2:00PM Water Cooler 6/13/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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

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

“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (average of five polls). As of June 11: Biden down 32.2% (33.4) and Sanders steady 16.8% (17.3%) stabilize. Warren up 10.8% (9.8%), Buttigieg up 7.2% (6.8%), others Brownian motion. Of course, it’s absurd to track minute fluctuations at this point. But Warren’s jump over the last week isn’t Brownian; the chart makes that vivid.

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One thing is clear: The Hamptons may love Kamala Harris, but California needs to be sold.

Biden (D)(1): In reaction to Sanders’ speech on democratic socialism:

“High-dollar fundraiser.” Does Biden know how to read the room, or what?

Biden (D)(2):

Lol. To bankers, after the crash: “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” To the American people, before ObamaCare: “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.” Of torture, before “Bloody Gina” became head of the CIA: “We need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” No scandals here! And those were the Obama quotes that were easy to find!

Sanders (D)(1): “Read: Bernie Sanders defines his vision for democratic socialism in the United States” [Vox]. • The full text, also on the Sanders camaign site. Did Sanders say, with FDR, “Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred“? He did! He went there!

Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Sanders: ‘We Have to Talk About Democratic Socialism as an Alternative to Unfettered Capitalism'” (interview) [The Nation]. Sanders, relentllessly on message: “So the point here is that, in the year 2019 in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, we have got to conclude that economic rights are human rights. And that’s what democratic socialism means to me. I should also add just one other thing: that, obviously, when we see the power of government in action… what we have seen in recent years is not that it works for working people. You have seen attempts to make massive cuts to health care and education and environmental protections. But you have also seen massive federal aid to Wall Street with the biggest bailout in American history in 2008; and massive help to the fossil-fuel industry, to the pharmaceutical industry, and so forth and so on. So, as people like Martin Luther King Jr. talked about, we do have socialism: We have socialism for the rich and large corporations, and we have unfettered free enterprise for working families.”

Sanders (D)(3): “Sanders goes full FDR in defense of democratic socialism” [Politico]. “In trying to tie his campaign to Roosevelt, Sanders was also making an implicit argument about his electability, a question mark that’s hovered over both his campaigns for president. ‘FDR and his progressive coalition created the New Deal, won four terms, and created an economy that worked for all and not just the few,’ he said.” • FDR has been persona non grata for the Democrat establishment since the Clintonites took over. So by all means let us have that discussion.

Sanders (D)(4): For the “Bernie never held a job in his life” crowd:

(Thread from the same source.)

Schultz (D)(1): “Howard Schultz Announces Campaign Staff Cuts, Summer Hiatus” [HuffPo]. “Schultz came into the office Wednesday for the first time in months and met with the staff, according to a person in the room. He announced that he was letting everyone go except those in senior leadership positions, adding he would not make a decision about running for president until after Labor Day…. Schultz said that if Biden does not appear to be the nominee, he would think about jumping into the presidential race after Super Tuesday.” • Dilettante.

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren Spends Evenings Tutoring Underperforming Candidates On Creating Comprehensive Policy” [The Onion (RH)]. Warren: “It’s only a couple hours a week out of my campaign schedule, and I believe it’s my duty to help candidates who can’t help themselves. Some of them, like Beto or de Blasio, may never get it, but if I can reach even one of them, I’ll know I’ve done my job. It’s my way of giving back.”

“How Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren Cracked the Code of the 2020 Race” [New York Times]. “Over the first six months of the presidential campaign, Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Warren have out-maneuvered the other 21 Democratic candidates, demonstrating an innate understanding of the value of viral moments and nonstop exposure that drives politics in the Trump era. Mr. Buttigieg, a man who has made himself all but unavoidable for comment, rode a wave of positive press about his personal story… Ms. Warren took the opposite route to the same destination. Rather than lean into her biography*, she rolled out unusually detailed domestic policy plans to grab headlines and inspire activists. She also earned attention for her devotion to taking photographs with every attendee at her events who wants one — more than 30,000 to date, she said on Sunday.” • NOTE * A very polite way of saying she personally poisoned that well.

Democrat Debates (1): “Rachel Maddow, Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt will moderate first Democratic presidential debate” [USA Today]. • I’ll have to brush up on my Cyrillic.

Democrat Debates (2): “Here’s what’s wrong with the Democrats’ debate plan” [Matt Bai, Yahoo News]. “If you’ve read about the winnowing process here but still don’t have a grasp on it, then don’t feel bad, because this is a little like quantum physics; only the Democratic chairman, Tom Perez, and maybe a dozen other people on the planet really get what’s going on, and everyone else just nods a lot. Near as I can tell, it goes like this: The party will automatically admit to this first debate any candidate who can meet two thresholds. You have to clear 1 percent in an average of three credible national polls of your choosing, and you have to have collected donations from 65,000 donors, comprising at least 200 separate donors in 20 different states…. At this point, 13 candidates are expected to clear both hurdles. The rest will then be ranked according to which, if any, of the criteria they’ve managed to satisfy, with polling being the more important.” • If you’ve ever seen an election rigged in the Third World, the complexity and obfuscation looks a lot like this.

TX-28: “First shot fired in Democratic civil war as 8-term incumbent gets a challenger” [NBC]. “Backed by [Justice Democrats,] the same progressive group that helped elect Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros announced Thursday her intent to unseat longtime Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas…. ‘Here’s the truth: Henry Cuellar fights to protect Trump and the big corporations,’ Cisneros said in a video announcing her primary campaign. ‘I’m fighting to end the separation of families. I’ll fight to pass a $15 minimum wage, Medicare For All and the Green New Deal, so that we can create jobs here at home.'” • We’ll see how the DCCC blacklist works…

“Who knew? Ranked-choice voting is coming to the presidential election.” [The Fulcrum]. “Ranked-choice voting is one of the more revolutionary ideas gaining momentum with advocates for a revamped and healthier democracy. They view it as a straightforward and logical way of rewarding candidates with broad backing and a commitment to consensus-building – while punishing those with a divide-and-conquer style aimed at galvanizing a base of impassioned supporters…. Because Iowa goes first, its use of RCV could prove to be pivotal to the future of the system, either accelerating its acceptance or burying it in derision.” • I’ve used RCV in Maine, and it’s fine. It’s not confusing, and it’s not hard. The establishment hates it.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“We’re All ‘Socialists’ Now” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine (Re Silc}]. “Sanders’s implicit argument is quite similar: If our ‘capitalist’ economy depends on constant discretionary interventions by policy-makers, we might as well determine those interventions through democratic debate — and aim them at advancing the best interests of the 99 percent. We are all ‘socialists’ now. Some of us just happen to be democratic ones.”

“Trump’s war on socialism will fail” [E.J.Dionne, WaPo]. “The 2018 PRRI American Values Survey offered respondents two definitions of socialism. One described it as ‘a system of government that provides citizens with health insurance, retirement support and access to free higher education,” essentially a description of social democracy. The other was the full Soviet dose: “a system where the government controls key parts of the economy, such as utilities, transportation and communications industries.’ You might say that socialism is winning the branding war: Fifty-four percent said socialism was about those public benefits, while just 43 percent picked the version that stressed government domination. Americans ages 18 to 29, for whom Cold War memories are dim to nonexistent, were even more inclined to define socialism as social democracy: Fifty-eight percent of them picked the soft option, 38 percent the hard one.” • And speaking of “branding”

Great poster. But “progressive Federalism” sounds like pretty thin gruel. “The Green New Deal Is The Only Deal”™ might be pretty good, though.

“They’ll come and tear your welfare state apart” [Fredrik DeBoer (JB)]. ” I don’t care about fighting for the definition of socialism, not anymore. What I do care about is that this New New Left, this DSA left, this Jacobin left, has utterly failed to offer a remotely coherent response to the critique of such left liberalism that comes from the radical left, the communist left. That critique is simple: all of the wonderful pity charity welfare programs this new left would pass would be forever at the mercy of the relentless power of capital. Because the new left has focused so myopically on redistributive programs and essentially ignored the basic dynamics of power, the ideal systems that they describe are ones where there is no meaningful check on the rapacious power of capital. Which means that the welfare state they build will be taken apart, brick by brick, as soon as it is put together.”

“Opinion: I’m Covering The Most Important Election In The South This Year. Where Is Everyone Else?” [Buzzfeed]. “From today until Friday, 1,700 workers at a Volkswagen factory here in Chattanooga will be voting on whether or not they want to join the United Auto Workers union. Five years ago, workers at the plant voted down the union 727–626. Many who voted against the union back then say they’ll vote in favor now, after seeing Volkswagen break promise after promise. If they prevail, it will mark the first time the UAW has successfully unionized a foreign-owned auto plant in the South, after more than three decades of trying…. Similar spikes in national attention and support have played a crucial role in the organizing drive that has unionized at least three dozen digital media outlets in recent years. So you would think that somewhere, in the very online and very unionized national media, there would be a few editors motivated to send a reporter to cover a historic and hugely consequential union vote in Tennessee?” • Lol, no.

“Grassroots Vs. Segregation: The Ongoing Fight Against Amazon HQ2 In Arlington” [DSA Build]. “On a weekday morning in February, local activists from the ‘For Us, Not Amazon’ coalition interrupted a $200-per-ticket networking event between real estate developers, investors, Arlington County Board members, and Amazon representatives. The “business community” was taken off-guard, and after forcing out the protestors, the host claimed “they must have followed us here from New York”. The ‘For Us, Not Amazon’ coalition developed organically from the overlap in multiple groups’ efforts in the face of Amazon’s initial announcement….” • If “organic overlap” is being held up as an organizing model, I’m unsure.

“The next recession will create an opportunity to redefine the government’s role in the economy” [Economic Policy Institute]. “Healthcare in the United States, unlike in other rich nations, is sadly and dangerously tied to the business cycle—because most workers receive insurance coverage through their employers, job losses can be doubly devastating. That’s why it’s important to think about an eventual next recession as an opportunity to redefine the federal government role in the economy, and in the healthcare sector in particular.” • Correct headline, ollowed by centrist mush.

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of June 8, 2019: “[N]ew jobless claims edged higher” [Econoday]. “[T]he sharp slowing in the employment report for May was not signaled by claims which held steady and low through the month. Nevertheless, low levels of claims are a fundamental signal of labor market strength.”

Import and Export Prices, May 2019: “Import prices were weak in May,” expected for the month but below consensus for the year [Econoday]. “Ongoing tariff effects are still to be measured and future tariff effects are unknown, but cross-border inflationary pressures otherwise are unusually subdued and for now will support global central bank efforts to stimulate accelerated economic growth.”

