2:00PM Water Cooler 4/30/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Mnuchin Says Trade Negotiations With China Are in ‘the Final Laps'” [New York Times]. “The Treasury secretary is heading to China on Monday with Robert E. Lighthizer, the Trump administration’s top trade negotiator, to try to resolve the remaining sticking points between the countries. Chinese officials are expected to come to Washington on May 8 to continue — and possibly conclude — the negotiations.”

“As trade talks reach endgame, U.S.-China ties could hinge on enforcement” [Reuters]. “U.S. officials say privately that an enforcement mechanism for a deal and timelines for lifting tariffs are sticking points. Agreeing to a way to enforce a deal is one thing. Ensuring it holds up under ties strained by growing mistrust and geopolitical tensions will be another, say watchers of the relationship. ‘An effective enforcement mechanism will define the deal,’ Tim Stratford, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China (AmCham), told Reuters.” • Exchange of hostages?

“Ahead of US-China trade talks, veteran negotiators warn that deals can often get lost in translation” [South China Morning Post]. “While both sides are negotiating in their native tongues with the help of simultaneous translation, the subsequent text will be translated into both English and Chinese. These translations will then be ‘scrubbed’ by lawyers and technical translators in an effort to reach a final text that both sides are happy with. But history shows that this is rarely straightforward as ambiguity is hard to avoid in international trade deals, while experienced negotiators have said that trying to iron out arguments over words, phrases or even grammar can be ‘worse than pulling teeth’. With relation to the enforcement of an agreement, the US is keen to avoid any uncertainty as it wishes to be able to unilaterally determine if China has breached the terms of the deal and decide on the punishment.” • Xi: “I don’t think so.”


“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


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Readers, thank to so many of you for translating The Onion’s binary code to English! Truly, the Naked Capitalism commentariat is the best commentariat.

Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden provides a fossil record of how the Democrats have changed” [The Economist]. • Nothing new here, but ouch! That headline!

Biden (D)(2): “Democrats’ Senior Surge Could Help Joe Biden” [Bloomberg]. “Biden, perhaps not surprisingly, is most popular with older voters. An April 7th Morning Consult/Politico poll found that he was the top choice among Democrats 65 and older (42 percent) and 55 to 64 (37 percent), but fared much worse with young voters, who prefer Bernie Sanders. Since last fall, as state election officials began releasing final midterm turnout numbers, [Tom Bonier, CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic political data and data services firm] and his team noticed that the reports showed staggering numbers of senior voters.” • I read this piece a couple of times, and what I get is evidence of a “senior surge” in the general election, but with no party breakdown. Readers?

Biden (D)(3): “In Pennsylvania, Joe Biden Finds Support Where He Most Needs It” [New York Times]. “But as Mr. Biden prepares for his first appearance of the campaign, at a union event in Pittsburgh on Monday, interviews across the state last week indicated that he draws from a wellspring of support among three key constituencies crucial to his campaign. He has the potential to attract suburban moderates defecting from the Republican Party under President Trump, to invigorate black voters who were underwhelmed by Hillary Clinton and to reverse at least some losses among working-class white voters.” • It takes chutzpah launch your campaign with a fundraiser that includes a union-busting lawyer, and then go to appeall to unions. OTOH, Obama never paid the price for not delivering on card check, and never putting on his “comfortable shoes” and walking the picket line. And no point denying voters like this exist: “‘Just to be in the house and assisting Barack when he was in the house, he would already have my vote for that alone,’ said Ciarra Walker, 30, a small-business owner.” • “Assisting Barack,” ZOMG.

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Buttigieg’s Police Issues Go Beyond Secret Tapes” [TYT (Fern). This seems complicated in the way that only a relatively small city can be complicated. This nugget caught my eye: “[T]hen-Chief Ron Teachman was accused of failing to back up a black officer during an altercation outside the city’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Center…. Both Cottrell and the city government insider independently told TYT that the [Sputh Bend Police Department (SBPD)] removed videotape evidence of the incident from the King Center. ‘After it happened, they sent the officers into the King Center to erase the tapes, because there’s video-cameras in there,’ the insider said. ‘The folks in the King Center told me. This stuff is crazy. I forgot about that. It’s all the time, it goes on all the time. It’s nuts around here.’ Cottrell cited the [Indiana State Police (ISP)] as his source for the claim that South Bend police tampered with the video evidence.” • Nice! I can see Rhodes scholar and McKinsey consultant Buttigieg being out of his depth in a deeply impacted environment of petty corruption and political vendettas, but that’s not exactly a recommendation for high office in the Beltway, now is it?

Buttigieg (D)(2): “What Would Black America Be Like Under President Pete? Ask South Bend” [The Root]. “[Community leader Gladys Muhammed] was not the only person to point to Mayor Pete’s establishing MLK boulevard as his signature accomplishment for the black community. My first reaction, and likely the reaction of most people outside of Indiana, is praising a white mayor for naming a Martin Luther King boulevard in 2017 is an incredibly low bar. However, South Bend white business owners had resisted the name change for more than 40 years. Black members on the naming committee received death threats. Viewed in the context of South Bend’s racial politics, many older black voters were impressed.” • A vivid picture of South Bend, well worth a read. The past is not dead

Buttigieg (D)(3): “Mayor Pete Assault Accuser: This Was All a ‘Despicable’ Set-Up” [Daily Beast]. “The young man who accused Mayor Pete Buttigieg of sexually assaulting him fully recanted the accusations on Tuesday, saying he was tricked, enticed and even intimidated into doing so by two of the most notorious smear merchants in politics” (conservatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman). • “Most notorious” seems a little exagerrated… But let the dirty tricks begin!

Gravel (D)(1): How do you beat people up if you don’t have a club tho:

O’Rourke (D)(1): “Beto O’Rourke now has the most robust climate proposal of any 2020 presidential candidate” [Vox]. “The proposal lays out a four-pronged approach to how an O’Rourke administration will tackle climate change. That includes 1) executive action, 2) mobilizing $5 trillion over 10 years to invest in a clean energy transition, 3) guaranteeing net-zero emissions by 2050, and 4) preparing vulnerable communities for the impacts of climate change.” • OTOH, it will be good to have Democrats competing with each other for the best climate plan. OTOH, this is not a “Green New Deal” because it’s not a deal and also lacks the GND’s approach to mobilization, including a Jobs Guarantee. Could do better!

O’Rourke (D)(2): “Beto O’Rourke proposes $5-trillion climate plan for net-zero emissions by 2050” [Los Angeles Times]. “O’Rourke proposes $1.5 trillion in federal spending, which could then be combined with state and local dollars as well as private capital for a total $5-trillion package.” • Oh, great. Public-private partnerships. I wasn’t cynical enough about that headline number….

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders is the most feminist 2020 candidate, as far as I’m concerned” [Guardian]. “The only [Democratic] demographic that Sanders really doesn’t connect with, according to the Morning Consult poll, is Democrats who make more than $100,000 per year.”

Sanders (D)(2): This is not happening for me. Readers, is it happening to you?

If this is correct (and other Tweets back it up) then, yes, the Sanders staff should have bought that string before Biden got in the race, and yes, they should do something now.

Sanders (D)(3): I’m sure this was a mistake:

Warren (D)(1): I might have been unfair to say that Warren doesn’t know who her enemies are:

On the other hand, this is 2014. Is this really part of her stump speech?

Warren (D)(2):

I loathe this “unity” bushwa (see Mike Gravel above). As for “rally,” and “work”… I get to define those for myself. But #1 isn’t quite so bad. After all, making student loans non-dischargeable in bankruptcy was a terrible idea. And I don’t see how one can discuss policy without discussing systems, and the reason new policies have to be put in place. So…

Warren (D)(3): “What to Make of Warren’s Policy Blitz” [Jacobin]. “It’s not standard in presidential politics to bust out of the gate with a constant stream of detailed policy ideas…. Put bluntly, Warren is turning her campaign into a policy factory because she’s had trouble inspiring people with a broad-strokes political vision the way her closest ideological competitor, Bernie Sanders, has.” And: “To her credit, Warren won’t take corporate money (at least during the primary), and she evades the regular donor circuit. That means that to make her campaign viable, she needs masses of ordinary people to believe in her project strongly enough to donate their own hard-earned money to her campaign…. So far, those masses have failed to materialize. That’s largely because Warren’s temperate political ideology makes it hard for her to say the things necessary to get their attention. She’s great at diagnosing the worst problems of capitalism and has plans to address them, but her rhetoric doesn’t polarize along class lines. She therefore struggles to define her constituency and identify who exactly that constituency is up against.” • Well worth a read.

Is the flip side of the Democrat establishment running a spread offense in the Presidential race a shortage of Senate candidates?

Hickenlooper, O’Rourke, and (IMSNHO) Abrams (VP) are all caught up in the Presidential race.

Our Famously Free Press

“Journalists can’t ignore hacked data meant to disrupt elections. But here’s what they can do.” [Margaret Sullivan, WaPo]. “But what about next time a foreign adversary tries to sway American politics though cyberwarfare? Should reporters and editors refuse to publish newsworthy revelations — such as, in the 2016 hack, Democratic Party officials working to thwart Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primary? (The revelations disrupted the Democratic National Convention and forced the resignation of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.)” • I think you need to flip the question over, and ask “What about the next time the intelligence community asks for a story to be suppressed based on information the public does not know? Sullivan, in this whole story, seems remarkably credulous. Sullivan also seems remarkably willing to self-censor, when after all we have the courts for that. The Pentagon papers, after all, were stolen, certainly helped an “adversary” (North Vietnam), and had major political impacts.

2016 Post Mortem

Forgotten nothing, learned nothing:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Lo-Fi Voices That Speak for America” [Politico]. “Yet even in decline, [AM radio] has a strength that politicians and media insiders who want to understand America would do well to heed. In 2019, thousands of AM stations remain on the air, many of them thriving—in part because they serve unique sets of people whose voices aren’t always heard loudly. For generations, it was considerably cheaper to buy or start an AM station than any other form of mass media, making ownership more accessible to people of color, immigrants, non-English speakers and those with political views outside the mainstream. Without the line-of-sight restrictions of FM radio, AM radio can also cover vast geographic areas, and so remains a staple of rural media. Even now, if you tune into the right frequency on a clear summer night, you can hear a broadcast from half a continent away—listening in on the kinds of conversations that shape identity and politics far outside the Beltway.” • Hmm. I wonder how cheap is “cheap.” Prometheus gives startup costs of $15,000 and $1,000 a month, but that’s for low power FM,.

