2:00PM Water Cooler 5/10/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says China trade talks are done for the day” [CNBC]. “U.S. trade talks with China ended Friday as Liu He, the top Chinese trade negotiator, left the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. ‘They were constructive discussions between both parties, that’s all we’re going to say. Thank you,’ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said after Liu’s departure. Both Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer shook hands with Liu as he left the office.” • Well, that’s better than “a full and frank exchange of views,” I suppose.

“Donald Trump says trade deal with China may still happen after Xi Jinping sent him a ‘beautiful letter’ [South China Morning Post]. But: “Though Trump seemed to connect the participation of Liu – whom he called ‘one of the highest officials in China’ – in this week’s talks as a sign that a deal was possible, the vice-premier’s status is not as authoritative as it was in some previous rounds.

A statement issued by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce ahead of this week’s trip did not include the title ‘Special Envoy to Chairman Xi Jinping’ in its list of Liu’s credentials.

Liu’s apparent demotion, combined with the reduced size of the delegation and the short length of stay in Washington, suggested ‘a narrower range of negotiated topics and room for compromise,’ [Scott Kennedy, a senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)] said. ‘It could be the higher the stakes, the tighter the decision-making authority is.'” • Meaning, I take it, that Liu must return home to consult.

“Trump vows to protect farmers as China trade war escalates” [Financial Times]. “Donald Trump vowed to shield US farmers from the pain of his rapidly escalating trade war with China, after Beijing promised to retaliate following the imposition of higher US tariffs on $200bn of Chinese imports early on Friday…..In another twist, Mr Trump said US purchases of farm products would be directed towards poor countries in the form of food aid: ‘Our Farmers will do better, faster, and starving nations can now be helped.'”

“Trump’s trade fight with China hasn’t affected most Americans so far. That could change.” [MarketWatch]. “The White House has faced little backlash from the public and thus little pressure to change its tactics. How come? Most consumers haven’t noticed the effects on tariffs on what they spend or on the broader U.S. economy. The cost of many widely imported consumers goods, for instance, haven’t risen very much, and in some cases. they’ve actually declined. Take clothing. The cost of apparel actually dropped 2.2% in the past year — the biggest yearly decrease since 2003, government figures show. Prices of TVs, toys and computers have also fallen. One of the few imported goods to see a substantial price increase is appliances. After declining from 2013 to early 2018, the cost of major appliances in the U.S. has surged almost 9% in the past year — the biggest increase of any imported good exposed to tariffs. Yet most households don’t need to buy a new fridge, dishwasher or dryer every year. The U.S. economy, meanwhile, grew 2.9% last year to match the fastest annual increase since the end of the Great Recession a decade ago. If anything, the relatively strong performance of the U.S. economy appears to have emboldened the Trump White House to stand fast.”

“Flaring friction between the U.S. and China may disguise a deeper, more fundamental shift in the trans-Pacific trade order. Whether talks ultimately yield a deal, the decades-long integration of the two economies appears bound to go into reverse…., as manufacturing supply chains shift gears and deeper investment relationships begin to fracture” [Wall Street Journal]. “Trade flows once driven by cost, quality and proximity to customers increasingly reflect political priorities, whether it is Chinese purchases of U.S. energy and agriculture or the location of factories. Among the clear changes, apparel production is moving to Southeast Asia, camera maker GoPro is moving some production from China to Mexico and Foxconn Technology Group is weighing assembling iPhones in India. The result may leave American and Chinese businesses and investors increasingly operating in separate spheres pursuing disparate strategies and distinct trading relationships.”


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

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


“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (RCP average of five polls). Biden 40, Sanders 14, and a bunch of small fry.

“*” = New candidate.

* * *
Biden (D)(1): “Biden tells wealthy donors he is from the ‘corporate state of Delaware'” [Washington Times]. “Joe Biden told supporters at a private fundraising event in Los Angeles that he hails from the ‘corporate state of Delaware,’ while protesters gathered outside objecting to corporate greed… The meeting took place at the home of Cynthia Telles and Joe Waz in the upscale Hancock Park neighborhood on Wednesday. Telles is on the board of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. Waz is a media executive for Comcast and NBCUniversal.” • Biden’s just trolling us, isn’t he? Note that the protestors were from National Union of Healthcare Workers, but it was only a protest, so Biden did not technically cross a picket line. He might have visited with them, though.

Biden (D)(2): “Presidential hopeful Biden looking for ‘middle ground’ climate policy” [Reuters]. “The backbone of the policy will likely include re-joining the United States with the Paris Climate Agreement and preserving U.S. regulations on emissions and vehicle fuel efficiency that Trump has sought to undo, according to one of the sources, Heather Zichal, who is part of a team advising Biden on climate change. She previously advised President Barack Obama. The second source, a former energy department official also advising Biden’s campaign who asked not to be named, said the policy could also be supportive of nuclear energy and fossil fuel options like natural gas and carbon capture technology, which limit emissions from coal plants and other industrial facilities.” • The Sunrise Movement comments:




Biden (D)(3):



Gravel (D)(1): “The Ripple Effect” [The Nib]. • A comic!

Sanders (D)(1): Epistemic uncertainty for pollsters:


Risky, expensive…. and the only way forward.

Trump (R)(1): “Trump campaign disavows ‘dishonest’ fundraising groups” [The Hill]. “The scathing statement came in the wake of an Axios report that found former Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie raised millions of dollars ostensibly to support candidates aligned with the president, but that much of the money covered additional fundraising and administrative costs like Bossie’s salary.” • Oopsie.


“FBI’s Steele story falls apart: False intel and media contacts were flagged before FISA” [The Hill]. “[Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec’s] observations were recorded exactly 10 days before the FBI used Steele and his infamous dossier to justify securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and the campaign’s contacts with Russia in search of a now debunked collusion theory… [T]he FBI swore on Oct. 21, 2016, to the FISA judges that Steele’s ‘reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings’ and the FBI has determined him to be ‘reliable’ and was ‘unaware of any derogatory information pertaining’ to their informant, who simultaneously worked for Fusion GPS, the firm paid by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign to find Russian dirt on Trump…. She quoted Steele as saying, “Payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian Consulate in Miami,” according to a copy of her summary memo obtained under open records litigation by the conservative group Citizens United. Kavalec bluntly debunked that assertion in a bracketed comment: “It is important to note that there is no Russian consulate in Miami.” Kavalec, two days later and well before the FISA warrant was issued, forwarded her typed summary to other government officials. The State Department has redacted the names and agencies of everyone she alerted. It is unlikely that her concerns failed to reach the FBI.” • “It is unlikely” is doing a lot of work there; surely we can find out of the FBI was on the distribution list of Kavalec’s memo? That said, wowsers, does Steele look sketchy.


“Here’s why Democrats may rethink impeaching Trump” [Politico]. “there’s another rationale for launching impeachment that has some Democrats reconsidering the idea — getting access to the sensitive documents and testimony that Trump’s team is withholding. Judges have repeatedly ruled that Congress has a greater claim to sensitive government documents and personal information when it can point to an ongoing legal matter, instead of just a congressional investigation or legislative debate. And impeachment would give lawmakers that legal matter — the process is essentially a court procedure run by Congress where the House brings charges and the Senate holds the trial.” • Treating impeachment like a fishing expedition? Sounds legit.

“Impeach Trump Now, Advocates Say as They Deliver Over 10 Million Signatures to Congress” [Newsweek]. “The 10 million signatures included more than 8 million gathered by the Need to Impeach campaign launched by billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer in October 2017. Other organizations involved in the effort include Free Speech for People, MoveOn, CREDO, Democracy for America, Women’s March, Courage Campaign and By the People.”

