2:00PM Water Cooler 4/3/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, politics is a little light because I spent too much time on Boeing. I’ll add a bit more shortly. –lambert UPDATE All done!


“Exclusive: China’s huge Airbus order padded by old or incomplete deals – sources” [Reuters]. “A landmark order from China for 300 Airbus jets signed during a state visit last week was bolstered by repeat announcements of dozens of existing deals and advance approval for deals that have yet to be struck, two people familiar with the matter said. Echoing an umbrella order for 300 Boeing jets awarded during a visit to Beijing by U.S. President Donald Trump in 2017, the headline figure for the new ‘framework order’ for European jets was partly driven by political considerations, the people said.” • Film at 11!


“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: “2020 presidential election: Joe Biden advisers smell a conspiracy” [Axios]. “Joe Biden advisers believe coverage of allegations of inappropriate behavior is being stoked by rival Democrats — a dynamic that could actually fire up the vice president at a time when others see success as increasingly improbable. Why it matters: Several around Biden think advisers to Bernie Sanders are at least partly behind the anti-Biden campaign. One prominent backer thinks Biden will run, and ‘is ready to kill Bernie.’ I got this text last night from a source close to Biden: ‘VP directed staff this evening to reach out to supporters and donors with a simple message — full steam ahead.'” • If you read the quote carefully, you can see that Biden might have any number of reasons to “kill Bernie.”

Festival of Buttigieg today:

Buttigieg (D) (1): “Buttigieg Says Flooding in the Midwest Is Not Big Deal, Just a Small Fraction of Year’s Rainfall” [CEPR]. “That is not quite what he said, but it is pretty much in the same spirit as what Buttigieg said about trade and jobs, according to the Washington Post. The post told readers: ‘Buttigieg has said six times as many jobs were lost because of automation as trade from 2000 to 2010.’ This is more or less right in the same way that Nebraska will get far more rain over the course of 2019 than the rain that caused the recent flooding. And, the assertion makes about as much sense in the context of the floods as in the context of jobs lost to imports.” • Looks like Mayor Pete is trying to drive in Yang’s lane?

Buttigieg (D) (2): “After Gaza slaughter, Buttigieg praised Israeli security responses as ‘moving’ and faulted Democrats for easy judgment” [Mondoweiss]. “Buttigieg is a quick study; and what leaps out from these remarks is how completely the Rhodes Scholar imbibed the official pro-Israel version of events, and showed contempt for Palestinian understanding. There is no sense in Buttigieg’s remarks that Israel is a militarized, rightwing country that adores Donald Trump and that is led by a strongman and that answers resistance to the existing order with overwhelming force that international human rights organizations said at the time of his remarks were likely war crimes. Buttigieg did not meet with AIPAC last week; but we can expect Buttigieg to take a centrist pro-Israel position in opposition to the Democratic base, which is highly critical of Israel.”

Buttigieg (D) (3): “Have You Heard? Pete Buttigieg Is Really Smart” [Jacobin]. “For the upper professional-managerial class (PMC), guys like this represent a dreamy ideal of human supremacy. That’s because for them, all of life is an Ivy League application. Well-rounded ‘smartness’ is everything, even in the wake of recent news that this is not necessarily what elite college admissions are based upon. As a result, BOOTedgedge has been the focus of a media frenzy, despite polling far behind Sanders and Biden (even 538 is skeptical of his recent much-ballyhooed jump in Iowa). CNN’s Chris Cillizza finds his resumé ‘remarkable.’ Some call him ‘bookish.’ Queerty.com exults that he ‘represents the best and brightest of our country.’ A New Republic headline uses the word ‘Genius.'” • “Best and brightest” without irony? Really? And, as usual, see Thomas Frank on “smart.”

Buttigieg (D) (4): “South Bend mayoral candidate says her code violations will help a push for ‘equal protection'” [South Bend Tribune]. “[Common Council Member Regina Williams-Preston] claims the city targeted her and her husband’s properties, and those of their neighbors, with “aggressive code enforcement” to further two goals: Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s pledge to address 1,000 vacant and abandoned homes in 1,000 days, and the West Side Main Streets Plan, which calls for revitalizing the neighborhoods between Western Avenue and Lincoln Way West… In light of her mayoral campaign, Williams-Preston sought to frame the discussion more broadly than her case, saying the city’s aggressive code enforcement — a revitalization “tool” in which the city gradually buys up and consolidates properties to give or sell cheaply to developers — ended up hurting many African-Americans during the 1000 Homes initiative. She argues that many of the owners were local African-Americans who had inherited dilapidated houses from their parents and wanted to fix them up but couldn’t afford to.” • Hmm. Second story on Black “intergenerational wealth” I’ve seen in the last week.

Gravel (D):

Sanders (D) (1): This should cause a liberal Democrat extracranial splatterfest:

Sanders (D) (2): “Takeaways from the first 2020 presidential fundraising numbers” [CNN]. “As expected, Sanders set the early pace in fundraising, with more than $18 million raised from 525,000 individual contributors who gave, on average, $20 Sanders has a massive existing list from his 2016 campaign, and in that race, demonstrated his appeal in the online giving world. (He raised an unbelievable $228 million for his primary against Hillary Clinton, a number that still boggles the mind.) Still, just because Sanders’ number isn’t surprising, it also shouldn’t be taken for granted. Sanders’ fundraising ability — and the fact that he rarely if ever holds fundraisers to collect cash — is a major advantage for his campaign as we move forward into the rest of this year and into 2020 when voters start voting.” • I like the Sanders’ average contribution has dropped. It means the 90% are donating.

Sanders (D) (3): “Sanders launches mega volunteer program” [Politico]. “Bernie Sanders’ campaign will unveil a slate of top hires and kickoff events Wednesday — the latest sign that he plans to harness his record-breaking grassroots army earlier and more strategically than he did during his first run for the White House. More than 1 million people have signed up to volunteer for his campaign, aides said, and the Sanders team will ask them Wednesday to host house parties across the country on April 27, a date that will double as the official launch of Sanders’ 2020 organizing program.” • Looks like [lambert preens] I was right: There are three carefully assembled strategic assets for the Sanders campaign: From 2016, the list (not available to other Democrats); from 2018, the media empire (not available to other Democrats); and for 2020, the canvassing operation (not available to other Democrats). Expect continued volatility as liberal Democrat power brokers and media assets discover they don’t have the power they are accustomed to having.

Trump: “Trump says Biden accusations are work of Dem ‘socialists'” [Politico]. “President Donald Trump said Tuesday that former Vice President Joe Biden is ‘being taken care of pretty well by the socialists,’ suggesting that a recent wave of criticism of the potential 2020 presidential candidate is the product of attacks hatched by his own party’s left wing.” • Liberal Democrats agree! (Personally, I think Putin planted the clips in the C-SPAN video library.)

Warren: “Elizabeth Warren: Corporate executives must face jail time for overseeing massive scams” [WaPo]. “we should enact the Ending Too Big To Jail Act, which I introduced last year. That bill would make it easier to hold executives at big banks accountable for scams by requiring them to certify that they conducted a “due diligence” inquiry and found that no illegal conduct was occurring on their watch. This would force executives to look for wrongdoing or face prosecution for filing false certifications with the government. The proposal would also create a permanent and well-funded unit dedicated to investigating financial crimes.” • That’s the stuff to give the troops! Although oddly, or not, Warren focuses on Wells-Fargo, and not not on Holder and Obama’s miserable record of non-prosecution after the Crash.

“Black leaders blast Dem war on super PACs” [Politico]. “In a letter obtained by POLITICO, The Collective PAC — which helps elect black candidates to office — asked major liberal groups like Indivisible and Democracy for America to stop calling for Democratic presidential contenders to distance themselves from single-candidate super PACs. Such groups play an important role in electing candidates of color, they argued, especially in primaries, when the Democratic establishment has often overlooked black contenders and left it to outside donors to bolster their campaigns.”


“List: Attorney General William Barr Summarizes Famous Broadway Musicals – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency]. “Little Shop of Horrors: “Man feeds plant.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“How a Petty Tyrant Turned a Functional DSA Branch into a Church” [Benjamin Studebaker]. “In the beginning, Pittsburgh was a great branch. As recently as six months ago, there were 1,000 dues-paying members. There were four elected officials in Pittsburgh who had won with the aid of the branch’s endorsement and hard work, and the branch was running a wide array of issue-based campaigns in the city on labor, housing, and more. The success of the branch in the 2017 elections led many more candidates to seek its support in 2018. Everything was looking up…. Today the chapter’s membership is decimated. Only around 50 members attended the February 2019 general meeting.” • Due to “the clique.” More: “I admit to feeling a certain degree of sympathy. These [the clique] are clearly deeply alienated people who have been forced to retreat into political organising to find the meaning and community they cannot get outside it. Capitalism regularly creates miserable people, and miserable people lack the psychological resources to put the needs of the community or the movement ahead of their own. They are themselves emotionally under-resourced, and we cannot expect people with this much pain inside them to protect others from their pain.” • My first thought was to be reminded of the problem (unrealized (unrealizable?) opportunity) the homeless posed for Occupy. My second thought was to reread the piece and note that the head of the clique was “previously expelled from the Israeli Communist Party for ‘internal subversion.'” Or, in LeCarrés world, so they say. This is an excellent piece of reporting, well worth read.

An absolutely horrifying anecdote of the Obama administration. Thread:

Chris Arnade returns, and very good thing, too (via Brindle):

“Nancy Pelosi Believes in Nothing” [Jacob Bachrach, Truthout]. “There is a curious void at the heart of Democratic politics. It isn’t necessary to believe in some absurd, magical notion of willpower to note that at its highest level, the party seems to lack an essential, motivating will. Instead, it views itself as something more akin to a professional membership organization that has a convention in a nice hotel every few years. They are not so much an emperor without clothes—that grand, ridiculous figure for the delusions of power—as they are clothes without an emperor; a lot of nice fabric blown away in a breeze and borne aloft on someone else’s hot air.” • Taking office but not taking power.

Stats Watch

ADP Employment Report, March 2019: “ADP estimates that private payroll growth in Friday’s employment report for March will rise”, but below consensus [Econoday]. “[A] sharp upward revision to February in Friday’s data is a possibility,” as this month. And but: “This month the rate of ADPs private employment year-over-year growth is on the low side of the tight range seen over this year. However, the rolling average of the year-over-year rate of growth remains unchanged for the last 7 months. Last month’s employment numbers were revised upward” [Econintersect]. “ADP employment has not been a good predictor of BLS non-farm private job growth.” And: “Below the consensus forecast” [Calculated Risk].

