2:00PM Water Cooler 4/24/2019

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): “Joe Biden Plans to Enter the 2020 Race on Thursday. He’s Starting With $0.” [New York Times]. “Unlike [Sanders and O’Rourke], Mr. Biden does not have an at-the-ready list of hundreds of thousands of contributors to ply for small donations. He must rely heavily, at least at first, upon an old-fashioned network of money bundlers — political insiders, former ambassadors and business executives who can expedite dozens, if not hundreds, of checks for $2,800 each, the legal maximum an individual can contribute in the primary…. ‘Everyone thinks Biden can’t get small donors because he’s moderate,’ Mr. Rendell said. ‘Baloney!’ Mr. Rendell recommended that Mr. Biden invest offline, too, pitching an old-fashioned direct mail program to reach older potential donors and tap into the “general consensus” of his electability against Mr. Trump. ‘There is enough of a consensus there that those little old ladies — even if they’re a little on the progressive side — would write a $25, $50, $100 check to Joe, maybe four or five times in the next year,’ Mr. Rendell said.” • Oh, dear. “Little old ladies.”

Biden (D)(2): “No one knows what Joe Biden thinks about health care” [Sarah Kliff, Vox]. “It’s notable to me that the Biden Foundation, a nonprofit helmed by the former vice president, has a section on the various issues it considers ‘pillars.’ That includes things like ‘advancing community colleges’ and ‘strengthening the middle class.’ But there isn’t a mention of health care in sight.”

Biden (D)(3): “Joe Biden Begins Taking Money for a 2020 Presidential Campaign” [New York Times]. “Mr. Cohen’s email suggested that potential donors should raise $14,000 each, in increments of $2,800, the maximum contribution allowed, and listed a number of party leaders planning to support Mr. Biden, including former Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and former Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia. Plans for a Philadelphia fund-raising event were first reported by the radio station WHYY…. Stephen A. Cozen, a Philadelphia-based lawyer and a longtime friend of Mr. Biden, confirmed he was helping to organize the Philadelphia-based event next week, laying the groundwork for what Mr. Biden’s backers hope will be a significant financial show of force.• Since Biden’s home state of Delaware is next to Pennsylvania, this makes sense. Speculating freely: One strategy for a brokerered convention might be for delegates from regional oligarchies, aggregated, to prevent any one candidate from passing the 50% + 1 threshold for nomination, leading to a brokered convention. Harris might take California and Nevada, Biden Pennsylvania and New York (recall Cuomo’s near endorsement), and so forth.

Biden (D)(4): “Inside Biden’s battle plan” [Politico]. “As Biden’s team works to lock down national labor support, it is also chasing union backing in early states like Iowa, where his aides have already interviewed staff…. Former Nevada Democratic Party Chairman Sam Lieberman said Biden has already won his endorsement and he expects “labor could be easily persuaded to support Joe Biden if he was in the mix…. ‘They’re going to launch strategically all over the country,’ an operative with knowledge of Biden’s strategy said. ‘They’ll have people in place in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and roll out endorsements from elected officials all over the country, so when they come out they can have this show of force.'” • Oh, strategically! I woudn’t be surprised if this fell very flat. There’s old school, to be sure. But there’s also shopworn, and very, very tired.

Buttigieg (D): “Why I’m switching from Elizabeth Warren to Pete Buttigieg” [Bleeding Heartland]. “Policy is extremely important, and I don’t want to downplay the role it should play in your decision-making process on who should receive your vote. That being said, man does not live on bread alone, and the moral, cermonial role of leadership that comes with the presidency is of equal importance. Policy is extremely important, and I don’t want to downplay the role it should play in your decision-making process on who should receive your vote. That being said, man does not live on bread alone, and the moral, cermonial role of leadership that comes with the presidency is of equal importance.” • Wowsers.

Castro (D): “The Federal Government Failed Homeowners. How Much Blame Does Julián Castro Deserve?” [HuffPo]. • Amazing. Well worth a read. This looks as awful as HAMP. Readers, have any of you had experience with DASP?

Gravel (D)(1):

The Gravel campaign is punching far above its weight!

Gravel (D) (2):

I’m a little awed by how the Gravel campaign is transforming itself from an exercise in guerilla marketing into a real, albeit tiny campaign. Life’s rich pageant!

Sanders (D)(1): “Sanders says the right to vote should be extended ‘even for terrible people’ like Boston Marathon bomber” [CNN]. “Asked at a CNN town hall Monday night if he thought felons should be allowed to vote — even while they’re incarcerated, not just after they’re released — Sanders said the country needs more people to vote. ‘This is a democracy and we have got to expand that democracy, and I believe every single person does have the right to vote,’ he said.” • The upside: This principled stand surely resonates with the heavily incarcerated Black community, and builds on the Florida referendum restoring the vote to ex-felons. The downside: Willie Horton-style assaults, as shown in the CNN headline. If these assaults don’t “take,” that’s an early test of the resilience of the Sanders campaign apparatus, and its independence from “straight” media. A nice tweet from Sanders’ staff:

War criminals and torturers like Gina Haspel and John Yoo can vote. So can Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein. Why not incarcerated felons?

Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Sanders offers 3 ideas to help battle gentrification while in Greenville” [Greenville News]. Sanders: “The bottom line is, we have to say before we can even come up with a solution what we want. And that is that working people have a right to continue to live in the communities that they love and where they grew up.” • Maybe Sanders should have a chat with Mayo Pete on housing policy.

Warren (D): Of the Town Hall:

This provocation was not well-recieved on Yglesias’s timeline, but it’s worth pointing out that swooning wonks are not necessarily a good proxy for, er, electability.


“Could Donald Trump be impeached” [Financial Times]. “Recent polling has shown that around a third of voters support impeachment, while 48 per cent oppose it.” • As we know from 2016, Elizabeth Warren has terrible political instincts.

“The Mueller Report Demands an Impeachment Inquiry” [LawFare]. “The problem is that impeachment isn’t a purely political matter—though certainly it is political in part. It’s a constitutional expression of the separation of powers, of Congress’s ability to check a chief executive overrunning the bounds of his power. It’s also, under the OLC memo, the only release valve in the constitutional structure for the urgent and mounting pressure of an executive who may have committed serious wrongdoing. To say that the appropriate course is simply to wait for the next presidential election in 18 months, is to offer a judgment that—even in light of his conduct as described by Mueller—Trump is not truly unfit for the office. It is to say he is no different from, say, Vice President Mike Pence, who would take his place, or any other Republican for that matter. It is to say that what matters is winning elections, even if it risks further institutional harms.” • The West Wing was canceled in 2006, due to falling ratings.

“Hillary Clinton: Any Person Other Than Trump Would Have Been Indicted For Obstruction” [RealClearPolitics]. A transcript of her interview with Time magazine: “[CLINTON:] I think there is enough there that any other person who had engaged in those acts would certainly have been indicted, but because of the rule in the Justice Department that you can’t indict a sitting President, the whole matter of obstruction was very directly sent to the Congress…. I’m really of the mind that the Mueller report is part of the beginning. It’s not the end. … There’s still so much more that we should know and that we should act upon.” • Always something to look forward to!

“These Democrats are ready to put Mueller in the rear view mirror” [McClatchy]. “There’s one group of Democrats desperate to quit talking about Robert Mueller and his Trump-Russia probe — the vulnerable ones up for re-election in Trump-friendly districts…. In the swing districts in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas and elsewhere, constituents haven’t been bringing up Mueller’s findings often since Attorney General William Barr issued a summary last month. Now that the full report is out, few expect voters to make it a big issue. Republicans currently need a net gain of 18 seats next year to win control of the House.” • Not just in swing districts. Remember Warren’s statistic that of (IIRC) 275 voter questions, 3 were about impeachment. And it’s not as if the propaganda hasn’t had time to take hold…

“Democrats face Catch-22 with Trump impeachment strategy” [The Hill]. “On Tuesday, six key committee heads outlined their plans to conduct further investigations into Trump’s actions, including associations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, allegations of ill-gotten loans from Deutsche Bank and Mueller’s ambiguous conclusion on the obstruction question. Pelosi and Democratic leaders have been concerned that talk of impeachment would politicize those probes, to Trump’s political advantage. But they also think the public exposure will almost certainly build their case that the president is unfit to hold office — a case that could lead to impeachment.” • I dunno. When are the hearings scheduiled for #MedicareForAll?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“How the Intercept Is Fueling the Democratic Civil War” [Politico]. “The Intercept is almost totally funded by a single billionaire backer, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who supports the site through parent organization First Look Media. Omidyar, who through a spokesperson declined to comment for this story, appears to live in a different political reality from his own publication. Intercept links are noticeably absent from his Twitter feed, which is filled with reflections on a supposed Trump-Russia conspiracy—pitting Omidyar against Intercept co-founding editor and columnist Greenwald, a deep skeptic of the media’s coverage of the Russia scandal. And unlike the heroes of the Intercept’s political coverage, Omidyar isn’t some left-wing outsider; he’s a mainstream Democratic donor and was even a supporter of the conservative ‘Never Trump’ super PAC. Several people I spoke to—sources inside the company and other media observers—are now asking: How much longer will the billionaire patron bankroll a news outlet so clearly at odds with his own politics?” • Ouch!

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of April 19, 2019: “The great rush to lock in low mortgage rates may already be fading” [Econoday]. “It’s too early for the dip in the purchase index to lower expectations for home sales but the news, right when home sales data are starting to show life, is nevertheless disappointing.”

The Bezzle: “Elon Musk claims on Tesla’s autonomous capabilities does not reflect its current reality” [Freight Waves]. “All this being said, Musk’s tall predictions come right before its quarterly earnings report, which is expected to be below expectations as the company has had a disappointing few months of car sales. This has led Tesla’s stock to sink 5 percent this week to $262.75 per share. Going by all of Musk’s claims that have routinely failed to hold water, it remains to be seen if this announcement lives up to its promise, or if it will go down as yet another assertion not based on actual results.:” • Maybe the SEC will slap him with a wet noodle again. A man can dream!

The Bezzle: “Uber Faces Proposed ‘IPO Tax’ in a San Francisco Divided by Inequity” [Bloomberg]. “San Francisco Supervisor Gordon Mar is circulating a motion that, if approved by a majority of the county board, would place a payroll tax covering stock-based compensation on the November ballot. The proposal, a draft of which was obtained by Bloomberg, would impose a new cost, ‘for the privilege of engaging in business in the city,’ on companies that dole out equity to employees….The potential law, which some are calling an ‘IPO tax,’ reflects uneasiness in a city with constant reminders of the income gap, from Google buses to Uber drivers sleeping in their cars.”

The Bezzle: Thread:

Aren’t ambulances “on demand” already?

Tech: “Facebook’s flood of languages leave it struggling to monitor content” [Reuters]. “Facebook Inc’s struggles with hate speech and other types of problematic content are being hampered by the company’s inability to keep up with a flood of new languages as mobile phones bring social media to every corner of the globe.” • Moderation doesn’t scale. Who knew?

