee landlords and they don’t care about their community. They don’t live here, and we’ve got to get these properties out of the hands of these irresponsible people,'” [Regina Williams-Preston] said. ‘But what I think was missing — the gap in understanding how these communities work — is that a lot of these homes were owned by people who inherited them from their family who passed away, and/or they were living in the home and it got so bad and they couldn’t get any help for it, so they ended up having to move out.'” • So, the problem of preserving black wealth — if a house be considered wealth — intergenerationally. This is a very interesting article.

Harris (D)(1): “2020 roundup: Biden leads Harris in California” [NBC]. “Joe Biden leads the pack of Democratic White House hopefuls in a new Qunnipiac University poll of California Democrats that puts the former vice president ahead of Oakland-born California Sen. Kamala Harris. Biden wins over 26 percent of California Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters in the new poll, with Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Harris close behind at 18 and 17 percent respectively. ” • One poll, more than a year away, but I suppose it affects the invisible primary…

Klobuchar (D): “Amy Klobuchar Also Used the Courts as a Threat Against Students Skipping School” [Jezebel]. • Amy Klobuchar is a cop.

Sanders (D)(1): “AIPAC Targets Bernie Sanders in Facebook Ads Focused on Key Democratic Primary States” [The Intercept]. “SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, who could be the first Jewish president of the United States two years from now, is currently the target of a pressure campaign on Facebook paid for by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobbying group known as AIPAC.” • Wait, what? Isn’t that election meddling by a foreign power?

Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Sanders Leads the Democratic 2020 Pack, Now He’s Coming for the Fox News Crowd” [Newsweek]. “While candidates such as Beto O’Rourke and Mayor Pete Buttigieg have enjoyed an increasing share of the spotlight, Sanders has gathered $28 million in funding (more than anyone else in the running), a majority female campaign staff of more than 100, and a solid list of policies to campaign on. In a new Morning Consult poll, Sanders topped the field of declared Democratic candidates and received the most support from female, Hispanic and black voters. Sanders also enjoyed the highest level of name recognition in the field at 99 percent. That’s even higher than the yet-to-be-declared a candidate Joe Biden.” • I hate to apply the dreaded label “front runner”…..

Sanders (D)(3): “Sanders unveils revamped ‘Medicare for All’ plan” [Politico]. “Sen. Bernie Sanders tried to stake his position as the leading progressive in a crowded presidential field on Wednesday by rolling out a new “Medicare for All” plan, in the process reopening divisions among Democrats after President Donald Trump united them with his renewed assault on Obamacare.” • Quite a lead…


Good question:

But “folks”? Do they say “folks” in Brooklyn?


Something to look forward to:

“The Folly of the Mueller Investigation” [Andrew McCarthy, National Review]. “After an exhaustive 22-month investigation, Mueller found that there was no criminal collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. This was already manifest to anyone who had closely followed the investigation — anyone, that is, who had taken note that no predicate crime was specified when Mueller was appointed (the special-counsel regulations require one), or anyone who had read the indictments Mueller filed, which demonstrated that Russia’s operations predated Trump’s entry into the 2016 campaign, that some of them were actually anti-Trump in nature, and that Russia (which is notoriously adept at espionage) neither needed nor sought American collaborators. “There is no allegation,” observed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in announcing charges against Russian operatives brought by the special counsel he had appointed, “that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity.” Never was such an allegation even hinted at against the president, nor against any of his associates, a handful of whom were charged either with crimes that had nothing to do with the 2016 campaign or with process crimes (mostly lying to investigators) that were not committed until after the campaign was over.” • On to Assange!

“Putin, on Mueller report: ‘We said from the start it would find nothing'” [Reuters]. “Putin, speaking at an Arctic forum in the Russian city of St Petersburg, said on Friday that Mueller’s findings were predictable for Moscow. ‘That it (Mueller’s inquiry) would finish in that way – like a mountain giving birth to a mouse as they say – was clear to us in advance. I’ve been telling you this all along.'”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Key findings on Americans’ views of race in 2019” [Pew Research Center]. “A majority of Americans say race relations are generally bad, and many think the country hasn’t made enough progress toward racial equality. A new Pew Research Center report finds deep divides between white and black adults – and between Republicans and Democrats – in views about race relations and racial inequality in the United States…. Over half of U.S. adults (58%) say race relations are generally bad, and while this share is highest among blacks, majorities of whites and Hispanics also say this. Overall, 53% of the public says race relations are getting worse, while 17% say they are getting better and 30% say they’re staying the same. Those who say race relations are generally bad are particularly pessimistic – 69% of that group says race relations are getting worse, compared with 30% of those who say race relations are generally good.”

“Democrats are cozying up to corporate lobbyists despite purity pledges” [Politico]. “[There is a] trend of Democratic lawmakers who have promised to steer clear of corporate PACs allowing the same corporations’ lobbyists to write them personal checks — and in some cases even host fundraisers for them….. Democrats on K Street are frustrated by what they view as arbitrary restrictions on which kinds of money lawmakers will take and which kinds are forbidden, according to interviews with a half-dozen Democratic lobbyists.” • So why not bulldoze K Street and salt the earth?

“DC outside spending groups live and die by the megadonor” [Open Secrets]. “As super PACs and “dark money” nonprofits are often so reliant on contributions from a handful of wealthy individuals, a powerful group can lose influence quickly if a single donor decides to jump ship…. Most independent expenditure dollars go toward television ads. Even as digital ads become more popular, television ads still dominated the 2018 election.” • RussiaRussiaRussia wasn’t going to go on forever…

“Already Great” [Dissent]. “What’s striking in retrospect is how easy it was to bring together the two questions that Schur was puzzling through in 2009—the Obama question of how to transcend the divide between red and blue America; the [David Foster] Wallace question of whether sincerity could survive in a culture of irony—and how quickly both answers led toward a particularly oblivious variety of liberalism…. what Parks and Rec did for most of its run [was assuage] the anxieties of managerial-class liberals by telling them everything would be okay if we trusted the grownups—the Obamas, the Clintons, the Knopes—to look out for us. “On some level,” Schur said, “we have to present optimism.” By the end of the show, optimism meant a future where public services are gutted, a handful of corporations dominate the economy, and all your favorite characters are doing just splendidly.” • Since I haven’t owned a TV for decades, I’ve never seen Parks and Rec. Should I hunt down some YouTube clips?

“Inside the (semi-)secret society for young Trump staffers” [Politico]. “The club, an informal gathering that provides solidarity and networking opportunities in a hostile Washington, is open to what it calls “the Team” — Trump administration appointees as well as alumni of the campaign, transition and inaugural committee. Members wear a lapel pin fashioned after the butt end of a .45 caliber bullet casing and attend semi-regular gatherings that often feature remarks by better-known Trump-world figures such as Brad Parscale, Corey Lewandowski and Scaramucci…. Its operations, described here for the first time, offer insight into how the anonymous foot soldiers of Trump’s Washington have organized their social lives: discreetly, with an eye toward exclusivity and the aspirational lifestyle that has always marked the Trump brand. Not quite a secret society, the club nonetheless goes to some lengths to fly under the radar: Public hints of its existence are scarce, and the locations of its events are withheld from attendees until they RSVP, all the better to evade the notice of pesky activists and nosy reporters.” • And a second story on the same day–

“How Rep. John Lewis Quashed A Progressive Revolt Over A Controversial IRS Measure” [HuffPo]. “Lewis, in his conversations with Ocasio-Cortez and Hill, stressed aspects of the bill that Democrats like. It contains language preventing the IRS from referring debts from some lower-income taxpayers to debt collectors. And it includes provisions to improve IRS customer service, address identity theft and authorize grants for nonprofits to provide free tax-filing assistance to low-income people….. Lewis also told them that similar legislation had passed the House three times previously and with Senate Republicans finally onboard with the measure, this was the opportunity to get it signed into law. Ocasio-Cortez said Wednesday that Lewis took seriously the concerns she and Hill raised, and she anticipates working with him on separate legislation addressing the electronic filing issue.” • We’ll see…

“City Council OKs $1.6 billion in subsidies for Lincoln Yards, ‘The 78′” [Chicago Sun-Times]. “After a late-night reversal by Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot, the City Council on Wednesday approved $1.6 billion in subsidies to unlock the development potential of two-mega developments: Lincoln Yards and ‘The 78.’ … Mayor Rahm Emanuel added: ‘I know there’s a lot of hard feelings. There’s a lot of strong feelings — and that’s OK. But at the end of the day, we’ve had that debate. It’s time to move forward.'” • [chef’s kiss].


