2:00PM Water Cooler 6/6/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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

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

“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (average of five polls). As of June 6: Biden down 33.5% ( 34.9%) and Sanders down 16.7% (16.9%) stabilize. Warren up 8.2% (7.4%), others Brownian motion. Of course, it’s absurd to track minute fluctuations at this point.

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Biden (D)(1): “The election-defining Biden-can-win narrative just got a big boost” [Washington Post]. “Is 2020 the year that Democrats win Texas?…. There’s this new poll of Texans by Quinnipiac University. It has Trump struggling against a number of the Democrats running for the party’s 2020 nomination. He’s up only four points on Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) — and that’s the race in which he’s doing the best. Despite his relative success last year, O’Rourke loses to Trump by three points. Against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Trump’s only up one. Against former vice president Joe Biden? Trump is losing by four points…. These differences are statistically insignificant, but the power of being the only candidate to place ahead of Trump is huge. Remember: If a Democrat wins Texas, there’s almost no way Trump can win the presidency. If Clinton had won Texas, she would be president now, despite having lost Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. This is really good news for Biden.” • So what does the oil bidness have to say about Biden? Let’s look–

Biden (D)(2): “Biden Campaign Admits Plagiarizing Part of Climate Plan From Fossil Fuel Groups” [Truthout]. “Josh Nelson, vice president of the progressive organization CREDO Mobile, was the first to highlight possible instances of plagiarism in Biden’s plan, noting on Twitter that the section ‘about carbon capture and sequestration includes language that is remarkably similar to items published previously by the Blue Green Alliance and the Carbon Capture Coalition’ — two organizations backed by major fossil fuel companies and labor unions. ‘Membership of the Carbon Capture Coalition, where some of Biden’s language seems to have originated, includes Shell, Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, and Cloud Peak Energy,’ wrote Nelson, who tweeted side-by-side screenshots of language from the Carbon Capture Coalition and Biden’s plan.” • It’s like Biden didn’t plagiarize Neil Kinnock, but, well, Tony Blair. Or Maggie Thatcher.

Gravel (D(1): “Are These Teenagers Really Running a Presidential Campaign? Yes. (Maybe.)” [New York Times]. “Mike Gravel”: “Pete Buttigieg is what you get when Patrick Bateman decides to pursue politics instead of banking.” • I think the Gravel campaign is unequivocally great.

Inslee (D)(1):

Would a debate on climate flip suburban Republican votes? No?

Inslee (D)(2): “Democratic National Committee to Jay Inslee: No climate-focused debate” [Grist]. “Not only did the the party’s leadership say there will be no climate debate, the Washington governor said in a statement that he was told that if he participates in any non-DNC-affiliated debate, he would not be invited to future debates held by the committee.’ … The Sunrise Movement, a mostly youth-led group of environmental activists, called the DNC’s decision outrageous. ‘Almost every major candidate has supported the call for a Climate Debate,’ Varshini Prakash, Sunrise co-founder, said in a statement to Grist. ‘It is an outrage to not only deny the American people an opportunity for a real debate on the greatest existential threat of our time, but threaten any candidates who participate in a climate debate.’ The organization is planning a climate-themed protest at the second Democratic primary debate in Detroit this July.”

Inslee (D)(3): “Election 2020 Series with Jay Inslee: The U.S. Role in Global Climate Action” [Council on Foreign Relations]. “I’m going to talk about a full mobilization of the United States which intends to save us from the demon of the climate crisis. And my comments and my passion on this subject is built on four pillars that I think undergird the proposal I have for the United States on sort of four principles. Number one, the principle that we need to expand our powers of imagination in dealing with this problem…. Second, I believe that we should use our power of confidence in Americans to solve this problem…. Third, this is based on the idea of total commitment, and we have to adopt a foreign policy apparatus, goals, prioritization, strategy, and relationships that is totally committed to this effort…. Fourth principle, to think about when Lincoln said as our case is new, so we must think anew. And I think that’s important because the things we’re going to talk about are revolutionary. They are both necessary and they are also productive in the United States economy.” • Hmm. Any readers have comments on Inslee as a governor?

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders, Walmart CEO find unlikely common ground on need for minimum wage hike” [Roanoak Times]. “Grant, Lee find unlikely common ground at Appomattox.”

Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Sanders Wants to Change America. But He May Have to Change Himself First.” [Anand Giridharadas, Time]. “Faced with these testimonies of struggle [at rallies; well done, staff], Sanders doesn’t usually do what other leaders do in our therapeutic culture: doesn’t hug people, tell them he feels their pain, ask follow-up questions about how the family is doing. What he does with their pain is analyze it; contextualize it; connect it to laws and agencies and instances of greed they may not know about; and offer it back to them as steaming, righteous, evidence-based anger.” The conclusion: “[I]n that moment Sanders became a little clearer to me: He isn’t the person you want sitting beside you on a long boat ride, passing time. He’s the person who will notice when you fall overboard and begin to drown.” • This whole article is well worth a read. Remember when the test of a good candidate was whether you wanted to have a beer with them? Good times…

Lambert here: Note especially Sanders’ stumble on reparations. The reparations crowd have done themselves no favors with bad numbers, shifting proposals, and factionalism (compare #MedicareForAll as a movement). That said, there’s a justice issue in reparations and Sanders should be able to address it respectfully. FWIW, I think many black voters — as opposed to the Black Misleadership Class — don’t talk about Obama “outside the house,” as is the phrase I’ve heard. But the destruction of a generation of black wealth on Obama’s watch cannot have gone unnoticed; it’s too widespread, as is the failure of the Democrat Party to deliver generally. The Obama model — “a President who looks like me” — failed a lot of people. And the reparations movement, which has a different model of community — ancestry, not melanin — is driven by academic and media figures, not (say) the black church or NGOs. So, from very much outside the house, I would uninformedly speculate that the reparations movement also represents a power surge, a potential changing of the guard. And if successful — concrete material benefits for 13% of the population would not be nothing, after all — the Black Misleadership Class would be overthrown (not a bad thing). The real question is strategic, as Adolph Reed points out: Mass movement, or elite brokerage? And there is, after all, one gift elites would like very much: The political corpse of Bernie Sanders, suitably gift-wrapped in “He’s a racist” paper. Not that I’m foily.

Sanders (D)(3): “What We Learned From Watching Long-Lost Footage of Bernie Sanders in the USSR” [Mother Jones]. “One member of the delegation was documenting the trip: Burlington’s city clerk, Michelle Weiss. Assisted by her companions, Weiss shot hours of footage of the expedition. But for years her tapes, whose existence was first reported by Politico, have collected dust at the Burlington offices of the CCTV Center for Media & Democracy. Though they are listed in the station’s online archive, CCTV executive director Lauren-Glenn Davitian told me in an email that it had no plans to make them available for purchase or distribution—with the exception of a couple minutes of boozy footage that were inadvertently included in a 2015 compilation video—because the videos had never aired. It was in a sort of archival purgatory. But, she added, if I wanted, I could drop by the station and watch the tapes myself. So, one morning in late April, I did…. It is hard to draw sweeping conclusions from four hours of b-roll. But this is not the smoking-gun footage of a man of who, in the words of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), “went to the Soviet Union on his honeymoon and I don’t think he ever came back.” • Well…

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren Recognizes 2020 Campaign Staff’s Union” [HuffPo]. • Good. More camaigns should follow Sanders in this.

IA: “Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren Are Making Massive Bets on Iowa” [New York Magazine]. “While most campaigns, including some of the top-tier ones, have fewer than a dozen aides on the ground in the state, it’s Booker — whose 42 full-time Iowa staffers, including in-state digital and data teams, blanket the state — and Warren — who now has over 50 paid staffers there, about three-quarters of whom are organizers — who are dominating the traditional organizing game.” • Then again, Sanders has 25,000 volunteers, or so the camaign says… And: “Warren’s team has also employed unusual tactics while canvassing the state. Her team of organizers has built up a constant presence in supporters’ lives, aiming to keep them engaged even when Warren isn’t in Iowa by hosting events like book clubs, policy conversations, and road races.” • Smart!

