2:00PM Water Cooler 7/1/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, as I warned Friday, timing for Water Cooler will be a little bit sketchy until after July 4. Today I am starting an hour-and-a-half late, and will finish late, too. –lambert


“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 July 1: Biden down at 31.5% (32.0%), Sanders still rising at 17.2% (16.9%), Buttigieg down 6.0% (6.6%), Harris flat at 7.8% (7.8%), others Brownian motion. Of course, it’s absurd to track minute fluctuations at this point. The debates do not seem to have affected any candidate much, despite the sturm und drang, though I would wait ’til the end of the week to be sure. Remember, it always takes a few days for the press to congeal the storyline

* * *

“The Democratic Primary’s Moving Margins” [The New Yorker]. “For example, all the Democratic candidates want to build on the promise of Obamacare—part of the Party’s valuable focus on inequality. Only four raised their hands when asked if they would abolish private health insurance, and yet three of those are among the top four contenders in the polls: Sanders, Warren, and Harris. (Harris, the next day, clarified that the plan she supported allowed some exceptions to the prohibition on private insurance.)” • “Clarified” is doing a lot of work there. What Harris said is that she didn’t understand the question, which seems implausible in a prosecutor.


Biden (D)(1): “DNC chair touts Dems’ civil rights chops amid Biden busing flap” [Politico]. “Asked in an interview on ‘Fox News Sunday’ how damaging attacks on the former vice president’s opposition to federally mandated school busing in the 1970s could be, Perez said Biden and other candidates’ overall civil rights records are ‘clear.’ ‘Voters are going to look at the totality of everybody’s record,’ Perez said. ‘And the reality is every single Democrat running for president on the issue of civil rights is so far ahead of where this president is.’… Perez added that it’s up to Biden “to explain his position.”” • Ouch. But what I want to know is why Warren hasn’t called out Perez. Why is it OK for the DNC head to appear on FOX, but not Sanders?

Harris (D)(1): “Kamala Harris’ Big-Law Husband: Fact Sheet” [National Law Journal]. “Douglas Emhoff is a partner at DLA Piper in Los Angeles, California. The firm’s website explains that his practice involves complex business, real estate and intellectual property litigation disputes. DLA Piper describes Emhoff’s clients as ‘large domestic and international corporations and some of today’s highest profile individuals and influencers.’…. [Emhoff and Harris] posted adjusted gross joint income of $1.9 million last year, and reported that they gave an average of 1% to 3% to charity each year…. Speaking of Harris’ competitors, Emhoff is not the only attorney in the running to be First Gentleman depending on the outcome of the 2020 Democratic primary and 2020 presidential election. Warren’s husband is Bruce Mann, a Harvard Law professor. Klobuchar’s husband is John Bessler, an of counsel at the Minnesota boutique Berens & Miller.” • Credentialed professionals all….

Harris (D)(2): “Kamala Harris Set To Raise Money With Former Wells Fargo Executive” [HuffPo]. “A former Wells Fargo executive who defended the bank during its massive fake accounts scandal is hosting a fundraiser for Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign on Saturday, according to an invitation obtained by HuffPost. The former executive, Miguel Bustos, worked from 2013 to 2017 as Wells Fargo’s senior vice president of government and community relations, where he oversaw lobbying and community outreach efforts in six western states: California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana and Utah.” • That’s nice.

Hickenlooper (D)(1): ” John Hickenlooper’s War on Socialism” [The New Yorker]. ” On June 1st, Hickenlooper spoke to the annual convention of the California Democratic Party, in San Francisco, proceeding at a stately, teleprompter-friendly pace. “If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals,” Hickenlooper said, and then leaned into the rest of the line, “socialism is not the answer.” He paused for a moment, and loud boos began to swell into the pause. “I was reëlected,” Hickenlooper started again, but the boos had not abated. The video clip went viral, giving Hickenlooper’s candidacy a shorthand, or the possibility of one: the Democrat willing to make the case against socialism.” • This is silly. At the State of the Union speech, when Trump said “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country,” Warren stood up and applauded, and she wasn’t the only Democrat either.

Sanders (D)(1): “He’s not saying anything n-e-e-e-w [whines]”:

Sanders (D)(2): Canvassing:

Sanders (D)(3): Canvassing:

Important! If Sanders is in fact going to expand the Democrat base by bringing in non-voters, then we need to see more stories like this (and you can be sure the press won’t write them until very late in the game). This is the first such story I’ve seen, though I can’t keep track of everything,

Sanders (D)(4): Canvassing:

Any readers who can contact the Sanders merch operation? Pay attention!

Warren (D)(1): Good crowd:

Warren (D)(2): “The Ivory Tower team of wonks behind Warren’s policy agenda” [Politico]. “The approach has produced more detailed proposals than any other presidential rival and, to the surprise of even some in Warren-world, become a political asset. Her “I have a plan for that” rallying cry has, improbably, electrified crowds and achieved meme status. Jacob Leibenluft, who worked on policy on Obama’s campaign in 2012 and Hillary Clinton’s in 2016, said what’s unique in Warren’s case is her ability to weave her far-reaching policy ideas ‘into a broader worldview.’ Given Warren’s oft-repeated assertion that ‘personnel is policy,’ the thinkers behind her anti-establishment agenda are the sort of people who might fill a Warren administration: Intellectuals inclined to challenge conventional wisdom, and people long on expertise in their subject matters but shorter on experience in the hard-knock political arena. Warren’s campaign policy team—four people on staff, plus a close outside adviser who’s a professor at Vanderbilt University Law School—match that profile. All of them have degrees from Harvard or Yale, some two.” • So, the policy team all have degrees from the Ivy Monoculture, and they’re supposed to be challenging conventional wisdom? That doesn’t add up. It’s true that the political class loves them some wonkery. That’s also true of the liberal Democrat base. Whether it’s true for the country at large is another question.

Warren (D)(3): Who ghosted this? Madeline Albright?

“Ruthless dictator.” My Lord. When Warren calls out Neera Tanden for collecting UAE money, I’ll take her seriously on this.

Williamson (D)(1): “Marianne Williamson echoes Andrew Yang, says her mic was ‘not on’ during NBC debate” [MSN]. “Williamson was interacting with fans on Twitter late Friday night and was asked about the ‘rumors’ that mics weren’t working for certain candidates. She confirmed that she was one of them.” • Well, that would imply that NBC was rigging the debates, which is science fiction stuff.

IA: “Democratic debates kick off Iowa summer sprint” [The Hill]. “Virtually all of the 25 contenders will make swings through the first-in-the-nation caucus state over the Fourth of July week, marching in parades and stumping in town halls and living room house parties…. ‘Everything in presidential politics comes down to momentum. The first two or three states have a supersized and profound influence over the initial trajectory of the race,’ said David Jacobson, a Democratic strategist in California who is not aligned with any of the presidential candidates. ‘It’s possible Super Tuesday can manipulate and reconfigure that trajectory, but it’s more likely than not that March 3 will be a reflection of the accelerating momentum among top tier candidates from the first trio of state contests.'” • So “momentum” is the emerging story line…

“Can the Democrats Win Back Farm Country?” [Modern Farmer]. “In June, a detailed analysis of voter demographics from the 2018 midterms yielded an unexpected revelation: Democrats lost voters in suburban areas but made significant gains in rural areas. This does not translate to the flipping of more than a few rural congressional seats, but it does add fuel to the hypothesis that Trump’s rural base may, indeed, be eroding…. Another recent analysis found that Democrats essentially have to win back more rural voters to win the White House in 2020. Thanks to years of Republican-friendly gerrymandering, there are simply not enough urban and suburban voters who reliably vote for Democratic candidates to swing the electoral map in their favor….. If Scholten’s campaign had a secret to success, it’s that he spent a lot of time listening to, learning from and dealing with voters on their terms rather than showing up with fancy-sounding solutions that reeked of coastal elitism.” • Stoller was an early Scholten supporter, and he has an eye for such things.