Stats Watch

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, April 2019: “Without extrapolating beyond this narrow sample, it’s safe to say that respondents at least in this report are reporting an abrupt slowing in business” [Econoday]. “But perhaps the biggest headline in the report is the sharpest monthly fall in prices since December 2008, a drop blamed at least in part on lower steel costs.”

Employment Cost Index, Q1 2019: “this report isn’t showing acceleration” [Econoday]. “Rates of cost pressure are elevated in this report but Federal Reserve officials, especially Jerome Powell, have been playing down the risk that rising wages represent a threat to inflation pressures in general, which judging by yesterday’s core PCE price index are actually moderating.”

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, February 2019: “Case-Shiller data lag substantially and are also 3-month averages for any one month’s reading. This is important to keep in mind when judging what are very soft results for February” [Econoday]. “But February for Case-Shiller is undeniably weak and once again especially so for West Coast cities including Los Angeles.”

Pending Home Sales Index, March 2019: “Pending home sales rose [more sharply than expected] in March which points to extending improvement for final sales of existing homes in April.” [Econoday].

Banks: Chase, what were you thinking?

Retail: “As Payless wades through bankruptcy again, creditors say hedge fund may be to blame’ [USA Today]. “Alden’s strategy of cutting costs and selling assets falls in line with a customary hedge fund strategy of serving as a de facto “liquidator” of financially distressed businesses, said James Angel, an associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business who specializes in global financial markets. ‘If you look at their history, they’re going to be very conscious of cost and try to cut corners wherever they can,’ Angel said. ‘The question to ask is, are they tunneling resources out and just leaving the bankrupt shell behind? That’s the real issue.'” • Wait, that’s a question?

Manufacturing: “Boeing Taps Debt Markets as 737 Max Scrutiny Intensifies” [Bloomberg]. “Boeing’s latest borrowing signals that it’s looking to boost its liquidity as the 737 Max grounding drains its cash over the next two quarters, CreditSights analysts wrote in a note on Tuesday. The company’s operating cash flow will probably only break even in the second quarter if Boeing doesn’t resume deliveries on its 737 Max, Seth Seifman, an analyst with JPMorgan Chase & Co., said in a note to clients last week after the company posted first quarter results. Any decline in cash flow may reverse when deliveries resume, CreditSights analysts including Ashwin Tiruvasu wrote. The company is still a ‘fundamentally solid credit,’ they said. Boeing earned $2.15 billion in the three months ended March 31, a 13 percent decline from the same period last year.”

Manufacturing: Designed by Tesla in California:

* * *

Resla Short threads on the recent 10-Q{


I’m no 10-Q maven, but readers may wish to comment.

* * *

Fodder for the Bulls: “Geithner Says U.S. Expansion Can Continue Absent ‘Dumb Mistakes” [Bloomberg]. “‘This has been a very modest recovery. And it comes after a savage downturn, which made people very cautious,’ said Geithner, who took the reigns at Treasury from Paulson in January 2009, after the election of President Barack Obama. ‘As long as people don’t make some dumb mistakes, this expansion could go on.'” • A “savage downturn” whose savagery Geither, in the most charitable telling, did the absolute minimum to mitigate.

The Fed: “Is the Fed Setting a Dove Trap? Some Thoughts on New Policy Strategies” (PDF) [Tim Duy’s FedWatch]. “The failure of the Fed to meet its self-defined inflation objective yields a number of both short- and long-term negative outcomes. At a most basic level, the continuing suboptimal inflation outcomes suggest policy has been too tight throughout the expansion that followed the Great Recession. Unemployment could have been reduced more quickly and could possibly still be held sustainably lower than current Federal Reserve forecasts anticipate. Another concern is that persistently low inflation is eroding inflation expectations which, though little understood (see Tarullo (2017)), anchor the Fed’s inflation forecast. The Fed would need to provide even easier policy should they want to firm up those expectations. Over the longer-run, policy makers increasingly focus on how they should respond to the next recession. In addition to lower interest rates, quantitative easing, and forward guidance, Fed speakers also increasingly anticipate tweaking the policy framework to make up past inflation shortfalls.” • So nobody knows anything?

The Biosphere

“Permafrost collapse is accelerating carbon release” [Nature]. “Current models of greenhouse-gas release and climate assume that permafrost thaws gradually from the surface downwards. Deeper layers of organic matter are exposed over decades or even centuries, and some models are beginning to track these slow changes. But models are ignoring an even more troubling problem. Frozen soil doesn’t just lock up carbon — it physically holds the landscape together. Across the Arctic and Boreal regions, permafrost is collapsing suddenly as pockets of ice within it melt. Instead of a few centimetres of soil thawing each year, several metres of soil can become destabilized within days or weeks. The land can sink and be inundated by swelling lakes and wetlands. In short, permafrost is thawing much more quickly than models have predicted, with unknown consequences for greenhouse-gas release. Researchers urgently need to learn more about it. Here we outline how.”

“This Week, NASA Is Pretending An Asteroid Is On Its Way To Smack The Earth” [NPR]. It’s a drill! More: “In real life, asteroid hunters have discovered almost all the really large space rocks that could possibly create a devastating global catastrophe, [Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory] says.” • Almost?

Health Care

Another day, another health insurance horror story. Thread:

The pictures are amusing.

News of the Wired

The Battle of Winterfell:

“The birth of the book: on Christians, Romans and the codex” [Aeon]. “Bryce Ryan and Neal Gross canvassed farmers in two Iowa towns to understand how the use of a new, hybrid seed corn affected the adoption of beneficial farming technologies. Their 1943 paper was a founding document in ‘diffusion of innovations theory’. A successful adoption is characterised by an S-shaped curve growing over time. It starts slow, with innovators and early adopters, then speeds up when a critical mass is reached, slowing as the universe of potential adopters becomes dominated by laggard conservatives. We can’t interrogate the ancient Romans, but, organised by date, the surviving scraps of books from the Mediterranean, grouped by codex and roll, describe an S-shaped curve beginning around the start of our era and, crucially, reaching critical mass solidly before Christianity does. Rome would have adopted the codex, Christians or no. And the Christian predilection? Christians participated as early adopters. Practical characteristics drove their use. Ease of reference, capacity and portability would have recommended the codex for Christians, just as these factors recommended it to Martial.” • This is a fascinating article — if you are a bookworm like me — but I pulled out the quote because of the “hybrid seed corn” example (meaning the privatization of the germ plasm). I wonder if there are social factors that make Ryan and Gross’s S-shaped curve less universal than claimed. Note that it persists today in “early adopters” Silicon Valley parlance, which sounds pretty teleological, when you think about it.

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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 (Bodhi Sattva):

Bodhi Sattva writes from Boulder, CO: “Magnolia Tree getting ready to bloom; unfortunately a hard freeze of 25 degrees or lower for three hours in a row predicted for tomorrow night will kill the flowers this year as has happened the last four years in a row.” That’s a Mainer level of pessimism, there.

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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. Joe Well

    “Joe Biden provides a fossil record of how the Democrats have changed”

    This is a headline that Lambert Strether could have written!

    Also, re: Chase Bank moralizing about saving money on eating out.

    *Median* rent on one-bedroom apartment in Greater Boston: $2400/month. In Boston proper or Cambridge: more like $3000/month.

    Cost of a sandwich at bougie cafe that lets me sit in nice surroundings away from roommates for an hour: $9.99

    Any questions, Chase Bank???

    1. Bob

      @$2,400 a month, your appartment costs ~$3.25 per hour. @$3,000 per month it costs ~$4.10. Given the opportunity costs, your $10 sandwich seems like a poor spending choice. Especially if your only goal is to get away from your roommates. Alternatively, find better roommates.

      1. ambrit

        The very fact that Mr. Well has to share a one bedroom apartment with at least two other people should tell you something about the socio-economic hellscape he is enmeshed in.
        Telling him to “find better roommates” assumes an independence, directly related to power, status, and money in this society that is assumed, with good cause, by the generality to be restricted to the ‘Top Ten Percent’ of the population.
        So, the solution to privation and hardship is Elitism? Hmmmm…..

        1. Joe Well

          I wasn’t sharing a one-bedroom, it was a three-bedroom, but of course I would never get a three-bedroom apartment for myself and so the comparable cost is a one-bedroom (studio apartments almost don’t exist in Greater Boston, except for a few finished basements and attics and a very few new quasi-experimental buildings). At any rate, I’m not living there anymore. I’m doing the digital nomad thing again, traveling and living well for less than the cost of living poorly in Boston. But I’d rather have a permanent place in central Greater Boston just for the opportunities to meet people.

      2. jrs

        That’s a really strange way to look at spending. Apartment being priced per hour and without even assuming much of one’s time will not be spend there (if one works that’s a significant part that isn’t spent there right there alone).

          1. Joe Well

            As a William Gibson reader, you should remember the protagonist of Neuromancer starts out the novel living in a coffin hotel. Which in some ways would be a preferable situation to how many people here are living, but the bluebloods who control zoning permits would never allow it.

      3. nippersmom

        What a bizarre comparison. It’s not like he’s required to spend 24 hours per day in the cafe, or that he has the option of only renting the apartment for the number of hours he is actually in it. You also completely ignore the fact that, while eating at home is less expensive than eating out, it is not free. There would be some costs associated with purchasing the ingredients for his lunch either way.

        1. Bob

          Based on the original comment, the sandwich as nutrition is secondary to the experience/space: Bougie Cafe, Nice Surroundings, Away from Roommates vs a nondescript sandwich. What if instead of getting away from his socioeconomic hellscape for 1 hour, he wanted to get away for an entire day and booked himself a hotel room? The hotel’s hourly rate is probably on par with that of the sandwich. Is this a good spend?

          Of course food at home costs money. $10 will buy you a week’s worth of sandwiches. The point is he’s spending 2-3x the cost of the sandwich to achieve the sandwich experience.

          I’ve eaten my share of eggs for dinner so give it a rest on the elitism.

