2:00PM Water Cooler 7/31/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“Trump’s Bid to Dismantle Global Trading System Poised for a Win” [Industry Week]. “Thanks to a U.S. veto on new appeals judges, the WTO’s dispute arm is expected to start slipping into the institutional equivalent of a coma at the end of this year. That has set off a scramble by the European Union, Canada and other countries to set up a temporary alternative allowing the use of arbitrators rather than three-judge panels to hear appeals. But by creating that system, WTO members may be giving Trump and aidesーwho, like him, have deep-rooted skepticism of multilateral institutionsーthe very thing they want. Arbitration would above all provide the flexibility the U.S. is after, Vaughn said. It would see disputes treated as individual cases, avoiding the precedent-dependent system the WTO appellate body has become.”

“Inside the lose-lose trade fight between Japan and South Korea” [Nikkei Asian Review]. “[There is a] growing ‘Boycott Japan’ movement spreading across South Korea. South Koreans have also stopped buying cars, beer, cosmetics and just about anything else bearing the label ‘Made in Japan.’ Some are even canceling their summer holidays…. Well-organized protests are not uncommon in South Korea, and they tend to pass relatively quickly. But these boycotts — which in South Koreans’ minds are tied with the emotionally-charged issue of wartime labor and a sense that their most successful companies are under attack — may be different. The movement kicked off shortly after the decision by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration on July 4 to tighten controls on exports of three chemicals essential for making semiconductors and flat panel screens used in smartphones and TVs. By choking off supplies of the chemicals — Japan’s market share for two of them stands at more than 90% — the Abe administration was essentially taking aim at the engine that powers South Korea’s high-tech economy.”

“USDA gave almost 100 percent of Trump’s trade war bailout to white farmers” [New Food Economy]. • Deceptive headline erases class: “The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has documented that the program has disproportionately helped wealthy landowners and a recent analysis by Donald Carr, a senior advisor for EWG, argues that the MFP has deepened the disadvantages of black and minority farmers.”


“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 30: Biden continues rise at 32.2% (32.0), Sanders flat at 16.2% (16.2%), Warren up at 14.3% (14.0%), Buttigieg flat at 5.6% (5.5%), Harris up at 10.8% (10.5%), others Brownian motion. Sanders opens a little daylight between him and Warren, for the first time in two weeks.

* * *


I’m going to file individual debate items here by candidate, and put general debate commentary in the following section.

Bullock (D)(1): “Judge Overturns IRS Rule to Shield Political Donor Identities” [Bloomberg]. “The ruling upends a change the IRS made last year that permitted so-called Section 501(c)4 groups, known as “social-welfare” organizations, to keep their donor lists private. A federal judge said the IRS didn’t follow proper procedure in writing the rule and needs to allow the public to weigh in on the change before altering the tax code… Among the organizations with 501(c)4 status are the National Rifle Association, the Democratic Socialists of America, the AARP and Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group backed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch…. The case is Bullock v. Internal Revenue Service (4:18-cv-00103).”

Delaney (D)(1): Naughty, naughty:

Delaney (D)(2): “Delaney says Warren’s put-down of him on the debate stage was ‘dishonest’ and ‘lazy'” [WaPo]. “‘You know, I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for,’ Warren said. ‘I don’t get it.’ Presented with a clip of Warren’s line from the night before, Delaney shot back: ‘That’s the response when someone really can’t defend their plans,’ he said. ‘It’s a dishonest, kind of lazy response,” Delaney continued.” • So Delaney’s a little thin-skinned?

Gabbard (D)(1): “Tulsi’s Last Stand?” [The American Conservative]. “Gabbard has been perhaps the most interesting Democrat running for president and Wednesday night could be her last stand. She gets to share the stage with frontrunner Joe Biden, like Hillary Clinton a vote for the Iraq war. There is no guarantee she will get another opportunity: the eligibility criteria for subsequent debates is more stringent and she has yet to qualify…. Gabbard has so far been unable to penetrate this madness despite being young (she’s 38), attractive, telegenic, a military veteran, a woman of color, and an articulate, passionate opponent of the regime change wars that have brought our country so much pain.”

O’Rourke (D)(1): “‘FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DONATE, BETO’S DYING UP THERE’ Reads O’Rourke Campaign Fundraising Email Sent During Debate” [The Onion]. “‘Oh Jesus, please, please, please—Beto’s in WAY over his head, and he really needs your help!’ read the header from the digressive, 1,500-word email, which featured a photograph from the debate that showed a visibly panicked O’Rourke above the caption ‘This is a complete trainwreck.'”

