2:00PM Water Cooler 4/25/2019

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


* * *

“A Democratic Group Is Asking 2020 Candidates To Sign A New Pledge: Play Nice And Then Support The Nominee” [Buzzfeed]. “A national progressive group, Indivisible, is asking the 20 candidates in the Democratic presidential race to sign a pledge promising a positive, ‘constructive’ primary that ends with all participants coming together to support the eventual nominee — ‘whoever it is — period.’ The ‘2020 Candidate Pledge,’ posted online on Tuesday, sprang out of discussions among prominent Democratic organizations about a unity pledge in the weeks after Bernie Sanders accused the ‘political establishment’ of ‘plotting’ to undermine his presidential campaign, reflecting a field that remains fractured after the bitter primary fight three years ago.” • So how many loyalty oaths will there be? And could we get CAP to sign on, too?

A festival of Biden! I’ll return in a few minutes with other candidates –lambert

Biden (D)(1): “Biden jumps in, finally” [Politico]. “Biden is to attend a fundraiser in Philadelphia later today at the home of Comcast executive David Cohen, along with former Gov. Ed Rendell, former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, former state Sen. Connie Williams, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester, Brendan Boyle, Matt Cartwright, Madeleine Dean, Dwight Evans, Chrissy Houlahan and Mary Gay Scanlon.” • Promise me, Dad, you’ll always take money from Comcast.

Biden (D)(2): Gracefully letting Obama off the hook:

Biden (D)(3): “Joe Biden is running as Obama’s heir. The problem: He’s not Obama.” [Politico]. “The generational split is clear in a February POLITICO/Morning Consult poll showing Biden is weakest with voters younger than 30. But, the poll showed, Biden’s age — he will be 78 on the next Inauguration Day — isn’t a fatal problem for him among Democrats, with 30 percent of them agreeing he’s “too old to run for president;” 58 percent disagreed.”

Biden (D)(4): “Biden hires over a dozen senior advisors from Obama administration for 2020 campaign: Sources” [CBS]. “Former Vice President Joe Biden and his team have hired over a dozen senior advisors from President Barack Obama’s administration for his upcoming 2020 campaign for president, CNBC has learned. Many of these people didn’t work within Biden’s office throughout Obama’s tenure as president, but they have extensive campaign experience ranging from political consulting to communications, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter. Since their time in the Obama White House, some of these aides have gone on to work on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and later helped Democrats retake the U.S. House of Representatives during the 2018 congressional midterm elections, these people said.”

Biden (D)(5): “Biden hires strategist Symone Sanders, adds diversity to bid” [Associated Press]. “Joe Biden has hired Symone Sanders, a prominent African American political strategist, as a senior adviser to his newly launched presidential campaign…. Sanders, 29, rose to prominence during the 2016 campaign as press secretary for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. She then became a high-profile political analyst on CNN and is likely to be a forceful Biden defender on television. Democratic strategist and former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile called Sanders ‘battle-tested’ and said the hire was ‘one of the best moves’ the Biden campaign could make. ‘She understands how to build a coalition, and that women of color are the backbone of the Democratic Party,’ said Brazile, who added that Sanders also helped her bridge the gap with millennials after the contentious 2016 primary elections.'” • Hmm.

Biden (D)(56: “Joe Biden’s long record supporting the war on drugs and mass incarceration, explained” [Vox]. “As the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the late 1980s and early ’90s, Biden did not just support the war on drugs and mass incarceration; he wrote many of the laws that helped build a punitive criminal justice system. That included measures that enacted more incarceration, more prisons, and tougher prison sentences for drug offenses, particularly crack cocaine….. ‘There’s a tendency now to talk about Joe Biden as the sort of affable if inappropriate uncle, as loudmouth and silly,’ Naomi Murakawa, author of The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America, told the Marshall Project in 2015. “But he’s actually done really deeply disturbing, dangerous reforms that have made the criminal justice system more lethal and just bigger.'” • So why shouldn’t all the felons Biden put in jail get the vote? One might ask.

Biden (D)(7): By contrast:

Biden (D)(8): Biden’s logo (animated):

Others can compare and contrast Biden’s logo to Obama’s. I’m reminded of this:



Buttigieg (D)(1): “Gwyneth Paltrow, Bradley Whitford Among Co-Hosts for Pete Buttigieg’s Next L.A. Fundraising Swing” [Variety]. “Gwyneth Paltrow and Bradley Whitford are among the co-hosts for an event on May 9, as Buttigieg makes another fundraising swing through L.A., having courted donors at meet and greets and in private meetings with key bundlers in earlier visits…. According to sources, there was some friction among Hollywood bundlers in the effort to land one of the events for Buttigieg on that date, a reflection of how his star has risen in the 2020 field. Some fundraisers agreed to hold events at a later date.” • Bradley Whitford is — hold on to your hats, here, folks — a star of West Wing, portraying White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman.

Buttigieg (D)(2): “Logo Reveal” [Buttigieg Campaign Site]. “Pete Buttigieg is a new kind of presidential candidate. He is a millennial and he is mayor of a blue collar city in the heartland. He is unapologetically substantive, yet refreshingly salt-of-the-earth. He is a millennial, Episcopalian, Maltese–American, gay, left–handed, veteran running for the highest office. He is progressive, yet pragmatic. He is uniquely positioned to bridge the divides tearing this country apart.” • “Unapologetically substantive” [chokes].

Buttigieg (D)(3): “What the Press Is Missing About Pete Buttigieg” [Rahm Emmanuel (!), The Atlantic]. “Should Buttigieg become the Democratic nominee, I hope it’s because voters have been convinced that he’s the person best equipped to solve the nation’s problems, lead us on the world stage, and ensure peace and prosperity through the course of his tenure. And what of the fact that he’s married to a man? Well, that sounds just great, too.”

Buttigieg (D)(4): “Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election” [The Hill]. “Buttigieg added that at the time ‘people were refreshed by the novelty of that boldness’ of Sanders’s ideas, but that they are now less exciting.” • Wait, what? That’s divisive!

O’Rourke (D)(1): “Beto O’Rourke Refashioning Himself as an Insider” [Ryan Grim, The Intercept]. “BETO O’ROURKE STARTED his presidential run with a nearly unprecedented asset: a trained and functioning ground operation, staffed and ready to deploy at the flick of a switch. When he lit it up on March 30, his campaign generated tens of thousands of text messages sent by volunteers and raised some $6 million in the first 24 hours. Days later, he named Jen O’Malley Dillon, a Barack Obama veteran, as campaign manager. The decision led inexorably to the jettisoning of that field operation and its two architects, Bernie Sanders alumni Becky Bond and Zack Malitz, whose departures from the O’Rourke campaign were reported on Saturday by BuzzFeed News. The internal conflict between O’Malley Dillon and Bond is more than just personnel drama — it suggests that O’Rourke has settled on a strategic direction for his campaign. O’Rourke, who won an insurgent primary campaign to get to Congress, and ran as a political outsider against Sen. Ted Cruz, is refashioning himself as an insider.” • Hmm. I wonder where Bond and Malitz will go?

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Has More Money Than the DNC, the DSCC, and the DCCC Combined” [GritPost]. “When factoring in the total cash on hand and subtracting all debts and loans owed, [the DNC, DSCC, and DCCC] campaign committees combined have just $5,164,948.91. To compare, FEC records for Sen. Sanders’ campaign show that, as of March 31, 2019, the Vermont senator has $17,850,355.55 in cash on hand, with no debts or loans owed. This means that Sanders’ 2020 campaign has more than three times as much money as the Democratic Party’s three main campaign committees, combined.” • Of course, the three campaign organizations aren’t Sanders’ opponents — or running as his opponents, more precisely — so the figures aren’t really comparable. Still it’s interesting!

Sanders (D)(2): Sanders campaign chair freelancing?

Will any Sanders supporter believe Clinton? And will any Clinton supporter believe Sanders?

Trump (R)(1):

Supposedly about Trump’s follower count, whiich took a hit during a bot purge (along with many others).

Trump (R)(2): “Pro-Trump Sinclair Media Poised for National Expansion by 2020” [New York Magazine]. “]Sinclair Broadcasting Group] currently airs original programming on 193 channels throughout the country, enough to reach 39 percent of all American homes. …. Since the mogul’s election, the media giant has ordered all of its affiliates to air commentary that advances White House talking points, and coerced their own anchors into personally reporting that the mainstream news media is biased against the president… Earlier this year, it launched an ad-free streaming channel called STIRR that aims to deliver local TV news and other entertainment to cord-cutters coast to coast… Meanwhile, Sinclair also bought itself a piece of YES, the New York Yankees broadcast network, and is currently the top bidder for a package of regional sports networks that the Walt Disney Company is auctioning off.” • I bet the circle of Sinclair media watchers and the circle of Acela riders don’t intersect at all.