Retail: “Amazon-Whole Foods Is Two Years Old. And?” [Bloomberg]. After two years, “Whole Foods still basically feels like the same old Whole Foods. Amazon's lack of imagination at Whole Foods is something we’ve seen repeatedly as the e-commerce giant experiments with physical stores. Amazon's bookstores aren’t that different from conventional shops. Its 4-star knick knack stores are Hallmark gift stores crossed with Brookstone. Amazon recently shuttered dozens of mall kiosks where it sold Kindle tablets and other electronics. Those Amazon formats, and those of companies like Kohl's Corp. with which Amazon has an in-store partnership, sometimes seem to exist largely as outposts for people to return unwanted Amazon orders…. What’s perhaps surprising is that two years in, there have been few glimpses of new ideas that Amazon could bring to the supermarket shopping.” • Maybe there aren’t any?

Shipping: “Trans-Pacific trade tensions are starting to land heavily at U.S. ports. Combined loaded container shipments through Southern California’s big port complex fell sharply last month… suggesting an abrupt end to the rush by shippers to import goods ahead of escalating tariffs flying between the U.S. and China” [Wall Street Journal]. “The neighboring Los Angeles and Long Beach ports are a key sign of the direction of seaborne trade because they make up the largest U.S. gateway for container imports, particularly goods from Asia. The steep year-over-year decline signals that importers are pausing orders after pulling shipments forward in a pre-tariff push that has swamped warehouses and distribution channels in the region. The timing just ahead of the traditional peak shipping season suggests weak prospects for growth this summer, and one forecast has already pared back projections for container imports in coming months.” • 

Shipping: “U.S. weekly rail traffic slumps 8.5 percent” [Freight Waves]. “Flooding impacts, cheap natural gas prices, and trade and economic uncertainty could be factors contributing to a significant slump in weekly U.S. rail volume. The biggest losers in carload volume for the week include coal, which slumped 15.9 percent, non-metallic minerals, which dropped 13.9 percent, and motor vehicles and parts, which fell 12.9 percent.”

The Bezzle: “Uber will test its flying taxis in Melbourne” [Engadget]. “The ride-hailing service plans to start testing UberAir’s electric vertical-take-off-and-landing vehicles in 2020, three years before the service’s expected launch. Melbourne’s test flights will take passengers from one of the Westfield shopping centers to the city’s main international airport. That’s a 12-mile journey that typically takes 25 minutes or so by car — with a flying taxi, it’ll only take 10 minutes. Passengers will be able to book flights through the Uber app like any other ride for prices comparable to UberX’s, though they have to be cool with making their way to and from landing pads called ‘Skyports.’ Uber is currently working with a number of companies to design its flying vehicles. It also working with NASA to create an air traffic control system to manage its flying taxi fleet.” • Does getting to and from the “Skyports” eat up any of those putative ten-minute (!) savings?

The Bezzle: “Uber is making a fintech push with a New York hiring spree” [CNBC]. “There are many possible payment and lending innovations Uber could come up with: It has 93 million active users globally, most of whom use linked credit cards or fund a wallet called Uber Cash to pay for rides and food delivery. The two major areas being looked at by its financial products team involve building “payment experiences” that encourage riders and eaters to use Uber or remove costs from the system, and helping contractors manage the funds they earn, according to a job posting. That’s in line with products Uber has already released, like Uber Cash, which includes discounts when a user funds the wallet, its loyalty program Uber Rewards, and its co-branded credit card. On the other side of the service, Uber allows drivers to get paid as often as five times a day instead of waiting for weekly paychecks. A more radical possibility is an Uber bank account, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.” • Like when GM was a finance company with a factory attached…

The Bezzle: “uBiome convinced Silicon Valley that testing poop was worth $600 million. Then the FBI came knocking. Here’s the inside story.” [Business Insider]. “But the problems at uBiome extended far beyond billing issues, according to interviews with 11 former employees across its billing, operations, marketing, and science departments, as well as with customers, lawyers, and medical experts…. uBiome, these sources said, presented conjectural science about gut microbes as medically sound in an increasingly frantic effort to convince health insurers to pay for it. When not enough new customers were signing up for uBiome’s services, the former employees said, the company tried to bill insurers for conducting updated tests of stored samples that were in some cases years-old. When the insurance companies required assurances from doctors that the tests were medically necessary, the sources said, uBiome hired doctors to remotely sign off on tests using tactics that appear to violate the regulations of some states’ governing of telemedicine.” • Venture capital learned nothing from Theranos, apparently. And since when did “poop” become a word adults used between adults?

I thought “poop”‘s rise was sudden, but that must have happened only when it invaded my reading universe; in fact, “poop” has become more pervasive in the zeitgeist, but steadily. Unsurprisingly, I suppose.

The Bezzle: “These emails reportedly show Mark Zuckerberg knew Facebook violated FTC protocol” [The Week]. “As the social media giant prepares to pay a fine of upwards of $5 billion for violating users’ privacy, it’s also scrambling to ensure its CEO isn’t implicated in the ongoing settlement discussions. That’s become especially difficult, seeing as Facebook has ‘uncovered emails that appear to show’ Zuckerberg was ‘closely involved’ with ‘potentially problematic privacy practices at the company,’ people familiar with the matter tell The Wall Street Journal.”

The Biosphere

“Why a hipster, vegan, green tech economy is not sustainable” [Al Jazeera]. “Improving efficiency would always involve maintaining and indeed expanding production to satisfy growing demand. This is reflected in the so-called ‘Jevons paradox’, named after the 19th-century English economist William Stanley Jevons, who discovered that increasing energy efficiency also led to higher demand.” • This chart from yesterday?

Jevons Paradox? Or something else?

“Nuclear Disarmament’s Lessons for Climate Change.” [Foreign Policy]. “[T]hanks to the concerted work of a coalition of activists, nuclear weapons were banned outright in a 2017 treaty that has been signed by 70 countries and ratified by 23. Although the treaty is not yet in force, if it ever becomes international law, it will represent a major step forward toward nuclear disarmament. And even states that have not signed the nuclear ban treaty can already feel its stigmatizing effects: British banks and U.S. cities are divesting from the nuclear weapons industry, and nuclear powers are increasingly forced to defend their nuclear stance against social and ethical demands for disarmament…. A 2012 report of experts published by the aid organization DARA International calculated that 400,000 people die every year as a direct result of carbon-induced climate change… Like nuclear disarmament, the key problem in global climate governance is not our scientific understanding of the problem. Rather, it is creating the political will to solve it. What has a chance of working is to shake the carbon villains out of their cost-benefit thinking by adopting a moral shaming approach… Shaming people into sacrificing for the common good is what wins wars, fuels wartime economies, and generally helps populations accept and enforce austerity measures in times of conflict… [E]liminating carbon emissions must be seen as a moral and humanitarian imperative requiring decisive action regardless of whether the United States and China agree. To do so, [climate change activists] will need to build a strong set of global norms prohibiting carbon emissions.” • Necessary. But sufficient?

“Atlanta’s Food Forest Will Provide Fresh Fruit, Nuts, and Herbs to Forage” [City Lab]. “A food forest ‘kind of flips our agricultural model on its head,’ said Mike McCord of the nonprofit Trees Atlanta, who has been managing the Atlanta site over the past few years. ‘Unlike with commercial farming, we’re growing food on multiple layers. A forest has canopy trees, small trees, bushes, ground covers, vines, fungus, things going on in the root zone. The idea is to mimic our natural forests and grow productive things on all seven layers.'” • More like this, please.

“A Nature Writer for the Anthropocene” [Jedidiah Purdy, The Atlantic]. ‘A scientist tells [Underland author Robert Macfarlane] how he feels knowing that 100 trillion neutrinos pass like ghosts through his body every second: ‘When I’m out for a walk with my wife, along the cliff-tops near here, on a sunny day, I know our bodies are wide-meshed nets, and that the cliffs we’re walking on are nets, too, and sometimes it seems, yes, as miraculous as if in our everyday world we suddenly found ourselves walking on water, or air. And I wonder what it must be like, sometimes, not to know that.'” • I like the class-based zinger at the end.

Health Care

Idea: Let’s optimize for brand confusion!

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Police who shot Vallejo rapper 55 times in 3.5 seconds acted reasonably, report found” [KTVU]. • Oh.

Our Famously Free Press

“Mandy Jenkins will build McClatchy’s Google-funded new local sites. What’s her plan?” [Nieman Labs]. ” Google has pledged to fund the development of three local news sites over the next three years. It’s the first time the Google News Initiative is actually putting money into building newsrooms.” • That’s great, I suppose, but after destroying thousands of newsrooms, Google now wants to experiment with rebuilding three? Solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant –Tacitus. (“They made a desert, and called it peace. Yes, I had to look it up, and I quoted the Latin for the sound of it.

“‘Orphan counties,’ and a battle over what local news really means” [Columbia Journalism Review]. “La Plata, which has a population of nearly 56,000, is an ‘orphan county,’ one of many that pock the US—from the Berkshires of Massachusetts to the northern border of Georgia, through the mountains of Wyoming, parts of Kentucky, and beyond. Some orphan county residents “receive no news coverage and political advertising for their own statewide races, irrelevant information pertaining to candidates in the neighboring state who will not appear on their ballots, or both,” according to a 2010 study published in Political Communication. The same study, by political scientists Keena Lipsitz and Jeremy M. Teigen, estimated that orphan county residents comprise more than 10 percent of the US electorate. Orphan counties, Lipsitz and Teigen wrote, ‘have lower turnout rates than non-orphan counties, and … this difference is explained by lower levels of interest in the campaign stemming from exposure to irrelevant information.'”

Guillotine Watch

“This Picture Featuring 15 Tech Men And 2 Women Looked Doctored. The Women Were Photoshopped In.’ [Buzzfeed]. “Last week, men’s lifestyle magazine GQ published this photo [the site has an animation that showed the changes. –lambert] of Silicon Valley executives including LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston from their pilgrimage to a small village in Italy to visit Brunello Cucinelli, a luxury designer famous for his $1,000 sweatpants. But if you think something looks a little off in this photo, you’re right: A BuzzFeed News ‘investigation’ reveals that two women CEOs, Lynn Jurich and Ruzwana Bashir, were photoshopped into what was originally a photo featuring 15 men.” • Lol. A culture utterly without shame or remorse.

