2:00PM Water Cooler 4/26/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I had a very weird contretemps that caused my schedule to collapse. However, there’s so much going on that I feel I can’t simply punt to next Monday. So please talk amongst yourselves for now, and think of today as a 4:00 Water Cooler! –lambert UPDATE All done, a little slower than I hoped!

Trade

“China’s Xi Signals Approval for Trump’s Trade War Demands” [Bloomberg]. “Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed some 40 world leaders at the Belt and Road forum in Beijing, but his speech may have been aimed at a head of state not in the audience: U.S. President Donald Trump. Xi spent a large portion of his speech Friday addressing Chinese domestic reforms, pledging to address state subsidies, protect intellectual property rights, allow foreign investment in more sectors and avoid competitive devaluation of the yuan. All four are issues the U.S. is addressing in trade talks with Beijing. ‘We will establish a binding enforcement system for international agreements,’ Xi said, adding that China will standardize all levels of government in terms of issuing administrative licenses and market regulation, and also ‘eliminate improper rules, subsidies and practices that impede fair competition and distort the market.”

“Trump-Abe Talks at White House to Focus on Trade, Economic Ties” [Bloomberg]. “Meetings between the two leaders will include top trade and economic officials from both countries, according to a senior U.S. official who requested anonymity to discuss the talks. The U.S. is pushing to reduce its trade deficit with Japan and gain better access to the Asian nation’s agricultural market. Japan is looking for a concrete promise that it won’t be hit by possible U.S. tariffs on auto imports, after successfully winning an exemption to taxes imposed by the Trump administration last year on steel and aluminum.”

Politics

“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

2020

Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden Raises $6.3 Million, Topping Rivals’ First-Day Hauls” [New York Times]. “All told, Mr. Biden’s campaign said 96,926 people had contributed in the first day, and that 65,000 of the donations were from people who were not previously on his email list of supporters. The campaign said that 97 percent of online donations were below $200, but it did not disclose the share of overall contributions that were below that threshold.” • I would like to know how many of those 65,000 donations were “debundled.”

Biden (D) (2): “The good, the bad and the Biden on former VP’s first day on the trail” [CNN]. “But barely seven hours in, there came a reminder of some of Biden’s most glaring vulnerabilities, with a flare-up of the 1990s drama surrounding Anita Hill that reverberated with racial and gender overtones.” Biden calls Anita Hill to share his ‘regret for what she endured and his admiration for everything she has done to change the culture around sexual harassment in this country.'” Hill responds: “”I cannot be satisfied by simply saying I’m sorry for what happened to you. I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose.” • Ouch. f Biden runs true to form, the first day of his campaign will also be the best day. So it’s downhill all the way from here….

Biden (D)(3): “How Biden Plans to Steamroll the 2020 Democratic Field” [New York Magazine]. “But Biden’s calls [to everyone he knows] are also part of a real, traditional show-of-force strategy to demonstrate, from his first week in the race, that he is in a category of his own — a pol to be reckoned with this time, complete with more institutional support in the form of endorsements, surrogates, and defenders than all the other candidates combined. “I think you will see a lot of key elected endorsements come out of the chute,” said James Smith, the Biden friend and former South Carolina legislator who ran for governor unsuccessfully in 2018. Biden is wagering that in an age of digital fundraising, insurgent politics, and Trump’s Twitter wars, this kind of thing still matters, especially when he’s likely to be target No. 1 for the rest of the field. Yet in the Biden team’s eyes, it’s only natural: Their guy is in a unique position to approach even the top potential endorsers who are unlikely to weigh in for anyone else and say, “We’ve known each other forever, and I’m your best bet.”

Biden (D)(4): “Biden Would be Arguably the Most Experienced New President Ever” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. The conclusion: “Biden effectively will be campaigning as a George H.W. Bush-style ‘President We Won’t Have to Train.’ That may be the perfect message for the moment, and he may be the perfect man to deliver it. But there is also the danger that Biden is something else: “The Candidate Who Cannot Be Trained.” If that is the case, all of his experience may have been for naught in this campaign.” • If he becomes President, Biden will have 44 years in major elected office, eclipsing Martin van Buren, who had 31.

Buttigieg (D)(1): “A Rough Transcript of Every Interview With Pete Buttigieg” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency]. “If this piece were any fluffier, it’d have a thread count.” • Every word a gem!

Buttigieg (D)(2): “O’Rourke avoids TV spotlight for small gatherings in risky 2020 gamble” [The Hill]. Yes, a Buttigieg nugget: “‘He, in large part, has risen in prominence because he says yes to every single interview,’ said Nate Lerner, who previously ran Draft Beto, a group that sought to recruit O’Rourke into the presidential race. ‘He’s relentless, going on TV, going on every single podcast.’ That strategy appears to have fueled a recent rise in the polls for Buttigieg.”

Buttigieg (D)(2): Don’t rush into these things:

Or perhaps Mayo Pete is respecting somebody else’s turf?

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders plans big organizing weekend with house parties set for Vermont” [Burlington Free Press]. “Bernie Sanders is set to launch a major organizing drive on Saturday with more than 4,500 house parties in 50 states and 18 foreign countries.” • Impressive. Here’s a map.

Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Sanders trolls Donald Trump’s visit to Wisconsin” [Green Bay Press Gazette]. “”Donald Trump Lied To Wisconsin Workers,” a front-page ad to run in Friday’s Green Bay Press-Gazette and paid for by Sanders’ campaign alleges. ‘In a Bernie Sanders White House, we will end the corporate greed behind the Shopko closures, Kimberly-Clark layoffs and Foxconn scam.’ The ad will run a day before Trump makes his first visit to Wisconsin as part of a re-election bid. The president won the state in the general election in 2016 — the first time Wisconsin voters picked a Republican candidate for president in three decades. Sanders, who won the state in its Democratic primary election, is seeking the matchup that could have been.” • Wait, what? Somebody’s visiting Wisconsin?

Sanders (D)(3):

And:

This issue does sharpen the contradictions, doesn’t it?

Trump (R)(1): “At 72, Trump says he’s ‘a young vibrant man,’ can beat Biden” [Associated Press]. “A reporter asked Trump at the White House on Friday how old is too old to be president of the United States. Trump said: ‘I just feel like a young man. I’m so young. I can’t believe it. … I’m a young vibrant man.'” • Vibrant?

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren comes out swinging against Joe Biden — and makes clear the Democratic primary will be fierce” [Alternet]. “Warren is still highly critical of Biden for promoting a bill she believed favored large credit card companies over Americans who were struggling financially—and she reiterated her criticisms on Thursday, telling the reporter she ‘got in that fight because’ Americans who were hurting financially ‘just didn’t have anyone, and Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies. It’s all a matter of public record.'” • Ouch!

Yang (D)(1):

The commentariat persuaded me that shipping container homes are a bad idea, superficially neat though they are.

“Renters Are Mad. Presidential Candidates Have Noticed.” [New York Times]. “Renters hold little sway in Washington. They vote at lower rates than homeowners. They’re generally represented in Congress by homeowners. They have no deep-pocketed lobbyists. And their problems, if anyone considers them at all, are typically waved off as problems for local government… Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, senators from some of the most expensive housing markets in the country, have proposed substantial bills to alleviate the housing crisis. They’re not talking in gauzy terms about homeownership, the rare housing topic that usually gets a nod. They see unsustainable, raw-deal, skyrocketing rents, and they’re not hesitant to sermonize about it.” • If you call Harris’s tax credits, so beloved by liberal Democrats, “substantial.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Lipinski challenger squeezed by DCCC vendor policy” [Politico]. “[Challenger Marie] Newman told Campaign Pro’s Laura Barrón-López that a consultant dropped her campaign as recently as Wednesday due to DCCC chair Cheri Bustos’ (Ill.) new enforcement of what was considered a long-unwritten rule. ‘I’ve had four consultants leave the campaign,’ Newman said. ‘We’ve now had two mail firms say that they couldn’t work with us because of the DCCC issue, and then a [communications] group, a compliance group and several pollsters.’ Consultants who planned to work with Newman said that the DCCC delivered the warning in the nicest terms possible — but that it was a very clear threat to their ability to do business with the DCCC.” • “In the nicest terms possible…” That’s our Democrats!

Stats Watch

GDP, Q1(a) 2019: “The consumer isn’t on fire but still contributed to a very solid growth rate” [Econoday]. “A clearer look on underlying domestic demand comes from final sales to domestic purchases… Lack of consumer punch is a bit of a puzzle at least based on the strength of the labor market. Price readings in today’s report are very subdued… The pace of the nation’s economy isn’t as strong today’s headline suggests with questions over the consumer, first raised by the plunge in December retail sales, still persisting.”

Consumer Sentiment, April 2019 (final): “Expectations improved in the last half of April while current conditions eased” [Econoday]. “April’s month-end slowing in current conditions is not a favorable signal for either the month’s retail sales nor perhaps for next week’s employment report. Inflation expectations are mixed”

The Bezzle: “NY Attorney General sues Bitfinex and Tether to unearth ‘fraud being carried out’ by the firms” [The Block]. “The New York State Attorney General (NYSAG) is suing Bitfinex, the cryptocurrency exchange, and affiliated firm Tether, the company behind the stablecoin of the same name…. Details from the suit paint a picture of Bitfinex and Tether engaging in ‘undisclosed, conflicted transactions to cover Bitfinex’s losses by transferring money out of tether reserve funds.’ According to the Attorney General’s office (OAG) at least $700 million was drained from Tether’s reserves.”

The Bezzle: “A new lawsuit accuses the “Big Four” beef packers of conspiring to fix cattle prices” [New Food Economy]. “To understand the argument made in the epic, 121-page complaint filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, it helps to recognize one thing: Meatpacking companies live or die by the “meat margin,” or the difference between the cost of live animals and the price they charge for packaged meat. In theory, when supply goes up, retail prices should go down. At least that’s what we learned in Economics 101. But the Big Four meatpackers, who together slaughter more than 80 percent of feedlot cattle in the U.S., wield enormous power over the industry. This suit alleges that, shortly after prices reached record highs in early 2015, and through the present day, these companies used a broad range of coordinated methods to artificially suppress supply while continuing to enjoy the financial benefits of strong demand.” • There are many examples of these “methods” in the article.

