2:00PM Water Cooler 7/24/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“U.S. lawmakers are moving to eliminate a supply chain that has become an important source of transportation equipment for American public transit systems. Congress is preparing to bar the use of federal funds to buy Chinese buses and railcars” [Wall Street Journal]. “Backers say the ban is needed to protect American manufacturers from subsidized Chinese competition. They also claim it would protect Americans from potential surveillance by Beijing through apparatus installed on buses and trains…. One expert says the debate highlights ‘the clash between globalization and local interests that we’ve always had, only now it’s moved up the value chain.'”

“U.K. Defers Huawei 5G Decision, Seeks Clarity on U.S. Export Ban” [Bloomberg]. “The U.K. government postponed making a decision about Huawei Technologies Co.’s involvement in the country’s fifth-generation mobile networks, citing a lack of clarity over the impact of a U.S. export ban affecting the Chinese company…. The U.K. Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee said in a report issued Friday that banning Huawei could make U.K. networks less secure by reducing the number of available suppliers. Huawei is one of three potential 5G suppliers to the U.K., alongside Nokia Oyj and Ericsson AB. Meanwhile, all four U.K. carriers are building their 5G networks using equipment from Huawei. BT Group Plc’s EE and Vodafone Group Plc have already gone live with 5G.”


“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 24: Biden flat at 28.6% (28.6), Sanders up at 15.0% (14.8%), Warren up at 15.0% (14.6%), Buttigieg up at 4.8% (5.0%), Harris down 12.2% (12.6%), others Brownian motion.

* * *


Buttigieg (D)(1): “Can Democrats do anything to combat being painted as socialists?” [WaPo]. “As The Fix’s Aaron Blake wrote earlier this month, Trump trails or is in a dead heat with each individual Democratic candidate tested in the last Washington Post-ABC poll. But he comes out ahead when voters are asked to say whether they would vote for Trump or a socialist…. ‘If we adopt a platform that’s way out to the left, they’re going to say we’re socialists. If we adopt a more moderate or conservative platform, they’re going to say we’re socialists,’ Buttigieg said, eliciting laughs and applause from the crowd. ‘So we might as well just do what we think is right, make the case for it and then let them do what they want.'”

De Blasio (D)(1): “‘That Place Is A Disaster,’ Says Bill De Blasio Watching Flooded NYC Subway On TV During Iowa Campaign Stop” [The Onion]. “‘I can’t believe how miserable and hopeless that place looks,’ de Blasio said as he visited the Pleasant Hill Diner in Iowa, observing that if he were elected president, then perhaps New Yorkers wouldn’t have to worry about such terrible things happening anymore. ‘How can people there stand it? I know I don’t want to live in a place like that. Somebody really ought to do something.'”

Sanders (D)(1): “Sanders makes ‘last-minute’ appearance at union rally with Warren” [Politico]. “Speaking to a rowdy crowd of several hundred union members and their supporters, the presidential candidates pledged to stand behind workers’ demands for $15 an hour and better health care — two issues at the focal point of the Democratic primary — and endorsed their rallying cry of “one job should be enough…. Warren confirmed her attendance well before the rally at Reagan National Airport, as she continues to vie for the progressive wing of the party. In press materials sent out Monday morning, she was the headliner and no other candidates were listed as attending. But Sanders, one of her 2020 rivals, RSVP’d at the last moment, one union leader told POLITICO, and he stormed into the UNITE HERE rally to chants of ‘Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!'”

Trump (R)(1): “Trump says he can name 20 more Dems who are like the ‘squad'” [Associated Press]. “Trump is trying to turn the group into the face of the Democratic Party heading into the 2020 presidential election, using their views and policy positions to paint the party as extreme and its leaders as wrong for the future of the country. ‘They have a big problem because they have others than these four,” Trump said of Democrats during the nearly 80-minute speech. ‘I could name another 20 right now. Without looking at a note I could name another 20 that I think are in many ways worse.'” • 20? Really?

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren Bet Big on Impeachment. Will Mueller Pay It Off? [Vanity Fair]. “Elizabeth Warren has bet bigger on Robert Mueller than any of the other Democratic presidential contenders….. Getting out ahead on the issue was tactically smart back in the spring, when Warren’s poll numbers were mired in the low single digits and she was struggling to attract attention. “Many of her ‘I have a plan for that’ agenda items were worked out months in advance,” a Warren insider says. “But no one knew, coming into this year, that there would even be a Mueller report. The fact that she read it and reacted to it quickly was a very important opportunistic moment for her, and it is underappreciated in her rise.”

* * *

“Lawyers bankroll 2020 Democrats with millions in campaign cash” [Open Secrets]. “[L]awyers and employees of law firms have already given $10 million to Democratic candidates, including $5.5 million between April and June. Only retirees — a much larger group — have contributed more to Democrats seeking the White House, giving $8.5 million during the second quarter and $22.6 million this cycle. Former Vice President Joe Biden has received $1.9 million from the legal field, the most of any candidate. He is followed by Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, who received $1.5 million and $1.1 million from the industry, respectively. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg received $955,000, while Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have both taken more than $700,000 this cycle…. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a former Harvard Law School professor, vowed to eschew the traditional big-donor fundraisers where some of her competitors have reaped in big bucks. But the Massachusetts senator has still managed to receive nearly $430,000 in contributions from lawyers and law firms this cycle. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) received just $167,000 from the lawyers and law firms, the least of any top-tier candidate.”

“A Warren or Sanders presidency could cost Democrats a Senate seat” [NBC News]. “Both Massachusetts and Vermont have Republican governors who have the power to name a temporary replacement to fill Warren’s or Sanders’ vacant Senate seat with a Republican replacement. (Vermont’s governor, Phil Scott, is up for re-election in 2020.) The other Democratic senators running for president — Kamala Harris (Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.) — all hail from states with sitting Democratic governors.”


“Robert Mueller’s day of disappointments for Democrats” [Damon Linker, The Week]. “On Wednesday, Democrats will do their best to pull Mueller over to their side, pushing him to declare that his findings confirm their suspicions about the president and justify their desire to see him removed from office. To which Mueller is likely to respond, by implication at least, that it isn’t his place to render that judgment — that the judgment has to be made by those posing the question. He has provided them with the evidence. The rest is not his business.”

“4 big moments from Robert Mueller’s testimony on obstruction” [Axios]. • I don’t think any minds will be changed.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“After 48 Years, Democrats Still Haven’t Gotten the Memo” [The New Republic]. “Democratic donors and elites are generally far too focused on federal elections, a particularly egregious oversight given the sizable governing power found at the state and local level. … Billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer jumping into the presidential race is but the latest illustration of the left donor class’s inability to stay focused and act strategically… Right now, according to the ACS’s Fredrickson, the left likes to fund ‘projects,’ and not ‘general operating support.’ Wealthy donors on the right will ‘give their grantees really long lead time[s] to find success,’ she said. On the left, however, ‘if you don’t produce in three months and show your metrics on this pet project … [they] cut you off. It’s an incredible contrast.'”

The Left Cannot Win the Country by Campaigning Like Hillary Clinton Benjamin Studebaker. On the squad:

If Sanders loses, Medicare-For-All will not happen, and the Democratic Party will be left in the hands of a squad that campaigns precisely the same way Hillary Clinton campaigned:

  • By calling its opponents deplorable bigots.
  • By emphasising the historic nature of the diversity it represents.

This will not produce a Democratic Party that can win the senate and hold it, forcing the Republican Party to adjust its strategy and approach. Instead, it will ensure the Republican Party remains competitive in its current form.

This is compounded by the fact that the press pushes idpol, and won’t report a focus on the working class even when it exists (see the coverage of AOC’s interview with the New Yorker’s er, deplorable David Remnick). That said, it’s a candidates reponsibility to control the news cycle, and even more an electeds. I think it’s time for “the squad” to fish or cut bait on its Presidential choices. Which side are they on?

“Actually, the Democrats Don’t Care About Identity” [Jacobin]. “Is it really the case that Democrats and prominent liberals care most about identity and representation? They certainly talk a good game…. The truth is, as has been documented at length, Democrats and the liberal establishment that supports them don’t really care about representation or issues related to identity, unless they can be used as a cudgel against those whom they politically disagree with, or can win them votes. After an entire year of claiming these matters were central to Democratic politics, the party went about making sure that diverse, progressive candidates were kept out of power in favor of less diverse, centrist, and often wealthy individuals, from needlessly killing Keith Ellison’s bid for DNC chair to passing over Elizabeth Warren as Hillary Clinton’s running mate in favor of a white man who was bad on abortion rights. Just like much of the Left, the Democrats believe someone’s identity is less important than the politics they espouse; it just so happens the politics they favor are ones with worse outcomes for marginalized communities.”