Trump (R)(3): “Trump camp descends on Pennsylvania as alarms grow over 2020” [Politico]. “Trump’s campaign is moving to shore up the state after 2018 midterm elections that saw Republicans get blown out in races up and down the ballot. Compounding the situation is a state party organization riven by turmoil and infighting…. Trump won Pennsylvania by less than 1 percentage point in 2016, and reelection aides view the state’s 20 electoral votes as crucial to his 2020 hopes. Pennsylvania also has symbolic significance: In 2016, Trump geared his campaign toward the state’s large proportion of blue-collar voters, many of whom had traditionally voted Democratic. The Trump contingent is expected to include political director Chris Carr, who is orchestrating the campaign’s national field deployment, as well as Bill Stepien and Justin Clark, who are overseeing outreach to delegates and state party organizations. Republican National Committee officials are also expected to attend. The meeting is the first of what Trump aides say will be a series of visits to battleground states.” • Trump, in case anybody hasn’t noticed, is already in full campaign mode.

Trump (R)(4): “Drug Distributor And Former Execs Face First Criminal Charges In Opioid Crisis” [NPR]. Yves posted on this, but I cannot forbear to point out that here, too, Trump is already in full campaign mode — on a topic that will help him in the flyover states, too (if Maine be a flyover state). And where the liberal Democrats? Sanders introduced a bill in 2018, and did mention “deaths of despair,” or similar recently — I can’t find the link — but to the rest of them…. Deplorable lives don’t matter.


“Opinion: As Collusion Narrative Fails, Democrats Consider Impeachment” [MarketWatch].

Paging Thomas Frank!


“Democrats close but still short votes needed to pass $15 minimum wage” [Roll Call]. “Proponents of a $15 minimum wage are bullish about the prospects of the House passing a bill to incrementally double the current $7.25 federal standard over five years, despite Democrats seemingly being short the votes to do so… Roll Call contacted the offices of the 22 uncommitted members, and less than half responded — most said their bosses support raising the minimum wage but signaled they remain undecided on the best proposal for doing that.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“What Would A Left Cabinet Look Like?” [Current Affairs]. Summarizing: Secretary of State: Chris Murphy, Jeff Merkely, Russ Feingold; Secretary of Defense: Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, Tulsi Gabbard; Secretary of the Treasury: Robert Reich, Stephanie Kelton, Sarah Bloom Raskin, Elizabeth Warren; Attorney General: Vanita Gupta, Larry Krasner, Tom Perez (!), Cory Booker; Secretary of the Interior: Raúl Grijalva, Jay Inslee, Bill McKibben; Secretary of Health & Human Services: Abdul El-Sayed, Don Berwick, Pramila Jayapal, Adam Gaffney, RoseAnn DeMoro, Claudia Fegan; Secretary of Homeland Security: Vanita Gupta, Jeff Merkely, David Cole, Ron Wyden. • The article goes through the entire cabinet, but those are the ones I’m most interested in. (Then there’s the CIA, and the Fed.) On the domestic side, not unimpressive. On the war machine foreign policy side, not impressive at all, and that’s a problem, since unless those guys are fed some wars and plenty of weapons, they’ll be in open revolt, along with most of official Washington, exactly as with Trump. I’m a little at a loss, here; the left really needs their own equivalent of Rumsfeld and Cheney — the sort who brought a gun to a gunfight — and since this is a very large country, they’re probably out there somewhere (way out, having been driven out of the corridors of power into a second-tier school, for example). A Sanders Administration really would need to do better than Khanna, Lee, or Gabbard, IMNSHO. FDR didn’t rely on the Ivies, let us remember.

Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, March 2019: “Good news on US manufacturing is now much less scarce following a much better-than-expected jump in durable goods orders for March” [Econoday]. “The gain is skewed higher by a very welcome 60 percent monthly gain in commercial aircraft orders and also by an equally welcome 2.1 percent rise in motor vehicle orders… Today’s report won’t be raising expectations for business investment in tomorrow’s first-quarter GDP report but will be raising general expectations for manufacturing which, until this report, had been stumbling along. And strength in commercial aircraft, which also includes a 0.2 percent rise in related unfilled orders, should cool worries over 737 Max cancellations.”

Jobless Claims, week of April 20, 2019: “No states were estimated and there were no special factors — at least none cited by the Labor Department — to explain a jolting surge in weekly data for initial jobless claims” [Econoday]. “[T]he week [which] ended April 20, was very likely affected by the Easter holiday (April 21) where calendar shifts, in this case from April 1 last year, typically play havoc with statistical adjustments, especially those on a weekly basis. Still the move higher completely stumped forecasters…

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, April 2019: “After recovering to the highest level in four months in March, the growth slowdown in tenth district manufacturing activity resumed in April” [Econoday]. “Contrasting with the general weakness, however, is arguably the most important component, new orders, which rose…., the strongest reading since November.”

Banks: “Germany’s Troubled Banking Giants Decide Against a Merger” [New York Times]. “Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, Germany’s two largest banks, called off widely criticized merger talks on Thursday, saying that they had concluded the risks of combining outweighed the benefits…. But the collapse of negotiations means that Germany’s banks must find another solution to a long list of urgent problems, including meager profitability, excessive labor costs and a shift to online banking that they have been slower than competitors to embrace.”

Manufacturing: “Five things we still don’t know about the Boeing 737 Max crisis” [WaPo]. “Seth Seifman, an analyst at JPMorgan, called 2019 a “lost year” for Boeing in terms of financial performance, because sales of the company’s biggest cash generator are on hold until the grounding is lifted. With potentially no sales of 737 Max jets during the entire second quarter, a business that runs on cash flow suddenly has to prepare for the risk of having few funds on hand to make needed investments in its business or insulate itself against unexpected shocks. To free up some cash, Boeing said Wednesday that it paused its plan to buy back $18 billion in stock from investors. It said it expects its to eventually resume the buyback program.”

The Bezzle: “Elon Musk says Tesla owners could make up to $30,000 a year turning their cars into ‘robotaxis'” [Elon Musk]. “Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk unveiled a plan to repurpose Tesla vehicles into robotaxis. This would allow owners of Teslas equipped with autonomous functionality to rent out their car while it is not in use via an app. Musk estimates a single robotaxi can make $30,000 a year. He said he thinks the program can be implemented as early as next year.” • [nods vigorously]. So now Tesla is adopting AirBnB’s business model…..

Tech: “Hacker Finds He Can Remotely Kill Car Engines After Breaking Into GPS Tracking Apps” [Vice]. “A hacker broke into thousands of accounts belonging to users of two GPS tracker apps, giving him the ability to monitor the locations of tens of thousands of vehicles and even turn off the engines for some of them while they were in motion…. By reverse engineering ProTrack and iTrack’s Android apps, [the hacker] said he realized that all customers are given a default password of 123456 when they sign up. At that point, the hacker said he brute-forced ‘millions of usernames’ via the apps’ API. Then, he said he wrote a script to attempt to login using those usernames and the default password.” • Well, I’m sure nothing like that wil lhappen when millions of robot cars are running Waymo software…

Tech: “Amazon Has Gone From Neutral Platform to Cutthroat Competitor, Say Open Source Developers” [OneZero (DK)]. “Because AWS has thousands of customers, the company has a godlike perspective of broad industry trends, including insight into which third-party tools are most popular. The suspicion, one executive of an open source cloud tool company told me off the record, is that AWS is watching “run rates” — the amount of money spent on a particular tool per year. When they see a service provider like Elastic start to generate serious revenue, Amazon incorporates the functionality of that tool into its own proprietary service.” • When your business depends on a platform….

The Biosphere

“Reports: Iowa water quality getting worse and underfunded” [The Gazette]. “A report by the not-for-profit Iowa Policy Project took a look at the state’s spending commitment to water quality and sought to identify funding levels needed to make “meaningful progress” on nutrient pollution reduction. The report found that, despite the 2013 adoption of the state’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy, water quality spending from Iowa’s general fund dropped off post-recession and has yet to return…. A joint report released by the Environmental Working Group and the Iowa Environmental Council analyzed state records from 2002 to 2017. The study found that in private wells that were tested, the average nitrate levels grew from 3.1 parts per million in 2003 to 5.7 ppm in 2013… According to the report, as many as 290,000 Iowans use private wells for drinking water, yet only 55,000 wells have been tested for nitrates and/or bacteria in the last 16 years. Of those tested, more than 40 percent tested positive for coliform bacteria at least once.” • Something to pay attention to in the Iowa caucus….