Institute For Supply Management Non-Manufacturing Index, March 2019: “Forecasters were leaning the right way but just not enough as ISM’s non-manufacturing index moderated more than expected” [Econoday]. “Volatility like this is not the norm for this composite index where monthly change is usually muted…. But backlogs and employment are offsets to exports and inventories. Altogether and despite the swing lower for the headline index, this report is probably consistent with stable and healthy conditions for the bulk of the U.S. economy which may or may not have slowed at quarter end.” • The future lies ahead! And: “This suggests slower expansion in March than in February” [Calculated Risk].

PMI Services Index, March 2019: “[A] solid pick-up in composite activity” [Econoday]. “The report describes order growth as solid including for exports, something that underscores what remains strong foreign demand for U.S. services. Yet business confidence isn’t improving, slipping now to its least optimistic showing since December 2017. On the price front, the results are softening with pressure in costs and traction for selling prices easing.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of March 29, 2019: “The big drop in mortgage rates isn’t going unnoticed by homeowners who filed refinancing applications in droves” [Econoday]. And: “Now that mortgage rates have fallen more than 50 bps from the highs last year, a number of recent buyers are able to refinance” [Calculated Risk]. “According to the MBA, purchase activity is up 10% year-over-year.”

Commodities: “A Key to the Arctic’s Oil Riches Lies Hidden in Ohio” [New York Times]. The deck: “The findings of a test well drilled in Alaska three decades ago have been a closely guarded secret. We found answers in a Cleveland courthouse.” • Spoiler alert: It’s a dry hole.

Commodities: “The Biggest Saudi Oil Field Is Fading Faster Than Anyone Guessed” [Bloomberg]. “Now the market finally knows: Ghawar in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest conventional oil field, can produce a lot less than almost anyone believed. When Saudi Aramco on Monday published its first ever profit figures since its nationalization nearly 40 years ago, it also lifted the veil of secrecy around its mega oil fields. The company’s bond prospectus revealed that Ghawar is able to pump a maximum of 3.8 million barrels a day — well below the more than 5 million that had become conventional wisdom in the market.” • Oopsie.

* * *

Boeing 737 MAX:

Manufacturing: “Lithuanian man flies alone on commercial plane to Italy” [Associated Press]. ” A Lithuanian man flying to Italy got a pleasant surprise when he boarded the plane: He was the only passenger on the Boeing 737-800….. The Novaturas travel agency said it had chartered the plane to fly a group home from Italy, and to avoid flying empty, one-way tickets were sold. Only one person bought one.” • I wonder why?

Manufacturing: “Between Two Boeing Crashes, Days of Silence and Mistrust” [New York Times]. “In the days after the crash, American aviation officials visiting Jakarta cast aspersions on their Indonesian counterparts, even as they refused to speak on the record: Which was more reliable? An airplane manufacturer that was one of the most respected companies in the United States, or a low-cost carrier with a long history of shocking safety lapses operating in a country troubled by corruption and weak regulation?” • “A country troubled by corruption and weak regulation….”

Manfacturing: “Whistleblowers in 737 Max Case Say FAA Was Lax in Inspector Training” [Bloomberg]. “‘Multiple whistleblowers’ provided the committee with information alleging that ‘numerous FAA employees, including those involved in the Aircraft Evaluation Group for the Boeing 737 MAX, had not received proper training and valid certifications,’ Senator Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, said in a letter to the FAA’s Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell Tuesday.”

Manufacturing: “U.S. Air Force Again Halts Delivery of Boeing’s Tanker Over Debris” [Bloomberg]. Amazing quotes: “Elaborating on the trash left behind by workers, [Secretary Heather Wilson] told the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee later in the day that it was a ‘manufacturing discipline‘ issue on the assembly line where ‘we saw a breakdown.’ ‘If you drop a wrench you have to find a wrench,’ she said. ‘You have to wipe down surfaces so you don’t have pieces of aluminum that over time get in the midst of things and cause serious problems.’ The latest delivery halt was prompted after the service opened up some closed compartments, such as inside wings, and found flaws, she said without elaborating.” • Sounds like a demoralizes workforce, to me. I sure hope there aren’t loose wrenches sliiding around inside the wings of civilian aircraft, because that would be bad.

Manufacturing: “Pontifications: I don’t know what to make of this” [Leeham News]. “One can’t help but think, a lot, about the two Boeing 737 MAX crashes and the facts that Boeing created the system, linked it to one sensor, not two, didn’t tell the airlines pilots about it, didn’t include it in pilot manuals, didn’t have a safety alert system as standard equipment, initially blamed the Lion Air pilots and reportedly lobbied Donald Trump not to ground the airplanes.” • And self-certified the system too, let us remember. More: “Four concurrent commercial airplane programs (the KC-46A being a hybrid between commercial and military) each had trouble. Two of their last four airplanes have been grounded by regulators. A third airplane had such poor quality control the customer stopped taking delivery. Three of the four were years late. What’s going on here? Boeing resources were clearly stretched too thin. Billions of dollars were going out the door in cost overruns. Were bad management decisions made by the bean-counting McNerney regime? Was there something systemic happening? Or just a run of bad luck and bad timing?” • Good questions. Well worth a read.

Manufacturing: “Disaster and the Boeing CEO” [Crain’s Chicago Business]. “Though [Boeing CEO Dennis] Muilenburg’s career will be defined by the 737 Max, [Leeham’s Scott] Hamilton and [Cowen’s Cai von Rumohr] say the crisis is unlikely to end it. That would require a game-changing development, like federal prosecutors discovering that executives misled regulators about safety.* But [Erik Gordon of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business], who views Muilenburg’s performance in the hot seat less favorably, is less sure. He is particularly critical of Boeing’s decision after the crashes to make standard on the Max a safety feature that was previously optional and cost extra. He argues that the move makes it appear as if safety were optional. ‘It has negative PR consequences in the way that punching a guy in the face has PR problems: The real problem is that you punched someone,’ Gordon says. ‘Dennis’ mistakes are glaring such that, if I were on the board, I would be holding side meetings saying, ‘Do we have alternatives for a CEO?’** Ironically, the crisis Muilenburg faces is largely of McNerney’s making. Decisions about the Max’s design and budget, as well as to rush production to beat competition from Airbus, happened on McNerney’s watch. The first Max test flight came seven months after Muilenburg became chief executive in 2015. By then, Hamilton says, the die was already cast.” • Yup. Boeing stumbled with the 787, but still kept moving forward, though off balance. Then, with the 737, it fell. NOTES * MCAS was self-certified by Boeing, and filed the tech doc with the FAA late. Perhaps that’s what the criminal investigation is looking into. ** So, I’m not the only one.

* * *

Manufacturing: “Daimler CEO: Boeing safety debate highlights challenge for autonomous tech” [Reuters]. “‘What is very important is the psychological dimension. If you look at what is happening with Boeing then you can imagine what happens when such a system has an incident,’ Zetsche said, commenting on the motor industry’s efforts to develop autonomous cars. Half of U.S. adults think self-driving vehicles are more dangerous than those driven by people, while two-thirds would not buy a fully autonomous vehicle, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found this week. In the same poll, about 63 percent of respondents said they would not pay more to have a self-driving feature on their vehicle, and 41 percent of the rest said they would not pay more than $2,000.” • Don’t worry. Silicon Valley will be programming ethics into the robot car AIs.

Tech: “Microsoft announces it will shut down ebook program and confiscate its customers’ libraries” [Boing Boing]. “Microsoft has a DRM-locked ebook store that isn’t making enough money, so they’re shutting it down and taking away every book that every one of its customers acquired effective July 1. Customers will receive refunds. This puts the difference between DRM-locked media and unencumbered media into sharp contrast. I have bought a lot of MP3s over the years, thousands of them, and many of the retailers I purchased from are long gone, but I still have the MP3s. Likewise, I have bought many books from long-defunct booksellers and even defunct publishers, but I still own those books. When I was a bookseller, nothing I could do would result in your losing the book that I sold you. If I regretted selling you a book, I didn’t get to break into your house and steal it, even if I left you a cash refund.” • Well, that’s why we need DRM, right?

Tech: “Toyota to allow free access to 24,000 hybrid and electric vehicle tech patents to boost market” [Japan Times]. “Toyota said it will offer around 23,740 patents related to electrification technology, with the grant period running from Wednesday to the end of 2030. Toyota also hopes that opening up its technology for motors and batteries, which are key components of electric and fuel-cell vehicles, will increase their supply and help it to cut costs in developing such vehicles…. But it remains uncertain whether the use of Toyota patents will be as widespread as the carmaker hopes, observers said. Toyota said in January 2015 it will offer patents related to its fuel-cell vehicles but it has only led to a dozen contracts.”

Tech: “The ugliness of photorealism” [Wireframe]. “The issue of photorealism in games is a matter of personal taste, a question of aesthetics. I’d argue that what people are responding to is the technical mastery. That we’ve been conditioned to believe more polygons, more particles, newer more advanced shaders are what is crucial and amazing…. Beauty can rise up out of ugliness. It is possible. But I can’t help but find the reflexive need to fall over these massive commercial ventures and characterise them as ‘beautiful’ extremely distasteful. We should know better. Most, if not entirely all, game developers who work at triple-A studios don’t enjoy many protections from abusive crunch practices: massive layoffs (as we’ve just seen at Activision Blizzard) to make earnings calls sound better, or the ability to petition for the kinds of bonuses or residuals they deserve from shipping a title that sells. We know that labour conditions in this industry suck because we know how quickly people burn out and leave.”

Transport: “Filling the Friendly Skies With Hot Air” [Bloomberg]. “In 2016, Lockheed Martin Corp. won a nearly $500 million order for as many as a dozen of its hybrid-electric LMH-1 airships (operational in 2020 or 2021) from a buyer who plans to lease their 20-tons of freight capacity to Arctic oil and gas companies. Leasing an airship is cheaper than building new roads across permafrost melting due to climate change, and roughly seven times cheaper per ton than using heavy-lift helicopters. As China and the rest of the world extend their search for raw materials into ever-more remote regions, airships are likely to become crucial links in logistics chains.”

The Biosphere

“What can bees teach economists about how markets work?” [BBC]. “In the 1830s, a bee-rights movement emerged in the US, with the motto: ‘Never kill a bee.'” • Time presses, and I can’t summarize this article. But it’s full of facts and interesting twists and well worth a read, especially for how Nobel [sic] Prize-winning economist James Meade used bees as an example of positive externalities, when he didn’t know anything about bees!