          1. nippersmom

            You still ignore the fact that not going out once a week for a sandwich will not save enough money to allow him to change his living situation.

            I didn’t accuse you of elitism, either, merely of making illogical comparisons. And as an escape device, going out for lunch is cheaper than going to a movie theater.

          2. Joe Well

            $10 will buy you a week’s worth of sandwich ingredients??????

            Where? India?

            Bob, be nice to whoever buys your food for you.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Putzing around on the Walmart site:

              20 oz Loaf of Classic Wonderbread $2.58
              Great Value Bologna, 16 oz. $1.78
              JFG Mayonnaise, 18 oz $2.12
              TOTAL $6.48

              So, assuming the sandwich = two slices of Wonderbread plus two slices of baloney and a smear of mayo, $10 is legit (though this is no way to live….)

              When I was down and out in Philly, I had a can of baked beans for dinner. At 25-cents per can, $10 goes a long way.

              1. Joe Well

                And then when I can’t afford the hospital bills from the heart attack will you say I could have eaten better in a kind personal responsibility circle-of-life? And according to walmart.com the cheapest canned beans are $1.25 if you buy them in a four-pack (don’t know about shipping).

                The thing is I am not down-and-out. The truly down-and-out are living in their cars, couch-surfing, “staying late at the lab” etc. etc. or just finally gave up for good and moved somewhere where rents are lower but so are economic prospects. I have above-median-for-US income. But I am living in the extreme blue center of neoliberal politics and that means affordable housing must not be built except for a very few units offered in a kind of means-tested lottery. To qualify for a $2500/month apartment, which is $30,000/year in rent, you need to have $120,000/year documented income if they are using a 25% of income threshold, or $100,000 if they are using a 30% threshold.

                So here, you have three strangers each paying $900-$1200/month (or $600/month somewhere on the periphery that requires a car) living in a three-bedroom, one-bathroom 100-150-year-old apartment (no, strangers are not usually sharing a one-bedroom, though it happens), or worse, five strangers in a four-bedroom, one-bathroom. And you are lucky to be here rather than in a place without jobs.

                I am so angry at my generation for not going full tilt on Occupy, and I’m so angry at the Occupy organizers for being such a bunch of process-obsessed nerds.

          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            > food at home costs money

            FWIW, my experience of dining for one in a university town is that the price of cooking for myself is comparable to cheap eats at a restaurant, and if I cook for myself I have prep time, clean-up time, I pay for a fridge, I have to go buy and store ingredients, etc., so there’s an enormous tax on time. (Of course, I haven’t optimized by cooking myself a week’s worth of whatever, which would bring the cost of the food itself down, but all the other taxes on time remain.) The only time I cook for myself is in the summer, when I can throw something on the grill and eat it outside. It doesn’t save money but the tax on time is near zero.

            1. Joe Well

              This has been my experience everywhere on earth, though I haven’t really been to Europe so not sure about there. That is, if you compare apples to apples, vegetables to vegetables and not vegetables to rice and beans.

      4. Pat

        Does that per hour apartment rental come with user rewards? Just asking because most of the cafes I know now do. As other people have pointed out your logic doesn’t really compute.

        So how about more apartments at reasonable rents that actually fit the old standard of one quarter your take home pay. Which according to my calculations for someone who wanted to live alone (or with a non working significant other) would mean monthly take home of $9600. Which would mean they take home over a hundred thousand a year. Which frankly is absurd.

        1. Joe Well

          Pat, not only is that the definition of affordable but a common threshold for qualifying for leases, or 1/3.

    2. kurtismayfield

      You are not the landlords’ customer.. the 250,000 students skew the market so far from normal that finding a cheap apartment is impossible for a worker bee. The only way I got by in Cambridge was sharing a house with many roommates.

      1. Joe Well

        Kurtis, the population of students has not increased nearly as fast as the population as a whole and universities have added new student housing. The problem is that the population in general went up and the 10% fought like wolves to prevent building new housing for them.

      2. Joe Well

        Also, Greater Boston is Earth’s 8th largest financial center. I think that has a bigger impact on housing costs.

          1. Joe Well

            I hadn’t checked the listings recently. On this one, Boston is at no. 13 which makes it the number one in the US after NYC. I think the international rankings fluctuate with the value of the dollar.

            The point is Boston has an enormous financial industry (Liberty, Fidelity, State Street, and all the private equity and VC guys).

  2. Carolinian

    Winterfell–looks like the dragons made it through the cool moonlit cloud battle judging from the preview of coming attractions. Say what you will about the show, visual imagination is its strong suit.

    1. Lee

      And in spite of the mass carnage inflicted on the common folk, most of the nobles survived. What a relief! Not only will I miss the Dothraki horde but, given all the bad behavior of the living, I had begun to root for the dead.

      1. LifelongLib

        There were some real-life medieval battles where the orders were the opposite (“Spare the commons, kill the gentles.”). Commoners provided labor, nobles were just more guys you’d have to fight again later.

  3. SlayTheSmaugs

    Based on reactions I see to articles discussing and criticizing the records of various D primary candidates, it seems that supporters of Biden (and other conventional Ds) think the unity pledge point 1) is only upheld if the discussion is a contextual (i.e. we’re not supposed to cite track records) and 2) doesn’t criticize a candidate for their positions on issues (as opposed to ad hominem attacks, which no one defends)

    1. WJ

      In what sense are nominees’ “track records” *not* contextually relevant to the upcoming primary?

      Is there anything *more* relevant than a politician’s past actions for determining her or his likely future actions if elected?

      Am I misunderstanding something?

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      If you are an “informed voter who lives in a facts based world”, wouldn’t learning about Joe Biden’s record be insulting? If you like Joe Biden, it means you are awful or an ignoramus at this point. Its one thing to not know O’Rourke or Harris. Its entirely different to not know who Joe Biden is unless you are young, like 18 years old. Joe’s been awful for so long in such a public fashion…this isn’t secret information. Biden’s unfitness can be found in seconds with no effort.

      1. Carolinian

        Biden’s unfitness can be found in seconds with no effort.

        Of course the same could be said about Trump or Dubya. Unfortunately it’s not a job interview–more a kind of popularity contest. The media mostly encourage this attitude.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The unfitness of a Republican for any office is baked in. Their voters choose monsters all the time. They are utterly without shame and make no pretense about it. Democratic voters do on occasion demonstrate they know better. OTOH, I’m not actually sure Republican voters know better or still possess the capability to know better.

          Shrub and Trump pretty much had the same voters. There might have been some swings in safe states, but if they were old enough, they voted for Reagan and Nixon.

          1. Carolinian

            Any theory about the greater wisdom of the Dems is being severely tested these days. Personally I don’t believe Republicans are necessarily dumber than the Dems. They just have different priorities. Russiagate is like a Dem version of “the paranoid style of American politics.”

            1. neo-realist

              Different priorities such as racism, proud ignorance, and funneling money up to the 1% cause that means those good for nothing takers in the inner city won’t get my hard earned tax dollars.

          2. RudyM

            I’ll remember your smug assumptions in the voting booth. I vote Republican now because a significant portion of the Democrats have gone off the deep end, and I’m at least as concerned about society and my nation generally as I am about economics. Democratic economic policy probably would be better for me, but it feels good to vote against people like you. I can squeak by economically, in the name of not seeing U.S. national sovereignty trashed, forestalling the intentional demographic replacement of the white majority (and minimizing the impact of affirmative action, particularly by reducing immigration), setting some limits on transgender madness, preserving second amendment rights, and protecting free speech (which the Democratic leadership currently seems to have less interest in than the Republicans).

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > 1) is only upheld if the discussion is a contextual (i.e. we’re not supposed to cite track records) and 2) doesn’t criticize a candidate for their positions on issues

      So what do they regard as proper topics for discussion? The debates are going to be pretty dull!

      1. NotReallyHere

        just f’n vote for whoever we tell you to vote for!


        Yours Disdainfully,

        the DNC

      2. WJ

        Clearly the following three questions will be the focus of the debates :

        1. Which candidate is most likely to beat Trump [by winning over white Republicans making over $100,000 a year]?

        2. Which candidate calls most loudly for the impeachment of Trump [as a distraction useful to the Party]?

        3. Which candidate has the “toughness” to best protect our democracy from Russian “meddling” in the 2020 election [that we plan to lose anyway]?

        You think I am joking…

          1. Uncle Hudge

            Too bad Grabien prefaced the story with the age trope. B’s slurring, mumbling, and word swallowing is surprising in someone launching a presidential campaign. He’s sliding over his own points like the language is greasy or something!

            On the other hand, “hudge” and “extredable” are quite striking.

          1. WJ

            Biden/Dole2020: Party Like It’s 1999

            Biden/Dole2020: Because Grandfathers Know Best

            Biden/Dole2020: The Passing On Of America’s Future

        1. redleg

          The DNC supreme directive:
          Beat Sanders.

          Everything else is secondary; window dressing to enable the collection of lucre.

          1. Carey

            Agreed. The organizing for the common good is the thing, not the Dem™ primary itself, which will almost certainly again be stolen.

            Post-convention™ will be interesting, that I can guarantee.

  4. NotTimothyGeithner

    The problem with the Battle of Winterfell was the Night King’s army shouldn’t feel pain. They appeared to come on like water. They should have been redirecting the tide. I’ll blame this on laziness of trying to provide too many people with plot armor and not timing out everything.

    This guy is right. That episode was terrible. They could have had drama with a vague attempt at competence, given the Night King’s enigma status. Needless to say, they redeemed themselves with the end…after all there must always be a Stark in Winterfell. By the local laws and Bran being a weirdo, there was one Stark left.

    1. a different chris

      >with a vague attempt at competence

      Yes the lighting of the Dothraki (sp?) torches was a magnificent moment. Then they sent them charging off to the horizon and I was totally WTF???!!!???? What moron thought that was a good idea, it wasn’t clear to me (not much was, I have a hi-def aka 1024 pixels across LCD but it’s pretty old so a lot of darkness basically) thank god because if he/she survived that would anger me.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      Medieval tactics involved breaking morale and routing.. there is no way to rout the dead. The best decision would have been to entrench and never meet them in the field.. but Bran needed bait.. a couple thousand soldiers and Dothraki make easy bait.

