2:00PM Water Cooler 6/18/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I was up quite late last night dealing with Warren’s crawfishing on #MedicareForAll, so I got a late start this morning. Still, I think there’s plenty to talk about! If I can deal with some household matters rapidly enough, I will return with more. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Trade

“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.

Politics

“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.

* * *

2020

“Biden, Sanders and 8 other hopefuls to attend ‘Poor People’s’ forum” [Politico]. “Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Michael Bennet, as well as Rep. Eric Swalwell, Julián Castro, Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson and Wayne Messam, have also said they’ll be at the June 17 event in Washington, according to the the organization.”

Biden (D)(1): “After Addressing Poor People’s Campaign, Biden Asks Super-Rich for Campaign Cash” [GritPost]. “Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Epstein tweeted a list of some of attendees at Monday night’s Biden fundraiser, which includes a former Trump (and Obama) cabinet official, a former Republican U.S. Senator, and billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis, who donated to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign when Romney ran against Obama and Biden. In 2015, Catsimatidis wrote a $70,000 check to a super PAC supporting former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R). The fundraiser is being held at the East 75th Street home of Jim Chanos, who poked fun at a group of protesters calling on Biden to support the Green New Deal, according to Epstein. Homes in Chanos’ building sell for roughly $2 million, according to Zillow.” • You’ve gotta admire Biden. The man is comfortable in his own skin. I think I’d like to have beer with him. He’s so likeable!

Biden (D)(2): “Progressive activist: Democratic nominee will ‘need to ride a little bit to the center'” [The Hill RH)]. “[Dworkin, co-founder and lead investigator of advocacy group the Democratic Coalition], predicted that former President Barack Obama will hit the campaign trail and be a uniting force among Democrats. ‘Somebody’s going to have to unite us — President Obama is going to have a lot to do with that,’ he told Hill.TV. ‘And you’ll see him campaign at a level that it seems like he’s running in 2020.'” • Oy. I hope Obama sticks to playing golf and cashing in. Noticeably light on naming its funders, the Democratic Coalition is a SuperPAC; it’s “founding chairman, Jon Cooper, was behind the effort to draft Joe Biden (D) for a presidential run in 2016.” So I take it Dworkin is issuing a call for help. To which Obama will respond in the most passive-aggressive way possible.

Buttigieg (D)(1): [WaPo]. “Buttigieg is staffing up with boldfaced names in the foreign policy realm, while many of his peers in the Democratic primary have yet to do so….. 100 experts: Politico’s Elena Schneider reported that Buttigieg’s ‘foreign policy brain trust. includes more than 100 experts, largely working in a volunteer capacity.'” • Oh good. More “smart wars” would be very on-brand for Mayo Pete.

Gillibrand (D)(1): “This Isn’t Going According to Plan for Kirsten Gillibrand” [The Atlantic]. “This isn’t going well for Gillibrand. She has failed at some basics. For someone who’s always been a voracious fundraiser, she raised just $3 million in the first quarter of the year, less than half of what South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg raised. And she was weeks behind the self-help author Marianne Williamson and the automation alarmist Andrew Yang in getting the 65,000 donors needed to guarantee her a spot on the Democratic debate stage later this month. (Her campaign announced she finally passed that mark last weekend.).” • What I will say is that nobody seems to hate her (except maybe a few Franken loyalists).Could be an asset!

Klobuchar (D)(1): “Amy Klobuchar lists net neutrality as part of her 100-day plan for presidency” [Daily Dot]. “Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) listed net neutrality among the dozens of actions she would take within her first 100 days as president if elected in 2020… On Tuesday, Klobuchar’s campaign released more than 100 actions the Minnesota senator would take within her first 100 days as president.” • Seems like a rather transparent riposte to Warren’s “plans.”

Sanders (D)(1): MSDNC:

Sanders (D)(2):

Trump (R)(1):

Translating the Trumpese, he’s threatening (or predicting) a capital strike, although leave it to FOX to head for the gutter. I don’t think he’s wrong.

Warren (D)(1): Thread:

It worked, too; look at the RCP polling at the top of this section.

Warren (D)(2): Former Clinton Comms operative:

No point denying the bitterness among Clinton operatives and assets in the media. The issue is how far that feeling extends, beyond the Twitter, with voters.

Top two:

Just one poll…

20182008 Post Mortem

“Not with her, again: Broadway play about Hillary Clinton and her failed bid for president is to close early due to low ticket sales and will not recoup its $4.2M cost” [Daily Mail]. “Hillary and Clinton, the Broadway production about Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential bid in 2008, will be closing one month early… Ticket sales were underwhelming from the start but fell off drastically in recent weeks… Hillary and Clinton is set in an alternate universe and tells the story of a woman, Hillary (Metcalf), and her husband Bill (Lithgow), as they strategize how to defeat an up-and-coming politician who is challenging her for the presidency. That politician’s name is Barack (Peter Francis James).” • From The Department of Schadenfreude…

Obama Legacy

Impeachment

I’m so old I remember when comedians were moral exemplars and everybody thought they had serious political impact:

And I’m so old I remember when saying “fuck” was edgy and authentic!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Lost Bearings” [The Nation]. Of Adam Gopnik. I loved Paris to the Moon, because I love Paris, and I think quintessential New Yorker writer Gopnik should stay in that lane. “The vision that Gopnik offers of liberalism as sensible, skeptical, cautious, reformist, and moderate—a path to political safety between the Scylla and Charybdis of right and left extremes—will certainly appeal to many readers. But it is not a politics or a substitute for one; Gopnik himself defines it as a ‘temperament.’… [He] suggests that if one has the proper constructive temperament, then a proper constructive politics will naturally follow…. [B]ut achieving the goals of egalitarianism and toleration requires—and always has required—a clearheaded analysis of the prevailing political, social, and economic circumstances and the creation of a practical program based on this analysis. Temperament matters, but temperament alone will not get us there. Moreover, in America today, privileging temperament over concrete analysis is especially dangerous, because it encourages self-defined moderate liberals to set themselves up in opposition to the supposedly extreme and immoderate leftists who are, in fact, offering the most incisive analyses of the country’s problems and the most ambitious programs to overcome them.” • But wait! Civility! Unity! Doing the work of a vicious oligarchy while virtue signaling one’s tolerance and moderation!

Stats Watch

Housing Starts, May 2019: “Permits have been flattening but starts have been rising” [Econoday]. “Still the overall news is good, that starts and permits are moving back to their levels before last year’s steep slump. And favorable mortgage rates, which continue to come down, point to the possibility if not likelihood for acceleration in this report in the months ahead.”

Commodities: “Tanker activity near the Gulf of Oman is dwindling and freight rates for crude carriers in the region are soaring. The sparse activity across the region reflects the high anxiety hitting shipowners in the days following attacks that crippled two tankers” [Wall Street Journal]. “Ship brokers say rates for moving oil there have jumped as much as 50%. Some 70 large crude carriers, or 10% of the world’s supertanker fleet, remain near the Strait of Hormuz, but many are idled as they await business.”

Commodities: “Chile’s Chuquicamata copper mine operations halved amid strike: Codelco” [Reuters]. “Copper production at Chile’s top mines dropped sharply in the first quarter of 2019, Chilean copper commission Cochilco said in May, amid a perfect storm of operational issues, heavy rains and falling ore grades at the largest deposits.”

Food: “The Beyond Meat of Fish Is Coming” [Bloomberg]. “But the next chapter of fish production, beyond even land-based farming, is already being written—by scientists. San Francisco-based Wild Type is hoping that, as with the rise of meat substitutes (and their arrival on Wall Street), lab-grown fish won’t be far behind.” • Hmm. Wild Type held a tasting…

Shipping: “The push to clean up shipping emissions is extending to the ship finance sector. Eleven big banks with a combined shipping portfolio of around $100 billion will take environmental considerations into account for shipping loans…. a new sign of the growing financial pressure on companies to address climate concerns” [Wall Street Journal]. “The banks including Citibank, Societe Generale S.A. and ABN Amro NV signed into an industry framework that seeks to direct new money for shipping toward environmentally-friendly vessels. The banks control about a fourth of the global ship finance market, but backers of the accord say bigger influence will come if Chinese lenders join. Chinese banks control around 25% of all ship finance and more than half of all shipbuilding capacity.”

The Bezzle: “Facebook unveils global digital coin called Libra” [Financial Times]. “Facebook has revealed plans for a new global digital currency backed by assets and supported by more than two dozen companies ranging from Visa and Mastercard to Lyft and Spotify, bringing the heft of the world’s largest social network to efforts to transform financial services. The scope of Facebook’s ambitions for the new currency, called Libra, was made clear as it claimed 1.7bn people around the world without a bank account would be able to use it to make instant and nearly free international money transfers from their mobile phones.” • I’m sure NC will have more to say about this, but Facebook is a criminal enterprise and Zuckerberg is a crook. What could go wrong? (Meanwhile, I am sure that Clive will be reassured that Libra is partnering with Visa, since that would imply that the existing infrastructure will remain as is, bubblegum and baling wire and all.

The Bezzle: “Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency: Everything We Know” [PC Magazine]. “But for consumers wary of trusting their money and financial data to a company known for privacy problems, there are a few important points Facebook is hammering home with Libra. Not only is it ceding control of the blockchain, but Facebook’s social data and Libra’s financial data will be kept entirely separate. You don’t need a Facebook or WhatsApp account to use Libra or sign up for Calibra. While users will be vetted for anti-fraud protection when setting up an account, like other blockchains there will be no personal information associated with Libra and all transactions will be encrypted. Facebook can’t take the data from your transaction history and use it to target ads or sell you products.” • That may be the selling point. OTOH, you might think that Facebook is exactly the sort of company that would figure out how to game this. Libra, IOW, would be the mother of all phishing equilibria.

The Bezzle: “Facebook just took the wraps off Libra, a new cryptocurrency that will let anyone in the world pay with their smartphone” [Business Insider]. “More than two dozen companies have been enlisted to invest $10 million apiece toward the currency’s upkeep in return for a vote in its governance through a not-for-profit foundation called the Libra Association. These range from payment firms like Mastercard and PayPal to tech firms like Ebay, Uber, and Spotify, as well as venture-capital firms, blockchain companies, and nonprofit groups.” • That doesn’t seem like a lot of money. Where does the bailout money come from? Are the members of the foundation like “names” at Lloyds? Also, “governance”? And speaking of bailouts:

The Bezzle: Can’t follow Kaminska’s dust on this, but maybe readers will do better:

The Bezzle: “How Stablecoins address volatility With Hugo Jacques” [Irish Tech News]. • I’ve avoided the bitcoin literature because I could never sort the hype. But this sentence caught my eye: “Fiat collateralized Stablecoins are being backed by fiat reserves such as USD, EUR, etc.” • Which is what we have with Libra. But I thought in the bitcoin fever swamps, fiat was the source of all evil?

