2:00PM Water Cooler 4/15/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I am finishing up a post on framing climate change, and so (again) will throw down some conversation starters in the Politics section — it was a very busy weekend! — then return later and finish up. –lambert


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune


Biden (D)(1): “Biden to campaign as extension of Obama’s political movement” [Associated Press]. There’s no such thing. More: “After remarks at a recent labor union event, Biden said he was proud to be an “Obama-Biden Democrat,” coining a term that his advisers define as pragmatic and progressive, and a bridge between the working-class white voters who have long had an affinity for Biden and the younger, more diverse voters who backed Obama in historic numbers.” • One would expect, therefore, an Obama endorsement to be forthcoming (which, if it comes down to Biden v. Sanders, I imagine there would be, albeit in passive-aggressive fashion).

Biden (D)(2): “Biden sees donor enthusiasm, strong polls post-controversy” [The Hill]. “The former vice president and his supporters believe the large Democratic field that has swelled to 18 candidates benefits Biden since it will make it tougher for anyone to reach 50 percent.” • So Biden is betting on a brokered convention? Cool!

Booker (D)(1):

Not sure I’d put much weight on the police estimate, but the video of the crowd is not impressive.

Booker (D)(2): “Individuals Working for Wall Street, Private Equity and Big Pharma Love to Donate to Cory Booker” [In These Times]. “Despite rejecting corporate PAC money in February 2018, he still received large amounts of contributions that year from individuals working in industries and lobbying firms whose interests run counter to many progressives’ most cherished policy goals. Among his current top contributors were individuals from major Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Prudential Financial and private equity firm Apollo Global Management. His top source of funding, New York-based corporate law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, receives much of its business from the financial sector, particularly Citigroup.”

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Former AIPAC President Endorses Pete Buttigieg” [Forward]. “The dark horse Democratic presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, got a pro-Israel boost with the endorsement of Steve Grossman, the former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee….. Grossman, who previously indicated he would back the campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, called Buttigieg, 37, ‘a Midwestern, down-to-earth, smart, savvy, in-touch candidate who will continue to grow,’ saying he had what it takes to win back industrial states that Hillary Clinton — whom Grossman backed — lost in the 2016 election.” • “Smart, savvy.” It’s like somebody thought Listen, Liberal! was a blueprint.

Buttigieg (D)(2) The head: “Wonder Boy” [New York Magazine]. The deck: “Wonder Boy Pete Buttigieg is a gay Harvard alum, fluent in Gramsci, Joyce, and Norwegian. And he’s the Democrats’ folksiest heartland hope. Really!” More: “Sick of old people? He looks like Alex P. Keaton. Scared of young people? He looks like Alex P. Keaton. Religious? He’s a Christian. Atheist? He’s not weird about it. Wary of Washington? He’s from flyover country. Horrified by flyover country? He has degrees from Harvard and Oxford. Make the President Read Again? He learned Norwegian to read Erlend Loe. Traditional? He’s married. Woke? He’s gay. Way behind the rest of the country on that? He’s not too gay. Worried about socialism? He’s a technocratic capitalist. Worried about technocratic capitalists? He’s got a whole theory about how our system of “democratic capitalism” has to be a whole lot more “democratic.” If you squint hard enough to not see color, some people say, you can almost see Obama the inspiring professor. Oh, and he’s the son of an immigrant, a Navy vet, speaks seven foreign languages (in addition to Norwegian, Arabic, Spanish, Maltese, Dari, French, and Italian), owns two rescue dogs, and plays the goddamn piano. He’s actually terrifying. What mother wouldn’t love this guy?”

Buttigieg (D)(3): “Poverty, income, population: Do the stats reflect Buttigieg’s legacy in South Bend?” (charts) [South Bend Tribune]. “Despite the various sets of numbers, and interpretations, Indiana University South Bend political science professor Elizabeth Bennion said it’s tough to separate the impact of a city’s policies on demographic data from the impacts of a regional economy and state and national policies. ‘It is incredibly difficult to disentangle these factors, and that compounds the problem of how you judge a particular politician’s impact,’ Bennion said. ‘Multiple people with their own agendas can pick their data points and time period and spin the story any way.'” • Not exactly a ringing endorsement. (Also, South Bend is quite the college town; not only Notre Dame but Indiana University South Bend. I would bet there are a lot of disparities across neighborhood, and plenty of gentrification, too.)

Gillibrand (D): “Gillibrand Calls Hillary Clinton a ‘Role Model for All'” [Bloomberg]. “Gillibrand said Tuesday that her ‘fondness’ and respect for Hillary Clinton are ‘very strong’ and that she continues to admire and look up to her. She supported Clinton’s 2016 Democratic presidential bid and took Clinton’s U.S. Senate seat when Clinton was appointed secretary of state in 2009. ‘Secretary Clinton is a role model for all of us,’ Gillibrand said. ‘My views on her husband are very different. And I’ve said all I’m going to say about that.'”

Harris (D)(1): “Kamala Harris: ‘I am a gun owner’ for personal protection” [The Hill]. “The presidential candidate blasted what she believes is a ‘false choice’ between supporting the Second Amendment and taking away guns, which she said is ‘born out of a lack of courage from leaders.’ ‘For too long and still today we are being offered a false choice which suggests you’re either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away,’ she said. She added that she supports ‘smartLos Angeles Times]. “Also boosting the family coffers was Harris’ most recent book, “The Truths We Hold.” Harris was paid more than $730,000 for the memoir and a companion children’s book, which were released in January. She reported more than $400,000 in expenses relating to the project.” • Not, apparently, a best-seller. And $400K in expenses for writing a book? Really?

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders’ Letter Accusing CAP of Undermining Democratic Unity (April 13, 2019)” [DocumentCloud]. This letter, and the ensuing controversy below, is a show of strength by Sanders, because CAP is regarded by many liberal Democrats as a White House in waiting:

Center for American Progress leader Neera Tanden repeatedly calls for unity while simultaneously maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas. I worry that the corporate money CAP is receiving is inordinately and inappropriately influencing the role it is playing in the progressive movement.

I and other Democratic candidates are running campaigns based on principles and ideas and not engaging in mudslinging or personal attacks on each other. Meanwhile, the Center for American Progress is using its resources to smear Senator Booker, Senator Warren, and myself, among others. This is hardly the way to build unity, or to win the general election.

I will be informing my grassroots supporters of the foregoing concerns that I have about the role CAP is playing. Should your actions evolve in the coming months, I am happy to reconsider what kind of partnership we can have.

“I am happy to reconsider what kind of partnership we can have.” Translation: “I don’t need you.” Sanders volunteer organizing must be going very well.

Sanders (D)(2): By “informing my grassroots supporters,” Sanders means “fundraise off this,” and so he should be:

Sanders (D)(3): Zaid Jailani, late of CAP, now at the Intercept. Thread:

Sanders (D)(4): It would seem that Think Progress (TP) is one of the “resources” CAP used; TP fired back by insisting on its editorial independence. Well…. Thread:

Sanders (D)(5): And well….

Readers with long, grudge-filled memories — like mine! — will remember that Neera Tanden got Matt Bruenig fired when he didn’t even work for her. So, given that CAP and TP are co-located, and CAP signs TP’s checks, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to imagine that TP’s editorial independence is a useful fiction.

Trump (R)(1): “Goldman Economists Say Trump Re-Election More Likely Than Not” [Bloomberg]. “”The advantage of first term incumbency and the relatively strong economic performance ahead of the presidential election suggest that President Trump is more likely to win a second term than the eventual Democratic candidate is to defeat him,” [economists Alec Phillips and Blake Taylor wrote in a report released late on Saturday].” •

Trump (R)(2): “13 Keys to the White House Indicate a Republican Win in 2020” [Macro Affairs]. These are Alan Lichtmans keys, a fundamentals-based approach which has been successful in the past, including 2016. “The table above gives the incumbent GOP a preliminary score of 7.8, which is above the 6.5 needed to win – indicating that the Republicans are ahead in the 2020 election. But the Democrats need to win just 1.3 points to gain the upper hand.” • So, we’re going to be chewing our hands for the next 567 days! Lichtman also predicred (December 2018) that Trump will be impeached in 2019.

Yang (D):

Uh huh.

