2:00PM Water Cooler 6/12/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I got a late start because I had to finish up my photo essay on mitigating “plant blindness,” so I will fill out the Politics section shortly. –lambert UPDATE All done.


“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] (average of five polls). As of June 11: Biden down 33.4% ( 33.6%) and Sanders steady 17% (17%) stabilize. Warren up 8.0% (7.8%), Buttigieg steady (7.0%), others Brownian motion. Of course, it’s absurd to track minute fluctuations at this point.

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Biden (D)(1): Now he’s just trolling us:

#MedicareForAll is pie-in-the-sky, but a cure for cancer? No problemo! Honestly, I see stuff like this and I question whether Biden is actually running a serious campaign.

Biden (D)(2): This is why the Biden campaign keeps their candidate under wraps:

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Hollywood political financier Nicole Avant signs on to back Buttigieg for president” [CNBC]. “Mayor Pete Buttigieg has picked up one of the most influential Hollywood financiers as a backer, as he continues to surge in the 2020 fundraising battle, his campaign told CNBC. Nicole Avant, one of President Barack Obama’s lead bundlers during his first run for president, has decided she’s going all-in to back the South Bend, Indiana, mayor’s run for president. ‘She’s a key supporter who is bundling for us, and hosting an event for us this month,’ a campaign spokesman told CNBC. The spokesman said tickets for the Avant gathering will go for up to $2,800.” • Ka-ching.

Gabbard (D)(1): “Tulsi Gabbard Had a Very Strange Childhood” [New York Magazine]. ” A Hindu veteran and millennial congresswoman of Samoan descent hailing from Hawaii, [Gabbard] brings together disparate constituencies: most noticeably, Bernie Sanders fans who love that she resigned from the Democratic National Committee to endorse him in 2016, but also libertarians who appreciate her noninterventionism, Indian-Americans taken by her professed Hinduism, veterans attracted to her credibility on issues of war and peace, and racists who interpret various statements she has made to be promising indications of Islamophobia. That she is polling at one percent, sandwiched between Andrew Yang and Amy Klobuchar, suggests that bringing together these constituencies is not nearly enough, but the intensity of emotion she provokes on all sides sets her apart. When FiveThirtyEight asked 60 Democratic Party activists whom they didn’t want to win, Tulsi Gabbard came in first out of 17 candidates.” • Also, Gabbard is a self-described introvert (a plus in my book). And then there’s this:

The most obvious obstacle between any noninterventionist candidate and mainstream success is D.C.’s foreign-policy Establishment — the think-tankers and politicians and media personalities and intelligence professionals and defense-company contractors and, very often, intelligence professionals turned defense-company contractors who determine the bounds of acceptable thinking on war and peace. In parts of D.C., this Establishment is called “the Blob,” and to stray beyond its edges is to risk being deemed “unserious,” which as a woman candidate one must be very careful not to be. The Blob may in 2019 acknowledge that past American wars of regime change for which it enthusiastically advocated have been disastrous, but it somehow maintains faith in the tantalizing possibilities presented by new ones. The Blob loves to “stand for” things, especially “leadership” and “democracy.” The Blob loves to assign moral blame, loves signaling virtue while failing to follow up on civilian deaths, and definitely needs you to be clear on “who the enemy is” — a kind of obsessive deontological approach in which naming things is more important than cataloguing the effects of any particular policy.

It’s fair to say that whoever The Blob is for — ***cough*** Hillary Clinton ***cough*** — should be approached with a hermaneutic of suspicion.

Harris (D)(1): “Kamala Harris Stopped Cooperation With San Francisco Church Sex Abuse Victims” [The Intercept]. “Fighting on behalf of victims of sexual abuse, particularly children, has been central to Harris’s political identity for the better part of three decades…. But when it came to taking on the Catholic Church, survivors of clergy sexual abuse say that Harris turned a blind eye, refusing to take action against clergy members accused of sexually abusing children when it meant confronting one of the city’s most powerful political institutions.” • Maybe Cardinal Mnuchin weighed in?

Moulton (D)(1): Servicing the funders?

Sanders (D)(1): “As Bernie Sanders Leans Into Socialism, His Rivals Laugh” [The Atlantic]. “Making Elizabeth Warren laugh can be tricky. Throwing her off her talking points is almost impossible. Both happened when she heard that her 2020 opponent Bernie Sanders is scheduled to deliver a ‘major address’ today titled, according to his campaign, ‘How Democratic Socialism Is the Only Way to Defeat Oligarchy and Authoritarianism.'” • Well, that should dispose of two ideas: That Warren and Sanders are the same, and that Warren is on the left. For good, or ill! NOTE Oh, Warren opposes MMT, too: “Warren had just explained how her proposed 2 percent tax on every dollar over $50 million—”Two cents!” she likes to shout—would provide enough cash….” No, it wouldn’t. Sanders is, at least, MMT-adjacent (via Stephanie Kelton).

Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Sanders Campaign Manager Faiz Shakir on Skewed Polls, Corporate Media Conflicts” [Status Coup]. “Shakir noted that elite media journalists are already declaring Sanders campaign dead, which is actually something the campaign feeds off of. But many of these time-of-death pronouncements have been based off of polling that, as Status Coup has reported, has been oversampling voters over the age of 50 while sampling less voters under 50. Unsurprisingly, these polls have found former Vice President Joe Biden having a wide lead over Sanders, who has disproportionate strength among younger voters. ‘You’re exactly right,’ Shakir said. ‘Obviously we know the senator’s strength tends to come from younger voters, and those younger voters are often underrepresented in these landline-based polls. And if those polls are not doing a good job of trying to account for young people, or figuring out different ways to reach them, then those, by our own estimation, should be deemed a bit suspect.’ Shakir added that these skewed polls are eaten up by corporate journalists, who just look at the top line of the poll rather than reviewing the methodology. These journalists then propagate the skewed polling into the daily news cycle ‘without really anyone questioning some of these basic factors that you and I are discussing.'”

Sanders (D)(3): Thread:


I don’t think that Sanders is rerunning 2016; I think that’s a perception dictated by media coverage (and, to be fair, the Sanders campaign needs to stop the smears before they start, since not only are the smears still “out there,” the operatives who injected their bullshit into the bloodstream of the body politic are still employed by other campaigns, or “reporting,” or commentating. However, Sanders has clearly said that he wants to bring new voters into the system, and if you look at his appearances, that is what they are designed to do. That’s a risky strategy, but not unheard of. And it won’t show up in the polling, or in the national media; they haven’t prepositioned the tropes for it.

Sanders (D)(4): “Is Bernie Sanders Finished?” [Bloomberg]. • Lol no. C’mon, dude.

Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s big, early lead in Facebook ads deeply worries Democratic strategists” [Los Angeles Times]. “[The Trump campaign’s] willingness to gamble points to something bigger that unnerves the Democratic Party’s top digital thinkers. ‘His campaign is testing everything,’ said Shomik Dutta, a veteran of Barack Obama’s two campaigns and partner at Higher Ground Labs, an incubator for progressive political tech. “No one on the Democratic side is even coming close yet. It should be gravely concerning.’ Trump is using the advantage of incumbency, a huge pile of campaign cash and a clear path to his party’s nomination to build a digital operation unmatched by anything Democrats have. His campaign is testing all manner of iterations, algorithms and data-mining techniques — from the color of the buttons it uses on fundraising pitches to the audiences it targets with short videos of his speeches. By the time Democrats pick a nominee, some of the party’s top digital strategists warn, Trump will have built a self-feeding machine that grows smarter by the day. His campaign has run thousands of iterations of Facebook ads — tens of thousands by some counts — sending data on response rates and other metrics gleaned from the platform to software that perpetually fine-tunes the campaign messages.” • Is it just possible — hear me out, now — that Shomik Dutta is talking his book? Anybody who can write “Democratic strategist” without snickering should be mocked mercilessly.

Warren (D)(1): [Team Warren, Medium]. “The rising cost of rent reflects a basic supply-and-demand problem. There aren’t enough places to rent that are affordable to lower-income families. That’s because developers can usually turn bigger profits by building fancier new units targeted at higher-income families rather than units targeted at lower-income families. The result is a huge hole in the marketplace.” • I’m not a housing maven by any stretch of the imagination, but I think a story that doesn’t consider the role of private equity in snapping up distressed housing after the Crash is likely to be a fairy tale.

Warren (D)(2): “The Memo: Warren’s rise is threat to Sanders” [The Hill]. “‘She certainly does seem to be taking votes away from him,’ said Democratic strategist Julie Roginsky. ‘It seems as if, as she is rising, he is falling.'” • The national averages don’t show that.

IA: “Multilevel marketing moguls turned housing profiteers come to Iowa” [Bleeding Heartland]. “When Havenpark Capital Partners bought up five manufactured housing parks in Iowa, they brought tension, anger and fear along for the ride. On a Friday afternoon before any of us knew they had bought our Waukee community, a notice was posted on all 300 doors in Midwest Country Estates that the rent was going up 69 percent in 60 days. Residents in the other four communities received similar notes.” • Iowa is a microcosm, in many ways. (“Manufactured housing” = trailer, so what a bunch of bottom-feeders Havenpark Capital Partners are, to be sure.)

IA: “Decades of Iowa polling shows there’s no runaway Democratic favorite right now” [Harry Enten, CNN]. “A frontrunner polling in Biden’s position (in the mid 20s) should be expected to win the caucuses about 30% of the time…. A frontrunner polling in Biden’s position (in the mid 20s) should be expected to win the caucuses about 30% of the time… Someone in Harris’ position (a little north of 5%) should be expected to win Iowa around 5% to 10% of the time… Perhaps most interesting is what past contests tell us about the group of candidates polling at 2% or lower. They suggest that someone polling at about 1% should go on to win the caucuses about 3% of the time…. The big question going forward is whether one of the candidates can actually start polling in the mid-30s in the near future. If none can, then this is a race where the frontrunner’s chance of winning Iowa will continue to be below that of the other candidates combined (i.e. the field).”

IA: “What’s on Iowans’ minds going into the 2020 caucuses? Climate change” [Grist]. “According to a new poll by CNN… Seventy-five percent of likely Iowa caucus-goers say they will only support a candidate who recognizes climate change ‘as the greatest threat to humanity.’ And 32 percent of say supporting the Green New Deal is a candidate ‘must have.'” • Strange dichotomy there; one would hope GND support builds even after the floods recede.

