2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, more shortly! Especially on that lovable goof, Joe Biden….


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

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


Biden (D)(1): “Democrats dismiss Biden as front-runner in name only” [Politico]. “In another election, at another time, the late entrance of a well-funded candidate leading in the polls might send convulsions through the primary field. But Joe Biden’s arrival into the 2020 race has not had that effect. No Democratic rival appears doomed. No one’s fundraising seems in danger of drying up. Instead, in joining the race, the former vice president has laid bare how unsettled the entire 20-candidate contest remains — and how many in the party don’t believe the 76-year-old Biden is prepared for the rigors of a modern campaign, or the demands of a party transformed…. The key milepost, nearly every campaign agrees, is the first official debate in June.” • June 26, 2019 is not far off. Something to look forward to….

Biden (D)(2): “Can Biden be the helmsman who gets us past the storm?” [E.J. Dionne Jr., WaPo]. “Helmsman.” Lordy, has E.J. lost his mind? “But Biden’s most clarifying comment came later Thursday, in Wilmington, Del., when a reporter asked whether he had a message to the world. Biden replied: ‘America’s coming back like we used to be — ethical, straight, telling the truth . . . supporting our allies, all those good things.’ A lot hangs on the phrase ‘back like we used to be.‘ It suggests that the nation’s priority is a restoration of its core principles and normal life. ” • Remember all the #Resistance types yammering “This is not normal?” Well, yes, the sense of chaos and disempowerment is normal. Just not for them. In any case, I would suggest that after the debacle of the Crash, there aren’t that many voters who would see rolling back to the clock to 2008 as the solution for the woes — except posssibly the professional 10% classes on up, whose income didn’t really skip a beat.

Biden (D)(3): “Joe Biden’s long record supporting the war on drugs and mass incarceration, explained” [Vox]. “When it comes to criminal justice issues, Biden’s record also puts him at sharp odds with where Democrats are today: He has one of the most punitive, “tough on crime” records on criminal justice issues within the 2020 field — more so than even opponents Kamala Harris or Amy Klobuchar, both of whom have already been criticized for their records. This was a problem for Hillary Clinton in 2016, when she had to answer for the criminal justice policies of her husband as Black Lives Matter and criminal justice reformers took center stage in the Democratic primaries. As another politician who came up in the same era, Biden is vulnerable to identical criticisms.” • What if — hear me out — Biden’s idea of what’s “normal” is, like, really bad?

Biden (D)(4): “Joe Biden’s Big Gamble” [The American Conservative]. “The Biden dilemma is that the rationale for his candidacy, a return to pre-Trump normalcy, reinforces his biggest liabilities…. Biden has to bet that there are enough older and more moderate Democrats to get him through the primaries. Then he must hope Trump’s failure to deliver on his more populist campaign promises will make some of the lines of criticism that derailed Hillary implausible. All while staying a step ahead of the cultural revolution—remember the erstwhile Defense of Marriage Act supporter actually preempted Obama by coming out in favor of gay marriage first—without joining it. Doable, certainly, but a tall order for an aging and undisciplined candidate. Biden accumulated political capital as Obama’s vice president. He is betting he has enough to spend to become president.”

Biden (D)(5): “Biden and Obama’s ‘Odd Couple’ Relationship Aged Into Family Ties” [New York Times]. “By the time that Mr. Biden began weighing a campaign, the president had long since concluded that Hillary Clinton had the best chance of winning in 2016. Beyond that, Mr. Biden was awash in grief over the death of his son, hardly the state of mind for a grueling presidential marathon. But Mr. Obama did not want to push and sought to give his vice president room to come to the decision himself. Over the course of weekly lunches, he gently pressed Mr. Biden on his thinking. Eventually, the president arranged for his own strategist to deliver a daunting assessment of the odds against a race. Mr. Biden got the message. ‘The president was not encouraging,’ he later acknowledged.” • Obama’s so passive-aggressive. As usual with liberal Democrats, he sticks in the shiv in the nicest possible way…

Buttigieg (D)(1): “How Pete Buttigieg’s Meaningless Erudition Made Him the ‘Smart’ Candidate” [New York Times]. “As these stories [of Buttigieg speaking Norwegian] spread, accompanied by more video evidence, Buttigieg became a case study in what a friend of mine calls ‘internetty smarts’ — intelligence reduced down to a collection of references and images. Like all internetty things, this type of intelligence plays to the viewer’s vanities and prejudices. In this case, it seemed driven by the sorts of people who study literature, read magazines like this one and wring their hands about public-school segregation while quietly sending their kids to elite private schools.” • Unusual self-awareness from the Times. I wonder if it will last?

Buttigieg (D)(2): “Pete Buttigieg Stuns Campaign Crowd By Speaking To Manufacturing Robots In Fluent Binary” [The Onion]. “‘…01000001 01101101 01100101 01110010 01101001 01100011 01100001 01101110 01110011 00101110 00100000,’ said the 37-year-old South Bend, IN mayor to the awe-struck machines, delivering the message by emitting a series of high-pitched tones and beeps with a perfect accent. ‘To all of you, I say 01100001 01110011 00100000 01110000 01110010 01100101 01110011…'” • I can’t believe The Onion did that! (There are a lot more zeroes and ones in the original….).

Buttigieg (D)(3): “‘I Want Him on Everything’: Meet the Woman Behind the Buttigieg Media Frenzy” [Politico]. “Our meeting was part of a strategy, one run with surprising sophistication and efficacy for a candidate whose highest-profile gig so far is a local office in the fourth-biggest city in Indiana. Buttigieg’s rise from unlikeliest of contenders to actual top-tier presidential candidate has been fueled in part, maybe in large part, by his astonishing success courting the press. And when I began asking around to figure out who was behind that strategy, the same name kept coming up: Lis Smith. Smith is a fierce New York City-based Democratic operative who helped engineer the plan to get Buttigieg in front of not just national political reporters, but anybody with a camera or microphone.” Smith worked for O’Malley, and “knew Axelrod from 2012, when she worked as director of rapid response for President Barack Obama’s reelection effort.” • I was thinking it was about time that the press started pulling the wings off the Buttigieg fly, as they do, but it sounds like Smith would make that hard.

Gravel (D)(1): “Oops, folks, here’s the real news: WE’RE RUNNING TO WIN” [Mike Gravel] (fund-raising email sent to me by CI). “Hey, so we accidentally used an old subject line for the last email we sent (even though we still believe it), but here is the email again because we still think everyone should see it…. I don’t intend to be a disruption, I intend to hold up a mirror. America’s elections come and go, but the blood on our hands gets thicker by the day.” • Do note the URL….

Hickenlooper (D)(1):

Pandering to the working class! Well, I never!

Moulton (D)(1): “Moulton: Sanders, Warren too liberal to beat Trump in 2020” [The Hill]. • That message should rake in the bucks! Heck, Pelosi is too liberal for Moulton…

O’Rourke (D)(1): “Beto O’Rourke opens his California campaign Saturday in Los Angeles” [Los Angeles Times]. “Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke of Texas will launch his 2020 California primary campaign Saturday with a four-day driving tour of the state. The former El Paso congressman will stop at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College downtown for an outdoor rally at 4 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday, O’Rourke is planning a town hall at the United Irish Cultural Center in San Francisco, followed by multiple stops in the Central Valley on Monday. He wraps up his visit Tuesday morning with a town hall in San Diego.” • I hear he did OK in one of these venues, at least; policy specifics. I forgot to ask if he was standing on anything…

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders Campaign Holds Thousands of House Parties for Supporters” [New York Times]. “On Saturday, Mr. Sanders’s campaign kicked off its national organizing program with what it says are roughly 5,000 events across every state. Mr. Sanders addressed supporters via a prerecorded video that was filmed in Boston. ‘Let’s run a historic grass-roots campaign,’ he said. ‘And when we do that, the 1 percent can spend all the money that they want — we’re going to beat them.’ ‘Us! Us! Us!,’ he shouted when the audience at the filming in Boston began to chant his name.'” • One thing I like about Sanders is that he’s clear about who his enemies are. I don’t see that with, for example, Warren. The campaign video for the event:

Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign unveils tech tool to increase its voter database” [NBC]. “Sen. Bernie Sanders flaunted his ground operation Saturday with what he called the “largest distributed day of action ever in a presidential campaign” and announced a new online organizing tool called BERN…. The online tool allows everyday supporters to contribute to the campaign’s voter database by logging names and background information of anyone from a family member to a stranger met at a bus stop. It matches each name to a voter record before noting their level of support, priority issue and even union membership.” • Hmm. On campaign tools, I remember remarking that some candidate had better get into the gaming world, and if they did, they’d have real first mover advantage. A reader responded with an excellent explanation of how to do just that, and now I can’t find their comment. Can they raise their hand, or does anyone else remember?

Sanders (D)(3): Object lesson:

Hopefully not a plant.

Trump (R)(1): “Trump Will Win in 2020, Money Managers Say in Exclusive Poll” [MarketWatch]. • No doubt. Wait ’til you get to their views on “entitlements” and “the deficit,” for which MarketWatch dutifully asks.

Warren (D)(1): “‘The queen of policy’: Warren builds campaign around detailed plans, but is that what Iowa caucusgoers want?” [Des Moines Register]. “The Massachusetts senator has created a policy-rich campaign focused on “rewriting the basic rules in our economy” that she says favors the wealthy and leaves behind working families. She has rolled out more policy proposals than any other Democratic presidential candidate so far in the 2020 cycle. Since formally announcing her run for president 12 weeks ago, Warren has unveiled nine policy proposals on everything from breaking up big tech companies and agribusinesses, to taxing the ultra-wealthy and major corporations, to providing universal child care to all American children.” • I don’t think there’s an issue with voters wanting policy; the issue is, do they want wonkery? Details, after all, are something that a successful executive will delegate… (I’d also be a lot happier with Warren if she’d revive her propasal for a Post Office Bank.)

