2:00PM Water Cooler 7/16/2019

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 July 16: Biden continues rise at 27.8% (27.6%), Sanders steady at 15.0% ( 15.0%), Warren down sharply at 15.0% (16.3%), Buttigieg down at 4.8% (5.0%), Harris down 13.4% ( 13.6%), others Brownian motion.

* * *


Castro (D)(1): “Julián Castro and the predatism of private equity” [WaPo]. “[W]hen former housing and urban development secretary Julián Castro took questions at the event’s Saturday presidential forum, surely he should have had an answer at the ready for attendee Sarah Woodhams, a former employee of Toys R Us, another company gutted by private equity firms, who asked, ‘As president, what would you do to hold hedge funds and private equity accountable for destroying our communities and our livelihoods?’ He did not.” More: “Private equity firms put money in a company to make money from their investment. On paper, of course, there is nothing wrong with that. The issue comes when, as happens all too often, making money is prioritized over the health of the business and/or the community.” • If I understand this, the issue with private equity goes deeper: As an industry, it can no longer justify its fee structure with the returns from its performance; an earlier generation of locusts was already eaten the land bare, and moved on.)

Harris (D)(1): “Kamala Harris rises into second place in new Saint Anselm College poll of NH primary voters” [WMUR]. “Harris, apparently still resonating with voters following her debate performance more than two weeks ago, is backed by 17.5 percent of likely Democratic first-in-the-nation primary voters. That support puts her just more than 3 percentage points behind former Vice President Joe Biden, who received 20.8 percent. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a close third, at 16.7 percent, less than a percentage point behind Harris. Sanders registered 9.9 percent, behind Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is fourth in the poll with 11.5 percent.” • Alarm bell for Sanders, or fluke?

Harris (D)(2): “Kamala Harris Blasts, Then Takes Money From Jeffrey Epstein’s Law Firm” [KPIX]. “Kamala Harris bemoaned the influence of the powerful and connected elite last Tuesday when she called on top Justice Department officials to recuse themselves from any matter related to Jeffrey Epstein. She said their former law firm’s work on behalf of the financier accused of sexual abuse ‘calls into question the integrity of our legal system.’ Yet the same day, Harris’ husband headlined a Chicago fundraiser for her presidential campaign that was hosted by six partners of that firm — Kirkland and Ellis, according to an invitation obtained by The Associated Press.”

O’Rourke (D)(1): “Rose and Eliza” [Beto O’Rourke, Medium]. “I was recently given documents showing that both Amy and I are descended from people who owned slaves. Along with other possessions listed in their property log were two human beings, Rose and Eliza…. The way that fortune was passed through the generations from Andrew to me, misfortune was passed through the generations from Rose and Eliza to their descendants who are alive today. Rose and Eliza were denied their freedom and the benefits that their labor produced; they and their children were then denied their civil rights after the end of Reconstruction; and their descendants endured open terrorism, economic exclusion and racism in the form of Jim Crow, lynchings, convict leasing, voter suppression, red lining, predatory lending, and mass incarceration. Everything their descendants have accomplished in their lives is despite having all of these odds stacked against them. In the aggregate, slavery, its legacy and the ensuing forms of institutionalized racism have produced an America with stark differences in opportunities and outcomes, depending on race.”

O’Rourke (D)(2): “Beto O’Rourke’s fundraising plummets to $3.6 million in 2019’s second quarter” [CNN]. “The small-dollar fundraising machine Beto O’Rourke expected to power his presidential bid sputtered in 2019’s second quarter, with O’Rourke’s $3.6 million haul falling short of the torrid pace he’d set in the early days of his campaign. The former Texas congressman’s drop from $9.4 million in the first quarter — which at the time was the third-highest total of Democrats’ 2020 contenders — follows a decline in his poll numbers.” • Lots of quotes from Jen O’Malley Dillon, former executive director of the DNC.

Steyer (D)(1): “‘Karl Marx failed to consider software’: billionaire Tom Steyer on inequality and his 2020 run” [Guardian]. “‘Should we put a limit on what Beyoncé makes? I don’t see why,’ Steyer told the Guardian by phone. ‘I don’t think in the United States of America, we should put a ceiling on how far people can go.’ Steyer transitioned to a critique of communism and the argument that ‘at the heart of every great fortune is a crime’: ‘What Karl Marx failed to take into consideration was software – that if you are Michael Jackson or Rihanna or Beyoncé or anyone producing an idea, with software you aren’t just the best singer in your village … you have an ability to reproduce that song infinitely at very low cost around the world.'” • So, learn to code?

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren’s Campaign Turned To A Big Donor To Pay For The DNC Voter Database, Despite Her Fundraising Pledge” [BuzzFeed]. “Elizabeth Warren relied on a multimillion-dollar Democratic donor to cover the cost of an expensive voter database [the DNC’s national voter file]— a move that risks putting her campaign at odds with the spirit, if not the letter, of the pledge she made to abstain from “big money” fundraising…. Warren officials said she did not violate that pledge when her campaign turned to one of California’s top Democratic donors, a wealthy Silicon Valley physician named Karla Jurvetson, to help pay for access to a crucial voter database earlier this spring… In a statement, a Warren campaign official said that the candidate herself did not make any calls to Jurvetson in order to facilitate the contribution, nor did the campaign solicit the money at a fundraising event.” • Oh. So spontaneous gifts are OK.

Warren (D)(2): “Hollywood A-listers, tech executives top Warren’s donor list” [Politico]. Scarlett Johansson, Heidi Fugeman, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Marilyn Katzenberg, Damon Lindelof, Rob Reiner, Ryan Reynolds, Shonda Rhimes, Amy Schumer. “Donors who gave the maximum contribution account for just 2 percent of the $19.8 million Warren raised in the year’s second quarter, most of which was given by small donors online. But Warren’s growing big-name support reflects the enthusiasm that has built up for her campaign since the beginning of the year. She raised just over $6 million in the first quarter of 2019. Warren also drew some high-profile donations from Silicon Valley, which she has targeted during her campaign with a proposal to break up giants like Facebook, Amazon and Google.”

* * *

“The roster for the second Democratic debate will be determined this week” [Vox]. “If more than 20 candidates meet either the polling or the donor threshold, a tiebreaker kicks in. Those who met both thresholds will get the advantage. After that, whoever is polling best under the standard the DNC laid out will win out. (First, they’ll average each candidate’s top three poll results to see whose is highest. If there’s still a tie after that, whichever candidates have hit 1 percent or more in the greater number of polls overall will win out.)…. All that is to say that the most likely outcome is that it will be the same 20 candidates as the last debate, except with Swalwell replaced by Bullock. (Those 19 other likely qualifiers: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Julián Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jay Inslee, Tulsi Gabbard, Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper, Bill de Blasio, Tim Ryan, John Delaney, Andrew Yang, and Marianne Williamson.)” • And not Gravel, who makes the donor count, but not the polling threshhold. So, gatekeeping for “serious” candidate selection has been handled by pollsters, who didn’t include Gravel in many polls, even though when they did, he outpolled Klobuchar, Gillibrand, and Swalwell. The nice think about thinking about the Democrat Party as a professional association is that you don’t have to think about whether pollsters are independent organizations or not. NOTE That’s Vox. CBS, on Gravel, disagrees. Complex and opaque algorithms for candidate selection; how Third World!


“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the 2020 Presidential Race and Trump’s Crisis at the Border” (transcript) [The New Yorker (Rubydog). This is the transcript for the audio I linked to yesterday. AOC, interviewed by the prehensile David Remnick:

AOC: And so one of the things that I wanted to do was to hold a strong line, and redefine our values, and remind people that I think what we need to be doing right now is coming home as a party. I don’t think we should be afraid of being the party of F.D.R. I don’t think we should be afraid of being the party of working people. And it feels to me that at some point we did start becoming afraid of those things.

REMNICK: And became the party of what instead?

AOC: I think we became the party of hemming and hawing and trying to be all things to everybody.

In the coverage I saw (and linked to) “the party of hemming and hawing” was the quote. And “I don’t think we should be afraid of being the party of working people” was very much not the quote.

“They’re Not Just Mad at AOC — They’re Scared of Her” [Jacobin]. “Mainstream outlets have characterized the conflict as driven by generational tensions, or (on Pelosi’s side) simply a desire to protect Democratic incumbents from criticism. But the feud in fact speaks to something much deeper: Ocasio-Cortez and her allies are pushing for bold, transformational policies that would upend the current economic and political system. That campaign is coming into open conflict with a Democratic establishment that would prefer to just keep things as they are.”

AOC is doing fine:

I just hope her constituent services operation is top notch.

“Nancy Pelosi Has Lost Control” [Zach Carter, HuffPo]. This is a good timeline of the whole Pelosi v. AOC affair. “One of Pelosi’s top lieutenants, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the caucus chair, effectively declared war on Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti on Friday night. Nobody in leadership has apologized for it, recanted or publicly rebuked anyone. The tweet is still live. Not since Anthony Weiner’s sexual misconduct scandal in 2011 had the Democratic Party leadership targeted one of its own with such ferocity. Divided over how to oppose Trump and his agenda, party leadership attempted to purge its own ranks, and only eased up when the president himself attacked the same members that leadership had been blasting for weeks…. The divide between Ocasio-Cortez and Pelosi represents just about every split in the modern Democratic coalition ― generational, ideological, race, class, strategy, values, all of it. But beneath it all is a simple struggle for power. House Democrats and their agenda [if any] have been hijacked by the corrupt machine politics of New York state…. Ocasio-Cortez represents a greater threat to this machine than Trump, which is why Democratic leadership in Congress is now diverting time, attention and resources to defend the machine’s turf, instead of focusing on the president…. A competent House speaker wouldn’t allow party energy to be squandered this way. But a speaker in firm control also wouldn’t set caucus-wide rules of conduct ― stop criticizing other Democrats on Twitter, say ― only to see them flagrantly violated by the chair of the caucus itself. Nancy Pelosi may look like she’s in charge of the House majority, but the New York machine is running its own show.” • Well worth a read.

“All The Problems With This Anonymous Poll About Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” [HuffPo]. The poll from Axios linked to yesterday. “n this case, readers have no way of knowing who commissioned the poll, who conducted it, how they identified the voters they surveyed, what methodology they used to interview them or what exactly respondents were asked. That makes it basically impossible to evaluate the survey in any meaningful way.” • Which would be why even the horrid Celinda Lake thought the poll was laughable; I take it, then, that the real message was that the Democrat establishment was putting out a hit.

“The Koch Brothers Want to Prevent Future AOCs” [GQ]. “In a memo obtained by CNBC, Emily Seidel, CEO of the Koch-affiliated political-action committee Americans for Prosperity, announced that the organization would be backing incumbent Democrats against progressive primary challenges in the upcoming congressional primaries.” • That’s nice. Getting the DLC band back on the road!