“Floods stall fertilizer shipments in latest blow to U.S. farmers” [Reuters]. “Farm supplier CHS Inc has dozens of loaded barges trapped on the flood-swollen Mississippi River near St. Louis – about 500 miles from the company’s two Minnesota distribution hubs…. The shipping delays follow months of bad weather in the rural Midwest…. Reduced or poorly timed fertilizer applications can hurt yields, potentially denting this year’s U.S. farm profits, which are already predicted to be about half of their 2013 peak, according to the latest U.S. government forecast.” • Ditto.

* * *

“Assessment of Glyphosate Induced Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance of Pathologies and Sperm Epimutations: Generational Toxicology” [Nature]. “Ancestral environmental exposures to a variety of factors and toxicants have been shown to promote the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease. One of the most widely used agricultural pesticides worldwide is the herbicide glyphosate (N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine), commonly known as Roundup…. we propose glyphosate can induce the transgenerational inheritance of disease and germline (e.g. sperm) epimutations. Observations suggest the generational toxicology of glyphosate needs to be considered in the disease etiology of future generations.” • Female rats, n=25-50, three generations.

“Four Ways to Reduce the Climate Hit from Plastics” [Weather Underground]. “Global plastics production has increased at a breakneck pace, from 2 million metric tons in 1950 to 70 million by 1980 and 381 million by 2015, according to a 2017 analysis in Science Advances led by UCSB’s Roland Geyer. Since plastics are growing more rapidly than total greenhouse emissions, ‘business as usual’ means an ever-growing share of the global greenhouse burden will come from plastics… the full life cycle of plastics—from manufacture to disposal—accounted for 3.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. That percentage drops to 3.5% when the benefits of recycling in reducing new plastics are taken into account. More than half (61%) of the emissions arose early on, from using hydrocarbons (usually from fossil fuels) as “feedstocks” to make polymer resins. The heating and shaping of resins into various types of plastics accounted for 30% of the emissions. “End-of-life” processes (landfills, recycling, and especially incineration) led to the remaining 9%.”

“Just 10% of U.S. plastic gets recycled. A new kind of plastic could change that” [Science]. “Most plastics have a chemical history that makes starting a new life a challenge. The dyes and flame retardants that make them perfect for say, a couch cushion or a bottle of detergent, make them tough to transform into a desirable end product—one of the reasons just 10% of plastic in the United States gets recycled. Now, researchers have created a plastic with a special chemical bond that helps it separate out from those additives, turning it back into a pure, valuable product that can be reused again and again. To make the new material, researchers tweaked a type of vitrimer, a glasslike plastic developed in 2011, by adding molecules that change the chemical bonds holding it together. These new bonds, called dynamic covalent diketoenamine bonds, require less energy to break than those in traditional plastics. As a result, the new plastic can be broken down into its constituent parts using just a solution of water and a strong acid at room temperature.” • Science is popping!

“Sea creatures store carbon in the ocean – could protecting them help slow climate change?” [The Conversation]. “Forests and wetlands can capture and store large quantities of carbon. These ecosystems are included in climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies that 28 countries have pledged to adopt to fulfill the Paris Climate Agreement. So far, however, no such policy has been created to protect carbon storage in the ocean, which is Earth’s largest carbon sink and a central element of our planet’s climate cycle…. Scientific understanding of marine vertebrate carbon is still in its infancy. Most of the carbon-trapping mechanisms that we have identified are based on limited studies, and can be refined with further research. So far, researchers have examined the carbon-trapping abilities of less than 1% of all marine vertebrate species.”

“The media are complacent while the world burns” [Columbia Journalism Review]. “You can’t solve a problem by ignoring it. Moderators did not ask presidential candidates a single question about climate change during the three prime-time general-election debates in 2016—or in 2012 or 2008 or ever…. This journalistic failure has given rise to a calamitous public ignorance, which in turn has enabled politicians and corporations to avoid action.” • That’s not a bug

“The Extinction Rebellion scorecard: what did it achieve?” [Guardian]. They have demands:

What are Extinction Rebellion’s demands?

1) Tell the truth. The government must tell the truth about the scale of the ecological crisis by declaring a climate emergency, “working with other groups and institutions to communicate the urgent need for change”.

2) Zero emissions by 2025. The UK must drastically cut its greenhouse gas emissions, hitting net zero by 2025.

3) Citizens’ assembly. The government must create a citizens’ assembly to hear evidence and devise policy to tackle the climate crisis.

The “Citizens’ Assembly” demand is interesting: “A citizens’ assembly would, say advocates, help lend public legitimacy to what will need to be a radical overhaul of the economy and our society. It has been used successfully elsewhere – including in Ireland in 2016 on the issue of abortion – and could bypass the party political point-scoring in Westminster…. [But] there is no sign at the moment that the government intends to set up a citizens’ assembly to address the climate crisis.”

Health Care

“House Dems to hold hearing on ‘Medicare for All’ next week” [The Hill (SlayTheSmaugs)]. “The House Rules Committee will hold a hearing on “Medicare for All” legislation next week, a step forward for the legislation that is gaining ground in the progressive wing of the party. The hearing on Tuesday will examine a bill from Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) that has over 100 co-sponsors in the House. According to the Rules Committee, the hearing will be the first ever that Congress has held on Medicare for All legislation. ‘It’s a serious proposal that deserves serious consideration on Capitol Hill as we work toward universal coverage,’ Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Rules Committee and a co-sponsor of the Medicare for All bill, said in a statement…. The main health care panels, the Ways and Means Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee, have so far declined to commit to holding a hearing on Medicare for All, illustrating the divide among House Democrats over the legislation.”

“Health Industry Lobbyists Pump More Money into Democrats’ Congressional Campaign Arm” [Sludge]. “The DCCC has already raised more than $32 million overall—a record first-quarter haul for the committee, according to Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, a moderate Democrat who leads the campaign arm. The committee’s seven corporate lobbyist bundlers and their firms represent health care and energy interests whose balance sheets are threatened by key progressive priorities like a ‘Medicare for All’ health-care system and a ‘Green New Deal’ to address climate change. So far, Democratic leaders have resisted both proposals.” • Strictly speaking, they didn’t pump the money into the Democrat’s campaign arm; they pumped the money into a vein of the Democrat’s campaign arm.

News of the Wired

“The Happiest Cats on Earth” [Alta]. “On the Cats of Disneyland Instagram account, self-identified park employees and visitors describe a hidden world of cat colonies. These wild examples of Felis catus stalk around the park and sometimes allow guests to pet them behind the ears. A white-chested feral cat named Ned, for instance, occasionally can be seen welcoming guests at the Disneyland Hotel. A longhaired tortoiseshell cat that Instagram fans have named Francisco is known to hang out in the shade near Grizzly River Run. “We found Francisco at California Adventure today. He was just hanging out watching us silly hoomans [sic] riding water ride,” reads one of numerous posts from fans of this grouchy-faced, bushy-maned feline…. The cats may be a source of joy for the more than 67,000 people who follow them on Instagram. But they’re also a public health threat, according to local officials whose job it is to prevent plagues. They say Disneyland has defied their demands that the park expel the swarm of feral cats.” • If you are a cat or feral cat fan, this is a must-read. There is a whole “TNR” (Trap-Neuter-Release) movement, and a lot of controversy.

“The Sixties seer who warned of wokeness” [UnHerd]. Marshall McLuhan! “If one looks around today on a train or tube carriage, or even down a busy street, McLuhan’s insistence that technology is an “extension” of human beings is made strikingly clear. Smartphones are melded to the palm of travellers’ hands, their eyes glued to the small screen, as – fascinated by any number of simultaneously occurring electronic conversations, caught in an international deluge of information – they seem increasingly oblivious to their immediate surroundings. They are both physically present and mentally transported into potentially innumerable, fast-changing elsewheres.” * Read on for a great word, new to me: hoicked!

“Visualizing Power-Law Distributions” [Economics from the Top Down]. “Unlike the normal distribution, power-laws are unintuitive to the human mind. My goal here is give you some intuition about power laws by visualizing some of their properties.” • Hmm. Or we were all “educated” to think of the bell curve as “normal.” More: “Power laws are very different than the familiar normal distribution. In a normal distribution, extreme outliers are essentially forbidden. We will never find a human as tall as an elephant, let alone Mount Everest. In statistical terms, this means that the ‘tail’ of the normal distribution dies off quickly. This ‘thin’ tail forbids extremely large observations. But unlike the normal distribution, a power law has a ‘fat’ tail that dies off slowly. This fat tail permits extremely large observations to occur…. [M]any aspects of human social organization obey power laws. We’ll look here at the example of business firms.” • If you want to think about income distribution, for example, the power law is what’s “normal”…

Guess who wins:

2016 Democrat primary, anyone?

* * *

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 (Carla R):

Another great spring moment!