Weld (R)(1): “Bill Weld on Nixon, Mueller and How He Plans to Beat Trump in the Primary” [New York Times]. “The New York Times interviewed Mr. Weld about the states where he will start campaigning next month, his belief that the president has committed acts far worse than Richard Nixon, and what his high school production of “Julius Caesar” taught him about Mr. Trump’s exercise of power.” For example:

The president takes an oath to uphold the Constitution. Among his duties specified in the Constitution is that he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Mr. Nixon violated that when he said to Haldeman and Ehrlichman, “We’ve got to stop this Watergate investigation. Tell them it’s national security, so they should just stand down.” That’s failing to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

That’s just one thing. With Mr. Trump you have dozens of things that amount to failing to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

I was wondering when Weld would make an appearance! (IIRC, he wasn’t the hardest-working candidate or governor.)

“The Clintons Are Nervous About 2020” [Edward-Isaac Dovere, The Atlantic]. “Many Democrats are still bitter about what happened in the last election. They can’t shake the feeling that they were robbed, and that nothing makes any sense any more. Many of those same Democrats worry they’re going to blow it against Trump again. If the Democratic candidates ‘just want to slime people, we’ll never be as good at it as they are,’ Bill said, referring to Republicans. ‘Especially the current chief executive—he’s good at that.'” • So, clearly Bill concurs with Sanders’ letter to Neera… I read the piece, and I have to assume it’s all Clintonian bafflegag, because there’s no coherence to it at all. But the idea that the Clintons don’t have a preferred outcome doesn’t strike me as credible….

“Wall Street Democrats Are Absolutely Freaking Out About Their 2020 Candidates” [Gabriel Debenedetti, New York Magazine]. “One night in early April, roughly 20 of the Democratic Party’s highest-profile donors from the financial industry sat down over dinner to discuss how exactly they were feeling about the 2020 presidential race…. ‘There’s tremendous fear,’ said one banker who was there. The candidates who had long cultivated relationships with Wall Street — such as Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand — were struggling to gain traction and had grown more hostile to finance as their party had, too…. ‘How do we come up with an alternative?’ asked one person at the dinner…. What agitates them instead is — in a replay of the alienation they felt during the Obama presidency thanks to a few stray ‘fat cats’ comments — how Democratic rhetoric threatens their sense of status…. Over coffee recently in midtown, an investment pro with a long history in Democratic politics described the struggle to resist the unexpected pull of Trump. ‘What matters more?’ he asked, looking up at me. ‘My social values or my paycheck?'” •

Lambert here: Somebody who knows Wall Street better than I do will have to comment on how much of this bankster angst is really driven by status, and how much by class. What’s that saying? “When they say ‘It’s not about the money,’ it’s about the money”? What none of the donors interviewed seem to understand about fundraising is that mailing lists and candidates are not necessarily fungible; it is true that Beto did very well in his Senatorial campaign, using Sanders staffers and fundraising tactics; but that was against the eminently punchable Cruz, one of the most disliked politicians in America. The same approach didn’t translate neatly to a Presidential run. Nor, if I am right in my views, do they understand the strategic strengths of the Sanders campaign: Not just the list, but an independent media campaign, and an independent canvassing operation (the house party numbers are impressive). You also have a candidate who’s been saying the same thing for twenty years, so you know he’s not an opportunist, even if you disagree. None of this can be purchased and dropped from the sky by hiring fancy Democratic strategists; it has to be built.

My instinct is that donors will revert to doing what they do best, and that’s spending lots and lots of money to get what they want (which, whatever else it may be, is never Bernie, and never Liz). There will also be plenty of grifters who want, no need to send their offspring to top schools, and so they will have plenty of new friends willing to help them spend their money. Since fearful bankers aren’t the nicest people in the world — and are more than willing to share their feelings with others — I’d expect to see lots and lots of oppo, and lots of yammering about “socialism.” They’ll make Neera Tanden look classy. We’ll see if that’s like pushing on a string, or not. This is a long article, but well worth a read.


James Comey is a scab:

Fits right in….

Becoming what you oppose:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Federal court strikes down Michigan districts drawn by GOP” [Roll Call]. “A three-judge panel on Thursday ruled that Michigan must use new congressional and legislative maps in 2020, potentially setting up a more favorable battlefield for House Democrats, who flipped two seats in the state last fall. The federal court invalidated portions of the existing maps, drawn by the GOP-controlled legislature in 2011, pointing to an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander that violates the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of voters.”

“GOP hoping voters open to warnings of Democrats’ socialism” [Associated Press]. • And not only the GOP!

“As Trump stands by Charlottesville remarks, rise of white-nationalist violence becomes an issue in 2020 presidential race” [WaPo]. “First came Joe Biden’s campaign announcement video highlighting President Trump’s “very fine people on both sides” comment about the 2017 white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville that left a counterprotester dead. Then Trump dug in, arguing that he was referring not to the self-professed neo-Nazi marchers, but to those who had opposed the removal of a statue of the ‘great’ Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Less than 24 hours later came another act of violence described by authorities as a hate crime: Saturday’s shooting at a synagogue in Poway, Calif., in which a gunman killed one person and injured three others. Those events have pushed the rising tide of white nationalism to the forefront of the 2020 presidential campaign, putting Trump on the defensive and prompting even some Republicans to acknowledge that the president is taking a political risk by continuing to stand by his Charlottesville comments.” • Hmm. My counter-suggestibility is really kicking in on this one. The antifa Joe Biden is pretty implausible, to start witih. I did search the article for “Russia,” but didn’t find anything. (Not to say white nationalism, as an ideology, isn’t anything but vile. But surely the numbers say it’s fringe? As compared to, say, declining life expectancy causing tens of thousands of excess deaths a year? If you want to create the material conditions for serious white nationalism — i.e., with an armed militant wing, the one missing piece of the puzzle for outright fascism — then our elites should definitely continue along the path they have set for us.

DSA: Concrete material benefits:

Go out there and serve the working class!

IA: “Here’s one thing Democrats can do to win rural voters: Fight factory farms” [Guardian]. “In Iowa – site of the first caucus, and a state that went for President Obama twice and then swung soundly to Trump – more than 750 waterways are impaired. The cause? Chemical fertilizers and factory farm manure. Iowa is home to a little more than 3 million people. It is also home to 26 million hogs, living on over 10,000 factory farms. These hogs produce as much waste as 65 million people. That waste, full of dangerous nitrates, runs into Iowa’s waterways and eventually the drinking water. As a result, the city of Des Moines has the largest nitrate removal system in the world. Barb Kalbach, fourth-generation family farmer from Adair county, says the path to cleaner Iowa water starts with stopping the expansion of factory farms: “Plain and simple, we need a moratorium on factory farms. We also need tough rules paired with tough enforcement, and we need the big ag polluters that created this mess to pay to clean it up.” Kalbach, the board president of the grassroots organization Iowa CCI Action Fund, is not alone.” • CCI has clout, or should.

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, March 2019: “In mixed results that point to consumer momentum but weakness for inflation, the Bureau of Economic Analysis has now caught up from the government shutdown issuing personal income data for the month of March as well as consumer spending and price data for both March and February” [Econoday]. “Today’s numbers were all rolled together in last week’s GDP report which will limit their impact on the markets. Yet the monthly composition is news and is mixed, showing strong acceleration for consumer spending and sharp deceleration for inflation. The caveat here is seasonal adjustments tied to Easter, a holiday that shifted this year deep into April. This clouds the results at least for inflation which may, given Easter’s positive effect on demand, pick up in the next report.”

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, April 2019: “The Dallas Fed report, like other manufacturing surveys, shows growth slowing more than expected in April” [Econoday]. “Today’s Dallas Fed report confirms other regional surveys suggesting weakness in the manufacturing sector persisting but also pointing to future growth with strength in new orders. The sharp drop in employment seconds last week’s Kansas City Fed report also seeing surprising weakness here, and is a new development that will likely draw the attention of FOMC doves.”

The Biosphere

“Britain’s Fracking Dream Is Fading Fast” [Bloomberg]. “Britain’s quest to tap domestic supplies of shale gas is looking increasingly bleak as the government’s liaison between the industry and local communities resigned after just six months in the job. Natascha Engel left the government appointed job telling a newspaper that the U.K.’s policy on hydraulic fracturing technology is being driven by environmental protesters and not scientific evidence…. Fracking is one of the few technologies that could slow or even reverse the sharp declines in oil and gas production from the North Sea as conventional deposits are pumped dry.” • Heavy regulation of micro-earthquakes seems to be the problem, though it’s hard to see why that, with all the other problems fracking causes. So, leaving it in the ground. (Not saying coal could or should be a solution, but I recall reading recently that around 1900, Britain was like the Saudi Arabia of coal, because it had a lot of it, and could easily transport it for sale internationally by sea. Odd.)

“How Plastic Production Is Affecting Our Climate and Oceans” [Forbes]. “[The Bren School of Environmental Science and Management] researchers found that polyester, polyamide, and acrylic fibers which are found in many clothing items, made up the greatest proportion of GHGs throughout the plastic production cycle. Not only do these fibers contribute to our carbon footprint, but they also frequently enter our waterways and cannot be broken down, regardless of whether they are in fresh or salt water. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, these fibers make up 35 percent of all microscopic plastics in the oceans. These plastics are even being consumed by marine organisms, including the shellfish we eat.” • Capitalism is an enormous medical experiment being performed on the population without their informed consent….

“Into the overworld: modified spy plane to see whether towering storms pose new threat to ozone layer” [Science]. “[O]ver the U.S. Great Plains, scientists suspect, towering summer thunderstorms are lofting water and pollutants high into the stratosphere, where they can catalyze ozone destruction. And researchers worry the problem could worsen as the planet warms.” • Another feedback loop….