Manufacturing: “Alphabet’s Waymo Reviving Detroit Plant With Self-Driving Cars” [Industry Week]. “Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo LLC has picked an idled American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. facility in Detroit as the site where it will equip vehicles made by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc with self-driving technology. The Mountain View, California-based company will lease the factory and start work on its self-driving vehicles this summer, creating ‘hundreds’ of jobs over time [hmm…], according to company blog posts…. Waymo’s cars will be so-called Level 4 autonomous vehicles, equipped with hardware and software allowing the cars to drive themselves without the assistance of a human operator as they follow mapped-out routes in strictly defined areas.” • Silicon Valley reinvents the train?

Manufacturing: “Boeing Suspends Outlook as 737 Max Uncertainty Clouds Future” [Industry Week]. “The manufacturer abandoned its 2019 financial forecast as it deals with the aftermath of two deadly crashes of its 737 Max aircraft, according to a company statement Wednesday. Boeing also revealed it hadn’t repurchased shares since mid-March after spending $2.3 billion on its stock in the quarter… The Max’s devastated safety record, production miscues for a much-delayed military tanker, and a wave of negative media coverage threaten another selling point for investors looking at Boeing, said Carter Copeland, an analyst with Melius Research. After the 787’s early stumbles, the Chicago-based planemaker began a systematic campaign to root out risk in an effort to protect shareholders from negative surprises, he said in a report earlier this week.” • The recent report in the Times on the 787 can’t have boosted confidence, then.

Honey for the Bears: “Caterpillar slips as higher costs dent margins at construction business” [Reuters]. “Caterpillar Inc spooked investors for a second straight quarter as rising costs hit margins in its construction equipment business and tepid sales in the Asia Pacific region pointed to continuing subdued growth in China…. The latest results come after the world’s largest heavy duty equipment maker warned in the fourth quarter that construction activity in China could cool after two years of significant growth.”

The Biosphere

“Melting permafrost in Arctic will have $70tn climate impact – study” [Guardian]. “The release of methane and carbon dioxide from thawing permafrost will accelerate global warming and add up to $70tn (£54tn) to the world’s climate bill, according to the most advanced study yet of the economic consequences of a melting Arctic… The new projections contained a modicum of good news because the impact of land permafrost melt was at the lower range of what had been feared. Previous estimates suggested these Arctic tipping points could add more than 10% to climate costs. Some feared the methane alone could prove catastrophic but the new figures show CO2 remains the greatest concern.”

“Relating Urban Biodiversity to Human Health With the ‘Holobiont’ Concept” [Frontiers in Microbiology]. “A relatively unaccounted ecosystem service from biodiversity is the benefit to human health via symbiotic microbiota from our environment. This benefit occurs because humans evolved alongside microbes and have been constantly exposed to diverse microbiota. Plants and animals, including humans, are organised as a host with symbiotic microbiota, whose collective genome and life history form a single holobiont. As such, there are interdependencies between biodiversity, holobionts, and public health which lead us to argue that human health outcomes could be improved by increasing contact with biodiversity in an urban context. We propose that humans, like all holobionts, likely require a diverse microbial habitat to appropriate resources for living healthy, long lives. We discuss how industrial urbanisation likely disrupts the symbiosis between microbiota and their hosts, leading to negative health outcomes. The industrialised urban habitat is low in macro and microbial biodiversity and discourages contact with beneficial environmental microbiota.” •

“This proposed pipeline is fracturing New York’s green new image” [Grist]. “New York state is in the middle of a green makeover. Earlier this year, it was the first state to formulate its own Green New Deal. New York City is leading the U.S. in a green overhaul, passing a carbon pricing fee charging drivers in some of the most traffic-choked neighborhoods. Last week, the city council voted to pass a Climate Mobilization Act that includes bills to make infrastructure more energy-efficient. Many activists say that, given New York’s new, greener identity, the state going forward with the Williams Pipeline] doesn’t quite seem to compute.” • It doesn’t.. For the forseeable future, all projects that make it easier to extract carbon from the earth should be opposed.

Class Warfare

“Instagram Memers Are Unionizing” [The Atlantic]. “Instagram memers have had enough. They generate the engagement that helps keep Instagram growing—but, they argue, the multibillion-dollar platform doesn’t pay them for their work, or give them any control. So they’re fighting back. And before you write off IG Meme Union Local 69-420 as a joke, the organizers of the collective would like you to know that they are very serious.” • A very reasonable answer to digital sharecropping!

“Here are the fastest growing and shrinking counties in America” [Business Insider]. Handy map:

Not precisely a coast vs. interiors story…

News of the Wired

“Psilocybin-assisted mindfulness training modulates self-consciousness and brain default mode network connectivity with lasting effects [Neuroimage (VS)]. n=38. ” The study highlights the link between altered self-experience and subsequent behavioral changes. Understanding how interventions facilitate transformative experiences may open novel therapeutic perspectives. Insights into the biology of discrete mental states foster our understanding of non-ordinary forms of human self-consciousness and their concomitant brain substrate.”

“Dr. Ruth happy she’s not a millennial on the dating scene” [New York Post]. “Speaking to us Monday at the Playboy Club, Dr. Ruth said that millennials have ‘lost the art of conversation because everyone is on their phone . . . What that will lead to, which is serious — is a lot of loneliness,’ she said.” • You kids get offa those phones! (Seriously, speaking as an old codger, dating wasn’t all that great in the pre-cellphone era; one thing that makes conversation difficult is that you have to have something to say. I’d be interested to hear from younger codgers and codgeresses: Do you agree with Dr. Ruth?)

* * *

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 (Phil H):

Phil H: “We had some very heavy rain recently hereabouts in east-central Ohio. Although I didn’t actually see it as it was happening, there was obviously a stream going through a place in the woods where water doesn’t normally flow. The water removed plant debris & the top layer of soil, leaving exposed tree roots.” Mud season! I wonder how the tree feels when this happens…

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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. Tyrannocaster

    WRT the Politico article about the Intercept, Greenwald tweeted that although it has a funky headline, he thinks it’s a good piece. I was surprised that I thought so too (it is Politico); I read the article before seeing the tweet.

    One thing I kept thinking while reading it was “It sounds like you think calling these people out is a *bad* thing”, LOL.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m not sure. I wonder especially about Florida, home of Donna Shalala, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, etc. There is this, from the New York Post in February. A “book tour” for Promise Me, Dad:

      Former Vice President Joe Biden was treated like a rock star when he appeared at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, last month — pulling in a $150,000 fee, plus a backstage dressing room stocked with the food and beverages of his choice….

      Questions posed to the former veep by the moderator were also to be given to his team two weeks in advance. And audience questions were to be written on question cards “which will be triaged for content, quality and topic by Artist’s representative” before being answered by Biden.

      Jim Hunn of Pembroke Pines said he didn’t hold it against Biden to go on tour. “It’s like Michelle Obama on her book tour or anybody else. I didn’t feel ripped off. That is a pretty good fee, but then he’s a pretty famous guy too,” he said.

      Hunn said he “came to the conclusion that those questions were planted” when they mirrored those posed to the veep during a recent TV appearance.

    1. pjay

      LOL. Relying on “an old-fashioned network of money bundlers”; “pitching an old-fashioned direct mail program”, tapping “little old ladies” (no double entendre intended, of course) — so much “old fashioned” strategy I thought we were back in Mayberry with Andy, Opie, and Aunt Bee (who would be taking out $25 from the milk money for a campaign contribution). Good old Uncle Joe.

        1. ewmayer

          With a pair of heavy-duty zircon-encrusted tweezers in your hand, no doubt folks would think you mighty grand!

    1. a different chris

      What’s sad is I look at southern West-by-God Virginia and say “hey I’d really like to live there, and the (even) less people the better!”

      But frackers and mountain top removal put paid to that little daydream.

    2. John k

      Congressional districts would be less granular but more informative. If there’s nobody there, what does it matter whether it gains or loses 1%?
      Granted, after the census they’ll once again be about the same.

  2. Summer

    Re: Instagram Memers Are Unionizing

    Kind of torn about this because the lifeblood of the organizations and/or people that focus their work on getting attention for corporations is all the private information. It is more than posible that these unions could run counter to privacy concerns. It could be a case where these types of unions are surveillance capitalism’s ground troops.

  3. Brindle

    Imperial presidency…
    Trump to claim exectuve privilege over Mueller, McGahn testifying before congress. Looks like Trump has upped the ante and the Dem house leadership has no effective way to force testimony. It could take a year or more if this goes to the courts—which is what Trump wants. Impeachment hearings are a different matter but Pelosi is unlikey to go there. As of right now have to say Trump is the winning.,

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Trump won the war with Team Blue elites the second they embraced RussiaGate which I suspect was cooked up as an excuse to spy on Trump and get him on something else by Republicans in the MIC who wanted their preferred candidate to be the nominee. Its just that once the treason accusations become the story everything else becomes inconsequential by comparison.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        Since the whole Russiagate thing is so easy to debunk why is the media and most Democrats doubling down on it? It can’t last until the election and it has now validated the Republican critique that the mainstream media is just the PR wing of the Democratic Party.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          There are the stenographers. They can’t function beyond the headlines. Once, the headlines have been hammered enough they become truth.

          For the rest, its an audience/electorate thing. If 70% of their audience wants blood (in theory if the President is a traitor, he should be tried and executed; this country was founded when we symbolically executed George III by tearing down his statue on July 4, 1776). They simply can’t go to that audience and say, “hey, I was just making stuff up.” Since they talked about nothing else…its a problem, and Glenn Beck collapsed swiftly. He even held some nutty rally on the National Mall.

          Since they never once made good faith arguments or reporting, they can’t back track or even say they were sorry because it was never in good faith. The best case scenario is it was mob mentality, but in the end, they put their names on the line.

          The goal isn’t so much to beat the GOP but to keep Sanders or Sanders like candidates out and the donor money flowing to them.

          1. Pat

            Or to put it simply, the Democratic leadership still cannot believe that Trump was elected, and the media still cannot believe that so many voters didn’t listen to them. And none of them want to do the hard work to actually change those things.

            1. Carla

              It’s not in their short-term interest. And long-term is way beyond them. Long-term, they would be interested in staying alive. Oh, well…

        2. NotReallyHere

          I suspect they need a news cover for when the spying report comes out in May/June. Remember AG Barr said the Trump campaign was spied upon and that he is looking into whether that was done legitimately. It likely wasn’t given that many who were involved have been fired.

          If the Dems drop the pretense that the Meuller inquiry was initiated with valid evidence then they will have a very hard time deflecting the treason/attempted administrative coup headlines that will likely flow from this report. They are desperate.