Class Warfare

“The Meritocracy Is Under Siege” [Thomas Edsall, New York Times]. “The brutal caste system that meritocratic competition engenders fuels politically potent rage. That rage found expression in 2016 when Trump’s electoral success depended heavily on the millions of non-college whites infuriated by what they perceived as their relegation to second class status.” • “Percieved”? More: “Testing for ‘merit’ is certain to remain a crucial element in education and training in such professions as medicine, the law, accounting and engineering. Patients and clients will insist on qualified surgeons, lawyers, CPAs and architects.” • Edsall assumes the professional classes won’t game the system to credential their children; I think that’s foolish in the extreme. See, e.g., “Many More Students, Especially the Affluent, Get Extra Time to Take the SAT” from the Wall Street Journal.

“Bastion of Anti-Vaccine Fervor: Progressive Waldorf Schools” [New York Times]. “All three parents represent an anti-vaccine fervor on the left that is increasingly worrying health authorities. They often cluster around progressive private schools that are part of the Waldorf educational movement, and at the Waldorf school here, 60 percent of the school’s 300 or so students were not vaccinated against measles and other highly contagious diseases as of late last year.The Green Meadow Waldorf School in Rockland County, about 25 miles northwest of New York City, costs roughly $25,000 a year in tuition and is grounded in an educational philosophy that frowns upon rote learning. Over the last two decades, Waldorf schools across the country have had a spate of disease outbreaks, which is why they are the focus of concern in the measles epidemic.” • Of course, if you can afford to health care for your child, vaccination can seem like a bad option. Especially if you have no concept whatever of the public good.

News of the Wired

“Craft beautiful equations in Word with LaTeX” [Nature]. • A victory for old, open source, textual coding. Sweet. Picky scientists agree!

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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 (Samuel Conner):

Samuel Conner sends the following bulletin:

The first of what I hope are several updates on the purple milkweeds. The plants have become handsome, perhaps unusually for such a young plant (was a small seedling in starter medium 13 months ago)….

Four weeks of mostly favorable weather have wrought wonders on the purple milkweed. From about 1 inch at the last photo, these stalks are approaching 30. There is a 2nd plant, not pictured, that is shooting stalks up as much as foot from the main cluster of stems. Even if I don’t get seed* this year (I am hoping for a lot), these two plants may turn into a substantial colony by themselves. These plants seem to me to be unusually robust for their youth (were seeds completing “in home” cold treatment in February 2018 and have been “in ground” for less than 12 months); the bed in which they are growing was double dug just before their planting, and is still visibly higher and presumably better aerated and more root-friendly than the surrounding compactified soil; perhaps that has helped.

I hope at the next update to have lovely blossoms to share. Monarch caterpillars have not shown up yet, but they will and they can be voracious. Summer is coming.

* The quip about seed is not a joke. I tried this Winter to cold/moist stratify 100 seeds purchased online, and not one has germinated so far (and I got only 2 strong plants out of 75 seeds the year before). If I get a good seed harvest, I’ll consider trying to run some experiments over the next winter to see if I can quantify what it takes to make the seeds germinate. This is a lovely and in-these-parts rare plant and it would be cool to be able to grow it reliably.

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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. Joe Well

    Wait, wait, wait…so Elizabeth Warren, who has been a lawyer, a nonprofit university professor, and a government employee, is a “capitalist to my bones,” but Bernie Sanders, who actually started a successful small business, and a fulfilling one at that, the dream of millions of Americans, is a socialist?

    This accords with my experience, that the defenders of capitalism frequently aren’t very good at it, and once you’ve gotten good at it, the mystique falls away.

    1. jrs

      they need to be wage slaves, in a private enterprise, and it would cure them.

      I mean there are a lot of jerk small business people (not all or anything mind you, but they exist) who are going to defend capitalism, they may get rich and trickle almost none of it down, what’s not to like from THEIR perspective? Sometimes it’s serving government, there’s often a government angle. Many didn’t even build the business but inherited.

      But meanwhile those who have to sell their labor to live and not at cushy government or anything all that cushy … this is not our system kwim. But yes I have often found many a conservative works for the government!

      1. Brindle

        Here is an example of being a wage slave—your supervisor sees something on the floor, he says to you “pick that up”, you say “I am doing this other thing right now”–the supervisor then has an option of filing a negative report on you—insubordination.. Your body is there for their direction and if you stray from that understanding you can end up paying a price. Most workers do not question the extreme hierarchical nature of this relationship –but they do despise their bosses.

        1. Mark Gisleson

          Much as it pains me to defend supervisors, the policies they’re enforcing weren’t written by them. American business has opted for the totalitarian model of capitalism. The higher up you are, the more right you are. Front line supervisors have the worst jobs on earth: they enforce policies they know first-hand don’t work.

          I don’t think there’s a large company in this country that wouldn’t benefit from firing their entire C-suite and the next layer of management below that. The cult of cronyism is making a mockery of everything it claims to be championing.

        2. Sharkleberry Fin

          Entering into dominant-submissive relationships would seem to be a human imperative. “Work” is but an elaborate role-play. We find ourselves moving back and forth between roles, often with the same person. Look no further than the bedroom for the utility found playing dominant one moment, submissive the next. It only when these power dynamics calcify into binary black/white, all/nothing, master/slave do they appear grotesque. Deviant. Capitalism tries to reclaim that energy for corporate purposes. Natch. But anti-capitalism relies on reclaiming that energy, too, perhaps more so, given capital’s fluid ability to transcend obstacles, and anti-capitalism’s raison d’etre being oppositional defiant. [Rebellion is big business so long as the money’s paid upfront, and insurgencies always devolve into for-profit criminal enterprises. Heroic, but doomed like… in a cosmic way, I suppose.]

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        work in an 85 degree warehouse 8 hours a day and that will turn you socialist pretty quick

  2. ChrisFromGeorgia

    It seems contemptible and corrupt for the FAA to hurriedly allow resumption of Boeing’s MAX planes when they have not completed any kind of unbiased, third party review and done any test flights.

    Admittedly off topic but this morning’s links had the story covered.

    Worth calling Congress critters? Would they have any power to stop this charade?

    1. elissa3

      An answer might be for travelers to inform an airline that they will not fly on these aircraft. The market at work.

        1. whoamolly

          Notifying carrier I will absolutely not fly *any* Boeing plane works for me.

          I know there are safe 737 variations, but I’m not going to spend two or three hours of my life trying to figure out if one of the controversial flavors of 737 is in use. I have no idea if any Boeing version is one of of the models I believe to be a risk.

  3. Joe Well

    Regarding “progressive education” as in the Waldorf schools, for people from outside the ed world: the education world has its own politics and internal trends that do not easily map onto trends and politics in the larger society. “Progressive” education usually refers to a constructivist approach to teaching in which the student (or rather, “learner”) is a creator as well as an acquirer of learning. It emphasizes the development of the whole person as a “lifelong learner” over the acquisition of skills and knowledge. Lots of projects and few tests.

    Anyway, the bottom line is, “progressive” education, love it or hate it, does not map onto progressive politics though there is some small degree of overlap.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      With a tuition of $25,000 and lots of professionals sending their kids there, I’d say it maps pretty well (though I know that Waldorf’s system of thought is distinctive, shall we say).

      1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        Our kid (14) just finished a K-8 Waldorf school that is a public/charter hybrid in Portland, OR. No tuition. Totally fit his style. They all still have to pass The Conspiracy’s ‘common core’ tests. Nobody seemed to be having trouble with that part. It surely did not map onto the way his year in the public system went with non-stop social engineering, mountains of homework (in kindergarten) & overexposure to every crap cultural trend. Plus ‘computer’ classes in which they kids were pretty much turned loose online in a classroom setting. I found out thereby what ‘friv-dot-come’ was. The Waldorf school was -no-brands, no electronic devices.
        Those German hippies were onto something.

        1. Antoine LeBear

          The Waldorf schools usually solve the tuition issue thusly: you pay a full amount or you work for the school doing whatever you know how to do. A lot of hours. Which will either make you quit your day job (I’ve seen it) or work during those hours where you are, you know, supposed to be with your kids.
          I let you decide if that’s progressive.

      2. ACF

        A childhood buddy of mine that I lost touch with, who was a Walden graduate (now, I’m nearly 50, this was years ago) is now an anti-vaxxer (I discovered this via Facebook). I’ve no idea if there’s a link between the education and the present anti-vaxxing. Regardless, I’m unwilling to reconnect b/c anti-vax is something I can’t ignore and no longer find forgivable. Before the key study was exposed as total fraud, I could agree to disagree, but I can’t anymore; anti-vax requires a commitment to delusion and selfishness that I can’t be friends with.

        I mean, yes, sometimes a vaccine goes wrong. We have a compensation program as a result. The risk is much much smaller than driving a car, and the risks created by not vaccinating are real and imposed on the most vulnerable–babies, elderly, cancer patients, etc. It would be one thing if being unvaccinated only impacted the risk of the unvaccinated person. I’m ok with people taking stupid risks that endanger only themselves. But that’s not it.

        1. Mark Keller

          You need to do more research. The vaccines do not only occasionally go wrong, and the the initial study has been both misrepresented by the media, and vindicated numerous times. The average “anti-vaxxer” is the parent of a damaged child who did his or her own research initially seeking some way to help that child, and then came onto a lot of information that the general public has been kept away from. It is no accident that the movement first developed among people with more education, the capacity to think individually, and to do their own research.

        1. Chef

          Interesting read which once again shows us how truly little we know about the natural world despite our protestations to the opposite.

    2. Harold

      These high tuitions are recent. It used to be their policy to be both comprehensive (no entrance exams) and affordable. I sent my daughter to 12 years of Waldorf and it was affordable for us, though we had a small scholarship.

      My daughter, a graduate, says she could not now afford to send her children to the school she attended, should she chose to have some. Which is a shame, since she believes she received an excellent education, including a lot of outdoor play and also a week in the country every year, including hiking and Mt. climbing.

      If there were universal health care I think that schools could afford to charge cheaper tuition. Comparable private schools charge $40 to $50 K per years from Kindergarten on, BTW.
      I detest the NYT.

      As far as vaccinations. Every Waldorf school is independent. There is no official policy against vaccination, though the anthroposophists frown on it. The Green Meadow school had a reputation for being among the most “hippie” and countercultural.
      I vaccinated my children as did most of the parents I knew. Including some of the most “anthroposophical”. It’s an unfortunate fad, that IMO is the result of doctors having lost their moral authority along with a respite (perhaps temporary) from infectious disease following the adoption of vaccines and anti-biotics.

  4. Wukchumni

    “This Picture Featuring 15 Tech Men And 2 Women Looked Doctored. The Women Were Photoshopped In.’
    Back in the day, Weekly World News was the master of the pre-photoshop era, with Bat Boy being their bête noire.