“When and How the Democratic Field Will Shrink” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “As of Thursday afternoon, in the RealClearPolitics.com average of major national polls, Joe Biden averaged 34.8 percent of the vote, and Bernie Sanders 16.4 percent, for a combined 51.2 percent of the vote. Add in Elizabeth Warren’s 9.8 percent, Kamala Harris’ 7.4 percent, and Pete Buttigieg’s 6 percent, and the total for the top five candidates is 74.4 percent. That sucks a lot of oxygen out of the room. Add in Beto O’Rourke’s 3.8 percent, Cory Booker’s 2.2 percent, and Amy Klobuchar’s 1.8 percent, and we’ve reached 82.2 percent among seven candidates, leaving just 17.8 percent of the vote for the other 17 candidates…. That’s why this field is likely to be much smaller by Halloween or Thanksgiving: Once a candidate misses qualifying for a debate or two, they are ignored and their candidacies just wither and die on the vine. This is a cold and cruel process; there are going to be very bright and talented people, some of them arguably highly qualified to be president, who simply aren’t going to get more than a passing glance by Democratic voters. As President Kennedy once said, ‘Life is unfair.'” • Halloween?

“For many black voters, 2020 isn’t about pride or making history. It’s about beating Trump” [Los Angeles Times]. “The former vice president may not excite [Catrena Norris Carter] like some candidates. But he boasts one asset that, to Carter’s mind, surpasses all others: As a white male firmly embedded in the political establishment, Biden — more than a female or black candidate — stands the best chance of winning the White House…. ‘We really need to be taking the temperature of the entire country,” said Carter, 51, who two years ago helped rally black women across Alabama to put Democrat Doug Jones in the U.S. Senate. ‘Not just people who think like us.'” • Oh, Doug Jones…. Notice, of course, that appealing “Not just people who think like us” most definitely does not include expanding the voting population…..

“The 2020 campaigns aren’t ready for deepfakes” [Axios]. “Do-it-yourself deepfakes are within reach of anyone with some computer savvy and a decent laptop, though the most convincing videos take extra effort…. The Pelosi clip was a wakeup call. More videos are coming, whether the campaigns are ready or not.” • See the Sanders footage, above…


“Pelosi tells Dems she wants to see Trump ‘in prison'” [Politico]. “Pelosi has repeatedly said she doesn’t think trying to impeach Trump is “worth it,” arguing that without the public on their side, the best way to beat the president is to persuade voters to kick him out of office in 2020. She and some other top Democrats worry that pursuing impeachment would swamp their legislative agenda and embolden the Republican base, possibly costing them the House next year and ensuring Trump’s reelection.” • Thing is, putting Trump in prison is something law enforcement can do. But only Congress has the Constitutional authority to impeach, and a showing of criminality isn’t necessary. So the two are not commensurate. Oh, and what “legislative agenda”? Nothing will pass, but they won’t even virtue signal! Unless they consider what they’re doing virtue signaling of course…


“It’s Time to Move on From Mueller” [Aaron Maté, The Nation]. “Now that it has become no longer tenable to call Trump a Russian agent or accomplice, the goalposts have shifted. The main issue is no longer collusion, but Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice. Mueller’s choice of words at his closing news conference has been widely interpreted to endorse the narrative that Trump is guilty of an impeachment-worthy effort to interfere with the probe. But it is far from clear that that’s what Mueller meant. And even if that were a fair reading of Mueller’s remarks, it is another matter entirely whether that should spur congressional action…. Rather than determining whether or not Trump committed a crime, Mueller, in both his report and in his public statement, framed the issue around whether or not the evidence exonerates him of one. “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said last week. But given that the US justice system is supposed to grant everyone the presumption of innocence, Mueller was under no obligation—and in fact, had no mandate—to clear Trump of a crime. His job was only to decide whether or not to accuse Trump of committing one.” • I’ve read Volume I of the Mueller Report. There’s no there there, and there never was. (IOW, when Clinton set the baseline for RussiaRussiaRussia by claiming that Trump was a “Russian puppet,” she was lying through her teeth). Now I have to read Volume II. FFS.


Premature triumphalism:

That means the cap is not low enough.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Public Policy Mood Updated, 1952 to 2018” [Stimson, James A]. “The annual estimate for 2018 is the most liberal ever recorded in the 68 year history of Mood, just slightly higher than the previous high point of 1961. It represents the expected leftward movement in thermostatic reaction to the Presidency of Donald Trump. The biennial estimate shows the same leftward movement, but the 2018 level is not as left as the early 1960s estimates. It should not be taken, however, as only a personal reaction to Trump because its defining items are the issues of American politics of earlier generations, the New Deal and Great Society agenda. And the estimates do not include Trump’s signature issues of immigration restriction and trade protectionism.” • Via: Stimson’s “Mood” is a “measure of public demand for more or less government.”

The epitome of the captured NGO:

“Willing to back any Dem candidate…”

Stats Watch

Productivity and Costs, Q1 2019: “Nonfarm productivity rose at a very strong… annual rate in the first quarter” [Econoday]. “Compensation also rose… but still modest relative to output which pulled down unit labor costs [steeply]. This report has been very favorable over the last year, helping to ease what had been persistent concern over the slow pace of productivity improvement.”

Quarterly Services Survey, Q1 2019: “Information sector revenue for the first quarter of 2019 rose” [Econoday]. “Overall services revenue… also rose.”

Jobless Claims, week of June 1, 2019: “Jobless claims remain low and favorable and are consistent with strong conditions in labor market” [Econoday]. “The unemployment rate for insured workers remains at 1.2 percent. These data are pointing at strength for tomorrow’s monthly employment report.”

Challenger Job-Cut Report, May 2019: “After easing back in April… Challenger’s layoff count jumped back higher in May” [Econoday]. ” Yet these higher levels in announcements have not corresponded with unemployment claims, which have remained near historic lows, nor payroll growth which has been strong. Tech companies announced the most layoffs in April while retailers, which have been closing stores, have announced the most this year. Layoff announcements at industrial manufacturers and auto makers have been on the rise.”

International Trade, April 2019: “April was a very weak month for US cross-border trade” [Econoday]. “April’s data mark a signpost for trade activity going into May, a month when US trade friction with China and Mexican rose significantly. Though declines for imports will help the US trade balance, declines for exports will not.”

Big Ag: “U.S. Corn Crop May Fall 10% in 2019 on Torrential Rain, UN Says” [Bloomberg]. “The relentless rain bashing the U.S. Corn Belt could cut output by 10% this year, according to forecasts from the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization. The U.S., the world’s largest corn grower, may harvest 330 million tons, after ‘prolonged, excessive wet conditions’ derailed fieldwork, the group said in a report. The FAO is one of the first global crop agencies to account for the impact of the downpours and planting delays. A harvest that size would be the smallest in seven years, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. July corn futures in Chicago have surged 17 percent from a mid-May low, as the waterlogged soils prevent farmers from seeding.”

The Bezzle: “Report: Facebook plans to create independent foundation to manage its cryptocurrency; will charge members $10M licensing fees for right to operate node” [The Block]. “Facebook plans to license out the right to operate nodes on its new cryptocurrency network, charging companies $10 million apiece for the privilege. Node operators will also be allowed to send a representative to the independent foundation. Facebook hopes to launch its network with 100 nodes, generating $1 billion in licensing fees. The firm then plans to use these fees to back its cryptocurrency with a basket of currencies and low-risk securities from different countries. Facebook’s cryptocurrency will primarily live in Facebook’s app ecosystem, but the firm plans to partner with merchants to accept it for payment. Facebook also plans on adding physical crypto ATMs to exchange local currencies for its token. The Information also reports that while CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken a personal interest in the project, Facebook’s COO and CFO have been skeptical of it.” • Too bad “the mark” is already taken…

Tech: “Boston Dynamics’ creepy dog-like robot is about to go on sale” [New York Post]. “[Boston Dynamics’ CEO Marc Raibert] went on to say the company is aiming to start churning out 1,000 robots a year. What will be interesting to watch is whether Boston Dynamics can turn this into a commercially viable enterprise. The company is not alone in this field, with a number of rivals to contend with and it remains to be seen whether and why companies will buy robots like Spot enough to represent significant revenue for the manufacturer.” • First, they came for the workers. Then, they came for their dogs.

