2:00PM Water Cooler 6/17/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“From window curtains to fireworks, American importers are struggling to find alternative suppliers for the goods they bring in from China. An analysis of federal import data shows China accounts for more than 90% of imports in 273 categories of the items targeted by new tariffs… reaching deep into U.S. supply chains” [Wall Street Journal]. “The difficulties among U.S. importers shows how global supply chains have been redrawn over the past 20 years, and how successful China has been in becoming the factory floor for the world, in some cases crowding out competition from other countries. Companies like baby-gate and bedrail maker Regalo International LLC say their efforts to find new manufacturing partners to replace Chinese suppliers have come up short. The company says Vietnam ‘has very weak infrastructure in metal fabrication’ and can’t match prices and production demands.” • So, when our elites systematically deindustrialized this country, not only did they bet on China, they didn’t hedge their bets. Well played, all.


“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 17: Biden up 31.5% (32.2) and Sanders steady 15.8% (15.8). Warren up 12.8% (11.2%), Buttigieg steady 7.8% (7.8%), others Brownian motion. If you go all the way back to the starting point of December 9, 2018, Sanders’ 17.7% isn’t all that different from today’s 15.8%. Biden’s 29% looks like the mean to which he is reverting (41.4% in May when he announced, 31.5% today). And Warren’s rise from 6.0% to 12.8% looks quite impressive (as does Buttigieg’s rise from 1.3% when he announced in March to 7.8% today). Of course, it’s absurd to track minute fluctuations at this point. Speculating freely, I would guess that Warren gave both Clinton supporters — and the Clinton haters who went with Sanders — a place to go, along with the types (overlap here) who just want a winner. Warren too, along with Buttigieg, is, of course, far more sympatico (overlap here, too) with the Democrat professional base than Sanders is.

* * *


Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden’s greatest (and not-so-greatest) debate hits” [WaPo] • From 2012, still germane. (1) “Moments of genuine emotion are rare in politics. In his debate against Palin, Biden choked up when he talked about his ability to relate to Americans’ struggles, as he mentioned the tragic death of his wife and daughter in a car accident and discussed what it’s like to be a single parent.” So we can expect Biden to milk his son’s death in debate. (2): “[H]e’s also capable of unleashing colorful zingers against the opposition. Case in point: A 2008 Democratic presidential primary debate in which he had this to say about then-GOP presidential contender and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani: ‘There only three things he mentions in a sentence: A noun and a verb and 9/11, I mean, there’s nothing else.'” • Biden’s tag stuck to Giuliani, too. (Biden also eviscerated Paul Ryan.)There’s no reason to think that Biden will do badly in the debates, especially with the press having pre-positioned their anti-Sanders storylines.

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Pete Buttigieg raised staggering $7 million in April alone” [Politico]. “The upstart mayor had raised $7 million in the month of April alone, as much as Buttigieg had in his entire eye-catching first quarter in the presidential race…. Buttigieg has scheduled 21 fundraising events around the country before the end-of-June deadline, according to an event list obtained by POLITICO, with multiple stops in donor-rich locations like Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. To date, the South Bend, Ind., mayor has also brought in over $1 million from 16 “grassroots fundraisers,” rallies that charge $25 and up for small-dollar ” • 7 to 1….

Inslee (D)(1): “DNC Committee Throws Bound Jay Inslee Onto Melting Iceberg Before Pushing Him Out To Sea” [The Onion], • That they did. And Inslee hasn’t been trying very hard to untie himself, either.

Warren (D)(1): [Los Angeles Times]. “At least for now, Warren solidly leads among the type of voters who define California liberalism. She dominates among those who define themselves as “very liberal,” getting 1 in 3 of their votes. And she leads the field among white college graduates, with 22%, edging out Joe Biden by a couple of percentage points. Sanders has only 10% of that group. Biden and Warren also share the lead among black voters, while Sanders gets only single-digit support among them…. Sanders draws a notably different profile. His backers are younger — he has a big lead among voters younger than 30, and about 4 in 10 of his supporters are younger than 50. That younger support, which is true nationwide, translates in California into backing from Latinos, especially Latinos whose main language is English — a group that is young, on average. He leads the field among that group, while Biden leads among Latinos whose main language is Spanish and among California voters who are immigrants. Sanders also draws significantly more support from men than women, something that’s rare among Democrats. That wasn’t surprising in 2016 when he was the only challenger to Hillary Clinton. It’s more striking now….. His backers are also less affluent. Only about 4 in 10 of Sanders’ backers earn more than $100,000, compared with Warren’s 6 in 10. He leads the field among voters earning less than $40,000 a year.” • So if Sanders can increase turnout among younger voters, Latinos, blue collar workers, and… men…

Warren (D)(2): “She’s got a (borrowed) plan for that: The media myth of Elizabeth Warren the wonk” [Washington Times]. “It’s a stretch to call these all her ideas. The Post provided a sampling of ‘Warren’s nonstop ideas.’ The list began with ‘new ethics rules on Supreme Court justices.’ Notably, her proposal here comes from a bill written and introduced by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. Warren signed on as a co-sponsor. Warren also touted “A law to force the release of politicians’ tax returns,” in the Post’s words. Warren in early 2017 introduced a bill requiring presidential candidates to disclose three years of returns. But Sen. Ron Wyden had, four months earlier, introduced a similar bill requiring such disclosure — Warren was a cosponsor…. In nearly every case where Warren is credited with some innovation, the evidence shows that she didn’t build it. She just slapped her name on it.” • Of course, this is the Washington Times, so cum grano salis. They do, however, have links. And I do think it’s unfair to castigate Warren for supporting programs that are “in the air”; duplicate bills are introduced all the time. I’m not sure this isn’t a smart strategy inside the Beltway, though. In essence, Warren can garner the support of electeds and NGOs by elevating their “plans.” So as Clinton had ClintonWorld, Warren would be creating WarrenWorld. All that said, it’s quite remarkable that Warren has no plan for #MedicareForAll, despite her co-sponsorship of Sanders’ bill. Perhaps that’s why Neera Tanden likes her so much. And speaking of Neera–

Warren (D)(3):

Note that Warren’s Senate policy director, Ganesh Sitaraman, is a Senior Fellow at Tanden’s Center for American Progress, and co-author of a recent book on “the public option.” So I think we can make a good guess at Warren’s forthcoming “plan.”

Warren (D)(4): “Leftover PAC money funneled into Warren’s campaign” [Gloucester Times]. “‘You won’t see Elizabeth take a dime from federally registered lobbyists, corporate PACs, or PACs of any kind,’ her campaign boasted in a recent email blast to supporters, urging them to contribute. ‘You won’t see Elizabeth cozy up to billionaires and nudge them to dump buckets of cash into a super PAC for her.’ A review of Warren’s reports to the Federal Election Commission suggests that pledge is disingenuous. Warren’s presidential campaign collected $6 million in the first quarter of this year, banking 213,000 contributions from 135,000 donors, with an average donation of $28, her campaign said. She also transferred into her account $10 million in leftover campaign cash from her run for Senate last year, and a political committee she operates with other candidates, according to disclosures filed with the FEC. Those two previous campaign accounts included about $400,000 in PAC contributions made by labor unions, trade groups and other special interests over the past two years. Among the contributors were the American Federation of Teachers, EMILY’s List, Utility Workers of America, the AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and the United Auto Workers.” • Whether you regard this as a scandal probably depends on your attitude toward liberal Democrat NGOs. But if you’re looking for a reason why Warren is doing so well in the invisible primary (see also above), here it is.