The Bezzle: A long thread (recommended) on Libra:

Tech: “Tech Unicorns Are Evolving Into What Exactly?” [Dartmouth Business Journal]. “The easy opportunities for disrupting traditional industries are drying up. For example, Benchling and Blend, firms that specialize in life science data management and digital lending respectively, are two of the many cutting-edge start-ups that may become the next unicorns. Rather than establishing themselves on the presently dying ‘sharing economy,’ where goods and services are shared in a tech-enabled system, these companies largely focus on software targeting micro-changes in specific industries such as agriculture, banking and biotechnology…. Since the old-guard sharing industries of hospitality and ride-sharing are fading, software start-ups that refresh already existing, outdated platforms will be the next wave of companies that can dictate their terms for markets.” • “The presently dying ‘sharing economy'”! And: “Previously constrained to a “sharing economy” where consumers share goods and services through a tech-enabled system, tech unicorns are increasingly dominating specialty sectors. This can be seen with Pinterest’s recent decision to move forward with their Initial Public Offering (IPO), only the first in the pipeline for the year as Slack, Robinhood and Postmates prepare for their own IPOs. Even mattress company Casper has achieved unicorn status. These tech unicorns are uniquely establishing monopolistic footholds in their sectors.” • Oh, so that’s what unicorns are! Monopolies! Platform-enabled monopolies!

Tech: “A new business in small satellites orbiting the Earth” [The Economist]. “Perhaps the most futuristic new problem for the space business is the risk of debris. The concern is that, with so many new satellites in orbit operated by so many different companies, the chance of losing control of one goes up. A collision could be disastrous, producing a wave of debris with a high chance of wiping out other satellites, potentially crippling the whole commercial low-Earth orbit ecosystem at a stroke. Astroscale, a Japanese company, is tackling this problem by building a prototype craft capable of being launched at short notice in order to grab any malfunctioning satellite and pull it down into the atmosphere where it will burn up before it can collide with anything.”

The Biosphere

Sending a message?

MMT

“Seize the Means of Production of Currency – Part 1” [Bill Mitchell]. • Another contribution to the effort to straighten out Labour on MMT. Skip the politics and start at “What is MMT?”, where Mitchell is more telegraphic and far less prolix than usual.

Health Care

“Medicare Direct, A Blueprint For Public Option Waivers, Part 1: Introduction, Administration, And Financing” [Billy Wynne, Health Affairs]. “The optimal path for realizing the Medicare for All vision is thus to use existing statutory authority to create Medicare-like plans to compete in state health insurance exchange markets, a notion increasingly embraced by Democratic primary candidates. This approach would combine the stability and public trust of Medicare with the efficiencies, capital-raising ability, and innovative spirit of private competition. Such a policy may be the best hope for making near-term progress on the persistent challenges of high costs, middling quality, and underinsurance, while minimizing disruption to the broader health care system. Instituting such a plan without congressional action requires innovative but legal application of waiver authority under section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), relating to the law’s insurance regulations, and section 3021, which established the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.” • Also: “The author extends his appreciation to the people who lent their time and considerable expertise to development of this series: Donald Berwick, Sabrina Corlette, Edwin Park, Brian Miller, David Anderson, and Louise Norris.” Berwick is a heavy hitter; we may hear more of this proposal. Obviously, the complexity makes it attractive to the usual suspects.

Gunz

First person shooter:

Dude looks scared. (And the reflection makes this an amazing photo.)

Guillotine Watch

I never thought that Frank Luntz was, well, stupid. But I guess I was wrong:

For starters, the Hotel Imperial is run by MBAs from Marriott, an American Corporation. not apparatchiks from Gosplan. That’s a big difference [snicker]. Then, Austria is run by a conservative party in coalition with right wing loons (until the leader of said loons got stung in a corruption video; Austrian readers please chime in). I still enjoy seeing Luntz operate as a focus group whisperer, but however he does that, it can’t be based on higher cortical functions.

Class Warfare

“Some Students Get Extra Time for New York’s Elite High School Entrance Exam. 42% Are White.” [New York Times]. I know editors write the headlines, but holy gawd, it’s not only about race. Seven paragraphs down: “[T]he data underscores what testing experts have long emphasized: Income, race and privilege can influence testing in the nation’s largest school system, particularly when those factors collide with a high-stakes exam.” The “extra time” comes from a “504,” granted to students with learning disabilities. More: “It sometimes falls to families to request 504s, which are typically granted after an often expensive consultation with a professional.” So, being able to pay a professional really is the chokepoint? And: “The recent college admissions bribery scandal has raised fresh questions about how white and wealthy students have maintained their access to prized colleges and universities — some say at the expense of equally talented but less privileged Asian, black and Hispanic students. The city data indicates that the same patterns that have made 504 designations controversial nationally apply in the often cutthroat world of New York’s high school admissions.” • We keep reading stories like this. What nobody seems to face up to is that they show a cultlure of corruption in the professional classes (and that credentials are seen as heritable, as well).

“I was a lesbian tomboy allowed to be female; I fear young girls today no longer have that choice” [Feminist Current (DG)]. “Today, many would consider me a girl ‘born in the wrong body.’ But in those days, even though some reacted negatively to my being ‘boyish,’ no one ever suggested I was actually ‘born in the wrong body.’ This never occurred to me either… Lesbians who stand up for their sexual orientation and the fact of biological sex are no longer welcome at Pride events, in LGBTQ+ organizations, or in the ‘rainbow family.'” • An enormously charged debate, on which I feel time has passed me by.

“The Pink” [n+1]. “On the eve of the operation, I held a small celebration on the second floor of a Brooklyn pub. I’d spent weeks looking for a new dress. “Miss Andrea Long Chu asks that you join her and her loved ones at a funeral for her dick,” read the invitations. Funeral attire was advised. When I arrived, I discovered that one guest had combed the party store for all the balloon letters needed to spell out HAPPY NEW VAGINA. They now adorned the wall in a lazy swoop, silver foil on exposed brick — the H a little out of place, as if huffy about its new employment. That night we pantomimed the death rites. “I’m sorry for your loss,” said more than one friend, knitting their brow in mock sympathy. Someone gave me a pair of sexy underwear; someone else, a banana cut in half. At the evening’s end a dear friend called me to the front of the room and presented me with a gender reveal cake, which she invited me to cut. It was pink. I was safe.” • Ah, Brooklyn.

Shulamith Firestone she’s not:

News of the Wired

“The Forgotten Operating System That Keeps the NYC Subway System Alive” [Vice]. • OS/2! Anybody remember it? Thing is, ticketing relies on MetroCards with magnetic strips, but crapification awaits: “Access to the subway of the future will be contactless, using a patchwork series of devices and cards that will largely rely on digital payments.” • Idea: Make it free at the point of use?

Rents are the key:

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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 (CC in CO):

CC in CO, sent in the midst of my tech woes: “I’m sending this photo in the hopes that it might cheer you up a bit. I took it last year but never sent it. It’s a bud of Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale), and I found something tremendously suggestive and sensuous about it. So much so that I hesitated to send it last year. The poppies are close to being in this same state again this year. Can’t wait ’til they open. The bees love the pollen these flowers produce, black pollen, what a treat!” This was very kind of CC. And I do like poppies, not least because after our horrid wet and cold spring, they seem to be the only wildflowers of mine that self-seeded successfully!

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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.

207 comments

  1. Howard Beale IV

    Of course I remember OS/2 as we had a project to see if the MicroFocus toolchain that emulated an IBM mainframe. Unfortunately, their selection of XDB turned out to be disaster as it wasn’t 100% compliant with the mainframe as to make it useless. Which goes back to the old chestnut: “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should”.

    Reply
  2. ewmayer

    Democratic presidential hopeful Klobuchar details top policy goals – Reuters

    “I have here in my hand this list of 137 aspirational goals…” – a lot of feel-good stuff lacking details … what does “rejoin the Paris climate agreement” really mean anyway? What specific *policies* do you have to reduce US greenhouse emissions? And “promising to fight efforts to reduce health insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions” is weak tea – what’s your position on universal single-payer, candidate Klobuchar? And “traveling to Canada and Europe” as top policy goals, really? But I note that 137 is the (approximate) inverse of the famous fine-structure constant of physics, so there’s that!

    Reply
  3. jsn

    “Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency”
    IIRC, the IRS chose to view cryptocurrencies as commodities, taxing transactions with them, where reported, as asset swaps on which any accrued capital gains would be taxed, or where not reported as unreported income.

    Does anyone have a better memory than mine? This seems to support my recollection.

    Reply
      1. djrichard

        That’s where my head is going.

        I don’t see any of this crypto-currency stuff being a playground of any significance until people are paid in crypto-currency. When that happens arbitrage against other currencies doesn’t really matter. Then the name of the game becomes how to continue to run a “trade surplus” against labor, so that what corporations pay out (say in Libras) is less than the quantity of Libras they collect from labor when labor buys goods from them. It’s the age old problem, where does labor get the extra Libras to pay corporations their profit / their surplus. It’s either from Labor going deeper into debt in Libra or from the Fed Gov spending Libra into the economy (recycling it via taxes, bond issuance).

        Presumably the Fed Gov isn’t going to be in the Libra recycling business. And presumably people aren’t going to be too hep about going into debt in Libra. So that suggests nada for the corporations in how they hoard surplus Libra. Maybe they mine it instead? I have no idea.

        In the mean time, maybe corporations would have balanced trade with Labor when it comes to Libra. And then corporations look to dollar-based transactions as to where they still hoard the surplus.

        [When it came to company script, were they even interested in accumulating surplus script? I suspect not, that they were happy to have “balanced trade” with their labor camps as they made their surplus in other transactions outside of Labor.]

        [By the way, it’s occurring to me that there’s an obvious way to play on words here: Labor vs Libra.]

        Anyways, this is all a moot point and pie-in-the-sky speculation until Labor is paid out in these alternative currencies. But until then, I see crypto-currencies as being pie-in-the-sky as well. Except for one area: a place for the winners (those that hoover up dollars) to store their wealth. Instead of storing wealth in dollar-denominated assets, which is a particular issue for the trading partners to the US, it allows them to store their wealth in an alternative, a digital gold if you will. But I still don’t understand how that solves: exchange rates, arbitraging that and still continuing to keep the status quo of trade imbalances between countries.

        Reply
        1. John Zelnicker

          @djrichard
          June 18, 2019 at 4:34 pm
          ——-

          Good analysis.

          As others have said, anyone can issue their own currency, the problem is having it accepted by others.

          Also, in the US, if the federal government won’t accept Libra to extinguish tax liabilities, then it’s value has to be backed by other assets which can vary in price, much like a gold standard without a government trying to fix the price of the backing commodities or assets.

          I think the IRS has the right idea. Like all other blockchain currencies, Libra is an asset, the trading of which can incur tax consequences.

          Reply
      2. Wukchumni

        sounds like he is trying to reinvent company script

        It strikes me as more akin to what is known as ‘Depression Script’ issued by cities and states across the country in the 1930’s. In the book The Great Depression-A Diary author Benjamin Roth calls them ‘White Rabbits’ as literally thousands of varieties of do it yourself money came out of the woodwork.

        Here’s a multitude of examples from Florida:

        https://hometowncurrency.org/depression-script/

        Reply
        1. fdr-fan

          The 1933 scrip wasn’t a currency. It was just preprinted checks with a fixed denomination, handled the same way as checks except that the clearing happened in places like the Chamber of Commerce or the city government instead of the bank. Scrip could be exchanged for coins and bills just as a check can be cashed for coins and bills.

          Reply
            1. epynonymous

              Noticed the links just call it a currency. I havent seen any crypto behind it, and digital transactions do not crypto make.

              Reply
      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        I wish he would have called it Facebucks. And the bills could go up just like our official money does.

        The One Facebuck bill could have Zuckerberg’s portrait on it.

        Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      It sounds like he is trying to replicate how stuff is done in large parts of Africa where they use mobiles for payments in seamless transactions. If I recall right, Facebook is familiar with Africa because they offered the internet to large swathes of Africa – so long as their internet went through Facebook.

