2:00PM Water Cooler 5/15/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, my workflow is still disrupted because Apple has not yet returned control to me of the tablet I putatively own. So this is a little disjointed. If any of you want to send me Water Cooler-appropriate links — especially from sources I don’t read, and also not already having appeared in the morning’s Links — that would be helpful (and fun). Thank you! –lambert


“China threatens to reduce Boeing orders, but analyst says options are limited” [MarketWatch]. “Chinese airlines currently have 231 Boeing commercial aircraft on order, including 192 737 Max planes, [Ken Herbert, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity] said. In addition, China has placed orders for at least two 777 aircraft and several 787s, he said. ‘It is also likely that hundreds of additional unassigned aircraft in Boeing’s backlog are destined for Chinese customers,’ Herbert said. China’s options outside Boeing remain limited, with Airbus SE’s AIR, +1.58% A320neo, the main 737 Max competitor, largely unavailable at least in short order. China’s domestic C919 aircraft, by Chinese aerospace company Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China, or Comac, ‘remains well behind schedule,’ with first deliveries not expected until 2021, he said.”


“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). Sanders (16.3%) claws back 1.6% from Biden (39.8%), others status quo.

“*” = New candidate.

* * *
Biden (D)(1): “Biden’s Nafta Vote Is a Liability in the Rust Belt” [Bloomberg]. “Biden is the only one of the 22 Democrats running for president who voted for NAFTA… ‘NAFTA still resonates in the industrial Midwest and Rust Belt,’ says Stanley Greenberg, a veteran Democratic pollster who recently conducted focus groups on trade in Michigan and Wisconsin. ‘There’s still a lot of anger because it symbolizes, for many people, the indifference about the outsourcing of jobs and the favoring of elite economic interests in international trade agreements.” • “Symbolizes,” forsooth.

Biden (D)(2):


I’d speculate this was implicitly an opioids/deaths of despair question. Either way, Biden slipped a cog answering it.

Biden (D)(3): “‘When Biden announced, everything changed'” [Politico]. “‘When Biden announced, everything changed,’ said Robert Wolf, a venture capitalist and influential Democratic donor who raised money for and advised former President Barack Obama. ‘So, if the combination of those three are 50-60 percent of the field right now, the others have to make sure that, for them to get in the teens, they have to break out away from each other.'” • Wolf is a Board Member for the Obama Presidential Library Center (I think. The site isn’t crystal clear about how the Obama Foundation overlaps with the Center. Quite a board, though.

Sanders (D)(1): “Fox News viewers are more likely to support Bernie Sanders than people who watch MSNBC” [Business Insider]. “The [Morning Consult] poll found that 22% of Fox News viewers who also identified as potential Democratic primary voters back Sanders compared to just 13% of MSNBC viewers. Sanders was an outlier in this regard, as every other 2020 Democratic included in the poll had more support among MSNBC viewers than those who tend to watch Fox News.” • As I keep saying, it’s going to be harder for Sanders to win the primary than it would be for him to win the general.

Sanders (D)(2): “Can Bernie Sanders be stopped? In 2020 presidential race, experience could pay off.” [Chicago Tribune]. From before Biden’s entry, still germane: “Sanders, however, has competed at this level before… He has raised far more money than anyone else this time around, the great majority from small donors — which suggests that a lot of people who voted for him in 2016 are eager to do it again…. But for all his eccentricities, Sanders proved to be a sure-footed campaigner who avoided gaffes without ever sounding canned or cautious. His appearance at a Fox News town hall Monday showed fearlessness…. But for all his eccentricities, Sanders proved to be a sure-footed campaigner who avoided gaffes without ever sounding canned or cautious. His appearance at a Fox News town hall Monday showed fearlessness.”

Trump (R)(1): “Polling Responses Provide Vivid Illustration of Divergent Opinions on Trump” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “This past week’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked respondents open-ended questions with verbatim responses transcribed, a staple in campaign-sponsored polling but unusual among those that the media commissions. Though observing a focus group of a dozen voters is invaluable—watching facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, reactions to what others say—reading 40 pages of verbatim responses from 900 people covers a lot of ground, too.” • Interesting methodology. Cook simply gives quotes; no analysis at all. I’m not sure the survey tells us anything we don’t already know.

“Did the Left Misread the 2020 Democratic Primary?” [Politico]. “But it was Joe Biden’s moment, and it sure still seems to be Joe Biden’s moment. He has dominated the polls since he entered the race last month. Before Biden announced, he was at a measly 29 percent in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls, only 6 percentage points ahead of progressive favorite Bernie Sanders, who not all that long ago looked like a genuine co-front-runner. Since then, Biden has surged to 40 percent, kicking Sanders down to the mid-teens. In the past week, Biden has posted intimidating double-digit leads in polls from the early-contest states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. His dominance of the Democratic Party’s moderate wing has helped stall the rise of Mayor Pete Buttigieg while also squeezing the ability of candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris from positioning themselves as more viable progressive alternatives to Sanders. It’s not just Biden’s rising poll numbers that suggest that the activist left is out of step with most Democrats; it’s the ideological makeup of the entire Democratic Party. Fifty-six percent of Democrats self-identify as ‘moderate’ and 9 percent even embrace ‘conservative.'” • Thanks, Obama! (And IMNHOS Sanders will have to expand the base, and make it his. And if his canvassing operation can’t do that, what good is it?

“The vast majority of Republicans support Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders’ plan to cap credit-card interest rates at 15%” [Business Insider]. “Nearly 70% of Republican primary voters and 73% of Democratic primary voters said they either support or strongly support the proposal, according to a new INSIDER poll.” To be sure: “SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weight its sample based on race or income. This survey had a total 1,127 respondents, a margin of error plus or minus 3.12 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.” • So, not the greatest survey. But those are enormous margins. I don’t get why ACO and Sanders are going against the finance industry, though. I mean, they’re Democrats.

Realignment and Legitmacy

“Democrats: Trump’s GOP Is a Threat to Democracy — So We Better Play Nice” [New York Magazine]. “Joe Biden says that Donald Trump represents an unprecedented threat to our republic’s bedrock values — and that, if Trump wins a second term, congressional Republicans will allow their standard-bearer to “forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation,” not least by destroying ‘our very democracy.’ Which is why, in the 2020 frontrunner’s opinion, Democrats must neither give up on bipartisanship, nor forfeit their faith in the fundamental decency of congressional Republicans.” • “Our” very what democracy?

Looks like the Australian version of Ranked Choice Voting. Entertaining:


(Still massive resistance to RCV by Maine’s fetid political class).

On Georgia and Alabama’s abortion bans:


I have yet to see an account that makes sense of these brutal defeats.

“Socialism: A short primer” [E.J. Dionne, Jr. and William A. Galston, Brookings Institution]. “In 2018, the Public Religion Research Institute offered respondents two definitions of socialism. One described it as ‘a system of government that provides citizens with health insurance, retirement support, and access to free higher education.’ The other characterized it as ‘a system where the government controls key parts of the economy, such as utilities, transportation and communications industries.’… As one might expect, young adults, for whom Cold War memories are dim to non-existent, were strongly inclined to define socialism as social democracy rather than public ownership of key industries.” • But that’s very loaded framing. Suppose the second description were “A system key parts of the economy, such as utilities, transportation and communications industries, are under democratic control. I bet that would poll a lot better. Especially since elites are doing such a horrid job of capital allocation, probably far worse than crowd-sourcing the decisions on social media would be, let alone a fully functional system of deliberative democracy.

“A Conversation With Stacey Abrams” [Council on Foreign Relations]. Remember that Abrams was a CFR member long before she failed upward onto Neera Tanden’s board. The whole transcript is well worth a read, but this passage stood out for me:

[ABRAMS:] The only solution will be to actually engage in trade policy and a trade engagement that is not based on, you know, sort of brinksmanship, which is what we’ve seen play out for the last few years. When you think about our immigration position, we are going to have to restore, number one, the humanity of our refugee policy, because that is our obligation and that is who we are as Americans, but we also have to anticipate the fact that for my state, for example, and for many states, our agricultural—our agricultural sector for Georgia is the number-one industry, and that is true for a number of states. When you cut off those who are exporting our goods, you are hurting our farmers at home. They cannot afford it. And we are undermining our national security by undermining our economic security.

And so our only solution will be, again, to finally have a robust and real policy for immigration that recognizes America’s deep reliance on foreign labor.


Stats Watch

Retail Sales, April 2019: [Econoday]. “The second quarter gets off to a stumbling start pulled down by… a headline decline in an April retail sales report where the core details show unexpected weakness” [Econoday]. “The big surprise is a 1.3 percent drop at electronics & appliance stores that follows a 4.3 percent tumble in March.”

Industrial Production, April 2019: “Like retail sales earlier this morning, the headline decline for April industrial production is not masking strength underneath” [Econoday]. “However tight the US labor market may be, capacity does not appear to be tight in the industrial sector as capacity utilization fell… This report doesn’t breakdown production of goods aimed for the domestic market and those for the foreign market but it will nevertheless offer a baseline for the overall effects of increased US-China tariffs. Going into those tariffs, the manufacturing sector, which first began to slow late last year, appeared to be flat at best.”

Empire State Manufacturing Survey, May 2019: “The very first indications on the possible effects of US-China tariff hikes on US manufacturing shows no negative effects at all. The Empire State index shot higher” [Econoday]. “This report samples about 200 manufacturers each month. How many fill out the questions is unknown which is always a problem with diffusion reports. In any case, today’s report is a positive especially if confirmed by similar optimism in tomorrow’s Philadelphia Fed report.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of May 10, 2019: “Mortgage rates are low but purchase applications are contained” [Econoday]. “Yet the year-on-year rate, against a very soft comparison during the fizzle of last year’s Spring sales push, is promising.”

Manufacturing: “Boeing Turns to Texas to Store 737 Max Jets as Grounding Lingers” [Bloomberg], “Boeing Co. has started storing 737 Max jets at a vast Texas maintenance base as the planemaker continues to churn out the single-aisle aircraft while waiting for regulators to lift a global grounding. Planespotter Chris Edwards picked up the radar track of the first factory-fresh Max to be parked outside the Seattle area as it headed to San Antonio on Tuesday from a paint shop in California. Boeing spokesman Doug Alder confirmed his account.” • Ha. I wondered a week or so ago if amateur spotters would pick stuff like this up; and they did.

Manufacturing: “Boeing Hasn’t Turned Over 737 Max Records to House Investigators” [Bloomberg]. “Boeing Co. has failed to turn over any records to House investigators about the flawed safety feature on the 737 Max implicated in two fatal crashes, a committee chairman said Wednesday as lawmakers grilled U.S. aviation regulators on the jetliner. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, said during a hearing that he hoped the aircraft manufacturer begins complying with requests for data on the plane’s design soon.” • Yes, I would say so. Here is Boeing’s response:

Asked for comment on DeFazio’s statement regarding records, Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers said, “Boeing continues to support the ongoing accident investigations and is committed to working closely with Members of Congress, their staff and relevant officials. Safety is our top priority when we design, build, deliver and maintain Boeing aircraft.”

What a steaming load. If they’re “committed to working closely” with Congress, then where the [family blog] are the documents?

Manufacturing: “After two crashes, Boeing needs new leadership — and big changes” [Boston Globe]. “The bungles leading up to the two crashes should cost Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s all-too-powerful president, CEO, and board chairman, his job. Boeing is no ordinary private company; it has a responsibility to ensure the safety of the flying public…. In addition to the federal criminal probe, the FAA’s inspector general is reviewing the process by which the agency certified the 737 MAX as safe, and congressional committees are investigating. It’s hard to know where the criminal inquiry will go, but both DOJ and Congress should demand that Boeing’s governance be restructured so that the president and CEO doesn’t also chair the board of directors. That board also needs an airplane-safety committee with the expertise and authority to ask tough questions. The FAA should resist pressure to certify the 737 Max safe until Canada and the European Union also agree.”