“Fossil Fuel Industry, Corporate Lobbyists & Neoliberal Economists Push Carbon Pricing Schemes to Attack Green New Deal” [Little Sis]. “Steven Rattner – the ex-Obama official, longtime private equity investor, and overseer of Michael Bloomberg’s vast wealth – is the latest big name establishment figure to go after the Green New Deal.” • Here’s a handy map of some of his connections:

Whenever you hear one of these grifters use the word “common sense,” check your valuables.

“Can we truly think about climate change at all?” [The Outline]. The deck: “Part one of a three-part series on how philosophy contends with our possible annihilation.” Not sure about this one, but I am pleased that the culture hasn’t completely rotted. Here are the first paragraphs:

In Butler’s 2017 video installation, “On Exactitude in Science,” is one of the most remarkable things I’ve seen in the last few months. The work consists of two screens. On the left plays Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out Of Balance, the 1982 stoner classic of slow motion and time lapse footage of cities and landscapes; complete with pulsing, shimmering Philip Glass soundtrack. On the right: Butler’s shot-by-shot remake, in which he has — somehow, marvelously, painstakingly — reproduced the film in its entirety by modding Grand Theft Auto V.

On paper, reproducing Koyannisqatsi in GTA form sounds like it would be an impressive technical feat — surely nothing more. But when you actually sit down and watch the thing, it turns out to be utterly spellbinding. For long stretches, it can be hard to remember which screen is which: Butler’s land- and city-spaces are so unerringly accurate that I found myself checking left and right to keep my bearings, miming writing with my dominant hand to confirm. But then every now and then — and as the film develops, increasingly often — a human face will enter, and the difference becomes bluntly, laughably obvious.

On the left, commuters walk briskly. People — builders, waitresses, fighter pilots — stand by machines, looking into the camera intently, often slightly uncomfortably. On the right, their doubles simply mill about, almost at random; their faces, at any rate generic, have nothing in them.

Impressive. Do we have any philosophers in the readership who can venture into the piece for several more paragraphs?

Guillotine Watch

Class Warfare

Paging Upton Sinclair:

News of the Wired

Fun with large machines (1):

Fun with large machines (2):

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (JU):

JU writes: “A foot wide goliath mushroom of some sort, from a distance it had the look of a folded Carhartt jacket, I couldn’t figure out what it was.”

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Carey

    CJ Hopkins’s latest, ‘A Russiagate Requiem’:

    “..But let’s try to look on the bright side, shall we? Disgraceful as this Russiagate fiasco has been, at least it was all just an honest mistake, and not any kind of plot, or conspiracy, or anything as disturbing as that. It’s not like the majority of the corporate media perpetrated a massive, coordinated, intelligence agency-initiated psyop on the Western public for two and half years. No, they just “got it wrong,” again … like they did with those Iraqi WMDs..”


    and another piece that I first heard about on an instrument makers’ forum:

    This person was described as “a Bernie Sanders supporter” where I first read about
    her. I expect much more of this kind of thing.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      That was a funny piece. This made me laugh especially loud:

      Paranoid collusion-obsessives will continue to obsess about redactions and cover-ups, but the long and short of the matter is, there will be no perp walks for any of the Trumps. No treason tribunals. No televised hangings. No detachment of Secret Service agents marching Hillary into the White House.

      I guess that’s where the Clintons were headed with this. So Russiagate just turns out to be the most ridiculous (and dangerous) Hail Mary of all time.

      1. RWood

        Er, edit function didn’t allow me to hedge that raspberry, as I’m not sure this is a straight pitch or not (though it wobbles an awful lot) (and it’s only this stance that made me boo him):

        Worse, it only helps Donald Trump, who, OK, maybe isn’t a Russian intelligence asset anymore, but is still almost literally Adolf Hitler … or at least some sort of inhuman monster that bears no resemblance whatsoever to Obama or any other normal president, and who is certainly going to declare martial law, proclaim himself Führer, and unleash his underground white supremacist army on us, or something more or less along those lines.

  2. JohnnyGL

    For those who believe in the Karl Rove approach of ‘attacking strength’, I give you AOC….


    ‘What is next? Putting nuclear codes in Instagram DMs? This is ridiculous.’
    Reports suggest Trump admin officials with security clearances are doing foreign relations on WhatsApp.

    If you want to erode Trump’s base, attack him as being a national security risk and incompetent (no, russia-gate wasn’t doing that, it was garbage). This fired up the right with regard to HRC. Ocasio-Cortez also used the magic word, “subpoena”. Imagine a House Oversight Committee that oversees things!

    Of course, perhaps it’s too little, too late and Trump’s immune to any kind of ‘scandal’, post-Mueller, but I suspect not.

      1. Anon

        Sure glad my parents had more respect for me than Coons has for his daughter. Offering up his own daughter like that is disgusting

    1. DanB

      Medical definition of frotteurism: the paraphiliac practice of achieving sexual stimulation or orgasm by touching and rubbing against a person without the person’s consent and usually in a public place —called also frottage.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Here is a 10 and a half minute clip of a clinical case of frotteurism.
        Love how they try to deflect this to bernie.
        Biden went to the utensil drawer and put a fork in his campaign.

        1. Carey

          Between now and November 2020, any bad thing that has happened or might
          happen will be “Bernie’s fault”. And Pootin’s of course; same thing.

        2. Ashburn

          Speaking of Biden putting a fork in his campaign, you need to read the John Solomon piece in The Hill: “Biden’s 2020 Ukrainian Nightmare: a closed probe is revived.” Biden has apparently publicly bragged about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor. Turns out the prosecutor was investigating his son, Hunter’s, private equity firm, Rosemont Seneca.


      2. Allegorio

        None of Biden’s behavior is sexual in nature, just as a rapist is not sexually motivated. This is about power and male dominance. I am powerful, therefore I have the right to invade your space, much like Iraq, Libya, Syria, the Ukraine and now Venezuela. We are in the age of personal power and lawlessness and Biden is the epitome of this zeitgeist. His legislation conforms to this pattern, the crime bill, the bankruptcy law, the prototype of the Patriot Act. It is all about reducing people’s agency in favor of the powerful dominant male, basic primatology.

        1. Procopius

          I like your suggestion, and think it does apply to many politicians, but I’m not sure it’s universal. Back in the ’70s there was a fad of touching and hugging. It was claimed that lack of physical contact was literally lethal, with primate grooming as an example. I grew up in a family which did not display affection, and I found it extremely unpleasant. If it’s true Biden never touches males like this, I find that disturbing. Some people are just naturally touchy-feely, and I try to maintain distance from them. If worst comes to worst I will tell them to get their [family blogging] hands the [family blog] off me, but I suppose that is more difficult for women because of social pressure.

      1. Summer

        People should do as the Democratic establishment wishes and stop bugging good ole boy Joe about his touchy past.

        Talk about the Joe Biden, Inc (a Delaware Company).
        Bankruptcy bill, student debt, all of it . On blast…pronto.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        Trump just did everyone who is anti-Biden a favor. Now when your centrist Biden apologists try to say it’s a BernieBro conspiracy, you can inform them they agree with Trump and watch their heads explode.

        Ditto the Fox News appearance for Bernie. He’s TROLLING them and I love it.

        1. thump

          Sounds like they are covering Bernie as a spoiler to other Dems, much like networks covered Trump in 2016, hopefully with the same result.

    2. Lee

      Let us not forget that creepy Donald Trump got elected. I do hope the final nails in Biden’s political coffin are driven by public policy considerations. That said, I cannot help but admit to a certain frisson of delight at his being taken to task in this manner. His behavior is similar to that of the overly familiar physicality of Pixar CEO, John Lasseter, and no doubt others we are yet to hear about.

    3. ewmayer

      “When asked whether his touching of the woman in question could reasonably be construed as sexual harassment, Biden responded with a toothy grin and an avuncular wry chuckle, ‘her ass meant nothing to me – it was her boobs I liked!'”

    1. barrisj

      Ol’ Pete enters the prez race as an obscure candidate.,.he’ll exit it in the same manner.

    2. Big River Bandido

      I saw that a few days ago. Jacobin has a piece on him as well, but Robinson’s is far better.

  3. barrisj

    Re: Boeing…the KC-46 tanker has been a classic procurement boondoggle from the kickoff…cost over-runs, mfg. problems, long delays in delivery…exactly the sort of behaviour that the incestuous relationship between the Pentagon and its MIC suppliers has characterized military spending/contract-letting since early in the Cold War. Boeing has shelled out ca. $3bil in penalties, and still are having the notorious “FOD” problems with left-over manufacturing shit scattered aboard the finished aircraft…where are the Quality Inspectors in all this?

    1. Tim

      It’s worse than that. The first contract was scrapped due to an ethics violation between Harry Stonecipher and a revolving door opportunist proposal evaluator.

      The second contract competitive bid ended up being no-bid by Boeing’s competitor (Northrop Grumman/Airbus joint proposal), presumably because the deck was stacked against them in the bid process.

      Oh, and Boeing used the completely outdated 767 for the baseline, instead of it’s 20% more fuel efficient replacement, the 787. But I guess when your on a tanker, nobody cares about how much fuel you’re burning yourself.

      1. J7915

        Why could they not used the Italian and Japanese 767 tankers? Or use those tankers as a starting point. At least use a used 767-200, from the airlines to start prototyping the fueling systems?
        This may be off topic here, sorry it got sort of temp. Missplaced.

  4. Big River Bandido

    I thought Pete Buttigieg was in the “underqualified neoliberal platitude-spouting punching left” lane with Harris and O’Rourke, while Yang was in the “underqualified squillionaires lane” with Howard Schultz.

    1. Ashburn

      I think Nathan J. Robinson at Current Affairs has the definitive take-down of Pete Buttigeig. Here is a sample quote from his long, devastating, and richly entertaining article: (Apologies to Yves, as a former McKinsey consultant)

      “Before I dive into Shortest Way Home’s account of the life and career of Peter Buttigieg, let me be up front about my bias. I don’t trust former McKinsey consultants. I don’t trust military intelligence officers. And I don’t trust the type of people likely to appear on “40 under 40” lists, the valedictorian-to-Harvard-to-Rhodes-Scholarship types who populate the American elite. I don’t trust people who get flattering reams of newspaper profiles and are pitched as the Next Big Thing That You Must Pay Attention To, and I don’t trust wunderkinds who become successful too early. Why? Because I am somewhat cynical about the United States meritocracy. Few people amass these kind of résumés if they are the type to openly challenge authority. Noam Chomsky says that the factors predicting success in our “meritocracy” are a “combination of greed, cynicism, obsequiousness and subordination, lack of curiosity and independence of mind, [and] self-serving disregard for others.” So when journalists see “Harvard” and think “impressive,” I see it and think “uh-oh.”