“The Franken Regrets Miss the Point of #MeToo” [Bloomberg]. “There are good men out there who’ve said or done stupid things. The whispered conversations among their friends are much the same as things Franken’s friends and family say about him in the New Yorker piece. He’s so devoted to his family. This will absolutely crush him. He never meant to cause any harm. That can all be true, and the behavior can still be enough to get the guy fired. You can be kind to many and oblivious to some, and good at some parts of your job and unprofessional at others. Losing your job doesn’t make you a martyr. But when a good man loses his job for doing something dumb, people seem to think the process must have gone awry.”

Stats Watch

Purchasing Managers Composite FLASH, July 2018: “Gradual deceleration to a standstill is the story of PMI manufacturing’s sample” [Econoday]. “Production in manufacturing is lower this month and also at a 10-year low with employment ending six years of continual growth. Inventories of inputs are also down this month. Weakness in auto manufacturing and heightened global uncertainties were cited by the sample…. Slowing in global trade has been sending manufacturing PMIs falling across the world.”

New Home Sales, June 2019: “The housing trend is visibly fading at the half-way point, opening the year on a solid rise before flattening out and slowing in May and June” [Econoday]. “Market fundamentals should be pointing to better results for new home sales: there’s plenty of homes on the market, prices are soft, employment is strong, and mortgage rates have come down sharply. Yet today’s report is consistent with anecdotal reports that foreign buyers, due to trade tensions, have been scaling back US home buying. In any case, these results do fit in with arguments for a rate cut, a cut that would likely pull mortgage rates even lower in what couldn’t but help housing.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of July 19, 2020: “The purchase index continues to pull back in what is an unfavorable indication for underlying home sales” [Econoday].

Retail: “How to Get a $5,000 Amazon Credit: Buy a House Through Realogy” [New York Times]. “On Tuesday, Amazon said that it was working with Realogy, the nation’s largest residential real estate brokerage company and owner of Century 21, Coldwell Banker and other brands, to create TurnKey, a service that will help prospective home buyers find real estate agents. To entice customers, Amazon will give buyers up to $5,000 in home services and smart-home gear when they close. Amazon is now as much a search engine as it is a store, and the deal fits into the company’s effort to capitalize on its status as an online destination by making money on advertising and other services. It’s also a way to encourage people to adopt products like Alexa speakers and Ring doorbells and to promote its list of handymen, furniture assemblers and other home services.” • Eating the world….

Shipping: “UPS adds Sunday service; forms commercial drone unit and files to expand operations” [Freight Waves]. “UPS Inc. (NYSE:UPS) late Tuesday rolled out extensive changes to its product portfolio that include ground pick-ups and deliveries on Sundays for the first time in its history, a new commercial drone unit and an application with the federal government to expand U.S. drone operations, extended hours for U.S. shippers tendering packages for next-day ground delivery, and a global product designed to support the rapid growth of lower-priced items moving in cross border e-commerce…. Taken together, the changes are arguably the most extensive ever announced by UPS at one time…. UPS said. UPS, FedEx and other parcel providers tender parcels to USPS for final-mile delivery to residences, instead of dispatching drivers and equipment to service areas that may have low population densities. By law, USPS must serve every address in the United States.”\

Tech: “A bot on your office computer could be sizing you up” [Japan Times]. “Call it automating automation. It’s McKinsey & Co.’s entry into robotic process automation, which is spreading “robots” from the factory floor to the office cubicle as advancing technologies make it easier and more economically feasible for software to perform cognitive tasks now done by humans. It’s transforming office work across the world, including in the Philippines’ offshoring business processing centers, which employ more than a million people and generate annual revenue equal to about 7.5 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. It could cost a lot of people their jobs, but as McKinsey noted in a report earlier this year, it could also help their companies stay competitive and even capture a bigger market share.” • Thanks, McKinsey!

Tech: “Fighting for the Right to Repair Our Stuff” [The American Conservative]. “While much of the media coverage to date has focused on liberal advocates like Warren, and has garnered coverage in left-of-center publications like The New York Times, Right-to-Repair has been embraced just as actively by some conservatives. Of the 19 states that have introduced Right-to-Repair laws, many are red states like South Dakota and Georgia. Meanwhile, the American Farm Bureau Federation—no bastion of left-wing sympathies—has come out in support of the issue.”

Tech: “Can Disney’s Circle really deliver a porn-free Internet?” [Ars Technica]. “The biggest weakness I found in Circle’s filtering was its apparent ignorance of DuckDuckGo. With no “force safe search mode” offered for DuckDuckGo, Circle leaves filtered people a single image search away from instant and very hardcore pornographic images. DuckDuckGo isn’t a secret; it’s been advertising itself on billboards in major US cities for the last eight years straight. Its absence from Circle’s otherwise comprehensive controls—despite offering its own ‘forced-safe’ functionality—is perplexing.” • Oopsie.

Intellectual Property: Speaking of Disney–

Concentration: “How the FTC settlement could let Facebook off the hook” [Fast Company]. “Facebook has agreed to pay $5 billion and implement new practices to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations it violated a 2012 settlement on user privacy. But some privacy experts, including the FTC’s two Democratic commissioners and former FTC chief technologist Ashkan Soltani, suggest the settlement goes too far by effectively exonerating Facebook and its executives for any other prior violation of the order. The language of the agreement, as Soltani pointed out on Twitter, says it resolves ‘any and all claims that [Facebook], its officers, and directors, prior to June 12, 2019‘ violated the 2012 settlement. That’s unusual for such an agreement, writes FCC Commissioner Rohit Chopra in a dissenting opinion.” • So, Facebook gets to pay a fine out of petty cash, and gets indemnified for everything it’s done in the past? As Soltani tweets: “Holy crap!”

Concentration: “Breaking Up Amazon Doesn’t Go Far Enough—We Must Put It Under Public Control” [In These Times]. “What should be done with Amazon? While some parts of the company should indeed be broken up, its sprawling scale is not its only problem. Much of what Amazon does is harmful for reasons inherent to the logic of private ownership, and would remain so at any scale. … By becoming the market, Amazon has effectively become the market’s regulator. Such powers should belong to the public. Democratic public ownership of the marketplace platform could retool this infrastructure for public good. The People’s Amazon—call it Ourmazon—could guarantee access to the marketplace for smaller producers rather than driving down the cost of their goods and services. As a public distribution network, Ourmazon could stabilize prices at a point that ensures viability and competitiveness for small businesses at a cost that benefits consumers.”

Honey for the Bears: “AIA: Design Contracts Hit 10-Month Low” [Architect (Nippersmom)]. “AIA’s monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI) for June came in at a score of 49.1. This is a 1.1-point decrease from last month’s score of 50.2, marking a contraction in demand for design services. The ABI is a leading economic indicator of construction activity in the U.S. and reflects a nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending nationally, regionally, and by project type. A score above 50 represents an increase in billings from the previous month, while a score below 50 represents a contraction.”

The Biosphere


“Air travellers may have to pay carbon charge to offset emissions” [Guardian]. “[UK] Air passengers may have to pay an extra “carbon charge” on flights as part of a government initiative to reduce CO2 emissions and tackle the climate crisis. Passengers could choose to pay more for travel tickets, which would then be used to offset greenhouse gas emissions. Or the scheme could work on an “opt-out” basis and also be applied to trains, buses and ferries. Ministers hope the plans will raise awareness about the effects of public transport on the environment. The extra funds could be used to spearhead eco-friendly projects such as planting trees to reduce the carbon footprint…. However, the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has launched a call for evidence on offsetting carbon emissions produced by public transport. In addition, the government has expressed concerns consumers may not trust that their payments are supporting worthwhile causes.”

“As climate change threatens California, officials seek ‘sustainable insurance'” [Los Angeles Times]. “California regulators are teaming up with the United Nations to develop ‘sustainable insurance’ guidelines that would help address climate-change-related disasters such as coastal flooding and larger wildfires — the first such partnership of its kind between the international organization and a U.S. state, officials announced Tuesday…. ‘A sustainable insurance road map will enable California to harness risk reduction measures, insurance solutions and investments by the insurance industry in order to build safer, disaster-resilient communities, and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy,’ said Butch Bacani, the leader of the U.N. initiative.”