Identity Politics

What is even going on:

Peak idpol:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Tyranny of the 70-Somethings” [The Atlantic]. “There is a huge gap between where the energy and creativity of the party lie, with a group of dynamic activists and House members in their 30s and even their 20s (thank you, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), and the ruling class of 70-somethings layered far above like a crumbling porte cochere…. In the farm system that trains and seasons the leaders of tomorrow—assuming tomorrow ever comes—that gap signifies a lost generation.” • It’s not amazing that the photo that accompanies the article is of Bernie Sanders, when the central concern of the article is the Democrat leadership (the gerontacracy only “bled into” the Presidential race). What is amazing is that the article doesn’t mention Obama’s eight-year role in failing to develop a farm system (indeed, by dismantling OFA, he actively prevented its development). Or maybe that isn’t amazing at all, now that I think about it. And speaking of Obama, thread:

Stats Watch

Empire State Manufacturing Survey, June 2019: “Whether tariff effects are to blame is uncertain but the Empire State report has suddenly shifted deep into the negative column” [Econoday]. “For the Federal Reserve, this report may be a warning for this week’s FOMC meeting, suggesting that the manufacturing sector, which has been struggling all year, may now be tilting into contraction.”

Housing Market Index, June 2018: “Though lower than expected, today’s housing market index nevertheless points to continued improvement for the new housing market” [Econoday].

Food: “The biggest U.S. meat company is effectively building a new agriculture supply chain to meet changing consumer tastes. Tyson Foods Inc. this summer plans to introduce nuggets made from peas, flaxseed and other plants… in a strategic pivot prompted by the rapid growth of upstarts that have launched plant-based foods businesses” [Wall Street Journal]. “Upstarts Impossible Foods Inc. and Beyond Meat Inc. have rolled out a new generation of meat-free products to restaurants and grocery stores. The efforts have converted consumers and investors. Analysts project the market for meat alternatives could reach tens of billions of dollars in annual sales, a substantial chunk of the $200 billion U.S. meat industry”

Food: “Chinese pork prices risk 70% surge as African swine fever rages” [Nikkei Asian Review]. “Pork is a staple in China, and authorities worry that a long-term rise in prices could lead to social unrest…. Prices are surging due to falling domestic production brought on by the swine fever outbreak, higher tariffs on U.S. pork and uncertainty over when the epidemic will end.”

Food: “Pillsbury is joining Aldi and King Arthur Flour in recalling flour amid E.coli concerns” [Business Insider]. “Pillsbury’s parent company has recalled 4,620 cases of flour due to E. coli concerns. The flour was made with a certain wheat that has been linked to an E. coli outbreak that has infected at least 17 people in 8 states. Aldi and King Arthur Flour have also recently recalled flour due to E. coli concerns.” • Flour? Ha. Though I grant this is a mere episode not at scale.

Shipping: “Freight Market Shifts into Lower Gear” [Wall Street Journal]. “Sagging prices and mixed economic signals are casting a cloud over the U.S. freight market as bad weather and trade concerns bog down the spring shipping season. Demand for moving consumer products, industrial parts and other goods has been pulling back, according to transportation experts and some freight-industry measures, just at the time when freight operators start gearing up for a seasonal shipping surge that typically peaks between July and September. The softer market is a contrast with last year’s freight boom…. Prices on the spot trucking market, where businesses book last-minute transportation, were down 16% in April compared with the prior year.” • Honey for the bears.

Shipping: “The Ruthless Reality of Amazon’s One-Day Shipping” [Gizmodo]. “‘As soon as we clock in, we’re pushing our bodies and minds to the limit on these machines, feeling like robots a lot of the time getting the stuff out,’ said William Stolz, a picker who gathers products for orders at an Amazon fulfillment center in Minneapolis, Minnesota who has worked there for about two years. “Amazon’s working conditions have to change if they’re going to actually start treating us like human beings with dignity. A lot of the jobs they have are still temporary. We want Amazon to provide safe and reliable jobs. Right now it’s not the case.'” • Very good overview of all of Amazon’s shipping operations (and how they’re gaming wages with outsourcing). With excellent quote from Stoller!

Cash: “Jack Dorsey says now is our chance to build a global currency for the internet” (interview) [Quartz]. “The second secular trend is blockchain and cryptocurrency. And I guess the way I think about this is we have all these currencies for every nation state, but if you consider the internet to be the equivalent to a nation state, it will have a currency native to itself, and there is not going to be any one party or institution that makes this happen, and there’s not going to be any one party or institution that can stop it from happening. And having a global currency that is native to the internet will allow companies like ours to move much faster and reach a lot more people.” • Our chance?

Manufacturing: “Looking at MAX beyond the grounding” [Leeham News and Analysis]. “Boeing Global Services, the successor to Boeing Commercial Aviation Services, will have a daunting task to help bring the grounded and undelivered airplanes into service… Boeing notified the supply chain it wanted to ramp the Renton facility back up to 47, 52 and go to the next step, the previously announced 57/mo, by September. This appears to be off the table as the grounding continues, but no revised schedule has been shared with suppliers that LNA has uncovered.” • Oh.

Manufacturing: “Black Boeing employee sues company after finding noose at desk, says ‘my work life is degrading'” [ABC]. • Curtis Anthony, the employee, is “a quality inspector since 2011 on the 787 Dreamliner at Boeing’s North Charleston, South Carolina, plant” (which is sounding more and more like a hellhole). Given Boeing’s issues with quality control on the 787, I wonder if there’s more going on than racism.

The Fed: “Fed’s Powell Can’t Avoid Making Waves This Week” [John Authers, Bloomberg]. Superb deck: “Lead us not into deflation.” More: “Federal Reserve governors don’t want to make news. If the Fed is a topic of discussion, that is a tell-tale sign that people think they are doing something wrong, or that they are under pressure….. But Powell has no choice but to make a lot of news. First, he must contend with a remarkable shift in the market for inflation-protected securities which suggests that the market has lost all confidence in the Fed’s ability to keep inflation close to its official target of 2%. The break-even rate for inflation over the next 10 years is now its lowest since the presidential election in 2016, and shows that we are once more in the grips of a deflation scare.” But what if this is the Fed…

Rapture Index: Closes up one on food supply. “The Central U.S. is very wet and cold; with late planting for crops” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 180. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

The Biosphere

“Climate as a risk factor for armed conflict” [Nature]. From the abstract: “[E]xperts agree that climate has affected organized armed conflict within countries. However, other drivers, such as low socioeconomic development and low capabilities of the state, are judged to be substantially more influential, and the mechanisms of climate–conflict linkages remain a key uncertainty. Intensifying climate change is estimated to increase future risks of conflict.”

“Illinois farmers give up on planting after floods, throw party instead” [Reuters]. “James McCune, a farmer from Mineral, Illinois, was unable to plant 85% of his intended corn acres and wanted to commiserate with his fellow farmers by hosting the “Prevent Plant Party” at The Happy Spot…. Nationwide, farmers are expected to harvest the smallest corn crop in four years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agency last week reduced its planting estimate by 3.2% from May and its yield estimate by 5.7%. Farmers think more cuts are likely as the late-planted crop could face damage from hot summer weather and an autumn frost.” • Excellent description of knock-on effects, before we even get to food supply.”

“Three Decades of Greenland Ice Sheet Change” [Polar Portal]. “We show for example, that since the early 2000s the ice sheet has become thinner almost everywhere. For an ice sheet in balance with the local climate we expect to see a small increase in surface height year on year in the centre and a decrease around the edges as more snow falls than melts at higher elevations and the reverse happens lower down. However, scientists show that the ice sheet is now getting thinner almost everywhere.” • Must-read for ice sheet fans.

“Wealthy Families Are Adding Forests to Their Portfolios” [Bloomberg]. • Oh, good. Remember that natural forests capture far more carbon than plantations.

