2:00PM Water Cooler 5/2/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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

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


“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (RCP average of five polls). Biden up, Sanders down, Warren sneaking up.

* * *

“*” = New candidate.

* Bennet: “Sen. Michael Bennet announces he’s running for president in 2020” [CBS]. • D-Fracking. If you’re looking for confirmation that using local oligarchies (“favorite sons“) to suck away delegates from the leaders is one way to avoid any candidate (but especially Sanders) winning a majority, Bennet’s entry would provide it. Oh, Sanders won the Colorado caucuses in 2016.

Festival of Biden:

Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden Wants Everyone to Lower Their Expectations” [Edward Isaac-Dovere, The Atlantic]. “Other candidates spent most of last year reaching out and getting to know potential staffers, investing early to lock them in and begin the long and almost absurdly microcosmic work that goes into winning the Iowa caucuses and the early primaries. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and, to a lesser extent, Kamala Harris are months into building operations for an extended primary fight that some Democrats think could even lead into a contested convention next summer. Biden doesn’t have that yet, but ‘he’ll have a good campaign by February of next year,’ said Ed Rendell, the former Pennsylvania governor and a vocal Biden supporter. ‘By the time that it matters, he’ll be fine*.'” • The first debate isn’t February of next year. It’s this coming June. Good piece by Dovere, though, giving the flavor of a Biden event. NOTE * Old-time Patriots fans: Remember Kenneth “Game Day” Sims?

Biden (D)(2): “Obama Fundraisers-Turned-Ambassadors Are Back to Make It Rain for Biden” [Sludge]. “On the heels of a big-money fundraiser hosted by Comcast’s top government affairs executive, Joe Biden’s recently-made-official presidential campaign has announced another ritzy affair, hosted by former Ambassador James Costos. A slew of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fundraisers will now raise money for Obama’s vice president, Biden, at Costos’ Los Angeles home on May 8… It costs $2,800 to enter the May 8 event, and if you raise $10,000, you can become a host. Among the hosts are four major fundraisers for President Obama’s 2012 campaign who were later rewarded with ambassadorships to Denmark, Hungary, Spain, and the United Nations.” • How nice for them.

Biden (D)(3): “Biden goes light on policy, heavy on emotion” [Politico]. “Joe Biden has a healthcare plan, but doesn’t ‘have the time to completely lay out all the details.’ He also has a proposal for college debt, but no specifics on that either because ‘I don’t have time; I don’t want to keep you standing any longer.'” • Sanders fills stadiums with this stuff.

Biden (D)(4): “A reporter approached @JoeBiden to ask a question and a member of his staff told the reporter to leave” [Marcus DiPaola]. “This third reporter just told me that the @JoeBiden staffer blocked his camera shot by putting up her hands.” • Hmm. f

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Buttigieg meets with Hillary Clinton” [The Hill]. “‘She has a lot to share and is happy to give advice to the 2020 candidates,’ one Clinton ally said. The former secretary of State met with Buttigieg at her office in New York, a source said. Clinton has not endorsed anyone in the race and her allies don’t expect an endorsement to come until at least the end of the primary. The development follows reports that Buttigieg has gained the support of several top fundraisers who worked for Clinton during her presidential bid. Among them was Steve Elmendorf, who bundled more than $100,000 for her in 2016.” • I imagine Clinton will wait until the last possible moment to play the card of her endorsement. If indeed it ends up as a card.

Buttigieg (D)(2):

Buttigieg (D)(3): “Buttigieg’s campaign considering copying McCain bus tour strategy” [The Hill]. “Lis Smith, a Democratic operative and a Buttigieg aide, told Politico that she is planning to recreate McCain’s ‘Straight Talk Express.’ McCain traveled on a campaign bus and invited reporters on the bus to ask him questions as he sought the Republican nomination in the presidential primary that was ultimately won by then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.” • McCain did lose….

Gabbard (D)(1): “Presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard talks foreign policy, Medicare in Iowa City” [The Gazette (Carla)]. Gabbard: “I know firsthand the cost of war. The most important responsibility that the president has is to serve as commander-in-chief. And the experience and the understanding that I bring to that forefront makes me uniquely qualified to fill that position to bring about an end to regime-change wars, to work to end this new Cold War and nuclear arms race.” • Best way to support the troops….

Gabbard (D)(2): “Rep. Gabbard on Venezuela: Trump WH ‘saber-rattling,’ US should broker diplomatic solution with Russia” [FOX]. Gabbard: “Any time we are in this situation where you have tensions being ratcheted up and this conflict being pushed closer and closer between nuclear-armed countries like the United States and countries like Russia and China, this is something that poses an existential threat to the American people. And, when you hear this kind of saber-rattling coming from the Trump administration from people like [National Security Adviser] John Bolton and [Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo, pushing this civil war and for the United States to get involved, we are dealing with dangerous consequences.” And: “The United States is not helping the situation by interfering and basically pushing for externally yet another regime change war that history shows us has not turned out to have a positive impact on people in the countries where we wage these wars. That’s why I’m pushing for diplomacy.” • No wonder she’s not getting any coverage….

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders Pushed False Flag Conspiracy Theory About Domestic Bombings” [The Daily Caller]. Key sentence: “Attacking intelligence agencies has been a constant feature of Sanders’s political career.” • Aside from showing the conservative genius treating positives as negatives, I wonder how long it will take for this talking point to migrate from the Daily Caller to Mother Jones or Salon? And from thence to the majors?

Yang (D)(1): “2020 candidate Andrew Yang wants to give an Iowan $12,000 over the next year to demonstrate the value of his policy plans” [Des Moines Register]. “‘I’m going to be giving a Freedom Dividend to a person or family in Iowa. That’s $1,000 a month for 12 months out of my own pocket,’ Yang, a lawyer and entrepreneur from New York, said. Iowans interested in receiving the cash, or nominating others, can apply at Yang’s website…. He started the giveaway part of his plan in January, after selecting the Fassi family of Goffstown, New Hampshire, to receive the monthly cash. Reports say Charles Fassi lost his job a few years ago, just as his daughter was starting college. Yang said he expects to facilitate payments to someone in South Carolina and maybe Nevada as well. ‘And obviously … these are the first-voting states,’ Yang said about his reasons for targeting the four states.” • Original, but isn’t this vote buying, albeit on a small scale?

“How to settle on a favorite Democratic presidential candidate? Good question” [Los Angeles Times]. “Choosing among Democrats, however, feels more like a nightmare right now. Do Democrats want an experienced hand, or a shiny new face? A man? A woman? A person of color? And for many voters, the most important question: Who can beat Trump?” Nothing about policy? More: “if they all agree on almost everything, how the heck are Democratic voters supposed to pick just one?” • They don’t. They clearly don’t. Warren and Sanders are clearly differentiated both from the field, and from each other. It shouldn’t be possible for a reporter to emit a sentence like “they all agree on almost everything” when only one candidate supports #MedicareForAll; “almost” is doing far too much work.

“Democrats Have Created an “Electability” Monster” [The New Republic]. “‘Electability’ is a crock of sh*t. It is defined, like political ‘moderation,’ only in terms of opposition to things people want, but are told they can’t have….. But Democratic voters did not teach themselves to prioritize electability over their own actual concerns. They were trained to, over many years, by party figures…. Democratic candidates and their most loyal voters are stuck in an absurd feedback loop. The politicians campaign and govern as if they themselves don’t believe a majority of voters prefer their agenda, signaling to their most loyal voters that they must vote not for what they want, but for what they imagine their more-conservative neighbors might want. But when voters in 2016 did exactly that, and nominated the candidate they were repeatedly told was most qualified to defeat Trump in the general election, they chose a person who went on to lose to him.” • Electability is why we can’t have nice things.

“‘Electability’ is a terrible reason to pick a candidate” [The Week]. “The election of Donald Trump ought to have put paid to the idea that anybody knows anything about who can win. The man was a reality TV show host, credibly accused of multiple instances of sexual assault, patently corrupt to his back teeth, and had no political experience whatsoever. Surely this guy can’t win, right? For the whole campaign, political commentators were openly contemptuous of the idea that he could win either the primary or the general election. All the election data shops predicted that Clinton would win easily. But nope!”

“Assessing electability: Like nailing Jell-O to a wall” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “Logically, the most ‘electable’ Democrat would be able to claw back some Trump voters who reside in that populist ideological portion of the electorate. We already mentioned Biden’s strength in general election polls against Trump compared to other Democrats, although we don’t think such polls are all that predictive at this point. Still, a polling edge combined with Biden’s support from the more moderate elements of the Democratic Party and his coolness to some of the more progressive policy proposals that have been discussed during the Democratic primary so far, like Medicare for all, might lead one to believe Biden is the most electable. That said, Bernie Sanders is already going after Biden for his votes to authorize the Iraq war and in support of NAFTA. Couldn’t Trump do the same, effectively getting to the left of Biden on international issues and holding his populist support in the key heartland states as a result? From that standpoint, maybe Sanders actually would be the more electable candidate; in addition to his votes against NAFTA and the Iraq war, Sanders’ political arguments are couched more on class than on race, which has sometimes gotten him into trouble with nonwhite activists who want the Democratic nominee to focus more on racial injustice and issues of white privilege. But isn’t it possible that de-emphasizing racial disparities in favor of emphasizing more color-blind class distinctions is a more electorally plausible path to winning back some white working-class voters?” • This is a really fun article.


“CNN sees ratings swoon in April” [CNN]. “CNN’s prime-time ratings dropped a whopping 26 percent in April compared to last year, according to Nielsen Media Research. MSNBC’s ratings were down 14 percent in April 2019 compared to April 2018, while Fox News’s ratings overall were flat.” • So now we have a number for the benefits a really rich scandal can bring to the television “industry.”

“‘The Mueller Report’ debuts at No. 1 on NYT best sellers list” [CNN]. “”The Mueller Report” is debuting at No. 1 on the nonfiction best sellers list compiled by The New York Times.