      Reply
    2. eg

      Yes, all cryptocurrencies not issued by a sovereign government (which is virtually all of them) are not currencies at all — they are commodities.

      Reply
      1. milesc

        Yes but this looks more like e-money (in Europe at least, I don’t know what the equivalent in the US is).

        Reply
  4. Tomonthebeach

    I don’t get the DNC’s pearl-clutching over Bernie. He is polling in a dead heat with the anointed one (Mr. Electable, affable, clueless Joe). It is hard to see much risk of a ticket with ole Bern on it. It is not a stretch to see a Biden candidacy mirror that of Bob Dole. Moreover, many of us like that Bernie does not have a cadre of creepy billionaires trying to buy him into the Oval Office.

    Likewise, there is this impeachment thing.
    The most corrupt, lying, and obstructive president since Sinclaire Lewis first conceived of him, a man who dares everybody to take legal action against him, who is guilty of numerous violations of international laws governing refugees and the conduct of war (genocide in Yemen is naughty), get DNC/Pelosi worry that wising up America might alienate voters when the only polled voters on record as opposing impeachment are right-wing Republican Trumpites. Do the Dems think they need their votes to get into 1600?

    Reply
    1. Pat

      Did you miss 2016 where the Democratic Presidential took one of her advisors seriously and courted moderate Republicans while calling the disaffected working class that was the traditional Democratic base “deplorables”?

      They are afraid of Sanders because they know his appeal to younger voters is unmatched by any of their approved candidates AND they don’t know how much of an advantage that gives him because those.voters aren’t polled accurately.

      For the record, I will actively campaign against any Democrat who pursues impeachment. And we deeply disagree as anyone who doesn’t recognize that lying to get us into a war that has caused hundreds of thousands deaths and is still ongoing is far worse than any bull shit Trump has done including colluding with the only country he has – Israel.

      Reply
    2. JohnnySacks

      I’ve been wondering when and how Warren and Sanders are going to get out front of the very real possibility of market capital flight on Nov 4, 2020. It has to be part of what the DNC base with 401k’s and investment portfolios have on their minds.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        And who will that market capital flight mainly harm? The 10%, that’s who. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of consumers.
        Besides, the “market” decoupled from the “real” economy years ago. Even though it hurts, a lot of we ‘deplorables’ will throw a block party and welcome the former ‘middle class’ ten-percenters to the “Real America.” After that, human nature being what it is, I’ll expect to see the rise of gated manufactured home parks.

        Reply
        1. Left in Wisconsin

          Yes, I think capital in the US has been on strike (from domestic investment) since at least 1999, perhaps 1979.

          Reply
      2. djrichard

        Can you imagine the chagrin. “We would love nothing more than to stop frothing up the market with stock buy backs, simply to penalize that socialist-dem-in-the-president’s office. But we have nothing better to do with the profits. What do you want us to do? Spend it on CAPex? Or even worse, increase wages?”

        Reply
      3. JohnnyGL

        I could see a crisis like that sharpening the differences between the two candidates.

        Bernie, I’m quite comfortable saying, would be READY for the fight. He’s preparing for it, in fact.

        Warren doesn’t want to have THAT big of a fight. She’s also not preparing the electorate for it, either.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          Warren is a brittle technocrat with a schoolmarm’s touch.

          Says President Trump should be removed via the 25th Amendment.

          Mmm.

          Reply
          1. lambert strether

            > Bernie has better plans and an army

            That is the strategy. I don’t think we’ve seen the army yet. It’s an untested assumption that Sanders 2016 voters can turn non-voters into voters.

            Reply
      4. Adam Eran

        If we can do QE “forever” we can do anything we want with the markets. How about the Feds buying a controlling interest in Google and Amazon…maybe Koch industries…;-)

        Reply
    3. Grant

      The electability thing, which actually changes as society changes, is silly. To think that Biden is more electable than Bernie in 2020 is absurd, and the data shows that isn’t true. If they poll equally well versus Trump (and it is 100% certain that Bernie would get far more people that otherwise wouldn’t vote to vote), then what exactly is the argument in favor of Biden, outside of just agreeing more with his right wing policies, benefiting from his right wing policies or emotional attachment to Obama? That’s about all there is left; agreeing with his right wing record or emotional attachment to someone else that he was close to, someone that was overall pretty bad on policy. At some point, Democrats have to separate what they feel about Obama as a person versus his own ideology and the policies he pushed for. Obama had a role in Trump getting elected, and a decent amount of that was based on policy. Time to come to terms with that.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        People are under-estimating what Biden’s approval numbers will look like once Trump and the Fox News crew are done ripping him to pieces over his kid’s cushy arrangments on the Board of Directors of a Ukranian gas company. Same thing, with a Chinese private equity fund.

        Then, Trump’s going to segway into saying that is why Biden loves free-trade with China….he’s in their pocket and only Trump has the courage to take them on. It will absolutely resonate.

        Once he’s done hitting Biden on trade, he’ll take a break and rip into him on the Iraq War….the crime bill, Anita Hill, his old, cozy relationship with Strom Thurmond and other racist dixie-crat types. Trump will steal some black voters, but mostly drive down turnout.

        Biden is the perfect opponent for Trump because he’s been wrong on almost every major issue for his entire career. I honestly think Biden’s the only prospect for Team Dem that would be a GUARANTEED LOSER to Trump.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          Agree; but the ‘Dem’ elites are fine with that, just as the ‘Rep’ elites were
          fine with Dole ’96.

          first slowly, then faster

          Reply
        2. Grant

          +1. Well, Bernie is already doing just as well as he is in the polls nationally, does really well in key states and is not vulnerable on policy and on his record as he is, and I think the polls massively under-sample groups Bernie will win, and those groups are younger and generally vote in lower numbers. Biden will inspire no one to vote that otherwise wouldn’t and will turn off tons of people that might vote for someone else. The elites though would clearly prefer Trump to Bernie. They aren’t any different than Howard Schultz in that regard.

          I will say this though; François Mitterrand won an election in the early 80’s a left-Keynesian platform. He did implement some of those policies and the financial markets attacked him, which had a role in his government doing an about face on his program. Eric Helleiner wrote about this in his book “States and the Reemergence of Global Finance”. Mitterrand could have done things in response that he didn’t do. Bernie would have to have a plan not only as far as what he wants to do, but a plan on how to respond to what private capital will try to do to his administration if he were to win. People like Yves, Michael Hudson, Stephanie Kelton, maybe Ellen Brown and the like would be highly valued in how to respond to that, because that would be coming. Lots of people in power would have a lot riding on Bernie failing, so if he were to win, he has to have a plan on how to respond to those attacks.

          Reply
        3. Synoia

          Assuming the Democrats actually want to win. Which many times I doubt.

          Biden could be their “designated looser”, thus the Ds can avoid blame. And pin the blame on the the Russians,

          Reply
          1. Pat

            And pin the blame on the Russians Sanders.

            Corrected that for you. Any mainstream Democratic choice for President who loses will blame that loss on the divisive campaign and dare I say unrealistic ideas of old school FDR democracy. The peons must be taught that they get nothing except the ability to be white/black/Native American/LGBT/disabled…

            Reply
        4. ObjectiveFunction

          “Promise me, Dad”©, you’ll fire the bad old Ukrainian standing between me and my lifetime supply of hookers and blow.

          2020: THE PIG LIKES IT

          Reply
      2. voteforno6

        Hold on there…we can’t let them think that they can vote for unapproved candidates. If that happens, we might be faced with the unseemly spectacle of politicians promising to do something to improve their lives, and voters expecting them to actually follow through on their promises.

        Reply
    4. djrichard

      Nancy Pelosi has already made it clear,

      “I have to say, we’re capitalists, that’s just the way it is,” Pelosi responded with a chuckle. “However, we do think that capitalism is not necessarily meeting the needs with the income inequality that we have in our country.”

      I believe Elizabeth Warren stays true to this; she’s declared her capitalist bonafides. And Bernie is too as far as I’m concerned, but he isn’t declaring his capitalism bonafides and that’s what sets him apart. Instead, he’s declaring his FDR bonafides a la his recent speech on democratic socialism. Just gauging on the reactions of the establishment, he’s off the reservation. I haven’t read the speech myself, but I gather it’s no different than conventional FDR mind-set to capitalism. Anyways, enough to be off the reservation.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        It’s splitting hairs at a certain point, if it’s removing things from the capitalist marketplace then that’s not a capitalist program even if you don’t remove everything. Now maybe everyone who claims to be a socialist has their ideal form of socialism, and that might be great, but that’s neither here nor there. It may well be splitting hairs with Bernie.

        Warren actually claims to be capitalist and has only a ridiculous out of touch notion of what capitalism is: it’s trade between people or between business or between people and businesses. Uh no power imbalances Warren? No she doesn’t get the right to say that unless she segues right into unions and workers on corporate boards and etc. and the absolute need to address the power imbalances. Otherwise this is a complete strawman of how things actually work, as there is no real trade with such power imbalances. Honestly Warren kinda knows this by some of her policy history, but does she know it fully?

        But if it’s regulation it’s capitalism. If you regulate the power plant that’s capitalism, if you municipalize or nationalize it or the workers take it over that’s not.

        Reply
    5. inode_buddha

      The Dem Establishment is horrified at Bernie because if he pulls solidly ahead in the polls, then anything the Dems do about it will have to be explained somehow. Basically it “outs” the Dem establishment regarding their true nature.

      Reply
      1. Lepton1

        It’s still really early. Seems like Bernie is fading. Looks like Warren will become the front runner.

        Reply
        1. Svante

          Nah, the recent media coverage is a pretty crude ploy. They’re not very good at what they do, and can’t be bothered to try. Actual subtrafuge isn’t needed, since reactionary yuppies and Just Us Demmycrats know the entire game’s a sham. It’s like Tulsi going on Colbert. All they need to do, is keep playing their game by their rules, until they can unleash their slumlord, ‘criminal’ lawyer and FIRE Sector super delegate zombie apocalypse. Little incentive to lower themselves to nuance? Sneering condescension is what they’re used to.

          https://m.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-based-starkist-criticized-for-advertising-on-controversial-fox-news-show/Content?oid=15226520

          Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Ishtar was the Sumerian goddess of Love and War. Interesting combination. Amerika seems to be worshiping Her these days

      Reply
    1. Chris

      If that happens, the Democrats will cease to be Democrats. The party doesn’t want Sanders or Gabbard. The people who are not in control of the party, but nominally find themselves aligned with goals that Team Blue ™ pays lip service to, they like Sanders and Gabbard and others.

      There are no champions in the DNC, DCCC, or other Democrat think tanks who want Sanders anywhere near the nomination. Ditto for Gabbard. This isn’t going to work.

      These candidates need to run as 3rd party candidates, but if they do that, they’ll lose and draw the ire of everyone who will blame them for being spoilers. If they run within the party to try and change it like the Tea Party of the left, but hopefully less corrupt, they’ll be professionally excluded and then blamed for dividing the party so that it loses or doesn’t win like it was “supposed to”. They’ll focus on people and not policies, on Trumpism instead of truth, and nothing will change. I think we’ll see that at the debates. They’ve lumped the nominally progressive people on the first night which no one will watch. They’ve surrounded Sanders with neoliberals on the second who will drown out his message and make it hard for him to get enough airtime to score any points.