“Pattern of Mozambique storms ‘unprecedented’: UN” [Phys.org]. “The back-to-back cyclones that have ravaged Mozambique are unprecedented in recorded history, the UN said Friday, as it planned to examine the country’s defences against extreme weather in the light of climate change…. The UN weather agency added that a fact-finding mission currently in Mozambique will in part look at the ‘impact of climate change and sea-level rise on Mozambique’s resilience’ to extreme weather. Climate change has made cyclones more damaging, as rising sea levels have increased the strength of storm surges, WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis told AFP.” • Another feedback loop!

“‘Plant a Tree, Save the Planet’ Isn’t Enough” [Bloomberg]. “A global effort toward reforestation has begun. Dozens of countries have joined the Bonn Challenge, launched in 2011 with a goal of restoring 350 million hectares (more than 1.35 million square miles) of forest by 2030. Participating countries have already pledged nearly half the required area. But a new analysis by British scientists has revealed a big problem: The countries’ pledges are not nearly as ambitious as they need to be. Too many countries seem to assume it will be good enough to merely expand commercial tree plantations or agroforestry operations, which involve planting trees amidst crops such as coffee or corn. Only one-third of the area so far committed to ‘reforestation’ worldwide is slated to return to uncultivated forestland. Yet natural forests are the only kind that trap ample quantities of carbon dioxide. Plantations absorb little more than empty land does. And every time trees are harvested, more carbon dioxide is released.” • A problem for BECCS, those carbon emissions?

“PFAS contamination is Michigan’s biggest environmental crisis in 40 years” [RT New Day MN)]. “Michigan may have more than 11,000 sites contaminated with these once-common chemicals, now linked to cancer and a host of other ailments. Regulators have identified 46 sites statewide with levels above the EPA’s health limit in groundwater…. From the late 1940s to the 2000s, PFAS was the 3M Corporation’s wonder product. The compounds made by the Minnesota-based company repelled grease and water, so they could be used for a host of processes and consumer products, from wrapping paper for hamburgers to microwave popcorn bags, from nonstick cookware to carpet and upholstery stain guards, from waterproofing shoes and clothes to use in chrome plating industries and even dental floss. The qualities that made it so useful, however, also make it virtually impossible to break down in nature — giving the compounds the ominous nickname “the forever chemical.” PFAS can now be found in the blood of nearly 99% of Americans. It has even been found in polar bears in the Arctic Circle, as the chemicals have worked their way up the food chain from fish and seals.” • Oddly, I can’t the story at the Detroit Free Press’s original link, in multiple browsers.

“A New Generation of Activists Is Taking the Lead on Climate Change” [Rolling Stone]. • A set of profiles. “‘Young people have been leading this movement for a long time,’ says veteran activist Bill McKibben.” • Not to kick a puppy, but….

“David Bernhardt Denies Business Interests Influenced Yellowstone’s Name Change To Frito Lay Presents Doritos Flamin’ Hot Nacho National Park” [The Onion]. “‘I guarantee that as the head of all national parks in this country, no amount of personal donations went into the newly renamed Jacked Ranch Dipped Hot Wings Geyser or Kickin’ Spicy White Cheddar Cheese Trail Supreme,’ said Bernhardt, emphasizing that those names were in the works far before he took the position, and that many of the park’s most famous natural features, including the Mountain Dew Code Red River, had borne their traditional names for decades. ”

Our Famously Free Press

“Inside the Shrinking Newsroom of the Paper That Shapes the Primaries” [Politico]. • The Des Moines Register. “The newspaper is but a shadow of the behemoth it once was. A decade’s worth of layoffs and buyouts have gutted the editorial operation and purged the administrative staff crucial to running a metro daily. The institutional knowledge critical to covering a state—and paramount to reporting on the Iowa caucuses—has been all but eradicated. And yet, the reality is that many comparable small-city newspapers have it much worse; if it weren’t for the global obsession with Iowa’s role in choosing leaders of the free world, the Register bullpen would be even emptier.”

Dear Old Blighty

Brexit may be changing this:

With further correspondence and other examples (!).

Groves of Academe

“Stanford Moves to Stop Supporting Its University Press” [Inside Higher Ed]. “Many academics were stunned and angry to learn that Stanford University has announced that it will no longer provide any financial support for its press. Professors at Stanford are pushing back, but there are no signs that the university will reconsider. Without support from the university, dozens of books released by the press each year would no longer be published. ‘At first glance the proposition that a university of Stanford’s stature would voluntarily inflict damage upon an asset like the Stanford University Press seems shockingly improbable. The press is a world-class scholarly publisher with a 125-plus-year history — a global ambassador of the university’s brand,’ said Peter Berkery, executive director of the Association of University Presses, via email. ‘It appears the Stanford administration is proceeding from the misperception that university presses are self-funding — which, with only a handful of highly circumstantial exceptions, is demonstrably not the case.'” • Well, Stanford hasn’t been about scholarship for some time, has it? Or, for that matter, American universities as such. So this decision by the Stanford administration — endowment, $25 billion — is long over-due and wonderfully clarifying.

“There Is No Excuse for How Universities Treat Adjuncts” [The Atlantic]. “Even while keeping funding for instruction relatively flat, universities increased the number of administrator positions by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, 10 times the rate at which they added tenured positions. In the old days, different professors would take their turn as dean for this or that and then happily escape back to scholarship and teaching. Now the administration exists as an end in itself and a career path disconnected from the faculty and pursuit of knowledge. Writing a few years ago for this publication, the Johns Hopkins professor Benjamin Ginsberg described colleges and universities as now being “filled with armies of functionaries—vice presidents, associate vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, provosts, associate provosts, vice provosts, deans, deanlets, and deanlings, all of whom command staffers and assistants—who, more and more, direct the operations of every school.” So while college tuition surged from 2003 to 2013 by 94 percent at public institutions and 74 percent at private, nonprofit schools, and student debt has climbed to over $1.2 trillion, much of that money has been going to ensure higher pay for a burgeoning legion of bureaucrats. As administrators make more and more faculty positions part-time, allegedly for cost savings, they don’t apply that same logic to themselves.” • So why don’t we gut the administration, and keep the press? (This article is from 2015, but we somehow missed at the time. Still true today!)

“Despite his ouster, Max Nikias is still a force at USC, leaving some worried” [Los Angeles Times]. “The 66-year-old has important allies at the university, especially among the wealthy and powerful trustees who credit him with singularly elevating the school’s ambition and reputation… Around the time The Times revealed that [former campus gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall] had been accused repeatedly of misconduct at the student health clinic over three decades, Nikias told some on the board that he might have to step down….. There had been numerous scandals during Nikias’ tenure — at the medical school and the athletic department in particular. And while critics saw a systemic failure in the president’s leadership, trustees seemed to regard those affairs as largely eclipsed by his contributions, according to interviews.” • As one does…

Guillotine Watch

“Facebook’s Zuckerberg Builds His Wife a Glowing ‘Sleep Box'” [Bloomberg]. “Mark Zuckerberg said he built a glowing wooden box to help his wife Priscilla sleep better through the night without having to check her phone to see if it’s time to look over their children…. The ‘sleep box’ emits a very faint light between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. — when their daughters are expected to wake up.” • Silicon Valley re-invents the dawn! (And read to the end for a weirdly inorganic topic shift.)

News of the Wired

No spoilers here:

Cheeky monkeys (1):

Cheeky monkeys (2):

Candidate for “Dad of the Year”?

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PM writes: “First Skunk Cabbage, Idylwood-Redmond, WA.” It’s as if new plants appear with an audible popping sound.

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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. Alfred

    This statement, made in connection with the proposed withdrawal of Stanford’s subvention of its university press, is untrue: “Without support from the university, dozens of books released by the press each year would no longer be published.” Publishers have come and gone for centuries. Any worthwhile manuscript that the Stanford University Press cannot publish due to its demise, will find an outlet through some other press or publishing scheme.

    1. Pavel

      I suspect Stanford spends more on its football team (and especially the coach) than it does on the SU Press. But I’d love to stand corrected.

      BTW I cannot remember where (here perhaps?) but I recently learned about Governor Leland Stanford’s grossly racist actions against the Chinese workers on the railroad and elsewhere. American kleptocracy and exceptionalism at its best.

    2. Pavel

      Via the Mercury News:

      (Note: Stanford [football] coach David Shaw earned $4.3 million in 2018, but because of the cover provided by Stanford’s private school status, we don’t know Shaw’s compensation for next season.)

    3. sleepingdogmatist

      A sincere question: have you sent a book manuscript to an academic publisher recently? Relatedly, have you taken a look at the quarterly subject-area indices for scholarly publications anytime since, I don’t know, the 90s? The latter have swelled to five or six times (if not much more) their length from before the financial crisis. There are no academic jobs, so the pool of desperate people trying to break into these $48k/pa positions, often in the middle of nowhere, are all flooding the publishers with a ludicrous quantity of material trying to set themselves apart from the rest of the poor schmucks. There *does* seem to be a pretty fixed quantity of titles which publishers will actually take to press; the idea that “if it’s good, it will surely find a home” is hard for me to hear as anything other than hopelessly naive market fundamentalism.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      No they won’t. Any manuscript which is not strongly considered speculatively highly profitable will not be printed by any “must break even” publishing house.

      If professors take “publishable works being published” seriously, they may well look at what Universities still support their University Presses. And those Universities might well start recruiting such professors to their Press-Supporting Universities away from Stanford. With any luck, the “University Press” universities can lure away from Stanford enough professors to put Stanford into a Brain Drain Death Spiral . . . in which Stanford dies and stays dead. This might scare other Universities which would like to amputate their publishing arms . . . into supporting their publishing arms.