“Pelosi’s Trump impeachment approach is coming together” [NBC]. “Speaker Nancy Pelosi portrayed herself Thursday as the protector of the Constitution, Congress and the country as House Democrats braced for war with President Donald Trump over his refusal to give them full access to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, related documents and witnesses. ‘This is very methodical, it’s very Constitution-based, it’s very law-based, it’s very factually based,’ Pelosi said about House plans to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for withholding documents. ‘It’s not about pressure. It’s about patriotism.”’ • I suppose it will end up it the courts…..

“The Executive Branch Escalates Its Clash With Congress” [Lawfare]. “The Justice Department redacted four types of information from the report: (1) grand jury material prohibited from public disclosure under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e); (2) classified information that implicates the sources and methods of the intelligence community; (3) information that is sensitive based on other ongoing law enforcement matters; and (4) information that would ‘unduly infringe’ on the ‘personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.’ The underlying investigative materials were also not made available to the committee.” • Much useful information on the detail of the Mueller report redactions, and the larger political context (a classic power struggle between executive and legislative branches, no doubt to be resolved by the judicial branch. Or not, eh?)

“Is This the Official Trump Constitutional Crisis?” [Susan Glasser, The New Yorker]. “Elisabeth Bumiller, the Washington bureau chief of the Times, even has on her desk a lighthearted sign that her staff gave her for Zeitgeist checks. ‘Current status: _____ in a constitutional crisis,’ it reads. For now, the word ‘not’ has been taped over the blank. The capital’s obsessive constitutional pulse-taking, I imagine, resembles the way Californians greet the initial tremors of an earthquake: Is this finally the Big One?” • I linked to Article X of Andrew Johnson’s impeachment the other day, which includes this: “…. make and deliver with a loud voice certain intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues, and did therein utter loud threats and bitter menaces…” I may be too jaded at this point, but — and this is really the subtext of Glasser’s article — the cries for impeachment have been so loud and so long, it’s hard to know when a serious case is being made. (I have read that one feature of Third World regimes is that no independent arbiter exists; everything is a personal network of some sort. There are times when I struggle to distinguish us from the Third World.)

Realignment and Legitmacy

“Foreign agents introduced Ukranian politician to US political figures in secretive lobbying arrangement” [OpenSecrets]. “Foreign agents and lobbyists accused of orchestrating a disinformation campaign attacking former Ukrainian Prime Minister and 2019 presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko actually introduced her to key U.S. political players last year, an investigation by the Center for Responsive Responsive Politics has found. New FARA records reveal foreign agents and lobbyists on the payroll of Livingston Group, a lobbying firm run by former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.), played a previously unreported role in Tymoshenko’s meetings with lawmakers during a December 2018 trip to Washington, D.C., including House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).” • Mostly Republicans, to be sure, but Schiff’s presence is interesting. UkraineGate. SaudiGate. UAEGate….

* * *
“Georgia Just Criminalized Abortion. Women Who Terminate Their Pregnancies Would Receive Life in Prison.” [Slate]. “n one sweeping provision, it declares that ‘unborn children are a class of living, distinct person’ that deserves ‘full legal recognition.’ Thus, Georgia law must ‘recognize unborn children as natural persons’—not just for the purposes of abortion, but as a legal rule. This radical revision of Georgia law is quite deliberate: The bill confirms that fetuses ‘shall be included in population based determinations’ from now on, because they are legally humans, and residents of the state. But it is not clear whether the bill’s drafters contemplated the more dramatic consequences of granting legal personhood to fetuses. For instance, as Georgia appellate attorney Andrew Fleischman has pointed out, the moment this bill takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020, the state will be illegally holding thousands of citizens in jail without bond. That’s because, under HB 481, pregnant inmates’ fetuses have independent rights—including the right to due process. Can a juvenile attorney represent an inmate’s fetus and demand its release? If not, why? It is an egregious due process violation to punish one human for the crimes of another. If an inmate’s fetus is a human, how can Georgia lawfully detain it for a crime it did not commit?” • The bill also penalizes women who travel out of state for abortions. Swell.

Stats Watch

Commodities: “Party City is closing 45 stores and finding a fix for a global helium shortage — here’s the list of closing stores” [Business Insider]. “Party City plans to close 45 of its 870 stores in 2019, the company said on Thursday. The party-supplies company also said it has secured a new source of helium that should help relieve pressure from a global helium shortage that has squeezed balloon sales. The store closures are unrelated to the helium shortage, the company said.”

Shipping: “Many big U.S. companies say they have inventories in place and are prepared for the U.S. to impose higher tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports…. Illinois Tool Works Inc., Dollar Tree Inc. and Honeywell International Inc. are among those that have already factored the trade friction into their financial forecasts, and some have raised prices, diversified their supply chains or doubled up on goods to brace for a tariff hit” [Wall Street Journal]. “The stockpiling has shown up at U.S. ports in sharp swings in shipping volumes: Loaded container imports into the Port of Los Angeles slipped in April after a big surge in March. Overstuffed warehouses will provide only a temporary cushion, however. Snowmobile-and-motorcycle manufacturer Polaris Industries Inc. says its tariff costs would more than double to about $150 million if the administration follows through on its plans to raise levies.”

Manufacturing: “Boeing Sends 737 Max to Brand Rehab to Avoid Fate of Ford Pinto” [Bloomberg]. “Commercial jetliner programs have recovered time and again from horrific accidents. The trend started at the dawn of the jet age with de Havilland Comets that blew apart due to a window-design flaw. A redesigned version was never a hot seller, but flew for the U.K. military until 2011. Bargain-hunting consumers in the Internet age quickly forgot their aversion to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner after battery fires grounded it in 2013.” • So, optimism.

Manufacturing: “FAA prepared to act alone to lift MAX grounding” [Leeham News]. “‘The FAA has been pretty clear from the beginning that its review of MCAS and the software enhancement would be independent from what the rest of the world is doing,’ LNA is told by a source close to the FAA. ‘[The FAA] will be meeting with other regulators later this month to bring them up to speed on what [it’s] been doing and what [the] decision-making process has been, but each country retains its own authority on timing.'”

The Bezzle: “Uber Raises $8.1 Billion in IPO Priced Near Bottom of Range” [Bloomberg]. “Based on the amount of stock outstanding after the offering, the IPO price gives San Francisco-based Uber a market value of $75.5 billion, just below its last private market value of $76 billion. The fully diluted value, including restricted stock units and other shares, could be about $82 billion. Uber has prioritized selecting shareholders — particularly institutional investors — that it thinks will hold on to the stock for a long time, according to a person familiar with the matter.” • Crime pays.

The Bezzle: “Uber Stock Slides in Disappointing Trading Debut That Followed Muted I.P.O.” [New York Times]. “By 2014, Mr. Kalanick’s company had moved from noun to verb. To “Uber” somewhere meant to catch a ride, even as competitors with identical offerings popped up across multiple continents. Mr. Kalanick, known for his competitive spirit and no-holds-barred approach to capitalism, raised billions in venture capital, building a war chest to battle his rivals with subsidized, artificially lowered ride fares. By 2016, Uber’s valuation had soared well north of $60 billion.” • And the fares are still subsidized. What now?

The Bezzle: “Why You Should Root for the Uber I.P.O. to Fail” [New York Times].

The Bezzle: “Uber’s Twisted Logic Means This Isn’t a Strike. It’s a Boycott” [Jalopnik]. ” That customer/labor unrest will continue as long as Uber, Lyft, and similar businesses that rely on the gig economy refuse to abide by the legal, economic, and social definitions we have created over centuries about our role in this sordid capitalist play every time money is exchanged. It may suit these behemoths to pretend words don’t have meaning, but you can only live in a fantasy for so long. Another realization from Uber’s S-1 has been the immense amount of leverage drivers in the company’s few largest markets have. One quarter of its business happens in just five cities. With collective action, those drivers could have immense influence over the future of the company.” • One quarter of its business? That’s an amazing statistic. The cities are: “New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and São Paulo.” Finance, media, tech.