    2. flora

      Ha! Pete Buttigieg seems like just another parochial Dem candidate. Indiana didn’t flood in March, so Nebraska and the western midwest’s flooding is not a problem. Leadership material!

    3. Ptolemy Philopater

      Speaking of Andrew Yang and his Basic Income proposal, I wish Jimmy Dore had asked him, how quickly do you think that $1,000/month income would be inflated away without low cost housing etc, etc. It’s another subsidy for the squillionaires as in the Affordable Care Act.. Notice how all the corporate liberal proposals to help the poor and “middle class” all end up in the pockets of the squillionaires, in the form of government subsidies. Funny that. I guess that’s what makes Nancy Pelosi a master legislator.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Can we truly think about climate change at all?

      Great article that at least attempts to think a little deeper than we normally think–something Americans, particularly intellectuals would be well-advised to do.

      …AI…makes it possible to conceive of intelligence beyond human intelligence; still more seriously, the fact of climate change forces us to confront the possibility of the complete destruction of human life.

      AI does not make it possible to conceive of intelligence beyond human intelligence because human intelligence is beyond machine intelligence almost by definition. Why? Because the conceptual framework of the West is inherently and now toxically flawed. Intelligence is not ONLY about solving “problems” but involves something deeper and much, much wider than the very narrow frame of reference in which our official culture views life. What machine intelligence does not and cannot understand is what we call altered states of consciousness and the “paranormal” are very really phenomena that man has experienced throughout recorded history and for which data is overwhelming even Machiavelli casually mentions a strange event he experienced. So this area of life is just not possible for machines based on algorithms no matter how complex.

      As Adorno tells us in his Lectures of Negative Dialectics, “Philosophy consists in the effort to say what cannot be said, to think what we cannot yet think.”

      This harkens back to an anonymous handbook for contemplative monks called The Cloud of Unknowing which instructed monks to

      Reconcile yourself to wait in the darkness as long as is necessary, but still go on longing after him whom you love. For if you are to feel him or see him in the life, it must always be in this cloud, in this darkness.

      Which indicates that there is a knowing beyond knowing or as I see it a knowing that includes an extra dimension for which normal thought simply doesn’t work just as, to a two dimensional square a three-dimensional sphere made no sense (see Flatland by Edwin Abbott). This notion is very close to the Zen technique of contemplating a seemingly paradoxical phrase in order to break your rational system of thought and this is also a part of all deep spiritual traditions all over the world including shamanism. Machine intelligence simply cannot go there. Please note that I’m not trying to deny reason and problem solving only that there is far more to us humans than logic and reason. Even people who hate anything “magic” or mystical have to admit that there is such a thing as beauty which Plato insists is the reminder on Earth of our unity with God.

      The Climate Change crisis is the perfect illustration of Western Man’s incapacity to think logically by after building a world through the genius application of logic and rationality. We have met the Faustian bargain and it is who we are now. Most educated people in the world reluctantly understand that we are in danger but have abandoned rationality and science and decided to put their heads in the sand particularly in the USA. Europe seems more interested in “solving” the problem but only will do so if they remain comfortable and don’t upset the status-quo. We hunger for irrationality, we hunger for a new mythological framework because the current confusion of values makes no sense at all. We still have to ask basic philosophical questions like: what is the purpose of life? Without purpose we just flounder as we are mostly doing now so destruction of human life on Earth many not matter–maybe heroin (as a symbol of escape) is better than reality.

      We live in a post-rational and post-philosophical age as the article kind of alludes to. Only major cultural change in the direction of spirituality and expansion of consciousness beyond the narrow confines of our current culture of narcissism will enable us to avoid destruction.

    2. ChristopherJ

      Thank you, Carla. SK is to the point and compelling.

      We get the odd shout out here in Australia, but MSM still very silent. And, I really can’t remember an Australian politician suggesting that taxes don’t fund things. I contribute toa few local blogs and am always having to defend MMT. Most Aussies I talk to think my observations about money are a conspiracy. Come on, where has this worked? Germany?

      I suspect (and have some local knowledge of this) that our public servants tell our politicians very firmly that MMT is not possible, the system, the constitution etc. won’t allow it.

      And, when you also have almost all of the academic economists, the banks and various financial pundits also saying that MMT is a fairy tale, well, perhaps it is unsurprising that MMT is not quite breaking through as a mainstream idea. Certainly not here in Australia, even though we have our own MMT superstars in Mitchell and Keen, to name but two.

  5. zagonostra

    >The Democratic Party Is Radicalizing – The Atlantic

    The Smear/Propaganda against Sanders is really ramping up, this Atlantic article today, which follows the Dana Milbank article on the WaPo indicates they’re back at it in spades…

    Medicare for all, which would greatly expand the federal role in health care. Some versions would wipe out the health-insurance industry and do away with employer-sponsored health plans that now cover roughly 175 million Americans. This would be hugely disruptive and unpopular (70 percent of Americans are happy with their coverage), and would exacerbate the worst efficiencies of an already highly inefficient program.


    1. Arizona Slim

      Where do they find this 70 percent? I have yet to meet anyone who’s happy with their coverage. If anything, I keep running into people who hate their health insurance with every fiber of their being.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe they mean that 70% of health-care company owners are happy with their coverage. The other 30% want to lessen it even more.

    2. jrs

      they don’t even understand the existing system, because if they did they wouldn’t write what they do.

    3. Chris Hargens

      “This would be hugely disruptive and unpopular….” — scare tactics. Talk over and over about what people will lose, and when it comes time for someone to tell people what they will gain (especially if the explanation is complicated) that person will be speaking to deaf ears.

      1. polecat

        Just think of all that time & energy WASTED … not having to play billing tag with a corpserate-shill intermediary … /s

      2. WJ

        It would be “highly disruptive” to insurance empty suits making more than $300k. Disruption is good when caused by “the market” and when it costs dock workers their jobs, bad when caused by democratic political agency and when it costs AVPs theirs.

    4. marym

      There are only 2 very similar “versions” of M4A – Jayapal’s House bill and the Sanders bill in the Senate. Both are for a universal, comprehensive national plan, as was the original HR 676.

      It’s a measure of the success of neolib Dem obfuscation that now there are all these fake versions (see yesterday’s Links for a link to KFF’s summary) which would “exacerbate the worst efficiencies of an already highly inefficient program” (program?? entire patchwork system, imo.) Those 2 versions of M4A would eliminate all these inefficiencies.

    5. Jeff W

      Aside from the loony “unpopular” frame—when polls show at least sixty, if not seventy, percent overall support for Medicare-for-All—what does “exacerbate the worst efficiencies of an already highly inefficient program” even mean?

    6. Carey

      “The Smear/Propaganda against Sanders is really ramping up,..”
      Oh, they’re just getting started, lol.


  6. John A

    Apropos the 377 max problem I dont think the dogs are going to eat the dog food. I read an interview with the CEO of Norwegian Air, a low cost European airline at the weekend. Norwegian are in financial straitened times, exacerbated by having several 737 max now grounded. The CEO, an ex pilot basically said that if it was a case of a software problem, you just have to switch off the system with a button. And if you can’t turn off a switch in less than 40 seconds that is right by your knee, you shouldn’t be in the cockpit anyway.
    With attitudes at the top like that, my own feeling is Mdon’t fly Norwegian any more.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      And we thought the Indonesians were the cowboys (and though true in general, because the cheap Asian airlines do not have a good safety record, not true in the case of the Lion Air crash, as today’s WSJ story in Links shows).

      1. ChristopherJ

        Thank you Allan. It’s one of the unintended features of deregulating the industry as, when you do it, you are then competing with carriers who use cabin crew who are based in third world countries so they can pay them less than western pilots. You either follow or lose market share.

        But the industry’s problems are not just the humans who will do the same job for less money. They are putting humans in the left hand seat that don’t have what would be considered sufficient flying experience. These are people who have passed their pilot tests and flown many hours in the right hand seat, attending to the radio and so on, hardly ever needing to actually take the controls and fly. So when things go wrong and such people need to recapture control of an out of control airplane… Well, they’ve probably never done it in a simulator, let alone experienced it in real life. No wonder people panic and forget their training.

        Still, the crapified, cost driven, zero quality planes that are being manufactured. Today, in 2019!!! The only way Boeing will be making planes in 12 months time is if the US Govt bails them out. Trust is everything when you’re flying and anything American is no longer associated with quality, or even prestige. Going to be impossible to turn around IMO.

        1. LifelongLib

          My understanding (admittedly only from reading) is that U.S. airline captains routinely allow first officers to fly the plane, so that the latter can build up the flight hours they need to become captains themselves. Is this not true, or not true of non-U.S. airlines?

  7. yoghurt

    Our honorary plant, the fungus, looks like a kind of Chanterelle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chanterelle. You can tell by the ribs on the underside of the hat that run down the stem somewhat. Assuming it’s a chanterelle, these are good to eat and the ribs are unique enough to make them identifiable – be careful check with local expert on fungus living in this area before trying them. Also good to eat and since you can readily identify them are the hedgehog mushrooms https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydnum_repandum which have little stalagtite looking spikes.

  8. Louis Fyne

    “For the fourth time, I’ve come across a Democrat involved in stimulus negotiations in 2008-2009 saying some version of “we could have done nothing and let things get worse, like FDR did.”

    Fourth? first time I heard this anecdote….if true, truly Team Dem. is beyond redeemable and more evidence that DC Dems brought the Trump Train upon themselves.

    Bernie and Berniecrats needs to light the proverbial match and burn down DNC HQ and start from scratch.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        And where, one wonders, was Prescott Bush in 1932/33? Oh, yeah. Planning a coup. Wonder why we then elected his son and grandson to the Presidency?

        1. JBird4049

          The coup was only delayed and with no one taking Smedley Butler’s place it was much easier. Besides officially winning even a crooked election gives the takeover more social legitimacy.

      2. JBird4049

        Interesting that the Republicans and the financial elites wanted to continue with the Gold Standard during the Great Depression. A case could be made for the Standard before the Depression, but it was the Nineteenth and early Twentieth’s Centuries equivalent of austerity. Crucifying people on what politician William Jennings Bryan called the Cross of Gold.