Gentlemen Prefer Bonds: “‘Greed and Lies on Wall Street’ Is Opening Argument in Bond-Marking Trial” [Bloomberg]. “Premium Point Investments co-founder Anilesh “Neil” Ahuja and a trader led a two-year scheme overvaluing the firm’s mortgage bonds by more than $200 million to attract new investors and keep current ones, prosecutors said at the start of their fraud trial. Ahuja, a former head of Deutsche Bank’s global residential mortgage-bond trading, and trader Jeremy Shor are accused of mismarking securities in the firm’s funds to inflate their value, allowing them to charge higher management and performance fees and ward off withdrawals.” • Bottom feeders from the foreclosure crisis…

Concentration: “Chicken Farmers Thought Trump Was Going to Help Them. Then His Administration Did the Opposite.” [Pro Publica]. “Over the last two years, Trump appointees have not only reversed the regulations put in place at the end of Obama’s presidency [which per the story were not all that good], they have retreated from enforcing the preexisting rules. The Trump administration dissolved the office charged with policing meat companies for cheating and defrauding farmers. Fines for breaking the rules dropped to $243,850 in 2018, less than 10% of what they were five years earlier…. The administration’s siding with big meat companies over small farmers is already becoming campaign fodder for Trump’s opponents. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have vowed to restore the Obama-era regulations and dust off atrophied antitrust laws to break up big meat companies…. Chicken farmers who considered themselves staunch Trump supporters say their worsening circumstances since he took office are making them reconsider their votes.”

The Biosphere

“Yeah, but it’s controlled”

(Apparently a movie promotion of some kind, but still useful.)

“PG&E to Plan $11 Billion Fund to Settle Wildfire Claims” [Bloomberg]. “PG&E Corp. has spoken to lawmakers about putting together a pool of capital worth about $11 billion to settle claims related to wildfires blamed on the bankrupt California utility, according to people familiar with the matter. The utility has considered the plan in consultation with law firm Jones Day and boutique investment bank PJT Partners Inc., which are advising a group of PG&E’s equity holders that recently helped overhaul its board and appoint Bill Johnson as chief executive officer, the people said. The holders include Knighthead Capital Management, Redwood Capital Management and Abrams Capital Management, which collectively own about 10% of PG&E’s shares. The plan calls for PG&E to set up a special purpose vehicle into which it would redirect about $400 million a year in earnings, the people said. The fund would help finance a pool of capital that would earmark about $8 billion to settle wildfire claims from 2017 and 2018, one of the people said. At least another $3 billion would be earmarked for future claims, the person said.” • they call it a “vehicle” because it’s designed to drive off with your money….

“Plastic pollution seems like such an overwhelming problem. What can I do?” [Grist]. From February, still germane. And in Thailand:

Back to the future! (Southeast Asia generally has a terrible problem with plastic bags; I’d speculate that this is because plastic bags occupy the same mental space as banana leaves, which can be thrown away without (bad) consequences, because they rot.


“‘That’s just how things go in Keystone’: Water woes indicative of town’s troubles” [Charleston Gazette-Mail]. “The town’s water system, which is comprised of a mishmash of terra cotta, concrete and steel piping crisscrossing under its roads and buildings, was installed in the early 1900s when Keystone was a coal company town. In the years since, no maintenance has been performed on the system, and as money has continued to leave the town — per the Secretary of State’s business database, there are only two businesses operating in Keystone, neither of which pay the total business and occupational taxes they owe, Scott said — those in charge have been left with more debt and less money to fix problems… When service is out, like it has been, drinking water is available at city hall, off U.S. 52, the main drag of Keystone.” • Why don’t they just move…


New bucket, so encourage alert readers to forward links:

“New ‘Call Of Duty’ Encourages Support For The White Helmets” [Caitlin Johnstone (UserFriendly)]. “The official trailer for the latest Call of Duty was released a few days ago, and it features the Syria narrative management operation known as the White Helmets depicted in heroic roles…. To give you an idea how popular the CoD franchise is, as of this writing the official Youtube version of the trailer has 27 million views… The White Helmets are what legendary journalist John Pilger describes as “a complete propaganda construct“, an operation designed by former British army officer and private military contractor James Le Mesurier to manipulate the narrative about what’s going on in Syria…. It’s a brilliant invention, really. Have a purportedly neutral group filming on the ground in “rebel”-held areas (where the White Helmets exclusively operate), and you can ensure an endless supply of footage which can be used to paint a longtime western target for regime change as a barbarian who needs to be ousted…. Propaganda in video games doesn’t get the kind of pushback you see against propaganda in news media and movies, largely because the content in the games is generally only viewed individually by those who are engrossed in playing them. It’s this whole closed-off world that is manipulating minds with very little scrutiny compared to other forms of media, which is troubling, because the video game industry is so vast that for many years its earnings have eclipsed those of the movie and music industries combined.” • One reason I keep wanting to know more about it…

Game of Thrones

“Game of Groans” [n+1]. “It was far worse than I had imagined. Instead of mere schmaltz, the arc of the last few episodes served up a hamfisted scramble of bourgeois showrunner Deep Thoughts about “power.” These thoughts—mostly noxious clichés in ways that I will unpack shortly—seemed to stall out in the banality of so-called “horseshoe theory,” a topological intuition, commonly expressed late at night in dorm rooms, that political extremes of left and right must somehow eventually meet. It’s nonsense. But all the same, in the fallout of the atrocities committed during the sack of King’s Landing—as victorious dragon queen Daenerys celebrates her gruesome victory over Cersei Lannister with her mostly brown troops, while the appalled white people in her coalition look on in impotent horror and then start edging towards a coup—horseshoe theory is put to work by the screenwriter/director pair David Benioff and D. B. Weiss as a kind of visual language of political allegory that works to rationalize her assassination as a necessary precursor to the triumph of electoral politics.” • This being n+1, it’s lengthy and dense. But certainly a unique thesis!

News of the Wired

“Against Pedantry” [SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE]. “Let’s talk about what I think Seneca is saying: he is claiming that as teachers we model the wrong kind of behavior for our students by emphasizing obscure knowledge and rigorous argumentation over very specific matters. This emphasis leads to the interrogation of and expertise in rather minor affairs, but not in a greater awareness of what life is for, what death means, or how we should treat our fellow human beings. When Seneca says ‘the pursuit of wisdom’ has now just become ‘the pursuit of argumentation’, what he means is that learning about meaningful questions has been transformed into the pursuit of trifling things.”

“Fairness-aware Machine Learning: Practical Challenges and Lessons Learned (WSDM 2019 Tutorial)” [WSDM 2019 Tutorial (DK)]. Slide 3: “Automated decision-making and profiling based on special categories of personal data should be allowed only under very specific conditions.” • Who’s doing the allowing?

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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 (HF):

HF: “Picture is a Bauhinia tree or more commonly known as the Flowering Orchid tree from Asia. These trees are all over Burbank, California where this picture was taken.”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. neighbor7

    My mother told me “Life is unfair,” and I’m pretty sure she was quoting *her* mother, not President Kennedy. Sourcing?

    The “movie promotion” is a clip from Force Majeure, a brilliant disaster comedy of manners, so to speak.

    1. John A

      Hardly a comedy of manners movie, more an idiot father, a banker by the way, who is totally in denial about his own inadequacy and eventually only bailed out in the end by his wife ultimately pretending to metaphoically twist her ankle on the mountainside.

      1. KevinD

        I like the way the hubbie pulls a Costanza and tries to climb over people, leaving his family behind.

    2. Quentin

      Or ‘There’s no justice in this world.’, as Quentin’s mother always said. Or there’ll be days like this, like this… What a bunch of authoritarian scolds the DNC are, outright fascistoid ghouls: no right to debate freely and wherever one wishes. No Freedom!

  2. super extra

    “Yeah, but it’s controlled.”

    The clip is from the fantastic Swedish film Turist, usually translated in the US as Force Majeure, and is maybe an even better metaphor than initially thought. From the Ebert review:

    Östlund has said the film was inspired by an incident in which a Swedish couple, friends of his, went on vacation to Latin America. They were having dinner when gunmen burst into the restaurant and began firing. Rather than protecting his wife, the husband dove for cover. The wife was stunned. “Back in Sweden,” the director said, “she could not stop, after a glass of wine or two, telling the story over and over again….” Östlund later did research on couples who survive disasters like shipwrecks, tsunamis and such, and found that a strikingly high percentage of them end up divorcing.

    If impending climate disaster is the avalanche and the couple’s response to the impending disaster is representative of those factions who want to save themselves vs. save as many as possible – will both parties be able to remain a unified whole after the disaster has passed?

    1. NorwegianRockCat

      Östlund also made The Square, which has an nice commentary on class, especially in Scandinavian countries. It’s less accessible than Force Majeure, but worth watching if you have the time.