“If The Democratic Primary Field Was a University History Department” [Notes from the Ironbound]. “Pete Buttigieg is the Type A personality assistant professor who got hired while he was still ABD at an Ivy League university. He was the golden child of his well-known advisor, but he mysteriously hasn’t published anything yet.” • Ouch! UPDATE ALl done. I think I ran long, but take advantage, because tomorrow will run short!


“Insinuendo: Why the Mueller Report Doth Repeat So Much” [Real Clear Investigations]. “Put these corrections all together and the special counsel’s oft-repeated statement – ‘Papadopoulos suggested to a representative of a foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton’ – should actually read ‘Papadopoulos said to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer that a professor who had traveled to Russia had told him Russia had damaging information about Hillary Clinton and might release it before the election.'” • I’ve read Part One of the Mueller Report. This isn’t wrong. (“Insinuendo” reminds me of the “sinuendo” peddled in the noir novel and movie LA Confidential: “Off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush.” Until it isn’t.)

“Fake News and Bots May Be Worrisome, but Their Political Power Is Overblown” [New York Times]. “Much more remains to be learned about the effects of these types of online activities, but people should not assume they had huge effects.” • A-a-a-n-d so much for Part Two.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Festival of immigration:

“Immigration and African-American Employment Opportunities: The Response of Wages, Employment, and Incarceration to Labor Supply Shocks” [NBER]. From May, still germane. From the abstract: “Using data drawn from the 1960-2000 U.S. Censuses, we find a strong correlation between immigration, black wages, black employment rates, and black incarceration rates. As immigrants disproportionately increased the supply of workers in a particular skill group, the wage of black workers in that group fell, the employment rate declined, and the incarceration rate rose. Our analysis suggests that a 10-percent immigrant-induced increase in the supply of a particular skill group reduced the black wage by 4.0 percent, lowered the employment rate of black men by 3.5 percentage points, and increased the incarceration rate of blacks by almost a full percentage point.”

Strange bedfellows:


* * *

“Former Bernie Staffers Launch Consulting Firm to ‘Primary the Consulting Class'” [Daily Beast]. “[Karthik Ganapathy and Mike Casca] of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) 2016 presidential campaign have launched a consulting firm to help progressive candidates win elections and to stick a thumb in the eye of the Democratic Party establishment… ‘The sort of calcification around the Democratic Party’s agenda has been driven a lot by the consultant class,’ Casca, who went on to serve as communications director for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, told The Daily Beast. ‘We have a party that is driven by a core of strategists that run a lot of their business on corporate clients and it affects everyone’s thinking.'” • Good for them. This challenges DCCC’s blacklist against shops who lend their skills to insurgents.

“For 2020, DCCC Isn’t Supporting Candidates Who Nearly Won” [The Intercept]. “In 2018, the DCCC similarly deemed a handful of races unwinnable, yet the candidates nearly won anyway. In Omaha, Nebraska, the party walked away from Kara Eastman, but she came within 2 percentage points of flipping that House seat. Again in Syracuse, the DCCC wrote off Dana Balter, spending just $300,000, but she fell just 5 percentage points short on Election Day. In Texas’ 10th district, Mike Siegel ran an aggressive race against Michael McCaul, the Republican currently serving in Tom DeLay’s former seat….. Unlike in 2008, the last presidential cycle to follow a Blue Wave, the DCCC seems to have little interest in 2020 in revisiting its assessment of candidates who fell just short. In Texas, the DCCC is courting a corporate lawyer with big-money backing to challenge Siegel in a primary. In Omaha, Eastman is running again, but the DCCC, whose recruit lost to her in 2018, has its eye on several other potential candidates. And in Syracuse, there’s been no shift in the DCCC’s distant posture toward Balter, who is running again, so far without the support of the party committee.” • Shocker.

“Whose Side Is The DCCC On? Bustos Moves Against Progressive Candidates Kara Eastman, Dana Balter And Mike Siegel” [Down with Tyranny]. “[Blue Dog Cheri Bustos] is already proving herself the worst DCCC chair in modern history and has turned herself into the most hated Democrat among party activists, something that took Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Rahm Emanuel many years to accomplish when they held that title. The Republicans aren’t running anyone against her— why should they? She votes very conservatively and having someone as incompetent as she is head up the DCCC is a dream come true for them. The 50 seats the Democrats could take in 2020 will likely turn into a couple of dozen— at best— under Bustos’ guidance. (Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but Bustos isn’t running anyone against her Republican counterpart, Tom Emmer (R-MN), the incompetent head of the NRCC.” • Sheesh, who appointed Bustos?

Stats Watch

Purchasing Managers’ Manufacturing Index, June 2019: “The good news is that the PMI manufacturing index rose [unexpectedly]. The bad news is that next to May… this is the lowest reading in nearly 10 years” [Econoday]. “Yet this report could be worse. Orders at least are still rising which is a cautious positive for future reports.”

Institute For Supply Management Manufacturing Index, June 2019: “ISM’s manufacturing sample did report slowing in June but not as much as expected” [Econoday]. “One important indication that manufacturing demand in the US is fizzling is a sharp fall in input costs as the prices paid index, at 47.9, is below breakeven 50 for the first time in 3-1/2 years. Backlog orders continue to contract, inventories are coming down, delivery times are improving, import buying is flat — all signs of weakness. Another disappointment is a 0.5 point decline in new export orders which are barely growing….. Strengths in today’s report are centered in production, which continues to hum along…. Yet the demand signals from the report, specifically new orders, are not favorable.”

Construction Spending, May 2019: “May was an unexpectedly weak month for the US construction sector and will be pulling back early second-quarter GDP estimates” [Econoday]. “Public spending has been propping up total construction spending all year but May shows some cracks including declines for highway & streets and no change for educational building… Yet boosted by a sharp turn lower for mortgage rates, 2019 was supposed to be a year of promise for the construction sector. But the sector so far, including for the second quarter, doesn’t look like it will contributing much to overall economic growth.”

Retail: “Confessions of a U.S. Postal Worker: ‘We deliver Amazon packages until we drop dead.'” [Gen]. “In mid-October, I spoke with a mail carrier who works at a midsize hub of the U.S. Postal Service in rural New England. As a rural carrier associate, they make just under $18/hour in a continuous, part-time position. During the week, the carrier says that between 75 and 80 percent of the packages they deliver are Amazon packages; on Sundays, when no letters are delivered, they deliver Amazon packages exclusively…” • This is a really excellent interview with — gasp — an actual postal worker. This passage caught me eye:

They [the USPS] do a computer-generated route every Sunday, so you show up, and depending on who has ordered packages, they hand you a paper sheet of turn-by-turn directions of what the computer has generated as the most efficient route. It’s wildly inaccurate most of the time. I generally know some of these towns now, so I look at these directions, and I’m like “Well, that’s not even remotely the most efficient path.” But you just have to use it because you can get in trouble if you go off route.

It’s going to be hard for outsourced Bolivian drone operators to duplicate that knowledge.