“Next,” note well.

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of April 6, 2016: “Challenger’s job-cut count is clearly trending higher and payroll growth has hit turbulence but jobless claims data are, in contrast, consistent with accelerating demand for labor” [Econoday]. “Seasonal adjustments surrounding Easter, shifting from early April last year to late April this year, can cloud economic data but these concerns aside, claims data are re-emerging as among the most positive indications for the U.S. outlook.” And: “06 April 2019 Initial Unemployment Claims Moving Average At Lowest Level Since October 1969” [Econintersect]. “This marks 209 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1970.”

Producer Price Index (Final Demand), March 2019: “Pulled higher by energy but also by finished goods, producer prices rose” more steeply than expected [Econoday]. “This report in balance is stronger than the run of this year’s inflation readings underscored by the overall year-on-year rate of 2.2 percent, which is up 3 tenths from February and 1 tenth above Econoday’s high estimate.” And: “March 2019 Producer Price Final Demand Goods Biggest Increase Since May 2015” [Econintersect]. “The Producer Price Index moderated. Energy prices were the major reason for the increase. The PPI represents inflation pressure (or lack thereof) that migrates into consumer price.”

Tech: “Nine Companies Are Shaping The Future Of Artificial Intelligence” [Forbes]. “Artificial intelligence efforts lack long-term vision, and it may be a structural problem. Worse yet, the direction of AI — and future of corporate decision-making — is now concentrated in a relatively small handful of global companies…. AI is being shaped by nine companies, all in the US or China: Alibaba, Amazon, Apple, Baidu, Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Tencent.” • “Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind.”

Mr. Market: “Deadly ‘Super Fungus’ Fuels Surge in Chinese Drugmakers’ Shares” [Bloomberg]. “‘Super fungus is a hot topic in China now. No medicine is able to cure the super fungus, but still that’s enough to be a trigger for some hot-money flow into the pharma sector,’ Zhang Gang, Shanghai-based strategist at Central China Securities Co., said by phone.”

Tech: “The big tech companies are smothering small start-ups” [Financial Times (DL)]. “There are no simple answers, but one option is to categorise the digital platforms as “essential networks”, and impose the common carriage rules that have been applied to every essential network in US history (railways, utilities and so on). Those rules require networks to carry goods and information on a first-come, first-served basis, and to charge everyone the same price for the same service. They also prohibit networks from competing with businesses that rely on them to get to market.” • If your business depends on a platform…

Tech: “Next major macOS version will include standalone Music, Podcasts, and TV apps, Books app gets major redesign” [9to5Mac]. Heck, who needs a working keyboard for that? More: “With the standalone versions of Apple’s media apps coming to the Mac, it’s natural to ask: what about iTunes in macOS 10.15? According to sources, the next major version of macOS will still include the iTunes app. Since Apple doesn’t have a new solution for manually syncing devices such as old iPods and iPhones with the Mac, it’s natural to keep iTunes around a little longer.” • Gad. iTunes is one of the ugliest and most stupid programs I’ve ever attempted to use, even uglier and more stupid than — remember this? — Font/DA Mover. And they can’t fix it.

The Biosphere

“Stanford energy and environment experts examine strengths and weaknesses of the Green New Deal” (symposium) [Stanford News]. Mark Jacobson, director of Stanford’s Atmosphere/Energy Program: “Rather than increasing costs, the GND reduces costs substantially. The upfront capital cost of a 100 percent wind-water-solar electric power generation system is about $9.5 trillion. However, this cost is spread out over many years and will pay itself off over time through electricity sales. Further, a wind-water-solar system uses half the energy as a fossil fuel system and also eliminates health and climate costs due to fossil fuels. As such, U.S. consumers will pay only $1 trillion per year in energy costs with the GND, whereas under a fossil fuel system, they will pay $2 trillion per year in energy costs and $600 billion per year in air pollution health costs, and will incur $3.3 trillion per year in global climate costs due to U.S. emissions, for a total economic cost of $5.9 trillion per year. Thus a wind-water-solar system costs society one-sixth that of a fossil fuel system.”

“The Science to Climate Action Network: A New Approach to Urgent Local Needs” [Weather Underground]. “Rather than replace the legally mandated National Climate Assessments, four of which have been released since 2000, the group hopes to see these reports leveraged and built on through an interactive, locally tailored approach. The goal is to draw on constituent feedback, participation, and knowledge in order to develop guidance on climate adaptation and greenhouse gas reduction that’s handcrafted for communities…. Flooding is a textbook example of a risk that’s often heightened by climate change, and one that can be both alleviated and exacerbated by actions at the local scale. In Hamburg, Iowa, for example, community members joined the U.S. Corps of Engineers in 2001 to hastily enhance a levee that was holding back the Missouri River during a massive flood. Although the enhancement was functional, it didn’t meet U.S. Corps of Engineers guidelines for permanent levees, so it was removed. In March, while awaiting a replacement, much of the town was inundated by record flooding along the Missouri.” • Hmm.

“You’re going to cut down on plastic and it’s going to get weird” [Grist]. “I solicited a bunch of tips from my Grist colleagues that they use in real life to limit or reuse single-use plastic in their lives — and how they’ve been ridiculed for exactly those practices.” For example: “I use soda cans, plastic containers, and aluminum cans as planters!” Readers?

“Ocean uproar: saving marine life from a barrage of noise” [Nature]. “Humanity has greatly added to the ocean soundscape. There is no global map of ocean noise, but researchers agree that ship traffic approximately doubled between 1950 and 2000, boosting sound contributions by about 3 decibels per decade. That translates to a doubling of noise intensity every 10 years (decibels are calculated on a logarithmic scale). Sound travels differently through air from through water, making it hard to compare the two environments. But the blast of a seismic air gun used to map the sea floor for oil and gas can be as loud as a rocket launch or an underwater dynamite explosion; ship engines and oil drilling can reach the roar of a rock concert (see ‘A sea of sound’). Some of these sounds are audible for hundreds of kilometres.”

“Satellite Images Seen as Helpful Gauge of War-Torn Economies” [Bloomberg]. Jiaxiong Yao, an economist at the IMF: “‘In regions where conflicts increased, nights became darker. In regions where conflicts subsided, nights became brighter.’… The findings add to the growing pile of research on alternative data sources, including other publications probing what signals night lights offer economists.” • Apparently, the economic harm caused by conflict is underestimated by official measures, as is the subsequent rebound. Yao: “It is likely that periods of economic disruption made it difficult to track the economy accurately and the emergence of the informal economy in subsequent restoration did not enter national accounts.”

