2:00PM Water Cooler 4/2/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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

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


Biden (D) (1): Instigator of #MeToo:

What’s remarkable in all this — and I suppose at this point by “remarkable” I mean “thoroughly predictable and to be expected” — is that so far as I can tell there’s no difference — if you leave out the young girls — between what Al Franken did, and what Biden does (except of course that Franken supported #MedicareForAll, and Biden doesn’t). Franken was defenestrated; Biden is not. It’s almost like liberal Democrats, including the identity politics-flavored liberal Democrats, have no consistent principles whatever, which again is remarkable, consider the quantity and volume of virtue signaling they do.

Biden (D) (2): “Pelosi says Biden needs to respect people’s personal space” [Politico]. “‘I don’t think it’s disqualifying,’ Pelosi said during a POLITICO Playbook interview, adding, ‘He has to understand in the world that we’re in now that people’s space is important to them, and what’s important is how they receive it and not necessarily how you intended it.'” • So, again, why does Biden get a free pass, but not others?

Biden (D) (3): “Joe Biden’s 2020 Ukrainian nightmare: A closed probe is revived” [The Hill]. “Two years after leaving office, Joe Biden couldn’t resist the temptation last year to brag to an audience of foreign policy specialists about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor…. But Ukrainian officials tell me there was one crucial piece of information that Biden must have known but didn’t mention to his audience: The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.” • On Hunter Biden, see NC here and here (and anyone who can claim the attention of both Richard Smith and Michael Hudson must be quite a character).

Bloomberg (D): “Scoop: Mike Bloomberg might still run in 2020” [Axios]. “Michael Bloomberg [(77)]might still run for president in 2020, especially if former Vice President Joe Biden winds up not getting in, according to people who have discussed the matter with the former New York mayor…”

Booker (D): “Cory Booker lines up support in the financial industry to help him raise cash for 2020” [CNBC]. “Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., is dipping into his pool of financial industry donors as he looks for a fundraising edge in the early goings of the 2020 presidential race… Booker’s connections to wealthy and influential donors could give his campaign an advantage over Democratic primary rivals who don’t have similar relationships with players in the business world.” • Wink wink nudge nudge.

O’Rourke (D) (1): “‘Illuminating Exchange on Health Care’ Reveals Beto Doesn’t Think Insurance Industry Motivated by Greed” [Common Dreams]. “[A]n audience member [in Iowa] asked O’Rourke for more concrete policy ideas. ‘So the greed has to stay in the insurance industry in your opinion?’ asked the man. ‘I don’t see it as a function of greed,’ said O’Rourke.” • Beto’s standing in something again….

UPDATE O’Rourke (D) (2): Looks like those new Clinton staffers are already making their presence felt:

Sanders (D) (1): This is good, actually:

Even if Neera and her BFF, Beto, agree with the RNC.

UPDATE Sanders (D) (2): “Sanders leads poll of young Democrats by double digits” [The Hill]. “Thirty-one percent of likely voters between 18 and 29 years old surveyed by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics said they prefer the Vermont lawmaker in a hypothetical primary. Former Vice President Joe Biden was the first pick of 20 percent of respondents, while former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) received 10 percent of the support. No other candidate received more than 5 percent. The youth vote has plenty of time to shift though, as 20 percent of the likely voters said they remain undecided.”

Warren (D): “Koch Brothers Launch Ads to Push Back on Warren’s Antitrust Campaign” [Inside Sources]. “The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity (AFP) just announced an ad campaign lampooning 2020 presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren’s tech antitrust plan, begging senators not to make antitrust a political issue.’ Warren responds:

We’ll see how Warren’s message resonates; I prefer to look through “giant corporations” to real persons with names and addresses, which is why “the billionaire class” resonates with me.

“Too Many Democrats Are Running in 2020, According to Science” [Politico (RH)]. “like a music festival where you can have a hard time choosing among all the bands with competing time slots, a surplus of candidates will give Democratic voters what behavioral scientists like me call “choice overload.” Simply put, having too many choices can make it harder to make a decision, and this is likely to have a profound—profoundly negative—effect on the 2020 campaign.” • I don’t understand this, even if the author is from Hill+Knowlton. What’s “negative” about a brokered convention decided by superdelegated?

IA: “Warren, Klobuchar agree on breaking up Big Ag” [Associated Press]. “Targeting monopolies was a key part of the agriculture policy Warren rolled out this week, which included a handful of proposals aimed at helping family farmers compete in a market increasingly saturated by major corporations. Klobuchar and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, another White House hopeful who attended the forum, also rolled out rural-focused policies this week. Klobuchar announced a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that would help expand access to rural broadband and strengthen roads and bridges. Delaney offered a comprehensive rural plan that included proposals to strengthen family farmers and rural infrastructure.”


Disintermediate the DCCC:

2016 Post Mortem

UPDATE [sings] “Two grifters, off to see the world…”

Health Care

“Pelosi aide sought to undercut Medicare for All” [Politico]. “Wendell Primus, Pelosi’s senior health policy adviser and a long respected voice on health and domestic policy… dismissed Medicare for All during the private session as an unhelpful distraction, according to four people in the room and two people briefed on the meeting, and he expressed a need for more scrutiny of single-payer’s policy implications. Some of those six sources interpreted it as a request for data and economic analysis, but others saw it as a harder-edged invitation to discredit the idea, or at least amplify its risks.” • As I keep saying, preventing #MedicareForAll is the liberal Democrat leadership’s #1 policy goal. It doesn’t matter what they say in public, where they’re already walking back their putative support in any case.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE I don’t go to Whole Foods any more, so no:

“‘It Just Went Poof’: The Strange Aftermath of Virginia’s Cascade of Political Scandals” [New York Times]. “In the space of a week in early February, the public was stunned by revelations about each of the three highest statewide elected officials, all Democrats: the racist photo in the governor’s yearbook; accusations of sexual assault against the lieutenant governor; and the attorney general’s appearance in blackface at a party in college…. And then? “It just went poof,” said Natalie Draper, a librarian sitting in the back of a coffeehouse last week in Richmond. ‘It’s like it never happened.’…. But the idea of trying to raise money and hold rallies while spurning the three highest officeholders in the state came to be seen by many Democrats as just a needless handicap.”• No doubt Biden is banking on the same thing. More: “‘Don’t apologize, move on, and everybody will talk about something else next week,’ is how Ben Tribbett, a Democratic strategist, described it. ‘Maybe we’ve been doing it wrong over the last 100 years.”” • Those Democrat strategists…

“The Intergenerational Effects of a Large Wealth Shock: White Southerners After the Civil War” [NBER]. From the abstract: “White southern households with more slave assets lost substantially more wealth by 1870 relative to households with otherwise similar pre-War wealth levels. Yet, the sons of these slaveholders recovered in income and wealth proxies by 1880, in part by shifting into white collar positions and marrying into higher status families. Their pattern of recovery is most consistent with the importance of social networks in facilitating employment opportunities and access to credit.” • Especially if you file “the Klan” under the “social networks” rubric. Maybe if the source of reparations were targeted in some way?

Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, February 2019: “However strong yesterday’s ISM report for March was, today’s durable goods report for February shows more weaknesses than strengths” [Econoday]. “Reflecting an expected cooling for aircraft, durable goods orders fell… Shipments of core capital goods (nondefense ex-aircraft) are also soft, coming in unchanged but following a surge in January. … Weakness in core capital goods shipments will limit expectations for first-quarter business investment.” And: “In the adjusted data, the weakness was defense and civilian aircraft. This series has wide swings monthly so our primary metric is the unadjusted three-month rolling average – which declined. The rate of growth of the rolling averages is below the values seen over the last year” [Econintersect]. “Note that inflation-adjusted new orders are in contraction.”

Coincident Indexes: “Philly Fed: State Coincident Indexes increased in 38 states in January” [Calculated Risk]. “In the past month, the indexes increased in 38 states, decreased in seven states, and remained stable in five.”

Finance: “Wall Street Is Getting Cut Out of Bond Market It Long Dominated” [Bloomberg]. “The banks that have stood in the middle of the corporate bond market for decades are increasingly getting pushed aside. Eectronic marketplaces like MarketAxess Holdings Inc., Tradeweb Markets LLC and Liquidnet Holdings Inc. say that more of the company bond trades that happen on their platforms are between investors directly, without banks necessarily being involved. Known as all-to-all trading, this shift may weigh on revenues for banks that have long profited from being either buyers or sellers in just about every trade in the $9.2 trillion market.”

Finance: “Private-equity tricks mask mounting debt: ‘I’m 5 feet 8 inches, but I change the scale and make myself 6 feet 2 inches on a pro forma basis'” [Business Insider]. “The industry is rife with overestimates, a worrying sign that in some cases has seen credit as a percentage of the transaction ramp up to more than 30%… ‘”If you start seeing people not generating cash flow and not deleveraging, particularly in their first two years, I’d start worrying,” [Lavine told the FT].

Retail: “Reis: Regional Mall Vacancy Rate increased Sharply in Q1 2019” [Calculated Risk]. “In the mid-’00s, mall investment picked up as mall builders followed the “roof tops” of the residential boom (more loose lending). This led to the vacancy rate moving higher even before the recession started. Then there was a sharp increase in the vacancy rate during the recession and financial crisis. Recently both the strip mall and regional mall vacancy rates have increased from an already elevated level.”

Retail: “Walgreens lowers 2019 expectations after 2Q forecast miss” [Associated Press]. “Walgreens slashed its 2019 forecast and missed second-quarter expectations with a performance that sent its shares plunging Tuesday and helped knock down the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Company leaders told analysts that challenges they had been expecting like reimbursement cuts and lower price increases for branded drugs hit Walgreens much sooner than they anticipated.”

Retail: “Subway Closings Accelerate as Cold-Cuts Fail to Draw In Diners” [Bloomberg]. “While closely held Subway has been retrenching in the U.S. for years now as Americans forgo the Italian foot-longs that once felt like a healthier alternative to traditional fast-food, the shutdown rate quickened in 2018. The entirely franchised chain lost more than 1,100 total shops in the U.S., compared with about 800 in 2017. That marks the third straight year of a shrinking domestic store count.”

Marketing: “A startup is putting ads inside Ubers and Lyfts” [Digiday]. • Because of course they are.