Retail: “McDonald’s isn’t just a fast-food chain—it’s a brilliant $30 billion real-estate company” [Quartz]. From 2017, stll germane: “[T]he real secret sauce has everything to do with how the company has quietly become more a real estate company than a restaurant chain. About 85% of the company in 2016 was represented by franchisee-run locations—people who agree to operate individual McDonald’s restaurants with a licensed privilege to the branding. But rather than collect a lot in royalties or sell its franchisees cooking equipment, McDonald’s makes much of its revenue by buying the physical properties and then leasing them to franchisees, often at large mark-ups. The company keeps about 82% of the revenue generated by franchisees, compared with only about 16% of the revenue from its company-operated locations, which is reduced by the expenses of running those operations, according to the investment blog Wall Street Survivor…. The average rent per store amounts to about 22% of average gross profits each year for franchisees. The company has more than 36,000 locations across more than 100 countries, so that adds up quickly. Better put, McDonald’s has more than $30 billion in real estate assets, and annual profits that float around $4.5 billion, according to company financial disclosures.” • So I guess that’s why it’s OK with corporate that Arnade’s deplorables hang out there?

Intellectual Property: “Taylor Swift calls sale of her master recordings to Scooter Braun ‘my worst case scenario'” [Consequence of Sound]. “Earlier today it was announced that music mogul Scooter Braun had acquired Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Label Group for a reported $300 million dollars. The deal includes the ownership of Taylor Swift’s master recordings for records released under Big Machine Records (which amounts to Swift’s first six studio albums).” Swift: “Thankfully, I am now signed to a label that believes I should own anything I create. Thankfully, I left my past in Scott’s hands and not my future. And hopefully, young artists or kids with musical dreams will read this and learn about how to better protect themselves in a negotiation. You deserve to own the art you make.”

“Airbnb likely removed 31,000 homes from Canada’s rental market, study finds” [Globe and Mail]. “More than 31,000 homes across the country were rented out so often on Airbnb in 2018 that they were likely removed from the long-term rental supply, according to a groundbreaking study by McGill University researchers…. Nearly half of all Canadian Airbnb revenue in 2018 was generated by commercial operators, or those who manage multiple listings, the McGill report said. Their share of sales increased from 2017 in nearly all metro areas. Among this group, there are some hosts that vastly eclipse the competition: Fifteen managed at least 100 active listings apiece in the past year, the report said, and nearly 60 hosts earned more than $1-million in 2018.” • So, you get to go into the hotel business without being regulated like a hotel. Pretty cool!

The Bezzle: “Sneaky deals are keeping cheaper generic medicines off the market” [Los Angeles Times]. “It’s bad enough drug companies charge sky-high prices for brand-name prescription meds and raise those prices with regular frequency. Some also cut secret deals to keep cheaper generic alternatives off the market — a practice known as pay for delay… About 90% of all U.S. drug sales involve generics, which are intended to be cheaper alternatives to brand-name drugs once a sufficient amount of time has passed for the original maker to recoup its research and development costs. Healthcare advocates say pharmaceutical companies figured out years ago that they can reap even greater profits by encouraging generic manufacturers to stay away from some of the most lucrative brand-name meds. This is typically done by direct payments or promises of profit sharing, or by the brand-name maker pledging not to bring out its own “authorized” generic to compete directly with the generic manufacturer. The deals are often reached during settlements of patent litigation.” • Nationalization. Now we’re talking disruption!

The Bezzle: “Divers pull more than 50 e-scooters from Willamette River” [Oregon Live]. “More than 50 e-scooters and a few bikes were pulled from the Willamette River in downtown Portland Tuesday and Wednesday by a county sheriff’s office dive team…. The divers were concerned that the scooters batteries could leak into the river.” • Quite right. Don’t do that. Throw them up in trees.

Honey for the Bears: “It’s Time to Fire Up All Engines to Boost World Growth, BIS Says” [Bloomberg]. “The Switzerland-based BIS, which promotes cooperation among the world’s monetary officials, used its annual economic report to urge politicians to “ignite all engines” to overcome a global soft patch. They should make structural reforms and strengthen fiscal and macroprudential measures, instead of relying on ever-lower interest rates in a debt-fueled growth model that risks turbulence ahead.” • Let me know how that works out…

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Volcanoes. “Several volcanoes have erupted in the past week” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 182. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

The Biosphere

Run! Run away!

“Saudi-led group of oil-producing countries gets major climate report scrubbed from UN negotiations’ [The Independent]. “Saudi Arabia has successfully lobbied for a major climate change report to be scrubbed from international negotiations on limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C. The Saudis led a loose coalition of oil-producing nations, including the US, Russia and Iran, that objected to the science behind the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)…. The final UN report had just five watered-down paragraphs on IPCC findings, explaining that they were based on the “best science available” without including more concrete information on how countries should reduce emissions targets….. Other recent developments have hampered efforts to tackle climate breakdown, including the UN failing to agree a zero emission target and the release of a draft text from the G20 summit that looks to water down climate change targets.”

“Wettest Weather in 124 Years Has U.S. Farmers Speeding Crops” [Bloomberg]. “After suffering through the wettest 12 months since at least 1895, U.S. farmers have plans to adapt next year to what some forecasters say may be an increasingly soggy new normal for the nation’s midsection. The plans include bigger and faster tractors to speed up planting, quick-growing seeds and more extensive use of cover crops and drainage tiles to keep flooding fields intact. But there’s problems here too, growers say: The tractors are costly, the short-season seeds have lower yields and cover crops and tiling take time and effort.” •˜Sounds like a job for financial engineering!

“Aviation’s dirty secret: Airplane contrails are a surprisingly potent cause of global warming” [Science]. “The aviation industry has long been criticized for its large environmental footprint, particularly its climate-warming carbon emissions. But a new study suggests that another byproduct of airplanes—the white contrails they paint across the sky—has an even bigger warming effect, one that is set to triple by 2050…. Andrew Gettelman, a cloud physicist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, says contrail cirrus clouds are a complex problem, but that their warming effect is still small compared with the overall amounts of CO2 belched by society. “If all we had were contrails, there wouldn’t be global warming.’x But, he adds, it’s still important for the aviation industry to understand the science and “get their impact right.'”

“It’s So Hot in Spain that Manure Self-Ignited, Sparking a Wildfire” [WHOTV]. • The pony is the metaphor, I suppose….

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“Line just went Orwellian on Japanese users with its social credit scoring system” [Fast Company]. “Line Score will use AI to give a social credit score to Line users. The strength of their social credit score will allow them to get access to better special deals and offers that Line users with lower social credit scores will not have access to. While the new product is unnerving, it’s not completely out of character for Line. Recently the company has been positioning itself as a fintech provider, and its Line Pay digital wallet system is wildly popular in Japan. Line Pay also allows users to shop for insurance and allows them to invest in personal portfolios. Line Score builds on top of Line Pay by offering those with higher scores better perks.” • Hmm. When will there be LineBucks? If there are not already?

“The Hotel Hackers Are Hiding in the Remote Control Curtains” [Bloomberg]. “Hackers target financial institutions because that’s where the money is, and they target retail chains because that’s where people spend the money. Hotels might be a less obvious target, but they’re hacked almost as often because of the valuable data that passes through them, like credit cards and trade secrets…. [T]his room was an older make, with a dumb TV, old phones, and a standard minibar, equipped with Heineken and Toblerone but no internet [Good so far]. Then one of the hackers started rooting around in the window frame. Nestled in a top corner [Enter the Internet of Sh*t] was an internet port, designed to let guests open and close the curtains by remote control. ‘his will be the way in,’ the leader said.”


“A Virtual Reality Check” [Zora]. “You might have tasted a slice of what existing while Brown feels like if you’ve played Life is Strange 2, a video game that follows two Latino brothers as they navigate their lives after a police brutality incident. … [I]f you’re playing as Sean, a runaway teen on the brink of starvation, who’s to say whether you’d steal from a gas station or not, especially if the owner already suspects you of shoplifting because you’re Brown and were speaking Spanish when you walked in?…. As Sean weighs the “good” and the “bad” choices, you — the player — wade with him through conundrums people of color face every day, complicated by the knowledge that the reputation of your entire race, or country, hangs in the balance…. That, my friends, is empathy, something video games instill like no other medium can. When it comes to helping people grapple with life’s biggest questions around its heaviest topics, video games remain an underutilized resource.” • For good or ill.