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch


Guillotine Watch

“Tourists behaving badly are a threat to global tourism” [Asian Correspondent]. “Tourism brings many benefits to communities around the world. But tourism hotspots are feeling the strain as tourist numbers increase. Locals resent being crowded out of restaurants and parks. They resent paying inflated prices. Most of all they resent tourists behaving badly. The increasing prevalance of the badly behaved tourist, either in reality or simply as cultural meme, presents a serious issue for the tourism industry. In cities at tourism’s bleeding edge, such as Venice, resentment has boiled over into anti-tourism protests. The problem now, as other tourism scholars have pointed out, is that tourism is promoted as an activity of pure hedonism. Rather than being encouraged to see themselves as global citizens with both rights and responsibilities, tourists are sold an illusion of unlimited indulgence. They are positioned as consumers, with special privileges. Is it any wonder that encourages indulgent behaviour and an attitude of entitlement?” • Rather like the people destroying California poppies to take selfies…

Class Warfare

“‘Chemical burns’: Delta flight attendants say new uniforms cause rashes” [Guardian]. “Delta flight attendants are complaining that a new set of uniforms introduced by the airline are still causing skin rashes and worse almost a year after the company introduced them…. On a private Facebook group used by over 2,000 flight attendants viewed by the Guardian, hundreds of flight attendants have complained of health problems as a result of wearing the new uniforms…. While no definitive scientific analysis has determined what is causing the rashes, many doctors have told flight attendants that formaldehyde and Teflon chemical finishing, put on the uniforms to make them stain resistant and durable, are a likely culprit.” • Formaldehyde? Teflon? On clothing? Huh?

“Stone Circles Ringed House That May Have Belonged to the Neolithic ‘One Percent'” [Live Science]. “The massive and ancient stone circles around Stonehenge and Avebury in southern England may have all started with the commemoration of a single Neolithic house that probably belonged to an elite family, archaeologists now say…. Using ground-penetrating radar, the researchers found that the monumental stone circles of Avebury, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Stonehenge, were centered on an early Neolithic habitation, with the concentric stone circles and large earthen embankment being built around it probably centuries later.”

News of the Wired

“Are Trigger Warnings Actually Helpful?: [Scientific American]. “In the most recent and comprehensive study so far on the topic, Mevagh Sanson and colleagues systematically and empirically examined the consequences of trigger warnings…. They found that people who saw trigger warnings judged the material to be just as negative, felt similarly frequently intrusive thoughts and avoidance, and understood subsequent material just as much as those who did not see trigger warnings. Whatever positive effects of trigger warnings that were found were ‘so small as to lack practical significance.”” n = 1394.

“The best $20,000 I ever spent: Starbucks every day of my adult life” [Vox]. “Starbucks is the faintly irresponsible thing that makes me responsible, the routine that props up all my favorite delusions: that I can, and do, live a life of sustainable luxury; that I can predict the future, at least a little bit. At least I know I’ll go to Starbucks tomorrow.”

“There’s No Substitute for Print” [The Atlantic]. “I shrugged on my bathrobe and stepped into my slippers and felt the cold encircle my ankles when I opened the front door,” to pick up the newspaper. I remember this feeling. It is, in fact, a great feeling!

* * *

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 (notabanker):

notabanker writes: “Purple hyacinth getting ready to burst. One of the few early spring bulbs the deer won’t eat.”

* * *

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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. Roger Smith

    Joe Biden leads the pack of Democratic White House hopefuls in a new Qunnipiac University poll of California Democrats

    Is Biden officially running yet or not? There is no way this already joke of a (potential) candidate is going to win when he has been half in, half out for so long.

    1. Carey

      There was something missing in that headline, too: any mention of the guy in between
      Biden and Harris.

      1. a different chris

        Given Biden’s handsy approach and that Harris is not unattractive, I bet she could be happy with the thought of Bernie “between” them, and Bernie OTOH wishing he wasn’t.

        Oh gawd, if Biden gets the nom I have no doubt now that Harris will be his VP. (silent screaming)

      2. The Rev Kev

        Harris had better hope that there is someone between her and Biden or else “handsy” Uncle Joe will be giving her the treatment too.

          1. The Rev Kev

            That would be terrible that. Imagine Harris waking up to find old age creeping up on her!

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      My guess is Joe’s “trying” to hire and line up celebrity endorsements so he can run his own coronation style campaign. I would bet he is expecting the mountain to come to him and is waiting for it to come anytime now as opposed to getting out and taking it.

      He seemed ill prepared for his touchable Joe moment which leads me to believe he’s putting less thought into his candidacy than even some other future Also Rans. Just a few months ago, he was complaining about millennials, the largest voting bloc and the hopes for a Democratic victory. He’s stupid even for DC.

      If he’s doing anything, he’s probably trying to line up bundlers to deter any challenges which is basically what incumbents do, but he’s not an incumbent.

    3. PKMKII

      I saw an argument that he keeps getting included in the polling questions because if they switched to just declared candidates, Sanders would be in the lead by a country mile and TPTB wouldn’t allow such a narrative to emerge.

      1. Roger Smith

        That is a very interesting and plausible idea. I was wondering why he keeps showing up in these polls.

      2. WJ

        This is dastardly and probably true. Note as the above comment points out that Harris is actually in 3rd place in the poll but headline makes it sound like she’s in 2nd by not mentioning Sanders at all.

      3. Jeff W

        “…Sanders would be in the lead by a country mile and TPTB wouldn’t allow such a narrative to emerge.”

        I had assumed that was the case. It’s merely to prevent Sanders from being recognized as the clear front-runner—far and away; excluding Joe Biden, it’s not even close—although when he is, the narrative will then shift to how “perilous” that is and how he can be overtaken—it’s a horse race after all—at any moment.

      4. WheresOurTeddy

        like the insurmountable several hundred delegate lead Clinton had in every graphic in 2016 (which never mentioned superdelegates)? this is the media I have come to know…

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        California is voting earlier this time (to help Harris)…will they still call the nomination the day before I get to vote this time, too?

    4. jrs

      aren’t debates coming up real soon? And this quite regardless of when primaries are, the first debates are in June 2019 I believe. Well does he hope to be in them or not? So @#$# or get off the pot.

    5. RopeADope

      Joe Biden is still deciding if he is going to run for the 2016 nomination. In the interim the polling companies are including Biden in order to depress the poll numbers so that voters are prepared for a contested convention in 2020. It is the same strategy the establishment Dems used right before the CA primary in 2016 and similar to the use of super-delegates to skew perceptions.

    6. dcblogger

      I confess I am mystified by Biden’s enduring popularity, clearly I am missing something. It has to do with being Obama’s VP and so much of the Democratic party wants nothing so much as a restoration. I also think it matter where you get your news. My friend who like Biden (but prefers Kamala Harris) gets her news from TV and finds Biden charming. Clearly so do a great many other people.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The brunch crowd likes to point to Hillary having the second most votes in U.S. history, but a corpse would get 55 million votes minimum. John Podesta and Tom Perez could dig up Ronnie Raygun, slap a blue tie on him, and do a Weekend at Bernie’s routine and get 55 million votes.

        The narratives of Democrats as “tax and spend” and “feckless in the face of GOP obstruction” are out there. Biden’s actual record isn’t as important as “the differences between Republicans and Democrats” from a middle school government class. Because Democrats are “weak”, Biden’s controlled bluster seems to address the problem.

        Right now, Biden is polling at Joe Lieberman levels from the 2004 cycle. Right now, I suspect Biden is a place holder name more than anything. From a campaign side, he was a second fiddle to a natural campaign guy. Obama was really good on the stump. He was energized by it, so Biden didn’t have to stump. For most “political” people, Joe debated Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan.