The Bezzle: “Uber Aims for $84 Billion Valuation in Year’s Largest IPO” [Bloomberg]. “The No. 1 ride-hailing company plans to offer 180 million shares at $44 to $50 each, according to a regulatory filing Friday. The filing puts Uber on track to make its trading debut in May on the New York Stock Exchange in what is expected to be the year’s biggest U.S. IPO. At the top of the range the listing would value Uber at almost $84 billion, based on the number of shares outstanding after the offering, as detailed in the filing. On a fully diluted basis, including the addition of stock options, restricted shares or other stakes not included in the outstanding total, the valuation could top $91.5 billion PayPal Holdings Inc. has agreed to buy $500 million of Uber’s stock at the IPO price in a private placement. The investment is part of a deal to extend the payment company’s partnership with Uber. The two companies plan to work together to develop a digital wallet for Uber, a spokesman for PayPal said.” • I hope all the investors lose a very great deal of money. Because—

The Bezzle: “Uber’s Plan to Lose Money on Each Transaction and Make It Up in Volume, Annotated” [New York Magazine]. “Money-losing start-ups whose business model is to sell services below cost constitute a mass transfer from venture-capital investors to consumers.” • But maybe the VCs have ideological goals, like destroying public transportation or increasing traffic congestion…

The Bezzle: “Uber is heading into its IPO with engine trouble” [Quartz]. “According to an amended S-1 filing published today, growth in Uber’s gross bookings and revenue both slowed down in the first quarter of this year. The company also recorded a $1 billion loss in the quarter, though losing money is nothing new for Uber. The top-line weakness may be more worrying, with first-quarter gross bookings—what customers spend on Uber rides, Uber Eats orders, and other Uber services—growing by 33% year over year, down from nearly 60% in the same quarter last year.”

The Biosphere

“Internet of Things: Energy boon or bane?” [Nature]. “By 2020, there may be as many as 30 billion objects connected to the internet, all of which require energy. These devices may yield direct energy savings (3, 4), but it is much less clear what their net effect on the broader energy system will be….. IoT technologies promise to deliver energy savings by helping us to use our resources more efficiently, but it is unclear whether these savings outweigh indirect increases in ICT use, the production footprint of IoT devices, and rebound effects. Research about the effects of specific devices or interventions is available, but existing data on behavior and likely adoption scenarios are insufficient to understand the large-scale energy implications of the IoT.” • The IoT is hardly Jackpot-ready in any case.

“Slowdown in Antarctic mass loss from solid Earth and sea-level feedbacks” [Science]. “Here, we present a new global simulation of Antarctic evolution at high spatiotemporal resolution that captures all solid Earth processes impacting ice sheets and show a projected negative feedback in grounding line migration of 38% for Thwaites Glacier 350 years in the future, or 26.8% reduction in corresponding sea-level contribution.” • It’s a complex world

“EPA Decides Not to Regulate Fracking Wastewater as Pennsylvania Study Reveals Recent Spike” [DeSmog], This is well worth a read because it’s all horrible. One nugget: “In 2017, 41 percent of the wastewater that drillers told Pennsylvania they produced wasn’t tracked all the way through to disposal, researchers said.” • Just think! Because of fracking, we can muscle oil-producing Iran and Venezuela — even though the fracking industry as a whole has never turned a profit!

“Five Steps to Making Your Garden a Carbon Sink” [JSTOR]. “Gardens can be very efficient carbon sinks–environments that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in soils and plants…. The key to locking up carbon is soil—and there are several steps to making that soil store carbon… But if 81 million U.S. households that nurture small pieces of land adopt these practices, they can turn their properties into efficient carbon sinks. And they will also make their soils more nutrient-rich and reduce heat-trapping emissions from pesticides, fertilizers, and waste.” • And “reconsider lawns”!

The 420

“The Weed Industry Is Burning Millions on DC Lobbyists and Getting Nowhere” [Vice]. “In recent years, a growing number of recently formed cannabis trade groups have enlisted the services of former staffers for top Republicans and Democrats, now working at some of K Street’s most prominent lobbying firms, disclosure forms show. Cannabis lobbying groups are spending up to $60,000 a month apiece trying to win friends and persuade recalcitrant lawmakers to see their point of view. The results, however, have been pretty paltry: Cannabis is still illegal nationwide, businesses still can’t bank or deduct expenses on their taxes like other merchants, and legitimate interstate cannabis commerce remains a distant dream. With few exceptions, bipartisan bills that would de-schedule the drug or give businesses tax relief are still withering in committee without hearings, let alone votes.” • Hmm. Either money isn’t enough, or the weed industry isn’t offering enough money. To outbid Big Pharma, say.

“The CBD Industrial Complex” [East Bay Express]. “Times are weird for CBD, the increasingly popular, non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, which can be used to relieve pain, anxiety, seizures, and, perhaps, other ailments. Just a few years ago, most people hadn’t even heard of it, but now, even though it’s still of uncertain legality both nationally and in California, outlets like CVS and Walgreen’s are gearing up to sell it, and producers are piling into the market…. Research on CBD is finally beginning to pile up, but there are still far more unknowns than knowns…. [T]here are strong indications that CBD can relieve problems like chronic pain, anxiety, nausea, lack of appetite, and insomnia. For other ailments, there is much less solid research.”

Class Warfare

“Amazon’s warehouse-worker tracking system can automatically fire people without a human supervisor’s involvement” [Business Insider]. “Amazon’s system tracks a metric called ‘time off task,’ meaning how much time workers pause or take breaks, The Verge reported. It has been previously reported that some workers feel so pressured that they don’t take bathroom breaks…. If the system determines the employee is failing to meet production targets, it can automatically issue warnings and terminate them without a supervisor’s intervention.”