Tech: “Amazon’s Alexa records private conversations” [The Times]. “Geoffrey Fowler, a columnist at The Washington Post, listened to thousands of recordings of his interactions with Amazon’s digital assistant. In addition to legitimate recordings, it had recorded snippets of speech and household noises when it should not have, owing to apparent technical errors. A Times reporter checked her own account and also found multiple unauthorised recordings, raising privacy concerns about the technology present in millions of British homes. Alexa provides information such as weather forecasts and controls smart-home devices in response to voice commands. It is only supposed to ‘listen’ after someone says the ‘wake word’, usually ‘Alexa’.” • “Apparent technical errors,” lol.

The Biosphere

“Food waste starts long before food gets to your plate” [Yale Climate Connection]. “Thirty percent of the food produced globally is wasted every year. But hold onto your leftovers. In the U.S., it’s more – 40 percent…. If food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China and the U.S., according to the World Resources Institute. A study by Project Drawdown, a coalition of experts focused on climate change solutions, ranks reducing food waste as the No. 3 action item out of 80 – to the tune of more than 70 gigatons of carbon reduction. And that’s not including any number of other food-related solutions on the list. And there are studies that indicate as much as 11 percent of greenhouse gas emissions could be eliminated if food waste were brought to zero. Fat chance, that.” • Impressive.

“Iowa’s real population” [Bleeding Heartland]. “Iowa has around 3 million people, a total that has changed little over the last 80 to 90 years. People are large animals, and as such our bodies produce a lot of waste. That being said, we produce much less waste than the animals that we eat…. Statewide, we have around 20-24 million hogs; 250,000 dairy cattle; 1.8 million beef cattle, 80 million laying chickens, and 4.7 million turkeys. I did not consider sheep, goats, horses or broiler chickens. In total, these five species generate the waste equivalent to that produced by about 134 million people, which would place Iowa as the 10th most populous country in the world, right below Russia and right above Mexico. (Caveat: obviously Russia and Mexico have their own livestock that I am not counting.)

“Life thrives in Antarctic hot spots created by seal and penguin poop” [Science]. “In the desolate Antarctic landscape, life is hard to come by—unless you’re near some seal and penguin poop. The nitrogen-rich feces enrich the soil and create hot spots with lots of biological diversity that can extend more than 1000 meters beyond the borders of penguin and seal colonies, according to a new study…. The feces partially evaporate as ammonia, which then can get blown more than 1000 meters inland by the wind and is absorbed into the soil, the scientists note. This ammonia then creates a cycle of nutrient enrichment: The nitrogen is consumed by plants and lichens, which in turn support an incredible number of invertebrates, including mites, springtails, and roundworms. In fact, the team identified millions of invertebrates per square meter of soil surrounding the seal and penguin colonies—up to eight times higher than the number found in other parts of the peninsula.” • Maybe Iowa…

Our Famously Free Press

“Disney put more than $400 million into Vice Media. Now it says that investment is worthless.” [Vox] • Couldn’t happen to a nicer ginormous oligopoly.

Guillotine Watch

Bezos is crazypants:


I’m sure his warehouse workers are chuffed to be contributing to a project larger than themselves.

News of the Wired

“Cats rival dogs on many tests of social smarts. But is anyone brave enough to study them?” [Sciencehttps://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/cats-rival-dogs-many-tests-social-smarts-anyone-brave-enough-study-them]. “After years when scientists largely ignored social intelligence in cats, labs studying feline social cognition have popped up around the globe, and a small but growing number of studies is showing that cats match dogs in many tests of social smarts. The work could transform the widespread image of cats as aloof or untamed. It also may eventually offer insight into how domestication transformed wild animals into our best friends, and even hint at how the human mind itself changed over the course of evolution. That is, if the cats themselves deign to participate.” • Ha. And the headline: “A few years back, [Péter Pongrácz, Eötvös Loránd University] brought a cat into his lab for a study. ‘In less than a minute, it escaped and got into an air duct,’ he says. ‘We were terrified. We had to wait an hour for it to come out.’ Things didn’t go much better with his gaze experiments. Pongrácz’s team did the work in cats’ homes, thinking they would be better behaved there, but some felines either didn’t cooperate or dived under the sofa. Other cats—frustrated by being held when they knew the researchers had treats—scratched and wriggled their way out of their owners’ arms. ‘It’s like suddenly the cat has 10 legs,’ Pongrácz says. The team started with 99 cats but got usable data on only 41. In other labs, cats have leapt out of mazes topped with nets designed to keep them inside, leaving the whole setup in disarray.” • Good kitties!

* * *
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 (JF):

Another lovely spring flower popping up (though bark mulch makes me cranky, because typically it doesn’t rot, so it doesn’t improve the soil).

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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. crittermom

      You forgot to include the other 9M of us who lost our homes while he was VP, too.

      Those facts need to be shouted to all, to sink that current sailboat he’s riding named “ABB”. (Anybody But Bernie).

      Sadly Stupidly, the Dems would rather lose to Trump again than win with a Progressive representing the actual people. That would not be in their best (financial) interest, don’t ya know.

      1. Pat

        The million or more of us who have never forgotten his treatment of Anita Hill and his all but in name only sign off of Thomas who will be more likely to spit on his grave than ever vote for him.

        Not that that is my only reason…

        1. crittermom

          Yes. Yet another reason (& so many more).

          If these three reasons alone were spoken of repeatedly to those who would be tempted to vote for him, that should be enough to take the wind out of his sails.

          Well… perhaps a few more should be included to rip those sails to shreds, preventing him from ever reaching a welcoming shoreline again.

          It’s painfully obvious Biden is supposed to be the next ‘chosen one’ for our votes.

          Yet this time I don’t see the nomination going as planned, as it did in 2016…
          … or I’m trying to remain hopeful, at least, while continuing to offer the truth about him, and the much better candidates, to those I meet.

          1. Late Introvert

            I tell every young person I meet how Biden made it illegal to go bankrupt on your college loan. Those are four reasons. Iraq war vote. Handsy. Senator in service to America’s own offshore banking haven. Architect of the Drug War. I’ll think of more once I post.

            I would remind people he has run before, and especially has not done well here in Iowa. That was before he was the chosen one though.

            1. crittermom

              “I tell every young person…”

              That’s great, but please inform those of retirement age–and older, as well!
              (IIRC, didn’t that age group poll poorly for Bernie last time?)

              I’m finding people my age seem to be the most clueless, yet willing to listen to the facts about candidates with an open mind.
              From limited personal experience, most of these people usually vote as ‘directed’ by MSM (Biden).

              Yet they’re surprisingly receptive and can often easily be ‘flipped’ once they have the facts.
              That was my experience just two nights ago when talking with a 71 yr old friend and he mentioned Biden. Once I gave him some facts, his response was, “Then I’m not voting for him!

              I’ve found others of the same mindset.
              Remember, the worst candidates get the most air time, and most of that generation get ALL of their news from teevee.

              1. crittermom

                Heh, heh. “… and most of that generation…”
                I should have said MY generation, as I’m approaching 68.

                “Who the hell is that in the mirror? No, that can’t be me!” Aarghhhh…

                1. The Rev Kev

                  Know how you feel. What’s that old expression?
                  “If I knew that I was going to live so long, I would have taken better care of myself!”

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              > “I tell every young person…”

              There are plenty of old codgers having their Social Security garnished because Biden made student loans non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        If Bernie mud-wrestles the nomination away from the Democratic Party Swamp Creatures, all the Democratic Swamp Creatures and all the Catfood Democrats will support Trump, either secretly or in public; in a desperate effort to MAKE Bernie lose.