        If he makes it to New Hampshire and Iowa, he’ll do so poorly as the primary electorates are really on the ball, his support will evaporate nationwide because it will be a 3 strikes and you’re out situation for him.

        I’ve never met anyone who likes the seven term Senator (I don’t know many people from Delaware; really just one, and she hates Joe). They like the seemingly innocuous, tough kind of guy who looks like he is listening and very sure of himself. You might make a point about HRC and her support, but Hillary’s importance to (at least my personal opinion) a pre-Title IX in effect society or once you get past the first female class president instead of secretary. The whole co-Presidency was really cool.

      2. ewmayer

        Manufactured consent in action – the MSM uniformly tout his popularity and “vast experience”, blah blah blah, so he’s popular! It’s basically name recognition and Dem-party brand fumes at this stage.

      3. wilroncanada

        As previous conjecture has noted: these polls are likely deep insider counts, maybe push polls. One has to examine the demographics, the total numbers, not only of those who actually replied, but also what percentage that was of those contacted. Also critical are method of contact or attempted contact and time of day. For example, was it by email, using facebook, or twitter, or land line phone. Was it the middlle of the morning, or afternoon, or evening? Was it being done using the DCCC mail and phone lists?
        Insiders want only insiders to reply. They will find all sorts of scams to ensure that happens.

  2. Altandmain

    I suspect that the real reason for Assange being treated the way he is by the British and American authorities must be because of intimidation.

    They don’t want their dirty secrets to become public. They are saying to other would be leakers – do this and it will happen to you. For that reason Chelsea Manning was subject to conditions that can be described as torture.

    1. urblintz

      There’s no doubt that intimidating whistleblowers and muckrakers from exposing state secrets (which Obama excelled at) is in the mix now but it’s important to keep hammering on the original, devastating truths which Manning and Assange exposed and for which they will be persecuted: Collateral Murder. Video footage from a U.S. Apache helicopter in 2007 leaked by U.S. Army intelligence analyst and whistleblower Bradley Manning to Wikileaks: //www.informationclearinghouse.info/51409.htm

      1. ChristopherJ

        thank you, I hadn’t watched that, felt I needed to, as people have suffered terribly to bring that vision and the realities it shows to light.

        The US is the classic bully and it permeates down to the actions of its soldiers, who sounded very hungry for blood in the video.

        How dare Assange show us up, we’ll show him and every other person who wants to catch us out

        And they have

      1. ambrit

        That copper in the background looks just like Dick Nixon. A meta joke by the “cartoonist?”

    2. bob

      NPR did their part this morning-

      Glenn Greenwald
      ‏Verified account @ggreenwald

      Glenn Greenwald Retweeted Mike Hixenbaugh

      I enjoyed it too. NPR chose to lie to its audience by introducing me as “a colleague of Julian Assange” even though I never worked with Assange or WikiLeaks in my life, but did what all other journalists have done: reported on them & their publications. Went downhill from there:

      NPR then went and sloppily deleted the interview, while keeping GG’s name in the segment description.

      Here’s a link to the interview that you won’t find on NPR anymore-


      1. richard

        Thanks for that link!
        Wow, that was an amazingly sloppy attempt at propaganda. Who was that npr fool, and what exactly was his endgame there?
        “I know! If I appear astonishingly ignorant about what journalism is, my audience will come right along with me and be on my side! It won’t matter that my interviewee has had to correct bad info and false premises on every question I asked. No one will notice!”
        to quote bugs bunny, “what a maroon!”

      2. JohnnyGL

        I love the question, “do you have any evidence for that?”

        I think that was Tom Ashbrook from the sound of the voice. Perhaps he doesn’t understand that he can do his own research? How nice of Greenwald to explain it to him! :)

      1. Geo

        If Trump is anti-Assange the #resistence will still be anti-Assange, just as they are anti-Venezuela, anti-Syria, anti-Russia, anti-anything that doesn’t benefit the current neocon/neoliberal establishment.

        They have no interest in truth or even in consistency. They just want vengeance for 2016 and to go back to a world where their ecocidal and warmongering polices were pushed by polished presidents and not exposed for the craven barbarity they are by a crass conman like Trump.

        1. Cal2

          If Trump pardoned him, he would immediately strip many millions of votes from truly progressive Democrats.

          He’s already got huge numbers of new black voters thanks to his bipartisan prison reform and pardoning some people. Trump is sneaking up on the left by co opting their causes.

          Well, are your people reading this President Trump?

      2. Matt

        I doubt it. The “resistance” didn’t become pro-Venezuela/Iran nor did it become anti-Israel. There are just some things they all can agree on.

    3. Milton

      I know I shouldn’t expect too much but if one good thing we’re to come about this travesty of justice, it would be that there is an open trial with all the evidence of what was leaked, and by whom, rather than the corporate narrative of Russian hackers. I can’t help but think a jury trial would have no choice to deem not guilty when presented with analogs like Ellsberg/NY Times/Pentagon Papers or Felt/Wash Post/Watergate.

      1. Lepton1

        Assange is not charged with publishing but with computer hacking. Plus, we don’t know what other indictments will be unsealed once he is in the US.

        1. Procopius

          I really hate this regime of secret charges, secret indictments, secret laws. The founders tried their best to prevent another Star Chamber. That’s one of the reasons for their very restrictive definition of “treason.”

        2. JBird4049

          “Secret Indictments?” WTF? Seriously. If the government thinks that it has honest evidence of a crime, it should say so.

  3. allan

    Cascading impacts of large-carnivore extirpation in an African ecosystem [Science]

    Abstract: War ravages human lives and landscapes, but nonhuman victims are no less affected. The Mozambican Civil War resulted in the rapid decline of predators in Gorongosa National Park and led to a trophic cascade that shifted prey behaviors and plant communities. Atkins et al. monitored this shift and found that the absence of wild dogs and leopards resulted in a change in habitat use and plant consumption by bushbuck, which are forest-dwelling antelopes. Experiments further showed that changes in prey behavior were reversible when signs of predator activity were introduced, supporting the impact of the predator loss. These results confirm patterns seen elsewhere and go further in providing mechanistic detail about the importance of the “landscape of fear” perceived by prey animals.

    Introducing “signs of predator activity” and “the importance of the landscape of fear”?
    Forget about bushbucks in Mozambique – this sounds like human society in the 21st century.

  4. eduardo

    The best $20,000 I ever saved: Starbucks never

    “I can predict the future, at least a little bit. At least I know I won’t go to Starbucks tomorrow.”

    1. DJG

      eduardo: And whatever she is drinking, it has little to do with coffee:

      I’m in Starbucks right now, drinking what I always get: a venti iced coffee with hazelnut, soy, and caramel drizzle.

      And after she gobbles down that concoction, she probably throws the disposable cup on the sidewalk or on the lawn of someone’s house, as do the Starbucksians of my neighborhood.

      And coffee is such a pleasant habit. Starbucks never.

        1. Geo

          When I was growing up a neighbor had a doormat that read, “If I’m not home I’m at WalMart”.

          This must be the yuppie version of that.

      1. dcblogger

        that is a little harsh, we all have our little pleasures. What is wrong with going to Starbucks for your daily treat? I like to go myself.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I’m a coffee addict myself. But Starbucks is just a coffee shop that serves their customers a cup filled with a liquid that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike coffee. If the feeling between Starbucks and their patrons was reciprocated as much as the author’s feelings towards it, then I would say great. But what Starbucks feels towards their customers is no different to what McDonalds feels towards their customers. That is why this article struck me more as an ad than anything else. But if you like the people and the atmosphere where you go to your Starbucks then I would say great, go for it.