“I Work With Suicidal Farmers. It’s Becoming Too Much to Bear.” [The New Republic (GF)]. “But farmers have been calling me more and more recently because of low farm prices, the prolonged recession in agriculture, and more recently, because of the flooding that is occurring in major river systems in the Midwest. The number of calls has really increased since the beginning of March, when the flooding began. I think the behavioral health of farm people can be viewed as the canary of their economic well-being, because it’s affected by agricultural prices that farmers can’t control. Besides weather, the entities that control farm prices largely have to do with business interests that lobby heavily at the state and federal levels. If the behavioral health state of farmers is poor, you can bet those lobbies are winning.”

“Nessel creates enforcement unit to crack down on payroll fraud” [Detroit News]. “Attorney General Dana Nessel launched a new unit Monday to tackle payroll fraud at Michigan businesses, a crime she said ‘is committed with greater frequency than perhaps any other crime in Michigan.’ It was a plan treated warily by at least one business group that noted the increasing complexity of payroll laws across the country. The unit will focus primarily on the misclassification of employees as self-employed independent contractors so an employer is able to avoid paying overtime, health benefits or worker’s compensation, Nessel said in a Monday press conference. More common in construction, landscape and janitorial jobs, the practice bilks employees, undercuts legitimate businesses and deprives the state of millions of dollars in tax revenue, Nessel said.” • “Increasing complexity.” Of course!

News of the Wired

“Rein in the four horsemen of irreproducibility” [Nature]. “I think that, in two decades, we will look back on the past 60 years — particularly in biomedical science — and marvel at how much time and money has been wasted on flawed research.” • I’m so old I remember when the Journal of Irreproducible Results was a niche humor magazine.

“Ethereum for humans” [Interfluidity]. “sbt-ethereum, this software I’ve been working on, is designed to encourage very bare-bones Ethereum projects. Someone, by definition a coder, has to write the ‘smart contracts’ — the Ethereum programs that coordinate interaction and value. But once such a smart contract exists, sbt-ethereum ‘repositories’ should be usable, and potentially modifiable and customizable, by a much broader range of technically comfortable users…. sbt-ethereum is not intended for the mythical mass end-user. It is intended for the people who invented the personal computer, and then invented the modern internet, and then disappeared. It is intended for hobbyists. And also for researchers.” • Interfluidity is an interesting blog, so this project might be fun and even useful. As readers know, I’m allergic to the word “smart,” and software contracts are contracts only notional (where is the meeting of the minds?) Nevertheless, there is a legitimate thing called programming by contract. Maybe if I have some free time….

Russia invented food delivery:

Art History majors take note:

* * *

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 (SM):

SM writes: “I took this photo of asparagus in a back yard in Napa yesterday.” Yum!

* * *

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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.

108 comments

  1. Cal2

    SM,
    What are you doing to get that crop?
    I can’t get Asparagus or Zucchini, to grow, even with plenty of sun, water, fertile soil, mushrooms, in all different combinations, what am I doing wrong?

    Trees of all types do great as does lemon balm, miner’s lettuce and other Mediterranean herbs.

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Where are you Cal2? I assume California?

      Here in Pennsylvania it grows well for me and I get a nice harvest from late April into mid-June. Buy the roots, don’t try to start it from seed, and don’t harvest it at all the first year. Just let it grow nice and tall into a big ferny frond, soaking up energy and making itself at home. The next summer, harvest it for maybe a week or two at the beginning of the season, then let it go again. I don’t pick it heavy until the third summer, but then you should be able to harvest plenty for six or eight weeks every year for decades, as long as you don’t let the weeds overtake it.

      Reply
      1. Cal2

        Thank You!
        S.F. Bay area.

        I didn’t wait as you suggested. Expected a crop right away.

        Maybe I should grew impatiens?

        Drumlin, I have people nearby who break into cars and leave bags of Zucchini in them. I think it might soil chemistry.

        Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Probably the best thing you could do is to see if anyone in your own region of California is getting Asparagus or Zucchini to grow. If anyone is, that is proof enough that they know how. If they are someone you know, you could consult with them on what to do and what not to do.

      Advice from the South or the East or the Midwest on how to grow Asparagus and Zucchini could be extremely irrelevant to the California situation.

      Reply
      1. Fiery Hunt

        Zukes grow mad in SF Bay Area…need sun and everyday water and not the crap clay soil of the East Bay. Get ’em in early (say mid-March regardless of rain..) Haven’t done asparagus yet…

        Reply
    3. ambrit

      I’ve helped an old friend put in an asparagus bed for his ‘little old lady’ mother years ago. Dig deep, put in lots of organic material and plant the roots. We were told by the local (Louisiana) Agricultural Extension Agent to not harvest the first years crop. “Let those roots grow in solid first. Don’t stress them early.” Some harvesting the second year, but, as David mentions, the third year is “all systems go” time. An asparagus bed is good for decades if tended properly.
      Asparagus is like a fruit tree orchard. It is a long term effort.

      Reply
  2. Angie Neer

    I love the ambiguity of scale in that plant photo. You could convince me the asparagus is 10 feet tall, growing wild in a young forest.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I took was surprised by the scale of the photo. I love the colors and patterns in it!

      I love the world of small things. I like to drop down, remove my glasses, and watch the work of ants, and the worlds of small things.