Realignment and Legitimacy

This should be interesting:

Stats Watch

Industrial Production, JUne 2019: “The Federal Reserve may ready to cut rates because of weakness in the manufacturing sector but weakness isn’t very apparent in June’s industrial production data” [Econoday]. “[M]anufacturing is by far the largest component in this report and June’s results are almost uniformly strong… But putting the long term aside and looking just at June, today’s results are consistent with the growing string of monthly acceleration.”

Import and Export Prices, June 2019: “Cross-border trade is slowing and cross-border inflation appears non-existent, in fact appears to be in deepening contraction” [Econoday]. “A drop in oil prices is only a superficial answer for the decline on the import side as prices excluding petroleum fell… [T]he export side weak farm prices have been to blame but not in June as non-agricultural prices fell.”

Retail Sales, June 2019: “Taking out a policy-insurance rate cut when the main driver of the economy is booming sounds a little counter-intuitive, in retail sales results that came in much stronger than expected in June” [Econoday]. “Strength abounds in this report… The most surprising strength in the report, at least for forecasters, is a … jump in auto sales that conflicts with what was a flat month for unit sales (a series, however, that is clouded with special factors)….. A key strength, and one that underscores discretionary power, is yet another strong gain for restaurants… The list of strength goes on with both furniture and building materials snapping back.”

Business Inventories, May 2019: “Business inventories rose slightly lower-than-expected” [Econoday]. “There are hints that inventory growth is exceeding underlying demand…. [y]et any imbalances aren’t increasing as the inventory-to-sales ratio in May held steady at 1.39.”

Housing Market Index, July 2019: “Confidence among home builders remains solid” [Econoday]. “These results are solid and should confirm expectations for steady showings in tomorrow’s data on housing starts.”

Banking: “Central Bankers Are Sick of Rescuing the World Economy Alone” [Bloomberg]. “Amid slowing global growth, the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and perhaps even the Bank of Japan are all set to ease monetary policy in coming months. But with less room to act than in the past, their leaders are telling politicians they will need to assist if a downturn takes hold… ‘For most advanced industrial countries, the monetary policy space is extremely limited,’ said Willem Buiter, a former Bank of England policy maker now special economic adviser to Citigroup. ‘We need the fiscal tools to safeguard ourselves against a possible slide into a global recession.'” • A lot of mainstream economists are going to be put out to pasture then. Which didn’t happen after the Crash, did it?

Retail: “Amazon’s made-up shopping holiday could be paying off for its competitors” [Business Insider]. “New data released by Adobe Analytics on Tuesday indicated that some of Amazon’s biggest competitors, such as Walmart and Target, saw a 64% increase in online sales on Monday during Amazon Prime Day. These retailers, which have launched their own deals during this period, are increasingly cashing in on Amazon’s invented shopping holiday, or what’s been dubbed by analysts as ‘Black Friday in July.'” • I’m worried that Amazon Prime Day is losing its original spiritual significance.

The Bezzle: “Tesla Motors Tumbles In Key Trust Measure” [Forbes]. “According to the recently released 2019 Trusted Automotive Brand Study (TABS) from AMCI, Tesla has fallen off its previously lofty perch in the study to land at third from the bottom, besting only Acura and BMW among luxury marques….. Since the AMCI study again affirmed that trust accounts for more than 50% of a consumer’s decision to repurchase or recommend an automotive brand or its dealers, Tesla’s precipitous drop has to be considered yet more evidence that the brand is in trouble. How did Tesla find itself in this position when the move to go ‘dealerless’ was so broadly hailed?… ‘One of the most telling things,’ [Ian Beavis, AMCI Global’s chief strategy officer] said, ‘is that all the luxury brands that are ahead of Tesla in the study use franchised dealers. Franchised dealers can do an excellent job of building trust if they use the right standards and practices.'”

Tech: “To Break Google’s Monopoly on Search, Make Its Index Public” [Bloomberg (DK)]. “Fortunately, there is a simple way to end the company’s monopoly without breaking up its search engine, and that is to turn its “index”—the mammoth and ever-growing database it maintains of internet content—into a kind of public commons. There is precedent for this both in law and in Google’s business practices. When private ownership of essential resources and services—water, electricity, telecommunications, and so on—no longer serves the public interest, governments often step in to control them…. Doesn’t Google already share its index with everyone in the world? Yes, but only for single searches. I’m talking about requiring Google to share its entire index with outside entities—businesses, nonprofit organizations, even individuals—through what programmers call an application programming interface, or API.” • I wish Google did not decide what and what not to index. I have often been able to find material I know exists, often because I wrote it. So I think the operations of Google’s crawler should be regulated as well.

The Biosphere

“Fossil Fuels Are Far Less Efficient Than Previously Thought” [Bloomberg]. “Oil, coal and natural gas have generally returned energy at a ratio of 25:1, meaning that for every barrel of oil used in production, 25 barrels have been made. But that measurement, called energy return on investment (EROI), has traditionally been taken when fossil fuels are removed from the ground, and fails to account for energy used during the refining process. When the refining process is accounted for, EROI drops to about 6:1, according to a new University of Leeds study. That’s comparable to the EROI for solar. ‘The transition from fossil fuels to renewables actually might not be as bad as people thought,’ said Paul Brockway, a co-author of the study.”

“Making it mainstream – CA100+ power utilities profiles” [Carbon Tracker]. “Our profiles allow investors to understand whether a company’s coal generation is aligned with the temperature goal in the Paris Agreement and the extent to which its coal capacity is at risk from becoming financially (i.e. EBITDA negative) or economically obsolete (i.e. uncompetitive based on a on levelised cost of energy (LCOE) and LRMC analysis). With regards to our below 2°C scenario analysis, to be Paris-aligned, companies need (i) a coal retirement schedule consistent with a credible climate scenario (such as the IEA’s Beyond 2°C Scenario); and (ii) a date assigned to each coal unit. No CA100+ power utility with coal capacity is Paris-aligned based on our methodology.”

“Call for database of fossil fuel assets and reserves” (letter) [Financial Times]. “The plans of the majority of international oil companies to increase production, while knowing that most fossil fuels have to remain underground, remains the central challenge, however. Carbon Tracker estimates that the proven reserves of oil and gas are already a multiple of what can possibly be burnt. Cancellation of new exploration licences and capital expenditure is now urgent.” • For “Carbon Tracker,” see above.

“‘Impossible for palm oil farmers to harm environment’: Acting Aceh governor” [Jakarta Post]. “The massive campaign against the use of palm oil in Europe has led the EU Commission to adopt a directive on renewable energy that will phase out the use of palm oil in the EU’s biofuel sector and ban it by 2030, arguing that the production of CPO led to deforestation, reduced biodiversity and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Indonesia, the world’s largest producer of the commodity, strongly opposes the regulation and calls the ban discriminatory. The country has been sending high-level envoys and ministers to lobby the EU.”

“Ancient Mongolian nests show that dinosaurs protected their eggs” [Nature]. “An exquisitely preserved dinosaur nesting site discovered in the Gobi Desert shows that some of these prehistoric animals nested in groups and, like birds, protected their eggs. ‘Dinosaurs are often portrayed as solitary creatures that nested on their own, buried their eggs and then just went away,’ says François Therrien, a palaeontologist at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology near Calgary, Canada. He co-authored a study published this month in Geology describing the find. ‘But here we show that some dinosaurs were much more gregarious. They came together and established a colony that they likely protected,’ Therrien says.”

“Don’t Waste Your Emotions on Plants, They Have No Feelings, Grumpy Scientists Say” [LiveScience]. “Though plants lack brains, the firing of electrical signals in their stems and leaves nonetheless triggered responses that hinted at consciousness, researchers previously reported…. Plant biology is complex and fascinating, but it differs so greatly from that of animals that so-called evidence of plants’ intelligence is intriguing but inconclusive, the scientists wrote…. And what’s so great about consciousness, anyway? Plants can’t run away from danger, so investing energy in a body system that recognizes a threat and can feel pain would be a very poor evolutionary strategy, according to the article.”

Health Care

“Special Health Care for Congress: Lawmakers’ Health Care Perks” [ABC]. “This fall while members of Congress toil in the U.S. Capitol, working to decide how or even whether to reform the country’s health care system, one floor below them an elaborate Navy medical clinic [Office of the Attending Physician (OAP)]– described by those who have seen it as something akin to a modern community hospital — will be standing by, on-call and ready to provide Congress with some of the country’s best and most efficient government-run health care…. Members of Congress do not pay for the individual services they receive at the OAP, nor do they submit claims through their federal employee health insurance policies. Instead, members pay a flat, annual fee of $503 for all the care they receive. The rest of the cost of their care, sources said, is subsidized by taxpayers.” • That’s nice.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Eric Garner’s Death Will Not Lead to Federal Charges for N.Y.P.D. Officer” [New York Times]. “Mr. Garner, who was 43, died on a Staten Island sidewalk on July 17, 2014, after Officer Pantaleo wrapped an arm around his neck from behind and took him to the ground and other officers put their weight on him, compressing his chest against the pavement…. To prove criminal conduct, the official said, the government had to convince a jury that in the middle of a dynamic arrest Officer Pantaleo made a clear decision in his mind to apply a chokehold, a burden prosecutors did not believe they could meet, the official said.”

“Fearing for His Life” [The Verge]. “Ramsey Orta filmed the killing of Eric Garner. The video traveled far, but it wouldn’t get justice for his dead friend. Instead, the NYPD would exact their revenge through targeted harassment and eventually imprisonment — Orta’s punishment for daring to show the world police brutality.”

Class Traitors

“Disney heiress ‘livid’ after going to one of her family’s theme parks undercover” [MarketWatch]. “‘Every single one of these people I talked to were saying, ‘I don’t know how I can maintain this face of joy and warmth when I have to go home and forage for food in other people’s garbage,’ Disney, 59, told Yahoo News host and human rights activist Zainab Salbi in an interview posted Monday.” • Emotional labor does tend to be poorly paid…

Class Warfare

“Disgruntled Amazon Pilots Will Use Prime Day as a Pulpit for Their Concerns” [Bloomberg]. “As Amazon readies for what will likely be two of its busiest days of the year, the pilots who transport its cargo are releasing a digital ad campaign on Facebook to highlight “concerns about how they are being overworked, underpaid and disrespected by their carriers. It’s the latest move in an increasingly bitter logistics saga as Amazon appeals to customers with faster and faster delivery options. In addition, he said the pilots are standing in solidarity with the Amazon warehouse workers in Minnesota who are planning a Prime Day strike. A representative from the pilots’ union will be on the ground to show striking workers they have the support of Teamsters Local 1224.” • This is easy for me to say, since I have no skin in the game, but wouldn’t it be better to bring the entire supply chain to a halt, across the board?