Manufacturing: “FAA Expects Boeing to Submit 737 MAX Fix Soon for Approval” [New York Times]. “Acting FAA chief Dan Elwell said the agency will only allow the plane to resume flights when it is ‘absolutely safe to do so… It’s important we get this right,’ Elwell said,” • And be seen to get it right.

Tech: “I’n Mad as Hell about Square’s Shady Automatic Emails” [Wired]. “First came the receipt. Then the expressions of gratitude, offers of deals. ‘Thanks for your visit!’ one email screamed. ‘Get FREE FRIES!!’ another offered. I do not want your free fries, food truck. What I want is to be left alone. The emails keep coming because I paid for my grilled cheese with a credit card using the food truck’s Square credit card machine. Even though I never agreed to be put on this restaurant’s email list for all eternity, by virtue of swiping my card in that specific Square card reader, I apparently signed up to be hounded, spammed, and annoyed for the rest of my life…. [O]nce you give your email to any Square vendor, you are defaulted into receiving automated receipts and promotions from every participating Square vendor you visit.” • That’s bad. Then again, SquareSpace can probably change the contract unilaterally any time they want, so…

The Biosphere

“‘Wood wide web’—the underground network of microbes that connects trees—mapped for first time” [Science]. “Trees, from the mighty redwoods to slender dogwoods, would be nothing without their microbial sidekicks. Millions of species of fungi and bacteria swap nutrients between soil and the roots of trees, forming a vast, interconnected web of organisms throughout the woods. Now, for the first time, scientists have mapped this “wood wide web” on a global scale, using a database of more than 28,000 tree species living in more than 70 countries…. Trees, from the mighty redwoods to slender dogwoods, would be nothing without their microbial sidekicks. Millions of species of fungi and bacteria swap nutrients between soil and the roots of trees, forming a vast, interconnected web of organisms throughout the woods. Now, for the first time, scientists have mapped this “wood wide web” on a global scale, using a database of more than 28,000 tree species living in more than 70 countries.” • Fantastic stuff, and an illustration of how little we really know.

“Put equity first in climate adaptation” [Nature]. “Adaptation must meet the needs of the poorest directly, putting them at the centre of decision-making with funding. The case for equitable adaptation is clear: it is a moral duty, and it improves economic productivity, social cohesion, health and peace.” And also: “Global supply chains spread the impacts of unusual weather in one place to people far away. For example, food riots erupted across 14 African countries when drought slashed wheat yields in Australia, the United States, Russia and the Ukraine in 2007–08, doubling the prices of some commodities.” • Just wait ’til the Old River Control Structure fails…

“Crystal meth crisis on Saskatchewan First Nation traced to 2015 wildfire evacuation” [CBC]. “Clifford Bird [health director at Montreal Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan] traces the crystal methamphetamine crisis on the Montreal Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan back to the wildfire evacuation in the summer of 2015…. The entire community of 1,200 was evacuated for six weeks that summer, as fires raged across the north. The people went to emergency centres in Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Regina. Bird says that 60 per cent of the on-reserve population is under the age of 20. ‘Everyone gets evacuated, and during that time they’re introduced to crystal meth, and within six months of returning we counted 110 crystal meth addicts,’ he said.” • Rather like a demonic version of stacking functions in permaculture.

Our Famously Free Press

“What Happened With Supermicro?” [Hackaday]. “Back in October 2018, a bombshell rocked the tech industry when Bloomberg reported that some motherboards made by Supermicro had malicious components on them that were used to spy or interfere with the operation of the board, and that these motherboards were found on servers used by Amazon and Apple… Immediately after the news was reported, everybody tried to get their hands on images or physical servers that were compromised in an effort to verify the claims, and nobody has succeeded in finding anything independently… In the immediate period after the publication they stood by their article and the research they did. However, they have not published any more information to back up their claim, nor have they published a retraction. If anything, Bloomberg has doubled down… The two authors of the reports, Jordan Robertson and Michael Riley, haven’t published anything for Bloomberg since. Maybe they’re working on their next piece, or getting to the bottom of this one.” • Ouch. If you followed the Supermicro story, this is a good follow-up — and not quite so one-sided as I made it sound.

Game of Thrones

“Game of Thrones, ‘The Bells'” [Los Angeles Review of Books]. A very appealing thesis for Mr. Counter-Suggestible: “Daenerys is not the ‘mad queen.’ She is certainly not in a great place at the moment, but not only does she have a history of murdering her enemies with a gruesome calmness — as she did last night — I want to propose that her current problem is not a lack of rationality. Her problem, if it is a problem, is that she thinks killing her enemies is fine, and she allows herself to decide who her enemies are, and she’s decided that people we like (and, also, generalized innocent people) are her enemies… And she wins. She has an effectively unkillable dragon and her army is victorious; while Jon and Tyrion and Sansa and Arya were out there doing literally nothing, she ran the board. No one loves her, but is anyone going to f*ck with her? Is anyone really going to fuck with her? After that?”

Class Warfare

“Facebook to Raise Pay for Thousands of Contract Workers, Including Content Moderators” [Bloomberg]. “The world’s largest social-media company said Monday that the current $15-an-hour minimum wage it requires for U.S. workers is no longer enough for those who live in expensive areas like the San Francisco Bay Area, where Facebook’s headquarters is located. It has tens of thousands of contractors globally, from bus drivers to content moderators who review and remove disturbing and violent photos and videos that show up on the company’s services…. Facebook is raising its minimum wage for contract workers to $20 an hour in the Bay Area, New York City and Washington, and $18 an hour in Seattle. Content moderators will get more. Those in San Francisco, New York and D.C. will now make at least $22 per hour. Seattle-based moderators will receive a minimum of $20 an hour. In other “metro areas” where content moderators live, like Phoenix, the minimum will be $18 an hour, the company said.”

“Managed Obsolescence: Homelessness in America’s Gilded Cities” [American Affairs Journal]. A long and excellent report from the Democrat’s one-party state. If the rest of the country follows where California leads, look out. I picked out this quote: “It’s not obvious that many people in LA feel good about Skid Row, but there is clearly a cohort of activists and public officials who have become practiced over decades at how to agonize over its squalor without changing anything. It’s not necessary to accept all the ideological priors or historical details in General Jeff’s account of Skid Row to see that he captures something essential: this place did not form itself. Jeff [, sometimes billed as the mayor of Skid Row,] puts it this way: “There was never a point in time where thousands of homeless people had some secret summit that no one knew about and said, ‘We’re going to go take over the eastern part of downtown Los Angeles and claim it as our own.’ Skid Row was created not by homeless people.”

“Contra Vance” [The Baffler]. “[L]ooking back at where he came from, [J.D. Vance, in Hillbilly Elegy,] sees mostly a collection of morally flawed and weak characters… From my perspective as a Deep Southerner, the only way to remedy this scapegoating effect is to reject outright the current way the nation talks about and depicts regional poverty. This process has already started in the broader South, where diverse voices have fought for their own space and have been recognized in critical conversations about the region. Though it would be nearly impossible to quantify, I doubt that any engaged thinker still believes the South is or ever was a white monoculture…. The stronger thread in the responses to Vance, though, concerns the blame cycle non-Appalachians use as a method that alleviates their own guilt. It feels good to have a scapegoat—even better when the scapegoat’s ethnic and cultural history is different from your own.”

News of the Wired

SF really is predictive. Look, a VR helmet:



Added bonus: No facial recogntiion!

* * *
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 (ChiGal):

ChiGal writes: “SPRING.” Indeed!

* * *
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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. Samuel Conner

    Re: “As I keep saying, it’s going to be harder for Sanders to win the primary than it would be for him to win the general.”

    which, if one defines “electability” in terms of the entire two-stage process from primary through the general (and depending on how cynical one is about what the D establishment may be willing to do to ensure ‘never Sanders’), would suggest than there may not be **any** “electable” candidates in the D primary.

    Time to head over to Act Blue and send some more $ to the Sanders campaign.

    1. Geo

      Interesting to note that article about Sanders and Fox News viewers too. With how the Dems love reaching out to moderate Republicans (that’s what Biden seems to be running on) you’d think this would be huge news. I guess these are the wrong type of Republicans (not Comcast CEOs)?

      There are of course criticisms of Sanders – as there would be for any fallible human – but he’s got all the right enemies and all the right allies. Thanks for making another donation. I hope to be able to again soon.

    2. T hardy

      As a longtime older and moderate (D/d)emocrat, I didn’t vote for Hilary and I certainty will NOT vote for Joe either.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The Catfood Democrats will define the Fox Audience as not-moderate Republicans. (I wonder what media-feed input- show the Yuppie-Upscale Suburban Moderate Republicans watch which could be used as a handy social class-status signifier.)

    3. Samuel Conner

      Done. In the 2016 primary I sent fewer contributions, but in larger qtys via check, thinking that I wanted Sanders’ campaign to keep the transaction costs. But there’s something gratifying about making a smaller contribution when one is feeling particularly mutinous toward the present state of affairs. And as I’m feeling that way quite a lot lately, it will probably end up being the same total, or more, over time.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Time to head over to Act Blue and send some more $ to the Sanders campaign.

      I’m not sure we want to be doing this. A possible end state would be a miniature Kos, where all the supporters of the not-annointed candidate are made uncomfortable or driven off.

  2. Cal2

    Another nice take down of Biden’s brand of corruption.
    Bringing Mexico to America, one grift at a time.

    “If it sounds shocking that a vice president would shape US-China policy as his son — who has scant experience in private equity — clinched a coveted billion-dollar deal with an arm of the Chinese government, that’s because it is” -Peter Schweizer


    p.s. Joe’s a nice guy, loyal to his family, however it’s Bernie or Bust for the Democratic Party. Full stop.

  3. ChiGal in Chicago

    Unfortunately for those whose hopes were dashed, Danaerys torching the city is consistent with her character arc; no madness required. She is alone and unloved (by squeamish Jon, who just can’t get past the incest thing) with her most faithful advisers gone (Tyrion has conflicting loyalties). The city’s fate was sealed imho when Missandei spoke her final word: Drakarys.

    But yes, someone WILL go up against her. I don’t believe she will occupy the iron throne for long, though that would bring us full circle.

    1. Tom Doak

      I have not been watching Game of Thrones, but I’ve heard several people suggest that the ending will be an allegory for our own times. The wrap up above seemed to tiptoe there, for me:

      “Her problem, if it is a problem, is that she thinks killing her enemies is fine, and she allows herself to decide who her enemies are, and she’s decided that people we like (and, also, generalized innocent people) are her enemies… And she wins. She has an effectively unkillable dragon and her army is victorious;”

      Sounds like American foreign policy to me, especially if you substitute “drones” for “dragon”.

      1. Donald

        That’s a point I have made in a NYT comment, but no, the episode was a very poor analogy to US foreign policy because they made it about one person deciding, after she had taken the city with little effective resistance, that she would slaughter everyone.
        People who think this is rational even by amoral standards are crazy.

        The US foreign policy analogy would have been one where the Lannister forces fight bitterly, street by street, so that Dany ends up destroying the city she came to liberate from the evil tyrant. Then you could point out the immorality of so called humanitarian interventions. You could also point out that Dany was also in it for herself. Her motives were always mixed, but because she had some good motives she persuaded people to support her.

        But the show ( and maybe Martin, but he will surely do a better job if he ever finishes) chose to make it about a humanitarian intervention that would have worked except for the genocidal choice made by one Bad Evil Queen at the precise moment when she had won with virtually no collateral damage. The episode really stunk.

        The way they filmed it, it is actually a story in favor of humanitarian intervention. Just don’t have a Mad Queen running the operation.

        1. Carolinian

          he will surely do a better job if he ever finishes

          What? You think he’s going to write a book with a different ending? It’s over. He is one of the show’s producers BTW. No word on whether he was consulted about the ending.

          If the show has a theme it seems to be a critique of power, particularly the arbitrary kind. Here’s betting Dany will not end up in charge. My bet would be on a different female….