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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. Summer

    Biden (D)(2): Gracefully letting Obama off the hook:

    Biden to reporters at Wilmington train station: “I asked President Obama not to endorse.”

    Or all the more impactful of an endorsement if Biden can hang in there throughout the primaries. Obama may not be running for anything anymore but he and Biden serve the same financiers.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Running as Obama without the “cool” factor and the Iraq War opposition will be amusing.

      1. ChrisAtRU

        Does this mean there will be no Obama+Biden memes during the primaries? Won’t someone plz t’ink about de yout’s!!! ;-)

      2. PKMKII

        Also without the “first black president” factor, and instead the “throwing Anita Hill under the bus” factor.

      3. pjay

        “Joe Biden is running as Obama’s heir…”

        “Biden hires over a dozen senior advisors from Obama administration for 2020 campaign…”

        We’ve had the original Obama 2.0 (Booker), the female Obama (Harris), the gay Obama (Buttigieg), and now the old white guy Obama. I’ve got to say, that’s diversity!

    2. Brindle

      Biden leads with the Neo-Nazis –campaign announcement video. They are a safe punching bag and segue nicely into evil Trump.
      MSNBC had a chiron today “Biden: A Return to Normalcy”. Normalcy is one of those words I never ever here everyday people use, it is a Beltway speak thing.


        1. John Wright

          I believe Harding does not get credit for the bad things he did not do.

          Maybe we need more presidents such as Harding, who was aware that he would have been more appropriate as an ambassador.

          Sure, he had a corrupt administration, but he didn’t get us involved in foreign wars as he occupied himself with booze, broads, golf and poker.

          And his appointees were occupied by enriching themselves at public expense rather than bringing democracy to another nation.

          If Biden’s sorry legislative record indicates the “new normalcy”, than we need a new Harding to bring back old style less harmful “normalcy”.

      1. JohnnyGL

        “Normalcy” is code for everything that happened before 11/9/2016.

        Biden 2020: Because Trump said nice things about white supremicists with torches who chant.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Biden 2020: Lets keep the memory of Strom Thurmond dignified

          Biden 2020: I’m here to touch a lot of people.

          Biden 2020: I know foreign policy credentials. I voted to invade Iraq, just like John McCain.

          1. richard

            lol, #2
            Biden 2020: Hey kids! F*$# you!
            Biden 2020: Because we’ve got another 4 years to kill, right?
            Biden 2020: Corporations are definitely people. You, I’m not sure about.
            Biden 2020: Remember the ‘Onion me’? You liked him, right?

      2. Tom Doak

        As someone I know pointed out, Biden’s “Return to Normalcy” could also be phrased “Make America Great Again,” . . . oh, wait.

        The problem with his pitch about Charlottesville is that everyone at those rallies believed the same things in 2015 that they did in 2017. We were just pretending they didn’t, because we wanted to pretend that electing Obama had put all that behind us.

      3. djrichard

        My bet was on Mayor Pete to be anointed the normal one. That Joe’s past transgressions and ability to go off script precluded him from being marketed as “normal”. Of course, all is fair when it comes to love, war and marketing. Claiming a marketing space first is 9/10ths of the law or something like that. Still, if I was Mayor Pete, I would take this to the FTC to challenge whether this is truth in advertising. ;-p

        1. jrs

          I don’t find those Pete nor even Kamala anywhere near as depressing as Biden. Biden is: prescription anti-depressants stat. Noone really wants to relive the Obama years, a total remake.

          Make America Great Recession again.

      1. Big River Bandido

        Are you saying all those working-class “folks” don’t love their cable companies?

        I bet the Sanders campaign could make some political hay off this one.

        1. Briny

          I like the field engineers/technicians, very competent and that’s from another field engineer who can do the same work , were I physically able. Customer service, sales (hisssss), manglement and the C-suite*, just no. Can’t speak to the IT people, no contact to date.

          * – Nuke them from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure!

    3. Pat

      My version: Obama laughed when I asked for his endorsement. He was surprised I hadn’t noticed his owners were backing the small town mayor.

        1. WJ

          I think this is exactly right. Biden-Buttigieg looks to be the favored pairing of “Democratic centrists” (oligarchs).

          1. Big River Bandido

            They’ll settle for anyone Not Named Bernie Sanders.

            Trouble is, none of their candidates seem to be able to catch on…

          2. WheresOurTeddy

            the inevitable gaffe comment about Mayor Pete being “fresh and clean and didn’t even come on to me once!” will be fun

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Somehow that just galls me. All the good he didn’t do and still he’s golden.

          1. Summer

            LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Former President Barack Obama is getting his own street right here in Los Angeles.

            L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted Tuesday night that a 3.5-mile stretch of Rodeo Road in southwest Los Angeles will be renamed Obama Boulevard. ”

            Just prepping you all for it. Michelle comes into play later too.

              1. The Rev Kev

                A “Hooverville” was a shanty town built during the Great Depression by the homeless in America and was named after the very ineffective President at the time. Perhaps it is time to start naming shanty towns as “Obamavilles” and build one on Obama Boulevard. You know. That street right next to Sanders Parade.

                1. drumlin woodchuckles

                  Or, because the word ” tent-camps” is more current; perhaps we could call them ” Obamacamps”.

            1. jrs

              A freeway has already been named after Obama in L.A., now he gets a street as well. I mean I know the politics, it’s giving the finger to Trump from somewhere blue enough that few will object, it’s an indirect way to say “Trump sucks”. No argument on that part, but still who is going to remember Obama for anything but being black in a couple decades.

              Meanwhile Garcetti seems in the pocket of charter schools, and so it goes.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                People who lost their houses to HAMP will remember Obama for that as long as they live.

              2. WheresOurTeddy

                the people he droned won’t remember anything, on account of being dead.

                statistically, it is almost a certainty some of their children or relatives will seek revenge and cause blowback in the US. Probably not in the tony area BO lives in though.

    4. Clive

      Ana Navarro-Cárdenas

      “He [Biden] calls for our better angels”

      I have to say that rarely, maybe once every twenty years or so, am I even vaguely, halfheartedly, glad to be British. There are so few reasons to be and so many, many reasons not to be.

      But when I read the punditry say, apparently with a straight face someone — anyone — (let alone Joe Biden) “calls for our better angels”, well, that does honestly take the biscuit. No-one has ever or will ever or could ever suggest, for example, the notion of Theresa May calling for our better angels.

      Do you guys really, honestly, talk like that?

      And how, incidentally, does one actually — assuming one is, like our good friend Joe Biden, so inclined — call for our better angels? I, in the interests of authoritative research, looked them up in the phone book. They weren’t there. Perhaps they have an unlisted number? Or maybe I have this all wrong, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time, and Our Better Angels are, in fact, a Destiny’s Child tribute act in Reno and it is to them whom Biden is calling for?

      1. PhillyPhilly

        Not saying it isn’t corny, especially coming from Biden, but it’s a reference to Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural address:

        “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature”

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > it’s a reference to Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural address:

          Spoken after seven Southern states had already seceded. Perhaps the greatest example ever of “he has to say that,” since it was to the Union’s advantage that the Slave Power fire the first shot.

          The First Inaugural is merely eloquent. The Second Inaugural should be considered, IMSHO, a “founding document” in the same way that the Gettysburg address is.

          1. ambrit

            And after the Second Inaugural, Lincoln was shot and the Copperheads took control. Those “better angels” were jailed, whipped, and shot subsequently.

        2. ChiGal in Carolina

          Also, Steven Pinker, dean of neoliberal apologists rationalizing now as the best of times, wrote a book about 10 (?) years ago titledAngels of our Better Nature arguing that all is well and getting better. Maybe for the 9.9 and .1% it is…

        3. WheresOurTeddy

          > it’s a reference to Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural address:

          How did Biden’s ’88 campaign end again? Plagiarism during law school all the way to ripping off JFK in his speeches.

          Some of us have a memory that still works, Joe. The rest have search engines.

      2. toshiro_mifune

        I have to say that rarely, maybe once every twenty years or so, am I even vaguely, halfheartedly, glad to be British

        The Brits get much much cooler cars than we do here in `merica, so a point to be glad on.

        Regarding ‘better angels’; This is deliberately calling a phrase from Lincoln’s first inaugural address. The full quote;
        “The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” (sorry if you already knew all this)
        So it is little more than trying to associate Biden via similar phrasing with Lincoln who is generally regarded as the greatest US president, not withstanding all of his issues.

        Do you guys really, honestly, talk like that?

        I am from New Jersey… so yes, we do!* In my case though it would have been sprinkled, inadvertently, with some 4 letter old Saxon based words as well…. because NJ.