Our Famously Free

“MSNBC and New York Times at odds over reporter appearances on Maddow” [CNN]. “New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet and MSNBC president Phil Griffin met last week amid tensions between their two news organizations. But the lengthy lunch did not resolve the issues at hand, according to four sources with knowledge of the sit-down. The executives remain at an impasse. The specific issue is about television appearances by Times reporters on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show…. The dust-up dates back to May 30, when Vanity Fair caused a ruckus by reporting that Times management wants reporters to ‘steer clear of any cable-news shows that the masthead perceives as too partisan.’ ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ is evidently one of those shows [incroyable!] — and Maddow is not happy about it. The prime time host prides herself on her support for newspaper journalists… Complicating matters further: Numerous Times reporters are also paid contributors to MSNBC and CNN. For example, Matthew Rosenberg and Mark Mazzetti of The Times, who are also paid by CNN, have both appeared on ‘CNN Tonight’ in recent days. CNN declined to comment on the booking relationship with The Times.” • It’s impossible for me to understand how the beacons of integrity at the Times could appear in a cesspit like The Rachel Maddow Show. These are strange times.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“House Democrats propose $4,500 pay raise for Congress” [Politico]. • Remember when Nancy Pelosi was going to pass the $15-an-hour minimum wage in the first hundred hours — not days, hours — after the Democrats took power? Good times.

“Why Won’t the Democrats Hold a Climate Change Debate?” [Rolling Stone]. • Donors. Plus suburban Republicans would hate it. And if Inslee bend the knee to the DNC on this, he’s a wanker.

Stats Watch

Consumer Price Index, May 2019: “Price pressures at the consumer level are losing pace, as the ex-food ex-energy core rate missed expectations” [Econoday]. “At the last FOMC in late April and early May, policy makers were putting a positive spin on a slumping core inflation rate, in this case the Fed’s preferred gauge which is the PCE core which was at 1.6 percent in April. This rate runs several tenths below the CPI core and today’s report is not pointing to acceleration for the PCE core back to the 2.0 percent target. The spin Powell puts on the latest inflation data could well be the most important part of next week’s FOMC results.”

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, June 2019: “[Y]ear-ahead inflation expectations at the business level have held at 2.0 percent the last two months which is improvement but not much” [Econoday]. “As long as expectations are at least steady and not cracking lower, the FOMC is less likely to see an urgent need to lower rates.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of June 7, 2019: “Homeowners were waiting in numbers for mortgage rates to go down further and as they did in the June 7 week, refinancing demand soared” [Econoday]. “The refinance index surged… to overshadow what was a very sizable… jump in purchase applications, a jump that points to greater strength for home sales.”

Commodities: “U.S. says it will help boost world minerals output to reduce reliance on China” [Reuters]. “The United States plans to help countries around the world develop their reserves of minerals like lithium, copper and cobalt, the State Department said on Tuesday, part of a multi-pronged strategy to reduce U.S. reliance on China for materials crucial to high-tech industries…. Under the plan, the United States will share mining expertise with other countries to help them discover and develop their resources, and advise on management and governance frameworks to help ensure their industries are attractive to international investors.” • More colonization!

The Bezzle: “Uber, Lyft Executives Urge California Compromise on Driver Pay” [Bloomberg]. “Faced with legislation in California that endangers their business model, Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. are urging a compromise that would keep their drivers from being considered employees. ‘We can make independent work better if we update century-old employment laws,’ Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi and Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer wrote…” • I’ll bet they did. “For both companies, which just went public, the prospect of being compelled in their home state to completely overhaul how drivers are compensated is an existential threat…. Under the April 2018 ruling known as Dynamex, workers are employees entitled to state wage-law protections unless they are conducting “work that it outside the usual course” of the company’s business. For companies whose core service is transporting customers via an army of drivers they claim are all contractors, that could be a challenging test to pass.” • So the Dynamex test is something to watch.

Tech: “Uber Trying to Steer Its Vision of Flying Cars Though Regulators” [Bloomberg]. “The company showed videos of a future in which hundreds of vehicles fly off urban landing ports and attendees of the conference could view multiple types of futuristic vehicles built by various companies, including some that are partners with Uber. Allison said the point of holding the conference in Washington was to focus on how government regulators will approve such designs.” • I’m sure that if Uber spun out its video creation division, it would be profitable.

Tech: Atrios has always been sound on robot cars:

Tech: “If You Think The Reason Internet Companies Snarf Up Your Data Is Because Their Services Are Free, Allow Me To Introduce You To The Telcos” [TechDirt]. “It’s been a few years since this kind of argument has come up, but it’s one that we’ve had to swat down a few times in the past: it’s the argument that somehow if a company offers a service for free, it means that they’ll absolutely snarf up all your data, and that requiring services be paid for directly by users somehow would fix that. This is easy to debunk in multiple directions and yet it still pops up here and there…. it seems rather easy to point out why that’s wrong with two examples. First we pay for other services such as our broadband and mobile data providers and they are so much worse on the privacy front, it’s not even remotely comparable. It’s not as if magically paying for the service has stopped AT&T or Verizon from being horrific on the privacy front. The snarfing up of data doesn’t go away if you pay for services. Second, there are businesses that have been built on giving away free tools without having to snarf up your data. Indeed, that’s actually how Google succeeded for much of its early history. It didn’t need to know everything about you. It just needed to know what you were searching for. And that was massively successful.”

Tech: “Big Mood Machine” [The Baffler]. “Music is emotional, and so our listening often signals something deeply personal and private…. Where other platforms might need to invest more to piece together emotional user profiles, Spotify streamlines the process by providing boxes that users click on to indicate their moods: Happy Hits, Mood Booster, Rage Beats, Life Sucks….. But a more careful look into Spotify’s history shows that the decision to define audiences by their moods was part of a strategic push to grow Spotify’s advertising business in the years leading up to its IPO—and today, Spotify’s enormous access to mood-based data is a pillar of its value to brands and advertisers, allowing them to target ads on Spotify by moods and emotions. Further, since 2016, Spotify has shared this mood data directly with the world’s biggest marketing and advertising firms.” • “Shared.” Honestly, I’m starting to feel — as I did not feel in, say, 1995, when “the Internet” was fresh and clean and new — that using Silicon Valley tech is like opening a kitchen cupboard door and seeing a bunch of cockroaches scuttle for the corners. Just ick. On the bright side, I’m sure Big Pharma loves being able to target users whose moods are consistently “Life Sucks.” So it’s all good. (And see below under Wired for more on music.)

Concentration: “Tech elites dismiss breakup threats from Washington” [Politico]. “The tone at this week’s gathering of tech elite at a cactus-strewn Arizona desert resort — where gift-bag options include a Sonos One speaker, a $100 gift card to the delivery service Postmates and a 23andMe genetic testing kit — suggests that, at least in public and among their peers, Silicon Valley leaders see little to fear in Washington’s raging debate…. But when it comes to becoming the target of breakup talk, the tech leaders here portrayed it as less of a threat than a badge of honor — a natural outcome, as Jassy framed it, of a company succeeding on a grand scale. Of the potential for a breakup, he said: ‘At the end of the day, we operate in the United States, and we follow United States law, so if we’re forced to do it, I guess we’ll have to.'” • That’s nice.

The Biosphere


“He Tried to Plug a Wasp Nest. He Ended Up Sparking California’s Biggest Wildfire.” [New York Times]. “In a report released in recent days, forensic investigators found that a rancher started the fire when hammering a metal stake in his backyard to snuff out a wasp nest. Sparks flew, igniting dry grass stalks and spreading fire quickly across the desiccated landscape…. The ignition of the so-called Ranch Fire is a testament to the extreme fragility and volatility of the American West, fire experts say. California in particular is such a tinderbox that something as seemingly innocuous as hammering a stake into the ground can unleash an uncontrollable inferno.” • 

“The world’s largest pot farms, and how Santa Barbara opened the door” [Los Angeles Times]. “In a sandy draw of the Santa Rita Hills, a cannabis company is planning to erect hoop greenhouses over 147 acres — the size of 130 football fields — to create the largest legal marijuana grow on earth…. The cannabis boom has caused a backlash from residents and vintners afflicted by the smell, and farmers who fear spraying their avocados could make them financially liable for tainting multimillion-dollar marijuana crops.” • Since when did “grow” become a noun? I’m not sure stopping avocadoes from being sprayed is altogether a bad thing. But the whole story stinks of regulatory corruption at the local level. Speaking of which–

“Know where the nearest poultry farm is? Neither do NC regulators” [WRAL]. “The poultry industry brings some 800 million birds through North Carolina every year at thousands of farms across the state, generating millions of tons of waste. North Carolina’s environmental regulators don’t know where most of those farms are. By law, they won’t be told even if they ask the state Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, which does keep records but doesn’t regulate the industry’s waste operations. Neither agency tracks how many farms are in the flood plain, even though state and federal taxpayers spent more than $12.5 million last year to compost millions of birds drowned in the wake of Hurricane Florence.” • State taxpayers did. Federal taxpayers didn’t.

“EXCLUSIVE: Alberta warned it could take 2,800 years to clean up oilpatch” [Canada’s National Observer]. “It’s unlikely that well-owning companies will be around to clean up the mess in a few hundred years, said Blake Shaffer, a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University who has studied well liabilities in Alberta. ‘This is a big issue, and we need some policy changes,’ said Shaffer, who is also a C.D. Howe Institute fellow and economist at the University of Calgary. ‘These shouldn’t be things that are multi-generational.'” • The unlikeliness is a feature, not a bug.

“Study reveals how social relationships transform bird flocks” [Phys.org]. “Victorian naturalists were so perplexed by flocks moving together like a single super-organism that they thought birds must be communicating telepathically. Since then, scientists have shown that this collective behaviour can emerge if every bird in a flock responds to its neighbours by following identical rules. But a new study by biologists at the University of Exeter, physicists at Stanford, USA, and computer scientists at Simon Fraser University in Canada shows that flocking jackdaws do not all follow identical rules. Instead, pairs of jackdaws—which mate for life—fly together within the crowd. The findings reveal a trade-off: paired birds benefit because they use less energy in flight, but the existence of pairs reduces the flock’s ability to react to predators.”

Health Care

“Lower Cardiovascular Mortality Linked to Medicaid Expansion” [Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics]. “After accounting for demographic, clinical, and economic differences, counties in expansion states had 4.3 fewer deaths per 100,000 residents per year from cardiovascular causes after Medicaid expansion than if they had followed the trajectory of non-expansion states…. The counties in these expansion states had a population of 47.4 million middle-aged adults in 2014. The findings translate to a total of 2,039 fewer deaths per year in 45-64 year old residents from cardiovascular causes after Medicaid expansion.” • Good to know that health care (not “access” to health care, mind you, which implies gatekeepers and eligibility determination) saves lives.