          1. Donald

            No, I think it will be a similar ending, but much better done. From what I’ve read, Martin gave the general outline of what would happen, so I expect Dany will go bad in the books, but the details will be fleshed out in a more plausible way. The show has diverged from the books in some fairly major ways. In some respects, until recently, I preferred the show.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > What? You think he’s going to write a book with a different ending? It’s over. He is one of the show’s producers BTW. No word on whether he was consulted about the ending.

            A different — better? — ending would be enormously controversial and sell very well.

            1. Carolinian

              I think i’ve read that Martin is instead working on a prequel set hundreds of years before. Undoubtedly when it comes to the existing books he sold all rights to HBO and they are theirs to do with what they will. Personally I think they’ve done a very good job including this season. Guess we will see if that holds for one more show.

      2. Wukchumni

        GoT isn’t for me, but i’ve just learned in this thread that one of the characters is named after a Japanese apple growing here on the all cats and no cattle ranch, a Sansa.

          1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


            The Nights Watch, Castle Black, and Samwell are the most excellent scenes.

          2. ChiGal in Carolina

            Yup, but I only started watching it this year when they put all the past seasons up in anticipation of the final one airing.

            Great character development and amazing production values. A real labor of love.

            Admittedly, I don’t usually watch or read sci-fi/fantasy (LOTR excepted), so I haven’t read the books.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Keeping in mind ASOIAF is a response to LOTR, I presume the gods, however you want to call them, are active in the GOT world after a fashion. The question isn’t whether Jon is immune to fire as much as whether Jon Snow is necessary anymore to get Arya to where she needs to be or put her in the right frame of mind.

          Dany is Sauron. Arya is Gollum, Frodo, and Sam. Everyone else is everyone else, free to make choices, but outside of aiding Arya, they are distractions for Dany who doesn’t address to the Stark girl who killed the Night King. Miracles might affect certain people, but those miracles largely exist to get Arya to Mount Doom. Dany destroying King’s Landing was baked in, but she clearly would have done it regardless of Cersei’s fate or actions. Like the Eagles coming, a white horse just pops up when Arya really needs a ride and a smuggler who held a burned toy of a child just happened to not fall and get stampeded on.

        2. Michael

          Jon burned his hand while setting the wight in Commander Mormont’s quarters ablaze, so it would seem not.

        1. polecat

          Is that before .. or after they all succomb to the Night King, and become stinking, rotted white walkers like Hillary and bubba ??

    2. MRLost

      Mad KING. Not mad queen.

      Jon is asked “What kind of man climbs on top of a dragon?” Jon replies “a crazy one.”

      Danaerys isn’t going to finish the season successfully.

      And Arya will realize with horror that she must become the next King Slayer.

      Obviously this is just my wacky read on the show. I’m usually wrong.

      1. Lee

        I’m with you in thinking Arya, perhaps appearing as Jon, will stick it to Daenerys—and not in the nice way.

    3. DJG

      Sorry, ChiGal in Chicago, but I don’t watch Game of Thrones. You’re in Chicago, where Laz Ventra and ilk rule the city. And who needs a mad queen when we have Ed Burke in the August Council of the City?

      I usually refer to GOT as Lord of the Rings with Appendicitis.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Oh, how weird; it’s supposed to be “in Carolina” of course! Wishful thinking I guess, or channeling August when I will be back, if only for a week or so…

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I don’t see how Snow can kill Arya because Arya is his sister. However, if she couldn’t get a mask off in time, he might kill her thinking she was somebody else.

  4. Donald

    Spoiler Alert for anyone who hasn’t watched the latest GOT episode.

    Sort of a trivial issue, but I thought the LA Review piece on Game of Thrones was idiotic. Hard to know where to start, so I will keep it short. Dany basically dropped a dragon bomb on a city after it surrendered and this is Pol Pot territory and not the behavior of someone rational even if you leave basic morality out of the picture. Most monarchs do not behave that way. They kill their enemies, quite ruthlessly, but unless they are insane they don’t do what Dany did and massacre an entire city after it has surrendered, having inflicted only light casualties on her forces. Dany had been ruthlesss, like virtually every ruler in that world or this one. But most rulers, there or here, don’t drop atom bombs on the surrendered city that is likely to be their capitol.

    Who will family blog with her now? She lives in a fantasy world where there are assassins with magic powers. So that’s one possibility. And she has just demonstrated that she can’t be trusted.

    1. jsn

      The writing in Season 8 is way off. Tyrion’s plan, if the bells ring and the gates open, the town has surrendered, so be nice, sounded to me when he said it like an invitation to a trap: the gates are open, the bells are ringing, lets march in and accept surrender, or get surrounded and slaughtered in an ambush.

      But I agree about Dany going Pol Pot: after taking out the anti-dragon batteries, fly and fry the Red Keep, game over, hero Queen.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The focus on the soap opera twists came back to haunt the show. Portraying Dany as too crazy or liable to snap early on would probably turn people off. On one hand, it makes sense that she should be a nut, but other than hypocrisy, we don’t get much of it in her portrayal. No one ever mentions her kingdom across the sea in the last two seasons.

        Was Dany icing a rival by trying to tarnish Jon Snow’s reputation? He can’t be a hero if he was a mass butcher. If its about being loved, she didn’t seem to care about the people she left behind after she left. Perhaps, addressing this might have been better.

        In the last episode of Star Trek Deep Space NIne, the Founder (a secondary character) ordered the extermination of the Cardassians. As an alien, she might not have been crazy, but the sudden savagery wasn’t a twist and fit within the Founders’ goals and previous actions. With the exceptions of threats, we haven’t seen Dany being particularly brutal. Yeah, she’s a hypocrite. Yes, she killed Sam’s father, but c’mon, the whole dragon bit seemed to work. And the idiot brother joined in, but I don’t see it as being a red flag. Maybe the confines of tv were the problem. Showing us the state of her previous kingdom would require extra sets or addressing characters who aren’t on screen. Even with the surviving Stark kids all reunited, they never even address their mother being murdered.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          All along she showed she had an utterly ruthless side and an iron will to power. The expression on her face when her brother was killed by pouring molten gold over his head, for example. Pretty early on.

          That’s why I say this is in her character arc and not her “going” crazy, despite the sour grapes of fans who wanted her to deserve the throne because she was after all a breaker of chains.

          1. jsn

            I think she’s speciesist, identifies with her dragons and everyone else is just dragon food.

            You have to grant her golden crowned brother hadn’t been too supportive before his coronation though!

          2. Donald

            It’s.in the character of virtually every ruler, including democratic ones, to be ruthless. Nowadays there is some separation between a leader and the actual acts of violence, but they know what they are doing. Obama joked about drone killings.

            In the 19th century and before, there were Presidents who were slaveowners.

            But there are still gradations. Few people deliberately and coldly wipe out a city of innocent people after they have surrendered. It was a nonsensical insane act. This isn’t the same as her earlier cruel actions. Killing Varys was in her character. But she was upset when her dragons killed a child several seasons back.

            The showrunners have done several really stupid illogical things in the past few seasons. They have obviously been cramming in plot elements just to end the series on schedule without working to make them plausible.

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel


      The Bells Ringing is such a poignant moment for the citizens of Kings Landing, who CHOOSE Dany over Cersei. Yet she murders them anyway.

      Lord Varys, Tyrion, Samwell, or Bust!

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > unless they are insane they don’t do what Dany did and massacre an entire city after it has surrendered


      As the Mongols battered their way into Urgench, Genghis dispatched his youngest son Tolui, at the head of an army, into the western Khwarezmid province of Khorasan. Khorasan had already felt the strength of Mongol arms. Earlier in the war, the generals Jebe and Subutai had travelled through the province while hunting down the fleeing Shah. However, the region was far from subjugated, many major cities remained free of Mongol rule, and the region was rife with rebellion against the few Mongol forces present in the region, following rumors that the Shah’s son Jalal al-Din was gathering an army to fight the Mongols…..

      The major city to fall to Tolui’s army was the city of Merv. Juvayni wrote of Merv: “In extent of territory it excelled among the lands of Khorasan, and the bird of peace and security flew over its confines. The number of its chief men rivaled the drops of April rain, and its earth contended with the heavens.”[55] The garrison at Merv was only about 12,000 men, and the city was inundated with refugees from eastern Khwarezmia. For six days, Tolui besieged the city, and on the seventh day, he assaulted the city. However, the garrison beat back the assault and launched their own counter-attack against the Mongols. The garrison force was similarly forced back into the city. The next day, the city’s governor surrendered the city on Tolui’s promise that the lives of the citizens would be spared. As soon as the city was handed over, however, Tolui slaughtered almost every person who surrendered, in a massacre possibly on a greater scale than that at Urgench.

  5. Geo

    “When Biden announced, everything changed,”said Robert Wolf, a venture capitalist and influential Democratic donor who raised money for and advised former President Barack Obama.

    By “everything changed” he means nothing changed, right? Just the way they like it.

    1. Samuel Conner

      “everything [about the possibilities for the future] changed” back to what their expectations are for how things ought to be.

    2. Cal2

      No, it meant he probably gave up the option on buying property in the Cayman Islands
      or some country with no extradition treaty.
      Remember Marc Rich? They do.

  6. Deschain

    [GoT spoilers]

    Re: The Bells – my theory is that Dany, when the bells rung, realized she’d won – and realized she’d won nothing. The game of thrones would go on, and on, and nothing would really change. She would utterly fail at breaking the wheel, and instead would just become one more spoke. She realized that the only way to actually break the wheel was to get rid of the fight for the monarchy altogether – so she burnt the seat of that power to the ground. Sunday, she melts the Iron Throne to scrap and flies back to Mereen, flashing her middle finger behind her. Ruthless, and awful, but in a sort of respectable Thanos-ian fashion.

    Of course, this reading depends on D&D having done some massive misdirection during the post-episode comments. Alternatively, we’ll get the conventional ending of Arya getting all stabby with Dany and Jon reluctantly taking the throne. Which would be super-boring and disappointing.

    1. Donald

      I’d be happy with any storyline that had some sort of logic to it , but we are way past that. Right now I think of the show as a musical comedy written by John Cage. It makes more sense that way.

      1. DJG

        pretzelattack: The party doesn’t really get going till Falamir and Boromir arrive. Then the Prancing Pony is truly jumping.

        1. jsn

          I guess Ned won’t make it, solving a problem for Boramir, but I did enjoy seeing him clatter out of is tomb in the siege of Winterfel, was kind of sorry to see him go again.

        2. polecat

          So Arthur, King of All Britain, finally beams down .. along with his trusted coconut-clapping servant Patsy .. after many years of toil, from a galaxy far far away, and comes to the awful realization that he mistook greyscale for the grail .. thereby taking a cue from the late Thomin, first of his name, King of the Andals .. and the first men ….. by taking a swan-dive from the highest window of the Red Keep.

    2. cgeye

      When you have an Iron Throne, and a dragon, they go together like peanut butter and chocolate- something’s gonna get melty….

    3. phemfrog

      I’m calling it:

      Bran will be king. Just you wait. He will come flying in on his wheelchair carried by a flock of ravens.

      ‘You will never walk again, but you will FLY!’

  7. dcblogger

    Democrats really want a restoration. So Sanders supporters are going to have to recruit all the non-voters in order to win. It seems Biden’s gaffes are having zero effect up his support.

    1. Brindle

      You would think Sander’s staff probably has a goal of increasing turnout in all the critical primary/caucus states. Whatever the figure is: 10%-20% 30% etc, increasing the pool of voters should be a major aspect of his campaign.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Thanks for that, although turnout of existing, registered voters isn’t exactly the same as bringing in new voters. I don’t know if the Sanders canvassing operation can do that.

          It’s amazing; liberal Democrats yammering about redistricting, gerrymandering, breaking California up into two states so they get more electoral votes, but the simplest thing to do would be to register more voters and make that a normal, funded party operation. But of course then they’d have to listen to those voters, or at the very least make some minimal effort not to betray them, and as good representatives of the 10%, they look at that prospect in horror.