      Reply
    1. diptherio

      How do they celebrate, I wonder? Perhaps with a ceremonial handing over of the rights to publicly funded innovations to a representative of the .01%…

      Reply
    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Not LSU or University of Dallas, thats for sure!!

      Whatttt uppppp, DOC HUDSON?!!! I wish more people understood how important ur work is to Western Civ! One Golden idea to unite the People and show them how to forgive!

      Reply
  3. shinola

    Should the Dem’s pursue impeachment of Trump? Good idea or not?

    He probably deserves it but I don’t think it’s a good move at this point; too close to upcoming elections. Among other things it would:
    -Suck the air out of the room for more substantial discussions of actual policies.
    -Make Trump & his base dig in their heels & increase the likelihood of re-election.
    -If successful (big IF) we would have Pence (ewwww…) as prez.

    Trump may well hang himself if given enough rope.

    Reply
    1. Samuel Conner

      Me thinks that Pence as pres is less scary the closer we get to Nov 2020; less time to wreak havoc. I doubt that Pence is as electable as Trump.

      That’s not to say that I think impeachment is a great idea.

      Reply
      1. Carla

        The House can impeach, but the Senate conducts the trial, and this Senate will never, ever remove Trump from office, so I am MYSTIFIED that people keep talking about this as if it is important. It seems — I’m sorry — masturbatory.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          …so that Team Dem™ can avoid talking about policy, and the immiseration
          that present policy is creating for all but the top 10% (by design, IMO).

          Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Will it become ‘if you are against impeachment, you’re working for Putin’ in the upcoming Democratic debates?

      And wheather candidates go after other each, or only gang up on Sanders, will reveal a lot. His front runner status could hand them a very nice cover.

      Reply
    3. Kilgore Trout

      Inclined to agree. Impeachment takes attention away from issues like M4All and GND. Trump can play the victim card well and boost his election chances as he expands his base. Plus, an investigation into Obama adm efforts to entrap Trump operatives (honeypots) , plus intel community (Brennan, Clapper, et al) efforts at undermining his admin with Russiagate., plus DNC Russiagate claims effectively amounted to soft coup effort. Future Trump/GOP investigation of all this turns table on centrist Democrats, and kills progressive efforts at 2020 win. It’s Trumps all the way down….

      Reply
    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      Yes, but given the cynical way impeachment and Russiagate was deployed to protect Team Blue elites from a reckoning that needs to occur, isn’t this a great time to call for impeachment? Or is Adam Schiff a Russian agent? He just couldn’t find anything.

      Reply
      1. Lepton1

        Rod Rosenstein, Trump appointed Republican, begs to differ.

        “The bottom line is, there was overwhelming evidence that Russian operatives hacked American computers and defrauded American citizens, and that is only the tip of the iceberg of a comprehensive Russian strategy to influence elections, promote social discord, and undermine America, just like they do in many other countries,” Rosenstein said.

        Speaking at the Public Servants Dinner of the Armenian Bar Association [Thursday night.]

        Reply
        1. dcrane

          You didn’t ask me what I thought, and I am the one complaining about Bolton. Far as I’m concerned Obama/Clinton turning Libya into an Iraq Mini-me is not much better at least in terms of effects. But if you’re honest you will have to admit that the level of shameless lying in the lead up to Iraq was extreme. Bolton and the rest of his group should be in jail. I would probably put some of Obama’s administration in jail too. I don’t use the failings of the other side to ignore those of my own.

          Reply
          1. chuck roast

            I think that there is a club. When Samantha Power joined it my jaw hit the floor. Bernie has, so far, successfully avoided serious discussion of the The Club’s minimum entry requirements which include allowing the Zionist/Wahabbi Alliance to run amuck and to keep the welding at Bath Iron Works lighting up the workplace. It kind of goes without saying that you have to be willing to at a minimum assist war criminality, but who is gonna’ ask that question?

            I might add that The Club practices rigid non-discrimination and all races, nationalities, religions and all the myriad sexes are welcome. The only fee is absolute subservience.

            Reply
    1. shinola

      Defeating HRC was actually a good thing; particularly since she lost to such a doofus.

      Trump is, if nothing else, temperamentally unfit for office.

      Reply
      1. dearieme

        All bar George Washington have probably been temperamentally unfit for office. OK, maybe except Eisenhower too.

        Reply
  4. allan

    Old brotech model: If a service is free, you’re the product.

    New edtech model: Even if you pay for a service, you’re the product.

    Scrutiny of Financial Ties [Inside Higher Ed]

    A former Arizona State University professor sparked outcry last week by publicly accusing the institution of shady dealings with the publisher Cengage.

    Brian Goegan, former clinical assistant professor of economics at Arizona State, claimed that the university had received a “large monetary grant” from Cengage. In exchange, the university made Cengage’s $100 courseware a requirement for students in introductory economics courses, said Goegan. University leaders flatly denied the accusation. …

    But The Arizona Republic unearthed a contract showing that Arizona State and Cengage did have a revenue-sharing agreement for an adaptive learning platform, which Arizona State staff and Cengage are developing together. …

    The “co-publishing and fulfillment agreement,” signed in January 2016, outlines how much money both Arizona State and Cengage would keep from sales of the new adaptive platform both to Arizona State students and outside students whose institutions may adopt the platform in the future. …

    Hey, those associate vice provosts for international engagement don’t pay for themselves.