The report is also No. 11 on the combined print and e-book list. That’s because there are several versions available for sale. Yes, people are buying print copies of the report, even though it’s available for free on the web and on e-readers…. While numerous other publications also have best seller lists, The Times list is the publishing industry’s gold standard.” • I’ll have to read it, won’t I. Oy.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Clinton-era politics refuses to die. Joe Biden is its zombie that staggers on” [Hamilton Nolan, Guardian]. “[T]here are a significant number of people who genuinely believe that Joe Biden is the best possible presidential nominee. Their belief is not cynical, or at least not wholly cynical. His constituency is real. It is not illuminating to think of them just as centrists, arguing for the gentlest sprinkling of sugar over the top of America’s poison. It’s better to think of them as zombies: the product of three decades of self-serving, triangulating brainwashing. They are the Democrats who had their eyelids propped open and were forced to watch the Clinton era, year after year after year. It is not so much that they do not, deep down, harbor a vague wish for a better world; it is that, like stray dogs dining exclusively on garbage, life has taught them that this is the best that they will ever get.” • And yet Sanders will have to peel off some of those voters. For example–

“The Great Work” (interview) [The Sun]. Ralph Nader: “Appeal to people’s sense of fair play and justice. When you do that, suddenly the red state/blue state divide disappears. When I talk to conservatives in Alabama and Mississippi and Georgia, guess what? They get hurt, too, when there are dangerous cars and toxic air pollution. They get ripped off by the credit-card companies and insurance companies and banks. Focus on these issues that hurt people directly, and suddenly you have an unbeatable political coalition of conservative and liberal people who want a safe environment. You have conservative and liberal taxpayers who don’t want their taxes to subsidize big business and Wall Street. You have conservative and liberal voters locking arms. Do you know that some of the biggest legal victories against corporations are won in the most conservative areas of the country? They are won in Texas or Alabama, not Massachusetts or New York. Why? Because people resent the way they’re being treated. And when they’re in that jury box, they give the plaintiffs an adequate award, plus punitive damages.”

“Online church: Ministries use VR, apps to deliver digital services and virtual baptisms” [USA Today]. “Instead of ceremoniously sitting in a sanctuary on Easter Sunday like millions of Americans, dozens of experience-driven parishioners from all around the world took a walk into Jesus’ tomb, peering at the massive stone that once blocked the entrance before taking a tour of the cross where their savior was crucified. No plane tickets to Jerusalem required. All they needed was an internet connection and a VR headset.” • The Sanders campaign should to this for a visit to the doctor’s office… And I shudder to think what will happen if Trump 2.0 is the first to leverage this.

Identity politics is eating the world:

Stats Watch

Factory Orders, March 2019: “Factory orders rose 1.9 percent in a March report that is widely mixed yet fundamentally favorable” [Econoday]. “The best news in the report is a 1.4 percent surge in orders of core capital goods.” • This, and the productivity figures next, are what you want to see under capitalism…

Productivity and Costs, Q1 2019: “It took a far less increase in hours to produce a far greater amount of output in the first quarter, driving productivity sharply higher” [Econoday]. “When adjusted for inflation, compensation rose at a 1.7 percent rate which is down 6 tenths from the fourth-quarter pace. Though wages are considered to be on the rise, the improvement is still very modest compared to the acceleration underway in output.”

Jobless Claims, week of April 27, 2019: “Jobless claims failed to move back lower” [Econoday]. “Aside from tomorrow’s employment report, the last two weeks of initial claims data are echoing the rise recorded in Challenger’s job-cut counts and do challenge the general outlook for an uninterrupted run of steady and strong payroll growth in the months ahead.”

Challenger Job-Cut Report, April 2019: “Challenger’s layoff count finally eased back” [Econoday]. “[Y]ear-to-date announcements of job cuts are 31 percent higher than this time last year. The report notes special concern over this year’s pace of cuts in the manufacturing and auto sectors which it warns could trickle down and mean greater cuts for other industries.”

Banks: “Deutsche Bank Report Says Student Loan Debt Is a ‘Micro Problem'” [Bloomberg]. “Student debt is a hot-button issue, and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to cancel such debt for many borrowers strikes a visceral chord for anyone who’s struggled with the loans. But viewed next to the $104 trillion in household net worth, that $1.6 trillion is more of an unfortunate ‘micro problem’ for individuals than a macro problem for the economy, [Torsten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities] said. Some 0.8 percent of the U.S. population have student loan balances that top $100,000. Loan balances for most of the 14 percent of the U.S. population with student loans are between $10,000 and $25,000.” • But you can drown in an inch of water. Anyhow, if the problem is trivial, why not just solve it?

The Bezzle: “Tesla shares pop on plan to raise $2 billion from investors, including CEO Elon Musk” [CNBC]. “Tesla said Thursday it plans to raise up to $2 billion, with $1.35 billion coming from convertible notes and $650 million from new equity, including a big purchase from CEO Elon Musk…. The move comes only a week after Musk deferred on questions about the company raising capital any time soon.”

The Bezzle: “Musk’s Settlement Blasted by SEC’s Jackson for Being Too Weak” [Bloomberg]. “‘As a policy matter, those who settle cases with the SEC must be held to the bargain they struck,’ Jackson said in a statement. ‘Given Mr. Musk’s conduct, I cannot support a settlement in which he does not admit what is crystal clear to anyone who has followed this bizarre series of events: Mr. Musk breached the agreement he made last year with the commission.'” • Dude’s a crook. But he has impunity! What a unique situation.

The Bezzle: This is brilliant. A customer service dark pattern:

Took a lot of work to set this up, too. Good use of programmer and management time.

The Bezzle: More light reading from the shorts:

Tech: “A doorbell company owned by Amazon wants to start producing “crime news” and it’ll definitely end well” [Nieman Labs]. “That’s right: A doorbell company wants to report crime news.” • The logo will be an ice cream cone. Self-licking, of course.

Manufacturing: “When Your Amazon Purchase Explodes” [The Atlantic (DK)]. Lithium-Ion batteries. “Jones had unwittingly collided with one of e-commerce’s strangest and most vexing truths: In the massive global network of manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and resellers, it can be nearly impossible to tell who’s actually responsible for getting any given product into your living room. Even when it sets your couch on fire…. An untold number of lithium-ion-battery incidents go unreported, and no one agency tracks them. But the U.S. Fire Administration declared the batteries the “root cause” of at least 195 separate fires and explosions from 2009 to 2017. The Federal Aviation Administration has reported a few hundred incidents of smoke, fire, extreme heat, or explosions involving lithium-ion or unknown batteries in flight cargo or passenger baggage. And there were 49 recalls of high-energy-density batteries from 2012 to 2017.” • Yikes.

Manufacturing: “5 Things To Know About Boeing’s Ongoing Issues” (video) [The Onion]. • Not that far off….

Manufacturing: “Boeing’s South Carolina Plant Subject to Increased Scrutiny” [New York Times]. “From June 2013 to October 2014, the agency did not allow employees from the plant to certify aircraft, instead requiring that F.A.A. personnel directly sign off on all jets made there, the memo said. Typically, the agency relies on the manufacturer’s employees to help certify the aircraft. Even today, the agency is visiting the plant “every other week” to ensure that tools are not being lost, an extra level of vigilance by the regulator.” • Every other week…..

Manufacturing: “NASA Says Aluminum Fraud Caused $700 Million Satellite Failures” [Industry Week]. “NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory mission in 2009 and Glory mission in 2011 didn’t reach orbit and broke-up on re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere after payloads failed to separate from Taurus XL rockets. Aluminum producer Sapa Profiles Inc. [a unit of Norsk Hydro] had altered test results and provided false certifications to the rocket’s manufacturer relating to extrusions used in a key component for the payload delivery system, NASA said in a statement.” • So Norsk paid a $46 million fine for $700 million worth of busted satellites (although to be fair there’s the reputation damageMR SUBLIMINAL Lol. Kidding! And I thought the Nordic countries were clean! Except for their banks, of course. I sure hope no fraudulent alumninum made its way into our aircraft.

The Fed: “The Fed’s Third Mandate is to Reelect President Trump” [The Reformed Broker]. “Donald Trump is smarter than the Fed. Not about the economy or interest rates or any of that stuff. He’s smarter about the only thing that matters anymore – public perception. That’s why they’ll bend the knee. Everyone bends the knee eventually. It’s not like they’re going to be able to fight back in his Twitter arena. You watch what happens…. Now, you’re saying to yourself (or yelling at your screen) ‘But Josh! The Federal Reserve Chair cannot be removed by the President! That’s not how it works.’ LOL, tell me more about the old rules. What was it like in olden times? I love your old stories about the way things used to be. So cute!” • It does seem to be true that the Fed hasn’t taken away the punchbowl (which is the size of a thimble anyhow). They would need to do it soon, if they want Trump to have a recession on his watch. Though manufacturing and the employment situation seem sketchy…

The Biosphere

“Microsoft joins group seeking to kill off historic climate change lawsuits” [Guardian]. “Microsoft has joined a conservative-led group that demands fossil fuel companies be granted legal immunity from attempts to claw back damages from the climate change they helped cause. The stated goals of the Climate Leadership Council (CLC) include a $40-a-ton fee on carbon dioxide emissions in return for the gutting of current climate change regulations and ‘protecting companies from federal and state tort liability for historic emissions’. Microsoft has become the first technology company to join the CLC, which includes oil giants BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, Total and ConocoPhillips among its founding members. Handing legal immunity to these oil companies would squash a cavalcade of recent climate lawsuits launched by cities and counties across the US, including one by King county, Washington, where Microsoft is based.” • Totally on-brand?

“Trump fracking plan targets over 1 million acres in California” [Los Angeles Times]. “Trump’s plan – first proposed by the administration in 2018 — targets public and private land spread across eight counties in Central California: eastern Fresno, western Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura…. Once a plan is finalized and approved, environmental groups are expected to sue to block it, as they have in the past.” • And rightly, given the air quality in the Central Valley?

“UK climate panel sets big goals: less meat, electric cars” [Guardian]. “The U.K. should eliminate almost all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by rapidly adopting policies that will change everything from the way people heat their homes to what they eat, an independent committee that advises the British government on climate change recommended Thursday. A report from the Committee on Climate Change said the government must adopt ambitious goals if it wants to be a leader in the fight against global warming and limit the impact of climate change. While Britain has laid the groundwork to achieve net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, existing plans ‘must be urgently strengthened’ because ‘current policy is not enough even for existing targets,’ the committee said. … The government said it would respond to the recommendations ‘in due course.'” •

Health Care

“Woman Infected With Measles May Have Exposed ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Audience” [Yahoo News]. “Orange County officials warned Wednesday that a woman with measles apparently saw the opening night’s midnight showing of “Avengers: Endgame” in Fullerton before realizing she was sick. As a result, she may have exposed others in the region to the highly contagious disease, according to the Los Angeles Times. The twenty-something patient lives in Placentia and had just returned from a trip to Vietnam, where there has been widespread measles activity, according to ‘Inside Edition.'” • So, not an anti-vax story?

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Enter the Egg Man:

Big Dat: “I want them all! I’ll have the brown ones, and those great big white ones, and I’ll have those over there. And I want them for frying and for scrambling, and for hard-boiled for snacks. Oh, God!”