Groves of Academe

“University of Alaska president: Dunleavy veto is unprecedented and ‘devastating'” [Anchorage Daily News] (via this thread, and threads referenced within it). “Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Friday slashed $130 million in state support for the University of Alaska, a cut the UA president said could result in the elimination of academic programs, massive layoffs and tuition increases…. In total, that’s a 41% reduction in state support to the public university system compared to last year…. The size of the veto equates to the elimination of roughly 1,300 full-time faculty and staff jobs, [UA President Jim Johnsen] said.” • First, they came for the adjuncts. Then, they came for the professors. Then, they came for the Deans.

Health Care

So much for Al Franken:

Guillotine Watch

“Former Gov. Snyder headed to Harvard for fellowship” [Detroit News]. • The A. Alfred Taubman Chair in Poisoning Public Drinking Water And Then Covering It Up? Who thought this was a good idea and why do they still have a job?

“‘We all suffer’: why San Francisco techies hate the city they transformed” [Guardian]. “It was a beautiful winter day in San Francisco, and Zoe was grooving to the soundtrack of the roller-skating musical Xanadu as she rode an e-scooter to work. The 29-year-old tech worker had just passed the Uber building when, without warning, a homeless man jumped into the bike lane with his dog, blocking her path. She slammed on the brakes, flew four feet into the air and landed on the pavement, bleeding. ‘It was one of those hardening moments where I was like, ‘Even I am being affected,” she recalled.” • “Even I.” Xanadu is pretty rich too, since “Kubla Khan” is Coleridge’s poem about opium, concluding: “For he on honey-dew hath fed, And drunk the milk of Paradise,” which is pretty transparent. Of course, some people have real opium problems, not poetical ones; see Chris Arnade if you really want to see some “hardening moments.” Still, I shouldn’t rag on Zoe too much. She does say: “‘Mark Zuckerberg lives nearby, but our corner is the main prostitution corner in the city,’ she said of the Mission District apartment she shares with her boyfriend.” Except not “but.” Rather, “and.” (I would bet scooters are really hard to see, too; certainly harder than cars or bicycles, since the scooting person is the same height as a pedestrian, and if seen head on, might not even seem to be in motion. Tech is the opium of the techies.) This a dense article, and I’m not even sure I’m picking out the right things to be irritated about.

Class Warfare

“Debate Over Uber and Lyft Drivers’ Rights in California Has Split Labor” [New York Times] (via). “Behind the scenes, a few large unions had been meeting with the giants of the ride-hailing industry, Uber and Lyft, to discuss a way to exempt drivers from full employment protections, according to union and industry officials.” • So awesome.

“Taxing the Rich Starts With Knowing Who They Are” [Inequality.org]. “A decade ago, journalist Robert Frank offered a helpful overview of the wealthy in his 2007 book, Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Book [sic] and the Lives of the New Rich. I’ve adapted Frank’s concept to present a road atlas to the villages of today’s Richistan, USA. These villages include: Affluentville, Lower Richistan, Middle Richistan, Upper Richistan, and Ultra-Wealthyville.” • Fun!

“Opinion: Beware of billionaires peddling solutions for extreme inequality” [Pedro Nicolaci Da Costa, MarketWatch]. “New research confirms what many of us already knew: rich men are way overconfident in their own knowledge and ability, even in subjects on which they have little expertise.” • To revise Ronald Reagan: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from a squillionaire and I’m here to help.”

“The Scarcity Economy” [Gin and Tacos]. “I think there are two other important things going on with the resistance to free or at least heavily subsidized college. One is that the “Education is the silver bullet” mantra on the center-left would be undermined. Right now we can keep convincing people that their economic struggles are their own fault; if only you had the right skills you’d be doing so much better!…. The second issue is that, to be crass, credentials are only valuable if there is some scarcity…. So to some extent – and sadly this is quite logical – a lot of the opposition to truly throwing open the doors to higher education comes from people with higher ed credentials who don’t want to see the inevitable watering-down of the things they’ve used to establish professional success. We’re looking at a pool of politically important, professionally successful people who are thinking, I paid out the ass for my kid to go to ____ and now people are just gonna get a BA for free? It’s not the most attractive logic (and not enough of a reason on its own not to make a public policy that benefits society as a whole) but I certainly understand it. I have an advanced degree, and if everyone in America suddenly had an advanced degree it would be worth significantly less (if that’s possible). So, I get it.”

“Artificial Stupidity” [Los Angeles Review of Books]. “Arguably much of the social and digital infrastructure for creating a society without work exists today. Given that so many of the goods we buy and sell rely on capital-intensive industries and assembly-line production, how long will it be before the machines that have instrumentalized us as mere units of production finally submit to our needs? In Fully Automated Luxury Communism, Aaron Bastani sketches what he calls “the three disruptions,” or the evolutionary tipping points that have brought humans to the brink of this work-free utopia. Following the Neolithic Revolution, which enabled agriculture and human settlements to establish themselves at the end of the last ice age, humankind embarked upon the Industrial Revolution and “technological innovation.” As for the third disruption, that of digital information and artificial systems, we are already there. The challenge is to harness them toward the common good.” • Maybe. See the comments of the postal worker at “Stats Watch > Retail.” How much what we treat as automation is simply labor hidden behind a digital interface?

“American Exceptionalism, American Innocence, and What Comes Next” (interview) [The Hampton Institute]. Haiphong writes at Black Agenda Report (among other places). Haiphong: “I was lucky enough to have a professor who facilitated my transfer to New York City for the fall semester of 2011. While there, I interned for a labor union and participated in Occupy Wall Street. Both the labor movement and Occupy Wall Street, for different reasons, seemed unable to confront the fundamental contradictions of U.S. society. Labor leadership appeared indifferent to militant action out of opportunism and fear of capitalist reprisal. Occupy Wall Street appeared too disorganized to solidify an ideological and strategic direction and thus was vulnerable to state repression.” • Well worth a read.

News of the Wired

“Sacred Heart Strawberry Brownie Treat” [Catholic Cuisine (DG)]. “The crown of thorns was made with melted chocolate chips.” • Oh.

“GlottoScope” [Glottolog]. “GlottoScope provides a visualisation of the combination of Agglomerated Endangerment Scale (AES) and Most Extensive Description of the languages of the world (but since descriptive status can only be reliably computed from Glottolog data for spoken L1 languages and sign languages, we only display these).” • So if you want to see which languages are in danger of becoming extinct, this is the map for you.

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One of the more pleasant things about walking down the main street just now is the scent of lilacs, and many other flowers. Not what one thinks of as typical of Maine!

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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. Synoia

    But, he adds, it’s still important for the aviation industry to understand the science and “get their impact right.’”

    Boeing appears expert in Impact. Also, I’m sure Boeing is very focused on the current environment.

    Or should that “Also” be “Alas?”

  2. fdr-fan

    The assumption of “Trump’s rural base” is unfounded. In the 2016 primary, wheat and cattle states voted firmly for Cruz or Jeb. They understood correctly that tariffs to help the Rust Belt would hurt farmers, and they were right. Tariffs always help some industries and hurt others. Proper industrial policy has to compensate for this imbalance, or ideally try to strengthen the weak sector first, with tariffs as a minor secondary force.

    1. Tom Doak

      But hasn’t trade policy been favoring agriculture for thirmty years, to the detriment of manufacturing ? It has just favored Big Ag, not small farmers.

  3. Clive

    Re: Kamala Harris and her husband’s Big Law friends and acquaintances.