    Reply
  5. NotReallyHere

    Hey … I was disappointed I didn’t see a link to Hilary Clinton’s Washington Post article yesterday. I was looking forward to the comments on here. The comment section on the article was hugely entertaining.

    Say what you like, but Hilary’s ability to bring the whole country together like a toxic family at Christmas remains.

    Reply
      1. NotReallyHere

        Yep, and keep digging for dirt through investigations. All very constructive.

        The thousands of comments within a couple of hours of posting was a sign the comments scrap would be a good one. They went from disturbing to deluded and the mutual hatred among the commenters was impressive.

        Reply
      2. James

        Our election was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated. This is the definitive conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report. It documents a serious crime against the American people.

        I wasn’t aware that Mueller looked into the HRC camp’s skulduggery during the Dem primaries as well. Where are the indictments?

        Reply
    1. pricklyone

      So much for “strict constitutionalists”. The Dems are not the only ones who have lost their minds.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        Scalia was always pretty selective about his “originalist” interpretations. Especially after 2000. The others don’t even bother to pretend.

        Reply
    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      I advise them not to keep their devices in the bedroom, even turned off, or they will obsess over what’s being said about them and what they’re missing, and be thanks to get a good night’s rest.

      Speaking of the depression and anxiety reaching epidemic proportions amongst tweens and teens anyway.

      Reply
        1. Greg

          Best guess – similar shape on a qwerty keyboard. Are you using swipe typing on your phone? That’s the sort of mistake mine makes when I’m a bit skew-whiff with the fingers.

          Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Celebrate Cinco de Mayo early! The Clinton “you name it” belongs behind a paywall — or maybe it really belongs beyond paywalls in some nether space of the forgotten.

      Reply
  6. Kurt Sperry

    I can’t directly access WaPo content, not sure if it’s one of my security browser extensions or what. I can view the original article content via Outline.com at https://outline.com/VMszf5 but I was after the comment string and not the piece itself and that string is stripped from the Outline version.

    I figure the fewer people that can read the WaPo, the better so I am decidedly not in any way annoyed when I hit their paywall. I hope many others hit it as hard. Corporate media need to build higher, harder paywalls around all their content, if all their stuff was on a $1000 per article subscription basis, that’d be just about perfect.

    Reply
    1. Procopius

      I just periodically delete all their cookies. Seems to work. I also disallow third party cookies, which means I’m always getting “This site uses cookies to make your experience better” messages. [Family blog] ’em.

      Reply
  7. Henry Moon Pie

    Pete Buttigieg “interview”–

    That was laugh ’til you cry. This one still cracks me up:

    an Ivy League business guy’s CV that was brought to life when it was struck by lightning

    That explains a lot.

    Reply
    1. ChrisPacific

      Yes, that was great. There is something about Buttigieg that inspires this kind of thing. My attempt is here but the McSweeney article did it much better.

      I’m halfway convinced that Buttigieg is an android attempting to pass the Turing Test in a presidential election. My guess is that he was trained mostly on ‘Hamilton’ and past episodes of ‘The West Wing.’

      Reply
  8. Henry Moon Pie

    I think it’s cute in a sick kind of way that the WaPo still pretends to be an independent newspaper that needs to at least break even to survive rather than one of the bought-and-sold mouthpieces of the richest man in the world.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Well, even the Soviet Union still needed a “Pravda” to tell its people what they should think. And I have heard of the Washington Post referred to as Pravda on the Potomac.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        I’ve referred to the New York Times as Izvestia on the Hudson. “Pravda” means “truth.” “Izvestia” means “news.” The supposed Soviet saying was, “There is no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestia.” I find it useful now to check from time to time on what Tass has to say.

        Reply
  9. nippersdad

    That rough transcript of every Buttigieg interview link was the funniest thing I have read all day. Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Tim

    “Xi said, adding that China will standardize all levels of government in terms of issuing administrative licenses and market regulation, and also ‘eliminate improper rules, subsidies and practices that impede fair competition and distort the market.”

    Does this qualify as a trade war win? Sounds like a pretty big deal to me if it means they start respecting other peoples IP.

    Reply
  11. super extra

    the pics paired with the Yang quote about shipping container houses are actually from a quasi-legendary Something Awful forum post(s) about a particular mod on that board’s profoundly sh!tty self-constructed home. true comedy can be found by zooming on some of those pics, like load-bearing drywall, the piece holding up the insulated(?) steps clearly being cut without a jig or even measuring, and the cheap vinyl siding that was melted off by the bbq placed too close to the house.

    sort of ashamed i know this

    Reply
      1. super extra

        having very limited experience with home construction, the pink stuff partially packed under some of the stairs looks like insulation. with my understanding of how insulation works, I don’t understand why someone would insulate a staircase.

        thx for the link! what a g-d ugly house

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Not seeing the pictures, I would ask if the stair treads are carpeted or not. If not, wood gets cold in winter. If the inside of the stairs is part of the heated space in the house, presumably, the under stairs area is not, so heat will migrate from the warm to the cold. Not only are bare tootsies being cold stressed, but energy is being wasted. (s/ The servants live “below stairs” and do not deserve heat. Let them huddle together like the vermin they are. /s)

          Reply
  12. Tim

    On 420: Follow the money. The only legalization bill that will pass soon is the SAFE act which makes it federally legal for banks to do business.