Groves of Academe

“A Chinese Cheating Ring at UCLA Reveals an Industry Devoted to Helping International Students Scam Grades” [Los Angeles Magazine]. “According to prosecutors, [Liu] Cai, along with four current and former UCLA students and another student at Cal State Fullerton, helped at least 40 Chinese nationals obtain student visas by fraudulently taking the TOEFL, an English proficiency exam, on their behalf. Cai’s ringers would show up to testing sites with fake Chinese passports bearing their own photos but with the names of the clients. Where Cai slipped—and where investigators caught up to him—was charging 39 test registration payments to his credit card…. While the UCLA case is less shocking [than operation Varsity Blues]—bribes in thousands of dollars instead of millions; Chinese high schoolers instead of Full House cast members—it represents an equally notable underbelly of American college admissions. If Varsity Blues is about the American ruling class perpetuating its privilege, the UCLA scandal reveals the extreme pressures and perverse incentives facing international students, many of them far less privileged and desperate to not screw up their shot.” • Hmm. I’m not sure those students were not highly privileged — by the standards of their home countries.

Class Warfare

“Reform capitalism or face revolution, billionaires are told at Milken Conference” [Los Angeles Times]. “The gathering of billionaires, hedge fund managers and other financial industry professionals who converged on the Beverly Hilton hotel largely had a particular end in mind: how to increase their alpha, which, not to get too complicated, means improving their investment returns. But while the 5,000 attendees could go to sessions on the state of capital markets, listen to the chairwoman of the International Monetary Fund and strike up conversations with some of the world’s most savvy investors, it all had to go down with a rather large dose of bitter medicine. If the barricades have not been erected in the streets, they were told several times over, they could soon be unless there is reform of the American economic system.” • For example, one obvious reform–

“Freelancers Want to Join Unions but Labor Laws Won’t Let Them” [Teen Vogue (Joe Well)]. “[The] imperfect [National Labor Relations Act] still governs the lives of working people today, and the way an employer uses it to classify the people who work for them has a huge impact on an employee’s ability to protect and advocate for themselves. Worker misclassification under the NLRA is the source of many of the ongoing labor disputes in multiple industries, from tech to digital media. That means that there are millions of workers who are left unprotected by the country’s most important labor law, and who can’t join most unions even if they wanted to. ‘There isn’t a clear-cut way for workers to determine if they are misclassified on their own,’ Amity Paye, a representative from Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, tells Teen Vogue.” • I’m not a labor law expert, but this article seems sound to me, and it’s well worth a read. Teen Vogue mind you.

“Minneapolis Uber drivers are striking May 8 over sub-minimum wages”[Minneapolis City Pages]. “Participating drivers will simply turn off their apps for 12 hours. The movement is being supported by Gig Workers Rising, a ‘community of app and platform workers’ trying to improve conditions and pay at jobs with companies like Uber, TaskRabbit, and DoorDash. The group didn’t respond to interview requests, but it told the Guardian in no uncertain terms why its 4,000 or so Uber-driving members are going dark next week. ‘Uber is paying drivers poverty wages and continues to slash wages while executives make millions,’ organizer Shona Clarkson said.” • I wonder how we will be able to track the success of the strike, other than anecdotally? What’s a strike without a picket line?

“RockStar Games Begins Imprisoning Programmers For ‘Red Dead Redemption 3” [The Onion]. “‘We’ve herded an incredibly talented team of programmers into holding pens, and they’re already hard at work making sure Red Dead 3 is the most immersive installment in franchise history,’ Rockstar producer and company president Sam Houser told us by phone.” Meanwhile, on Planet Earth–

“Exclusive: The Saga Of ‘Star Citizen,’ A Video Game That Raised $300 Million—But May Never Be Ready To Play” [Forbes]. “What’s really rough is the current state of Star Citizen. The company Roberts cofounded, Cloud Imperium Games, has raised $288 million to bring the PC game to life along with its companion, an offline single-player action game called Squadron 42. Of this haul, $242 million has been contributed by about 1.1 million fans, who have either bought digital toys like the Kraken or given cash online. Excluding cryptocurrencies, that makes Star Citizen far and away the biggest crowdfunded project ever.”

News of the Wired

“To feed the world, begin with maggot sausage and insect ice cream, says scientist” [CNN]. “Lobsters are not pretty. Dip these unsightly creatures into warm butter and they instantly become a different matter to most of us. Why, then, do we gag at the thought of eating insects? One Australian researcher hopes to change that. University of Queensland Meat Science Professor Dr. Louwrens Hoffman is exploring how maggots, locusts and other ‘alternative’ proteins might be used or added to a range of specialty foods. So why turn to bugs when you could have, say, a tasty steak? Quite simply, Hoffman believes conventional livestock will not be able to meet the global demand for meat, so alternatives are needed to replace or at least complement traditional protein sources.”

“Robot Mimicry or Mastery? The End of Bench Manufacturing Is Near” [Industry Week]. “When we asked the plant manager why humans do the bench work versus other jobs in the factory like pick and pack, he said that the pick and pack of the trays of components was done by robots because it was a source of tedium and potentially repetitive stress injury. What kept running through my head was, “What about the bench itself?”… I would characterize most bench assembly operations as “robot mimicry,” where we are being asked to mimic a task that a robot would ideally do—if an affordable one existed that could do that task. What brain power needed to be applied was mostly devoted to visual inspection of whether the parts appeared to be defect free and calculating just where your hand should be to do the task very quickly. I could tell as I watched the people doing the work, they were good at their jobs, fluidly grabbing parts and punching in screws in motions so smooth it was almost ballet-like. On the other hand, I imagined them getting up at 6:30 a.m., making breakfast for the kids, driving to work, clocking into the job, and getting to their bench only to then be prized for essentially how well they moved their hands.” • I filed this here, as opposed to “Manfacturing” under Stats, or Class Warfare, to give it prominence. This is not a trivial “Here come the robots!” piece.

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

SS: “The Hudson in Spring.” The vehicle, not the river valley.” Besides the color and the subject, I love the symmetry.

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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. Andrew

    Re: UCLA cheating ring

    My wife’s experience teaching ESL at a state university was that most international students were, in fact, highly privileged in their home countries. And pretty privileged compared to most of the domestic students, for that matter.

    1. RMO

      Maybe they should just sell degrees outright, at least for certain fields – engineering no but business admin or economics would be fine.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        Isn’t the main problem that foreign students pay boatloads of money to the University (because there is no instate discount), so the University has had an incentive to look the other way?

        1. jrs

          yes that’s right. the universities court out of state (and out of country) students, our public universities, that are overcrowded as is, for the money they bring in, while they turn down so many locals who apply.

          But many of those going to UCLA are pretty well off regardless I think (actually I’ve heard more so than those going to USC). Now community colleges and Cal States, not so well off people are often attending there, doesn’t have any of the prestige factor though (and yes there are the less prestigious UCs as well).

            1. dearieme

              first in their family to attend college So few people know anything about their great-grandparents that it’s hard to believe they could document that.

              Some don’t know much about their grandparents. Indeed some poor souls know little about at least one of their parents. Could they be confident that Uncle Jim, whom they’ve scarcely heard of, didn’t go to college?

              1. Heraclitus

                My five generations removed great grandfather got an MA from the University of Glasgow in 1763. I think he likely studied with Adam Smith, who was Dean of the Faculty at that time. None of his descendants (in our line, anyway) attended college until my mother’s generation. No one thought of themselves as under educated, as they were well read and well spoken. They didn’t think they needed college in order to work, or to satisfy their curiosity.

      2. clarky90

        The implications of this scandal are huge. Our social order is based on meritocracy; ie the best rise to the top. We then ask these “most-qualified” to control our societies.

        IF the best are only “the best”, as a result of buying their way into, say, Yale. And then, they “earned” their PhDs as a result of ghost-writers, well…….?

        It strikes at the very heart of our evidence-based world.

        Fake qualifications are now at the forefront, arm in arm, with fake news.

        I had imagined that through good fortune, I was living in a sane and stable world. It appears to be, not so.

        1. ambrit

          Meritocracy as a social design “looks good on paper.”
          The insularity of the Meritocrat class rests largely on the “In Group” phenomenon. Let the ‘sanctity’ of the concept be denied once, the entire edifice trembles.
          From my experiences with the concept from school and later the work world, a destructive cognitive dissonance is suggested. Seeing through the ‘glamour’ of Meritocracy, for the educated and semi-educated classes, requires one to admit to having been duped. Few people can face such a feeling of degradation and despair squarely in the face. For many in that position, self delusion is a psychological defensive measure.
          Add to fake qualifications and fake news, fake culture. Eventually, the resulting ferment will give rise to action.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      My son’s experience at a large state university is that most of the international students are very well off. Far better off than the commoners (native students). The nicest cars are campus are no longer owned by the “beautiful people”, but, more often than not, international students.

      When I attended, I had huge respect for the handful of international students I knew. School was hard enough in my primary language, I couldn’t image it in a second language. Again, the ones I knew worked their tail off… many had stories about their parents/families scrimping and saving to send them off to school.

      I would image the hard workers are still there today, but hugely overshadowed by the kids in the Lambos, cheating their way through.

      There’s a reddit thread today where many people claiming to be TAs have turned kids in for cheating only to have nothing done, and speculate it’s the all mighty $$$ at work.

  2. Phacops

    Re: Buttigieg (D)(2):

    Down that thread is the wonderful description of Buttigieg as sizzling mayo.

    I am so done with empty suites like him, malignant clowns like Biden or the host of phony bandwagon hoppers infesting the Democratic primary.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Hey, watch it! You just insulted phony bandwagon hoppers.

      But I think I have some of those things infesting my back yard. Excuse me, I need to go deal with the hoppers …

      1. Chris

        Re: Mayo Pete – defintion: a Buttigieg is a special kind of aioli that you put on tea sandwiches served at DNC fundraisers.

    2. jrs

      Liz Warren also met with Clinton.

      Maybe why centrist can support her. Warren does seem to be earning widespread respect, she appeals to those Bernie doesn’t (I know Bernie’s base is passionate). She could be the nominee.

      As for whether Buttigieg is good looking, possibly, Obama was not unattractive. There is a certain percentage of people who literally seem to vote on this, but they should be treated like the superficial fools they are, never having matured from middle school crushes on celebrities.

      1. ChiGal in Chicago

        Actually, physical attractiveness counts for a lot, we are just wired that way. Think of Bill Clinton; I have long despised him but despite his sleaziness could still feel the pull of his charisma TV.

        Obama is even tougher, cuz he is not personally sleazy and is a type I find much more attractive, but still I can’t bear to listen to him precisely because the appeal still comes through and dammit I am SO angry with him for being such a disappointment.