  2. lighter

    The Zuckerberg “sleepbox” looks like an overblown story. He could have just bought a Philips alarm clock like the rest of us, but maybe he likes to build things with his hands? Not “Guillotine Watch” worthy

    1. Intergalactic Joe

      The sleep box doesn’t look like a bad idea. When I check the time at night, the first thing I do is calculate how many hours of sleep I could have left, which can’t be helping get me back to sleep more quickly. Less information in this case is a benefit (just “do I have to get up soon” vs. “definitely not yet” seems sufficient), and this is honestly a pretty cheap DIY solution. It might not be especially innovative, but is definitely crafty, and could be a fun project to do sometime.

      I think it was filed under Guillotine Watch more because of the topic shift in the article itself; a much more innocuous article could have been written about Zuckerberg doing something clever, and that Bloomberg couldn’t help but include a section putting Facebook on blast certainly says something about the general perspective on the man.

      1. lighter

        It certainly is a nice-looking piece of furniture, and I can see the advantages of not having the time displayed. I suspect many people (Lambert included) read the headliner as a “person-sized” glowing sleep box.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          so…not only does zuck look a lot like commander data, but his wife now sleeps in a glowy coffin?
          just turn the clockface towards the wall…the alarm will function even if you can’t see the time.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          No, I read the story, I knew the box wasn’t a coffin. That’s why the joke about “Silicon Valley re-invents the dawn.” If I thought Chan was sleeping in a box, I would have made jokes about garlic and wooden stakes.

    2. Off The Street

      When at his Hawaiian estate, the Zuckster could hire some locals to wave palm fronds over a bowl of poi to help the wakey wakey. Oh, wait, he pissed’em all off with those lawsuits so no wonder technology had to be brought back in (lack of agency intentional). Getting so a guy can’t even enjoy a pleasant phony dawn anymore. Call it the Aurora Zuckstralis if not already trademarked.

    3. Tertium Squid

      From the headline I thought it was a box for his wife to sleep in.

      And it’s charming that he says he “built it”, like he himself was in the garage fiddling with pine boards and LEDs.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Exactly, lol, after the stun gun goat sushi story I didn’t even bat an eye at the idea of Zuck building a sleep coffin for his wife.


  3. Cal2

    “How Pete Buttigieg’s Meaningless Erudition Made Him the ‘Smart’ Candidate”


    “The thing I’m proudest of,” Biden said on Friday of his time at Obama’s right hand,
    “Not one single whisper of scandal…not one, and that’s because of Barack.”

    Maybe he has Alzheimer’s?

    Drone warfare and the targeted killings of American citizens? Drone strikes targeted enemies and innocents alike in Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Of these strike zones, only Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria were active battlefields. At least four American citizens were killed, including a 16-year-old boy in Yemen, struck two weeks after his father.

    Wiretapping You
    As a Senator, Barack Obama condemned the Bush-era Patriot Act for violating the rights of American citizens. Once in office, he renewed the act, allowing intelligence agencies to carry out ‘roving wiretaps’ on American citizens and collect billions of phone call and text message records every year.

    “Fast and Furious”
    In 2009, the Department of Justice came up with the amazingly bright idea of letting firearms – including .50 caliber rifles powerful enough to rip apart an engine block – fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, supposedly as a means of tracking them.

    The plan backfired. Federal agents lost track of most of the 2,000 guns, which wound up being used in murders on both sides of the border, including the slaying of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010.

    But the Obama administration was non-apologetic. Instead, when the Republican-controlled House kicked up a stink, Holder sought to withhold documents relating to the scandal under subpoena, and Obama later withheld them under executive privilege when Holder was cited for contempt of Congress.

      1. Cal2

        …are embodied in “The [corporate] Democratic Party’s claim to be the only true friend of the American working person.”

        There’s plenty of time between now and the primary to debunk them.

        Here’s backgrounders for those who want to explore the history:




    1. JohnnyGL

      Ed Snowden happened under Obama, revealing massive NSA data collection, revealing James Clapper to have perjured himself.

      Russiagate looks like a spying scandal, too.

      HRC’s email scandal happened under his watch.

      John Brennan’s disastrous Timber-Sycamore plan to supply Jihadis with weapons to overthrow Assad in Syria should be considered a scandal. That’s of course what was going on when the ambassador was killed at Benghazi.

      Too Big To Fail is a scandal on its face. And it’s still understood to be policy, with all due respect to the recent revival of interest in anti-trust. It’s a strictly Obama-era policy. Treasury Sec. Paulson killed Lehman in 2008. No major player in the capital markets has been allowed to die since then.

      Obama also had scandals in human form. Larry Summers and Rahm Emanuel and Eric Holder. Emanuel couldn’t have become mayor of Chicago without Obama. So Chicago has been paying the price for years.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      My list of Obama scandals is short:

      1) Didn’t prosecute a single bankster

      2) Rationalized and consolidated Bush’s warrantless surveillance program plus torture.

      The latter is certainly impeachable; the former, under Weld’s “take care” standard, also.

      Anybody who says “Barack” instead of “Obama” gets the side-eye from me.

      1. Joe Well

        As bad as all that was, wouldn’t it still be fair to say he was the least bad president since at least Carter and possibly far earlier*?

        *as measured by 1) body count and 2) % worsening of rule of law as inherited from previous administrations.

        1. pretzelattack

          naw, no wars under carter, and carter didn’t inherit much from the nixon ford administrations.

          1. Joe Well

            Regarding Carter:

            “While he didn’t initiate any aggressive invasions of foreign nations the way his predecessors and successors did in Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other countries, Carter proved remarkably generous at providing financial, military, diplomatic and ideological support for fascist dictatorships that tortured and killed millions of members of their domestic populations in an effort to crush popular movements for social justice. Some of the regimes he backed carried out mass slaughter that amounted to genocide.”

            IMHO, Carter+Reagan did much more to enable mass murderers in other countries than succeeding presidents and so have higher body counts even than BHO who was key to the destruction of Libya.

        2. Darius

          Tell that to the families of the droned. Obama threw Yemen under the bus in exchange for the Iran deal. He threw Venezuela under the bus in payment for normalizing with Cuba.

          Obama didn’t prosecute the banksters. Instead he made excuses for them. No rule of law there. HARP and HAMP were so perverse it’s like they were designed by a psychopath. Oh yeah. They were. Tim Geithner.

          Then he “pivoted” to the deficit just as soon as he thought the banks were safe. Millions left unemployed or stuck in underemployment. But it’s OK. The people who matter were taken care of and all the billionaires patted Obama on the head and told him what an impressive young man he was.

          Obama doesn’t kiss ass because he has to. He kisses ass because he enjoys it.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > No rule of law

            It’s amazing to me that Democrats still talk about the rule of law as if it were a “normalcy” to return to, when elite impunity under Obama became so very obvious.

            Same deal with “rules-based international order.” After Iraq? Really?

          2. Joe Well

            I just think that GWB had already set the government enabling of banksters in motion so that if the crisis had happened a year earlier, presidential action wouldn’t have been much different. Of course, there would have been more criticism from Democrats, which is the key reason for being angry with BHO.

        3. Fiery Hunt

          Obama (Mr. 7 Wars) comes in #2 in my Worst Presidents since Carter List, barely beating Reagan but taking a backseat to Junior who wins the title hands down.

          In order…

          Don. Trump
          Geo. H.W. Bush
          Wm Jeff. Clinton
          R. Reagan
          B. Obama

          All of ’em vile. None get a pass.

          1. Procopius

            Agreed, but Carter was the President who started the deregulation movement and also appointed Paul “Blood on the Floor” Volcker. I think he’s a nice man, but he was not a good president.

        4. drumlin woodchuckles

          Obama took CheneyBush’s bold experiments in anti-Constitutional governance and International Law-Breaking and made them routinized and normalized by giving the CheneyBush team immunity and impunity for all its lawbreaking.

          Whereas the Dubya Bush Administration at least prosecuted some Executive SwindleMasters ( Enron, Global . . . something . . . , etc.), Obama immunised and impunified the FIRE sector perpetrators by having his Holder prosecute absolutely zero of them. So Obama routinized and normalized the Rule of Lawlessness and spread it into areas that the CheneyBush Administration had not spread it into.

          But his body count was lower, so there is that.

      1. allan

        But, but … he’s a man of faith:

        Al Sharpton told Pete Buttigieg he was the only candidate this cycle to take the train to meet him in Harlem and the only candidate to say a blessing over his food before eating.

        Faith in markets, that is.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the only candidate to say a blessing over his food before eating

          Sharpton understands Norwegian? That’s impressive.

          * * *

          I don’t think the Democrat nomenklatura understands that what they see as positives about Buttigieg’s resume — Rhodes scholar, McKinsey, Afghanistan, intelligence background — others might see as negatives. In fact, the possibility doesn’t even enter their minds.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          How many Black voters will vote for Wuttipig in the primaries if “Reverend” Sharpton tells them to? Thousands? Millions? How many?

    3. wilroncanada

      But he didn’t mean those kinds of things. They are policy decisions after all. I’m almost certain what he meant was: politicians fondling underage girls in public; or a politician setting his son up in a country the US took over, for the specific purpose of lining his pockets. You know, those kinds of scandals.

    4. VietnamVet

      Omission really works. Barrack Obama and Joe Biden are directly responsible for restarting the Cold War and the endless wars in Syria and Libya. It is gut wrenching that these made nobody’s list of true evil despite thousands or deaths and millions of refugees.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      Scandal means sex scandal, as with a little cute intern and a little blue dress.

  4. Deschain

    Re: politicians getting into the gaming world, I think that was me. Let me see if I can find the comment . . .

    . . . yep here it is, Water Cooler 4/2/19.

    Note: I went to one of the Bernie organizing events Saturday. I have some definite ideas about this and would like to help but I have no idea who to get in front of. I’m an MD at an investment bank (mostly closeted Bernie supporter, don’t want to wind up like the fine lady at Cantor) and so I have a lot of experience putting together persuasive arguments.