      1. Pookah Harvey

        I think that’s why Bernie is not doing that well in the polling compared to Biden. Bernie support comes from pulling more people into the system. The polling specifically excludes those groups that are not already totally aligned with the democrats. One of the recent polls contacted over 1500 voters but only about 250 voters were used for the democratic primary results.

        I get the feeling that pollsters are in the consultant business. Determine what your client wants and make sure your results echo that.

    2. Grant

      Well, older Democrats seem unmoved, because they have been voting and thinking this way for decades. It’s doomed the country, and as it stands they and they alone could give the nomination to possibly the worst candidate of them all. Bernie is winning among those 50 and younger. Sorry, but the Boomers have utterly doomed the country with how they have voted, and they will not change or evolve. Given all that is at stake, they could be damning their kids’ and grandkids’ generations entirely.

      My guess is that those older Democrats could very well stick with him and if Biden sticks it out, he will name Harris his VP. What a nightmare. Imagine any DSA candidates running for office and getting asked about Biden’s right wing record, his corruption, his creepy behavior and all the stupid comments he has made and continues to make, and then having to either totally take down their own party’s nominee or look foolish and lose support and trust by not doing so. He would absolutely demolish not only our capacity to deal with the large, structural issues facing us, he would also negatively impact his own party from moving forward.

      Him leading in the polls, even if slanted and even this far out, says a lot about his party, its older voters and the dominant media.

      1. jrs

        You are 100% right.

        The exceptions might be the old hippies, the one’s who have always been involved in left politics and protest, in decades when there were few movements, and never entirely sold out (even when they got careers and had kids). They on the left side of most demographics and the most active in many left movements now. But there are too few of them …

        And so Boomers are going to give us the worst of the worst I guess.

        1. Grant

          Yeah, I am actually influenced by lots of people of that generation, so I realize that there were there are lots of people that have been fighting the good fight. But, overall, they were handed a country, an environment and a world in far better shape than the one they have handed over. Their voting, the way they think of politics, the policies they have supported, have destroyed the country. They even, in their time in power, dismantled many of the things that benefited them so they weren’t available to the following generations. The damage is big enough that I no longer assume books will be written about how bad that generation has been politically, because I no longer assume human existence in a century or so. It’s infuriating, and they won’t be around to take responsibility for how utterly rotten they were when it came time to vote and the consequences of who they voted for.

          1. The suck of sorrow

            But, overall, they were handed a country, an environment and a world in far better shape than the one they have handed over.

            Really? I suggest reading some history. You might find information about the Eisenhower administration that will lay that blanket condemnation threadbare. Holding me responsible for policy enacted while I was a infant is a bit unfair.

            Knuckleheads are evenly distributed across all ages. I encounter young ones in my classes frequently that are impervious to an ability to think.

            I will agree that there are far too many North Americans. Boomers are no longer exacerbating that particular problem.

            1. Grant

              How predictable. Look, I have no illusions about America at any point in time in regards to people of color, working people, immigrants, the left etc. As a fan of Howard Zinn, I know not to romanticize that period, or any period in this country’s history. But, to argue that working people were generally not better off decades ago is absurd. We were a more equitable society, unions were stronger, the New Deal and Great Society programs, the EPA, consumer protections, and civil rights were won as well. Are you denying the trajectory of the country since at least Carter hasn’t been to the right? Are you denying what the decades long macroeconomic trends show, how utterly corrupt the system has become? Who was on charge during that period? I would consult the data and be honest with yourself. What impact do you think the trajectory Reagan and Democrats like Carter and Clinton sent us on has had on the country?

              You also didn’t mention the environment, or for that matter infrastructure. Why? The data shows that Boomers support very right wing candidates in both parties, have for some time. Even among black people, look at the vast differences in who older and younger black voters supported in the 2016 primaries. Older voters gave us Clinton (and Trump) and they denied us Bernie. Right now, Bernie leads with voters 50 and younger. Biden has this lead entirely because of older voters. If older voters want to gift something to younger people, just stop voting for rotten people like Biden. Critically reflect on who your generation voted for and evolve. Not much to ask for.

              1. jsn

                I think this is why Yves frequently refers to the Powel Memo: here was real right wing agency in a conspiratorial program to reshape the mediation of ideas.

                After that, ordinary people responded to propaganda in ordinary ways and have obliged the looting elites by being at one another’s throats ever since.

              2. The suck of sorrow

                Grant,: look at my comment and explain where I argued this:
                But, to argue that working people were generally not better off decades ago is absurd

                As for,
                You also didn’t mention the environment, or for that matter infrastructure.
                I wrote, “I will agree that there are fat too many North Americans.”

                I support Bernie. At the particular Bernie volunteer meeting that I attended, guess who was one of the youngest? Me, the guy that was in his twenties when the twenty-something year old vote swept Ronald Reagan into office. You can read sarcasm, correct?

                I have no children and no automobile. I do not feel that you have entitlement to lecture me about environmental issues. We are trading opinions over a medium that is despoiling the planet as our fingers press upon the keyboard. Get a clue!

                jsn has a rather temperate remark about the Powell memo that I should have prevented from being enacted in my teens. Think about that.

                You will have a fight for survival. Forget about Boomers. Do something constructive.

                1. Grant

                  Most of your response is about you. As I said, I realize there were exceptions. How does what you personally did change what I said? What, also, do you know about me personally and what I am doing? How do you know I already am not doing something constructive?

                  I said that Boomers were handed an economy, an environment and a world in far better shape than the one being handed over. Your response was, “Really? I suggest reading some history.”

                  Is the environment in better shape? Is there more or less inequality? Has financialization been a good thing? Did the Boomers build upon the New Deal and Great Society programs, did they build on the financial regulations of that time, or slowly dismantle those things? Did the war budget increase or decrease? Have wages for most grown in decades? Are students in more debt, does school cost more? Have the costs of healthcare and housing in many parts of the country not grown at higher rates than wages for most people for some time now? Is the system more or less corrupt? Is infrastructure in better or worse shape? Did we build on advancements in civil rights or did we slowly unleash a brutal drug war, pass harsh crime bills and slowly get rid of voting rights? Did we not dis-invest in poor communities and is gentrification not a huge issue? Were many services at all levels of government not privatized? Were there not multiple rounds of financial deregulation? Are young people today not just a bit screwed?

                  I never said that the US was a paradise in 1953 or whatever. What I am saying is that our democracy, the environment, conditions in communities of color, conditions for working people and infrastructure have all overall gotten progressively worse in the last number of decades. Who was running things? Who continues to support those things? I am a bit frustrated, I think I have a right to be.

                  1. jrs

                    I’ve weighed in, I think you are describing a real phenomena, which is my view is less what the powerful do, than the conservative cast of mind of far too many Boomers, their sympathies at bottom lie with capitalism, even though it now seems it will bring the end of life on earth. The GND is the moderate position. And also often the tendency to be drawn to the superficial in politics (looks or charisma). When Policy is Everything.

                    But of course the exceptions are exceptions, those who never entirely gave up the counterculture are those who sleep well at night, having lived what is proven by time to be right. Also some Boomers are still employed or age discriminated against for employment, sometimes without healthcare (not yet 65) etc., they might know economic struggle to their bones. If they aren’t radicalized, they maybe could be.

                    But yea with many Boomers something went wrong somewhere, life was too easy and doing well economically too widely available so they lost the sympathy that hard knocks would have taught them, the MSM propaganda and anti-communist propaganda were too powerful and they got much higher doses than those born later so they will force some awful “moderate” on us, the threat of nuclear war so powerful that they can’t face up to our modern apocalypse: which is climate change.

                    1. Lambert Strether Post author

                      > many Boomers

                      So, already we make the edges fuzzy to “save the phenomena,” as the heliocentrist said.

                      Generations don’t have political agency, so whole discussion is pointless and bad for the blog. If you want to see analytical tools and tropes that are not stupid, lazy, and disempowering, start with Ferguson, Jorgenson, and Chen or similar.

                    2. Grant

                      So, already we make the edges fuzzy to “save the phenomena,” as the heliocentrist said.”

                      How is this different from what I said at the beginning? I said that there were people that went against the current of the times, that I was personally influenced by many people of that generation. I support someone older than 65 that is running. I am acknowledging that I am addressing a group of people and that it doesn’t apply to everyone. As I said below, I think of things in terms of class, which I think makes sense. But, people in the working and middle classes, while they may have a number of common interests, are often radically different on a number of levels. Should I refrain from talking about class because the term “middle class” bundles together people that are pretty wealthy with people that are barely getting by, or because black people in the middle class are in many ways different than white people? I could make comments on class that don’t actually apply to people in that class. Does this mean that a class based analysis is invalid? When it comes to class, older voters did economically benefit from policies and institutions that they did slowly dismantle and it has made it so that their grandkids are in fact negatively impacted. Some of the generational differences are themselves class based issues at this point. Many older people could go to school and it didn’t cost nearly as much, they could buy houses with one wage earner, and they supported policies in their lifetimes that made it difficult for those that have followed them. Those same policies made it much harder on poor people, working people and people of color in their own generation. In regards to the environmental crisis, the economy, infrastructure, it is a passing of costs from one generation to the next. The data shows that people of a particular age group do continue to vote in ways that that impacts young and middle aged people now. Are there some simplifications involved in thinking in those terms? Yes, but the same is true of a class based analysis. It is even more the case when it comes to thinking as the neoclassical economists tend to, which is the think of the economy in terms of individuals. It’s not unique at all to what I am saying here.

                      I won’t post here anymore though, wouldn’t want to pollute this blog with my stupidity and simplistic thinking.

                    3. Lambert Strether Post author

                      If you can’t can’t see that the two sentences of yours that I quoted mean completely different things, even though you claim they mean the same thing, there’s not a lot I can do to help you.

                      I hope you find the happiness you seek elsewhere.

                  2. Lambert Strether Post author

                    > I realize there were exceptions.

                    No, you don’t. You cannot “realize” because you are piling the delusion of an exception on top of a delusional category to which the exceptions are being made. I mean, Ptolemy doesn’t get to say “I realize there are exceptions” when he adds an epicycle. Generations don’t have political agency, so there is nothing to which an exception can be made in the first place.

                    1. Darthbobber

                      These “critiques” of the baby boomers en bloc remind me of nothing so much as the widespread complaints about the “greatest generation” by many baby boomers.

                      And projecting all sorts of both hopes and fears onto one’s chosen image of the young generation also duplicates a lot of 60s and early 70s material.

                      And quite probably represents a much more ancient tradition. At a certain point, one’s parents are idiots.

                    2. Grant

                      I am really impressed by how clever you are. I appreciate you insulting me personally, but I am not wowed by your logic either, nor do I think I contradicted myself. I said from the beginning that there were people that went against the current, we see videos of Bernie decades ago doing so, but there was a current, a way of thinking of politics and economics that did become cemented during that time. That has had huge consequences, especially since people of a certain age continue to largely think and vote in particular ways. The election is a long way away, but it is entirely possible that Biden could get it and as it stands, he would win with support largely from older voters. My preference is also for a person of that generation. If he wins, it will be lower income people, people of color and younger voters that will put him in office, people in other words that tend to not vote as much. But, if Biden were to win because he overwhelmingly got support from older voters, how is that not something to discuss?

                      I also do think that people have a responsibility when they have power. The decisions a generation makes when it has power and controls things will obviously impact the generations that follow. So, again, how is it not relevant to discuss the impact that particular era had on the present, especially if they can have such a large impact on the next election? Given what is coming for us, I don’t think this is a debate to just sweep under the rug. I don’t think we should have debates between generations, but I think we should be honest about these things and learn from them, doubly since older voters and celebrities like to waive their fingers at younger people and blame them for many of the problems they created with who they supported and the policies that they put in place.

                      I generally think of things in terms of class and I think people of all ages and races benefit from particular policies for class-based reasons. It’s why we see many self described conservatives and moderates supporting things like single payer. It isn’t ideological, it is for class reasons. But, even if you think of things in terms of class, are you not thinking of groups of people that are often very different? Are there not some generalizations involved there, since people in the working class or the middle class can be radically different than one another? If so, does that entirely invalidate a class-based analysis?