“Antisemitism and Oppression: a Leftist Polemic” [Verso]. “Many of the accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party have their roots in the dogma that oppressed people have a sovereign right to define the oppression they experience and to fight against it however they choose. But the case of the antisemitism scandals demonstrates how this dogma is something the left needs to criticise. Many of Britain’s Jews believe that anti-Zionism is in itself antisemitic, believe that the demonisation of the Labour leadership for its sympathy to Palestinian liberation is part of an anti-racist struggle, and believe that their views on these matters are sacrosanct because they speak as an oppressed group. The left cannot be afraid of confronting these positions.” • “Sovereign” is an interesting choice of words; perhaps the word “ally” stems from the concept.

“Another leader of the giant Google Walkout protest is leaving the company” [Business Insider]. “Meredith Whittaker, a research scientist who founded and headed up Google’s Open Research group, was one of six women who organized the Google Walkout last November. She is now the second to have left in the space of little more than a month after Claire Stapleton left her role as a YouTube marketing manager in June…. Another of the Google Walkout organizers, Stapleton, said she was experiencing retaliation. Stapleton left the company in June, and said had she stayed, she could expect ‘public flogging, shunning, and stress.'”

“3 Million Americans Over 60 Are Stuck With Student Loans. They Owe a Total of $86 Million” [Inc]. “CBS News reports that 3 million Americans over the age of 60 still have student debt. And the Wall Street Journal reports that in 2017, their average debt was $33,800, up 44 percent from 2010. And more than 40,000 people over 65 are having their Social Security payments, tax refunds, or other government payments garnished because they aren’t paying their student loans. That number has more than tripled in the last decade.”

“Uber and Lyft drivers were paid up to $100 to protest a bill that could make them employees” [Los Angeles Times]. “Drivers who attended the rally were offered and are expected to receive $25 to $100 within five days of gathering in Sacramento to cover “travel, parking, and time,” according to an email The Times obtained. The email was sent to drivers from the I’m Independent Coalition, a group funded by the California Chamber of Commerce, along with a long list of professional associations, trade groups and on-demand companies. The coalition has been working closely alongside Uber and Lyft to call for changes to AB 5 and helped organize the Tuesday rally.” • “I’m independent.”

News of the Wired

I guess I’m not wired at all, today. Damn!

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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 (Carla):

Viburnum, from Northeast Ohio. Look at those glossy leaves!

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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. Lambert Strether Post author

        I was a minute or two late loading it. I used to set the system clock a little ahead so 2:00 was really 1:58 (silly, I know), but Apple kept helping me by setting it back (even when I changed to System settings to tell it not to, sigh).

  1. Dan

    Harris Blasts, Then Takes Money From Jeffrey Epstein’s Law Firm
    “Before her election to the Senate, Harris was the attorney general of California and was elected to two terms as San Francisco’s district attorney.” {She ran UNopposed the second time…mandate!}
    “Her husband Doug Emhoff is also a high powered attorney who works in corporate law. So it is perhaps little surprise that law firms have been one of the top industries that have donated to her presidential bid, with Kirkland and Ellis being no exception.”


    Don’t forget her husband also working for the law firm that represented Herbalife, the multi level marketing scheme that screwed thousands of mostly minorities out of their life savings and left them with thousands of dollars of useless unsalable products.

    “Attorney general Harris received the first of three donations to her campaign for the U.S. Senate from Heather Podesta, the powerful Washington lobbyist whose ex-husband Tony’s firm, then called the Podesta Group, had worked for Herbalife since 2013. Heather Podesta’s own lobbying firm, Heather Podesta and Partners, would soon be hired by Herbalife, too.”


    1. tegnost

      hmmm….sounds like she’s uniquely qualified to be the leader of the free market…

    2. clarky90

      Re; Jeffrey Epstein

      “In AD 375, Evagrius the Solitary (345–399 AD) developed a comprehensive list of eight evil “thoughts” (λογισμοι; logísmoi), or eight terrible temptations, from which all sinful behavior springs. This list was intended to serve a diagnostic purpose: to help his readers (fellow desert monks) identify the process of temptation, their own strengths and weaknesses, and the remedies available for overcoming temptation.

      The “thoughts” (logísmoi) that concern Evagrius are the so-called “eight evil thoughts”. The basic list appears again and again in his writings:
      1. Gluttony – (γαστριμαργία; gastrimargía);
      2. Lust or Fornication – (πορνεία; porneía);
      3. Avarice or Love of money – (φιλαργυρία; philarguría);
      4. Dejection or Sadness – (λύπη; lúpe);
      5. Anger – (ὀργή; orgé);
      6. Despondency or Listlessness – (ἀκηδία; akedía);
      7. Vainglory – (κενοδοξία; kenodoxía);
      8. Pride – (ὑπερηφανία; huperephanía).

      The order in which Evagrius lists the “thoughts” is deliberate. Firstly, it reflects the general development of spiritual life: beginners contend against the grosser and more materialistic thoughts (gluttony, lust, avarice)….


      Last month I was spellbound by the images of wealthy adventurers lined up to “Summit” Mount Everest, aka Chomolungma,“Goddess Mother of the World”.

      The climbers were passing by dead bodies and over frozen feces to “cross off another one on the bucket list”.

      The pervasive “lust” to conquer the innocent………..


      “Tourists to Australia’s Uluru have drawn controversy for seeking to climb the sacred indigenous site in the months ahead of a ban on the practice.”


      1. Carey

        The bolding only makes your comments hard to read; hence, not worth the bother.

        Consider assuming that your reader is not an idiot.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Bold is for Headings

          Leaving the mean-ness aside, I always find it a worthwhile exercise to attract the reader’s eye with text alone.

          When I fail, which is often, I use emphasis inline.

          P.S. All those Greek characters!

  2. Kurt Sperry

    Tech: “To Break Google’s Monopoly on Search, Make Its Index Public” [Bloomberg (DK)].

    Why don’t we fund and empower the Library of Congress to crawl and index the web and make a search engine with no commercial distortions of the results, no data mining, and with robust privacy laws to protect users? There are already the sci-fi data centers and infrastructure in place with which to do it, just requiring being re-purposed from unconstitutional dragnet surveillance to a useful purpose. Imagine a search filter that could exclude commercial sites selling product as a search option. That’s something the private sector cannot ever do, and one that would instantly make a lot of searches exponentially more efficient and relevant.

    Cloud/web space and email account for every citizen as a right with strong legal privacy protections? How many TB per citizen do those data centers already store? Would they even need to build out any new capacity?

    1. Monty

      It works out better for .gov to pay Google for access to it’s voluminous and detailed records about us all. Then they aren’t really spying on us!

    2. Oh

      This is a capitalist neo-liberal paradise which will probably outsource this work to Amazon. Then the tax payer has to pay for access in spite of footing the bill to develop the site.

    3. Acacia

      This proposal makes a lot more sense than the original article, whose author is evidently unaware that Google already does offer a search API, and a whole bunch of other APIs for translation, etc.

      The actual index used by Google is constantly changing and is most likely optimized for their hardware. Anyway, the important thing is not the data, but the algorithms. They are the secret sauce here.

      Is the govt going to force Google to make the algos — their competitive advantage — open source? Doubtful. And even if they did, how many people would read the code? Are our Congressscritters going to, cough, learn to code and walk through all the search algorithms with some Google engineers, live on CSPAN? And then who’s going to police every server in every Google data center to verify that it’s running the open sourced code base?

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Why don’t we fund and empower the Library of Congress to crawl and index the web and make a search engine with no commercial distortions of the results, no data mining, and with robust privacy laws to protect users?

      That is a brilliant idea. (I would bet that Google’s code base is now horrid and crufty, and it would probably be better to start over.)

  3. Deschain

    What Steyer fails to consider is that with software comes artificial scarcity. Market based structures are based on the idea that they are the best way to allocate scarce resources . . . when you can copy something costlessly and infinitely, the idea that the market is the best way to handle that deserves questioning. Especially when they become rent-extraction machines that only exist through gubmint intervention.

    1. Ben Wolf

      Steyer has never read Marx, or even listened to a lecture by someone who has.

      #1 Nothing in Marx’s work involves capping income, for the simple reason that Marx wasn’t particularly interested in the subject.

      #2 “Behind every fortune lay a crime” isn’t Marx, it’s de Balzac.

      #3 The failure to understand #1 is exactly why capitalists still don’t see the socialists coming, and won’t until it’s far too late.

      1. Crestwing

        Marx would also understand that a key feature of software is to make the ‘reserve army of labor’ bigger and more enduring.

    2. ewmayer

      Cute sleight-of-hand by Steyer: the problem isn’t that Marx failed to consider software, it’s that Steyer and his parasitic rentier ilk have bribed our lawmakers and regulators to fail to consider monopolistic rent extraction. Steyer makes this point himself, without meaning to:

      “with software you aren’t just the best singer in your village … you have an ability to reproduce that song infinitely at very low cost around the world.”

      Yes, and in a genuinely competitive marketplace, listeners would enjoy the same benefit, i.e. would pay an amount for content commensurate to its creation and distribution cost.

      1. polecat

        Steyer’s a dolt!

        Right Tom …. we’re gonna learn to codel with the likes of some new Michael Neverland ??? A more inappropriate example could not be uttered !
        I honestly can’t stand these clueless and vastly hubristic people – so full of themselves .. and soooo avaricious.I don’t care what he’s built !

        He’s got my no-vote ……not that it really matters.

        1. polecat

          U can delete my above comment Lambert, should you deem it so .. but, myGod !, how unsufferable these people all are.

    3. Dugless

      The Democratic billionaire class has more in common with the Republican billionaire class than with the average American. This has been clearly proven by the recent comments by Steyer and Saban.

      1. polecat

        Just read at the Hedg—– er, the sitethatmustnotbenamed .. the People’s ‘mostly former’ House has just voted, and passed … as resoluton condemning Trump of blatant racism. They Still want that Impeachment so badly, they can almost lick it off a lead-crystal wine glass !

        They’re workin the People all right ….

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Lots of bizarre machinations, where apparently the resolution violated House rules on personal attacks. So the parliamentarian ruled it out of order, Hoyer asked that Pelosi’s words “be taken down” (I think that’s the phrase), and the House then voted to rescind the rule, whereupon the resolution passed. I think I’ve got that all more or less right.

  4. JBird4049

    “Kamala Harris Blasts, Then Takes Money From Jeffrey Epstein’s Law Firm”

    So, madam Harris is shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here while taking her winnings.

    I know at least just how seriously she takes Mr. Epstein’s Lolita Express.

  5. Mac na Michomhairle

    It’s hard to say whether the Sanders low poll is a fluke or not. I suspect most NH democratic voters are concentrated in 1) the Concord/Manchester area, and southeast, which are, more and more, extensions of Greater Boston whose suburbs and semi-rural reachesare a neo liberal heartland, and 2) the Monadanock region which is an honorary protectorate of Vermont. There are minorities of democrats scattered everywhere, of course. So it depends where the poll concentrated.