“‘If we don’t burn it, nature will’: Georgia blazes old fears, leads nation in prescribed fire” [Southerly]. “Forests need fire. Without them, plants die, animals leave, and mounds of flammable undergrowth pile high. Rather than wait for a lightning strike or cigarette butt to spark an uncontrollable wave of flames, Melvin conducts controlled burns, also known as prescribed fire…. In 2018, Georgia, Florida and Alabama prescribed burns to more than 4 million acres of land, while the remaining 47 states and territories burned about 2 million acres combined, according to data collected by the National Interagency Fire Center and analyzed by Climate Central. Experts warn this data may undercount prescribed burning, but a country-wide survey by the National Association of State Foresters and the Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils similarly found that, in 2017, the Southeast was responsible for two-thirds of the nation’s prescribed burns…. Staff at the U.S. Forest Service, which treated only about 1% of the nearly 200 million acres of land it manages with prescribed burns in 2018, are alarmed by their own agency’s lack of burning. For the first time in history, they’re considering restructuring the agency to facilitate more prescribed fires.”

“Creeping Toward Permanent Drought” [Scientific American]. “Trees have seen more than any of us. If you drill a very small bore into a tree, you can extract a thin rod striped with each year’s rings. If you do this again, to another tree, and then another, and then to thousands all over the world, you can weave them together into a drought atlas, a record of good and bad years, wet and dry soils. Scientists have built these for half the world: North America and Mexico, Europe and the Levant, monsoon Asia and eastern Australia…. The collected rings of thousands of trees show a pattern of drying and moistening that ebbs and flows with time…. At the beginning of the twentieth century, though, a faint fixed pattern becomes discernible among the randomness, a quiet but strengthening note against a background symphony. Some regions—California, the Mediterranean, Australia—dry out. It is a small, almost imperceptible-to-humans drying, but it is a pattern that no natural cycle can reproduce…. And this is the pattern that emerges from the trees. It is unusual in the context of everything that has come before, recorded for long posterity in the tree rings. It is a signature of us.”

Neoliberal Epidemics

“U.S. death rates from suicides, alcohol and drug overdoses reach all-time high” [NBC News (DG)]. “Rates of deaths from suicides, drug overdoses and alcohol have reached an all-time high in the United States…. Although the rates of the so-called deaths of despair are up nationally, the report’s investigators were particularly struck by regional differences in the rates…. “When we look at what’s going on in mid-Atlantic states — West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania — those are the states that have the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in the country,” David Radley, a senior scientist for the Commonwealth Fund, said.”

Class Warfare

“How to create a more purposeful capitalism” [World Economic Forum]. “One year ago, BlackRock chairman and CEO Larry Fink wrote a letter to 500 CEOs asking them to rethink their sense of purpose. “To prosper over time,” he wrote, “Every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.'” • But despite these calls to action, little has changed (“Your winnings, sir“). The purpose of capitalism is for capitalists to accumulate capital. And it’s doing an excellent job, as the article shows.

News of the Wired

“Five Models for Making Sense of Complex Systems” [Medium]. • Clever article on visualization, especially for those who use whiteboards.

Father’s Day. Thread within a thread:

Leonard Cohen:

An old favorite:

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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 (PH):

PH: “Here is a photo of what is most likely the very last dandelion blossom to grace my grassy patch for this year. Don’t know if the plant is brave, or foolish, or just confused. It may not have heard about climate change, or maybe just got confused about whether Spring is coming earlier or later these days.” I wish I could say the same; my dandelions are out of control, and seem to be getting bigger each year. I know “weed” is an ascriptive identity for plants, but I grew up thinking of them as signs of neglect. A lawn should be green after all.

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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. ACF

    Re Biden and debates

    I agree that history suggests Biden will do well in debates, but there are two wild cards.

    First, is Biden showing his age? The Maggie Thatcher comment; the low profile. Will Biden make news because he’s no longer the Biden of old? I have no idea if he really has declined, just, if he has, the debates should make that clear.

    Second, will nostalgia for him/the Obama days survive actual experience of him as the candidate? He’s not been a great candidate in the past, and most other candidates will be gunning for him to some extent.

    1. taunger

      If other candidates are smart, they will follow the proven tactic of letting Biden gun himself down.

      1. Carey

        Agree. It might be glib, but I don’t call him D’oh Biden for nothing.
        It’ll be fun watching the explaining class prop him up over and over.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Does the history show that? Palin and Ryan aren’t exactly that bright. Paul Ryan is the poster boy for white male privilege.

      Its not that Biden’s declined. I think his problem is more like the one Bill and Hillary faced. They can tailor a message for an isolated audience and escape certain media environments (because the msm is terrible), but when you can check past statements or positions, go, “what century is this?, or simply pause and repeat, I find many of these people come off as morons when in the moment it sounds relatively innocuous or even confident sounding.

      Recently Biden brought up 5 transgendered murder victims from this year as a sign of the decay wrought by Trump. What he didn’t bring up was the 25 and 21 transgender murder victims in 2015 and 2016 (who was President and Vice President then?). Once upon a time, this was harder to find and check. Maybe Biden made sure to cover his flank with the modifier minority. The last time Biden ran for an open seat and won was 1972.

      I still liken this situation to why Obama, the greatest orator of our age, isn’t widely quoted. It was all in the moment stuff. The emotion attachment has kept people from reassessing but this is where they are.

      1. Cal2

        Decay brought by Trump at our border? What about the 49% LGBQTI mentally ill homeless youth that have been dying on the streets of San Francisco? Page 13,


        They drift in from all over the nation and the western hemisphere and end up dying without adequate taxpayer funded services. Here are two reports finalized in 2017, definitely not Trump’s doing.

        Roughly a third of homeless San Franciscans who responded to surveyor’s questions were women, 61 percent were men, five percent were transgender, and one percent identified with no gender at all.

        Roughly 30 percent identified as LGBTQ. An estimated 34 percent of homeless survey respondents were black, even though African-Americans make up only six percent of the city’s overall population.


        1. Summer

          “They drift in from all over the nation…”

          They haven’t heard the old San Fran community is gone…

          1. jrs

            Might be looking for jobs not community. I don’t know who we are talking about drifting from where, but what might happen is people move to cities because that’s where the jobs are, and rural America has it’s own economic problems. Only the big cities aren’t all that great either. They’re expensive, the job markets often difficult to crack, and low wage labor won’t come close to paying the rent …

            If you ain’t got the doe ray me …

            1. JBird4049

              You won’t find it so hot if ain’t got the Doe Ray Me

              Oklahoma, Georgia, Tennesseeeee…

              As a native Californian, I have to say that my family found it much easier to work at minimum wage and afford housing. Of course that was forty or fifty years ago. That doesn’t mean that the food stamps were not greatly appreciated, but the fact is that they were able were to rent a house in the South Bay.

              Now a six figure income is needed for an apartment. The only laughingly labeled “affordable” housing is a two hour drive from San Francisco, three hours from San Jose, in the East Bay I guess an hour. Public transportation effectively does not exist.

              So someone moves from out of state and they finds out that the jobs are there, being afford a $2,000 (affordable) apartment or a $3,500 apartment in the same city while making 50, 60, 70k per year is somewhat difficult.

              Whereas the truly affordable housing is in the northern and western peripheral Red areas of state, but work of any kind is difficult to get. There is still that unaffordability of housing.

              Meanwhile the landlords make bank and most Californians don’t and Democratic Party, the party of the downtrodden does nothing but take in the “campaign” donations.

      2. Tomonthebeach

        The Obama 3rd Rail? I think NTG is dead on. I want to complement his remarks. Ottenbein’s article in Politico sells Dems short when speaking about the forbidden 3rd rail in the campaigns of not addressing Obama’s tenure. By highlighting Obama’s litany of failures, current Dem contenders could kneecap the Clinitonite neolibs working to undermine their candidacies, and, it would likely melt down the pearl-clutchers unwilling to impeach the most impeachable POTUS in US history.

        My small internet posse of 72-year-old Chicago HS classmates (only about half still live there) has changed in less than a year’s time from blind acolytes of Obama to accepting that he was a rather ineffective leader and visionless when it came to legislation. We see Obama as somebody who continued nearly all his predecessor’s bad policies and who ignored low-income working poor. His policies enabled poor people to buy houses beyond their means with no-doc-balloon mortgages, and then bailed out the bastards who foreclosed on them for being gullible. Rather than stopping our criminal wars, obama has joined the ICC wanted list by escalating the wars and setting a record for 007-style drone murders that nearly always killed innocents (aka collateral damage). All that is Biden’s legacy too.