                      This very blog linked an article a little while ago that discussed things from a generational perspective. The article critiqued politicians in Generation X. So, is it okay to at least debate that but not what I am saying? Please, since you are so much smarter than I am, explain how you can link an article like the one below but then say I am stupid for talking about older voters and politicians voting and thinking in particular ways? If many politicians of that generation do tend to think alike in many ways, would them having more power not have real-world consequences? The link also quoted a decent portion of the article, some of which is below.


                      ““The vast majority of would-be young Bernies will still be under 35 in 2020 and won’t be legally allowed to run for president. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn’t even 30 yet. She’s about as old as Jennifer Aniston was in the middle of her Friends run…. Most of us in the left-wing political space haven’t actually done anything yet. Ocasio-Cortez is young by American political standards but she’s older than the vast majority of young people I know who might one day be interested in running for stuff…. The people in their 40s who support Bernie never received the kind of grassroots support Bernie received when they were younger, and consequently they never had the opportunity to build a resume for the presidency. As a result, the overwhelming majority of Democratic politicians in their 40s and 50s are centrists who came of age politically in the 90s and 00s… They were advanced in the party because the Clinton generation promoted them. They have spent their political lives working with Gore and Kerry and Obama and that’s the discourse they swim in. Corey Booker is 49. Kamala Harris is 54. Beto O’Rourke is 46. Kirsten Gillibrand is 52. Amy Klobuchar is 58. This group has a shared set of political instincts–they are the instincts that helped them build the careers they now enjoy, but they are not instincts we can trust. They have been tutored in triangulation from the time they were political toddlers. From the point of view of the left, the 40-60 group is a lost generation. It’s an entire generation of American politicians who were taught all the wrong things”

              3. drumlin woodchuckles

                How predictable yourself. Boomer babies did not design the world they were born into and Boomer children did not design the world they grew up in.

                It was the Pre-Boomers who systematically exterminated train, trolley and streetcar travel all over America. It was the Pre-Boomers who set off the Great Suburban Boom. Etc.

                1. urblintz

                  It was the pre-boomers who created the National Security State after dropping not one but two atomic bombs on a willing-to-surrender Japan after already doing even greater damage by fire bombing Tokyo (Truman)… then we invaded Korea…

                2. Grant

                  I realize that. I am simply saying that many of the older people living right now should take more responsibility than they have for the shape of the country. One way to take responsibility at this point in time is to vote differently (like not voting for someone as horrible as Biden), to allow the young to lead and to actually follow. Right now, some of those slanted polls show that Bernie is winning with voters 50 and younger. Biden has a decently large lead right now in polls that over-sample older voters because he is absolutely dominating voters older than 50, particularly voters over 65. This same dynamic happened in 2016. I don’t blame all our problems on Boomers, but I am alive today and want change. A decently large percentage of older voters do not. I will be pretty angry if that block of voters gives us Biden.

                  1. Lambert Strether Post author

                    > I am simply saying that many of the older people living right now should take more responsibility than they have for the shape of the country.

                    No, you aren’t saying that at all. The above statement and this statement:

                    the Boomers have utterly doomed the country with how they have voted, and they will not change or evolve.

                    are in no way equivalent, and the shifting definition and putatively tolerant walkback when challenged are typical of generational analysis. It’s not that the subject of your claims has fuzzy edges; it’s that it doesn’t exist because generations don’t have political agency.

                    Pro tip: If you’re going to lie about what you write, do so on a new thread; it’s too easy to cross-check when the lies are on the same thread. You’re welcome.

                    1. jrs

                      The claim being made isn’t always that they have agency but that they have certain ways of thinking about things.

              4. Darthbobber

                The boomers were not the dominant electoral demographic for the Carter or Reagan administrations. When Reagan was elected, the very oldest boomers were 35 years old, and the youngest of the cohort weren’t old enough to vote yet.

                It also makes no sense on earth to treat a generation as a collective in the sense you’re trying to. And for a fan of Howard Zinn to blithely assume that the house polloi of any generation have controlled affairs in any meaningful sense, so that they, and not the relative handful of powerful, wealthy people of each generation bear the responsibility, is somewhat odd.

                1. Grant

                  “The boomers were not the dominant electoral demographic for the Carter or Reagan administrations. When Reagan was elected, the very oldest boomers were 35 years old, and the youngest of the cohort weren’t old enough to vote yet.”

                  And did they push for that same trajectory forward, or fight against it? Younger people now are fighting against it. What did the voters largely do in the Reagan years and thereafter? Your argument would make more sense if they didn’t move us further down the path those presidents started us on.

                  “And for a fan of Howard Zinn to blithely assume that the house polloi of any generation have controlled affairs in any meaningful sense, so that they, and not the relative handful of powerful, wealthy people of each generation bear the responsibility, is somewhat odd.”

                  Really? So, when we talk about generational difference in modern America, class has nothing to do with it? What if one generation at least tends to vote in a way that further empowers and enriches powerful private interests? If Biden wins, will he not put in place policies that benefit radically different groups than Sanders or Tulsi would? Would they be equal in structurally changing the country in a way that benefits poor people, working people and people of color? You are arguing as if there is no data to back up what I am saying. I don’t want to read more people calling me stupid and attacking me personally. So, this is my last post here.

                  1. NotReallyHere

                    Thanks for an interesting discussion and for standing up for yourself.

                    FWIW I agree with some of what both you and Lambert are saying. It is true that boomers inherited a US economy that is better than today – mainly because it was free of consumer debt as a result of the depression and WW2 and it came out of WW2 with the only intact industrial base globally. But that last bit was never going to last for long.

                    The consumer debt thing is the key. Check out Kontratiev’s analysis of generational attitudes to debt and how they create super cycles in a capitalist economy. The last three generations have behaved according to that model pretty closely.

                    On the boomers voting for Reagan, yep they did. They weren’t the majority of the electorate in 1980 but they were in 1984. But that just means they voted according to their individual perceived economic interests. Today’s debt addled younger generation are doing the same thing. And they will vote for a jubilee when they are securely in the driver seat.

                    All that said, We have all had to suffer the spoilt man-child boomer – usually from the older cohort ( born before 1955 ) – in their 70’s and still acting like a spoilt brat.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > overall, they were handed

            “Overall” is doing an awful lot of work there, wouldn’t you agree? And so is “they were handed.” You can’t “hand” a generation anything because there is no agent there is have things handed to it. It’s like saying “we handed the ants” something. Or “we handed cumulus clouds” something.

            > they won’t be around to take responsibility for how utterly rottenthey were when it came time to vote and the consequences of who they voted for.

            There is no “they.”

            I urge you to surrender your hate. It may be temporarily satisfying for you, but lazy, stupid, disempowering tropes damage the blog. Take your othering elsewhere.

          3. Ptolemy Philopater

            This is about kicking down the ladder of success after you have climbed it. The elderly generation figure they can protect their own offspring from the obstacles they have raised to success for the unworthy. Our society is steeped in social darwinism, but as in all so called “competitive” societies disqualification protects the elites from true competition from below.Just as it doesn’t matter who votes, it matters who counts the votes, so it’s not about competition, it is about who is allowed to compete.This is beautifully illustrated by our electoral system.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          No, he’s not. And creating a consensus cluster for lazy, stupid, and disempowering analysis damages the blog. I mean, there’s a reason the political class likes the term, right? And constantly uses it? Do you think they have empowering you as their goal?

      2. Shirley Ende-Saxe

        There is no way this boomer is voting for Biden. After 70 years, being a democrat most of them, I’m no longer falling for the party line. I’m done. I’ll vote, but it won’t be for him.

      3. John

        Obama was a disappointment; Hillary was just another corpor-oid a ‘moderate’ democrat or Eisenhower Republican. How is Biden different? How does he promise anything that these two did not?

        I keep coming back to two who say they are different and until someone proves otherwise my ticket remains: Sanders-Gabbard.

      4. Cal2


        As a San Franciscan, and on Medicare, I have experienced the other side of your Frankenticket; Kamala Harris. A mediocrity who rose based on a personal ‘connections’ , Yes, Willie Brown was investigated by the FBI,
        and then she got kicked upstairs.

        She has never finished a job, always seeking something higher, ancestry is her biggest qualification, Good Job Kamala!, plus hijacking other’s grievances that she herself, a woman of color, has exacerbated, e.g. running on a record as a succesful D.A., no opposition in the second election, leaving a higher crime rate and almost universal hatred by the people she supposedly represented.

        Before Kamala became DA, the violent crime rate in SF was just 58% of the rate of Los Angeles.
        By the end of her disastrous reign as DA, SF violent crime was:
        26% higher than LA
        64% higher than San Diego, etc.

        “Woman of color, You’re sick and can’t get your first grader across town to his assigned school three days in row? Go straight to jail and maybe lose your subsidized housing etc.”

        Next step up the ladder, running for California A.G. and “winning” against a man who didn’t even campaign and who looks like a cross between W.C. Fields and Elmer Fudd. More do nothingism, as she failed to prosecute Mnucin’s foreclosure frauds,


        and the Herbalife scam, nor investigate the billion dollar Bay Bridge fiasco.
        If she’s so locally loved, why did she move her campaign across the country to Baltimore?

        As senator? You know the rest…Kavanaugh hearings.
        Lots of hand-on-chin deep profound thought photo ops, but her votes?
        Saudi Arabia thanks her for the weapons. Her brother in law, Uber’s main council,
        Uber’s main investor? Saudi Arabia. It does rhyme with Biden…

        Lose with Kamala/Biden2020

      5. Kurtismayfield

        I think a lot of the older Dems are saying they will be voting for Biden because he is a known quantity. There has not been a debate or speeches about policy, and Sanders will wipe the floor with this guy in any circumstance. I don’t think Biden has thought out how he is going to fight in a long drawn our primary process. Biden’s negatives will weight him down like a lead zeppelin.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The Sanders forces will have to attract enough New Voters plus also winning over “just enough” hardy-perennial serial-Democratic voters to add up to winning numbers. The rest of the 4DDs will have to do the same at their more modest level.

          I have come to realize how unrealistic it is to expect all the pledged 4DD delegates to add up their numbers and all vote for the DD with the most delegates to begin with . . . so as to produce a First Ballot victory.

          But is it unrealistic for those 4DD delegates who are 4DD bitter-enders to refuse to vote for any Catfood Nominee no matter how many ballots are held? Is it unrealistic to expect every 4DD bitter-ender delegate to vote against any motion to stop balloting and brokerise the convention? Is it unrealistic to expect the 4DD delegates to “burn the phukker down” and “make the system scream” rather than permit a Catfood Democrat to get nominated?

      6. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the Boomers

        Well, except for Sanders himself, and naturally the Boomers who voted for him.

        “The Boomers” is just an enormous category error, equivalent to taking the state of Alabama as a proxy for all the people in Alabama, or treating an 75-year-old billionaire as somehow commensurate with a 75-year-old Walmart greeter. It’s stupid. It’s also lazy trope, and worse, disempowering, because generations don’t have political agency, and so there’s no strategy possible for addressing the problem other than waiting for Boomers to age out.

        If I ripped out every single comment on this site that used the term “Boomer” while implying that generations have political agency, the site would be better off. Maybe I should do that.

        I don’t know how many times I have to say this, and I don’t like being ignored.

        1. NotReallyHere

          We hear you … but this is a great pub conversation. It’s all grandad’s fault, and it’s your round.

    3. JohnnyGL

      Give them time…. Plus per Cal2’s links above, Biden’s got a corruption problem. You’ll see a steady drip-drip-drip in Biden’s support.

      It’s possible he won’t even feature near the top of the polls by the time voting starts.

      1. curlydan

        the problem is: who is the Democrat who is going to expose Biden’s corruption? My guess, none will, but Trump absolutely will rip into the corruption and go after Hunter Biden with a vengeance. I guarantee no Dem will touch Hunter Biden with a 10 foot pole.