        And that’s okay. I want Bernie nominated anyway. Let the Caftood Democrats turn around and elect Trump. They know they want to, and we know it too. They will be doing it in open view, before God AND CSPAN. The whole world will be watching. It could finally push American society to seek a “final solution” to the “Catfood Democrat” question. (“Figuratively speaking” of course. >>of course<< )

    2. voteforno6

      I’m still trying to understand that polling. It doesn’t make much sense. Then again, we’re months away from any votes being cast, so this is probably all name recognition right now.

      1. Big River Bandido

        Polls of the primary races are meaningless until this fall at the earliest. And at that point the only worthwhile polls are the Setzer poll in Iowa and a few comparable polls in NH, SC and NV. National polls don’t mean anything.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        As Bandido says, the polls aren’t meaningful at this stage. Of the two kind of polling error:

        1) Aleatory. 40% for Biden seems high; that seems like methodology issues (phones; trust). Nevertheless, it is true that there is a liberal Democrat hard core that was not scarred by the recession, for whom an Obama restoration would be fine. Biden in their minds is Obama’s third term. I would think a more reasonable figure for that hard core would be 30% not 40%, but — in the absence of good data — I underestimated the strength of that faction in the 2018 midterms, so I guessed wrong about the Blue Wave, and I could be guessing wrong here. I also underestimated the ability of the liberal Democrat leadership to bring it out. (IOW, one issue with that hard core is that a Sanders victory would mean they lose power in the party; and a Sanders victory would also be a referendum on their party leadership. Nobody likes that.)

        2) Epistemic. If the Sanders theory of change is to bring in new voters, it’s easy to see how that could be done in the general. It’s not so easy to see how it can be done in the primaries, especially in closed primary states.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      How many of those 9.9 Million Americans with student loans in default know that Biden was the principal designer of the law designed to create their situation? Is there a way to shove that knowledge all-up in the FACE of every single student-loan defaulter who does not know all about that already now?

      1. Cal2

        “Bernie = National healthcare plus bankruptcy for bad student debt”

        “Biden = Medical bankruptcy, death discharges bad student debts”

        1. Cal2

          “Die sick and broke, Say it ain’t so Joe!”

          “Medical care free with Bernie”


          “Biden voted for a controversial 2005 bankruptcy bill after receiving a large number of donations from MBNA, a credit card firm that also retained Hunter Biden as a consultant. (MBNA, which was headquartered in Biden’s home state of Delaware, was bought by Bank of America in 2006…

          As vice president, Biden hired Steve Ricchetti, his longtime adviser and former lobbyist, to serve as one of his top aides. Though the Obama administration had imposed a ban on hiring people who had lobbied in the past two years, Biden’s office said Ricchetti didn’t need an ethics waiver to join the administration because Ricchetti had terminated his lobbying registrations four years earlier — even though he had still been doing “government relations” work for 20 clients, and his brother had kept lobbying for their firm’s clients.”

          “The Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign tossed out the Obama-era rules banning lobbyist and corporate PAC cash during the 2016 election.
          The PAC’s lobbyist donors include:”
          see article

    4. Jonathan Holland Becnel




        1. ewmayer

          You gonna tell the distinguised Senator from MBNA on Mr. Deadbeat Becnel, or shall I?

  1. Carolinian

    Yikes. Impeachment is now a category.

    On the other hand Bezos is Crazypants could be a category all its own.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Monster watch: the hideous monsters right in our midst.

      Jeff Bezos: supersmart cool guy whose website is so good he deserves our adulation and the billions he has amassed tax-dodging monopolist who destroyed Mom and Pop Main Street, takes millions from the CIA, wants endless war, and plans to shoot his monopoly profits into space.

      Obama: supersmart cool guy who was on our side against the evil Republicans empty-suit sellout who squandered the ideal moment for actual change while lying to us about how he was really just there to run Bush’s third term.

      Mark Zuckerberg: supersmart cool guy who built the best way for people to stay connected Rentier control freak destroying privacy, making people miserable, and censoring news and information so Permanent War will continue unchallenged.

      I’d continue the list but you get the idea. No way to write a new play if you don’t even know who the actors are

    2. Synoia

      Bezos is talking about building enormous, rotating habitats in space that can hold upwards of a million people.

      Nice. How they get up there?

      If it were petroleum based fuel, at 6.72 GJ per barrel, to loft 100 Kg into orbit required 3,200 M Gj, plur equipment, lets double that to 6,400 Mj, and multiply by 10,00 for the extra weight in the rocket.

      I0 barrels of petroleum could lift approximately 1 person into orbit. I million people would require, 10 million barrels of oil. A supertanker holds about 1 million barrels of oil.

      So we are discussing using 10 supertankers of oil for the people for each habitat.

      Let’s guess and the number of tons of habitat per person we’d need at 1 ton.

      So we’d need 1 ton, 2,000 Ib of habitat per each 200 ib person, or factor of 10 for the fuel.

      Each habitat plus people would require 110 supertankers of fuel or about 15 days of Saudi Arabia’s oil exports, at a fuel cost of about $100,000,000,000.

      Even for Bezos, that would be a bit of a stretch for his budget.

      1. Carolinian

        We can barely manage to keep a Space Station and three or four people aloft at the moment. At this rate Kubrick’s 2001 vision more likely to happen around 2101.

    1. Lunker Walleye

      I read the Craig Murray link. Definitely worth reading. Now to Larry Johnson. Thank you.

  2. Hepativore

    I have heard from many sources that much of Biden’s “lead” in the polls is astroturfed nonsense. This is because the corporate poll-takers are taking data from demographics that lean heavily towards Biden in an effort to skew the numbers towards making him seem more popular than he really is. After all, how popular can a guy be who is heaping praise on Dick Cheney?

    On a different note, I do not necessarily find the idea of manned habitats in space to be “crazy” just that I hope by the time we start building such things, humanity will have long put the neoliberals in their place. After all, if an asteroid hits Earth or something happens to our planet, it would be wise not to put all of our eggs in one basket.

    1. Joe Well

      If an asteroid hit Earth, Earth would still have both an atmosphere and gravity, which would make it a far more welcoming place than anywhere else in the solar system. Mars, the moon, any asteroid, or any artificial satellite would require both artificial shielding from radiation and artificial gravity, before you could even get to the other necessities of life. Both are already far worse places than Earth would be following a nuclear winter.

      If we want to get apocalyptically minded, I say we create underground bunkers and rotate the population through them and exclude any government leader or their close relatives and anyone in the global top 5% of wealth or income. Our leaders would have to know that it would be the meek who would inherit the earth.

      1. Cletus

        Well said. We’re so far out from the tech and resources to even begin making what Bezos wants feasible. Humans will all be dead or subsistance farming from climate change before we even get close. Maybe Bezos could spend all that money on the biosphere that actually already exists.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          He “could” do that. But then the rest of us “other people”, all of whom he clearly hates, might get some benefit from that spending. And he wants us to SEE and to KNOW that he will never perMIT that to happen. Not with HIS money

    2. Isotope_C14

      All bits of wisdom Hepativore,

      They seem to only poll landline phones, those that sub-age-50 people rarely have, Bernie is probably at more like 70% – similar to his favorable rating. Biden is not popular, he’s currently the choice of the 0.001% because the younger ones don’t have name recognition. They are trying with Buttigeig but seriously, there are some very Xtian people that wouldn’t dream of voting for a “gay”. This all may become a play between the Obama/HRC wings of the Democratic plutocracy. The smart-money is on Obama, who will likely back Biden, since HRC is tone-deaf and her hubris destroys everything she touches.

      Manned habitats require agriculture, at the very least on the planet. This is a no-win situation as if an asteroid hit the planet, there would be no more agriculture. At least if edibles were to be shipped up to the space station/cities.

      Plants are strange things. They need pollinators, and probably not zero-G. The space-cities would have to simulate gravity, and would require extensive control of the Nitrogen cycle (that humans have totally messed up on the planet). Also they need bio-available phosphorous.

      Certain crops require bacteria to live in their roots to “fix” nitrogen.