      The more I see of this pre-election hysteria, the worse I feel about what’s coming next. Wake me when we’re all extras on a real life Mad Max set piece :(

      Reply
        1. Chris

          To be certain! Nixon wouldn’t recognize today’s Democrat party. FDR wouldn’t know them from whigs. I can’t bring myself to refer to them as “Democratic” because they’re not in any sense of the word democratic or interested in democracy.

          So to clarify what I meant, there is a current brand and target audience for the existing organization that refers to itself as the Democrat party. That organization finds the person and the ideas motivating anyone like Sanders antithetical to its existence. The members of the party can’t accept him as the nominee. The target voters of the party can’t accept him either because they’re socially liberal and economically conservative. Which as far as I can tell means they wear rainbows during pride month and feel really bad that you’re poor but don’t want to pay for any programs to help you and please don’t raise their taxes.

          The Democrats have to crush Sanders’ candidacy, and any other similar challengers, by any means necessary. He is the man on the stairs that wasn’t there yesterday and that they’d wish would go away today. His supporters are the people they desperately want to wake up and smell the apathy so that the status quo can continue. They are not interested in expanding the base of voters to win elections because the people who would come into the party do not support the current agenda.

          I really do think electing Sanders or Gabbard would be good for this country. I will vote for them. But I have zero confidence that I will have the chance to vote for them in the general election. Just like last time, Team Blue would prefer to lose to Trump than win with anyone like Sanders.

          Reply
          1. Henry Moon Pie

            “To be certain! Nixon wouldn’t recognize today’s Democrat party. FDR wouldn’t know them from whigs.”

            I can’t say I agree with that. Nixon had plenty of the same despicable kind of Dems vote for him in ’72, including George Meany, head of the AFL-CIO. The only difference was back then those ’72 turncoats could still sing “Happy Days Are Here Again.”

            If Bernie were to win the nomination, he would see the same kind of exodus that McGovern did.

            Reply
            1. Carey

              Yes, he’ll certainly get McGoverned, in the unlikely event that
              he gets the nomination. Could be the plan, in fact.

              Reply
            2. Grant

              This isn’t 1972 though, and the future looks different in 2020 than it did in 1972. The elites can run from being held responsible for being as horrible as they have been for a little while, but they can’t escape what is coming for us, especially in regards to the environment. Do they want to rig it in favor of some horrible politician? Of course, but that will only work if they can really divide up the support enough. That article in the NY Times that talked about the anti-Bernie folks like Mayor Pete, Pelosi and the like meeting and plotting against him acknowledged that they cannot just rig the thing at the convention if people have clearly gone with Bernie. Their goal is to not get to that point. If people start to drop off and the field narrows, and if Bernie were to start to win in key primaries, there is only so much they can do this time around without blowing the entire thing up. The Democratic Party seems to be to them what banks are to people that want to rob them. Bill Black has a book called The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One. Well, the best way to rob a political party is to own one. Maybe they will respond to the existential threat by blowing it up, but blowing it up would be a worthy goal in and of itself. If this is what the Democrats are, let the thing burn down, and let their access to power and wealth burn down with it. If it cannot be reformed, build something different. The USSR’s political system could not keep up with rapid changes in society, and neither can this system. If they try to rig it, the result could be the destruction of the system that enriches them. They might just choose to try to do to him what private capital did to Mitterrand in France in the early 80’s. If they can’t stop him from taking power, they can try to make it so that he fails. But they have no solutions to the environmental crisis, outside of authoritarian government, and they have no planet to escape to.

              Reply
            3. drumlin woodchuckles

              McGovern McGoverned himself right at the start by naming Eagleton as his running mate.

              Sanders would McGovernise himself by naming a Catfood Democrat as running mate.

              If a Candidate Sanders picked someone like a running mate Gabbard, Sanders-Gabbard might still lose, but not as badly as Sanders/Catfood or Catfood/Catfood.

              Reply
              1. Wukchumni

                It was used in the 1972 U.S. presidential election by presidential candidate George McGovern who endorsed his running mate, Thomas Eagleton, “1000 percent” following a scandal, then soon after dropped him. Communication experts Judith Trent and Jimmy Trent agree with journalist Theodore H. White who called it, “possibly the most damaging single faux pas ever made by a presidential candidate.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1000_percent

                Reply
                1. Carey

                  That’s how I see/remember it, as well.

                  The damage was not from picking Eagleton,
                  who’d had mental health issues, but from
                  dumping him, esp in the way he did.

                  That’s separate from the sabotage by the
                  Dem party elites, who were looking for
                  any excuse to destroy McGovern- just a
                  hint of what was to come.

                  Reply
            4. JBird4049

              Nixon got many of those Democratic despicables to vote for him because of his Southern Strategy; (OMG the Negroes are getting uppity!) splitting of the Solid South’s White, and very racist, voters from their traditional Democratic Party and dumping the old line Black vote from their traditional Republican Party was genius. Evil genius, but still a genius, successful strategy. Add in his “real America and those other people” (like the hippies) shtick and he flattened the Democratic Party.

              Even though Tricky Dick had to leave office early, the Republicans took the playbook and added some refinements like the alliance to the very conservative evangelical churches. IIRC my more conservative Protestants friends were unhappy, even angry, with that. Not with the positions of any church, nor with having a chance to stop some degeneracy, but a church should be concerned with the bodies, and most importantly, the souls of their congregation and everyone else. Not sucking up to the White House.

              Further, conservative evangelicals and big business including what we would call libertarians into an alliance is weird when you think about it. Big businesses are all about money whereas even conservative evangelicals were also concerned about the physical welfare of their members starting with being empty. Of course, with that blasted wealth theology being used to flim-flam people that’s not much of an issue.

              So split off the social conservatives and religious conservatives from the Democratic Party and allied them with libertarian-businesses interests, isolating any pesky civil rights supporters among them and dog whistle to racists while dumping almost all Blacks including the many conservative ones; the Democratic Party will take up Identity Politics by starting with the very, very real problems of racism, homophobia, and sexism then morph all that into screaming about civil rights without mentioning poverty and adding ever finer degrees of civil rights.

              Note the abandonment of the unions, poor people, socially liberal Christians, Christian civil rights supporters, conservative Blacks or conservative LGBTQ+, leftists or leftist pro-life, conservative pro-choice, leftist gun rights supporters, or poor white leftists, or any support for Native Americans who are the poorest, most abused American population. They are really just invisible.

              A ghost population. Anyone really who does not fit into the slots created by the political establishment. The single largest block of Americans are probably economically left and socially right. This is true I think across race or ethnicity. But politically they don’t exist. If you are not in those approved slot and if you are lower middle class and below, you might as well die.

              Reply
          2. lambert strether

            > I can’t bring myself to refer to them as “Democratic” because they’re not in any sense of the word democratic or interested in democracy.

            That’s why I don’t.

            Reply
  5. Summer

    Re:Facebook /Libra

    And people thought Zucks was touring the country and world in a Presidential bid.
    He was researching the banking situation of the people in flyover places of the world.

    Reply
  6. Sharkleberry Fin

    *Papaver orientale* is chock full of thebaine, the substance from which oxycodone [Eukadol] is derived. Add a little scopolamine and ephedrine to the oxy, you get Scophedal, the greatest combat drug ever synthesized. The Wehrmacht couldn’t get enough of the stuff. Goering was captured with a [literal] suitcase full of the drug. The stuff is insurgency fuel, from the Kuomintang in Laos to the Mahdi army in Sadr City. There’s even a strain of oriental poppy called “GI Joe”, which I can only guess is a subtle nod to this warlord perennial favorite.

    Reply
    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      “and I found something tremendously suggestive and sensuous about it…”

      hmm…now where have I seen one of those before?

      Reply
  7. Summer

    Where does the bailout money come from? Are the members of the foundation like “names” at Lloyds? Also, “governance”? And speaking of bailouts:

    Facebook's new global currency is a *totally insane idea.* It's like a private global International Monetary Fund run by techbros, except it needs reserves so it'll need a giant bailout during a crisis.”

    Until then, in some form or another, coming to a retirement 401k near you…as said in the ad industry.
    They’ll find somewhere to dump all the unmitigated crap that will come from this.

    Reply
    1. milesc

      Isn’t Libra 100% backed by relevant collateral? I guess there are questions as to precisely how the basket (and reserve) is managed, but there’s no suggestion that Libra will be anything less than 100% backed (i.e. by cash and/or securities in custody accounts).

      What am I missing?

      Reply
  8. Lark

    “I was a lesbian tomboy allowed to be female; I fear young girls today no longer have that choice” [Feminist Current (DG)]. “Today, many would consider me a girl ‘born in the wrong body.’ But in those days, even though some reacted negatively to my being ‘boyish,’ no one ever suggested I was actually ‘born in the wrong body.’ This never occurred to me either… Lesbians who stand up for their sexual orientation and the fact of biological sex are no longer welcome at Pride events, in LGBTQ+ organizations, or in the ‘rainbow family.’” • An enormously charged debate, on which I feel time has passed me by.

    And well it should pass you by, because it’s nonsense – it’s a “debate” staged by women (straight and lesbian) who hate trans women and who try to mislead straight people who know very few lesbians and no trans people. They pretend that there’s this enormous pressure on butch women to identify as trans men, and that this starts with little girls who don’t act conventionally girlish. They also pretend that trans women are some kind of huge scary pervy threat and that everyone defers to trans women against cis (non-trans) women. If you are actually around a diversity of queer people, and if you actually know any trans people at all, this is obvious garbage – but it takes in well-meaning straight/cis people who just don’t have the experience to assess the argument.

    “Lesbians are dying out because they are pressured to become men” and “trans women are dangerous perverts” are not real things. These are not even popular positions. They are minority positions held by conservative, mainly white “feminists”, some of whom are allied with or even funded by the far right.

    From personal experience as a masculine queer woman who has several trans women friends, I can tell you that this is lies. I hang around with a bunch of tumblr snowflakes, and no one has ever said, “gee, you’re obviously a man because you have very short hair and wear button-downs, why don’t you take hormones”. This has never, ever happened to me or to anyone I know. I have never met a gay man who was told by other queer people that he should become a woman because he obviously wasn’t masculine – this is something that homophobes say. Trans women are not, as a population, dangerous or aggressive; they are far more likely to be attacked and threatened by bigots than to attack anyone. Some of the experiences that my trans women friends have had are frankly terrifying.

    The type of argument in the article hinges on the idea that somehow there is a huge, influential group supporting transitions. In reality, the huge influential group is straight, people who are very hostile to both non-feminine women and trans women – and I have the experience to prove it.

    If you don’t know a lot of trans people or you feel uncomfortable around trans people, any kind of visible support for them seems like some kind of huge cheering section. This is the equivalent of looking at a room with 30% women and seeing it as woman-dominated (a common cognitive bias).

    What is happening in re gender right now, IMO, is a combination of several things: There is pent-up demand for transition/gender changes which is suddenly visible because the climate has become a little more supportive. Because society is somewhat more friendly to GLBTQ people in general, there’s more freedom for us – people who felt bisexual but found it easier to stay in the closet and have exclusively straight relationships are coming out; people who felt bisexual but felt like they had to be 100% gay or lesbian to find any community are coming out; people who wanted to express their gender differently but didn’t have the space to do so are coming out. This is a time of enormous shake-up in how we “do” gender and sexuality. Is some of it silly and faddish? Sure, but that’s what happens in any time of great social change. “Sometimes people say silly, faddish things about gender and sexuality, so we should stop trans people from transitioning and enforce rigid rules about how to be gay or lesbian” is not the lesson to learn.