        3. Ptolemy Philopater

          Russiagate is faux resistance. The fact is that the corporate Democrats are very happy with the Trump presidency. They are still counting their tax bonanza. Israel is getting everything it wants, the Golan Heights annexation, capital in Jerusalem, next annexation of the West Bank. The Military industrial complex has never gotten more money. What’s not to like. Russiagate is a big gift to 2020 Trump campaign. Is this an accident? Who would the corporate Democrats prefer in the White House, Trump or Senator Sanders. Q.E.D. There is one political party in the US, the Money Party, with two right wings. The Money party loves Trump, the more Russiagate rolls on the higher Trump’s approval rating. Accident?

      2. ambrit

        Over on Sic Semper Tyrranis, Larry Johnson has a series attacking Trump Derangement Syndrome. Like him or hate him, Johnson has a point in showing that the ‘moves’ against Trump started as far back as 2015, when Trump was just one of several possible pawns for the Democrat Party’s “Pied Piper” strategy. If so, then evidence of similar “evidence gathering” should be available concerning other then minor Republican candidates such as, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, et. al.
        “Pied Piper” strategy: https://www.salon.com/2016/11/09/the-hillary-clinton-campaign-intentionally-created-donald-trump-with-its-pied-piper-strategy/
        Also of interest is the theme of the American Intelligence Community “offshoring” the surveillance process to England’s MI-6. This is a ‘workaround’ of the laws forbidding the Agencies from spying on Americans in America. This all goes back so far as to begin to resemble a settled Policy.
        This is so ubiquitous that I’m seriously beginning to hope for a catastrophic EMP or Carrington Event.
        Read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Looking at the present or future, not just the past, what or which candidates are they busying themselves with currently?

          Can they be still ‘gathering evidence’ on Trump only?

          1. ambrit

            My money’s on “them” looking at whoever opposes the Clintonist candidate.
            I would not be surprised in the least to see the “Bernie in Moscow” meme become front page news this time next year. (As long as Bernie stays off of small planes in the meanwhile.)

        2. shtove

          Fingers crossed that there will be blowback in the UK. Perhaps a little Sergei blockage will pop out the end of the exhaust pipe. “Exhausted, but … alive!”

      3. polecat

        I can hardly wait for the grand opening of HOME-BREW SERVER-GATE !!!

        Oh, and Who Really Murdered Seth Rich, and WHY ?

        1. ambrit

          And why won’t Bill take the paternity test?
          Or, as the Poet said:
          “What a wicked Webb beleives,”
          “When his practice doth deceive,”
          “Waters white and dress so blue,”
          “Look out World!”
          “We’re coming through!”
          “Haiti Shave.”

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > was cooked up as an excuse to spy on Trump and get him on something else by Republicans in the MIC

        Still picking out the drapes in the White House: A more interesting question than who Sanders will pick for VP is who he could pick for for Secretary of Defense. Remember what The Blob did to Flynn!

        We might also think of Trump’s difficulties in filling positions as a “strike” by the professional class (like a capital strike but for governance skills). Presumably the same thing will happen with Sanders. The bench on the left seems a lot deeper to me than it was four years ago, but can Sanders really staff an administration without calling up Neera Tanden and asking her to flip through her Rolodex? (Or, more strongly, staff an administration while regarding CAP-adjacency — OK, with a time limit; Sirota worked there, after all — as a bar to employment?)

  4. cocomaan

    I’m not really sure why Bernie would double down on felons voting. Also hilarious is how quickly Kamala Harris backed off agreeing on it. The issue leads to inevitable questions like whether convicted terrorists should vote, and what other rights are given to the incarcerated.

    Should incarcerated people retain the fourth amendment rights to privacy? What about their second amendment rights, which “Shall Not Be Infringed”? Of course not. Voting eligibility is up to the states.

    I’m all for talking about criminal justice reform, non-violent crimes, and who and who shouldn’t be in jail for what they’ve done. But telling people that the boston bomber should be able to cast a vote is not only questionable on its face, but really stupid politicking, in my opinion.

    1. Carolinian

      When I saw him here at a black church this got a big response from the audience. He’s saying universal suffrage is a good thing and something the Republicans–and many Dems–are very much against. Our overseas champions of democracy see full democracy in the U.S. as a threat.

      1. cocomaan

        Ah, so it plays with some voters. I can’t imagine that it plays with too many, though. Most developed nations have some kind of restriction on voting rights based on the seriousness of the crime. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-20447504

        Leading your charge into universal suffrage, including for currently incarcerated people, by responding to a question in the affirmative about a mass murderer, is probably a bad move. Not a good place to start, anyway

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The appeal of Sanders is policies that match his morals, not polling. He was for single-payer (that kind of thing; medicare for all wasn’t always the only model; its actually the pragmatic approach for the U.S.) before it was popular. That Vanderbilt tried to phrase as a “gotcha” question we would expect out of CNN (Bernie Shaw is famous for his bs debate questions), but Sanders isn’t running as a poll tested candidate spouting platitudes about vague morality. This story isn’t about Sanders but the right wing positions being pushed by CNN.

          The last two Team Blue Presidents have been poll tested frauds. Its time for a change, and no one really cares at the end of the day. Presidential elections are won and lost based on organizing efforts, not policies or even personalities. People will go to bat for a person they suspect of having values. They will sit at home and not vote or watch MSDNC for a Buttigieg type.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            But not always, regarding his morals.

            Not if we want to go with some of the explanations about his not confronting the MIC openly.

            “He believes that, but just can’t speak up right now. Too risky…”

            1. Big River Bandido

              I don’t know who is being quoted, but the assessment has a Machiavellian wisdom. Sanders is already taking on the entire FIRE sector. Such powerful enemies are very dangerous and best confronted in isolation. If possible, play them off against each other, so as to prevent them from making common cause against you. In any case, you don’t pick a fight with two bullies at once without having the full support of the public behind you on both counts. The broader public unfortunately does not share our hatred of the MIC; people will have to be brought around to that view, just as they have been with FIRE and are starting to learn with Facebook.

              1. John k

                I fully agree. Wait until you’ve got 24hr ss protection, and your appointees in place, before moving against mic… fire is plenty already.
                Plus, he knows what policies people will get off the couch for, and sadly, less war isn’t one of them.
                And what progressive will stay on the couch because Bernie isn’t ready for that fight? Pick Biden, or trump, instead? Only a pelosi kind of progressive.

                1. Big River Bandido

                  Sanders’ personal/physical safety is part of what I meant. But I was also referring to the survival of the reform movement as a whole.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              MIC spending pays for a lot of good jobs. Any would-be MIC-reduction movement would have to create the credibly visible fact of just as many equally good civilian jobs for the MIC thing-makers to go into before threatening the MIC thingmakers’ jobs.

              Apart from that, the Upperclass and Overclass owners and profit-takers of the MIC could arrange for a President Sanders to get the “Kennedy treatment” if he moved too fast against them from a position of less-than-overwhelming power. We will all have to shift the ground beneath their feet before we can finally tear them down.

              I don’t need any superior-morality-signalling displays from Sanders to know that Sanders offers a better agenda than most of the others, however circumscribed it would be by the current Correlation-Of-Forces power-picture.

          2. richard

            Bernie almost never has to walk things back, or “correct” statements, or modify and amend. One reason for that is he doesn’t say slightly different things to different people; he has consistent positions. We can depend on him. This is a huge part of his appeal; mess with it at your peril.

        2. Carolinian

          A big part of the speech I heard was pushback against the Reagan/Bill Clinton “war on crime.” Giving felons and the incarcerated the vote is a way of saying they are redeemable and should be rehabilitated rather than simply punished. Since African Americans are a disproportionately large part of our prison population (which is bigger than China’s he said) this is a political stance that may resonate in a heavily black Dem primary such as SC’s. Before he starts worrying about Republican conjured Willie Hortons he first needs to win the nom.

          Basically Sanders strikes me as an old fashioned 60s era liberal and his tolerance of some Cold War attitudes may be from that period as well. But even the old Cold War was better than the one Trump is cooking up or pretending to cook up.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            With some restrictions or none at all?

            For example, people can vote a certain, even if there is a conflict of interest. (And this privileges regular voters above politicians. For once…)

            So, a asphalt contractor or worker in the industry, say, can freely vote for more roads, for example. More work or money for those in it. No one will complain about the conflict of interest there.

            Should prisoners be allowed to vote for, say, a general amnesty, or any such conflict of interest issues (for example, legalizing insider trading…an extreme example for sure).

            By the way, a moral voter would abstain from any conflict of interest votes (say, if your wife is running for the mayor, you should not vote).

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            Two things:

            -He’s still a politician. Pork is a problem. As they say, Pobody is Nerfect. See, I just proved it.
            -the other side is I think he tends to revert to more conventional tropes when he doesn’t have an opinion or simply doesn’t know enough. Warren does this too but is more extreme. I know he is a U.S. Senator, but I can stomach aspects of what he says about Marduro as long as he is for non-intervention. Though I think the structural aspects of U.S. foreign policy are so out of whack, there isn’t enough public awareness to have much of an honest conversation beyond the U.S. is a mean drunk in need of rehab.

          3. Procopius

            I worry about the war Bolton and Pompeo are cooking up at Netanyahu’s direction, but I used to be worried about the war Hillary started cooking up in 2009. In fact, I still worry about it because it seems like that’s what Russiagate is for.

        3. marym

          From your link:

          In Albania, all prisoners can vote irrespective of their crime or sentence. There have been no attempts to limit the franchise ever since it was introduced after the Iron Curtain fell. The situation is similar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where prisoners can vote unless their crimes relate to the war in the wake of Yugoslavia’s collapse.

          Other nations where all prisoners can vote include Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland. Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine.

          Then a list of numerous additional European countries where, as you say, there are some restrictions based on the seriousness of the crime.

          Beyond Europe: The Daily Beast 04/2019

          The supreme courts of South Africa, Canada, and Israel have legalized voting for at least some prisoners.

          It’s easy to cite examples of the most heinous criminals to justify the harshest treatment, but an important factor in discussing prisoner disenfranchisement in the US is our two-tiered criminal justice system and our mass incarceration system. These systems, along with all their other failings, function as an engine of mass disenfranchisement.

          Another issue: Current Affairs 05/2018

          The effect of incarcerated voter disenfranchisement can be particularly devastating to urban communities of color. “Because prisons are disproportionately built in rural areas but most incarcerated people call urban areas home, counting prisoners in the wrong place results in a systematic transfer of population and political clout from urban to rural areas,” the Prison Policy Initiative explains. This political dynamic effectively commodifies incarcerated people as batteries used to fuel and amplify the votes of people in mostly rural, predominantly white communities—while muting representation in urban communities of color.

          The case for universal suffrage:
          An argument for incarcerated voter enfranchisement

          fwiw (not much, I’m no political strategist) I don’t think we can get to even a vastly more just situation for prisoner voting without universal suffrage as the starting demand.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Which one is better:

            The situation is similar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where prisoners can vote unless their crimes relate to the war in the wake of Yugoslavia’s collapse.