        I think swing voters crave authenticity. They’ll vote for an authentic [bleep]-hole over an inauthentic pol.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          That wouldn’t bother the Catfood Democrat leadership. The Catfood Democrat leadership considers a Trump re-election preferable to a Sanders election. The Catfood Democrats consider a President Trump 2.0 to be a price worth paying in order to prevent a President Sanders 1.0

          Hopefully all the 4DD ( 4 Decent Democrat) delegates will make the Catfood Democrats’ victory very very pyrrhic.

        2. Big River Bandido

          Biden is such a terrible, undisciplined candidate, with little feel for how to run a national campaign, that he’ll shoot himself in the foot. The wheels came off his last presidential campaign before the Iowa caucuses were even over.

          The guy hasn’t run in a competitive political race since 1972, in Delaware. He doesn’t have a clue how to campaign for national office in 2020.

    4. polecat

      That’s because Biden is an ersatz version of the Night King, sans the cunning and skill .. his supporters being dead electors walking !

    5. Big River Bandido

      It seems Biden’s gaffes are having zero effect up his support.

      537 days to the general election means well over 200 before Iowa and New Hampshire. Creepy Joe has far too much baggage (and is far too undisciplined a candidate) to make it all the way to the convention. Just give it time.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        This is an example of Warren’s bad instincts. My guess is this was an attempt to draw a distinction between her and Sanders and Biden with his Republicans will be blinded by his whiteness act.

        The other aspect is Sanders proved its pretty easy to one up FoxNews if you aren’t an Alan Colmes Democrat. What is particularly irksome is Warren would clean the FoxNews moderators clocks if she tried and maybe present information to the propagandized.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Read the comments on the YouTube video. Most of them think Warrens making a mistake.

          1. SpringTexan

            I think Sanders’ going on there was a good idea, but I can see Warren’s point also. Not a big mistake, especially as she’s denouncing them for what they are.

            Both legitimate choices, IMNSHO

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > This is an example of Warren’s bad instincts. My guess is this was an attempt to draw a distinction between her and Sanders and Biden with his Republicans will be blinded by his whiteness act.

          Also to appeal to liberal Democrat tribalism.

      2. dcblogger

        Kamala Harris also announced she won’t go on Faux. The Democratic base, the people who vote in primaries, hate Faux, with reason. This is a yuge blow to Faux, it is a sign to advertisers that Faux that Murdoch can’t give his time away. Why then should anyone pay for it? Murdoch can only get away with what he does because politicians are afraid of him. I think this is great news.

        Considering Faux is trying to incite viewers to assassinate Ilhan Omar, Presidential candidates announcing they are not interested in legitimizing a hate organization is a very good thing.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I think you should go into enemy territory and beat them. Sanders did. Warren didn’t. I don’t think that speaks well of Sanders. As Jessica says to Alia in Children of Dune:

          I can think of nothing more poisonous than to rot in the stink of your own reflections.”

          Do we really need Democrat to become more self-regarding? More tribal?

          I’m also repelled by the notion that the Democrat Party establishment thinks it has the moral standing to legitimize to delegitimize anything. Ditto the notion that the Republicans have a monopoly on generating hate for political purposes. I mean, say what you will about the Republicans, at least they haven’t ginned up war fever against a nuclear power, with the RussiaRussiaRussia moral panic.

    1. petal

      And/or she is not willing to do the work/make the effort. And I’m not sure I’d call Bernie’s appearance on Fox ‘fearlessness”, more he has an understanding of what is going on and what’s needed.

  8. Summer

    RE: Socialism: A Short Primer
    “But that’s very loaded framing. Suppose the second description were “A system key parts of the economy, such as utilities, transportation and communications industries, are under democratic control. I bet that would poll a lot better. Especially since elites are doing such a horrid job of capital allocation, probably far worse than crowd-sourcing the decisions on social media would be, let alone a fully functional system of deliberative democracy.”

    The USA, Europe, and their satellites/conquests don’t have a history of socialism – no matter how many ways it is defined – only a history of “intellectual influence” (as the article phrases it). Their history is STOPPING SOCIALISM. That makes it difficult to know what the polls are really measuring – no matter how many ways it is framed.

  9. David Carl Grimes

    One thing for sure. You’re never going to see Adolph Reed on an Obama.org board.

  10. Hepativore

    An isolation helmet from 1925? Amazon and other companies would be drooling over the prospect of pushing a modern version of something this on their employees. I can see it now. The helmets would be bolted in place on employees using a padlock that only the managers have access to and the helmets are only removed during bathroom or meal breaks. Perhaps they would even have a bit or something like it built in to forbid them from talking to other employees to be even more productive. If a manager needs to question a serf, he might be able to remove it by remote control on a handheld device.

    I do not think that there would technically be any law that would forbid a private employer from doing such a thing, so legally, they would be in the clear. After all, nobody is being “forced” to work for an employer that does such a thing and as 49 out of the 50 states allow employers to practice “At-Will” employment, employees who do not like it can either quit or be sacked.

    In the grand neoliberal vision of the future, I imagine the line between prison labor and employment for the rank-and-file precariat will become even more blurred or completely non-existent.

    1. Summer

      What happened to the robots? Are they the managers putting the helmets on and taking them off?

    2. Samuel Conner

      No need to bolt on helmets — just implant chips that intercept sensory and motor functions and let the workers operate the machinery remotely, from the safety of company provided fluid suspension tanks.

      In fact, you could train the workers to lucidly dream and get work out of them while they are sleeping.

  11. SlayTheSmaugs

    Re the Stacey Abrahams quote:
    “And so our only solution will be, again, to finally have a robust and real policy for immigration that recognizes America’s deep reliance on foreign labor.”

    I reject Trump’s xenophobia and racism and brutality, including when it comes to immigration. That said, Trump is forcing the immigration debate to be more honest. When D & R corporatists led the conversation, it was easy to keep a perma-class of exploitable immigrant labor. If we can acknowledge a ‘deep reliance on foreign labor’ we can start asking ‘why are we so reliant on foreign labor’?

    Part of that will be wages, and the suppression of them that the exploitable immigrant class allows. But part of that will be the misguided indoctrination of the citizenry that everyone should:

    a) go to college and pursue a desk job; manual labor is beneath them and unskilled
    b) we should live to work (ie. we should, NY-like, identify with our work and find our primary path/joy through it, rather than N.Cal like, work to live, i.e., identify with our passions and work to fund them, and maybe they overlap and maybe they don’t. That is, no one should have jobs, they should only have careers.
    c) all manual work should be outsourced (I mowed my parents’ lawn, as did my friends; now landscaping companies mow lawns.)

    Of course, the solution is not simply giving the trades and even purely manual labor, like mowing lawns, the respect they deserve; manual labor must pay a living wage.

    1. Summer

      What do you expect when the economy is ran for the benefit of people who have been served all their lives?

      This BS has been going on too long for people to think they are in some kind of “negotiation” about their condition.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        What do you expect when the economy is ran for the benefit of people who have been served all their lives?

        There’s a stiletto beauty to that comment…Thanks Summer.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      The only way Manual Labor can extort a living wage for itself from a bitterly opposed society is if all immigration , including legal immigration is banned down to actual absolute zero for long enough to create such a desperate manual-labor shortage that Manual Labor can name its own price to an unwilling society. We don’t have to frame Zero Immigrationism in racial or ethnic or other terms. We can phrase it in cold hard Class War/ Class Combat terms.

      1. Summer

        They’d turn to prison labor.
        And that is this systems sweet spot for raking in cash: slavery or the closest thing to it.
        Also, that’s why you see all the dreaming of electric sheep (robots of assorted kinds). Humans are already experienced with emotional transference to inanimate objects. It’s a trait they’ve been eager to manipulate. The AI doesn’t have to be as advertised. Humans are going to do all the emotional work for it.

        1. jrs

          right of course, they already use prison labor (and it gets far less attention than immigrants, funny that), but it’s not fully optimized yet, many prisoners not working yet, they can probably drive more older people to desperate need for work by cutting benefits for them ever more, and yes automation of course, supposedly able to pick more and more crops (but again unlike construction and other blue collar work, unlike white collar work replaced by H1Bs, it seems that work has always been done by the very most marginal, often immigrants)

  12. Wukchumni

    “‘Wood wide web’—the underground network of microbes that connects trees—mapped for first time” [Science]. “Trees, from the mighty redwoods to slender dogwoods, would be nothing without their microbial sidekicks.
    Dogwoods live in the same hood as Giant Sequoias, and as luck has it, the former are blooming right now in a Laurel & Hardy-like symbiotic relationship.


  13. Brindle

    re: Stacey Abrams…Immigration

    They (big agri-business) will lose profits if they pay a liveable wage–so low wages and big profits are critical to national security. Basic gobble-de-gook.


    –“They cannot afford it. And we are undermining our national security by undermining our economic security.
    And so our only solution will be, again, to finally have a robust and real policy for immigration that recognizes America’s deep reliance on foreign labor.”–

    1. jrs

      Much is going to be mechanized anyway, probably. But yes I don’t think being an agriculture laborer (on someone’s else farm) was ever a job choice for anyone with a choice, so it’s always been slaves, newly freed slaves, immigrants, displaced people etc..

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Ban imports of any and every food which could be grown/produced within the US. Then the US price could be raised to living wage levels without fear of underpricing by alien food imports.

      We can “flip the script” on a “robust and real policy for immigration that recognizes America’s deep reliance on foreign labor.” We can define “robust and real” as being a “robust and real” zero-tolerance ban on immigration of any kind, so as to nullify the carefully engineered deep reliance on foreign labor. If foreign labor is zero-tolerance utterly-banned, then America will learn to rely deeply on American labor at an American wage.

      This policy statement sure does make Abrams sound like a Corporate Globalonial Catfood Democrat.

  14. zagonostra


    RealNews is running a series of programs with Wendell Potter (former Cigna executive turned human) worth watching/reading.

    Dems against M4A rile me up more than just about any other group. I view them as the embodiment of evil. Why Catholics and other religious groups don’t speak out in force during their Sunday morning homilies to attack these vipers is beyond me, it’s one of the reasons I don’t much go to church anymore…where are the Walter Rauschenbuschs of this world?


  15. Chris Smith

    Shorter Stacy Abrams, “We need to exploit foreign labor to keep wages down for the good of the global 0.1%.”

  16. Charlie

    Re Abrams/CFR:

    “PORTER: Well, thank you very much, Ms. Abrams. This was amazing round of Jeopardy.

    ABRAMS: Thank you. Yes, thank you. (Applause.) Where do I get my check?

    PORTER: Huh?

    ABRAMS: I said, where do I get my check? (Laughs.)”


  17. mle detroit

    “Contra Vance” [The Baffler]. “[L]ooking back at where he came from, [J.D. Vance, in Hillbilly Elegy,] sees mostly a collection of morally flawed and weak characters…

    As it happens, I very recently read Hillbilly Elegy. My experience of Vance’s very personal memoir was exactly the opposite. The rest of this comment is from the summary I wrote for myself yesterday:

    I began to realize that most of the chaos in his early life came from his mother; that much of her over-reactive behavior was learned from her own mother, Mamaw; but that Mamaw provided J.D. with shelter from his mother’s storms. Although there were a lot of problem people in the lower class neighborhood where his grandparents lived, many more were quiet and stable. He lived several months with his bio-Dad and family and as a result has appreciated the crutch of strict religion and has become a Christian.

    I may reread this book, beginning when J.D. can’t figure out how to fill out an application to Ohio State and enlists in the Marines. He learned self-discipline, the pleasure of being able to be responsible and giving, and was mentored by a few good men.