    But also, I think the pervasive ongoing low and high level disparagement of Sanders in the media and online have an effect on people, even if rationally, one thinks Sanders is the best candidate. One gets to thinking that he is not really that good, or, at best, doomed to lose. It is an effort to swim upstream against the daily wash of messaging, and to maintain a different perspective.

    The Populists made it a priority to establish their own network of very local organizations that met regularly to address people’s real ongoing economic needs, and provide a space for talk and education. They established their own print media to counteract the ongoing flood of mainstream hegemonic framing. We’re so much creatures of the media wash today, and live so disconnected from any actual physical community, that those would be enormous tasks.

    It may be that this effort is all doomed. Politico, the Hill, NBC, Vox, NYT etc etc all tell me that it is, anyway. Oh, well…

    1. tegnost

      I agree re sanders uphill battle… propaganda does work insidiously after all, and I find myself thinking that the establishment dems of all stripes, should they gain control of the wheel, will due to their manifold blind spots drive us promptly off a cliff, and not incrementally. I suppose I agree with the theory that rapid change is the only way to get things done, a punctuated equilibrium as it were, and our best chance for sanders may have passed us by. It reminds me of being in court, good lawyers bring things to a grinding halt when it’s not going their way (bush/gore florida lawyer rampage anyone) and RRR hysteria falls into that very successful strategy. It would be unwise imo to be too optimistic but it’s far from hopeless. I like a sanders/turner ticket, she’s very inspiring.

      1. dearieme

        Last time he was Bernie Nothillary. Now he’s only Bernie Notbiden, Bernie Notwarren, and Bernie Notharlot. And four years older.

        1. Grant

          Someone that is just not someone else doesn’t have the impact he has had, doesn’t get people to run for office as he has. There were other candidates that ran against Clinton. If he was just the other, why didn’t Webb or someone else emerge as the other? In that poll, Biden, Harris and that mayor from Indiana combine for almost half the vote. They are all propped up by big donors and the corporate media. We all know they won’t change anything. Biden outright said as much, so has mayor nothing. We see Democrats saying that they support this or that policy, that they are tired of corruption, then they vote for people that are funded by the interests that have corrupted the system and won’t change anything. I think it makes sense to be a lot more critical of Democratic voters. Their party and the other rotten party has rigged the thing so that no others emerge, and what have they done with the power that rigging has given them and their party?

          How many political systems see someone have the impact Bernie has had, and then turn around and brush him aside when given the chance to vote him into office? It is insane, we as a country have voted ourselves to the brink of collapse and those that are polled seem perfectly happy with that situation or are just unaware. Maybe those that normally don’t vote will vote and will rescue us from the likely voters that have voted us to this position. Besides, according to that poll, Biden leads. He is, what, a few months younger than Bernie? Given his atrocious right wing record and corruption, I would have to conclude that people are either not paying attention or that many Democrats are very right wing. Probably a bit of both.

          But Bernie’s problem is that he has to run in a pretty right wing party (so right wing that about 40% support Biden and racist police lapdog Pete), a party that is thoroughly corrupt and internally undemocratic and one that pretends to support progressive policies but never proves it with who they vote for. However, I would like an age and income breakdown of who was polled.

          1. flora

            Even as Sanders is again being knee-capped by the Dem party and the MSM, he’s showing – mentoring, really – young progressives how to response to deliberate provocations, how not to take the bait, how not to flame-out in outrage or lose sight of the important issues or be tempted into a rashness that can be used as an instant disqualifier in the public’s mind. It’s a very long game. The stakes are enormous. AOC and others must be getting under the Dem estab’s skin.

            Pelosi hasn’t lost control. She’s deflecting, baiting, faux-outraging, faux-self pitying. Sanders knows this and his response to her is essentially a political inside-baseball understanding and refusal to rise to the bait. imo.

        2. WJ

          I don’t think this gets at the central issue, which has been already noted in the comment thread above. For nearly four years, Sanders has been undermined at every turn by the Democratic Party, the corporate media, and the Beltway whoretanks. The litany of these events is too long and tiresome to relate. This election cycle, he has been systematically ignored and belittled by the media and other Professional Democrats because, they have found, giving him any press or platform at all has proved too dangerous to their oligarchic interests. At the same time, he is the unspoken but plain target of the Democrats attempt to drown him out by means of the sheer tonnage of sh*t candidates they encouraged and enabled to run. Warren has been enlisted, I fear, to run on a platform designed solely to split and distract what would likely have been his upper-income and female progressive supporters–I mean those who have their heart in the right place but watch too much MSNBC to be trusted. She is leveraging her own career in the Senate, and her future Presidential bids, by going along with what she certainly knows is a dirty game. She did the same in 2016. I wish her no ill will, and am only pointing out the obvious.

          Sanders is the candidate the powes that be fear most of all. And this round their strategy has been to minimize and drown out and ignore rather than to attack directly. I don’t think things look good for him. I hope I am wrong.

          1. Jeff W

            “I wish her no ill will”

            Well, if the following is true:

            “Warren has been enlisted, I fear, to run on a platform designed solely to split and distract what would likely have been [Sanders’s] upper-income and female progressive supporters…”

            and this:

            “She is leveraging her own career …by going along with what she certainly knows is a dirty game.”

            —and I think they are true—then I might toss some ill will her way.

            Even if just a fraction of her supporters would otherwise vote for Bernie Sanders, the strongest opponent against President Trump, that’s a fraction that, in the 50% + 1 first ballot primary process the Democrats have set up, that Sanders can’t afford to lose.

            Warren, in the very unlikely event she gets the nomination, can’t win against Trump; her political instincts are monumentally lousy—it’ll be her wonky, means-test-tilted, meritocratic, “let’s make the game fairer” professorial blather against Trump’s flame-throwing, phony populist rhetoric—and she speaks to too narrow a group, the professional class. So, either she’s too clueless to realize that, which would not surprise me, or she realizes it and doesn’t much care. Either way she’s helping to torpedo the Democrats’ best shot at retaking the White House in the process. It’s difficult for me to engender anything but ill will towards that.

            1. Kilgore Trout

              Agree with you on Warren, that she’s likely to be overwhelmed by Trump’s bull**** should she win the nomination. She would be treated as Hillary 2.0 because of her Harvard connections–the sneering elitist vs the populist demagogue is how the marque would read–admittedly unfair to Warren. But Warren’s Achilles heel is her Texas license in which she self-identified as “American Indian”. Trump will ride that one all the way back to the White House. Each and every candidate has a weak spot that Trump can and will exploit. Except Sanders and Gabbard. Which is yet another reason why neither will be on the ticket in 2020.

              1. Jeff W

                But Warren’s Achilles heel is her Texas license in which she self-identified as “American Indian”. Trump will ride that one all the way back to the White House.

                What I anticipate to be Warren’s response to that is what I meant by her lousy political instincts. Trump will bait her—not just on the “American Indian” thing but on everything—and Warren will rise to the bait with facts and charts and statistics and graphs. “Look at my DNA test!” She won’t get that, while the facts are on her side, she’s losing in the power dynamics—she’s being goaded into playing the bully’s game and thinks she’s winning. It’ll be painful to watch, if it comes to that.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              The 4 DDs ( Decent Democrats) will each arrive at the Convention with some delegates pledged to vote for them on the First Ballot. What if those 4 separate Delegation-loads of nomination votes add up to a total of 50% +1 ?

              In that case, will the 4 DDs AND each, every and all the members of their voting delegations see the game-changing breakout potential of pooling ALL those delegate votes behind ONE of the 4 DDs on Ballot Number Two? Could the delegates for DDs # 2, 3, and 4 bring themselves to set emotional loyalty aside and all cast their votes in Ballot Number Two for the DD with the first highest number of delegate votes? If they all could bear to do that, would their combined delegate votes add up to the magic number of 50% + 1? If they could all do that, then Mr/Ms First DD would win the Balloting with 50% +1 voting delegate vote. And a DD would be the DemParty nominee.

              That is the one single sole and only chance that the DD wing of the DemParty has to get a DD nominated. If the DDs don’t win the DemNom on Ballot Number Two, then from Ballot Number Three onward its all a march to the bottom on a road of catfood.

          2. polecat

            Well ….. they Also fear two others who’ve gotten even Less coverage : T. Gabbard, and M. Gavel !!

          3. anonymous

            Good comment WJ. It’s a drag and just keeps coming. Been to a number of Sanders rallies, in 2016 and in the last 9 months. Always large enthusiastic crowds, all id’s represented. Two were in bone chilling weather, where you had to stand for 2 or more hours before you could feel the Bern. Hands and feet were numb. People stayed to the end. At least 10,000 in both cases. Likely voters, I think. Don’t see any others getting this type of commitment.

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          Say . . . why haven’t you found out what kind of woodpecker you have in your garden yet?

        4. pretzelattack

          if he were the empty suit you like to portray him as, he would have never have gone on to almost derail the clinton machine.

      2. John k

        Of course prop works, and works on us all.
        But many polls miss both young and first time voters, sometimes by design, groups that strongly support sanders. Warren is supported by older Hillary types, so she is taking from Biden. Harris takes blacks from Biden. And Biden also takes from Biden, likely more as time goes on.
        If sanders continues to attract the young and new, this might be enough as the others fight over the 55% that voted Hillary, especially where indies can vote. Plus those with less than 15% won’t get any delegates at all.
        If you’re 65 you’re retired and you’ve got Medicare… why expand it? Maybe taxes go up… and 15/hr means costs go up. But if you’re 48…
        this is more generational than class.
        The 18-48 group is half the electorate… if they go to the polls proportionately.
        Early primaries likely won w 30%, winner gets big mo.

        1. jrs

          Actually Bernie and Biden tend to share voters who will crossover (makes no sense and I don’t want Biden, but so it is). Warren and Harris share voters who will crossover to each other (more understandably, as they are running on similar platforms, remember Harris is also running as progressive, believe her or not).

          Yea if one is 65 why worry about Medicare expansion, etc. (except it will be better than Medicare. But bird in the hand and all that, at least after 65 the bird in the hand is half decent, under 65 and the birds in a hand are *bad*, employer provided if you can get it – until you lose your job, unaffordable care act otherwise etc.).

        2. sleepy

          I’m on medicare and it costs my wife and me over $600/month to have complete coverage. Medicare for all does away with the need for that. I wonder if most seniors are aware that it would abolish copays, deductions, etc., and save them a heap of money.

          1. Lee

            Of the about $8K I paid for in premiums for Medicare + supplement + drug coverage, with copays on the latter, the largest portion of what I paid went to premiums to private insurers that bear a considerably smaller fraction of the costs now and should I become seriously ill than does the basic Medicare plan.

          2. inode_buddha

            The seniors that I have talked to about this, think they will still have co pays etc and higher taxes to boot

            1. Oregoncharles

              Maybe Medicare for All isn’t such a good formulation.