    Re: Fortnite and

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

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

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

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

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

    1. John k

      I read this earlier, and thought the ideas excellent. Happy to see it again.

      I get multiple emails daily from Bernie asking for bucks even though I signed up for a monthly contribution. So I ignore them… would be much more interested in a weekly message summing up where we are and plans schedule for the next week or so… and maybe more receptive in tossing in a little more.
      You would think there’d be some way for at least the major lefty sites like nc to toss an occasional idea over the wall… seems there’s no way for ideas to move up? Does jimmy Dore know the secret password?

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      Sadly, this is nothing like what Bernie is doing. Multiple daily emails and texts that even if you unsubscribe the next time you interact with the campaign back they come.

      Asking for $, not including policy except very generically.

      And as for Bern, the new app, all the others (20s, 30s) duly installed it on their phone and immediately began listing family, etc. There was much ballyhoo from the video about how revolutionary this would be because it would enable the campaign to get people registered to vote.

      But it was not clear to me what contact these people were being set up for from the campaign and they didn’t bother to explain.

      Now, some in my group said they didn’t request any contact info (email etc) for the people they entered, just name, zip code, and who they were likely to vote for.

      So maybe that means they won’t follow up on Trump voters (dumb!) but will check voter rolls to ensure Bernie voters are on them.

      But how will they ensure this? And what other communication will they have in the process?

      I love the networking concept behind this but wish it was made clearer what we would be setting people up for.

      Once I get an answer, I’ll install the app, but not before.

      1. Deschain

        Yeah this frankly felt more like a MLM scheme than community building. We’ll see what they do with it.

      2. Code Name D

        I completly agree. In fact, I have been arguing for this for years (with little to show for it.)

        And not just a summery. Sanders needs to include things like children’s artwork (always fun)as well as relivent reserch papers.

        There also needs to be a strong regional compoent to give a voice for local canidates also shut out of the corpreate system. This weill be essenchal for Bernie to get a workable congress in place to support his agenda.

    3. Wyoming

      Interestingly enough I have given money to Bernie multiple times and have never recieved a fund raising email.

      Maybe Hillary has a bot that is stealing my money!

    4. The Rev Kev

      Can’t see a politician going into Fortnite without being stream-sniped. Here is a definition of that term-

      Stream sniping is a contentious form of, essentially, cheating in multiplayer games with big livestream audiences. Stream snipers are those who watch a Twitch stream of a game while playing it themselves to get a read on where another player is so that they can go take them down.

      There are players who do this to very experienced players like “Ninja” so that they can boast that they took them down in a game.

    5. Stillfeelinthebern

      This is amazingly wonderful and would be fun! So much of campaign work is not fun:(. In fall 2018, I texted for cannabis referendums with Our Wisconsin Revolution. That was fun, but I think it was the topic that brought out the humor. Did have some good thoughtful conversations as well.

      BTY, I could not get the Bernie app to work on Saturday night, but just tried it and now it is functioning. You put in a person’s name, city and Zip code. It then checks a voter file and comes back with the name and an age. You decide if it is that person. Then you select if they are a Bernie supporter and what other candidates they might support. No emails or phone numbers are collected.

    6. aletheia33

      an observation re: the sanders campaign’s daily fundraising emails:

      yes, the daily ”please give more’’ pleas are annoying.
      especially because i’ve already signed up for a monthly donation of the maximum i think i can afford.
      and because i know i might still be persuaded to occasionally chip in an extra few $$ by one of these emails and i resent being constantly pushed to struggle once again with my ambivalence (over what i can actually “afford”–this is a knotty philosophical question after all–or just over my gambling addiction, given what a long shot i’m putting my dollars on).

      i usually get some info from these emails that i’ve not seen elsewhere (and might not see until significantly later).
      so i notice that i always skim them to see what new info is in them.
      the one below from today is an example.

      i am guessing they are trying to make them informative beyond just the request
      and so may already be thinking toward the approach deschain outlines here.
      so i think these emails may be the best of the genre that i’ve ever seen (admittedly a pretty low bar) and are not exactly typical of the widely established norm.

      i mean, i remember how years ago i discovered moveon with some excitement and then got disgusted with their emails and unsubscribed to them forever . . . i got so tired of that word “bold” i still can’t stand even sanders using it. that is the repellent norm. anyway, here is an example of info i was glad to receive along with the daily request for $$.

      From: “Richard Rodriguez, Our Revolution Leader”
      Subject: Our meeting with DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos
      Date: April 29, 2019 at 2:19:06 PM EDT
      Reply-To: info@ourrevolution.com

      Our Revolution
      DCCC Blacklist: Campaign Update!
      Last week, I helped deliver over 30,000 petitions – signed by Our Revolution supporters like you across the USA – directly to Rep. Cheri Bustos, Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee! Because YOU took action, Rep. Bustos agreed to meet with us and hear why we are demanding she end the DCCC Blacklist immediately!
      Our Revolution is on the frontlines of the fight to transform the Democratic Party. In just 3 weeks, we’ve mobilized tens of thousands of people AND took our demand straight to the top of the DCCC. Will you make a contribution so that we can ramp up our campaign to END the DCCC BLACKLIST once and for all?
      Clem Balanoff from Our Revolution Illinois and Richard Rodriguez, National Our Revolution Board Member deliver petitions to Rep. Cheri Bustos.
      Here’s the update: Last week, I joined with other Our Revolution leaders for a frank sit-down meeting with Rep. Cheri Bustos in Illinois to deliver our message: Over 30,000 progressive activists who are members of Our Revolution think the DCCC Blacklist is bad politics and bad policy.
      We told Rep. Bustos that the DCCC Blacklist is designed to protect incumbents and prevent a new generation of progressives – like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ro Khanna and Ayanna Pressley – from getting elected to Congress.
      We told her that Our Revolution activists are laying the groundwork to elect more progressives across the country and we won’t let the DCCC Blacklist undermine our critical work.
      Rep. Bustos took our petitions, listened to our concerns, and agreed to set up a follow-up meeting with DCCC officials in Washington, DC. It’s a step in the right direction – but we also made it clear that we won’t stop organizing until she rescinds the DCCC Blacklist once and for all!
      Because of our power to mobilize the grassroots, top DCCC officials are paying attention to our demands. But we still have more organizing work to do to get them to END the DCCC BLACKLIST. Will you make a $5 donation to Our Revolution and help us ESCALATE our campaign before our next meeting with DCCC officials?
      Thank you for stepping up. When we fight together, we will win!
      In Solidarity
      Richard Rodriguez
      National Board Member
      Our Revolution

    7. Greg

      I have pondered this since it came up, thinking more about the direct campaigning on games side rather than the using game methods for a regular campaign aspect that is outlined so well here.

      One of the problems is that gaming has splintered into a million micro communities since it became more mainstream. Basically the same as you see in every other community – more people means more variation in preferences.

      So you can’t just go play fortnite – that’s big but it’s still only a fraction of the population. There are so many other games!

      You could go up a level to the platforms that have started consolidating the market. Fortnite is epics own build as part of their sales of their eponymous engine. Then a couple other big companies have their own, blizzard etc. Everything else is via a platform now.
      So how do you campaign on steam, gog, xbox live, psn?

      Then you realise each of those is a specific company’s walled garden and suddenly you’re back to courting corporate donors.

    8. Code Name D

      Major thumbs up. I hve been pushing exactly these ideas for years, with little success. E-mails are pointless if they get sent strate to the spam folder. You need to get people to want to read them.

      They need to be treated like news laters with strong editorial content. But also include stuff like children’s art (always fun) as well as link’s to major reserch papers relivent to the campain, and a slice of everything in between.

      And these news leters needs a strong regenal compoent so that local politicnas and editorlists can have a platform for their region. This is esenchal for congress criters. Getting Bernie into the Whitehouse will be pointless if their isn’t also a signfcent expansion of real progresives in congress.

      Some of the local content may even rise to national importance. So editoral power needs to keep an eye on regional postings and selct the cream of the crop, promoting through the ranks.

  5. NotTimothyGeithner

    I thought the Bob Newhart cameo at the end of last night’s Game of Thrones was a bit out of a place. George RR Martin was a television writer after all.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      Well Kit Harrington already tossed out the Newhart show end of the series theory.

      They thought that it would all end, and it would pan out and it’d all been a dream. Ghost had been having a dream. Does that make sense? Like Ghost, my direwolf, had dreamt it all somehow and that was his theory and he was dead serious about it. I went, ‘Please never become a screenwriter. That is the worst ending.’ Can you imagine if it ended like that?

      I thought my direwolf dreamt of electric sheep .

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It just hasn’t metastasized to a national scale.

      And the Democrats are (1) yammering about it and (2) doing everything they can to reinforce the material conditions that give it traction. That’s what scares me to death.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i have tried and failed to make that case to friends and family in Team Blue Land….that if you want to ensure actual fascism in the usa, just keep doing what we’ve been doing(austerity, hopelessness, despair, etc).
        it’s like they have some cognitive block that’s been surreptitiously installed.
        strangely, the last four years or so, I’ve had much better luck talking about new dealism(even socialism) with erstwhile teabillies than with any of my local democrats, mom included.
        I suspise that it’s a class issue(i can’t think of another local poor democrat. they’re all relatively comfortable.)…and we’re not allowed to talk about that, apparently.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I wish I had data on where people who have gone through the process of raising money for healthcare from GoFundMe — a libertarian utopia, in fact — end up politically.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            my “data” is exclusively anecdotal.
            and our adventures in cancer have afforded much opportunity to speak of these things with folks who, not so long ago, would have likely advised bootstraps and such.
            in our isolated county of 4500 souls, there’s a fundraiser of some sort every weekend…for the churches, various extracurricular school things, the volunteer fire departments, and a whole lot of healthcare crises.
            I’ve been rather shameless and outspoken in injecting the political into our situation, and much to my surprise, i get heads nodding in agreement more often than not…so long as i avoid the various trigger words(“socialism”).
            .it’s a close-knit community(and after 25 years, I’m still more or less an outsider/ferriner, although I’m tolerated), and when someone like my wife encounters such a crisis, it forces folks to think(unwillingly) that “there, but for the grace of god, go I”.
            I suspect that this willingness to admit that it’s all screwed up is a once in a lifetime event, due to many converging factors….although I don’t know if my isolated sample is representative of the broader society in any way(I think so, but don’t know)
            it’s a terrible shame that the versailles dems want to waste the opportunity.
            one of the books I’m reading is “Let us now praise famous men”…some of the most staggering American prose I’ve ever read,lol.
            That kind of New Deal-ish “data gathering”(also anecdotal) is exactly what we need, to flesh out what the lived experience of our countrymen is like. But, like Nixon’s Marihuana Report, the Machine would rather we didn’t know.