        The unrest, mass suffering, even starvation, possibly leading to revolution was clearly there to be seen, but like our current elites, they just did not want to see it.

        1. Wukchumni

          You have to read “The Great Depression: A Diary” by Benjamin Roth…

          Banks were closing all over the place in Youngstown & Cleveland in 1931-32, leaving those that had money in their trust, out of luck. Every day there’s either rumors of another one going out of business, or its actually happening. There was gen-u-ine panic among the populace, making FDR’s moves not that hard to make, in retrospect. The people were ready for a change, whereas all we’ve done is fight the prospect of anything other than business as usual.

          You couldn’t compare 1931-32 to 2008-2009, way different also in that there was no money out there, people were stony broke, with scant public assistance. The author takes a drive in the depths of the great depression and buys a bushel (about 125) of apples at a roadside stand for 25 cents.

          1. Wukchumni

            A masterful speech, you could never imagine a modern politician uttering 10 minutes of soliloquy on silver, or anything else.

            But it was largely on account of the Comstock Lode, which forever altered the Au/Ag ratio because incredible amounts of silver were found in Virginia City & environs, for you see, there was just under $20 worth of gold in a $20 gold coin, whereas a silver Dollar only had around 50 Cents worth of silver in content, in comparison.

            Bryan wanted to turn silver worth around 65 cents an ounce into coins worth double that.

      3. Jeff W

        “We didn’t actually, I think, do what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, which was basically wait for six months until the thing had gotten so bad that it became an easier sell politically because we thought that was irresponsible. We had to act quickly.“
        — President Obama

        One of the (many) reasons that I hold President Obama in such contempt is his abject ahistoricity.

        1. aletheia33

          agreed, but an understatement i think.
          to me, that quotation–more than any of the others i’ve seen from obama–just reads as abject dishonesty.

    1. Grant

      “Bernie and Berniecrats needs to light the proverbial match and burn down DNC HQ and start from scratch.”

      With the quickness. Not only the DNC or the DCCC, all the affiliated think tanks, hack journalists, consultants. The entirety of it.

  9. marku52

    More Boeing at Leeham. Bjorn thinks he knows why ET302 crashed the in same fashion as the Indonesian flight, even while knowing about MCAS.

    With multiple stall alarms blaring, and the nose pitching down, the plane speeds up. The pilots want speed because they think they are stalling.

    At this point they are following the Boeing factory correction tree for an MCAS situation. They turn off the electrical trim, which disables the MCAS. But at this speed, the forces on the elevator are so high, the trim wheels are locked and they can’t move them by hand. So they have to turn the electric trim again, where MCAS promptly puts the nose down.


    The pilots need to put the nose down to reduce the load on the elevator. But they are only at 1000ft, and can’t do it.

    They died following Boeing’s factory authorized. correction path.

    “The excessive manual trim forces have been confirmed by an airline pilot which has done 737 test flights after elevator maintenance, where manual trimming needs to be checked. At a miss-trimmed Stabilator, you either have to re-engage Electric trim or off-load the Stabilator jackscrew by stick forward, creating a nose-down bunt maneuver, followed by trim.”

    Also note Boeing is delaying the release of their “corrected” MCAS software.


    1. VietnamVet

      The Ethiopian Airline pilots turned off MCAS, couldn’t regain control, turned it back on but the aircraft dived straight into the ground. The Airworthiness Directive on 8th of November 2018 after the Lion Air crash was woefully inadequate. The fix is more than a software update.

      “Believes in Nothing” is not true. Oligarchs believe in the power of money. They have to have more of it. Only this explains the immoral actions of Boeing. To survive, the company must rediscover ethics, engineering, and design a 737 Max flight control system that commercial pilots across the world can fly safely. That takes money, time and the truth.

      Trust is a vanishing commodity. Without it, civilization is done.

      1. ChristopherJ

        Yes VV, trust.

        They’ve lost mine.

        The contrast between European factories and quality systems, the workforce, and what we now see are the systems at Boeing – well, is a wonder more of their planes aren’t falling out of the sky.

        Is why they are toast, IMO

        1. The Rev Kev

          Who would ever believe that building an aircraft assembly facility at the other end of the country in a State that hates unions, and then manning that facility with staff that may have been working at McDonalds previously instead of the unionized, highly-experienced workforce that you have been using up to date would ever come a cropper? I wonder if those Air Force Tankers were built in that South Carolina facility that were so badly done, that the Air Force had to stop delivery of them? These are planes, may I note, that when used are full of aviation gasoline so you want good quality in them or boom! This is what happens when a great corporation gets taken over by the bean-counters and the marketing droids.

          1. polecat

            Unfortunately, the neoliberal MBA (Mendacious Bidness A$$holes) Fungus (Financially Unctuous, Necrotically Greedheaded, Undeniably-Scummy) mycelium has intruded everywhere .. and it’s giving society a terminal case of Heart Rot !

          2. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

            Reminds me of Alfasuds and Rubrik’s Cube:

            I recall that Alfasuds were manufactured well away from the northern Italian factories as a part of a government effort to create jobs in the impoverished south. Russian steel was used along with moronic materials handling procedures which helped turn my friend Alan’s car into what unsympathetic friends* called ‘the Rubric’s cube’. Alan had got replacements for rusted out body panels from wreckers and didn’t bother to get the paint matched.

            In manufacturing (as with everything else) there is no monopoly of stupidity but there are always those who trying to corner the market.


            *mostly me
            ps Car nuts might like to check out the history of British Leyland – you can see it on the ‘tube if you like black comedies.

  10. Grant

    “Fossil Fuel Industry, Corporate Lobbyists & Neoliberal Economists Push Carbon Pricing Schemes to Attack Green New Deal”

    There is nothing pragmatic about supporting inferior policies that don’t help us to avoid environmental collapse. The idea that we can just slap a price of some kind that captures some small part of the non-market impact and that everything will be fine is insanely naïve, and I find the carbon tax proposals to be really weak tea. We cannot realistically capture the full impact of carbon emissions, we would have to factor in indirect impacts and worst case scenarios. Even if we could price such things, what would everything cost, since carbon is embodied in everything? If we were to price such a thing, and if we could accurately capture the full impact of the non-market impact, the explosion in prices would themselves result in radical changes. What of the limits to growth in throughput and pollution generation? What of trying to have a complex economic system operate within sustainable limits with no coordination or planning? Is that realistic?

    It seems that carbon taxes are “pragmatic” if you assume the system largely stays in place and aren’t as interested in really addressing the environmental crisis as you are in maintaining the system and your client’s wealth and power. It is pragmatic in the sense that, yes, the whole things comes down as the environment collapses, but it is about as much as you can expect if the structure of our society and economy are the same as is. The “pragmatists” have been in charge for decades now. Maybe we should discuss what the word pragmatic means in this particular context.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I think carbon taxes could be made to work. Put the taxes on the producers of fossil fuels. Set the tax rate to infinity.

      It wouldn’t work for long but left in place long enough — say two weeks — the exercise should point to where and how fossil fuels impact other areas of the economy. After that nationalize the producers of fossil fuels and begin a sector by sector trace of the impacts fossil fuels have on various sectors of the economy while also looking alternative sources for key inputs from the fossil fuels sector. This exercise could also identify supply chains without ‘adequate’ inventories. With fossil fuel production under government control [I am imagining a government of, by and for the people — not the present U.S. government] the nation could begin the complex and difficult processes of clamping down the production of fossil fuels while addressing the complex chain of impacts that would create.

      1. Grant

        Well, I think the idea that we can put a price on all non-market impacts is unrealistic, but an argument could be made that those things could influence behavior enough that people would have to act as if all information was encoded in prices. I don’t think that is at all likely, but not impossible. It is possible that an asteroid could fall on me any second, just not likely. Personally, I think we should be honest about how limited pricing carbon alone is. If it, in conjunction with other things, is proposed, fine. But it by itself should be thought of as one small piece, one that is likely only going to be used for a relatively short period of time, as the environmental crisis is far beyond just carbon emissions and will require comprehensive economic planning. My point is that if we were to truly price carbon, everything would go up in price, which would show how problematic using markets for everything would be. We would have to dispense with using market information alone to guide production, consumption and distribution, and instead look to other information to guide production, ecological and social information, information that is almost certainly now more impactful than the things we actually measure with markets. Markets could be used to pass information from consumers to producers and for enterprise level accounting, which would be radically different than how markets are used in this system.

        I agree with the overall point of your second paragraph, since it points to economic planning, which is needed to address the environmental crisis. I would expand public ownership, personally, to many other realms, including our entire energy infrastructure. I don’t support a privately owned national renewable energy infrastructure, for a number of reasons. “Fossil Capital” by Andreas Malm is a great source for that.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I agree “…that we can put a price on all non-market impacts is unrealistic. ” I suspect the existing input-output modeling done for the U.S. economy is about as useful as GDP or unemployement numbers. I also suspect that fossil fuel products have a broad reach into the overall economy for example drug precursors or similar inputs for the chemical industry. Given the breadth and complexity fossil fuels reach into the economy I think there are many side effects of a zero-carbon policy that would only become apparent as they occur — hence the proposed ‘experiment’. Even if I believed in a Market-based ‘solution’ [which I don’t] — I believe any ‘true’ believer in Markets would have to admit there are too many externalities [I believe in externalities], and non-Market variables like the large subsidies for petroleum or the regulations favoring natural gas, to say nothing of the considerable consolidation horizontally and vertically of the producers and sellers of fossil fuels — for arriving at a Market solution.

          The only way we might move away from burning fossil fuels is through a planned economy. There are too many variables for a Market solution to do more than make a muddle of it without reaching any solution.

          1. Grant

            Great post. This is why I have spent the last few months reading a lot about the “socialist calculation debate”, economists like Maurice Dobb, Oskar Lange, Otto Neurath, Karl William Kapp, Hayek, von Mises, Robin Hahnel, among others. I, personally, find little use in Austrian economics, but I find some of their contributions to that debate to be worthwhile. I don’t agree with them, they have been proven incorrect about a lot of what they predicted, and their critiques of planning are actually really helpful in attacking the very things that they support, but they are still useful. Lange, in his book on the economics of socialism, said as much, and somewhat sarcastically said that a statue of von Mises should be placed at the ministry of socialization because of some of the things he forced socialists to grapple with. Economies do need a means of transferring information, and while markets are not very good at this now because of the information missing within markets, there has to be something either like a market, or a social and democratic means of passing information from consumers to producers, and something that allows producers to measure efficiency. To whatever extent markets or a market like system exists, it has to exist in a radically different context.