      It would probably take about 200 years of basic-science research to actually make “space cities” capable of producing enough food to keep our sad species alive in orbit.

      We can’t even manage to keep this planet habitable, so I don’t give space cities much of a chance.

      Be well, healthy, and have fun, if you can.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Bezos rollout of a plan that would require…er…a reliable moon/orbital platform transit system to even begin is a joke about his ego and his disregard for human civilization. Also, the man delivers packages using the post office.


      Stick around to season 3, but Bezos didn’t invent Babylon 5. Though he could claim credit for Babylon 4.

      1. Summer

        Bezos rolls out a plan that he wants subsized.
        Are you freaked out enough to bezzled by Bezos? He hopes so.
        And he apparently thinks he’ll be around to enjoy the loot.
        So he either doesn’t believe in the seriousness of the problem or doesn’t care.
        This is not someone you want having the ear of elected offcials.

      2. martell

        You never know when a future gigantic space station might prove useful in the past.

    4. cocomaan

      After 2016, I have a hard time believing these presidential polls.

      I do my part by never answering ANY poll truthfully. Why would I? Being unpredictable is better for me in the long run. Being predictable is better for people who want to take my money!

    5. Pat

      I am still trying to wrap my head around what would constitute a natural park in a man made space station, even one large enough to contain a million humans and the hydroponic gardens necessary to feed them.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Assuming there is a size of an object, we can get to spin without it collapsing due to its own gravity, the biggest problem is going from Earth to space. Breaking orbit requires immense amounts of energy which would be best achieved with nuclear options. Ideally, only biota will ever leave Earth. Space is just littered with goodies. Obviously, you would do it in order, with rocks, then water, then little things, fungus, plants, plankton, insects, birds, mammals until you’ve decided you are all set.

        Robots are going to do the work. Everything will be from space except the biota. So if there is a nuclear explosion, whoops! No friction, no weather. Its great. No gravity, either. And we can probably figure out how to keep stuff out of the stellar disc to avoid pesky problems with potential impacts.

        Randomly putting people on Mars as a goal is the ludicrous option. In the future if we make it, we aren’t going to mine or even produce energy on this planet. There won’t even be solar panels or windmills on Earth except by off the grid types. We are going to beam it down with death rays in space.

        1. Joe Well

          Satellite solar power generators+space elevator with transmission lines is my version of the mission to Mars fantasy.

    6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “….by the time we start building such things, humanity will have long put the neoliberals in their place…”

      Looking back at the history of humanity, one constant is the eternally struggle between different sides within in it.

      And so, whatever the concerns are, regarding the neoliberals, and their expansion into space, including Mars, they will still be there. And the idea will still be ‘crazy,’ if we think it will not be ‘crazy’ because we too optimistically think the neoliberals will have long been put in their place.

      It’s possible those neoliberals will be put in their place some time before such things get bulit. But there is no ‘happily ever after.’ And after being put in their place, it’s likely, as has been shown throughout history, they will come, when we start buliding such things.

      And this also serves as a reminder that getting some progressive person elected to the White House will not lead to ‘happily ever after.’

      In fact, it could be the start of something worse, if you think the empire will strike back.

    7. laughingsong

      Bezos is welcome to build in space, on Mars, or the moon, as long as he and his ideological fellow travellers go away and live there.

      1. Hepativore

        Actually, I would settle for giving Jeff Bezos and his fellow neoliberal venture capitalists a free trip into the sun, all expenses paid!

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > as long as he and his ideological fellow travellers go away and live there.

        Reminds of this t-shirt from back in the 70s:*

        NOTE * You young punks think you had it rough? You were lucky!

      3. Nat

        I agree with the sentiment, but sadly it wouldn’t play out the way you seem to imagine. The Oligarchs would move off planet – but would still control everything on Earth. So now they would be freed up to be even crueler and more destructive in their governing and control because all the environmental damage and wars can’t even reach them.

    8. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps they are trying to create a hybrid combination of a bandwagon effect with a weary resignation effect for Biden. They hope the weak-willed will see that “Biden has the most support” and decide they must support the winner to stay in step with society. And they hope the dispirited and the worn-out will see that “Biden has the most support” and just give up and support Biden because ” what’s the use?”

      The people who have lost something from their lives because of Biden need to form a coalition of pure hatred devoted to the destruction of Biden’s public life and presence and reputation, reGARDless of what anyone outside the coalition of pure hatred may think.

    9. Acacia

      Manned habitats in space, run by robots, AI, and owned/operated by private corporations like Amazon.

      Anybody who thinks this is a good idea evidently hasn’t seen or understood the film Silent Running, which nailed this whole boondoggle over 45 years ago.

      Go watch the film and then check back with us ;)

    10. Lambert Strether Post author

      I would greatly appreciate an authoritative link on the issue of the Biden polling. I’ve seen the talking point that the oldsters were called, and the usual techniques were applied to get a reading on what the young folks with cells were up to. This is not unique to polling for Biden, and its a known problem. I’d like to see a little evidence that the polling was done in bad faith. I think we’re in extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence territory if we’re assuming co-ordinated and more or less identical results on this from multiple posters.

      For Sanders supporters, I would worry that denying the poll results is a form of premature triumphalism, and will prevent any course corrections that need to be made.

    11. Lambert Strether Post author

      > how popular can a guy be who is heaping praise on Dick Cheney?

      Plenty popular. After all, there was an orgy of squee-ing when Bush gave Michelle candy.

      Let’s avoid bubbles at all costs. There was always going to be a hard core of Democrat loyalists who want (a) a winner and (b) Obama’s third term. What this poll indicates, directionally if not numerically, is that this hard core has a lot of strength — as one would expect! No point denying it.

  3. Joe Well

    Lambert, fellow William Gibson reader, what do you think are the odds of one of our billionaires creating an orbiting tax haven like Neuromancer‘s Freeside? Could any of them be hoping to achieve that eventually?

    1. Cal2

      Don’t forget Eleysium.

      The film takes place on both a ravaged Earth, and a luxurious space habitat (Stanford torus design) called Elysium. The film itself offers deliberate social commentary which explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, health care, worker exploitation, the justice system, and social class issues.


      Filmed on location in Mexico City. California Prescient.

    2. cocomaan

      Why not an underwater tax haven?

      BioShock is set in 1960 in the underwater city of Rapture; the city’s history is mostly revealed via audio recordings the player can collect during the game.[14][15] Rapture was planned and constructed in the 1940s by Objectivist business magnate Andrew Ryan who wanted to create a utopia for society’s elite to flourish outside of government control and “petty morality”.


    3. voteforno6

      I would actually encourage that…they’d quickly discover just how dependent they are on Earth, and all its proles.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        One hopes the proles would shut down the air supply so everyone inside the underwater city of Rapture could die slowly enough to contemplate upon the meaning of their lives.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > what do you think are the odds of one of our billionaires creating an orbiting tax haven like Neuromancer‘s Freeside

      That’s much more plausible than goober Bezos’s whacky scheme (though I think the odds are low, and I would like very much to know what the effects of continuously punching rockets through our upper atmosphere would be).

      My favorite quote on that:

      Customs, for Freeside, consisted mainly of proving your credit.

      Neoliberal paradise (and I suppose if you believe in the world-historical necessity of neo-liberalism, something so essentially neoliberal must come into being…).

  4. Dwight

    “…. make and deliver with a loud voice certain intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues, and did therein utter loud threats and bitter menaces…”

    Reminds me of Keith Olbermann’s unhinged rant about “Russian scum” taking over our country.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    BAW HAW HAW … even with their underwriter’s overallotment, they couldn’t keep UBER’s head above the IPO price water even for just a single day. Surest sign of a dog IPO is if, even with all the short covering antics that get played by underwriters on IPO day, they can’t keep the pig balloon afloat.

    Opened below the IPO price and already pushed even below that.