        We do like Sanders & Warren as likely running mates. Buttigieg’s star is fading fast. The upcoming DNC’s debates, while appearing to drain momentum from Warren, seem to highlight how clueless and impotent DNC has made itself.

    3. Knifecatcher

      There is substantial evidence that survivors of burst aneurysms are significantly more prone to Alzheimer’s and other types of cognitive decline over the following decades. Biden nearly died as the result of a burst aneurysm in the late ’80s, and had another removed before it burst.

      IMO any politician who aspires to hold office in their 70s and beyond should be expected to provide evidence that they’re not suffering from any sort of age-related dementia. Sanders certainly seems to have maintained all his faculties but I think the jury is still out on Uncle Joe.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      Biden will do well in the debates because the bought and paid for corporate media will declare he did well in the debates.

      Remember 20 years ago how the media told us over and over that W had never lost a debate, mainly because he could manage to get through an hour without drolling on himself? Well that, and they had him wired up so Dick Cheney could whisper the answers in his ear.

  2. Joe Well

    Regarding Warren’s base of support. From what I have seen on Facebook, it skews much older, 60+ and upper-middle income. Given that historical trends since the 1970s have made it much harder for anyone who came of age since then to get into the upper-middle class, it is almost redundant to say her base of support is older and higher income. They are unlikely to benefit much from a Sanders presidency. In fact, I think they’re unlikely to benefit much from a Warren presidency, either, but income inequality is less central to her message than the criminality of the rich and powerful.

    If I understand correctly, the polls try to guess likely voters and so undercount younger people because they are less likely to vote. Maybe that is a good call, but we won’t know until election day.

  3. Gary

    I spent a week in Sitges, Spain which is just outside on Barcelona. One of the things that impressed me is that it was difficult to find anything that was made in China. Everything in my room was made in the European Union. The chairs were from Italy. The linens and the phone were from France. The TV was from Finland. The toilet & bidet were from Germany. It was great to see quality workmanship again.

    1. paul

      Sitges must be some outlier, I’m in a town outside alicantejust now and there at least 4 chinese dollar stores within gobbing distance.
      No different from madrid, bilbao,valencia or seville.
      Though I have noticed a lot more signs saying “shoes made in spain”.

      1. Synapsid


        There is one difference: Gary is in Catalunya.

        Valencia is the closest to him.

        1. paul

          please tell me about catalunya’s unique policies, last time I was in barcelona it seemed to have fully commited itslf to being part of eurodisneyland.
          When I first visited it was a fascinating place, last time was no fun.
          I am deeply sympathetic to catalan independence and am horrified by the reaction of the spanish state,yet I have not found anything illuminating in theiir offers to the electorarate.

          1. ambrit

            One of my brothers-in-law has family in Catalunya and mentioned that the writing was on the wall about euro-assimilation when Barcelona got rid of public nudity.

  4. grayslady

    Lambert, thanks for posting the information about the e. coli flour recall. I use King Arthur unbleached flour for my bread making and it infuriates me that the company can’t be more specific about when and where the flour might have been sold. Most people know by now that for pantry storage of dry staples, a large, sealed container is best, and that means throwing away the bag that the flour, sugar or whatever came in. So only publishing the code that was printed on the bag isn’t very helpful. What stores were they shipped to? When were they shipped? King Arthur flour is not exactly cheap, so you don’t want to just throw away most of what was a 5 lb bag. At least I’ll know to only use the flour for baking, since e. coli is killed off at 160 degrees F. Thanks again.

    1. Cal2

      Beware of the sprouted organic pumpkin seeds that Costco sells.
      NOWHERE on the label is there a country of origin, which AFAIK, is illegal.
      Deep research shows the origin is China. Anyone who eats food grown in China is playing Russian roulette with a derringer. Anyone who thinks that China produces safe organic food is truly naive.

      1. Wukchumni

        A good many canned and bottled foods come from China now, including one that uses a rendition of the statue of liberty on the label.

        I’m with you, ixnay on Chinese grown food sold here, eh.

        1. Randy

          Not only has China taken over industrial production but they have also conquered the canned mushroom market. Try buying canned mushrooms from somewhere else than China. The iconic brand around here are now grown in Pennsylvania, China.

          1. Wukchumni

            There is still one holdout i’ve found in canned mushrooms, that comes from the Netherlands.

            Good luck also finding non-China canned mandarin oranges as well, aside from the Spanish ones Trader Joes sells.

          2. ambrit

            LOL!!! That is exactly like the town of Usa in Japan during the American Occupation after WW-2. Items were marked; “Made In Usa” to evade the “stigma” of ‘Made in Japan.’ Which is funny since I have a small collection of wonderful porcelain objects marked “Made in Occupied Japan.” They run the gamut from kitsch to wonderous.

            1. polecat

              Who knows how things will shake out down the rocky pot-holed road, ambrit … we Americanos might be the ones trying to evade a possible stigma of ‘made in the states’, by labeling items for export “made in _______” …. after WE’VE suffered a crushing military defeat … I mean, with all the grift & idiocy that stands for ‘leadership’ in this country, I wouldn’t doubt it a possibility ! Maybe I should ‘refine’ my ceramic skills at making kitchy 21century political figurines, as there are PLENTY of ribald characters to choose from !! Twas quite the popular enterprise back in the 18th & 19th centuries … in fact, I own a book authored by Garth Clark, entitled ‘The Eccentric Teapot’, which has a few example of such items of ‘commentary’ and ‘wit’.

              1. ambrit

                Oh my. And Toby mugs.
                As for the post-semi-apocalyptic future, there is a wonderful story in that vein where Americans run tours of the semi-ruins of New York to visiting foreigners. Culture clash as defined by populations with adequacy issues.
                I’ll remember the story’s name while asleep and wake up screaming.

            2. pricklyone

              All indications seem to be that that story is mythical. US Customs denied it years ago. (No longer have story on file, though). This isn’t to say that someone slipped something by, but no one seems to have authenticated samples of “Made in Usa, Japan” goods.
              The rumor was expanded to a full blown urban legend, claiming the city in Japan was renamed to Usa after the war for the purpose, but of course the name is traceable to the 8th century.
              My collector friends, who used to run a small auction, tell me they have not seen any, even fakes.

        2. ewmayer

          I’ve seen that false-flag trick a lot on Amazon and eBay, as well – they don’t carry a “Made in USA” label because that would be false, they just slap a US flag image on the item picture. Not that they’re trying to trick our minds into assuming “Made in USA” or anything – I’m sure it’s just to trigger our patriotic American instinct to be an uberconsumer. And what could be more patriotic in we-offshored-our-making-stuff-jobs-to-Asia than buying low-priced Made in China goods? By doing so, we are promoting economic efficiencies™, after all.

          1. pricklyone

            Uses of images on pakaging, or ads are not regulated, but the “Made in xxx” construction is…

            1. pricklyone

              On ebay especially, it denotes a SELLER in the U.S., but almost all of the product is Chinese, of course. And sadly, everyone knows it, too.
              All the big name products that used to populate the shelves are, as well, though, so not much use pretending any longer.
              Don’t forget that this was done to you courtesy of “The Multinational, Global, Cosmopolitan, Free-trading, Exceptional American Businessman”.
              With the help of his paid lackey the U.S. Gov., who loves to ‘help’ by being ‘business-friendly’ where ever possible, of course.
              Of course, you can call your Congressman…but he’s in a meeting with a lobbyist, who is exercising his ‘right to petition for grievances’, on the golf course…in Honolulu…

      2. Inode_buddha

        Damn near the entire contents of the Save-A-Lot chain stores is produced there. Likewise for the “fresh” and deli stuff at 7-11. You’d be amazed what you can learn from the fine print on labels.