    DLA Piper are just about the worst corporate lawyer going, real commercial-equivalents of ambulance chancers. They are notorious and despised here in the U.K. in legal circles, even amongst the law firms which tout for big accounts among large enterprises and the government. They’re the dregs of the anti-labour dregs, no blow is to low a blow for DLA Piper to use.

    Naturally, my TBTF uses their services. They’re the go-to firm for roughing up employees in court, targeting benefits looking for the most nebulous of legal wheezes and loopholes or coming up with battle of attrition strategies for customers who have deep pockets and might want to try putting up bit of resistance.

    Anyone who has worked for them for more than about five minutes knows exactly what kind of operation they are and have checked their morality in at the reception desk.

    Scum, absolutely scum.

      1. Cal2

        How a 7/8 white and Indian, descendant of slave and plantation owners in a foreign country can become The self anointed spokescritter for disenfranchised black Americans strains credulity, unless you look at who owns the casting couch.


        Freedom Rider: Kamala Harris and America’s Oligarchs
        “Any questions about Harris or other anointed persons will be derided as the perfect being the enemy of the good or leftists spoiling the Democrats’ designs.”

        “The proof that America is not a democracy is quite obvious. Academic studies and our own common sense tell us that this nation is ruled of, for and by wealthy individuals and corporate interests. One of their most tenaciously held prerequisites is the ability to decide who does and doesn’t run for office, and the presidency is their most prized possession of all.”

        “According to recent press reports, California’s newly elected senator Kamala Harris has begun her turn on the rich people’s casting couch. Harris won’t have to run for Senate re-election until 2022, so the quick once over from the high and mighty means only one thing. America’s oligarchs in the Democratic Party are considering her for the job at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2020.”

        “Former Hillary Clinton donors have lined up to vet Harris. Names of the usual suspects like George Soros are popping up as past Harris fund raisers. Their goal is to make sure that voters’ will have limited choices and won’t dare to think beyond the names that are handed to them for consideration.”

    1. JohnnyGL

      A lot of the private equity barons my dept works with use them, too. They’re in the rotation of an exclusive group that gets to write up docs for new deals.

      I can’t say that they’re worst/best or anything. Just that they’re in a VERY exclusive group of what Yves calls ‘white-shoe law firms’.

  4. Geo

    “What Harris said is that she didn’t understand the question, which seems implausible in a prosecutor.”

    Especially considering the exact same question was asked the day before.

    1. jrs

      then again her explanation basically shows she is just splitting hairs and actually does believe in ending most private insurance. Now trust her is another matter … But her (public) position seems not to have changed in any significant way since she raised her hand.

      1. Off The Street

        Harris’s response is all we’ve come to expect from years of California government training. The Goldenish State politico class raises such nonsense to art forms. Since also in the smoggy zone, sign me as follows:


        1. Expat2uruguay

          Yes, yes! I really like your reasoning there. / s

          and to be clear, I do not support Harris in any way. But if you want to be taken seriously as a commenter, you’re going to need to do better than that

    2. voteforno6

      Maybe she is just that dumb. After all, if there’s anything the past 5 years or so has taught us, is that our so-called elites don’t exactly possess elite-level intelligence.

      1. Carey

        Maybe, but I think it’s likelier strategic dissembling from Harris. As others have pointed out, she’s done this exact same thing in response to this question before
        (“let’s get rid of it [insurance companies], all of it.”), before walking it back.

      2. JohnnyGL

        She’s done this a couple of times, already, during this campaign. I wonder if she’s trying to say one thing to a TV audience and another to the print media audience who reviews the ‘clarifications’ issued by her campaign office.

        Hillary Clinton isn’t dumb at all. But she often did similar things where she changed/clarified so many times that she looked foolish and tripped over her own feet in the process.

    3. Bugs Bunny

      Why would there not be room for private insurance firms under M4A? Wouldn’t some people want supplementary coverage for things like getting a top-flight plastic surgeon after an accident or covering orthodontics, better eyeglasses, etc.? The remaining insurance companies can of course be highly regulated and forced into mutualizing (again), for example.

      I guess I’m saying that I don’t have an issue with Harris backing up a bit on that answer.

      1. marym

        Candidates answering the “private insurance” question need to specify whether they mean keeping private insurance for anything not covered by M4A, or as an alternative to M4A. In a better world the people asking the question would be clear on this too, but, oh, well…

        The Jayapal and Sanders bills, if that’s what they claim to support, provide coverage beyond what current Medicare covers – more services like dental and vision, and 100%, not 80%. I think a lot of people, whether they have Medicare or not, know that it doesn’t cover everything, but don’t know that M4A isn’t the same, and that the scope a supplemental plan under M4A would be much different.

        Harris is listed as a sponsor of the Sanders bill. It would be nice if she seemed to know what it said about private insurance before stumbling on the question.

      2. sleepy

        The Canadian system also bans private insurance for anything covered under their single payer system. Since Canada doesn’t have a single payer system for dental, optical, and drugs, they are free to buy it.

        I assume the same would exist in the US under the Sanders-Jayapal plan–private insurance would be allowed for anything not covered by M4A, though that plan has dental and optical covered unlike Canada.

        1. rd

          Canadian supplemental insurance also covers things like a requested private room (note: you don’t need the insurance if they put you in a private room and you didn’t request it). Pharmaceuticals for your care while you are in hospital are generally covered under the single payer. It is the prescriptions for acute or chronic conditions at home that generally require the supplemental insurance. However, the single payer system generally dictates the prices that you can be charged for the prescriptions so the uninsured pay the same price as the insured. That is why Americans are going across the border to get insulin.

      1. zagonostra

        Thanks for link, it looks like a data rich and very detailed web site, look forward to delving into and contrasting with geoengineeringwatch.org/ website.

        Have you contrasted the two, where do you come down on issue of whether the weather is being manipulated, for either benign or nefarious motives?

        1. Aumua

          Well, as an Atmospheric Science grad student I suppose I’m ideally situated to get in on the alleged weather control soon if it is going on. ^_^

          However, so far, none of the scientists I have met or worked with seem to have any connection to any covert or overt weather modification programs. They could all be covering it up I suppose, but how many people can really keep something that big, that quiet?

          1. zagonostra

            The question you ask is valid and addressed by Dan Wigington. I’m at the stage where I’m using my own eyes and reason to determine whether this is normal. I work for an airline and live near an airport and I think Wigington who is no wing nut is convincing.

            The Web Site you linked to doesn’t seem to have a “face” behind it…anyway thanks again for linl

  5. Sharkleberry Fin

    Big-Law husbands, attorneys, public office, gov’t – What!? Lawyers and the lawyers who love them [liberals at the office, authoritarians in the bedroom] want to write laws, execute laws, and enforce laws? This comes out of nowhere. Professionals in politics. Will wonders never cease? – What puts the “social” in social democrat? Social science and those who study it, credentialed professionals, all. Without the professionals who create the justification that changes superstition into knowledge, it’s all just pandering and demagoguery. POTUS at the G21* [G20+Ivanka] is uncredentialed, writ large.

    1. jrs

      People in that class marry others in their class? *faints* i’m shocked, shocked! OF COURSE, these people are going to marry credentialed professionals. Who else would they marry?

      I can’t really put professor in the worst category though, even a Harvard professor …

    2. Cal2

      Big-Law husbands, attorneys, public office, gov’t – What!?

      “In 2015, attorney general Harris declined to prosecute Herbalife
      (while her husband Douglas Emhoff, was employed by a law firm representing Herbalife)”


      “Kamla, the great voice for migrants”

      “Latinos, in particular, have been on the receiving end of the company’s predatory practices. The feature documentary Betting on Zero follows New York businessman Bill Ackman – who makes a $1 billion bet against Herbalife’s stock. Ackman called the company a pyramid scheme, because nothing of true value is ever actually bought or sold. Instead, he charged that the only way to make money is through recruitment.”