“Why Florida Crocs Are Thriving Outside a Nuclear Power Plant” [Smithsonian]. “[Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL)] wildlife specialists collected 73 crocodile hatchlings just last week, and are expecting dozens more to emerge into the world over the remainder of the summer. Twenty-five percent of the 2,000 American crocodiles that now live in the United States call Turkey Point home, and the FPL has been credited with helping down-list the species’ status from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened’—a change that happened in 2007.”


“Asia’s esports hubs rattled by the rise in game addiction” [Nikkei Asian Review]. “In May, gaming disorder was officially classified as a medical disease by the WHO, which defined it as ‘a pattern of gaming behavior … characterized by impaired control over gaming [and] increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities.’ Mobile games derive the majority of their revenue by selling additional content to players, who have often accessed the base game for free; this means it is in their interests to nudge players toward compulsive actions. Tactics such as ‘loot boxes’ can be particularly compelling, according to Hideki Yasuda, senior analyst at Ace Research Institute.”

Health Care

“Medicaid and Mortality: New Evidence from Linked Survey and Administrative Data” [NBER]. “Our analysis provides new evidence that Medicaid coverage reduces mortality rates among low-income adults. Our estimates suggest that approximately 15,600 deaths would have been averted had the ACA expansions been adopted nationwide as originally intended by the ACA. This highlights an ongoing cost to non-adoption that should be relevant to both state policymakers and their constituents.” • Vox: “This is in line with a growing body of research that shows Medicaid expansion has not only vastly increased access to health insurance, but also improved health outcomes. About 13.6 million adults gained Medicaid coverage under Obamacare.”

The 420

“Urgency of marijuana policy was on full display Tuesday” [Roll Call]. “Rachel Pross, the chief risk officer for Maps Credit Union in Salem, Ore., underscored some of the challenges. The credit union handles accounts for cannabis businesses that are legally operating under Oregon law. ‘We have talked to numerous members who have opened accounts at Maps who have described that they had been storing cash in shoe boxes, empty mattresses,’ Pross said.’There are unscrupulous third-party players involved in this who are selling cash vaulting type of services, and those are not true cash vaults. They are in fact storage units, just basic storage units, full of cash that are earmarked for various businesses.’… ‘It’s impossible to draw a clear line between what is cannabis-related and what is natural commerce that has nothing to do with cannabis,’ Pross said. ‘Not only does Walmart accept money from employees of cannabis businesses in states where it’s legal, but Walmart very likely sells basic business supplies to legal cannabis entities.'”

Our Famously Free Press

“The Fall Of Mic Was A Warning” [HuffPo]. “Mic had already established itself as an improbable upstart in the crowded digital media marketplace by hiring a cadre of bright, passionate young journalists and zeroing in on the types of stories millennials wanted to share: compact pieces with sharp headlines focused on undercovered issues…. [U]ltimately, Mic’s problems were more economic than generational. The colorful anecdotes, custom Nikes and gorgeous office space on the 82nd floor of the One World Trade Center distracted from one critical fact: Mic never developed into a sustainable business. Many of the more than three dozen former employees who spoke to HuffPost said they entered the company hungry and hopeful, only to feel twisted around by a publicly woke company that privately left them feeling exhausted, distrustful of leadership and desperate for financial security. Last November, the company was forced to face the hard truth: Its Facebook-fueled bet on a millennial news site had failed.”

Guillotine Watch

“Schools Reject Offer to Pay Students’ Late Lunch Bills, CEO Says” [TruthDig]. “The president of a Pennsylvania school board whose district had warned parents behind on lunch bills that their children could end up in foster care has rejected a CEO’s offer to cover the cost…. Todd Carmichael, chief executive and co-founder of Philadelphia-based La Colombe Coffee, said he offered to give Wyoming Valley West School District $22,000 to wipe out bills that generated the recent warning letter to parents. But school board President Joseph Mazur rejected the offer during a phone conversation Monday, Carmichael spokesman Aren Platt said Tuesday. Mazur argued that money is owed by parents who can afford to pay, Platt said.”

News of the Wired

“Kurt Vonnegut Diagrams the Shape of All Stories in a Master’s Thesis Rejected by U. Chicago” [OpenCulture]. “The idea is so simple, in fact, that Vonnegut sums the whole thing up in one elegant sentence: ‘The fundamental idea is that stories have shapes which can be drawn on graph paper, and that the shape of a given society’s stories is at least as interesting as the shape of its pots or spearheads.'”

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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 (JN):

For those of you gardening in dry climates.

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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. WheresOurTeddy

    Osamu Tezuka, a Japanese animator, created the anime, “Kimba the White Lion,” in 1965. Disney claims they knew nothing about Tezuka & prided that the Lion King was original content.

    William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet hundreds of years before Kimba The White Lion existed.

    1. DJG

      And? The story of Hamlet comes from Saxo Grammaticus and likely is an even earlier legend. The book Hamlet’s Mill goes into a long discusion of how far we can trace back the legend of Hamlet.

      The point is not the plot. Plots cannot be copyrighted outside of story anyway.

      Notice the lion. There is no lion in Hamlet by Shakespeare.

      Likewise, the story of a beauty and a beast goes back to Eros and Psyche, a Greek myth of great age. That doesn’t mean that Disney somehow has no standing for its own Beauty and the Beast. Same with the estate of Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais. Cocteau filmed it and Marais was the handsome prince.

      That is what the copyright dispute is about. And as I went through the tweet, the images that compared Teruka to Disney are just a tad too much alike.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Apparently, there was a similar Cinderella story dating to the Tang dynasty in China, called Ye Xian (and looking up Wikipedia, other similar ancient versions in Vietnam, Malay-Indonesia, etc).

      2. Plenue

        Watch the Twitter clip, it isn’t very long. Even just on the grounds you’re using, Disney outright lied about the Lion King, claiming that it was wholly original and not based on existing folklore or literature.

        The point of the Tezuka situation is that they’re claiming Disney directly stole entire scenes from Kimba. Looking at the comparisons it’s pretty hard to argue. Even the iconic shot of the King standing on the jutting rock over the savannah is straight from Kimba.

  2. Synoia

    Trump says he can name 20 more Dems who are like the ‘squad, Oh please name them, Please, please please.

      1. russell1200

        Yes, but at least he says the things they say he says.

        With the gang, I find that they often didn’t say the thing that they are supposed to have said. How can you trust someone who doesn’t say the things they say ;)

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Studebaker’s take on the Squad is like that of the recent BAR piece linked here: that they are making it about race, not class.

      But their real mission, should they choose to accept it, could be the exact opposite, as Juan Cole of Informed Comment points out.


      from the article:

      But the parents of these women were blue collar or service workers, and that is the real point. That’s 85% of the country. That is what this is really about. If they unite workers across race, the Squad could deprive Trump of one of his constituencies. Only 14% of blue collar workers who voted for Obama switched and voted for Trump. He promised them health care and better jobs. He hasn’t delivered. The Squad is appealing to them.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        When I linked to the Informed Comment piece the other day, I commented:

        Hopefully. The numbers are there, but the message needs to be delivered. (Note that the “voices” of the various identities have no incentive to deliver that larger, universal message at all. That’s why identity politics is all about allyship, as if the various identity siloes were sovereigns, and not solidarity.

        I don’t think that it’s possible to “unite workers across race” by taking disunity as the starting point.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      It’s only one vote but here are the 17 nays on the BDS resolution. 16 Dems and 1 R (Massie). Not Pressley. I don’t know all the names on the list but I can’t think of anyone not on the list who is squad-worthy. Of course, Trump would throw Maxine Waters, etc. etc. on to his list. But this probably comes as close to any list of the maximum number of “true” “progressives” in the House.
      Carson (IN)
      García (IL)
      Lee (CA)
      Watson Coleman

    3. ambrit

      Let no one say that Trum does not have a sense of humour.
      This brought to my mind McCarthy and his list of Communists in the government.
      This will be a very subtle dog whistle to those of a certain age cohort.

  3. WheresOurTeddy

    “Schools Reject Offer to Pay Students’ Late Lunch Bills, CEO Says” [TruthDig]. “The president of a Pennsylvania school board whose district had warned parents behind on lunch bills that their children could end up in foster care has rejected a CEO’s offer to cover the cost…. Todd Carmichael, chief executive and co-founder of Philadelphia-based La Colombe Coffee, said he offered to give Wyoming Valley West School District $22,000 to wipe out bills that generated the recent warning letter to parents. But school board President Joseph Mazur rejected the offer during a phone conversation Monday, Carmichael spokesman Aren Platt said Tuesday. Mazur argued that money is owed by parents who can afford to pay, Platt said.”