    So, illegal for the little guy so they can keep buying traditional pharma, but legal for the banks to make a profit on those who ignore the Feds anyways.

    Reply
  13. DJG

    Cheri Bustos seems not to recall that dictum about special place in H E double hockeysticks with extra patriarchal hot sauce for a woman who doesn’t support women.

    And gettting rid of Lipinski should be an easy decision.

    Reply
  14. DJG

    Allow me to point out the seduction of “Russian Food Delivery.” After Petya send over the dancing chocolate bar, the strutting sturgeon with cute baby sturgeon, and the skipping sausage, I could no longer maintain my these-colors-don’t-run wokeness. Alas, I then voted for running Twinkie of Imperialism, Jill Stein.

    So you are forewarned. Take it from someone who knows about Russians bearing raspberry jam.

    Reply
  15. Tom Doak

    Joe Biden’s “first-day haul” is less impressive if you consider that he’s spent the last two months not announcing his run while he organized the donors.

    Reply
    1. John k

      Given that, I’m unimpressed. Is this the face that launched a thousand donors? After promising he’s coming all year? A paltry 6 mil from donors panicked by Bernie? Course, joe has a lotta baggage.
      Maybe there really isn’t a consensus among the donors… throw a score of s**tty candidates up against the wall and see what sticks before writing the big checks cause they remember the sure thing with Hillary.
      But as they hesitate Bernie gets on with his organizing. I dunno about the idea regional champs can each dominate their turf and keep Bernie from getting 51%, Kamala is third just now in Ca… and how many regional champs are out there? Bet Bernie beats Beto in tx just because m4a and 15.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i just watched Bernie’s fox town hall(been on news moratorium for a month or so), and am more excited than i’ve been in some time.
        so, yeah…if there’s no…or at least limited…shenanigans in the electoral procedures, I think he’d win in a landslide.
        the texas bernie people got my number, somehow(i don’t use email, mostly, so don’t really sign up for anything), and texted me, asking if i could host a house party or something.
        i replied that, having the only bernie sticker for at least a 50 mile radius, I have ample opportunity to evangelise for a new new deal in feedstores and in the produce aisle in this far place.
        curiosity from people who would have been more likely to deface my tailgate just a few years ago.
        , and now, dealing with our healthcare funding chaos, i’ve learned that the people who are in place in various places to help one with insurance(at the oncology doctor’s office, the isd where wife works, at the Teacher retirement system, and even at the insurance company itself) almost to a person think the system they help people interact with is cruel, dysfunctional and run by the greediest parasites on the planet. 2/3 of these folks i’ve had occasion to shoot the bull with in our dealings are republicans…and even they didn’t balk at mention of canadian healthcare.
        add this cohort to my anecdotal anthropological findings at the feedstore, etc…and there’s a movement in solution out there, ready for the catalysing crystal to be dropped.
        the PTB should be afraid.

        Reply
      2. Carey

        It’s going to be interesting when Sanders has a large plurality at the convention™,
        and they nominate a Buttigieg / Biden / Booker / Harris type anyway.

        “Come together for the Corporate State!”

        yeah right

        People Power

        Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      I got quite a kick out of the New York Magazine article about How Joe Biden Plans to Steamroll the 2020 Democratic Field. Apparently this involves making a lot of phone calls begging for corporate cash and endorsements from other Establishment Democrats. (Because that worked so well in 2016.) The article named only three people Biden has directly asked for help —  McAuliffe in Virginia, Reid in Nevada, Hodges in South Carolina. They all turned him down.

      Reply
  16. Summer

    Re: EPA / Penn

    “Just think! Because of fracking, we can muscle oil-producing Iran and Venezuela — even though the fracking industry as a whole has never turned a profit!”

    Should there be investment funds created for geopolitcal and ideological investments? Is that what is going on with “valuations”?

    Reply
    1. Stephen V.

      Profits are overrated:: says Amazon Uber Tesla etal. We have Asset Bubbles instead!
      Adam Smith will never rest in peace

      Reply
  17. Summer

    Re: Weed Lobbyists Getting Nowhere

    They should say they have a smart, new innovation: Cannibus b-ombs and bullets.

    Reply
    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      And on CBD…

      From the research I did on my mother’s behalf, the CBD sold in states without medical marijuana is snake oil made from hemp.

      What is effective is whole plant products that contain equal parts CBD and THC. They don’t make you high (which my mom doesn’t want lol) because they are mostly topicals.

      Reply
      1. jeremy415

        Why wouldn’t topical THC make you high? Does CBD somehow metabolize or cross the blood/brain barrier via topical administration, in some way that THC doesn’t? Color me skeptical.

        As you were writing this, I was writing the post just below on my CBD research from a year ago, when it was recommended by my docs.

        Sure does smack of hemp snake oil, as you noted.

        Reply
  18. allan

    Head of FEMA Sides With Republicans on Puerto Rico Aid [Bloomberg]

    The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency sided with Republicans in a bitter congressional dispute over the right amount of government assistance for rebuilding Puerto Rico, saying it wouldn’t be good for the island if Washington paid the full cost for recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria.

    Pete Gaynor, FEMA’s acting administrator, said Friday that repairing the damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 will be faster and more efficient if Puerto Rico continues to shoulder some of the cost. That gives the island an incentive to ensure the work is done properly, he said.