        *This is an outright lie

        1. Clive

          Ah-ha! No, I didn’t know that. Thanks, you learn something new every day! Yes, when I think of Joe Biden, he’s right up there with Lincoln.*

          We don’t get taught Lincoln’s speeches alas, hence my ignorance. We do get quotable quotes from old monarchs such as Elizabeth I’s “I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king“. Maybe Kamala Harris will borrow that one, before we’re all done with all this… nothing would surprise me any more. Oh, heck, do we really have 550-odd more days of this to get through?

          *This too is an outright lie

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            We don’t get taught Lincoln’s speeches

            Yeah…we don’t really get taught these either. Though Lincoln did speak in public, he is reputed to have had an unpleasant speech style. He wasn’t even the draw for the event where he gave the Gettysburg Address.

            The famed Lincoln Douglas Debates occurred, but Douglas won the election. Lincoln’s prepared statements might not have helped him win a Senate seat, but they were saved and reprinted by abolitionists and Republican newspapers through out the country leading to his election as President.

            I imagine Lincoln didn’t imagine his speeches to be said aloud as much as read. The language in use at the time is a little flowery and religious which is both cyclical (the Founding Fathers rarely used religious language and when they did it was pretty bland)and linked to the dour times, but you’ll notice every word packs a punch. There isn’t much fluff.

            1. todde

              reading the Douglas-Lincoln debates you get a sense of how far our political discourse has fallen.

              it is paragraphs and paragraphs of actual substance, instead of one liners you hope to put on a bumper sticker.

              Right now I am reading Lincoln’s 2nd inaugural address, Malcolm X Ballot or the bullet and MacArthur’s Country, Duty, Honor speech with my daughter.

            2. Sanxi

              Wrong, as he wrote his speeches he always read them aloud as he wrote them to get the ‘sound’ of them right. Say what you want of Lincoln, he put a lot of effort into what he was saying and how it sounded – read “A. Lincoln”, you may think you know Lincoln, I assure you, you don’t.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                He also knew reading would be the primary form of dissemination, so the spectacle aspects we see today would not be a pressing concern. Even though he worked on his presentation, he also gave great care to what was said. Its not the mindless drivel we see today declared as “soaring rhetoric.”

                From Lincoln’s perspective, he also knew the only people who would see him in speak would be there live, so he did care about what was in the speeches. The mood of the crowd wouldn’t carry the day. Obama for example is rarely quoted for the opposite reasons because the spectacle can last.

          2. ChrisPacific

            Historically* the ‘stomach of a king’ quote refers to the famed ability of a monarch to be the last one at the table during the Royal Curry Banquet, after everyone else has been forced to avail themselves of the facilities. This is also the origin of the term ‘Privy Council.’

            * What Clive said about outright lies.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > So it is little more than trying to associate Biden via similar phrasing with Lincoln

          It is also the great dream of the Beltway that there be “unity,” no more conflict, etc.

          1. Tom Doak

            I thought Biden had put that speechifying plagiarism scandal behind him, but there he is again, quoting without attribution ;)

            1. WheresOurTeddy

              mentioned Heather Heyer too, who was a socialist and almost assuredly was repulsed by Biden

              reportedly did not make any request to reference her, just did it…kinda like he did to Stacy Abrams…see any patterns here…?

        3. zagonostra

          “The mystic chords of memory…” – wow I have to use that in a song, in a minor key of course.

          Thanks for posting extended quote.

        4. John k

          Ah, the sexy jaguar e class… which spent much time expensively convalescing in the shop.
          Granted the name is much maligned here, but imo the coolest cars on the planet are made in California under the Tesla brand. Regardless whether it survives under its badly flawed visionary, his acting on the observation that batteries powering iPhones could be used to power a car has moved the needle… and note that while any progressive gov would have built a chain of charging stations across the country, in the absence of such a gov he built them, too.
          If musk hadn’t done what he did, would the other mfrs be lunging into e cars now?

          1. Tony Wright

            Frau Merkel has decreed so. Stuff does happen outside the US.
            Also check out what the Chinese are doing, and others.

      3. DJG

        Do you guys really, honestly, talk like that?

        Clive: Okay, you have now touched the deep, marshmallow-fluff, pointless, shiftless, tergiversating heart of America, land of the freedom fries. Yes, people talk that way here. The yammering never ends. Who invented “Have a good one”? Who believes that Jesus Christ is our personal savior? Who believes that there is a war on Christmas? Who believes that fluoridation and keeping one’s teeth in middle age are a Bad Thing? How many apparitions has Mary Mother of God made in the U.S.A. on a tortilla?

        You have already been warned, what with Mayor Pete[tm] wandering around America delivering middle-brow platitudes in English and in French–and playing the pie-a-no.

        As in all matters in the current parlous state of the U S of A, Trump is merely a symptom. The reeking, saccharine, sanguine, agnotological heart of America is somewhere that even you, Clive, may not want to venture. Do we really talk this way? Yes. Is it honest? Hey, it’s as solid and healthy as a Twinkie.

        On the other hand, we haven’t invented a foodstuff called Bubble and Squeak. Give us Yankees some credit.

        1. Clive

          I had better not even mention, then, Toad in the Hole. Yes, it is a (fairy) frequent visitor to the British dinner table.

          1. Redlife2017

            You missed spotted dick. I remember the first time I saw that at a British grocery store after I moved to the UK. I was awestruck by the name… Almost as good as Cockfosters.

        2. Pat

          This American (NY via the Southwest so not legimately Yankee)loves Bubble and Squeak. Damn tasty and the name evokes the dish as it is prepared in a fun manner.

      4. Big River Bandido

        I suspect the writer heard dozens of watered-down versions of the original sentiment and is ignorant of its origins.

        “Better angels of our nature” was a phrase from Lincoln’s first inaugural. But just like “The Producers”, “Hairspray”, “The Pink Panther”, “Kojak” and the original “Star Trek”, it has gone from incisive to hackneyed to revolting in the unending “re-imaginings” by inferior talents.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          “The Producers”, “Hairspray”,

          Yeah, I sure did hate those musicals produced by Mel Brooks and John Waters. Who made the originals?

          1. Big River Bandido

            Mel Brooks by 2001 had become a caraciture of his 1967 self; it probably ought to say everything that David Geffen convinced Brooks to turn his 34-year old movie into a musical. Waters had nothing to do with either the musical or film musical versions of “Hairspray”, other than giving permission.

            My larger point, though, was that creativity in the entertainment industry is dead, which is why they resort to sequeling, reality shows, and shallow, insipid recycling of earlier hits. In some cases, even making the attempt is cringeworthy and head-scratching. The problem is hardly confined to Hollywood.

            1. Carolinian

              creativity in the entertainment industry is dead

              That settles that then.

              Thanks at least to Clive for giving us a laugh. Some of us love all that British eccentricity and, hey, they speak American.

            2. Bugs Bunny

              Fact check – John Waters wrote and directed the first film version of Hairspray. With the late, great Divine as leading lady.

          2. ForFawkesSakes

            Creators get an executive producer credit, whether they contribute to the reboot, rehash, or deconstruction. It’s the biz.

            I’ve seen John Waters a few times on his tours. He doesn’t seem fond of the musical version, but he does like the lucre.

      5. Geo

        My favorite part was when she called him empathetic. Especially since he recently said about Millenials: “I have no empathy.”

        At least Biden’s got the anti-Trump establishment Republicans on his side. That’s the type of endorsement that will really rally the base!

        1. John k

          If it does it will rally the Clintonites, who have been lustfully chasing such reps for years.

    5. Kurt Sperry

      Hours after officially entering the 2020 Democratic presidential field Thursday morning, former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to head to the Philadelphia home of Comcast executive David Cohen for a big-dollar fundraiser that will reportedly be attended by Democratic lawmakers, the CEO of insurance giant Independence Blue Cross, and other high-powered party players.


      Comcast/health insurance whoring right out the gate. He couldn’t have worse “friends”. The utter shamelessness is mind-boggling.

      1. jrs

        so much for the field moving left, when even Kamala Harris was talking progressive policy (not to be trusted to govern that way, but talking). It’s like he got in the field to move it right.

    6. DonCoyote

      Even Matt Yglesias knows that Uncle Joe is a bad idea:

      Joe Biden is the Hillary Clinton of 2020

      What brought Clinton down was public exposure not to her personality — which was sparkling enough to make her the most admired woman in America for 17 years straight before losing the claim to Michelle Obama in 2018 — but extended public scrutiny of every detail of a decades-long career in public life. This, in turn, is the exact same problem Biden will inevitably face as a presidential candidate. Americans like outsiders and fresh faces, not veteran insiders who bear the scars of every political controversy of the past two generations.