              Going to the doctor adds up fast, even with Medicare; and without supplementary insurance, surgery is largely ruled out ($1400 copay).

          3. philnc

            They’re mostly not aware of it because they’re too lazy to look into it for themselves. Even worse, they’ll vote in what they smugnorantly think is their own interest, selfishly wrecking the futures of children and grandchildren they pretend to love. Not very proud to be a boomer these days.

            1. David B Harrison

              The Medicare supplement cost my parents $330.00 apiece.All told,they spent around $9,900.00 a year for Medicare and the supplement.

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          If you’re 65 and retired and you’ve got Medicare . . . . why expand it? Well, if you think expanding it will make it more popular with the people it gets expanded to, and you think they will join you in all defending Expanded Medicare together, then you may decide that expanding it enhances your own survival chances by making it safer FOR YOU.

          And if that’s the way you think, you may well accept higher taxes as the price of health security and health survival. And when you discover that the higher govertaxes you pay end up being offset by the cancelled-out privataxes ( “premiums”) you NO LONGER have to pay to the Insurance Business, you may find that your OVerALL taxes . . . govertaxes and privataxes added up together, are not any higher than before. They may end up being net net lower.

          So if you are at or over 65, and that’s the way you think, why wouldn’t you support expanded Medicare?

    2. Fiery Hunt

      New cnn poll has Biden at 24%, Sanders and Warren at 19% and Mayo Pete at 10%.
      About where Sanders should be 7 or so months out.

      Amazing how much bunk is put out there.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The Populists made it a priority to establish their own network of very local organizations that met regularly to address people’s real ongoing economic needs, and provide a space for talk and education. They established their own print media to counteract the ongoing flood of mainstream hegemonic framing. We’re so much creatures of the media wash today, and live so disconnected from any actual physical community, that those would be enormous tasks.

      Which is similar to what the Sanders campaign is doing.

      What concerns me is that if the standard is that Sanders has to win IA, NH, NV, and SC, that is hard. And in each state he could be picked off by different candidate.

      Presumably, the Sanders campaign has internal polling…

  6. flora

    re Dem debates threshold: And not Gravel, who makes the donor count, but not the polling threshhold. So, gatekeeping for “serious” candidate selection has been handled by pollsters, who didn’t include Gravel in many polls, even though when they did, he outpolled Klobuchar, Gillibrand, and Swalwell.

    So, so many ways to suppress the vote.

    1. jrs

      since when did we hand over our “democracy”, oh wait I mean private cartel of the Dem party, to the pollsters? Whatever useful service they may perform overriding democracy isn’t a good one. Probably polls of landlines ..

      1. ambrit

        A new definition of “Poll Tax.”
        “Poll Tax”:
        1) a tax upon one’s time better spent perusing policy debates
        2) a tax upon the public’s resources
        3) a source of imposition from “above”
        4) a method of discouraging public involvement in the political process

      2. flora

        “There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder, and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served.”

        — Jane Jacobs (The Death and Life of Great American Cities)

    1. Dan

      You mean we can get on airplanes without Granny getting groped?
      Grannie’s disappointed.

    2. Martin Oline

      I was thinking of moving to Canada because the criminal gangs on America’s streets (read Anti-Fa) make me want to live somewhere that has a safe environment.

      1. ambrit

        There are always competing criminal gangs “on the street.” Competitors to Anti-fa are, in no particular order: the Bloods, the Crips, The Gangster Disciples, the Latin Kings, the Dixie Mob, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Police, the DHS, the Alphabet Agencies, and so many more. It becomes an exercise in self abuse to think about them all.
        I remember reading a piece by Frank Herbert about his experiences during the filming of Lynch’s version of Dune, down in Mexico. He said that, when it came to protection rackets, the Federal Police were the largest criminal organization in Mexico.

        1. polecat

          U forgot fully vested retirees, kickin it, listening to FOX, or CNN, or whatever ..while swilling their gin .. nice-n-neat !! … “Honey ?” .. could you please pass me a plate of those delish ‘bottom-net trawled scallops …”

          ‘ducks’ !

        2. Kurtismayfield

          Police are inevitably corrupted. … Police always observe that criminals prosper. It takes a pretty dull policeman to miss the fact that the position of authority is the most prosperous criminal position available.

          Frank Herbert

            1. Kurtismayfield

              Thank you for this ambrit,
              I fear we will never see a “Natural law” discourse in the US of A again, because it would imply that those pesky illegals have some kind of inalienable rights. That would set probably 30% of the country in a fit.

  7. JohnnyGL

    Lambert made this comment in the watercooler yesterday and it was a good one…https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/07/200pm-water-cooler-7-15-2019.html#comment-3180755

    The real issue here, power politics aside, is ideological: Liberal Democrats are deeply convinced that racism is a personal, essentialist, and irredeemable characteristic (“He’s a racist,” or, perhaps more properly, “they’re a racist”). They cannot talk about systemic racism, because if they did, they would have to follow the money*, and then speak of the donor class, which they cannot do. (Individualizing racism has further advantages in terms of virtue signaling, call-out culture, dogpiling, and, of course, career choices.) Chakrabarti’s real sin, therefore, was speaking about racism in a way that liberals cannot approve).

    To illustrate the code of silence on systemic racism, I give you Susan Rice….https://thehill.com/policy/international/453098-susan-rice-chinese-diplomat-a-racist-disgrace

    The Chinese diplomat said white people don’t go to the black part of Washington DC, and also suggested the economic component (curiously not included in the Hill’s article, or Bloomberg’s). He said buildings with black residents will drop in value as whites leave. Susan Rice immediately screamed “RACISM” at him. But, if we’re honest with ourselves as Americans….that’s the ongoing legacy of redlining over several generations. But, as Lambert says, Liberal Dems don’t want to confront the present day reality of that. I think that a lot, perhaps most, Americans, both black and white get uncomfortable with that reality and often try to pretend it’s not true. But the numbers on the racial wealth gap tell that story loud and clear.

    Systemic racism today is probably the legacy of redlining even more than the legacy of slavery (this is debatable, I realize and I’m not even sure I agree with it. But, there’s a a case to be made). What if the ‘reparations’ discussion was about redlining instead of slavery? That kind of mutes the knee-jerk reaction of, “well, that was all a long time ago and everyone involved is long since dead.”

    The Chinese diplomat could have triggered a much-needed discussion about the present day geography of systemic racism, but instead was immediately shouted down by Susan Rice. As always, liberal democrats are crushing the discussions they’re uncomfortable with.

    P.S. — I was made aware of the tweets via Yvette Carnell’s show….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuVLbNKupz0

    1. The Rev Kev

      A fascinating encounter that. Thanks for highlighting this event. Count on Susan Rice to do her bit for the status quo. I wonder if this was just a one off event though. What I mean is this. The US will go after different countries and using ‘human rights’ as a club to beat nations with. What if China is now saying that two can play that game. What if the Chinese started highlighting different aspects of racism in the United States like that Chinese Diplomat did here. Remember it wasn’t Baltimore or Detroit or L.A. he talked about but Washington DC itself. This could get interesting.

      1. JohnnyGL

        I didn’t cite the bloomberg article because it wasn’t central to the point I was making (though it had some interesting context). But yes, China seems to be loosening up the tongue a lot more. They’ve also been noisy about criticizing US behavior on the Iran deal, in addition to our dicey human rights record.

    2. Oh

      A little off topic but I feel that the descendents of slave owners should be made to pay reparations, not the general public.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Agreed. Going back to the redlining topic, It’d be fun to see the speculators and blockbusters who manufactured and profited from the policies get dug up and be forced to pay restitution. The same with the banks who gouged black borrowers. Same with subprime.

        But, also, redlining policy was formulated and implemented at the federal level and there’s also no way around saying the feds did it and the feds should do something to make it right, and yes, cough up some cash, too.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I am an amateur genealogist and I can tell you that this will never, ever work. You will find that a lot of black people are also descended from slave owners and through the generational increase you will have black people paying other black people reparations while receiving reparations from different black people. It would be a mess. If you think that I am just being argumentative, consider the black descendants of Sally Hemings, de-facto wife of Thomas Jefferson. So Jefferson, who owned slaves, left both a black family and a white family and both have increased their numbers over the past two hundred years. They have re-united lately but it would be painful trying to untangle who owes what to whom after two hundred years in just that family alone. Besides, I have never been a fan of this “sins of the father” caper.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Can the ADOS case be readily distinguished from reparations for the Holocaust paid by Germany? Or for reparations for Japanese internment paid by the United States?

          1. The Rev Kev

            Maybe with the fact that the last ex-slave died half a century ago of extreme old age whereas you still have holocaust survivors and Japanese-American internees that are still with us. A line has to be drawn somewhere. Wasn’t there a South American civilization that counted cycles by starting a new one when the last person alive for the beginning of the last one had passed away?

            1. dearieme

              There’s no end to it. Maybe the USA should pay reparations to the Palestinians, and Saudi Arabia to the Americans (and others) who lost so much with 9/11. On and on it would go. It would be a “nice little earner”.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              I remember reading about how the Etruscans had such a concept. But the Search Prevention Engines prevent me from being able to find any referrence to it now.

    3. Carla

      Thanks for this comment. I don’t think of systemic racism as the legacy of one thing more than another (redlining more than slavery) but more of redlining as a disgustingly inevitable continuation of slavery. Never having really dealt with slavery as a society, we are doomed carry it on in some form until we actually DO deal with it. I highly recommend “Slavery By Another Name” by Douglas Blackmon.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Susan Rice

      I’m so glad she’s not challenging Susan Collins.

      > The Chinese diplomat could have triggered a much-needed discussion about the present day geography of systemic racism, but instead was immediately shouted down by Susan Rice. As always, liberal democrats are crushing the discussions they’re uncomfortable with.

      Trump has so far not been given the opportunity to destroy a generation’s worth of black wealth*. Obama was, and he did not disappoint with his response to the foreclosure crisis and, later, HAMP. So where is the racism?

      NOTE * If a house be “wealth.” I tend to identify wealth with capital, which I don’t think a house is.

      1. vlade

        House and wealth. That’s really because a house is a much more complex thing that most people will think.

        “House” as a construction where one lives (let’s call it housing unit, or HU) is really more of a consumable. You have to maintain it, and only a relatively few HU have some intrinsic value over and above being a shelter. To increase (and even keep) the value of HU, one has to pay, and any increase in value will be driven by those invesments (and usually not be a multiple of them, but a small margin on them).

        But there’s also the land – and the location of the land. For a number of location the value of the land dwarfs the value of the HU. Crucially, increase in the value of the land is almost always driven by improvements of the immediate environment, not the improvements the owner can do (unless they own a significant part of the land). Think city infrastructure, nearby jobs, but also things like gentrification (so while it’s hard to increase the land value by yourself, you can do it together with your neighbors).

        I’d argue that the land is mostly capital-like, HU mmostly isn’t. Of course, how much of the capital you can actually use depends on the debt loading it has.