    There you have it: It’s not about the money, it’s about putting poor people in their place. I often get accused by people in my life of trying to instigate class war; I always calmly reply “no, I just want poor people to fully join the one that has been underway since before I was born.”

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Welfare queen-ism “innovated” for the 21st century american “dream”–everyone’s sights have to be lowered. Forget Cadillacs and food-stamp-funded filet mignon, scammers will have to settle for gettin’ over on the lunch line.

      A dime here and a quarter there and pretty soon it adds up to….um….milk money.

      1. GERMO

        Searching for school board president Joseph Mazur yields the following bio info from May ’19 (amid a ton of hits re the lunch money story):

        He has been a Democratic committeeman since 1961 and served as Luzerne County Democratic party chairman for six years.


        Putting poor people in their place is bipartisan as heck isn’t it?

      2. polecat

        In this case .. ‘milked’ money.

        Why is Pennsylvania so draconian in their poliTIC$ & uh… antisocial serVICE$ ??
        Is it something about that high fractose water that makes everyone, from the dog catcher .. to the judiciary, craycray .. or did the State start out that way once the calvanist euro-peons edged out the nominally indigenous ??

    2. Summer

      There was money raised and school supplies bought by people and corporations for the LA Unified School District years ago that was rejected by higher up administrators even though teachers were welcoming it.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Trying to work out the motivation of the president of a Pennsylvania school board, I wondered if it was a case of never under-estimating the need of a person to be self-righteous in what they are doing. Those 16th Puritans would have been very proud of him.

    4. marym

      In an about-face, the Pennsylvania school district that threatened to place children in foster care over past-due cafeteria bills is now accepting donations following its initial rejection of those who offered help…

      But in a statement released Wednesday evening, the president of the school district’s board, Joseph Mazur, apologized for the letter’s “tone.”

      Yeah, “tone” was the problem here.


  4. zagonostra


    The number one issue facing folks I know, folks to young to be eligible for Medicare, is how to pay for their healthcare insurance. With that in mind and in light of below quote, how is it that Joe Biden is polling ahead of Bernie Sanders, something doesn’t square. Is it just that people aren’t paying attention, is that all it is?

    Steve Ricchetti, referred to as Biden’s campaign chairman in a published report last month, was a longtime lobbyist for health care and other corporate clients. He worked for then-vice president Biden as a counselor and then his chief of staff, and now for his presidential campaign.

    Ricchetti founded and ran his own lobbying firm with his brother. He personally represented drugmakers Novartis, Eli Lilly and Sanofi (the latter two are among the three major insulin manufacturers), as well as health IT company NaviMedix (now NaviNet) and the American Hospital Association. The hospital lobby, as well as pharmaceutical companies, have been primary opponents of Medicare for All. The Ricchetti firm continues to operate, with Ricchetti’s brother actively lobbying for clients, including in the health-care space.


    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Lincoln’s cabinet was sometimes referred to as The Team Of Rivals
      will Biden’s cabinet be The Enemies Of Human Dignity?

        1. ambrit

          When Biden stes aside for Hillary, she can call her shadow cabinet the Aostles of Greed.

          1. Oregoncharles

            I prescribe a vacuum cleaner for your keyboard. Be prepared to retrieve a few keys from inside the vacuum – they clip in. (Obviously, you need a canister vac.)

            In my experience, the problem is crumbs under the keys – especially if it migrates. Do you hear a crunch when you press down hard on the key?

            Apologies if you’ve already tried that.

            1. anonymous

              When I’ve had to retrieve items from duct work using my vacuum cleaner, I have covered the end of the nozzle with cheesecloth, held on by a rubber band. That would also work to prevent keys from getting sucked up.

    2. jrs

      I think the number one issue facing people I know is how to pay for shelter (and it’s ever rising costs). But that’s not to say healthcare isn’t important too.

      1. zagonostra

        I guess demographics play a large roll in what weighs most on peoples’ minds.

        The group of people I was referring to are in their late 50’s early 60’s and are living in houses that are for the most part paid for. Many, including myself, would retire early were it not for the shitty insurance that would cost close to $1K monthly with upwards of 5k – 8k in deductibles.

        I’m just puzzled by people supporting Biden when Bernie is looking to expand Medicare coverage for seniors to cover dental and eye care and include everyone

        As foghorn longhorn’s “unofficial” poll suggests, perhaps Bernie is actually in the lead and and the miasma emanating from the MSM is nothing but an attempt to to steer people down a false path -nothing new.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I’m just puzzled by people supporting Biden when Bernie is looking to expand Medicare coverage for seniors to cover dental and eye care and include everyone


          Several possibilities.

          1. the polls are wrong.
          2. they are not. In that case, it’d be useful to inquire as to why.

          Why do people, thought people, think basic income is not a good idea? Why would giving free money to people not a good idea? Perhaps it comes at some cost…losing other benefits, the basic income amount is too small, etc. Perhaps it leads to inflation in general, or in some economic sectors.

          Now, are there ‘apparently’ logical reasons why people would think expanding Medicare may be an iffy proposition?

          Do they have an ‘it comes at some cost’ concern? What would it be? Higher premiums? Health care inflation? More rent extraction by the pharmaceutial industry?

          I think it’s helpful to go beyond the ‘why wouldn’t people like free stuff or basic income’ intution, and there, we may find some useful responses.

          1. WJ

            Here is my anecdotal experience on this issue for what it’s worth. (I am an academic.)

            By far the majority of my older peers–all of whom are life-long Democrats and self identify as “liberal” or “progressive”–are much more skeptical of the appeal and even the necessity of M4A and other Sanders-esque redistributive policies than are my younger colleagues (>40 yrs old) and students. Lots of these people supported Clinton in 2016 and will likely support Biden or Warren or Harris in 2020.

            I think this is largely due to two reasons. First, my older colleagues are in a better financial position than my younger colleagues; they have no student debt; they own their houses outright or are close to doing so; they make between $100,000-125,000 a year and they either already receive or are about to receive Medicare. It is difficult to convey to this older generation the full reality of the economic plight of younger people. And so these older people tend to believe that democratic socialist reforms are either more unpopular or less necessary than younger people do.

            Second, these older colleagues are deeply invested in the old Democratic-Republican divisions and are “proud” of their identity as liberal democrats. They therefore tend to react negatively to positions that would undermine or negate the reality of these divisions, as nearly all social democratic positions do. They really WANT to believe that Obama was “trying his best” and this WANT of theirs is quite complex. Relatedly, they still privilege and prioritize the official organs of “high” culture journalism in the US–the NY Times and the WA Post etc.–and so they subject themselves to constant propaganda that reinforces the same tendencies noted above. My older colleagues are ALL believers in Russiagate; they ALL think Assad is a “dictator”; they ALL think that Putin is some Evil Genius. They won’t read RT, or Moon of Alabama, or other non- US non-corporate outlets for fear of fake news. They believe that it is ignorant Republican voters who do this sort of thing, and they want no part of it.

            I think many of her are sadly beyond convincing. And I’ve tried. I really have. But even when they are brought round to admit in a particular discussion that, eg. Obama was almost or just as bad as or worse than Bush, they tend not to be able to see what follows from this admittance. And they tend to forget it very quickly–usually upon their next morning’s reading of the Times.

            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              I have the same experience of this demographic, which is quite discouraging.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                I’m too lazy to find these two links, but they were both in Water Cooler:

                1) The more educated a Democrat is, the less likely they are to understand what Republican (hence polarization, bubble thinking)

                2) White liberals are the only group to have a pro-outgroup bias; there’s no income component to the study, but read Thomas Frank for that (hence identity politics as the only acceptable form of politics).

                It follows that the only way for Sanders to succeed is to bring new voters into the system.

            2. NotTimothyGeithner

              Given the craven and vile nature of Team Blue in recent years, many of these people aren’t simply losing their identity but are acknowledging they abandoned their duties as citizens.

              The worship of Obama reeked of monarchism, and then as far as Obama’s Presidency sans pomp, they never bothered to learn anything. Even the idea of calling an elected to complain would be impossible as they wouldn’t know what to complain about.

              1. Carolinian

                The worship of Obama reeked of monarchism

                It still does. Michelle is the world’s most admired woman according to one poll. Has she actually done anything? Perhaps we should bring back a figurehead monarchy like Britain so people can get all this out of their system.