      Mainstream Democrats like other mainstream Democrats. But what it means to be a mainstream Democrat has changed significantly since Biden entered the Senate 46 years ago. As Democrats gear up to take on Trump, the party’s best shot is to do anything possible to avoid repeating the 2016 experience of defending decades’ worth of twists and turns on various issues from the Iraq War to LGBTQ rights to banking deregulation.

      Wasn’t the Overton window still further left 46 years ago? I mean, neoliberalism was barely a thing then. So has Biden moved faster to the right than the window, or has he always been a Republican? Either way, no thanks.

      1. pjay

        Yes! Rather than the “old white guy Obama”, Biden is the “male Hillary.” I like that label — it better serves the interests of most of us here. Make it stick, Matt!

        But Clinton’s “sparkling” personality? Come on.

        1. ambrit

          You gotta hand it to Bill Clinton. He can ‘charm’ the blue off of an intern’s dress.

            1. ambrit

              And Bill is a true villain. He cares not about the dress or the stain. As long as he gets what he wants, everyone else can go to H—.

      2. Carolinian

        I’d want to see some backup re that “most admired” claim. Some of us would claim that her personality is precisely why “sparkling” Hillary lost. Of course she would say she lost because she was a woman (perhaps a grain of truth) and because Putin (no truth whatsoever).

        1. Tom Doak

          Had Hillary won, she also would have won “because she was a woman”. Clearly a lot of women voted for here for that reason; I’d guess the number to be approximately equal to those who voted against her based on gender, though it’s impossible to poll that question accurately.

          It’s amazing how many women commenters on Internet sites (present company excepted) are all in on electing a woman this time. Some even talk of Gillibrand and Klobuchar as if they have any chance.

          1. Carolinian

            I don’t know why she lost but I suspect there are some women who would oppose her simply because she was a woman and almost no men who would support her for the same reason. So to the degree that gender bias was a factor then it was probably a net negative if you assume male and female voters were roughly equal.

            But of course a presidential election is supposed to be about policy and leadership qualities and not about gender alone so the fact that Hillary tried to make it the latter merely exposed her emptiness as a candidate (and perhaps her weakness as a personality). Hillary boasted of her experience while having almost no positive accomplishments to her credit. It was all “”my turn.”

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              I don’t know why she lost but I suspect there are some women who would oppose her simply because she was a woman and almost no men who would support her for the same reason

              With the social justice associated with the Democratic Party even if Team Blue elites are usually just pandering, I suspect people with this attitude are the ilk who complain about the Democratic Party leaving them forcing them to have voted Republican since 1948 if they didn’t vote for Strom Thurmond.

              1. Carolinian

                this attitude

                What attitude is that? I’m merely making an observation on what I perceive the be human nature. Which is to say that “male chauvinism” is still very much real and it’s an attitude that some women–obviously not all–approve of or at least tolerate.

                And also, if gender was a factor then perhaps that was just a small part of the result. Lots of women voted for Trump despite his reported boorish behavior.

    7. BillC

      Biden’s backers’ propaganda reach is impressive (as in … scary!):

      Non-state Italian TV network La 7, this morning’s newscast: long piece of Biden hagiography that might have embarrassed even NPR. Sounded like his only deficiency is he can’t walk on water.

  2. BobW

    Cats: I walked out of a business on a main street one evening to have a cat start rubbing against my ankles. I didn’t want to leave him on such a busy street, so took him home. A vet ran his chip and it was from a neuter and release place, so he’s been mine for the last two years. She estimated his age as one year at the time.

    1. ambrit

      “A Vet ran his chip…” can be spun soooooo many ways.
      I mentally substituted “Feral Juvenile Deplorable” for cat in your comment and ended up with a totally different outcome.
      Welcome to the “Neo World Order.”

      1. Grebo

        That’s just the ones they could get corroboration for. It’s ten times the Pentagon estimate.

  3. Janie

    That’s a beautiful flower; however it looks like lesser celandine, an invasive species in the Portland, Oregon, area. It spreads by tubers, bulblets and seeds, crowding out natives. We’ve been battling it in our yard ever since we moved here – can’t spray because of the creek. The only way to get rid of it is digging, removing surrounding soil and putting it in bags in the garbage instead of compost. Hope my identification is wrong!

    1. Gary

      Not Lesser Celandine. Eranthus Hyemalus, in the buttercup family, with the misleading common name of Winter Aconite. Not as vigorous a spreader as celandine, either.

  4. JerryDenim

    -Tesla owners could make up to $30,000 a year turning their cars into ‘robotaxis’-

    Wow. The potential for criminal and quotidian mischief is off the charts. You send your autonomous robot-car off to do the Musk side-hustle after you get home from work. You awake in the morning to find the seats covered in multiple unpleasant liquid residues, drug paraphernalia in your seat back pockets and a dead body in your trunk. After a word with the local police with find out you’re wanted for a murder investigation, an ATM robbery, a hit and run homicide and drug trafficking.

    Totally sounds worth the extra thirty dollars!

    I get this is the fantasy of every absentee, rentier NYC taxi-cab medallion kingpin, but your personal vehicle???

    Sounds like an absolute unmitigated nightmare.

    1. doug

      The fan folks always leave out the reality part of that robotaxi fantasy…
      Your examples are not far fetched.

      1. polecat

        Hi, my name is JOHNNY CAB .. Did you say you needed a ride ?? Ok … but before we depart for your destination, you will need to sign this immolation release form ..

        1. ambrit

          Good reference. ‘Johnny Cab’ later burnished his resume and became a ‘Holo Doc’ on the Starfleet ship Voyager.
          A shining example of Pseudo Meritocracy in simulated action!

    2. Procopius

      Quick and dirty estimate, $90 a day. Do Uber drivers really make that much? Is this Uber’s business model? I’ve wondered how they think they can make a profit if they have to buy and maintain their own fleet of vehicles.

  5. Gumbo

    One of the most widely used agricultural pesticides worldwide is the herbicide glyphosate

    They’re a little fuzzy on the details of their subject.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > They’re a little fuzzy on the details of their subject.

      Let’s not be churlish. From the Cornell University Cooperative Extension Service:

      Types of Pesticide

      A pesticide is any chemical which is used by man to control pests. The pests may be insects, plant diseases, fungi, weeds, nematodes, snails, slugs, etc. Therefore, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc., are all types of pesticides. Some pesticides must only contact (touch) the pest to be deadly. Others must be swallowed to be effective.

      1. Tony Wright

        Which pesticides work against the DNC? Not produced by Monsanto, I’ll bet….
        Yeah, I know, but I do like Lou Reed…

  6. ChrisAtRU

    Biden – #SoMuchToSay

    We’ll start here:

    Symone Sanders Hire

    “She (Symone) understands how to build a coalition, and that women of color are the backbone of the Democratic Party”

    Funny how this does not extend to Nina Turner … but please, do go on …

    1. ChrisAtRU

      Running as Obama’s heir – Age

      “The generational split is clear in a February POLITICO/Morning Consult poll showing Biden is weakest with voters younger than 30 …”

      Funny, no mention about the dude who leads among 18 to 29 year olds … Read ’em and weep.

      Pro Tip: It’s not about age.

      1. Cal2

        And for the Dude’s Vice Presidential choice, how about a surfing competition?
        Or a combat obstacle course, just for the athleticism of it?
        Forgiveness of student loans?
        Lifetime national health care once they are off their parents’ plan?
        Withdrawal from losing Middle Eastern wars?

        As a control, how do you think Biden would do in those categories?

        1. ChrisAtRU

          Just say Tulsi already … ;-)

          I have no firm opinion. The article posted earlier this week posited that it’d be Warren – a view to which none other than the founder of this site took exception, so YMMV.

          I do agree, however, that whomever the dude picks should check all his boxes, and possible more.

        2. Roger Smith

          Joe’s already made his basket of deplorables comment for his own primary audience, vowing that he has absolutely no sympathy for the real problems every has that the younger voters support policy initiatives for. This clown is DOA.

          1. Cal2

            Bears repeating Roger,

            When asked about Millennials, 40% of voters in 2020 Biden says:
            “The younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break. No, no, I have no empathy for it. Give me a break.”

            Jimmy Dore video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdmeV0GJ-oE

            HIS kid is doing OK, “Go EAst Young Man!”
            From The Hill.
            “Two years after leaving office, Joe Biden couldn’t resist the temptation last year to brag to an audience of foreign policy specialists about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor…. But Ukrainian officials tell me there was one crucial piece of information that Biden must have known but didn’t mention to his audience: The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed
            Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.”

      2. mle detroit

        Or if it is about age, I agree with a pro-Bernie commenter here a couple of months ago: “The old guy gets it.”