Sanders (D)(1): “Ending America’s Endless War” [Bernie Sanders, Foreign Affairs]. “as an organizing framework, the global war on terror has been a disaster for our country…. American power should be measured not by our ability to blow things up, but by our ability to build on our common humanity, harnessing our technology and enormous wealth to create a better life for all people.” • But isn’t the military industrial complex shifting from the war on terror back to great power conflict? What about that?

Trump (R)(1): “The Latest: Drug industry warns importing meds risky” [Associated Press]. “The Trump administration says it will set up a system allowing Americans to legally access lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar made the announcement Wednesday morning.” • Sanders getting inside Trump’s head?

Warren (D)(1): The liberal Democrat enforcers are coming for Warren:

Warren (D)(2): I wasn’t the only one who was watching Warren on the split screen:

Williamson (D)(1): Young Ezra!

I have to look into Williamson more. Dunno about those “dark forces.”

The Debates

“Sanders, Warren battle centrists in testy debate” [The Hill]. “But on Tuesday night, the moderates came out swinging at Medicare for all with grave warnings about the electoral consequences.” • Oh.

“The Centrists Did Not Hold” [Jeet Heer, The Nation]. The Deck: “Both the moderators and centrist Democratic candidates failed in their attempts to gang up on Sanders and Warren during Tuesday’s debate.” • So we’ve normalized the idea that the moderators are not refs but players? One more reason to get the networks out the debate business. More: “The fusion of entertainment with politics continued apace with CNN orchestrating the Democratic primary debates as a professional-wrestling donnybrook. Led by Jake Tapper, the CNN hosts consistently tried to get the two factions to attack each other, while bizarrely elevating John Delaney for much of the debate.”

“The Middle Ground Did Not Fare Well in the Democratic Debate” [Jacobin]. “The next round of debates will probably be leaner in number, short a few of the forgettably conventional Democrats who — their hubristic claim to speak for a nonexistent centrist majority notwithstanding — will soon have to face up to laughably terrible poll numbers and bow out. But it appears increasingly likely that the primary campaign will be a referendum on the failed strategies and pro-corporate politics that have enabled the current Republican hegemony — and that those intent on retaining the supposed middle ground are going to find it fast separating beneath their feet.” • #NoMiddleGround? I guess we’ll see how Biden and Harris do.

“The Wildest Moments From the Second Democratic Debate, Night One” [New York Magazine]. • Very good! If you didn’t watch the debates or follow our live blog, this is the article to read for the blow-by-blow.

“‘Do or die:’ The pressure is on struggling 2020 Democrats to break through at Detroit debates” [McClatchy]. “With the leading candidates increasingly separating themselves from the rest of 2020 Democratic presidential primary field, this week’s second set of debates are shaping up to be most crucial for the bottom half of the pack who are dwelling in single digits and struggling to raise money. It’s those campaigns that are preparing to take a more aggressive posture in Detroit as they fight for survival ahead of a traditionally slow summer fundraising period and stiffer requirements to qualify for the next debates in the fall…. The next debates aren’t until September, when polling and donor requirements for entry will tighten. Seven candidates have indicated they’ve already crossed the necessary thresholds, with at least two others claiming they are close to doing so.” • Hence, beyond ideology, the aggressiveness of Hickenlooper, Delaney, et al., and the relative quiesence of Buttigieg and O’Rourke, who have already made it to the the next debate round. I would expect the same dynamic to be in play in tonight’s debate as well.


“California Aims to Make Trump Release Taxes by Requiring It for Primary Ballot” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “California governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation making disclosure of five years of income-tax filings a condition for appearing on the state’s presidential-primary ballot, beginning next year.” • Here the Constitutional qualifications and requirements for the Presidency. Article II, section 8:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

I don’t see the grounds on which California gets to add additional qualifications for a Federal office. Further, the additional qualifications are blatantly aimed at a political enemy of the California Democrat power structure (California is a one-party state). What happens a tit-for-tat struggle begins with states dominated by Republicans? We won’t have national elections any more. Back to the article:

But the latest bill passed on a strict party-line vote, and Newsom signed it on the grounds that because of its size and stature, California had a “special responsibility to require this information of presidential and gubernatorial candidates” (it will apply to candidates for Newsom’s own job after 2024).

This is a 21st century states’ rights argument, except only for large states. Where is it written that any state has “special responsibilities”?