          1. Bugs Bunny

            I like their straight filtered coffee – the “coffee of the day” I believe it is called. Pretty cheap too.

            Other than that, no reason to go there.

        2. jrs

          it reads like an ad because she thinks she’s buying a little piece of luxury with it, so it’s not even about what Starbucks ACTUALLY sells: coffee (and whether one likes the taste of it, or it is nothing more than a caffeine delivery system, both coffee and caffeine are real things), or about what Starbucks also realistically provides: a public place to hang out. Or even about the sugary treats which while it may not be a good addiction are there, but it’s about something else entirely which seems largely fictional, about indulgence, luxury etc. = marketing fictions.

    2. clarky90

      Re: “tourists are sold an illusion of unlimited indulgence.” and also, “Starbucks”

      Our experiment with physicalism is reaching its’ conclusion. Starbucks, Et al, are relentlessly spewing garbage; painting the land, and the oceans, with floating and flying detritus.

      The neo-religion of the “sacred bucket list” is ascendant. Our very lives are imagined as a banquet to be consumed. The poor only get a poor-person banquet (burgers etc), the rich are blessed with the boutique banquet (silver service, private jet, walk-in closets, see and experience everything! travel..). The poor are encouraged to dream of being rich. After consuming our allotted/inherited lives, then……If you can afford it……Perhaps a luxury, “assisted by doctors”, bespoke death? The final item on the list.

      Conceiving ourselves as consumers, and the essence of human life, as a competitive feeding frenzy is daft.

      “One of the best known of the Desert Fathers of fourth-century Egypt, St Sarapion the Sindonite, travelled once on pilgrimage to Rome. Here he was told of a celebrated recluse, a woman who lived always in one small room, never going out. Sceptical about her way of life – for he was himself a great wanderer – Sarapion called on her and asked: ‘Why are you sitting here?’ To this she replied:
      ‘I am not sitting. I am on a journey.’

      From, “The Orthodox Way” by Archimandrite Kallistos Ware

    3. cuibono

      amen to that. Piss poor coffee and supporting a billionaire idiot too? What is not to like?

      1. wilroncanada

        I go to a coffee shop almost every day. There are three in the little I call home, none of them part of a chain. Today I went onto one for the first time in a neighbouring town. I bypass Starbucks, Tim Hortons, MacDonalds. all sucking the life out of local communities. I’d rather pay a dollar more, and add a tip for the barrista.

      2. jrs

        I am grateful I’ve long since given up coffee, it was bad for me physically, but also I don’t have to deal with coffee snobs that way. Heck you can’t even drink alcohol for a buzz anymore without some alcohol snob decrying one’s taste, as if your buzz isn’t tasteful enough for them.

        The tea I drink is organic and fair trade, so I hope it’s meets all standards and exceeds them, and more than that I can not be neurotic about.

        I’m really not sure what it is about coffee and alcohol that brings out the snobbism in a way even food which is a little more important to life doesn’t (let’s decry everyone who doesn’t eat 100% organic!) but …

  5. Alex Cox

    Parks and Recreation is a unique series in that it features almost no conflict – there are eight or nine likeable, flawed characters who constantly reinforce each other. Bad guys are few, and easily defeated. It sounds boring but is actually entertaining.

    Though they work for the federal government the characters rarely do any work! But they chat and socialize and affirm each other. I haven’t seen all the episodes so don’t know how it ends. It’s highly unreal, and weirdly bipartisan: Newt Gingrich and McCain have cameo roles in episodes set in DC.

    Definitely worth a look.

    1. voteforno6

      They don’t actually work for the federal government. They work for the local parks department in Pawnee, Indiana.

      ‘Lil Sebastian Forever!

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I’ll just put this here.

        Should I hunt down some YouTube clips?

        Its the last network show I watched. While watching the occasional rerun, the show is best in season 3 going to about midway into season 4 (when Adam Scott and Rob Lowe are both the bosses when the characters were actually dealing with a budget crunch). At that point, Knope becomes way too competent and smart after already doing this once which was a good move. Her city council campaign goes from being a local council race borrowing a few items from HRC (coming out to “Get on Your Feet”) to a fantasy campaign where it was better run than the real HRC campaign. There are good running jokes with memorable characters and a certain revelry in the absurd. The government stuff at that point just kind of went off the rails into bizarre West Wing fantasy land. If Amy Poehler’s character had not become too perfect but foiled by dumb town people, I think the show would have remained better. The Google stand in spying on the town was okay because they were going to gentrify and could be reasoned with.

        Elites are celebrated and even appear to be “good” as it progresses despite the original and obvious villainy of the fictional town elites. I blame Knope for making Biden appear to be non-scummy. Its towards the end, but Adam Scott’s character announces his run for Congress with this proposal: ” I wanna come out strong on education then I’ll tack hard into fiscal responsibility!”

        It seems boring, but even if its not on purpose, this pablum enters our discourse.

        As far as clips of the show, I can’t find the one I want, but

        Treat yourself

    2. richard

      The AV Club website back when the going was good had a great commenting section (discussed either here or at Links a couple days ago). One of the best commenters was a Leslie Knope parody account, who filtered entertainment and political news through Knope’s bright govwork libspeak. Funny as hell.
      I mention this because the avclub commenter in question was definitely funnier than any of the actual shows I ever saw, or any of the performances from such talents as amy poehler, louis ck, and that good looking doof who was in the superhero movie. I don’t mean to snark about the talent involved; the show drew in a remarkable # of great performers and is worth a look in that sense. It was a fun, warm rejoinder to the tea party conceit that government workers are evil parasites. No edge, though.

    3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Parks and rec is mainstream demotainment. All the identity politics tropes are woven together in an orgy of cluelessness and comedy.

      Id geaux with ‘The Office.’

  6. Brindle

    re: Rep. Lewis…IRS Measure

    The last graf of the HuffPo piece sounds like bad news for a free govt online filing program:

    —“Mandi Matlock, a tax attorney who does contract work for the National Consumer Law Center, said the bill’s text clearly would override any memorandum that the IRS might cancel or renegotiate, meaning she believes the IRS would be permanently barred from creating its own electronic filing program.

    “We stand by our interpretation,” Matlock said.”—

    1. Roger Smith

      “Ocasio-Cortez said Wednesday that Lewis took seriously the concerns she and Hill raised, and she anticipates working with him on separate legislation addressing the electronic filing issue.”

      How is she this naive? She can’t seriously fall for this, can she?

      1. Geo

        My guess is she realized there was no other way to get the good stuff in the bill passed without the bad stuff too. Had to pretend like the revered John Lewis is still a reasonable representative and not the craven scoundrel he’s become.

  7. Carl Brutananadilewski

    Shouldn’t AOC be asking Obama and Holder if more folks should have been jailed since they chose not to prosecute? What kind of answer does she expect from Dimon?

    1. Screwball


      Maxine, in her opening statement, laid out the billions the banks have been fined over the last ten years. Then said something to the tune of; how do we stop that.

      AOC should have asked HER why they didn’t put anyone in jail, not Dimon.

      To be fair, she wasn’t in the room at the time. Her 5 minutes were very late in the day. I listened to the entire thing. I was truly puke worthy.

    2. Phil in KC

      Didn’t Eric Holder answer this question not so many years ago? Essentially, he said it was simply too hard to prosecute the C-level execs of the institutions that caused the financial crises. Too hard.

      Our grandfathers knew what to do. The Pecora Commission in the 1930’s, initiated in March of 1932 by the U.S. Senate, investigated fraud committed by the banksters, sent a few to penitentiaries. Pecora also contributed mightily to the Glass-Steagall Act, and other reforms.