    Silicon Valley has picked up where they left off…

    Bat Boy is a fictional creature who made numerous appearances in the American supermarket tabloid Weekly World News. The Weekly World News published patently fabricated stories which were purported to be factual. Within the pages of the paper, Bat Boy is described as a creature who is ‘half human and half bat’. His pursuers, according to Weekly World News, are scientists and United States government officials; he is frequently captured, then later makes a daring escape. The original scientist who found him was named Dr. Ron Dillon. Another WWN character, Matthew Daemon, S.O.S. (Seeker of Obscure Supernaturals), crossed paths with him in several stories.


    1. Randy

      LOL at all the fond memories of seeing the primitive phony pictures on the front pages of the tabloids at the grocery counter. I never could understand why people paid money for that crap then but I understand now.

      1. Wukchumni

        One year for a goof, I sent out half a dozen subscriptions of WWN to friends for xmas, and one of them told me after his run ran out, that it seemed as if the emphasis was on dead people being seen alive somewhere (Elvis was seen @ a Fresno 7-11 getting a Neighborhood Gulp!) for the most part & also crude photo altering. (WW2 bomber found on Moon surface!)

        He wondered most what the bar the writers of the WWN frequented must have been like, to continually come up with contrived nonsense dependent on sickly sweet eye candy.

        1. whoamolly

          National Enquirer is apparently one of the most trustworthy news outlets in the business.

          Think about that.

          We apparently live in a world where the New York Times has become as trustworthy as the National Enquirer.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I suppose that unlike politics which is dominated by rich, old, white men, Silicon Valley is more advanced in that they are run by rich, middle-age, white men. There is progress for you. Maybe they should have Photoshopped Bezos in while they were at it. Kinda reminds me how the ultra-Urthodox in Israel Photoshop women out of photos of the Israeli Cabinet, groups of world leaders, etc. because of religious beliefs. I like what that Twitter user wrote – “Photoshop the change you want to see in the world”. There it is right there and I consider that line a keeper.

      1. whoamolly

        I would disagree that Silicon Valley is run by “rich middle-age white men”. Such men certainly have the money and power.

        Instead, I would argue that Silicon Valley is effectively run by a woke core of elite programmers who build the algorithms.

    3. Jen

      Interesting contrast at the National Institutes of Health.

      Time to end the Manel Tradition – from Francis Collins, the Director

      “The National Institutes of Health is committed to changing the culture and climate of biomedical research to create an inclusive and diverse workforce. The recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, “Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequence in Academic Science, Engineering, and Medicine,” identified the critical role that scientific leaders must play to combat cultural forces that tolerate gender harassment and limit the advancement of women. These concerns also are highly relevant to other groups underrepresented in science. It is not enough to give lip service to equality; leaders must demonstrate their commitment through their actions.

      Toward that end, I want to send a clear message of concern: it is time to end the tradition in science of all-male speaking panels, sometimes wryly referred to as “manels.” Too often, women and members of other groups underrepresented in science are conspicuously missing in the marquee speaking slots at scientific meetings and other high-level conferences. Starting now, when I consider speaking invitations, I will expect a level playing field, where scientists of all backgrounds are evaluated fairly for speaking opportunities. If that attention to inclusiveness is not evident in the agenda, I will decline to take part. I challenge other scientific leaders across the biomedical enterprise to do the same.”

      Kudos if he walks the talk.


    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      That is a hideously bad photoshop job. Fuzz it up, match the light balance. Just dont stand make it stand out and you’re fine. The woman on the left looks like she’s photographed with interior lighting for blogs sake. The other one reminds me of back when it was pretty easy to doctor a driver’s license.

      And the journalist did not immediately do a reverse image search. Oi.

  5. Carolinian

    So you would think that somewhere, in the very online and very unionized national media, there would be a few editors motivated to send a reporter to cover a historic and hugely consequential union vote in Tennessee?”

    C’mon–this time of year Tennessee is hot, muggy…Martha’s Vineyard awaits. As for

    Patients and clients will insist on qualified surgeons, lawyers, CPAs and architects

    More lol. The AMA, ABA, AIA will insist….

    1. ambrit

      Alas. The patients, er customers, will take what they are given or eff off somewhere else. As for the devious machinations of the AMA, ABA, AIA, etc. etc.; there is a great difference between ‘qualified’ and ‘certified.’

    2. ambrit

      Hah! There is a world of a difference between “qualified’ and ‘certified.’ I’d amend the idea to say that the wealthy “customers” get the qualified ‘professionals,’ and the un-wealthy “customers” get the ‘certified’ practitioners.

    3. anarcheopteryx

      Absolutely, credentialism comes from the top, from people who wish to protect their status. Your average person doesn’t actually care much about the accreditation of their professionals, apparently, given the number of “nutritionists” and “naturopaths” out there calling themselves doctors with no training or who have been barred from practicing (yes, it’s illegal, yes, they exist) but still making enough money to stay in business.

  6. JohnnyGL

    Here’s one for the question: “Is Bernie naive enough to think the elections aren’t going to get tampered with?”


    Interesting: In Bernie’s first win as mayor, loyal members of progressive coalition felt obliged to guard the absentee ballots all that night until they could be transported to the court house before recount.

    1. Epynonymous

      The democratic establishment has gone ‘batty’ for Russia. What a waste of effort.

      They can’t even define it beyond a few memes. -Russia has memes- just isn’t the headline scare they had been hoping for.

      The democratic mafiosos imply the election was stolen, using computers, somehow. But they have to stop short of saying the votes were hacked.

      If they said that they’d have to fix our voting system, and apparently that’s not on the agenda.

      So Russian hysteria is the insiders purity test, signifying nothing. I don’t think it plays outside the class once know. As soccer and nascar moms. IMO.

      1. jrs

        they say “the election was hacked” which loses all credibility. Either the votes themselves were hacked or they were not. Now it seems there is only evidence for such Russian vote hacking on an insignificant scale, still a problem, but not the type that would change the election results.

        There is no such thing as an “election being hacked” without actual vote hacking, it’s such a meaningless nothing jumble of words. It’s like saying “look at me! I’m being dishonest!” The term is used to equivocate between DNC hacking (if it was, Wikileaks Vault 7 releases shows the CIA could make stuff look like it came from an enemy, so there is that) and actual vote machine hacking.

  7. Summer

    Jobless Claims, week of June 8, 2019: “[N]ew jobless claims edged higher”

    “Nevertheless, low levels of claims are a fundamental signal of labor market strength.”

    There it is…more BS narrative on autopilot. Maybe that’s the a good definition of the relentless propaganda.
    Why am I calling it relentless propaganda?
    Low levels of claims mean nothing if the claims have a time limit. It’s a big nothing if a stat without workforce participation numbers and a thorough definitiom of what is considered “employed.”

    1. Wukchumni


      More talk like that, and we’ll have to send a heavy from the bureau of statistics to do a job on you.

      1. Summer

        I also have to wonder about this:

        My take on it is the bourgeois of the corporate world are desperate for true believers…in all that is bourgeois.

        An excerpt:
        “For some employers, even elite warrior skills aren’t enough. “If a sense of humor isn’t your sixth sense, then even certified marketing ninjas need not apply,” asserts the description for a marketing director at an upstate New York paper company.

        These listings weren’t hard to find. A short scroll through a popular job board revealed thousands of results with similar keywords. More than ever, it seems, hiring managers are looking for extremists: You can’t just be willing to do the job. You must evince an all-consuming horniness for menial corporate tasks. In an American labor market where wages are stagnant and many workers feel their jobs seeping into their personal time, such demands only create even more anxiety and dread for Americans looking for a new gig…”

        1. skippy

          Did you not get the memo about the secret word one has to have tattooed on the inner lower lip – “Malleable” – Malleable definition is – capable of being extended or shaped by beating with a hammer or by the pressure of rollers.

  8. Summer

    “Why a hipster, vegan, green tech economy is not sustainable” [Al Jazeera]. “Improving efficiency would always involve maintaining and indeed expanding production to satisfy growing demand. This is reflected in the so-called ‘Jevons paradox’, named after the 19th-century English economist William Stanley Jevons, who discovered that increasing energy efficiency also led to higher demand.”

    What about this paradox:

    All financial retirement accounts depend on the growth fairy. The first thing they tell kiddies to do, in addition to paying off loans, is to invest in retirement. Most people use funds that are a mix of companies. One gets filled with fear about having money in old age and that is presented as a glorious validation of the economic system.
    Chnage is going to be hard with the rerirement and pension accounts as hostage takers.

    1. todde

      that’s what the 401(k) and the IRA is for.

      alignment of interests – middle class and the upper class all have a significant amount of thier money in the market now.

      a great deal for the Wall Street People who had money in the market before these things came into play.

      (The Roth IRA was invented to keep the money there)

      1. Summer

        The retirement plans are designed to keep a person on the treadmills on the plantations.

        Why not if you contribute to a tax protected plan you get to keep it – independently if you choose – whether or not you are employed and with no contribution limits? After all, it is clearly stated on all of the plans that it is YOU that is taking the uninsured risk. That let’s you know what the game is right there.

        Your only option to not have it all taxed away is to roll it over into a contribution limited type of plan or another employer sponsored plan. That puts them back into the herd needed to force down wages. The tax wouldn’t be such an issue in my eyes if the already wealthy didn’t have so many mechanisms for avoiding the taxes.

        But then, of course, a stock market crash can put more people back into the herd as well. So the Roth IRA and 401ks aren’t designed so much to keep money in the stock market as much as it is to keep you humping.

        1. Bernalkid

          The smarty pants who seem to be the early baby boomers disparage withdrawing from 401k prior to 70.5 I think it is. They are risk on with bonds and equities from what I can tell. US lesser folks with a bit of scratch pull the maximum amount tax free to suppliment SS. It is a crap shoot, I’d say.

          1. Summer

            Indeed. It is related to the “keep ’em humping aspect.”

            But you know what contributes to the crap shoot? It’s all investment in a market that RISES on news of layoffs.
            You can’t make this sh- – up!

  9. Wukchumni

    “Atlanta’s Food Forest Will Provide Fresh Fruit, Nuts, and Herbs to Forage” [City Lab].

    Love the concept, but wonder if people will have the patience to wait until fruit is truly ripe?

    You don’t see pick your own orchards as much as you used to, and our family would go cherry picking in SoCal, and the rule of thumb was to eat at least one pound for every pound you put in a bag and took home, so you’d get temporarily sick of cherries.

    5 of our 12 different varieties had cherries this year, with the Stella being the most flavorful of all-6 of them on the tree, that is. Coral Champagne & Rainier had about a dozen each. The Lambert is still a week away from being ripe, and there’s well over 100 cherries awaiting their chance at a starring role in a pie. Utah Giant seems to be a bit of a misnomer, as the fruit are the smallest of all efforts, around 40 also a week away.