            Other nations where all prisoners can vote include Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland. Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine.

            All prisoners on all issues, or only those issues not related to war (or, say, connected to what they have been convicted of)?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I think restricting those whose crimes related to war is a better one than otherwise.

                1. marym

                  The people of Florida approved a referendum to restore voting rights to people who completed their sentence. Now the Florida legislature is attempting to subvert that with a poll tax.

                  Voter suppression tactics are legion and relentless. People who believe in the right to vote need to fight for everyone’s rights, not look for exceptions to appease the restrictionists.

                  1. Lambert Strether Post author

                    > People who believe in the right to vote need to fight for everyone’s rights, not look for exceptions to appease the restrictionists.

                    Liberal Democrats are exceptionally poor at this; classic example is Gore in Florida 2000 only suing for recounts in districts where he thought he could win, thereby removing justice from the equation entirely.

                    I’d speculate this has to do with their love of complex eligibility requirements. Confronted with a problem, their first impulse is to ask “Who is deserving and who is not?” instead of focusing on common humanity.

                    Adding, I grant that I don’t make this argument without qualification beyond state borders. But I don’t see a way around that even in the medium term.

          2. ChiGal in Carolina

            Thanks as always marym for doing the hard work of keeping the convo here fact-based ;-)

            1. Fiery Hunt

              Ditto that.
              We may might not agree on all things…but true respect for the thinking/feeling you (marym) do.

              The US would be a hellava lot better off with informed discussion such as you contribute to..

          3. ewmayer

            “The case for universal suffrage:
            FULL HUMAN BEINGS”

            OK, I’ll play – while a nice-sounding phrase, “Full human beings” defined how, precisely? Because e.g. in the sense of “having the full rights guaranteed by the Constitution” means not being in prison to begin with, yes? I’m just curious to why you think “the right to vote” is somehow more harmful to infringe than “liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

            That having been said, I personally would have no problem restoring voting rights to, say, all but violent felons and the criminally insane. And I think from a pragmatic point of view, most USians would be OK with that. That would cover the vast majority of those in the prsion-industrial complex, e.g. drug offenders.

              1. Carolinian

                Exactly. If we make moral judgments on who can vote then a large chunk of our ruling class would probably be disqualified. If voting is a right of citizenship then it should be open to any U.S. citizen.

              2. ewmayer

                Felons in the sense of those *convicted* of a crime, obviously. Elite impunity is alas a separate matter needing to be addressed.

                @Carolinian: What is the law, if not the making of moral judgments? Every time a convicted murderer goes to prison, society is making a “moral judgment”. And as with marym, you are deploying vague feelgood phases like “right of citizenship” as if that is absolute and inviolable. Based on your so-called reasoning, every time someone goes on trial society is unfairly “making a moral judgment” and every time someone is convicted and goes to prison their “rights of citizenship” are being inexcusably trammeled. So you’re arguing for complete lawlessness, then?

        4. Michael Fiorillo

          It’s similar to Reparations: a good and worthwhile thing, with terrible if not suicidal near-term political prospects.

          Bernie’s instincts on open borders and reparations, issues with similar supporters, have been correct and effective; this undermines him, getting him snagged on every possible scare tactic/dog whistling what-if.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            What is his position regarding lowering the voting age?

            The current age of 18 seems arbitary.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            This is such an obvious sham question, and the prison crisis in America is a disaster. It destroys communities and needs to be addressed. One of those aspects is voting. The students who join the Harvard Centrist Society are Republicans for all intents and purposes.

            As far as polling goes, does anyone care? Are there protests? Terry MacAuliffe restored felon voting rights in a mass ceremony. Did it hurt Hillary in Virginia? No. I hate to use TerryMac, but leadership works this way.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              On principle alone, the prison crisis is bigger than just this one voting aspect, and should be addressed as a whole.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Oh okay, so when asked a question, he shouldn’t answer it?

                You do realize this is coming up because of an attempt at a “gottcha” question by that doofus Vanderbilt on CNN?

                Its not like Sanders doesn’t talk about other things.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  It was a great opportunity to talk about how we should address issue as a whole.

                  As well, there are details, such as partial restrictions, that need to be worked out (like should someone vote on something, diretly or indirectly, he/she has been convicted).

            2. Carolinian

              I think this is a non issue other than to the people who were never going to vote for him anyway. Since it’s a matter for the states then it really wouldn’t be within his presidential powers anyway.,

              Like I say, first he has to get the nomination. You could argue it gives ammunition to a press corps out to get him, but they can probably find plenty of talking points if that’s their inclination.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                And if the fake news press corps can’t find plenty of talking points, they can just make some up. And they will, too. Just watch.

              2. Amfortas the hippie

                late, again. sorry.
                –“…Since it’s a matter for the states then it really wouldn’t be within his presidential powers anyway….”
                i understand the initial rationale for delegating this to the states…good and bad…but i think it’s past it’s sell-by-date.
                Voting isn’t mentioned in the Constitution, nor the Bill of Rights, appended.
                That’s what oughta be addressed, IMO.
                chisel it in stone that if you’re born here, to have the Right to Vote…period.
                all this registration and parsing and worthiness testing is just more opportunity for the aristocracy to screw things up for Us’n’s, and benefit themselves.
                for all the high minded talk about “Our Democracy!!!” in the last few years, we are rather remiss at actual implementation.
                Making exceptions, based on the dog whistle du jour, should be anathema.
                and while we’re tinkering with Amendments….https://www.articlethefirst.net/
                all that needs is ratification.
                no one person, no matter their honorable intentions, or lack thereof, can be expected to “represent” 700,000 people.

            3. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Terry MacAuliffe restored felon voting rights in a mass ceremony.

              Excellent point. There’s also the aspect that prisoners count in the Census, but if they don’t have the vote, you can gerrymander the upstate districts where the prisons are in your favor. So, in theory, even the most pragmatic liberal Democrats should be for this, since gerrymandering is one of their big things. One can only wonder why they aren’t…

              This could play well in South Carolina, and not hurt Sanders elsewhere, except among people who would in no circumstances vote for him anyhow. Also, Vermont allows imprisoned felons to vote, so he has experience to point to.

          3. Synoia

            I’m all for reparations. Including repaying the Money paid to those who actually caught the future slaves and were the individual slave’s “first sellers.”

            Some reflection on who were the groups who captured the slaves and offered them for sale would be interesting.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              The question about reparations is what victims deserve reparations.

              Should victims of neoliberalism, including many of us, receive something?

              1. jeremy415

                “What victims deserve reparations?”

                Obviously, it’s the “victims” who can scream and cry the loudest. Turns out that maybe many of the college students with degrees in Advanced Hypersensitivity Towards Every Little Microaggression might have had astute foresight in career training, knowing that this was coming, and have been honing their chops for this very day!

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  I wonder if the stigma attached to victimhood is too strong, because many of us are victims of neoliberalsim.

                  1. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

                    Reparations are stupid. My Dutch father was tortured in a Nazi prison; does that mean I can now get a payment from Germany? On the other hand my mother was 10% Native American. What’s the NPV of all of the land in America? And I would think Iraqi and Afghani citizens deserve something from the U.S. Can we please stop discussing stupid things?

                    1. drumlin woodchuckles

                      Much as we would like to, we can’t. Not as long as ADOS ( American Descendants Of Slavery) is building a whole movement on Reparationist Extortionism, and not as long as cynical Clintonite nomination-seekers will keep raising it against Sanders to trip him up and sandbag him down.

                      So all we can do is reject the concept in the rudest way possible whenever it is brought up by cynical operators.

                    2. Lambert Strether Post author

                      ADOS is interesting because they qualify reparations by lineage, not melanin.

                      In a way, this can be seen as an extremely roundabout repudiation not only of our current racial classification systems, which are melanin-based, but of the project that made Obama president (“We voted for the black guy!”). For example, ADOS focuses heavily on intergenerational wealth. This is an implicit critique not only of Buttigieg destroying inherited houses in South Bend, but of Obama, whose miserably inadequate response to the foreclosure crisis also destroyed a generation of black wealth. (I’m guessing such a discussion doesn’t take place where, er, outsiders can hear, though.)

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > When I saw him here at a black church this got a big response from the audience. He’s saying universal suffrage is a good thing and something the Republicans–and many Dems–are very much against.

        I agree, and I would also bet that these voters see that as far less of a “pie in the sky” policy than reparations. I can see the downside — the “Boston Bomber” is today’s “Willie Horton!” — but as I said, we’ll see how resilient Sanders is against it. (And Sanders is no Dukakis, either. He can take a punch. And give one back.)

    2. Michael

      Sanders’ base expects him to remain firm on his principles. His opponents can’t easily chip away at them by portraying Sanders as a kook. But if the media showed him to be a flip-flopper, ready to jettison those principles at the first sign of resistance, then they might make better progress. (And I think that strategy is something to watch out for in the coming months.)

    3. nippersdad

      GWB and all of his little neoconservative friends in both parties have the vote and they have killed and terrorized a lot more people than the Boston bomber ever hoped to. One might even say that without that CFR cabal, like 911 itself, there wouldn’t have been a Boston bomber at all.

      I think a little perspective on this topic would be nice to see. You can kill and maim millions and not be subject to our own treaty obligations, but just try and sell cigarettes on a street corner and it is a death sentence for the perp and jail time for the man who recorded it. Eric Holder says that any decent prosecutor could convict Trump on obstruction charges based upon a fallacious claim but couldn’t find the first banker to investigate for fraud after the world economy imploded.

      I think Bernie should change the frame of debate, not run away from it.

    4. jrs

      Most people locked up are not the boston bomber, so I think if we go from the assumption they are we have already started out on a path based on faslehoods.

      Yes it’s true, some really really bad person may have a vote, but it’s just one vote and thus by itself doesn’t effect anything, and it may more than offset by giving others who are locked up a voice.

      How are prison conditions ever to improve if we deny the vote to those actually affected?

    5. Sharkleberry Fin

      Suffrage of the incarcerated? One thing Sanders did not think through is “for whom should incarcerated prisoners vote?” A rural county with a penitentiary facility may have +20% of the census population incarcerated. That’s quite a constituency. Or should prisoners get to pick and choose their hometown voting district? Not having set foot in their former district in 10 to 20 years, would their vote be an informed one? A prison polling station would be hardly free of coercion by the authorities. Logistics aside, what should voters make of Bernie Sanders stumping for the criminal vote? Because it sounds as if he believes he has a lock on the “vibrant” prisoner vote? Somewhat deluded given prisoners are not known for their concern about the welfare of others. I think prisons would vote straight libertarian.