      1. eg

        Of course the battle tactics were rubbish — they were background noise for the some key character interactions (including a spectacular death or two) and Arya’s cat-and-mouse scene leading up to the Night King’s demise

    3. The Rev Kev

      When a movie or TV series depicts an actual battle and the tactics correctly, it is a sight to see. Here is a clip from the 1993 movie “Gettysburg” showing how the commander, Col. Joshua Chamberlain, reacted to the threat of his Regiment being flank and taken from the side by creating something new. I understand that they still use his fight to teach small unit tactics in the US military-


      1. Swamp Yankee

        I love “Gettysburg” and this scene in particular. I also love Chamberlain and the 20th Maine. I seem to recall, though, that he’d read about the “garden-gate” attack tactics somewhere in his study of antiquity as a Professor of Rhetoric at Bowdoin College.

        That, at least, is what I’ve always heard.

        Talk about a great example of thinking on your feet!

        1. The Rev Kev

          Same here about Chamberlain and the 20th Maine. I have a book on his life on my shelf. That film had a lot of great moments in it. Especially when General Buford made the critical decision to defend the high ground at Gettysburg which led to Lee losing the whole battle. That was a gutsy decision that and he did a superb job on the first day of the battle-


          1. LifelongLib

            Although he was only 37, I read somewhere that Buford was already so crippled by collapsed vertebrae and arthritis from years of riding that he sometimes had to be helped onto his horse. He must have been in constant pain, and died a few months after Gettysburg.

  5. allan

    Noninterventionism with Trumpian characteristics heats up:

    …“We are with you!” Pence tweeted to the opposition, in the most direct message of the three. “America will stand with you until freedom & democracy are restored.” …

    Christian extremism in the defense of libertad is no sin. /s

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      This report from AP seems reasonably level-headed. Whatever’s going on, the Army hasn’t flipped sides; the action seems to be confined to a freeway overpass near an air force base:

      Still, the surprise rebellion, dubbed “Operation Freedom,” seemed to have garnered only limited military support.

      Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido took to the streets with a small contingent of heavily armed troops early Tuesday in a bold and risky call for the military to rise up and oust Maduro.

      Venezuela’s opposition leader and self proclaimed president Juan Guaido talks to an Army officer outside La Carlota air base in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Guaido took to the streets with a small contingentof armed soldiers and detained activist Leopoldo Lopez calling for a military uprising. (AP Photo/Boris Vergara)

      The dramatic events began early Tuesday when Guaido, flanked by a few dozen national guardsmen and some armoured crowd-control vehicles, released a three-minute video filmed near a Caracas air base in which he urged civilians and others in the armed forces to join a final push to topple Maduro.

      This is a report is datelined Caracas, and the level of hysteria in Our Famously Free Press seems entirely disproportionate, shocking even for these times. Of course, coups do tend to have a theatrical element; and no doubt the US is willing to airlift pallets of cash in, for the right general…

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Will the military side with Guaido?

          Not without a lot more money than we have already (surely) offered, and maybe not even then. Somehow, I don’t see the Army as having its social base in the middle class hills of Caracas (or in Miami). I don’t think we can put “boots on the ground” in Venezuela (as we could not in Syria). I’m not even sure we’ve got the operational capability. So we have to work through proxies, and that seems to be as easy we think.

            1. Lee

              I’m wondering how they might fare against Venezuela’s 500,000 member National Bolivarian Militia. I’m assuming their loyalties lie with Maduro.

            2. The Rev Kev

              Mercenaries “on the ground”. Because that worked out so great at the Bay of Pigs. Well this little attempt fizzled out, Greedo went into hiding at the Columbian Embassy and probably Venezuelan security is right now rounding up all those who played their cards prematurely.
              Meanwhile Bolten is promising sanctions and total isolation of Cuba if they do not stop supporting Venezuela which he will do in any case down the road. Cue the threats to Russia and China in 3, 2, 1….

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            After the destruction in Iraq and Libya, I imagine would be coup supporters would demand enough money to bug out which means they just might bug out. In general, the plotters of a coup promise promotions, but promotions to be the Underling of a king of a trash heap isn’t appealing.

      1. ChristopherJ

        Even our Australian press is calling the action as though Guido is the legitimate leader and Maduro the bad guy. I imagine this is how the situation is described just about everywhere.

        It won’t take a lot of money to move the military to do the United States’ bidding.

        This is a major reason why many non US citizens do not like your country – you interfere everywhere, have an opinion on everything. Even now, a US citizen is waging outright war against the Labor leader Bill Shorten, demonizing him, his party and their policies – only 3 weeks out from a very important general election.

        Why can’t the US just focus inward on its own people and leave the rest of us alone to get on with our lives? /r

        1. a different chris

          Because our Masters* have us well ground beneath their boots so they have to go meddle elsewhere. It’s what they do, it’s all they do.

          This sounds like a flippant comment, but I’m getting more serious about it all the time. How much is enough? Why do these people think they understand what’s going on in other countries, when history has proven them wrong virtually every time?

          *and their lapdogs, you point at the US – rightly I agree – but your post is about the Australian press. See the problem?

          1. ChristopherJ

            thank you, Chris. I know the problem, the solution requires us to take back what has been stolen from us. They will never give it back or cede an inch unless they are forced. It has always been so.

            And Australian governments have always done the US’s bidding, at least since Gough Whitlam, and I am sure it’s stick not carrot which has forced our compliance and support – not to mention the dominance of Murdoch in our media.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              And some of the DC FedRegime’s bidding has been prompted by Murdoch’s urging. It would seem that “what goes around comes around” . . . or in this case,
              ” what goes overseas returns back home.”

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          The press coverage of our attempted Venezuelan coup is just appalling. Trying to shovel through it shows the complete disproportion between the hysterical triumphalist claims of Gaido’s supporters both in politics and the press. That was why I was stunned to see some sober reporting from AP datelined Caracas. What is even going on?????

      2. Monty

        What coup?

        “National Security Adviser John Bolton says Tuesday that what’s happening “is clearly not a coup” because the U.S. and many other countries recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president.”


        1. shtove

          The Guardian started with coup, then it began deleting comments – where they were allowed in the first place – and went from “protest” to “rebellion”. Arsefacemacfuckwanks.

        2. John

          John Bolton sounds like an old 78rpm repeating itself over and over and over. He was tedious 20 years ago now he is a one-note flute.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          >“National Security Adviser John Bolton says Tuesday that what’s happening “is clearly not a coup” because the U.S. and many other countries recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president.”

          “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.” —Karl Rove

          This didn’t work for Bush, whose administration, incompetent though it was, was still more competent than today’s, in a time when the United States had not yet visibly begun to lose its status as an imperial hegemon (“the indispensable nation”).

          What didn’t work for Bush won’t work for Trump either.

    2. Edward

      It looks like they are trying to recreate the 1950’s Guatemala coup, which relied on media PR, but it isn’t 1950 anymore. Its hard to believe this is a serious effort

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Its hard to believe this is a serious effort

        I think the effort is serious. It is as serious as we have the operational capability to make it.

  6. ewmayer

    Re. binary-to-english: Lambert, see my just-posted followup reference to an old Dilbert strip in yesterday’s 2pmwc. Mayhap one of our best-commentariateers can dig out a link to the actual strip I describe.

  7. SlayTheSmaugs

    Re Winterfell, the glaring strategic error that bothered me was: why weren’t they pouring oil from the walls/setting it on fire?

    1. Stephanie

      Yes, thank you!
      Because Sansa couldn’t get it shipped from Essos what with the Iron Fleet all over the place? That’s what I got.

      Also, and I get that the directors wanted us to be able to see all the main cast members’ pretty faces during the battle, but why were the Unsullied the only rank-and-file soldiers to have helmets?

  8. Gary

    I did the Google “Bernie 2020” search and everything came up pertinent to the Sander’s campaign. I tried it with Firefox and Chrome with the exact same results. I connected remotely to my home computer from work and did the same search. The results are a tad bit different but essentially the same.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Same, both regular and private browsing.

      But if Biden’s staff is worth anything at all, they yanked the ads the second they were commented on. That makes comments about the ads sound paranoid while protecting Joe who doesn’t need to be linked to any weasely strategies early on given the kind of image he’s trying to project.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        These are all bits of evidence about the true nature of Biden’s real character. Keep screen-shotting them and gathering them and archiving them and release them every so often under the rubric . . .
        Biden: under the hood. or . . .
        There Biden goes again.

  9. mle detroit

    I gave up on Google search some time ago.
    What I get for “Bernie 2020” on DuckDuckGo is:
    . Ad for gym bag
    . Ad for Bernie 2020 in car accessories on Amazon (free shipping!)
    . faceborg
    . Wikipedia
    . CNN
    . Bernie’s official site
    And I said “no thanks” to GoT about one third of the way through the first book: nasty, brutish, and long.

  10. Plenue

    Haven’t seen any of the new/last season of Game of Thrones, but the battles have been uniformly terrible since the show overtook the books. The one everyone seems stop love, the Battle of the Nastards, was actually completely ludicrous in how it played out and became a weird churn of mashed together bodies. And then they used up a bunch of their limited number of Unsullied attacking a castle way head on, and just for a distraction as well.

    Martin was always wise to skip over explicitly showing most of the battles in the books.

      1. Sanxi

        They did, the battle wasn’t the point and it wasn’t winnable. The Night King was created to kill all man and morphed into killing everything. The idea was to undo the spell that created him, that was the goal not the battle. The goal was accomplished. The show is simply what you see is what you get. The books are another matter. The movie ‘The 13 Warrior’ follows a similar trajectory.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I haven’t seen them, but its notoriously difficult to film battles in a coherent and realistic manner. Kurosawa was the best at doing it – apparently the GoT people say they used Ran and Kagemusha as their go-to models. Maybe they looked too much at the ‘spectacle’ angle and not enough at the coherence.

      For me, the cinematic model should always be Seven Samurai. The final battle scene is chaos, as battle always is – but a huge amount of the earlier scenes set out the battlefield and the defensive strategy very carefully, so the fight itself became entirely coherent and believable to the viewers. I can’t think of any film made since that which has matched it for a sense of real strategic and tactical believability.