    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Big law, small law.

      In the film Nashville, Hal Philip Walker, the presidential candidate of the Replacement Party, wants to take on big oil, get a new national anthem that people can sing to, get more non-lawyers in congress (maybe 100% non-laywers), among other ideas.

    4. Darthbobber

      Word salad doesn’t suffice to transform bare assertions into actual arguments.

  6. JerryDenim

    “Aviation’s dirty secret: Airplane contrails are a surprisingly potent cause of global warming” Science –

    Hmmm, it seems like contrails are like wine, coffee, and eggs. They’re good for you. They’re bad for you. They’re good for you. New study- They’re not good for you.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a number of older studies stating that contrails reflected solar radiation in the same way as high cloud cover or nuclear winter thereby ameliorating the effects of global warming.

    After a few paragraphs mostly dealing with “soot” which I suppose means particulate exhaust in the atmosphere, the article ends with a slightly confusing quote from a cloud physicist saying ““If all we had were contrails, there wouldn’t be global warming.” Which I take to mean it’s not the physical contrail you see (the long, thin wispy ice clouds created by high altitude aircraft exhaust) that causes atmospheric warming but rather the particulate matter in the contrail or the aircraft exhaust contents which create a problem. So if this is in fact what these scientists are saying, contrails could be both a positive and a negative for global warming, which leaves me wondering which effect is stronger? The high-level cloud-creating, heat-reflecting properties of contrails or the warming effects of the particulate matter.

    “But little is known about the relationship between climate warming and cloud coverage, and how atmospheric warming affects temperatures on the surface.”

    Ok, fair enough, but the article doesn’t back up the headline and at the least it sounds like the jury is still out on contrails. The article verifies the particle exhaust created by burning kerosene in a turbine engine is undoubtedly and unsurprisingly bad for global warming, but I don’t really see where there is any information indicating high altitude contrails do anything to worsen global warming. I’m not arguing that airplane exhaust is good, it’s obviously not, but the high altitude contrails produced by passenger jets might be the most positive thing about them environmentally speaking. I think more research is called for on this topic.

    1. Monty

      Isn’t it important what time of day it is whilst the contrail is present? When the sun is high they reflect the rays having a cooling effect. When it is dark they act like a blanket keeping heat in. So they might just net out to a no effect… but who knows!

      1. John

        Do you remember the pristine blue purity of the sky when all planes were grounded in the days after 9/11?

  7. roxy

    “Sacred Heart Strawberry Brownie Treat” [Catholic Cuisine (DG)]. “The crown of thorns was made with melted chocolate chips.” • Oh.

    Oh? Thanks for posting that recipe. It looks delicious.

    1. Greg

      If you do have a go at that, I’d suggest mixing the chocolate with an equal weight of butter and melting them together – it’ll end up softer once it hardens again, making it easier to serve/eat, and helping avoid cracking when you flex it around the brownie.

    2. Lepton1

      I survived 12 years of Catholic school. The idea of the crown of thorns made with melted chocolate chips was just too amazing. Sounds like The National Lampoon or The Onion. I realize there are whole worlds out there I never imagined were possible.

      1. polecat

        Hummm … You might enjoy the film “Chocolate”, Lepton … Just don’t
        partake during Lent !

  8. Carey

    I think a Sanders ball-cap is a damned good idea. Can you just see a forest of those things? I sure can…

    Wonder what particular form Well Fargo “community outreach™” took..
    something about tentacles

    1. John k

      In 2016 I wanted a sanders cap. Not available on his site.
      Googled sanders cap, found it, bought it, and proudly wore it.
      But I lost the little gem somewhere. Guess I’ll have to start over.

  9. clarky90

    A Monday quiz:

    Fake Meat “Not Very Different From Dog Food

    ….University of California/Davis professor Frank Mitloehner said, “When you look at Impossible Burger or Beyond Meat, you will find that they have 21 or 22 highly-processed ingredients. In fact, so processed that you are hard pressed in identifying the difference between those items, versus let’s say, pet food.”

    Trivia quiz: following are the ingredients of three food/feed items. Two of them are fake burgers (namely @ImpossibleFoods burger and @BeyondMeat burger, respectively) and the third is premium dog food. Can you pick the latter?


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some dogs/pets are really loved, cared for, more than not a few humans are.

  10. Plenue

    Regarding Life is Strange 2, I’m pretty lukewarm on it.The first game (and its prequel) were fundamentally personal stories detached from any larger scale considerations (LGB themes, yes, but I don’t recall it ever being framed in terms of wider social ramifications). Also it was entirely set in Oregon (and someplace that isn’t ‘Portlandia’ on top of that), which is something that hardly ever happens. So that’s nice.

    The sequel goes political. But the studio and creators are French. So you have outsiders making commentary on the politics of a country not their own, which is generally never a particularly helpful thing. But it also firmly puts itself in the Age of Trump™ hand-wringing category. The basic premise of the whole game is two characters literally fleeing encroaching bigotry, as if racism is something new that just appeared in the US. So we have outsiders making political commentary on the US, but their knowledge of the US is filtered through virtue signalling media that portrays Trump as something entirely new.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The sequel goes political. But the studio and creators are French. So you have outsiders making commentary on the politics of a country not their own, which is generally never a particularly helpful thing.

      “The character of Donald Trump was played by Jerry Lewis.”

      * * *

      Though I’m not sure if games have cast lists.

  11. Sharkleberry Fin

    Sanders: “It’s never made sense to me that a few people have incredible wealth and power while most have none.” The Presidency is only one person [the “fewest” possible] that wields an enormous amount of power [arguably, the most]. Sander is being unintentionally disingenuous; it must make some sense, logically speaking, or otherwise Sanders would not be running to hold that position. Sanders thinks the wrong people hold wealth and power, as if wealth and power could ever be held the “right” way, even in an egalitarian fashion.

    Which brings me to demagoguery: appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument. Is it wrong when demagoguery is deployed toward accomplishing moral ends? Gee, I don’t know, but it reminds me of Voltaire’s Candide [btw, a theatre adaption, “Candide, or, Optimism, or #blessed, or, a journey into pain and suffering and the demise of privileged innocence and–wait, how are middle schoolers going to do this?, or, Candide!” – awesome title! — just opened in the Chicago-area, Evanton’s Mudlark Theatre, with children playing some roles], where the humanist, armed with optimism that a just society is possible, leaves nothing but cataclysm in his wake, engendering the hatred of the very people the humanist is trying to save, because beliefs, war, famine, poverty, gov’t, justice, and twitter are human institutions that are flawed no matter what the configuration.

    1. Darthbobber

      Hmm. The meaning seems clear enough. There would seem to be a difference between power inhering in an office of public trust and wealth and power derived directly from one’s personal position in the ostensibly private social and economic hierarchies.

    2. Geo

      Depends on if Sanders means “it doesn’t make sense” logically or morally. Logically it makes sense of course and his words could be seen as disingenuous. But, I took it as being a moral statement. Much like saying “It doesn’t make sense that we are polluting our fragile ecosystem”. Of course there is a reasoning for it that makes sense but morally it is insanity.

      Considering how strong people respond to moral arguments as opposed to logical arguments, I think Sanders speaking from the moral side is smart.

    3. Plenue

      His ‘demagoguery’ is rational argument. Class warfare is not a metaphor.

      Nice job demonstrating you’ve never actually read Candide though.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      The term demagogue is not unproblematic; we should consider who coined it and applied it.

      “A political leader who seeks support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument.”