    Previous Close 45.00
    Open 42.00
    Day’s Range 41.06 – 44.8

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Let us earnestly pray . . . . that every last Uber investor loses every last Uber-invested dollar.

        1. mle detroit

          Who is Christy, what is she(?), that all our posts flow by her? A new mod? Welcome, and thanks!

          1. Christy

            >what is she(?) :-)

            I’m a real person and a moderator.
            I’ve been here a while ‘in the shadows’ as a moderator, but thanks for appreciating us!

  6. Big River Bandido

    The Mueller summary and the Barr report supposedly discredited the Democrat Party, CNN, and MSDNC, and since then they’ve all doubled down and gone absolutely nuts. And now MoveOn, DFA and a bunch of other AstroTurf Democrat groups have followed suit. Amazing to see the entire influence-peddling racket crumble like a stale sugar cookie.

    The GA abortion law makes me feel the same thing. 50 years of “fighting” by NARAL and the “choice lobby” have achieved…what exactly?

    1. Geo

      50 years of “fighting” by NARAL and the “choice lobby” have achieved…what exactly?

      The people that were against Sanders but fine with Tim Kaine? They seem more concerned with power and fundraising off boogiemen than actual impact. I’m sure this new law will be a boost for the new round of fundraising which is what they care about most.

      1. polecat

        99.5 % of everything is predicated off the running of grift engines! … or so it seems…
        Too bad that nefarious energy can’t be harnessed for the Good of the Commons.

    2. JBird4049

      The GA abortion law makes me feel the same thing. 50 years of “fighting” by NARAL and the “choice lobby” have achieved…what exactly?

      It’s aaalllll about the feelz. The pulling on the emotions. Think of it as another Russia!Russia!Russia!

      Neither political party actually gives a fat damn about children. One party is right to life for the unborn and then it is get lost. We got plenty of prisons for you. The other party is determined to protect a woman’s autonomy, but healthcare, daycare, or housing which would really help women and really everyone’s autonomy is somehow just delusional. But the trillions on all the unwinnable wars are clear eyed hard choices.

      Whatever your political, social, or economic beliefs are, they probably will not match with either the ones on their facade or the real ones they show when talking among themselves.

  7. Crestwing

    Also, if a fetus is a full, legal person, can the woman charge the fetus with assault for occupying her body against her will?

        1. Wukchumni

          Maybe i’ll start an online borrowing service, Jokester.

          I expect the IPO to be in no more than 6 months from now, and those invested early in various guises of punisment, can expect to be in on the ground floor, where most of you are right now, anyway.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps only if a person who doesn’t know that bringing home an adorable cub, which in a few months, will turn into a man-eating lion, can then the person claim home invasion by the lion.

      But I suspect the argument is not to be decided along this line of reasoning (assaulting or consenting).

      1. Wukchumni

        In related news, there was an IPO (inserted probe object) of a coat hanger reported somewhere in the deep south.

      1. Wukchumni

        Will this mess with horoscopes?, as it used to be based on your birthday, not your blast off into inner space.

      2. Olga

        Yes, good point: the (host) mom should get a ‘dependent’ deduction right from the moment of conception. The IRS would love it, no doubt.

    2. Cal2

      More importantly, can the mother get a second proxy vote for the fetus? I bet the fundamentalists would be for that–Until they realized that the mothers and their two votes would always opt for politicians that promised and delivered Medicare for All, parental leave, nutrition etc.

      High fertility demographics would end up with much more political representation. Sorry all you white professional women that didn’t have children, you just lost out to Central American immigrants, the highest fertility cohort.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I can see the consequences of this law now. So you have a young couple suffering the trauma of having their baby miscarry. Immediately you will have Georgian police come into the hospital and subject the grieving couple to a severe interrogation in case they had anything to do with the baby not making it to term. Perhaps arresting them and transporting them in handcuffs to the police station for more intense questioning. Threats of decades long imprisonment are made unless one of them “rats” out the other and agree to give testimony in exchange for immunity. Tell me that I am wrong.
      Ireland had pretty bad laws like this not long ago. Pregnant women who were suspected of going to England for an abortion would be arrested and held until it was too late for an abortion. Personally – and I actually hate even the thought of such tactics – there should be a total blockade of that State in terms of conventions, meetings, tourism, etc like has been done in the past. Maybe even encourage a political campaign to go for a regime change in the State government. Because if this does not happen now, you will see this law spread over most of the country.

      1. John Zelnicker

        @The Rev Kev
        May 10, 2019 at 7:41 pm

        Exactly right. And just next door to Georgia, here in Alabama, the state Senate erupted yesterday into a shouting match about an amendment that would remove rape as an exception in a bill that would subject a woman who received an abortion to as much as 99 years in prison.

        The original bill is moving forward.

        1. John Zelnicker

          Oops. Made a mistake. It’s the doctor who performs the abortion that is subject to 99 years in prison, not the woman.

    4. DDC

      Judith Jarvis Thomson’s famous “Defense of abortion” (1971) takes up just this sort of question. Her answer, in part, is that the fetus has no right to occupy a woman’s body against her will. Whether doing so is assault, legally speaking, I don’t know.

      One early response is by Baruch Brody. In a nutshell his conclusion is that Thomson’s argument fails to justify the unrestricted right to have an abortion; and that the right of a person to defend her life, which he—like Thomson—recognizes, justifies killing another person only in very limited circumstances.

      I should note that both authors assume, for the sake of argument, that the fetus is a person. This was one reason why Thomson’s paper had the impact it had—it claimed to show that whether or not the fetus is a person, its mother has the right to an abortion, thereby short-circuiting many arguments against that right.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That’s an excellent article by Judith Jarvis Thomson. “Famous” is may be, but not by the time I was politically conscious (certainly after 1971).

        The whole Georgia debacle makes me think that the feminist movement made some sort of terrible strategic error; after all, “gay marriage,” normalized though it may be (marriage instead of queerness everywhere) is still an enormous victory and won against the same patriarchical forces that opposed feminism. It seems to me that “choice,” essential individualist, even neoliberal or consumerist, was a poor frame, especially when counterpoised to murder (since after all, people can “choose” to evil things; that’s the whole point of committing sin while having free will). By the time Planned Parenthood was its money and becoming a pillar of the Establishment I would suppose the fight had already been lost… But I do not know the history well enough to know if there were alternative roads that might have been taken in the mid- to late-70s.

      2. Crestwing

        Thank you for this citation; I had forgotten the author’s name and, of course, the title of the essay.

        I read it when I was a dew-eyed philosophy student, and the force of her argument remains with me to this day, and is the impetus behind my snarky post.

  8. Wukchumni

    In another twist, Mr Trump said US purchases of farm products would be directed towards poor countries in the form of food aid: ‘Our Farmers will do better, faster, and starving nations can now be helped.’”

    …as if Robin Hood was a tariffist

    And the translation is:

    Nobody that can pay for our farm products, wants them.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Certain elite farm products will still find certain elite buyers. The markets for mainstream petrochemical GMO sh*tcorn and petrochemical GMO sh*tsoy may never come all the way back, though.

      Since Russian ag-product is GMO-free, and may even be chem-low by comparison to Corporate Globalonial ag-product, Russia may start taking and keeping those semi-elite markets which care about things like GMO and glyphosate residues.

  9. a different chris

    The Science story on cats is a good, well we would say “antidote” to Gabriel’s passing. But I would like to see it more as a further coda to the celebration of his life, which Yves’ post really was if you read it carefully. Cats and dogs are just really, really special.

    Anyway, in other news:
    >there is no Russian consulate in Miami

    Yes there is, Putin is so clever that he has a hidden consulate!! Because having a Consulate that nobody can find makes sense in the Russian 11-d chess way!!

    1. Olga

      A hidden consulate makes sense, since amrikans took over Russian properties in NY and SF, and closed the one in Seattle.