        PB is not in the same league as the above; he is cute like a puppy and engaging, but there’s not gonna be an Obama Girl for him. Nor a Buttigieg Boy.

        He really doesn’t have sex appeal, in short.

        1. JohnnyGL

          “Actually, physical attractiveness counts for a lot, we are just wired that way.”

          Yes, this is true, but I think people often underestimate the blowback that can occur from physical attractiveness, especially in the political realm. Examples abound….Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin. I think it’s happening to Beto, now, too. Exuding the level of snobbiness that he does and continuing to utter ridiculous meaningless word salad phrases also isn’t helping him.

          It seems to me that a lot of the anti-AOC backlash gets magnified by right-wing guys who think she’s pretty. They want her to peg her as ‘dumb’ because she’s not on their team and it drives them crazy.

          I’ve definitely known guys (and girls) who will flip from admiring/liking a physically attractive person to hating them on a visceral level.

          1. bassmule

            Government of the People, by Celebrities, for the Wealthy, must perish from the Earth.

          2. Amfortas the hippie

            idk. recently digging into french politics, i discovered that the niece( and heir apparent) of that le pen woman is pretty hawt…but i wouldn’t vote for her…or likely tolerate her as a neighbor.
            I learned about Tulsi’s politics before i ever saw a picture of her(a surfing picture, no less).
            given the reaction to her by almost every democrat i know(almost frothing hatred(!?)), i wonder if her looks work against her…or if there’s been msdnc tropes/pavlovian bells against her that engender this response.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              How many of the Democrats you know are pro Sanders/Warren/Gravel? How many are pro Catfood Clintonite Establishment?

              I bet the percent of pro Sanders/Warren/Gravel Democrats you know who would support Gabbard also is higher than the percent of pro Catfood Clintonite Establishment Democrats who would support Gabbard.

              The Catfood Clintonites revile Gabbard as a Putin-loving Assad-supporter. Whence the hatred. Also, the Jonestown Clintonite Cultists who follow politics more intensively know very well that Gabbard resigned from the DNC over the issue of the DNC being a Clintonite Conspiracy. She then supported Sanders.
              The Jonestown Clintonites have hatredized Gabbard ever since then.

        2. Summer

          Beto Blew It

          You can read a bit of the first part befo re the member wall comes into effect. 

          “According to my unscientific poll asking every woman I see, Beto reminds them of the worst boyfriend they ever had: self-involved, convinced of his own charm, chronically late if he shows up at all, worth a meal or two but definitely not marriage material.”

          Why do I think being single would have done more for Beto? Then he would have probably been the very moody, but highly eligible bachelor to many of the women basing their candidate picks on boyfriend appeal more than other factors.

        3. Stillfeelinthebern

          Actually, physical attractiveness counts for a lot, we are just wired that way.

          I am going to disagree. Political leaning of parents is far more important indicator of how you will vote. There are plenty of “unattractive” people who get elected.

          Take a look at my state Senator. http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/18/feyen/meet-dan/
          Anyone remember when Mary Matlin was on that show with Jane Wallace (Equal Time) and they called Carville, “serpent head?” I think of that everytime I see this dude.

      2. Jeff W

        “She could be the nominee.”

        It seems doubtful.

        Summarizing what Benjamin Studebaker and Aimee Terese said, in their recent podcast, “The Evolution of Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren,” Warren’s raised far less money than Pete Buttigieg has, even though she was the very first to enter the race and he entered the race very recently, months later than Warren did. She “appeals to those who Bernie doesn’t” but it’s too small a slice to matter. She speaks to the professional middle class, the class most of the press corps is in, which is why she gets relatively good press. Her underlying premise is “if you work hard, you can make it into that class”—she doesn’t speak to the working class or the poor and she alienates the rich. She is, as we know, a terrible politician, no matter how much one might like her policies. It seems exceedingly unlikely that she’ll be the nominee.

        1. jrs

          yes middle class folks, some still think Bernie cost Hillary the nom. The middle class is increasingly small (middle class values, what middle class? and I don’t think their values are anything to write home about either).

          But it’s hard for me to even encounter those for whom Bernie is the first choice among them, but if he’s the nom and it’s Bernie or Trump, they’ll vote for Bernie.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Ooh, library lady will hold lots of earnest hearings and everything. She’ll wonk about COLAs and her carefully-considered opinion of MMT. How she had very important committee appointments. How we need to break up the banks and pay reparations for anyone who can prove their ancestors were wronged in some way. That and many, many other complete dead-end positions and policies. But she’ll be warpathing!

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                No. She would be earnest and wonkish and full of detailed policy analysis and prescriptions in a way that the bog standard Politico just wouldn’t.

                How many detailed proposals has Bog Standard Catfood Joe proposed about anything, for example?

                1. ambrit

                  The problem is that past “Wonks,” in American politics have not covered themselves in glory. Prior American Wonk Politicos include the likes of Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter, etc. etc.
                  Recent American politics have shown that a smooth talking sociopath generally wins hands down. H Clinton has the sociopathy alright, but not the “smooth.” Her husband had both, and made it to “fame and fortune.” The exploitative sociopaths usually place the ‘wonks’ in positions that they are conversant with, and grifts off of the results.
                  Alas for Warren, her gaffes show her political skills to be barely adequate, but not of a national level quality.
                  Warren would make a good Veep or Cabinet member.

      3. Grant

        Who do you think that she appeals to that Bernie doesn’t? There are a lot of people that love Bernie, but it seems that the anti-Bernie folks have a cult like hatred of him. It isn’t tons different than the folks that watch Fox and irrationally hate AOC. Manufactured by those most threatened by him.

        Warren has a number of good policy ideas. Horrible on foreign policy though, and for some reason not supportive of single payer, which is huge. Single payer touches on so many issues in our society. So, those are concerns. Additionally, she doesn’t seem to poll well outside the party and it seems that lots of people have a negative opinion of her, far more than Bernie it seems. That isn’t always an issue, and I am weary of relying on polls, but it did matter with Clinton. I also do worry, should she win the nomination, who she would pick as her VP. I doubt someone like Bernie, I could totally see her picking someone closer to Tim Kaine than Bernie to please donors or the Clinton types.

        I think her support of postal banking is good, as is her support for a government owned enterprise that would sell generic drugs at cost. Seems that would require radical changes to how we think of intellectual property, especially the intellectual property created with public support.

        1. ChiGal in Chicago

          Again, no charisma and she comes off like a school marm. If only when she bows out, she would throw her support to Bernie!

          She would make him safe for some who would otherwise be leery imho.

          1. aletheia33

            i hate to admit it, and have no opinion at present on warren’s candidacy, but i do think that USA could do worse right now than having its very own really good school marm.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            I like Warren, but she has three problems:

            -bad instincts. She sat out 2016,and her DNA debacle. George Washington was President. Warren doesn’t have to be him, but sitting idle through the Mass primary was a failure of leadership.
            -her age. She’s not young enough to make her viable relative to Sanders.
            -she’s also strikes me as a nose to the grindstone type. Her terrible answers on issues such as Iraq in the past stand in stark contrast to her positions on areas where she focuses. This might be an instinct problem, but she reverts to just awful msm pleasing positions too often. She learns, but she has had too many failed auditions over the years she failed to build an audience.

            1. Grant

              Also, doesn’t support single payer (huge issue with me), and horrible on foreign policy. Bernie isn’t great on foreign policy, I think she is worse.

              I like her policies and while she isn’t great on a number of issues, she is ones I prioritize. She scares bankers, and I think there is good reason. But, she does openly support capitalism, and I personally think that boxes her in on policy. I love her idea of postal banking though, and really like her idea of a government owned enterprise making generic drugs and selling them at cost. Brilliant, and if Bernie should win, he should support that.

        2. ChrisPacific

          Hardcore Clinton supporters – the ones that thought any criticism of Clinton was sexism, bought into the ‘Bernie Bros’ story and are still furious with him for messing up the election for her (along with many other factors, all heinous, one of a kind and unforgivable).

          I have a few of these in my Facebook feed and they are often quite well disposed toward Warren, even while they still regard Sanders as the spawn of Satan.

          1. ambrit

            Wait! You can’t make this stuff up. Bernie Derangement Syndrome acronyms out as, *gasp* BDS! Someone feed me a couple of Xanax and oil up the whips!

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              And Sanders Derangement Syndrome would acronym out to SDS which is quite the blast from the past.

      4. Carla

        There is NO way Warren beats Trump. But the Dems don’t want the only candidate who can beat Trump.

        1. fajensen

          I think the Dems don’t want any candidate that can beat Trump!

          Donald Trump has given meaning and direction to their lives and they don’t want that to end. Besides the money people likes what Donald Trump is doing while the media is saturated with Russia^4 stories and Donald Trump outrage sponsored by the Clintonites.

    3. Jos Oskam

      This is possibly a completely politically incorrect thought of me, but a president named Buttigieg…you must be joking, right?

      1. shinola

        I imagine there’s a near infinite number of juvenile butt gags just waiting for the proper opportunity.

        I can think of quite a few myself…
        (suppressing a giggle just contemplating it)

        1. ChiGal in Chicago

          And should he become an actual threat Trump will be first on the Twitter machine cranking em out–ugh!

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        You heard it here first: a gay man named Buttigieg who is mayor of a minor Indiana town will not be president

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I’m someone less down on the idea of a mayor becoming President. The real problem he has is by not holding statewide office he will be under scrutiny to demonstrate a point, and right now, Buttigieg’s schtick is Obama’s act. He’s a smarty pants who wants everyone to just get along. If that happened, things would seem great….the problem is “not getting along” isn’t the source of the problems and two, Obama was successful for reasons outside of Obama’s control in his case Iraq, Clinton awfulness, and Obama’s safe blackness within the racial history of the U.S.

          If he was authoring Sandersesque manifestos instead of seeking audiences with former Tucker Carlson regular Al Sharpton, he might make sense. Instead he opted for the parlor tricks to impress the other parents approach and seems to think being President is a real neat job.

        2. Jos Oskam

          That’s what I thought. It’s unjust, he hasn’t invented his own surname, he hasn’t chosen to be gay, but I fear nevertheless these things together will prove insurmountable obstacles to being elected.
          That’s just the way it is.

    4. voteforno6

      Perhaps I missed something, but I guess I don’t know when he became a “policy wonk.” Has he ever displayed the ability to explain any issue in depth? Or, is he a “policy wonk” in the same sense that Hillary Clinton was “the most qualified ever”?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Given the reputation of Bill for weasel wording, I always thought the “most qualified ever” narrative was hysterical because the Constitution has a pretty clear set of qualifications for President. HRC happened to meet everyone of them, making her the most qualified along with every other nominee besides McCain (who was born in Panama).