The Bezzle: “On-Demand Startups Are Hemorrhaging Tens of Billions a Year” [Bloomberg]. “The on-demand industry probably lost around $30 billion in 2018. That’s a guesstimate—even the companies own pre-IPO financial disclosures may overstate or understate the full amount of cash out the door. I plan to revisit this number when we have more clarity later in the year. Of course, all these companies are deliberately spending profligately now to build their brands and win over dense populations of customers, so that in the future they can be more efficiently served. This is the exact playbook that once worked for Amazon.com.” • Hmm. I dunno. There’s no need for more than one or two AWSs.

The Bezzle: “The Publicist Who Dreads Getting Caught for Her Illegal Airbnb” [The Cut]. “We Airbnb our apartment whenever we leave town or go home to visit our parents. It’s a studio with two queen beds and a sectional couch. I don’t know why Airbnb approved it because it’s definitely not legal. I guess we got lucky.” • “Got lucky,” lol. Regulatory arbitrage is AirBnB’s business model.

Tech: “Moral Crumple Zones: Cautionary Tales in Human-Robot Interaction” [Engaging Science, Technology, and Society]. “As debates about the policy and ethical implications of AI systems grow, it will be increasingly important to accurately locate who is responsible when agency is distributed in a system and control over an action is mediated through time and space. Analyzing several high-profile accidents involving complex and automated socio-technical systems and the media coverage that surrounded them, I introduce the concept of a moral crumple zone to describe how responsibility for an action may be misattributed to a human actor who had limited control over the behavior of an automated or autonomous system. Just as the crumple zone in a car is designed to absorb the force of impact in a crash, the human in a highly complex and automated system may become simply a component—accidentally or intentionally—that bears the brunt of the moral and legal responsibilities when the overall system malfunctions.” • When you think of liability issues with robot cars, for example, yes, that’s exactly what would happen.

Tech: “Researchers find mountains of sensitive data on totalled Teslas in junkyards” [Boing Boing]. “Two pseudonymous security researchers called GreenTheOnly and Theo recovered “hundreds” of wrecked Teslas from scrappers and junkyards and systematically investigated the data left behind on the cars…. Teslas are incredibly data-hungry, storing massive troves of data about their owners, including videos of crashes, location history, contacts and calendar entries from paired phones, photos of the driver and passengers taken with interior cameras, and other data; this data is stored without encryption, and it is not always clear when Teslas are gathering data, and the only way to comprehensively switch off data-gathering also de-activates over-the-air software updates for the cars, which have historically shipped with limited or buggy features that needed the over-the-air updates to fix them. Tesla has a history of being secretive about the data its cars collect.”

Tech: “The CEO behind ‘Fortnite’ says it’s ‘evolving beyond being a game’ and explains the company’s ambitious vision” [Business Insider]. “‘We see that as ‘Fortnite’ evolves, it’s evolving beyond being a game,’ said [Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney]. He says ‘there’ll be more and more interesting things happening in that world’ that will allow it to ‘evolve in ways that previous games haven’t.'” • I’ll say it again: At some some, a political campaign is going to be smart enough to get its avatar into this world.

Tech: “Google’s Inbox by Gmail service is about to shut down for good. Here are 19 other Google products that bombed, died, or disappeared.” [Business Insider]. “Google Reader was a news-reading app that let users pull in stories from blogs or news sites. Google announced it was shutting down Reader in March 2013 — much to users’ dismay and outrage — and it was officially killed in July 2013.” • Monsters.

Manufacturing: They’ve got a point:

Transport: “New York will be the first US city to charge drivers to enter its busiest areas” [Quartz (SlayTheSmaugs)]. “The plan was sharply criticized by the taxi industry as a devastating price increase that would further disadvantage drivers already struggling to keep pace with changes wrought by Uber. Nine for-hire drivers in New York City have died by suicide since late 2017, with the most recent death reported on March 24. Congestion pricing will also make deliveries into Manhattan more expensive, which will likely trickle down to consumers in the form of price increases. Uber and Lyft are now pushing for a similar toll in Seattle as an alternative to a specific tax on ride hailing.”

The Biosphere

“Restoring natural forests is the best way to remove atmospheric carbon” [Nature]. “Keeping global warming below 1.5 °C to avoid dangerous climate change1 requires the removal of vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as well as drastic cuts in emissions…. Keeping global warming below 1.5 °C to avoid dangerous climate change1 requires the removal of vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as well as drastic cuts in emissions… [U]nder current plans… almost half of the pledged area is set to become plantations of commercial trees. Although these can support local economies, plantations are much poorer at storing carbon than are natural forests, which develop with little or no disturbance from humans. The regular harvesting and clearing of plantations releases stored CO2 back into the atmosphere every 10–20 years. By contrast, natural forests continue to sequester carbon for many decades. To stem global warming, deforestation must stop. And restoration programmes worldwide should return all degraded lands to natural forests.” • To put this in starker terms, you’ve got to remove capital from the reforestation equation, since that’s where the harvesting requirement comes from.

Australian eucalyptus trees. Thread:

“Ancient ‘Snowball Earth’ thawed out in a flash” [Science]. “More than half a billion years ago, our planet was a giant snowball hurtling through space. Glaciers blanketed the globe all the way to the equator in one of the mysterious ‘Snowball Earth’ events geologists think occurred at least twice in Earth’s ancient past. Now, scientists have found that the final snowball episode likely ended in a flash about 635 million years ago—a geologically fast event that may have implications for today’s human-driven global warming. The ice, which built up over several thousand years, ‘melted in no more than 1 million years,’ says Shuhai Xiao, a paleobiologist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg who was part of the team that made the discovery. That’s the blink of an eye in our planet’s 4.56-billion-year history, suggesting the globe reached a sudden tipping point.” • Funny to imagine a civilization based entirely on ice; no wonder there are no records!

“A Framework for Climate Action in the US Congress” (PDF) [Paul Tonko, Chair, House Environment & Climate Change Subcommittee]. “We agree that climate change is real. We agree humans are driving it. We agree that we need to build solutions that meet the scale and urgency of the crisis we face. The principles outlined in this document are meant to provide a framework that moves the lines of our agreement forward and helps us build a comprehensive national climate action plan together.” • I don’t know Tonko. Would any readers more knowledgeable about the politics of climate changer than I am care to comment?

“Tips for visiting super-bloom sites. And please, don’t kill the poppies” [Los Angeles Times]. “The spaces [between plants] are tempting for visitors who think it’s OK to squeeze in because there are no flowers to harm. But adding your feet (or your butt) to the bald spot compacts the soil, kills the fragile roots of nearby poppies, and ensures new ones won’t grow there. ‘Walking near the flowers for photos will kill the plants,’ park interpreter Jean Rhyne yells to visitors as she walks along the reserve’s trails.” • In other words, don’t act like a [family blogging] influencer. I was taught never to walk on soil in the beds at all, for just these reasons.

Dear Old Blighty

Because it is all her fault:

Neoliberal Epidemics

“What Loneliness Does to the Human Body” [The Cut]. “The bodies of lonely people are markedly different from the bodies of non-lonely people. Prolonged loneliness, [Brigham Young University psychology and neuroscience professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad] says, ‘can put one at risk for chronic health conditions, exacerbate various health conditions, and ultimately put us at increased risk for premature mortality.'” Interestingly: “[Holt-Lunstad] helped usher in new legislation designed to make hearing aids more affordable, since hearing loss is a risk factor for social isolation and loneliness, especially for older adults.”

“The share of Americans not having sex has reached a record high” [WaPo]. “The share of U.S. adults reporting no sex in the past year reached an all-time high in 2018, underscoring a three-decade trend line marked by an aging population and higher numbers of unattached people. But among the 23 percent of adults — or nearly 1 in 4 — who spent the year in a celibate state, a much larger than expected number of them were 20-something men. The portion of Americans 18 to 29 reporting no sex in the past year more than doubled between 2008 and 2018, to 23 percent…. ince 2008, the share of men younger than 30 reporting no sex has nearly tripled, to 28 percent. That’s a much steeper increase than the 8 percentage point increase reported among their female peers.” • Hmm.

“Stop Calling It ‘Casual Sex'” [Ella Dawson]. “I wanted to, y’know, talk a little, even if only in the service of more sex. It would take me years to understand why such a simple concept was a challenge for two thousand arrogant nincompoops at a college rated the horniest school in the US. We had no idea how to talk to our sexual partners. No one ever taught us how…. I wish I’d known sooner that the careless is the enemy of the good.”

Class Warfare

“Meet the People Coding Our World” [One Zero]. Important:

Do you foresee we’ll someday have the equivalent of “organic” tech, or a “slow” tech movement?

Bulletin board services. If you and I discover that we’re both into Toyota Corollas, we can go into any number of free bulletin board services. It costs pennies a month to run, so we don’t need ads or to make money. It’s just for fun. Every time I talk to people and ask what they do online, they’ll say Instagram, Facebook, etc. But when I ask what they really like doing online, their eyes light up when they talk about some weird forum they belong to. These aren’t optimized for engagement, so they have the normal pain-in-the-ass problems of dealing with humans, but not abnormal problems.

So, in one sense, yes, this will exist; it already exists, but it’s all outside the marketplace. Anytime the hand of the marketplace gets involved, you really start to torque up into the idea that we need scale, which means we need engagement, which means we need algorithms to find the best things to look at, which means toxic garbage and extreme utterances get pushed to the top. I’ve been asking some of the top thinkers how to design a large social network that doesn’t fall into those problems, and no one has a good answer.

Readers, are any of you still on bulletin boards?

Beware of squillionaires with bright ideas:

“When Socialism Was Tried in America—and Was a Smashing Success” [The Nation]. “‘Someday’ was dramatically delayed by the results of the 1932 elections. The Socialist ticket did well, securing almost 900,000 votes nationwide and registering its highest percentage of the total vote in Wisconsin. The winner of that year’s race, Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt, took notice: He met with Thomas after the election and borrowed liberally from proposals that had long been championed by the Socialists—for a Social Security system, unemployment compensation, strengthened labor unions, and public-works programs. Roosevelt’s New Deal took the wind out of the Socialist Party’s sails in the national arena, but the party remained a force in Milwaukee for decades to come.”