    “Feminists” who are not worthy of the name make this kind of argument precisely to try to persuade the straight majority because the straight majority does not know the situation. If you are a straight person (or a gay or lesbian person who doesn’t know any trans people), please be very cautious when evaluating conservative arguments made by queer people about other queer people.

    Reply
    1. Lark

      I add that far from being this time of lesbian rejection and anti-butch sentiment, these past few years have been the only time in my life when I’ve ever, ever seen any positive representations of masculine or even not-super-feminine lesbians or other queer women in popular culture. There’s Lena Waithe, Janelle Monae, the TV show Gentleman Jack, Masha Gessen (like her politics or not, she’s visible and outspoken) and a bunch more people and art, and it is astonishing to me. Mere representation isn’t everything, but TBH it’s a lot safer and easier to be myself these days than it ever was when I was younger. I’ve had some bad experiences, even some recent ones, but day to day life is much better now.

      Reply
    2. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

      I’m glad you said this, because I’ve been more confused than anything else. I’ve always considered myself supportive of the LGBTQ movement, but haven’t been too involved, other than having family members of the designation. As of late, I’ve seen a whole lot of flame wars online, with one person or another using the acronym ‘TERF’. I had no clue what this was, and upon looking it up, saw it stood for ‘Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist.’ I was more than a little shocked. It’s apparently a thing, but it totally flew under my radar. I would have never thought a TERF was even possible, but your experience is further confirmation.

      I’m totally befuddled. Where in the hell does this come from? Why would a trans person be considered a threat? Aside from meeting one or two, and correcting myself when I flub a pronoun, my experience is limited. I would have never thought there was so much contention here, especially among folks who would otherwise seem like natural allies. It has to be even more confusing for folks whose extent of interaction with the LGBTQ community is limited to what they see on TV.

      Reply
      1. Cal2

        Who needs comedy TV anymore?

        We now have identarians,
        helping destroy civil society with further fractionalization
        of the country into smaller and smaller subgroups with evermore ridiculous demands and grievances, vocabulary based reality, making it less likely that we will coalesce into on strong voice demanding things like National Healthcare, peace, livable wages and debt relief.

        The Russians and Chinese are laughing their asses off.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          “The Russians and Chinese are laughing their asses off.”

          Almost like there’s an invisible™ hand..

          Reply
      2. JBird4049

        I’m totally befuddled. Where in the hell does this come from? Why would a trans person be considered a threat?

        Just being different. It can be threatening to some and the impulse of far too many is to destroy what makes them feel that way.

        Reply
        1. crittermom

          What you said reminded me of a print I have that expresses something I’ve always felt.
          Chief Dan George said it regarding wildlife, and it stuck with me: (emphasis mine)

          “If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other.
          If you do not talk to them, you will not know them.
          What one does not know, one fears.
          What one fears, one destroys

          I believe the same can be said about humans interacting with our own species, as well.

          Reply
          1. Cal2

            Another Chief Dan George quote:

            When asked where he thought the white man had ruined his society, Chief George said:
            “We used hunt all day, the women did all the work, we made love at night, went and hunted all the next day…the white man thought he could improve on that.”

            Reply
    3. Summer

      I don’t think we know how the trans debate is going to turn out because I don’t see a lot of the other half – female to male – populating the air waves and magazine covers with advice to men.
      That’s when the conversation is really going to get cooking…

      Reply
      1. drugstoreblonde

        I can’t recommend Paul Preciado’s Testojunkie highly enough. I wouldn’t necessarily say that this provides a template or corrective for traditional notions of masculinity, but rather explodes them in a very fascinating way.

        Reply
    4. ChrisPacific

      I have recently done a fair amount of thinking about why anybody should care about gender anyway, except in the context of potential sexual partnerships. This is particularly obvious in kindergarten/early school, where sexual partnerships aren’t a factor and it is quite literally all about imposed cultural norms. You would probably struggle to tell with most of them at that age, if we didn’t go to so much effort to differentiate them visibly and in other ways.

      It’s also become clear to me that even though it may be all about cultural norms, they are very powerful all the same, and people can feel threatened and react badly if they are challenged, or perceived to be challenged. I’ve found it quite challenging to teach my young son about gender, since so much of it makes no real sense. Mostly it seems to consist of correcting wrongheaded or harmful ideas that he picks up from his peers.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        Rule # 2: Don’t be a Dick.
        with endless elaboration, this has served me well with my boys(13 &17).
        everybody has their quirks and idiosyncrasies, as well as their failures and faults, and if somebody reckons that becoming male or female will make them happy, more power to them.
        the IdPol hordes have been heading in this direction, where they begin to eat their own, for a long while, now: ever smaller constituencies of grievance and difference, leaving aside any fellowfeeling, comradery or even acknowledgement of common Humanity.
        the original Intersectionality(Crenshaw) was a fine idea…but it was apparently hijacked by some nefarious borg or another….and what should have brung us together is instead used to divide us into powerless constituencies of one.
        I should also note that Bisexuals have for a long time been less than welcome(in practice, at least) in Gaylandia…let alone in heteroland.
        “choose a side”, and all.
        (and Rule #1, by the way, is “don’t do stupid shit”…my boys still do, sometimes, but a lot less than their buddies.(and forgive my cussin’. in these two cases, potty mouth serves to make it stick in their brains))

        Reply
        1. ChrisPacific

          Yes, those do cover a good deal of my parenting. Your rule #2 is sometimes called Wheaton’s Law, as you might already know.

          Also overzealous enforcement of rule #2 as it applies to other people can in itself be a violation of rule #2.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            modified with a compulsion(within reason(see: Rule #1)) to “Defend the Defenseless”
            as well as “what’s the first step on the path to Wisdom?”(answer:”I don’t Know”(Socrates)), which promotes some humility(“i could be wrong”)
            i started before they could talk(wife did all the “baby talk”) and had them as a captive audience until 6-7 grade, when they became increasingly independent and “off somewhere”.( iwas fortunate to have become cripple during this time, so stay at home dad, no daycare, etc.)
            I really dig it when i overhear one of their buddies say “Rule # 1, man!”
            I think there’s a lack of this sort of thing in the world…sure was for me, at least.(where i grew up, righty evangelists had the monopoly on ethics,etc)
            when i tell school board members that we oughta be teaching intro-philosophy/ethics to kindergarteners, they always laugh.
            now i got two proofs of concept walking around.
            sounds like you might, too.

            Reply
    5. Old Jake

      Thank you for this. I have a close family member in the process of transitioning, but who is on the other coast so we don’t get to interact so much that I can be intimately familiar with their day to day feelings and struggles. What you say does sound like what I am hearing. They have made reference to this kind of thing in writing, but without any local involvement or similar people in my local circles I find it hard to intuit or recognize what is going on. Usually what I do hear is the loudest yelps of pain.

      Reply
    6. Geof

      Is it possible that both experiences are real and true? I.e., that the article is wrong that there is huge pressure everywhere to transition, but that this is happening in some places? Could it be that well-intentioned people are over-generalizing from their own experience?

      the huge influential group is straight people who are very hostile to both non-feminine women and trans women – and I have the experience to prove it.

      I have little difficulty believing this, but I also have little difficulty believing that in some social circles it’s the other way around. Some people are saying silly, faddish things about gender and sexuality, as you say – but as fads, they are concentrated in certain communities.

      It seems to me that people have gone insane across the political spectrum, reducing everything to black and white. (Thank you for not doing this – it gives you a lot of credibility as far as I am concerned that you ask for understanding rather than anger.) People polarize and demonize their out groups, which are only too happy to respond in kind, and anything in the middle ends up being called transphobic from one side, and a mental disorder from the other.

      It looks to me as though the western world is becoming a patch-working of regions and groups, fighting over many symbolic causes that often have no impact on their lives. I am sure that there are vast areas where trans people face tremendous prejudice, and that there exists some of that prejudice everywhere. At the same time, it appears to me that there are numerous privileged communities where failure to automatically accept certain received opinions, some of them wacky in the extreme (e.g. that there is no biological basis for sex, that words are violence) is met with immediate denunciations.

      Reply
    7. Jess

      Lark, thank you so much for this.
      I would add that from what I have seen, social class makes a huge difference to the experience of trans folk, at least in the U.S.

      Reply
  9. Summer

    “But he is. First, the Hotel Imperial is run by MBAs from Marriott, an American Corporation. not apparatchiks from Gosplan. That’s a big difference [snicker]. Second, Austria is run by a conservative party in coalition with right wing loons (until the leader of said loons got stung in a corruption video; Austrian readers please chime in). I still enjoy seeing Luntz operate as a focus group whisperer, but however he does that, it can’t be based on higher cortical functions.”

    But he isn’t unique in the establishment with that unhinged fear.
    Everyday they attribute the problems of the world to “democracy” or “failing democracy” when governments have been captured by oligarchies, churches, royalty for as long as anyone can remember.

    Reply
  10. Summer

    “I was a lesbian tomboy allowed to be female; I fear young girls today no longer have that choice” [Feminist Current (DG)]. “

    There is a comedian on Netflix, can’t remember the name, but she is an Australian lesbian who comments on this. I didn’t know it had already gotten to be this way, but I suspected it would happen.

    I never thought of transgenderism, especially the way it is being presented and in a society filled with trauma, as being a rebel movement against gender roles.

    Reply
  11. drugstoreblonde

    Lambert, that Feminist Current piece is a good look at the TERF (Trans-exclusionary Radical Feminist) arguments commonly used against trans individuals, the trans community, and transitioning in general. Arguments like Tonje Gjevjon’s are depressingly common in academic and activist circles, but are being adopted elsewhere, too.

    While this essay might seem innocuous enough, this is the backdrop that they are being made against:

    Two weeks ago, the Trump administration announced two proposed administrative rules related to the trans community. The first was a Housing and Urban Development rule that would allow shelters receiving federal funds to bar access to trans homeless people. The second was a Health and Human Services rule removing gender identity protections from the Affordable Care Act, essentially allowing health care providers to deny any treatment to trans patients. The attacks sent shockwaves through the trans community. Many were left wondering what place trans people have in society and what new horrors the administration may roll out next.

    Please, fellow NC readers, don’t fall for the same “man in woman’s bathroom” scare line used so recently by the far right to demonize and misgender trans individuals.

    If you want a voice of clarity on the subject, check out Mckenzie Wark.

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      I also want to note that this TERF stuff isn’t actually even a new thing. It goes back to the early 1980s with the book Transsexual Empire by radical feminist Janice Raymond. I think Wikipedia has a good description of the book:

      “Raymond maintains that transsexualism is based on the “patriarchal myths” of “male mothering”, and “making of woman according to man’s image”. She claims this is done in order “to colonize feminist identification, culture, politics and sexuality”, adding: “All transsexuals rape women’s bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact, appropriating this body for themselves …. Transsexuals merely cut off the most obvious means of invading women, so that they seem non-invasive.””

      So yeah… this TERFist concern-trolling about transwomen apparently having too much influence in society or something is a school of thought that has been around for a long time. It just didn’t have an acronym describing it until recently.

      Reply
      1. Cal2

        i.e. “Get off my terf!”?

        I’m detecting a Monsanto-troll moment on Naked Capitalism.

        Kudos, this website must be having an important effect and a growing readership.

        Time to flood it with the recently minted alphabet soup of parsed personal choices, which, like pro-sports, are meaningless blather about unimportant, non-existent, hallucinated things, designed to distract from the truly important, like National Healthcare, preventing nuclear war, presidential politics, the economy and the environment.