    2. Cal2

      While I believe all the science, and have my part planting hundreds of trees, I’ve noticed how people treat global warming as people used to talk about the Second Coming and hellfire.

      People love to latch onto something bigger than them self with a built in alarm factor and implied deep knowledge of the future that they can harness in their conversation, and make money from in some circumstances.

      1. freedomny

        It might be they think it is more dire than you do because it has affected them personally.

        And just because it hasn’t affected you… yet

        1. jrs

          There’s definitely regional differences in the experience of climate change, but more global differences.

          But also even if that is people’s psychological motive, they are correct, and so psychological motive matters very little at that point. Many people are worried about climate change and there are very good reasons to worry about climate change (and so analyzing it any further has diminishing returns for most purposes).

          I don’t think climate change is actually an easy issue to deal with psychologically, it’s pretty bleak and a few people do love bleak but more don’t. But also it’s just plain old hard to intellectually conceptualize, it’s too big for the mind almost.

          Although yes, some of us want action on the climate, not just bullshit (from our loser politicians).

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            Speaking of bullshit, I have lately listened to several podcasts on how the media downplays global warming and its impacts with the pervasive term climate change. The suggestion, which I have adopted and which yes I realize is not a panacea, is to use the phrase climate crisis.

            Let’s manufacture some consent!

            1. Svante

              Cliche, tropes and memes… we have all now been conditioned to denigrate, belittle and discount the dire insights of our victims. As our death approaches, we simply run out of targets for projection, transference… basically, we run out of excuses. Then, they came for Nelson Muntz. I’m guessing, it’ll resemble a cheery Neville Shute remake of Idiocracy, only directed by George Miller?

        2. Cal2

          Freedomny, The people I refer to are usually well off professional classes and living in apartments and big houses. The people most affected by floods, hurricanes and drought are the least likely to be commenting here or less likely to be writing articles cited herein. This is not a value judgement, nor a debate about science, but more of an observation about people taking up causes and their language.

          “What are you going to say when you meet Jesus”

          1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

            Im a poor worker in new orleans whos gotten caught up in many a Hurricane.

            I also read NC and comment.

            You should focus on your own experiences and stop generalizing.

            Wheres JT McPhee at? Hed know what to say.

            That said – Sanders/Gabbard!

            1. ambrit

              Solidarity brother.
              Also all the people who live in Florida who comment here. If they don’t know about hurricanes, no one does.

            2. Svante

              Yep. I’d first posted stuff to TX Sharon, ProPublica and Crooks and Liars about Katrina’s more or less direct hit on Shell’s Mars TLP, the storm’s effect on gas delivery and how everybody was trying to speculate-up a Ponzi scheme, based on slick-water fracking the Marcellus. That methane (and worse) would be pouring from leaky wells. That bad cement jobs and casing would mean return water in wells & aquifers. We weren’t alone, prescient or psychic, we were there. I’d known all sorts of heroic whistle blowers. Affluent folks co-opt their scary warnings, which they never quite get or understand. It becomes a thing that folks can monetize and glibly pontificate to get more money, sex & power?

          2. freedomny

            I am/was a “well off professional” living in Queens, NY when Sandy struck. And although my home, in an apartment building wasn’t devastated, I saw many other “professional” homes, apartments and otherwise….completely destroyed.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      In my opinion Force Majeure is one of the best films of the past decade. Although you could try to analogize it to climate change, I always saw the film as a straight parable about the more general “human condition” and perhaps they are one and the same. Cannot recommend the film highly enough. If I recall correctly, Östlund got his start as a back country ski cinematographer and his choice of shots and framing in that film are highly unorthodox for modern cinema.

    4. JerryDenim

      Thanks for the fascinating backstory on the movie. I saw it a few years ago and thought it was clever. Couples divorcing after a traumatic life or death episodes – interesting as well but not surprising either. Just as the movie I suppose those kinds of moments have a way of crystallizing a partner’s shortcomings and revealing their true character.

    5. The Rev Kev

      Ugh! Just found out that Hollywood is going to remake this film but but as a comedy film with Will Ferrell. You see this a bit where Hollywood takes a foreign film and then remakes it but dumbing it down.

      1. ambrit

        American TV does it all the time with foreign, and here, England definitely counts as ‘foreign,’ television programming.

    6. XXYY

      Rather than protecting his wife, the husband dove for cover. The wife was stunned.

      I love this. The wife blandly expected the husband to literally take a bullet for her, and was “stunned” when he didn’t. An astonishingly sexist attitude that apparently passes without comment.

      Imagine the husband complaining that his wife dove for cover instead of protecting him. He would get laughed out of town.

  3. Michael Fiorillo

    Regarding Facebook’s cryptocurrency: more dumb f (family blog)s for Zuckerborg…

  4. RubyDog

    Food for debate and speculation –

    Which would be the better outcome of the next election?

    1. Sanders becomes president, Republicans keep the Senate, Dems keep the House.

    2. Trump wins another term, Dems take both the House and Senate.

    1. Isotope_C14

      Why only 2 choices?

      I’m for “meteor” impacting the next state of the union address, hopefully one that upon re-entry breaks up into a few smaller pieces, leveling the Hamptons, Langley, and Wall Street.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Remember, you don’t have to show them the whole spaceship, just little staging and a really convincing entry gantry.

    2. Watt4Bob

      The first, however unlikely, is possible, so it could be debated and speculated upon.

      The second, Trump winning another term but Dems taking both House and Senate is far fetched, so debate and speculation seem pointless to me.

      The most plausible route to a Trump second term is the DNC successfully stopping Bernie like they did in 2016, resulting in many voters staying home.

      IMHO, frustrated voters staying home would make democratic successes in the House and Senate highly unlikely.

      1. JohnnyGL

        “The first, however unlikely, is possible, so it could be debated and speculated upon.”

        I think it’s more plausible than it may appear.
        1) dems are throwing everyone at the presidency, barely even trying at senate level.
        2) Sanders, if nominated, could win a narrow victory if big chunks of team dem defect to Trump and go full-on red scare.

        1. jrs

          #2 no most Dems are not going to deflect to Trump, that is ridiculous. Most will vote for any D at all against Trump, no matter if it’s Biden or Bernie. A few who got too into the Clinton wars, might stay home for Sanders, but I think this is a tiny set. Most Dems voting in the general regardless of the primaries, are just going to vote for “Trump-be-gone”. Which is necessary but not sufficient of course. Unfortunately too many of them are just going to vote that way in the primary as well is the problem.

          #1 is also probable just because the Senate is hard to take over as well – but not trying doesn’t help. What is it 70% of the population is represented by 30% of the Senators. Yea that’s not just undemocratic, but radically undemocratic, so it’s an uphill battle, but if they don’t even try …

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Colorado and Maine have to be the main targets. Then Louisiana, North Carolina, and Iowa are still viable. I assume Alabama is a loss, but you never know about a party that would stand by a person banned from malls.

            O’Rourke is walking away from a pick up opportunity with his vanity run in Texas, maybe not in a Presidential cycle. Abrams is sitting out in hopes of being on the ticket, so this doesn’t reflect well on her either.

            This is the 2014, 2008 set of seats. There is room for good candidates to organize their way to a victory, but its still going to require a good deal of work.

        2. Watt4Bob

          My equivocation is not strong.

          I think it’s entirely possible that people will put up a strong, and very public fight when the DNC inevitably tries to cheat Sanders out of the nomination as they did in 2016.

          IMO Biden has only one function in this contest, and that is as part of an overarching campaign to stop Sanders at any cost.

          This effort is totally transparent by this time, and is going to raise a stink that will be hard to ignore.

    3. ChuckT

      Depends on the circumstances of 2. If it’s Bernie vs Trump, 2 is not good, it will cause people to think a progressive candidate can’t win. If it’s Trump vs Biden, Biden must lose to solidify the support Bernie and other progressives have gained.

    4. JohnnyGL


      option 1, no question. In fact, go further….give BOTH houses back to republicans, by a small margin, if you want (okay, maybe that’s a bit much).

      Per my comment above the other day, Sanders was asked what he’d do about hold outs on Medicare for All. He explicitly said he’d hold rallies in the states/districts of the holdouts.

      Congress would cave to a popular president who’s dead-set on making sure people get healthcare.