CA: “California Voters Keep Accidentally Joining George Wallace’s Zombie Political Party” [New York Magazine]. “An April 2016 Los Angeles Times report showing that a vast number of indies who should have been registering as ‘No Party Preference’ voters were instead signing up for the [American Independent Party, a hold-over from the Wallace campaign in 1968]…. it certainly did not help the Sanders campaign, which was counting on indie votes…. If there’s a 20-candidate presidential field and Sanders or somebody else is counting on indies to get them across the line in California, they’d better start getting the word on about the AIP pretty soon.”

WI: “A Sobering Signal From Wisconsin” [The Nation]. “Trump assumed the presidency after losing the popular vote but narrowly prevailing in the fights for the electoral votes of three states with long histories of voting Democratic in presidential elections: Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Those states are all led today by Democratic governors, thanks to the Democratic wave that swept across the Great Lakes region in 2018. But no one should imagine that one good election cycle for the Democrats means that these states have made a permanent move. Or that the nation is on a clear trajectory toward the post-Trump era.” Shorter: An injection of right-wing money. Not countered — naturally — by Democrats.

“Democrats, Please Take Whatever Precautions Are Necessary To Prevent This Terrible Disaster” [The Bulwark]. “it’s my firm belief that if you don’t do something to change course, America is going to be forced to choose between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in 2020. And that’s no kind of choice at all.” • Recommended by Bill Kristol!


“Not a showoff.’ Sharice Davids’ quiet approach endears her to Democratic leaders” [Kansas City Star]. “Congress has never seen anyone quite like Davids: Cornell Law School-educated MMA fighter, one of the first two Native American women in the House, the first LGBT person to represent Kansas…. Congress has never seen anyone quite like Davids: Cornell Law School-educated MMA fighter, one of the first two Native American women in the House, the first LGBT person to represent Kansas. And yet, while her personal biography is barrier-breaking, Davids’ approach to her first 100 days in office has been exceedingly traditional, marked by deference to leadership and studious attention to the details of legislating…. “I would put her toward the top of the freshman class in terms of doing things the right way,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Illinois, the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.” • Any Kansas readers care to comment?

2016 Post Mortem

“Judicial Watch Uncovers ‘Cover-Up’ Discussions in Latest Production of Clinton Email Documents” [Judicial Watch]. I’m including this because I don’t think Judicial Watch makes sh*t up. So these are interesting FOIA resutls: “FBI notes of an interview with an unidentified Platte River Networks official in February 2016 (almost a year after the Clinton email network was first revealed) show that Platte River ‘gave someone access to live HRC archive mailbox at some point.’ The same notes show that an email from December 11, 2014, exists that reads ‘Hillary cover up operation work ticket archive cleanup.’ The interviewee said that the ‘cover up operation’ email ‘probably related to change to 60 day [sic] email retention policy/backup.’ The subject indicated that he didn’t ‘recall the prior policy.’ The notes also indicated, ‘[Redacted] advised [redacted] not to answer questions related to conv [conversation] w/DK [David Kendall] document 49 – based on 5th amendment.’ The subject said that ‘everyone @ PRN has access to client portal.’ A December 11, 2014, Platte River Networks email between redacted parties says: ‘Its [sic] all part of the Hillary coverup operation I’ll have to tell you about it at the party.'” • I suppose “<smile>” means this is all ironic, which tech people often are. Nevertheless!

Health Care

“Top Hospital Lobbyist Predicts Pelosi Won’t Give “Medicare for All” A Vote” [MapLight]. “Tom Nickels, the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) executive vice president for government relations, spoke at the organization’s annual conference on Monday, a day before Pelosi addressed the same Washington, D.C. ballroom: ‘We’re going to hear again from Mrs. Pelosi tomorrow. She’s trying to thread the needle here, and she understands the difficulty that Medicare for All will provide for her caucus and for some of her members who have to go get re-elected, and my guess is she’s going to be pretty adept in making sure that nothing comes up that harms her members.'” • Oh.

Our Famously Free Press

They issue press releases:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“NY’s Oversight Committee head calls for halt on voting machines” [New York Post]. “BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan is also on the hot seat after it was revealed last year that he failed to report several posh business trips paid for by ES&S. He subsequently stepped down from an unpaid gig on the contractor’s advisory board. The BOE wants to use ES&S’ Express Vote XL touch-screen system, which would let voters cast ballots directly on the machine after inserting a blank slip of paper into a slot in the computer.” • “Directly on the machine” is doing a lot of work there…

No digital:

* * *

America’s Civic Religion:

DSA (1):

Get on out there and serve the working class!

DSA (2):


Stats Watch

Empire State Manufacturing Survey, April 2019: “The first factory indication for April is solid to mixed” [Econoday]. “There’s more good news than bad news in this report which based alone on new orders is consistent with a healthy pace of growth for a manufacturing sector that, due to weakness in global demand, has been uneven since year end.”

The Bezzle: “Panasonic reconsidering future investments in Tesla Gigafactory” [Today’s Motor Vehicles]. “Panasonic will meet 2019 commitments to boost battery capacity output for Tesla, but the company is reconsidering further investments as it is ‘watching the demand situation’ for electric vehicles (EVs)….The decision won’t hurt Tesla’s ability to grow EV sales this year, but it casts doubt on how much EV demand is growing. In the first quarter of this year, Tesla deliveries badly missed expectations, and EV maker is taking steps that could further limit demand.”

The Bezzle: Good clean fun, but misses Hubert Horan’s amazing work on the financials:

Tech: “Amazon Workers Are Listening to What You Tell Alexa” [Bloomberg]. “Amazon.com Inc. employs thousands of people around the world to help improve the Alexa digital assistant powering its line of Echo speakers. The team listens to voice recordings captured in Echo owners’ homes and offices. The recordings are transcribed, annotated and then fed back into the software as part of an effort to eliminate gaps in Alexa’s understanding of human speech and help it better respond to commands…. The Alexa voice review process, described by seven people who have worked on the program, highlights the often-overlooked human role in training software algorithms. In marketing materials Amazon says Alexa “lives in the cloud and is always getting smarter.” But like many software tools built to learn from experience, humans are doing some of the teaching.” • Thank heavens nobody’s thought to try an audio Captcha yet.

I remember, when quite young, flipping through the Disney version of Winnie the Pooh. One of the images was of Pooh coming to the door, carrying a popgun. There are, of course, no guns in A.A. Milne’s masterwork, pop or not.

Tech: “Breakingviews – Apple supplier’s rescue leaves Japan red-faced” [Reuters]. “Japan Display’s rescue is an embarrassing necessity for Tokyo. An investor group is buying two thirds of the company for up to 80 billion yen ($714 million), a lowball price for the former national champion. It will fall into foreign hands, some of them Chinese, which could raise red flags. Yet managers have little choice but to pray the deal closes…. Japan Display was created with government funds in 2012. The idea was to fend off South Korean and Taiwanese rivals by merging Hitachi, Sony and Toshiba’s liquid-crystal display units. The deal created the world’s biggest maker of panels used in smartphones and tablet computers, but the company failed to stay competitive. It has lost money every year since 2015…. More than half of Japan Display’s 2018 sales came from Apple.” • Masters of the supply chain!


Do any readers have the sort of ACM subscription required to get a copy of this article? If so, could you download and send it to me? (I will handle permissions with the author.)

Concentration: “Revenge Of The Record Labels: How The Majors Renewed Their Grip On Music” [Forbes]. “Left for dead by most investors and pundits, the surviving Big Three labels–Warner, Universal and Sony–have quietly muscled out stakes of the hottest digital entertainment startups, including 10% to 20%, collectively, of the established streaming services, such as Spotify and Rdio. Terms are similarly stark for younger startups: The labels take stakes for free or on the cheap, and then often give themselves the right to buy larger chunks at deep discounts to market later on. It’s not just streaming: The labels have gobbled up pieces of startups ranging from choose-your-own-adventure music video purveyor Interlude to song-recognition giant Shazam–valued at $1 billion in its latest round–which counts Carlos Slim, the second-richest man in the world, among its investors. And what have the labels been giving the startups, aside from legitimacy, to secure these sweetheart deals? All-encompassing access to the artists and their songs–a neat little trick. Sure, the artists derive some minimal amount of royalties from these new channels, but they aren’t getting any of the ownership.” • Same old, same old.