      1. Polar Socialist

        As the link above shows, 17 or so countries in Europe have already solved this problem, so a solution must exist.
        Voters should see that Bernie Sanders apparently has principles, and one of them seems to be that in a real democracy the right to vote is inviolable. Otherwise you don’t really have a democracy.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There are 17 or so countries mentioned above. It also means there are many other countries that are not on the list.

          Democracy is people of a country deciding for themselves.

          We can argue that something is the right thing to do. Here, we don’t see that, but that this is something 17 or so other countries do.

          That some countries do this, so we should as well that was quoted above is not as persuasive as quoting from the link about the case for universla suffrage (And the Current Affairs quote seems to suggest the only issue is to make sure the prisoners are counted in districts where they are from).

          1. Tom Bradford

            Down here in lil ol’ New Zealand the voting rights or otherwise of prisoners have varied over the years but currently they are disenfranchised.

            My pennyworth is that if you’re going to allow the incarcerated the freedom to vote shouldn’t they also have the freedom to pop out to the shops, visit the theatre, art-galleries and eat out, or even take holidays to Australia, Europe or the US like the rest of us?

        2. fajensen

          Two solutions :).

          The number of people in prison in Denmark is far too low to move anything, they simply don’t have the votes for “the robber party” even if they all agreed on it.

          Everyone are always registered for voting automatically. So the election system will just send them their election paperwork to their temporary address, which happens to be prison, but it’s nothing special. It’s treated exactly like when pensioners live in their summer house for six months.

          It would be creating needless bureaucracy for nothing if prisoners were to be blocked from voting and I think the moral statement in allowing them to vote is that it is an acknowledgment that these people also are a permanent part of the population that society somehow has to juggle and make whatever best effort it can with.

      2. Summer

        “I think prisons would vote straight libertarian.”

        Hehehe….good point, but while prisoners may not be “known” for their concern about others, I’m sure it exists among a good number.

        Also, don’t rule out the constiuency for a theocracy within those walls.

    6. dcblogger

      “I’m not really sure why Bernie would double down on felons voting.”

      same reason he does everything else, Bernie considers it the right thing to do.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        While he believes in doing the right things, he hopefully also believes he could be wrong (not necessarily on this topic, but in general, as we all should be similarly skeptical of ourselves) about what he believes is right.

    7. Kurt Sperry

      I applaud Bernie advocating for prisoners’ voting rights. It’s a matter of principle, n.b. one I share, and I think he should stand by his and not become another politician making cynical electoral calculations. His set of principles is exactly what makes him different and special.

    8. a different chris

      >The issue leads to inevitable questions like

      Carolinian has answered this well, my side point would be “why not and who really cares?”.

      1) So they vote, so what? They have opinions on congestion, wars abroad, and etc that probably aren’t to different from the rest of us.
      2) Unless you have such a high prison population that it swamps a rural locality voter registration….oh yeah, that would be us. Well maybe we shouldn’t have so many in prison, then.

      For now, maybe just let them vote for federal positions (Senator, President, maybe Congressman) so they don’t necessarily get to vote against the DA that put them into a massive local prison. But otherwise I don’t see the issue except for America’s love of just picking people to trample into the mud.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A related question.

        Should rich prisoners be able to make campaign contributions?

        If they can currently, that needs to be changed.

    9. zagonostra

      Is this what we want to focus on in the upcoming election?

      Can’t Bernie just stay focused on M4A and the underlying causes of inequality? I’m not diminishing the disenfranchising minorities, especially in Florida, but you know this isn’t the burning issue that keeps people up at night and that will get them to the polls.

      I hope Bernie doesn’t fall into the Willy Horton trap…stay focused!

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Prisoners are people too. Let his opponents argue for voting restrictions. The Buttigieg and Trump positions are basically the same on the matter.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Partial voting restrictions can be a good starting point of debate, for all, not just Sanders’ opponents.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Good, let Pete Buttigieg explain why he is the arbiter or the system of arbitration for restricting voting rights.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              He should not be.

              But I think partial restrictions should at least be considered.

              People convicted of vote rigging, for example, should not be allowed anywhere near a voting booth – a good or bad idea?

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Fine, you can consider partial restrictions, but I’m not going to pretend I believe its a good moral stance. To pretend we have a just system is wrong. We have a need for protection for ourselves and demand for punishment, so we can accept prisoners despite knowing an innocent person might be imprisoned.

                Its absurd to think a single vote of a prisoner will shake an election. One of the Tsarniev who does have U.S. citizenship isn’t going to change a single election in Eastern, Massachusetts or any part of this country except maybe a one person town.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Some countries mentioned above have partial restrictions.

                  And I believe some people find that OK.

                  1. Fiery Hunt

                    I’m with Beef on this…there are definitely some people, whether from mental illness or antisocial behavioral conviction who should not be allowed to voted.
                    Felony/misdemeanor is not my line…Rather sanity/depravity is.

                    Meaning some convicts/incarcerated get a vote, some don’t.

      2. Phenix

        Bernie needs to win Florida in the general but black votes in the primary. He is standing on principle but also advocating for a population that has lost its dignity and basic human rights.

        But perhaps something more important is happening…the children who grew up under Reagan and neoliberalisn will decide the primary.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I believe the argument can be strengthened with some restrictions.

          That would take away some of the counter points.

      3. voteforno6

        Considering that Trump was elected with all his negatives, I have a hard time believing that this could sink Bernie.

    10. EricT

      It’s a way of removing a red district advantage. In NY state, upstate has a lot of prisons holding people from the southern part of the state. The prison population is included in the census, but aren’t allowed to vote. Giving sparsely populated areas the opportunity to have a Congress critter that represents a minority of the district’s residents which are usually Republican. Give prisoners the right to vote and watch Republicans lose districts in these rural areas, primarily in blue states. We need to remove barriers to voting, not reinforce them.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Big, if true. So you could have Crips, Bloods and Latin Kings giving endorsements to local candidates?

        1. Big River Bandido

          Are you suggesting that every black man behind bars is a gang member? Or that even a significant portion of them are? That’s not only mean and nasty, it’s simply not true.

          Our prisons are packed with people whose biggest crimes are being poor or “of color”.

          1. Allegorio

            These comments Ignore the fact that 95% of convictions in the US judicial system are plea bargained and not adjudicated by a jury of their peers. This is guilt by accusation. Enormous pressure is brought on the accused to plead guilty. It is amazing to me the venom exhibited toward the incarcerated even on this site. This represents generations of brainwashing about the “good guys” and the “bad guys”. Disqualification is a basic feature of competitive societies. Sad, very sad.

    11. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’m not really sure why Bernie would double down on felons voting.

      Two words: South Carolina.

      Leaving the Willie Horton stuff aside, it also ties his liberal opponents in knots. So, good clean fun! (As I urge at greater length elsewhere today.)

    12. Allegorio

      This will be a positive for Senator Sanders in the long run. It shows that he sticks to his principles and is not pandering to the polls or the voters. This worked for Trump in 2016 and it will work for Sanders in 2020. He’s definitely not faux progressive, tell them what the public wants to hear but do for the donors. The fact that the media is out to get him, ( and Tulsi Gabbard ) is a big plus. The public hates the corporate media, the Goebbels School of Journalism. This is a big plus with the African American voter. Buttagieg and Biden are very weak with the black voter. Biden has also alienated the millennials, with his give me a break comments. Medicare for all, or letting the incarcerated vote, which is the most important issue? Let’s not let the corporate media distract us.

  5. Hepativore

    It is pretty ironic that Hillary claims that anybody other than Trump would have been prosecuted for obstruction, when anybody other than Hillary would have been prosecuted with storing sensitive material on their own private server which is an offense at least warranting criminal negligence.

    1. DonCoyote

      Also, how is deleted 33,000 e-mails not obstruction of justice (Yes, they gave the delete order before the subpoena. It still blocks FOIA or any other inquiries nicely, doesn’t it)

    2. nippersdad

      It’s all projection all the time with that group. If they ever actually had to suffer for their sins they might have a little more humility,honesty and basic humanity.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        It’s kind of flabbergasting how impervious to honest reflection they are. I guess it’s part of the total personality/character package that makes them so driven; if they had some humility and compassion and introspection, they couldn’t be who they are.

        On the moral ledger of their sins, losing to Trump ranks pretty far down, and yet they can’t even reckon with that in any but the most perfunctory way.

        What obeisances must be paid to the Political Gods to make them and their daughter go away?

        1. nippersdad

          Why did Carville’s quote immediately come to mind when you asked what it would take to make them go away?

          “Drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you will find.”

          Projection being their schtick, I would be interested in knowing what one would catch dragging one (suitably adjusted for inflation) through a Martha’s Vineyard cocktail party. Odds are pretty good you wouldn’t make it through the room before you found Hillary clinging to it like grim death. I’ve known people who lived in trailer parks that have a great deal more integrity than any of the Clintons. Carville may have been speaking from experience.

          1. ambrit

            I’ll bet he was speaking from experience too.
            There are some trailer parks I’ve “transited” where you should wear “protection” to take a leak!

          2. The Rev Kev

            “Drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you will find.”

            Always thought that a despicable statement that. How about we modify it?

            “Drag a thousand dollar bill through the Hamptons, you never know what you will find.”

            1. ambrit

              Sorry, but the amounts do not scale properly. At the Hamptons level, any amount of money can be finessed by other means; power, fame, status, etc.
              At the trailer park level of existence, a hundred dollars is still a decent amount of groceries or weed or booze or whatever.

              1. witters

                True story. Once lived in a flat on the first floor across from a three star restaurant. Superglued 1 and 2 dollars coins (Aust) on a man hole cover outside restaurant on foopath outside restaurant. Only people who ever went mad, kicking and shouting, when they couldn’t pick up the coin were the dudes in suits leaving and entering the restaurant, their wives screaming at them to stop…

                1. The Rev Kev

                  God, that’s hilarious that. Would have made a great YouTube video too with the highlights.

    1. Cal2

      Question, Will corporate cash will win out over citizen’s corneas?
      Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

      “He noted that with binoculars (or any other magnifying device), 900-nanometre lasers are dangerous at much greater distances. This is especially problematic if the laser stops spinning but continues to beam in one particular direction, which strengthens its potency. Most LiDAR are being designed to shut down when they aren’t spinning but, if they malfunction, they could be very dangerous to the naked eye.”


      Cameras could also double as dashcams for insurance protection.

      1. Carolinian

        Yes the laser thing is, or should be, controversial. I even worry about supermarket scanners.

        Plus the articles says a LIDAR set costs $10,000–not exactly chump change.

    2. a different chris

      Yes actually the problem isn’t wider bandwidth/higher sensitivity/more processing. They’ve already left humans behind 10x over and still can’t drive worth (family blog).

      The issue is something/things else entirely. That of course, isn’t what the Gizmodo article says but… sigh. Smarter geniuses, please.

    1. Louis Fyne

      interesting. I’m assuming it’s some form of epigenetic damage….gotta read it later. Thanks.