      1. Sanxi

        ‘GoT people say they used Ran and Kagemusha as their go-to models’ When did the shower runners David & Dan say that? They didn’t. The Seven Samurai did not concern 150k of warriors fighting it out – as a feint no less. The battle was irrelevant other than as a bait to the Night King, who could and did reanimate the dead as he wanted, as he was created to do. There is no ‘winning’ with the Night King ‘ he was created by the show runners so their word is final as to his purpose: destroy all life. That’s like trying to battle the plague. But he was created from a man and had one weakness. Helps to know the story as it is shown not imagined.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          The showrunners didn’t say it, the Director did:

          Miguel Sapochnik: I watched every pitch field battle I could find (footage of real ones too), looking for patterns — for what works, what doesn’t, what takes you out of the moment, what keeps you locked in. The big reference was Akira Kurosawa’s RAN. Interestingly one of the things I noticed is that staging of these battles through the years has changed dramatically. Back in the day you’d see these huge aerial shots of horse charges and there were two big differences. First, it was all real — no CGI or digital replication. And second, often when the horses would go down, you can kind of tell they got really hurt. Nowadays you’d never get away with that, and nor would you want to.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I liked the Battle of the B’s because it focused on John and had emotional impact. It was chaotic in its own way, and I can overlook problems of it making sense. The problem with last night’s battle is it kept coming back to show close calls and close calls while characters are fussing about plans despite not having a plan. In retrospect, what they did with Arya (when she is in the library) should have been done with other characters instead of more battle scenes where they are interchangeable. The Hound could have been expanded for a smaller CGI budget. They pulled this off when the Wildlings attacked the Wall. A bunch of now plot armored characters could have been cut and simply showed up at the end to say, “wow, that was some battle.” After a while, we were just checking in on characters to say, “oh hey, they are still there. Neat!”

      Its an Arya and the Hound scene, but when the Frey’s put the dire hound’s head on Robb Stark’s body, they didn’t show us the scene of them cutting it and tying it on. We just saw the Hound and Arya escape and enough to know what they saw too. The equivalent would be the same as watching the Lannister soldiers observe the process then talk about it despite those characters not having emotional attachment to Robb.

      1. Sanxi

        But that would have been a different story. I like the one they told. I am reminded of Gilgamesh another guy who went solo.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I’m not arguing for changing certain aspects with Arya. The point is the story was random violence and chaos with no discernible plan by our characters beyond swing and miraculously survive due to plot armor.

          The Arya parts work because it feeds off her larger story and for the most part we see her actions. They make sense. They could have cut half the episode as about half was random shaking of the camera. Beyond random shots of a few characters, there was no attempt to use these characters. Shots of the extras who appear in multiple episodes would have worked better than showing main characters. Or use Sam as a framing device. His bits though short were good. He knew certain characters. Greyworm’s on screen time was short, but seeing him trying to execute the plan or save the plan might have been interesting. Sansa’s pep talk to Tyrion missed the key point that it was her second time in a siege. She could have made a point about anything. Arya’s running around the castle was earned, but the other escapes were just weird.

            1. Sanxi

              Now that was wierd… I learned screen writing from my mom & dad who were in the business and we’re pretty good at it, so… We got three ways to go character, setting (can be the mood), or plot, or all three. Plot, bait & kill the Night Kill – no battle ever created is going to work against him by definition. Characters, I liked what they did and who they focused on, it was very moving to me – still is. Setting, I was so weary at the end, I thought all was lost, I really did, I thought Bran maybe would have to do some time travel thing in another episode, so I was totally immersed in the moment, and my god was I surprised and overcome with relief and sadness. It worked for me. Really, remarkable.

      2. ForFawkesSakes

        To my understanding, the library scene was to remind the audience that Arya had exceptional stealth, in addition to being a wunderkind assassin.

      1. SlayTheSmaugs

        In re GoT again

        I agree with various commentators that “The Long Night” or whatever that last episode is named could have been filmed much better, if:

        a) tactics made a little more sense (oil/flames down the walls); dothraki coming after the dead arrived, mowing through them, rather than leading; catapults of whatever the green fire was used at black water bay, their napalm (there was time to mine/fashion dragons tone, why not to produce that stuff, since fire is clearly key); torching the dead (at the risk of torching the living) to deny the Night King fresh troops, etc. (it’s no answer to say it was all just bait to draw in the night king; you need to try to stay alive while he is drawn in and dealt with)

        b) we had fewer brief cameos and more true action shots with characters we cared about–cameos were fine, touchstones here and there, but it’s more interesting when they do stuff like Arya in the library

        c) we had more time, so the characters could again have depth. E.g., some things have gotten so rushed story-wise (though not yet as bad as the magic time of last season) that I didn’t really care/wasn’t really moved by Theon’s final redemption/Bran’s forgiveness of him. That’s a last two seasons problem though, not an episode 3 problem.

        That said:

        –good that Arya, apostle of the god of death/faceless man/Nobody, kills the Night king, death embodied in a different type of god of death

        –good that hints of the post battle tensions were visible, i.e., will it be:

        Jon v. Dany v. Sansa v. Circe (yes, Circe + Yuron, but he’s not yet her equal) with Tyrion unsure between Dany & Sansa?

        Will it be Jon + Dany v. Sansa + Tyron v. Circe (+Yuron)

        –good that the Red Woman did what she did and died as she did, that felt like it had story integrity

        In the end, will Circe win? and Dany/Jon’s kid be sent into exile to start it all over?

        Will King’s Landing and the countryside be so dragon-torched that any victory is pyrrhic?

        Will Dany/Jon’s kid be betrothed to Circe’s, and last people standing (Tyrion and Sansa) raise them as stewards?

        Will everyone we care about (love or hate) die in some dragon fire/mideval napalm/war tactic gone wrong way, something analogous to the war going nuclear and rending all the struggles by all for naught? (As a kid I played a board game called Class Struggle which had a square near the end for Nuclear War and if you landed on it the game ended and everyone lost. So maybe an ending like that?)

        Or will we get the opposite, an inappropriately picket fence Jon + Dany forever? Or Tyrion + Sansa forever?

        Whatever (I’m sure there are many other possibilities) I hope for some good surprises that nonetheless ring true (e.g. Ned Stark execution, red wedding), I hope for an ending that has story/emotional integrity, which can’t be a ride off into the sunset happily ever after kind of ending.

        So, on Sunday, they will bring out the dead, we’ll discover who all yells that they’re not dead yet, dust will settle, some tempers flare, and we’ll find out how thoroughly Circe has consolidated power to the south. That would leave two episodes for the “final” war.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I believe the climax has been achieved. Arya is the Frodo/Sam/Gollum of the plot. The other characters exist to get her to Mount Doom and a place where she can get to Mount Doom. The other characters have stories that are interesting. The Song of Fire and Ice was about Arya. The other characters are her motivations or explanations of how she arrived where she does which is why Robb Stark and the Red Wedding happen on page/screen because Arya was there. Now those other characters have threads. Will Arwen and Aragorn marry? Does Gimli go to the Undying Lands? Is Arnor reestablished? Do the sons of Elrond choose to be elves or men?

          Nothing going forward can equate to Melissandre’s prophecy about Arya being wrong and right after her Stannis prophesy. Mel even pulls out crazy magic tricks, but words muttered in passing revealed the end game. It doesn’t matter what happens because Sauron has been defeated. Elves and Dwarves can go back to sniping at each other.

          This doesn’t excuse the lousy battle scenes from last night, but Arya’s story sticks the landing because it was her story.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          At least in the early going of the show, and in the books as far as they have gone, GoT was interesting because it was about power: How gained, how retained*, how lost, and the effects of all that on the powerful and those around them.

          The final two episodes IMNSHO will be interesting to the extent that they return to that theme (battle not being the same a power).

          * “A peaceful land, a quiet people. That has always been my rule. Make it yours.” –Roose Bolton

          That’s always been my favorite quote, with a ginormous dollop of irony because of what the Boltons are.

          1. SlaytheSmaugs

            I agree that it was about power, and thus that the game of thrones was the bigger battle than the Night King fight, hence its ending after. The Night King piece was a bit like that Nuclear War square in the Class Struggle game–fools, you’re fighting over this stuff, and really, there’s a foundational existential threat that could wipe you out at any time and if unleashed/not defeated at the source, it will. And the trivialization of the Wall in the first seasons was a reflection of humanity’s short memory and the ease with which we lose perspective and are caught up in power games. That is, at normal times humanity does not have common cause but fights for/over power, and in the face of existential threat there is an opportunity for common cause (which is not always embraced, see, eg. Circe or Climate Change), and the story has been about humanity in ‘normal’ times, mostly.

            But precisely because this has been about a struggle for power, and even the most ‘white hat’ players have made unnecessarily brutal choices, any ending that is Disney-sunset will be unsatisfying. As will any ending that conveys a true sense of ending. That is, some one will have to survive–if only through a next generation–to take up the power struggle again, because humans do.

            Jon was an interesting participant in the game of thrones because he kept saying he didn’t want crowns–he was given a crown while not competing–but now that he’s the true heir, will he start to dream of power? Will he want it for his own?

            If he remains uninterested–officially–will he nonetheless claim it? The one who doesn’t want power being the best person to have power? I can only live with that otherwise-too-trite outcome if the cost of his reluctant acceptance is high. More specifically, the other six kingdoms will not be like the one in the North and simply acclaim him king, silencing/deposing all other competitors. He will have to want to wield power enough to take it from the rest, even if doing so gives him no true pleasure the way it does the others.

            In my perfect world, this season and last would have been slower, and this battle would’ve ended this season (with more interesting bits along the way b/c time for them) and next year we’d a have final season, that, like the first, was mostly about power and archetypal life v. death

    3. Carolinian

      It’s a show with zombies and dragons. You aren’t supposed to take it too literally or seriously. And when they turned the books into television they wisely–I would say–put the emphasis on spectacle and on that front the show is very sophisticated indeed. The Battle of Winterfell quite ambitiously pushed the envelope–perhaps too hard–to come up with something original. I’d say this season is living up to expectations or at least giving it a very good shot.