            3. Angie Neer

              WJ, this is a perfect description of my family, most of my social circle, and until a few years ago, me. I’m still among the economically fortunate, highly-educated and credentialed, but my perspective has changed drastically since I finally got over the idea that the NY Times and NPR were the ultimate, comprehensive news sources. That reminds me, it’s time to put something in the NC tip jar…

            4. Left in Wisconsin

              I completely agree. I would add that, IMO, what underlines this is an ultimate faith in meritocracy, which I would further argue is the main fault line between liberals and the left. Why they really hate Trump is not because of his policies but because in their minds he is so spectacularly undeserving of the job – especially given his highly qualified and eminently deserving opponent. The conclusion that he could not have possibly won fairly naturally follows.

              Meritocracy requires an underlying faith in the system because the system has to exist first, and be perceived as fair, for it then to be populated meritocratically. Arguing as Bernie does that the entire system is corrupt is not a pill that this population is prepared to swallow. I find that many in this crowd even find Warren a bit “harsh,” though many others are completely in love with her. Though no one can compete with Obama. Biden’s popularity is 4 things: name recognition, over-sampling of old people, Obama association, and “experience”/deservingness.

              1. WJ

                This strikes me as quite right and very important. It is also seen in their tendency to valorize and/or appeal to “expert” (i.e. liberal credentialed-class) opinion and their mistrust of *actual* populist and/or class politics.

                I think the most charitable way to frame their allegiance to this meritocratic myth is that, when they were in school and making their way in their professions 40 years ago, the country really did seem more legitimately meritocratic because the post-WW2 boom was still carrying over, the working classes had enjoyed two to three decades of improved wages and mobility and smart white kids could all afford and attend college and find good jobs afterward. I think that people born before a certain date seem to carry this view of America into our present somehow; for those born after a certain date, this idealization has little to no purchase because it is so far from their actual experience. I am in this latter group.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > I think that people born before a certain date seem to carry this view of America into our present somehow; for those born after a certain date, this idealization has little to no purchase because it is so far from their actual experience. I am in this latter group.

                  For example, the idea of a public school with metal detectors and cops seems alien to me, above all temporary, but in fact it’s now the norm, and millions of children grew up with it, horrid and degrading though it is. There weren’t school shootings “in my day” either. . Bug splats on the windshield are another example of this. And so on down the line for every system in our society, I would say

                  1. paintedjaguar

                    Fences too. Don’t forget the tall fences surrounding all the school grounds and adding to that frisson of concentration camp. No more flying kites, pickup games, etc on public grounds, at least not unless it is organized and sanctioned.

                  2. Roberto

                    I was born in 1949 and I grew up with it. “in my day” we had the Poe Elementary School bombing in Houston. To me this is not new.

            5. Inode_buddha

              In other words, they’re not living in reality, they are living in a bubble. I think this has more to do with the professional class as opposed to being in an academic class, although the latter are far more likely to be on another planet.

              Among my own family are both lifelong Dems and Repubs, firmly divided along the same lines that no longer exist. All are firmly in the upper-middle professional class. The only ones who truly “get it” are myself (manufacturing, trades) and the grandkids (millenials, trying to get by).

              I’m keenly aware of how things have changed in 30 years, and how I had opportunities that they never will. And it wasn’t for lack of trying — its because those opportunities were flat-out stolen from underneath us all by the FIRE sector.

            6. Stillfeelinthebern

              Yup, you got it. I spend all my time telling them to listen to the young people.

              1. Swamp Yankee

                A great thread that describes not only many older academics I know, but also many of the amoral bankster types of my college classmates (I’m among the oldest of the Millennials), people who tweet all day about how horrible Drumpf is while nattering about their MFA and novel in progress while Husband (MBA/JD Harvard) goes and works as an Exec VP at Amazon…. variations thereof …. this class, which is only in its mid to late 30s, cannot STAND to hear that they are responsible, like the good little Eichmanns they’ve always been, for helping to destroy the world and pave the way for Trump et al.

                It’s psychically crushing, and causes pathological and dissociative responses, like RussiaRussiaRussia.

                I got off Facebook 8 months ago, and don’t miss this crew one bit!

                Better hit the Tip Jar here at NC, though!

            7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I still don’t see how the opposition to oppose the expansion to cover dental and eye care which are additional benefits, even for those already retired, is explained.

              The first explanation might do for the case without dental and eye care (extra) expansion. But why oppose it, for those retired, when they can get more?

              That leaves us with something akin to ‘low information’ or ‘nonsensical’ voters.

              Perhaps it is so. And there is nothing for us to do or to learn from.

      2. Pat

        and Biden is good on this?

        Could you point me to where to look to see this?

        (Frankly unless you are a C suite honcho, Democratic consultant hack or independently wealthy I cannot think of one reason to vote for Joe Biden, so I am at a loss period.)

    3. foghorn longhorn

      According to my latest poll, we have;
      Sanders 38%
      Warren 21%
      Harris 10%
      Booker 6%
      Gabbard 5%
      Biden 3%

      Just made that sh*t up, just like the rest of them do.
      Easy, peasy, bro.

          1. ambrit

            Mike Gravel is unfortunately included in the aggregate that makes this concrete examl u.

      1. chuck roast

        Well pally, if you can make sh*t up, so can’t Lambert. Maybe he can run a poll of all the demented, twisted, NC readership. Man, that would be a stunner. And poor Cal2 will get arthritis banging the Tulsi key.

    4. Big River Bandido

      For one thing, when a poll includes no respondents under 50 years old (as at least one CNN poll did about two months ago), that rather biases the sample.

  5. sleepy

    DailyKos live-blogging the Mueller hearing. The posters in comments are in despair: Mueller’s senile, he’s a no-good repub, he’s a Trumpster! Lol

    1. pretzelattack

      good, i hope this puts a stake in the heart of the fake scandal. it probably won’t, though. russiagate can never fail, it can only be failed.

    2. Geo

      Didn’t watch any of it myself but went to my usual sources for Dem takes (Raw Story and HuffPost) and looks like they’re still clinging on to the notion that any day now some knight in shining armor will ride in and rescue them from Trump so they can ride off on a magical unicorn and live Happily Ever After drinking mimosas.

      They’re clinging to the “Trump encouraged Russia to give Hillary’s emails to Wikileaks” thing as proof that Mueller is stating Trump is guilty of collusion.

      Personally, I think there are a thousand reasons why Trump should be impeached and in prison. The fact that none of those have ever been prosecuted and “Teflon Don” is the “most powerful man in the world” should be an indictment on how thoroughly corrupted our entire system is. That so many seem to think Trump will suffer any consequences while he continues giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy, perpetuating global conflict for the war profiteers, and deregulating markets of any consumer or environmental protections for the profit of corporations, speaks to how utterly delusional far too many are about why people like Trump are perpetually held unaccountable.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Like sports fans, “informed voters” are usually just an ignorant lot who make me wonder if they’ve ever read a newspaper or seen the sport they are a fan of.

        I think they believed they were promised some kind of history making spectacle on par with the moon landing or Adlai at the UN. I mean some people missed brunch one day. These people learned phrases such as the “emoulments clause”. They are really proud of themselves.

        The solution to Trump isn’t a lousy bit of dialogue from “The West Wing” and the #Resistance heroes find that incredibly disappointing because the solution to Trump and the GOP is simple but requires work (canvassing and so forth).

        1. Geo

          Well said. Seems too many have confused “informed” with knowing the current gossip, aided by the tabloid style of political coverage our media presents as news. And the cathartic release of a Twitter “burn” seems to pass for civic engagement, or as you said, a Sorkin-esque puff of hot air takes the place of substantive action by representatives who know they are safe from voter revolt (unless one of those pesky Justice Dems dare challenge them!).

          They want a savior, but only one who is charismatic and a team player. Definitely not Bernie who makes their skin crawl with his stubborn outrage at a system that can’t be all that bad since their neighborhood brunch spot is still serving mimosas on weekends. :)

      2. sleepy

        I was born during the Truman administration. I think every president–except two maybe 3–that I’ve lived under should have been impeached and died in an international criminal court jail.

        Ford maybe gets a pass since nothing he did strikes me as significant one way or the other. LBJ gets a reduced sentence because of his civil rights work as the last FDR style dem. Carter might get a pardon since he has, at least publicly, devoted some of his life to helping the poor though he was the initial deregulator and announced the US mideast policy as we can do whatever we want with any country there.

        1. John k

          Johnson’s Vietnam war destroyed faith in gov as able to do useful things, a faith that has yet to return.
          Granted civil rights were long overdue.

        2. pretzelattack

          we overthrew governments well before carter, who opposed death squads in el salvador, pushed for less consumption and solar energy, and less fear of russia. and he wasn’t the original deregulator, but did sign some bills pushed by the democrats as well as republicans, iirc.