“Where in The U.S. Are You Most Likely to Be Audited by the IRS?” [Pro Publica]. Handy map:

“[T]he IRS audits EITC recipients at higher rates than all but the richest Americans, a response to pressure from congressional Republicans to root out incorrect payments of the credit…. The states with the lowest audit rates tend to be home to middle income, largely white populations: places like New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Generally, the IRS audits taxpayers with household income between $50,000 and $100,000 the least.”

News of the Wired

“A Historical Treasure Bordering Ancient Mesopotamia” [CNRS News]. “In Iraqi Kurdistan, excavations carried out by a French archaeological mission have revealed an ancient city on the site of Kunara….. One morning in 2015, the ground beneath these structures that date back multiple millennia offered new surprises. “One of our partners said breathlessly ‘We found a tablet!'” Tenu recalls, filled with emotion. It was followed by dozens and dozens of others, in the shape of small clay rectangles approximately 10 centimetres on each side. They were all inscribed with closely-spaced cuneiform signs…. The first tablets found in a building of the lower city, register a large number of entries and departures of flour,” [researcher Aline Tenu] continues. ‘It was actually a kind of flour office,” [he] adds, ‘in all likelihood for the benefit of the ‘Ensi’ of Kunara.'” • In 4000 years, our digital storage devices won’t be nearly as legible as clay.

Alert reader RH sends in “Five minutes of dissonant music”:

It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it!

* * *

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 (JU):

JU writes: “A hillside view of golden poppies.”

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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. Carey

    The Democrat Party is the enemy of the People.

    ‘Team Pelosi Was Reportedly Trawling for Anti-Medicare for All Research’:

    “..If your opponents are making a moral case like it is immoral to limit access to healthcare on the basis of wealth in any way, it’s much easier to say that doing it any other way simply doesn’t work, I’m afraid, than it is to say no, I disagree with you, and I want people to continue to have to pay to live. Or, to be more generous, it’s easier to say that it wouldn’t work than it is to say it is simply too scary to take on pharma, hospitals, and insurers all at once, because those fellas do donate an awful lot to our party, and they have a lot of money to spend on making us look bad if they want to. Even if you end up making those people’s cases for them; even if you destroy the party’s chances of ever getting to Medicare for All by spending years saying how desperately awful those scary risks would be, it is better than simply saying, sorry, I just don’t want you to have free healthcare and I won’t fight for it..”


    1. WJ

      Let’s please not turn health care into “a political issue.” That’s just as bad as making antitrust “a political issue.”

      Remember that there are only three legit political issues, and they are all cultural in nature:

      1. GBLTQ stuff (or Family Values stuff)
      2. Race stuff (or Law and Order stuff)
      3. Cultural Feminism and Reproductive Rights stuff (or Family Values/Pro-Life stuff)

      Everything else about our country is simply the way things naturally are supposed to be.

      1. Aloha

        So WJ if healthcare isn’t political why in gods name do we have to vote (fight) for it? Why isn’t it free already? Please help me to understand your logic.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          He’s making a joke about the tendency of “responsible” and “pragmatic” types to warn about complexity and to assure everyone we are all on one side and to not get “political” when in reality the “centrists” are largely opposed to the ideas and outcomes favored by the base, hence why he linked anti-trust and healthcare reform together. I might add the pragmatists are largely opponents or at best obstacles to what he lists as possible.

          Thats the joke!

          1. Grant

            The complexity thing is funny. On why these changes don’t happen, it isn’t complex. These politicians are corrupt. We don’t have single payer now because of them. Multiple studies show that there is a gap between what people want on policy and what the state does. In healthcare though, complexity is what makes a multi-payer system like ours horribly inefficient, and it makes all of the establishment’s alternatives to single payer look like the inferior policies that they are. Single payer is much more efficient, and the simplicity of the system is a big reason why it will always be more efficient.

            1. bassmule

              Also note use of “pragmatic,” which in DC is a synonym for “Doing what I gotta to get more money,” or, to simplify, “corrupt.”

      2. Cal2

        Don’t forget hardwarephobia (or Second Amendment Civil Rights)

        A decent candidate will ignore all four in favor of
        foreign policy,
        the economy
        and health care.

        The closest to that standard is Tulsi Gabbard.

        1. WJ

          Yes. The key thing about Second Amendment stuff is that, much like Abortion stuff, each party must loudly accuse the other of acting villainously on the issue while neither party ever acts on the righteous principle supposedly animating their vociferous condemnation of the other. That way both parties motivate their base and secure the $$$ while maintaining equilibrium between them. It’s beautiful.

          I agree wrt Tulsi and have donated to her campaign. It is a testament to the efficacy of state propaganda that she is the candidate most hated by “informed” liberals. Many of them, given their own claims about Gabbard, would logically have to vote for Trump were they to face off in a general. Because at least Trump will launch an occasional humanitarian missile and undertake a coup attempt now and then, whereas Tulsi is simply an “apologist” for all the people we righteously want to bomb.

          1. Cal2

            The corporate pro-war Democrats would rather lose to Trump again, so they have something to whine about, than win with Sanders/Tulsi.

          2. The Rev Kev

            That is a disturbing thought that you had. A choice between Tulsi Gabbard and Donald Trump – who would vote for whom, especially the liberals.

      1. Detroit Dan

        The reason I mention this is that Biden’s Team Reportedly Thinks He’s the Victim of a Bernie Sanders Conspiracy:

        This theory has been circulating around the crank corners of the extremely online center since former Nevada legislator Lucy Flores’ essay about her encounter with Biden was published on The Cut on Friday, although it speaks volumes that it’s now something that appears to be widely accepted in Biden’s camp. One piece of “evidence” frequently cited is that Flores endorsed Bernie Sanders in 2016. According to an interview Flores gave to HuffPost, however, Flores not only said she hadn’t been in contact with the Sanders campaign at all, but said outright that she doesn’t plan to back him in 2020…

        The most bewildering part of all of this is that Sanders, like so many of his fellow colleagues, stupidly waded into this whole thing to defend Joe Biden when the Flores story broke. “I’m not sure that one incident alone disqualifies anybody” from the presidency, Sanders said in an appearance on Face the Nation on Sunday.

        1. a different chris

          Ugh. Bernie needs to focus on what has been his strongest suit, that is to stay on-message. “I’m not sure…” does not work. What works is “I have no idea about any of that, now let me tell you about Medicare for All.”

          And when interrupted and prodded again on the subject, repeat it louder and in a more irritated tone.

          That works for him. That *is* him, or at least what we’ve been sold. I can imagine a Calugia-level orgy around the podium whilst Bernie gives a speech and he not even registering it. That’s the type of focus people want to see. We have system-wide problems, that’s his job to fix. Disgusting pig problems we also have, but that’s to be, um, handled thru different vectors.

          1. Carey

            I agree. This is another “enough about your damn emails!” moment.
            Why not stay quiet and let Biden do what he does best, which is f**k up?

        2. Roger Smith

          Once again with this crap. It only worked for Clinton and the Democrat apparatus behind her because of her family name and warchest. (Yea I wrote the emails on the illegal server… yea they said those things, but this person gave them away, get em! Russia!).

          This time the crimes are worse, VERY well documented, and big talking, shallow Joe Biden is the culprit. He can’t spin this. I’ve known about this weirdo since 2015 when I didn’t know much else. Maybe it was the Russians. Anyone who still claims to support this guy should be sent out to the Pacific on a pontoon.

          “Bernie made me touch those kids! I mean no, but yeah I did it, but no one would have cared if it wasn’t for lousy Bernie Sanders!”

        3. WJ

          Indeed. Given the puerility of our political class, in fact, I bet that a year or so from now, after Biden has crashed and burned, Bernie’s quote above will suddenly be cited as evidence of his implicit misogyny and his “problem” with women voters. Just wait.

        4. JerryDenim

          Sheezus…. STF up Bernie!!! The Senator has admirable impulses, but he has an incredibly bad habit of rushing to the defense of his political rivals when he sees them being dog-piled. Clinton’s emails were a legitimate big deal and Joe Biden’s serial creepiness may or may not be a character issue (looks like it to me) but it is a legitimate campaign killer in the era of Me-Too. Sanders doesn’t need to join the melee if he thinks a mugging is in the works, but he needs to learn to keep quite and let politics happen when a scandal is detonating in the face of a rival. I don’t recall Clinton or Biden ever sticking their necks out for him.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            “When your opponent’s drowning, throw ’em an anvil.”

            Sanders doesn’t need to be mean, because I don’t think that’s in character, but he does need to drop this comity shit and be ruthless. The stakes are way too high.

            Adding, and his staff needs to get this through his thick head. It shouldn’t be too hard, because all Sanders really does want to do is talk about policy. He doesn’t have to answer off-point questions just because they’re asked.

      2. JohnnyGL

        That doesn’t seem to be how dem party primary voters think, at least according to polling thus far.

        If Biden isn’t in the race, those voters generally switch to Bernie more than anyone else.

        There was a poll the other day that showed Bernie leading in Alabama, of all places, if Biden was out. Sanders was a distance 2nd place to Biden, if Biden ran, though.

        1. Detroit Dan

          I’m guessing that we get a lot of nonsense this early in the campaign, but as it wears on Biden will be a fringe figure. I could be wrong, but he seems like a fat target with a lot of baggage and not much going for him. (Tough on student debt!)

          1. Grant

            He wouldn’t have three people supporting him if he had no connection to Obama. What, in 2020, would make him, with his record, his corruption, worldview, mountain of stupid and tone deaf comments and his creepy behavior, a good candidate in 2020? He was a bad candidate in the past, and the country, his party, seems to have shifted away from people like him. People on blogs like this pay lots of attention to this stuff. Most Americans don’t, but the second that his actual record and his past is looked into, he’ll be toast. His value would be to pick off some support from Sanders, to hold off imploding until he can get some votes that would have went to Bernie. All the elites want is for no clear winner to emerge in the first round of voting. Once the Democrats get to the second found, the superdelegates are back in the game. In California, those people installed Bauman over the rank and file, and he had to resign in disgrace.