      History ain’t that hard, folks. C’mon!

  8. Swamp Yankee

    Re: folks. I, too, find it an annoying locution.

    Yet there are a number of occasions as a Comm. College instructor where I use it, and I tend to think AOC has similar pressures.

    For instance, if I say “People”, it can come across as overly aggressive (“Come on people!”). If I say “Ladies and Gentlemen”, this is unfortunately taken as somehow an anti-transgender people remark. This is far less the case here than at more “elite” [sic] colleges I’ve taught at, where saying something like “ladies and gentlemen” would be taken as a grave kind of verbal error that would bring out the linguistic police forces of the professional-managerial class in utero, i.e., fancy college campuses and their denizens.

    I’ve even seen some of the Woker Than Thou products of the above switch to using “folx”, because apparently “folks” is somehow — despite being gender neutral and also semi-meaningless and deeply patronizing — excluding someone. Somewhere. I don’t know what they mean, but this is their argument.

    So unfortunately, for all these reasons, “folks” often serves to head these critiques off at the pass.

    Also don’t under-estimate the extent to which constantly speaking in public requires synonyms, fillers, etc., and generally produces much greater mental and indeed physical fatigue, at least for me, than is apparent to the outside observer. Giving a lecture for three hours is exhausting. At some point, you just are looking for words to come out coherently — any port in a storm, as it were.

    1. none

      Someone on Reddit said Dr. Doom was a woke early feminist because FOOLS is a completely gender-neutral way to address a room. Maybe AOC can take that one up.

      1. neighbor7

        Frank Zappa often addressed his audiences as “boys and girls.” Wouldn’t fly today, too exclusive!

          1. Swamp Yankee

            No way are we going to use “y’all” in New England.

            “You guys” is often used in a gender-neutral fashion throughout the Northeast, but has also been declared Double Plus UnGood by the sacerdotal class that runs the culture.

            1. chuck roast

              In New England a “y’all” is a sailboat with the mizzen abaft the rudder.

              You have no idea how long I have been waiting to write that!

      2. richard

        if only there was someone who was escaping, or who they were letting get away, that she could reference…

    2. Seth Miller

      Do they say “folks” in Brooklyn?

      We say “dudes.” Or “comrades.” But AOC is from the Bronx, which is a different planet, especially from the twee part of Brooklyn. (Avacado Toastland is a whole different place from Shishkebabistan, where I live).

      She gets crap from both sides whenever she does the slightest amount of code switching. With some audiences she can say “brother” or “sister” to refer to the turnstyle jumper, but it wouldn’t work referring to Jamie Dimon or the rest of the giant vampire squid that way. Dimon wants to be called a “folk”, and she’s right to indulge him, the better to get him to wear the noose.

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      Many people (too formal, too “white”) on the south side of Chicago in Black communities use the term folks, especially the older generation. Of course sister and brother as a form of address. Many younger Blacks say nigga (about both males and females, and regardless of race).

      I have never understood your disdain for the term, Lambert. It seems you were offended by Obama’s use of it as if it was pandering, trying to be down-home.

      But it’s my guess that it’s a widespread southern (or even more broadly, rural) colloquialism that many of us with family roots in small towns all over the country come by quite honestly.

      I quite like the word for the feeling of community that clings to it, something I never really experienced in the suburbs and loved about the city. It’s just in the air you breathe in Black neighborhoods: nobody walks right past another human being without acknowledging them whether they know them or not. “white” people don’t talk to strangers.

      1. Dwight

        I was offended that Obama used the term “folks” to refer to torture victims, while talking about his own failure to meet his constitutional duty to prosecute the perpetrators.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I have never understood your disdain for the term, Lambert.

        “Folks,” no matter its origins, has been appropriated by the political class precisely for the connotations you describe. It denotes a group of good faith actors in a conflict- and exploitation-free environment.

        Usage example: “Folks in the financial community,” to refer to a network of bank lobbyists from K Street, captured “regulators,” fraudster executives, and donor class-subservient electeds — as rapacious a pack* of weasels as you are likely to find, not only screwing the rest of us, but each other as well; in other words, the people Obama rebooted the financial system to protect. “Folks” in this sense is ubiquitous in the Beltway — and given the nature of the Beltway, no other sense is possible — and as connoisseur of corrupt language, I’m distressed to see AOC adopting it.

        NOTE * Or, amazingly, “boogle.”

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Thanks for the reply. I think the word itself cannot be considered corrupted while it is mostly used by the general public in its traditional sense.

          I can agree that within the world of politics, its use may be corrupted, and even for one to whom it comes naturally folks in the financial community is a stretch.

    4. witters

      Swamp Yankee, 3 hours? If this is the humanities, that is mad.
      The ideal lecture is roughly 29 minutes, plus or minus 26 seconds.

    5. JBird4049

      “elite” [sic] colleges I’ve taught at, where saying something like “ladies and gentlemen” would be taken as a grave kind of verbal error that would bring out the linguistic police forces of the professional-managerial class in utero, i.e., fancy college campuses and their denizens.

      I see. So instead of accepting good faith attempts at polite conversations, which is using terms of address still used by most men and women, punctilious attention is paid to your speech. It almost cult like and a good way to control others by making them focus on the forms and not the meanings of things.

  9. a different chris

    >– like a mountain giving birth to a mouse as they say –

    Man I am glad I don’t live under him, but I* can see how he can easily fire up a testosterone-loaded, vodka soaked young man. That certainly did make me smile despite myself. Is Russia still an officially atheist country? ‘Cause Putin seems supernaturally gifted in his enemies.

    *Plenty of Eastern European genes so I know of which I speak. Sadly not young anymore.

    1. urblintz

      My favorite Putin quote (I paraphrase here): “The USA conducts foreign policy like a chicken plays chess. It struts around, knocking pieces all about, then [voids its bowels] on the board, flies off and calls it a victory.” As for living under him, give me Vlad over the Donald any day of the week… my genes are Greek and the communists there were certainly problematic but still a far sight better, I can imagine, than the CIA planted “colonels” and the brutal, soul-crushing police state they oversaw for too many decades. It’s a shame the subsequent socialist governments there proved too weak to resist the new and in many ways equally soul crushing spookery of the IMF and neoliberalism.

      1. urblintz

        I need to correct my hyperbole regarding “decades”… as unstable as the Greek govt. was before the CIA backed colonels effected their coup, they were in power for less than a decade…

        thank the god I don’t believe in…

  10. Mark K

    Re: “The big tech companies are smothering small start-ups”

    I remember opining in the ’90s, when Microsoft was being investigated for anti-competitive practices, that Windows should be classified as a common carrier of software and that Microsoft should thus be required to divest itself of Office. It didn’t happen then; maybe it will actually happen to Amazon and friends now.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      I’m growing more and more cynical. I think the ONLY thing that will happen will be an annual smattering of carefully crafted public statements indicating suspicions about bad behavior that will need a hearing or three. And then the issuers of said statements, and the chairs and ranking members of affiliated committees will cackle in glee as lobbyists suddenly appear bearing bags of money as if on demand.

  11. Quentin

    No, not in Brooklyn until maybe fairly recently. The word ‘folks’ is a folksy affectation pushed by the overlords, especially those if Ivy League training, personified by the affecter-in-chief of recent times: Barack Obama.

    1. NotReallyHere

      On the positive side, it is a good signifier word. When they drop that in the usually short-lived nice/polite phase of a business relationship, you can be reasonably certain the arrogant self, entitled back-orifice will show itself soon.