    1. Randy

      I would think if you ate that many cherries you would get sick from cherries, not sick of cherries. Also you wouldn’t want to look in the toilet before you flushed or you might make an erroneous trip to the ER.

      Try that kind of consumption with cabbage (or beets) sometime.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I like the idea of a food forest but the Atlanta example looks less than impressive in its image. Why not buy an existing orchard of some kind and ADD the plants and trees to make it into a food forest? Some vines and bushes will produce fruit much sooner than trees and it would be nice to have existing and producing trees in the mix to help fill the time gap before the new plantings can produce. They would also provide a clearer picture of the intended result. The pictured food forest looks too neat, too planned, and much, much too immature to do more than inspire short-lived enthusiasm that could die before the plants are able to produce any fruit.

  10. flora

    re: Democrat Debates (1): “Rachel Maddow, Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt will moderate first Democratic presidential debate” [USA Today]

    Maddow, Guthrie, and Holt. Glad to know the fix isn’t in. /s

    an aside: League of Women Voters hosted the most honest or least tilted debates, imo.

  11. Knifecatcher

    I may be a horrible person, but the FDR poster – portraying him standing at the top of a flight of stairs – cracks me up.

    “the man who can climb these steps…”

    1. Cal2

      Let us in on the joke man.

      You showing misandry? Because it’s not “person”?
      Or, because he was crippled by polio?

      The New Deal was to forestall a revolution in the country that would have overthrown the established order. They had to do something. Plus it, the CCC, was to train physically infirm and malnourished American men to work together in preparation for the looming war against competing economic systems that were doing far better in the face of worldwide depression than America was.

      1. ambrit

        Too your “malnourished American men” trope, the experience of the English Army with the volunteers for the Second Boer War was so shocking that as committed an aristocrat as Churchill sounded a warning about the future armies insufficiency to the task.
        FDR was closely tutored by Churchill, though he probably would have denied it. Not only did America adopt many of the earlier British innovations to build up the public’s health, and thus the economic and warmaking potential of the nation, but, with the internment of the Japanese and Nisei in America after Pearl Harbour, they also adopted another British innovation; the concentration camp.
        Something from the Beeb: https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/guides/zmgxsbk/revision/7

        1. flora

          Yes, and out of that understanding , in part, came JFK’s president’s council on physical fitness and public school instruction in Physical Education, or ‘PE’.

          And to the original comment about ‘climbing to the top of the steps’, it would be hard to over estimate the importance of the image of FDR appearing to walk again after suffering crippling polio. Polio the was a physical scourge that crippled without mercy. The Great Depression was an economic scourge that crippled without mercy. FDR appearing to overcome the one carried the indefinable hope that the other could be overcome as well.

          Mock not.

    2. Knifecatcher

      The chutzpah of showing a wheelchair bound man standing triumphantly at the top of a flight of stairs IN A CAMPAIGN POSTER is what got me. Not sure what the modern equivalent would be. Maybe Trump winning a marathon? Biden maintaining a respectful distance from women?

      Unless I’m remembering incorrectly FDR went to great lengths to hide the fact that he was paralyzed, and my jaded 21st century brain immediately focused on the potential for mockery. Like I said, I’m probably an awful person.

      1. flora

        I doubt you’re an ‘awful person’.

        “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

        ― L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between

        One day our present will become ‘the past’ as well.

        1. flora

          adding: the FDR memorial in D.C. is controversial for this very reason. Sculpture of FDR in a wheelchair sparked much controversy .

          A 10-foot bronze statue of FDR in a wheelchair caused a great deal of controversy. In 1920, more than a decade before he was elected president, FDR was struck by polio. Although he survived the illness, his legs remained paralyzed. Despite the fact that FDR often used a wheelchair in private, he hid his ailment from the public by using supports to help him stand.

          When constructing the FDR Memorial, then, a debate arose over whether to present FDR in a position that he had so diligently kept hidden from view. Yet his efforts to overcome his handicap well represented his determinism.

          The wheelchair in this statue is similar to the one he used in life. It was added in 2001, as a monument to FDR as he truly lived. See image 03.

          of 15


      2. John A

        Nobody, even someone paralysed from the neck down, is wheelchair ‘bound’. Whether with help, or without help, they can get in and out of the wheelchair, they are not tied or bound in to the chair. They are wheelchair users.
        I am not a fanatic about PC language, but wheelchair bound is incredibly demeaning.

  12. Wukchumni

    Years of cavalier spending of her husband’s political contributions culminated in a guilty plea Thursday for Margaret Hunter, the wife of Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter who was co-indicted last year in a sweeping campaign-finance investigation.

    During a change-of-plea hearing in the federal courthouse in San Diego, Margaret Hunter formally admitted that she illegally used thousands of dollars in campaign donations for her personal expenses.

    Specifically, Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy. She faces up to five years in federal custody and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced Sept. 1.

    After Margaret Hunter’s plea hearing, Hunter released a statement saying, “I do not have the full details of Margaret’s case, but it’s obvious that the Department of Justice (DOJ) went after her to get to me for political reasons. As Margaret’s case concludes, she should be left alone. I am the congressman, this is my campaign and any further attention on this issue should be directed solely to me.”


    1. Randy

      She is a good woman. I’ve heard about the case, that’s all. It sure looks like she is taking the fall for her husband. It means she loves him. /S

  13. elissa3

    Ranked Choice Voting was used in Santa Fe to elect our mayor last year. It is the best choice when there are more than two candidates. Previously in New Mexico, we had an especially embarrassing case where the winner of the Democratic primary–with 23% in a field of five–went on to win election to the powerful Public Regulation Commission, mostly due to mindless straight party line voting. The winner, the son of one of the old boys, and who already had legal issues prior to the election, ended up in prison very soon afterwards. Voters here approved RCV 11 years ago, but most of the local political establishment obstructed its application until a successful lawsuit reached the state Supreme Court.

    The alternative to RCV can be a two-round election as used for the presidentielles in France. It is more costly to run two elections, however, and opens the door to possibly sordid dealings between the two rounds.

    1. Tomonthebeach

      Ranked Choice – the establishment hates it. Of course they hate it. The establishment doesn’t know how to rig elections using it. Scaaaareee. Funny, most of my professional associations have been using ranked choice for years to elect officers. If it did not create satisfactory outcomes, we would have junked it long ago.

    2. BlakeFelix

      I think that the best is range voting like Amazon uses, where everyone can rate all the candidates however they like and the highest average wins. It is both simpler and less prone to strategic voting causing trouble. I’m not sure why people seem to prefer ranked choice, it almost seems suspicious to me…

    1. jrs

      well yes in the world we actually live in now, the threat of autocracy come exclusively from the right. It’s like saying “people are worried too much about global warming, global cooling would also have bad effects”.

      People are correctly in politics concerning themselves with real problems not problems we don’t actually have. There may be a realm for that in life, but it’s has little business in politics.

    2. Grant

      So, when Warren says that she is a capitalist to her bones, should she then take into account capitalism’s horrible history? Should she clarify that she does not in fact want to be like Pinochet? Should she clarify that she doesn’t want to do to other countries what the British did in India, King Leopold in the Congo? Every time she says she is for capitalism, should she clarify that the US did in fact economically rely on slavery for some time in its early history? Should she acknowledge how much we now economically rely on war? All of the capitalist aggression in poor countries, the horribly damaging policies of the IMF, the dictatorships it has supported and continues to support the world over? The slave trade, the horrible and brutal authoritarian leaders Reagan supported in Central America? That article referenced Ortega. Warren was a Republican then and she voted for Reagan. Who did Reagan support in Nicaragua? Were the Contras good folks? Suharto? Colombia, long controlled by far right interests? You know, Venezuela’s neighbor, should she clarify that if she is in favor of capitalism that she doesn’t want to turn the US into modern Colombia? Should she apologize for the economic war against Venezuela, since it is in fact a capitalist state punishing another state that poses no threat to it what so ever and that punishment has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and mass suffering? Did we kill millions of Vietnamese communists in decades past, or did Vietnam attack us? Did capitalism play any role in what we’ve done to Iraq?

      Socialist leaders or governments that Bernie points to led to Medicare in Canada, the NHS system(s) in the UK, Nordic social democracy, among other things. The Democrats, in response to the crash in 1929, borrowed a large chunk of the Socialist Party’s platform. When Johnson signed the Great Society programs into existence, he did cite Michael Harrington, Kennedy was said to have been a fan too. Everything Bernie supports, the public does as well. He calls for nothing at this point that doesn’t have broad popular support.

      Leaders professing support for socialism also did horrible things at times. How is that any different though than capitalism? Ultimately, how is capitalism any less authoritarian? Which system right now is clearly a key driver in the environmental crisis, and of all of the carbon now in the air, how much of it can be traced back to capitalist countries? How many resources do rich countries and individuals consume now relative to poor countries and individuals? Domestically, since 9/11, have right wing groups or left wing groups committed more politically motivated violence? So, why does Bernie have to do this but defenders of capitalism do not? We have in fact moved much more in the direction of “free markets” in recent decades. Are we better off? Is infrastructure better off? Our democracy, the environment?

      1. jrs

        I’ve heard 1/3 of the carbon in the air now can supposedly be traced back to the U.S.. Ouch if true. And yes of course other countries are currently outpacing it.

      2. dearieme

        when Warren says that she is a capitalist to her bones she was presumably referring to her white bones not her Cherokee bones.

      3. dearieme

        she doesn’t want to do to other countries what the British did in India: what, you mean abolishing slavery? Fair enough: the Cherokees did keep slaves, after all.

        1. ambrit

          The Great Famine of Bengal in 1943.
          Look up the particularly slimy adviser to Churchill, Lord Cherwell. His overt racialist and eugenicist beliefs drove much of that disaster.
          As for her professed “foreign country friendly” beliefs, well, when she puts forth a serious proposal to reduce the American Empire, I’ll cheer. Till then, I’m sitting on my hands.

          1. dearieme

            Much of the problem in Bengal was that the provincial government – in the hands of a Moslem party of course – proved to be utterly incompetent.

            But even they could not have avoided the difficulties cause by there being a war on.

      4. Stadist

        There is nothing wrong with capitalism and market mechanics, these are sound and well proven in my opinion. Real problem is allowing the capital and rich people influence and buy political system to their own benefit. Capitalism still absolutely needs strong and sensible government to direct the capitalist urges towards most productive and sustainable ways, however debatable the ‘correct’ way is.

        No offense now, but sometimes when I follow US politics you seem to have more hardline communists in there than we have here in Europe. And still I don’t understand why Sanders and others want to cling on the term socialism, the republicans and conservative types I know are utterly repulsed by the whole term. Maybe these are the necessary evil when both major parties have been hijacked by big money which brings us back to the decoupling of money and political system.