            This system is trash because of the Democrats. Parties like the Republicans are found in every system. Systems that work better than ours have at least decent opposition parties, and because of what the left did in the past, they have many of the things (like single payer) that we lack and are next to impossible to take away. In this system, the Democrats are the opposition party, and they only really oppose the left. Only a quarter or so of the public identifies with the Republicans, and they back deeply unpopular policies. The amazing thing is that they manage to still often beat the Democrats. That says a lot more about the Democrats than the Republicans.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > All the elites want is for no clear winner to emerge in the first round of voting. Once the Democrats get to the second found, the superdelegates are back in the game.


        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > If Biden isn’t in the race, those voters generally switch to Bernie more than anyone else.

          I would imagine that’s a combination of name recognition and the desire for a winner.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        Politics can’t even be subdivided into quadrants.

        There are two areas where they compete. One is a certain combativeness. Hillary was perceived as willing to fight the GOP. Sanders and Biden are too, so people from across the quadrants are going to make a decision based on this.

        The other side is simply people don’t pay attention. Bankruptcy Biden is a real issue, but we all know Republicans are bad and by extension Democrats are good. Biden by being senior as the former VP has a hold on people who might not vote for a newer version of Biden. Sanders is the far and away second choice of Biden voters.

        Sanders will get the same results in Iowa and New Hampshire regardless of Biden, but to get there, Bernie will spend more resources and time because Biden is going to garner attention as the former VP.

        Biden is not HRC, but he’ll have elements of her support. Without Biden, some of it will default to Sanders.

    1. Carolinian

      Biden=toast sounds like. If being handsy doesn’t get him then the Ukraine stuff surely will. Hello President Bloomberg?

      But if Biden should become president perhaps Mueller can return for another stint. Maddow can simply move her schtick to Fox. She has said in the past that Ailes helped her learn how to do TV.

      1. JohnnyGL

        The Ukraine thing strikes me as the kind of thing that no other dem campaign will use during the primaries and then Trump will bring it out during a debate and his minions will paint him with the same brush as the clintons. And, yes, it’ll work very effectively, not least because it’s true.

        1. bassmule

          I dunno, I always thought that being the single individual most responsible for the Student Debt Crisis (back when he was the Senator From MBNA/Bank of America) would put enough people off him. As has been repeated in these precincts, “The more people learn about Biden, the less they like him.”

          1. The Rev Kev

            The whole thing about Biden is just plain weird. If he want something younger to get tactile with, why doesn’t he do what any other guy would do and get himself a mistress? I understand that there are more women in Washington than men and the political scene there would be more than accommodating to such a set-up. If through religious feelings he does not want to go that way but needs a friend, then as it is Washington he should get himself a dog – in his case probably an Afghan Hound.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > If he want something younger to get tactile with, why doesn’t he do what any other guy would do and get himself a mistress?

              Speculating freely, but I think its dominance display in public — ideally adjacent to family and friends — that’s the turn-on. And note this doesn’t necessarily contradict with being good on policy (sponsoring the Violence Against Women Act, for example). Less like Harvey Weinstein and more like Louis CK, whose turn-on was also a public dominance display (and who was, IIRC, also quite good on advancing the careers of women comics, e.g. Tig Notaro, an accuser).

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      I am struck by the contrast to the Kavanaugh foofaraw. Maybe someone should do some legal commentary over video about when the particular woman can slug Uncle Joe in a legal case of self defense against assault.

      I see from checking my spelling there’s a backstory on Milano and Kavanaugh from the tweet I did not click.

  2. Hepativore

    Speaking of the tech sector, does anybody have any more information or a clear idea of how the EU’s Copyright Directive is going to affect the internet? It passed a few days ago, and I have been looking for an analysis of it on Naked Capitalism. From what I can gather, the neoliberal leadership of the EU refused to remove propositions 11, and 13, in spite of the backlash against them by the European populace. In short, the EU rammed the Copyright Directive through regardless of how much people protested.

    From what I can gather, there is a palpable fear that this directive is going to make ISP censorship in the US and political internet censorship in China seem tame by comparison. Do other countries outside of Europe have to worry about this affecting them directly as the EU is such a large market and the tech sector might have to bend over backwards to appease it?

  3. Watt4Bob

    One of my most recent pet theories is that we will know we have reached ‘the singularity‘ when everyone, and I mean everyone realizes, all at once, that absolutely nothing in the universe of IOT works as it should, and in fact all IOT devices seem to have decided to conspire to damage your well being.

    Sort of a techpocalypse.

    Try to make phone call, the tires on your car deflate, or your ‘smart‘ clothes dryer catches fire and burns your house down, then the police arrive and arrest you because your ‘smart‘ home security system sent them video of you fleeing the scene of the ‘crime‘.

    Large groups of people seen fleeing chaos in the nations cities on stolen bicycles are pursued by swarms of rogue delivery drones trying to deliver arrest warrants, long overdue prescriptions and free stuff from Amazon…

    The IOT sh*t hits the malfunctioning ‘smart‘ fan.

    1. Detroit Dan

      Yes, the IOT problems are catching a lot of us by surprise. I love my cell phone and Google Maps with GPS, but social media has been a disappointment, and autonomous vehicles a disaster.

    2. prodigalson

      What kills me with the singularity types is they don’t seem to comprehend the other side of the Singularity is just as easily dystopia as utopia.

      Japanese manga artists have been creating post-singularity stories and worlds that are nightmare fuel, and they’ve been doing it for the better part of 25+ years.

      The recent battle angel movie is built on exactly that premise and the manga’s been going since the early 90’s. Tsutomu Nihei’s “Blame!” series goes even further; everyone’s transhuman, most of the solar system has been converted to an ever expanding chaotic city with the post singularity transhumans locked out of the network controlling it, considered foreign intruders by the AI security system, and actively hunted to near extinction. Uplifting it is not.

      Even weirder, singularity types are also reading these same visions of a dystopian singularity but blink slowly and chirp “utopia!” anyway.

      Google roko’s basilisk for some interesting reading on a thought experiment that can provoke dread for some of the singularity crew.

      1. Hepativore

        I think that Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy made an accurate prediction of what “A.I.” will probably be in the future, with “Eddie” the computer that ran the spaceship, the Heart of Gold. Eddie was both annoyingly cheerful and eager-to-please. Eddie was also grossly incompetent and very literal in terms of how he interpreted things and usually bungled things beyond all comprehension in his efforts to gain your approval.

        1. Prodigalson

          Yup. Scifi has been exploring these themes for awhile now. If today’s tech society is a mess why/how would the singularity fix things and not go in a skynet direction instead…

      2. fajensen

        Google roko’s basilisk for some interesting reading on a thought experiment that can provoke dread for some of the singularity crew.

        From the description, it seems like The Basilisk’s nature is assume to be somewhat similar to that God of the Old Testament: “Do my bidding or Else the next Seven generations gets it!” or “Hi! See, I bet five bucks with uncle Lucifer over here that me destroying your life will not make you angry at me. Glad to see you are not Son; Good Show, Carry On lad. Oi, Lucifer, don’t slink off. Here, five bucks first, if you please!”.

        Interesting, especially interesting that I was a bit chilled by the idea of Roko’s Basilisk, not so much about God. I do wonder why I am thinking like that. Maybe this is because I believe that a true God would never be petty or mean and would have a great sense for humour and comedy, whereas I could well believe that a fake machine God bootstrapped from smaller human minds of course would adopt the “whatever works”-ethics of its rather soulless creators?

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Singularity Dude: “I think my upload of myself has bits of somebody else’s brain in it.”

      Response: Please wait for customer service.

      I’ve been thinking about how our SmartCars can never have voices. Because users will realize quite quickly that they are trusting their lives to a collection of IF/THEN functions.

  4. mle detroit

    Interestingly: “[Holt-Lunstad] helped usher in new legislation designed to make hearing aids more affordable, since hearing loss is a risk factor for social isolation and loneliness, especially for older adults.”

    Is hearing in the Jayapal real M4A bill? I know vision and dental are included, but this is important too!

    The winner of that year’s race, Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt, took notice: He met with Thomas after the election and borrowed liberally from proposals that had long been championed by the Socialists

    “Borrowed liberally”

    1. Shonde

      Also sometimes referred to as co-optation. Best way possible to stop a movement that was gaining force. Certainly says capitalism was feeling threatened.

    2. none

      Hearing aids are a scam, the electronics in them is no different (simpler even) than a bluetooth earpieces we used to see everywhere, and fitting/adjusting them is not much different than getting an eye exam for eyeglasses. The last thing we need to do to make them cheaper is add subsidies for the incumbent monopolies. Break the monopolies instead.

      1. JohnnySacks

        They may be more expensive than they should be, but simpler than Bluetooth? Seriously?
        Digital signal processing tuned to the frequencies which your hearing is limited? Background white noise filters? Feedback filters? Soon to come directional filters so you can hear the person you’re facing better than the kvetch off to your left or right?

        You’re shopping at Dollar Tree and expecting beluga caviar?

        1. hunkerdown

          none might have exaggerated a bit, but all that is normal Bluetooth earset functionality. Surely you’re not trying to tell us that to add a simple loopback mode to that is worth a grand per ear?

      2. Auntienene

        I’ve worn hearing aids since I was 17; I’m now 66. They are programmed to meet the needs of the individual based on audiology tests. I have a severe sloping sensory neural loss (nerve deafness). Just how does Bluetooth remedy that?
        What Bluetooth does is turn my aids into headsets making it much easier to use the phone, a tremendous improvement, a life changer, even.
        I will agree the scam is the high prices, huge prices. But I need them, so there’s that.