Concentration: Funny not funny:

The Biosphere

Averages conceal:

Class Warfare

“How Tesla and its doctor made sure injured employees didn’t get workers’ comp”” [Reveal News]. “Inside a medical clinic not far from Tesla’s electric car factory, Yvette Bonnet started noting a troubling pattern. The automaker’s workers’ compensation manager would pressure her boss, Dr. Basil Besh, to make sure Tesla wasn’t on the hook for certain injured workers. And in her observation, Besh did whatever he could to not jeopardize his chance to run Tesla’s on-site factory clinic. ‘He would say, ‘I’m not losing the contract over this – get this case closed,” said Bonnet, who was operations manager for Besh’s Access Omnicare clinic in Fremont, California, for about a year. ‘Besh wanted to make certain that we were doing what Tesla wanted so badly,’ she said. ‘He got the priorities messed up. It’s supposed to be patients first.” • Lol, Besh got the priorities exactly right.

News of the Wired

“Cursive Seemed to Go the Way of Quills and Parchment. Now It’s Coming Back.” [New York Times]. “Cursive was also politicized during the Cold War, becoming a display of patriotism. ‘Unbelievably, there were arguments that the fact that American kids couldn’t do cursive made us vulnerable to the Russian menace,’ Dr. Thornton said.” • What’s unbelievable about that? My handwriting used to be just bad; then I had to revise it, so I could work with a pen on my tablet, and it got better. Unfortunately, my signature doesn’t work any more, which has occasionally caused problems…

* * *

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 (PM):

Lovely, modest spring flowers.

* * *

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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. Pat

      The Spire looks to be a goner. I hate to somewhat agree with Trump, but my feeling is unless they start pumping a lot of water into that building from all directions including from above, it could end up ruins.

      1. PKMKII

        You can put the fire out right quick if you dump a few tons of water on it from above. You will also collapse much of the already fire-weakened structure in the process. If the goal is to save as much as possible, then the firefighting strategy needs to be more exactly, and ergo, not as fast.

        1. Pat

          True. But there are systems that allow for less of a water dump from above. My thought was a controled spray from above would help slow the fire in the center as the more easier outer areas of the fire are fought to help bring it under control.
          They may only be there for information and coordination but France 24 reports that helicopters are now part of the fight for to put the fire out.
          Firefighters are also reported trying to get artwork out.

          1. Pat

            But the French fire officials indicated it would have been a dump system so no it would not have helped.

          1. Yves Smith

            The spire was a later addition, in the 19th century, and actually controversial (a vanity project of a IIRC a cardinal, not well loved by architects or historians). Which does not mean its collapse isn’t a sign of the extent of the damage.

            1. Alfred

              The spire was designed by E-E. Viollet-le-Duc, part of his extensive ‘restoration’ of the cathedral. An earlier spire had been dismantled in the 18th century. The building is/was perhaps the pre-eminent example of the 19th-century French approach to treating monumental heritage. That approach aimed not just to ‘preserve’ what had survived over time but moreover to ‘replace’ what had been lost. Viollet-le-Duc was himself pre-eminent as both a theoretician and practitioner of that approach. It was influential throughout continental Europe, though in England Ruskin and others railed against it.

              1. flora

                A 17th c etching of Paris Notre Dame:


                A 1618 map of Paris. (The spire may have been emphasised because it was a landmark.)

                If a spire was a later addition to the original design it was added by the 17th c, if not earlier.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s never too early to say, ‘We will rebuid.”

        In fact, many historical objects are reconstructed, fully or partially, like say, Michaelangelo’s Pieta.

        1. Carolinian

          Churches all over Germany were bombed out in WW2 and rebuilt. Undoubtedly it will be rebuilt.

          1. Arizona Slim

            ISTR seeing a photo of bombed-out St. Pauls Cathedral in London. It also was rebuilt.

            1. Carolinian

              Wasn’t it just one bomb that landed in the middle of the nave? I’m vague on the details.

            2. Joe Well

              There were many volunteer “fire watchers” during WWII who actually stood on the roof of St. Paul’s during the bombing and kicked off the bombs or else doused the small fires before they could spread. They saved it from any serious damage, otherwise there would be some Brutalist Barbican-style cathedral in its place today.

              I know this from having read Connie Willis’s time travel story, Fire Watch.

        2. Big River Bandido

          I was thinking of things like roads, railroads, bridges, public and cultural institutions, and the social compact in general. At least in the United States, all of those things are going the way of the spire.

        1. flora

          Cultural sustenance and reproduction is impossible without the collective will for it…

          The will for culture and cultural reproduction is called civilization, from which culture springs. Neoliberalism is only destruction in the name of higher profits for a few. Neobarbarism.

        2. polecat

          Maybe Macron should go all out .. and decree that a gigantic neoliberal BORG CUBE be resurrected to replace the spire. /s

    2. David

      As of now (2130 CEST) the fire is still not under control and may be spreading. Effectively all of the wood is on fire, and the internal temperature has been estimated at 800 degrees C near the roof. The lead in the roof is melting which makes access difficult but the sapeurs-pompiers (combination firefighters and paramedics) have been going into the cathedral to try to get as many of the art treasures out as possible.
      There are reportedly 400 personnel deployed but the problem is that this is just about the worst place you could imagine to fight a fire. The cathedral is on a small island with only a couple of bridges. Simply getting fire engines close enough is a major problem. At the moment they seem to be concentrating on trying to stop the fire from spreading. But it doesn’t look good.

    3. shtove

      Macron to power ahead with a replacement – a glass-facade, bird-killing skyscraper to represent the New France! Top floor mortgage reserved for Quasimodo.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author


      And but:

      1. David

        Yes the French media are now reporting that the sapeurs-pompiers think they have saved the building’s structure. The earlier reports are now overtaken In particular they think they have saved the northern tower (left as you look at the cathedral from the front) which has the belfry in it with lots of wood. But they are still pouring water on and will be there until the building has cooled down.

  1. Polar Donkey

    Notre Dame burning for an hour. It looks like 1 ladder truck and a guy with a hose fighting the fire. Everything is CALPERS.

    1. RopeADope

      15 of the 19 Notre Dame arsonists will be Saudi but Trump will say Iran started the fire.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        It does bear an uncanny resemblance to the Reichstag Fire and…


        Notre Dame is a work of art and i hope we can save it.

            1. OIFVet

              Morning is so far away, but have no fear, Rachel Maddow’s on tonight. After the whole “Russia will turn off your heat” episode, I think she is perfectly capable of finding Putin’s fingerprints on the still-smoking rubble.

    2. Harold

      It may have been accidental. Apparently they were doing restoration in the attic. Of course one’s first thought is …

      1. epynonymous

        My first thought was somebody was smoking on the job.

        My second thought was, OMG, after those Louisiana churches burned (in a hate crime) it’s awkward for Mike Pence to be tweeting about what a tragedy it is.

        1. Harold

          Think of all the solvents and rags that may have been lying around if they were doing restoration.

          1. cocomaan

            I run a historic site. We were looking at fire suppression systems and there’s some incredible stuff on the market now. That includes halon, a new kind of powder system, and high pressure misting.

            Halon won’t work in an airy environment like that. The powder might. Misting is what I’d use simply because the cleanup would be easier.

            Where was the fire system? Why hasn’t it been blasting off this entire time? What failed?

            1. Briny

              Enough Halon would work, however everyone in the cathedral would suffocate. We used it on my ship. Once for a main engine room fire. Fortunately, one of our guys got everyone out before tripping it.

            2. bstamerjon

              When you combine high pressure water mist with CO2 flooding, you get snow where you can’t breath

        1. Jonhoops

          Well they are blaming radical feminists and anarchists. I didn’t see any proof in the linked article. For all we know it could be a gladio type operation carried out by the right to blame the usual suspects. It’s not like that hasn’t happened before.

  2. antidlc


    ‘Secretary Clinton is a role model for all of us,”

    HA! A role model for what, exactly?

    How to cozy up to Wall Street?
    How NOT to run a campaign?
    How to be a warmonger?

      1. JBird4049

        It is amazing to see just how well many, perhaps most, members of Congress’ investments do. It’s like they are all given testosterone shots; it is not recent, nor very explainable if honest behavior only is involved.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Lybia, Honduras, Haiti, among others are all glad KB’s polling at none percent with comments like that

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The long term effects of the Democrats only holding onto safe seats has become apparent. These people are just terrible at politics. Buttigieg and O’Rourke almost seem credible by comparison, and they haven’t even won statewide.