        Say what you will, but maybe the Chinese system of layered hierarchical pseudo-democracy (forming a structure similar to pyramid) does have some merits, especially in the increasingly connected world of fast media, outrage and overreaction to silly things. Standard western democratic system is superficially similar, but the bottom layer of pyramid elects every layer directly instead of consecutively as in China. Of course both systems reward connections, charisma etc. but the western system becomes insane circus because in the higher and top layer the electorate-to-nominee ratio becomes unworkable without some sort of mass media and advertisement.

        We had local and EU electios in my country this spring, and the publicly broadcast debates between ~10 party leaders was like kindergarten level, its nearly impossible to really discuss politics when each candidate has 1-2 minutes for an answer or reply. So the “best” leaders were seemingly those who took political potshots at opponents instead of actually discussing their own policy views, also efficient defense against these potshots was nearly impossible. These matters are not simple enough that one can explain and condense everything into neat enough package understandable for the masses in just few minutes. I’m not saying masses are stupid, I’m saying most people don’t follow politics enough to be able to follow brief arguments without some extensive explanations as they don’t have necessary basic understanding of what is being discussed.

        Of course China is one-party country, but even this is just semantics, their political system just happens in the context of one party, the party itself forms the political system and structure. One could easily have different ‘sub-parties’ or views inside that one party.

        1. John A

          There is nothing wrong with capitalism and market mechanics,

          Except capitalism is destroying the planet and gradually making it uninhabitable. This is known but the forces of capitalism and market mechanics prevent anything being done to reverse this.

  14. Carolinian

    Amazing. Pence tells graduating West Pointers they will soon be at war with half the planet–seems to think that’s a good thing.

    Some of you will join the fight against radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of you will join the fight on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific, where North Korea continues to threaten the peace, and an increasingly militarized China challenges our presence in the region. Some of you will join the fight in Europe, where an aggressive Russia seeks to redraw international boundaries by force. And some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere. And when that day comes, I know you will move to the sound of the guns and do your duty, and you will fight, and you will win. The American people expect nothing less. So, wherever you’re called, I urge you to take what you learned here and put it into practice. Put your armor on, so that when — not if — that day comes, you’ll be able to stand your ground.”

    Pence is too young to have Vietnam chicken hawk bonafides like Bolton, Cheney or Trump. But it’s a safe bet that he won’t be anywhere near these future battlefields unless those missiles come over the horizon ready to rapture him up. The rest of us? We don’t get to choose apparently.


    1. Wukchumni

      One thing I don’t get about the Rapture®, is they’re all nekkid as jailbirds in front of their maker, with a clump of clothing left over on this orb as a Kilroy Was Here statement to the infidels (& Marinfidels-don’t think you’re getting out of this ewmayer) in a neener-neener-neener, you were so wrong left behinds! move that’s strictly petty, but it comes with the territory, and then comes the divvying up of the rest of their stuff.

      So wouldn’t it be awkward hanging out in your bathing suit, waiting to be fitted for wings?

      1. laughingsong

        My understanding of the rapture is that all the “God-fearing, Holier-than-thou uber-believers – the ones that are most into fighting, dying, and especially killing for the Lord — get raptured off the planet. After seven years of some chaos (which I interpret as re-organizing after a downsizing), there is 1000 years of peace on earth.


      2. ewmayer

        “don’t think you’re getting out of this ewmayer” — Hey, I’ve only lived in Marin for less than a year. I blame my predecessor’s misguided policies, or something.

        1. Wukchumni

          Its hard to work ‘Marinfidel’ into a conversation, saw my opening and jumped through the hoop, thanks for being there for me.

      3. polecat

        Reminds me of the “Six Feet Under’ episode lead-in where the church lady has come home from a riveting service, to find ‘people’ nearby, flying up into the sky*. As she walks toward the scene, in full .. uh .. rapture, she gets it .. via an encounter with a vehicle, as I recall !

        * the ‘raptured folk’ were actually helium inflated sex dolls ( this Los Angeles, after all ..), of various skin tones, which came untethered, en mass, from their marry prankster’s confines.

    2. dearieme

      Pence is too young to have Vietnam chicken hawk bonafides like Bolton, Cheney or Trump.

      And W, and Slick Willie, and Biden, … and damn near the whole political class.

      The obvious exception was Kerry. And he was such an inept politician that he managed to turn it into a weakness.

      1. Carolinian

        This testosterone poisoning among the male poitician class is a strong argument for a woman president [Mr.Subliminal–Gabbard]. Unfortunately the males in the media suffer from the same affliction and won’t give a certain Hawaiian candidate any good ink.

        Pence makes up for missing all the action that he would have gladly taken part in if he had only had the chance by talking tough.

  15. PhillyPhilly

    I enjoyed the Fredrik DeBoer citation. He makes a great point about the ability of capital to eventually tear down any welfare state. What then, is the plan for decommodification?

    1. Oregoncharles

      That’s a good reason to concentrate on worker ownership and control. Properly set up, it disperses power and prevents capital from recapturing the “means of production.”

  16. Jerry B

    ===They’ll come and tear your welfare state apart===

    I came across a blogger named Freddie De Boer while reading Steve Randy Waldman’s twitter feed:


    Waldman has a lot of good info on his twitter feed. His Wikipedia page identifies him as a “Danish Libertarian” but many of his tweets and posted links seem to lean left. Those that do not “lean Left” still make a lot of sense.

    He posted this excerpt of article Freddie De Boer wrote that was posted on reddit.

    I’ve told the same basic story since I started writing in 2008: the extremes define the center and thus the space in which politics happens. The only way to win is to move the center, and the only way to move the center is to pull hard in your direction, even if – especially if – that means fighting for a position that you feel goes too far. Typically, I’m telling this story to centrists and liberals. This has been the basic political dynamic in America since the beginning of the Reagan days: Republicans pull to the right with all their might; Democrats chase the center. So the center gets moved to the right, even when Democrats win elections. That’s how you get Bill Clinton and the Clinton crime bill, baby-killing Iraq sanctions, and DOMA. There has always been a reflexive anti-left tendency within the Democratic party; there is no similar anti-right tendency within the Republican party. And it is no surprise that the Republicans have been able to do so much to dictate the policy agenda for the past 40 years, even as they face serious demographic disadvantages.

    Here is the reddit post link:


    1. Oregoncharles

      I think DeBoer’s depiction is wrong. The Dems are driving the “center” and the Republicans to the right, in search of the big money. Slick Willy Clinton and the other DLC’ers were explicit about it. No wonder the Repubs hated him: he was poaching their “ideas” and, much worse, their funders.

  17. Left in Wisconsin

    Excellent links today (as always but even better!)

    “They’ll come and tear your welfare state apart” [Fredrik DeBoer (JB)]. ” I don’t care about fighting for the definition of socialism, not anymore. What I do care about is that this New New Left, this DSA left, this Jacobin left, has utterly failed to offer a remotely coherent response to the critique of such left liberalism that comes from the radical left, the communist left. That critique is simple: all of the wonderful pity charity welfare programs this new left would pass would be forever at the mercy of the relentless power of capital. Because the new left has focused so myopically on redistributive programs and essentially ignored the basic dynamics of power, the ideal systems that they describe are ones where there is no meaningful check on the rapacious power of capital. Which means that the welfare state they build will be taken apart, brick by brick, as soon as it is put together.”

    This is completely legitimate as critique. OTOH, I would argue that the hard left, such as it is, is so tiny and remote that it can offer only a theoretical program for overcoming capitalism, not a practical one. The sad fact is that no one on the left, hard or soft, is anywhere near the levers of power – in corporations, in DC, in the techno sphere, even in middle management and engineering – and so there really is no program for socializing (any substantial part of) the economy. And this seems true around the globe, though perhaps someone better informed can provide some cause for optimism.

    It seems to me the place to start is in those communities that (still) have publicly-owned utilities and other enterprises and try to expand outward from there. At the federal level, the Post Office is the obvious candidate for extending its reach. At the local level, the Chattanooga broadband program seems like one that can be replicated. Reclaiming privatized utilities should also be a priority. But it seems we are a very long way from being able to challenge corporate power in most of the private economy simply because we are so very far away from its daily operation (except on the receiving end of course).

    1. Grant

      The environmental crisis will end capitalism as we know it. Most environmental and social damages now have no market values. We have reached the limits of growth in regards to pollution generation and resource consumption, and the financial part of the economy faces no resource limitations, which is a huge problem. There is also no realistic way to operate within sustainable limits without some form of planning. Given that the size of the human economy is far too big relative to the ecosystems we use for resources and as sinks for wastes, we not only have to decrease the size of the economy, but we should want to do so in a way that is at least somewhat equitable. So, how exactly does capitalism do any of that? My guess is that the defenders of capitalism will simply deal with these issues in a brutally inequitable and authoritarian manner.

      I would say this though; many people across the country do in fact support the left’s policies. Do they do so for ideological reasons? No, because as you said, the radical left is a relatively small percentage of the country, although growing. However, does it ultimately matter if someone supports single payer for ideological reasons or for basic class reasons? No, it doesn’t. I would argue that while we are far away from a mass awakening and a radical shift ideologically, that does not mean we are equally far away policy wise. Because, again, people can and do support policies of the left for non-ideological reasons. People also support and want more socialism. Supporting actual socialism but not liking the word is not logical and is a reflection of propaganda. Doesn’t mean we can’t have more socialism, we just might not get to call it socialism. As Pigou said, there is a difference between more socialization and a fully socialist system. People want more socialization, so let’s focus on that and hope that we can have enough socialization to deal with the environmental crisis in a democratic and equitable way.

      1. jrs

        And if that doesn’t work “permanent revolution” or whatever. Even if one was to assume the status quo (what an assumption), so the battle is won for a few generations, then fight again.

        But yea ecosocialism may be the only workable solution.

      2. Summer

        “My guess is that the defenders of capitalism will simply deal with these issues in a brutally inequitable and authoritarian manner.”

        War. It’s not an outlier and should be expected from a war culture. When the going gets tough, empires go to war.

        WWI has been referred to as the Great Class War (there is a book by that name).

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      ” But it seems we are a very long way from being able to challenge corporate power in most of the private economy simply because we are so very far away from its daily operation”

      I challenge them all the time…when I DON’T enter a walmart, or whatever…as well as when I talk to random people about a New New Deal, or whatever.
      hearts and minds, one at a time.
      the problem with the former tack, that goes towards what Grant says, below, is that the wallywhirleds of the world have us surrounded….where do we go for food and such if not corporate america?
      the dual structures in anarchist thought(iirc, lenin talked about this, too) are something we’ve neglected for too long.
      alternatives to TINA.
      there’s a reason, after all, that folks get punished for feeding people for free.
      it’s the same reason cuba has been a target since the revolution….can’t allow an alternative, or people might get ideas.