  5. urblintz

    I won’t dispute the problems that arise from “loneliness” but I do insist that there is a difference between loneliness and aloneness. Frankly, I prefer to be alone most of the time and am certain that my mental and physical health is improved by not engaging with insane people in an insane world dominated by greed, partisanship and convenience. Convenience, in my book, often leads to docility. It may be a bit more time consuming for me to look through my CD’s, find what I want to listen to and put it on my CD player (yes I still have one, have never used itunes or spotify, etc) but better that, imho, than “Alexi, play Van Morrison.” A trivial example, yes, but it makes my point.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Social isolation is the chief cause of depression according to most researchers on the subject according to Johann Hari in his book *Lost Connections.* Wanting to be alone in a culture that favors competition, narcissism, and cruelty is understandable but we all need the high bandwidth engagement with those of us who have a healthier view of life that involves valuing compassion, cooperation, and the expansion of consciousness

      1. urblintz

        …and so I come to NC, and other sites, and interact. Besides, I interact plenty with the select friends I care to and am not “socially isolated” in the least. The occasional concert or play suffices and when I don’t cook I even go to restaurants. But “high bandwidth interaction?”… chacun a son gout. It’s also well known that stress is a major health factor and high bandwidth anything almost always comes with stress, even with those who are compassionate, cooperative and consciousness expanded. Then again, I’m a curmudgeonly 62 years old and am quite sure that not inflicting my (still) radical ideas on a docile (yet militarized – strange that), “contented” community of pollyannas and miquetoasts benefits those who don’t want to listen to them.

        But I am not arguing against your point. I agree that there is real social isolation (and maybe I am on my way to that) which is soul-killing. Unfortunately, it’s usually not a choice for those stuck in it, rather it’s often the baggage of ill health, old age and poverty. One can not force themselves into situations of social engagement when others don’t want you around or to whom one remains invisible because they are not “in” try as they might to fit.

        That said, there is a way to be alone without being lonely for those whose natural introversion makes “high bandwidth engagement” far more treacherous than staying at home and reading a good book. As for depression… that book is still being written and psychology has yet to figure it out. Pharmacology (SSRI’s in particular) is decidedly NOT the answer for many who simply can not cope with high bandwidth engagement.

          1. Summer

            I think when these researches talk about “social,” they are mostly talking about group engagement. I say this because these researchers,as much as they say it’s about your well-being are doing this work because of how it relates to the work place. That’s it. They can’t have you moping around on the job…hence the “concern.”

            Now as for one on one, I much prefer it to groups.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Meetings are a strain, pretty exhausting. I wouldn’t have thought that sitting around and talking would be so tiring.

  6. toshiro_mifune

    bulletin boards…

    I haven’t been on bulletin boards since the BBS days. Message boards are a different story, and yes I still frequent them.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I still miss email discussion groups. Some, but not all of these were also called listservs.

      1. DJG

        Arizona Slim: I am currently on one e-mail discussion group, for playwrights. It is quite old–so old that it is a YahooGroup. Yet it has so many members that the founders can’t “migrate” it to another platform.

        I am still in contact with several people who I met on a list-serv, which then became a YahooGroup, which then ended up with each of us on Facebook.

        Somehow, the scale of Facebook destroys. It is strange that maybe YahooGroups were the most the technology would allow–meaning the best application of the technology. After that, too much technology, too much spying.

      2. Oregoncharles

        I’m on far too many listservs, most for the Green Party in Oregon. It’s the cheapest way to communicate among ourselves. We’ve tried to migrate some discussions to newer systems, but I find them very irritating (or maybe I don’t want to learn all their operations.)

        The chief problem is that I get so much email it’s hard to keep up with. Need to get off some more lists.

        At least for me, Facebook is an especially prolific source of email.

    2. eg

      I regularly participate in a forum to keep abreast of Georgia Tech athletics and rather less often one for owners of my car model.

      I used to participate in several concerning men’s fashion, but broke the habit a few years back.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Forums are indispensable for sorting out technical problems. And I’m trying to imagine shortwave usenets run on steam.

      The Internet should make us all appreciate how much we failed to appreciate Librarians and Library Science.

      1. fajensen

        The Internet should make us all appreciate how much we failed to appreciate Librarians and Library Science.

        Absolutely. One could do things on CompuServe in one dial-up sessions that today takes a week or so of “research” on the Internet, with the useful information being splattered everywhere and services buried under so many layers of “tailored” spam-vertising that one never finds it.

        Not only that, the digital alzheimer’s is spreading. One observes that pretty much Every digital PLM system and Every digital Journaling system going into existence since that fatal year 2000, when the dot.bomb bubble universe inflated in earnest, is an affront to both Librarians and Library Science!

        Businesses letting thousands of Java coder dudes re-invent systems that worked for centuries … that was never going to go very well!!

  7. Lee

    Tech: “Researchers find mountains of sensitive data on totalled Teslas in junkyards” [Boing Boing].

    Shoshana Zuboff, author of Surveillance Capitalism, in a recent talk, stated that Ford Motor Company’s new business model will not be based so much on making and selling cars as it will be collecting and selling data on those who drive them. So much to look forward to.

    I can’t locate a transcript and provide the exact quote but you can listen to her complete talk, which is quite worthwhile.

    1. Svante Arrhenius

      But, I thought that Ford (and everybody else in the West) was about selling indentured suckers, with piss-poor impulse control and identity problems to the FIRE Sector; they’d build the same commodity, as cheaply as possible, hang new sheetmetal and pay Madison Ave and the media; destroy mass transit away from “urban blight” and elect politicians who’d tax us into paying for spewing climate changing concrete away from us? How’s THAT for a sentence? I’d actually looked at a Ford & Buick (albeit, German designed) this last time. The same CRAP components, having to pay for >$2,500 packages, to get totally necessary safety items, standard on real cars, then bought online (TrueCar still worked, back then). Folks’ nutz!

    2. kurtismayfield

      Who is paying for this? I still don’t see the business model. Once they realize that all this personal data could have been predicted from social economic factors it’s going to be useless.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Yeah that. Ten years without an automobile and I’m still getting Automobile Insurance offers. I assume Big Data is like fracking.

  8. dcrane

    re: Australian eucalyptus trees.

    An especially entertaining SW Aussie tree (a karri) is the Bicentennial Tree down near Pemberton. It’s 75 meters tall with a lookout platform at the top, and you can climb it yourself by way of “165 metal spikes hammered into the trunk” (!). A sign at a platform partway up advises not to go farther if you’re feeling unsteady. There is another in the area, not quite as tall, called the Gloucester Tree.

    1. MK

      Is it the eucalyptus that is nicknamed the widowmaker, or am I confusing it with another tree that has branches break off without warning?

      1. Lee

        I cut down really big frost damaged eucalyptus trees for a living for a couple of years in the San Francisco bay area where they are plentiful, invasive and, a fire hazard. It was indeed a time of living dangerously.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        Widowmaker is any man-eating tree. Perhaps Eucalyptus was the leading local culprit?

        “Always check the crown”

        1. The Rev Kev

          Coconut trees are also widow makers. In the Pacific war a number of allied troops were killed or injured by the falling nuts.

          1. Procopius

            I think I read that somewhere, but the two palm trees in front of my house don’t do that. The nuts never fall off.

  9. ACF

    These quotes from the AirBNB article, which is about sisters who rent out their apartment when they go out of town (sometimes going out of town in order to rent) but who live in it full time as their home and go to their day jobs from, show how one slice of the AirBNB market are people trying to add enough income to make their full time jobs afford a reasonable life:

    “I have a full-time job as a publicist, and I make $40,000 a year. (For what it’s worth, the initial offer was $37,000 but I negotiated up.) My studio apartment is $3,250 a month, which I split down the middle with my sister. Given how much I bring home after taxes, I barely have anything left over after rent.
    … [pre-tax, $40k/year is $3,333/month; after tax it’s less.]

    Recently we were gone for just over a week and we made $2,000, which helps a lot when you’re spending close to half your salary on rent.

    I see this money as part of my income, and I depend on it. If we got found out, I’d have trouble paying my bills. I haven’t told my boss, although some of my co-workers know. I feel like everyone I work with has to do something extra to make ends meet because our salaries are so low, especially if they want to live someplace decent.”

    Makes me sad that salaries are so out of whack with living costs that inviting strangers into your home when you’re not in it seems like a good strategy. Also like the story on NPR the other day about a guy who supplements his full time income by recharging electric scooters (‘birds’? I think they were called). He didn’t seem to mind, like these sisters don’t, but seems to me there’s just a fundamental wrongness to the economy

    1. Chris Cosmos

      This is where we are now and things will not change unless we have something like UBI and then even the underlying problem with capitalism and the cult of individualism will not easily morph into something more human. Society is no longer geared for what prior generations believed was the American Dream. The new Dream, if we want to survive as a society, has to be focused on community and cooperation.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        UBI, being consumer-oriented, will reinforce capitalism. Why do you think Silicon Valley squillionaires are pushing it? Because their goal is empowering the working class?

    2. a different chris

      There’s some psychology behind this I believe, although disclaimer IANAPsycologist. It’s a superset maybe of Stockholm syndrome. You can’t easily afford an apartment but AirBNB is there to help! You can’t afford your car but Uber gets you some cash back from it! (Sortof).

      And so on. Yet the Richie Riches behind all this rental nonsense are the ones getting richer, whereas you are wearing out your tires and worriedly scrubbing your shower.

    3. FreeMarketApologist

      Yes, but she is in NYC, and AirBnb-ing out a rental apartment is generally illegal.

      She should save herself all the dread and worry and simultaneously show that she has some ethics and agency, by not whoring out her apartment on AirBnB.

    4. JohnnyGL

      I feel like everyone I work with has to do something extra to make ends meet because our salaries are so low, especially if they want to live someplace decent.

      This is an argument for higher wages, and much more provision of public housing to keep rental costs down.

    5. Eclair

      Our society has come full circle. A few years ago, I was looking through federal census reports for 1900 and 1910, researching my immigrant grandparents. They lived in a Massachusetts mill city and, along with all their neighbors, worked in the woolen and cotton mills.

      The 1910 census listed my grandparents and their baby, with two young men as ‘boarders.’ Many of their neighbors had ‘boarders’ listed also. They lived in mill housing, small and, at that time, with no private bathrooms. I found the same pattern when researching my in-laws, who arrived from Eastern Europe to work in another Massachusetts mill city.

      Workers soon realized that they were being exploited and used strikes to unionize, bringing in higher wages and improved working conditions. Remember the Bread and Roses strike was in 1912, in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

      1. Heraclitus

        Both my father’s and mother’s families had boarders, typically highway workers building the roads in the ’40s and ’50s. We had a schoolteacher boarder when I was a child. She lived just a little too far away to commute, but went home on the weekends. She became a close family friend.

