2:00PM Water Cooler 5/17/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, my workflow remains disrupted because Apple has not yet returned control to me of the tablet I putatively own. So I feel like I’m running a sack race instead of blogging. Again, if any of you want to send me Water Cooler-appropriate links, or short video clips to introduce me to the YouTube world, that would be helpful (and fun). Thank you! –lambert P.S. This week, when I’m not in production mode, I’ll see what I can do to make my expensive glass slab communicate with the outside world. Hopefully I won’t have to write another ticked-off post.


“Trump reaches deal with Canada, Mexico to immediately lift metals tariffs” [Politico]. “The U.S., Canada and Mexico have reached an agreement to remove President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, a key roadblock to approval of the new North American trade deal. ‘We’re done,’ said one official involved in the negotiations. ‘It is a great day.'”


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

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


Biden (D)(1): “Area Man Regrets Helping Turn Joe Biden Into a Meme” [Vice]. “I worked at The Onion for 19 years as a writer and features editor. By the time I left in 2012, the publication had developed its take on Vice President Biden: “creepy but harmless,” with the emphasis on “harmless.” We lampooned him as an uncle you’d shake your head at but not think twice about—the sort of guy who’d wink and say, “Don’t let your meat loaf!” [Oh!] as a farewell…. As I watch him campaign as an old (-fashioned, -school, -old) centrist, I realize how badly we screwed up. Instead of viciously skewering a public figure who deserved scrutiny, we let him off easy. The joke was funny, but it didn’t hit hard enough.” • Well, perhaps they can make up for lost time.

Biden (D)(2): “Philadelphia-Based Community Organizations Speak Out Against Joe Biden’s Candidacy” [Reclaim Phildelphia]. “This Saturday, May 19, Joe Biden will formally launch his Presidential campaign in Philadelphia on the Ben Franklin Parkway. In response, Philadelphia-based community organizations — 215 People’s Alliance, Reclaim Philadelphia and One Pennsylvania — released the following statement. All three organizations are active in Philadelphia and statewide in fighting for racial, economic and gender justice, and play a significant role in local, state and federal elections. Last year alone, collectively the three organizations knocked on over 360,000 doors and played critical roles in electing: District Attorney Larry Krasner, and State Representatives Elizabeth Fiedler, Chris Rabb, Malcolm Kenyatta, and Joe Hohenstein…. Today, 215 People’s Alliance, Reclaim Philadelphia and One Pennsylvania are formally registering our opposition to the candidacy of Vice-President Biden based on his disturbing 50-year record of prioritizing segregationist policies, placing corporate interests first, refusing to take accountability for sexual harassment and minimizing the threats of global warming.” • Ouch. Oddlly, I couldn’t find this with Google, even using a literal search on the headline.

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders will call for ban on for-profit charter schools” [CNN], “In a major education policy speech set to be delivered Saturday, Sen. Bernie Sanders will call for a ban on all for-profit charter schools, a position that puts him directly at odds with the Trump administration and becoming the first of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to insist on such a move. The Vermont independent also will call for a moratorium on the funding of all public charter school expansion until a national audit on the schools has been completed. Additionally, Sanders will promise to halt the use of public funds to underwrite all new charter schools if he is elected president A senior Sanders campaign official shared the details of policy proposal with CNN ahead of the Sanders speech in South Carolina — the crucial early primary state where the African-American vote is a key voting base. The moratorium on the funding of public charter schools was initially called for by the NAACP; Sanders will say in his speech that he supports the group’s efforts.”

Trump (R)(1): “Trump asking farmers to make ‘patriotic’ sacrifices in his trade war” [Politico]. “‘Farmers are patriotic and understand that someone had to finally call China to account,’ Tim Murtaugh, communications director for Trump’s 2020 campaign, said in a statement, adding that farmers ‘understand the long game, because long-term planning is what they do.'” • And the politcal class agrees with Murtaugh (and Trump) on “calling China to account.”

“It Won’t Take Long for the Deep Dem Field to Start Thinning” [Cook Political Report]. “There is also the whole complicated business of who does and doesn’t qualify for each round of debates, based on DNC criteria on poll performance, funds raised, and number of unique donors. With as many as 23 candidates, and with Biden and Sanders garnering as much as half the vote in early polls, this is going to get pretty brutal pretty quickly for many. In short, the opportunities will get fewer and fewer for half of this field by the end of June. Then there is the big challenge: fundraising, with the next big quarterly report card coming out in mid-July. Some will turn in impressive Federal Election Commission reports, while others will be underwhelming, if not downright embarrassing. Resources are critical to keep the campaign staff and rent paid, and the creditors happy, or at least cooperative. While in some ways our political process is awash in money, with the internet and the ActBlue fundraising platform making it cheaper and easier to raise money than in the old days of direct-mail fundraising, for those who are not getting traction in polls, crowds, and fundraising, it will be perilous and eventually fatal to their candidacies.” • There are 220 days between the June 26-27 debates and the Iowa caucus on February 3, 2020. Makes the 2016 death March look like a walk in the park.