  3. Knifecatcher

    As it turns out, I may soon have an opportunity to spend time in a small group setting with Jason Crow, class of 2018 rep for CO-6. You may remember Crow as the beneficiary of the DCCC’s dirty tricks, as documented by a hidden recording:


    Any thoughts on what I should ask him if I get the chance? The Steny Hoyer episode would be a good one, as would this recent nugget:


    1. Ranger Rick

      Maybe if he supports amending the open primaries law to allow indies to vote in both primaries instead of just one?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Assuming the DCCC contributed to his campaign, does his contract with them require that he contact donors, and if so, for how many hours a day? (I’ve read four.) What does he talk to them about?

      1. ambrit

        What else would he talk to them about? One: Money to the Party. Two: “Personal Services” back to the ‘donor.’
        I can well imagine the DCCC apparatus having gradated ‘response modalities’ based on “level of support.”

  4. Carey

    Not much of a crowd for Booker? If that photo really tells the tale, we might have ourselves
    another Jeb! . “Please clap.”

    Completely OT, I’ve been using Firefox Quantum as a browser for awhile, and it’s been
    annoying me more and more. Just switched to Waterfox 57, which allows me to use the
    older version 5 of NoScript. Less jumping and flashing from both browser and NoScript.
    I can also again use No Google Analytics (yay!) again.

    FWIW; I am *not* a computer expert, heh. I do hope to switch to some version of
    Linux soon, though.

    Lots of good links today! Thanks, Lambert.

    1. flaesq

      Even more OT I’m happier with uMatrix+Ublock Origin on Quantum than I was with NoScript on pre-Quantum. If your only reason for non-Quantum is NoScript then you may not want to go back.

      1. Carey

        Actually there are quite a few things I don’t like about the newer versions of
        Firefox, one being the updates breaking my add-ons, like the ones mentioned.

        For now, Waterfox seems good, with its older feel. Suits my own oldness,
        I think.

    1. Cal2

      If the store is still open, cross the picket line, order lots of custom made food in the deli,
      walk out without paying.

      “I changed my mind, just like management reneging on their contracts.”

      Another thing strikers can do is print a list of competing markets, with a map, so that people arriving at Stop&Shop who may not know their way around can find alternatives.

      1. Jen

        I have 4 cousins who work for S&S in Connecticut. Yesterday they were posting pictures of very empty parking lots on feceborg, and what looked like a pretty long list of closed stores. One of my cousins claimed they lost $36M in sales over the weekend.

    2. chuck roast

      I brought a coffee box to the local strikers on Saturday. The gals at the Empire Coffee Shop threw in a second box just for drill. I told all the strikers that they were welcome to drink socialist coffee, and this was one day they didn’t have eat capitalist shit. Lots of laughs all around.

      Support your Local!!!

  5. Cal2

    “I am a gun owner and I own a gun for probably the reason that a lot of people do, for personal safety,” Harris told reporters in Iowa….” Yes, District Attorneys are automatically granted that privilege in California as they are part of law enforcement.
    The only other concealed weapons permit issued in San Francisco, to non-law enforcement, is the wig, along with the formaldehyde, holding together the other senator, 85 year old Feinstein.

    Kamala claims to be “from Oakland”. Here’s what happening in that place last night:
    Oakland sideshow, Social media documents looting, big rig set on fire.

    And here’s across the bay in San Francisco, that “Kamala cleaned up…”:
    “12 men were smoking crack on a sidewalk in broad daylight.”


    Let’s elect a real Democrat like Bernie+Tulsi instead of this Republican charade in black sheep’s clothing.


    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      As a former crack smoker, id be paranoid as f doing it out in the open like that.

      One time i got some crack and decided to smoke it on the drive back to my house and yeah the high wasnt worth it.

      Same thing under the bridge in Denver. Meth smoking Gutter Punks right out in the open. I did that like 3Xs before switching to snorting.

  6. dearieme

    “And $400K in expenses for writing a book?” Probably used to pay whoever actually wrote it.

    You’ll forgive a foreigner but that Democrat field looks bloody awful. Except Tulsi, obvs.

    Pity that Assange is an Ozzie, eh? Otherwise a bearded, narcissist cat-molester would be just the chap.

      1. Pat

        Ghostwriter would be the biggest chunk but figure there are also the agent fees, and having seen part of the book tour probably the cost of transporting her massive support staff (the publisher had a couple of people, but Harris had half a dozen ‘staffers’ and they were very clear that they worked for her.)

        1. Cal2

          Like the members of her Secret Masonic Police Force?

          “Bizarre fake police force included Kamala Harris aide, prosecutors say … One man introduced himself as chief of the Masonic Fraternal Police Order…”


          On the other hand, Kamala keeps us laughing, there’s some value in that :-)

          Especially when she assumes that fist on chin, “I’m so serious”, looking off into the distance pose.

          1. John k

            We all laughed at trump…
            Hope her numbers stay down.
            She might be hoping for vote w Biden.
            He could check her hair spray… on the hour…

    1. Summer

      And they couldn’t have their lunch and dinner meetings about the book at any old restaurant.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      I’m guessing a big chunk of that is giving away free copies. Giving free copies to high school libraries for example.

    3. a different chris

      >“And $400K in expenses for writing a book?” Probably used to pay whoever actually wrote it.

      Hahaha you must be from Europe or somewhere. In LA you get maybe 20k if you’re lucky. A couple cents a word.

  7. Harold

    Bloomberg says the entire wooden interior is likely to be destroyed. This is a horrible nightmare.

    1. barrisj

      It surely looks as though the entire interior is being consumed by the flames, leaving only the stone exterior intact…the videos are horrific, leaving one with the same visceral shock as, e.g., the Twin Towers.

      1. Alfred

        The “interior” made limited architectural use of wood, though undoubtedly it contained a lot of wood furniture and other flammable objects, including works of art. Notre-Dame consists of a masonry substructure of walls, piers, buttresses, and vaults, surmounted by a wooden superstructure (large enough to have its own immense “interior”). The function of the superstructure, meaning chiefly the roof, was to protect the vaults. Considerable use of metal (especially lead) occurred in both parts. It was the superstructure that burned, but the heat stressed the masonry in damaging ways. Indeed breaches of the vaulting are visible in the photo posted above, taken of the nave through one of the west portals.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think I was there, for about 10 minutes, in the early 1980’s, but I have to go home later today to search through my photo album.

      It’s was one of those “If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium,” two-week long, see all the Europe you can take in, trips.

    3. cocomaan

      Macron and his Londay mayor need to quit their jobs, what an epic failure. Not even the Nazis touched Notre Dame.

      1. Joe Well

        Notre Dame survived the Enlightenment, the Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, the Commune, and Nazis, but it couldn’t survive neoliberalism. This is like our generation’s Chernobyl, the dramatic demonstration that a social order cannot be trusted to act competently.

    4. human

      Horrible, yes. Nightmare, no. A nightmare is when we drone wedding parties. The church can be rebuilt.

  8. dcblogger

    Bernie needs to win Iowa, NH, Nevada, and SC by 50%. Difficult, but doable. The Democratic party establishment remembers that HR Clinton walked into the convention with a majority of pledged delegates, and thinks that Bernie may win a plurality, but not a majority and the super delegates can hand the nomination to Not Bernie on the second ballot.

    But even if Bernie does win an outright majority of the pledged delegates they will still seek to block him. In 1980 when Carter beat Kennedy there were calls for Carter to release his delegates so that they could “vote their conscience.” Carter said nothing doing and Bernie will do the same, but the kleptocracy will not go down without a fight.

    1. Hepativore

      Even if Sanders does win the majority of delegates, I thought that the Democratic party leadership grants itself the ability to deny or accept who is going to be the winner of the primary race, delegates be damned. I forgot the name of the rule, but I think that there is something that allows the Democratic Party to basically say “You may have won the majority of delegates, but were still not letting you win the primary. Why? Because we said so! Now shut up and endorse someone like Beto or Biden whom we appointed instead.”

  9. Quentin

    What’s happening right now at Notre Dame of Paris is heartbreaking. The windows, the windows, once they go the destruction is irreparable, completely.

  10. shinola

    I live in Ks. & voted for Sharice Davids; not because I thought she was an actual progressive but because she seemed the least anti-progressive (and the R’s in Ks. are an absolute pack of sh*t-show clowns).