      3. Inode_buddha

        If you really want to piss them off, just point out (with citations) how Trumps isn’t doing anything different than Obama, and ask them where they were back then.

        All I ask for is people who apply the same rules equally to all.

    3. curlydan

      somewhere in Vietnam, a factory just stopped production on Mueller devotional candles. “Scrub off the Mueller portraits! We can switch to Lil’ Nas X Christmas candles.”

      1. Geo

        Interestingly, the Mueller candles are selling for about $10-$12 now. Obama and Bernie candles are $20. Liz Warren is $13. Michael Avenatti is still $13 as well.

        Is this a more reliable metric for polling than Nate Silver?

    4. polecat

      Look for a multi-Tude of partially melted Mueller devo(lu)tional candles to decend upon one’s local trift store* in 3 … 2 … 1

      *to sit and collect heaps of dust, on the endcap next to all those scratched and worn Pat Boone LPs.

      1. ambrit

        Oh man. Be nice. I found a nice Mexican devotional candle dedicated to Chicomecoatl at the thrift store. It looks a bit like a corn stalk, with the leaves. If SHTF, Ill have something to summon the corn in the community survival allotments.

    5. Henry Moon Pie

      The affair had its funny moments. My favorite was Adam Schiff delivering a most pious sermon against politicians who do the bidding of foreign countries.

  6. Ptb

    Re: Warren, Sanders, $15 min wage

    Relevant to 2020 general election. Vital electoral college state PA has a $7.25 min wage. Overwhelming majority of Dems there want it raised, and nearly half Repubs too. [F&M poll, state of PA, spring ’19]

    1. Big River Bandido

      And by golly, those courageous Democrats in the House just voted to give it to them — in 6 years.

      1. Watt4Bob

        And you can bet that behind the scenes the Dems are telling their donors not to worry because in 6 years $15 will be worth $10.

  7. TroyIA

    “Can Democrats do anything to combat being painted as socialists?”

    Is it really that difficult for the Democrats to point that we already have socialism is this country? When all of the hucksters and con artist bankers were bailed out in 2008 that was socialism. When the federal reserve provided interest free loans to corporations that was socialism. When companies that make billions of dollars yet are able to pay no taxes that is socialism. When companies don’t pay a living wage because their workers will be provided public benefits like food stamps, housing assistance etc. that is socialism.

    Slogan – Socialism. If it’s good enough for Wall Street then it’s good enough for Main Street

    1. jrs

      How to convince people you aren’t [term that noone agrees on the definition of but is somehow bad].

      I mean I don’t mind people clarifying the definition to get clear on what they actually want or don’t want in terms of policy, but that’s implies a sincerity that isn’t there.

      So no, you can’t convince anyone of anything if the words used keep shifting meanings and serve as little more than negative connotations.

      So how to convince people? I don’t know, maybe a free course in General Semantics for all :)

    2. Geo

      Shhh! Don’t let the dirty proles see behind the curtain! Don’t want them knowing that the magical wizards of Oz are in fact just lowly mortals propped up by systemic market manipulation, and government aid.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      To fight at the beachhead or let them land first?

      Is bailing out banks socialism, or government mismanagment?

      Conceding less, maybe we ask, is bailing out banks socialism-for-Wall-Street? Even here, the act of bailing out banks lands on the ‘socialism beachhead.’ Inland, we move in the Panzer divisions to fight bad socialism, with good sociallism troops.

      To prevent landing, do we say, it’s not socialism, good version of bad, but it’s just government mismanagement?


    4. clarky90

      Re; “…. the left likes to fund ‘projects”.


      The Great Leap Forward of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was an economic and social campaign by the Communist Party of China (CPC) from 1958 to 1962. The campaign was led by Chairman Mao Zedong and aimed to rapidly transform the country from an agrarian economy into a socialist society through rapid industrialization and collectivization. These policies led to social and economic disaster, but these failures were hidden by widespread exaggeration and deceitful reports….”

      “…Not all deaths during the Great Leap were from starvation. Frank Dikötter estimates that at least 2.5 million people were beaten or tortured to death and one million to three million committed suicide.” (deaths of despair)

      1. JBird4049

        Chairman Mao, General Secretary Stalin, Chancellor Hitler, and others were authoritarians with nearly absolute power as well as having delusions of Godhood; not only did you do what they said or your family died, the almost complete lack of law or even the normal social order, allowed corruption, incompetence, and ambition to flourish unchecked.

        It was that set of conditions that allow things like the Great Leap Forward, the Gulag Archipelago, and the Holocaust to become; the putative economic and governmental systems on paper were merely propaganda for those dictators.

        One could also note that the devastation of the First World War, the Russian Civil War including the Allied Invasion, the Great Depression, the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese Civil War, and the Second World War also damaged those societies enough that monsters like Mao could gain such absolute control.

        Societies like the Americans, the French, and the British did not and so did become what others became.

        Also…every major war of the past few centuries has required the total mobilization, under the nearly complete control of the national government, a participating country’s economy. Just how is a total war economy different from those lefties’ projects???

      2. Softie

        History says the Modernity is always built upon pillage, murder and slavery. Anyone who can’t conform is always in danger.

        If you look at the total number of people died unnaturally under Mao (or Stalin or even Hitler) as a percentage of his total population at the time, it will be much much smaller than the percentage of native Americans died unnaturally when Europeans came to the New World. If you add the % of Africans forced to come here and died unnaturally, the total % is going to be even bigger.

  8. grayslady

    ” I think it’s time for “the squad” to fish or cut bait on its Presidential choices. Which side are they on?”

    I disagree. As you say, a year is a long time in politics. Based on comments I saw at a pro-Bernie website, Tulsi Gabbard’s vote to oppose BDS just lost her a lot of support. What if Rashida Tlaib had come out in support of Tulsi? What would she be saying now? Here in Illinois, Daniel Biss, an excellent Democrat candidate for governor in 2016, tanked his campaign at the outset by deciding not to run with a DSA candidate after learning that DSA supported BDS. He looked as though he hadn’t done his homework, even though he was previously one of the most progressive state senators. BDS is only one example of an issue that people feel strongly about. I expect more candidates to make their true positions clear on an assortment of issues as time goes on. It’s fine to come out and say you will only support a candidate who favors Medicare for All; but then it’s time to see if anyone other than Bernie truly supports universal healthcare or whether that candidate constantly backtracks.

    1. Carey

      ” I think it’s time for “the squad” to fish or cut bait on its Presidential choices. Which side are they on?”

      Agreed. There is only one candidate who supports Medicare for All, has a long
      and positive track record, and can *win*, if “allowed” to by the Few.
      His name is Bernie Sanders.

      Lets see what ‘The Squad’ are really made of, and really about.
      Benjamin Studebaker and LS have it right.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        as has been discussed many times here, Bernie’s M4A bill is nothing of the kind, since it does not eliminate private, for-profit insurance in that it includes ACOs.

        he needs to bring it in line with the house bill

    2. John

      I am puzzled. Boycotts have been used to protest against and combat unwelcome economic and political positions at least since the technique got its name from Mr. Boycott. How is BDS so different that it arouses such passion and causes the House of Representatives to be moved to a near unanimous vote condemning it?

      For myself I have no difficulty with BDS or any other boycott as political action; I support the right even if I disagree with the cause, which in this case I do not.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        There are a few issues:

        -first, being pro-Israel is seen as an easy win.
        -two, AIPAC and pro-Israel donors often give early
        -there is no anti-Israel lobby. The worst case is a few people who have bothered to look at a map and recognize a two state solution hasn’t been viable since before 1990 anyway and want to see a country established without the ethnocentric garbage which to be honest is un-American. Where are the offices? Politicians don’t get lobbyists denouncing Israel officials ever time they moved goal posts from Israel to “Jewish state.”
        -AIPAC only backs sure things and like the NRA creates the illusion it matters.
        -more recently, this goes back to Florida and retirees. Both parties think they can pick an issue and win Florida in the electoral college. They behave similarly to Cubans who came over circa 1959.
        -much of the emotional rhetoric around the Middle East, paints Israel as the last democracy. Believe it or not skin color and funny names are at play too, for both parties.
        -from Israel’s point of view, its a small country that largely lives off of US largess and tourism. Its a bunch of crummy shrines in locations determined by Constantine’s mother in law.

        On a fundamental level, I think its a denouncement of those damn kids more than anything else. How dare children tell “our betters” they’ve been wrong since 1948? Or at least 2000 when Bill didn’t demand Barak come back to the table.

        1. Oregoncharles

          ” Politicians don’t get lobbyists denouncing Israel officials ever time they moved goal posts from Israel to “Jewish state.””