    2. JacobiteInTraining

      I always feel like I should comment when I see a post about the passing of someone elses pet, but having been there…done that…I always fear I will end up coming across as too maudlin or too ‘obligatory’ – like the ‘Thank You For Your Service’ robotic line.

      And yet, even with the past grief from my own pets who have wandered away, I still seem to find new rescue critters to take under my wing. I hope everyone else does too.

      So instead of posting, I use the opportunity to shower loves and pets on the new furry folks I have around, while thinking happily of the good times with those past who have since gone to the Happy Hunting Grounds.

      You live as long as the last creature that remembers you. So the death of others pets, creates memories in me and a recollection & thus rejuvenation of the ‘life’ of my own past friends – if only in my mind – but i sure like to think the Happy Hunting Grounds are real nevertheless…. (I buried my last kitty cat in a beautiful spot, on a thick aromatic bed of fresh catnip, with a large scoop of her fave kibbles near to paw…..hope it tided her over as she crossed to the other side…. :)

      1. a different chris

        Yes it took me awhile to come up with even that lame post. This, both the joy and the pain of pet ownership, is pretty much beyond words. So I think we should not be too hard on ourselves.

        Coincidentally but happily, a family member just got a rescue puppy a couple of hours ago. The wheel turns. I wonder if this one will outlive me. I probably have the advantage, if it was a kitten I’d bet the other way.

    3. Charlie

      We could do a lot more with cat studies. Anecdotal, but from my own experience with a colony of ferals I found that once one cat gets attached to you, the rest lose their fear when the group observes. Then the rest become attached to you and socialize further.

      I was able to get the colony population under control after catching the mom after two litters and getting her spayed. The colony topped at seven, and the socialization process didn’t get to begin until the kittens were four months old. All but one wound up becoming very social, including the three year old mom.

      So I wouldn’t mind seeing someone take up a study with those parameters. Sadly, the grad school I attend doesn’t have a big enough lab to conduct those studies.

  10. Oregoncharles

    “bark mulch makes me cranky, because typically it doesn’t rot, so it doesn’t improve the soil”
    It does around here – disappears over 3 or 4 years. Milder climate than Maine, though, and different trees. Anything like that does the soil a lot more good if it gets buried, by, for instance, worms or moles.

    My preferred material is composted yard waste, produced by the local solid waste company and worth looking for. It contains both wood and a considerable portion (maybe 1%?) of fertilizer, from leaves and grass clippings. Our system now composts food wastes, too. I even use it as fertilizer on lawns. Doesn’t last as long as bark, but definitely improves the soil – after a few years, you can see a black layer inches thick. It’s black and, caveat, sticky: avoid tracking it into the house.

    Other caveat: don’t let a pile of it get soaked. It will go anaerobic and smell worse than manure. I’ve used a lot of chicken manure, too, composted in sawdust – from broiler farms. Good stuff, more like 3% but not hot. Fragrant. I can’t get it in bulk any more, so I don’t use it much.

    Oh, yeah: those are hyacinths. Lovely smell when they open. Very early – long gone here.

      1. Oregoncharles

        For whatever reason, there hasn’t been a problem with the local product – I’ve used it for years with no harm done, and it’s been tested repeatedly. The process (it’s composted for about a year in huge, covered piles that must get very hot) must destroy active herbicides, or people around here just don’t use much.

        Your warning still applies, though: use with caution.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      >> My preferred material is composted yard waste, produced by the local solid waste company

      I originally used a compost from a local firm where the solid waste was lobster (occasionally I’d get the kind of rubber band they put around lobster’s claws). That stuff was great, and really improved my soil.

      But the supplier went out of business (or was driven out) and for a couple years I bought a substitute, made from municipal solid waste by Casella (the landfill operator, and rebranded by the various lawn and garden supplies but still the same stuff). The Casella stuff was dry, chunky a with strange texture, and didn’t yield any improvement in the plants at all. In retrospect, I would be very surprised if there wasn’t bad stuff in it, like pharmaceuticals or even heavy metals. Horrid stuff, I stopped using it.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        theres a gas station on the corner next to he hotel we stay at for chemo. it’s “landscaping” consists of native trees(at least! credit where due) and “mulch” made quite obviously from plastic waste shredded up and painted cedar-red.
        at 10 feet, it looks like new cedar mulch. from the little used sidewalk(along I-10) you can see the lettering on some of the plastic shreds.
        i’ve since seen bags of this for sale at a couple of big box mega marts.
        I was horrified by this discovery.

  11. JerryDenim

    Russiagate, The Hill, Solomon-

    The quote from Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, a former Clinton subordinate and protege, calling out Steele’s work in 2016 as part of a broader political plot that was already afoul of the Hatch Act is an absolute barn-burner of a quote. I’m wondering where that quote was lifted?

    If leadership level career diplomats, particularly Clintonites, at State could smell a conspiracy and knew to steer clear of Steele, it’s impossible to believe any law enforcement agency pondering FISA warrants on the Republican nominee for President would not be able to reach the same conclusion, IF they were acting in good faith.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The quote from Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland

      Here is that quote:

      But it is almost certain the FBI knew of Steele’s contact with State and his partisan motive. That’s because former Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland says she instructed her staff to send the information they got from Steele to the bureau immediately and to cease contact with the informer because “this is about U.S. politics, and not the work of — not the business of the State Department, and certainly not the business of a career employee who is subject to the Hatch Act.”

      I focused on the quote from the Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec because if she could see that Steele was a fabulist, it was certainly possible for the FBI to see. If they were acting in good faith.

  12. dearieme

    Biden 40, Sanders 14

    Maybe Hands-on Joe should have run in 2016 when his age was showing less.

    1. Tim

      Unfortunately Sanders jumped the shark volunteering an extreme position on felon voting.

      I think Sanders is deep down mostly considering himself a conscientious objector candidate with an outside chance of winning running on his perfect ideals, no compromise.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I hope you are wrong about Sanders. I will vote for Sanders despite his support for still-serving prisoners voting. I realize that view will not be popular here. But people should pay their debt to society and get released upon having served their sentence before regaining their right to vote.

        After release, they should get that right back.

          1. Romancing The Loan

            Because there’s a lot of discretion in law enforcement and it’s not difficult to use the felon nonvoting provision to target and disenfranchise a population for political reasons. Some might say that’s already occurred.

            1. Darthbobber

              My because was directed at the assertion that voting rights shouldn’t be restored until after release. People say this as if it were self-evident, but I don’t see it.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              @ Romancing The Loan,

              Your question is answered by the automatic restoration of voting rights upon completion of sentence and release from prison. That way, the population of convicted people would not be permanently deprived of their right to vote.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            Because its one of the rights you lose upon conviction and sentencing, along with your right to be free, until your sentence is done.

            What is so self-evidently proper about sentence-serving convicted felons having a right to vote before their sentence is served?

      2. Late Introvert

        He is right about it, and he changed my mind about it. It’s going to resonate with non-voters of all colors. Hopefully that can be harnessed somehow.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Unfortunately Sanders jumped the shark volunteering an extreme position on felon voting.

        I disagree. (a) I think Sander’s position will help him in South Carolina, and (b) if this issue resonated with voters, everyone would be all over it. They aren’t, so it hasn’t. (Possibly because Sanders has insulated himself from media attacks with his own media operation.)

  13. Michael McK.

    I dare Biden to go on Fox and friends. The idea being floated (with “polls” to agree) that he is the best to beat Trump is belied by the response Sanders got when he went on Fox. This link has a clip of the best part 2 min. in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SJ0fMLLVHo where he defends Medicare for all. Biden being the nominee is 4 more years of Trump. All the one-sided loyalty oaths from the DNC in the world will not drive turnout for him.

  14. Tim

    “the cost of major appliances in the U.S. has surged almost 9% in the past year”

    That’s not inflation that’s people buying more of those planned obsolescence flat screen equipped smart refrigerators.