    Never heard of her before the campaigns so, to me, she’s somewhat of a cipher. I’m hoping she doesn’t turn out to be a disappointment (ala Obama). The KC Star article does not give me much hope.

      1. Phil in KC

        I live right across the state line from Sharice Davids district. She’s a bit of a mystery. Her mom lives in a modest home in a Kansas suburb, while she herself lived in Kansas City, Missouri until just a few years ago.

        She made some mildly progressive noises during a campaign notable for being about not much of anything. She ably dodged debating Yoder. Yoder, for his part, came off as a bit of a lunkhead who was tied to the discredited Sam Brownback-style Kansas Republican party. I suspect that the stink of that brand of politics doomed Yoder, who was too slow to distance himself from the controversial governor and his horrid tax experiments.

        This seat has flipped from one party to another several times over the decades. Whether Dem or Repub, the representative in this district is usually moderate and non-controversial. That’s likely what Sharice will do–settle into a nice, long career in Congress. I wouldn’t expect anything AOC-ish out of her.

  11. Summer

    Re: Kamala Harris Tax Returns

    “And $400K in expenses for writing a book? Was it an illuminated manuscript?”

    Did somebody else write it????

    1. ewmayer

      My guess is that she billed as expenses the several hours she spent bitching at the poor schlub who ghostwrote the epic memoir, at the rate she would’ve made doing Wall Street speaking engagements with inspirational themes like “How I told the mortgage fraudsters to ‘cut it out’ by threatening to treat them like I did truant schoolkids”.

  12. Summer

    Re: “Autonomous vehicles may have a similar impact. Imagine getting into your own self-driving car/pod that reclines at 7:30 am, napping and watching early morning TV, and getting dropped off at the office at 9. You could live pretty far away.”

    — Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) April 13, 2019

    Yep, sounds like they will have an impact in every sense of the word.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Thanks, but I will keep riding my bicycle. It costs a lot less, and it offers free exercise.

      1. tegnost

        He doesn’t seem much concerned with the carbon footprint of “You could live pretty far away”
        napping at 7:30 am? I’m sorry but the world silly con valley wants to create seems…I can’t find the words, but like nothing, you won’t do anything, which begs the question, after you find yourself at the office, what are you going to do there that a computer can’t do better?

        1. neighbor7

          George Jetson put his feet on the desk and closed his eyes, after folding his flying car into his briefcase. What’s not to like?

          1. tegnost

            Wiki provides us with a window…I can see uniblab, but bezos won’t be paying for that two hours a week.
            “R.U.D.I.: is George’s work computer and one of his best friends, next to his dog, Astro. His name is an acronym for Referential Universal Digital Indexer. He has a human personality and is a member of the Society for Preventing Cruelty to Humans. In the episode “Family Fallout” (originally aired September 22, 1985), the Jetsons win a TV game show after George Jetson correctly states what the initials “R.U.D.I.” stand for.”
            “Uniblab, George’s mortal enemy—an obnoxious robot who was also his supervisor at work. Appeared in two 1960s episodes, “Uniblab”, where he becomes George’s supervisor, and “G.I. Jetson”, where he becomes the Sergeant of George’s platoon.”

    2. Carey

      That is one delusional quote from Yang. Not only will it not happen, it *should not* happen, for the biosphere’s sake, and the common good’s.

      Sorry now I sent him money.

    3. jrs

      it’s also what I fear if we ever got a bullet train, people would just live further and further away. Of course at present that is no more a reality than anything else, and at present only high rents drive people further and further out, and they pay for it in commute time.

      A train commuting everyone 200 miles to work one way each day might be greener (somewhat, who knows for sure), still it is a nightmare life they would construct for us if they could.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Couldn’t they just line the bullet train with bunks, densely arranged, and run the thing in giant circles overnight? People wouldn’t have to pay for all that expensive housing then. Might be just the solution for teachers, custodial staff, fire fighters, police, and other, lower income folk. /s

      2. Big River Bandido

        A train commuting everyone 200 miles to work one way each day

        would take about an hour. There are plenty of people who spend far longer than that on their commute.

        Being able to live farther away is one of the virtues of having fast trains.

        1. a different chris

          Note also that the bullet train won’t go down your street, so train-based commutes still encourage density around stops. Yang’s idiocy, OTOH….

    4. roguescholar

      Imagine going to the doctors office and not being afraid of the bill and potential bankruptcy. What a concept.

    5. WJ

      “watching early morning TV…”

      This dystopia is one to rival airport terminals with their brain-melting CNN rays.

    6. Procopius

      I don’t know what early morning TV is like in America, but if it’s like Morning Joe I would expect it to be prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. This Andrew Yang guy sounds to be pretty far removed from the reality of life. No wonder he thinks VAT is a good idea.

  13. Jeff W

    From the New York Magazine “Wonder Boy” dek (I prefer that to “deck”):

    “Wonder Boy Pete Buttigieg is a gay Harvard alum, fluent in Gramsci, Joyce, and Norwegian.…He’s a Christian.…He has degrees from Harvard and Oxford.…He learned Norwegian to read Erlend Loe.…He’s married.…He’s gay.…He’s not too gay.…He’s a technocratic capitalist.…He’s got a whole theory about how our system of “democratic capitalism” has to be a whole lot more “democratic.”…Oh, and he’s the son of an immigrant, a Navy vet, speaks seven foreign languages (in addition to Norwegian, Arabic, Spanish, Maltese, Dari, French, and Italian), owns two rescue dogs, and plays the goddamn piano.

    Um, policy?

    (Honestly, Pete Buttigieg gives me the creeps—even his nickname “Mayor Pete” sounds, to me, puerile, like “Postman Pat”—but I’ll admit, that isn’t a policy critique, either.)

    1. Carey

      Yeah. And I don’t think “trust me/us” is going to fly in 2020. People one wouldn’t necessarily expect to be politically now are, at least to some degree.

      Sanders/Gabbard 2020

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Not that I didn’t think people were unaware in 2006/8, but I think the standards are higher. We’ve had Obama, and (switching to a slurred drunken voice) he was the greatest orator ever. Soaring rhetoric…

        The other aspect is Twitter. To me, it seems easier to look back at the last 20 years today than it seemed like it was in 2008 to look back at the previous 20 years. The msm isn’t the gate keeper it once was. How would Obama look in a world without HRC or the Iraq War?

        Buttigieg may make Joe Scarborough feel like he saw Ronnie Raygun promise to destroy non-white neighborhoods for the first time, but Buttigieg’s push to discuss policy at another time because he supports “freedom, security, democracy” is already being compared to a 22 year old episode of The Simpsons. This is just how lazy his whole campaign is: FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY. I suppose we could quibble, but Life (security), Liberty (Freedom, democracy), and Pursuit of Happiness (prosperity) is already out there but finished with the prosperity part. Its nice Pete is pro-America which is something I kind of expect out of the President of the United States, but anyway who doesn’t look ready to roll is going to look stupid and dither among a few people who didn’t bother to do any kind of research before blindly embracing these people.

        1. nycTerrierist

          The only good thing re: Mr. Buttigieg: he’s sucking oxygen away from the other
          ‘savvy’ young cipher, Beto.

          I can’t wait to say good riddance to both of them.

          1. edmondo

            The real fight between those two is which one of them gets to be on “Dancing with the Stars 2020”.

            I am beginning to believe that Trump’s re-election is the safe bet.

    2. pjay

      Wow. Based on these quotes, it makes me wonder if the CIA didn’t put their computers to work to find a candidate with the perfect combination of characteristics for a Democrat electorate! (Policy ambiguity would be one of those.)

      I’ll have to read the article to see if it explains what “fluent in Gramsci” means. As with “fluent in Machiavelli,” that could be good or bad depending on how such knowledge was used. I’m guessing bad.

      1. DJG

        pjay: Don’t read the article. “Fluent in Gramsci” made my eyes roll around in my head. If Mayor Woke Focus Group were fluent in Gramsci, he wouldn’t be saying any of these things about freedomness, and democricity, and his godliness, and especially Congressional oversight replacing Assange. Antonio Gramsci wouldn’t put up with Mayor Pete for a sbrigativo Turinese second.

      2. VietnamVet

        Mayor Pete is connected to the intelligence community;

        “Buttigieg was commissioned as a naval intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve in 2009, and deployed to Afghanistan in 2014. After a seven-month deployment, Buttigieg returned to South Bend. He remained a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve until 2017.”