      We haven’t seen the bully pulpit get used to its fullest extent in a long time.

      You don’t believe me? Look how afraid repubs in congress are to be seen opposing Trump on tariffs!!! They’re terrified of their own base voters who are loyal to the president. Imagine how hard it would be to oppose Trump if he was actually doing good things!!!

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        All Obama had to do was hold a rally and ask the crowd to thank the “problem” Senator for promising to co-sponsor the promised piece of legislation. Let a guy like Max Baucus or Mark Warner come out against the platform and call Obama a liar (even if he did).

        Don’t give these people a chance to be wrong.

    5. NotTimothyGeithner

      Even if option 2 was possible, and its not, split ticket voting is a myth, but the better choice would still be option 1. We’ve been discussing an effing wall on the Mexican border that no one particularly wants or even makes sense for months now purely because the Presidency has that kind of power. We’ve been doing it while the loyalists of the Bush and Clinton crime families have been accusing Trump of treason. The man shouldn’t be able to leave the White House, yet, Schumer and Pelosi are making opening offers of how much they want to fund the wall.

      Then of course, there are the various appointments. The Democratic Party is set up to hand power over to a Democratic President. Not only would a Sanders Presidency be good policy wise, the actions of Obama to anoint Tom Perez wouldn’t be possible.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Justice Dept pick for Sanders would be HUGELY important. We’d need to see a wave of anti-trust suits.

        Also, if you want clear evidence that Bernie’s a danger to the elites…

        There was that one moment when it looked like Sanders took a lead in an emerson poll in mid-april….https://emersonpolling.reportablenews.com/pr/april-national-poll-bernie-takes-lead-for-democratic-nomination-mayor-pete-on-the-move

        What happened to health care stocks? Red ink flowed….https://www.investors.com/news/technology/medical-stocks-bernie-sanders-single-payer-health-care-medicare-for-all/

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Justice Dept pick for Sanders would be HUGELY important.

          Obama didn’t just let the crooks get away. He let them keep lobbying and remain powerful without even getting caught up in legal troubles.


          This matters. Prosecuting crimes won’t solve crime permanently, but it will remove bad actors and probably divert attention from committing more crimes to not committing crimes that aren’t worth getting caught for.

    6. Pat

      1.) Sanders would be considerably hamstrung. Not that I don’t think that wouldn’t be the case with Congress in completely Democratic hands as well. I don’t just mean trying to get things like Medicare for All passed. I mean about getting anybody decent into positions where the Senate gets to approve the nominee. Can’t have all that “progress” in the FCC, FTC, Fed, EPA and Departments of Education, Interior and Treasury be shot down by some socialist!

      2.) Not going to happen. And if it does I really don’t want to see what trash they pass. I mean Chuckie Schumer isn’t going to recruit people like those upstarts who snuck into the House….

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Sanders can just appoint interims and auto sign the problem away. It might sound crazy, but Mitch McConnell and the GOP elites actually know this. Part of the reason, they behaved the way they did with Obama was because they knew Obama’s obsession with procedural norms would hamstring him to a point where Obama was offering up Goering and Himmler as alternatives. Not that Obama was good intentioned, but I think the GOP pegged him as a social climber who was eager to please the people who weren’t already on his side.

        Obama failed to make hay out of McConnell because he failed to make it a moral question. Gorsuch was a weenie, and Obama didn’t feel strongly enough to make it an issue. Democrats whined for years about McConnell and GOP obstructionism and simply didn’t do the right thing which was an interim appointment and a move to start hearing cases.

        1. Pat

          Good point and it isn’t as if Bernie doesn’t have a history of going at things sideways.

          An apoplectic McConnell is a lovely thought. Unfortunately he and Chuck will become allies in obstruction, but I have to remember if Bernie gets the Presidency, a fair amount of Chuck kneecapping will have already happened.

    7. UserFriendly

      It depends entirely on who the nominee is in #2.

      But 2 is practically impossible. Senators that are not incumbents have practically no chance of running ahead of their presidential candidate in a given state. Without the VP they need to net 4. So they would need to win CO and ME, hold onto AL, and then somehow pick up two of these 3 while Trump wins them: AZ, IA, and NC.

      Or I suppose Trump could win NC, PA, and WI while loosing IA and AZ and the dems could pick up the senate seats in IA and AZ. But I’d hardly call that likely.

  5. Quentin

    Mind boggling. After spending 7/8 years in one room without direct sunlight or the right to any outdoor recreation the Swedish court has ruled that the charges against Julian Assange are not sufficient to request a European Arrest Warrant. So what was his whole ordeal about actually? Some people on this blog, I’ve noticed, object to characterising it as the ‘political leveraging of rape’, if what he is alleged to have done comes anywhere to be called rape in English usage. So there. This all took place in one of the most sophisticated, advanced, civilised centers of the western world of all: London, how quaint. Craig Murray: https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2019/06/a-swedish-court-injects-some-sense/

    1. Pat

      I cannot speak for anyone else, but the machinations regarding Assange and the rape charge were clear as it first went down. This time around the Swedish government doesn’t want any part of helping the US take him out. Unfortunately Britain either won’t or can’t make the same call.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The Swedes probably realized that if they managed to get Assange into Sweden, then they would have people like Trump, Bolton, Clinton, Pompeo banging on their doors demanding transference with maybe Trump threatening sanctions if they do not comply. Why would they want to sign up for that? As it was the British that was pushing the Swedes to keep the whole thing going in Sweden, the Swedes are now saying that they can deal with it.

  6. XXYY

    Re. Reparations:

    No one can defend the treatment of people who were captured in their own land, brought across the sea in chains, and brutally imprisoned and forced to create wealth for their new “owners”.

    That being said, I don’t see any way a reparations movement or program can turn out well. Singling out a particular group and saying “your ancestors were victimized and brutalized; therefore, here’s a big check” is likely to accomplish two things:

    (1) Mass resentment, much of it justified, against the group by other equally victimized groups who for some reason got no payday; and

    (2) The commencement of endless campaigns for similar programs for women, LGBTs, native Americans, Latinos, Eskimos, homeless people, laid-off workers, opioid addicts, rural dwellers, people with no health care, the underpaid, veterans, and every conceivable other group and identity that this vicious country has victimized now and in the past.

    At a time when people of this country need to come together as one and see beyond our differences, “reparations” will be the worst possible thing to throw into the mix, blasting the idea of solidarity to smithereens and replacing it with a breathless competition to see which fraction of the population is the most victim-ey.

    OTOH, if someone said: “Here’s my reparations program for slave descendents: Free health care, free college, $15/hr minimum wage, a guaranteed job, and increased Social Security”, we would all say “that’s the most bitchin’ reparations program I’ve ever heard of, one that will benefit people long after a one-time payment has been spent and forgotten!” The fact that these reparations were available to everyone else in the country, too, does not detract from their value.

    1. notabanktoadie

      You should change “guaranteed job” to guaranteed income since when is wage-slavery compensation for anything?

      And when robots and AI can do almost all necessary work, then what? Pay people to waste their time?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > when robots and AI can do almost all necessary work

        I’m not sold on this at all. In fact, I think it’s entirely possible this is a lunatic 1% fantasy.

    2. Cal2

      Can white, Korean and Latino victims of black inner city crime attach the reparations in part? How many victim classes do you wanna parse?

      How about the Irish vs the English? (In Boston).

  7. Dr. Roberts

    Notice the WaPo article mentions Biden, Warren, and O’rourke, but there isn’t a single mention of Sanders in the article. This propaganda by omission of left-wing politicians and parties has been a long-standing trend. Outlets like AP, Reuters, and BBC will often completely omit results for left-wing and communist parties from their articles about European elections, even while mentioning parties who gained fewer votes.

    1. Brindle

      Sanders is basically a non-person on MSNBC–in contrast to Mayor Pete, whose chipmunk face is there at nearly every turn.

      1. Cal2

        From earlier today,
        Mayor Pete, a 9 month veteran of the 442nd Dry Cleaning Pickup Unit and chauffeur motor pool in Afghanistan.

        Say, what’s Naval Intelligence doing in a landlocked country anyway?

        Major Tulsi Gabbard, volunteered and saw 15 years of service, including combat attacks and handling the American war dead. I’ll bet she could kick his ass.