  11. Lambert Strether Post author

    Readers, I added some material after the official launch time. I keep getting a late start, because my body has never fully recovered from the [family blogging] time change, and I have another project I always complete before I start Water Cooler. I’ll try to be more disciplined…

    1. Adam Eran

      Thanks for soldiering on…

      One important note for Californians: Unlike every other Democratic primary, the Democratic presidential primary is closed. If someone in California wants to vote for a Democratic nominee, they must be registered Democratic. No choice, in fact no ballot with D’s on it if they are registered Green or “No Party Preference”… so, just FYI, the playing field is already being tilted toward Joe Biden.

  12. Fern

    RE: Buttigieg’s firing of the black police chief

    Lambert, I hope you’re being sarcastic. “Out of his depth” does not account for why a Harvard honors graduate and Rhodes scholar would think that the existence of an investigation alone was a proof of guilt or a reason to fire an employee. Or why a Harvard honors graduate and Rhodes scholar would use the excuse that “the U.S. Attorney made me do it”. Or neglect to inquire about the well-known rumors of police department racism and corruption, or to talk with the veteran communications director before firing her to find out what was going on.

    Standard local corruption usually involves doing something your big donors want you to do even when it’s not right or it’s not in the public interest. Since we know that his largest donor was a close friend and backer of one of the white racist police officers who wanted the black police chief fired, and that this white racist cop would be in big trouble if the contents of the tapes were revealed, the most parsimonious explanation is corruption, i.e., that Buttigieg’s donor picked up the phone, isn’t it?

    Here’s a short new followup:

    Here’s the original story:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=tyt+buttiegieg+tapes&oq=tyt+&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i60l3j0j69i57.7081j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 c

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “Out of his depth” does not account for why a Harvard honors graduate and Rhodes scholar would think that the existence of an investigation alone was a proof of guilt or a reason to fire an employee.

      I think Harvard, the Rhodes, and McKinsey would do very, very little to prepare Buttigieg for the realities of governing a declining industrial town with a 40% black population. So I’m only being semi-sarcastic (“I can see”). I think Buttigieg’s credentials would have done very little to prepare him for an environment where “it goes on all the time. It’s nuts around here.” It’s not the West Wing.

    2. Yves Smith

      I’m not a Rhodes scholar, but I did time in cloistered elite environments. The street smart types who play dirty can and do run rings around the hoity toity.

  13. ambrit

    The problem with any ‘calming’ NASA related quotes about asteroids and earths is that, to be blunt, Space is Infinite and human resources are not. If you need a visual aid to make this point clear, look at the surfaces of the Moon or Mars. Just immense distributions of impact craters. Look closely, and the Terrestrial globe is similar, after filtering for a) the protective blanket of atmosphere which burns up most smaller descending objects and b) weathering of the impact features over time.
    An example of a geologically ‘recent’ impact event, and also well within human historical horizons, the Burckle Crater in the Indian Ocean. Date of impact, approximately 3000 BC. Width, 18 miles.
    Read, in all it’s gory academic infighting details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burckle_Crater

    1. Sanxi

      ambrit, the point is? Space is not infinite, although current measurements showing it is expanding (creating more space) and pulling matter and energy into it. The cause of this is assumed to be ‘Dark Matter’. As to [family blog] hitting the earth so what? We either can or can’t stop it. And as a species we may die out before such an event anyway. Nick spends all his time thinking about this → https://nickbostrom.com/.

      1. redleg

        “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
        – Douglas Adams
        From there, move on to “infinite population” and “zero population density” parts for a good read.

    2. Rhondda

      And another example within human time– the Carolina Bays. Which, I do believe I may have learned about from you, ambrit, right here, some years ago ;-).

      1. ambrit

        Pass on the good stuff. The eternal mystery of the Cosmos.
        Someone, somewhere and somewhen mentioned the “Collegium Mysteriosum.” (Yikes! I did! Back in 2017!)
        Some rather reputable scientists are now hypothesizing that the objects that caused the Carolina Bays were part of the Taurid meteor stream.
        The more we investigate, the less we can claim certainty about.
        Or, as Neil Young famously titled one of his better albums: “Rust Never Sleeps.”

  14. nippersdad

    This is just jaw dropping. The MIC speaks:


    “Moscow’s disinformation and influence operations will have two primary aims: to help foster confusion and conflict during the US election campaign and to prevent the election of the former Vice President Joe Biden.”

    “Even spreading fraudulent stories about collusion with Russia can serve Moscow’s objectives….”

    “Putin’s preferred choice in the November 2020 elections is likely to be a progressive or populist Democrat. The Kremlin will assess which candidate:

    * has a weak record on on the NATO Alliance and international military involvement;

    * has previously voiced sympathies for for leftist dictatorships; and

    * is more likely to reach out for a new “grand bargain” with Moscow that will allow it to extend its’ “sphere of influence.”

    “Such a candidate would be in a position to perform the function that Trump proved unable to accomplish.”

    Oh, so that is how they want to play it! They are going to go full on Red Scare with Bernie. Those who said that the RussiaGate conspiracy had as much to do with delegitimizing Bernie and the progressives as it did with Trump were right once again.

    This is going to get ugly.

    1. Jen

      I’m so confused. If Bernie beats Biden, am I supposed to vote for Trump because he’s failed at being a Russian stooge?

      That whole piece is some next level bat-guano crazy.

      1. nippersdad

        This is where there would have been a lot of value for Bernie to have pushed back on the RussiaGate story to begin with. They are going to beat him with this smear in hopes that he will run to the right, lose the anti-war vote and then have a brokered convention.

        I hope he doesn’t take the bait.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Uhhhh – he ALREADY “ran to the right” on Russiagate. I think this is targeted more at Tulsi Gabbard.

          1. nippersdad

            Gabbard has, unfortunately, barely been registering in the polls. FP was always Sanders’ weak suit, he routinely refused to reject the premise in his last campaign and has continued to do so since, but this looks to be a ploy to make him fall in line at a time when he is looking like he has the potential to actually change something.

            This is a preemptive strike to prevent him from wandering further off the reservation.

            1. Cal2

              That is why once Bernie gets the nomination, he selects Tulsi as his Vice President. That ticket would beat Trump.

              She’s young, healthy and smart. The Establishment would fear her more then they would him, thus keeping him hale and hearty and accident free. She would be 55 at the end of his second term and ready to run for president.

            2. John

              Gabbard doesn’t register because the MSM chooses for her not to do so. She doesn’t fit “the Narrative” whatever the hell that is. I have stopped reading the MSM. I never look at TV “news”. I have to take periodic breaks from politics and economic because helplessness in the face of bare faced lying and corruption leaves me sad and angry at the state of the nation.
              Gabbard has attained the rank of Major; once you get much beyond that the brains start to be frozen in place by the politics of high rank. Once you have been in a leadership role in the Congress or any administration the same phenomenon occurs. I say this from observation not some abstract notion. I say this from listening to the word-like formulations that issue from the mouths of such persons.
              Bernie has stayed relatively free of this but he has always been a Senate “back bencher.” He would do for a term, I hope.

              My name is on the Obama email list so I have been bombarded with colorful BIden appeals for this and that which I pass over and often delete. His frequent stabs at running for president remind me of Harold Stassen.
              I say again: Sanders- Gabbard

              1. Cal2

                Flag all corporate Democrat propaganda as spam.
                That way it will hopefully be so directed before others have to look at it.

              2. nippersdad

                I don’t disagree with either of you, I think Gabbard would make a great VP. As I said, though, she is not polling well and TPTB are prolly trying to soften up Sanders.

                If they can’t beat him properly at the polls they will just settle for giving him a good beating.

      2. Pat

        If you can find any real logic in both the Russiagate accusations from the past AND the current fears regarding Russia, I hope you can explain it to me. None of it has ever made much sense for any one with some ability to think logically.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Wouldn’t it be hilarious if millions of voters wrote in the name Vladimir Putin when they went to vote next November as a protest vote. Could you imagine the epic media meltdown to that?

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > None of it has ever made much sense for any one with some ability to think logically.

          It’s a big problem for Sanders that he’s dealing with a primary electorate roughly a third of whose voters are lost in a maze of media-fueled CT and moral panics. I can’t recall a precedent.

    2. Pat

      As someone who has repeatedly said that the tantrum and dirty dealings with Trump would have been a walk in the park compared to what would have happened to Bernie if he had beaten Clinton and then Trump, my response is ‘that’s a shocker/not!’.

      And for the record, I have to admit I don’t think Bernie would have managed to get as far as Trump did without an actual impeachment, and not just because of the Republican congress. The guy is crazy as a bed bug, but that has largely managed to keep all the usual suspects floundering. For all his abilities to traverse rocky situations, nothing could have prepared the sane Sanders to battle the entire Beltway and their various shadows. That is the only reason I have my doubts about a Sanders presidency without a significant change in Congress from his coat tails.

      1. JBird4049

        A President Sanders would probably receive a gigantic amount of hindrance from Congress and also some of the low ranking apparatchiks in the various bureaucracies especially of Homeland Security and probably as well the State Department. However, while they have some protections the high ranking nomenklatura can be replaced.

        If Congress refuses to approve the President’s nominations the various departments and agencies would be short leadership. That would be an effective way to interfere. Unlike with judicial nominations, the bureaucratic nominations were almost pro forma. The Federal courts have been short of judges for decades as the appointments are either not made or Congress goes very slowly on them.

        However, just the fact of a “communist” President Sanders as well as his many supporters might cause them to moderate their actions.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          I think a President Sanders would have 2 distinct advantages in dealing with the MIC/Congress that Trump doesn’t have…

          1) The vast majority of the public behind him and
          2) the full understanding of how MIC/Congress works.

          They didn’t use to call the Presidency the “Bully Pulpit” for nuttin’.

    3. DJG

      But but but nippersdad, please take the Indivisible pledge!

      I recall from 2016 that the “rallying” consisted of Hillary supporters for months insisting that everyone vote for the winner of the primaries. Until she kept losing them.

      Appeals to [sudden] civility are appeals to hierarchy.

    4. NotReallyHere

      An article designed to keep me awake at night. And it’s not like he’s some outsider.

      The author, “chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute”.

      “The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) is the United States federal government’s primary training institution for employees of the U.S. foreign affairs community, preparing American diplomats as well as other professionals to advance U.S. foreign affairs interests overseas and in Washington.”