“Bored governor signs silly bill; Film at 11” [Editorial Board, Sacramento Bee]. “In addition, Newsom’s signature on SB 27 may open a Pandora’s box of political crisis by inspiring legislatures in Republican states to take actions designed to keep Democratic candidates off the ballot. At a time when American politics is extremely divided and our democratic institutions are under attack, the last thing we need are more cynical ploys to disenfranchise voters…. Newsom has also handed Trump a terrific talking point: Trump can now say, truthfully, that California is attempting to rig the election against him.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“DSA Members, America’s New Left” [New Left Review]. “But the five dsa members, all from California chapters—and spanning a range of positions, from neo-Kautskian electoralism to libertarian party-building—offer a vivid sense of the debates agitating the group’s membership base. How will dsa convert its newly acquired supporters into political organizers? What fields of activity should it bestow its (still limited) resources upon? Most pressingly, how should it relate to the Sanders 2020 campaign, and to the Democratic Party as a whole? Can the long-term goal of building an independent working-class party be reconciled with dsa’s current practice of running candidates on Democratic ballot-lines?” • Interviews with five DSA members. Interesting!

“No, Professors Aren’t Discriminating Against Conservative Students” [Pacific Standard]. “The idea that left-wing college professors are both brainwashing undergraduates and discriminating against conservative students has emerged as one of the most consistent right-wing lines of attack against American higher education over the last few decades. While conservative undergrads, like many types of students, may often feel isolated, a new working paper led by a public policy professor who tells me he’s a ‘lifelong Republican’ suggests that any evidence for bias in grading against conservative students is at best minimal and most likely absent.”

Stats Watch

Chicago Puchasing Managers Index, July 2019: “[T]he lowest reading in 4-1/2 years” [Econoday]. “New orders sank deeper into contraction with employment falling into contraction for the first time in nearly two years and to its deepest level of contraction in nearly 10 years… Though conclusions are difficult to draw based on uncertainties over the make-up and size of Chicago’s sample, the drop in this report could reflect trade-tension issues.”

ADP Employment Report, July 2019: “ADP estimates that private payroll growth in Friday’s employment report for July will rise 156,000” [Econoday].

Employment Cost Index, Q2 2019: “Wage pressures are flat and will not stand in the way of a Federal Reserve rate cut that is expected this afternoon” [Econoday]. “The lack of acceleration in employment compensation readings hints at available capacity in the labor market.”

State Street Investor Confidence Index, July 2019: “Global institutional investors continued to reduce their exposure to equities and were even more risk averse in July” [Econoday].

Tech: “Privately Owned Scooter Companies Don’t Have a Future” [Jacobin]. “Nearly two years ago, dockless e-scooters started appearing on the sidewalks of major cities across the United States, eventually fanning out to Europe, Asia, Australia, and beyond. In most American cities, the companies didn’t bother getting permits or checking their services would be legal; they just dropped off their scooters.” • Scooter economics seem quite similar to ride “sharing” economics, i.e. not and never going to be profitable.

Manufacturing: “The CEO of one of the world’s largest airlines said Boeing needs to get its ‘s— together’ as the ongoing 737 Max crisis hits the carrier’s profits” [Business Insider]. “The CEO of one of the world’s largest airlines said that Boeing needs to get its “shit together” as the ongoing grounding of its 737 Max planes extends beyond predictions and the carrier’s profits take a hit…. Ryanair, the biggest low-cost carrier in Europe, had ordered 135 of the 737 Max planes, with the first 58 of those planes due to arrive by summer 2020. The airline was the fifth-biggest in the world by seating capacity in 2018, and is the world’s largest airline by number of routes.”

The Biosphere

“Whose fault is plastic waste in the ocean?” [Deutsche Welle]. “Because plastic is so tough, it can last for centuries without breaking down. That means plastic made in the past, mainly in richer nations, has accumulated, often in the ocean. Experts say this, along with the lack of data on plastic from marine and other sources, makes blaming individual regions for ocean plastic unhelpful.” •

“Geoengineering is very controversial. How can you do experiments? Harvard has some ideas.” [MIT Technology Review]. “For years, several Harvard climate scientists have been preparing to launch a balloon capable of spraying reflective particles into the atmosphere, in the hopes of learning more about our ability to counteract global warming…. ‘It’s an extremely high-profile institution that’s decided they don’t want to wait for the regulatory regimes to greenlight this,’ says Wil Burns, co-director of the Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy at American University.”

“Green New Deal: Candidate Scorecards” [Data for Progress]. “Using a rubric of 48 essential Green New Deal components, we identify where each candidate 1) addressed a component with a proposed federal policy or action, 2) acknowledged a component but lacked clear policy details, or 3) did not include a component.” • With handy chart. Inslee’s plan addresses the greatest number of components “with Federal policies and actions.”