  8. shinola

    Thanks for the link to the NYT article about Mike Gravel & the “kids” running his campaign. Quite interesting. I particularly liked this:

    “This led Oks and Williams to a shared epiphany. Everyone who claimed to be running things — the think-tankers, the bloviating centrists, the Pete Buttigiegs, the “Pod Save America” people — these were just grown-up model U.N. kids, overfull with ego and hot air. Their politics boiled down to a desire to be in politics.”

    I don’t know about anyone else but Buttigieg does remind me of people I knew in high school & college that were already proclaiming their intent to someday become president. They were seriously self-absorbed.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      All very true, but if signifies political fragmentation among the meritocratic and (get your anti-emetic ready) “creative” class, then that’s not a bad thing.

      Perhaps the biggest news that was ignored by the mass media blackout which was Russiagate, has been the fact that Trump’s election represents a split and fragmentation among the Overclass.

      That split, which is roughly between extractive industries (Ag, Energy, Mining, plus Manufacturing and natural resources) vs. Media, Finance, Tech. That analytical model is also roughly congruent with the electoral map, as well.

      In addition the increased viewership, Comcast was perfectly content to have its talking heads on MSNBC emote histrionically for two years over a preposterous conspiracy theory, because the underlying political plate tectonics are immense, and rubbing up against each other.

      1. Wombat


        Democrats- Party of Capital Extractors.

        Republicans – Party of Resource Extractors.

        Both Parties – Party of Labor Extractors

      2. Svante

        We’ve got one, who can SEE! Thank yunz jagoffs, for renewing my faith in the power of unresolved trauma and substance abuse. Resiliency of…

        Well, it IS a meritocracy. CNBC/ MSNBC just had to compete with News Corp, for the 9.99% Resistance™ and Fox left the studio door wide open, like in Weird Al’s UHF, They Live, Robocop… ONE of those oddly prescient documentaries? There’s apparently a big ass subway fire (again), here in Manhattan’s UWS, and it’s virtually impossible to find anything out. The “creative” class stumbles into each other, staring at $1,000 phones, late for their Mindfulness session.


    2. Tyrannocaster

      “Joe Biden’s a bum. A right-wing chauvinist, good time prick, arrogant bastard creep who thinks that because he’s got a $3,000 suit and the cachet of a lifetime sinecure in the Senate we should bow down to his beaming smile. A real racist piece of work.”

      That Gravel Tweet today was worth a *lot* more than my donation to him cost me.

  9. freedomny

    Bernie Sanders Wants to Change America. But He May Have to Change Himself First.” [Anand Giridharadas, Time

    I have to say, I’ve always found Anand Giridharadas a bit disingenuous. I never read Winners Take All but had conversations with people who have. After reading this article (as well as others) I have the distinct impression of someone who is attempting to “brand” themselves as an “intellectual” champion of the anti-capitalism/wealth crowd (with all that niche will bring him in terms of appearances on MSM and cushy well paid positions) – but who in actuality prefers a reformed version of neoliberalism. He is opportunistic, using his “brand” to further his own fortunes. I’m impressed with his ability to self market….but I don’t really admire him.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Unsure re: that piece as well. Left a mild whiff of concern trolling
      by Giridharadas, while seeming to make the case for Sanders, at times
      quite powerfully.

      nb: Dead-ender Bernie bro here as well as a lady of a certain age

      AG is very good at laying out the false choice between ‘class’ and ID pol,
      for that itself, glad to see this in a mainstream rag.

    2. DJG

      freedomny: Thanks. After Lambert Strether’s recommendation, I tried reading the article, but I was put off by the baroque “verbal pyrotechnics” of the first few paragraphs. This glibness is common these days, as is his inability to get to the point. I got a whiff of the musty products of the many university creative fiction and non-fiction programs. I did stumble to the end, though, gleaning:

      His arguments usually run like this:
      –He’s a serious thinker and even Steve Bannon calls his movement solid and influential.
      –But he can’t tell a joke.
      –He’s deeply committed, a stoic, and widely admired.
      –But Pete Buttigieg shows us that stoicism isn’t the in thing this year.
      –He’s the one you want to be with in a lifeboat, who knew “the real Martin Luther King, not the symbol,” who genuinely knows what black people have endured.
      –He didn’t kiss little Tiffany’s dog on the nose.

      Yes, we’d all like our politicians to be good at retail politics. Not everyone is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But if we want meaningful change, we’ll have to stop taking seriously candidates on a skateboard and women with hot sauce in their purses. Because we ended up with the guy who graciously let cartoonists portray him with big ears and then the guy who can’t find a tailor who can fit him with a tux. And more income inequality.

      1. flora

        ha. I agree.
        I don’t need a ‘woke’ Sanders or Warren or Gabbard. I need candidates who address the political and systemic reasons financial inequality has soared since 1980 – since Reagan – when in the previous 40 years, from 1940 to ’80, financial inequality had been steadily declining. The reasons are political choices and systemic, not personal failings or the mythical ‘ invisible hand’.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Being a bit of a verbal pyrotechnician myself, I could filter for style (which I thought was pretty mild besides, say, Vox, which has a different style of pyrotechnics). I thought that this was the most fair-minded profile of Sanders I’ve seen. This was the passage that caught my eye; I quoted the end, and here’s the whole passage:

        I keep thinking of a moment in Las Vegas that made me realize we don’t know the answer yet. We had just landed at the airport. We headed for the SUV that would take us to the Paris hotel and casino. But there was a mishap: the local organizers hadn’t known I was joining. When we found the SUV, we realized we were one seat short. Sanders’ aides, in a hurry, looked at me like, “Bye, dude.”

        Sanders, who had been preoccupied with luggage, now caught wind of the issue. And I watched it come over him: a transfixing, physical sense of righteousness. It wasn’t about logistics; it was about justice. At that point, he had spoken to me just once in any real way in days of traveling together. He had no interest in me in the normal ways. Oh, you live in Brooklyn? I used to live in Brooklyn. What part? But the prospect of my exclusion bothered him. Even as I said I was fine, he asked if there was any way to squeeze me in. Checked the back row. Maybe I could put a suitcase beside him, between the seats, and sit on top. But something had to be done, because to him it just was not right. And in that moment Sanders became a little clearer to me: He isn’t the person you want sitting beside you on a long boat ride, passing time. He’s the person who will notice when you fall overboard and begin to drown.

        I just think that’s very good reporting, and I don’t think it’s bad writing, either.

        NOTE There’s also a ton of nuance about the staff, and a lot of good detail about the campaign. The part about Sanders’ “covenant” with his audience is excellent (and marketing by connecting to “pain points” is a well-known strategy, too). Makes the photos of rallies much more clear.

        1. DJG

          Lambert Strether: Yes, the observation about Sanders’s almost inborn commitment to fairness is important. So is the description of his covenant with his audience and his supporters. Yet these are extraordinary strengths, of the kind that Lincoln and Madison had, let alone FDR, who is more or less in our collective recent memory.

          So the premise of the article keeps being undermined by the descriptions that show that Sanders is a man of substance, at a time when all the other politcians are marketing 101 term papers.

          Who cares if he’s grumpy? So was Truman.

        2. ChiGal in Carolina

          Agree, though there were definitely a few backhanded “compliments”. The writing was actually lovely in parts, stylized yes, but it put you there and had great flow; painterly, almost.

  10. John k

    For dem and rep elites, plus powerful industries and of course donors, sanders is simply terrifying. Many, many rice bowls are threatened. A doj that jails bankers, and files anti trust suits with great vigor,… simply horrifying and to be fought with all means, fair and foul.
    Witness no climate debates. And gotta stay with paygo… does that include mic?!
    Luckily Biden already self destructing on abortion, more to come.
    Assuming he fades it will be tough to stop sanders … if he stays healthy… plus already seeing pro sanders and or anti Biden articles in media that previously were with her.

    1. freedomny

      “A doj that jails bankers, and files anti trust suits with great vigor,”….

      Speaking of which – I have to start calling re Jury Duty tomorrow. I’m truly pissed because I ALWAYS GET CALLED FOR A TRIAL no matter how distasteful I try to be.

      This time I am going to request that I be excused from Jury Duty because I no longer believe in a justice system that incarcerates people for stealing a loaf of bread but exonerates bankers from trashing an entire economy.

      It will be interesting to hear the response….

      They also want me to dress “business casual” LOL…………………. , which is sweatpants and sandals for me….