        Reply
      2. drugstoreblonde

        “TERF” isn’t a slur, but it might be a misnomer. As others have noted, it might better be used to denote:

        Trans Exclusionary radical Reactionary Feminists.

        Reply
    1. anonymous

      thank you dcblogger. There’s nothing to laugh about anymore. the media is complicit and totally amoral. they don’t defend assanges and they don’t report on this.

      Reply
  12. Wukchumni

    The late shooter in Big D struck me as a corpulent Boy Wonder with quite the accessory belt, but where was Batman?

    Reply
  13. BoyDownTheLane

    “Dude looks scared.” Dude was shot by professional photojournalist just before he was shot dead. You’ve heard the expression “deer in the headlights”? Anyone who goes out in public armed in tactical combat gear carrying an assault weapon must have the expectation of near-surety in his or her pending death.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      The “Dude in the headlight” was carrying a lot of spare ammo in multiple magazines. Just look at that belt. He was not expecting to be killed quickly, I’ll surmise.

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      Apparently he failed to shoot anybody; from news reports, he was the only casualty. Either he was a terrible shot, or he lost his nerve at the moment of truth – very much a good thing. For instance: how did that photographer survive? The photog did show serious guts.

      Reply
      1. lambert strether

        There’s a high altitude shot of the photographer, who pressed himself behind a pillar. I don’t think the shooter spotted him.

        Reply
  14. skippy

    I thought the whole crypto thingy was to gamble on expectations of transactions flows [freedom units] which one could then convert to fiat, for say, that oligarchical pad, and then join some anti taxer club and twitter about it …. theft ….

    Oh about the ‘Capital strike’ well yeah, there’s the doomsday asteroid no one seems to want to name in public or look directly at, even though it controls the dominate narrative.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i’ve been seeing the phrase “capital strike” more and more lately…even overheard someone mention it in the feedstore…but i was already on my way out.
      sounds to me like that would be the rich doubling down on their traitorous behaviours(“outsourcing” our Plant, “insourcing” “illegal workers” without rights, the cartelisation of everything, hiding wealth/not paying taxes)
      I think now is as good a time as any to start thinking about Capital Controls, which i’ve thought were a fine idea since i first learned about them, circa 1987, from wild eyed Larouchites handing out sticky, inky newsletters in the Montrose in Houston.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        Since capital is already spending ungodly amounts on dividends and buybacks — and borrowing like crazy to fund those distributions, it’s arguable that we’re seeing a capital strike, already.

        A big, 2008-9 style stock market crash would certainly focus everyone’s attention. It may not work to capital’s advantage the way it did under Obama. There’s a lot of people who’d love another shot to sharpen the pitchforks and re-light the torches. Sanders would be happy to direct them right at Congress and tell them to pass his agenda and help people out.

        In fact, Sanders himself, might welcome the opportunity that comes with a big crisis. He’d have to be willing to hit the fiscal accelerator and brush off the phony cries of the budget hawks who’d wail and scream about the red ink in our midst. Only way out would be full-on MMT-style approach, combined with forcing big players to write down assets and cram down bondholders/shareholders.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          yup. that’s what i want.
          that right there.
          pain and suffering and fear…especially fear…at the tippy top.
          i don’t think i’m alone in this.
          08 was a golden opportunity, casually thrown away.
          there they were, exposed as naked wraiths, shorn of form and power and even substance…and we let them back into the henhouse anyway.

          Reply
        2. Mo's Bike Shop

          There’s a lot of people who’d love another shot to sharpen the pitchforks and re-light the torches.

          If it comes to Wall Street, I suspect Trump would enjoy being in front of that parade. Or at least long enough to get a lot more Tubmans out of the deal.

          I’m realizing that there is either going to be a recession, at least, before the election, or the next President is going to be overseeing a recession or worse. I think I’ll game that out instead of Capital Strikes.

          Reply
      2. Carey

        Regarding a ‘capital strike’: maybe that’d be a good thing, bringing on sooner what
        has to happen anyway. Perestroika, USian™ style, is coming.

        Reply
  15. Wukchumni

    Luntz is pretty good at massaging words to make them sway loyal Fox News watchers, but he’s so gloriously out of his depth trying to eke socialism out of an out of order elevator in a spendy hotel. You’d think he’d come up with a boogeyman word for it, but no.

    By the way, next time you’re waiting for an elevator and it shows up and there’s barely any room as it so crowded with people, walk in and face them instead of facing the door as it closes. There is no difference whatsoever in actual space between travelers in the confined room, but as long as you’re looking at the back of somebody’s head it ain’t no biggie, but being an ad hoc face invader will unnerve many on board the craft, try it.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      And you want to annoy them why, exactly? Are you hoping they get off?

      We shrinking violets prefer to stand in the corner–back row kids, elevator edition.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I like to watch us, how we react to situations. I’ve probably done it a dozen times, and you ought to see the look of abject terror on some of the faces.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i do that…except i talk when i’m nervous.
          so i make the other elevator people even more nervous,lol.
          i’ve ridden more elevators since last fall that i ever have in my life.
          i intuited that there was some kind of etiquette at work,but it turns out that that’s it’s own little subfield of sociological thinking.
          breaches of this spontaneous and all but automatically constructed code are a major faux pas.
          we are strange and wonderful creatures, in spite of all our bullshit.

          Reply
    2. anon in so cal

      That’s a classic “breaching experiment” from Garfinkel. Others include taking grocery items out of other shoppers’ shopping carts while in the supermarket, trying to order items or dishes that are not on the menu in a restaurant, sitting right next to someone in a large waiting room area (like at an airline gate) when there are plenty of other available empty seats to choose from….

      Reply
    3. Cal2

      Better yet, after making eye contact with everyone and saying “HELLO”, turn and push the button for a lower floor, then as you exit, push the button for the next floor below that and get off.
      Run down the stairs next to elevator and wait for the doors to open.

      “YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT ME WERN’T YOU?”

      Reply
  16. Synoia

    News of the Wired: Subway Free at Point of use

    I recall a news article from the late’60s about the London Tube, and it stated that the revenue collected by the tube system covered only the cost of fare collection.

    And at that time I wondered about the thinking behind the system, as they went through a very expensive technology upgrade to automatic ticket reading machines.

    Reply
    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Keeping the riff-raff out? Priceless.

      Our rail-to-trail had some big breaks keeping the city tracks from the old intercity track. Intercity was for the peloton set. Now there’s a water reclamation park connecting them through a ‘traffic calming’ area that evokes both a Star Fortress and Panopticon.

      Reply
  17. ewmayer

    Re. “Broadway play about Hillary Clinton and her failed bid for president is to close early due to low ticket sales and will not recoup its $4.2M cost” — As with everything to do with phonies like the Clintons and their supporters, it’s all about the branding. I mean, the name of this piece of rubbish is not exactly ear-catching, is it? They should gone with something snazzier, like, say “Hermilton”.

    But maybe some HRC brown-noser in the MSM can write a NYT nonfiction bestseller about the failed play and what it represents in term of the zeitgeist, to use the kind of hifalutin verbiage the elite credentialists who populate Clintonland so love to deploy: they could call it Shuttered.

    Reply
    1. Cal2

      “But maybe some HRC brown-noser in the MSM can write a NYT nonfiction bestseller about the failed play…”

      A failed version of “Springtime for Hitlery?”

      Reply
  18. toshiro_mifune

    Re: OS/2 (assuming Warp) but not OS/2 specific. I think people outside of the tech industry would be terrified if they knew how much IT infrastructure was held together by the equivalent bailing wire and and gum, and how many old MicroVax/System 36/Complete no Name 486 running QNX composes the back-end infrastructure of, sometimes, major institutions.

    Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Man, for a moment i got dropped back into the 1990s and I had visions of the name OS/2 Warp. Yeah, it’s an old system that still works but I ask you – are you willing to let the tech bros of Silicon Valley offer to design a replacement? I can see it now. It will cost billions of dollars, be years in delays, be as buggy as hell, and will be put into service before it is ready to go. You absolutely know that they will totally screw it up and make billions in the process.
        For those not familiar with this old operating system, IBM went into partner ship with Microsoft to develop it but when Microsoft came out with Windows 3.0, they totally bailed on IBM and left them in the lurch.

        Reply
        1. Synoia

          At least 3 Years After nixing IBM Research’s VM/386, witch ran multiple MS-DOS programs simultaneously.

          Reply
  19. Scoaliera

    Interesting to see Berwick signing on to a plan to do a public option within ACA exchanges rather than doing a direct transition to single-payer (if indeed he does endorse this). He ran for MA Governor back in 2014 on doing single payer on the state level, and he didn’t do any hedging about adding a public option to the ACA/Romneycare.

    And who, if anyone, still actually buys the likes of America’s Health Care Plans’ rhetoric about “the efficiencies, capital-raising ability, and innovative spirit of private competition” within the U.S. healthcare system? Have we seen it add any value to patient care or results at any point over the past few decades?

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      in the new fangled maze of the sub-basement of the hospital we go to for wife’s cancer stuff, there’s all manner of gee-whiz cool stuff…gamma knife, proton something or other, all the crazy imaging they can do now…i watched a guy use a live sonogram to thread a needle into my wife’s vein…there’s also what appears to be a particle accelerator of some kind.
      the problem, of course, is how to pay for it.
      if healthcare had been a market when i needed a hip, i might have chosen an older model from the menu…as it was, there was no menu, no choice, and the whole thing would have cost me 300K+ out of pocket(unknown what medicaid paid for it)…this for an upgraded technology/technique that is at least 40 years old.
      as i breeze by mom’s tv, there’s ads for drugs that i’ll never be able to afford…and our oncologist talks sometimes about the amazing “targeted therapies” using weirdness at the molecular level to snip a particular gene…but medicaid won’t go there,lol…so what’s the point?
      if they cure old age and death, it will be the elon musks and vampire theils of the world that get to live forever….not people like me…or you…or anyone we have ever known or will ever know.
      we’ll be selling our blood at cut rate prices(for company scrip, like as not) to facilitate their bathorian excess.
      and, just to offer a little more reality…at that same hospital with all the star trek stuff in the subbasement…they have ubiquitous warnings to use injectable opioids sparingly…there’s a shortage(that nobody understands).
      and there was a brief shortage of latex gloves…and iv bags…and other rudimentary apparatus of day to day taking care of folks.
      some supply chain mishap that was apparently not explained to any of the nurses or aides beyond “try not to waste these things”.
      the gee whiz is flashy and i’d guess that “investors” like it a lot…it is rather amazing…but still.
      when a hospital can run out of an old timey immanently important class of drugs, something’s terribly wrong with the “business model”.
      it shouldn’t be a business, to begin with.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Look at the bright side Amfortas. Trying to live forever always is a risky proposition-

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRSjKfvm368

        Here is a thought. Suppose they do find a way to live forever. Meanwhile the rest of the human race continues in its evolution. In a few tens of thousands of years they may be regarded in the same way as if we had a few Australopithecus living with us now. Our descendants may eventually round them up and put them in a zoo.