“Why California Will Matter More in the 2020 Election” [Zócalo Public Square]. “The California presidential primary traditionally has taken place in June, often well after the presidential candidates for all parties have been decided. But next year, California will join 12 other states for the Super Tuesday primary on March 3rd, 2020. What effect will this have on the election? Could California primary voters pick the next president?” • Not a coincidence the DNC sought to empower the local oligarchy of a one-party state.

“Trump and Biden, potential 2020 rivals, both head to Pennsylvania, a key battleground” [Los Angeles Times]. “Together [Trump and Biden] are paying little attention to the 22 other Democrats running for the party’s presidential nomination, acting as if the starting gun has already been fired on the general election… Their Pennsylvania itineraries are emblematic of their competing political strategies. Trump, aiming to energize the white working-class voters who brought him to victory, plans to hold a rally in rural Lycoming County in the central part of the state, which went for Trump by nearly 45 percentage points in 2016…. Biden, hoping to make up for his party’s 2016 shortfall among black and working-class voters, will hold his first large-scale 2020 campaign rally in Philadelphia, a bastion of black Democratic strength… The latest Quinnipiac University poll in Pennsylvania found Biden out-polls Trump 53% to 42%, with especially wide margins among independent voters and women.”


A good question:



“John Durham’s New Mission to Root Out Russiagate Origins” [Sic Semper Tyrannis]. “[U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut], who has been quietly conducting his probe for weeks, is not restricted by the limited mandates of a special prosecutor. Barr has solicited and gotten cooperation from DNI Coats and CIA Director Haspel to extend the probe into involvement of intelligence officials (Brennan, Clapper and their key aides) in the foisting of the Trump-Russia saga and the obtaining of tainted “evidence” to secure FISA warrants. Durham will be closely coordinating his investigation with the work of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is nearing completion of his own investigation into DOJ and FBI corruption and political bias in the Trump-Russia probe. In recent meetings with Republican Member of Congress Jim Jordan, Horowitz indicated he was preparing criminal referrals as part of his final report.” •


“Political prophet Allan Lichtman: Would impeaching Trump help him or hurt him in 2020?” (interview) [Salon]. “Lichtman is perhaps best known for his earlier book “The Keys to the White House,” which lays out 13 variables that he says determine whether the party that controls the White House will win a given presidential election. Each key is a statement that, if true, makes it more likely that the incumbent party will win the popular vote; if eight or more are true, the incumbent party can be expected to triumph.” • Lichtman has form and called 2016 correctly using his method. So since the interview is hard to summarize, I summarized Lichtman’s views in the form of a table (and his conclusion in a quote at the bottom of the table:

(If the keys are not self-explanatory, see here.) My only concern is that Lichtman seems to have shifted over from analyst to advocate. Trump has shown an amazing ability to wriggle out of any kind of trap, and I wonder if he might wriggle out of Lichtman’s framework as well. For example, would impeaching Trump be a “scandal” in the same way that Lichtman imagines it? Further, Lichtman predicted two years ago that Trump would be impeached; I really hate to think that he’s talking his book, but he wouldn’t be the first academic to lose his moorings in “The Age of Trump” (vile phrase). So I will watch Lichtman’s keys with interest.

2018 Post Mortem

“Did Changes in Economic Expectations Foreshadow Swings in the 2018 Elections?” [Liberty Street Economics]. “After examining the persistence of polarization in expectations using voting patterns from the presidential election in our previous post, we explore here how divergence in expectations may have foreshadowed the results of the midterm elections. Using the Survey of Consumer Expectations, we show that economic expectations deteriorated between 2016 and 2018 in districts that switched from Republican to Democratic control compared to districts that remained Republican.”

Obama Legacy

“Progressive aldermen’s 100-day agenda: higher minimum wage, more affordable housing” [Chicago Sun-Times (DJG)]. Not only are DSA Chicago Aldermen (!) an Obama legacy, so too is opposition to his stately pleasure-dome: “Passing an ordinance mandating a community benefits agreement long opposed by former President Barack Obama to protect residents living around the proposed Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park. The ordinance would establish a community trust fund to assist long-term residents with property tax relief and rental assistance and require developers to set aside 30% of new units for households earning less than half the median income.” • Good.

Stats Watch

Leading Indicators, April 2019: “The index of leading economic indicators missed expectations” [Econoday]. “Manufacturing components held down April’s results while stock prices, financial conditions and consumer expectations were all positive contributors.”