      1. ambrit

        Wait a minute here. Does the Jury Duty do you serious financial or psychic harm? If not, go and be the thorn in the side of the “Establishment.” At the least, show everyone in that jury room what freedom means, both pro and con.
        My ‘big time’ jury service, on a Federal trial, had the effect of ‘educating’ the judge and prosecutor. The jury I was on deadlocked on what the prosecution visibly thought was going to be an ‘open and shut’ case. Before we were thrown back onto the street, the judge and federal prosecutor came into the jury room and asked us, basically, what went wrong. Several of us, including yours truly, spoke up and delivered a ten minute critique of the prosecutions handling of the case. That was one shaken looking federal prosecutor who left the room later.
        The shame of it all was that the prosecution had a strong case, but mishandled it, and alienated half of the jury. (It wasn’t just a single hold out juror.)
        We dressed “business casual” too. For me that was a Hawaiian shirt with Farah slacks and red suspenders. No one stated just where this mythical “business” was being carried out. It being the Gulf Coast, I assumed the beach was the place to be.

        1. jrs

          The financial harm for working people, is usually a lost day of pay for every day of jury duty. Whether that’s serious, depends on one’s level of poverty/precarity and length of trial (I mean it’s going to be a financial hit but how much of one it is). They won’t accept “financial hardship” defenses unless your starving pretty much, so the rest of us just have to scrape by and pinch pennies.

          But yea if the libertarians can talk jury nullification so can we.

        2. Chef

          Agreed, serving on a jury can be one of the most impactful ways a citizen can give input.

          I’d say even more than voting; jury nullification is real.

  11. readerOfTeaLeaves

    I’m an Inslee voter, a modest donor, and strong supporter.

    He was my Congressman back in 2006, when the telecoms nearly demolished Net Neutrality (NN) , and Inslee did ‘a lot of heavy lifting’ in the House to secure NN back in 2006. His district included Redmond, WA, so a significant part of his constituents’ economic interests were affected by NN.

    Just yesterday, Inslee tweeted about wildfires in the middle of Washington State —

    These fires are happening in the largest potato producing county of any in the US — including Idaho. This is unprecedented for early June.

    Also in Grant County: the largest carbon fiber plant in the world, which makes bodies for BMW’s electric iBMW vehicles. In Seattle, those cars are used in a ReachNow car sharing program that use a lot of software and logistics to coordinate people and electric cars. And then, of course, Microsoft and Amazon are based in the region, so Inslee has plenty of resources to call upon if he needs to understand something related to new economic initiatives.

    IOW, Inslee is from a region where some niches of tech are very focused on greening the economy.

    Inslee is more work horse than show horse.
    He’s not the most eloquent politician, but he is ambitious and strategic.

    I think that plenty of Millenials are now going to view the DNC as ‘the cable of politics’. They’ll cut the cord and be done with them. The DNC will recede into history along with land lines if they keep this stupidity up.
    That may be all for the best.

  12. DJG

    Just about everything in the article about Gravel and the Two Teens running his campaign is fascinating–and the article also is thought provoking.

    I also had trouble with the URL given, so I re-post it here:

    Gravel is mythic, in a way. Yet also thoroughly part of U.S. culture–crossing the country with his loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter. Who doesn’t wander around with the jar of peanut butter?

    A very insightful observation from Gravel, a former senator. The U.S. Senate is inherently corrupt, which may be why Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, who supposedly made their political careers there, are so clueless, nonchalantly corrupt, and ineffective. Let alone the notoriously clueless John Kerry, Lindsay Graham, Claire McCaskell, Dianne Feinstein, and those interchangeable climate-disaster-deniers from Oklahoma.

    1. freedomny

      Thanks for the link! Usually can’t access NYT articles but created an account w/ an old email. :)

      I love what Gravel and the “teens” Oks and Williams are doing. Have been following them on Twitter since the beginning – and – we need more of this kind of “stuff” – stuff being smart commentary as part of a civic and peaceful disobedience.

  13. Oregoncharles

    “Supermarkets in Vietnam and Thailand are replacing plastic packaging with banana leaves.”

    There is a hardy banana, Musa basjoo, that grows in much of the US. It made it through a zero degree freeze here. The fruit isn’t edible, but it’s a huge plant with huge leaves that are used for fiber – that is, wrapping things. Very showy, as it’s about 10 ft. tall. It spreads, too, so give it room.

    1. Hepativore

      The trouble is that plant leaves can be attacked by insects or transport both them and diseases. You would have to find some way of making sure that you do not accidentally introduce a blight or a pest to another part of the world by accident like the Race 4 banana fungus that is currently wrecking havoc on the Cavendish fruit banana.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Well, the food product it is wrapping is kind of posing the same risk already. Eat local ;)

  14. JBird4049

    But the destruction of a generation of black wealth on Obama’s watch cannot have gone unnoticed; it’s too widespread, as is the failure of the Democrat Party to deliver generally. The Obama model — “a President who looks like me” — failed a lot of people. And the reparations movement, which has a different model of community — ancestry, not melanin — is driven by academic and media figures, not (say) the black church or NGOs.

    How’s about a mass movement of us peons? 44 of the 45 American Presidents have been melanin deficient just like me and most of the homeless; when the educated people start pontificating on the need to payback some of the underprivileged or whinging about the privilegeness of other separate groups, I start looking at just whom is getting money from who for such advocacy, be it politicians or activists, as well as for my wallet.

    This arbitraging of benefits, privileges, and rights is not done by those with power as a means of doing good, but instead as a means of acquiring and keeping power, privileges, and wealth. Whatever you personally think and feel is important is considered a means of getting power in the form of support, time, votes, money from you to them.

    Abortion, God, Guns, LGBTQ rights, Climate Collapse, Jobs, Civil Rights, or whatever usually means little to those seeking positions in power. When in doubt, look at how those offering solutions for problems really are offering solutions instead of advertising masquerading as bandaids.

    The reason I am so passionate about this is because corruption has slithered into everything from the Red Cross to the NRA, from the Democratic Party at all levels to the Republican Party at all levels, to the Prison Industry and the National Security State down to the level of many police departments. All of these organizations have been corrupted and neoliberalized, repurposed into money collecting.

    I get that a group of people who have been fraked over for four hundred years, who currently are used as a money maker by being stuffed into often private prisons by the corrupt and often violent police and courts might believe that they are past due something. I also think that even a honest effort at reparations will be from the start a national Tammany Hall. It will be used as a power broker that decides who is black enough, abused enough, and what they will be given. The Alt Right creeps will be overjoyed at this opportunity to recruit more disaffected whites. They will say “see, did we not tell you that they despise us Deplorables? Those people are getting money while you and yours live in a van!” Divide and conquer in a nation of increasingly poor, desperate, and well armed Americans. And it is not just “The Right” that has guns. Plenty on the left do too.

    1. Mattski

      The thing is, however, that we live in a country where even Adolph Reed, apparently, doesn’t know about convict leasing. Where Black families have one-TENTH the wealth of white families. Of course the recompense will be inadequate, but that’s not a reason to hold the conversation. When you haven’t even HAD the conversations, never even attempted the reckoning. . . shying from even broaching it–from even asking what might be appropriate–because you’re frightened of violence, backlash, etc.? Let’s all vote for Biden for the same reason.

      1. JBird4049

        Where Black families have one-TENTH the wealth of white families. Of course the recompense will be inadequate, but that’s not a reason to hold the conversation. When you haven’t even HAD the conversations, never even attempted the reckoning. . . shying from even broaching it–from even asking what might be appropriate–because you’re frightened of violence, backlash, etc.?

        Yes, being White is truly an advantage. All. Things. Being. Equal.

        When I go to the public library in the Bay Area I will likely seen a homeless white person. If I am (un)lucky I can see a homeless family. The more that the increasing underprivileged of a growing number of Americans is mentioned, the more I see mentioned “White Privilege” from ostensibly liberal Democrats as if that justifies the increasing number of homeless (White) children. But then I am seeing more homeless people from all groups.

        Mentioning the wealth disparity between white and black American households is almost like saying that water is wet. Most people already have some understanding of this although the extent of it will often be disbelieved. That reality has been known since at least 1865, but the extent of the wealth inequality in the American nation is probably reaching, if not exceeding, pre 1900 levels. It has been growing for decades. Pointing to the extent racism is a useful distraction for the elites. There real reasons why political scientists, historians, and others are reaching to the Bolshevik Revolution and the 1933 German elections.