    2. Wyoming

      A quick search found this list of 14 organizations which fit your description…and it does not include the one in your link.


      But if you go to the Southern Poverty Law Center site and select White Nationalists you get a list of …148! And that is just one of 17 different categories of hate groups. They are like weeds.


      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        SPLC has its problems… I’m not sure I trust their data.

        My impression is that the white nationalists are a collection of groupuscules that are riven by factional infighting — even more than the left is — and not especially competent. They are not Storm Troopers (not having fought in the trenches of World War ). Heaven forfend that a Trump 2.0 unifies and militarizes them.

        When you think about it, this is the funhouse mirror reflection of the Democrats “coalition of the ascendant.” If Ruy Teixeira’s theory — which is so deeply embedded in liberal Democrat thinking it isn’t even seen as a theory — is that demographics will bring the Democrats to power*, then how on earth are the demographics seen as losers supposed to react? Stay passive? Especially since Teixeira’s theory doesn’t bring material benefits anybody but the 1%, the 10%, and the aspirational, identity politics-based “voices” in the 90%… All I can do is thank The God(ess)(e)(s) Of Your Choice, If Any™ that things aren’t worse than they are.

        NOTE * I believe the tipping point for majority non-white status is 2044, 2044 – 2019 is 25 years, so we have 25 / 4 = 6 election cycles to go before identity politics really pays off. That’s a long time.

    3. Plenue

      We’re still a long way from a version of the Sturmabteilung fighting the Rotfrontkampferbund in open street warfare. If the closest we can muster is crowds of antifa losers yelling at smaller crowds of ‘alt-right’ losers at Confederate monuments, and clownish gunnuts detaining brown people at the border, I’d say we’re doing pretty well.

      Also, Trump’s ‘authoritarian movement’? How, exactly? Yes, Trump is a (crappy) businessman who expects people to just do what he says (which doesn’t really seem all that different from Obama’s habit of making pretty speeches about how X must be done, and then sitting back and expecting it to be done), but this largely manifests in his issuing endless Executive Orders that have little to no power. If he’s an authoritarian in a fascist sense, he’s extremely bad at it. He can’t actually get much accomplished, though when it comes to things like the use of military power he gets mostly nothing but support from #resistance.

      And why suddenly the fear-mongering about ‘authoritarianism’ when there was comparative silence for decades about the gradual cancerous increase in executive authority? So damn tired of people virtue signaling about something they used to ignore now being bad because Trump does it.

      1. Acacia


        At times, the liberal “thinking class” sounds downright paranoid about a small number of rag-tag white suprematist groups, “emboldened by Trump”, metastasizing into a national movement.

        I wonder if Zizek has weighed in on this paranoid fantasy? ;)

      2. ambrit

        Your first image, of fighting in the streets in New Haven instead of Munich, can become quite possible if America endures some major defeat overseas and has to bring many of the ‘troops’ home in a hurry and, as seems the game plan now, dumps them on the streets of the homeland to shift for themselves.
        “We Bombed in New Haven” could eventually be seen as prophetic.

        1. Acacia

          But the US has suffered repeated major defeat overseas since WWII, and already has thousands of homeless vets on the streets, fending for themselves. Are ten thousand more going to tip the balance?

          1. ambrit

            I’m thinking in the hundreds of thousands.
            Germany, after WW1 had to deal with millions of returning vets. So, it can be seen as a bit of a stretch.

      3. Procopius

        I appreciate that “like” buttons are bad because they track you, but they would be convenient.

  6. NotTimothyGeithner

    ‘The president was not encouraging,’

    Obama is all about Obama, but BIden is a clod. The best case scenario is Joe Biden is a terrible President elected by slim margins, given the loyalty of Republican voters. Biden probably costs Team Blue an opportunity to pick up Senate seats, and he may even lose House seats.

    1. nippersmom

      I don’t think Obama had any intention of endorsing Biden. However, by saying he asked Obama not to endorse him, Biden is creating the impression he would have gotten that endorsement.

    2. Earl Erland

      I’m waiting for Biden to let us know it will be morning in America again when we get rid of Trump. Biden has a history of doing republican dirty deeds, dirt cheap.

    3. dcblogger

      Biden is the schadenfreude candidate. He will come in 6th in Iowa, behind Marianne Williamson. I am looking forward to it.

  7. CenterOfGravity

    Regarding bringing gamers into politics, there have been a few minor examples where a candidate does messaging via a Twitch stream to discuss issues in tandem with actual game playing. But cannot think of any significant instance of this where that has really caught on in the same manner which AOC has managed to do with homegrown instagram video feeds.

    The notion of engaging gamers seems to be a relatively untapped realm that waits to be conquered. Gamers by nature are very sensitive to unfairness and tend not to want to support gameplay that allows artificial advantages. This probably keeps gamers away from politics by intuiting that it is a thoroughly rigged system. There has been some growing pushback against the use of toxic pay-to-play rewards and exclusive downloadable content (DLC) that triple-A game developers frequently employ to further monetize their software. Someone with the communication and persuasion chops to breakthrough and activate gamers’ sense for unfairness may be able to mobilize them to start playing more often in the real world. On the other hand, for all we know large online games may already be serving paid political ads to players. There is also the hurdle of self-gratification to overcome, as gamers chiefly enjoy virtual experiences in order to have a good time. And it’s entirely possible that computer gaming will end up mimicking the politics traditional sports and gambling. Is gaming dynamic and accessible enough to rise above being mere entertainment?

    1. Pespi

      Gamers want to be coddled, pampered, catered to at every point, and treated as if they’re the finest people. At the same time they will do a typical psychological reversal and talk about how they’re trash garbage shit not worth living. A large part are just the young wing of our middle aged men dying of despair. They see no purpose and no future in the world, so they play games. Or they play games and all that stuff happens.

      The state of culture reminds me of Count Belisarius’s complaint about the city of Antioch.

      “Antioch is the most unserious city in the entire East, the inhabitants having only four interests, namely wine, sex, Hippodrome politics, and religious argument.”–“Count Belisarius,” p. 133.

      Replace that with synthetic dope, masturbating to porn, imaginary video personalities and shows, and the sort of “meme wars” that chans fought for trump.

      (Of course there are million strong exceptions and I’m speaking in generalities, I just wanted to paint a picture of visible hardcore gamers and the messages they broadcast online. I think the “white nationalism” is overblown but not trivial, as Lambert sort of pointed out, the politics they know are grievance identity politics and a majority of them are white)

      1. Deschain

        Replace ‘gamer’ with ‘Muslim’ or any other group of your choice and you’ll see how badly this reads

      2. Plenue

        This is basically gibberish. I’m not even sure it actually accurately describes even some coherent sliver of the people who play video games, but at this point gaming is so large talking about ‘gamers’ is basically as meaningless as talking about filmgoers as if they were a single group.

      3. Sharkleberry Fin

        “A widespread taste for pornography means that nature is alerting us to some threat of extinction.” ― JG Ballard, “News from the Sun” in Myths of the Near Future.
        Not only does pornography share with science the distinction of catalyzing social change [example: pornographic depictions of Marie Antoinette circulating just prior to the French Revolution and the ubiquity of Playboy mag images throughout the Vietnam War theatre and college campuses], all three disciplines, pornography, video game design, and science isolate the observed from time and space. This removal of context liberates libidinal energy directed into supporting the status quo through power / authority / submission relationships, allowing human stamina to find alternative avenues. Certainly, an abundance of pornography will diminish the sex appeal for leadership, both government and corporate. And the ability to pwn some noobs in video games satiates a young man’s desire for conflict and subjugation that would otherwise be channeled into war and politics.
        Only when the future of the future is no longer at stake, the inevitable in our imaginations is embraced, and the idea of utopia existing outside pornography is chucked in the can, can we win things like peace, elections, and the war against boredom.

        1. Plenue

          And what’s insipid moralizing that equates individual failings (not that I consider pornography a failing) with society wide problems a sign of? “Libidinal energy”? “Young man’s desire for conflict and subjugation”? Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

        2. ambrit

          Ha! As above, pull the other one, it has vibrators on it.
          Pornography is at root, a power related activity. Subjugation and dominance of ‘others,’ generally women by men, (or, as Phyl mentions, little boys dominating maternal images,) is the main driver.
          Alas, my experience has been that almost all pornography is boring.
          As for satiating the stereotypical “young man’s” desires, I’ll posit that most young men that I have spent any time around have almost limitless reserves of psychic energy. Blunt their perceptions and condition them to accepting murder and mayhem as ‘normal’ behaviour, as most ‘shooter’ games I’ve seen do, and you’ve not defused the ‘threat’ of hordes of sanguinary youth, but created the perfect mental outlook with which to carry out especially evil designs.
          Finally, “the future of the future” is always at stake, irregardless of the social conditions of any particular time and place.
          History will never be over.