    He posits several causes for the chaotic society in which many people fail. He has several personal take-aways; one mentioned is that Adverse Childhood Events, and the trauma and intellectual and emotional damage resulting from them, are responsible for the expectation of insecurity and inevitable trouble. However, he’s pretty superficial about all of these and doesn’t follow through with more than brief suggestions about what to do. I think that’s partly because economic issues are too big for him, and he’s no longer in that environment. He now lives in California and is a venture capitalist, apparently with Peter Thiel. His politics, to the extent they can be inferred from the people he mentions knowing (Reihan Salam, David Frum, Thiel), are conservative. He credits Tiger Mother Amy Chua alone among his Yale Law School professors with advice that launched him into a career (and probably along with his wife into writing this book.)

    My main take-aways are 1) how much the Marines did for him (an argument for universal national service); and the preventive value of 2) stable housing and 3) the earliest possible high quality child-care.

  18. Elizabeth Burton

    With regard to Joe Biden, based on continuous monitoring of the situation both before and after his official announcement, it has become increasingly clear there is yet another collusion between the corporate media and the New Democrats to deceive the voters into thinking Bernie Sanders can’t win the primary. Their main ploy is using “frontrunner syndrome”, whereby uninvolved voters tend to check off the name of the person presented to them as being leader of the pack.

    It has been demonstrated beyond question that the CNN polls, and others as well, were specifically designed to prevent input from those demographics that support Sanders, i.e., voters 18-40. This same kind of shenanigans is used to claim Sanders doesn’t have support from African Americans. The goal of all this is to maintain the myth that Joe Biden is the Democrat frontrunner.

    And, as in 2016, there is a general media blackout of anything Sanders-related, which serves to reinforce the message Biden is the only possible choice to beat Donald Trump.

    As Sanders himself made clear recently, his campaign is aware of this. It’s a given they will be actively working to challenge it at the grassroots. Aiding this is the apparent complete cluelessness of the DNC et al., which continues to act as if the neoliberal BS spewing from the Biden campaign is winning hearts and minds. It may be reinforcing the confirmation bias of liberals, but the younger generations know when they’re being snookered.

    I say “apparent” because Twitter denizens have been made aware that certain demographics, notably people of color, have been the target of concentrated and extremely nasty troll attacks after expressing even the mildest criticism of Sanders. The perpetrators, of course, self-identify as Sanders supporters.

    The Sanders contingent has begun alerting people who mention being victimized by troll attacks they are likely being targeted in an effort to turn POC against Sanders using the worn-out “Bernie bros” theme that his supporters are all racist white men.

    Of equal interest, this week two women posted thinly veiled “Bernie bro” narratives, one ponderous and the other somehow tied in to GoT, on the same day that were curiously similar in tone. They were politely, if somewhat snarkily, challenged, and the former one disappeared within 24 hours.

    Put in simpler terms, don’t believe anything you see or hear from the corporate media with regard to Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders. The suspicion of many the DNC plans to force a second ballot to foist another centrist onto the voters just keeps gathering evidence, and people are mad enough there could literally be rioting in the streets if they do.

    On a side note, thanks for posting able my new favorite trucker, Josh4Congress. He literally moved into his truck to save money on rent to help finance his campaign, and he’s starting to get attention. Californians (and others) could do worse with their campaign donations.

    1. JohnnyGL

      I think you’ve got the general idea of the state of play so far.

      I also think it’s a BIG MISTAKE for a large chunk of the media/political class to go all-in on Biden. I think this is doomed to fail. He’s an awful candidate and a poor campaigner.

      Trump’s crew is clearly ready to go at Biden on corruption, they’ve got ‘Clinton Cash’ author Peter Schweizer on the case, talking about Biden’s corrupt dealings in Ukraine and China.

      Biden’s record is so appallingly bad, — he’s been completely wrong on every major issue going back to the 90s (anita hill, crime bill, NAFTA, financial dereg, fundraising from big donors) that I think voters are going to sour on him slowly over time, just like they did with HRC. The current attempts to manufacture consent will elevate him for a little while, but you can only get so much mileage out of “he was Obama’s VP”.

      Really, he’s the best opponent Bernie could ask for. Buttigieg or Harris have thin resumes with some blemishes, not horrible ones like Biden, but at least they’re pretty personable. Biden says tons of ridiculous stuff, even if he’s charming at times.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        As long as Biden and the others drain off enough primary votes to keep Bernie from the needed majority on the first ballot, Bernie will not get the nomination no matter how much support he has. Fifty of the superdelegates have apparently already declared for Biden, and Harris had four a week after she announced. Hence my prediction there will be rioting in the streets.

        I just saw the latest Emerson poll that someone reported shows the percentages were literally reverse depending on method of communication, with the least support for Bernie overall coming from landline users 50-64. Those of us 65 and up know the Dems will be coming after our Social Security and Medicare, and we have lots of grandkids reaching voting age. I don’t do statistics, so I don’t know if that’s what that spreadsheet actually says or not.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Maybe there will just be rioting at the polls on Election Day. Meaning Trump will win at least 45 states.

        2. Big River Bandido

          I don’t disagree with your assessment (that that’s what the establishment is trying to do), but…

          the Emerson poll is meaningless. The caucuses/primaries happen state-by-state, not nationally. And both IA and NH voters have historically been immune to the “frontrunner status” game. All it takes is one stumble by Biden (and several will happen before the year is out) and he’s toast in those two states, which makes the big donors jump ship.

    2. phemfrog

      something I often wonder… what is to stop them from completely fabricating polls? all the data is digital. it can all be fabricated. no one would put in the effort to check this out…

  19. Pat

    I’m not really surprised that Sanders voters don’t watch MSNBC.
    First there was their coverage of the 2016 campaign which was either non-existent or bull.
    Second their coverage of the financial failings of the Obama administration…oh wait there was no coverage of that administrations failure to prosecute financial thieves, the failure to produce an adequate stimulus, and there was some tacit cheerleading of Simpson and Bowles.
    Third, their all in on TDS, and the Russia ate Hillary’s Homework excuse wouldn’t sit well with many of the people who watched real election interference in the primary.

    I also bet that most MSNBC viewers would have a hard time passing a true false quiz on both Biden’s history, his statements, and yes his corruption. But frankly most Americans would probably flunk that.

  20. Pelham

    “[Facebook workers] in San Francisco, New York and D.C. will now make at least $22 per hour. Seattle-based moderators will receive a minimum of $20 an hour.”

    Doesn’t it take about $50 an hour to escape poverty in those megabucks hellholes? And that’s if you have no dependents. Never trust narratives that throw naked numbers at you.

    A few years ago USA Today did a rare and meritorious thing and calculated how much pretax income a family of four would need to lead a minimally middle-class life. The figure was $130,000 a year.

    The average household-of-four income back then was less than half that. Yet this pitiably inadequate figure and others approximating it — rather than the real figure of $130,000 — are typically trotted out to define the middle class.

  21. Apathy

    Re: low support for banning abortion: “I have yet to see an account that makes sense of these brutal defeats.”

    Only the most ideologically driven vote in, and probably run for, state elections. Only 25% tops may want abortion banned but that 25% is probably over represented in the people who actually use their right to vote and turn out.

    1. clarky90

      IMO, it was a, “Fake Poll” trying to influence the “conversation”. During my long life, abortions and miscarriages have always been tragic events, with repercussions that have sadly resonated into the present. Relationships strained or destroyed. A longing for the lost children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews…..

      There are pregnancy home diagnosis kits, inexpensively for sale in our NZ supermarkets. There is an abortion pill readily available in our NZ Drug Stores.

      Very few people object to birth control, or very, very early (first trimester) abortions. (This is what the “poll” actually shows) What horrified me are late term, and even mid-term abortions. IMO, it is dehumanizing- like public executions for theft, heads on poles, crucified heretics…..The “ra ra ra abortions” narrative, makes my skin crawl. macabre

      The Break with Michelle Wolf | Salute to Abortions

      In living memory, The Cult of Eugenics infested USAian society. Hitler and the Nazis appropriate this already well formed, and theorized practice. There were Departments of Eugenics in “Top” USAian Universities!

      Eugenics from Greek eugenes ‘well-born’ from eu, ‘good, well’ and genos, ‘race, stock, kin’


      “The concept of positive eugenics to produce better human beings has existed at least since Plato suggested selective mating to produce a guardian class. In Sparta, every Spartan child was inspected by the council of elders, the Gerousia, which determined if the child was fit to live or not. In the early years of ancient Rome…..”

      1. WJ

        I take it that clarky90’s point is that the extreme polarization of the abortion issue in the States leads to less rational positions all around. And greater harm to women as a result. Virtually all European nations afford far more comprehensive access to contraception and early term abortions while also placing restrictions on late term abortions.

  22. Summer

    Re: Managed Obsolescence: Homelessness in America’s Gilded Cities”

    This quote also stood out:
    “The only groups Jeff is harder on are the local nonprofits which he calls “poverty pimps,” echoing a phrase that comes up in right-wing circles: “nonprofit industrial complex.” “There’s never been a shortage of funding in modern-day Skid Row,” Jeff said, pointing to the fact that over a hundred different nonprofits operate within the area’s fifty city blocks. “This isn’t really about trying to end homelessness, that’s a marketing slogan. That’s just a marketing campaign. Just to make people outside of Skid Row feel good.”

    1. Summer

      And it ends with this:
      “There’s no doubt that LA needs more affordable housing, and taxing companies like Google is a start. But that is at best a tourniquet to halt a hemorrhaging of social capital that won’t be replenished until the city is once again a place where ordinary people can expect to lead decent lives doing ordinary work. Tech solutionism will do nothing to reverse the breakdown of family and community that has made homelessness so intractable—but it will likely continue driving up LA’s housing costs. That will leave those who can afford to live in the luxury city and those who cannot afford to leave; one class creating the wealth to sustain the other as wards in a program of managed obsolescence.”

      You’ll see apartments and condos just built and being built all over LA. Whether new or not, it’s the same game. You’re hard pressed to find any at full occupancy and many now have a revolving door of tenents that scrape together enough to get in and don’t last a year before they are out.

      I’m still trying to figure out where all the company is coming from that is going to pay the exorbiant rents since not too many companies are trying to pay living wages because it’s not competitive like out of control homelessness is.

      1. Summer

        One more thing to add about “Managed Obsolescence” – the churn caused by exorbiant rents and rentiers prevents the establishment residency by large numbers of people within cities. This reduces their political power. Who needs to redistrict an ever shifting district? So there is also that design within the BS.

    2. Wukchumni

      It’s been interesting to watch the rise of homelessness in L.A., as once upon a time circa 1980 when a basic home in an average neighborhood ran around $100k, there were no homeless to be seen aside from Skid Row in downtown L.A. and back then it was largely a no man’s zone with nothing to draw you there aside from say, The Pantry.

      Eventually Santa Monica had a few platoons of homeless, who’d all hang out for tucker in front of the Rand building, and were visible, but not in a in your face fashion, more of a collection of a few hundred lost souls scattered around.

      I only catch the City of Angles in small measured doses these days, and when I do, its always shocking to see new alt-a Coleman housing developments that have sprung up seemingly everywhere, and you wonder how the homeless hierarchy goes in terms of location-location-location?

    1. zagonostra

      It is very encouraging to see over 1M people have viewed that interview while the MSM continue to do everything in their power to pretend she doesn’t exist.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > we’ve used taxpayer dollars to support Al Qaeda

      No we haven’t. Federal taxes don’t fund Federal spending. If she had said “we’ve used all our resources,” that would be correct, but she didn’t say that.

  23. DJG

    On the use of Square and on the use of credit cards. In my case, Square started sending me other persons’ receipts.

    But this complaint does make one wonder:
    The emails keep coming because I paid for my grilled cheese with a credit card using the food truck’s Square credit card machine.

    You paid for what with a credit card? At some groovy food truck, undoubtedly named something like Toasty Lactose Heaven?

    I recall the kerfuffle of ten days ago about Chase Bank and its advice to the young’uns about budgeting. IMNSHO, using credit cards for food is the first sign of not being able to budget. And it sure holds up the line in the morning when I’m behind Young Jayden paying for a lattay tripleccino with a credit card. No receipt, of course. Save a tree, overlook a transaction.