    2. polecat

      I believe that’s a misprint .. more then likely It’s ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ …

  7. Annieb

    Re: “Happiest Cats on Earth”. Cats at Disneyland sounds really cute and kids may be encouraged to pet them, but DO NOT. Feral cats are more likely to bite, and a cat bite is very dangerous. A cat at my local Humane Society bit me on the hand and within 2 hours the bite was swollen , red, and painful. I had to go to urgent care and follow up with my doctor, two courses of antibiotics and about $200 later the bite was healed. And this was a cat in the shelter for adoption (HS paid my med bills). I tell everyone I can about this because I had been a cat owner for decades and never knew that a cat bite could be so dangerous.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Yeah, cat scratch fever… an ex wound up in the ER two days after my cat drew blood when he half-kicked/nudged her out of the way–by then he could hardly walk. He had to have a powerful antibiotic injected with a GINORMOUS needle in his rear end. Quite the payback!

  8. Pat

    Funny how Symone Sanders trajectory makes me think ‘no great loss probably a big win for Bernie Sanders’. As in I’m wondering who she was working for in 2016. Even if she wasn’t a mole, anyone choosing to work for Biden has no interest in politics for the better only for the profit.

      1. richard

        Can you explain that a bit? Ro is like this person who’s working for corporate joe now?

        1. Carey

          Not necessarily for Biden, proper, but I think Khanna’s a flexian, and that his actions should be carefully watched.

  9. Lambert Strether Post author

    I added a bit more Biden material; please refresh your browser. The Biden logo gif ought to be animating automagically, but if it doesn’t, click on it.

    1. Clive

      Don’t you think we’ve all suffered enough already? I’m sure you’re in breach of the Geneva Convention.

    2. flora

      logo: I watched it more than once and each time I read ‘Joe’ I thought ‘Lieberman’. too funny.

  10. Briny

    I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something off about the synchronization of the elements across the whole animation. Well, actually I could… should I run a frame by frame analysis by I’m not helping that lot, ever.

    1. Pat

      Forget the animation, the logo itself is problematic. It not only does not have eye appeal, it the affectation of eliminating the Vertical bar of the ‘E’ is neither modern or hip, but unfinished and unsettling.

      1. Roger Smith

        At first I thought he decided to go by “Jo”. Then I realized what I thought was just dressing to look like a flag was actually the E.

        1. jeremy415

          It’s his Plan B. If he starts flagging in the primaries, he will transition to “Jo”, and go for the brass ring of being America’s first female President.

    2. flora

      The blue letters paint toward the left and the red letter paints toward the right. The ultimate blue dog logo, imo.

  11. Pat

    I don’t know that I would poke the bear, but personally I take the suggestion that Hillary Clinton sit down with Bernie Sanders as a big ole neon sign about the one way version of “Unity” in the Democratic Party. Call it ironic or sarcastic, no one thinks it would happen. But with Sanders having met everyone of their requirements for unity in 2016, it is a rather pointed dagger about how much bull is being thrown today whenever that is brought up. Circular firing squads and all…

    1. jeremy415

      A Hillary/Bernie Unity sit-down…..

      Vegas bookies would put the over/under at 5 minutes, before Hillary would suddenly lose it and, out of nowhere, lunge at Bernie and pull half of his hair out of the sides of his head.

  12. aleph_0

    Regarding the power law article, speaking as someone who has spent most of their life looking at randomness and the ways that people perceive it, although we are educated to see the normal distribution as the default, I don’t think that explains the whole. I don’t even think many people could tell you what the normal distribution is explicitly. The ideology is way embedded way deeper and earlier than high school math.

    People instinctively think linearly. People are taught by others around them to think linearly, e.g. cause and effect, etc. Many simple examples in the world seem to follow linear rules at first blush. Relearning to think in systems (non-linear feedback loops, non-linear relationships) is really difficult so people want to continue to think linearly, and the normal distribution dovetails very nicely with linear thought, e.g. the average is a good stand-in by which to reason the general case, there’s not much volatility, etc. People really like to believe that small changes in an input necessarily give small changes in output. People really like to believe that tomorrow will look like today. This thinking really simplifies how many variables you need to keep in your head when looking at a situation. This kind of thinking is usually called common sense. Common sense can be pretty reasonable most of the time, but it is devastatingly poor for economics and probability.

    We are not taught to think about econ and probability correctly, and if I could wave a wand to teach people one thing, it would probably be understanding power law dynamics, systems thinking, and probability. I actually think most deep processes in nature and the man-made world do follow power law dynamics at their heart, and it’s too bad that the ideology of society makes it really difficult to get exposed to these ideas in education.

    1. Briny

      Mom’s an electronic engineer, Dad electrical, and I starting picking up how to troubleshoot and fix things from age 6. Tubed radio and TV were a big help there. And lissitude patterns are so …… neat! Learned stats at the university at age 10 with Mom. So, yeah, starting much earlier would likely help. Do recall, though, critically thinking individuals capable in these areas are precisely the opposite of the intentions of our educational system. By design! I was extremely fortunate that I jumped whole numbers of grades as well as learning to life-long self-educate.

      I still had to spend a few hours a day in that Hell called normal education so “I could be properly socialized.” That didn’t work out at all well, on either side. Actually spent most of my time socializing with the excellent teachers outside the class room. Loved their personal stories, which really helped out in the real (non-academe) world.

    2. Chris Cosmos

      My area us more in systems analysis but, generally, the very best and interesting intellectual tools and findings are largely ignored in schools. Linearity works okay in the short term but always fails in the long term.

      1. Sanxi

        ‘Nothing’ & ‘always’ don’t fail in the long term. Thermodynamics ‘fail’ doesn’t mean anything.

        1. Briny

          The laws of thermodynamics are taking a beating lately with all sorts of experiments (search on phys.org for “thermodynamics”) showing local and other more universal defects. “The Law is the Law ’til it ain’t.” – Me.

          1. Zach

            This is wrong. None of the recent studies actually contradict any of the laws of thermodynamics. The articles just have clickbait headlines.

    3. Sanxi

      ‘power law dynamics, systems thinking, and probability’, that’s three things, just saying.

  13. GF

    Does anyone know if the law requires one to answer the citizenship question if it appears on the census? Maybe “Just Say No” can be repurposed.

    1. kurtismayfield

      The Feds have never enforced the law starting that you are required to fill out the census. The courts have upheld the Government’s right to ask the ten questions on the census, and have supported the requirement for the small percentage of households that have to fill out the long form

      You would need a lawyer to determine if the new question is legal. Odds are it probably is, considering the courts support for the long form.


  14. Samuel Conner

    Re: ” “Elon Musk says Tesla owners could make up to $30,000 a year turning their cars into ‘robotaxis’””

    Hmm; I suspect a mercenary motive.

    Let’s suppose this is gross, and assume $5,000 in annual operating expenses (very high, I imagine).

    Thinking of this as a business for sale, and pricing at 6 X EBITDA, which I think is conservative, would lift the selling price of the cheapest Tesla car to $150,000

    Perhaps I’m cynical, but I think that this is marketing.

  15. jeremy415

    Prediction: Buttigieg wins the nomination, but loses the election when it’s discovered, too late, that his “Buttigieg: Unapologetically Substantive” bumper stickers are too long to fit on Prius bumpers.

    Edit – a 2nd problem emerges when yard signs are unexpectedly printed with a big, red line below “Unapologetically”, just like my automatic spellcheck does.

    When you’ve lost spellcheck, you’ve lost the nation.

      1. pjay

        Can’t see many truck nuts voting for Buttigeig (I live in truck nut country). They’ll be supporting Trump regardless. But Bernie does have some appeal out here — a warning to the DNC.

  16. Darius

    Any left administration without Larry Wilkerson influencing foreign policy isn’t bringing their A game. He would answer a lot of concerns Lambert raises.

    1. pjay

      What ever happened to Jim Webb? The Democrats need a Jim Webb type at Defense and/or State. If I remember, he was chased out of Democrat politics by the identitarians. I certainly did not agree with him on everything. But he was good on Iraq, and his background gave him considerable credibility. Wilkerson also has such a background.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I would say Webb’s a man out of place. His natural default to conservative positions when he isn’t interested in an issue is problematic, and his 2006 campaign was bizarre. He slept in his own bed every night. He lived in Alexandria. Its not exactly a central location. Compared to other Senators, he has good qualities, but he’s not really fit for political leadership outside of defined parameters. He might be a good local elected.

        Then my guy is the brown nosers shaped too many of his views. But all in all, I don’t believe political leadership is a good fit.

        1. pjay

          Yeah, he was kind of a mystery to me, hard to categorize. What was of interest though was his relative sanity on Iraq given his military background, one of the few to speak out rationally at the time — and the fact that the Democrat establishment seemed to trash him regardless. Looking back, the latter should not have been a surprise.

  17. Darius

    What would bridge the divisiveness in this country, Mayor Pete, is healthcare by right, full employment with living wages, college debt forgiveness. Stuff like that would bring together the POCs and the deplorables.