Consumer Sentiment, May 2019 (preliminary): “Tariffs or not, consumer expectations jumped this month” [Econintersect]. “Today’s report dovetails with this week’s Empire State and Philadelphia Fed manufacturing reports which likewise showed no visible impact from US-China trade issues, apart perhaps from the inflation readings in today’s report.”

E-Commerce Retail Sales, Q1 2019: Rose, and rose as a percentage of retail sales. [Econoday].

The Bezzle: “Tesla Autopilot was in use before car hit truck in fatal crash, NTSB finds” [Los Angeles Times]. “A Tesla Model 3 car involved in a fatal crash with a semitrailer in Florida was operating on the company’s semiautonomous Autopilot system, federal investigators have determined…. The car drove beneath the trailer, killing the driver, in a March 1 crash that is strikingly similar to one that happened on the other side of Florida in 2016 that also involved the use of Autopilot… David Friedman, who was acting head of the NHTSA in 2014 and is now vice president of advocacy for Consumer Reports, said he was surprised the agency didn’t declare Autopilot defective after the Gainesville crash and seek a recall. The Delray Beach crash, he said, reinforces that Autopilot is being allowed to operate in situations it cannot handle safely. ‘Their system cannot literally see the broad side of an 18-wheeler on the highway,’ Friedman said.” • Oopsie…

Manufacturing: “Trade war, heavy rains weigh on Deere & Co.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. “Deere cut its profit and sales expectations for the year as a trade war between the U.S. and China escalates and farmers try to recover from a planting season besieged by heavy rains… The warning from Deere pulled the entire S&P industrial sector down on fears that the nation’s largest manufacturers will see similar damage.”

The Biosphere

“If the Old River Control Structure Fails: A Catastrophe With Global Impact” [Jeff Masters, Weather Underground] (part one; part two). A must-read. “America became the world’s greatest economy because it had a wealth of natural resources. But those goods needed the world’s greatest network of navigable rivers—the Mississippi River system—on which to be transported. Naturally, that network of rivers needed a port at the ocean, to regulate the flow of goods into and out of the country. Between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, the Lower Mississippi River has four of the fifteen largest ports in America. Those ports handle over 60% of all U.S. grain exports to the world, thanks to the barges moving downriver. Going upriver, those barges transport the petrochemicals, fertilizers, and raw materials essential for the functioning of U.S. industry and agriculture…. If the Old River Control Structure (ORCS) were to fail, barge navigation might be interrupted for weeks and possibly months…. Closure of the Mississippi to shipping would cost the economy $295 million per day, said Gary LaGrange, executive director of the Port of New Orleans, during the great flood of 2011. Closure for multiple months would cause a cascade of impacts across a broad sector of the U.S. economy, multiplying costs…. There are simply not enough trucks and trains in the country to make up for the barge capacity lost, and even if there were, the cost of doing so would be prohibitive… Failure of the ORCS and the resulting loss of barge shipping that might result could well trigger a global food emergency. The U.S. is one of the world’s largest exporters of grain, and 60% of that grain is transported to market by barges travelling on the Lower Mississippi River. A multi-month interruption in the supplies of more than half of U.S. grain to the rest of the world can be expected to cause a spike in global food prices, and potentially create dangerous food shortages in vulnerable food-insecure nations.” • A spike in food prices preceded Tahrir Square….

“Citizen sleuths exposed pollution from a century-old Michigan factory, with nationwide implications” [Science]. This is a very, very important story:

In a 2010 request for state funds to help redevelop the 6-hectare [Wolverine Worldwide] site, which sits astride a picturesque business district, lawyers representing the company stated: “There is no known contamination on the property.”

Lynn McIntosh, a piano teacher and writer who has lived just a block from the tannery for more than 25 years, was skeptical. The statement was “legalese laced with hogwash,” she recalls thinking when she read it. Tanneries use a stew of hazardous chemicals to transform raw hides into leather, she knew, and sometimes left contamination behind. For that and other reasons, McIntosh and others asked city and state officials to require a comprehensive environmental study of the site before it was redeveloped.

Their plea was rebuffed, so she and a small band of allies launched their own investigation. The group, which ultimately named itself Concerned Citizens for Responsible Remediation (CCRR), collected maps, dug into newspaper archives, and filed requests for public records. Members spoke with scientists knowledgeable about tannery chemicals and hired an environmental attorney with a background in geology to help them strategize. McIntosh even staked out and photographed the demolition of tannery buildings, followed waste trucks to dump sites, and interviewed retired tannery workers. The years of effort yielded stacks of documents that McIntosh—who prefers a simple clamshell cellphone to modern smart screens and paper files to the digital cloud—lugged to meetings in heavy bags.