        One problem with the dissolution of the rural economy in the south (I’m from SC) is that tenant housing without running water but with sanitary outhouses were no longer kept up. With all their deficiencies, they were a lot better than living in a tent. The perfect is the enemy of the good, and no where do we see that as much as in zoning policies that prevent people from living in ‘substandard’ conditions that have worked for hundreds of years before the creation of suburbia.

  10. Carey

    ‘Who is paying for Monsanto’s crimes? We are’, by Carey Gillam:

    “..Even the US district judge Vince Chhabria, who oversaw the San Francisco trial that concluded Wednesday with an $80.2m damage award, had harsh words for Monsanto. Chhabria said there were “large swaths of evidence” showing that the company’s herbicides could cause cancer. He also said there was “a great deal of evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of its product … and does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue..”


    1. tegnost

      “”… and does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue..””
      Exactly what I’ve always thought about that corp., can’t believe bayer bought that liability…

  11. shinola

    Re. AOC’s tweet (“My recommendation, if you’re a small-dollar donor: pause your donations to DCCC & give directly to swing candidates instead.)

    How many “small-dollar” donors actually give money directly to the DCCC?
    (Although I wouldn’t be surprised if the DCCC’s definition of a “small” dollar donation is anything less than $10k)

  12. Pelham

    Re Medicare for All:

    Why don’t its proponents regularly defend themselves with a handy list of atrocities committed by healthcare insurers? I seldom hear any such mentions.

    A few years back a woman who worked for a major insurer (can’t recall her name) told of a heart transplant candidate whose case she had to review. It turned out he met all the necessary criteria and qualified under his policy for a $500,000 transplant. But then she got a call from a higher-up who told her to find some reason to deny the case, and she did. The poor guy died needlessly.

    Shortly thereafter, she had occasion to visit the insurer’s headquarters, where the lobby was all torn up as workers labored to install a $500,000 sculpture. Conscience-stricken, she resigned shortly after and launched a personal campaign to bring such malfeasance to light.

    This sort of thing must be routine. And relating such events would go a long way toward rebutting those who insist most Americans are satisfied with their private insurance. Of course we are, because most of us have yet to suffer a chronic or deadly disease. That’s the only valid test. And the insurers appear to know it, which is why they dutifully cater to the minor ills of the majority so they can put the screws to the defenseless, ailing minority who need costly care.

    I believe we need to repeat a few horror stories over and over that people can identify with to get this essential point across.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      I don’t know if horror stories will work people turn them off usually besides appealing to compassion does not work in our society. Better is to focus on cost and the ability of every other developed country to have both a cheaper and often higher quality system. There are some theoretical reasons to be skeptical of a universal system on the grounds of the underlying assumptions behind Western medicine but that could change once the society becomes less materialistic.

  13. Pelham

    Re the dearth of sex, especially among the young: Could it be that Alex Jones is right, that our living environment is so permeated with petrochemicals that our collective libido is compromised? Also, sharp declines in sperm counts have been documented for decades now.

    1. JohnnyGL

      The numbers in that poll line up nicely with:

      1) financial crisis/great recession
      2) rise of social media
      3) ubiquity of cell phone cameras

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      extreme income inequality creates a small group of very desirable men and a large group of undesirable men

      it’s better to be the 3rd wife of a Sheikh than the 1st wife of a beggar (or to be the mistress of a guy making a lot of money who will never marry you as opposed to ‘settling’ for someone with less money)

      I am incredibly lucky I found someone who was raised by human beings and not capitalists to put up with me.

      1. tokyodamage

        You’re either brave, middle-aged, or both. . . . anyone under 30 who even brings that up online will be dogpiled by social justice warriors calling them an ‘incel’ or a ‘MRA’ or just a misogynist.

        It’s like the progressive young people are determined to drive all the alienated young men into the alt-right by any means.

        1. Temporarily Sane

          It’s like the progressive young people are determined to drive all the alienated young men into the alt-right by any means.

          Yep…and they (the progs) vastly underestimate the number of alienated young males who’ve defected to the alt-right, while overestimating their own numbers. They are also utterly tone deaf and have no idea how ridiculous they sound to people who aren’t already buying what they are selling.

          It’s easy for coddled progs to act cocky and self-righteous when they have social peace and the rule of law protecting them. What they never seem to consider is what happens if the alt-right keeps growing and growing and growing and the pent up anger on that side is unleashed on them in the form of physical violence? In a physical fight situation the progs would get boot stomped hard.

          There are plenty of people on the alt-right who genuinely believe a massive outbreak of violence (the “zombie apocalypse”) is inevitable. Look up the Dark Enlightenment. If progs were smart they’d keep this reality in mind and try to tailor their message to appeal to potential defectors. Their shaming and guilt tripping “tactics” do more to drive recruits to the right than any alt-right propaganda campaign. That they are so completely and utterly blind to the damage this does really blows my mind. Progs and alt-righters barely even speak the same language anymore….does anyone ever think about how this can be resolved before it goes past the point of no return?

      2. djrichard

        Still seems to me that this this will be the quickest way for the world to get to zero population growth. Just load everybody up with debt. And keep the jobs precarious by reducing the number of jobs through automation and outsourcing.

        And as a byproduct, zero population growth should be green too. Especially once population growth goes negative. After millennia and the population gets small enough, the winners can decide that enough losers have been culled and a different equilibrium can be reached.

        Until then, party on. At least if you’re a winner.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Still seems to me that this this will be the quickest way for the world to get to zero population growth. Just load everybody up with debt. And keep the jobs precarious by reducing the number of jobs through automation and outsourcing.

          Everything’s going according to plan!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > ingesting all that glysophate

          Five seconds of Googling and this from the NIH:

          The In Vitro Impact of the Herbicide Roundup on Human Sperm Motility and Sperm Mitochondria

          Toxicants, such as herbicides, have been hypothesized to affect sperm parameters. The most common method of exposure to herbicides is through spraying or diet. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of direct exposure of sperm to 1 mg/L of the herbicide Roundup on sperm motility and mitochondrial integrity…. Our results indicate that the direct exposure of semen samples to the active constituent of the herbicide Roundup at the relatively low concentration of 1 mg/L has adverse effects on sperm motility, and this may be related to the observed reduction in mitochondrial staining.

          n = 66.

          General Ripper wasn’t all that off-target….

  14. Hameloose Cannon

    Biden’s Ukrainian nightmare is right. The two licenses at the center of the post-Euromaidan corruption probe were for, one, Naftogazvydobuvannya, controlled by recipient of Trump campaign polling data, Donbass’s Rinat Akhmetov. And two, Burisma, a competitor firm controlled by Yanukovych’s ex-Ecology Minister, Mykola Zlochevsky. It’s EU visa liberalization, the expansion of the Schengen area, that makes Western lobbying possible: Hunter Biden and former Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, are on Burisma’s board. Is it corruption if a prodigal son joins the corrupt Kremlin cabal the father’s administration is sanctioning? Gee, I don’t know.

    What I do know is that the Kremlin sells natural gas at below market rates to Ukrainian oligarchs, who in turn use it to generate electricity that Moscow buys back at an overall loss, just to keep Ukrainian politicians sweet. Who doesn’t want to ride that gravy train? You can’t buy politicians, only rent them. But to a layperson, it seems that in order to preserve das spiel, Kremlin gravy is making its way through the GI tract and into the coffers of folks looking to pull Ukraine into the EU’s orbit, where the real gelt is. Blowback? Or crypto-capitalism, the only way for the KGB to withdraw Rubles, deposit Euros, and loot with the big dogs?

  15. Deschain

    Re: Fortnite and

    I’ll say it again: At some some, a political campaign is going to be smart enough to get its avatar into this world.

    It’s not about putting your avatar in a game world; it’s about borrowing the better engagement models that games like Fortnite use and building a campaign around that. Spamming your donors/constituents with 3 emails a day asking for more money and fearmongering about this that and the other thing is like a crummy F2P game (or airplane business model; LOL at that tweet) that is constantly reminding you with alerts to harvest your crops. It’s lazy and bad game design that burns through people’s willingness to engage, and it’s an incredibly poor use of modern technology to build a political community. Nobody is getting this right (not even Bernie).

    One of the better game companies I follow described their approach to building a lasting game as a relationship; not as a product, and not (in the currently popular lingo) as a service. They emphasized trust as the key, which comes from transparency (say what you’re doing, and why), collaboration (get the community visibly involved in the decision making process at some level), and commitment (following through on promises). Fortnite does an excellent job of this.

    Here’s how I would start to structure my political engagement model, if I were running a campaign:
    1) One email per week to your list, coming at at roughly the same time on the same day each week. This would include a summary of what the campaign did last week, and the events scheduled for next week, and would include links to key media appearances. Spotlight people working on the campaign at all levels, do some human interest stuff. Talk about the philosophy behind your political positions – deliver meaningful content. And of course an ask for $ at the bottom. One email per week is enough, unless there is relevant breaking news. The email should be an ‘event’ that people look forward to each week.
    2) A very clear roadmap of what legislation/acts the candidate plans to propose/deliver in their first 30/100/365 days in office. Here’s what you’re going to get, and when. Provide as much detail on the actual legislation as is possible, especially the earlier stuff. There should also be a clear discussion of the philosophy/why behind the legislation. This should go on the candidate’s website and be linked in the emails, and clearly noted/discussed when it is updated/changed. There should be a balance of ‘big content drops’ (Medicare for All) and ‘quality of life stuff’ (for instance, we’re going to stop picking on EITC folks for tax audits, per above).
    3) Foster a community site on the web for donors. Encourage discussion there. Not on Facebook or anything corporate though. Reddit might work, though you’ll have to figure out how to filter the worst trolls. Have the candidate do AMAs there regularly. Have moderators that don’t work for the campaign. The rule of thumb should be ‘you can say anything you want about the candidate, but be excellent to each other.’

    That’s where I’d start anyway. When video game companies do this, and do it well, the resulting communities are as strong as any I’ve ever seen – despite the fact that they are almost entirely virtual.

    1. ocop

      This. I removed myself from all Bernie 2020 comms. Even after checking the “send me less emails box” they were still hitting me daily in one form or another. I’ll check back in eventually once they decide to focus more on substance than optics.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > That’s where I’d start anyway. When video game companies do this, and do it well, the resulting communities are as strong as any I’ve ever seen – despite the fact that they are almost entirely virtual.