“Ask MLive reporters about PFAS contamination in Reddit ‘AMA'” [Mlive] (Reddit AMA here). This article aggregates MLive reporting and gives bios of the reporters.

Class Warfare

“On Eve of Union Vote, Chattanooga VW Workers Describe Rampant Workplace Injuries” [Labor Notes]. “‘I’m only 33 and I can’t see myself working here for another 10 years,’ said Ashley Murray. ‘I would be disabled by then. We need a union because they are a multibillion-dollar company and they treat us like shit.’ Murray is a production employee at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, one of 18 hourly employees there I interviewed for this story. Comments like hers were almost universal.” And: “These conditions are not unique to the German automaker. They pervade the nonunion manufacturing industry in the U.S. And to remain nonunion, companies like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Boeing have chosen to locate their production facilities in the South, where the union density is 5 percent—less than half the rate of unionization for any other region in the country.” • Opportunity! And in Chattanooga:

“Employee relations fray as Millers All Day vies to become Charleston’s leading brunch spot” [Post and Courier]. “[M]agazine editors making room on their hot lists for [Millers All Day, the] lower King Street breakfast spot. Behind the scenes, though, employees say the situation was chaotic at best. They allege they were addressed disrespectfully; denied meal breaks and made to do side work and food prep in an unheated second-floor room. ‘You’re polishing silverware for four hours, and your fingers are freezing,’ says Charnele Landingham, a former CO manager who was hired by Millers as a bartender, but soon thereafter reassigned to the host stand. ‘The cooks peeling shrimp couldn’t feel their fingers.’ For their part, Johnsman and Thurston say the restaurant’s challenges weren’t out of the ordinary, especially in light of how many customers were won over by Millers’ successful publicity campaign.” • One of the things I so enjoyed about Anthony Bourdain is that he focused not just on the food, but on the workers. This article has implications that go beyond Charleston.

A highly disconcerting and disappointing thread on lacunae in Jared Diamond’s scholarship:

News of the Wired

“The Day the Music Burned” [New York Times (JP)]. “Among the incinerated Decca masters were recordings by titanic figures in American music: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland. The tape masters for Billie Holiday’s Decca catalog were most likely lost in total. The Decca masters also included recordings by such greats as Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five and Patsy Cline.” • A long-form piece, well-researched and reported. A must-read. Archival preservation just isn’t something capital can do. UMG’s master archive went up in flames on a Hollywood lot, ffs.

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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:

DCBlogger’s eggplant, evidently on a porch (and in line with today’s post on avoiding plant blindness, which is why I’m allowing the small size).

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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. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Biden’s campaign skills.

    I think this is a result of the Senate and the safe status of the seat. If Republicans were legitimate contenders, Biden would have become better or been bounced long ago. He’s never had to campaign to win a seat. Its serious from Biden’s perspective, but his primary goal has been stopping challengers. His claim to fame is his “debate” skills which he has used against Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan. Biden is exhibit one of why we need to abolish the Senate.

    1. Watt4Bob

      Listened to part of his 2005 debate surrounding ‘Bankruptcy Reform’ with Elizabeth Warren yesterday on NPR, the guy is incredibly talented debater, meaning he’s an agressive a**hole who knows all the rhetorical tricks.

      The one time Warren slowed him down with a comment, he retorted;

      “Oh, you’re good.”

      As if it was her that was the slippery one who kept using rhetorical tricks to evade the truth.

      He kept selling his cooperation with GOP and corporate interests as evidence of his superior ability to “work across the isle” to get things done.

      So how come everything he “works across the isle” to achieve has a negative impact on We the People?

      The guy is vermin.

      1. Efmo

        I think that is why, honestly, he expects the “fever to break” if he becomes president. He will most likely govern from the Republican side of the aisle, with a little more window dressing to enable Democratic elites to wholeheartedly support him.

  2. ambrit

    Re. “I question whether Biden is running a serious campaign.”
    I’ll put on my designer ‘Chapeau Atomique’ and suggest, yet again, that Hillary is plotting to run again after a “brokered convention.” To that end, Biden could be acting as a ‘spoiler’ against Sanders and whoever else from “The Left” gains traction. His name recognition alone, plus the association with the “Era of Saint Obama” has bitten deeply into Sander’s perceived support. A classic game of ‘Smoke and Mirrors.’ And that’s what Joe is, a ‘Puff of Smoke.’

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      HRC is more of a straight bully. Team Clinton isn’t remotely that clever. These are the people who didn’t understand delegate allocation in 2008 and demonstrated they didn’t understand the electoral college in 2016. Biden is far too arrogant to be a puppet in that kind of arrangement. The doofus thought he could get Warren’s endorsement despite her almost every public appearance could serve as a denunciation of Biden’s past.

      1. ambrit

        Ah. And here I was giving America, or at least, the American Democrat Party, credit for having a ‘Second World’ level of political sophistication. Alas, you make it clear that what we are seeing here is the bare bones of a ‘Third World’ authoritarian oligarchy.
        What is so dismaying about this is that the ‘players’ are not even trying very hard to hide their true characters, those that have any character.
        I’m guessing that my anticipated vote for “Great Cthulhu” in 2020 will be useful and effective since it looks like there will be two ‘soul destroying’ candidates from the legacy parties on the ballot. The dread evil one need not win for his fell designs to come to fruition. All the potential “official” candidates look like “The Greater Evil.”

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Some are bouncing to Warren for the moment.

          Biden is running on his eight years of relative anonymity when he would go to fancy parties but had no responsibilities and wasn’t considered a threat to HRC. So he didn’t get much in the way of press. He has a couple of really stupid people working for him. Biden also doesn’t have the direct stench of the Clintons on him as he predates them.

          For the most part, the Clintonistas are looking for their meal ticket. Chelsea is going nowhere, and Rodger Clinton just isn’t a campaigner. Field organizers cost money but money that goes to field organizers all over the country. Its not an ad campaign where you need to pay an idiot like James Carville so he can take Mary Matalin to fancy dinners and tell her Democratic strategy. Field work doesn’t pay for a townhouse in Georgetown. Then of course, there is the loyalty status issue. When it was Hillary’s game, everyone had to obey her and her friends, but after 2016, who is going to Neera Tanden or Robbie Mook for patronage anymore? Can’t someone else blow a layup election?

      2. Hepativore

        As it is, it seems that the corporate Democrats and Clintonites new strategy is to promote Warren and then start leaning on her heavily in an effort to convert Warren to the neoliberal “dark side” or have her not be a problem for them. Warren has unfortunately shown just how easy it is to get her to back down under pressure and there is also the fact that she has been willing to carry water for the Clintonites before to advance her own political career like she did in the 2016 election.

        At this point, I would seriously consider Yang to be my third choice after Sanders and Gabbard if it came down to it. Warren would probably be either incapable or unwilling to face any serious political opposition either from Trump or neoliberal Democrats and would probably cave.

        1. Grant

          Her stance on single payer is troubling and telling, and her foreign policy positions and worldview are absolutely atrocious. She has good policy ideas (not great political instincts), but none of the ideas at the present time have movements behind them and would need those movements to push them through. Is she the person to lead movements and to help them grow? I can’t see anyone making that case. She has had an impact on issues, with the CFPB, which is good, but that was her work within academia. Different animal than actual movement building. Here, we have single payer and she has backtracked. So, changes that may happen down the road, great. At least provides some alternatives and possibly a path from here to there. But, the fights we could win in the shorter term? Waffles. No thanks. I think she can play a great role in her current position or if Bernie were to win, in his administration, but I think she would be very problematic as a general election nominee. Just my opinion. I like her more than Biden and a number of others running but that says more about them than her.

          1. nippersmom

            The first thought that entered my mind when I saw that quote from Biden was that he really is suffering from cognitive decline.

            As for Warren, I believe she could have value in a narrowly defined (finance-related) role in a Sanders administration. I will not vote for her for president. Her foreign policy is atrocious, she doesn’t support single payer, and she has proven herself to be a garden variety neoliberal on all but her own niche issues.

            The only candidates besides Sanders I would vote for (Gabbard and Gravel) have less chance of getting the nomination than he does. If Sanders is not the Democratic nominee, I will once again be voting Green.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              I saw that quote from Biden was that he really is suffering from cognitive decline.

              Biden is just a lazy, selfish man willing to say what he thinks it will take to get him ahead but he won’t bother to do any work to make sure he is even vaguely coherent. He’s like Shrub, just not a WASP. Review Biden now, he’s George W. Bush. He’s mean and lazy and very unaware of the world around him. If Biden had once been vaguely competent, I might chalk it up to age, but this is who he is.

            2. Cal2

              “When FiveThirtyEight asked 60 Democratic Party activists whom they didn’t want to win, Tulsi Gabbard came in first out of 17 candidates.”

              Absolutely a fine reason to support her and advocate for her being Bernie Sanders vice presidential pick.

              The corporate ‘democrats are the enemy of the American worker, more so than the the cheap labor republicans.

              Joe Biden’s “we’ll cure cancer”, “but on a few will be able to afford it, if they do not have student loans outstanding.”

              1. Efmo

                I was thinking the same thing, very few would be able to afford it. And in the meantime, all of his other policies would ensure more people than ever would need it.

                1. a different chris

                  Well the good thing is that a lot of those who couldn’t afford it wouldn’t need it, because we are killing off the bottom 80% well before they get old enough that their risk of cancer is anything meaningful.

                  Although possibly Trump’s EPA will address that…

                  1. jrs

                    they’ll get cancer from their jobs.

                    (really though that is where many people’s main toxic exposure comes from, the workplace, and some of those toxins cause cancer)

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > none of the ideas at the present time have movements behind them

            And the “big structural change” that does have a movement behind it — #MedicareForAll — she opposes. Seems unserious.

            1. a different chris

              I wouldn’t say “unserious”, just the opposite I would think? She is regurgitating a certain strain of Serious thought.

              Which isn’t as bad as the current leading strain of liberal Serious thought, at least. It is what it is. I would vote for her over Trump but not enthusiastically. Mostly because I don’t like to think of myself as a purist. Sanders, Gabbard, and Warren. The rest, yeah back to whatever Green weenie is on the lever.

          3. jrs

            Also of course the Senate would really help, maybe a lot can be done administratively and through executive orders (Trumps is an example – almost all of it bad of course) but it has limits.