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          And even metaphorically, when I think of “most qualified to be President”, my first thought is Herbert Hoover. I’m open to others, I’m not a Hoover buff. But comparing Hillary’s resume to his is laughable.

          1. ambrit

            Actually, as I mentioned above, Hoover was not that great at the political economy side of the job. The really “great” Presidents, as, admittedly measured by posterity, were a grab bag of self made men and scions of the American Aristocracy. Wonks, in general did not do that well. Perhaps, an aspect of the ‘character’ needed to scale the Ivory Towers of Academe or the Glass Towers of Business does not translate well into the sphere of Practical Politics.

      2. jsn

        “Policy wonk” in MSM parlance is a look: Paul Ryan had it qualifying him to be Speaker of the House, it obviously has no content.

  3. Cal2

    “The Washington Post’s take on World War II: white supremacy was the biggest threat in World War II, not Nazism.”

    Nice distraction. Tell that to the All white Russians, South Africans, Australians, Scandinavians and Finns that fought Germany.

    Maybe it was a war to defeat a competing economic system, not politics?

    “The Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, at a time when its economy was in total collapse, with ruinous war-reparation obligations and zero prospects for foreign investment or credit. Yet through an independent monetary policy of sovereign credit and a full-employment public-works program, the Third Reich was able to turn a bankrupt Germany, stripped of overseas colonies it could exploit, into the strongest economy in Europe within four years, even before armament spending began….”


    1. JohnnyGL

      Not to nitpick, but Finland was on the side of Germany, the Soviets invaded Finland in 1939-1940, I think.

      You might be thinking of Norway, which was invaded by the Germans.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Finland actually fought on both sides. Fights the Soviets during the Winter War, comes in on the German side during Operation Barbarossa, then switches to the Soviets in 1944 when the tide is turning.

        I tend to give them a pass, given their neighborhood.

        And those ski troops were magnificent, after all.

        1. Anders

          Nowadays the Finns loudly insist that they weren’t really on the German side up until 1944 … but if it quacks like a duck, etc. The films of Hitler coming to Finland to congratulate Mannerheim are real, after all. And indeed they wouldn’t have had any motivation to turn against the German forces in Lapland in ’44, driving them out, except that when Finland surrendered to the Soviet Union, the Russkies made that a condition of the armistice.

      2. Polar Socialist

        Not to nitpick a nitpicking, but Finland also fought Germans in 1944-45.

        Withdrawing Germans burned about half of the buildings in Lapland, which led to decades of animosity towards them. I guess that was the intended purpose of the Soviets when they demanded removing German forces from Finland as one of terms for armistice between Finland and Soviet Union.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        That Soviet Invasion may have helped convince Finland to ally with Germany in the coming war. And not to nitpick the nitpick, but the Marshall Mannerheim government never did “Nazify” the Finnish Jews. I believe I remember reading that when the Germanazi government demand that Finland hand over the Jews for extermination, Mannerheim informed the Germanazi government that Finland would fight against German forces to prevent that from happening. So the Germanazi government switched its attention back to more reality-based concerns.

        So at least in that one instance, Finland did not apply Nazi values.

      4. rd

        Sweden could be neutral because they didn’t have a big long coast on the Atlantic like Norway and they weren’t right next to Russia like Finland.

        The Finns surprised the Russians in the Winter War and fought them to a draw so “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” came into effect with Germany. The Finns were between and rock and a hard place from the late 30s until 1945.

    2. dearieme


      The Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, at a time when its ruinous war-reparation obligations had been largely defaulted on by hyperinflation, and with the advantage of having been stripped of the expense of overseas colonies. The changes it introduced included privatisation of state industries and rationing in consumer goods like poultry, fruit, and clothing.

      I suppose Hjalmar Schacht’s take on MMT was interesting. He created a scheme for deficit financing, in which capital projects were paid for with the issuance of promissory notes called Mefo bills, which could be traded by companies with each other. This was particularly useful in allowing Germany to rearm, because the Mefo bills were not Reichsmarks and did not appear in the federal budget, so they helped conceal rearmament. When the notes were presented for payment, the Reichsbank printed money. This proved inadequate in 1938, when a large share of Mefo’s five-year promissory notes fell due, so the government employed “highly dubious methods” where “banks were forced to buy government bonds, and the government took money from savings accounts and insurance companies” in order to pay the holders of Mefo bills. Of course it was unsustainable, but then the Nazis had always intended to right the accumulated debt by conquest.

      (Thanks to WKPD for bits of this.)

      1. Conrad

        Germany’s Versailles reparations were payable in gold marks, and thus the amount to pay was largely unaffected by hyperinflation. By the time Germany finally defaulted in 1932 something like 15 to 20 % of the total had been paid.

    3. Jessica

      One way that one could look at Nazism was that it attempted to treat white non-Germans the way that whites had been treating non-whites.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Tens of thousands of Germans too (at an absolute minimum) ended up in concentration camps and died as well. Apart from German jews, there were homosexuals, gypsies, union organizers, priests, conscientious objectors, the feeble, Jehovah’s Witnesses, criminals, dissidents, etc. It was a case of being with the Nazis or being against them – and everybody knew that bad things happened if you fought the government party openly.

  4. Jos Oskam

    “…Clinton has not endorsed anyone in the race…”

    Why do I feel that candidates need an endorsement by Hillary Clinton like they need a hole in the head?
    Looks more like a kiss of death to me.

    1. polecat

      So little mayor b .. has bended his little knee !

      what other WAR Campaigners are next in this insipid Game of Cajones?

      1. ambrit

        I tend to agree here. Hillary is trying to play Capo de Tutti Frutti. Everyone wishing in on the gravy train after the “Inevitable” (TM) Democrat Party win in 2020 is required to kiss something of Hillary’s, though I doubt it is as prosaic as a ring.
        (How much financial control over the Democrat Party core competency does the Clinton Foundation still have?)

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        They can have a nice cozy fireside meeting: Geo Bush, Michele, Darth Cheney, Barack, Biden. Maybe they can also get Jamie Dimon, one of the Koch Brothers, and Zuckerberg. Brennan and Clapper can be in the chorus. A black-framed portrait of McCain in the background. They can all hold hands and sing Kumbaya on Rachel Maddow’s show. And maybe a few choruses of “Arbeit Macht Frei!”

        1. Whoamolly

          Re: cozy fireside chat

          I have no problem visualizing that gathering. It feels eerily possible—given the personalities involved.

    2. Whoamolly

      I suspect The Clinton Machine is the Walmart-size institution in the little town of corporate Dem big-donors. No where else to shop.

      So yeah. I think she matters.

  5. polecat

    I installed a ‘bee package’ into an empty hive last weekend .. a 3-pounder. So today, I lifted up the frame in which I had placed the queen cage .. and low-and-behold, the queen was released crom her temporary confines by her house maidens .. with eggs laid in some of the ajoining comb cells. Needless to say, polecat is beyond happy ! ‘:)
    The one-outta-four winter surviver hive is ALSO going gangbusters – time to think about adding another box for what appears to be an expanding colony. Have set up another empty hive for capturing any swarm moi happens to see emerging. So Spring has sprung, thus far .. Yay !

    1. Arizona Slim


      And the good news from the Arizona Slim Ranch is …

      … the place has been discovered. By doves. I’m currently hosting my second nest of the season.

      1. polecat

        Slim, are they hives you bought or made .. or did the bees ‘improvise’ .. e. i. a wall void or tree hollow, junk car, or some such ??
        Also, what are the main necture draws (flowering plant species) down your way ?? … just curious ..

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      that’s cool, Polecat…and i hope to follow you in that endeavor soon.
      we have a bee tree…large, spreading post oak(Quercus stellata–which usually hold on to their big hollow dead limbs for years), with a happy hive at about eye level. found it while me and the younger son were sitting about 10 feet above the hive.(climbed down very gingerly while thinking nonthreatening thoughts)
      did you do top bar or the ordinary langstroth?
      i’ve been leaning towards the former.
      i dig sitting out there in the adjacent meadow on sunny spring days.
      watching them do their thing.

      1. polecat

        Ath, I keep my bees in top bar hives, first building several Warre type stacking … then built 2 that I call the ‘long’ hives, as they are 1′ × 4′ × 14″ in height. The bars contact longitudinally, and are nestled in top rabbit cuts front and back, and have frame components attached from the sides to encourage the workers to keep within bounds .. and to NOT bridge comb to the hive proper ! .. thought they still bridge between bar comb as suits them … argh !! 2 front glass shutters with wooden doors, to peak inside. Entry is 4 3/4″ holes in a line, low at the front end. Insulation bag over the bars, with the peaked hinged roof to keep the elements out. On stands (secured) to work in relative comfort. Langstroth hives have too much space for the bees to maintain. With top bars the bees draw their comb the way THEY see fit .. and not for human designs .. e.i. different cell sizes for different brood, as nature, and the bees, intended.

  6. John k

    Ray Dalio, big hedgie, is saying inequality has reached the point that central bank low rates and Qe are becoming unacceptable, and that money printing (mmt) is necessary and inevitable to reduce inequality. He asks hopes controls will be in place to prevent excess. (ZH). Seems people listen to him.
    IMO open spigot for infra when local area unemployment rises above some limit, maybe congressional district size.

    1. notabanker

      Well it’s completely unthinkable to confiscate the 17 trillion or so that has already been printed through ZIRP and QE that has landed in Bridgewater and every other FS firm in the US, so yeah, printing some more up to calm the masses may be a decent idea.

      They are still in the early stages of gee, we may have a big problem brewing here. MMT infrastructure spending in 2019/20 is throwing buckets of water on Notre Dame. We’re getting close to the third decade of unrestrained capitalism. These problems aren’t going to be undone by the brain borg at Bridgewater.

    1. RMO

      A vast quantity of actions make Biden unacceptable. The more I learn about him the worse he looks. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that every terrible, ghastly policy enacted in the US during his political career had him at the center. Anyone remember the Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper song “Elvis Is Everywhere”? “Who built the pyramids? ELVIS! Who built Stonehenge? ELVIS” I feel like you could do the same thing with destructive policies and bills and the answer would be “BIDEN!” It may be difficult to fit into a catchy song unfortunately.

      I won’t be the least bit surprised if he gets pushed through as the candidate though. The campaign to paint anyone who dares support any other possible candidate as a Russian stooge has already started so they should be well prepared to deflect blame when he loses to Trump after flushing a billion plus down a rat hole in 2020.