      1. Cripes

        In urban black usage, “Folks” and “Peoples” actually denote gang coalition affiliation, as in Gangster Disciples are Folks and Vice Lords are Peoples.

        “Hey Folks, you seen any of them Peoples ’round here tonight? Doesn’t mean what you probably think it does.

        1. NotReallyHere

          Are you saying Ivy League educated experts in the art of sneering condescension develop their skills by imitating black street gangs?

          Fascinating if true.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      maybe in Obama it was an affectation, but there ACTUALLY EXIST (maybe not among the commentariat) MANY ORDINARY individuals for whom people is overkill and folks comes naturally.


      1. sleepy

        I’m from the South where it’s used all the time. I’ve never understood the objection to its use, as if the objection were somehow self-explanatory.

        1. Joey

          Agree, its very I-95, I-5 -centric to get judgy over colloquially-influenced verbiage.

          I had a friend from Columbus who went to Kentucky for college and did an annual trend to-and-fro between ‘you guys’ and ‘you all’.

          Maybe AOC has just been hanging with Yarmuth.

      2. richard

        yeah I definitely grew up among those people and have been fond of the word myself (I love folk tales, folk music and folk festivals after all). But obama kinda smushed it out of shape for me, putting it in that torture sentence. One of the few times we get an elected official on the record admitting to torture, and don’t you know he pairs it with the andy griffith/garrison keillor pronoun to sanitize things. So I don’t use it much anymore. I do like the FOOLS idea for a collective pronoun, but can’t entirely persuade myself that dr.doom is a step up from obama.

    3. Oregoncharles

      W liked it. He was trying to sound folksy.

      I wouldn’t recommend that AOC continue the practice.

  12. Hameloose Cannon

    In on-going hostilities against information, the Trump Admin opens an offensive to demoralize journalism: Assange’s arrest over the Manning material. –Let’s debrief. Surrender to justice in Sweden. Have your day in court. Don’t attempt to blackmail nation-states which are unable to experience the emotion of shame or embarrassment. Ditto corporations. [Also, prosecutors do not have human beings for clients.] Protect your sources! An info dump is selfish, crude, and shows contempt for your allies. Corroborate. Start with the most egregious material and go from there. Once a legal complaint is filed, material can be lawfully subpoenaed [and shared]. A complaint before a Federal court does not have to plead facts: don’t have to reveal what you do and do not know. Antipathy toward feminism is not a reason to work on behalf of authoritarian regimes.

  13. Summer

    Re: Tourism

    I live in a place that attracts tourists.
    I’m always excited when visitors want to do something not centered around shopping.

  14. Sam Adams

    Re: “How Rep. John Lewis Quashed A Progressive Revolt Over A Controversial IRS Measure”
    Oh fun! The Democratic leadership learned how to do a Susan Collins on AOC

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Susan Collins had to have known she was getting rolled because it wasn’t the first time it’s happened to her. It’s the little game she plays so she can still get the media to bill her as a “moderate”. Either that or she’s the dumbest Senator ever to serve for more than two decades, which is not beyond the realm of possibility despite the all the competition for the honor.

      I’d like to think AOC isn’t so naive or a pushover and will stick it to Lewis if he doesn’t follow up. She doesn’t seem to have a problem taking shots at the powerful within her own party so we shall see…

  15. RopeADope

    The collusion was never between the Stavka and Trump, that was always a Blob delusion. It was between a certain GOP donor group and a small subsection of the Moscow based oligarchs. Their intent was to push Russia to accept a certain US foreign policy plan of FDD with a trade-off to some former energy oligarchs that had lost and were losing access to a profitable rake-off with the Gazprom move to St. Petersburg and push to route gas through Nord Stream 2.

  16. Baby Gerald

    Re: “‘Chemical burns’: Delta flight attendants say new uniforms cause rashes” [Guardian]

    New clothing is often treated with formaldehyde as a finishing agent to prevent attack by bugs or mold during shipping and warehouse storage. The formaldehyde generally evaporates off the clothing if it is hung or shelved in a store, but if kept in airtight packaging the cloth might retain the chemical and lead to rashes on the skin if worn straight away.

    I learned this the hard way a couple of summers back when I made the mistake of wearing a Uniqlo t-shirt fresh out of the sealed package. That evening parts of my torso broke out in a rash. A little poking around on the interwebs and I learned about the formaldehyde thing and now make sure to wash new clothing like that before wearing.

    I don’t know how Delta handles uniforms for its crew, but I’d suspect that these new flight attendant outfits are packed in plastic and given fresh to the crew before boarding. By the time the flight’s done, the damage is done. The rashes will go away in a day or two and washing the uniforms should get rid of any residual chemical irritant.

    1. ewmayer

      I stay the heck away from formaldehyded clothing … for me its casualdehyde or nothing at all, and not just on Fridays.

  17. Carey

    Jonathan Turley quote:

    “..The key to prosecuting Assange has always been to punish him without again embarrassing the powerful figures made mockeries by his disclosures. That means to keep him from discussing how the U.S. government launched an unprecedented surveillance program that scooped up the emails and communications of citizens without a warrant or probable cause. He cannot discuss how Democratic and Republican members either were complicit or incompetent in their oversight. He cannot discuss how the public was lied to about the program..”

    1. notabanker

      Interesting that USA Today’s top two stories are highly critical of the Assange arrest.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        I’ve noticed that too. This shows that there are much deeper divisions in the ruling elite than I thought. This issue is very big and goes to the heart of the relation between truth and the militarist and covert ops part of the power-elite. Gannet seems pretty much involved with small newspapers and TV stations and may not be as politically ambitious as the other media-outlets or is, like WaPo, NYT, NPR closely associated with political elites.

  18. ewmayer

    “Nine Companies Are Shaping The Future Of Artificial Intelligence | Forbes” — Hmmm, I don’t see Decima Technologies in that list … guess they’re still in stealth mode.

  19. urblintz

    Carl Sagan, from 1995 The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark :

    “I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. *

  20. drumlin woodchuckles

    Sanders under pressure from AIPAC . . . ” wait, what? isn’t that pressure from a foreign power?”

    Actually, it isn’t . AIPAC is a self-created self-directed free-volunteer hasbarist-of-choice for that foreign power. And AIPAC will have to be countered, undermined, and neutralised on that basis.

    American-First Jews for America First might want to get in touch with every contact-point the Sanders Operation has . . . to let him know they support his effort rather than AIPAC’s effort. Morale is a weapon.

    ( The New York Review of Books once ran a review of issues raised by Mearsheimer and Walt in their Israel Lobby book, which I can’t find online now. One of the things it discussed was how the American Likudists who took over AIPAC used AIPAC to try manipulating the Rabin-era Israeli government and society to undermine and prevent the peace Rabin was attempting to reach with Arafat. A strictly foreign agent would have contented itself with obeying instructions from whatever government its foreign master had at any time. AIPAC has not limited itself to that function. The Likudists have won their Long March through AIPAC as well as through all the Jewish Community institutions they have targeted for Conquest and Likudification).

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Yes. This is it. Thanks for this.

        One interesting little thing is a part of the article describes ” how AIPAC duzzit”. Anyone could study those methods and use them as an instruction-sheet to do the same. All it would take is time, money, and unanimity of purpose over time.

        What if people for a Free State of Palestine were to form a group called American Palestine Public Affairs Committee? APalPAC for short? ” Come on . . . . be a pal. Support APalPAC.”