    And I suppose the credit card used for the Heavenly Toast was Chase, now wasn’t it….

    1. 1994gator

      I use my credit card for food, also at food trucks. I’m neither young nor operating any fiscal deficit. I use credit cards more now than I did 20 years ago when my finances weren’t nearly as good.

        1. anon in so cal

          We use our credit card for almost everything. I’ve used it to purchase groceries, for example, for as long as I can remember. Not a fan of the credit card industry or cashlessness, but I have been able to get mileage benefits. I actually haven’t used cash for a very long time. My husband insists I carry about $40 in cash for emergencies.

  24. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Aussie election parody:

    Just an update from The Lucky Country, apparently there’s an election this weekend but you’d hardly know it. It’s illegal to campaign more than 6 weeks prior to an election, and the incumbent party (neo-con fascisti but not very good at it) “launched” their campaign less than a week ago. Voting is mandatory, with large fines, and I think that’s great because it moves the debate to the middle of the bell curve (and away from highly-motivated partisan screechers at both ends).

    There was a kerfuffle in the press when one candidate said the other candidate’s debate response was “dishonest”. Ungentlemanly and unseemly language!

    So I get to vote for my local Member of Parliament. He’s in a certain party. The party then choose their leader (and can unchoose him/her midstream, which has caused some unwanted turnover but they have adjusted those rules). This is nice because it shifts the debate away from an individual and towards the party’s policies. If one party gets a majority of votes then they can “form government”, they sometimes have to link up with one or more other parties in order to do that.

    There’s also a proliferation of parties: I can vote for The Hunting and Fishing Party or the Euthanasia Party or even the Sex Party if I want. Those tiny constituencies can get their voices heard by doing deals in the coalition-forming process described above.

    You do see TV ads (The Other Guy Will Destroy Civilization As We Know It!!!) but they are very few and far between.

    Like all countries there are two major parties, Guys Who Are Supposedly For Labor and Guys Who Are For Capital, nothing much changes depending on who gets elected but at least we don’t have to suffer through months and years of windbagging.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      The Sex Party by the way is not a throwback to the late 60’s but rather campaigns to improve the lives of sex workers (the world’s oldest profession is quasi-legalized here)

    2. ChrisPacific

      And whoever you vote for as PM will get overthrown in a party coup within a year and replaced by whichever of the white male candidates over 40 is most acceptable to the party power brokers.

      1. The Rev Kev

        That is simply not true. They would have be at least 50 years old and definitely not female. That ad is pretty accurate though. I’m looking forward to the election the day after tomorrow so that all those ads will be gone from the telly. Some real rat-bags out there wanting your vote, especially from that billionaire’s party, Clive Palmer’s United party.

  25. Sharkleberry Fin

    Socialism is the State being responsible for the individual. Full-stop. Born out of French and German ideas of the collective, Socialism channels idealistic urges and survival instincts of those who are bored, idealistic, or contemptuous of the day’s moral order. [I risk editorializing with commenting on the rabble.] Marxism is unconcerned with what form the State should take, and holds the vague conviction that the State will wither away. [Which begs the question, “Who is to be responsible for the individual?” The individual.]

    If there is one note I can take away from NC is that the problem is with the elites. Socialism being a philosophy of the impoverished, a militant form of Christianity, concerned with the conditions of the poor, is mum on what should be done with wealth. Socialism as an extension of the French Enlightenment, which is the foundation for the different cultural petri dishes of the United States, the former Soviet Union, and the People’s Republic of China, does not address that in 2019 it is non-political actors – consumer trends, tech devices, energy corridors, quasi-religious sects masquerading as political parties in ritual conflict, anti-science paranoia — that pull the levers of power. If the failure of leadership is of the rich themselves, do we not need a new philosophy for the rich? The depression pandemic will not be addressed by a collective vote from a dingy factory floor.

    Let me put it this way, at least in the United States, the left, socialists, progressives, are tolerated because they can organize, then reorganize, mobilize the workers, using up all their political momentum until the cows come home, and the labor masses will still never be a threat to the hierarchy. Their labor is not that important, and without a serious epidemic, there are too many laborers to be valuable. Take the false hope of progression, and the energy it expends, off the table, get creative, start co-opting the rich, strut their strut, embrace your inner hunter that evolutionary biology gave you, and put us out of our misery.

    1. Summer

      “Their labor is not that important..”

      Let’s have everyone stay at home and see what hapoens. I’m all the way down for it.

      And their cooperation? Oh,so very important.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Not sure it’s so binary and mysterious, systems that concentrate wealth and power upwards eventually face a “but what about those people?” moment. Increases in productivity exacerbate the imbalances between Capital and Labor, Capital gets everything it wants because it owns government and media. So we end up with phenomena like Jeff Bezos, who has amassed 155,000 million dollars while his employees sleep in their cars. One-hundred-and-fifty-five-thousand-million. Even the hardest hearts have a tiny remaining vestigial morsel of morality and see that doesn’t seem right, hopefully they do so before the sheer weight of have-nots overturns the entire society. Usually they simply overplay their hand and tumbrils of various kinds roll.

  26. Summer

    “The conversation with our executives was straightforward. We were in the midst of a turnaround. We were demanding much from every corner of the company. Small financial sacrifices from those at the top could be life changing for those at the bottom of our wage scale. We needed to do it to build a real sense of Team CareCentrix. They agreed. With joy, we announced in January 2015 that our minimum base pay for employees would go up to $34,000, or the equivalent of $15 per hour.

    Raising wages in the midst of a business turnaround was not easy. We needed our executive team to buy into a vision of business success where every employee had a fair shot at success. It worked.

    Our business has tripled over the past five years. Our minimum wage is now approaching $16.50 per hour and last year we broadened profit sharing to all levels of the company.”

    Read and wonder if that is a different planet. And how many other companies would try that especially if they are publicly traded and subject to attack from short term profit seekers? They usually get rewarded for layoffs.

  27. Wukchumni

    “Crystal meth crisis on Saskatchewan First Nation traced to 2015 wildfire evacuation” [CBC].
    We were driving on Interstate 80 by Winnemucca, Nv. some years ago when we saw the most unusual billboard that stated:

    “Meth Is Not The Indian Way”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I would think that universal benefits like childcare would assist the attractive and the unattractive alike? (For some definition of “attractive,” of course).

  28. Lupemax

    I recommend this… Sums up how corrupt the NY Times has become. 5G technology is rapidly coming upon us (rapid before people wake up and stop the telecom industry from foisting this on the people – even local government can’t use “health concerns” to deny the telecom industry “permits” to bring it on) and there are no guarantees that it is safe, because no one knows, especially for children, and no one cares, least of all the FCC or HHS because they are totally captured agencies.
    The Grey lady is pushing for war with Iran…which harks back to their role in the war in pushing war with Iraq. So totally corrupt.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Until a few months ago, I had no idea that Meghan McCain even existed. Now, having seen her a few times on YouTube clips since then, I can testify that she is not in fact a toxic female. She is just a toxic person.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      “Toxic Femininity,” “Toxic Masculinity.” The way these talking points get spun out and propagated reminds me of the novel-writing machine in 1984.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      If the DNC didn’t want all these local dignitaries to run, they’d whack them, as they whacked those who challenge incumbents. So IMNSHO, the DNC is running a spread offense to defeat Sanders and cripple the left. (This is their #1 priority, and not control of the Senate, because some of those candidates could well have run for the Senate. Of course, if Democrats did run the Senate, they’d have to govern, and who wants that?

      De Blasio has no hope of winning. So, money (contributions, media appearances, perhaps a book deal), and favors paid back later by the Democrat establishment (to the extent Cuomo allows, which is amusing).

      1. Svante

        True, true and OMG… who the heck KNOWS? We had Katie McGinty thrown at Toomey (as Senator from, “Drink your fracking brine, peons!”) to keep big John Fedderman off TV and Sestak was there somewhere, out of habit, to show we had retired admirals. Energy In Depth supplied halushki, kielbasa & Israeli spooks.

        We’re kinda dreaming, somehow de Blasio run would mean the DNC would have to try to fix NYC before the convention? Har-de-har-har-HAR!

  29. Anthony K Wikrent

    “Game of Thrones, ‘The Bells’”
    Daenerys has obviously learned that — in view if the rise of the richly funded right wing in America and the right wing’s dominance over all three branches of government (and if you don’t think Federalist Society dominance of the judiciary is going to be a very painful problem for the next half century, you’ve not been paying attention) — the two biggest mistakes of strategic politics in USA history have been 1) practicing “with malice toward none” instead of ruthlessly extirpating the Southern slave-holding oligarchy; and 2) Franklin Roosevelt’s refusal to prosecute the Wall Street backers of the “Business Plot” which was heroically foiled by USMC General Smedley Butler.

    1. The Rev Kev

      In a season spoiler, Daenerys finds a wormhole to our world on her dragon intent on fiery conquest but discovers too late such things as FIM-92 Stinger Manpads, AIM-9 Sidewinders and AIM-120 Amramms.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is a golden oldie argument for deregulation and such. Democrats hate poor people by denying them the chances rich people have…that kind of thing.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Here’s a nice one from New Jersey, always on the leading edge of innovative shakedowns:


      So I wonder what the parties ended up paying in legal bills to fight off this money grab by the iron triangle of the Health Extraction Complex? I suppose we should rejoice in this ‘public private partnership’?

      And as the healthcare tax farmers (bearing the writ of Josephus Bidenius) fan out through the decaying Empire to dun the families of those ensnared in the net of HEC, will we see “agri deserti”, as people abandon their ‘assets’ and take refuge in states like Florida with homestead laws?

  30. anon in so cal

    Victoria Nuland (Hillary Clinton’s assist Secretary of State, who presided over the US-supported Ukraine putsch) implicated in Russiagate:

    “Victoria Nuland “met w former Steele in Oct 2016, sent around a note to other State Dept officials indicating Steele was anxious for his dossier to be published before the November 2016 elections”


  31. Off The Street

    O/T re healthcare
    You and readers may have already seen the linked article about Blink Health. It provides some good history about pharmacy benefit managers and drug prices, among other topics.

    1. cgeye

      …but the author uses Blink’s example to disparage Medicare For All as unnecessary— America’s health care is already great! And Blink’s ability to get kickbacks from drug companies- but pass the savings onto customers- is the solution we need generally.

      Considering the source, that’s to be expected….

  32. dcblogger

    Is there any way to track the amount of money the Trump presidency has cost us? I know that international tourism is way off, how about other things? If I were an international company, I would locate in Canada, which has healthcare and gun control, of Mexico for low wages. Why would I locate in the US? How much have American brands suffered because people no longer want to buy anything associated with the US? And how many people have fled the US?

  33. Monty

    $SPY went from $208 to $290, so it depends who “us” is in your question. Some people have been raking it in thanks to Orangeman!

  34. Oguk

    Wow, thanks for the link about the Old River Control Structure. I had no idea. Also the S*t party video is hilarious

  35. JBird4049

    What a steaming load. If they’re “committed to working closely” with Congress, then where the [family blog] are the documents?

    In theory, and more than a century ago, Congress was the single most powerful organization of the United States of America with an almost unrestrained subpoena and arrest powers over the entire country. The body actually used it occasionally, but over the decades it has become so much more convenient to let the courts, the upteen regulatory agencies, and the President do their job for them.

    “It’s not us being so mean it’s the Bad Man in White House and the Nine, the Nazgûl making all those nasty legal decisions that hurting all is poor helpless Americans.” “Give us your votes and money and we will pretend even harder that we fighting against Evuhl and for Mom, Apple Pie, and the American Way!”

    Anyways, they cannot even pass a fricking budget most years and have steadily decreased funding for everything (besides the Security State) including the FAA. They are the Woobie. Gutless, thoughtless, and lost in a phantasy of their own making. Since Boeing is effectively part of a duopoly with effective control of our aviation, wealthy, and connected, if they told Congress to buzz off, what would be the penalty? Would Congress actually do anything but kvetch?

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