      1. Synoia

        Hmmm…I can suggest a blind test, feed the senate Glyphosate with every meal, and not the house….

  6. Cal2

    Hard hitting. Lumps Buttigieg Booker and Beto into the same boat.

    “Macron. Obama. Trudeau. Good looking. Youngish. Articulate. Smooth talking, vaguely inspiring. Easy to hear what you want to hear. Utterly in service to the plutocracy.”

    “Look into the actual records of these candidates. Get their shitty books and scrutinize them closely. A lot of money is going to be flowing toward tricks like this, as frantic Democratic elites try to push someone like Buttigieg in order to prevent a Sanders nomination…”


    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Superficially these individuals are similar, but only Trudeau is the one who fits this description (and he clearly ran a campaign that depended on lies concerning pipe lines)

      Obama had two major advantages: one, he wasn’t a Clinton, and he voted for a non-binding resolution opposing the Iraq War as a State Senator. These can’t be separated from his election.

      Macron was elected during the implosion of the SDs and whatever Sarkozy’s party is called. Macron enjoyed an electorate of upper class conservative types and minorities who were facing the threat of Le Pen and had no experience voting for the Communists or parental experience.

      Buttigieg may seem similar to these clods, but he lacks the institutional status or other forces that brought them to power. He lacks a nostalgic connection. He’s a mayor of a small to medium sized city within a county government. I suspect his current support is probably maxed out as he’s largely the Team Blue’s 2020 Marco Rufio, an extremely old person’s idea of what a normal human being is like.

      1. jonhoops

        Trudeau, whatever you may think of him is probably genuinely organic. Macron and Obama were clearly synthetic candidates (Color Revolution Playbook) run by either oligarchic factions or intelligence services. See Michael Hudson’s comment re Obama below.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          But that isn’t why people voted for him or why he was able to beat HRC. The choice to have him speak at the 2004 DNC was a no brainer as he was a lock at that point and was the warm up act for Ted Kennedy’s big rally. Obama wowed the crowd and made sure no one would one up him in 2008 by inviting Mark Warner to fill the same spot. Macron was a powerful minister within the Hollande government where he was able to build on imploding parties. Hollande and the “new left” were clearly flailing. The personality driven center-right parties were turning over. To Macron’s credit, he built a temporary coalition but a coalition capable of winning which took votes the Communists could get but probably had not pursued sufficiently. Trudeau had a famous last name when people had had enough of Harper.

          In regards to Obama, look at the 2008 field. Eh…Edwards voted for the Iraq War. His campaign was based on winning Iowa and then seizing momentum in NH before moving into South Carolina. He didn’t win Iowa. Maybe he could have if Trippi wasn’t so nuts. This was the only real competition. Kucinich looks more realistic today, but he had a few problems at the time mostly to do with his stance on abortion. HRC had the money and name recognition of a sitting President. She wasn’t a Joe Lieberman style front runner. There wasn’t much oxygen out there for other candidates to be noticed as there was a whole segment dedicated to stopping another Clinton. The 2005 DNC race was basically a Clinton-anti-Clinton affair.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      If Mr. Dundee is reading these comments, I hope he will expand the term ” macronie” to ” phony macronie”.
      Phony macronie more nearly rhymes with the well known American phrase ” phony baloney”. The word “phony” almost becomes the delivery vehicle which can get the word “macronie” into the targeted minds easier than the single word “macronie” can get itself there.

      Or so it seems to me.

      1. Stanley Dundee

        Thanks for the suggestion, DW, but I think I will stay with macrony, which I chose for the interplay of Macron and crony. A phony macrony would not be a macrony at all but one pretending to be. The association to phony baloney is attractive but it doesn’t quite outweigh the other considerations. If you want to emphasize the fakeness you could go with fauxgressive but I rather loathe the term progressive (having lost my faith in progress) so that one doesn’t really fly for me either. I really appreciate your consideration however!

  7. BobW

    Re conversations: As a boomer, I recall most of my conversations with dates and friends as “What do you wanna do?” I dunno, what do YOU wanna do?”

  8. DonCoyote

    Re: The Bleeding Heartland piece on the “moral, ceremonial role…”

    Here’s Matt Taibbi excoriating himself and colleagues for this kind of BS:

    Pre-Trump, the two-year saga was really a series of tests whose purpose was to produce obedient major-party mannequins worthy of “Miss Republican Orthodoxy” or “Miss Democrat Orthodoxy” sashes. There were both political and commercial elements to this dynamic.

    We routinely flunked candidates in our version of the swimsuit competition. Dennis Kucinich was hounded for his “elfin” appearance, and others, like Bobby Jindal, were dismissed with sleazy code terms like, “He doesn’t look presidential.”

    Myriad class/race/gender biases were hidden just in this one “presidential” descriptor, in addition to flat out high-school style shallowness celebrating looks, height even jockiness. To reassure us on that last point, candidates learned to “relax” by shooting baskets or tossing footballs around us in highly scripted episodes that went sideways with unsurprising frequency. Marco Rubio boinking an Iowan child in the face with a terrible spiral is the most recent viral classic of the genre.

    Other tests, like the “most nuanced” competition (awarded to the candidate most adept at advocating the appearance of policy action instead of the real thing) helped produce the likes of John Kerry as a nominee. Kerry himself then lost to George W. Bush when the press flunked him by another asinine standard, the now-infamous “likability” test.

    1. jeremy415

      I suspect that the Swimsuit Competition is far more than a press foible – it’s probably the single largest factor in how the electorate votes.

      I was an early Obama donor. Then I developed a hearing impairment, and could no longer listen to his baritone oratories, and had to read them – and realized how vapid they were.

      Then I went a step further, and watched his speeches (with closed captioning), and imagined that he had the voice of Pee Wee Herman.

      “We are the ones we have been waiting for” sounds hilarious in Pee Wee’s voice.

      1. jrs

        I read Trump, and when some said Trump won the debates, I just wondered what they were smoking, are you kidding, he was uniquely incapable of stringing a sentence together (I mean he stood out badly among a field of bad R candidates, at least they could string words together even though the things they said were often horrible). But it must have went over well on t.v..

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          American political debates are stupid. In some ways, any kind of extemporaneous Q and A is stupid. If you get to a town hall with more than two contestants, there isn’t room for the proper reflection and follow up because you have to get to everyone’s cookie recipe. Parts of Gravel’s debate appearances from 2007are up above, but I’ve seen and talked to people who seem like the kind of people who should be old enough to remember this given their interests. One problem is noise. Its difficult to navigate through too much noise. Yes, those debates happened, but nothing was learned because it was too noisy.

          A panel discussion can be a different as the panel often control the situation, so items can be given accommodation. One or maybe two people can function in an appropriate town hall. Obviously, the Harvard Republicans rebranded as the “Centrist Society” (lets not kid ourselves) and a Vanderbilt probably don’t have their hands on the pulse of the American people and probably aren’t appropriate people to handle this kind of event, but as long as the corporate right wing run the events they can’t be better.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I was pretty young when the League of Women Voters ran these debates. My memory of what I remember from the time is that the debates were not stupid when the League of Women Voters ran them.

            I think the Two Parties and the Networks colluded together to take hosting/organizing the debates away from the League of Women Voters precisely and exactly in order to slowly and carefully stupidize the debates over time. On purpose. In order to foam the brainway for a successful landing of the NeoLiberal Bomber Squadrons.

            1. Big River Bandido

              The “Commission on Presidential Debates” is the name of the entity that stole the debates from the League. And your assessment of the why they did so is spot-on.

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        Fascinating, thanks for sharing that. Oliver Sacks wrote something similar about neurology patients on a ward watching Reagan on TV and becoming agitated and angry because they didn’t understand what he was saying but they could read his body language and it telegraphed that he was insincere, somehow something was not congruent in his presentation.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.”

        This isn’t from a secret diary but “The Audacity of Hope.” Besides Obama’s advantages (mostly having HRC as an opponent), he did do one thing really well. He asked Americans to not think and assured us problems could be solved through feeling good. “Two Americas” was about wealth inequality, but Obama uses a red state/blue state framing and implies divides aren’t material problems but ones of attitude with his famed 2004 speech.

        To a certain extent, Buttigieg is now trying the same schtick. Economic conditions are weaker, so bringing up how Little League and churches are in both red and blue states won’t be considered the soaring oratory of a 21st century Super Cicero! Their politics weren’t entirely dissimilar.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      ROFL! Testify, comrade Matt!

      By the last election, outlets like the Daily Beast cheerfully described the “beer standard” as the key to winning the “likability Olympics.” It was therefore stunning to watch the universal lack of insight when the anti-candidate who rampaged through our idiotic campaign carnival in 2016 was not only a reality star, but also a beauty contest aficionado.

      Trump was a demon from hell sent to punish all of these reporting sins. He was like Tony Clifton snuck into the Miss Universe pageant, doing a farts-only version of Stairway to Heaven as the musical portion.

    1. Summer

      For all his “one America” speeches, Obama made the political calculation that if he had as many CEO perp walks, he wouldn’t get re-elected. And I think his instincts were right. That is one area where Obama excels…knowing how to get elected.
      Your instincts are right here….it will help Trump.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Obama was reelected because the GOP was so brazen about restricting voting during the Summer. Obama was right about no one can stop a committed voter from voting. The high minority turnout was a response to the GOP’s attacks not Obama. Obama’s change in rhetoric along with his promise of just needing a second term helped. Obama had to cancel his out door rally at the DNC due to 20% chance of thunder storms in North Carolina in the Summer. Okay…so why schedule an outdoor rally at all in Charlotte that time of year?

        Mittens as an opponent helped too.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Obama was reelected because the GOP was so brazen about restricting voting during the Summer. Obama was right about no one can stop a committed voter from voting. The high minority turnout was a response to the GOP’s attacks not Obama.

          From Brookings. With more time, I’d look at what the industrial model that Ferguson and his team developed has to say. No sure there’s evidence on “a response to the GOP’s attacks not Obama.” Link?

  9. Matthew G. Saroff

    Just wanted to say that Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a Holocaust survivor and was a scout/sniper in the IDF (Haganah?) in the Israeli war of independence in 1948.

    I’ve always found the idea of her being a sniper as a bit surreal.

    1. Christy

      And this:
      “I never killed anybody, but I know how to throw hand grenades and shoot.”

      “Westheimer was seriously wounded in action by an exploding shell during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, and it was several months before she was able to walk again.”

      Obviously, the woman has spunk!
      She is now 90.

        1. ambrit

          True. Just ask the victims of the ‘King David Hotel’ bombing in 1946. Or Count Bernadotte.
          Then again, the Western elites were pretty anti-semitic back then. Western policies towards Jewish refugees during the ‘thirties were horrible. The book and later film “Ship of Fools” treats this subject well.
          The ground of the so called ‘Holy Land’ is steeped in blood.