  18. Summer

    Re: Bio-poop or whatever

    “”Venture capital learned nothing from Theranos, apparently.”

    Yes, they did. They still see Holmes struttin’ around, living it up.

  19. ewmayer

    o “Shipping: “Trans-Pacific trade tensions are starting to land heavily at U.S. ports. | WSJ” — So the WSJ admits that this is simply a consequence of the tariff-related frontrunning. IOW, the tariffs caused a big spike in imports, and now we are seeing the inevitable mean-reversion. Which of course is spun by the WSJ weenies into form of “scary!” headline.

    o The Bezzle: “uBiome convinced Silicon Valley that testing poop was worth $600 million. Then the FBI came knocking. Here’s the inside story.” [Business Insider] — A certain catch-phrase involving something hitting a proverbial fan comes to mind, but it would be cheap gutter humor to invoke it, thankfully I’m above such stuff.

    o “Police who shot Vallejo rapper 55 times in 3.5 seconds acted reasonably, report found” [KTVU] — I wonder if the report mentions the bit about 100 trillion neutrinos passing like ghosts through the demised rapper’s body every second in order to help make its reasonableness argument: “15 teensy-weensy lead slugs per second – a miniscule amount over background, folks!”

    o “Craft beautiful equations in Word with LaTeX” [Nature]. • A victory for old, open source, textual coding — Not if it’s ending up in a Word document, it’s not.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I’ll bite on point three: “Police who shot Vallejo rapper 55 times …”
      I’ll pretend the “constitutional aspects of the use of force as well as any human factor psychological aspects” are not of interest — initially, and I’ll avoid any discomfiting questions about the methods use for apprehending a sleeping suspect, armed or not. Firing 55 shots is reasonable? Assume the Vallejo rapper were actually reaching for a weapon, as the blurb implies — 55 shots is a waste of ammunition. How many of the 55 shots fired at the rapper actually struck him? And six officers seems a bit much. Two, or four aren’t sufficient? Now — If the rapper had a gun in his lap while sleeping why couldn’t an officer break the side window or better the rear window and shout the riot-act-warning while the partner also stood ready with a weapon? Suspect car in drive? — put cruisers in front and behind before the move.

      I am not a police officer so what do I know? I do wonder about the old movie “Strange Days”. The action revolves around repercussions from the police execution murder of a fictitious popular rapper in 1999. But it’s 2019 … what repercussions?

      1. Oregoncharles

        See my post below about “25 Memphis Police Injured” – the search term I used. It was on GNews this morning.

        Was there similar action in Vallejo when the rapper was murdered? Will there be now? Different towns, I know.

  20. martell

    Regarding DeBoer’s article on the DSA, it strikes me as a fair criticism. In my experience with a local chapter as well as with the national organization, DSAers don’t give much thought to capitalism, socialism, or democracy. By and large, they seem to understand capitalism as a market economy in which rich people are too rich, because the rich are greedy and corrupt and aren’t taxed enough, whereas the poor are too poor, because of the aforementioned greed and corruption of the rich. Socialism amounts to redistribution, much of it state imposed (tax the rich and give to the poor), while the rest is supposed to take the form of concessions granted by capitalists to revivified labor unions. As for democracy, it’s assumed to be what we have now, only not so heavily influenced by the rich. In many ways, the organization is about returning the US to the 1950s, albeit without racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. and so on. I think that’s a nice dream.

    That said, the radical, communist left isn’t any better, at least in my experience. Actually, on the whole, they’re much, much worse. If DSAers want to take us back to an all inclusive, multicolored, many-gendered, open borders version of Happy Days, American communists seem to be all about a reboot of Reds: Vanguard parties organized along the lines of democratic centralism pushing for a dictatorship of the proletariat that will immediately nationalize the biggest 500 capitalist enterprises in the US. It’ll be just like before only better, partly because some of the leaders this time around will be women of color, rather than exclusively bearded white guys. I have just described Socialist Alternative, the organization that helped elect a city council member in Seattle. They also tend to treat the words of certain long dead social and political theorists (Marx, Engels, Lenin) as gospel, and even instruct new members on the one correct way to read them. That is not exactly a sign of intellectual health. More like a sure sign of insanity. In any case, like many DSAers, they’re dreamers, the difference being that the American communist dream is a nightmare.

    1. Grant

      The DSA members exist in a society where any alternative ideas and institutions have been beaten out of existence by domestic and international institutions and the media. People cannot only not implement another system or different institutions, they are told to not even imagine such a thing. They have no direct experience with any alternative system, and they exist in a capitalist system that not only doesn’t work, but cannot deal with the environmental crisis. They know that this cannot go on forever, and many of them do not want to live in a Stalinist system either. The socialist calculation debate illuminated many of the problems of socialism from a practical level, but honestly, it revealed far more problems with capitalism. It’s why I personally think those that call it the “economic calculation debate” are far more accurate. There is tons of information missing in markets and there are no realistic ways to price most of it. We cannot have a chaotic and decentralized system in a world that has reached the limits of growth.

      So, yeah, it is hard to imagine alternatives, but this system will not last whether anyone likes it or not. And even if a government took power that wasn’t ideologically socialist, it would have to deal with the same exact problems. How do you construct an economic system that doesn’t rely nearly as much on markets? How does the economy operate without aggregate growth in consumption and pollution generation? How do you plan the national economy, given that it is a necessity? Even if the government was authoritarian and even if it kept the same inequitable social relations in place, it will have to deal with the same problems. At least the DSA members are willing and are often trying to look past capitalism. Most of the non-socialist groups in our society are in utter denial. The radical left, people like the economist Robin Hahnel, have at least developed comprehensive systems about how such an economic system might work. What has someone in the rough ideological areas as Nancy Pelosi or Paul Ryan done in that regard? What would a progressive capitalist like Warren be willing to do and has she or those like her developed any comprehensive plans? If so, good luck calling whatever that would be “capitalism”.

      1. Isotope_C14

        I’m always confused by “-ism’s” when these alternate non-Stalinist arrangements, such as technologically planned economies, are well outlined by Peter Joseph in his book “The New Human Rights Movement”.

        I’d argue it’s not hard to imagine alternatives, it’s hard to accept them.

        1. Grant

          Being confused by the isms is understandable. Take socialism. The Ricardian socialists in the early 19th century were radically different than Marx’s socialism, whose socialism was different than the people he battled at the gatherings of the International Workingman’s Association. Walras actually called himself a socialist, his socialism was radically different than the market socialism of Oskar Lange or Abba Lerner, who differed greatly from Otto Neurath’s market-less, money-less socialism, on and on.

          Social democracy isn’t any easier. Marx and Engels were in a social democratic party. The Bolsheviks emerged out of a social democratic party, and the Mensheviks went on to lead a democratic socialist revolution in Georgia and were heavily involved in radical politics in places like the US after they left Europe. Social democratic parties in places like Sweden and Germany called for the socialization of the economic system (gradually) well into the 20th century and Swedish social democrats strongly considered moving on to a worker owned and managed economy in the mid 1970’s. Social democracy changed though, from supporting gradually moving towards socialism to Keynesian economics, and eventually took a neoliberal turn. So, when people talk about social democracy, what exactly do they mean? It isn’t as clear as many of them think it is.

          I don’t agree though that it is easy to imagine alternatives. Maybe you, I and others on this site that know of these things or the economics of alternative systems can conceptualize these alternatives, most people don’t have that background. They know things are wrong, know things can’t continue as they are, but struggle with the complex economics of it all, and the connection the economic system has with the environment. Most DSA members are working people, and they do live in this society. Not many people have developed comprehensive models, much fewer people know of them. The only school of economics that truly understood what stands before us in regards to the environmental crisis is ecological economics, and there are very few schools that offer that as a concentration. Most schools offer little more than natural resource or environmental economics, which is an outgrowth of neoclassical economics. Most of the economics profession, as far as I am concerned, doesn’t have an economics that is going to be very useful in the coming decades. If we had followed Karl William Kapp and Herman Daly, we wouldn’t be in this position and economics would be far better off. How many awards were given to people working on reality-less things like general equilibrium?

  21. PKMKII

    “Progressive Federalism” isn’t a bad term, but “Decentralized Distributism” is confusing and misleading, as distributism refers to an obscure-ish heterodox right-wing political economy that has little to do with Berniecrat/DSA Left economics.

    DeBoer’s critique is reasonable, and the DSA Left does need to show a path that isn’t just rehashing the early to mid 20th century social democracy platforms that work only as long as the good times roll and are eaten away the moment Mr. Market has an upset. However, a similar sort of critique can be leveled at the Communist Left. Too much of that movement is simply reheating the century+ old philosophies and tactics of Lenin, Luxemburg, Kropotkin, etc., and saying “THIS time it’ll be different, this time it’ll work out as planned.” Both of these new Lefts need to forge new ideas and strategies of theory and praxis instead of using the old as a crutch.

  22. Cal2

    “After two years, “Whole Foods still basically feels like the same old Whole Foods. Amazon’s lack of imagination at Whole Foods is something we’ve seen repeatedly as the e-commerce giant experiments with physical stores.”
    No, there are definite changes, at least in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    The number of organic items, that count, like produce and salad bar ingredients, has plummeted. There are a few loss leaders like cheap avocados for Prime members, but the quality of those has declined. Lots of their hot foods are microwaved previously frozen centralized production junk.

    Far fewer different items are stocked and there is less back stock behind them on shelves as the small interesting brands that helped build the organic food movement are replaced with national brands that are often not organic, or if they are, are certified to a much lower standard of quality and honesty, i.e. going from California Certified Organic Farmers or Oregon Tilth to USDA Organic or some other con job shell game like Quality Assurance International.

    Signage; The local Whole Foods graphic artists were replaced with centralized production of phony “handmade” signage which has gotten much more exhortative, almost to the point of shouting. Signage is confusing and duplicitous. It’s either organic, or it’s not. Whole Foods has created a third and forth category which is basically bullshit and consumer fraud.

    Personnel have left in droves for real organic markets and other retail. Customers are leaving as well for alternates when available. Add the word “A*s” in front of Whole Foods and the situation is summed up nicely.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Cal2, you speak more truth than you know.

      When I was a much younger Slim, I was a worker bee in a Pittsburgh food co-op. One of my bosses took great pride in his aho status. Except, in his case, he called himself a martinet.