            I am trying to write an article about this. We’ll see how that turns out.

    2. jrs

      Some of the carbon tax proposals have been in development for a decade at least “they aren’t pushing schemes in response to the green new deal” but could be part of a GND.

      Although I am unconvinced the GND is really radical enough either for that matter.

  11. Summer

    Re: Microsoft E-Books

    “The idea that the books I buy can be relegated to some kind of fucking software license is the most grotesque and awful thing I can imagine: if the publishing industry deliberately set out to destroy any sense of intrinsic, civilization-supporting value in literary works, they could not have done a better job.”

    And you all thought the internet was about putting everyone closer to the creatives…

    Writers and artists are change the world kind of people. And someone seems very jealous of that.

  12. zagonostra

    >Bipartisan cooperation – Venezuela

    The Republicans and Democrats introduced the Venezuelan Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance and Development (Verdad) Act more than two months after President Donald Trump’s administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guiado as the country’s legitimate leader, pushing for the departure of President Nicolas Maduro….

    That level of bipartisan support is not typical of major legislation in the current, fiercely partisan, Congress.

    No, it’s not typical because it goes against what most citizens desire, it’s only when legislation is supported by the majority of citizens that you get bipartisan rancor, like M4A.


  13. Mark Gisleson

    Always feel like I’ve won the day when I get here late and see the Update is all done.

    Celebrating getting my taxes done which in my case means I filled a big envelope with little envelopes and sent it to my tax preparer.

  14. Lee

    Expect continued volatility as liberal Democrat power brokers and media assets discover they don’t have the power they are accustomed to having.


    Yesterday’s Daily Kos presidential candidate poll with fetching photo of Buttigieg:

    Sanders still out front with 33%. Commentary of the kind to be expected from his nibs, Kos:

    While no one else in the large and fragmented field is close, it’s his worst performance since announcing, and represents a full 7,000 fewer votes than he received two weeks ago. We consider the Straw Poll a measure of support intensity, and Sanders’s is ebbing away.

    Sanders was at 44% a few weeks ago. Buttigieg is in second place with 18%, Warren in third with 12%, Harris in fourth with 11%, and Biden fifth with 8%.


    1. Grant

      I went through the comments section, and there are multiple issues with the polls between the two periods, and besides anyway, I place very little values on polls, for a number of reasons. Most polls that the media cites are heavily slanted towards older voters, some are oversampling right of center voters too. A recent CNN poll showed that support for Sanders had “plummeted”. Looking into who they polled, everyone 49 and younger was listed as NA. It was a poll of those 50 and older, which CNN didn’t bother to mention. Then there are unscientific polls like that, which also have problems of their own. When a candidate that runs that the establishment doesn’t like, it seems the data folks use their skills to manipulate data to serve a purpose more than trying to modify their methods of getting the data that reflects the actual preferences among the public. With that CNN poll, no person knowledgeable of data collection and polling would fail to mention how skewed that poll was towards older voters unless they had a motive, which would be unstated but obvious. Not doing so is intentional, on their part and CNN’s part.

  15. Shonde

    Got an email today asking if I would host one of the Bernie kickoff events on the 27th. Lambert called them house parties. I was wondering if anyone can give me a heads up on what volunteering would entail. Has anyone reading NC volunteered so far who would have details? Would this be like the old fashioned coffee parties one does for local elections?
    Just moved to Minnesota last year so am a bit hesitant since I know so few people in town.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I was about to sign up. Then I saw the part about meeting venues being publicized online. Uh, no.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      It makes a huge difference which town you’re in. Or if the Twin Cities, which neighborhood/suburb.

      1. Shonde

        A small town of about 25,000 south of the Twin Cities on I-35. Just like Slim, I would not want my home address placed on-line especially since I am an old boomer and live alone. Might there be a stipend provided for room rental such as at the library? I also don’t do Facebook so am missing one of the things used today for organizing. Do you know any way of connecting with a MN Bernie organization without using Facebook? I am good at calling and door knocking. Wow, my organizing skills are as old as I am.

        1. aletheia33

          if it were me, i would just ploddingly try to locate an actual person, group, or phone number of bernie supporter(s) and ask them how to connect with the campaign, keep talking to real people, pursue it until i get the info i need.

          your city’s newspaper may have published something on bernie with relevant names of people in that city. such people may be quite accessible. you are a valuable asset potentially as someone with canvassing/political campaign experience! expect a positive reception!

          i would never allow myself to be directed solely by online instructions/programs but would always seek out real persons with whom to interact, exchange info, feel the bern, organize whatever volunteer tasks we want to do. it doesn’t seem like something one would want to take up all by oneself. the whole point is to connect with likeminded people and build from there. and thrive on the fun and uplift of a shared good project.

          so please don’t be afraid to take the first step of searching out such people. and remember how helpful the library can be as a source of all local info. i have no doubt someone at that library knows someone who knows someone who is thinking of if not actually yet volunteering for bernie. (or maybe i know absolutely nothing of minnesota, which is kinda true…)

          let us know how it goes!

          –from another old boomer

          1. Shonde

            Thanks. I have done a little of what you have suggested but no luck yet. Years ago one could directly call a presidential candidate’s campaign and they would actually call back. I think I like the old days better than the computer forms of today.

            1. aletheia33

              they were better.
              and are better, for the next disaster when all the cellphones go down.
              our old skills of working with and electing real people are still valuable.
              maybe even our only hope…
              don’t give up!
              thank you!

    3. Cal2

      Good way to meet your progressive neighbors, Shonde.
      You might jumpstart many more friendships than you would ever make in decades of living there.

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its always up in the air. The most likely bad scenario is 15 people show up. Snacks might be appreciated. Example: Pretzels, cookies.

      Ultimately, the goal is to prep work for the campaign before the organizers arrive. The 22 year olds who are going to do this 24/7 are going to come in and need places to crash. They’ll come in ready to work not look for office space or places to live.

      I was planning on contacting a couple of places tomorrow where there are public spaces available. Ideally, the campaign could put you in touch with someone in the area. I would just avoid trying to meet at a restaurant. You don’t want to deter anyone. Ideally, I would like to know what the campaign wants to do. I’ve been to great house parties and just wretched house parties.

    5. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Ill be signing up my house prolly in New Orleans. Just have some basic drinks and snacks and talk about organizing ur area.

  16. Summer

    RE: “Joe Biden advisers believe coverage of allegations of inappropriate behavior is being stoked by rival Democrats — a dynamic that could actually fire up the vice president at a time when others see success as increasingly improbable…”

    The Senator from the state with as many, if not more registered corporations than people, Mr. Student Debt and Mass Incarceration, should feel like it is going as planned ….

    1. Wukchumni

      That’s not what I heard about Joe, the feeling is more that he’s simply out of touch with his constituency and fellow pols.

      1. Summer

        Should you use “out of touch” when talking about Mr Touchy Feely?

        He’d better be glad they are focusing on these past events than the policy that shows exactly how much he is owned.

      2. Summer

        Biden and Trump would work the 2020 election in a way that would make the police say: “Damn, now that’s how you do good cop / bad cop.”

        They’d be the tag team that would make you throw up your breakfast every morning.

  17. Jeremy Grimm

    Is anyone else having fun with the new and ‘improved’ IRS forms and instructions? I just finished my extremely simple tax return. The ‘simplified’ form was the source of too many searches on the IRS website to find out what line ‘n’ on form or schedule ‘X’ contained or to identify what form ‘Z’ covered. There was even a cute ambiguity in the first five item lines that I had to go to instructions to clarify [“Add lines 1- 5” — but lines 2,3, 4, and 5 are split.]

    After this ‘Easter’ egg hunt for rotten eggs, I spent some time trying to figure out where to mail my return. Seems the IRS is very very big on filing electronically — “It’s safe, don’t worry” — and
    I want to file my 1040 form by U.S. Mail:
    Look on Form 1040 for an IRS mailing address … none shown
    Looked in index for the 1040 instructions booklet — Mailing Returns, and Tax Returns Mailing — no entries
    went to Pub 17 … Mailing returns (See Tax returns) … Tax Returns — Mailing of …
    “Mailing your paper return. Mail your paper return to the address shown in the Instructions for Form 1040.”
    back to 1040 instructions booklet started hunt through the booklet. Page 65 instructions for paying with a mail order shows no address but:
    “Mail your 2018 tax return, payment, and Form 1040-V to the address shown on the form that applies to you.”
    Too bad I just want to file my 1040 form by U.S. Mail. The booklet shows all kinds of ways to pay — online, by phone, or mobile device as well as some other means EXCEPT sending the form by U.S. Mail.
    Stepping through pub 17 — page 9 had a topic “Filing paper returns on time” which referred to ‘Private delivery services including a weblink at IRS.gov to approved private delivery services and a second weblilnk to what addresses to use for the approved private delivery services.
    Back to IRS.gov A search for “IRS mailing address” return all sorts of information with ‘address’ in the title — except what I wanted. Tried the ‘File’ button and under Filing for Individuals in a rightmost menu I tried ‘Where to File’
    => Returns by State and finally found a mailing address for filing returns from my state.

    Being a suspicious type I am left wondering what agenda the ‘simplied’ 1040 process was crafted to support. Is the GOP going to make another push for a flat-tax? I also get the strong impression the U.S. Mail may be in some serious trouble and that the IRS is very anxious to have us all file electronically on-line or using our phones.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I was walking the dog through the new form and deliberately used IRS forms, publications, and IRS.gov as my sole sources of information. [I avoid Google with or without tracking — still use DuckDuck although less and less fondly.]

        Do you think the new 1040 form is an improvement over the old form? I don’t. Do you like the idea of being pushed to file electronically? I don’t.

    1. Randy

      Addresses for mailing payment are on the back of 1040v (page 2 of 1040v PDF).
      I fruitlessly hunted through the instructions too because that is where they used to be found before the 1040v wrinkle showed up.

      1. polecat

        But if one take’s out too many chunks of neural tax tissue, what’s left … animal spirits ??
        No moar ‘helpful’ tax preps for us .. or next you’ll see polecat in a primal rage, hefting a tapir femur !
        I really detest that big black tax-giveaway monolith.