          1. dearieme

            Western policies towards Jewish refugees during the ‘thirties were horrible

            The British government of Palestine issued more immigration visas for European Jews than they ever took up. Understandably, educated German Jews didn’t want to live on the desert’s edge surrounded by people who would hate them.

            Their tragedy was three fold. (i) Many fled Germany in 1933 and then drifted back as the Nazis seemed less frightening than they had first appeared. Then after Kristallnacht in 1938 they fled again. But (ii) Many fled to nearby countries – France, the Low Countries, Czechoslovakia. They had no idea that these would soon be conquered. (iii) And then there were those who didn’t flee, who hoped that the sensible Nazis would hold back the hotheads, who hoped that the talk was mere talk, that the threats were empty. Poor buggers.

            Western policies towards Jewish refugees during the ‘thirties were horrible. It was mainly a matter of American policies being horrible – that was where many of the German Jews wanted to go. Cuba was better, Canada was better, Britain was better, Australia and NZ were better, the Low Countries were better, … The problem, from the point of view of the Jews, was with the USA.

            But the American government can hardly be blamed for not foreseeing the invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Fall of France, and so on. It’s also possible to understand that they might have thought the Jews were being hysterical. How could you expect parochial American politicians to foresee the policy of extermination that would be pursued by the most cultured country in the world?

            Someday I’ll come across a discussion of this matter that isn’t vitiated by hindsight.

            1. ambrit

              Well, as a counter argument, I’ll observe that America in the ‘thirties was still deep into Jim Crow, which some high Nazis studied for tips on how to do it ‘right.’ The Redman was still being jerked around on and off the reservation. There was an object lesson on how to do genocide “right.” Basic anti-Semitism was still a national sport in America then. England was not much better. Disraeli was eligible to become Prime Minister only because his father was at odds with his local synagogue and had his son baptized as an Anglican to piss the elders of said synagogue off. Otherwise, the “funny little man” would have been legally barred from the post. This was just a generation before the period of which we speak. That tradition died hard. (It still shambles along as an Undead Doctrine.)
              There is much evidence that the Western elites were well aware of the lethal nature of the NASDAP and chose to look the other way. The history of IBM and it’s facilitation of the Jewish genocide shows plainly this callous indifference to the suffering of “foreigners.”
              As for the Palestine issue, the governing elite in Palestine itself was considered as containing some of the most anti-Semitic functionaries in the Imperial Instrumentality. One of the more infamous examples of British anti-Zionist action was the forced deportation of Jewish refugees still on ships in the port of Haifa to Mauritius and Trinidad.
              Everyone here has blood on their hands.

              1. dearieme

                There is much evidence that the Western elites were well aware of the lethal nature of the NASDAP

                That won’t do. Many German Jews clearly didn’t believe that the Nazis would adopt a policy of extermination, otherwise they wouldn’t have returned after 1933 or stayed after 1938. If German Jews, with their understanding of the country, its language, and its culture, and with every incentive to make good decisions, didn’t get it right, how on earth can you expect Senator Dim of the Great State of Hickshome to get it right?

                Like almost everyone else, you are arguing from hindsight not foresight. If it had all been obvious how come those Palestine entry visas went unclaimed?

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            The Haganah didn’t do the King David Hotel bombing. That was Menachem Begin’s Irgun which did that.

            The Haganah didn’t do the Count Bernadotte assassination. That was Itzak Shamir’s ( Yzernitsky’s ) Lechi ( Stern Gang) which did that.

            Such picky-poo accuracy-sticklering may seem niggling, but it helps in making analysis more fine grained and hence more useful.

            Just as in our own day, we can say that Wahhabis, Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda and ISIS are all Islamists. But they are not all the same kind of Islamist. ISIS didn’t fly planes into the Twin Towers . . . . and al Qaeda didn’t seek to exterminate the Yazidis.

  10. flora

    re: War criminals and torturers like Gina Haspel and John Yoo can vote. So can Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein. Why not incarcerated felons?

    Why, because if all the incarcerated felons could vote then politicians might have to pay attention to their issues; might have to pay attention to the very lucrative modern ‘slave labor’ factory system, the modern gulag forced labor system…


    1. nippersdad

      Certainly not the conversation that Kamala Harris would want to have, and all the more reason for having it.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What would be the counter if the argument is that those named (Yoo, Dimon, et al) have not been tried and convicted, and unlike say Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, people are presumed innocent until guilty (there is a popular misconception that the reverse holds under the Napoleonic Code)? Thus, they should still be allowed to vote?

      1. nippersmom

        I would find that argument more compelling if we had anything even remotely resembling a fair criminal justice system.

          1. ambrit

            Alas, I fear that we are entering into a modern “Warring States” phase of history.
            Will far future historians characterize the American Republic as the ‘Washington Dynasty?’

              1. ambrit

                The racing factions of the Hippodrome in Constantinople during the Byzantine Era also come to mind.
                An even closer analogy to back then, the Urbs, mainly the capitol city was pitted against the countryside. The rulers had to placate the Urban Mob, and the Educated class, from which the Governing Instrumentality was comprised, while the Rustics simmered and seethed, out of which revolts and coup attempts arose with regularity.
                Sounds like the Coasts and Flyover country to me.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  I only know about the Niko riots.

                  Here, we can’t blame the Venetians, but Byzantines themselves.

                  1. ambrit

                    Niko Riots it is.
                    I guess that’s why convoluted political machinations are called Byzantine.
                    I’ll agree that blaming the Venetians is a Dogey business.

            1. polecat

              I would take a beneficent Warlord over what currently constitutes our recent and present rather diminished ‘leadership’ …
              and I would gladly pay tribute in backyard honey on Tuesday … for some stability Today.

              1. ambrit

                The problem is that the competent Warlord eventually shuffles off to be replaced with a decidedly uncertain quality of leadership. Indeed, said Warlord will evolve into an Aristocracy. That lands us right back at the beginning again.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Still, they have to go through the process.

            One might ask why Kissinger (or Yoo (or Haspel)) never had to go through any kind of process.

            “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor….” — but wait, we don’t see a lot of poor people slaughtering millions with bombing campaigns, or running torture camps, or writing memos justifying torture, do we? The West Wing was canceled a long time ago….

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          One wonders if a movement to “amend the Thirteenth Amendment” would take hold and take off. Amend it by striking out those few loophole words . . . “except as a condition of punishment for crime.”

          That way the Amendment would still be here, but the loophole would be gone.

    3. chuck roast

      I can see it all now…….

      Con #1: Man I like that voting action. It makes me feel empowered.
      Con #2: Yeah…maybe we should form a union.
      Con #1: Yeah. We can go on strike for dental care and actual food!
      Con #3: We can join the Wobblies.
      Con #1: What’s the Wobblies?
      Con #3: The Industrial Workers of the World.
      Cons #1&2: I like that!

  11. KevinD

    “Melting permafrost in Arctic will have $70tn climate impact – study”

    the most expensive problem humanity has ever ignored….?

  12. Tim

    “Aren’t ambulances “on demand” already?”

    Yeah it’s a minimum of a $1,500 to get inside one. I saw a young guy maybe 20 years old that had unexpectedly passed out at the mall, likely for dehydration last weekend. He got up and walked into the ambulance with the EMTs by his side. It was like watching a lamb led to the slaughter.

    Part of me wanted to say “Don’t get in the ambulance! Just drink a glass of water”.

    I would call an Ambulunz if I could ride hail them and they could swipe my credit card for 300 bucks before I got in, assuming they have a licensed paramedic on board.

  13. a different chris

    > Dr. Ruth said that millennials have ‘lost

    Oh my an aged person identifying issues in the newest generation. That’s never happened before, there must really be something wrong with “those kids today”. /s

  14. Another Scott

    A poll was just released regarding the state of transportation in Greater Boston. The results are about what I expected, although more people thought the T could be improved than I would have guessed.


    The negative impact of Uber and Lyft is mentioned in passing, but no questions were asked.

    Two additional things to note: addressing climate change had the lowest “major priority” of any of the issues listed, behind jobs, education, housing, taxes and transportation (page 10); and self-driving vehicles can’t get any support compared to the other issues (page 13). If these policies are comparatively unpopular in Massachusetts, it will be an even tougher sell elsewhere.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Thanks for that link. The stat about 80% wanting more frequency of commuter rail trains is indicative, but the article fails to mention several salient facts about MBTA:

      Currently, most commuter train lines run as little as once per hour — during rush hours.

      Much of the T (the inner-Boston “rail” system) is not a real rail system at all, because of the fact that nearly all of the Green Line (B, C, and E sub-lines) is street-level and thus nothing but a glorified bus, subject to the same gridlock as car traffic. Once even one single line of a rail system gets bogged down in street traffic, the effect spills out into the rest of the system.

      I remember one morning rush commute where I was traveling from Coolidge Corner to the Hynes Convention Center in Back Bay — it was about 6 stops. There was a jogger running beside the train. Traffic was so bad that the jogger reached St. Mary’s Street (where the C goes underground) before the train did. Even at the underground point, that didn’t relieve the train congestion, because 3 lines — all of which get caught in street gridlock — converge around Kenmore Square.

      Another time after work, I made arrangements to stay overnight with a friend in Concord (about a 45-minute drive). The plan was to take the Orange Line (which runs underground the entire length of the line) to North Station, then take the commuter rail to Concord. I left in plenty of time to make those connections, or so I thought. Upon my arrival at the Mass. Ave. Orange Line station, the signs tell me it’s a 40-minute wait for the next train in that direction. This was at 5:30 PM. When I finally arrived at North Station (an interminable trip), I had missed the commuter train to Concord and had to wait in the station for another hour for the next departure. Having left work at 5 PM, I didn’t arrive in Concord until 8:30.

      Then there’s the fact that the T closes at 12:30 AM…while the bars stay open until 2.

      The MBTA is not a serious mass transit system. It is painfully slow, embarassingly out of date, and completely inadequate to the needs of a modern city.

  15. Yikes

    Press stenographers missed a few parts out of the oldes but goodies pushed by Joe (up for bid) Biden:
    “”advancing community colleges” credit card loans”
    and “‘strengthening the middle class” by working them 24/7 til they collapse.”

    Lest we forget… Joe Biden: Ramming TPP Through in Lame Duck Session Is “Our Only Real Shot“

  16. michael hudson

    Re the intercept, I was told at the Press Club last night that Laura Poitras (?) complained that having turned over the Snowden files, only about 20% were published. Then, the entire Snowdon group was closed down byPierre Omidyar, and the files actually were destroyed.
    So the feeling was quite negative toward the whole project.
    Other scuttlebutt: Obama’s mother was CIA, his grandfather was CIA, his college job was working for a CIA front (Business Int’l), and more …

    1. aleph_0

      I’ve heard that a couple of times. I find it fascinating that no one managed to get the obvious “follow the money” story out more widely.