    “If you don’t have skin in the game, then it’s not in anyone’s best interest,” Gaynor said …

    Trump’s hatred for Puerto Ricans is going to come back and haunt him.
    There is zero reason for the Dems to move on disaster relief, and soon it will be too late
    for many farmers in red states. 2019 will be a complete loss.

    Reply
  19. jeremy415

    On CBD – “There are strong indications that CBD can relieve problems like chronic pain, anxiety, nausea, lack of appetite, and insomnia….”

    Oh, really?

    When I have time, if needed, I can re-do the research I did a year ago and provide links, but the studies I read in med journals which showed only minor benefits of CBD over placebo for these ailments all used dosages which would cost around $5,000 a month from any dispensary in California.

    OTOH, I do have friends who have reported remarkable benefits from dosages that I learned were about 1/1000 of the dosages used in research – at least, they worked for a few weeks, then suddenly didn’t

    Not surprisingly, these were all friends who had previously, temporarily reported great benefits from aromatherapy, Rieki, etc…..

    Make of that what you will.

    Reply
    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Dr. Kerklaan, only available in CA to my knowledge. Had to have my cousin mail me some for my mom. Didn’t do much for her (she has moved on to a combination of injections and a compound with ketamine in it) but it is great for my (less serious than spinal stenosis or sciatica) arthritis pain when it flares up.

      And no, it doesn’t get me high, I would know ;-)

      Reply
  20. Lee

    Paul Jay from Real News Network was on PBS Newshour being interviewed about corruption in Baltimore. Is his appearance on MSM an unusual event?

    All I know about Baltimore I learned from watching The Wire. It seems little has changed in the intervening years.

    Reply
  21. Big River Bandido

    A late report from the Chicago Tribune indicates a possible settlement in the Chicago Symphony musicians’ strike. The report is extremely sketchy with few details, other than Rahm Emanuel asked the parties to come together, and the musicians will vote on the proposal tomorrow morning at 10. Given Emanuel’s typical style of negotiating, I wouldn’t expect to be celebrating the result.

    Reply
    1. sierra7

      Have been following this story. Sad what the show billionaires are trying to do to this world class symphony crew. Sad how we treat all over the arts here. Hope things will work out. Hate to see this.

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        The precedent for this was laid five years ago. That the Chicago board has done it is shocking, but now every symphony board in the country will likely try it.

        Art museums, mass transit systems, parking spaces, drinking water, and now even symphony orchestras are mere commodities. And every free inch of urban living space is “underutilized” if it isn’t being used to sell advertising. This is a toxic environment for artists.

        One of the lawyers negotiating on behalf of the Chicago musicians, Kevin Case, put it really well on his own blog:

        Many board members prize financial “sustainability” as the ultimate goal; and they see the musicians as employees – “labor” – who, along with administrative staff, provide “the product.” Consistent with common business practice, they want the “labor” to produce that “product” at the lowest possible cost.

        Similarly, board members may view musicians as workers who make the product because that’s the paradigm they know (and it’s how capitalism operates). …

        That is often manifested in complaints about how much of the budget goes to the musicians’ salary and benefits. To which I always reply, “where else should the money be going?” It’s almost laughable – a person who is willing to commit their time, expertise and money to the operation of an orchestra is miffed because so much money is allocated to . . . the orchestra.

        Reply
  22. Eureka Springs

    We found 85,000 cops who’ve been investigated for misconduct. Now you can read their records.

    85k is over 10 percent of the total number of cops in the country.

    Obtained from thousands of state agencies, prosecutors, police departments and sheriffs, the records detail at least 200,000 incidents of alleged misconduct, much of it previously unreported. The records obtained include more than 110,000 internal affairs investigations by hundreds of individual departments and more than 30,000 officers who were decertified by 44 state oversight agencies.

    Reply
  23. chuck roast

    “Uber’s Plan to Lose Money on Each Transaction and Make It Up in Volume, Annotated”

    The hits just keep on coming…another headline for The Headline Hall of Fame.

    Reply
  24. flora

    Lambert,
    Thanks for wading through all the election muck (cough *Biden* cough) so I don’t have to.

    Also, if the Dem elite tell themselves that the ‘voters gotta vote for the Dem establishment’s pre selected candidate (see super-delegates and backroom deals) ’cause where else the voters gonna go?’… I wonder if the Dem elite have ever asked themselves where else they themselves are gonna go if the voters keep rejecting them. Brazil? etc. heh.

    adding: I think Biden’s stance on women is: “all over them, and the younger the better.”

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      Thanks Rev Kev. It is revealing.

      To think my family has given given decades of loyalty to the party. If the party was not so willing to let President Trump stay in power, it would be dead to me. Melodramatic, yes, but still true. Jimmy Dore seems to get evermore angry each time I see him.

      Reply
  25. Jessica

    Impeaching Trump when his own voters have not turned on him would weaken the legitimacy of the constitution.
    Defeating him fair and square in an election would strengthen it.

    Reply
    1. Sanxi

      Not that simple. His voters didn’t elect him, indirectly the electoral college did. The fact Trump was too stupid and too incompetent to commit crimes he wanted to just can’t be ignored, it isn’t about converting his base it’s about those that believe in the rule of law. Something needs to be done, but with integrity and low key. The issue really isn’t the house it’s the press which just won’t give up. One can only hope people are tired of it.

      Reply

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