  18. Wukchumni

    A tale from 2012, only recently told:


    An older saga also featuring Sequoia NP from a few years earlier, that none of you probably ever heard of, but if the shooter had killed 8 people, you would’ve never heard the end of it…

    Man Shooting Weapon Taken into Custody
    in Sequoia National Park

    On November 25, 2010, at approximately 2:00 p.m., park staff encountered a man speeding into the park though the exit side of the Ash Mountain entrance station in Sequoia National Park in Three Rivers, CA. Law enforcement rangers responded and found the man near the Ash Mountain Visitor Center where other park staff had encountered him a few minutes earlier. When the law enforcement ranger arrived, the suspect threw the pistol to the ground. Additional rangers arrived on scene within moment, and the suspect was taken into custody without further incident. After further investigation, it was found that the suspect had discharged at
    least eight rounds in the vicinity of the Visitor Center area while shouting about the end of the world and Armageddon. The suspect, a 42-year-old male from the Sacramento, California, area, was transported to a local
    hospital and held for psychiatric evaluation. In addition, rangers found drug paraphernalia and approximately 10 pounds of packaged and processed marijuana (valued at approximately $35,000) in the suspect’s vehicle.


  19. Cal2

    What the corporate Democrats fear most in the debate:

    15 year veteran Army Major Tulsi Gabbard shaming them for parlaying their donors interests into ongoing losing Middle Eastern Wars, then having the nerve to talk about Medicare For All and making the other candidates, except for Bernie, look like hypocrites.

    Gabbard is 37, is a young healthy woman that has served in the house for six years and has introduce many progressive bills.

    She would be an ideal vice presidential choice for Bernie Sanders.

    The pretending she does not exist and avoiding mentioning her name at all costs by the corporate media tells you all you need to know about what she represents to the bipartisan status quo ruining the country.

    Make it happen, get her on that stage by donating as little as a buck to get past the 65,000 unique donor mark.
    Joe Rogan’s long interview with her is the only campaign speech you need to listen to:


    1. Shonde

      Your entreaties must be effective. On Twitter, she said on April 2nd, “Another 2,000 new donors have joined our campaign in the last 48 hours!”
      59, 469 donors so far which I hope are individuals.

    2. dearieme

      She would be an ideal vice presidential choice for Donald Trump too.

      Her conclusions about silly bloody wars are in accord with his instincts.

      1. rowlf

        … but she is smart enough to realize the Oval office phone isn’t connected. Why can’t the President control foreign policy?

        Gabbard could probably get a million donors and still be not be allowed in the debates. I’d like her and her supporters to find a way to bypass the media.

        MISCHIEF BREW LYRICS “Fight Dirty”

        …Fight dirty
        Hit below the waist
        That’s how it’s done to us
        Behind closed doors each day

        Laws they don’t follow,
        Treaties they snap
        With a shake and a putt
        And the raise of a glass

        You fixed the game?
        I’ll cheat if I must to take it back.

        TAKE IT BACK!


      2. Cal2

        That is a very interesting idea.
        Talk about bipartisan. He’s crazy enough to do it.
        I don’t think she is though.

        Unless—the Democrats bypass Bernie and nominate Kamala, Butt-Gig, Frau KoBlucher or one of the other losers.

        She then gets invited by Trump to join his ticket as V.P. Imagine Madcow’s face…

        Trump’s Instincts,
        his speeches and
        attempted before congress actions are three different things.

    3. twonine

      I hope she learns the rudiments of Modern Monetary Theory prior to debates. Particularly since she claims to want to change the job description for our de facto federal jobs guarantee to something other than cannon fodder. Backing off on regime change wars is likely a deflationary even as Mosler describes for medicare for all.

    1. Expat2uruguay

      Is it normal for this interviewer to constantly interrupt the person she’s interviewing? Serious question, I don’t usually watch Face the Nation so I don’t know if this is normal for them. At one point she interrupts him and he apologizes for being interrupted I guess (@5:15)

  20. Hameloose Cannon

    Son of *the* Antonio Gramsci scholar in the English-speaking world, Mayor Buttigeig grew up in a post-Marxist household, internalized the reality deficit inherent in Marxist-thought before he could drive, fought on the frontier, and came back to resuscitate a dying Midwestern community. But a Jacobin article wonders if Mayor Pete is smart-smart or just neoliberal-smart. Keep it radical, Jacobin. All the bread for a deep-dive into the only candidate that can rebut the Sanders campaign from the Neo-Marxist Left before Sunday School must have went into the fabulous web design. 2020 is becoming the chthonic reality web series for which us mortals brokered for our transgressions. But let it be known, when the needle hit the groove, “I danced a dance like a semi-despondent fury.”

    1. Wukchumni

      We’ve certainly gone a long way from when Paul Lynde was the only acknowledged gay man in society-on a game show, to the point where a Presidential candidate’s homosexuality is far down the list of worry warts, going up against an acknowledged say anything man-previously on a game show.

      1. WJ

        The real problem with a gay president is our current lack of an appropriate pseudo-aristocratic title to attach to his/her partner, if he/she is married. I expect The View to have a feature on this before too long.

    2. jrs

      people are impressed with him yes, but the only real question is: why should one pick him over Sanders?

      He should get in the debates because the most important issue to discuss is the defects of Marxist thought?

  21. NotTimothyGeithner

    “Nancy Pelosi Believes in Nothing

    This isn’t limited to Pelosi but extends to the first days of candidate recruitment. Republicans run Republicans. Democrats start with people who won’t offend and can self fund, and at the local level, its tolerable because everyone hates pot holes. When you get to questions of values, the Democrats wind up being a party of people who watch the West Wing for the substantive policy discussions.

    As those non-entity Democrats stay in office, they wind up getting kicked up stairs especially in safe districts.

    1. Carey

      Saying elite Dems believe in nothing is simply false.

      Dem “leadership” do believe, fervently, in Money.
      Big, serious, Money.

  22. JerryDenim

    Sorry to recycle posts, but this is excerpted from a comment I left a couple of days late on your last stand-alone 737 Max post.

    The 737 Max may have been a deeply and fatally flawed airplane but that doesn’t mean the first fatal crash happening at an airline with a horrible safety record was a coincidence either. Safety culture relies on multiple layers of checks to catch and mitigate dangerous situations much like good systems engineering contains multiple redundancies for critical systems which require multiple points of failure before a system is compromised. Lousy, developing/world budget airlines, which typically lack unions (which allow pilots and mechanics to push back against unsafe management demands) and good safety-culture behavior and role models among the pilot and mechanic ranks are particularly vulnerable to the risks involved with operating dangerous or flawed airplanes. Their defenses are simply not as robust.

    Bad habits and bad safety culture compound danger just as good habits and good safety culture serve to mitigate danger. Good safety culture, procedures and habits isn’t a magic bullet for unairworthy airplanes like the 737 Max, but it’s a leg up, and it’s why the most dangerous airline in a country known for its bad aviation culture crashed the 737 Max first. If you were asked to pick the most likely survivor from ten car crashes it’s doubtful you would pick the driver not wearing their seatbelt in a car without airbags. Neither safety feature is guaranteed to save you every time, but you certainly wouldn’t choose to get into a car crash without those safety features. Aviation safety culture is the same thing. Not a magic panacea, but you’d be mad to want to fly without it. It’s also a great predictor of air disasters. If you let a group of pilot behavioral safety auditors observe the flight deck behavior of all of the world’s airline pilots I bet they would be able to predict the airlines most likely to experience a crash within the next 12 months with startling accuracy.

    None of this is to excuse Boeing, I hope to see criminal indictments come out of the 737 Max probe and I hope to see a reinvigorated FAA certification process with extra money and emphasis placed on US airline maintenance compliance as well. That said, there is plenty of blame to go around with the twin 737 Max disasters, I don’t know about Ethiopian Airlines but Lion Air is a disgrace. The management at Lion Air aren’t victims, they’re criminals. Safer jets will not fix Lion Air’s broken culture.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I would certainly agree that there are very unsafe Asian airlines. That said, one wouldn’t expect even a car salesman to sell a Maserati to a customer visibly capable of handling only a Dodge Dart safely. If Boeing knew its customer, it should have been selling the complete, optional safety package to Lion. And that’s leaving aside the issue of training them with iPad videos (no muscle memory) as opposed to simulators.

      1. JerryDenim

        Absolutely no arguments from me on that front. The 737 Max is a flawed product and an unairworthy jet. I think it’s been well established that Boeing is culpable.

        I’m simply saying Lion Air should not be let off the hook either. The 737 Max that Lion Air crashed as flight 610 was written up on the last four flights (logbook entries by pilots) prior to the eventual and inevitable crash related to incredibly serious and scary issues involving inadvertent activation of the MCAS stall protection feature and/or unreliable airspeed indications. After Lion Air maintenance gave it their best shot (replacing the AOA vane) and failed, they continued to clear the write-ups and release the aircraft back into service despite the fact that it was obvious they had no idea how to address the very serious reoccurring issues. They used cheap, easy, half-ass, guess-and-see, lazy solutions which unsurprisingly didn’t work. (“cleaned contactors on AOA vane” “Sprayed pressurized air inside pitot statice system”) Once the AOA vane had been ruled out as the cause of the problems, the aircraft should have been grounded and engineers at Boeing should have been consulted. The Lion Air captains who flew the dangerous airplane with reoccurring, unaddressed safety issues on the next three flights were either derelict in their duties, scared for their jobs, foolish or some combination of the three. If this incident was some kind of stand-alone, unusual event for Lion Air it might not invite condemnation and scrutiny, but Lion Air is a repeat offender with a horrible safety culture and a track record of ignoring industry best practices and procedures while racking up a horrific record of accidents and incidents. Lion Air has only been operating since the year 2000, they have 126 jets in their fleet, but yet Lion Air has managed to crash and destroy four other jets besides the faulty 737 Max famously responsible for the crash of flight 610. There has been an additional eight accidents involving substantial aircraft damage and passenger injuries besides the four complete hull losses I mentioned. Lion Air has a huge safety problem. It didn’t start with the 737 Max deliveries and it won’t be solved with better jets. It’s a culture problem. Just as a frame of reference JetBlue starting operating at approximately the same time as Lion Air and they operate a fleet of 253 jets. JetBlue has zero hull losses and hasn’t killed a passenger yet despite operating many more flights and twice the number of jets. JetBlue isn’t exceptional safety-wise for a US carrier. Their record is better than SouthWest, but fairly close to par compared to other major US airlines.

        If you can’t drive a Dodge Dart safely, then you can’t drive safely. Period. Full-stop. A better car/jet is not going to fix dangerous attitudes, habits, a skill deficit, poor procedures etc.

  23. Cal2

    “There were four elected officials in Pittsburgh who had won with the aid of the branch’s endorsement and hard work, and the branch was running a wide array of issue-based campaigns in the city on labor, housing, and more.”