      The logical inconsistencies are just lazy. Russia will interfere because it is weakening. Public unrest in Russia is growing while NATO is strengthening and countries such as Georgia and Ukraine have been newly reinforced. Yet, we are vulnerable because we in the West are more politically divided

      “Polarization between the two major parties is so profound that foreign actors have space to infiltrate and provide a candidate with useful assistance against a domestic opponent.

      Partisan rifts are also reflected in a deeply divided electorate, which is susceptible to conspiracy theories and negative propaganda against the rival party.”

      and then there are the outright lies …. Wikileaks is a Russian surrogate.

      Conclusion … vote for Biden or else.
      Truly scary.

    5. Sanxi

      nippersdad, first you have to prove how the dis-information works. Second, does it work on everybody? Third, is there no defense to it, if exposed to it? That’s a very specific list of mind control you’ve quoted and I’m unaware that anything like that, had in fact ever been done. And ever been done in such a short period of time. If such a technology exists do only the Russians have it? What not the Chinese? India? The CIA? The rest of the deep state? No doubt advertising works but it’s not mindless you need the resources to buy stuff and stuff you want it the first place. I bring up advertising because supposedly they know the most about influencing people to do things. Really, what’s the theory in play here?

      1. nippersdad

        As the last two years have shown, we have been pre-programmed for this for seventy years.


        And as the elderly are the strongest voting bloc, they are the most programmed of all. With so many in the field, this could be the thing that gets them their brokered convention. Speaking of which, given the loyalty oaths that they are all being pressured into signing, doesn’t this sound familiar:

        “President Harry S. Truman’s Executive Order 9835 of March 21, 1947, required that all civil-service employees be screened for “loyalty.” The order said that one basis for determining disloyalty would be a finding of “membership in, affiliation with or sympathetic association” with any organization determined by the Attorney General to be “totalitarian, Fascist, Communist or subversive….or seeking to alter the form of the government of the United States by unconstitutional means.”

        1. Sanxi

          My friend, I’m sure you believe it and it may be real, but what you cite isn’t any kind if objective proof of a method and how that method works. I think you can do a lot with confirmation bias and with out right lying, but indirect casual mind control? I need proof.

          1. a different chris

            It’s a blog comment for gawd’s sake. Do you want to pay him for a week of research?… then go ahead and negotiate. Otherwise provide actual useful commentary.

            You’re not a troll, your comments otherwise seem well thought out, but just not sure what you are trying to do here. Spell out your counters, and no we don’t need cross-referenced footnoted proof. Just some food for thought is all blog commenting needs to be.

        2. a different chris

          >The order said that one basis for determining disloyalty would be a finding of “membership in, affiliation with or sympathetic association” with any organization determined by the Attorney General to be “totalitarian

          Jesus maybe we were always this stupid.

          1. JBird4049

            Both state and federal governments have used similar methods in the 1910s through 1920s as well as the 1950s through the 1960s and the early 70s. Only the interventions of the courts finally stopped it.

            But why worry about “legality” as the Palmer Raids and its associated actions after the First World War as well as the Red Scare after the Second World War often were questionable. No, some of it was illegal like the mass arrests and the hundreds of deportations in 1919-20 by Attorney General Palmer or the illegal spying by the FBI, or just unethical like the blacklist by the movie studios of the Hollywood Ten or the general national blacklist of confirmed even just suspected Reds. Then there was HUAC or the House Un-American Activities Committee which last for something like two decades. It was perfectly legal and terrifying.

        3. Oregoncharles

          Nippersdad: “And as the elderly are the strongest voting bloc, they are the most programmed of all.”

          I haven’t done an actual count, but a very high proportion of frequent commenters here are retired – “elderly.” They (and the unfortunately unemployed) are the only ones with the time to do it justice, or even try.

          Personally, I’m 73. Very few of the elderly commenters we see could be called “programmed.” Heck, both of our hosts are approaching or past retirement age. So you should really be more clear about who you’re talking about.

          1. nippersdad

            From what I read it is commonly said that the elderly in our society largely get their news from cable and radio, and my experience out here in the meat world has not shown that to be an unrealistic assertion. Otherwise sane people of my acquaintance ranging from the mid-fifties and up were instantly drawn into the McCarthyesque prop-or-not contretemps and there was, and still is, nothing that one can say to them to make them think differently. Their priors were confirmed and Russia is, apparently, a pervasive evil in our society. End of conversation.

            I don’t believe that this commentariat is reflective of the views of society at large. Were that to be the case I would not find their, and usually your, views so compelling that I would continue to come here every day. I apologize if I gave offense; it was not my intent.

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This is going to get ugly.

      As I’ve been saying. And its only just starting. This from The Hill also meshes nicely with Clinton’s remarks under “2016 Post Mortem,” does it not?

      1. nippersdad

        Putting my tin foil hat on, every time I see this sort of thing I remember that she is a former Goldwater Girl; I find myself increasingly using mental quotation marks around the word “former.”

        You can take the girl out of the Goldwater Girls, but apparently you will never get the Goldwater out of the girl. They need some new tricks.

  15. TMc

    George Takei on twitter:

    If candidates cannot win your vote without personally trashing other Democrats, they should not have your vote.

    Mike Gravel’s twitter response:

    “You should only support candidates who have no real principles and won’t point out other candidates’ hypocrisies”

    Show you disagree with George, and donate $4.20 to Mike Gravel

  16. JohnnyGL

    Oh dear, this REALLY seems to confirm everyone’s lack of confidence in Biden…


    “All but 7% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independent voters know Biden well enough to have an impression of him, but there’s less certainty about the former Delaware senator’s long record. Only half (49%) of potential Democratic voters say they know at least a fair amount about his positions as a senator, half (51%) say they know very little. Even among his current supporters, 40% say they know just a little or nothing at all about those positions. Younger Democrats are especially fuzzy on his record, with 62% of those under age 45 saying they know little or nothing about his record in the Senate.”

    Lots of work to be done for the rest of the field to educate the public on Biden’s history!!! :)

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’ve have a sense Biden is a perpetual vaguely two term Senator belonging to the post 1994 minority in the minds of people, just a goofy guy Leslie Knope has a crush on. Its anecdotal, but an older neighbor of mine who thought Biden would kick Trump’s a@& in 2016 was shocked to learn how long Biden was actually in the Senate.

      Anything else can be rationalized as it was a different time or mistakes were made, but the length of his time in DC is long, twenty years longer than the Clintons. In 50 years, Biden has no accomplishments he is listing. He didn’t fight the power, hold an unwinnable seat against the GOP horde, or help Obama win the White House.

      He’s kind of like the reverse Al Gore Sr, a name that pops up any time you see positive legislation during his Senate tenure. Al Gore senior worked on and passed important legislation we take for granted, held a tough seat, and might have been the key figure in the weakening of the Southern Democrats prevention of civil rights legislation. With Biden, his name just appears next to policies in need of major reform at best and unlike the elder Gore, Biden waxes nostalgically about his racist friends.

      1. Sanxi

        ‘help Obama win the White House’ How do you know? Got you exit poll data or something? I can imagine among some voters it did matter. Al Gore? Love the guy, but he couldn’t win his HOME STATE in the general election thus sticking us with ‘W’. “Biden waxes nostalgically about his racist friends”. Really, you know that as a fact? You know that he would admit to thinking that? I can’t find a reasoned argument, or anything resembling the reporting of facts. So what are you doing? Seems like gibberish.

    2. a different chris

      Every black woman would stay home. Every black woman would, if she doesn’t have one already, buy a picture of Anita Hill and put it on her mantle for Election Day.

      I would if I was a black woman.

        1. Grant

          If Biden is the nominee, that is a given anyway. Look, CNN did another poll showing Biden leading, by 11%. Looking at who they polled, anyone 49 and younger that is a Democrat or Democratic leaning is listed as NA. Most other polls do not provide data on the age breakdown, but think about that. Regardless though, someone with a record as absolutely horrific as Biden would not be polling at anything above 5% among any group on the even moderate left if people were paying attention. He has a truly horrific record, and yet older voters love him. Some of my biggest influences are Boomers, but collectively, they have voted their country into the abyss, and they seem intent on doing so as long as they are on the Earth.

  17. a different chris


    >the potential to attract suburban moderates defecting from the Republican Party under President Trump,

    They. Are. Not. Going. To. Defect. Heck I’m not sure these “moderates” even really exist. Worse, I’ve basically come to decide a “moderate” is somebody who doesn’t really know anything, agrees with whoever he/she is talking with, and at the end of it all votes on some trigger that you would never expect. For white people, who are the least informed because they can be, generally it is something weird against the “D” candidate. Only the most thick-headed subset of educated suburban women really like Trump, the rest of them voted for Trump because Hillary was easy for them to dislike. And if it had been Bernie, they would have found something else. Voters of color are more informed, but where do they really go?

    Well, they maybe stay home. So don’t let that happen. Turn your own darn voters out for a change, how about that? Trump really doesn’t have that many people who think he has any idea what he’s doing, even and maybe especially the ones profiting from his presidency. His “base” itself isn’t that big. Again, turn out yours for criminey.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Depends on the context. I would say to forecloses the possibility of being “more or less correct,” “correct as far as that goes,” etc.

    1. Pat

      What, you think she has deluded herself?

      One more reason the press’s failure to treat Russia interference as the boondoggle it was is an utter bloody disaster worthy of destroying media empires.

      1. nippersmom

        I think it’s entirely possible she believes her own propaganda. Quite frankly, I suspect she isn’t playing with a full deck.

    2. Darthbobber

      I think she believes it to be an incredibly witty quip. Which is pretty bad in its own right.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I do think she believes what she’s saying…

      That’s the frightening part. She’s doing, in her mind, a really sophisticated “hidden truth within a joke” schtick. Gaaaaaah.

  18. DJG

    The article on codices and scrolls and Christianity. I think that the distinction collapses in the middle with this line:

    Rome would have adopted the codex, Christians or no.

    Jörg Rüpke, in his study of Roman religion called Pantheon, mentions that around the time of Jesus, there were many schools of religious revelation contending, and they had “books.” He considers Jesus to have been the lucky one, because Jesus and his bookmen (and they were mainly men) won out eventually over the others. One can argue that the Golden Ass, by Apuleius, a very early novel, is also a parable and theological treatise–because our donkey character is saved in the end by the goddess Isis.