            There’s value to getting ideas out there, not sure Warren’s are really big enough for my tastes though, I’ll keep watching them fwiw.

    2. Grant

      His lead is entirely because of voters roughly 50 and over. The breakdown in regards to his candidacy is really stark in that regard. His support outside of that age group is below others and is dropping overall as is. I don’t think, if current trends continue, he will have the chance to be a spoiler, and he can’t run from his horrible past forever. My guess is that Warren and another person will be a spoiler to Bernie. She is a woman, the economically well off identity first folks will back her, I think she is far more open to being influenced by those running the show, I think she would be able to get Bernie to work with her to get elected more easily than other candidates and she would be sold as a compromise candidate to all of those that might want to protest and fight them screwing over Bernie again, which they are going to do. Like 2016, the choice of the elites will at least make it more likely that the Democrats will lose than with Bernie, especially if they again do more horrible stuff behind the scenes or get the undemocratic superdelegates to anoint someone, but I don’t think they care. I don’t dislike Warren, but I prefer other candidates to her. Bernie is the only one with any real chance to win, at least among those I prefer to Warren.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > His lead is entirely because of voters roughly 50 and over

        I would bet educated voters roughly 50 and over. IOW, the part of Clinton’s base that hasn’t gone over to Warren.

        1. Grant

          Probably true. I haven’t seen the breakdown on income either among those polled. I wouldn’t be surprised if they under sample lower income voters in that age group. People like Nate Silver haven’t done much to build confidence in their objectivity.

      2. Pat

        Which in many ways surprises the hell out of me. Biden is a big reason that most of the over 50 population should be wary of neoliberal politicians. He has a history of clearing the way for any preferred policies of our bankster ‘betters. This includes being on the wrong side of plans to ‘rescue’ Medicare and Social Security, not to mention financial services reform that has made many of their pensions and retirement plans far more insecure. This doesn’t even consider how many of their children and grandchildren now face decades of debt from student loans. (I am pretty sure most of them don’t know how much student loan default might hurt them, so I’ll leave that part of it out.)

        For at least 3/4 quarters of those responding it really does have to be name recognition and misguided love of the last ‘good’ President. Anything else is, well, voting against their own interests. Not that Democrats haven’t been doing that for a long time despite what they have thought.

        1. Grant

          A poll came out recently among black voters and they too support him in decently large numbers. Amazingly, they cite pocket book issues as a reason to support him. I think the poll was cited here yesterday(?). That, to me, is even more mind blowing, given his record. I just have to conclude that, to this point, people aren’t paying attention to his record, or there is an emotional angle there that isn’t at root very logical; his connection to Obama. But, given his record, he should be dead last among black voters of all age groups. His entire candidacy is infuriating.

        2. Kurtismayfield

          Which in many ways surprises the hell out of me. Biden is a big reason that most of the over 50 population should be wary of neoliberal politicians. He has a history of clearing the way for any preferred policies of our bankster ‘betters.

          Two reasons why the plus 50 crowd doesn’t care:

          1. They have theirs, *$#@ you. Plus they got their degrees before all the college loan reform happened.
          2. There is a difference between knowing you have been had, and admitting that you were had.

          1. Pat

            I’ll give you the second one, but most of the older Americans I have met actually recognize the value of Social Security and a few have flat out said to me “I need to protect it for my kids, they are going to have even less retirement security than I have.”

            One reason I agree with your second is not just ‘been there, done that’, but most of those same peoples’ fondness for Obama. They even deny that he had Social Security in his sights despite the massive evidence he wanted to do the ‘Grand Bargain’. They know it was happening, but ___insert excuse here____was why Obama was playing along. But lack of familiarity with Biden’s record is a killer. (It somewhat reminds me of how Kaine’s record was and has continued to be whitewashed by so many of HRC’s fans. They wouldn’t have promoted anyone like that…)

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Its not just Biden and Kaine, its the state of whole Democratic Party. I really thought about it, and Mark Warner is the best of the five state wide Democrats in Virginia right now. He was a better governor than Kaine (by a wide margin), and he has no black face problems or accusations of sexual assault.

              Pelosi and Schumer offered to build a smaller wall for Trump instead of just saying no or demanding the GOP do it on their own. Acknowledging the state of Team Blue means many of these people who have sat on the sidelines or applauded blindly might have to take responsibility. Baseball was investigated, but we still haven’t investigated into what happened in the run up to the Iraq War. Eric Holder said prosecuting white collar crime is hard so he didn’t want to do it. Its easier to pretend Republicans are using tricks and legerdemain to defeat “generic Democrats”. Recognizing AOC isn’t a radical as much as a representative of the views of the American people is a problem because it means all these electeds are as bad as they seem.

              1. dcblogger

                Mark Warner has spent his miserable senate career attacking social security and bucking for a war with Iran. I am ashamed I ever supported him.

            2. Jeff W

              They even deny that he had Social Security in his sights despite the massive evidence he wanted to do the ‘Grand Bargain’. They know it was happening, but ___insert excuse here____was why Obama was playing along.

              Ugh, he wasn’t “playing along,” Obama initiated it:

              The president convened a bipartisan debt reduction commission in February 2010, co-chaired by Morgan Stanley director Erskine Bowles, a Democrat, and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wy.), and charged it with forging a fiscal “grand bargain.”

              (I realize you’re giving what other people’s perspective is, not yours.)

      3. Carla

        I agree, the elite Democrats don’t care about winning. Even if she were a good candidate (which I don’t think she is), and a real Democrat (which I don’t think she is, either), Liz could never, ever beat Trump. Bernie is the only candidate who possibly could.

        1. a different chris

          >Liz could never, ever beat Trump.

          Nobody can really “beat” a sitting President, he mostly has to beat himself. If Trump (family blogs) up enough even ‘lil Pete could beat him. So don’t use that as your guide, just find who suits you and cross your fingers that that Trump can screw this up like he has everything else in his life…

          ..but this time he actually pays for it. Sigh.

          1. jrs

            by polling apparently, ALL the leading Dem candidates beat Trump (non-leading candidates weren’t included). Which actually is also an argument for voting for who you like!

            However that depends on who actually votes, polls have been inaccurate before, and there is awhile until that election.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . if the Catfood Democrat Insiders nominate Hillary Clinton for PrezNom Candidate yet again, I will vote for Trump yet again.

    4. polecat

      Well ambrit, if the 30 and under crowd have their say, the Hallucinator aka UnkaJoe, will be up in smoke for sure, and without the benefit of Hunter’s ‘that’s-a-gas’ stash either !
      Really, I think that this next election ‘season’ is the last stand for the belt-way geriatric crowd.

      1. Cal2

        So many conjectures. My unscientific poll of 14 people who I would lend my house keys to;

        It’s either a vote for President Sanders and Vice-President Gabbard, for National Health Care, Student Debt Relief and fewer losing foreign wars,

        or, barring that nomination, screwing the corporate ‘democrats,’
        with votes for President Trump and Q-tip, to mercilessly stomp on the social justice empire and deep state’s face.

      2. ambrit

        The problem with that strategy polecat, is that there is always a belt-way geriatric political faction to contend with. Absent a major social political dislocation, the ‘dry rot’ of ‘status quo’ politics replicates itself down the years like a particularly sleazy slime mold. I guess that is why most “real” revolutions go through a phase of “Terror.” The ‘old wood’ has to be cleared away and burned. I remember thinking a few years ago that we had seen the last of the Neo-con policy crowd. Then Trump, who had talked a good game during the campaign, appoints dyed in the wool neo-cons to his inner circle.
        I’m sort of curious to see who from the Republican side rises up to contest the candidacy with Trump. If anyone.

        1. polecat

          I will concede to your point, ambrit, only so far as not having a seething, pissed-off constituency engaging in a no-holds-barred ruckus .. and I’m not talking about the minority of greater, (or shall I say lesser) Academic Snowflakistan. I see things coming to an eventual head, where people who are not makin it, will blow ! There are millions .. MILLIONS !! out there who are close • to • the • edge !
          Let the scuzzy f#cks in the DNC do their election skullf#ckery this next time and see were THAT leads.

          1. ambrit

            The ‘important’ part with this is that, to succeed, any broad based social movement has to have, first, a simple and easily comprehended focus point around which to coalesce. In the early 1930’s it was the WW1 Bonus issue, coupled with the early effects of the Great Depression. Secondly, a ‘movement’ needs an organizing cadre to ‘hustle’ it along. Using the previous example, the ‘Bonus March’ organizers fulfilled that function. Thirdly, any movement has to generate some visible popular support. This can be supplied by the Organizing Cadres, or be ‘organic.’
            So, today, what issue will carry the load? I do not, at this point, have a clue. There are so many ‘issues’ that could catch fire and ignite a bigger conflagration.
            To change metaphors, the present situation is like moisture in the atmosphere, just waiting, without agency of course, for some particles of dust around which to coalesce into a deluge.

        2. Procopius

          The neo-cons never went away. They just moved from the Pentagon to the State Department. Who promoted Victoria Nuland? Who approved Nuland’s coup in Ukraine — she couldn’t have pulled that off without an official imprimatur. Who hired Robert Kagan as a foreign policy consultant? When they were in the Pentagon they got arrogant and we learned their names. In the State Department only Nuland was so arrogant, but they were dug in there. Still are, unless Tillerson got rid of some of them. And Bolton is in a position of real influence and power.

  3. ewmayer

    The headlines in my Reuters newsfeed today seem to mirror Team D’s “all IdPol, all the time” fetish:

    o Baseball’s David Ortiz walks after surgery; second man arrested in his shooting
    o Ex-Stanford sailing coach faces sentencing in U.S. college scandal
    o Forsaken transgender pioneers recognized 50 years after Stonewall
    o Democrat presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke outlines LGBTQ policy proposal
    o Federal trial to begin for Illinois man accused of killing Chinese student
    o Pilot in New York chopper crash not certified for bad weather: FAA
    o Jury couldn’t decide if Arizona activist broke law helping migrants
    o Planned Parenthood sues U.S. to block rule that may limit abortions
    o Americans’ perception of LGBTQ rights under federal law largely incorrect: Reuters/Ipsos
    o Comedian Jon Stewart assails Congress for ignoring 9/11 first responders fund

    10 headlines, 3 of which are LGBTQ/transgender-related. Yes, inclusiveness is important – but is it really *that* important relative to the struggles the broader populace faces every day, and on which concrete non-obvious-pandering policy proposals by the 2020 candidates would be really nice to hear about?

    1. nycTerrierist

      nb: re: LGBTQ headlines, June is Pride Month

      could explain it.