        Think of it as family silver. It was in the family against the worst times, when it would be melted and provide a new startup capital if needed. So for most of the time it wasn’t really capital, but it could have acted like that if needed. HU can do this to some extent (renting it out, if you have the space), but land much more so (during the RE booms, a lot of people with large plots split their plots and sold/developed it).

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        A house and its yard are potentially a pile of usable Means of Subsistence Survival Production. As such, a house and its yard can be some UnMonetized Survival Subsistence Production-facilitating biophysical capital.

  8. Deschain

    That Inc report has some terrible math. 3M people @ $30K per means $86B (or so) in debt, not $86M. Just a few orders of magnitude!

  9. petal

    Re: Sanders-I reckon it’s an alarm bell. It seems like the Sanders campaign is just now starting to get their field operation in NH underway(as of a couple weeks ago). Maybe they thought they’d coast like last time, or didn’t need to do as much due to the neighbouring state bump. Definitely a different game this time around.

    1. todde

      a copyright is just another example of government interference in the marketplace.

      O the irony.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      It is June and NH is number two (Screams in pillow). And presumably his ground game will not be Soccer Moms and their Republican friends at the club, nor the pollsters who adore them. But Trump’s the incumbent, I’m just going to try to keep a chipper attitude about 2024.

    3. JohnnySacks

      Ugh, polling, the gift that keeps on giving for our media overlords, something to yap about in a non-stop flood of white noise distracting us from the corporate takeover of every aspect of our lives and the hoovering up of every bit of wealth by the 0.1%. I would like to see just who is answering these polls, because our household either ignores the call completely or hangs up immediately because to hell with our contributing to that crap. 2016 was a slap in the face with respect to the hogwash garbage of polling numbers and 2020 is going to be worse.

  10. Burritonomics

    Re: Steyer and “Karl Marx failed to consider software”

    I would argue that the ability of a pop star or performer to sell globally displaces local alternatives, and creates a monoculture of entertainment. I’d say that takes quite a bit away from a multitude of people, does harm, and constitutes a form of theft.

    1. Geo

      “constitutes a form of theft“

      Theft from artists is as old as art itself but it’s interesring he would chose artists as his example of why economic inequality is an issue.

      1. Artists didn’t trash the global economy.

      2. The industry around art is one of the most corrupt, exploitive, and economically inequal of any industry out there. “Starving artist” is not a stereotype for no reason. And there’s a reason creeps like Weinstein, Epstein, and others are drawn to it. It’s not just for the art. Making art is the original “gig economy”. All artists move from project to project and are only as valuable as their last one. And that’s if they can even get a gig. Exploiting them is like shooting fish in a barrel.

      So, if he wants to talk about artists – let’s talk about the industry that is a clear example of predatory capitalism on steroids.

      1. jsn

        That’s why he likes it so much: a hyper exploitative, extractive capitalism that facilitates money launderers but has great left wing cultural cachet.

    2. Carey

      “Scaling”, in private hands, is generally bad for the great majority of the citizenry, IMO.

    3. Acacia

      if you are Michael Jackson or Rihanna or Beyoncé or anyone producing an idea, with software you aren’t just the best singer in your village … you have an ability to reproduce that song infinitely at very low cost around the world.

      Reproduce that song infinitely, he says? It rather sounds like Steyer is advocating piracy.

  11. pricklyone

    +++“3 Million Americans Over 60 Are Stuck With Student Loans. They Owe a Total of $86 Million” [Inc]. “CBS News reports that 3 million Americans over the age of 60 still have student debt. And the Wall Street Journal reports that in 2017, their average debt was $33,800″

    Hmmm…so in aggregate. they owe about $30 each?

    1. anonymous

      What if you “owe” $33,000 but you only borrowed $7,000.? Usary was illegal when these people were in college! Student loans were govt. backed guarenteed.

    1. clarky90

      Thanks dcblogger. I watched this on your recommendation and it was very good!

      Re; “Don’t Waste Your Emotions on Plants, They Have No Feelings”

      Is this a neo-eugenics? A rationalization for the wanton destruction, financialization and consumption of the “inferior” Plant World? “But, they have no feelings!”

      1. Plenue

        You don’t have to think something has feelings to think destroying it is bad. Anthropomorphizing isn’t helping; it just makes you look like a weirdo no one should listen to.

  12. Mark Gisleson

    The math on that Inc. story seems a bit off. $86 million in debt divided 3 million ways doesn’t seem like a lot.

  13. drumlin woodchuckles

    On ” Julian Castro and the predatism of private equity” . . .

    A free thought offered as a gift if anyone wants it . . . . I think a better word right here than “predatism” would be “predasitism”. ” Predasitism” comes from “predasite” which is a hybrid-word of “predator” and “parasite”.

    I coined the word “predasite” a few years ago. Predasite . . . predasitic . . . predasitory . . . predasitism . . .
    if anyone else thinks this might be a good word to use or play with or do further modifications on, I give it away for free.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I saw the need for a word for something halfway between predation and parasitism. If such a word is not needed, it will die in the ditch. And that’s okay too.

        1. jsn

          I like it, it’s like corporetulent, which combines corporate, corpulent and petulant to describe what one finds at the local Democratic Party gathering.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Thank you for the kind words.

            Yes, I am hoping that “predasite” and derivative words turns out to be a perfect cromulent word, like perhaps “corporetulant”. The invention of perfectly cromulent new words is how we embiggen the language.

    1. pricklyone

      “Predation”– perfectly good word exists.
      Predatism: Reminds me of “orientated”.

  14. JBird4049

    “Growing Sense of Social Status Threat and Concomitant Deaths of Despair Among Whites”

    Would not the increasing numbers of the jobless, the homeless, the ill, the destitute, the lost also engender the “Concomitant Deaths of Despair Among Whites?” That’s being human. Hammer people hard enough and they start to crack.

    This feels like racialized schadenfreude, willful blindness, and to be fair, unrealized groupthink, which might be amusing in a sick way, if it were not for the homeless families I can see.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, I’m not real happy with what I see? project? as the political thrust of that article, a copy of which I still cannot find, although today’s Google search has at least turned up the people pushing it. The erasure of class by “status” is a real red flag for me. This is the journal, I think.

      Adolph Reed writes:

      But the question ultimately does not arise because reparations talk is rooted in a different kind of politics, a politics of elite-brokerage and entreaty to the ruling class and its official conscience, the philanthropic foundations, for racial side-payments. “Until America’s white ruling class accepts the fact that the book never closes on massive unredressed social wrongs, America can have no future as one people,” Robinson writes. Lest there be any doubt about the limited social vision that makes such an entreaty plausible, he brushes away the deepest foundations of American inequality: “Lamentably, there will always be poverty.” His beef is that black Americans are statistically overrepresented at the bottom. This is a protest politics that depends on the good will of those who hold power. By definition, it is not equipped to challenge existing relations of power and distribution other than marginally, with token gestures.

      It is not clear to me which strategy ADOS has adopted or is adopting: Mass movement or elite brokerage. If the latter, gift-wrapping the left as racist — and especially universal concrete material benefits as racist — would be a wonderful offering to present to delighted neoliberal elites. And if the result were merely a different configuration of ascriptive identities in the 1% and the 10%*, laissez les bons temps rouler!

      I hate to be this cynical, I really do, but most often I’ve not been cynical enough, despite my best efforts.

      NOTE * I’m picturing a rapid upward redistribution of reparations payments, a la the vouchers of Russian privatization.

      1. JBird4049

        I hate to be this cynical, I really do, but most often I’ve not been cynical enough, despite my best efforts.

        It is hard to be cynical enough when the past has been reduced to a beautiful sepia haziness using the memory hole, which is then presented as The Truth when going to class. One has to push through the obscurantist propaganda like the Dunning School before actually doing any real studying.

        So this strategy of racialized benefits has been used before; the gentry or upper classes to split off the coalitions of blacks, indentured servants, and native from each other in Colonial America and of blacks and poor whites in the Antebellum South. I have read of others in America, but I do not have much information on them.

        Of course, once again I do not have that information because of the memory hole. I mean the knowledge is out there and easier to find thanks to the internet and inter-library book loans, but the digging through the approved hagiographic pseudo-history of America can be really annoying. Then there is the anti-hagiographic history of America as Mordor, the Fount of Evil in the World that can also be obscurantist BS.

  15. drumlin woodchuckles

    About Rose and Eliza and the O’Rourkes . . . . it certainly does sound as if the O’Rourkes of today’s world do owe reparations to the Roses and Elizas of today’s world. So let the O’Rourkes of today’s world pay the reparations that they AND THEY ALONE owe to THEIR hereditary victims.

    My ancestors came here from places like Zhitsk . . . Pizzk . . . Heavsk . . . Pukesk . . . Dumpsk. We are not aware of any slave-owning ancestors in the ancestral weedpile. If someone is absolutely able to force me to pay them reparations at gunpoint backed up by all the hypocritical force of a displace-the-guilt Elite, I will be happy to pay them the absolutely-forced gunpoint-reparations after I have had a proper chance to soak the money in radioactive polonium first.

      1. dearieme

        How could Jamaicans have owned slaves into the 1930s? Slavery was abolished from 1834 with the Jamaican adult slaves emancipated in 1838.

        1. ambrit

          “…later exploited…” We in the North American Deep South know all about faux-slavery as practiced here through systems like sharecropping and political disenfranchisement. Jamaica can have been not far behind in the ‘creative’ use of methods of economic and social control, such as grinding poverty for one.
          It also could have been a typo, but I doubt it.

          1. Dan

            AMBRIT, well into the XX Century, that’s not a typo:

            Donald Harris, Kamala’s father:
            “The Harris name comes from my paternal grandfather Joseph Alexander Harris, land-owner and agricultural ‘produce’ exporter (mostly pimento or all-spice), who died in 1939 one year after I was born and is buried in the church yard of the magnificent Anglican Church which Hamilton Brown built in Brown’s Town (and where, as a child, I learned the catechism, was baptized and confirmed, and served as an acolyte).”


            1. ambrit

              This is also quite complicated by the Creole experience in the South pre War Between the States. Many Creoles, the definition of which was slightly different in different New World cultures, owned slaves themselves and identified with their European forebears culturally. There was still a Creole society back when I lived in New Orleans some thirty or forty years ago. I will guess that there still is.
              It reminds me of the main character in Arthur C Clarke’s book, “Imperial Earth,” set at the end of the Twentyfourth Century, who is commented upon by the other characters as being one of the few truly black skinned people they have ever met. Everyone else, it seems, is light brown skinned. Clarke was full of jokes like this, based on a logical concept of the results of the easy and common mixing of the human population over the ensuing years.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              One can make an inference. But I’d want to see actual evidence, and it’s not in the article. For example, the regime of slavery was quite different in the pre-Confederate South for cotton and rice, because producing each is so different. Ditto each from sugar, in Jamaica.* And here we have pimento and all-spice. Are those different from cloves in Zanzibar, famous for slaves? I don’t know…

              * Harris does provide a super-idealized view of sugar workers, I note.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > When does Kamala write a check on her rich lawyer husband’s account to pay back the descendants of Jamaican slaves her father’s family owned, and later exploited, well into the 1930s?