Now, that sleuthing is having far-reaching impacts in Michigan and beyond. The concerned citizens uncovered evidence that the tannery had contaminated large swaths of land and water with chemicals known as a per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)

Somebody like @AOC — or Sanders — should grab “citizen science” both hands and and make it part of a Jobs Guarantee under the Green New Deal; there’s so much work to be done. Note also that, derided as NIMBYs are, people with direct personal property interest in the results actually did the science. That was my experience with the landfill as well; the abutters were critical. The PFAS story has been bubbling for some time (thanks to links from readers) but I had not idea of this aspect until it showed up in Science! McIntosh, et al., must be very happy. To pre-empt a possible objection, citizen science isn’t necessarily a professional class avocation; anti-landfill advocates from working class backgrounds made themselves into subject matter experts and trusted news sources with a level of effort.”

“How to turn a persecuted pest into an ecosystem engineer” [Anthropocene]. “Among the distinctive ecological characteristics of Anthropocene-era Homo sapiens is a predilection for destroying keystone species: those creatures whose activities create habitat and nourish entire webs of life. Conservationists have tried to reverse this trend, with efforts focused on predators and large herbivores. Yet another class of keystone species has not received much notice: animals, in particular burrowing rodents, who are still abundant in terms of absolute numbers but seldom fulfill their historical, life-promoting roles… California ground squirrels, a gopher-sized rodent found throughout the western United States… provide an important food source for predators; their burrows aerate soil and furnish homes for other animals; their presence maintains grasslands—one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems—and creates habitat mosaics.” • I am here for small rodents. How else would the cat bring me gifts?

Health Care

“Judge rips insurance company for ‘immoral, barbaric’ cancer denials” [CNN]. “A federal judge blasted UnitedHealthcare last month for its “immoral and barbaric” denials of treatment for cancer patients. He made the comments in recusing himself from hearing a class-action lawsuit because of his own cancer battle — and in so doing thrust himself into a heated debate in the oncology world…. That includes insurance companies. [Dr. William Hartsell, [American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO)]’s vice chairman for health policy] said a recent study showed that about two-thirds of cancer patients were initially denied proton treatment by their insurers: ‘If you have a patient, say with esophageal cancer, they can’t wait four months for a decision on treatment.’

‘One of the problems we have right now with these [insurance] policies is, they are a one-size-fits-all policy,’ he said. ‘They’re kind of removing the medical judgment of the people who are in the best position to make that decision.'” • No “kind of” about it. That’s their function!

“Pfizer Denies Encouraging Drug Abuse By Packaging Fentanyl With Cooking Spoon, Lighter” [The Onion]. “Such implications are simply preposterous abdications of the very idea of personal responsibility.”

Class Warfare

“Problems For Other People” [Eschaton]. “It’s always fun to mock the various entries in the neverending series “Lifestyles Of The Not Quite Rich Enough” in the NYT, but mocking aside it is true that financial anxiety is creeping higher and higher up the income distribution…. We worry about our helicopter rides to the Hamptons, they worry about paying for dentistry. Until we do, too.” • Somehow I don’t think people who haven’t dealt with a lot of anxiety about material conditions won’t handle it well. (For those who don’t follow him, Atrios is also very sound on robot cars.)

News of the Wired



“How One Contrarian ‘Broke’ Jeopardy! and Won $1.7 Million” [The American Conservative]. “Holzhauer, ‘a professional sports gambler from Nevada,’ may have shown the world what’s possible when a player template—never challenged or questioned over a half century—is blown up and replaced by another strategy that produces vastly superior results. By now, millions of Americans are familiar with Holzhauer’s unorthodox Jeopardy! strategy (the show is seeing ratings not reached since 2005). It’s actually quite simple: unlike 99.9 percent of the game’s previous contestants, Holzhauer starts at the bottom of the board—where the biggest money is—and goes sideways.” • I don’t think the Norms Fairy would be happy about this.

* * *
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 (DM):

DM comments: “From my backyard.” I guess not a rosa rugosa; the stems don’t seem to be spiny.

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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. dan Dundee

    Curious as to why you don’t track links in some multi-platform auto-syncing tool like OneNote, EverNote, etc.?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Because I don’t like handing on information that I am a single nexus of multiple machines. Why give that out? (Of course, this could be figured out easily enough, but why make it easy?)

      (Also, when I am collecting links, I sometimes forward them on to others, and mode-switching is always bad. Finally, I can use the subject line to direct the mail to folders, which is nice because I have counts for the various categories and can estimate the what I need to do in the limited time available.)

  2. richard

    I’ve been waiting for that Onion reflection on Biden, and I’m glad it happened. I seriously think a lot of “onion cred” rubbed off on Joe, even though it is meant as satire. They not only didn’t attack him; they made him seem cooler. That’s worse than harmless. They are responsible for part of that 36% (or whatever it is). I’m only joking a very little bit, Onion. This is not a satire.