  21. ewmayer

    “You’re going to cut down on plastic and it’s going to get weird [Grist]…’I use soda cans, plastic containers, and aluminum cans as planters!'” — Um, I thought all those items were typically recyclable – ergo the little numbered recycle-symbol on the bottom. And aluminum cans are neither single-use nor plastic. IOW, “huh?” For better examples of the headline conundrum, I look at what goes on in the food court of the local Whole Foods. For example, had a chat with one of the younger employees there, who like me was wondering about possible alternatives to the plastic-coated cardboard food containers and the single-use hard-plastic utensils on offer. For the former, some of the local eaterie have begun offering pressed-pulp-paper leftovers containers, which seem to hold similarly except for e.g. soup. For the latter we wondered whether utensils made out of press-molded thin wood strips might not be a similar-cost alternative. Fellow readers?

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      My local co-op has green (the color) disposable utensils that are compostable. Not sure what they’re made of but they are sufficiently rigid to eat with although not shiny like regular plastic utensils.

      1. wilroncanada

        I think Tim Hortons serves soup, or maybe stew, in bread bowls. They’re supposedly edible (after being emptied. I haven’t tried one, so can’t say how edible. Have only seen them in the hands of victims,lol.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I tried that, though at a different restaurant. It’s a vast amount of bread;l you aren’t going to finish it unless you’re an athlete in training.

          1. polecat

            This is where having chickens, or geese if that’s your thing, comes into play ..
            It’s amazing what neo-dinosaurs can eat: They are the ultimate recyclers !

  22. cuibono

    The level of Furor of the Russiagate crowd over Assange is really stunning, even frightening .
    Can anyone point to a good analysis of this for m of psychosis? is this just deep state games?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      No. It is millions of Jim Jonestown Clintonites expressing their sincere hatred for someone they believe helped Putin to defeat their beloved Maximum Priestess Leader-Queen Hillary Jim Jonestown Clinton.

      ( I will risk my reputation just a little bit by predicting, without even having read it, that Riverdaughter’s “The Confluence” Blog will celebrate the arrest of Julian Assange.
      I further predict that her commenters will be cackling with fiendish blood-hungry glee over what they hope will happen to Assange in the end. If I am wrong, my credibility goes a little bit down. If I am right , my credibility goes a little bit up. And my warnings about the deadly menace and existential threat that tens of millions of Clintonites pose to American survival as a country and society will perhaps be taken a little more seriously).

      1. Chris Cosmos

        I think Daily Kos, or at least many commenters seem to be taking a hard-line on Assange. I believe, honestly, that Kos is an intel asset as are many others in the media as we know from Operation Mockingbird which has not only continued but greatly expanded through slightly different offices.

  23. Alex morfesis

    Tendance Groucho (1968)…about the Marx brothers… Groucho didn’t just turn up to give j Edgar and his boyfriends agita…harpo was the person who FDR sent to the USSR to smooth things over and one of Harpo’s brothers… The one who left the krewe early, ended up building parts for the military including something used on the enola gay..

    The truth is hardly ever what it appears to be…

    The occasional Groucho Marxist burp from moi is from Paris 1968…

    Marxist, tendance Groucho…

  24. Cal2

    “That’s an intelligence officer in the naval reserves, in Afghanistan. Doing what? Gathering intel for the Afghan Navy?”

    Well, that’s not so far fetched: Boliva has six admirals in its navy. Look at a map if you don’t get it.

    The Butt of the joke is that his main function is to take votes away from Bernie, Tulsi and any other true progressive candidate, and to run down the debate clock with long winded exhortations.

    Plus there’s the positioning of the lecturns on the stage. The more candidates, the more likely Tulsi or Bernie will be far stage right, the last to be called on and invisible to most viewers.

  25. VietnamVet

    Pete Buttigieg’s “Tear Down the Houses” is coming to a neighborhood near you. Wherever, there are offspring living with their parents and grandparents because they cannot afford a home of their own.

  26. WobblyTelomeres


    I know Elon Musk and Israeli politicians are not popular here. But, two big deals occurred today.

    1. A SpaceX Falcon Heavy launched today, and successfully landed all three boosters. Two landed at Kennedy and the main booster landed on the drone ship, “Of Course I Still Love You”. Just amazing. And, y’all know that with each booster landing, Elon is flipping his middle finger at Boeing and Lockheed-Martin. Despite everything else, that must have some merit.

    2. An Israeli team attempted a landing on the Moon. Unfortunately, the lander crashed. Now, I have a lot of issues with Israeli politicians and their treatment (murder) of Palestinians, but their scientists are just like our scientists; bright people trying to do amazing things despite a wretched political environment. They tried and came up short. Just elongating their orbit such that they could attempt a lunar landing is an accomplishment. Kudos. Hope they try again.

    1. ewmayer

      “An Israeli team attempted a landing on the Moon.” — When I read that ITYM the team was the crew in an attempted *manned* landing, which was followed by a “how can they afford such a massive enterprise, and how did I not hear about it?” Anyhow, I see you meant “attempted to put a lander on the moon” – still impressive, but no lives at stake. :)

    2. Plenue

      Nothing involving SpaceX is ever actually a big deal. Landing, reusable rockets have been around since the 60s. The concept isn’t used much because it’s actually not particularly useful and doesn’t actually lower costs.

      SpaceX is probably Musk’s only half-way decent project, in that it’s not a complete scam. But it produces fairly serviceable rockets, nothing more. It’s a glorified contractor.


      Here’s a pretty ruthless take-down of the importance of the company, rocket by rocket.

      As for Israeli scientists, they may be bright and ambitious. Doesn’t make them good people. How many voted for Likud or one of the other ugly flavors on offer in Israeli politics?

      1. skippy

        Yeah a bit of John Galt PR whilst on the Guber’mint dole at the same time, yet has a Noriega like propensity to cop a-tude ….

    1. JBird4049

      Now I am even more embarrassed about our inability to actually build beautiful buildings! If you take any classes in architecture and art you will see what America used to be able to do. It has been going away for fifty years.

  27. Oregoncharles

    ” “I use soda cans, plastic containers, and aluminum cans as planters!” Readers?”
    I don’t do that, because my job yields a plethora of small and large planters. I do wash and reuse plastic bags and other plastic containers, taking them into the store with me. Just filled 8 1 pint containers with baked squash – in the amount that goes into a pumpkin pie. It means rather a lot of plastic in the house, but at least it’s sequestered.

    And on the other side: probably my worst sin is using plastic tarps, both to carry debris and to cover wood, th elatter because I’m not much of a builder and still haven’t built a proper woodshed. And we have a lot of firewood. Both applications use up the tarp. I need to look into alternatives.

  28. Phil in KC

    Life without plastics: so, with the knowledge that plastic recycling just isn’t happening like it was in the near past, I went to the supermarket–four, actually–to buy ketchup and cheap yellow mustard in glass containers. Nope, not there, or anywhere, except Heinz has some retro-recipe Ketchup in the old glass bottle at triple the price, so that’s what I bought. No cheapo yellow mustard in a glass jar, but fancy mustards are in glass. Same deal with salad dressings. But all the hot sauces come in glass containers. Go figure.

    In my town, we recycle glass at a nearby facility, thus saving shipping costs. We can also recycle non-food contaminated paper and cardboard. So now I’m looking for a better way to get pizza without having to discard the box in the regular landfill garbage. Eat it at the pizzeria? Revolutionary!

    1. polecat

      1.) Save box
      2.) Make n bake (or grill) your own pizza
      3.) Put leftover pizza .. wrapped in parchment (important !) .. in used pizza box, and store in refrigerator.
      4.) Enjoy said leftovers at your leisure
      5.) Wipe-down and store for reuse said box .. (or boxes) and parchment as needed

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