      Well, after a few months of his, ahem, behavior, I left the co-op and took another job. A little over a year later, the remaining staff revolted, and Mr. Martinet resigned from his manager position at the co-op.

      His next stop: An upscale grocery store in North Carolina. Mr. Martinet went on to become one of the original executives at Whole Foods.

    2. anon in so cal

      IMHO, there’s only one thing WF is good for: freshly baked bread. And, not all WFs are capable of this. They require the right ovens and a critical density of consumers.

      So, throughout greater Los Angeles, it is nearly impossible to find any WF with good bread. AFAIK, there are only two branches in southern California that meet these two criteria: Burbank and Irvine.

      The Burbank store has to have some of the chain’s highest revenues. It’s always packed. Even with a giant parking lot, it’s difficult to find parking. My anecdotal impression is that the deli sections generate the most business.

    3. jrs

      they’ve gone downhill but they are more crowded than ever. Prime gimmicks attract or something, maybe a there is a bigger market for hype and game playing (prime savings – the only store card in the world you have to pay for) than decent organic food.

      1. Cal2

        Or, look at the positive side; it’s a step up from Safeway and once people learn about the reality of organic, they are “primed”, sorry, I couldn’t help that, to try authentic local organic markets that are better.

        In L.A. we visited a place called Erewhon, in West L.A. it’s better than As8wholeFoods, but is awfully precious and doesn’t have 99% organic. Plus right off, we noticed how their parking lot attendants, yes you read that right, are “independent contractor immigrants” who do not get an employee discount and are unhappy about how they are treated.

        Want to see what a *REAL* organic market looks like? We drive over and do our weekly shopping there. The ten bucks in bridge toll and gas are well worth it, versus the criminality and filth around San Francisco’s only real large organic market in the Mission.



  23. clarky90

    Re; “……send a reporter to cover a historic and hugely consequential union vote in Tennessee? • Lol,”

    Radio and TV Correspondents Association Dinner, 2004

    Start at 5 min 05 seconds

    President Bush mimes “looking for weapons of mass destruction” to the audience of “correspondents”. The audience responds with unbridled joy.

    A cocktail party at the Wannsee Conference would have been similarly depraved?

    The Main Stream Media are NOT, “one of us.”

  24. a different chris

    Man I hate to pick on her, because she’s serious, but that whole “fighting for” thing Has Got To Go. It’s old and sad and makes you sound like somebody who expects to fall short, maybe way short. Try this, maybe:

    I’ll be there to end the separation of families. I’ll be there to pass a $15 minimum wage, Medicare For All and the Green New Deal, so that we can create jobs here at home.’”

    Turns her from seeming to engage in some spectator sport – which our politics so sadly seems to be – into a real conduit for these things. You have the power, channel it thru me.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Reminds me of the “I’m with Her” versus “She’s with Us” debate about Hilary.

      Would that one of these midgets really was “with us”. That would be something you could term “representative government”. Hey that term could even be used in civics class textbooks.

  25. Oregoncharles

    For “Black Injustice Tipping Point:” https://www.ibtimes.com/25-police-officers-injured-memphis-tennessee-following-protests-over-police-shooting-2800434

    Be sure you read Tami Sawyer’s tweet, down the article: “…on the same day that the DA chose not to charge another police officer for murdering a civilian.” So, a grudge. It may be, or not, that it was US Marshalls that killed the guy; and their story about him having a weapon may or may not be true.

    In any case, the resulting riot, directed at the police, is a clear case of vigilante action by the neighborhood. “No justice, no peace.”

    1. todde

      As I see it, and as a way of an explanation:

      the police are scared, and yet they want to control situations.

      these 2 factors lead to hyper-violent actions on their part.

      That works on most people, but the people who it doesn’t work on are the people who are used to hyper-violence.

      And they reciprocate.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Who do the police “protect and serve”? It grows more and more difficult to believe they serve the public — at least those of us in the public on the lower nine rungs. Police are frightened? I can’t imagine why the police should be frightened … if they were indeed protecting and serving the public.

      1. todde

        having been beat to death almost twice (multiple days in the hospital) and after witnessing 2 murders I can say they are plenty of the ‘public’ that people may find scary. Dirty cops included.

        there doesn’t have to be a ‘good guy’ in any of this.

  26. TonyinSoCAL

    Mohamed El-Erian

    Beyond the lack of self-insurance at the household level, the Fed’s ability to counter economic recessions and financial disruptions is rather limited. Whereas the current policy rate is 2.25%-2.5%, past downturns have usually required cuts of five percentage points or more. Also, the Fed has a bloated balance sheet and a rather weak mechanism for transmitting monetary-policy measures to the real economy. And even if fiscal policymakers were to become more responsive, they would be starting from a point of relatively high deficits and debt.

    Mohamed, make sure J-Rome doesn’t read this!!

    History Of American Real Estate Bubbles

    There was the Los Angeles real estate bubble of the 1880s when real land prices increased 10-fold from 1882 to 1888 and then fell by one-third in one year, the next year, 1889. Even though the population of Los Angeles was skyrocketing at the time, real estate prices got way ahead of themselves and then busted hard.

    Sounds just like the Los Angeles real estate bubble of the 2015-2020. Growing population and housing demand with prices getting “way ahead of themselves.”

    Were prime borrowers actually the ones responsible for the housing crisis?

    A recent paper by MIT researchers refutes this theory, showing that in the run-up to the housing collapse, both credit and defaults expanded proportionally across borrowers of every income level and every credit rating. The authors assert that tag “subprime” is a misnomer and the event could well have been the outcome of the actions of the prime borrowers.

  27. The Rev Kev

    “How Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren Cracked the Code of the 2020 Race”

    A main point of this article was where it said: ‘demonstrating an innate understanding of the value of viral moments and nonstop exposure that drive politics in the Trump era.’ Sounds reasonable, right? Sounds almost heroic in that these candidates are boot-strapping their campaign up to the bigs. But what happens when the media decides who will be showed and who will be edited out of the campaigns. I have seen that myself with one candidate who has her name omitted from political polls and whose campaign is being deep-sixed because the media has taken upon itself the righteous duty of vetting the candidates who will be making a run for the Presidency like they did back in 2016. I won’t say this candidate’s name but let us just say that she is called T. Gabbard – no, no, wait. Make that Tulsi G.

  28. anon in so cal

    “They’ll come and tear your welfare state apart”

    “all of the wonderful pity charity welfare programs this new left would pass would be forever at the mercy of the relentless power of capital. Because the new left has focused so myopically on redistributive programs and essentially ignored the basic dynamics of power, the ideal systems that they describe are ones where there is no meaningful check on the rapacious power of capital. Which means that the welfare state they build will be taken apart, brick by brick, as soon as it is put together.”

    (apologies if this has already been said)

    Marxists’ “reform” versus “revolution” internecine battle?

    To change the “dynamics of power” and “check the rapacious power of capital” requires a revolution.

    “The minute that Medicare for All is enacted in a system that otherwise does nothing to challenge the supremacy of capital, the program will become just another site of capitalist exploitation.”

    Reforms, whether welfare state safety nets or higher union wages, will delay the revolution.

    Rosa Luxemburg spoke about this:


  29. VietnamVet

    Everything is socialism since Wall Street and the wealthy were bailed out in 2008. At the center of the current conflict is short term kneecap extortion verses long term contingency planning. Neoliberalism is defined by the myriad examples from Boeing to Sears, where decisions are purposely made for short term profits not what is best for the company, employees or society.

    California electricity blackouts are another example. Electricity is a necessity for civilization. Early in the century, Enron withheld electricity to raise prices and make money. Jeff Skilling was the last criminal CEO jailed for extortion. In 2019 PG&E is cutting off electricity when wildfires threaten. If not nationalized and if power lines are not cleared and modernized; No Man’s Lands with sporadic third world electricity will spring up throughout Northern California in addition to the metastasizing homeless encampments in the cities.

  30. Synoia

    We need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.

    Always struck me as very strange coming for a Lawyer. All crime were committed in the past, and I don’t know why this was not condemned as pure sophistry by the Right at the time. Which does assume the Right can detect and cares about sophistry.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Why would The Right want to parse what The Mellifluous Melanoderm was doing? He was implementing their program all along

      1. Quentin

        ‘Mellifluous Melanoderm’? Must mean something like ‘sweet-talking dark-skinned one’. Oh boy. I needed Wikipedia to get the gist.

  31. Summer

    RE: They’ll tear you welfare state apart…

    2009 when the ACA talk started, I said then:
    This is something that won’t be recognized in ten years.

    And this can’t be emphasized enough and it applies to all of Europe and “developed” countries:
    “It is common for today’s new left to endorse the so-called “Nordic model” and to talk about the Scandinavian welfare states as some sort of shining city on the hill. This is bizarre to anyone who has actually paid attention: the Scandinavian social democratic state does not really exist anymore. For decades that system has been dismantled, with deregulation, privatization, assaults on union rights and declining union rates, and erosion of the redistributive programs that made this region so famous. Yes, there was such a thing as the Nordic model 50 years ago. The fact that this model no longer exists outside of the imagination of those who don’t bother to check is the radical critique in a nutshell.”

    The ideas needed are going to have to come from somewhere else…

  32. JBird4049

    One thing is clear: The Hamptons may love Kamala Harris, but California needs to be sold.

    Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    Kamala Harris and, fair warning here, Gavin Newsom are two smooth, polished grifters with a nice steady patter of truth sounding lies.

    1. jrs

      She has other problems (I don’t need to list them, although I have heard bad personal heresay from those who have worked with her too) but some of it is just bad form. She just got the Senator position, but it was clearly just for ladder climbing. It’s like a resume that makes it look like you can’t keep a job.

  33. JCC

    The actual LaTeX link – https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01796-1

    It’s all I use at work (IT Sys Admin) for documentation. I gave up using MS Word years ago. For basic documentation it is far better for concentrating on content, particularly edits, than it is to spend hours messing with MS Word formatting when diagrams and screenshots are involved.

    Once you learn the logical and relatively easy tagging system, it’s a piece of cake. And for those that require word docs or pdf, the printing tools will allow output in those formats, too.

    1. Peter Dorman

      LaTex is fine, but what I’ve done is stick, all these years, with WordPerfect, for similar reasons. The “old” equation editor is text-based and does everything I want: you have lots of control over formatting, and you can copy and paste for stuff like matrices, sequences of partially transformed equations, etc. In addition, WP never went over to object-based formatting, which is what makes Word so maddening. In a pinch, the reveal codes function solves nearly every problem. Of course, it also means dealing with software which is proprietary on the one hand but not properly maintained on the other. Import and export can sometimes be a bother. For me the pluses outweigh the minuses.

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