      (in shared disdain for Team D’s ‘all IDPol, all the time’ fetish)

      1. ewmayer

        Ah, OK, that probably explains the surfeit – combination of Pride Month stories and Team D nominee-wannabes never letting a pandering opportunity go to waste. (Cf. Joe Biden promising to cure cancer).

        1. Isotope_C14

          Interestingly enough:

          “Comedian Jon Stewart assails Congress for ignoring 9/11 first responders fund”

          Yeah, because he realizes jet fuel doesn’t melt steel beams.

          Perhaps he had a welding job before comedy?

          1. ambrit

            Much as I like a good conspiracy theory, I’ll have to play Devil’s Advocate and mention that the ‘jet fuel’ didn’t have to melt the steel of the floor support trusses. It just had to weaken some of them enough to buckle under the strains. Metals will deform under heat stress before they melt.

              1. ambrit

                The ‘real’ conspiracy theory here for my tastes is the ‘enigma’ of the collapse of WTC-7.
                Also, and associated with the disaster is that I have never seen any reference to the planning of the attacks. Did no one find any of the notes and plans OBL had to have made in planning the attack? He is purported to have studied civil engineering. If so, he could have figured out roughly where to crash the aircraft into the World Trade Centre towers to cause maximum damage.

                1. polecat

                  Would I be remiss* in stating that we both know OBL did NOT plan the 9/11 attacks.. ?? That it was elements of the ‘blob’ what done it ?

                  * no flimsy foil for me .. only the best cast holey aluminum for this brain !

                  1. Isotope_C14



                    Speaking of WTC 7 – these videos are quite incredible.

                    I find it interesting as well that there was a spin-off of the X-files, I think called “The Lone Gunmen” that had an episode about terrorists using remote controlled jets to smash into the WTC buildings.

                    Also pretty funny about that Pentagon debris, not a wing, fuselage, or itty-bitty pieces of seats in that pile. Funny that.

                    1. ambrit

                      That episode of “The Lone Gunmen” which I viewed again recently, did indeed posit a “cunning plan” originating out of “the Blob” to crash an airliner into the World Trade Centre towers. First aired in the Spring of 2001.
                      Years ago I read an interesting article about someone who analyzed a series of fairly well run “UFO” reports. The idea was that the persons reporting the ‘encounters’ were often subconsciously retelling the plots of old science fiction stories that they had read years earlier. I can well believe that a lot of the WTC conspiracy theorizing is “based” on unconscious recollections of having seen that television episode.
                      People are strange, but not as strange as the Universe they inhabit.

                2. Procopius

                  Back in the day, i.e. 2001, I saw it reported that the planning was done in an apartment in Hamburg, Germany. OBL did not plan the attack, and I suspect he didn’t even know about it but was happy to take credit for it. Funny, W and Cheney claimed we have to make sure Afghanistan never again becomes a “base” for terrorist activists. Funny we don’t seem to feel that way about Saudi Arabia (where 15 of the plotters came from) or Germany (where the actual planning took place).

                  1. ambrit

                    I would still like to see some paperwork from the actual ‘planning’. Someone set this up. Will we ever know? Even now, Oswald is the “official” explanation for the Kennedy shooting.

    2. Chris

      It’s definitely pride month related.

      It’s also being used as a distraction from more serious issues.

      If the people who profess to be so concerned with trans rights and transphobia and LGBTI+ (+++, whatever acronyms they’re using now) really cared about those issues, a national jobs guarantee and Medicare for all would be on the top of their list of policies to support. But they don’t care about any group of marginalized citizens in this country. So they do this instead :/

    3. chuck roast

      My wife’s copy of the NYT had a pic of the victorious American women’s soccer team front and center top fold. They had just trounced Little Sisters of the Poor 13-0 demonstrating yet again that all powerful greatness of the US of A. My wife thought it wonderful that the women won and were on the front page. I tried to explain why putting this story in the Sports Page was OK, but putting it front and center in the NYT was a demonstration of the all too usual insensitive hubris of the ruling class and an extreme embarrassment.

      Another victim of the standard forms of corporate propaganda, my wife didn’t get it and simply saw it as wonderful virtue signaling. Anyway, I checked the later electronic version and apparently more sensible and compassionate heads finally prevailed. The story of the ruthless bashing was banished to page B9.

      And so it goes.

  4. divadab

    Re: Biden – “We’re going to find a cure for cancer” – confirms to me the guy is a flipping salesman, overselling because he wants to be Kennedy-esque (i.e. equating his cancer cure target with JFK’s of putting a man on the moon), plus it doesn;t hurt as a distraction from Medicare for All, which his masters do not want.

    No flipping way I’ll vote Dem if this worthless hack is their candidate.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      When JFK made his promise, it really wasn’t a far fetched proposition. Luna 2 and Luna 3 had landed on the moon already. Also the NASA administrator was denied funding by JFK for an estimated 1970 moon landing two months before Jack’s famed promise. In a way, it was the equivalent of predicting the baseball team with the highest payroll will eventually win a World Series.

      1. divadab

        Ok so Kennedy actually set an achievable target – good on him and too bad he pissed off the people who assassinated him. Biden will never be assassinated because he is too mediocre a character to do other than what he is paid to do.

        What a contemptible hack.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          This is the point. Kennedy’s goal was achievable and not cooked up, but the narrative is his challenge to NASA. Biden’s promise is clear hocus pocus when JFK promised NASA will do what it wants to do anyway minus a few months because leadership just isn’t leadership if you don’t demand projects come in ahead of schedule.

          Biden and others like him are so ill read they live in the fantasy where can make edicts and it just happens.

          1. KLG

            Had he stopped worrying about the chronology of the Bible, Isaac Newton could have done the basic calculations to get to the moon and back. That project was a straightforward but difficult set of problems in Newtonian physics and the technology of keeping the astronauts alive on the journey. Dangerous as hell, but well done. Still, NASA was sloppy before Apollo 11 and after, and the inevitable happened.

            Cancer is a thousand different diseases, though with some common attributes. Being largely age-related, ultimate victory is unlikely. Mary Lasker browbeat Nixon into declaring his “War on Cancer” almost 50 years ago. Some progress, yes. A few types of childhood leukemia are curable; environmental causes are understood if not taken seriously; a few treatments work; we finally know that Halstead’s development of the radical mastectomy was the wrong path. But that war is ultimately less winnable than our never-ending series of adventures in Syraqistan.

            Take home message: Joe Biden is a lazy nitwit, and his “followers” are deplorable.

            1. ambrit

              Oh good heavens! Do you mean to imply that Trump will be running against the ‘deplorables?’
              “Fool a ‘deplorable’ once. Shame on you.”
              “Fool a ‘deplorable’ twice. Pass GO. Collect $400,000 a year for four more years.”

              1. polecat

                There are commentors on ZeroHedge (yes, I know..), who are NOT happy, at all !! with how Trump reneged on his campaign .. uh .. promises – specifically foreign policy, and cowtowing to the neoCON$ .. They are, how shall I say INCENCED !! Now, if you’ve lost ZeroHedgers ….

                1. ambrit

                  And Zero Hedge is now being banned on Pinterest!
                  See: (well, the link would be to Zero Hedge itself, and probably a self-defeating strategy, so, take my word for it.)

    2. FreeMarketApologist

      we’re going to cure cancer” = “we gave banking a huge handout 10 years ago, now we’re giving big pharma a huge handout”.

      I would imagine you could directly correlate that statement with prior and future money flows from pharma interests to the Biden and DCCC money vaults.

      A huge number of highly motivated people (i.e., those who stand to make enormous sums of money) have been working on ‘curing cancer’ for two generations. Biden thinks that the only thing they need is more money?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Biden thinks that the only thing they need is more money?

        When did Biden say this? Has he worked for this? If Biden believes this garbage at all, he believes they just need his leadership. He’s not going to fight for a dime for any kind of research. Look at the trains he supposedly loves so much.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Look at the trains he supposedly loves so much.

          Ouch. Yes, Amtrak, Joe Biden’s pride and joy. Not to trash Amtrak, which is in an impossible position.* But after all that leadership from Joe, why are they still in that position?

          NOTE * I recently took the Northeast Regional, and not only have they upgraded the seats, they’ve updated the café car menu (basically, to Au Bon Pain/Pret a Porter cellophane wrapped sandwiches but still. So, Northeast Regional has better seats than Acela’s which are horrid — I always feel I’m going to slip off them — and more legroom, so what’s not to like? Of course, you don’t get to overhear the cellphone conversations of the lanyard and letterhead crowd, but I am a devotee of the quiet car anyhow.

          1. ambrit

            Oh for the days of the “Bar Car” and the “Smoking Car.”
            Somehow, linking Joe Biden with trains makes me think of the ‘film noir’ “Double Indemnity.” Now, if Joe tried to put his hands all over Barbara Stanwyck, I’d not give very good odds on his surviving the ‘encounter.’
            Now that I think on it, Hillary Clinton would make a perfect ‘film noir’ ‘femme fatale.’

  5. KevinD

    Biden: Curing Cancer.

    It’s quite obvious to me he is tapping into the Trump mantra of “If your going to tell a lie – tell a big one – and repeat it often so the rubes buy it”

  6. jsn

    ‘At the end of the day, we operate in the United States, and we follow United States law, so if we’re forced to do it, I guess we’ll have to.’

    Who exactly said that? Musk, for instance, is already working on his ballistic defenses…

    Silicon Valley Libertarians are about to have to really think through their “non-aggression principal”.

    1. eg

      Mark Blyth likes to quip “the Hamptons are not a defensible position.”

      Is Silicon Valley?

  7. jsn

    “Plans to rapidly reduce fossil fuel use would require a 5-10 fold increase in the annual deployment of carbon-free energy.”

    Which would be done using mostly fossil fuels. Catch 22

    1. Fiery Hunt

      Aaannnd….it’s blocked on Bernie’s you tube channel.

      Music licensing behemoths…Global Music Rights LLC and WMG


        1. nycTerrierist

          It was rousing!

          brought tears to my eyes, but Bernie often does,

          I find him v. moving, a real mensh amongst careerist clowns

        2. richard

          yes, he directly quoted fdr in the context of that historical moment, got a standing o, then smiled and said something like “that does seem to apply to our era, doesn’t it?”
          it seemed a little like he’d planned on getting applause
          makes me wonder, does someone over there visit nc regularly?

      1. JohnnyGL

        He’s definitely bringing the heat! If you thought he might shy away from Republican cries of ‘socialism’, banish those thoughts.