          This is not entirely true; some of them, at least, get a lot of phone calls, letters, and visits from Palestinian rights supporters (my wife is one, a BDS activist, so this is personal in our house; and the Green Party also is, supporting BDS and a one-state solution.) And there are sizeable organizations like, foremost, Jewish Voice for Peace. However, these are citizen activists; they don’t command the kind of money that, say, AIPAC does.

      2. Pat

        Because no one is allowed to pull back the curtain on Israel. If you recognize them as a less than honest player in the Middle East equation, the next thing you know Americans might demand we let them all solve their problems on their own. And too many people have a stake in that for lots of reasons, some down right delusional.

  9. softie

    A quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five,

    Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleonic times.

    Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Kurt mentions Americans.

      He would not hestiate to include Germans.

      How about Turks? They are human beings too. What do they believe that are obvious untrue?

      And Russians, Chinese, Cubans, Koreans, and others.

      What (many things, to be precise, per the quote) do Russians believe that are obvious untrue?

      1. diptherio

        You would have to ask a Russian, Turk, Cuban, etc. I’m sure they could tell you. KV was an American, so he spoke to Americans, about Americans.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That’s true that an American can be in a good position to be objective and see America critically, like many good Anerican writers.

          As for asking, Cubans, for example, fortunately, we have a few objective international posters here. And with their help we can see that this is indeed universal, referring to believing in certain untrue things like human beings everywhere.

      2. Softie

        All social constructs are man-made therefore untrue. But for many, they just simply can’t live without a narrative for their brief time here on this planet.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Einstein quipped “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” I think Kurt Vonnegut’s “Shapes of Stories” reduction of story lines violates this principle.

      The website for graphic designer Maya Eilam, who designed the plot line graphic displays many well designed graphic images. [https://tenderhuman.com/abracadabra] — you have to scroll past a clever but overly long rendition of the word ‘abracadabra’ to the Heading “When does the most miraculous stuff happen?” for some remarkable semiotic concept glyphs — much better than those in the graphic for Story Lines.

    3. Joey

      Kurt Vonnegut gave a speech at Transylvania university in 1990 or so that was this same construct. Getting more mileage than a stand up. I would certainly attend a reprise, not complaining…

  10. KevinD

    Nuclear Crocs:

    There is a nuclear plant in Bridgeman, Michigan. Fisherman tend to fish around the area, because the plant releases warmer water than the lake water, which attracts young feed fish – which attracts big fish.

    1. a different chris

      A couple of our field engineers, not me darnit, actually got to see the sea turtles lay eggs one night in Florida in what is probably the world’s most protected* area – the grounds of a nuclear plant. I don’t recollect which plant it was, Turkey Point or St Lucie.

      *the military has a lot of ground nobody is gonna be on, either, but they tend to bomb it regularly. If you want pristine, walk out on the grounds behind a nuclear power plant.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Holy s..t, I had no idea it was still like that. Thank you, I guess; mind-bending photos – but pretty depressing.

  11. DonCoyote

    The Benjamin Studebaker link reminded me of this one, posted in WC at the time (I think), but still relevant:

    Why We Cannot Nominate a Young Person in 2020

    From the point of view of the left, the 40-60 group is a lost generation. It’s an entire generation of American politicians who were taught all the wrong things. They were taught that to win in American politics, you go to the center. They were taught that to win as a Democrat, you distance yourself from “liberal” and “progressive” and “socialist”. You demonstrate “fiscal responsibility” by offering to “reform” entitlements or welfare.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Hmmm…..let’s review….

      Booker – 49
      Pete – 37
      Castro – 44
      Delaney – 55
      Tulsi – 38
      Gillibrand – 52
      Harris – 54
      Hickenlooper – 67
      Inslee – 68
      Klobouchar – 58
      Moulton – 40
      O’Rourke – 46
      Tim Ryan – 45

      Now, I’m not a big fan of generational pronouncements, but that seems to hold up well. Unfortunately, I suspect in the incoming class of freshmen congressional reps are only marginally better.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Too generalized?

      There are many politicians between 40 and 60, who are in office (having won).

      And there are many policitians of the same age range who are not, having lost.

      Presumably, a good portion of the former went to the center, just as there are politicians who lost having moved away from the center (to the left, or right).

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Good enough or old enough to fight for the country, but not enough to serve some public offices.

        How about literacy tests for congression candidates?

      2. polecat

        Congress: 25 ..
        Does that include all the 2 yr olds* that presently hold their seats ??

        * either by original temperment, or onset of dementia …

    3. flora

      If the Studebaker article accurately reflects the “thinking” in the “left” he describes, they have an existential problem more important to resolve than who the next candidate it…. if they want to call themselves the left, that is, imo.

      1. flora

        adding, a longish comment:
        Id pol hasn’t got anything to do with righting the various economic wrongs current in the US.
        Take one set of abuses as an example: subprime mortgages sold to the least able to afford them, then fraudulently foreclosed on; bonds of bundles of tranches designed to fail sold on the market to pension funds and other investors; subprime auto loans (same deal); payday loan companies; and piling up fees and fines on student loans.

        A DSA brakelight replacement event helps the car driver avoid one of the increase-debt snares, among its other benefits. Think Ferguson, Mo. making its town budget on endless fees and fines for tiny infractions.

        I’ll describe this all with a colloquial term (that I’m making up):
        Corporate hunting-the-poor industry. There’s lots of money in financially hunting the poor. No one is immune. It’s completely equal opportunity.

        PE has made an art of loading debt onto innocent companies and destroying them for profit.

        Think of a simple and almost benign part of it: charging higher rates for auto insurance premiums the lower your credit rating is. Doesn’t matter if you have a spotless driving record. Lower credit rating – higher premiums. Since the premium prepays for a time amount there’s no financial risk the insurance company. They do it because they can. And this isn’t the only way your credit rating is used to increase prices you pay for ordinary things.

        Hunting-the-poor has become so entrenched in this ever rightward economy I think the left should be able to see and articulate why it’s wrong, and why and how it needs to change. I think pushing back against financial abuses and fiancial scams, and pulling back to a more reasonable and less predatory economics is something to understand and fighting for. Things have gotten so economically predatory even Republicans I know want the economy pulled to the left from where it is now. See, for example, the American Conservative article on Right to Repair.

        The “left” that Studebaker describes sees none of this, as far as I can tell. Doesn’t see ordinary, kitchen-table economics. That’s why I put their label in quote marks.

        1. flora


          The “left” that Studebaker describes sound like the same “left” that dismissed M4A and a $15 hr/min wage as too impractical four years ago, imo. Maybe he’s really describing the Dem estab.

          1. Tom Stone

            I see one rather large fallacy in Studebaker’s article.
            He states that “Ordinary Americans” left the Democrtic Party, when what happened is that the “Democratic Party” stopped representing them.
            What’s the last important concrete benefit that the the “Dem” party has brought to the American People?

            How long ago was that?

            1. richard

              and they had a s&%$ ton of liberal republican support to work around the southern dems who weren’t on board
              back in the day when liberal republicans actually existed

        2. JBird4049

          There is an American left, but it is not the Democratic Party’s “left” which is the political center mainly tended to the right of center.

          1. flora

            Here’s a link to a 2017 David Harvey lecture. (h/t Ted.) Minutes 38-45 describe very well what I was trying to get at above.


            The globalized economy sees ever increasing debt, both public and private. Debt is a foreclosure on the future. You have to pay the debt off before you can do much else. And the terms of the repayments are getting harsher and harsher.
            Debt is one of the primary drivers now of the economies, even as debts foreclose a portion of the future. My 2 cents.

  12. Jason Boxman

    Lack of legal right to repair goes hand-in-hand with the Internet of s**t, too. Because all of these things are digital, you’re going to violate the DMCA if you try to reverse engineer it. Oops. Or using after-market parts won’t work, like on recent Macs where if the store doesn’t run some tool that blesses the hardware, it won’t boot up because of some digital key. This stuff is immoral for so many reasons. But! Progress! Innovation!

  13. dcrane

    Anyone here have insights into the protests in Puerto Rico? This has been played so prominently on NPR during the past week that I’ve (cynically) begun wondering whose interests stand to gain. I have seen some generic links on NC but that’s all.

    After reading the Wikipedia page on Rosselló, it’s not clear to me where I would place him on the neoliberal scale. He has raised the minimum wage (don’t know how much) and pushed for equal pay for the sexes, but he has close ties to both the Clinton and Obama spheres and has tried to impose austerity measures in response to debt issues. He got his BSc at MIT and PhD at the University of Michigan.