    1. dcrane

      Totally agree. Those spoofs were potent if even *I* remember the Onion article about Joe washing his Trans-Am after so many years (yes, I even remember the model).

  3. Geo

    AOC asked this pharma exec why a life-saving HIV drug costs nearly $2,000 in the U.S. and $8 in Australia

    Positive me: “Finally someone is asking questions like this!”

    Negative me: “Why are quesrions like this only being asked now!?!”

    Seriously, even if she never passes a single bill or accomplishes anything material in her time as a congresswoman, AOC has done an invaluable service by exposing just how complacent and useless the establishment has been. Bernie (and Kucinich) did similar things for decades but gained little attention for it. AOC goes viral regularly with this type of stuff and is hopefully waking millions up to how a representative is supposed to do things so in the next elections we can get more like her elected.

      1. ewmayer

        Been a *long* time since I visited ZH, on following your link immediately noticed the absence of comments – did ZH finally axe their notoriously toxic-because-unmoderated comments sections? Or are my Noscript settings simply preventing me from seeing same?

        1. fajensen

          Some site upgrade a while back broke the search function so one cannot search for ones posts, see their scores and easily go back to them. All this means that trolling on ZH is not so rewarding anymore.

          There are still a lot of alt-right/nazi code words being bandied about, though.

      2. polecat

        I’ve said it before, that it is a sign of unequal parts of political, philosophical, and generational phase changes occuring ..

        As I mentioned on a thread last month, that it seems that both the Zhedge AND much of it’s comment stable have changed from fundamentally boot-strap libertarian .. to a more reasonable, and rational bent. Still plenty of noxious commentors, just seems to be more balanced-out with people who see things from a not so hard-core markets-at-all-costs-based Calvinist frame of mind.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > both the Zhedge AND much of it’s comment stable have changed from fundamentally boot-strap libertarian .. to a more reasonable, and rational bent.

          That’s quite remarkable. De-crapification is essential but rare.

      3. Lemmy Caution

        I’ve too have noticed AOC ggetting many more positive comments over at ZeroHedge and the DailyCaller. Tulsi Gabbard also is getting a lot of positive comments as well on those two sites. The powers that be must be quaking in their boots at signs that the two streams are on the verge of crossing.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I read about this happening with a company about 20 years ago in a book so it is not something new but perhaps standard operational procedure. The government spends all the money developing the drug and gives it away for free to a drug company to make billions off it. That drug company them spends a few million then to make sure that no generic version of that drug ever appears on the market which is known as rigging the market. An interesting aspect is that when the government develops a new drug, how do they decide to give that drug away for free. How do they pick the winners in the drug company landscape to be the lucky winners?

      1. Massinissa

        But, is that from people on the site changing, or zerohedge attracting more mainstream readers now?

    2. Procopius

      I love that she asked the question, but none of the remarks I’ve seen tell what the gombeen’s answer was. Did he answer? Or did he plead the Fifth? Also, too, how much is he paid a year?

      1. Procopius

        OK, I read the article at ZH and I guess the answer is “yes and no.” He said the difference was because the medicine is still under patent here and patent protection has expired there. In other words, “We do it because we can.” He never made any pretense of offering a justification other than that. This is not an unusual situation, just particularly egregious. However, Big Pharma has the biggest lobbying operation in the Swamp, so AOC is not likely to get any traction with getting changes made.

    1. Clive

      Yes, here in my mother-in-law’s garden they grow like weeds, huge sprawling great shrubs of them, or even tree-like specimens. In my hopelessly chalk-ridden soil, they shrivel to nothing in a year or two, no matter what I do.

      The moral of this tale is, of course, the right plant in the right place.

  4. flora

    re: 2019, A good question.

    Thanks for that AOC questioning of Gilead exec. I’d like to see all pharma execs put on the hot seat.

    Health Care:

    Thanks for all those links.

  5. Duck1

    The AOC clip re the pharmaceutical profiteers is absolutely infuriating. 1.2 million views I see, good.

  6. Lee

    A market based solution for when health insurance companies deny or delay life-saving care: if you have life insurance you could get that company to sue the health insurance company to keep you alive.

    1. Craig H.

      This idea is a keeper.

      I know a physician who has 3 stacked health insurance policies. The second is just to back up his primary and the third is just to back up the first two. He claims the other two are really cheap though really cheap for him and really cheap for me are definitely not the same thing.

  7. SlayTheSmaugs

    Re 2018 post mortem

    Has anyone done an analysis of the electorate in places that swung to see if who voted changed? I know that my town vote’s changed in part b/c second homeowners voted–legally–out here and in general we had higher than normal turnout.