        Reply
      2. LifelongLib

        How can medicine be a market when for any particular condition there’s really only one definitive treatment or standard of care? I once read a conservative attempt to describe a true market medical system where the poor would be treated by techs and med students, with actual doctors and nurses only for the better off. I give the guy credit for effort, but it really only showed how ridiculous the whole idea is.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          a suit in the hospital elevator was silenced when i pointed out that there ain’t a pricetag one in my wife’s hospital room…and indeed, anywhere in the whole complex but the gift shop and the little coffee kiosk.
          without price discovery, can it still be a “market”?
          Doctors and Nurses are all but ignorant about prices, too.
          the “social worker”(saddest person I’ve ever seen) had no idea, either, even as she tried to help us figure out how to pay for it all.
          not even ballpark, with no strings attached(“i won’t hold you to it”)

          Reply
      3. Jessica

        “f they cure old age and death, it will be the elon musks and vampire theils of the world that get to live forever….not people like me…or you…or anyone we have ever known or will ever know.”
        Amfortas, you might enjoy the sci-fi book Walkaway, which deals with precisely this issue. The audiobook is well done too.

        Reply
    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      The Mandate took a lot of people who had been skipping health insurance and rubbed their noses in what a useless pile of BS it is today.

      Incrementalism is supposed to whistle like ‘conditions gradually getting better’, ACA really made the ‘private policy’ of ‘turning the screws’ loud and clear to the dogs.

      Reply
    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Oh, and,

      Women’s Health Rights, ERA, Citizens United Amendment, barely a third of the state legislature. We in the Left of Far Right [LOFR?] crew haven’t been doing at all well in the regional initiative area.

      A state by state chance to defame single payer is a non-starter for me. See ERA.

      Reply
  20. Carolinian

    Re temperament–I believe it was said that FDR was a second rate mind but a first rate temperament. Clearly Gopnik sees himself as an FDR type. Since I rarely read the New Yawker anymore the mind part may be true as well.

    And also clearly the late Alex Cockburn flunked the temperament test. He would ask all his would be future assistants: “is your hatred pure?”

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Oliver Wendell Holmes said this, and I believe it was in response to questions of why Holmes didn’t run for President. It wasn’t some random pundit.

      Reply
    2. ewmayer

      Re. Cockburn – I would add that the temperament test for being an effective politician is *very* different from that for being an effective journalist/gadfly.

      Reply
      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Come the Revolution, I propose we change the title of the chief executive to the Janitor of the United States. I’d play off of our national enthusiasm for spitefulness by rigging it so candidates were drafted from vast numbers and then winnowed down to the one person who really does not want the job.

        Reply
  21. Tyronius

    That campaign ad with Bernie in Lowndes County AL actually made me choke up. That’s a first for me regarding political ads. Am I the only one who notices that even after half a dozen years on the stump, there is still no one to the Left of Bernie?

    I have a lot of respect for Ms Warren, I just feel that she doesn’t go far enough. The last thing Progressives need is a catfight between Bernie and Liz backers, which of course is exactly why it is one currently being manufactured.

    And yes, tech unicorns are incipient monopolies- after all, they’re just modeling the most successful corporations in tech, right? Just don’t think that well is running dry anytime soon…

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      there is still no one to the Left of Bernie?

      This is maybe not entirely unexpected. We can play around on the edges, but there is so much room for practical policy changes that can address both long term and immediate problems being “further left” requires almost getting away from (and I hate to do this) these immediate practical concerns which have been discussed. People are on the same page. Diverging now would be more of a distraction than anything else.

      Reply
    2. voteforno6

      I don’t think it’s a matter of left vs. right…I get the impression that Bernie sees the people living in Lowndes County as “us”, while others (including many leftists) see them as, well, “them”.

      Reply
  22. Carey

    “..but Facebook’s social data and Libra’s financial data will be kept entirely separate..”

    And the check’s in the mail. and…

    yeesh

    Reply
  23. zagonostra

    >Biden

    I can help but think of Gustav LeBon when listening to a Joe Biden speech and the MSM’s post analysis. Voters behave essential as what LeBon describes as “crowd.”

    …crowds are not influenced by reasoning, and can only comprehend rough-and-ready associations of ideas. The orators who know how to make an impression upon them always appeal in consequence to their sentiments and never to their reason. The laws of logic have no action on crowds. To bring home conviction to crowds it is necessary first of all to thoroughly comprehend the sentiments by which they are animated, to pretend to share these sentiments, then to endeavour to modify them by calling up, by means of rudimentary associations, certain eminently suggestive notions, to be capable, if need be, of going back to the point of view from which a start was made, and, above all, to divine from instant to instant the sentiments to which one’s discourse is giving birth.

    The power of words is bound up with the images they evoke, and is quite independent of their real significance. Words whose sense is the most ill-defined are sometimes those that possess the most influence. Such, for example, are the terms democracy, socialism, equality, liberty, &c., whose meaning is so vague that bulky volumes do not suffice to precisely fix it. Yet it is certain that a truly magical power is attached to those short syllables, as if they contained the solution of all problems. They synthesise the most diverse unconscious aspirations and the hope of their realisation.

    Reason and arguments are incapable of combatting certain words and formulas. They are uttered with solemnity in the presence of crowds, and as soon as they have been pronounced an expression of respect is visible on every countenance, and all heads are bowed. By many they are considered as natural forces, as supernatural powers. They evoke grandiose and vague images in men’s minds, but this very vagueness that wraps them in obscurity augments their mysterious power. They are the mysterious divinities hidden behind the tabernacle, which the devout only approach in fear and trembling.

    https://brocku.ca/MeadProject/Lebon/LeBon_1895/LeBon_1895_07.html

    Reply
    1. djrichard

      Shades of ribbon farm https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2013/05/16/the-gervais-principle-vi-children-of-an-absent-god/

      So in seeking to unmask the gods, they [the sociopaths] find themselves turning into the gods.

      When they speak, they find that their words become imbued with divine authority. When they are spoken to, they hear prayerful tones of awe. The Clueless want to be them, Losers want to defer to them.

      I haven’t watched Biden’s speeches but I don’t have the impression that Biden is a sophisticated sociopath. I rather have the sense that he just does a good job of aping sociopaths, in particular their patter. Maybe when ribbon farm says, “The clueless want to be them”, Biden took that to heart and became a simulacra of a sociopath. But in his heart, still clueless.

      Watch his video where he does his mea culpa for plagiarizing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBlahhX0e4Y He has the patter of authority down pat. But if he was truly a sociopath, I don’t think he would make himself look as ridiculous as he does here. But if he was more in the clueless bucket, well then it makes a lot more sense.

      Maybe more of our politicians are clueless simulacrums of sociopaths than we care to admit. Perhaps that’s what separates and makes our presidents. To be president you truly need to be a sociopath. LoL.

      Reply
      1. zagonostra

        Thanks for the link…it’s only through sites like this that I am able to stumble onto good websites, google now is part of power structure that seeks to steer people away from sites that might open the mind to critical self-reflection.

        Reply
    2. Chris Cosmos

      At this time in history, because many of us lack a true sense of community we become a “lonely crowed” alienated individuals easily swayed by emotional narratives produced by the entertainment and “news” media that are by necessity propaganda. The less intimately connected with others and the natural world around us (including our own true nature) the more we are swayed by slick manufactured dreams. Yes, at the same time, more people are wondering and there is an opening….

      Reply
    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Méconnaissance was a useful word from not being a STEM major. Misrecognizing. None of us have a clue. There’s no owner’s manual. Our bestest burning sword is ‘that sounds right to me’. I find syllogisms a useful way to proceed, but simply because that sounds about right to me.

      Reply
  24. Wukchumni

    For what it’s worth dept:

    Libra means pound, as in Pound Sterling, or the first part of £sd, if you will.

    For those of you playing @ home, a Pound represented a pound of silver in merry olde, once upon a time.

    Reply
    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Presumably these geniuses checked that it wasn’t obscene or disreputable in enough languages to matter.

      Libra is a constellation. The Scales. As wik-o-pedia notes ‘Libra is the only zodiac constellation in the sky represented by an inanimate object.’

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Pounds come in all types, these 2 are the most common, and the first one is generally only used for precious metals & gems, the latter for everything else.

        Troy pound = 12 troy ounces

        Avoirdupois pound = 14.583 troy ounces (or 16 avoirdupois ounces if you’d like)

        Reply
  25. JohnnyGL

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/06/18/bernie_sanders_i_dont_accept_us_claim_that_iran_is_behind_oil_tanker_attacks.html

    This is important. In corporate media, no one ever says America lies to get into war. Usually Bernie doesn’t say it, either. Bernie just said it…cited Gulf of Tonkin, Iraq War. Excellent from him. Called out Saudis.

    Meanwhile, here’s sleazeball, red-scaremonger Adam Schiff….suddenly, he’s in lockstep with an administration that he, personally, has spent years accusing of being a Russian operative. Adam Schiff doesn’t need evidence, he’s ALWAYS ready for WAR!!!!
    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/06/16/adam_schiff_no_question_iran_is_behind_tanker_attacks.html

    Reply
  26. pretzelattack

    trump boots shanahan as the (acting) sec of defense, according to moon. depending on who trump appoints to replace him, could be a crucial moment in the latest runup to war.

    Reply
  27. Joe Well

    Re: Paris,

    Is it worth it to make the trip from US (East Coast) to Paris in 2019 if you don’t speak French?

    My image of Paris is a tourist trap surrounded by a concrete jungle of banlieues.

    Of course, there’s still the Louvre and a few historical sites. Maybe worth going in the lowest point of the tourist season?

    Reply
    1. Monty

      Barcelona is a better experience, in my opinion. Still very busy on it’s day, but smaller and more approachable.

      Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      You’ll always wonder what Paris is like if you don’t go.

      I’d suggest going to Prague instead though. Paris is the beautiful girl next door, while Prague is a ravishing supermodel.

      Reply
    3. anon in so cal

      Would you consider St. Petersburg, Russia? It’s a spectacularly beautiful city, with the added bonus of the Mariinsky ballet, Hermitage, etc. You can take the high-speed train to or from Moscow and visit the awe-inspiring Kremlin. Plenty of people speak English, so not speaking Russian is not a problem.

      Reply
  28. ChiGal in Carolina

    thanks for your enlightening comments, Lark; you have educated at least one oblivious reader

    Reply
  29. Wukchumni

    It would’ve been the 85th season @ the Bearpaw Meadow High Sierra Camp this year, about a dozen mile walk into the back of beyond on the High Sierra Trail in Sequoia NP, but this winter was something else…

    Bearpaw High Sierra Camp in Sequoia National Park will remain closed and will not open for the 2019 season, announced the National Park Service and concessioner Delaware North announced on Monday, June 17. There is damage to tent cabin structures from the previous winter, and pack animals, critical for delivering repairs and supplies, can’t access the area due to high water crossings and trail damage.

    Following a heavy winter with above-average snowpack, currently 175 percent for this time of year, and inclement weather through May, Delaware North, the concessioner for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, assessed the conditions for opening the camp. Personnel encountered high water along the 11.5-mile trail to Bearpaw as well as trail damage. Tent cabin structures were also found to be damaged and in need of significant repairs. With delayed access for pack animals, repairs are not currently possible.

    https://3riversnews.com/bearpaw-wont-open-for-2019-season/

    The High Sierra Trail is one of my favorites, and i’ve walked it 5x since 1991. Some nice photos in the link below.

    https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2019/mar/19/trekking-california-high-sierra-trail-mount-whitney

    Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        That’s the perfect time to go, after Labor Day. The mosquitoes are gone, along with most of the tourists.

        I tend to get my ‘perfect game’ hikes in during this period, where i’ll trail walk to say the Mosquito Lakes and not see another person in a 8 mile jaunt.

        Mid October to late October is when the Quaking Aspens change color-another possibility, they tend to look like lit matches, a combination of fiery red, yellow and gold, amazing.