        1. ambrit

          Harbor Freight is mainly sourced from China as well.
          Much as I approve of the ‘Bring Back American Industry’ drive, I’m wondering if anyone is seriously preparing for it. One does not run up a factory in three months and start production.
          The Credentialed class hasn’t just shot America in the foot. It has also shot it in the b—s.

          1. polecat

            Seriously prepared ?? Surely you jest ! Certaintly the Left ‘hand’ doesn’t know what the Right ‘hand’ is doing, except for screwing the serfs, and beating war drums …
            They are as ‘Deer-eyes wide open!’ .. looking on as the Mac Truck of History barrels down on their yankee herd asses, with us tethered to that semi grill, like some incidental road warrior !
            Enjoy the Ride. NOT !

          2. pricklyone

            Yes, Harbor Freight never made an effort, as far as I know, to hide the fact that they were an importer. Hence the name ‘Harbor Freight'(!) Of course the Taiwan/China habit of naming everything “Buffalo”/ Pittsburgh/ “Chicago” etc.is a long standing “tradition” of asian imports, and might have in the dim past fooled the early more gullible consumer…

        2. pricklyone

          Nothing on the labels at my local Save-a-Lot have any mention of being of China origin.
          I read every character of every label. Got links?
          (This store is within walking distance of me, and I mostly buy the name brands they offer, as I didn’t care for the generics they had, and Aldi has better house brands, cheaper)

        3. pricklyone

          The thing that really chaps my backside is the label “Distributed By XXXX Stores” and a generic office somewhere. Assuring that you can learn exactly zero from the label.
          I have seen labels on some crackers and candies at Dollar Tree stores showing foreign origins, but you won’t find any on most name brands either, as just putting a corporate address on the product makes no ‘country of origin’ claim.
          I am old enough to remember when they all remarked proudly “Product of the U.S.A.”
          on the label…WTO membership and its rules mean we don’t get to know where it comes from, unless we go to the farm in person.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      It is remarkably difficult to find sealed plastic containers that are simply big enough to drop a five pound bag in. I finally found some because I don’t understand why I should scoop it twice.

      1. a different chris

        But here’s the thing – how the heck do these guys get to the top. I mean, look at Maduros’ reaction:

        The day before, I had recorded on my cellphone three young men looking for food on the back of a garbage truck in a poor neighborhood minutes away from the presidential palace. I showed those images to Mr. Maduro. Each frame contradicted his narrative of a prosperous and progressive Venezuela 20 years after the revolution

        Maduro needed to not back himself into a corner, he needed to be in a position to say “how can I help those people under these ridiculous sanctions? The wealthy can and always do take care of themselves. These not so wealthy obviously had access to food before, they’re not children. But now (spreads hands)”

        But no, gotta bluff and bluster.

        1. Cal2

          How about, “Yes, we have our poor and mentally ill. How do you explain the millions of Americans who cannot afford insulin in your country that has no sanctions against it, like ours does? How about the hundreds of tents on your sidewalks and piles of human feces, so frequent that there’s a locator app for it, on the streets of San Francisco, one of the richest cities in your country?”

  5. Hepativore

    While Warren is considerably better than Clinton was, is there concern that Warren will be the new “Clinton” for this race? Last week, the Clinton-Obama wing was seemed like they were throwing their weight behind Warren in order to stop Sanders. Warren is a considerably weaker candidate as well as the fact that she can be brow-beaten by the neoliberal establishment into backing away from things like Medicare-For-All. I wonder if the Democratic elites will try using Warren as a Trojan horse, with Warren either being willing or unwitting.

    Warren might be used to scoop up the Clintonite liberals as Biden tanks due to their recalcitrance against Sanders, giving her an edge in the primary. Whether she wins or loses against Trump will be beside the point as the neoliberals and their wealthy donors just want to keep the gravy train going and somebody like Sanders could shut down the entire network. While I am sure that they do not want Trump to win, the Democratic establishment probably feels it is a necessary evil they have to risk in order to stymie the progressive left.

    1. Knifecatcher

      I think it’s clear the Dem establishment is throwing their weight behind Warren in the belief that she’s both palatable to the Bernie wing and controllable by the establishment.

      IMO the best spot for Liz – who I like! – is as a VP to Sanders. IMO that’s the only way the Clintonite wing of the party can be persuaded to vote for Bernie in the general election. “Well I still can’t stand Bernie but he’s really old, and if he dies in office Warren would take over…”

      1. Phenix

        Warren is dead to millennials that support Bernie. I lurk here a lot and I do not think the commenters understand how much Bernie supporters hate Warren for backing Clinton and running this cycle. For most of us it is Sanders/Gabbard or bust. People like me in swing States will vote Trump if Sanders is not the nominee.

        1. a different chris

          Well it’s gonna be bust, then. Sanders I would still bet money on. But nobody anywhere has shown any reason why Sanders would make Gabbard VP. Nada. It’s just some “outsiders like outsiders” thing as far as I can tell.

          So would you not vote for Sanders/Warren?

          And we wonder why the party that accepts the fact that it isn’t made up of the smartest people in the world, the Republicans, wins – by concentrating on their base and the Electoral College. I have never heard, maybe somebody else has but not me, the R party say “we gonna do (X) to get rich NY Jews!”. They don’t care. They support Israel because they like bombing brown people plus watching that 3 billion get recycled back to our MIC. They would support Israel if not a single Jew in the country voted for them.

          1. Knifecatcher

            For what it’s worth I’ve long thought if Bernie manages to make it through the DNC opposition to grab the nomination he’d need to consider a VP candidate acceptable to the Obama/Clinton/Bidencrats for exactly the reason I mentioned above.

            I was originally thinking that would be a Gillibrand or Booker, so Warren slotting into that role would be gravy from my perspective.

            Gabbard is great but only wins votes Bernie already has in the bag. She’d be absolute fire as Secretary of Defense.

          2. jrs


            There’s spite voting to go around on all sides is the thing (just probably not among Reps, but you can always find a Dem saying “dare me, I’ll cut the nose off to spite my face”). It’s why Sanders has fairly high negative polling as well.

            We can only hope it isn’t widespread.

        2. Nick

          I don’t think your view is the only one held by Bernie supporting Millenials, or even one that’s that common. I haven’t heard a single Bernie-supporting Millenial who would vote for Trump over the Democrat. And that’s coming from friends, family, and people I organize with. For me and at least some others, we strongly prefer Bernie but would in turn prefer Warren over most if not all other Democrat candidates.

          1. jrs


            Anyone who seriously imagines a bunch of leftish activists (which many a more active Bernie supporter might be, very passive supporters might be just liking him on name recognition or personality – hey if it actually gets them to the polls so be it) breaking for Trump … uh. That is asking people to vote for policy they HATE.

            I mean Warren might even be 4th place in ranked choice voting for me, but still never the orange man, never mind that I’m not in a swing state, not even if I have to vote for Howie Hawkins, no shame in a 3rd party vote if it’s all you can stomach without throwing up in the voting booth (biden might do it). But never orange.

            1. hunkerdown

              People don’t vote for policy and they never have. That’s against the entire design of the American system. That said, there is plenty of reason to vote against the neoliberal Democrats as a matter of policy.
              Millennials getting browbeaten into lesser-evil voting is a fatal tragedy. That only serves to teach them that being ruled by a noble class, whatever clothes one prefers to dress them down in, is something intrinsically necessary or desirable. Staying home is always an option, and usually the more psychologically healthy one than being counted as an ally of a neoliberal.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                This. Arguing about policy nuances between candidates seems foolish. Maybe 2020 will be the last election that runs this way, with Gabbard winning a landslide in 2024 after four more years of The Orange Man, but I think this cycle will be decided by whatever sounds and images (read: lies) are showing nonstop on CNN in the line at the grocery store.

        3. Cal2

          “For most of us it is Sanders/Gabbard or bust.”

          I’m with you, as are 16 of my friends and family. We’ve had it with the ‘demoWhigs.
          The best way to resurrect the Democratic Party is have it lose again to Trump.