    1. Carolinian

      The WaPo did have a story a couple of weeks ago. If you had gone to protest you might have been mugged by the Guaido-istas from the sound of it.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The US Secret Service also mauled, bloodied & arrested some 70 year-old dude named Gerry Condo for trying to throw a symbolic piece of food to the people in the embassy so not just the Guaido-istas. Your tax payers dollars at work.

  8. marym

    Bernie Sanders Used His Campaign Data To Drive Turnout On Strike Picket Lines

    Thousands of workers from the University of California waged a one-day strike Thursday and found some unexpected allies out on their picket lines.

    In an unusual move for a presidential candidate, the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent out targeted text messages and emails to its supporters in California a day ahead of the strike, urging them to join workers as they rallied against the university system in a labor dispute.

    “I deployed a press team across the state and was in contact with them,” [a spokesperson for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 John] de los Angeles said. “They were sending me pictures of random supporters out on the line because they had received an email or text from the Bernie campaign. That happened all over the place.”


      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Goodness, I just don’t understand why all the Democrat candidates are following Sanders’ lead on this. They could start by unionizing their campaign staff.

  9. Mark Gisleson

    I tweeted the CNN link on Bernie on charter schools earlier, and immediately a charter school expert corrected me, pointing out Bernie wanted to put ALL charter schools on hold, not just for-profit charter schools. CNN engaged in a bit of adventurous editing on this one.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Were you supplied a link to validate that claim? If so, please supply it. My reflexive take is that you were getting a fear response from that charter supporter, since they are in a panic over the collapse of their claim that privatizing public education constitutes “the civil rights movement of our time.” It’s hard to keep that nonsense up when you’re cashing ever-bigger checks from Betsey De Vos.

      i follow the issue very closely – I was the first person in the NYC teachers union to raise the alarm about charters when the law was passed in 1998 – and have never seen anything about that. Bernie has been disappointingly cagey about charter schools.

      If the CNN report is in fact correct, it’s weasel words from Sanders, since “non-profit” charter schools have all kinds of ways of outrageously rewarding their management, landlords, vendors and consultants, who are often directly tied to the school management and/or Board.

      And questions about for or non-profit charters aside, they are institutionally toxic, and a direct attack on the public schools and the public good. Sanders is already despised by all the right people; he should take the important step of defending public education unequivocally.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Tried to edit my response and then ran out of time.

        What my revision said was that I think you were getting a fear response from a charter supporter posing as an expert, and that while Sanders’ caution on this issue might result from concern about how explicit charter opposition might play in the African-American community, he should take some heart from the fact that the NAACP has officially come out against further charter expansion.

        Hard to believe Bernie doesn’t have people in the campaign trying to make that point; he should listen to them.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        It varies from state to state, though it’s often a distinction without a difference.

        In New York, for-profit charters are ostensibly prohibited, which just means that the managers earn outrageous salaries – Eva Moskowitz of Success Academies in NYC earns three times what the public school Chancellor, who oversees a system many multiples larger, does – and along with Board members engage in all kinds of insider dealings.

        In states like Ohio, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, for-profit charters are legal, the racketeering is brazen and in your face, and it just goes on and on…

      2. Oregoncharles

        Not in Oregon or my town. Several have formed just to get schools closed by the school district open again.
        Speaking of which, “school consolidation” is a purely neo-liberal abomination. Studies show that kids do better in smaller schools.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          In other words, one neoliberal abomination is then followed up with another…

  10. ambrit

    From the ‘Tinfoil Hatt Compendium of Esoterica’ comes the “correct” appellation for our degraded milieu: “The Age of Trump — Vile Phase.’

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      True, too. However, I really dislike “The Age of Trump” because it implies that change far outweighs continuity. (Perhaps it does for the lanyard class that believes their unique combination of credentials and virtue means they deserve to rule, but their views are not my concern.) I see Trump as a catalyst speeding up every possible reaction, across the entire political terrain. But all the reactions were well in train before Trump took office.

  11. dcblogger

    Nicole Sander interviewing Bernie Sanders

    one of the great things that Bernie is doing is building up lefty media by granting interviews. Whatever else you can say about Bernie, he is news and just by granting a interview he can give lefty media a nice bump in site traffic. He has granted interviews to The Real News Network, In These Times, and The Young Turks. If Bernie is going to overturn our entire political establishment, he is going to have to over turn the press.

    1. Lupemax

      Bernie still is dodging an interview with jimmy dote who wants to ask him why he would support Biden as he doesn’t stand for anything Bernie does.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Whatever else you can say about Bernie, he is news and just by granting a interview he can give lefty media a nice bump in site traffic. He has granted interviews to The Real News Network, In These Times, and The Young Turks. If Bernie is going to overturn our entire political establishment, he is going to have to over turn the press.