        Reply
  30. Ptb

    Besides beating the generic Dem candidates in an election that’s supposed to be a referendum on how awful he is, Trump polling 33% (RV) has 24% undecided. That’s a surprisingly big undecided, again considering the extremely polarizing couple of years we just had.

    And, contrary to the headline, the 33% out of 76%, in national RV polling, is competitive for repub Prez candidate, due to the electoral college and LV vs RV partisan patterns.

    Reply
    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I can’t particularly care about polling of Trump. I feel like there was a five percent fudge factor against him in 2016. He’s definitely got the Bradley Effect going on. I mean, squick.

      Haven’t I spent 20 years now with Presidents at 45% approval?

      Reply
  31. Carey

    ‘Faustian Economics’, by Wendell Berry (2008):

    “..And so our cultural tradition is in large part the record of our continuing effort to understand ourselves as beings specifically human: to say that, as humans, we must do certain things and we must not do certain things. We must have limits or we will cease to exist as humans; perhaps we will cease to exist, period. At times, for example, some of us humans have thought that human beings, properly so called, did not make war against civilian populations, or hold prisoners without a fair trial, or use torture for any reason..”

    https://harpers.org/archive/2008/05/faustian-economics/

    Via L.N. Sacasas’s blog.

    Reply
    1. John k

      And maybe us, too.
      The old oil drum site had a poster with the handle ‘are humans smarter than yeast?’
      IMO we are already far past what the planet can sustain, seems a population collapse has to be coming, and sooner than 2050.

      Reply
  32. Wukchumni

    The Trump Economy is setting records, and has a long way up to go….However, if anyone but me takes over in 2020 (I know the competition very well), there will be a Market Crash the likes of which has not been seen before! KEEP AMERICA GREAT

    I’ve noticed that we have no real concept of national purpose, there’s nothing to inspire us other than an old man making threats.

    Reply
    1. Anthony G Stegman

      The only national purpose for the United States is what has always been – making money, the more the better. Nothing else matters.

      Reply
  33. Wukchumni

    That’s quite something, the volcano in Mexico erupting.

    Our volcanoes in California have been silent for over a century now, Lassen being the last eruption.

    One of my hobbies is looking for what are sometimes called ‘Indian Bathtubs’, basins about 4 feet wide and 3-4 feet deep sunk into granite. The first link is from 1929, and when they were excavated, there was volcanic ash deposits on the bottom, the last possible volcano eruption in California that would’ve scattered ash on them, being over 1,000 years prior.

    All the basins were found deeply filled with a litter of twigs, leaves, and fragments of bark from the neighboring trees. Excavation of several of the basins revealed underneath this litter some bits of charcoal and ashes, some humic earth, comminuted granite and, at the bottom, a deposit of fine-grained, cream-colored material five or six inches deep, which according to analyses made by Dr. C. S. ROSS, mineralogist of the U. S. Geological Survey, consists of volcanic ash (rhyolite).

    https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1525/aa.1929.31.3.02a00020

    https://calfire.ca.gov/resource_mgt/archaeology-Rock_Basins

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Fascinating. The implication of the volcanic debris at the bottom would be that that eruption drove away the people that made them and they never returned to use those rock pools. Otherwise they would have made the effort to clean them out. Interesting links that you gave by the way.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        It also indicates that the Native Americans never used said basin, and one of the thoughts is that they created them to use for leaching tannins out of acorns and/or sweatlodges, but I think they are vastly older, and created by a swarm of meteors that permeated through the ice, very much like the gent shooting a bullet through the ice in the linked video. The ice covering in the Southern Sierra was the lowest of any area in the Sierra, perfect for that scenario, where said meteors would have came in through the ice and spun around creating the basins. I’m thinking they were created 5,000 years ago or more.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foZlciP6gUQ

        They are about 1,300 of them all located on a north-south axis @ an altitude of 5-7k, and if they were so useful, why are there basically none above or below those latitudes?

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          You would think that there would be fracture lines or impact points in those basins if they were the result of a muffled meteorite hit. But then again, perhaps the Native Americans did use them for their own purposes which over time made them more smoother. Maybe. You would have to dig one of them out and slice it in half to get a proper profile of one but that would destroy the basin itself. Having them all on a north-south axis at a particular altitude does sound very suspect and which would imply them not being caused by human agency.

          Reply
    1. jrs

      Who is that guy? He makes a good point, but even so, I can’t follow every random nobody on twitter linking to an Atlantic article.

      Reply
  34. Plenue

    >Former Clinton Comms operative Twitter thread:

    “I call it the “Good Woman Theory.” They all have a woman they can prop is as Good™️ but the problem that arises is she only good as long as she does exactly what they want how they want it. The second she deviates, or challenges their top men, they move on to the next good woman.”

    “I remember all the Bernie Bros saying that they weren’t sexist cause they would totally support Warren if she was running guess that lasted up until the second she was competitive”

    I, for one, hate women so much I voted for Jill Stein.

    Reply
  35. Wukchumni

    I’m not sure why i’m watching the rally in Orlando, but here I am torturing myself, and to make matters worse, the drinking word I decided on was ‘fake’ and i’m pretty plastered already with half an hour to go.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Thish is inturestinhg, the Fox cameras have managed to find all 14 Black-Americans in attendance, including some Rasta dudes.

      Reply
  36. Carey

    Interesting that they always “deviate” toward the corporatists.

    mcVoted for Stein/Baraka in 2016, myself.

    Reply
  37. crittermom

    >Obama Legacy
    I’m heartbroken that the judge ruled in favor of destroying a park to build that monstrosity.

    I’ve been disgusted since first reading about it. The audacity of Obama–or anyone–to even consider such a thing still boggles my mind. What arrogance. What a (family blog)!

    Of course, once again his word was bs regarding it not raising rents.

    In reading down the tweets, I liked this one best:
    “Obama: Man for the people. Well if the ‘people’ are the 1% and mostly all white men”

    Pretty much sums it up.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      It was all a big misunderstanding with Shanahan, in that fearless leader thought he was into domestic violins when he was fiddling around with the family, so that’s why he was allocated first chair.

      Reply
  38. crittermom

    Anybody else get this?

    An hour ago I received an email from Pramila Jayapal, having been selected as “one of 3 Progressives in my (old) zip code” to complete a survey.

    The survey was very similar to Bernie’s but unlike his, where you were asked to limit it to three choices regarding matters of importance to you, hers said you could choose as many as you wanted. (She listed M4A first, FWIW).

    Then, of course, it asked for a donation.

    That’s where I was let down and where it varied from Bernie’s in a big way.
    On Bernie’s sight if offers a choice of ‘monthly donation’ or ‘one-time’ donation, with the latter automatically chosen if you don’t change it.

    Pramila’s is just the opposite.
    That did not impress me, instead appearing ‘sneaky’ since it appeared modeled after Bernie’s survey.

    It will backfire on her if too many of those who donate mistakenly sign up for a monthly donation.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      This is exactly the tactic used by the DNC and DCCC to siphon up money for their ‘adviser’s’ enrichment. A short, very ‘forced’ “questionnaire” attached to a half page spread showing the ‘mark’ how easy it is to contribute. We take credit cards! Yes we do.
      Jayapal is either a stalking horse for the DNC, or has ‘advisers’ previously employed by the DNC.
      At least the Sanders campaign puts their fundraising efforts out in the clear.
      Phyl got another DCCC “2019 Questionnaire” in the mail today. Formatted as mentioned above. Some of the “options” listed for ranking in importance were such obvious ‘forces,’ I had to laugh. One ‘option’ to be ranked was “Stop cosying up to dictators like Putin.” Oh my! The implications of that sentence! And, if one complains, one is perforce accused of “Vice Signalling.”
      The main takeaway I got from reading this mailing today was just how corrupt American politics has become, brazenly corrupt.

      Reply
  39. Acacia

    But this sentence caught my eye: “Fiat collateralized Stablecoins are being backed by fiat reserves such as USD, EUR, etc.” • Which is what we have with Libra. But I thought in the bitcoin fever swamps, fiat was the source of all evil?

    My understanding (and maybe somebody can correct any errors or elaborate) is this: part of the initial attraction of Bitcoin and the cryptos that followed it was that it cannot be debased like fiat. E.g., there will only ever be 21 million Bitcoin. Some have argued that the rise of Bitcoin may be interpreted as one symptom of a loss of confidence in fiat currencies. (After all the dollar and the pound have both lost over 90% of their original value. Queue Voltaire’s bon mot about fiat going to zero, etc.) Meanwhile, the values of Bitcoin and other early-era cryptos were gyrating wildly. Volatility of 20% in a day. This was good for speculators but not helping cryptos to gain broader acceptance, as many non-speculators understandably balked at the prospect of their wallet’s value changing 20% in a day. Thus were born so-called “stable coins”, which used blockchain for transactions but whose value was tied to some existing fiat currency. There were controversies here, too (e.g., Tether), but stablecoins became a fixture in the crypto space.

    In any case, I think @jsn makes an important point (above), that Libra transactions will be taxed by the IRS, and that will have to be rolled into the transaction fees somehow. Libra may be a way to transfer money, but all the stakeholders (Facebook, Visa, PayPal, etc.) will want their pound of flesh, and then the IRS will want theirs, etc.

    Another thing that strikes me about Libra: the rollout is clearly targeting the millions of people in China, India, and Indonesia especially who don’t have bank accounts. However, Facebook is blocked in China, Bitcoin is strictly controlled there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Libra gets a similar treatment. China is sort of a potential market, but I somehow doubt the CCP is going to let Calibra into the Middle Kingdom without some very invasive oversight. There is also the consideration that for the under-thirty generation, Facebook is “very uncool”. I understand that Libra is being spun out as a separate thing, but I wonder how much traction it can get with young people if they associate it with FB. OTOH, many of them are on Instagram which is also owned by Facebook (though many are unaware of this).

    Reply
      1. milesc

        Does WeChat cover other currencies? (I don’t know.)

        Also the aim of Libra is noble (it may or may not ever be achieved, but let’s assume it is…): pseudonymous ‘accounts’ and transactions not necessarily tied to real world identities. Probably something that WeChat does not/can not have.

        The Chinese seem to like Bitcoin, so maybe they will find uses for Libra.

        Reply
        1. Acacia

          I asked a friend about this who lives in China. Her perception is that between WeChat and AliPay, there isn’t much of a “payments gap”, and the number of people making global transactions is very small.

          Reply
    1. milesc

      I too picked up on the line: “But I thought in the bitcoin fever swamps, fiat was the source of all evil?

      Bitcoiners do not like Libra! It is not a proper cryptocurrency (yet), it does not use a blockchain and, worst of all, it refers to a basket of currencies (yuck). The consensus mechanism, even if Libra transitions from ‘permissioned’ to ‘permissionless’ (which is huge ask), is proof-of-stake, something long since dismissed as unfit for purpose by Bitcoiners.

      There are, however, certain aspects that Bitcoiners do like: (1) it introduces the concepts of ‘cryptocurrency’ and ‘blockchain’ to _billions_ of people via brands that they are very familiar with — nothing short of an on-ramp or gateway to Bitcoin; (2) it is destined to be very-obviously-inferior to Bitcoin (which will become all too obvious when amounts of frozen, transactions blocked, etc); and (3) it is a huge problem (and a very welcome distraction) for the existing financial system, all its incumbents and their regulators (just look at the immediate and seemingly orchestrated response from European finance ministers, central banks and US lawmakers).

      Reply

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