      1. dcrane

        Thanks for the link – very interesting. I guess this doesn’t appear to be another CIA-driven color revolution. If anything, the oposite may be true.

    1. Wukchumni

      RIP Rutger…

      He was in one of my favorite WW2 films, Soldier of Orange directed by Paul Verhoeven, in 1977.

      1. Geo

        Haven’t seen that one in a long time. Need to rewatch both as a little personal tribute to Hauer and because I love early Verhoeven films. Thanks.

    2. Carey

      Man, I’m sad to hear that.

      “His speech in the final act of Blade Runner is one of the most edifying on (real) film.”

      You bet. Yes- RIP, Rutger Hauer.

      1. urblintz

        Apparently he ad-libbed the “like tears in the rain” line.
        RIP R. H.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      Rutger Hauer’s speech at the end of “Blade Runner” and his release of the dove leaves a deep and lasting impression that never loses its grip on me no matter how many times I’ve watched and re-watched the movie.

      I disagree with you assessment of the sequel to Blade Runner. The special effects were remarkable but the plot and characters disappointed. The villain and his gratuitous murder of the naked clone girl was way over the top. I also failed to grasp what drove the actions of the villain’s henchman. She was more like the Terminator than an amped up human. I had difficulty caring about the hero or his boss. The one character I found most compelling was the hero’s computer synthesized girl friend. I cared when she was erased. My first thought on seeing Harrison Ford as an aged Rick Deckard was you’ve got to be kidding me. So the unicorn origami at the end of the first Blade Runner meant nothing? And returning to the special effects. I had a problem with them when I recalled seeing Vespers skies in Los Angeles [without the constant rains] in the 1970s that weren’t far from the skies depicted in the Blade Runner sequel and I missed all the Oriental signage so prominent in the original.

      1. Carolinian

        Ridley Scott’s company produced the sequel so he must have liked it even if you didn’t. Villeneuve is a brilliant director.

        1. Geo

          I think you’re both correct in this one in that Villeneuve is a brilliant director that made an epic mood piece that is unlike any other big budget movie out there. But, Leto’s performance was comically bad – it’s comparable to Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending – and the villains had almost nothing redeeming about them. Leto was a delusioned meglomaniac with a messiah complex and his henchwoman was just a sadist. Robin Wright was a cold bureaucrat and little more. The Hauer character in the original had heart and purpose – he made you question who was the villain.

          The new one was a brilliant feat of filmmaking with a script that toyed with some fascinating concepts but needed some work in fleshing out the nuances (no easy task as I can attest to in my own often clunky screenwriting) and an absolutely idiotic performance by Leto, that for me, really brought the film down. Especially since his character has no impact on the narrative at all and no resolution – he just disappears from the movie. Heck, his Joker character had more purpose in the abysmal Suicide Squad.

          That said, I love anything Villanueve makes and am curious to see what he does with Dune next!

          1. Carolinian

            Perhaps it’s similar to the debate around here about Game of Thrones. Some worry about the original being violated. For others of us that’s not such a big problem. Whether the characters in the sequel are “realistic” (it is after all a futuristic sci fi fantasy) I’d say the performances–even Harrison–are a lot more interesting. Ridley is into visuals and he’s very good at that. All else is secondary.

    4. Carolinian

      I’d say the sequel is superior to the original, whatever the cut.

      And Rutger put in a brief appearance in last year’s critically approved The Sisters Brothers. He had a flair for playing villains.

    5. Jonathan Holland Becnel


      Along with Blade Runner, I remember in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The movie of course, not the show!

      1. ambrit

        Yes! Him and a disgraced kids saturday morning show lead actor as his henchthing. Almost a Night of the Comet sensibility.
        I liked his work in Ladyhawke. An underrated film.

  14. Summer

    “The Fall Of Mic Was A Warning” [HuffPo]

    The civic minded aspirations were laudable.
    However, I’ve seen this at the youngish company where I work: the demoralization when other people leave or let go.

    I think they believe everything has something to do with themselves…personally. Even if it is doing well, I would expect a company with a lot of young people to have a lot of turn over.

    A lot is lacking in people’s lives that they think a corporation can substitute for community.

    1. Summer

      I’d also understand if companies that weren’t strictly built around social media ALL began to outsource their social media work.
      More than others, they’ve brought that social media driven, constant, nagging need for validation to all aspects of life.

  15. Lee

    News of the Wired

    “Kurt Vonnegut Diagrams the Shape of All Stories in a Master’s Thesis Rejected by U. Chicago” [OpenCulture]. “The idea is so simple, in fact, that Vonnegut sums the whole thing up in one elegant sentence: ‘The fundamental idea is that stories have shapes which can be drawn on graph paper, and that the shape of a given society’s stories is at least as interesting as the shape of its pots or spearheads.’”

    One of my guilty school kid secrets is that I absolutely loved and was quite good at diagramming sentences. Do they still teach this in schools?

    1. richard

      I teach 2nd grade, which would be too early for that activity, and I’m not sure if they do that with the older kids anymore, or how they dig into sentence construction and parts of speech. I didn’t like it much as a kid, but you gots to have some grammar :)
      The Vonnegut diagrams made me think of one of my favorite places to visit:
      The Periodic Table of Storytelling
      You can disappear down a rabbit hole for hours at that place, highly recommended
      I think vonnegut is right about deciphering a society from its stories
      any recommendations from the commentariat on who has done good work in this area
      for the u.s. or elsewhere?

      1. whoamolly

        Re: good work diagramming stories
        Shawn Coyne, start with his book ‘Story Grid’.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I don’t know about grade school now-days but I think you can still find plenty of sentence diagramming in the study of formal linguistics.

    3. Oregoncharles

      I’m another who liked it. It’s puzzle solving – in a form I was pretty good at.

      Looking back, I think the purpose is to teach kids the vocabulary the teacher needs to tell them what is wrong or right in their writing.

  16. GramSci

    “Congress is preparing to bar the use of federal funds to buy Chinese buses and railcars” I suspect the purpose is to deter investment in public transportation.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Googling ‘American made buses,’ I get, among others, one 2013 article from ‘nextcity dot org,’ about LA demanding 550 American made buses.

      So, is Congress trying to deter investment in public transportation? Was LA trying the same too in 2013? Has the situation (number of companies mading buses in America) changed since 2013?

      Is it the case that Congress would only succeed in this dark deed if and only if, there are no more buses made in America?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Sorry, I forgot it’s possible that Vietnam has buses we can buy (Made in Vietnam is, presumably, not Made in China), plus many other countries around the world as well that made buses.

        And so, how much will this deter investment in public transportation?

      2. Altandmain

        There are buses made in other nations and yes, in the US and Canada.

        New Flyer Industries is the largest, but there are others as well.

        So I think that a case could be made for protecting the domestic bus industry.

    2. Adam Eran

      I’d suggest the fact that FNMA underwriting guidelines permit finance for sprawl is what’s killing public transportation…which is a sick joke wherever no accommodation for pedestrians walking to stops exists. The public wants pedestrian-friendly, mixed use (and mixed income) development, and pays premiums for it when it is available. Not only does sprawl kill even the slight possibility of transit, it roughly doubles the vehicle miles traveled of the New Urbanist/traditional neighborhoods.

      Transit without a consideration of land use is simply absurd. Sprawl is the enemy here, not bus purchases…at least IMHO.

  17. Carolinian

    So looks like nobody wants to take up Studebaker’s contention that

    The left can never build a mass movement out of catering to the social tastes of urban professionals–it must be competitive in red states.

    Makes sense to me. AOC said that we need FDR’s Democratic party but what we really need is FDR. And even Roosevelt was considered a poseur to some at the time. Mike Whitney linked this interesting article about the fight between FDR and Huey Long. Long pulled Roosevelt to the left.


  18. JBird4049

    This is compounded by the fact that the press pushes idpol, and won’t report a focus on the working class even when it exists

    Yes, and these three separate facts: ignoring any focus on the working class, ignoring the pimp Epstein’s Lolita Express, and the loving attention on Franklin’s stupidity is no accident.

    All three benefit wealthy and powerful Americans. Idpol is just another example.

  19. Eclair

    Late to read yesterday’s Water Cooler, but LOL at NYC Mayor de Blasio’s supposed reaction to the city’s drowning subway system.

    My college age grandson texted me yesterday that he and friends had taken the subway to a concert that night and raw sewage was pouring in and flooding the tracks. I suggested he make sure his immunizations for cholera and dysentery were updated. And, don’t drink the water!

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