        He is the perfect identity candidate to make history as the first gay President. He won’t have to worry about a soft coup. He is one of them. But neoliberal chaos could ignite a revolt during his term in office. He looks like America’s Jupiter.

      3. Kurt Sperry

        I was going to say that if Booty read Gramsci, it doesn’t seem he understood him, Gramsci would see right through his polished ‘blank screen’ act. Che cazzo!

    3. jrs

      Yea policy.

      Though I do wonder about his whole theory about how “democratic capitalism” can be made more “democratic”. Does he have such a theory?

      You see, I think Elizabeth Warren kind of does has theories on making capitalism fairer.

      And then there are people like Ralph Nader who actually work on developing theories on improving electoral democracy, and mean it. And of course there are those who want the economy to be democratic, they preach worker ownership, because there is no democracy with a capitalist corporation.

      1. jrs

        One wants to expand on the ridiculousness of the term “democratic capitalism” but then one is stuck with the fact that many who identify as “democratic socialists” are actually social democrats (which is not bad per se) and so … never mind, the terms have gotten too ridiculous in general.

    4. Harold

      That Norwegian writer, Erlend Loe, if he is the one, is known for his children’s books. What gets me is the blatant dishonesty of the hype. Maltese is a dialect of Arabic with a large borrowing of mainly Italian, but also French vocabulary. So anyone speaking it would have a big head start in learning spoken Arabic, the dialects of which are mostly mutually comprehensible, I gather. Italian (especially Sicilian) and Spanish are also mutually comprehensible.

      1. Jeff W

        What gets me is the blatant dishonesty of the hype.

        That would usually get me, too, but here it’s just the sheer condescension to the voters. So let’s say “Mayor Pete” speaks “only” four or five languages—with a Buttigieg administration, I’m supposed to say, “Aw, shucks, we don’t have Medicare-for-All but c’mon, ‘President Pete,’ tell us all about your two rescue dogs again, in Dari or Italian this time”?

      2. Kurt Sperry

        ” Italian (especially Sicilian) and Spanish are also mutually comprehensible.”

        I’d agree to some extent, but neither the Italians and Spaniards I’ve met would.

        1. Yves Smith

          Yes, this was a topic at our Fort Lauderdale meetup, how the Spanish-speaking attendees had had great difficulty in Italy because (even if they knew some Italian) they’d lapse into Spanish, and NOT be understood. They also had trouble understanding Italian.

          1. Harold

            Well yes, my Italian stepfather, when he saw the my elementary Spanish textbook (I took a semester of Spanish in school), exclaimed “You mean that’s really the language!”. It’s like that?” He assumed the the people he heard speaking Spanish on the streets of NY were just jabbering in some uncouth dialect, not in real, educated Spanish.

            I met a Colombian woman in NYC who had been married to an Italian (Italo-American, really) man for years, Neither spoke any English. They spoke to each other in their own languages and seemed to get along fine. Of course this was just basic conversation, not anything at all elaborate. I could converse with them, too, after a fashion.

            On the other hand, when visiting Spain, I sat through a play by Lope de Vega without understanding a single word. I really can’t speak a word of Spanish other than a few phrases in the present tense.

            1. Procopius

              I really can’t speak a word of Spanish other than a few phrases in the present tense.

              I’ll bet you could if you hung out with Spanish-speaking people and tried to imitate their accent. Our brains are hard-wired to learn language. The older you get the less people are willing to talk to you, so language learning gets harder. When I was deploying to Germany I took a course in basic German taught by a professor from Georgetown who had been a prisoner of the Americans immediately after the war. He described a friend who picked up English by just talking to GIs every chance he got. My teacher did the same. The biggest obstacle is believing you can’t do it.

    5. Samuel Conner

      He sounds like a real austerity man, living in austerity land, making austerity plans for everybody.

      1. newcatty

        That means that he is No one that lives in America, who should be making plans for anyone.

    6. stillfeelintheberninwi

      Mayor Pete, Makes me laugh. I think of PeeWee’s playhouse, Cowboy Curtis, Captain Carl….Miss YVONNE!!

    7. The Rev Kev

      Missing in that New York Magazine description of him is the fact that he is also a Rhodes Scholar. I sometimes think that that is not so much a scholarship program as a recruitment program. After they have been there a while in Oxford and they have had a chance to assess them, comes the next step. I am going to say that for selected candidates, that they have “the talk” with them about their future career prospects and what is possible for them – if they cooperate.

    8. EGrise

      So he has a great resume? Most qualified candidate running? Better in every way than that horrid Republican? Where have I heard that before?

      Besides, most non-committed-Dem people I know either A) detest high achievers like that (“showoff”) or B) don’t give a shit about his resume (“what’s he done lately?”)

      So he’ll probably get the nomination, Trump gets reelected, media condemns voters as both sexist AND homophobic.

  14. Another Scott

    Grocery workers at Stop & Shop (one of the largest chains in the Boston area and throughout Southern New England) are on strike, largely over cuts to the benefits demanded by foreign parent, Ahold Delhaize. This is a large strike with over 30,000 employees walking off the job, but I’ve seen comparatively little coverage in national outlets. Even the local ones seem more interested in feel-good stories about the Marathon than workers who won’t be getting paychecks.

    Over the weekend, I drove by two stores and the parking lots were empty. The picketing workers seemed in very good spirits, and people I’ve talked to have said that they’d be avoiding the stores while the workers are on strike. Hopefully, it will have a better resolution for the workers than the National Grid strike last year.

    Sidenote: Ahold Delhaize was the result of a merger allowed by the Obama administration, on the condition that a few stores were sold to other chains.

  15. DJG

    The burning of the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the collapse of the spire put me in mind of the tarot:

    Stealing from Wikipedia:

    The Tower is sometimes interpreted as meaning danger, crisis, sudden change, destruction, higher learning, and liberation.[6] In the Rider-Waite deck, the top of The Tower is a crown, which symbolizes materialistic thought being bought cheap.[7]

    1. Ba

      I am more disgusted today than at probably any day of my life that I can remember. Watching their respective countries spiral down in their self made mire, DeGaulle, Churchill and Roosevelt must be wondering why they ever bothered.

      Notre Dame survived invasion and Nazi occupation, but not the occupation and invasions of NeoLiberalism.

      1. Carolinian

        A bit much, no? Are you saying neoliberalism forced them to hire incompetent restoration contractors?

            1. The Rev Kev

              What. Couldn’t he ask all France’s billionaires to dig into their pockets after he gave them that massive tax cut not long ago? Many of them live in Paris anyway. Gosh! What am I thinking of. Macron is a neoliberal. He will of course put any tax involved on the poor people to pay. Maybe he can get it by upping fuel taxes.

              1. Oregoncharles

                There might be a silver lining: Notre Dame might wind up owned by the public, not the Church. Granted, these days that might not improve the maintenance.

                And a second thought: are there public funds going into the Church in France? Many European countries have established religions; it’s one reason religion has been falling away there. It may well end up as a public monument.

                1. vidimi

                  Notre Dame, as well as all other pre-revolutionary churches in France, is already owned by the state, not the church.

          1. Carey

            My impression is that immiserating the great majority of the
            citizenry is Rule #1, austerity being the means of doing so.

            One POV.

        1. Pat

          Not necessarily. But earlier today France 24 noted that the government had NOT provided enough funds for the planned renovation and donations had been being sought for the necessary work. While that doesn’t mean the contractors were not top notch or corners were being cut, it doesn’t really make me.confident about the situation.

  16. Summer

    Re:“Top Hospital Lobbyist Predicts Pelosi Won’t Give “Medicare for All” A Vote” [MapLight].

    She’s trying to thread the needle here, and she understands the difficulty that Medicare for All will provide for her caucus and for some of her members who have to go get re-elected, and my guess is she’s going to be pretty adept in making sure that nothing comes up that harms her members.’”

    That’s just truth. People are far from having the kind of go the mat Congress that will be needed for Medicare For All.
    I wouldn’t doubt she’s heard the kind of threats from big donors that would make your skin crawl.
    She’s practiced at not showing the fear they inspire.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      I wish I could get the vinca on the hillside in front of my house to be more invasive. Had to dig up part of it a few years ago for some drainage pipes, and it hasn’t recovered well. Any suggestions for goosing it up a bit?

      1. Fried

        Maybe it’s just a matter of waiting? I have it basically everywhere I don’t use the lawnmower, and I’m fairly sure it was far less widespread a few years ago.