      In his own way, like Trump, who was also a master at generating headlines with his own name in them.

  12. JBird4049

    I am here for small rodents. How else would the cat bring me gifts?

    We had a cat that liked lizards. Would that do?


  13. Terry Humphrey

    You lost me with “Sanders is already despised by all the right people;” Bite the hand that feeds you much?

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      And that means what, exactly?

      My point was that Sanders has all the right enemies; what was yours?

    1. Cal2

      By international law, Central American, (all) asylum seekers are supposed to petition for it in the First country they arrive in, not a hop skip and a jump to an ideal one, with supposedly better economics and benefits that they prefer.

      Maybe Mexico would be a better fit for them ?
      One less border to cross.
      There’s a labor shortage in Mexico, partially caused by a double digit percentage of Mexican working age males being in the U.S.

      Asylum seekers should remain in Mexico, work there and enjoy a language that they already speak and similar culture.

      “Mexico faces the biggest increase in hiring difficulty, jumping to 50% from 40% in 2016.”


      We have enough poor people of our own to support. One cannot be for livable wages, uncrowded and inexpensive housing and schools, and at the same time advocate for open borders.

      1. marym

        The people deciding to disappear migrants into an opaque, unaccountable, inhumane, for-profit prison system. and to disappear their children to “foster care or whatever” don’t care about supporting poor people, livable wages, uncrowded and inexpensive housing, and schools. These aren’t two unrelated aspects of how our society decides to treat people.

        1. JBird4049

          We have enough poor people of our own to support. One cannot be for livable wages, uncrowded and inexpensive housing and schools, and at the same time advocate for open borders.

          The people deciding to disappear migrants into an opaque, unaccountable, inhumane, for-profit prison system. and to disappear their children to “foster care or whatever” don’t care about supporting poor people, livable wages, uncrowded and inexpensive housing, and schools. These aren’t two unrelated aspects of how our society decides to treat people.

          Poor Mexico, far from God, close to the United States
          —-Porfirio Díaz

          The neocolonial and neoliberal policies of the United States largely, although by no means exclusively, created the economic, political, and wastelands that has caused millions to flee to the United States often just to not die.

          In fairness, the illegal semiofficial leaky-sometimes-almost-open borders of America’s neoliberal leadership of Clinton’s fellow elites has been used to create the awful economic experience that the American lower classes are enjoying.

          So we have several problems here.

          1) The destroyed Latin American countries.
          2)The evil and treatment of the refugees here.
          3) There present being encouraged and used to destroy the American economic, social, and political environment.
          4) The elites at all levels who have created and maintain this for their benefit.

          1. marym

            Mostly agree but would phrase it that cheap labor from illegal immigration from the south is among the ways that the bipartisan elite has created the awful economic experience that the American lower classes are enjoying.

      2. JBird4049

        All good, but for Mexico being crueler to Central Americans than the United States is. Between being abused and underpaid by Mexican standards, occasionally enslaved by the Cartels, as well as being abused by the cops, and if they are lucky deported instead of being in an unmarked grave. It is only in the past two years that we have had the Feds be anywhere near as awful. It still isn’t.

  14. The Rev Kev

    ‘Bernie Admits He’ll Vote For Biden In 2020!!’ A Jimmy Dore 10-minute video with some swearing. I have no idea how Sanders can be so stupid. The elections is still not till the end of next year but he has now come out in public and said that whatever happens, he will support the nominated Democrat candidate. The implication is that even if he is cheated yet once again. If this is not a direct message to the DNC, then I do not know what else it is. By doing so, I would imagine that he has driven a wedge between himself and progressives who now have little reason to trust him. If I was Donald Trump, I would be mailing Sanders my own personal donation right about now.

    1. richard

      I watched that segment, too; sanders’ comment wasn’t as direct as the tagline implies. But it was bad. It was basically the equivalent of “I’ll support the dems in ‘20, and yes, that includes if they nominate biden”
      blah blah, trump is historically blah

      it was a dumb thing to say
      just like ‘16,
      “let it be clear from the start
      that I’ll follow proceedure
      right behind your dumb a$%
      and right off the cliff behind you!”
      also this flies directly in the face of Bernie’s dead-on “don’t define yourself by hating trump” critique
      How about stop there, when you’re right?

      1. Kurtismayfield

        We all criticize Clinton for not running a good campaign. She knew what the electoral college was, and her strategy lost.

        Bernie knows the rules of the Democratic party. If he loses by them, then he should accept the nominee. He agreed to them as soon as he signed up.

        Now if he is cheated by the party apparatus he should fight them with all the power he has. This ncludes not supporting the candidate.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > . I have no idea how Sanders can be so stupid. The elections is still not till the end of next year but he has now come out in public and said that whatever happens, he will support the nominated Democrat candidate. The implication is that even if he is cheated yet once again. If this is not a direct message to the DNC, then I do not know what else it is.