  8. WheresOurTeddy

    One of the things I will probably enjoy most over the next 12 months is Joe Biden finding out the extent of just how unelectable he is. Couldn’t happen to a nicer segregationist oligarch puppet.

    1. dcblogger

      Biden is the schadenfreude candidate. I am also looking forward to Versailles finding out that “centrism” is a delusion and there is zero popular support for it. Also Biden is going to find out that Hillary was a MUCH more appealing candidate than he is. Biden has all of her baggage and none of her glamor.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Its only baggage if onlookers can see it. So the trick is to make it so loudly visible that every onlooker sees it.

  9. Lambert Strether Post author

    Readers, I got my arms more or less around political events from the weekend, so please refresh your browsers.

    The Gabriel Debenedetti article, “Wall Street Democrats Are Absolutely Freaking Out About Their 2020 Candidates,” is well-reported and interesting.

      1. John k

        Obama stood between bankers and pitchforks, but they complained when he called them greedy or something. Comment probably cost him millions in retirement income.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Lots of hurt feelings and existential angst in those quotes. Or is it the sense that maybe they’re losing control over the process? Per my comments in the medicare for all post earlier, Pelosi is beaming with confidence that she’s got a handle on things. Of course, she’s gotta present like that (if not, she’s in danger of getting replaced). So, who’s right on this one? Pelosi, or our squeamish dem donors?

      Also, Steven Rattner….one of the more reprehensible people from the Obama administration.

    2. ChrisPacific

      I admit I experienced an unreasonable amount of schadenfreude from reading that. In the event that Warren or Sanders does end up getting elected I will have to check back with them for follow-ups.

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      Aye! a whine and cheese party for the masters of the universe(sic).
      my heart bleeds, and tiny violins and all…
      it’s as if they feel like their party has left them behind, or something.
      …which feels eerily familiar, somehow….
      this sort of Toynbeean crisis of legitimacy is delicious, and i certainly hope it continues.
      thanks for linking this…it’s just what i needed, today.

      1. Hepativore

        If Sanders does get elected president, the first place that I am going to is Balloon Juice. Reading the neoliberal pearl-clutching and hysterics that the Clintonites and Obots will put on display there will rival the Cirque Du Soleil in terms of its entertainment value.

        We would need an entire fleet of fainting couches.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          …and DailyKos, and Democratic Underground, and the rest of the liberal, corporate, pro-war right-wing Democrat online world.

          It would be almost impossible to underestimate what a Sanders administration could actually mean in terms of change. Even with the entire combined might of the wealthy and their pet managerial classes doing everything possible to obstruct and defeat it. The palpable, wide-eyed panic among the liberal ruling class at the prospect of a Sanders presidency is probably completely justified. Trump, as philistine and viscerally repellent as he is to them, is on their side compared to the actual left. We will do them far greater harms. I quite look forward to it. Very, very much so.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The palpable, wide-eyed panic among the liberal ruling class at the prospect of a Sanders presidency is probably completely justified.

            If I am correct in my model of the Sanders campaign, the coming media onslaught should have no effect. The metric will be pundits not being able to understand why his poll numbers aren’t dropping (assuming they don’t fake the polls, of course).

            Here is the latest RCP polling:

            Biden and Sanders are the top two. Fascinatingly, Sanders seems to be taking votes from Biden. However, Sanders — assuming national polls of the popular vote are an adequate proxy for delegates — has a long way to go to reach 50% + 1. (He is not starting, as we see, from a base of the 43.1% he received in the 2016 primary (proving, as with (Beto v. Corbyn, Senate) v. (Beto v. 20 candidates, President) that opponents matter.)) We might also hypothesize that a Democrat establishment strategy of spreading the field to deny any candidate a majority is, so far, working. (Of course, 553 days is a long time in politics, and the donor class, as New York Magazine shows, really haven’t decided where to invest their money.)

            1. Hepativore

              I would be curious to see what the methodology is on how these polls are being conducted. In many cases, media outlets and polling stations will selectively interview older demographics or people in places that lean conservative to skew the data for astroturfing purposes.

              I would not be surprised if Biden’s numbers in this case are being artificially inflated.

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                ….or just ignore cell phones altogether, and contact only landlines, which skew to older folks.

    1. ewmayer

      Thanks – an all-too-rare-of-late bit of hilarity from The Onion there. Now, to complete the awesomeness, I want to hear what Pete has to say to *Norwegian* manufacturing robots in their own tongue. I imagine it might sound something like the “confessions of an Oslo dentist” bit in the opening titles for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but obviously in binary.

  10. Synoia

    UK Fracking

    Heavy regulation of micro-earthquakes seems to be the problem, though it’s hard to see why that, with all the other problems fracking causes. So, leaving it in the ground.

    Because a huge percentage of Houses in the UK are built of unreinforced masonry.

    No politician wants to bring that down on their, and others, heads.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Totally agree. Or maybe these companies want the peasants just to shut up and accept constant earthquakes as a way of life in England. As long as they don’t have to pay for any repairs that is.

  11. turtle

    Here are the translations of Buttigieg’s binary speech:

    First block: “I’m honored to meet with such hard-working, true Americans.”

    Second block: “as president, I will never stop fighting for you.Despite our differences we all want freedom, democracy, and electricity. ”

    I just searched for a binary to ascii text converter on the net, picked the first result, and copied and pasted the binary.

        1. ChrisPacific

          Confirmed – I used the same site and got the same result as turtle.

          01001001 01110100 00100000 01100001 01101100 01110011 01101111 00100000 01110111 01101111 01110010 01101011 01110011 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01110010 01100101 01110110 01100101 01110010 01110011 01100101 00101100 00100000 01110011 01101111 00100000 01101001 01110100 00100000 01110111 01101111 01110101 01101100 01100100 00100000 01101110 01101111 01110100 00100000 01101000 01100001 01110110 01100101 00100000 01100010 01100101 01100101 01101110 00100000 01101000 01100001 01110010 01100100 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01110111 01110010 01101001 01110100 01100101 00101110

          1. rowlf

            “There are only 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and those who don’t”.

            (From my old days of being the only person on shift at 3am who could convert Boeing AOA test units on a databus reader to human values and then do algebra. Jeez.)

            1. ewmayer

              I usually start with the zeros and only after I’m done with those do I move on to the ones. ;)

              Years ago the was a Dilbert strip in which the software geeks are sitting around the breakroom table, trying to one-up each other in terms of their “close to the metal”-ness. ISTR the conversation went something like this:

              A: I say it’s not real code unless it’s in hexadecimal.
              B: You use hex? Hah! Try it in binary. Zeros and ones, they never lie.
              C: Zeros and ones are for wusses – try using just zeros sometime, like we had to do at my old job.
              D: You had zeros? We had to use [letter] Os.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Apparently, LBJ managed to elbow his way to the top by handing out checks from Texas oil barons, including to liberals from the northeast.

      Helps to remind us just how long-standing the power of the oil industry is.

  12. Fern

    re: Buttigieg: Why has no one seen this excellent piece of investigative reporting done by TYT?

    This stunning article convinced me that Buttigieg essentially sided with some rogue racist white cops over the town’s popular first black police chief, when he fired/demoted the chief. And he lied about why he did it, saying the feds told him to. And he fired the police communications director who overheard the racist comments that had been taped. And he fired the city attorney who didn’t stop the citizens’ oversight committee from asking for an investigation of racism under the leadership of the successor chief Buttigieg had hired.

    Why would he have done this? The article looked into the fact that Buttigieg’s largest donor — huge by local standards — had a close relationship with one of the allegedly racist cops under question, and had even engaged in illegal abuse of police power with this cop in a civil dispute the donor was involved in. The abuse of power was so egregious that the cop had been given a token suspension.



  13. Left in Wisconsin

    “There Is No Excuse for How Universities Treat Adjuncts” [The Atlantic]. “Even while keeping funding for instruction relatively flat, universities increased the number of administrator positions by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, 10 times the rate at which they added tenured positions.

    This is all true but lets not forget the greed – I mean, labor market success – of the full-time faculty as another factor shrinking overall full-time numbers. At my once-esteemed public university, as the quantity and quality of the faculty has gone down, the pay for many has gone way up. The sociology faculty here used to have 40+ full-timers, now 26. But 4 of them make more than $200K per year. In sociology! I count 14 economists here who make more than $300K per year, not counting the economist chancellor (president), economist dean of L&S, etc.

    Not that we started any of this. It was the big money Ivies and the like that started the arms race in faculty salaries. But, like everywhere else, we have chosen to try to keep up, which means over-paying for second-tier faculty because you can’t attract first tier. And shrinking full-time numbers.

    1. dcrane

      And it might have something to do with why we don’t see the faculty unions going on strike to support better pay and benefits for adjuncts. One would think they could have a huge impact. At minimum they could drive these issues out into the public arena.

      1. Big River Bandido

        There are two unions for college professors: one, the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) does not strike, period.

        The union that I grudgingly belong to, the American Federation of Teachers, acknowledges the strike as a legitimate tactic, but in practice its national leadership has been squelching them as much as possible. And even if that weren’t the case, the AFT is basically focused on primary and secondary school teachers; they’re pretty much blind to college teachers.

        So, college professors do not have strong union representation. Not yet, anyway.

    2. anon in so cal


      Students suffer, too.

      Tenured faculty are not only very well-remunerated, but also have a much lighter teaching load. A tenured faculty member might teach a maximum of three courses per semester/quarter, typically different sections of the same course, with schedules that require minimum time on campus. Adjuncts, on the other hand, are typically teaching 4-5 different courses per semester (possibly outside their field), with schedules that can require daily commutes to campus. This means students are being taught by over-worked, if not exhausted, instructors.