      But isn’t “rational” doing a lot of work there? Do professors in mainstream neoliberal economics have desired and prejudices, for example, and should we give consideration to the idea that they are concerned to rule the desires and prejudices of “ordinary people” out of bounds?

      For example, “you have the right not to be killed” (quoting The Clash, but also William Barber). Would neoliberals regard that as an irrational prejudice, a mere desire? Based on performance, the answer is yes.

  12. rd

    RE: USPS pre-programmed routes

    The organization may have a different perspective on efficiency than the driver. For example, UPS does its route programming to eliminate as many left turns as possible: http://theconversation.com/why-ups-drivers-dont-turn-left-and-you-probably-shouldnt-either-71432

    Eliminating left turns does three things: it reduces waiting time to make the left turn, it reduces energy usage of accelerating from standstill, and reduces accidents. To the driver, there may be an “obvious” benefit of turning left somewhere, but the system-wide stats may say that is not optimum on average.

    1. Geo

      Always good times when my GPS finds a short cut for me that involves a left turn at a stop sign across three lanes of rush hour traffic. Sure, if I had no value for my life or the lives of those in cross traffic and just floored it like a game of Frogger it would be quicker and more efficient. But, as one who doesn’t like to treat physics like a game of roulette I usually just make a right turn and deal with the condescending “Rerouting” the digital voice yells at me.

    2. Lepton1

      On roads without dedicated left turn lanes and signals eliminating left turns also eliminates the backup behind the person turning left.

      We have a major four lane road around here that would greatly benefit from eliminating left turns. The city could easily change this into requiring people to go past a signal light and make three right turns.

  13. JohnnyGL

    Re: Gin and Tacos and Scarcity Economy

    There’s truth in how people see that. A fairly class-conscious Republican-leaning type woman that I work with advised against free in-state tuition suggesting my kids might not be able to gain admission with all the new applicants flooding in….meaning I’m be forced onto the private university market to get my kids a degree and those of us in the slightly upper middle class will be forced to load up on debt to get our kids a college degree.

    It’s hard to say she’s not asserting her class interests.

    Perhaps we need to break the squillionaire control of the job market? Where’s that Job Guarantee when you need one?

    1. jrs

      That woman is describing how things actually are in my experience. In CA many public colleges actually are overcrowded. They’ve adapted to this fact, so that even the easiest institutions to get into, put forth a lot of silly obstacles if not quite barriers to entry that didn’t used to be there. They wear people down. Also they don’t guarantee admission, they only admit in the fall and call this being “impacted”, and you have to apply almost a year ahead of time. This doesn’t affect the ideally motivated student that people like to envision, but not everyone falls into that category especially with everyone and their brother needing to get a degree due to credential inflation. And then people often can’t get the classes to graduate in 4 years if going to school full time, even if they want to. I know people who have left CA to get their education elsewhere for for this very reason.

      And state education while less expensive than some states is not even free.

  14. Detroit Dan

    Remember weapons of mass destruction related program activities? (Synonym for “We’ve got nothing.”).

    According to the Real Clear Investigations link, the Mueller Report is similar in style. For example:

    From the first page of his report, the special counsel is eager to establish the narrative that that Papadopoulos, not Steele, sparked the initial investigation. Mueller writes that in May 2016 “Papadopoulos had suggested to a representative of [a] foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.”

    This is considered such an important point that it’s repeated practically word-for-word 5 times in the report. But look closely and it’s full of weasel words such as “suggested” and “received indications”. It also incorrectly states that the “indications” came from the “Russian government”.

    Read the whole thing. It’s a brilliant summary of the Mueller Report, IMO.

    1. polecat

      Innuendo, fabrication, and lies ! Just the thing for the likes of the FIXER !

      Mueller needs to spend an inordinate amount of time looking at steel bars .. from the prisoner’s perspective, right along side HER-> & Bill !!

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      What the Mueller Report does offer is tremendous insight into the FBI’s counter-intelligence operation, a hall of mirrors (“the brilliance of suspicion” CP Snow calls it somewhere).

      It also never occurred to me what a self-own “counter-intelligence” is until just now. Whose intelligence is being countered, after all?

  15. Bazarov

    Regarding “The Scarcity Economy” article, there’s this excerpt from Kautsky (paraphrasing Marx):

    The result of this whole development is that the number of educated people has increased enormously. Nevertheless, the beneficent results which the idealists expected from an increase of education have not followed. So long as education is a merchandise, its extension is equivalent to an increase in the quantity of that merchandise, consequently to the falling in its price and the decline in the condition of those who possess it. The number of educated people has grown to such an extent that it more than suffices for the wants of the capitalists and the capitalist state. The labor market of educated labor is today as overstocked as the market of manual labor. It is no longer the manual workers alone who have their reserve army of the unemployed and are afflicted with lack of work; the educated workers also have their reserve army of idle, and among them also lack of work has taken up its permanent quarters. The seekers for public office find that avenue of employment crowded. Those who seek openings elsewhere experience the extremes of idleness and excessive work just as do the manual workers, and like them are the victims of wage-slavery.

    The condition of the educated workers deteriorates visibly; formerly people spoke of the “aristocracy of intellect,” today we speak of the “intellectual” or “educated” proletariat.

    The time is near when the bulk of these proletarians will be distinguished from the others only by their pretensions. Most of them still imagine that they are something better than proletarians. They fancy they belong to the bourgeoisie, just as the lackey identifies himself with the class of his master. They have ceased to be the leaders of the capitalist class and have become rather their defenders. Place-hunting takes more and more of their energies. Their first care is, not the development of their intellect, but the sale of it. The prostitution of their individuality has become their chief means of advancement. Like the small producers, they are dazzled by the few brilliant prizes in the lottery of life; they shut their eyes to the numberless blanks in the wheel and barter away soul and body for the merest chance of drawing such a prize. The barter and sale of one’s convictions and the marriage for money are, in the eyes of most of our educated proletarians, two means, as natural as they are necessary, to “make one’s fortune.”

    Still, the supply of this class grows so rapidly that there is little to be made out of education, even though one throws his individuality into the bargain. The decline of the mass of educated people into the class of the proletariat can no longer be checked.

    Whether this development will result in a movement of the educated people to join the battling proletariat in mass and not, as hitherto, singly, is still uncertain. This however, is certain: The fact that the educated people are being forced into the proletariat has closed to the proletarians the only gate through which its members could, by dint of their own unaided efforts, escape into the class above.

    The possibility of the wage-earner becoming a capitalist is, in the ordinary run of events, out of the question. Sensible people do not consider the chance of winning a prize in a lottery or of falling heir to the wealth of some unknown relative when they deal with the condition of the working-class. Under certain particularly favorable conditions it has sometimes happened that a workman succeeded, through great privations, in saving up enough to start a little industry of his own, or to set up a little retail shop, or to give his son a chance to study and become something “better” than his father. But it was always ridiculous to hold out such possibilities to the workman as a means of improving his condition. In the ordinary course of events the working-man may thank his stars if he is at all able, even during good times, to lay by enough not to remain empty-handed when work becomes slack. Today, however, to hold out such hopes to working-men is more ridiculous than ever. The economic development makes saving not only more difficult, but it renders it impossible for a working-man, even if he succeeds in saving something, to pull himself and his children out of the class of the proletariat. To invest his little savings in some small independent industry were for him to fall from the frying pan into the fire; ten to one he will be thrown back to his previous condition, with the bitter experience that the small producer can no longer keep his head above water – an experience which he will have purchased with the loss of his hard-earned savings.

    Today, whichever way the proletarian may turn, he finds awaiting him the same proletarian conditions of life. These conditions pervade society more and more. In all countries the mass of the population has sunk to the level of the proletariat. To the individual proletarian the prospect has vanished of ever being able, by his own efforts, to pull himself out of the quagmire into which the present system of production has pushed him. The individual proletarian can accomplish his own redemption only with the redemption of his whole class.