        I don’t think “owned, and later exploited, well into the 1930s” can be justified from the article. From the article:

        My roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (née Christiana Brown, descendant of Hamilton Brown who is on record as plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown’s Town) and to my maternal grandmother Miss Iris (née Iris Finegan, farmer and educator, from Aenon Town and Inverness, ancestry unknown to me).

        I don’t see where you are getting the 30s timeline from.

    1. Lee

      Primarily descended from Celtic peoples, I too have some bronze and iron age axes to grind. There were the Romans, then the Germans, Danes, Angles, Jutes, Normans, English and heaven knows who else. My Irish ancestors were starved out of Ireland and largely through drudge labor worked their way through life in America. My mother, as a child and a whiter shade of pale than most, picked cotton for a penny a pound during the Great Depression. If, based on this history, reparations are due me, sign me up. If, because of my current economic status, I am called upon to pay a bit more and do with a bit less to help my fellow citizens who are in dire straits, sign me up.

      1. Expat2uruguay

        all of this discussion on a particular person’s ancestors not being responsible for slavery misses the real point. We don’t punish children for the crimes of their parents or in this case great great great great-grandparents. right?

        1. Lee

          Agreed. We address current social inequities now and going forward, based on contemporary values.

        2. marym

          The financial benefits of the labor of enslaved people accrued not only to the enslavers, but through the continuing US internal slave trade with the westward expansion, and the US and global business of cotton, textiles, shipping, and banking. Beyond that, the reparations discussion is about not only slavery, but the generational legacy of systemic racism in its numerous forms.

          I have no answers about how or if it would ever be possible to calculate and distribute reparations, but I don’t think the context would be assessing the sins of individual ancestors. It would be the result of a truth-and-reconciliation type of reckoning with the generational toll of systemic racism. I suppose if we were a society capable of such a reckoning, we’d be one that was also capable finding ways of righting some of its wrongs.

          1. lee

            Could we throw in historic classism and sexism and their legacy effects as well? That would be more inclusive and politically powerful, not to mention more fair and interesting.

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, normal decent people would agree with you. Now . . . how do we secure the agreement of the Reparationist Extortionism conspirators?

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        I don’t want our government to set up the genealogical database necessary for reparations. I will refuse the genetic testing.

        A. Address inequality


        B. Reify, institutionalize, and give a precedent for ‘race based’ preference?

        Nothing can go wrong with that when you look at the history of the good old US of A.

  16. dearieme

    her campaign turned to one of California’s top Democratic donors, a wealthy Silicon Valley physician named Karla Jurvetson

    Well if a girl can’t accept a gift from a fellow Cherokee, what’s the world coming to?

  17. Summer

    RE: Amazon worker protests

    “This is easy for me to say, since I have no skin in the game, but wouldn’t it be better to bring the entire supply chain to a halt, across the board?”

    Best time would be Q4.

  18. Lee

    Re Warren’s big donors:

    Her declaration, “I’m capitalist to the core”, seems to be paying off. OTOH, she at least makes the argument that markets have limits when it comes to solving many important problems. I’m wondering if she is the sort that can be made to do the right thing.

    1. nippersmom

      Perhaps, but I’m afraid she is also the sort who can be made to toe the party line; and there will be a lot more pressure brought to bear on her to do that than to do the right thing.

    2. richard

      I fear she is being presented to us as the kind that can be made to do the right thing.
      At any rate, that sort of politician is practically useless to us at this point. Any dem who manages to beat trump (doubt that she can, by the way: no populism, no victory) will immediately be hamstrung by an obstructive legislative branch and will need to hit the ground running with bully pulpit measures and bringing the fear of god into local pols who continue to ignore their constituents. I say “any” dem, but we all know there’s really only one who will do this, don’t we?
      Short form answer: we need help from an immediate ally, not someone we may be able to “influence”.

      1. Lee

        Agreed. Trump and others bypassing the press and reaching out directly through social media to the electorate are onto something. The rabble aroused will not be denied and I expect the pollsters will again be surprised.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        Don’t want her as the presidential nomination because she’ll be steamrolled.

        Don’t want her as VP nom, because she s*cks less than most of the Dem bench and could be good in a Cabinet.

  19. Summer

    RE: “Kamala Harris Blasts, Then Takes Money From Jeffrey Epstein’s Law Firm” [KPIX].”

    Will one of the debates feature a big reality show like reveal where the mask comes off and we see that this is actually Hillary Clinton?

    1. Synoia

      Will someone please ask Kamela if she believes sleeping her way to success is a good role.

      If Kamela become the D candidate, I believe Trump will raise this point.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          He’s gonna need a big dump truck.

          That article by her father, discussed elsewhere today, makes me feel sad for her. I’m sure that (putting their interactions in their most charitable light) that “Willie Brown’s arm candy” was not the career choice that her father, mother, sister, or she herself planned. The rot in California Democrat politics must go very deep.

  20. DonCoyote

    Since Lambert likes the occasional gaming news:

    There will be no cigar-chomping or vaping in Gears 5

    Thanks to a partnership between Xbox Game Studios developer The Coalition, non-profit anti-tobacco organization Truth Initiative, and Turner Sports ELeague division, the upcoming Gears of War game will have no smoking, vaping, or any other tobacco references that “glorify” smoking. Gears 5 will still have chaingun beheadings and point-blank shotgun kills, so it still won’t be family-friendly. It will just not tempt teens into smoking while tearing enemies into puddles of eviscera.

    I have noticed that Juul is pushing their anti-youth sweeps and (claims to be) backing legislation to raise the vaping age to 21, in an attempt to defang legislation that bans vaping.

    1. DonCoyote

      Even more (albeit almost a month old, and more obscure) gaming news:

      It’s possible to build a Turing machine within Magic: The Gathering

      Furthermore, he and his co-authors…have concluded that Magic might be as computationally complex as it’s possible for any tabletop game to be. In other words, “This is the first result showing that there exists a real-world game [of Magic] for which determining the winning strategy is non-computable,”

      So can I convince my boss that playing Magic at work is really data science research?

    2. JBird4049

      Rather like those war and horror movies where the violence, gore, blood and death is show, sometimes lovingly in closeups and sometimes in slow motion, but curses and especially the nipple are banned?

      I do not like everything I see hear in any of the form of media, but the censorship that is growing in step with the national security state ostensibly for our own good is not good.

      Although when seeing that murder by chain guns is acceptable, but vaping is bad, I gotta chuckle. It’s a demented form of neoliberal nannying.

    1. Grant

      So, this recent poll has Pete B with six times more support than Bernie from voters aged 18-34? Biden has, many times the support Bernie receives?

    2. SB

      From what I read those polls don’t seem to be aggregated. Solitary polls are not worth the cost of the paper they’re printed on. Of course, aggregated polls can also be inaccurate, but they’re more closer to reality, and are less likely to be influenced by statistical anomalies, wouldn’t you agree?

  21. Camp Lo

    The “Labour is not unjustly anti-Semitic” author undercuts his premise by using the byline “Eydl Kneydl”, a butchered Yiddish homophone of a nonsense phrase, roughly translated as “Noble Dumpling”. The author is clearly searching for “a yidl a kneydl” meaning “a fat Jew”. The arguments that follow in the piece do not have the intellectual rigor on would expect from a serious Marxist.

  22. Summer

    “All The Problems With This Anonymous Poll About Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” [

    I noticed the way the political establishment ised polls to control condidates long ago. The results issued like a reprimand.

    And people wonder how the “scientific” poll narrativres could be so off about the 2016 election

  23. Amfortas the hippie

    the Verge article on Ramsey Orta is chilling.
    i was targeted by the cops in my hometown, due to my inherent knight errantry…i picked up a girl i knew on the side of the road, after she’d called me, and took her someplace safe.
    i was 18, she was 17, but her daddy was a Pillar of the Community, and his brother was the chief of police. thus began my career as an outlaw…chased and harassed and lied about and beaten up for
    5 years until i finally left that place(i say, when asked, i’ll go back there when it burns to the ground)…and i had an almost allergic psych-reaction to cops for almost 30 years afterwards.
    and i’m a white guy….POC have it much, much worse.
    surely we can “keep the peace” better than this.

    …and prison shouldn’t be rapecity and gangland and CO’s running rampant. everyone i’ve ever known who went to prison tells the same story…and if that ain’t Cruel and Unusual Punishment, i don’t know what is.

  24. Summer

    Anubody ready to admit you’re appealing to a government that is trying to get out of the governing a nation business and want to be strictly known and revered as elected corporate lobbyists?

    1. polecat

      Raises hand …

      Where are their corporate logos ?? .. Those should be tatooed onto their persons, indelible like ! .. just like the gangsters that they are.

  25. Carey

    The Saint Anselm College poll is not believable.

    I think I commented last year wondering if the Catfood Dems
    might rig the process™ from start to finish. Looking that way
    at the moment.

    1. edmondo

      You know, every time Bernie runs less than first in any poll and the “rigging” comments come flying out. Is it at all possible that Bernie just isn’t that popular? Maybe calling yourself a “democratic socialist” in America might not be the best bit of branding in politics? I realize that a lot of commenters on this site don’t think so but if this site was representative of the general electorate then President Jill Stein would be running for re-election right now.

      I worked for and voted for Bernie in 2016. I will not vote for him next year. I find him unserious in his pursuit of the presidency, I was appalled by his support of Hillary and honestly believe that an almost 80-year=old doesn’t belong anywhere near the Oval Office.

      1. Yves Smith

        Bernie polled at the most popular politician in America before the Dem primary started being contested. He also has one of the best, if not the best, net positive ratings.

        The polls are mainly of “likely” voters, which usually = people who have voted in the past, and/or registered Dems. Both would underrepresent Bernie since:

        1. Even in Dem primaries, “registered Dems” are relevant only in closed primaries, and even then, only is states which make it difficult to register as a Dem before the primary.

        2. “Likely voters” tends to exclude young, particularly first time voters, who skew more heavily to Bernie.

        3. Polls also heavily undersampled the young because pollsters want to know the demographics of who they are contacting, which pretty much requires a landline. They try to adjust but….

        1. David Carl Grimes

          Could Bernie votes be reflected by the individual donor contribution numbers? For instance, Bernie raised $18 million from 1 million donors – almost three times more than anyone else. I tried looking up the donor numbers in fec.gov but could not find them. Can someone point to a link that has these numbers

          1. Chris

            I was surprised to see how many donors Bernie’s campaign had attracted. I think that’s a positive sign that the poll numbers and the coverage he’s been (not) getting won’t be as big a problem this time.