    Sounds familiar. Remember this guy?
    “Jim Jones was a Democratic power broker, known for his ability to deliver thousands of votes. Jerry Brown, then and now governor of the state, approvingly visited the Peoples Temple, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, who ascended to the mayoralty upon Moscone’s assassination, joined the Board of Supervisors in honoring Jones. Willie Brown, longtime speaker of the California state assembly, a mayor of San Francisco, and the mentor of Senator Kamala Harris, was especially lavish in his praise of Jones, calling him “a combination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis, Albert Einstein, and Chairman Mao.”


    “Jones basked in the glow of praise his People’s Temple garnered from gullible politicians, and San Francisco mayor George Moscone, later tragically assassinated in 1978, even appointed him to San Francisco’s housing commission. [A major dispenser of political favors for votes and candidate suppor–i.e. free lodgings for life once the lease is signed]. Jones had been responsible for an incredible vote-harvesting operation that may have made the difference in Moscone’s narrow 4,000-vote victory over conservative John Barbagelata in 1975.”


  24. Summer


    “Murdoch and his children have toppled governments on two continents and destabilized the most important democracy on Earth. What do they want?”

    Who cares? This should be the clue that any Trump investigation should focus on that creature named “Javanka.”
    The other clue is the college admissions “scandal.”
    I don’t want to hear about Barack and Hillary, what the hell are Sasha, Melia, and Chelsea are up to 24/7?
    Otherwise you’re always fighting the last battle. No, the kids are NOT alright. This is Exhibit A of why change treads water.

    “I believe the children are our future…”
    And assorted sappy song lyrics needs a rethink about what “future” they are talking about.

    1. ewmayer

      Sounds like the Sulzberger family trying to regain market share lost to the Murdochs in the “government-toppling” business. Methinks the Gray Lady doth protest too much.

  25. Wukchumni

    That wearable Raspberry Pi isn’t too much of a stretch from the ‘scrib sheets’ NFL QB’s have attached to an arm.

  26. Summer

    Re: NYTIMES – Murdochs

    Does anyone else out there know that this is and all situations like it are different from a &*+%## family store on the corner????

  27. Carey

    Mr. Buttigieg appears to be thoughtfully rolling up his shirtsleeves on the cover of his
    new book.

    Clearly a man of action, but to whose benefit?

    1. richard

      Kulinski recently covered his remarks that the left had become too concerned with policy details, and was not willing to have the philosophical debates they have on the right, supposedly to their advantage. We haven’t developed our mission statement is I guess his point.
      no, no, this will not fly bootiegig – he kept saying he thought he didn’t know the answers for sure and thought it was worse somehow to pretend he did
      no, what you just said you jackass is that you don’t even know as much as I do
      if you’re not ready for policy details
      then you’re not ready so sit down sit down

      1. Carey

        “then you’re not ready so sit down sit down”

        I think this is a very good riposte to the Few’s transparent water-carriers, like the
        aforementioned dude.

        Rhodes Scholar puh give it a rest

  28. none

    I like that Gravel’s default contribution amount on his online contribution form is $4.20.

        1. polecat

          Let’s hope he’s sharp enough to dig in there, and not so rounded that he does a debate roll-over !

  29. YY

    Re 737MAX
    Several things I find disturbing about this. One is the notion that sensors and software are determining the “flight” characteristics when auto-pilot is disengaged. That the “trim”, which in reality is a hard mechanical, motor driven change in what is the angle of attack of the stabilizer can be repeatedly over-ridden by the friendly computer regardless of pilot intention. It is scary to think that software solution is contemplated where it should instead be mechanical limitation of the trim (possibly on a separate mechanical system for the problem at hand), assuming otherwise that such drastic movement of the trim surface is required (control surface failure?).
    I’m not an engineer and the knowledge of flight is based upon grade school level curiosity. But from what I can understand of it, this is just bad engineering.
    A plane trimmed to nosedive into the ground is not a plane that has been trimmed. This is the VW diesel fiasco solution to flying. There is not a software solution to everything and the problems are not necessarily addressable by software, as situation perceived only in context of what can be coded in.
    Adding sensors and alarms for malfunctioning sensors does not address the basic problem of fly by wire motor dictating the position of the stabilizer under both pilot and computer control.

  30. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Steven Rattner

    And let’s not forget he was the establishment’s pick to head up the auto industry bailout and true to shock doctrine form, he used the financial meltdown as an excuse to wring concessions from the auto workers’ unions. But he had to quit a wee bit early once it became public he was under investigation by Andrew Cuomo(!).

    Best rundown I could find quickly was here at the World Socialist website: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2009/07/auto-j15.html

    Give them a look – they could use the page views after being on the same ProporNot hitlist as NC if I remember right.

  31. Wukchumni

    Another thoroughbred died @ Santa Anita the other day, and as long as we’re talking crapification, the ‘sport of kings’ is full on.

    The first time I went to SA was when I was barely a teenager, and got hooked on not just the gambling aspect, but the variables that go into figuring out which horse/s is going to do well and why, with a plethora of information at your fingertips to better decipher. Poker is the sport of palookas, in comparison.

    In my heyday in the late 70’s SA had a jockey colony that was equivalent to the 1927 Yankees Murderers Row’, so deep in talent were the short people that had a lot of reasons to live, Pincay, Shoemaker, McHargue, Cauthen, Toro, Hawley, Delahoussaye, and more.

    Back then, almost every race would be a full field of 12 horses, but a number of things happened, although horse racing is pretty quick, after a 2 minute race, it’s 35 minutes till the next 2 minute stanza and so on, too slow of a turnover for a gambler that can play at a blackjack table with 6 decks in the shoe for 35 minutes only slowing down when the dealer has to stop and shuffle them for 2 minutes, before resuming play for another 35 minutes.

    The fields for races now are pathetic, you might get 5 or 6 horses in a race half a dozen times out of nine races, and short fields are the bane of horseplayers, yuck.

    If you race a thoroughbred too much, they break down just like any athlete @ the highest level of competition, and that’s another reason for so many deaths, for at SA, the emphasis was to get bigger fields to attract more people to come (which is not happening) and watch/bet on the races in person, but all the action is on off-track betting, away from the track, which resembles a ghost town on a weekday, you can almost hear yourself cheering for some nag coming down the backstretch, those heady days of 40,000 showing up on a Saturday in the late 70’s, a distant dream. They’re lucky to get a thousand or 2 through the turnstiles.

    …and Santa Anita is worth a ton more as commercial/residential real estate than as a horse racing venue

  32. richard

    Hey, just wanted to share L.Camp’s powerful and righteous rant at the end of russiagate, and the crime of 2 years wasted on lies. With no time to spare.

  33. Carey

    From the Current affairs piece by Nathan Robinson, on Buttigieg:

    “..But let me finish by reminding you why this matters. It matters because of the people Buttigieg doesn’t see, the people who aren’t in the index of his “beautiful” book with its “classic American success story” of “humility and tentativeness.” Read this recent Washington Post profile of Monica Diaz, who is 40 years old, went to college, has a full-time job, and is still having to live in a tent because the rent is too high and her pay is too low. Think about the people who have to launch GoFundMe campaigns for their insulin, and those like Shane Boyle who die when they can’t make their goal.

    These things should make you fucking angry. You should not be able to stop thinking about them. Your hate should be pure and should burn white hot. If you find pothole locator apps more compelling than the the lives of people like Monica Diaz, then there is something wrong with you. Get out of politics. Take the shortest way home and stay there.”

    That the few think they can foist someone like this, or Harris / O’Rourke / Biden / Booker
    (and others) on us, after already screwing us with Bubba and Obama, is really quite something.

    Sanders/Gabbard 2020

  34. Amfortas the hippie

    regarding the Outline article
    everybody thinks Nietzsche is a downer(if not a proto nazi).
    he was really a humanist…a ‘superhumanist’, i guess.
    we killed god, and therefore have to create our own frelling values…what is good? what is bad?
    for ourselves.
    Nietzsche wanted us to grow the hell up as a species, and stop messing about with morality not our own.
    I’m biased. I first read Zarathustra when i was like 9…I love Nietzsche,lol.
    for a less biblical rendering than Zarathustra, i suggest the Gay Science.
    forget the later stuff his sister mangled.
    my personal fave:
    “… O happiness! O happiness! Wilt thou perhaps sing, O my soul? Thou liest in the grass. But this is the secret, solemn hour, when no shepherd playeth his pipe.

    Take care! Hot noontide sleepeth on the fields. Do not sing! Hush! The world is perfect.

    Do not sing, thou prairie-bird, my soul! Do not even whisper! Lo- hush! The old noontide sleepeth, it moveth its mouth: doth it not just now drink a drop of happiness—

    —An old brown drop of golden happiness, golden wine? Something whisketh over it, its happiness laugheth. Thus—laugheth a God. Hush!—

    —’For happiness, how little sufficeth for happiness!’ Thus spake I once and thought myself wise. But it was a blasphemy: that have I now learned. Wise fools speak better.

    The least thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, a lizard’s rustling, a breath, a whisk, an eye-glance—little maketh up the best happiness. Hush!

    —What hath befallen me: Hark! Hath time flown away? Do I not fall? Have I not fallen—hark! into the well of eternity?

    —What happeneth to me? Hush! It stingeth me—alas—to the heart? To the heart! Oh, break up, break up, my heart, after such happiness, after such a sting!

    —What? Hath not the world just now become perfect? Round and ripe? Oh, for the golden round ring—whither doth it fly? Let me run after it! Quick!

    Hush—-” (and here Zarathustra stretched himself, and felt that he was asleep.)”

  35. Lee

    The owners, the Canadian based Stornach Group, is also involved in off track betting. I’m guessing that the nostalgic allure of historically important racetracks is appealing to the off track betting public even though they will never set foot on one.

  36. Basil Pesto

    The title of this piece

    “Part one of a three-part series on how philosophy contends with our possible annihilation.”

    shows how far we are from even broaching the topic of a serious reckoning with our annihilation, which is not merely possible, but inevitable. It’s been known for how many years that the star we orbit will expand and subsume us and then “die”? the idea that we should apparently stick around on the planet until then, as though it were the natural order of things, because, well, we’re humans dammit, strikes me as the height of human arrogance.

  37. Procopius

    Does anybody know what “roughly seven times cheaper per ton” actually means? Does it mean that the cost per ton using an airship is roughly one-seventh that of using a heavy lift helicopter? I guess it’s just me, but I really hate that usage.

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