    -Kautsky, The Class Struggle

    1. jrs

      yea people with degrees are already overproduced, it makes very little sense to encourage a larger percentage of people to get them from an societal perspective, but everyone has to get their lottery ticket.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      The last sentence is the key. The opposite of IDPol is what’s required

    3. False Solace

      Free college and tech school would to some extent function like a JG. Students form a reserve army of the unemployed, shuffled into classrooms to keep them away from the job market. We saw this during the Great Financial Crisis when enrollment surged in sync with layoffs. Student loan debt spiked and hasn’t gone down since.

    4. Lepton1

      So is it better to be uneducated? My life is fantastically richer because of my education. This is quite apart from any material wealth I’ve acquired due to my degree.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I agree! I favor free higher education to assure the next generation knows as much as they can of what is known and learns to think, question, be curious and always interested to learn more. Knowledge is a good in-itself.

  16. Darius

    I worked part time at a company-run McDonald’s during the late 70s. One of the managers explained to me that McDonald’s was mostly a real estate operation and didn’t want to actually run the place.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    You know what would be really great on a hot summer day doing community canvass? A Bernie baseball cap with a nice brim to shade your eyes. Too bad the Bernie store does not offer that https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel … @fshakir

    Plus the picture of t-shirts and a Feel the Bern coffee cup.

    We talk often about reduce, reuse and recycle.

    I wonder if used t-shirts, from 2016, are avaialble.

    1. Hepativore

      Could you imagine things like Bernie Sanders tote bags or lunchboxes? The tote bag would be useful for places like Aldi and nice metal durable lunchbox would come in handy. The trouble though, is that you might get terminated for having Bernie Sanders on your lunchbox in some workplaces.

      1. polecat

        Kinda like the threat of phyical harm for wearing a red MAGA baseball cap, no ?

        Ah, the dipole of the times is the politics of hating on the ‘other’.

  18. Chris Cosmos

    Turning off mics–if they did it was, after all NBC are most deeply political of all networks–out flanking Fox by a mile but with poorer production values. I almost don’t care if they turned on and off random mics. I found the “debates” to be badly done in every way focusing particularly the three major league hammy smirkers with the GOAT of smirking leading the way, i.e., Rachel Maddow with Chuck Todd far down as a respectable second and Lester Holt nearly catching Todd for second but since Todd cannot manage even an iota of sincerity he wins the nod for second place–though Holt should get some consideration for his Ted Bater-ish delivery.

    The remaining two were obnoxious in unique way with Guthrie the least obnoxious except for her questions. As for Telemundo-dude well….

    The point is that having celebrities be political commissars is not a pleasant experience for me. They’re obviously using their power to influence the public in a naked kind of way. There is obviously no attempt to be even-handed both in what questions they ask, the issues they emphasize, and who they ask questions of, whose mics they turn on or off and who they allow to talk over who. To put it another way the whole business is mockery and just, all around, not even a good show. I guess Trump’s performance at the Republican clown show last time around spoiled me–that was usually good entertainment.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The whole thing is like a quiz show; the set design, the format, the stupidly whooping audience*. They’re not moderators, they’re judges. It’s disgusting and degrading. I wish one of the candidates would revolt.

      NOTE * Many of whom paid $1750 and up to get in, or are party loyalists. It’s not the average joe or jane that’s stupidly whooping, it’s the lower ranks of our political class. The “moderators” ritually ask them not to applaud, but that’s still and all know it; the stupid whooping is part of the spectacle.

  19. Carolinian

    Speaking of patents, Cory Doctorow gets picked up by Wolfstreet on “felony contempt of business model.”


    It’s about how printer companies like Lexmark use the courts and the DMCA to try to squelch consumer rights to reverse engineer. As in the case of the drug companies, the patents become, not a government controlled sponsorship of innovation, but rather government defended (through court rulings–in many cases) monopoly capitalism.

    The other day Dean Baker said the Dem debaters should have answered the “tax raise scare” re M4A by pointing out that drug patents are private taxation to pay for the current system.

  20. anon in so cal

    Re: Uber and Lyft

    “Uber co-founder Garrett Camp quietly shells out $71 million for Beverly Hills mansion”

    “Uber co-founder Garrett Camp just upped the ante by paying roughly $71 million for a newly built Beverly Hills mansion, according to sources not authorized to comment on the sale.

    The deal was done off-market. Details and photos are scarce, but satellite images and property records show that the home was recently rebuilt from the studs up…..Camp, 40, co-founded Uber with Travis Kalanick in 2009 and remains a board member. His other ventures include web-discovery service StumbleUpon and start-up studio Expa.

    Forbes lists his net worth at $4.2 billion.”

  21. richard

    Looking through that guardian piece about SF I can see why lambert seethed
    starting with the title “we all suffer”
    a well mannered tour through the presumptuousness of west coast professional libs
    The full consequences of one-sided class warfare are noted, but everything that has led to that moment (namely, a full generation of one-sided class warfare) is stupidly ignored, and a violation of norms to even bring up

  22. Basil Pesto

    I know Lambert had been more interested in gaming stories.

    This past week in Minneapolis was one of the gaming subculture‘s (not industry’s) biggest biennial (I think) events: Games Done Quick, where highly skilled gamers from around the world gather to do “Speedruns” of classic and newer games. Speedruns are attempts to complete a game as quickly as possible : this can be done straightforwardly or by exploiting huge timesaving glitches in the software, some of which are so esoteric that you kinda wish these guys tested Boeing software. It’s often impenetrable to watch even if you are familiar with the game being played but my personal favourites, the various Super Mario speedruns (including some made on custom, ROM-hacked cartridges with levels of insane difficulty called ‘Kaizo Mario’) are pretty legible and generally a delight to watch.

    All these run are performed live in front of boisterous crowds but then also streamed on Twitch to a large worldwide audience. The event is essentially a charity drive, with money donated by viewers during the streams, raising $3,000,000 for Doctors without Borders for this event (it’s a different charity each time).

    More here: https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2019-07-01-summer-games-done-quick-raises-usd3m-for-doctors-without-borders

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > All these run are performed live in front of boisterous crowds but then also streamed on Twitch to a large worldwide audience. The event is essentially a charity drive, with money donated by viewers during the streams, raising $3,000,000 for Doctors without Borders for this event (it’s a different charity each time).

      This is quite remarkable. Do feel free to send links to the address above.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The video is pretty bad. Black-clad masked antifa bearing sticks and rods swooping in on Ngo, striking him, and then swooping off. It’s very odd. It’s all individuals striking a single blow and rushing off. They don’t get him down on the ground and stomp him as a group for example. Clearly the tactics are chosen for a purpose, but I don’t know what it is. For the cameras?

      Let us remember, as always, that Black bloc is full of cops…

  23. Oregoncharles

    “Good for them. This challenges DCCC’s blacklist against shops who lend their skills to insurgents.”

    Yes, I thought that sounded like a business opportunity; they were essentially telling insurgents to set up their own “consulting” firms. That isn’t so much “lend” as “sell.” Though the resulting ossification might just echo the problems with the existing party.

  24. Oregoncharles

    “It’s So Hot in Spain that Manure Self-Ignited, Sparking a Wildfire”
    The climate/weather connection is hooey; manure piles will spontaneously ignite in almost any weather, if they’re large enough and not turned often enough. I actually got this from the farmer I used to buy composted chicken manure from; his piles were so large he used a D-9 Cat to turn them. He said they would catch fire if he didn’t. Great fertilizer; quite a fragrance.

    However, the spread of the wildfire might have a lot to do with the weather.

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