      2. Samuel Conner

        I have no reliable counsel to offer about this. From what is taking over my backyard, it appears to run along the surface and underground, spreading vegetatively rather than by seeds.

        Since it does spread, if you wanted to fill a damaged region, you might be able to transplant healthy portions from undisturbed parts of the tangle into the damaged region, and perhaps amend/manure (I assume this would be helpful; maybe not) the soil around the transplants. Do that on an array and the plants might “fill in” over time.

      3. Oregoncharles

        Dig up a few clumps where it’ thick and plant them.

        Vinca spreads by above-ground runners, like strawberries, so you have to let those grow to get more. I think that’s why mowing stops it.

        There’s also ivy in the picture; that’s more invasive than vinca, and harder to get rid of, at least in the PNW.

        You don’t see it as often, but I prefer Vinca major, a much bigger version that’s been bred for various flower colors. I believe it spreads less vigorously, despite its size.

    2. Stephen V.

      I had the same thought!
      I’ve got some under thick black plastic as a labor-saving removal device. We shall see…

    3. Kurt Sperry

      There’s nothing modest about the color of V. minor blossoms in the Spring. I have to shoot in RAW to capture it, the JPEG compression just kills those intense blues. I wouldn’t call it invasive, but rather hardy and vigorous in growth. It makes a lovely groundcover in light shade and can choke out competing weeds. But the longer I’ve been gardening, the more I’ve come to appreciate “invasive” plants — as long as I’m choosing them and where they are planted. “Invasives” by definition shouldn’t ever require watering or fertilizing or chemical applications or even weeding around. Perfect, we need to cultivate and appreciate more invasives! Except English Ivy. I draw the line there.

  17. David

    Update: the sapeurs-pompiers have just said that they are having problems in getting water to parts of the cathedral because the hoses are not long enough and they can’t get the fire engines close enough. They are using water from the Seine and there are a couple oh helicopters circulating. But they can’t use water bombing’ even if they could get the aircraft to Paris’ because it would bring the cathedral down. This is an 800-year old building we are talking about.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Can we please not call Buttigieg “‘Mayor Pete”? Let’s not get sucked into the self-promotion. I don’t say “Bernie,” either. I say “Sanders.” Ditto not “Hillary” but Clinton. And so on and so forth.

      1. neighbor7

        Thank you once again for language alerts! I’ve always thought our first-naming politicians was rather childlike.

      2. Aumua

        I agree with you here, but there’s just something about the name ‘Bernie’ that makes me want to call him that.

      3. Kurt Sperry

        Oh jeez, I called him “Booty” upthread. Mea culpa. If I have to spell out “Buttigieg” every time I want to refer to him, I’ll probably just refrain. Maybe just call him “he” or “him” and let the context do the rest.

      4. richard

        Can I say booty gig? It’s meant with all the disrespect in the world. I’ll take no for an answer.

      5. Jonathan Holland Becnel



        If u say his name 27 times in front of a mirror, then he will win.

      6. Redlife2017

        In the UK, people call Corbyn “Jezza” (neutral, may or may not be an attack) or “JC” (friendly only). Of course, I normally call him Corbyn and end up feeling, uh, weird if I use those familiar terms as I am not a personal friend…

  18. David

    A government minister has apparently said that there is no guarantee the cathedral can actually be saved. There are fears that, apart from the fire, the high temperatures will crack the stone and bring the buildup down.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      This is the horrible thing about fires in historic buildings – sometimes the attempts to save the building in a fire do more harm than good. Water can be just as destructive as fire to a buildings fabric (more so, as it goes down, not up). As you suggest, dowsing a fire quickly can cause deep structural damage. Sometimes its better to let a fire burn out naturally, hard and all as it is to accept that.

      The most important thing is the stained glass – that’s the truly irreplaceable part. Notre Dame was extensively restored in the 19th Century, so much of the timber fabric isn’t all that old (quite often, timber structures were entirely replace in 19th Century restorations, although I’ve no idea if this its the case with Notre Dame). If the stone and glass can be preserved, then the building can be restored – St. Stephens in Vienna, as an example.

      1. Carolinian

        Thnx for the comment. It’s probably surprising that so many of these buildings have been preserved.

          1. grayslady

            Back in the late 1980s I spent a week in Paris. My friends and I were renting an apartment just across the Seine from ND; we had a magnificent view of the entire structure through large picture windows in the kitchen. Through pure good fortune, I saw a sign posted outside the cathedral announcing a free organ concert at 5:00 pm on a Sunday evening. With 15 minutes until the start of the concert, I made my decision and walked in. The place was so packed I had to sit on the floor. It was a magical experience. The cathedral after dark, the deep jewel colors of the rose window, and the exquisite sounds of the organ filling this massive building are something I will never forget. The following Sunday, I attended church at the cathedral–not because I am religious, but because I wanted to experience what a long line of thousands of other humans had experienced in that same place over hundreds of years. My undergraduate degree was in art and music history, including a course in Gothic Art and Architecture, so ND was special to me at the time and retains its special place in my soul.

            1. urblintz

              That’s a beautiful memory.

              Although I made my living as a singer, my undergraduate degree is in organ performance. I spent a winter term studying the great, historic pipe organs of Europe. The Notre Dame organ is at the top of the list, not only for its unique sound but for the history of famous composers associated to and inspired by it.

              Beethoven considered organists to be the best musicians and is said to have proclaimed the organ to be “the king of all instruments.”

              Let’s hope the Cavaille-Coll was spared.

              1. grayslady

                I agree with Beethoven. Although I love all music (except for Country & Western, heavy metal, and rap), organ is the music I listen to for hours at a time. My favorite organist is Matthias Havinga. I, too, hope the organ was spared. Based on the pictures of the fire, though, survival of the organ would truly be a miracle.

              2. Oregoncharles

                Sadly, I saw a report that it’s gone. However, the fire is controlled and at least the front and the towers were spared. No roof, though.

            2. pjay

              Thank you for sharing this memory. With all the BS we often discuss here, it is easy to forget special moments like this one that make life worthwhile.

  19. Roy G

    Mayor Pete and Beto are the poster boys for what’s wrong with the US political system. Personally, I don’t even regard them as plausible, because a small town mayor and Texas State Representative require a LOT more seasoning before they should be considered serious candidates. BUT, alas, our political system (read: fundraisers) see 2 mediagenic guys that will look great on the cover of US magazine, draw crowds when they appear on Ellen, and most importantly, draw money (and air) away from the serious candidates. Winning in this case doesn’t mean the election, it means $$$$.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I don’t mind the lack of “seasoning” aspect. Its just what is their point? Why are they running for President? O’Rourke seems to think it would be neat! Buttigieg seems like he’s running for a role on MSDNC. Outside of Warren and Sanders, none of these people seem to be treating it seriously (I’m assuming Gabbard is running for VP properly).

      They aren’t HRC, and her inability to answer this question beyond “she wants to live in the White House” is why she isn’t already the former President. Actually, I liked her closing speech in 2008. She would have won with that speech. It is an interesting presentation about how morally and intellectually bankrupt Team Blue is that with all our problems these future also-rans aren’t being laughed at.

      With the Republicans, there were candidates who claimed to represent different groups. Rufio was a neocon wet dream. Cruz was for the religious nutters. Kasich was for people who wanted to build golf courses in national parks. Jeb! was for people who don’t like Obama but would really like Obama if he wasn’t black. They all want to kick the poor and so forth, but they were able to communicate why they wanted to be President. They were awful reasons, but they had them. These Team Blue types treat elections like they are running for middle school class President.

      1. WJ

        At some level with these guys–I keep repeating, I know, I know–it’s all about helping out Uncle Joe by doing as much as possible to prevent the emergence of a candidate with more that 50% of won delegates prior to the convention. Then, after Biden loses to Trump, they get to run again as celebrated front runners.

  20. Alex morfesis

    Voting ? Ballots schmalletz…secret ballots in the you es of hay hey xaeee are somewhat recent as in the late 1880’s(iirc) Massachusetts was the first state to require such secret ballot process…

    It is nice to imagine there was some mysterious time in the past when everything was as it should be…

    Sadly…probably not…

  21. Plenue

    Nice one from Current Affairs. I’m glad I subscribed to them; I spent quite a while trying to find if there were any American political publications still in print that were worth a damn. Them and Laptham’s Quarterly (which I know isn’t technically a political publication) were all I ultimately settled on. I tried Harper’s for a while, but it was mostly middle-brow liberal whinging. Aaron Maté is at The Nation currently, but I don’t know about the quality of the rest of what they print, and vanden Heuvel just stopped being editor so who knows if it’ll maintain its standards (if it as them).