  14. Summer

    Re: Somebody tell “tough on crime” Joe Biden that prison is where alot of white nationalists get radicalized.
    Name on thing that has the dollar Dems screaming “not normal” and anybody that is not a bought and paid for apparatchik can draw a connection to policy that Biden supported.

  15. Louis Fyne

    A bit off topic. Lambert, if you want to get ahead of the zeitgeist, have a Tesla story on deck.

    #creativeaccounting from their last earnings report. hint. just saying.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Not off topic at all. I have had to trade watching the Bezzle for getting my arms round the Democrat race (which if it presages a moment of party reconfiguration a la 1856 – 1860 is a very big deal).

  16. Todde

    Nixon was on tape authorizing bribes to keep people quiet, amongst other things like firing a bumch of people

    That seems over and above anything Trump has done to date.

  17. dearieme

    From the Guardian:

    Beto O’Rourke released a $5 trillion plan to combat climate change: a few trillion here, a few trillion there, …

    while Pete Buttigieg headed to Harlem to have lunch with Rev. Al Sharpton: not too choosy about lunchtime companions, then.

    Oh finish the joke yourselves.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Buttigieg having lunch with Sharpton sounds to me like the political (rather than academic) version of “what are the drums saying, Booker?”

      That, in turn, reminds me of John F. Kennedy’s disparaging remark about Lyndon Johnson’s campaign for the 1960 Democrat presidential nomination: “He thought Carmine DeSapio still controlled Tammany Hall.”

    2. jrs

      the problem with Beto is not the plan, a few trillion here and there, it doesn’t even add up to the cost of what baked in the cake climate change at this point will cost.

      But he can’t be trusted!!! He’s voted with the oil industry before. He’s not what I’d choose to get serious about climate change at all, because again he can’t be trusted on this. Inslee is refusing fossil fuel industry donations when he runs on climate change. Is Beto? Who funds him?

  18. ChrisPacific

    The policy thing works for Warren sometimes. I was trying to find reports on the Texas Q&A session with primary candidates on 24 April, which was apparently focused on issues of importance to black women. From the ones I read, Sanders struggled due to not having a specific and coherent answer to the question of how he would help black women specifically (which sounded like his campaign had not done their homework). Warren, in contrast, talked about the problem of high pregnancy mortality rates among black women, and offered some concrete policy proposals on how to fix it, which were well received.

    I just wish she was a better politician. The ancestry thing was a spectacular own goal and suggests that she would be vulnerable to baiting tactics from Trump. My Franken-candidate would have her detailed policy understanding grafted onto Bernie’s political instincts.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      >I just wish she was a better politician. The ancestry thing was a spectacular own goal

      As was not seizing her time in 2016. Remember that the people who asked Sanders to run asked Warren first, and she turned them down.

      I think this is the transcript from the Texas Q&A session, maybe I can get to it today.

      1. ChrisPacific

        That looks like the transcript of analysts discussing the Q&A session, rather than the session itself.

        A couple of Texas news sources have published the video but I don’t feel up to watching it in full, and it doesn’t look anyone has chosen to cover it in detail (beyond a few token “candidate that I don’t like gets embarrassed” and “candidate that I like does well” stories).

  19. Carolinian

    Paging NotTimGeithner–Pat Lang has met Biden and no likey.

    A big problem with Uncle Joe is that he ain’t too bright and that unfortunate fact is sadly apparent to all who deal with him. His ridiculous public statements are legendary and caused not by clumsiness with language. No. They are caused by a basic lack of intelligence.

    Lang and a visitor met Biden at his Senate office and he says he was quite nasty because the visitor was Palestinian. The impression was that his staff controls him totally.

    So if the Dems want a rude, woman grabbing dumbo to replace the current rude, woman grabbing dumbo sounds like they have their man.


  20. Plenue

    Strether asked a few days ago for more links regarding gaming, since it’s too large a phenomenon to ignore. While it is huge (at least as large as movies and television at this point, and probably a lot more efficient in terms of profits vs costs), I don’t yet see it as a meaningful force for political influence. Gaming so far is mostly a vehicle for endless insipid internal dramas that don’t really matter to the wider world.

    And as a medium for conveying a critical message, eh. Big publisher, AAA gaming doesn’t venture much beyond making a pretense of saying Something Important, but upon closer inspection always shying away from really saying anything at all for fear of driving potential customers away. When it does take any kind of stand, it’s virtually always for vapid, vaguely left-ish liberalism, or outright centrism (BioShock Infinite is probably the worst example of the latter, portraying literal slavery and casual racism and, er, not slavery and racism as somehow equivalent, with the leader of the revolution almost killing a child at one point because, uh, ???). There’s also attempts at ‘ripped from the headlines’ real-world relevance, which is almost always clunky at best. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided evokes Black Lives Matter, within a context where the over-policed are actually a threat, being cyborgs who just a few years earlier went berserk in their millions, going on a killing spree of non-augmented humans. Any attempt at making commentary about real world racism, ghettoization, and brutal policing is rendered null by the fact that within the story the bigotry and security has a sensible justification (also the game, of course, hones in on centrism, with the writers intent being that both sides have valid reasons, but this is literally a falsehood if viewed as commentary on modern US race relations, and doesn’t really make sense within the framework of the fictional story either).

    Shooters are completely dominated by US military propaganda titles, often made with literal Pentagon input, though subversion does occasionally creep in.

    Independent or lesser, but still significant, budget gaming is a bit better. But there’s a lot more personal story type games, focused on identity politics issues, than titles attempting to tackle wider, systemic issues. I keep forgetting to get around to playing WORLD END ECONOMiCA, a visual novel that I’ve heard is a skewering of a neoliberal, get rich above all else lifestyle.

    In terms of links, I can offer this video about how the reluctance of big budget gaming to say anything: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EPqF_o4mCs What’s really interesting is that a previous entry in the same franchise did have things to say (though not always smart or deep things), and even integrated elements of the theme of entropy into the gameplay itself. The whole channel is very good as well.

    There’s also this video, what can be something of a crash course in the rapid development and complexity of video games, with a specific focus on water rendering: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4MMlKhJfGI

    Also this seems worth linking too, the full size, explorable recreation of Notre Dame from Assassin’s Creed Unity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDeoHkPKPgQ I don’t particularly care about the building, but clearly a lot of people do. Publisher Ubisoft made the game free to own for a week after the fire. Highly detailed recreations of famous monuments has been a hallmark of the franchise from the start (though the cities the monuments reside in have always been greatly scaled down approximations out of necessity). The Origins installment, set in Ptolemaic Egypt, even included an optional tour guide mode.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thank you.

      It just seems to me that such an enormous cultural phenomenon must have a political effect. How not? But I don’t know enough about it! Which is why I keep asking. Maybe I should try getting addicted to a game instead of the Twitter….

    1. Geo

      Begins? Don’t you mean “So it continues…”? I remember this exact topic from 2016.

      That said, Bernie should be addressing this since it’s come up before and is important to have a good clear answer for.

  21. allan

    Class Warfare, Department of Labor Edition [PDF]:

    Dear Name*:

    This letter responds to your request for an opinion on whether service providers working for a virtual marketplace company (VMC) are employees or independent contractors under the
    Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). …

    You write on behalf of your client, a virtual marketplace company that operates in the so-called “on-demand” or “sharing” economy. Generally, a VMC is an online and/or smartphone-based referral service that connects service providers to end-market consumers to provide a wide variety of services, such as transportation, delivery, shopping, moving, cleaning, plumbing, painting, and household services.
    VMCs help consumers to obtain these services with greater efficiency …

    [9 pages later … drum roll please]


    Under the facts described in your letter, we conclude that your client’s service providers are independent contractors, not employees of your client. The facts in your letter demonstrate economic independence, rather than economic dependence, in the working relationship between your client and its service providers. The FLSA therefore recognizes your client’s status as independent contractors. …

    Keith E. Sonderling
    Acting Administrator
    U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division

    And who is Keith E. Sonderling? Thank you for asking:

    On February 1, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor publicly designated Keith Sonderling as Acting Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”). He joined WHD in September 2017 as a Senior Policy Advisor, receiving a promotion to Deputy Administrator last month. Before joining the Department, he was a shareholder in the Gunster law firm in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he represented businesses in labor and employment matters. …

    Promises made, promises kept … to Silicon Valley.

  22. Geo

    What matters more?’ he asked, looking up at me. ‘My social values or my paycheck?’”

    Wall Street Democrats think they have values beyond their paycheck? That’s funny.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “David Bernhardt Denies Business Interests Influenced Yellowstone’s Name Change To Frito Lay Presents Doritos Flamin’ Hot Nacho National Park”

    Why stop at National Parks? How about sponsorship of the military? I can see it now. You could have the Coke Brigade with units like the Diet Coke battalion. There would be the Microsoft Brigade which would have one fighting platoon and the rest made up of HQ units, the Amazon Brigade (disappointingly not made up solely of women), the Uber Tank Brigade using Uber’s business model, the Pepsi Brigade just because Coke has one. You could even have the Goldman-Sachs brigade which would be made up of mercenaries and who in battle would try to buy out the opposition. There would be the Apple Brigade whose gear, though looking flashy, would never quite work in battle as well as the UnitedHealth Brigade but whose members would usually be too ill or sick to fight. It would be a glorious array of corporate units and Trump could demand that the Russians and Chinese pay for it.

    1. Yikes

      I’d second we allow sponsors to buy title to our overseas wars (Yemen siege could be called “Fingerhut Filibuster”​). The corporations already own the deed, though the general public is complicit in their willful ignorance.

  24. heresy101

    Warren Buffet gets it. He owns Pacificorp since 2005.

    PacifiCorp ratepayers could save nearly $250 million if the utility shut four coal-fired units in Wyoming by 2022 and replaced them with other resources, including solar, battery storage, a natural gas-fired plant and wholesale market purchases, according to a new study of the company’s coal fleet.

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