      That’s extremely interesting. I just hope the right people, as opposed to the various wrong people, get there first.

      This is especially useful because I’m not from this world, nor, I suspect, are many readers. So it’s nice to have an approach laid out so clearly.

  16. Aloha

    Re: Climate Change
    I am not a Dem, Rep, socialist, etc… I am just a human being that supports other human beings in living the best life (lives) that they can and with the USA being hands down the richest and most powerful country for at least the past 80 yrs there is no excuse why we can’t afford to pay for something like the GND which incorporates everything that human beings need to live a good life including helping other countries but not enriching the dictators. I am also as cynical as the next person about our so called Reps in office, thanks in part to Obama and his empty rhetoric for that, but I have to say that AOC really does seem to be walking the talk and besides things are going to change one way or another and the time to help decide how is now! And I also want to mention that the GND is to vote yes or no to form a GND Committee and that these are just ideas, they want input from us, they want it to be a thoughtful discussion. Here is a recent Town Hall interview where she and others explain what is going on: (starts at 4 min mark)
    My fear is that as a society we have lost the art form of respectful conversation. These days it is slams, putdowns and swearing.
    P.S. Thank you Yves and others for making this a safe site that I can make the occasional comment on and I apologize if this little rant doesn’t make sense. I have MS and it definitely affects my brain function. Mahalo

    1. Chris Cosmos

      In this area I think we can agree that when we value love, compassion, cooperation, community, and connection over anger, fear, competition and the culture of narcissism, a Green New Deal of some kind will result but not before that. This is where the real political struggle is happening.

  17. jax

    Re: Joe Biden and Al Franken

    Lambert, I agree that Al Franken was ridden out on a rail, and I wish he’d fought. The difference between what Biden has been reported to do and what Franken did, as featured in a photograph, is that Biden invaded personal space while Franken attempted to sexualize a sleeping woman, as a ‘joke.’

    As a woman, I can tell you that there is a world of difference between the two actions; the one irritating, the second, pure disrespect.

    There are probably at least ten other reasons I can think of that Biden shouldn’t run, but his uber-‘friendliness’ isn’t among them. At least, not until actual sexual harassment by Biden is revealed.

    Who knows? There’s time.

    1. KB

      I totally agree.
      As a former state delegate 3 times in the state of MN, I had the opportunity to meet Al Franken personally while he was running.
      Lambert, I don’t think you can compare the two..While I was trying to speak to him about our draconian work comp laws that affected us very personally and especially medically, he literally dissed me and asked me to hurry up even though there was hardly anyone there at the local Bean Feed..Point blank he interrupted me and said: “What’s your point” and in a hurry I felt I said” I hate insurance companies!” he literally laughed at me…..I ended up throwing his t shirt I had purchased back at him…and I am a retired DC.
      I am no longer a Democrat and not just because of this incident. Al has a rumored much worse reputation than Biden….don’t think they are in the same league at all.

      1. Eureka Springs

        This authoritarian, anti-democratic, pin the policy on the donkey way of party politics is just beyond absurd. Senators should be abolished and “Representatives” need to be bound to policy platform developed democratically.

      2. Carolinian

        I believe you about Franken. Somehow he just seems the type. Perhaps that’s why nobody objected much when he fell on his sword.

        But if being a jerk is disqualifying then probably most of the Congress should resign, Feinstein and Pelosi first. This reputational sword only seems to have one edge.

    2. dcblogger

      I never followed the Franken allegations, so can’t speak to the merits of the case, mebbe the right thing was done, I hope so. I do know that Franken was taking the lead on the fight for net neutrality and Gilibrand is the number one recipient of Comcast political $. Klobucher, Franken’s replacement, is the number 2 recipient of Comcast $. So this seems to be a case of the Comcast coup.

    3. Mattski

      Being against bussing is enough to disqualify Biden in my book, but hey–I’m old school.

      I don’t think that Lambert is in possession of all the allegations against Franken, though. He was, the stories all tend to suggest, one of those guys with zero confidence where women are concerned who looks to humiliate them in order to score with them. . . and works to win male friends in doing so.

      I strongly believe that as Franken grew in confidence he also became more of a mensch, but many of the stories out there are. . . icky.

    4. Sanxi

      As a women you represent exactly yourself, both as a person, and as you experience life as a person as a women. In no way no I deny whatever it is that yourself directly feel and experience and to a lesser extent you directly observe. But the concept ‘as a women’, theory of knowledge wise is n=1 hard to apply to all women everywhere at all times. I have 5 sisters, 2 moms, and a wife and they do not have the same take aways as you. So who has agency, all have it. The value is in the completely unpopular notation of discussing differences and at some point realizing that the perception of reality is based of many things not all the same for everyone. You can’t tell any other person their criteria is right or wrong, it is what it is. It’s not about values at all or emotions. West Civ is all about binary reality and people like reality are much more complex.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Franken attempted to sexualize a sleeping woman

      Here’s a list. I had Franken mentally filed as a groper, not as groper of the sleeping, which is a whole other level of super-ickiness. My bad.

      If we had a spectrum from “irritating” to “violation” (say), with a freak like Harvey Weinstein on the “violation” end of the scale, then “Biden” would be on the “irritating” end of the scale. (It’s the video with the young girl that gives me pause.) Then something like “just an asshole” would be off the scale, on the “irritating” end. (It is useful to have a category for the awkward or socially inept or cognitively challenged, after all.)

      To me, and this may be just a combination of being a WASP and being introverted, Biden’s invasiveness of personal space is not acceptable, not at all (in the same way that to me, hugging co-workers is gross). That may be also why I classify the touching* in more or less the same way, without making very fine distinctions. And probably it makes sense to be small-c conservative and not small-l liberal on this?

      If I were Sanders, I’d be very happy to let others make the running on the whole issue, and then eviscerate Biden on student debt, later, in debate.

      NOTE * I take OregonCharles’ point about hippie subculture being handsy, and that being OK (usual caveats apply) Context matters. But we’re talking political events, here. That’s close to being a workspace. So I think workspace-like rules should apply. There’s other ways of showing people, primate to primate, that you are in tune with them besides grabbing them: Eye contact and listening, for example.

    1. Unna

      This is not normally my kind of thing, but I very much enjoyed listening to G. Gould play it. I’ve read that Gould as a very young child of 3-4 would sit at the piano, play a single note, and then just listen to the sound until it disappeared. Then he would play another note and do the same thing. I’ve wondered if his playing can be described as playing a sequence of discreet sounds which are otherwise organized together as a piece? Or is it something else, playing the piece in a way that emphasizes the individual sound of each note, a playing style that some find disturbing? Somebody probably has the answer. For me, at least, Gould got me to enjoy a piece which I otherwise would have avoided. Thanks.

  18. JohnnyGL



    AOC on Chris Hayes’s show. First link is full 45 min episode. 2nd one is ‘web exclusive’ additional material.

    She was really excellent during this discussion. Reminds everyone why they like her in the first place. Crowd was highly supportive.

    Interestingly, she also admonishes a heckler of a republican, at one point. I agree with that, but I also think people who act in bad faith SHOULD be heckled. The republican who was on the program didn’t seem to be operating in bad faith.

    If Ted Cruz gets on MSNBC to discuss Green New Deal, he should be heckled endlessly, because he’s not a good faith actor.

  19. Kurt Sperry

    “Readers, are any of you still on bulletin boards?”

    Absolutely. Often the best source for contexualized, non-gamed/commercialized and informally peer-reviewed information on a specific topic. Search has been skewed so hard to commercial business sites selling cr*p that it is harder than ever to find this extremely useful information within the dung piles of results regurgitated up.

    I repeat: I want a government-run search utility with robust legal privacy protections, flexibly user configurable, and which has no profit motive to deliver the user to sites trying to sell cr*p. Sites like enthusiast BBs with real user-authored content. Let’s put those government “data centers” to doing useful stuff instead of surveillance dragnetting and high-level blackmail. /rant

  20. wilroncanada

    The Liberal Party in power in Canada is having a great deal of difficulty getting back on message (whatever that is). Their Jody Wilson Raybould scandal just won’t go away. She produced a secretly recorded tape of a telephone conversation with the Clerk of the Privy Council–a senior civil servant, not a political appointee–seemingly harassing her to change her mind on her commitment to charge SNC Lavalin. It seems to support her testimony to a Parliamentary committee, and counter the Clerk’s claim that he did not try to use undue influence.
    Today, members of the Liberal Caucus are meeting, with a lot of the members demanding that she leave the caucus, because her taping the conversation was “unethical.” Form is supposed to trump content.

    1. eg

      Meanwhile, “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition” the Conservative Party of Canada is deeply in the tank to the fossil fuel industry

      Guess I’m going to have to vote NDP or Green …

    1. sierra7

      I have a younger relative who has been working in medical research in one of the country’s foremost university hospitals and has said to me: “There isn’t a day that does not end for me being very angry at the delivery of medical services in America today!. ”
      Also want to thank “JohnnyGL” for the links to the “Green New Deal” presentation on CNBC with Chris Hayes.

  21. Geo

    “Too Many Democrats Are Running in 2020, According to Science” [Politico (RH)]. “like a music festival where you can have a hard time choosing among all the bands with competing time slots,

    I’ve been to one music festival and it was to see one band: Tool. There were some other good bands but none I’d have bothered to pay the high ticket price to see for their few good songs. Tool on the other hand is a one-of-a-kind band that deserves to be heard in an epic environment.

    No matter how many Dems run this time I’m in it for one candidate: Bernie. There’s some other good candidates that have a few notable policies but none have the full spectrum and back catalogue like Bernie.

      1. Cal2

        I would second that with Tulsi or Trump

        Her being in the debates will humiliate, educate and shame the pro war corporate Democrats.

        She would be the best vice presidential choice for Bernie.


        Assume Bernie pretty much stands alone, other progressives drop out ahead of actual voting. Bernie nets stunning wins thanks to Gen Z and all our efforts working our asses off, but reaches…48%. He clearly won the plurality.

        But it’s not 50%+1 at the first roll call, so superdelegates get to run loose, and lo and behold, meet nominee Kamala Harris with a whopping 20% of the original vote! Trump may as well be handed two scoops on a silver platter.