      1. wilroncanada

        Could he perhaps reduce that to a single slogan, say: Make America great Again?

        1. amfortas the hippie

          t-shirt in a shop in market square in san antonio( hispanic owned in this majority hispanic city):”maga: migrants always get across”
          another shirt had a rendering of a loteria card,”el diablo”, with trumps mugshot.
          shop owner had a sort of nicho to zapata behind the register, lit candle and all

  7. Pelham

    “UK climate panel sets big goals: less meat, electric cars”

    But if two-thirds of the Earth’s land surface is suitable only as grassland and grassland is more efficient than forests at storing carbon and herd animals are the only way to turn grass into food for human beings, shouldn’t we be eating more meat, not less?

    1. Hepativore

      There is also the fact that many animals can eat many other things besides grass that humans cannot like pigs and goats, especially in areas where the soil is too poor to grow anything to eat or subsist on. Pigs are basically living recyclers. Plus, when you think about how practically all of a livestock animal carcass has a use, nothing is wasted and so this is both a service to the animal for not throwing anything away, and a testament to recycling.

      1. dearieme

        There’s a Guardian journalist who has repeatedly bewailed the sheep gazing in the Welsh mountains. I’m not certain which arable crop he thinks should replace them: judging by the local rainfall I guess he has rice paddies in mind.

    2. clarky90

      Why I Only Eat Meat – Mikhaila Peterson’s Background Story


      “This video might give a bit of a background story to people who don’t know why I only eat meat. Hopefully it helps people.

      It’s a video from the first ever carnivore conference, organized by Amber O’Hearn (who has been doing a carnivore diet to treat her bipolar for much longer than I have.)”

      Mikhaila’s story is a “true life” tale of a young woman who was literally dying; in spite of having unrestrained access to modern medicine. Out of desperation, she began an elimination diet. (Remove or add a food/supplement to your diet, and then note your body’s response).

      She ended up eating steak, salt and water! She is very well now.

      1. polecat

        So she ditched the macroneurotic diet, benamed by the great burger-nosher himself, John Michael Greer !
        Glad it works for her.

        1. clarky90

          “Simplify, simplify, simplify”; only eat steak and salt, once or twice a day. Drink water. Typically, no supplements. Think of a pride of lions, who eat intermittently as opposed to grazing wildebeests who eat incessantly.

          Also, our totem animals are usually carnivores; lions, sharks, owls, wolves, eagles, TRex……

          Indoor pets are usually carnivorous dogs and cats. No pet rabbits or sheep sleeping on the house furniture!

      2. martell

        It’s not clear that she’s well and it’s not clear that the improvements she’s experienced are due to eating meat. Restricting to her diet to meat, she might have also calorie restricted, among other things. Perhaps calorie restriction (or any one of the other changes she might have inadvertently made) is the cause of improvements. And by limiting herself to meat, she’s likely adopted a vitamin deficient diet, the consequences of which might not become apparent for several years.

        That said, I can’t say for certain that the diet is unhealthy, since it hasn’t been properly studied. I would need to see methodologically sound randomized controlled trials and, ideally, good accounts of mechanism that explain why the trials went the way they did. I think that’s the way to form judgments here, as opposed to relying on testimonials.

        1. clarky90

          “The Fat of the Land” (1956) the entire Arctic Exploration book as a pdf.


          Vilhjalmur Stefansson (November 3, 1879 – August 26, 1962) was an Icelandic American Arctic explorer and ethnologist.


          …..Advocacy of an exclusively meat diet
          … Stefansson documented the fact that the Inuit diet consisted of about 90% meat and fish; Inuit would often go 6 to 9 months a year eating nothing but meat and fish—what might nowadays be perceived to be a ‘zerocarb’ / no-carbohydrate diet or an extreme version of the ketogenic diet. … He found that he and his fellow explorers of European, Negro, and South Sea Islands descent were also perfectly healthy on such a diet.

          ……While there was considerable skepticism when Stefansson reported his findings about the viability of an exclusively meat diet, his claims have been borne out in later studies and analyses. In multiple studies, it was shown that the Inuit diet was a ketogenic diet. …..To combat erroneous conventional beliefs about diet, Stefansson and his fellow explorer Karsten Anderson agreed to undertake a study to demonstrate that they could eat a 100% meat diet in a closely observed laboratory setting for the first several weeks. For the rest of an entire year, paid observers followed them to ensure dietary compliance. ….

          …There were no deficiency problems; the two men remained perfectly healthy; their bowels remained normal, except that their stools were smaller and did not smell. Stefansson’s gingivitis disappeared by the end of the experiment although there was an increase in the deposit of tartar on his teeth. During this experiment his intake had varied between 2,000 and 3,100 calories per day and he derived, by choice, an average of almost eighty percent of his energy from animal fat and almost twenty percent from protein. Daily intake varied from 100-140 grams of protein, 200-300 grams of fat, and 7-12 grams of carbohydrates….

          1. martell

            That’s two people observed and tested, two, quite a long time ago. If accurate (and I believe there is some doubt about that) the story would, at best, be a reason to pursue methodologically sound research on the issue.

            As for the Inuit, I believe they were eating most every part of the animals that could be eaten, and the animals in question were both varied and rather unusual by American standards. So, they were not dining on steak and salt and nothing but.

            Also, Peterson is not just advocating a ketogenic diet, on which there is some good research, more all the time. She’s advocating a so-called carnivore diet which is quite different. And she seems to be doing this on the basis of nothing more than her own experience. Correct me if I am wrong, but to the best of my knowledge she has basically nothing in the way of training in biochemistry, physiology, nutrition, or really any science relevant to the advice she’s offering.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Only and strictly if it is from grass/pasture/range fed animals. If science can determine how to measure carbon recapture/soil storage in grassland under livestock such that any operation can either be Verified Carbon Capture or Proven Carbon Emitting, then customers could focus on buying ONLY the Verified Carbon Capture meat.

      Confinement feedlot livestock should be carbon-taxed out of existence or banned out of existence. We will have to accept that in the Industrial Countries, there will be Less Meat and it will Cost More. Part of that Costing More would be the Price of Carbon Capture.

    1. Ford Prefect

      Tucker Carlson is an interesting case. I generally agree with his non-interventionist views related to regime change but find he is a fairly loathsome individual on most domestic fronts.

  8. allan

    Tuition or Dinner? Nearly Half of College Students Surveyed in a New Report Are Going Hungry [NYT]

    … A survey released this week by Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice indicated that 45 percent of student respondents from over 100 institutions said they had been food insecure in the past 30 days. In New York, the nonprofit found that among City University of New York (CUNY) students, 48 percent had been food insecure in the past 30 days. …

    Nigeria with nukes stuff for sure, but doubtless the Chase social media office could put out a few choice
    suggestions on Twitter for how to deal with this.

      1. polecat

        Neither do they taste good ! Must be the cheap pulp cellulose and non-hide glue.

    1. rd

      While I don’t want them to be starving, I am hopeful this means the tide is turning on huge student loans.

      A decade ago when we were looking at universities for our kids, they were all touting their magnificent new dorms and dining halls. I was puzzled about why they didn’t stay with cinder block ones with linoleum floors that you could power wash with a fire hose at the end of the school year. As far as i could tell, they were catering to students who could live high on the hog by taking out large loans.

      The universities were effectively selling themselves as plush resorts for the students to be at for 4 years (or 5 as the case may be). One of the reasons that our kids didn’t end up with large student loans was because they avoided schools like this.

  9. toshiro_mifune

    The Saga Of ‘Star Citizen,’ A Video Game That Raised $300 Million Oh dear, Chris Roberts. This is like a replay of John Romero and Daikatana, only with much much more money.
    To be fair though, all of Robert’s games since the original Wing Commander? have tended towards big over the top extravaganzas that have been over budget and late to market.
    I did really like Strike Commander in the earl 90s though.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Star Citizen keeps popping up on my radar as I am an active player of some games that are similar. I have always been somewhat mystified about the amount of hype it gets, given that there doesn’t seem to be any ‘there’ there yet and there is no indication of when that might change. This article goes some way to explaining that, even if I don’t really get the appeal myself (that rendering of the $1700 ship leaves me cold).

      Roberts definitely sounds like a fantastic marketer. If he would only specialize in that side of it and leave the game development to people that do it well, perhaps it would work better. Then again, it might be that the only thing he is good at marketing is ‘Chris Roberts and his really awesome genre-defining game which is totally going to be ready any day now.’ In the meantime I’ll take David Braben over him any day for game development.

    2. Plenue

      Star Citizen is going to be a magnitude worse, both in terms of scale and because it’s all money sent in by fans. Star Citizen is a victim of its own fundraising success, and Robert’s complete ineptness at managing a project. Once the money started pouring in he got more and more ambitious and just kept shoving more and more features in. And his obsession with ‘visual fidelity’ caused him to pick an engine, CryEngine (before a mid-development transition to Amazon Lumberyard, which is a variant of CryEngine) that is completely unsuited to the type of game he’s trying to make. His vision is simply technically impossible given the wobbly foundations he’s built from.

      What he should have done is what fellow Kickstarter funded space simulator Elite: Dangerous did; actually release a solid core game, and then expand on it later.

      1. ChrisPacific

        Yes, that’s the one I play, and I’ve seen nothing at all to indicate that Star Citizen is (or will be) worth my time over it.

        The original Elite was what got me into gaming (‘I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space.’)

      2. fajensen

        I think there exists a personality type that by nature does not want to ever deliver anything.

        Delivering means ending their dreams of a perfect project / game / rocket / Brexit or whatever they are working on. These people dread waking up to a less colourful reality because the act of Delivering will compact their very vividly imagined “internal reality” into something physical with qualities that can be evaluated and discussed.

        As long as nothing is done, everything is in principle possible.

  10. DonCoyote

    From that Atlantic piece on Creepy Uncle Joe:

    Biden hadn’t quite made it official then, and though he was upbeat and confident, he was also already chafing at being held to a Hillary Clinton–level standard, the friend said. Biden’s reasoning was that she’d been preparing to run for years by the time she got in the 2016 race, and he’d only gotten fully serious in the past few weeks.

    A “Hillary Clinton-level standard”? Oy. So not only is Joe the Hillary of 2020, he doesn’t want to be held to the same standard as the candidate who lost to Trump in 2016?

    Maybe his confidence was shaken when he asked for Obama’s endorsement, and Obama said Joe would be the most qualified person among those who have run for president in three different decades..

  11. a different chris

    Ralph Nader is definitely a great man, and 90% of “The Great Work” I enjoyed. But two things really, really threw me off. The obvious one is the RussiaRussiaRussia stuff, although he does at least mix it back by pointing out we do it too and it is brief.