        It’s a little slow for the 1st 25 min or so. But he really gets going in the latter part of it. Talks a lot about “freedom” around the 40 minute mark.

        Pitches a 21st Century ‘Economic Bill of Rights’.
        – right to a job
        – paid living wage
        – right to health care
        – right to education
        – right to affordable housing
        – right to clean environment

        1. ambrit

          Too many imponderables with this analogy. Such as, can you hear the Neo saying under his/her breath: “The Finance is strong with this one!” Or, an endless montage of ghostly voices whispering in political ears, “Run XXX, run!” And finally, where is the young and innocent farm toiler who will redeem the New Deal? Chelsea? She might fit the bill. She’s the ‘hidden’ scion of powerful and ‘connected’ Nouveaux Aristocrats.

    2. Chris

      For a completely different take than you’ll find here, check out what Slate writer Jim Newell thought about Bernie’s speech here.

      I do enjoy reading someone’s thoughts when they’re unencumbered by the truth. In fact, weren’t we just here 10 years ago according to Politifact?

      “What’s happened is that whenever a president tries to bring about significant changes, particularly during times of economic unease, then there is a certain segment of the population that gets very riled up,” Obama said. “FDR was called a socialist and a communist.”

      Which makes sense when you consider how much of economic policy and social institutions FDR centralized under the banner of the federal government. Also, you know, Social Security, the WPA, our first real welfare program, etc etc.

      And then of course, there’s the Wagner act, wherein FDR expressed his opinion that decent housing was a fundamental “societal” need and he went against the wishes of countless landlords (link) but sure, he’s not a socialist! Because he never called himself a socialist.

      Meanwhile, Bernie needs “pixie dust” to bridge the gap and explain what he means by democratic socialism is what FDR did. And, oh my, look at that YouGov poll, is Sanders over now that Warren is polling ahead of him?

      The media fix is in. The elite fix is in. The Blob has made its opinion well known for years. Whatever chance Bernie might have had post 2016, it’s over. They’re never going to let him or anyone who acts like him get that close to the nomination ever again. If beating him with Biden doesn’t work, they’ll pick up Warren and use her as a club to keep him down and justify not covering anything he’s doing in an objective manner. Maybe they’ll top the 16 negative articles in 16 hours this time? Or maybe they’ll just stop talking about him and Gabbard completely.

      1. Procopius

        FDR wasn’t committed to centralizing all programs under the federal government. That’s why unemployment insurance ended up under state control. A couple of states, Wisconsin and some others, had well functioning unemployment insurance, although they desperately needed more funds, and FDR was loathe to take that away from them.

      2. jrs

        They won’t need to talk about Gabbard after the first debates, unless she can get polling over 2% there will be no more for her. Like all the other 20 she will get her maybe broken 10 minutes of fame in the first debate, it won’t be enough to really make a rational case for anything probably. The Dems aren’t generous like R’s in having second tier debates, they cull fast. Sanders yea he’ll be around.

        The problem with Warren’s definition of capitalism, is when she describes herself as capitalist, she pretends she literally has no idea what capitalism is. The ingenue! In her description: it’s about individuals trading, or corporations trading, or individuals trading with corporations. When back in the world we live in it’s about power and raw power relations. Her definition of capitalism IS WAY WAY WAY more inaccurate than any definition Bernie has of socialism which does approach some definitions of socialism. It’s just zero correspondence with reality for Warren.

  8. Wukchumni

    The ignition of the so-called Ranch Fire is a testament to the extreme fragility and volatility of the American West, fire experts say. California in particular is such a tinderbox that something as seemingly innocuous as hammering a stake into the ground can unleash an uncontrollable inferno.”

    We go from doing burn piles from January to April that are still warm enough the next day to ignite another wheelbarrow lode of dead limbs & the like, as everything in cahoots nearby is green & fireproof, before dying back into becoming a nemesis come the summer, when an errant spark could start an inferno with a 360 degree fuse spreading away from ignition point. It wont rain again here in the foothills until late October, sometimes showing up in November.

    It was a good winter & spring in my ongoing attempt to get el rancho deluxe free of burnables on the ground and dead members on live trees. The plan is to get it to the point where the conditions would be the same as when the Wukchumni set fire to the understory in the late fall every year without fail.

    1. polecat

      All one has to do is read the Sacramento Bee, assuming one doesn’t mind the virtue signal-untelligence, to find some article about someone(s) being busted for operating a clandestine suburban mj “grow” in some vacant mcmansion…. it’s been like one every month or so ..

      Lambert, maybe you need to travel to Greater Leftcoastistan and walk the beat some ..Open your mind.

  9. Lee

    Tech: “Uber Trying to Steer Its Vision of Flying Cars Though Regulators” [Bloomberg]. “The company showed videos of a future in which hundreds of vehicles fly off urban landing ports and attendees of the conference could view multiple types of futuristic vehicles built by various companies….

    Uber reinvented The Jetsons. I’m impressed. I look forward to the day when my cartoon self will fly off in a cartoon car.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not as impressive, though, as if they could make planes like Terrainean’s commercial Fireflash, capable of Mach 6, or Thunderbird 1, capable of Mach 19.7.

    2. ChrisPacific

      Your cartoon self won’t be able to afford to fly in a cartoon car. In Jetsons world everything is automated, so everybody is unemployed.

  10. Isotope_C14

    Defining FDResque speech by Bernie:


    I think the livestream is over now. It was being broadcast on C-span. I called my mother to see if she was watching, and she was, but it was “interrupted”

    The oligarchy has two choices, Trump or Bernie. Which do you think they will pick?

    Will the former pick cause the general strike?

    Where’s my popcorn?

    Will youtube ban this video for inappropriate content?

    Exciting times, in the 6th, happening “faster than expected”.

    1. Watt4Bob

      Clicked on link, message is something like;

      Video Unavailable

      “This video contains content from Global Music Rights LLC and WMG, one or more of whom have blocked it in your country on copyright grounds”

      Yeah right, actually, it’s part of what I deem the ‘full-court-press’.

      I can hear the DNC and DCCC glee-club in the bleachers chanting “Defense, Defense, Defense” from my desk in Minnesota.

    2. nycTerrierist

      whoops! just saw this comment after I posted upstream

      I watched live via USAToday on youtube, with no interruption

  11. jsn

    “Good to know that health care (not “access” to health care, mind you, which implies gatekeepers and eligibility determination) saves lives.”

    And it’s reciprocal: gatekeepers and eligibility determinations kill.

  12. dcblogger

    attention DC NC fans, do you want to do Bastille Day meet up? and if so, where? Metro Marriot Fire and Sage grill? or somewhere else?

  13. TonyinSoCAL

    The right-wing libertarian gold-currency types hate the 2% target. They call the Fed “economic illiterates” for having a 2% inflationary target. After all, “why would anyone think it’s a good thing to have prices go up on purpose?”

    That is the end of their analysis.

    But these boneheads completely miss the point: the 2% target isn’t about an intentional effort to create inflation and make things constantly more expensive for people. It’s instead about stability.

    The 2% target came about almost by accident and fairly unintentionally when it was first set by New Zealand. So this isn’t about an intentional effort by the diabolical (((Fed))) to make things more expensive for everyone, or to prevent inflation from becoming lower.

    Before, the Fed would just say they want to “lower” inflation, or “increase” inflation without a real target other than to stave off run away inflation. You had chairman like Volker just let the interest rate rip in order to break the back of inflation in a reactionary way. What we ended up with were massive inflationary and deflationary swings and the Central Bankers became tired of it.

    So instead of reacting to swings, they decided to just set the target at 2%, that way you are trying to hit the target rather than trying to react to economic indication of rising or lowering inflation.

    This isn’t all good news. Because when you see the 2% target for what it is, an artificial target that Central Bankers are hell-bent on hitting, you can see why the Fed is getting really anxious these days.

    The Central Bankers have pulled out all the tricks out of the bag, QE, ZIRP, rock bottom interest, and even negative interest in Europe, and for a while in 2018 they pretty much hit their 2% target (at least in the US). And we were all styling. Home prices were growing in a stable way. Jobs numbers were great. Stock Market was high. The Trump tax cut scam pumped the economy up even further.

    But then December 2018 hit. The sugar high from the Trump tax cut wore off. Wall Street took a 20% bear-market nose dive. Housing prices slowed growth and sales slowed. And now we are seeing manufacturing indexes, initial jobs reports showing things have slowed.

    Now they can’t keep it at the target and they aren’t sure what to do about it. You don’t cut interest rates in a strong economy (which is what we supposedly have), but at the same time Wall Street is screaming for further rate cuts. And when Wall Street threw its temper tantrum in December 2018, the Fed rewarded them with putting a stop to the three anticipated rate hikes this year.

    If the current CPI stats are an indication of where things are going, it sounds like Wall Street had it right and the Fed had it wrong–the Fed wanted to increase interest rates, which would have had a deflationary effect. Wall Street wanted the cut to get an inflationary effect that helps the market. Wall Street won.

    The problem is now that the pause in interest rates didn’t have the inflationary effect Wall Street wanted (even though the Fed is still holding on to hope that deflation is “transitory”) and so now they are demanding more cuts. At the same time the Fed is scratching its head saying it’s “open” to more cuts, but showing some genuine misgivings about cutting rates when they were certain just 7 months ago that rate hikes were what the economy needed.

    This is on top of a mixed bag of data suggesting the economy isn’t really coming or going at this point, it’s just frothy. What we are seeing is paralysis. he only thing left is more cuts. J-Rome knows it.

    The other problem is that CPI is also largely a contrived number. It’s based on funny math. Don’t like the swings in the price of gas? Just take it out of the CPI! Don’t like the price of food in there, take it out! Don’t like the price of houses, take it out!

    If you are trying to manage an economy by hitting an artificial inflationary target of 2% based on artificial inflationary data that doesn’t give you the whole picture, an observer could see why you’d be a little confused when your decisions don’t lead to your intended outcome.

    The reality is for the vast majority of Americans, the price they pay at the pump has direct, immediate and visible impact on their bills, spending and outlook. The price of food does too, and so does the price of the roof over their head. People notice when the price of the big mac extra value meal shoots up a dollar. This is probably also why we have the cognitive dissonance of a “great” economy while people are buried in credit card debt, student loan debt and corporate debt and while a majority (https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/19/heres-how-many-americans-have-nothing-at-all-in-savings.html) of Americans don’t have $1,000 liquid money to tap in case of an emergency.