    1. Acacia

      My thanks, as well. I just read the various articles mentioned in their tweet, e.g. “The Difference between Liberalism and Leftism”. Good stuff.

  22. David

    The commander of the sapeurs-pompiers in Paris has just said that the next hour will be « decisive «  notably for saving the Northern Belfry (that’s what you see looking from the Right Bank.) They are not guaranteeing they can save the cathedral.

  23. Carey

    “..Buttigieg’s meteoric rise..” Dog, can these people hear themselves?

    So tired and stale.

    1. jrs

      “With a torch in your pocket
      And the wind at your heels
      You climbed on the ladder
      And you know how it feels
      To get too high
      Too far
      Too soon
      You saw the whole of the moon
      The whole of the moon”

      the waterboys – “the whole of the moon”

      (but do americans really like the teacher’s pet? I mean granted entirely unqualified isn’t working out either! But especially with so many feeling like “losers” because they haven’t won the highly rigged capitalist game and what is offered them is “here is life’s invincible winner”. Meh even “losers” need to eat, a roof over their head, healthcare, I don’t know about getting lucky sometimes). Warren may be a front row kid as well, but she’s still much more relatable.

      1. jrs

        Maybe because Warren isn’t sold as or trying to pretend to be “expert at everything”, she has an actual area of knowledge, maybe not broad or radical enough (probably not for these times), but nonetheless.

  24. dcblogger

    Howie weighs in:
    The Freshmen: What About Sharice Davids?
    And, so far… a waste of a House seat. Better than Kevin Yoder, though …
    … Sharice Davids is a native American, a lesbian, a mixed martial arts fighter and an attorney. When she got to Washington she joined the right-of-center, Wall Street owned-and-operated New Dems and quickly ran up a solid “F” voting record, tied with 5 other Democrats as the 212th “most progressive” in the House, according to ProgressivePunch. Not a promising start.


    1. flora

      She was groomed by the DCCC and dropped into the KS race. She’ll be a reliable blue dog. She won because the moderate GOP voters in the Kansas City area were tired of Yoder. They didn’t so much vote for her as they voted against Yoder. imo.

      1. katiebird

        I was so sad when Brent Welder lost the primary (although he was an Obama fan, he seemed committed to expanded Medicare for Everyone) …. I almost didn’t vote, I am so tired of voting for blue dog candidates. That she didn’t miss a beat exposing her priorities…. I wasn’t surprised. But still depressed.

    2. a different chris

      “She’s an athlete and if you’ve known any high-level athletes, they’re disciplined, they’re methodical… nailing all the fundamentals.”

      And they are about as far away from being creative outside of their very narrow focus as a bullfrog is when it comes to anything beyond catching flies. She seems to fit right into the athletic mindset – conform conform conform. Understand the playbook, stay inside the lines.

      Well maybe she’s a stealth fighter, who will suddenly come out and savage the establishment after thoroughly studying their weak … oh, who am I kidding. Why doesn’t she audition for Buttigieg’s (I don’t know and don’t care if I got the spelling right) VP?

  25. dk

    Trump’s got a challenger (for now) for the GOP nomination:

    “Jake, I’m announcing that I’m running for President… as a Republican against the President in 2020.”

    Former Gov. Bill Weld officially announces he is challenging President Trump for the GOP nomination.


    Speaking of which, anybody seen any word on activities of Trump Victory, the 2020 campaign org? Just curious, in light of “A Sobering Signal From Wisconsin”.

    1. Samuel Conner

      If team D manages again in 2020 to lose enough of the upper Midwest to cost them the presidency, I propose that we coin a new word: “wisconsolate”

  26. Jen

    My favorite response to Starstuff’s Sanders tweet:

    “You got reposted on 2:00PM Watercooler at Naked Capitalism, better than NBC.”

    I heartily concur.

  27. steve

    I suppose Émile François Zola would see today’s developments re the Notre Dame Cathedral fire as a step in the right direction.

  28. Joe Well

    Re: Notre Dame fire,

    Did anyone else read the novel Seveneves by Neal Stephenson?

    There is a scene when the Earth is being destroyed and people gather in Notre Dame for a planned final choral concert that was broadcast around the world. The people keep singing as the roof begins to collapse on them and then the transmission cuts out. I keep thinking of that.

    Also, I keep thinking about the fire that destroyed Brazil’s National Museum, a much bigger loss to culture since so many more pieces were lost. Another casualty of the hubris of elites.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Another loss was Mackintosh’s Edinburgh School of Art, a masterpiece of late Art Nouveau and one of his few complete works. It, too, burned while being renovated – after an earlier, partial fire, in that case. Renovation is a dangerous time. In that case, again the exterior is stone but the real magic in the wood and other ornaments inside.

      1. Joe Well

        Renovation fires are so common it is beyond shocking that extreme protections werent being used at ND.

  29. eduardo

    “Do any readers have the sort of ACM subscription required to get a copy of this article? “

    I thought I’d least see what a subscription costs. I think I may have been a member in years ago.

    Alas, the website for the Association for Computing Machinery, when I clicked subscribe, responded with:

    The web site you are accessing has experienced an unexpected error.
    Please contact the website administrator.

    The following information is meant for the website developer for debugging purposes.
    Error Occurred While Processing Request
    File not found: /public/qj/brandingqj/xrds.cfm

    Check the ColdFusion documentation to verify that you are using the correct syntax.
    Search the Knowledge Base to find a solution to your problem.
    Browser Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_13_6) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/73.0.3683.86 Safari/537.36
    Remote Address
    Referrer https://xrds.acm.org/article.cfm?aid=3313129
    Date/Time 15-Apr-19 08:02 PM
    Stack Trace

    coldfusion.runtime.TemplateNotFoundException: File not found: /public/qj/brandingqj/xrds.cfm
    at coldfusion.filter.PathFilter.invoke(PathFilter.java:145)
    (et cetera)

    Sigh. Where is Donald Knuth when you need him?

    1. Skip Intro

      Last para:

      Facial recognition’s racializing effects are so potentially toxic to our lives as social beings that its widespread use doesn’t outweigh the risks. “The future of human flourishing depends upon facial recognition technology being banned before the systems become too entrenched in our lives,” Hartzog and Selinger write. “Otherwise, people won’t know what it’s like to be in public without being automatically identified, profiled, and potentially exploited.” To avoid the social toxicity and racial discrimination it will bring, facial recognition technologies need to be understood for what they are: nuclear-level threats to be handled with extraordinary care.

      I’ll email the whole thing to Lambert…

  30. Oregoncharles

    ” [American Independent Party, a hold-over from the Wallace campaign in 1968]”
    It’s worse in Oregon, where there is an active party named the Independent Party. Not only active: it’s a major party; we have three.

    However, it has very low voter loyalty because so many members thought they weren’t signing up for a party. That’s “unaffiliated”. Plus it doesn’t have much of a platform. For Greens, it’s the other way around; far more people vote Green than are registered Green, because we have closed primaries.

    What puzzles me is that in California, a zombie party is still on their list. Here, it’s a struggle to get on the list and stay on it. It’s one of our chief preoccupations. Nonetheless, the last time I counted, there were 8 ballot-qualified parties, not 2, in Oregon.

  31. richard

    K. Kulinski is a firebrand here, covering Pelosi’s 60 minutes interview. He turns his reasoned and righteous ire on the the elected lefties (including my own elected lefty, Jayapal) who still play pattycake with and say nice things about Pelosi, who in turn dismisses, gaslights and impedes. Highly recommended if you want to get fired up, and who the hell doesn’t?

    1. ChrisPacific

      Thanks. After reading it I can’t say I’m convinced. The argument seems to boil down to “using ML to answer questions that have an inherently racist bias is racist,” which I agree with, but that’s not what facial recognition is. Rather than look at a photo and try to identify the subject’s race (which I agree would be problematic) it simply asks: is this is a photo of person X or isn’t it? I don’t see how race plays any part in that. I think the privacy concerns discussed at the start are much more of a worry, although they are similar to any other kind of biometric ID in that regard.

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