    1. Wukchumni

      I had a smart fridge briefly, it played nothing but You Are So Fat jokes whenever you opened the door to get something to eat. Turned out i’d bought the smart aleck model by mistake.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      There will be a growing “service aftermarket” for stripping all the digital cooties out of those smart refrigerators and making them dumm again, like refrigerators used to be. Useful silent servants which knew nothing and wanted to know nothing.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          By “silent”, I meant they didn’t talk to us and extract information from us. My fridge is audible when working as well. But I still regard it as a “silent servant”. And it is strictly analog.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “FAA prepared to act alone to lift MAX grounding” [Leeham News]. “‘The FAA has been pretty clear from the beginning that its review of MCAS and the software enhancement would be independent from what the rest of the world is doing,’

    That is because the rest of the word is no longer prepared to trust the FAA and take it at its word. At the moment, there even seems to be mistrust in letting the US handle black boxes after a crash. And just because the FAA says that the 737 MAX is good to go does not mean that other countries are prepared to have this plane overfly their country.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The FAA can lift the grounding of the 737 MAX-Pinto with built-in MCAS crash-a-matic if it wants to. But can it make the rest of the world lift the grounding of that plane everywhere, or even anywhere, in the rest of the world?

      And can the FAA prevent air-travel customers, whether foreign OR domestic; from studying up on which airlines use which planes on which flights? If enough of the ticket-buying public simply stops flying on flights using the 737 MAX-Pinto . . . . so that the airlines which use 737 MAX-Pintos are flying them empty for day after week after month after year . . . how long can the airlines afford to do that before they simply re-ground their own MAX-Pintos themselves for purely business reasons?

  16. Pat

    Beyond all the other reasons to despise Georgia’s most recent bow to stupidity and patriarchy, I am largely terrified that this will mean that women will be subject to prosecution and incarceration for miscarriages. How do you prove you did nothing to endanger a fetus? Spontaneous abortion aka miscarriage occurs in a significant number of pregnancies. Does this mean women will keep pregnancies secret just in case? Not seeking appropriate care if they miscarry? Delaying prenatal care?

    It isn’t as if child birth hasn’t been getting more dangerous for women in America recently without this crap.

    (After years of support for Planned Parenthood the thoughtless endorsement of Clinton in 2016 threw me for a loop. Until I realized that the board and leadership had a real need to keep abortion unsettled. Much easier to raise funds if you are under attack. Should have gone after the infringement of the religious freedom of the woman in the courts decades ago.)

    1. marym

      This is already happening. I tried to post a longer reply with multiple links, but after answering the security challenge my screen froze to blank. Anyway, if it doesn’t appear I’ll try again some other time, but women have been prosecuted, additional laws are being proposed in multiple states, and horrible misinformation about pregnancy and women’s bodies is being promulgated to justify state control of women’s bodies.

      1. Redlife2017

        Having known many women who’ve had miscarriages and stillbirths I just wretch at the thought of such laws. Of course with this kind of law you’d never get checked out pre-week 12,which will mean more women will have problems later in their pregnancies (maybe losing them later) or endanger their own health.

        I also presume this means that D&Cs would be illegal in order to complete miscarriages? It’s very common in the UK to have a D&C after if it looks like everything isn’t clearing out properly.

        And if everything doesn’t get cleared out? You can get, well, cancer: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/persistent-trophoblastic-disease-choriocarcinoma/ I know a person who got this. It’s very survivable but you end up having cancer treatment. In other instances you can end up with tissue going septic and causing all sorts of issues.

        With laws like Georgia’s, women will be physically unsafe besides being treated like chattle. GRRR.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          when we had an ectopic pregnancy(and git-to-the-er-right-now emergency surgery), in between our two boys, i learned that the State of Texas considers removing such a “pregnancy” an “abortion”.
          this insane official designation had no real world immediate consequences for us at the time, but I remember thinking that it didn’t bode well.
          i keep a stand of rue and pennyroyal(in collusion with the local hedge witch) in anticipatory solidarity.
          never underestimate crazy religious nuts with delusions of Certainty.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      One wonders if the relevant legislators passed this law in order to slowly drive out of Georgia the kind of people who would not care to live under this law. That way, the population of Georgia could be slowly righter-and-righter wingified by driving all non-Fundamentalist non-Wingers into exile from Georgia. And the same question may apply to Alabama. How much of this can be passed and enforced before the STEM workers and entrepreneurs of Greater Huntsville find other places to go be “Stemmy” in? Thereby self-neutralizing the threat they might have been felt to pose to the forces of Conservatism in Alabama?

  17. allan

    File under “I’m not saying that it was obstruction of justice.
    I’m saying that Don McGahn thinks it was obstruction of justice.”

    Don McGahn Rebuffed White House Request to Say Trump Didn’t Obstruct Justice [WSJ]

    Within a day of the release of the Mueller report last month, President Trump sought to have former White House counsel Don McGahn declare he didn’t consider the president’s 2017 directive that he seek Robert Mueller’s dismissal to be obstruction of justice, but Mr. McGahn rebuffed the request, according to people familiar with the matter. …

    Of course, what do you expect from a HRC water carrier like the WSJ?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From the New York Times version of the same story (source: “two people briefed on the requests”). Of the first request:

      Mr. McGahn initially entertained the White House request. “We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister,” Mr. Burck said in a statement. “It was a request, professionally and cordially made.” A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a message seeking comment.

      After the second:

      It makes no difference legally whether Mr. McGahn believes Mr. Trump obstructed justice. That is a determination made by prosecutors, not witnesses. But politically, such a statement could have been a powerful argument for Mr. Trump, who faces scrutiny from House Democrats about whether he obstructed justice and abused his power.

      And what McGahn believed:

      The White House learned in August that Mr. McGahn had told Mr. Mueller’s investigators that he believed the president had not obstructed justice, according to one of the people. After a New York Times article revealed that Mr. McGahn had spoken to investigators for at least 30 hours, Mr. Burck tried to reassure the White House by explaining that his client told Mr. Mueller that he never believed Mr. Trump had committed an obstruction offense.

      Mr. McGahn’s cooperation with Mr. Mueller played a crucial role in allowing the special counsel’s investigators to paint a picture in their report of a president determined to use his power atop the executive branch to protect himself from the Russia investigation.

      So, are “obstruction of justice” and “using his power atop the executive branch” the same thing? McGahn, apparently, does not think so. I suppose that if one takes a West Wing-style perspective that the RussiaGate investigations are fundamentally apolitical, a matter of law and norms, then they are the same. After all, what possible reason could a suspect have for not trusting law enforcement? If one takes the perspective that the RussiaGate investigations were part of an ongoing soft coup, a matter of politics, of power, then perhaps they are different.

      1. allan

        If only there were some kind of report and set of supporting documents that would reveal what Mr. McGahn told Mr. Mueller’s investigators, without having to infer it through tidbits relayed by anonymous WH officials
        to the NYT’s access journalism stenographers.

        The only person going on public record in those stories is Mr. McGahn’s attorney,
        who is undoubtedly very good at his job.

  18. Mattski

    The shorter Trump: under the guise of aid to our farmers we can make other “starving nations” more dependent on us, undercut their agricultural production and render them more dependent.”

  19. freedomny

    MIDDLE GROUND re climate

    How is a “middle” ground even possible?

    At this point.

    1. JBird4049

      It’ not, but asking for it makes for a great delaying tactic, which is why they are asking for it.

    2. Nat

      Possible yes: its a slower more conscientious death of the planet!

      As for “useful,” “smart,” or “meaningful” then, no.

  20. Late Introvert

    Re: I’m sure [Bezos’] warehouse workers are chuffed to be contributing to a project larger than themselves.

    They’re helping to build bigger warehouses in space, staffed by a million people. The park one will be for paying customers only.

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