    So if CPI is going lower, but CPI doesn’t take into account the basic costs of living that are actually extremely volatile and not just smoothly going down, and the Fed is chasing a 2% CPI number that doesn’t include these inflationary variables, the Fed could be targeting an inflationary target that is actually deflationary when all the gimmicky math is taken out of the equation.

    Now we see why the fed is struggling, CPI is going down. Consumers are feeling the pain of higher prices none-the-less, along with stagnant wages and more debt. What the consumers are experience aren’t being taken into consideration by the Fed because those numbers “don’t count.” You have the market demanding further cuts because the lower the interest rate, the more likely people are to dump their money into the market searching for some investment returns that at least are par with inflation that is probably a lot higher in reality for the average Joe than core CPI lets on.

    Why bother saving when you get no return and you can’t save anyway because your cost of living is out of control?

    No wonder the Fed is being indecisive. They don’t want to believe their lying eyes.

    1. polecat

      They don’t have eyes … they have ‘receptors’…… as in like, say .. a cockroach !

  14. dearieme

    “The Day the Music Burned”

    Happily the music of Armstrong, Beiderbecke, Morton and company is safely and widely distributed on CDs. Centralised storage is always going to be vulnerable. I’m glad that the fire happened after the CD era rather than before: far fewer classical jazz tracks were available in the days of LPs.

      1. dearieme

        You miss the point. Central storage pretty much guarantees their loss at some time or another.

        1. Late Introvert

          This was a huge loss. Master tapes are not the copies. Yes, we have some copies. And if the loss is from corporate negligence and not realizing real value while chasing destructive profit-taking? Um, perhaps you are missing the point or even trolling?

    1. a different chris

      I agree with you – which is rare! :) – but hopefully the “vinyl has better (whatever)” and even “tube amplifiers are more warm and natural” (Can it be warm and not natural? What if it was originally, um, cold?) crowd won’t descend upon us.

      I mean it never sounds exactly the same – starting where you sit in a live performance makes a difference. A packed house vs. a lot of “Thursday night” space affects the acoustics. Does Perlman sound the same in every venue? What you like is what you like and the “openness” -or closedness?- and whatever can yeah add a bit but you’re not going to listen to Hillary Clinton no matter how “there” the reproduction chain makes it and you’ll listen to your high-school headbanging music on old Jensen 6×9’s if thats what’s available.

      Ok now I will prepare to be skinned and scorned…

      1. Chris Smith

        Urg, vinyl. Takes up space; is overly delicate. At best, it has an annoying hiss on playback. At worst, it pops and cracks. I bought my first CD player the first time I heard that beautiful hiss free playback. My only regret is that MP3s killed the audio DVD before it was really born. Now we’re stuck with compressed music. But hey, I can fit in all on my phone and listen to it through shitty earbuds or whatever. (It begs the question: why do people hate music so?)

        But yeah, it’s all about location. Crystal clear studio recordings on CD are one experience, and hearing it at a live venue is another.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          So at one end Duke Ellington’s notes go down the memory hole, unable to be preserved by capital. And at the other end, Spotify sells your mood to Big Pharma.

          I propose a shortcut: let the Duke’s notes cure your depression directly instead

  15. Wukchumni

    Talking of music burning into our souls, will people be singing Beatles songs in 2222?

    My 14 year old nephew knows most of their songs, as it turns out. That kind of surprised me. On the flipside, a good many of the main arteries in Rancho Mirage are named after celebrities, i.e. Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Ginger Rogers, Gerald Ford, Dinah Shore, etc. Aside from Ford, he didn’t know any of the others.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Beatles are good. Because of their pop aspects, people tend to get snooty on the matter because we have this idea of the grand conductors at European courts, but there plenty of pretenders. They didn’t build concert halls for Mozart. Yes, Bach released his X and Y, but the hall was built for the audience. The Beatles don’t have over do it on love songs, and they produced a quality, quantity, and diversity which is rare. They lack an anthem rock song. Other groups produce a bunch of garbage in between hits after one great album. Those two guys stole that Marvin Gaye song, and no one recognized it because it was from the B Side of an album. No one cares about B Side for so many people.

      Certain songs will survive. Elvis is done for example. Though he had talent (and what he stole), his stuff isn’t great enough to last. It comes down to who is worth remembering, and the Beatles are good.

      Sinatra had good songs, but they aren’t “his” songs either. Other people sing them too. Bob Hope had a carnival barker, self depreciating aspect to him which is good for when he is there live. He’s not relevant enough to say, “you got to hear this guy.” Dinah Shore has the same Sinatra problem. They aren’t really her songs. Then of course, there are products of their time aspects. Musicals are best seen live, and 42nd Street is garbage (fight me). Even with these names, I think about their relationship to a golden era in Hollywood, not just the product. Bob Hope is really associated with USO shows.

      I think Star Trek Discovery made solid predictions about Prince who does produce quality, quantity, and diversity of his product and at least one David Bowie song without mentioning David Bowie making it. I doubt the comedic stylings of Joe Piscopo will make it to the 24th century. Wyld Stallyns will of course bring peace and prosperity.

      With stories (which songs are), everything has been done. All that’s left to tell (I’m paraphrasing because I can’t remember who said it) is how WE feel about those stories. With a few exception of individual stories, my gut is an artist who meets quality, quantity, and diversity of product can survive and matter because they can speak to people beyond the here and now. The Beatles can be shared in a way the band behind Brandy (you’re a fine girl) can’t be shared.

      1. Massinissa

        I don’t even know who Joe Piscopo is, so I second your belief that he wont make it to the 24th century.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Joe Piscopo- THE KARATE KID!!!

          STRIKE FIRST.
          STRIKE HARD.
          NO MERCY.

          – Cobra Kai

  16. Swamp Yankee

    I went to college with Shomik Dutta! We were friendly (I’ve since fallen away from this crowd, esp. in the mid-2010s). In the Fall of 2004, he asked me what my politics were — both of us knew we were for Kerry to beat Bush, but hadn’t exchanged much beyond that. I told him I was a New Dealer.

    “A New Dealer?!” he replied incredulously — “Nobody’s a New Dealer anymore!”

    “Well, I am,” I said.

    It was like I was defying a law of nature for him.

    FWIW, Dutta’s father was the CEO of a major airline, I believe the first of South Asian descent (pretty high caste, I would wager), something that I found out post-facto. Both are therefore perfect for modern neoliberal Democrats — IdPol plus Corporate Capitalism plus grifting. Also believe Dutta worked as a Venture Capitalist after leaving Obama’s White House. Inspiring.

    Despite actually getting along well with him personally, I’m extremely vindicated to see him owned here at NC, 15 years later. I can’t believe I came out of [Redacted] College intact — I was a working class scholarship kid, and every incentive was to join the Duttas et al. of the world and betray my own family, communities, class, and people. Some kind of “Get thee behind me, Satan!” moment occurred my junior year, though, and I’ve been a Red Commonwealthman ever since.

    Also, we need an amendment to overturn Dartmouth College v. New Hampshire so states can nationalize private colleges. Utterly effete incubators of reaction. Ecrasez l’infames.

    1. Trent

      Looked at Mr. Dutta’s linkdin after reading your comment and from what i can tell his entire career has been based on cronyism. Though i’m not sure career is the proper word, the man has worked at more places and for a shorter period of time then most.

    2. Massinissa

      Your story leads us to something really important: Capitalists and those who defend them seem like perfectly reasonable people who probably make good friends and are fun to have beers with. But their views and actions can still be incredibly destructive to people they do not know and systems they do not understand.

      Being a friend to say, George W. Bush as an example, would probably be pretty fun, actually. But that doesn’t change what he has done. Its good that you have come to this understanding on your own.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Bill the Spaceman Lee claimed he smoked with George W outside the Boston children’s museum in 1972.

  17. Sutter Cane

    Re: The Day the Music Burned

    I went to grad school to study archival science, with an emphasis on audio preservation, specifically to deal with the issues addressed in the article. Long story short, I work in an unrelated field now. The private corporations that own these recordings are grossly negligent, while there exists no adequate institution in the public sector to deal with the problem. People seem to assume that the Library of Congress or some university library, or SOMEBODY is handling the situation, but sadly, there are only a handful of institutions nationwide that even deal with audio recordings. Most archives, in addition to being understaffed and underfunded, only have expertise in dealing with paper documents and are generally dismissive of audio recordings.

    I feel like I’m doing more good now by buying records I like and DJing them at a local bar every now and then, than I was when trying to work in some institutional setting to preserve our American recorded heritage. I could relate a lot to the man profiled in the piece.

    1. dearieme

      In the UK the Beeb owned priceless tapes of many of its classical TV shows. Mostly it wiped them. Presumably the same holds for their radio shows. So the notion that “public sector” must be the answer to preserving stuff is pie in the sky.

      1. ambrit

        Yep. The American networks also did this. Tapes of their talk shows were generally used over several times, thus erasing the earlier programs.
        Many of the copies of the Dick Cavett shows were erased. He had some real heavyweight guests who got extended airtime as well.
        As far as ‘commercial’ programmers went, everything was ephemera.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I’ve seen this elsewhere. Most of the census records from Ireland in the 19th century are lost for good. No, they were not all lost to that fire in the civil war in 1922. During WW1 the Irish bureaucracy need scrap paper for all their workings so they had these census records hauled out and wrote on the back of them and when they were finished simply threw them out in the trash. You could almost cry.

          1. ambrit

            That’s one reason why I sympathized with Mao and the radicals in China when they sent all the office workers out to the farms to put in some physical labour.
            Of course, Mao et. al. were swimming against the ‘tide’ of human nature. For some reason, in every large organization, the s–t floats to the top of the septic tank. There are too many examples of that “floating around” to contemplate with any equanimity.

      2. ObjectiveFunction

        Poor old Thirteenth Century….

        What about the books?

        Books, books? They’re all changed. All transcribed. All information is here. We’ve Zero, of course. He’s the central brain, the world’s brain. Fluid mechanics, fluidics. He’s liquid, you see. His waters touch all knowledge.

        Everything we ask has become so complicated now. Each thing we ask… This morning, we wanted to know about the Thirteenth century. He flows out into all our storage systems. He considers everything. He’s become so… ambiguous now. As if he knows nothing at all.


        Corporate decisions are made by corporate executives.
        Corporate executives make corporate decisions.
        Knowledge converts to power.
        Energy equals genius.
        Power is knowledge.
        Genius is energy.
        Corporate entities control elements of economic life, technology, capital, Iabour and markets.
        Corporate decisions are made by corporate executives.
        Negative. Negative. N-negative…

        1. The Rev Kev

          A highly under-rated film that with lots to unpack when you watch it. And I recall that Jonathon started his career in Rollerball when a corporate executive decided that he wanted Jonathon’s wife and so took her because that was what the world was like then. And so Jonathan found his outlet in violence on the Rollerball rink as compensation.