        Instead, let’s picture a better scenario:

        Bernie gets 48%, but we also manage to convince a few Tulsi-loving Trumpsters, among others, to bite the bullet and vote in the Democratic primaries for her. Like her fellow service members who will support Major Gabbard.

        Tulsi and Bernie cut a deal ahead of the first roll call vote — she releases her delegates in exchange for VP and encourages them to back Bernie. Most, but not all do: about 12% of the total delegates at this stage vote for Bernie on the first ballot in addition to the 48% he receives.

        BAM. Bernie gets a majority, clinching the first ballot — and now, Bernie is the nominee.
        Wailing and gnashing of teeth in the white house because the Kamala cakewalk is gone and there’s real competition.

  22. John B

    Regarding Rep. Tonko’s climate change plan — Tonko represents the Albany NY area (his district split 54 Clinton to 41 Trump) He is certainly one of those who hopes to develop a climate plan that Republicans will support.


    I’m a little put off by the end of his “Framework for Climate Action” where he solicits comments from “Members, Staff, and Stakeholders.” Who counts as a “stakeholder”? Who does not?

    1. notabanker

      I’m afraid the politics of climate change don’t match the realities of it. Assuming GHG reductions can be decoupled from economic growth is not something that has been proven at scale, and there is much evidence to the contrary. Effective policy is going to need to be defined as something that is actually going to work vs what is going to be politically palatable.

      The World Bank post today is tragic and underscores how incredibly delusional the neoliberals are on this. Neoliberal capitalism is pushing us to the brink of extinction, it is not going to be the solution. I’m sure people will read this and say it is not “realistic”. Politically, it’s probably not, but the hard reality is GHG emissions are very likely to be directly tied to economic growth.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “The CEO behind ‘Fortnite’ says it’s ‘evolving beyond being a game’ and explains the company’s ambitious vision”

    Lambert’s idea of that song “Two grifters, off to see the world…” was hilarious enough but to suggest that “At some some, a political campaign is going to be smart enough to get its avatar into this world.” was even better. Fortnite has a problem with Stream Sniping. That is where a player watches a Twitch stream of a game so that he can find out where a particular player is to shoot them down. So you might have Beto going into a game to look cool and other players would be waiting for him to take him out – again and again and again.


    1. eg

      My 13 yr-old son is a Fortnite addict — I don’t get the attraction, but then, I am old

      1. The Rev Kev

        I’m old too but I get the attraction. If you had been born near the turn of the century, do you think that you would have been playing it? Maybe try a game or two with your son sometimes in a team, even if he has to ‘carry you’. That way, even if you still do not get it or like it, at least you will know what you are looking at when you see your son playing a game.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Besides the amusing visuals, I believe a half hour is about two rounds of Fortnite which makes it something that can be done anytime, the game has a planning component which can help people who were just awful at Goldeneye, and the Internet platform can allow access to relatively similar competition at any time plus there is less likelihood of only having three players.


        This episode isn’t about fortnite, but I think it more or less explains much of the importance of fortnite to kids or how they think.

  24. Cal2

    “Subway Closings Accelerate as Cold-Cuts Fail to Draw In Diners”

    People are getting wise. Eating colon cancer causing cold cuts along with PCB, pesticide, Roundup residues along with antibiotics on a bread bed of weedkiller wheat, at least they got rid of the yoga mat chemicals, is not cool anymore.


    Go organic; you’ll live longer, look better, be healthier and your food will taste better so you’ll eat less and lose weight.

    1. Lynne

      My CSA farmer just posted pictures of the plastic mulch they are using this year. They are certified organic. Perhaps that word does not mean what I thought it meant

  25. Michael

    Pelosi burger #xxxx.oo

    ‘He has to understand in the world that we’re in now that people’s space is important to them, and what’s important is how they receive it and not necessarily how you intended it.’” Did you see it on tv up close??

    The Ice Queen struggles to enunciate thru her multiple facelifts…perhaps not all words are pronouceable on camera! Or she just needs to go!!

    “…the world we are in now…” what a laffer! Anita Hill or any of a thousand/million women before her…

  26. allan

    Canada’s Trudeau expels two ex-ministers from ruling party in bid to end scandal [Reuters]

    Guaranteed to work.

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday sought to quell a crisis that threatens his chances of re-election, expelling from party ranks two former Cabinet members he said had undermined the ruling Liberals.

    Trudeau said former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and former Treasury Board chief Jane Philpott would no longer be allowed to sit as Liberal legislators. They were also barred from running for the party in the federal election this October. …

    And he seemed so nice. Book him, Danno.

  27. Mattski

    “The Intergenerational Effects of a Large Wealth Shock: White Southerners After the Civil War” [NBER].

    Appears to ignore completely the effects of convict leasing, which perpetuated slavery in many states through the 1920s.

    “Slavery By Another Name” is the most important Pulitzer prize-winning book that nobody’s read in the last 50 years, perhaps the most important work of historical scholarship in the same period. No one can claim to understand the genesis of the modern South, maybe even the genesis of American capitalism, without reading it.

    1. JBird4049

      Yes, is an important book especially if you want to understand America.’

      Convict leasing only ended with the Second World War. Sharecropping continued longer with entire families chained to it for generations. I think it started right after the Civil War when poor white Southern farmers had no cash and got their supplies on credit from the wealthy. They were either rich carpetbaggers or, more likely, connected local elites who could get loans from the functioning Northern banks. The former black slaves were effectively immediately re-enslaved right after the whites.

      Disaster capitalism at its finest as I would guess that the small Southern farmers who owned their farms in the Antebellum South lost their clear ownership because of the collapse of the Southern economy. Heck, in someways the Southern aristocracy was even more entrenched because of the opportunities that the defeat and economic collapse gave.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Heck, in someways the Southern aristocracy was even more entrenched because of the opportunities that the defeat and economic collapse gave.

        The Confederacy had to invest considerable effort patrolling its interior for draft dodgers, resistors, and so on (linked to this, but I’m too lazy to find it).

        I like the idea that defeat polarized the South even more than it had been polarized when the Slave Power existed.

        1. JBird4049

          Purified perhaps. Sanctified? There was an effective campaign to erase uncomfortable truths and substituting a glorious phantasm of Southron valor. The revisionist Dunning School’s hagiographic studies of the Antebellum and especially its propaganda on Reconstruction along with such disturbing masterpieces as The Birth of a Nation and later Gone with the Wind. Since it is the (White) historians and professors who write the history for future students by systematically drowning out and replacing the more honest historians the truth was buried. Add the extremely well made propaganda films for the general public and it’s complete. Why we don’t seem to mention in the same hushed voice of horror and shame D. W. Griffith and his Birth of a Nation as we do Leni Riefenstahl and her Triumph of the Will is interesting.

          Also do not forget that the nation suffered at least one million casualties. The numbers keep edging up with more studies. Some have suggested one million deaths from all causes. A true “Republic of Suffering.” Many just tried to forget which made the revisionists job easier. The revisionists also wanted to purify the past for their peace of mind.

          So perhaps the polarization was the result of a campaign to create it; much like the disappearance of the Union Movement, the three(?) Communist and Socialist Parties, the centuries of struggles, even to some degree the multi century genocide of the natives. Who controls the past can make the present.

  28. John Beech

    Say it ain’t so, Joe!

    Latest news is 2 more women accuse Biden. One, 19 at the time and during a conference about unwanted sexual attention says he rested his hand on her thigh for too long. Or words to that effect.

    I’m a Republican voter and if my 2020 vote were for anybody not named Trump, it wouldn’t be for Biden, it would be Sanders. Yet I cry ‘bullshit’ on these claims. I don’t believe them. Period.

  29. Summer

    Sad story, but am I the only one thinking the LA Times is getting a kick out of this headline:
    “Eric Holder, suspect in Nipsey Hussle shooting, is arrested”

  30. Summer

    Good morning! This is a great Sunday read: “A new sort of American messianic religion has gathered in Silicon Valley under a techno-futurist banner emblazoned with one word: ‘Singularity.’

    About as futuristic as “monarchies” with their “singular” kings.
    It’s like being marched backward in time…but with microprocessors.

  31. SerenityNow

    I know I might get flak for it but I think the congestion pricing in NYC is potentially a huge step forward, especially if it is used to regulate flow instead of generating revenue. Car drivers use huge amounts of public space (streets) and generate all sorts of externalities, at least making the price of driving align more closely with its true costs will likely prompt more efficient development and better transportation mode choices. Or at least it will get people riled up enough to demand better transit, sidewalks, and bike lanes…

    1. Big River Bandido

      I agree with congestion pricing in principle. But this policy seems on first glance to be a corporate giveaway to Uber, at the expense of legitimate taxi companies. Uber is so stoked over the result they want a similar policy in Seattle.

      I’d rather have had none at all than this Cuomo policy. And that’s all it is.

      1. SerenityNow

        I don’t know too much about the uber angle, but it doesn’t surprise me. How else do you think we will get the price of driving to align with its true cost around the country though?

    2. Mel

      This kicked off the Gilets Jaunes rebellion: Macron cleaned up France by making it more expensive for French people to live there. Without a policy of creating an alternative — if the Free Market is expected to magically turn up something to make it all good again — then there has to be trouble.

  32. The Rev Kev

    Tech: “Moral Crumple Zones: Cautionary Tales in Human-Robot Interaction”

    This is merely adapting a standard technique from the aircraft industry. Something happens to a plane, you immediately shout out “Pilot error!”. That way, it protects your airplane design or the reputation of an airline company. The most recent example was that Ethiopian crash of that 737 MAX where they tried to assign blame to the pilots in the days after.

    Great collection of links in the Water Cooler today by the way.

  33. Heraclitus

    Re: The Intergenerational Effects of a Large Wealth Shock: White Southerners After the Civil War

    Lambert, certainly you realize that if it hadn’t been for slavery, Boston would not exist, and New York City would be a fishing village? The skyscrapers and booming enterprises you see around these great cities have their origins in capital derived from the slave trade or from slave grown products.

    Besides, a disproportionate number of the scion of plantation owners are leaders in the Democrat Party.

    John Forbes Kerry’s ancestors made their fortune as slave traders. Is he going to pay a disproportionate tithe for reparations? I think not.

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