      I hate to deploy “he has to say that,” but he has to say that. He signed the Democrat loyalty oath, as he had to, if he’s going to compete in the Democrat primary.

      If — by which I mean when — the Democrats cheat, and Sanders wants to get out of the unconscionable contract that the loyalty oath indeed is, then he can do that when the time comes (“I’m fighting for the true Democratic Party, one that does not _____”). In the mean time — and I hate to deploy this one, too, but there it is — purism is to be avoided.

      Paris, as I keep saying, is worth a mass. Apparently, at a time when Biden is still on the upward trajectory, Sanders is supposed to go on Jimmy Dore and say “[family blog] all regular Democrats, I don’t want their votes, screw them and the party they rode in on, they suck.” I don’t think that’s a recipe for electoral success, and if I were Sanders, I’d stiff Dore until he gets his head out of his *** and stops trolling. Sanders isn’t a hapless child; he’s strong both strategically and tactically. There are plenty of times I think Sanders should listen to the peanut gallery, but this is not one of them.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Actually I think that there is no way that he should ever go on Jimmy Dore as there would be too many hard questions that he would have to answer. I think that you are confusing me with another blogger that suggested that. This is not a matter of being a purist but recognizing the reality that if you let the other side make all the rules, then you have already lost and are only attending as a wallflower. As much as I despise Trump, I do acknowledge that he got where he is by breaking the rules that others had set for him, especially by the Republicans. Sanders has to choose very carefully which rules that he should break. One example was where he refused to hand over his email listing to the DNC both during and after the 2016 election. As an addition, this whole bs loyalty oath is actually just a roadmap for how the DNC will get their favoured candidate in.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I’d agree with Lambert, I can see now way Sanders could evade that answer to that question – whether on Jimmy Dore or whoever – he is bound to be asked it many times.

          The reality is that if he says ‘no’, then this opens him up to direct attack that he is not a ‘real’ Dem and his aim is to destroy the Party. And this will open up the way for the Dems to say ‘hey, since he’s not a real Democrat, then we are under no obligation to play fair’. He will be immediately isolated and shut out of debates. By playing the local Dem, the leadership has to at least pretend to be neutral.

          I think that decision was made 4 years ago when he decided to run for the nomination. The simple reality is that if you run for leadership of a party, you can’t avoid at least some obligations to play the internal game and play by the rules. If you don’t want to play that game, then the only alternative is to run as an Independent. Bernie made that decision four years ago, and so far it seems a pretty good one. But it has consequences, and this is one of them.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Sorry, my typing is mangled this morning, for my first line I should have written ‘I can’t see any way Sanders could evade…’

  15. Off The Street

    California may matter in some less-publicized ways given the problems with its Motor Voter program. See the article from Real Clear Politics for reference.

    1. Cal2

      And our current and ex-secretary of state, same guy. You think Florida was corrupt?


      See this video about how Bernie was cheated out of votes by someone who just happened to work for the Hillary 2016 campaign, who happened to also be in charge of all the registrars of voters in the state. Independent?

      “Not a coincidence the DNC sought to empower the local oligarchy of a one-party state.”

      This is why they promoted the dogs breakfast of grievances, Kamala Harris. Why the state leads in construction, pouring concrete, sheltering, sanctuarying and sanctifying “migrants” from deportation, all to further the Overpopulation Development Complex~as they combat climate change.™

  16. Oregoncharles

    That’s a camellia, a potentially large evergreen shrub-to-tree. Japonica, most likely.

  17. fajensen

    Health Care: Could the delayed proton therapy be a profit maximisation strategy or did proton therapy get the Gilead Treatment?

    I have visited PSI in Switzerland where they are experts in proton therapy and they developed a lot of the software and technology for it. This is a publicly owned and funded facility.

    There was a talk on how their machine worked and the kind of results they were getting, which were impressive: Even with those ”99% dead within 1 year of diagnosis”-cancers they had a cure rate of 80-95% depending on the details.

    The treatment was “one-shot”. The patient is rolled into the machine, a platform that can move in all 3 dimensions, strapped down, and then “stitched” from different directions with a beam pattern that dumps up to 70 Gray into the tumours (an enormous dose).

    Then back to hospital for monitoring. That’s it. This costs an estimated 6000 CHF, which is the price of a somewhat crappy car.

    Now, if instead of curing people the best way possible, the medical insurance providers were colluding with the treatment providers in a cartel, then there is probably an optimal profit-point where the victim isn’t exactly cured but instead takes years to croak while iterating through many different and expensive treatments, each iteration thus dumping obscene money into a cartel member.

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