            I think he has an uphill climb with the rest of the electorate or getting out a ton of new voters. Either one won’t be easy. The likely voters of past elections don’t want to see his type of proposed change. The people who didn’t vote in past elections need to vote in this one. That’s a lot of change that needs to happen in the next 15 months. Who knows what events are planned to make it even harder for that type of change to take place?

            Still, enough bits and bobs of news are coming in to me from family and other sources in Fly Over Country that I’m not as pessimistic as I was before. Maybe Trump won’t be re-elected. Maybe Bernie has a chance. Maybe the planned scandals the Democrats are doubtless to engage in will backfire. I can only hope.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > The people who didn’t vote in past elections need to vote in this one. That’s a lot of change that needs to happen in the next 15 months.

              “You must do it, Catullus, you must do it. You must do it whether it can be done or not.”

      2. Wombat

        How does one demonstrate seriousness for the presidency? Does nonstop campaigning and travelling not suffice?

        If you are in the camp of people “appalled by his support of hillary,” who does that leave in this primary?

        Not Warren- she balked at endorsing Sanders.
        Not Biden- he aquiesced to Hillary’s coronation last primary

        Perhaps Gabbard- She didn’t bend the knee to the coronation, and dropped out of DNC leadership to support Sanders? Is she young enough?

      3. richard

        I could agree with you that in 2016 his campaign was somewhat unserious
        i don’t think he thought he had a prayer when he started
        running to prove a point, i think is how he phrased it
        i thought it was a big mistake for him to pledge to support the dem nominee before a vote had been cast
        and a big mistake to support clinton after the outright fraud and her heavy pivot to the right
        btw, the very fact that you can make an argument that the nomination was stolen from him, doesn’t square too well with bernie just not being very popular, does it?
        anyway, i can see a point about unseriousness 3years ago, or not being ready, but bernie now is clearly as serious as one could hope for – i think the strategy of trying to take over the dem party is very problematic, but he’s definitely serious about it. And he has a strategy, bring in so many new voters that you drown out the gerrymandering and other fraud. We’ll see.
        the nc commentariat may not be representative of the usian electorate as it now stands, tis true
        but let’s see what happens if we bump turnout from 60 to even 70 percent. You may see more of a resemblance.

      4. WJ

        So you (1) worked and voted for Sanders in 2016 and (2) were so appalled by his support of Hillary in 2016 you won’t vote for him this year and yet (3) you think he is too far left and also (4) too old. Yeah I’m gonna call bullsh*t. I don’t believe you’re being honest.

      5. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the “rigging” comments come flying out

        One consequence of the desacralization of American institutions since at least 2000 is that institutions like the press, the political parties, the pollsters, as well as (certainly) the intelligence community plus law enforcement are no longer seen as “independent” but as intertwined. (This is very similar to Third World politics, where every political actor, no matter their position, is seen as being protected by a network, a “hidden hand.”)

        But surely, after the 2016 primary and election, such a view is entirely natural; one has only to recall how the Washington Post ran sixteen negative stories on Sanders in sixteen hours.

        I don’t like the “hot take” aspect because it shades over into rationalization and pom-pom waving; but the claims of rigging are not prima facie wrong.

        1. notabanker

          When the polls and pundits don’t match the actual election results, the answer isn’t to fix the polls and pundits…….

    1. Geo

      There’s some glaring issues in this article. The claim that pedophilia and homosexuality are linked is absurd. By that measure is the Jeffrey Epstein case proof of a link between heterosexuality and pedophilia? Also, the defining of homosexuality as a form of mental illness is also wrongheaded – and not just because it’s politically incorrect. Maybe the author needs to read up on what an illness is? And their use of Russia as an example of a society wisely dealing with gays is bordering on obscene. I’m not a Russiaphobe but treatment of gays isn’t their best feature.

      I collect old books and this article is very similar to ones I have trying to explain how women or blacks are trying to take away our freedoms by demanding stuff. Does IdPol go too far sometimes? Sure. But, until gays start demanding we all greet them with “Happy Pride Day” for four months a year or trans people start seeking out straight people to beat up and murder I think we can handle to oppression of new pronouns and whatever else is bothering those offended by gays making themselves visible in our society.

      I’m a straight guy but I’m “arty” in my appearance and dress so I’ve been mistaken for gay much of my life and have had a gun pulled on me, had four guys come after me with a metal pipe, and been called names so often it became a joke amongst me and my friends about whether we’d make it through an evening out without a slur being thrown out at me. I have no patience for the whining of straight people “losing their freedoms”. Backlash is a bastard. Deal with it. Things will settle but for now the gay community is asserting their presence and unless their existence offends you there’s no harm in that for anyone.

      If you’re not gay yourself, stop obsessing over the “gay lobby” and focus on bigger issues.

    2. Geo

      Just read some more…

      I also get some solace that there are still folks in the West who do understand that this propaganda campaign is part of a real “war on men” which has been waged for many decades already.

      How can you take this article seriously? A war on men? Did you call the Iraqi insurgency a “War on America”?

      If, after millenia of systemic domination, and only a few decades of relative gains in equality movements, straight men feel they are in a war, it speaks much more to their weakness and sense of entitlement to a society as they designed it for themselves, then it does to what others are doing “to” them.

      All this crying about a “war on men”, “white genocide”, or whatever other outrages this historically (and currently) dominant group of people is hollering about is pure hysteria. Men are doing fine. They still pretty much run the world. In fact, if you feel a boot on your throat and look up odds are you’ll see a white hetero guy above you.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i read the whole thing, and felt much the same.
        one of the most staggering insights of my youth was that the moron rednecks forever chasing me for my weirdness(smart and sort of Bi, not gay.the smart was what made them nuts) were terrified little boys, afraid of anything they couldn’t fit into their narrow and grubby worldview.
        i still evaded them(mostly with alacrity,lol) but after that epiphany, I pitied them more than feared them.
        this guy can put the lipstick of erudition all over that, but it’s still narrow and petty fear of Not Me.

        1. polecat

          And you’d probably be surprised who that boot might belong to .. should things, for whatever reason, get hinky .. Fast !
          Society on eggshells …

          1. ambrit

            Don’t forget that that boot is there to protect you.
            I’m becoming reconciled to the fact that I will not see the SHTF event coming. Too many variables involved.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Holy moley. I guess all of us have one post like that in us, but I have to say that recommending a 45-minute YouTube as the opening move for the really serious part of a polemic is not a confidence builder.

  26. Synoia

    Q: Billionaire Tom Steyer on inequality and his 2020 run

    A: From those to whom much is given, Much is expected.

    What’s you list, Tom?

    1. RMO

      Today’s Tom Steyer
      He gets high on you
      And the space he invades
      He gets by on you

      (not a Rush fan but couldn’t resist this)

  27. ewmayer

    “Disney heiress ‘livid’ after going to one of her family’s theme parks undercover” [MarketWatch]. “‘Every single one of these people I talked to were saying, ‘I don’t know how I can maintain this face of joy and warmth when I have to go home and forage for food in other people’s garbage…’ — Maintaining that face of joy and warmth is what giant perma-smiling foam head prosthetics were invented for, no? Problem solved!

    1. meeps

      Since you brought up foam heads, get a load of Disney’s rebuttal, “Our Disney Aspire initiative is the most comprehensive employee education program in the country, covering 100% of all tuition costs, books and fees so our hourly workers can pursue higher education free of charge, and graduate free of debt…”

      Nice benefit, but not one universally needed by all theme park employees so much as a living wage, shelter, food, child and health care. Aspiring to join the meritocracy is challenging on a diet of books eaten out of a carpartment every night.

  28. GF

    The Iowa AARP and Des Moines Register are sponsoring democrat candidates this week in town halls with each having one half hour. There are 3 or 4 per day and it is live-streamed and recorded for later viewing. Tulsi is in tomorrow’s (Wed. July 17) group at 3:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time.


    Here is the full schedule:

  29. Geo

    Just reading some of the absurdity going on in Congress with the “Trump is a racist” charade. Our representatives have made an frenzied show out of virtue signaling and feigned outrage. So much vapidness presented with so much conviction!

    Lost in all of it is the reason these freshman representatives became an object of scorn in the first place. Reminds me of the Shirley Sherrod scandal: Dems fall for rightwing framing by throwing their own under the bus then acting outraged when the Republicans drive over them in that bus.

    1. Carey

      It makes perfect sense, though, if you think of it as theater.

      Interesting that the few apparently think they’re going to escape.


    2. Summer

      They went to check on the children at the border.

      We know from Epstein and all his buddies in the establishment – male and female – what the rest of them think children at the border are for.
      They have the dumb America discussing the behavior of the Congresswomen instead the behaviour of filth they all fawned over.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Always remember, and never forget . . . . that it was America’s “first black president” who threw Shirley Sherrod under the bus, not several white presidents who came before.

  30. pricklyone

    • I’m worried that Amazon Prime Day is losing its original spiritual significance.
    Still giggling at this one, L.S.

      1. ewmayer

        Something like “thou shalt not interfere with the natural development of Jeff Bezos’ fortune”, perhaps? We could only hope that it would be flouted as regularly as the one on Star Trek. :)

      2. The Rev Kev

        Why yes there is. I believe that it says: “We are Amazon. You will be assimilated. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile”.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, anyone who buys something from Amazon is down with the program, whatever excuses they may offer of “unavoidable necessity”.

  31. Stratos

    RE: “The Koch Brothers Want to Prevent Future AOCs”

    “… the Koch-affiliated political-action committee Americans for Prosperity, announced that the organization would be backing incumbent Democrats against progressive primary challenges in the upcoming congressional primaries.”

    Hmm, this shows what the Corporate Democrats brand really represents. The left-talking/right-acting wing of the the Beltway Vulture. The wing that is the bulwark against left movements.

    It’s good to see some of the true powerbrokers operate in the open.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Bernie at 16min: “We need an AG who believes in anti-trust and would break up big tech companies and I would appoint one who would do that”

    2. JohnnyGL

      Bernie at 24 min mark, repeats his promise to go to Kentucky to push for Medicare for All and pressure McConnell.

  32. Oregoncharles

    Developments today: “Dem-led House formally condemns Trump remarks deemed ‘racist,’ after dramatic floor fight over Pelosi
    | Fox News” – https://www.foxnews.com/politics/house-dems-formally-condemn-trumps-racist-remarks-floor-fight-pelosi

    Downright British, and highly entertaining.

    having experienced city politics here, I think there’s such a thing as too much “decorum.”

    OTOH: if Omar and Tlaib actually called for impeaching Trump over “Russian collusion,” that would he highly disappointing – and futile.

    1. ambrit

      What if they did some ‘Merry Pranksters’ theatre and made that call live on the floor of the House of Representatives while wearing Vlad Putin masks?

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        As long as they were in the same “medicated” state as the Pranksters when they performed, I might even tune in to watch.

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