    1. WJ

      The Golden Ass is indeed a famous allegory of religious Platonism with a fascinating reception history.

      It’s nothing like the Gospels, of course, which operate according to a distinct (but to my mind equally sophisticated) symbolic structure.

    1. allan

      Aviation journalist Jon Ostrower conducted a Twitter poll [please just let me finish] and
      48% say they will not be comfortable flying if and when the MAX returns to service.
      Regardless of what happens to the executives (and probably nothing will), the company
      is going to have a serious problem if the customers of its customers don’t want to use its products.

      1. Sanxi

        Trust me the Airlines will simply make it impossible to get to certain places if you don’t get on the plane. Me I still won’t do it.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          So take a non-Max to the airport nearest your destination, and then take AmTrak or Greyhound to the target itself.

  19. Oregoncharles

    And something uncomfortable, following up on a previous discussion:
    I’ve been looking for bile salts, an old, proven alternative to surgery for gallstones – which I can’t afford, even with Medicare. This is a sophisticated city of 50,000, with multiple natural-food stores and vitamin outlets. None of them have that medicine.

    Who does? Walmart. So there may be more than predatory cheapness behind their success – and this is not the first example. If you’re wondering why someone would go there, maybe it’s because they have something nobody else has.

    Another example: affordable insulin.

    1. Wukchumni

      Wal*Mart has a few items I can only find there, so I do a little shopping, but more gawking.

    2. dearieme

      predatory cheapness Ah yes, and if they charged more that would be price gouging.

  20. Edward

    The swamp propaganda mill seems to be really promoting Biden. Maybe I should be grateful this is where they are putting their efforts.

    1. curlydan

      Yep, I saw a long article on how the firefighters union is totally behind Joe and is going to deliver. Ironically, they also showed a photo of the same union leader with John Kerry, so that worked out well, huh?

      The idea that “Joe” is for union members is ridiculous.

      1. Edward

        Its along the lines of George Bush is a working man wearing a plaid shirt and clearing away brush on his ranch; someone you want to drink a beer with in a bar. My favorite in this genre has to be when Newt Gingrich accused his rivals of not being southern because they didn’t eat southern food.

          1. Edward

            The Ferrel video is good. There is a story that while making a campaign commercial in a supermarket, Bush Sr. encountered a bar code scanner for the first time.

            Steve Cobert did a hilarious segment on the Steve Cobert show about Gingrich’s fatback rant which I can’t find on youtube. Even Gingrich couldn’t keep a straight face.

      2. CitizenSissy

        Also ridiculous is the idea that Trump, as well as the current iteration of the Republican party, promotes the interests of working- and middle-class voters.

  21. Cal2

    “a “senior surge” in the general election…” Yeah, we remember a lot of history:

    I’m old enough to have been drafted in Vietnam. I marched in opposition to that war.

    I’m old enough to remember Iran Contra.

    I’m old enough to not have given a shit when we kicked Granada’s ass.

    I’m old enough to remember Bill Clinton’s bombing Yugoslavia to distract from Monica.

    I’m old enough to remember Bush I’s invasion of Iraq.

    I’m old enough to have marched against Bush II’s invasion of the Middle East.

    I’m young enough to support Tulsi as Bernie’s V.P.

    I’m old enough to shove it to the Democrats, if they shaft Bernie again, and will vote for Trump (again).

    1. Carey

      I hear you, but IMO the Democrat Party are fine with your voting for Trump again;
      anything to stop People-oriented policies from being implemented, from their POV.
      I don’t know what I’ll do with my mcVote once the DNC have sidelined Sanders, late next year.

      1. Cal2

        “McVote”, that’s a wonderful construction. May I use it?

        Another option, I speculate about, is that if Bernie is ditched, Tulsi and Bernie, or Tulsi, or Bernie, go third party, I don’t know if Bernie could do that so late in the game.

        1. nippersdad

          I think he could get on the ballot in all fifty states within days were he to get stabbed in the back by the establishment again. He has done a great job of getting his own base connected and energized.

          I’m in hopes he would do it as well; an agreement entered into fraudulently is unenforceable, or so I am told. Those loyalty pledges would be no bar to an independent candidacy if he were annoyed enough.

          1. Anon

            If he’s shafted, why couldn’t the Green Party make a deal, for the first time in its life, that would benefit them?

        2. Carey

          Please do, because I think it’s an apt term.

          As for Sanders going third-party, he’s already said (on his CNN Town Hall,
          I think) that he’ll fully support the Dem nominee, whoever it might be.


      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I voted for Trump last time to prevent the evil Clinton from getting elected. If the Dems nominate someone of Clintonian evil I will vote for Trump again. If they nominate someone merely awful, then I will vote some Third Party or other because the “voting for Trump” point has already been made, and if the Dems run someone “no worse than” Trump; I would want to make an interesting new point.

        If the two Mainstream Party candidates are equally bad in 2020, then millions of people have an opportunity to see if withholding their votes from the Catfood Democrat would default-cause that Catfood Democrat to lose the election. If those millions of people feel they have nothing to fear from a second Trump term, and nothing to gain from a Catfood Democrat victory; then those millions of people may well want to run this political science experiment.

        1. dearieme

          I voted for Trump last time to prevent the evil Clinton from getting elected.

          I recommended that Americans should hold their noses and vote for the lesser evil. And just enough of them did. Who will be the lesser evil next time?

  22. skk

    RE: “The birth of the book: on Christians, Romans and the codex” [Aeon] and the S-curve.
    Thanks for this. The spread of Christianity itself followed the logistic curve( the S-curve ).
    So did the spread of Islam. I’ve studied Columbia Uni’s Prof Bulliet’s work on this somewhat-


    In that doc he talks of his original work “Conversion to Islam in the Medieval Period: An Essay in Quantitative History”. He plotted genealogies of names, name changes and derived a curve. He didn’t know its name, when he showed it to a stats colleague he promptly told him – o its a logistic curve y = K / (1 + exp(a + b*x)), where b <0, and the parameters express the process of adoption/ saturation well – the exponential part followed by the asymptotic.

    Talk about synergy between highly disparate academic fields !

    He also talks of this in his lectures on Youtube on "History of the World" – specifically in the two lectures on the rise of Islam.

    Now that's the stuff – quantitative stuff that I can buy.

    None of this MBA type of infographic charts stuff on innovation diffusion.

  23. JohnnyGL

    Polls, polls, polls….Quinnipiac’s got a new one….Sanders down, Warren up. Biden way out in front. +-5% margin of error, though. So, theoretically, it could be that little has changed since their last poll. They provide a lot more detail than most.


    My hot-takes…

    Warren winning respect for policy ideas seems to be kind of a running theme/subtext.

    Age gap is massive. The 18-49 group and the 50+ group are almost mirror images of each other at points. Class differences don’t loom as large. Echos of 2016, in that sense. For any poll, it’s important to watch that sample size, that’s where the games get played (if they’re playing them).

    1. JohnnyGL


      More fun with polls…

      Biden supporters 2nd choice….primarily Sanders (by a substantial amount, too!)
      Warren supporters 2nd choice….primarily Sanders (but only by a small margin)

      Lots of stuff we wouldn’t necessarily expect to see! :)

      Standard disclaimer…it’s early days….things are very fluid….

    2. Grant

      “23 percent say Biden has the best policy ideas”

      Neat. I would love to ask these people for specifics, to explain why they think Biden’s record and worldview are worthy of support, but they likely don’t have anything to say. Bernie not polling well there, and I am not optimistic more than anything because of the voters in the Democratic Party and the party itself. Very good chance they do what they have been doing for decades now, pick a horrible candidate. Most of them pretend that they support things like single payer, but it’s empty, they never throw their support behind anyone that is serious about pushing for single payer, or any other issue they pretend to support. It’s truly shocking that Biden is polling so well. I find that even more depressing than Trump’s approval rating being anything above 20%. This system is just horrible. We don’t have tons of time to put in place very radical changes, not just because of the environmental crisis but because of the dominant economic policies and institutions domestically and internationally, and look at the choices we have. Look who is polling well. Hard to have any optimism about the years ahead.

      1. jrs

        I know I saw that, what policy ideas? Some have serious proposals, some are just throwing whatever against the wall at this point (Beto on climate change, I mean I welcome such proposals, but he had little interest in the issue at all before so it smells desperate, but at least there are ideas somewhere in the mix there ..).

        But … Biden … wtf .. leading on policy ideas … of all things ..

      2. WJ

        Could this be a function of older voters relying on corporate media, and corporate media propagandizing against Sanders, and older voters believing propaganda, and then getting polled?

        1. Robert Valiant

          My 80 year old mother watches MSNBC all day long. She says Biden is nice and Bernie was mean to Hillary. I love my mom, though.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Age gap is massive. The 18-49 group and the 50+ group are almost mirror images

      Anecdotally, when I saw the house party photos I saw plenty of grey hair (and the whole concept of “house party” skews old anyhow because you’ve got to have a house or at least control a reasonably large space).

      Biden would poll well on name recognition alone. And “just one poll,” “552 days is a long time in politics,” etc. etc. etc. I find the polls more useful as tells for whoever does the promotion, than as data.

  24. Fern

    Regarding Buttigieg, South Bend, Martin Luther King Blvd. and the Root:

    There are plenty of establishment Afro-American publications, and I believe the Root is one of them. They have been publishing non-stop hit pieces on Bernie Sanders.

    South Bend is a Democratic city. It’s an elite university town. They haven’t had a Republican mayor since the 1970’s. The majority of the city council was furious at Buttigieg for firing the black police chief. I think you’re looking at a lot of establishment spin when you read The Root. This is just an apology.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Oops, my error! I knew who I was talking about but typed it wrong. Thanks for the correction.

  25. Todde

    Winterfell battle.

    I assume dragons would require a change in tactics.

    Certainly would make the infantry square a target for a blast.of dragon breath.

  26. John k

    Got em outnumbered.
    41% of total pop is 18-49, 35% is 50+.
    If the young uns vote.

    (Meant to be response to johnnygl above.)

  27. CitizenSissy

    Also ridiculous is the idea that Trump, as well as the current iteration of the Republican party, promotes the interests of working- and middle-class voters.

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