    But the second is his clear distaste for young – his trashing of “those kids today with their cellphones”, ok, not an exact quote really the actual quote is arguably worse – and his genuflection towards the elderly. In a completely off-the-wall response to a question about BLM/MeToo/etc he responds:

    Not enough elderly people in them. Some retirees are ailing and can’t get about, but there are plenty who can. Retirement communities could be incubators for peaceful revolution. Their residents have a lot of leisure time….I think we ought to rouse the elderly.

    Yeah, Ralph, um, although they are “ailing” they do seem to me to be well “roused”. They do seem to make it to the voting booths in massive numbers. And they vote for TRUMP et al. What world do you live in that makes you think that they are the solution? In fact, I would argue that they have already been the base of “peaceful revolution”, but the revolution was of the knee-jerk right, not Nader’s utopia.

    He must be remembering some old people from the 70s. Well we have different old people now.

    1. jrs

      maybe he just wants people who are often not considered part of society to be seen so and welcomed to be so (old people). I mean he’s plenty old, maybe he knows very well what it’s like to experience that type of societal marginalization (in addition to obvious and more personal political marginalization for being Ralph Nadar!). Is BLM their movement? Maybe the black grandmothers. That would be pretty cool actually. Me too? Nah, they really are from a different generation with different customs. That’s another thing, one doesn’t have to join every possible liberal/left movement out there, one should find something that actually speaks to one.

      But yea the voting record of older people overall isn’t good.

      1. jrs

        frankly maybe one should find a movement that speaks to one based on personal experience, since that seems to be the weakness of old people, thinking they know what people are experiencing now (other than say the problems dealing with medicare and nursing homes and the insufficiency of social security – they might know a ton about that, and if they work still they might know about age discrimination in employment etc.). The black grandmothers probably do know enough to join BLM.

        But it old people want to fight to protect the planet for the future as a type of regenerative activity (some do) then get on board, it might be a young persons existential struggle, but it’s a moral struggle too.

  12. Michael Fiorillo

    In addition to being D (Fracking), Bennett of Colorado is also D (Charter Schools/Privatization).

    He got his start with Teach For America, which pretty much tells you what you need to know about him

  13. DJG

    Lambert Strether: Thanks for highlighting the fog of Electability. If we can assume that the Democrats hate their base, according to Frum’s Law, then electability is just years and years of talking down to the electorate, which now spends its time trying to sell an Eisenhower Republican (Hoosier Pete, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton) to the powers that be of the party. So it is bad faith all around.

    What could possiblity go wrong with the vicious cycle of deception by the party’s elite and the consequent self-deception of the party’s frazzled base?

    Here quoting Alex Pareene:

    And now Democratic candidates and their most loyal voters are stuck in an absurd feedback loop. The politicians campaign and govern as if they themselves don’t believe a majority of voters prefer their agenda, signaling to their most loyal voters that they must vote not for what they want, but for what they imagine their more-conservative neighbors might want. But when voters in 2016 did exactly that, and nominated the candidate they were repeatedly told was most qualified to defeat Trump in the general election, they chose a person who went on to lose to him.

    = Steny Hoyer.


    So the best thing for the Democrats would indeed by a split of the party into its component parts, that is, Republicans Lite and Democratic Socialists.

    1. polecat

      I agree .. there is no going back to the way things were – as in kissykissy ‘unity’ with impunity .. e.i. ‘vote for US, or just #@%!off and twist in the wind …… because Rebulicans ….

      So let the splintering begin. It’s longgg past due !

    2. Jen

      Funny thing. A Bernie “live poll” showed up in my inbox today. The question: Why do you support Bernie? I can see the results updating whenever I click on it. Far and away the top response, at 52%: “We can trust him to fight.”

      Nothing else, including “Best candidate to beat Trump” is coming in above 15%.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Except most reNew Dealers are not Democratic Socialists. I know I’m not.They may be Social Democrats. I know I could be.

    1. The Rev Kev

      For the democrats, the whole effort has been a great success. Instead of having Americans seek to understand how Trump won which would have led to discussions of fair wages, school loan forgiveness, and an out of control Pentagon with its endless wars among other topics, they have short circuited the whole thing and gotten their supporters to indulge in a fantasy that ‘their’ candidate really won except for the dastardly Russians and Trump being guilty of treason. Their donors, who would have been hurt by honest discussions of modern America, must be very happy with the results. And it ain’t over yet.

  14. Sharkleberry Fin

    Maggot protein replacement therapy is a crucial issue given the extinction implications of any species which fails to sustain protein intake. Consider this: Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens lived side by side for tens of thousands of years in undifferentiated harmony [mating]. But then [what we consider] the Neanderthal population started to dwindle due to their mammal protein-based higher caloric requirement becoming unsustainable due to climate change that abated hoofed ungulate herds. One caribou per day was required to sustain a nuclear Neanderthal family. Essentially the caloric intake of a marathon runner, if the runner ran the marathon everyday. And rudimentary agriculture could not supplement the animal protein required to maintain a robust skeletal musculature. The failure of Neanderthal groups to thrive [perhaps intellectually], at some point, was interpreted as other-ness by what are now known as homo sapiens, which provoked a genocide so fast, the archaeological record of which remains incomplete. Kwashiorkor, protein-deficiency despite adequate caloric intake, causes developmental disability in children, is recognizable by a distended abdomen displayed by refugees in various media.

    1. Synapsid

      Sharkleberry Fin,

      “But then [what we consider] the Neanderthal population started to dwindle due to their mammal protein-based higher caloric requirement becoming unsustainable due to climate change that abated [sic] hoofed ungulate herds.”

      What specific climate change are you referring to? Neanderthals were gone by about 40 000 years ago, almost twenty thousand years before the Last glacial Maximum, so are you referring to an earlier change?


        1. JBird4049

          There are Denisovan and Neanderthal genes in Asia and the Americas, Neanderthal genes in Europeans, and neither in Subsaharan Africa. So Cro-Magnion, Neanderthal, and Denisovan (and some fourth one suggested by DNA analysis but who knows where.) As there being separate species or just subspecies the scientists were still arguing last I did any studying two years ago.

        2. Synapsid

          ambrit, JBird4049,

          I was asking what specific change in climate was being referred to as having been connected with Neanderthal dwindling.

          Yes, Old World people, exclusive of Sub-Saharan Africans carry Neanderthal genes. East Asians and SE Asians carry Denisovan genes and recently three distinct lineages have been defined one of which is found only among peoples of Papua New Guinea. One young woman found in Asia had a Denisovan father and a Neanderthal mother (I may have that backwards.) Genus Homo has long been a bunch of randy opportunists.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Whatever else that all means, it means that Sub-Saharan Africans are the purest Homo Sapiens there is. Actually, they are the only pure Homo Sapiens there is. What if they decided to get all snobby about it and start calling themselves Homo Sapiens Strictus-Puris?

            1. Synapsid

              drumlin woodchuckles,

              Some SubSaharan African peoples carry non-sapiens DNA though we don’t yet know which other member of Homo contributed it.

              If the picture that has been worked out says anything it says that genus Homo has contained many lineages in its past, with lots of crossings, and the fact that there’s only one left does not mean that it is in any sense genetically pure.

    1. nippersmom

      I wonder if there will be student protests. I would protest my tuition/fee dollars going to line that over-priced parasite’s pockets. I would love it (but would also be shocked if it happened) if one of the students nailed her to the wall during that discussion on foreign policy.

      1. petal

        I highly doubt it. It’s Dartmouth-they love/worship rich neoliberals, and the area loves Hillary Clinton even to this day and consider her some kind of martyr. Major TDS epidemic. I’d try to go but I honestly don’t think I could stomach it right now. I’ll post the local paper’s write up the day after for everyone.

  15. ChrisPacific

    Captain Awkward, posting as the Half-Assed Activist, on surviving primary season by engaging constructively and proactively with the political process while minimizing risk to one’s mental health:


    Slightly different perspective from the usual one at NC (you’ll find elements of Russia-Russia-Russia for example) but she makes a lot of good points. I doubt she and Lambert would find much to disagree on regarding the unity/bipartisanship calls, for example. She also turns a phrase seriously well.

  16. Summer

    RE: On Thursday, Facebook (which owns Instagram) announced that it has banned far-right fanatics Alex Jones, Milo Yinnopoulos, Laura Loomer, white nationalist Paul Nehlen, as well as Nation of Islam leader and known anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan for being “dangerous,” The Washington Post reported. The social media company also banned Infowars, along with Infowars contributor Paul Joseph Watson.”

    Now onward to their REAL targets: thousands of unrepentant lefties.
    Just in time for 2020!

    This really should be the beginning of the end for Facebook/Instagram, but people are worried about their retirement stocks invested in this creature thru mutual funds, if not directly.

    1. ambrit

      Facebook is, and has now shown itself fully to be, a private, agenda driven entity. Agenda? Yes. Making money by pandering to the Status Quo.
      How many people have the wherewithal to have a retirement scheme at all today? Plus, if those people need worry about that retirement scheme, then they do not have very much in the first place. The truly wealthy can get by with a few big losses. When you fear for one loss, you’re living “La Vida Precarioso.”
      Welcome to the ‘Bargain Basement.’

      1. Summer

        “How many people have the wherewithal to have a retirement scheme at all today?”

        All the people in the most mainstream of the mainstream media.

        1. ambrit

          I am proud to be associated with this manifestation of the “Ripcurrent Media.” Which sorta, kinda means that my retirement scheme consists of whatever I can rip off of ‘Ol Massa’s’ table.

          1. polecat

            I retire often .. to tasty home-canned goods, oodles of fresh (or dried) berries, grapes, and cherries .. fresh polecat farmed eggs, whatever is successful given the unpredictabilities of the season, vegie wise, and of course raw honey and a fine mead !
            It’s hecka work … but as I said, I’m retired .. poor, dinar wise… but often ! ‘;]
            Tis, I think, in many plebians future, whether planned, or otherwise. The time to learn to grow or raise some sustainance …. is BEFORE the pension, or annuity, or 401k goes PooF !

            1. ambrit

              You fiend!
              The last time, many years ago, I partook of a home brew Mead, it “knocked my d— in the dirt.” No wonder those old Norse went berserk so easily.
              You don’t, for instance, live in your “Own Private Idaho,” do you?

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              This reminds me of a cartoon I once saw in a paper called Akwesasne Notes. The cartoon was of a fur trapper grinning at us-the-reader and saying: ” It’s getting to where the only people who can afford fur are Millionaires and Trappers.”