          Or, perhaps, permanently walk away from the Democrats and make the Republicans become the party of the real Middle Working Class. The ‘demowhigs can have the chocolate chip shoulder pads, identarians, Malibu Beach landlords and media moguls.

          Whatever, Trump, once re-elected might be free to carry out the promises he made and really do some damage to the Deep State.

          Seems outrageous? Lifting the rock in search of one re-elected Democratic president who has carried out his promises. “Not Obama”, “not Clinton.”
          Looks up, “Gee, wonder how far back the Tedious want me to go?”

  6. Joe Well

    My confidence in Sanders’s chances, and the chances of his movement more broadly, have gone down a lot since I tried to volunteer with my state’s Our Revolution chapter earlier this year.

    An unbelievable amount of infighting in an ineffective bureaucratic group.

    No coordination between the national organization and the state one. For one thing, the lists are not shared. I had thought that by signing up for Our Revolution I was also signing up for the state group, but that’s not how it works.

    I was actively discouraged from trying to start a local chapter. I was given some bureaucratic reasons for this but I later found out it may have more to do with the internal squabbling within the state organization. They don’t want more people onboard because they don’t want more squabbling. What a movement!

    They do want volunteers for the state committees, but when I looked into it it seemed like they had spent the entire first half of 2019 hashing out bureaucratic procedures. That’s not how I am going to spend my weekends and evenings.

    Local elections are right around the corner and no one seems to care, and yet the reason for not going full-tilt for Sanders is that they don’t want to close themselves off from local organizing.

    When I see the actual on-the-ground American left, I totally despair for the future. The American left has no greater enemy than American leftists.

    1. jrs

      Interesting, DSA is more organized at least around here, and they canvas for Sanders and local elections. But the DSA can’t carry all the water .

      (national local division stuff does exist in the DSA as well though).

      1. Joe Well

        In 2016 there was a schism between the Bernie-or-Bust-ers and also between the diehard supporters of the OR state group’s endorsed candidate for governor and the one who actually ended up winning the Democratic state primary. This governor schism bewilders a lot of people (including me) because the policy differences between the endorsed candidate and the other guy were almost nonexistent and getting rid of our incumbent Republican governor should have been a priority. At any rate, it should be water under the bridge now, but it seems like a lot of people in the org are just unduly concerned about avoiding that level of ugliness again.

        Now there is a lot of disagreement about whether to endorse Bernie Sanders ASAP or wait til the end of the year. The idea is to avoid antagonizing the many Warren supporters in the ranks, but when the group isn’t doing much anyway, so the whole debate seems like a distraction from the real issue of them not doing much. This also seems like a classic case where ranked choice voting would be useful for the left because they could just say Sanders 1, Warren 2.

        Also, I have not waded into it too deep, but there seem to be disagreement about how strict they should be in their endorsements of candidates. Should they endorse only real Berniecrats or just pick the best candidate in a primary once it is clear no one else is going to announce and most primaries won’t have a Berniecrat? Also, how much should they get involved in supporting campaigns for office as opposed to supporting legislation and ballot initiatives? I admit, I don’t know the answer to those questions, I just wish they would pick a policy and go with it. The lack of a sense of urgency infuriates me. A very high ratio of talk to action.

        1. Oregoncharles

          If they had ranked choice voting, they wouldn’t have the spoiler effect to keep out competing parties or independents.

    2. Cal2

      Joe, what, you wanted a chance to call a couple hundred people before the primary?

      How about reaching a couple hundred thousand?,
      essentially for free and gas money.

      “Bernie=Free Healthcare for you”

      “Bernie=No more wars”

      “Bernie=Student debt adjustment”

      “Only Bernie can defeat Trump”


      1. Joe Well

        I’m wondering how big of a risk of arrest one runs doing this?

        Is there a technology that would allow me to hang a sign that says “Welcome home, Troops!” and then press a button from a safe distance and change it to “Socialism Now!” ?

    3. Left in Wisconsin

      I wouldn’t pin this on Sanders. I’ve relayed this here before but in my state, which has an active OR chapter, all of the left “insurgencies” – OR, DSA, Working Families, Fight for $15, etc. – are sooner or later (typically sooner) taken over by the same handful of “left entrepreneurs.” These people generally have good politics, at least as professed, but their signature is a very high energy level and willingness/desire to do everything – of which I am quite suspicious – that sooner or later drives others, particularly others whose opinions about priorities, strategies, etc. differ, away. I can’t prove that the ineffectualness of the left here in a state in which it should be much stronger is a direct outcome of this but that is my supposition.

      If you want to help Sanders, I would suggest trying to engage the campaign directly rather than OR.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > These people generally have good politics, at least as professed

        If they’re driving people away, their politics aren’t good. Sounds like another variety of Vampire’s Castle.

      2. Arizona Slim

        I recently volunteered for a Bernie Sanders tabling event in Downtown Tucson. It was outside the main library, and, quite frankly, it was hotter -n- Hades.

        So, we didn’t have much foot traffic.

        Be that as it may, I was impressed with the level of organization that preceded the event. Much better than what I experienced in 2015-16.

        Count me in. I plan to volunteer for more Bernie events.

  7. FreeMarketApologist

    Re Dorsey and ‘internet currency’:

    When you reverse the order of the two sentences, you get: “having a global currency that is native to the internet will allow companies like ours to move much faster and reach a lot more people… … and there’s not going to be any one party or institution that can stop it from happening.

    i.e., “we want to operate with impunity outside the regulated financial system”.

    Essentially, everybody has access to the currency of the country where they live, and often a local alternative (e.g., barter systems), so it’s not like Dorsey is enabling commerce for some under-served group (except perhaps criminals).

    1. Polar Donkey

      Jack Dorsey seems to be acting like Icarus. Outside of Palo Alto and the 10% managerial class of the Democratic Party, people hate these Titans of the internet. Do these guys really think nation states are going to let google, twitter, apple, amazon, and facebook take over. Unfortunate accidents or worse happen to people like this.

      1. Wukchumni

        Money backed by Jack all, yeah that’s the ticket.

        There is precedence though for privately issued money in the Bay Area though, when in the late 1840’s and early 1850’s, a number of gold coins were struck by mints in the SF region. One of them minted $10 gold coins, and when they were found only to have about $8.50 worth of gold in content, nobody would take them as money, and most were melted down.

        We’ve come a long way since then, but not really.


      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Don’t misunderestimate what Zuck is doing with Project Libra. The only real thing that money requires is very simple: acceptance. Rum, tobacco, seashells, boxes of Tide detergent, and shiny bits of metal all worked just fine because they had it. On Day 1 Zuck will have something like 6 million merchants and 2B people with a dead simple path to accepting, using apps they already use. Likely he’ll give away $1-200M worth to prime the pump.

        1. pricklyone

          As soon as I accept whatever “box of Tide” as payment,or wages, I have an income tax liability, and no funds to pay the tax.
          IRS don’t take no Tide…taxes drive money.

      3. Big Tap

        What Jack Dorsey needs to do is much more simple than worrying about currency. Have a Twitter Edit button. Start there.

    2. djrichard

      “now is our chance” … to set up the next bubble for making money?

      What’s fascinating is that the real “value” of any of these currencies is not based on the float of the currency itself. It’s driven by the float of the US dollar. In particular, the float that has been hoovered up into the hands that don’t live hand-to-mouth; hands that just need a good narrative for making investments in things that don’t lend themselves to easy NPV calculations.

      Timing wise though, I would recommend they wait until after the Federal Reserve removes the punch bowl this time around and get ready for when the Federal Reserve gets it in place for the next kick of the can at bubblenomics. That’s when you unleash the “now is our chance” campaign.

  8. Wukchumni

    Too many ‘controlled burns’ have gotten out of control, so they’re all called ‘prescribed burns’, now.