    1. Jen

      So sayeth both the Democrat and Republican establishment: “Oh, hell no! That’s not the divisiveness we want to bridge!”

  18. Lee

    And where the liberal Democrats? Sanders introduced a bill in 2018, and did mention “deaths of despair,” or similar recently — I can’t find the link — but to the rest of them…. Deplorable lives don’t matter.

    Sanders used the term “deaths of despair” during the Fox town hall.

    1. Eureka Springs

      No wonder Trump no longer had a TV show. AI took – You’re Fired! away from him.

  19. ewmayer

    The Bezzle: “Elon Musk says married people could make up to $30,000 a year turning their spouses into sex workers.” — There, fixed it for you. Where the gig economy is headed, in a nutshell.

    1. ambrit

      Perot beat us all to it.
      “That giant sucking sound…” Your new job after NAFTA sends your old good job to Mexico.

    2. JerryDenim

      Yeah, I mean how many hours a night do you REALLY use your spouse? Efficiency people! Get with it. This jumbo mortgage ain’t gonna pay itself!

  20. John Beech

    Lambert leads off with . . . So how many loyalty oaths will there be?

    Yet Trump asking fealty/loyalty from those in his direct employ at the White House or in branches where he appoints the leader is wrong. Hmmm, is the DNC a part of government? RNC? Nope, they’re private organizations. What’s different in demanding a pledge of loyalty from all Democrat candidates, again?

    1. Grebo

      Apparatchiks are supposed to pledge allegiance to the Constitution or something, not the president. Or so I believe.

      Perhaps you didn’t get the reference to the last time they made Bernie sign such an oath. After they stiffed him out of the nomination he had to go around stumping for Hillary. Not the kind of humiliation we wish to see repeated.

  21. skk

    re: powerlaw article.
    I wish that article had stated the parameter alpha of the power law pdf he used to compare heights with the same mean between a power law and a normal distribution. It matters – we are talking math here after all aren’t we ?

    Anyway by estimating x_min at 10 from the chart and given that the mean was stated as 174 I came up with alpha at 2.06 which is perilously close to 2, where the mean is infinite. Now I really would like to know what alpha value was used.

    Also the picture doesn’t do the issue justice at all. If in any data science pressie I used that chart and claimed the mean of the power distribution was 174 they’s laugh at me ! Because it looks as if both probabilities go to zero at around 225cm. Using that chart, you’d have a hard time persuading people that the mean of the power law distribution is 174 and would need to do a lot of work to persuade them.

    One angle would if the author extended the x-axis wayyyy to the right – to illustrate that non-negligible probabilities for the power-law outcomes would occur a long way down the x axis.

    Its a pity. The issue is important. Particularly how you get the income inequalities – a few individuals with 60billion or more. Quite insane.

  22. John k

    Tried the Biden logo…
    Does anybody see Jeb! In there? The face that launched 200 mil of donor money, reducing inequality between the 10% and the .01% a smidgen.

  23. Tom Bradford

    Re: Citizen’s Assembly.

    [But] there is no sign at the moment that the government intends to set up a citizens’ assembly to address the climate crisis.

    Be fair. The Government has been so busy failing to achieve Brexit for the last three years that it hasn’t even attempted to do anything else.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Beto O’Rourke Refashioning Himself as an Insider”

    From my distant vantage point, not sorry to see him flame out so early. What does surprise me is how he Obamaed his campaign the way that he did. Once someone from Obama’ team gets involved, it all goes brown, doesn’t it? The only difference here is that Beto burned his team before the running got serious whereas Obama burned the team that got him to the White House after he no longer needed them.

  25. Matski

    One of the first things I picked up on when I began to study the leadership styles of Via Campesina peasant leaders was that they spoke about “struggle” continuously, conceived their work in such terms, and–indeed–saw it as something poor people take for granted. In time I came to see that the word appears over and over in the speeches of revolutionary leaders and freedom fighters historically. The middle class shrinks from the very idea; comity is their aim, and they feel great discomfort when they disagree with people, especially their friends. Facebook with its “likes” but no dislikes was made for them. (All you can do is laugh at someone, as if embarrassed, when you disagree.) Accepting that candidates SHOULD argue, that they are indeed antagonists, is very hard for liberals to swallow, as every depiction of every dinner party in every movie ever demonstrates. Curbing such rhetoric is, of course, a way to tamp down dissent, to keep the death machine on course. Expect talk about how the Dems are “cannibalizing” each other every time a corporate candidate like Biden is criticized from now until the election.

  26. Edward

    Biden may not be running to win. Caitlin Johnstone has pointed out that a large number of primary candidates may allow superdelegates to decide the primary race. This will allow the party establishment to decide the race.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Biden is running to win. A key difference between Biden and HRC is Biden is stupid even by DC standards. Really stupid.

      1. Edward

        In some ways he is like the Donald Trump of the Democrats; the Republicans would probably love him to win, because he would be such a weak competitor for the Republican candidate. He may be stupid, but that is probably what lobbyists like; stupid=maleable.

  27. dcblogger

    SE DC community protests the New Eagle Academy Charter School. Lack of oversight, notification, and deceptive tactics has trailed the project from the beginning. With a newly built 52 million dollar elementary school just 2 city blocks away, this school is not fiscally responsible or needed. The local ANC voted against the build and so does the surrounding community.

  28. anon in so cal

    Biden hires Symone Sanders:

    Was she the supposed mole in the Bernie Sanders campaign?

    (apologies if this was posted already)

  29. John

    I contributed to Obama’s campaign thus he had my email and inevitably I received Biden’s email announcing his candidacy and two or three or four more today. This is already old. Biden is God’s gift to the Credit Card companies et al. He, like Hillary, like Obama, like Bill is the same snake oil. I thought Obama was the real deal. He wasn’t as became abundantly obvious in 2009. He was not the person I thought I was voting for.

    Tulsi Gabbard is young. She is untried as a leader except possibly in war zones. She is unafraid to take a position and I agree with most of hers. I have not given her website a close reading, but nothing put me off. Maybe she isn’t “presidential timber”, whatever that means with the warped and splintered plank now demeaning the office, but I would take her over Trump in less than a heartbeat. She seems to have integrity.

    So why does the media ignore her and swoon progressively over O’Rourke and now the Mayor of South Bend. I once read a survey that said Rhodes Scholars were, as a group, not overwhelmingly successful. Rising to be Mayor of South Bend demonstrates that proposition.

    My ticket for 2020: Sanders-Gabbard. If Bernie served two terms and Tulsi two, it would be 2036; I would be 100 years old. I could die happy.

  30. allan

    U.S. judges order Michigan to revamp Republican-drawn districts in gerrymandering case [Reuters]

    A panel of federal judges on Thursday ordered Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature to redraw nearly three dozen state and U.S. congressional districts, ruling that the existing lines illegally dilute the power of Democratic voters.

    The decision gives lawmakers until Aug. 1 to approve new district maps, which would need to be signed by Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

    If legislators fail to do so, or if the court finds the new district lines are similarly unconstitutional, the judges said they would draw the maps themselves. The redrawn districts would take effect in time for the 2020 elections.

    The court also ordered Michigan to hold special state Senate elections next year, rather than in 2022 as scheduled, in any gerrymandered districts. The state’s 14 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are also up for election next year, and a majority of them could have new boundaries under the court’s ruling. …

    As if. Balls and Strikes LLC is nevergoingtoletthishappen.

  31. skippy

    A Clockwork Orange sequel discovered in author’s house

    “The author was forced to confront suggestions that he glorified and encouraged violent acts through his work, which describes the horrific spree of “ultra-violence” by a gang of delinquent criminals in a futuristic Britain.

    “Burgess felt very strongly that he was in the firing line,” Biswell says, describing the themes of the newly discovered manuscript.

    “He’s very concerned by the accusation that this film has provoked people to do evil things.”

    In one section of the manuscript, Burgess writes that young people at the time had learned “a style of violence,” but not violence itself — which he felt was inherent in some people.

    In another section, Burgess muses on the impact of television and the mass media on people in the 1970s. He writes of “man trapped in the world of machines, unable to grow as a human being and become himself.” He diagnoses the titular “Clockwork Condition” as the state of “feeling alienated, partly because of the mass media,” Biswell said.

    “In that sense it’s a commentary about what’s happening to him, and his own life had been turned upside down by the success of the film,” he added.”


    “The Clockwork Condition” – He writes of “man trapped in the world of machines, unable to grow as a human being and become himself.” He diagnoses the titular “Clockwork Condition” as the state of feeling alienated, partly because of the mass media, – snip.

    But then I would think those he thought were prone to violence, in its various guises, too find it quite normal or preferential.

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