  17. anon in so cal

    Tulsi Gabbard:

    Apparently, the goal posts have been moved for admittance into the DNC Democratic debates. Tulsi now needs more donors:

    “The deadline to qualify for the debates is still over a month and a half away – and as more and more candidates qualify in such a crowded field, we’re in danger of losing our spot on the debate stage.

    Even though we have reached the 65,000 threshold, if more than 20 candidates qualify, the Democratic National Committee will move the goalposts and some candidates will be eliminated.

    By mid-June when the final decision is made, we need to make sure we’re in the strongest position possible — and we need your help to get there. We’re at 69,913 donors right now and we expect that we will need at least 100,000 by June 15th — but that number may increase depending upon how the other candidates are doing.

    Can you forward the email below to your friends and family to share this milestone, and call on them to join our movement?

    Put simply: we can’t rest on our laurels. With 31,000 donors left to reach our goal, we desperately need your help.

    Just copy and paste the message below and then send it to everyone you think needs to hear about Tulsi and her message.”


    (Apologies if this was already posted)

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      What the hell, 20 candidates in a giant circle and each candidate might, might, get one question?

      Or maybe they can just do a word salad association challenge. Moderator tosses out a subject and contestants must give a one-word answer.

      Moderator: WAR?
      Candidate 1: Yes. Candidate 2: Money. Candidate 3: Israel. Candidate 4: Jobs. Candidate 5 (Gabbard): Stop.

  18. JBird4049

    Measles is about the most infectious disease around. After sitting in a crowded theater for a few hours, I have to wonder how many did not get exposed.

  19. kareninca

    I have a neighbor whose son was just admitted to a famous college in the midwest that caters to the kids of rich liberals. So he went to admit weekend. She just emailed me.

    “it emerged that when he went to (X college) on the admit weekend, and tried to sit in on a class, the prof allowed the students to vote on whether or not he should be allowed to join the class (right in front of him) and they voted No and he had to leave!!!!
    no way would we have sent (kid) to (X college) after that.”

    I wonder if they have a major in pulling the wings off of flies. It sounds like the students would find it gratifying.

    1. polecat

      College as deal killer .. who would’ve thought !!

      Tell your neighbor to send their son to the local plumber’s union (or insert other vocation of his choice) .. he’ll be glad they did, in the long run ..

      1. kareninca

        He’s decided to go to a great UC school here in CA. His parents will save a fortune, and he won’t have to spend four years in Ohio with sociopaths. He’s a nice kid; good to elderly lady neighbors and to his dorky rescued dog.

    2. ambrit

      Run as far away from that ‘Grove of Academe’ as possible.
      That professor’s behaviour was despicable. If such behaviour is ‘standard’ at the University, then that place should have it’s accreditation revoked.
      Firstly, that professor has abandoned any pretense at being ‘in charge’ of the class. Discipline will deteriorate slowly but surely over the course of the course. As an adjunct, by abandoning the gravitas of leadership of the class, said professor has also demeaned the value of the subject matter of the class.
      Secondly, as jrs mentions, such behaviour is indeed bullying. It also reinforces the “value” of bullying as a source of social status. The students, by voting on the question in the first place have reinforced the status quo power relationships. They have ‘bought into’ a social heirarchy that will eventually ‘turn on’ most of them during their lives.
      Finally, although distressing to experience, your neighbour and child have been informed in the most extreme way possible of the social system informing that universities values and expectations.
      Many times, the best response to an intolerable situation is to leave it. The same goes for institutions. a lot of us tried exactly that back in the ‘sixties. Most failed in the experiment, but the lessons learned were profound.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps some people could half-way leave it in a version of the way that Polecat is describing. One foot in the Slave Market Economy and one foot in the Free UnMarket Counter-economy. One foot in the time-is-money hamster wheel moneyconomy and one foot in the time-is-life-itself eco-bio physiconomy.

  20. petal

    And if anyone is interested, PBS has a NOVA episode on its web site for streaming about building the great cathedrals and it visits the experimental archaeology site in France, Guedelon Castle.

      1. petal

        Cool, thanks! I am glad you were able to find it. Sorry about the PBS not streaming overseas. I liked that they included the stained glass demo.

  21. dearieme

    In this continent we are ruled by people of the calibre of May, Macron, and Merkel, plus Jean-Clot Drunker: that is to say, by conspicuously low calibre people.

    In the US you are selecting among the sorry crew of Sanders, Biden and company, for the nomination of the Dem party – which last time chose to run the appalling Clinton versus the absurd Trump.

    Am I alone in thinking that things don’t look too bright at the moment for the western democracies?

    Trudeau is a corrupt light-weight, the lass in NZ seems to suffer from anxiety – I don’t know who the PM is in Oz but he/she may be the last hope of the “Anglosphere”. God spare us all.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I wouldn’t hold your breath on us here in Oz. We have our elections in a fortnight’s time where there is a solid chance of getting rid our climate-change deniers in government but the guy from the other side is not exactly inspiring either. I pity poor Putin whenever he has to attend a G20 and work with the bunch of clowns thrown up by western democracies. I mean seriously – Merkel, Trump, May Macron, Trudeau, etc – nothing but corporate loving clowns.

    2. Tom Bradford

      the lass in NZ (who) seems to suffer from anxiety

      I would offer to suggest that this is because she actually cares about her responsibilities. Although I have to say that as a Kiwi myself, exposed to her on the local media every few days, I see little sign of anxiety but, rather, a steely determination to make NZ a better place.

  22. allan

    Mississippi River in Davenport now higher than historic 1993 flood levels — and rising [Des Moines Register]

    Amid historic flooding in July 1993, the Mississippi River near Davenport rose to its highest level ever: 22.63 feet.

    That record is no more.

    The river hit 22.64 feet shortly before noon Thursday, the National Weather Service reported, and the water continues to rise.

    The river is expected to reach 22.7 feet by Friday, the weather service said. Even with a dry weekend, it’s not projected to fall below 22 feet until late Sunday. …

    Plus some good video. Courtesy of Mother Nature, Team Dem has the GOP over a barrel, unless they throw their leverage away … oh, come on, who am I kidding … it’s fold-like-a-cheap-suit time:

    Senators near deal on disaster aid with Trump ‘on board’ [Politico]

    Top senators negotiating a disaster aid deal are closing in on a compromise that could get a Senate vote as early as next week to unlock more than $17 billion in assistance to ailing communities [overwhelmingly in red states].

    Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Thursday they are nearing an agreement after Senate Republicans laid out a new offer behind closed doors this week to increase Puerto Rico’s access to federal recovery cash. …

    Both the chairman and his Democratic counterpart said they hope a final compromise will be ready for a Senate floor vote next week. “We have to tug along our caucuses and the White House,” Leahy said. …

    Merrick who?

  23. JBird4049

    I sure hope no fraudulent alumninum made its way into our aircraft.

    Well, I hate to crush your hopes, but bad airplane parts have been a serious problem for two decades with it only getting worse.

    I have sorta kinda been following the issue from the time I worked at company that had a hard time with Chinese manufacturers regularly try to cheapen and crapify the orders. The engineering department had some fun playing cops and robbers but it was exasperating for them and management. But they did not want to pay German prices for German quality so it was paying Chinese prices and spending much, much more on inspectors, inspections and tests hoping to approximate it. Whatever else the company was not going to have bad product and it does not deal with aviation. So when I first heard of problems I kept looking.

    The increasing amounts of bad airplane parts started when companies like Boeing and their suppliers shifted production to China because they did not want to pay American or European prices for for American and European quality; unlike my employer they did care about force the new manufacturers to approximate that quality. Probably because it cost a lot of money.

    The FAA under Bill Clinton, G. W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump has known about the growing problem, but like the FTC and SEC with Big Finance, has ignored the problem. So I was only surprised by the amount of stupid that Boeing has.

  24. cuibono

    Will Sanders be prepare to go it alone as an independent if this thing proceeds apace? Sure seems like the Dems have it out for him. Pretty hard to imagine how the convention is not brokered. Likely Trump would be the victor if so. And then the Dems get the benefit of someone to blame again. THis time with ‘ just cause’

    1. kimsarah

      No, he will step aside at the brokered convention and make way for Hillary’s annointment.

      1. jrs

        Well he’s already said if it’s not him he’d endorse the nominee (again) I’ve read. He could do whatever he pleases of course, but saying so paints him into a corner, and we know what he did before in that situation, so it’s probably a pretty good hint.

      2. Whoamolly

        Im sure that’s Hillarys plan.

        The only good thing I see coming from that outcome is the end of the current D party after Trump wins again.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Of course Sanders/Gabbard/Warren/Gravel have it in their power to demand vote after vote after vote. They can make the Convention hold hundreds of votes or thousands of votes until a nominee wins a nonination-winning number of delegates.

        Would the Convention Leaders and Runners have a way to force a hard-stop to the balloting in order to clear the way for a brokering? If not, then the Fab Four can put the Catfood Leadership through agonies of torture-by-boredom. At the very least, the Fab Four can make the Catfood Cluster pay for its eventual victory at the convention.

  25. fajensen

    “Robot Mimicry or Mastery? The End of Bench Manufacturing Is Near”


    “The Robots are Coming to Take Your Jobs” is just the upgraded, modernised, beige, PC-, colour- and gender- neutral narrative replacing the old: “I have a long line of immigrants right outside begging to take your jobs”!

    Robots and “AI” has nowhere near the cleverness and dexterity of a human and with a robot, the costs of the machine itself, the programming, maintenance, servicing, the highly pleasant physical environment needed to keep it running – all of those cost Money and all of those things are on the head of the owner!

    With humans, everything the human robot needs is either for free or provided by society. The wages are a much less than the financing costs of a robot that is equal to human operator, even if such a thing existed.

    Also mistreating an industrial robot is not going to be satisfying in any way and it only adds costs!

    Rodney Brooks: https://rodneybrooks.com/forai-steps-toward-super-intelligence-iv-things-to-work-on-now/

    The robots that will take away jobs sooner, sometimes even now, rather than in 60 years time will be the software robots replacing people who are basically ‘symbol manipulators’ and ‘language processors’: Journalists (especially Politics, Finance and Sport), Agit-prop writing, Agit-prop dissemination, Social Media Influencers, Data Entry Clerks, Image Analysis, Lawyers, Stock Traders, Inventory/Warehouse Management, Shipping Container Stacking, Customer (anti)Support … that kind of work.

    Maybe robots can do ‘Design’ too, at least for tings that are to be 3-D printed they are quite good. We have had design assistant algorithms in Electronics design and Manufacture for a long time that are very good also, all of those without a single spec of ‘AI’ in them.

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