    It’d be nice to have much more of them in the Sierra Nevada, but conditions have to be just right to ignite, people down in the Central Valley will scream like banshees (they curiously have no problem living cheek by jowl near oh so many noxious Ag chemicals floating in the air) and there isn’t the will or the do re mi to make it happen effectively, other than piecemeal efforts, which is better than nothing, but only barely.

    Want to see what happened in the past 2,000 years?

    A cut section of an elderly fallen Giant Sequoia tells all, the 2 extreme droughts lasting 200 & 135 years around 800-1,200 AD when there were 1/200th as many people in California, the wildfires that raged through the Sierra with nobody to stop them, leaving scars when it happened as the fires occasionally burned past the largely fireproof bark and into the tree rings, and more.

    If our recent 5 year drought had gone 10 years, i’d estimate 25% of the population would have split, imagine a 200 yearlong drought, whee doggies!

    1. dearieme

      the 2 extreme droughts lasting 200 & 135 years around 800-1,200 AD

      Things were good in Greenland though.

      1. Wukchumni

        Things were so good in Europe @ the time that they had money to waste on around a dozen Crusades, mucking about in the middle east, on a mission from God.

        1. ambrit

          I dunno Wukchumni. The Crusades could have been a way of removing the burden of excess mouths during ‘tight times.’ I mean, what sort of parent lets their underage children follow some wanker like Peter the Hermit to certain doom in the Children’s Crusade. A lot of the later Crusades, and a lot of those had nothing to do with the “Holy Land,” as in one up at the Baltic Sea, were mere political conflicts carried out in another manner.

    2. JBird4049

      The longer between fires the worse it’ll be when a truly wild one happens. California is not only supposed to burn, its whole ecology depends on it and not improves when they are allowed to happen; most invasive species are not set up to survive those regular fires. I would include us as one of those invasive species except before 1849 people did fine, even the Spanish.

  9. Randy

    I was under the impression Trump, Bolton and Pompeo were failing in their attempt to gin up a war with Iran but my local gas station owners with their ears close to the ground with respect to Mid East foreign policy just raised prices from $2.74 to $2.94 with the increase not related to the price of crude.

    1. hunkerdown

      The last thing a gas station operator clearing a few pennies per gallon wants is to pour all that profit from the last six tanker loads into their next one, so pump prices tend to lead rack prices upward and lag them downward. The B-Team might fail at war but that doesn’t mean they can’t shock the supply for the sake of our perfectly legal Congressional inside traders.

  10. Wukchumni

    If we had collectively taken all of the money that cities have wasted on recycling efforts in California where all that was done was sorting it out before its trip to China, and instead put it all into prescribed burns, more firefighters & fire suppression planes, we wouldn’t be in nearly as big of a pickle, but it sure gave us ecological bonafides-that mockcycling, and who can put a price on that?

  11. Wukchumni

    Fire in Sierra Nevada Forests: A Photographic Interpretation of Ecological Change Since 1849 by George Gruell, is really an inspired effort. He matched up locations in the Sierra where old photos were taken, and supplied a current (1992) photo of the same location.

    Wildfires raged in the Sierra with nobody to stop them before we came along, and the result was a naturally thinned out forest. Almost all of the photos show a marked increase in trees in the 100 to 140 year span between shots.

    In a just-published book, Gruell matches the new and old images, showing how much the landscapes have changed. In scene after scene, the contemporary photographs document dense forest and lush growth. Their historical twins show leaner country in which the trees were fewer, the ground more open, the meadows more abundant.

    The face of the Sierra has filled in–and that, Gruell says, is not a good thing: not for wildlife, not for the forest and not for the future of the range’s ecosystems.

    It has filled in, he suggests, because of a number of factors. Heavy livestock grazing a century ago bared soil for tree seedlings to take root. Logging cleared the way for new growth. A comparatively wet climate cycle in the 1900s promoted tree growth.

    Most of all, decades of anti-fire policies banished flames, nature’s gardener, from the woods. Fire needs to be brought back, Gruell argues, to return the Sierra to what it was.


    1. The Rev Kev

      That’s a neat piece of research that. Proof positive of past tree growth as compared to today. I have done the same with a battlefield and when you line up the views, you can get within a meter or two of where a photographer took his photo a century or so ago. Slightly different equipment though.

  12. Left in Wisconsin

    So the UAW lost at VW in Chattanooga again on Friday. Vote was 833 to 776, close but not that much different from the last time around. Truthout has the Labor Notes version – vicious anti-union campaign plus inept union – but I think the most interesting fact is that the plant has 1700 VW employees and 3200 temps – temps not eligible to vote of course. One can imagine that every temp is hoping to get hired as a permanent employee and would not see overtly supporting the UAW as helpful in that effort. Once one became a permanent, minds could and do change no doubt, but I would guess that VW, as Honda and Toyota are notorious for, vets its new permanent hires very closely.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > inept union

      From Labor Notes, the UAW spent a lot of money on TV advertising, and not much on actual organizing. Who do they think they are? Democrats?

    2. Susan Mulloy

      Why would the UAW try a second time if the plant has 3200 temps who can’t vote? Is this the case at most non-unionized auto plants in the US?

      1. a different chris

        I dunno – but maybe that’s the *one* good aspect of this? I mean look at the Democrats retreating to their urban enclaves, “we can’t win there!”. Well not this time and probably not next time and maybe not the third time but Lothario will screw up at some point and the pretty girls eyes may then wander.

        Nobody’s going to vote for somebody who isn’t there. Be there when VW hangs itself on it’s own suddenly electric (diesels? what diesels?) charge cord.

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        As far as I know, every manufacturing firm now hires only temps to start and the only ones who get hired on as true employees are ones that have proven themselves first as temps. As far as the percentage of temps to regular employees, I don’t know about that – this disparity seems awfully high. I think the well-established Honda and Toyota plants in Ohio and Kentucky have a higher percentage of employees but I don’t know about the plants in the deeper South.

        The UAW has to organize the non-union plants even if it is hard going. Personally, I think they should have a permanent local hall at every one of them and make it clear they are going to file for elections every 12 months as long as it takes until they win. And then set to figuring out how to win. Not being an outsider to the community would, I think, go a long way in that regard.

  13. Carey

    Almost like there’s an invisible™ hand…

    “So close! we’ll get ’em next time for sure.”

      1. Susan Mulloy

        Thank you for your link, flora. I’m surprised that coastal California does not show up much on the eviction map. But (1) the data is a few years old and CA’s housing crisis has speeded up rapidly and recently; (2) the map is linked to a measure of eviction impact on the African American population, and CA is more racially and ethnically diverse than most of the rest of the US. But truly alarming all over the US.

  14. paul

    Interesing to see Leonard Cohen romatnic/psychologically deflationary output here

    War is an enduring theme of Cohen’s work that—in his earlier songs and early life—he approached ambivalently. Challenged in 1974 over his serious demeanor in concerts and the military salutes he ended them with, Cohen remarked, “I sing serious songs, and I’m serious onstage because I couldn’t do it any other way … I don’t consider myself a civilian. I consider myself a soldier, and that’s the way soldiers salute.”[137]

    well scrubbed link here

    They are long but fascinating: try auticulture.com and look for the ann diamond interviews about the leo cohen industry.

    I was far more upset by larry cohen’s recent passing, a true sci fi guy.

  15. Oregoncharles

    If you look at the useful=plants index in the first Permaculture books, dandelions have the longest single entry.

    Possible uses include: dandelion wine; winter greens; bee feed and honey source; rubber (from the roots); edible (but largely flavorless) roots; roots roasted to make a coffee substitute. I’d have to look in the book for more.

    They’re pretty, too.

    They can be controlled by digging, but you look pretty silly crawling around on the lawn pawing at the grass. The best tool resembles a hand-size pick: drive it in, lift the handle to dig up the plant. Nothing flimsy, or you’ll bend it. I’ve spent many hours doing this – but not at home.

    Am I not suitably sympathetic?

    1. a different chris

      I think they’re pretty when they bloom and green when they don’t so never saw the big deal.