        Let me ask these questions. Are the benefits using Identity Politics worth the risk? If so, why was MLK murdered while starting his Poor Peoples Campaign and not during his earlier civil rights work? Why is racism such a frequently useful tool of the wealthy and powerful?

  15. Edward

    How many vegetables can be wrapped in banana leaves before you kill the trees? I suppose other leaves/plant fibers could be used.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      An alternative is for the government to every one of us a small plot of land to grown our own organic vegetabels, like some have suggested post the Civil War for victims, and maybe families of casualty soldiers, only this time, to everyone who is a victim of bad diet.

      And give us some universal income to do that (equivalent to paying us to do a job, that job).

    2. turtle

      Look into banana “trees”. They’re not like actual trees with wood trunks. They’re essentially just overgrown plants with tall, thick stems instead. Usually the plant is cut down (with a swift swing of a machete, I might add – you can cut the “trunk” with one swing if it’s hard, fast, and sharp) in order to collect the fruit. A new plant will grow in its place in short order. I would say that it’s a very renewable resource, probably on a similar scale to bamboo.

      Disclaimer: I’m far from a real expert on this subject. I only speak from some experience of my family having a pretty small banana plantation and having up close contact with banana plants.

      1. Oregoncharles

        They’re very much like giant cannas. Come to think, there’s an edible canna; the leaves from that might work, too.

  16. Cal2

    “PG&E to Plan $11 Billion Fund to Settle Wildfire Claims”

    Any clawbacks from the Board of Directors?

    How about Geisha Jimenez Williams? She split with a nice golden parachute.

    In China she’s be lined up against a wall and shot.

    In North Korea, blown apart with an anti-aircraft gun. Such drama!

    This is America, there’s a corporate veil protecting them…

    1. JBird4049

      Eleven billion. It only took an entire town and dozens of lives to eat into their profits.

      Hmmm, twenty years ago a gas leak in San Mateo blew up an entire ***neighborhood*** and killed a few people, not to mention all the homes turned into scorched rubble. PG&E had diverted funds specifically given to it for checks, maintenance, and repairs to make more profits.

      IIRC every single decade there are 1-3 fires due to ongoing cutbacks in the acknowledged needed and previously done repair, maintenance, replacements of the transmission lines, ducts, and towers as well as brush clearance and tree trimming. Guess where the unspent money went to?

      Then there was Paradise. Breathing was such fun. And I live in a different county. Hoping nobody I knew there was dead even more… fun. Well, PG&E had made even more… profit.

      I am truly coming to just loathe the word profit. I pay a company for a service and they think nothing of putting me and mine in fear, pain, and near death. It is not a veil. It is immunity. And the company plans on cutting services if fires are possible due to their lack of maintenance.

      Here’s a thought. Much of border areas of the state, which just happens to have the most wilderness and unemployment, could hire, or in some cases rehire, people to do that maintenance backlog. The CEO, VPs, and the entire board could join them.

      PG&E has been a cesspool since at least the 1940s. Doing real work would be good for their souls. God knows that nobody is actually going to prison or even jail.

        1. JBird4049

          You are right. I thought it was longer. Eek. At least I got the county of San Mateo right.

  17. TonyinSoCAL

    U.S. home flippers are cashing out before profits get slimmer

    Speculators are on the housing market’s front lines, where softening price growth, waning demand and longer times to sell can turn quickly into shrinking profits, or even losses. Purchases of previously owned homes fell 4.4 per cent in April, the 14th straight year-over-year decline, according to the National Association of Realtors.

    “Investors may be getting out while the getting is good,” Todd Teta, chief product officer at Attom Data Solutions, said in the report. “If investors are seeing profit margins drop, they may be acting now and selling before price increases drop even more.”

  18. todde


    Guy left his wife and kids and ran off after telling them ‘Yeah, but it’s controlled.’

    I would already have the seperation agreement filed if I was his wife.

      1. Todde


        Dude came back last also i noticed.

        Well at least they know who their dad is.

        I would say hope he pays for their college but its probably free anway

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    DNC opts against climate change debate, Inslee says
    “The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists,” Inslee said.


    Will anyone resign from the Democratic party?

    1. Lou Anton

      Would be pretty great if Sanders joined Inslee (and maybe Warren, Gabbard, and GRAVEL!) just decided “family-blog it, let’s do a climate change debate anyway. We’ll leave empty podiums for everyone not there, and we’ll see if Green New Deal’s own AOC will moderate.

      Schedule it right before the CA primary.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I love it if everyone but Biden and Gravel went to a climate change debate, and Gravel just made fun of Biden at the official debate.

    2. Edward

      Will the “real” Democratic party please stand up? In a way, this incident is typical of American politics for decades. Major left wing issues such as foreign policy, white collar crime, anti-imperialism, or environmental issues are not discussed in this “democracy” because the government has indefensible policies on these topics. The public might start getting uppity. Behind the rhetoric the Democrats are often a right wing party.

    3. Acacia

      DNC blocks climate change debate?

      Fine. Just keep voting for their opposition until they learn or die.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Report: Facebook plans to create independent foundation to manage its cryptocurrency”

    This sounds like a good idea this. We have seen the results of what happens when tech billionaires decide that manufacturing cars would be a breeze. Let’s see how they would go running a banking operation. Can somebody pick up the popcorn?

  21. Carolinian

    Re Game of Thrones–still going on about this are they? The far more pretentious Westworld seems worthy of this sort of analysis.

    When asked about the themes in Game of Thrones Benioff replied: “themes?” They were just putting on a big spectacle for our enjoyment. And enjoy (some of us) did. It isn’t Shakespeare.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Anything can be viewed through the lens of class (cf early Looney Tunes), and some of us find that enjoyable even as we also find the spectacle enjoyable ;-)

  22. Todde

    Government policy funds social security spending.

    The policy only depends on who you elect to the Government.

    FICA taxes should be used to control consumer inflation. Not to prove yourself worrhy for a government benefit.

  23. Mattski

    Halloween? Good question. I imagine it’s one the Sanders campaign is extremely anxious to answer.

  24. ambrit

    One for the “Security State” department.
    I was at the WalMart this evening and decided to check my blood pressure on the big boxy machine they have next to the Pharmacy.
    Alas, the d—-d thing demanded that I sign up for a ‘lifestyle management’ account before doing it’s thing. There is no way in H— that I am going to give some literally faceless entity my private information just to check my blood pressure. This is the, so far, nadir of my experiences with ‘heartless’ commerce.
    How low can ‘they’ go? I’m just not cynical enough. ‘They’ keep surprising even this curmudgeonly geezer.

  25. Deschain

    A Games section!!! Just when I thought NC couldn’t get any better . . .

    Google gave details on their new game streaming service yesterday. It’s interesting, but I don’t know that it’s interesting enough. And the big test will be whether it actually works well enough to withstand gamer scrutiny. When your Netflix stream glitches, it’s mildly annoying. When your Call of Duty stream glitches, and you get ganked by a 12-year old, it’s a controller-through-the-TV screen moment. Their big launch content is going to be Destiny, which as a massive multiplayer game is going to be an extreme test of stream quality. Bold move, Cotton.


  26. Watt4Bob

    We’ve just endured the largest transfer of wealth from poor to rich in history, the theft after 2008 was pulled off in front of our faces.

    It has nearly ruined our lives and our country, it resulted in massively reduced prospects for our children, and the frosting on this sh*t sandwich is Trump.

    I propose we demand reparations, for all people impacted, the perpetrators are still alive, the victims are still alive, the evidence is fresh and who can argue that we don’t deserve it.

    If they won’t write check, we can accept universal healthcare, free education, elimination of homelessness, elimination of student debt, and an end to the attack on SS for a start.

    The amount we are due is massive enough to make a real difference in all our lives, and obviates the necessity of engaging in what would obviously be an acrimonious battle over reparations for the historic evils of slavery, and genocide of first nations.

    I am not saying our nation doesn’t owe a historic debt, in fact many of them, I’m saying that demanding recompense for the latest offense is the place to start.

    We should start with a battle we have some chance of winning, and of course it would require electing Sanders.

  27. Michael C.

    “The election-defining Biden-can-win narrative just got a big boost” [Washington Post]

    Not one mention of Sanders in the article (or in comments too as far as I can see)?

    Did he drop out of the race? Oh, that’s right. WP is the paper that ran 16 negative hours against Sanders in 16 hours last time around.

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