      I keep having the feeling that our media and surrounding corporations are both simultaneously infinitely stronger (suppressing these kinds of stories ruthlessly, deplatforming/blacklisting) and weaker (bankruptcy, audience doesn’t believe them) than they’ve ever been.

    2. Phenix

      They also burned a whistle blower. I am not a fan of Greenwald or the Intercept but he is still a good read.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Mabye, or maybe not, but we need solid evidence; otherwise, the next thing we hear is that Sanders is CIA or Trump is.

    4. ambrit

      Somehow I find it hard to believe that no-one has a copy of the Snowden files. Simple self preservation would dictate that one keep copies in safe places to protect oneself.
      The Obama, Son of OSS story has been around for years. I have yet to see solid proof, one way or another. Perhaps we never will know the truth of the matter.
      The problem is, from a ‘consumer’ point of view, that the MSM has destroyed most of it’s reputation. Now that the ‘Counter MSM’ is being discredited, the ‘consumer’ is in a classic double bind. No wonder ‘Magical Thinking’ exerts such an allure. If you can’t know the truth about anything around you, no matter how hard you try to, then making stuff up as you go along is downright rational.
      From such humble materials are History’s great crimes constructed.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Yeah, I knew they recently decided not to continue publishing and that Poitras was very publicly up in arms about that, but I didn’t hear that the files were destroyed. Seems to me both Snowden and Greenwald are smarter than that.

      2. Acacia

        Obama’s mother has been described as “a child of the 60s”, but she met Obama Sr. while studying Russian at Univ. of Hawaii in 1959. Question: what kind of person studies the Russian language in Hawaii in 1959? After Obama Sr. exits the scene, Obama’s mother meets Lolo Soetoro, who has been described as a “land surveyor from Indonesia”. They meet at the East-West Center of the Univ. of Hawaii, whose director had previously served as U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, and who publicly defended the overthrow of Sukarno. Somehow, when the humble land surveyor Soetoro returns to Jakarta — three months before the CIA-orchestrated coup against Sukarno and start of the mass killings —, he becomes a Colonel in the Indonesian military, serving Suharto.

        In 1967, Barack Obama moves to Jakarta with his mother, to rejoin Soetoro. In Indonesia, Obama’s mother worked at the U.S. Embassy, which also served as one of the largest CIA stations in S.E. Asia. Embassy Staff were involved in drawing up a list of 5000 names of senior PKI members who were assassinated as part of the mass killings of at least 500,000 suspected communists by death squads. Obama’s mother also worked for USAID (another CIA-linked organization) on micro-financing for Indonesian farmers, and later for the Ford Foundation, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank. The head of the Embassy’s Economic Section in Jakarta — i.e., her boss —, in charge of micro-financing projects, has been identified as a CIA officer. After Jakarta, he moved to Lahore, Pakistan. By coincidence, Obama’s mother later also moved to Lahore, to work on micro-finance there for the Asian Development Bank. I.e., she moves from Jakarta to Lahore, following her boss who works for the CIA. She lived for five years in the Lahore Hilton International Hotel.

        So, during the mass killings, Obama’s family is living in Jakarta, and has connections to both the Suharto’s military (via his stepfather) and different members of the CIA (via his mother). His mother’s career path follows that of other people who were known CIA officers. It has been suggested that other members of her family were also in the employ of the CIA. In effect, then, we could perhaps say that Obama was vetted by the CIA decades ago.

        BTW, before he became Deputy Secy. of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz was also Ambassador to Indonesia, under President Reagan.

        Recommended: Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary films about Indonesia.

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          The mass killings peaked in late 1965 and the list was released in 1966.

          Reality is ugly enough without trying to shoehorn Obama’s mama into some kind of birther theory.

          Ann Dunham’s interesting though irregular career was certainly adjacent to the American globalist project. But while the institutions she belonged to at various times provided recruits to and worked symbiotically with MIC (as did/does Corporate America) it doesn’t follow that she was a spook, part time or full time. Bring actual evidence please.

          And it is also clear Barack didn’t need to be elaborately groomed as a globalist sleeper Quisatz Haderach to do the bidding of TPTB. Truth is stranger than Trutherism.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Somehow I find it hard to believe that no-one has a copy of the Snowden files. Simple self preservation would dictate that one keep copies in safe places to protect oneself.

        Complete with dead man’s switch…

    5. dearieme

      You could have learnt that “scuttlebutt” years ago just by reading Steve Sailer on Obama.

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Obama’s mother was CIA, his grandfather was CIA, his college job was working for a CIA front

      Yet more evidence that Buttigieg is just a cheap, inferior copy*. I mean, an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserve. Really?

      NOTE * “They broke the mold when they made Obama!”

  17. Grant

    I know that it is often wrong to root for someone to fail, but Biden is similar to what Clinton was in 2016; a symbol of everything wrong with this system. A corrupt, out of touch rich person with a horrible record that is in desperate need of a reality check. Not only idoes he have a record horrible, not only has he said a mountain of stupid things, his worldview and creepy behavior make him a terrible match for the needs of today. And the union leaders that would endorse him, given his record and world view, that too is a great microcosm of what those people are in this system, and how impotent unions have become under their leadership. Here we have all these problems in need of structural changes and he is the person they want to endorse? Mind blowing. I hope he crashes and burns, and I hope the same of most of the absolute duds running.

    If he enters and does well, that will be a really bad sign. The fact that he polls decently well, even if the polls are conducted with older, more conservative voters, is already a bad sign. The Democrats are likely to utterly screw this up, and it will have very bad repercussions for the country.

    1. nippersdad

      One need only look at the polling before he bailed on his other attempts to gain the presidency, this even before the Clinton cottage industry was discredited, to see how his next efforts will go. His best will be posted on the day that he announces and then it is all downhill from there.

      The same thing happened to Hillary and her numbers have never recovered. Beetlejuice is their new standard bearer, and it is going to be a fairly short bout of humiliation before he realizes it.

  18. dcrane

    “Hillary Clinton: Any Person Other Than Trump Would Have Been Indicted For Obstruction” [RealClearPolitics].

    Hillary Clinton: “Any Person Other Than Me Would Have Been Indicted For Mishandling Classified Information

    Fixed that for her.

  19. dearieme

    Joe bloody Biden. He’s 76. Sanders is 77. They probably both hope for two terms. Madness.

    Trump is 72 and seeking only one term.

    Oh well, whichever of the Dem codgers wins the nomination had better make Hellary his running mate. You know it make sense.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Carter. There you go. Lets talk about restricting his voting rights. He basically gave aid and comfort to Al Qaeda if he’s not a functional outright founder. Lets use this as a starting point for debate or discussion.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            To be consistent, we will have to convict him first though.

            That’s my position.

            And he’s innocent until proven guilty.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Sanders is in better shape than anyone I know over 57, to say nothing of 77.

      Trump is 239 lbs (officially, though you know he’s closer to 300 than 200 if you just look at him), and eats KFC and well done steak like a philistine.

      Sanders will outlive Trump by 15 years, minimum.

      1. Cal2

        Just in case, maybe you think we should elect a 38 year old ocean surfer, with 15 years of reserve military and combat experience as vice president to take over for Bernie in case of ill health?

        1. dearieme

          Nah, you should have her as VP for Trump. I suspect that the odds against her getting the Republican nomination for VP are shorter than the odds against her getting the Dem nomination. Or at least they ought to be.

          For her to get the Republican nomination all that’s required is a leap of intuition by Trump. To get the Dem nomination she would have to defeat the Deep State, including the Clinton Crime Family and the Obamanauts, plus the daft-old-socialist caucus. And the Counterfeit Cherokees.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Churchill was 71 at the end of World War II, and he was a heavy smoker and drinker, unlike the abstemious Sanders.

      What on earth makes you think Trump is seeking only one term? He’s already in campaign mode!

      1. dearieme

        What on earth makes you think Trump is seeking only one term

        Because the Constitution limits him to one more term. No doubt he shares FDR’s conceit, but the law was changed. You must remember?

        “Churchill was 71 at the end of World War II, and he was a heavy smoker and drinker, unlike the abstemious Sanders.” And unlike the abstemious Trump. Anyway Churchill lost the ’45 election. When he won in ’51 he soon suffered a serious stroke. So I don’t think he’s really the example you should be citing.

  20. ewmayer

    “How the Intercept Is Fueling the Democratic Civil War” [Politico] — This is an interesting topic, because in days of yore, a squillionaire owner of a publishing outfit who let the employess of same do actual journalism rather than push an owner-friendly agenda would have been seen as laudable by the journalism community. So what Politico’s bought-and-paid-for hacks are really asking is “How long will Omidyar resist the temptation to act like a typical squillionaire owner of a publishing outfit and start constraining his outfit’s reporting to pre-approved narratives?” The fact that a so-called news outlet like Politico would feel free to unabashedly ask such a question bespeaks of the Orwellian state of affairs in latter-day America and more broadly, the “liberal Western democracies”.

  21. SerenityNow

    “Rather than protecting homeownership and putting a tourniquet on foreclosures, they just sold them off,” he said. “If anything, it made the housing and foreclosure crisis worse.”

    Private equity in private homes is really bad–but it would be irresponsible to forget that the entire institution of homeownership in this country is ultimately based on the same principle–commodification of housing. When private equity makes a killing off of public investments capitalized into house prices we are upset, when families do it we celebrate their thrift and responsible decision making.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Tinfoil hat time: I’ve often wondered if private equity picking up the pieces after the foreclosure crisis wasn’t simply opportunism, but a foreseen consequence.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        On this side of the Atlantic, there has been a definite long term strategy by various funds (private equity and other sources) to move into residential property, specifically specialist forms of letting, such as student housing and smaller units for short lets.

        The impact has on balance been positive. Banks are more reluctant now (and sometimes restricted) from funding rental properties (either buy-to-lets or funding developers wanting to keep hold of properties for letting), so private equity has filled the void. And buildings for corporate letting are generally higher quality than those for sale (flipping) as they have to build in long term maintenance into their costings, although for reasons I don’t quite know the quality in Dublin has been far higher than equivalent developments I’ve seen in the UK. In my experience, private equity funded building funders tend to be more open minded and imaginative when it comes to developments – the alternative model (banks funding developers for quick homebuyer or buy-to-let sales) is usually pretty terrible for anything but McMansions, future slums, or their local equivalents.

        I don’t know if this has been observed in the US, but one phenomenon we’ve seen in Ireland is banks refusing to fund residential developments in small towns where they have a lot of underwater mortgages or foreclosed properties (the latter are much rarer in Ireland as banks are far more reluctant to foreclose for historic and legal reasons). It seems they have an incentive to cut off supply to drive up prices.

        Another curiosity is that the experience here of vulture funds buying up underwater mortgages has been unexpectedly positive. The vulture funds have proven far more willing to offer flexible solutions to people underwater in their mortgages than the banks. This may though be down to peculiarities of the Irish legal system than any good will on the part of the vultures.

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