      (Suburbs everywhere are letting go a sigh of relief that I exited)

      1. polecat

        I incorporate dandelion blooms when steeping an herbal tea, as well as lemon balm, for the syrup that I feed to my bees .. they take it right up !
        I think that next year, I might try my brewing skills at making some dandelion mead. There certainly is not a derth of plants to be found around here, that’s for sure !
        Our chickens seem to like them as well ..

    2. tegnost

      I let the dandelions break up the compacted soil for me, then dig them out and sprinkle coffee grounds over the holes and throw around some clover seeds.

  16. ewmayer

    Food: “The biggest U.S. meat company is effectively building a new agriculture supply chain to meet changing consumer tastes. … Upstarts Impossible Foods Inc. and Beyond Meat Inc. have rolled out a new generation of meat-free products to restaurants and grocery stores. The efforts have converted consumers and investors. Analysts project the market for meat alternatives could reach tens of billions of dollars in annual sales, a substantial chunk of the $200 billion U.S. meat industry” — LOL, after a brief slide last week Beyond Meat [BYND] popped 12% today, bringing its market cap back over $10 billion – yes, that’s billion with a ‘b’, as in the casino gamblers are valuing this minscule-sales upstart at 5% of the entire US meat industry. Wolf Richter had a column on the madness last Monday:

    Was this the Very Minute of Peak-Insanity in IPO Stocks? | Wolf Street

    1. Susan Mulloy

      It could be insane from a stock market perspective but not from the perspective of animal welfare. I believe that people are growing in consciousness about the cruelty of our food system vis a vis animals. To actually have the opportunity to buy fast food that is not cruel to animals is wonderful for many people.

  17. Fern

    Many of “policy wonk” Warren’s “detailed plans” look that they were thrown together by student interns.

    Here are a few examples.

    1) Warren says she has a “plan” to decrease maternal mortality. It was one of the plans featured in a recent New York Times article.

    The plan is: Incentivize hospitals to decrease maternal mortality through payment rewards and punishments. She presents this as if it’s her original idea. Actually, pay for performance in healthcare is a standard concept. It even has a nickname — P4P. According to a New England Journal of Medicine article last year, there is (an obvious) downside. “Studies and actual cases have indicated that they harm and reduce access for socioeconomically disadvantaged populations because, despite risk adjustments, providers who treat a larger share of low-income patients will not perform as well on P4P measures and therefore are incentivized to avoid treating them.”

    The fact is that California has already managed to bring maternal mortality rates down far enough to equal those of other advanced industrialized countries by mandating some simple and inexpensive life-saving protocols, equipment and training. I would have been more impressed if Warren had suggested a federal law requiring that the California protocols and training be implemented nationwide.

    2) Her plan for dealing with the opioid tragedy is to allocate $10 billion a year (for 10 years) to it. Where does she come up with that figure? It’s almost equivalent to the entire CDC budget. It’s almost 1/3 the entire NIH budget. It’s larger than the whole EPA budget. Sure, we need to spend a lot of money on treatment and support of addicts, but the figure seems to be picked for political purposes; it pleases a large advocacy group. $100 billion is a nice, huge, round figure — a bigger figure than her opponents have mentioned. For this, she is getting credit as a “policy wonk” with “specific plans”.

    What struck me was that she DIDN’T suggest the only thing that has seemed to give any promise, as in the program in Portugal, which involves completely decriminalizing opioid use while providing safe drugs and safe places to shoot up, while also providing counseling. But that’s a specific plan that would entail some political risk and is not just grandstanding.

    There are a number of such examples of unimpressive “plans” listed in the NYT article 3) Green Military comes to mind, but for now I’ll give you just one more example of a different order:

    4) One of Warren’s listed plans is to reverse the precedent that sitting presidents be immune from prosecution. But here is the thing: There are very good reasons that the founding fathers envisioned that impeachment and not criminal indictments should be the way to deal with the misconduct of a sitting president. All you have to do is read Glenn Greenwald’s recent article about the imprisonment of Lula in Brazil for “corruption”. Or read about how the military coup ousted Zayala in Honduras on trumped up criminal charges.

    The founding fathers believed that only the representatives of the people should have the power to remove a sitting president through a 2/3 majority vote. This protects our democracy from political and/or military coups. It is all too common for democratically elected leaders to be thrown in jail by their political opponents, using the courts as cover. Elizabeth Warren, the so-called “policy wonk”, seems totally oblivious to these concerns.

    I’m firmly behind Bernie. I think he is more sensible, more thoughtful, less demagogic and more progressive. And I also happen to think that he has a much better chance of winning the general election. I had hopes for Warren, but I can see that she just does’t cut it. I guess there’s a reason that she was an actively ideological Republican until she was 47.

    1. hunkerdown

      “Our democracy”? Who exactly, again?
      I don’t think it’s particularly correct or wise to internalize the founding oligarchs’ desires and needs as if they were or should be those of every citizen of the USA. After all, their primary concern was protecting their privileges to waste the people’s wealth on their own personal opulence without any interference from the people.

      1. Fern

        Hunkerdown: That’s a diversion. Do you or do you not think that the founding fathers had a point about the dangers of creating a system in which an elected leader’s political opponents can arrange to have him/her thrown in jail in order to clear the way for a takeover? Because this happens routinely in much of the world.

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          Well said. And in much of the world, it’s often the incumbents who decide to “get them first before they get me”, declaring emergency rule, sacking the judges and appointing toadies, etc.

  18. ewmayer

    “Climate as a risk factor for armed conflict” [Nature] — It would be nice if they would attempt to gauge the relative severity of climate as a risk factor compared to other top risk factors such as “John Bolton” or “U.S. neolibcon imperialism”. And of course American – and more broadly Western “developed economy” exceptionalism is a top driver for anthropogenic climate change, so one needs to factor both the consumption and the militaristic-hegemonic aspects of that into such an assessment. Climate change doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

  19. lyman alpha blob

    Thank you for that Adolph Reed link before the Dolezal tweet, Lambert. The man is comedy gold –

    The comparisons between Dolezal and Republican Jenner (I’ve decided to opt for that referent because it is an identity continuous between “Bruce” and “Caitlyn” and is moreover the one most meaningful to me) began almost instantly…

    1. djrichard

      For anybody that missed the reference, this

      Dolezal no doubt has her issues and idiosyncrasies, but, especially if the judgment of the NAACP counts for anything in the matter, I’m pretty sure I’d take her in a trade for Clarence Thomas, Cory Booker, Condi Rice, and five TFA pimps to be named later.

      is referring to Chappelle’s Show – The Racial Draft

  20. crittermom

    >ICE tweet

    I currently live in that ‘city’.
    The prisons & detention centers are the largest employers here, I believe.

    A former neighbor in this complex was a counselor at the men’s prison for 16 yrs, after being a nun for the previous 18.
    Then the prisons were privatized and she said it got so bad she quit.
    Seems even the patience of a nun wasn’t enough to remain there.

    That tweet was quite interesting.
    Two stories, really. One being PR, the other the ugly truth.

    Happy to be leaving here very soon!

  21. marym

    Thank you for sharing the on-the-ground report. Every reason to be skeptical of this Potemkin prison considering the terrible reports from other sites (link, link).

  22. Cal2

    About Amazon paying employees to become “contractors”:
    Sound familiar?


    “The FedEx Ground division, [“Fed EX” is green, not orange, as in corporate profits] created in 2000, delivers small packages to homes and businesses nationwide. But its army of 32,500 uniformed drivers, managers and affiliated workers are classified as contractors, a controversial policy that allows FedEx to save on health benefits, unemployment insurance, retirement accounts and overtime pay, among other things.”

    Nothing like having people on the verge of bankruptcy drag racing through your neighborhood and hurling packages over gates to try try and keep their head above water as their “investment” turns into a nightmare.

    No thanks, I prefer to employ our mailman and ship via unionized UPS that treats its drivers like employees with benefits and decent pay.

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