  18. lyman alpha blob

    Noticed this bit in the Millers All Day article –

    …the citywide restaurant staff shortage…

    – and I hear the same thing hear in Maine and any number of other places that there are not enough workers.

    I don’t believe that this is the problem for one second. Two thoughts come to mind.

    First of all, these restaurants cater to a wealthy clientele who you’d think could afford to pay an increased price for the high quality meal, which would allow the restaurant to pay their workers, and yet we know restaurant workers are largely dependent on tips as employers get away with paying sometimes less than minimum wage depending on the state. I worked in restaurants for a decade 20 years ago and today’s prices haven’t really increased all that much since then, especially not compared to housing costs, etc. Charge the rich clientele more, pay your workers better, maybe throw in a bennie here and there, and the worker shortage might disappear.

    I say ‘might’ because secondly, here in Vacationland, all kinds of people from away come in to set up their restaurant or hotel or craft brewery to cater to the summer tourists. The number of restaurants in my area has seen an incredible expansion and yet the population of the state has not. And not just Maine – everywhere seems to want to be foodie central these days. Every “entrepreneur” – in scare quotes mainly because I have come to hate that word – seems to think it’s their god given right to set up shop wherever they want and then whine when things don’t work out. Maybe some demographic research prior to opening the latest “start up” – also hate that word – would be in order. In other words, the problem isn’t too few workers, it’s too many restaurants.

      1. ambrit

        And yet, Mickey D’s here in Hattiesburg is paying around $12.00 the hour.
        Maybe the difference is that Mickey D’s isn’t mobbed up. (That I know of.)

  19. UserFriendly

    FWIW Biden officially called for a climate change debate. Which either means he is sure the DNC won’t change it’s mind and he’s posturing or he realized that Climate Change is a deal breaker for a lot of people.

    1. jrs


      As for NON official debates, they are already having them on everything already, immigration, now poverty (important topic, I’m sure biden cares about poverty not at all, but he is scheduled to be there). So they are called “forums” and the like, but they are more or less like debates. So I can only conclude if someone calls the bluff they can have a climate forum or many if they want to. What is the DNC going to say, it’s ok to talk immigration and poverty, but not climate? That will go over well …

      poor people’s forum:

  20. ChiGal in Carolina

    Small request from a former copyeditor

    Pretty please might the word stabilize be removed from its permanent position in the following recurring post:

    … As of June 11: Biden down 33.4% ( 33.6%) and Sanders steady 17% (17%) stabilize.

    btw dunno if it was on purpose or not, but I love the header Our Famously Free– just as is. Somehow the unfinished phrase conveys an I can’t even– quality well suited to introduce what comes next. MSNBC and the Times squabbling in the sandlot!

  21. Plenue

    “A highly disconcerting and disappointing thread on lacunae in Jared Diamond’s scholarship:”

    Diamond isn’t just bad for what he omits. Much of what he explicitly states is simply wrong. His history of the Spanish conquest of South America is basically worthless.

  22. John

    Sanders-Gabbard: cannot say it often enough especially as Tulsi appears to terrify the democratic nomenklatura.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Tucker Carlson asked whether someone can be elected if Google and Facebook don’t want them to be. His answer was No.

      I think a similar question can be asked: “Can someone be elected if the DNC don’t want them to be?”. Unfortunately for this election cycle I think the answer will also be No.

      But it will set the stage for something bigger, and worse (from the PTB point of view). Those who make gradual change impossible make revolutionary change inevitable” JFK

      So if we haven’t all been Raptured Up, 2024 is Year Zero for our New Thermidor.

    2. pjay

      Indeed she does. That New York Mag article was quite an accomplished hit-piece; now Tulsi is possibly a Manchurian candidate from a twisted Krishna cult! Aside from the accurate quote on the Blob cited by Lambert, this is perhaps the most disgusting piece of s**t on Gabbard I’ve read yet — and that’s saying something. The reason is that it is so detailed and skilled; it really demonstrates your point that they want to destroy her. The article *pretends* to be sympathetic to her anti-interventionist stance in places (thus the Blob quote), but the author actually draws selectively from her life — mainly from past acquaintances and relatives (who seem antagonistic) and almost nothing from Gabbard herself — to paint a picture of a strange and perhaps unstable character unknown to the general public. Some of the questions raised might be legitimate, but that was not the purpose here. Rather, bits and pieces of her life were selected to construct a finely crafted narrative designed to destroy whatever credibility her anti-war position might have had among educated liberal readers.

      For those who want to know about Gabbard, watch the Joe Rogan interviews. For those who want to deconstruct a first-rate character assassination, I highly recommend this article. You are right, John. The nomenklatura are pulling out all the stops.

      1. JCC

        I agree, this article had “hit job” written all over it. The author spent as much time discussing her father’s guru as it did her from what I could tell. A piss-poor, and obvious, attempt at Guilt By Association.

        I actually went into “skim mode” after this leading paragraph statement,

        Here are the details: Bashar al-Assad is a depraved dictator best known for his willingness to murder his own people, including many children, with chemical weapons.

        It was pretty obvious to me that the rest of the article would carry as much lie as this statement so clearly did. It’s too unfortunate that too many will fall for all this tripe.

  23. Lee

    A highly disconcerting and disappointing thread on lacunae in Jared Diamond’s scholarship….

    I wouldn’t be too disappointed if I were you. I read down the thread a bit and my impression is that they are nitpicking regarding failures to more fully describe in great biographical detail certain individuals mentioned in his book Guns, Germs, and Steel.

    Such criticism misses entirely the main thrust of his work, which was to undermine the intellectual underpinnings of racism. He does this by convincingly making the case that differences in technological development among human populations are attributable to environmental factors and not to the inherent superiority or inferiority as regards intellectual or moral capacities of various populations.

    1. Plenue

      The main thrust of his argument falls apart when the specific cases he cites weren’t at all like he portrays them.

      1. Wukchumni

        There must be a coterie of concerned individuals that pore over Jared’s writing, looking for something egregious (how did he not know that Aussie Rules Football was the national sport of Nauru, the nerve of him!) and typically it amounts to piffling nothings that say more about j’accusers.

        1. Plenue

          You’ve done this before, dishonestly pretending that the critiques are minor nitpicks. When someone writes a grand narrative of history, and then completely mutilates a scenario they cite as as an illustration of that narrative, that isn’t good history.

          The core problem with the Papua New Guinea Stuff is Diamond omitting context and crucial information in order to bolster his case. If he can’t be trusted to give an accurate accounting of anthropology, why should I trust anything else he has to say on any other subject?

          When it comes to South America, he is at best merely regurgitating popular incorrect myths of the conquest. His description of the events is simply wrong.

  24. JohnnyGL


    Michael Tracey has some decent commentary on Warren’s rise (and Bernie’s slight fall). Says the impeachment talk falls into her wheelhouse and has given her some tailwinds.

    I also have noticed (as have others on this site) that she’s getting some nice press lately. Which is curious.

  25. Lee

    Well it looks like my innocuous comment got blitzed so I’ll try again:

    A highly disconcerting and disappointing thread on lacunae in Jared Diamond’s scholarship….

    I wouldn’t be too disappointed if I were you. I read down the thread a bit and my impression is that they are nitpicking regarding failures to more fully describe in great biographical detail certain individuals mentioned in his book Guns, Germs, and Steel.

    Such criticism misses entirely the main thrust of his work, which was to undermine the intellectual underpinnings of racism. He does this by convincingly making the case that differences in technological development among human populations are attributable to environmental factors and not to the inherent superiority or inferiority as regards intellectual or moral capacities of various populations.

  26. freedomny

    apropos of nothing:

    So, got out of jury duty today. I’m kind of happy because I get called regularly and always seem to be “nominated” for a trial no matter how unpleasant, argumentative and distasteful I try to be.

    This voir dire was pretty intense. It lasted almost 2 hours and the questions were very personal.

    I told them I believe we have a rigged judiciary system and it’s gotten worse since 2008.

    This is the first time I didn’t get selected for a trial…..they let me go Day 1

  27. Late Introvert

    Iowa is fairly predictive of the Democratic nominee and Bernie Sanders is faltering there. The main reason why is Sanders has almost no penetration among older white voters.

    My mom is 84 and is the most left person in my immediate family besides me, and is considerably left of her cohort, and she not only doesn’t know much about Bernie, she has been trained by her local news and the Des Moines Register to fear him.

    I probably convinced her and my nephew of Biden’s shameful record, but that doesn’t mean they’ll vote for Bernie.

    And furthermore, she spent her life as a nurse railing against doctors and insurance companies, and also fears Medicare For All. How are we going to pay for it, she worries.

    1. jrs

      Well NPR is going on with the propaganda again today (why people imagine that Neoliberal Propaganda Radio is liberal I’ll never know).

      They mentioned Bernie’s speech and then added “Bernie has not said how he’ll pay for it” (the things in his speech). Gee, I don’t know how do we afford the most expensive medical system in the world now, but somehow we manage right?

      Meanwhile after the 1st debate the Dems will vastly narrow down candidates, feels like a winnowing of debate to me (it will be Bernie, Biden, Warren, Buttigieg, Beto, Harris, maybe Yang/Booker). Even the Reps didn’t do this RAPID a cull, they had second tier debates for those not polling so well. The Dems cull ideas fast as they can lest some decent ones slip though! (they only reason they can’t stop Bernie is he’s already out of the bag)

      Meanwhile the propaganda against Bernie continues.

      But there’s no such thing as manufactured consent and we don’t live in a propaganda state … YEA RIGHT.

  28. John A

    Re making people state on their tax return that they support BDS.
    Well I support BDS, in the sense that I do not knowingly buy any fruit and veg etc., labelled from Israel. I would never buy a Sodastream or other products I know come from there. But then again, I try to buy local and seasonal and can live without avocados etc. In what sense should this be put in some record about me? There are plenty of countries in the world I have never bought stuff from, wittingly or unwittingly. Crazy. Almost to the point of ‘when did you stop beating your wife?’

  29. Tomonthebeach

    North Carolina may not be able to regulate its chicken shit despite drowning in it due to floods. Ironically, one might suspect that the chicken industry will relocate to higher ground because it makes business sense regardless of the ecological benefits of doing so.

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