Health Care

“The Plausible Path to Medicare for All” [The American Prospect]. “The flailing second-tier Democrats in the presidential debates who attack Medicare for All and its sponsors are indeed doing the work of Republicans. It is indeed possible to get to universal coverage under the auspices of Medicare, without bankrupting the public treasury or increasing net costs to the middle class. And the coverage would be better, more reliable, and more cost-effective than even the best insurance that people now get from their employers. Today’s employer-provided insurance is riddled with deductibles, co-pays, denials of reimbursement, limits on which doctor or hospital you can use, and loss of insurance when you change jobs. Sanders and Warren are right about all that. But the transition problems are far from trivial. The biggest problem is that the people who will save money when they no longer pay premiums are not the same people who will likely pay more in taxes*. So the sponsors of Medicare for All should recognize that a better transition strategy may be the best way to disarm critics, among centrist Democrats, Republican attackers, and the press; and to reassure the electorate and make Medicare for All the big winner that it can be. The best of the transition approaches are those proposed by Jacob Hacker, with a close legislative counterpart in the Medicare for America Act co-sponsored by Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Jan Schakowsky.” • I would be more sympathetic to Kuttner if TAP and its ilk hadn’t, through unremitting effort, themselves created the need to “reassure the electorate.” I also remember the fantastically destructive role played by Hacker in the liberal Democrat bait-and-switch operation against single payer in 2009-2010. I know this is the genetic fallacy, but it’s very hard for me to believe that TAP and Hacker are operating in good faith. NOTE * So #MedicareForAll is a downward transfer of wealth? And this is a bad thing?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Whites get half of mortgages in Detroit, nation’s largest majority black city” [Bridge]. “Home loans are heating up in Detroit after years of a frigid lending market, but a majority of loan dollars now go to whites, who comprise just over 10 percent of the population. African-Americans, who still make up fourth-fifths of the city, are now far more likely to buy homes in the suburbs than Detroit. The findings come from a Bridge Magazine analysis of hundreds of thousands of federal mortgage records from 2007 to 2017.”

Guillotine Watch

“Ex-Corporate Lawyer’s Idea: Rein In ‘Sociopaths’ in the Boardroom” [Andrew Ross Sorkin*, New York Times]. “A longtime lawyer for the insurance giant American International Group, Mr. Gamble worked alongside Richard Beattie, Simpson Thacher’s chairman at the time, to advise A.I.G. during the financial crisis of 2008 and in the years of litigation that followed…. [Gamble] has concluded that corporate executives — the people who hired him and that his firm sought to protect — ‘are legally obligated to act like sociopaths.’ … “The corporate entity is obligated to care only about itself and to define what is good as what makes it more money,’ he writes in the essay. ‘Pretty close to a textbook case of antisocial personality disorder. And corporate persons are the most powerful people in our world.’… Companies, he suggests, should ‘adopt a binding set of ethical rules, approved by stockholders and addressing the key ethical dimensions of corporate life” … Once the rules are in place, he writes, ‘any shareholder could sue the board of directors for violating the ethical rules — just as any shareholder can today sue the board of directors for violating the maximize rule.'” • NOTE * Of all people. Hmm. A corporate super-ego?

Class Warfare

“The Roepke Lecture 2019: ʺWar, capitalism, and the making and unmaking of economic geographiesʺ [Erica Schoenberger, Johns Hopkins]. Worth a listen over a cup of coffee:

(I owe a hat tip to an alert reader for this, but I can’t find the comment where the suggestion was made.)

“The tyranny of productivity” [The Week]. “More than 100 years ago, states began listening to workers’ demands and limiting the hours employers could make people work. Later, in the 1930s and ’40s, the federal government did the same thing on the national level. And governments didn’t just guarantee people the free time to pay attention to things one might deem “unproductive” — they also helped them find unproductive things to do. Indeed, early 20th-century political leaders made playgrounds and public spaces a priority. Teddy Roosevelt, who helped create the national parks system, ensuring Americans’ access to wild and beautiful places, frequently described the power of nature in decidedly non-instrumental terms. ‘There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm,’ he once wrote. Later, during the depths of the Great Depression, workers hired by the federal government built some of the country’s most gorgeous public architecture — including, as Odell notes, the Oakland rose garden she so enjoys. But, in the second half of the 20th century, government increasingly shied away from policies aimed at anything as unproductive as beauty and pleasure and devoted itself to economic growth, instead.”

“IBU strike shuts down Alaska ferries” [Alaska Public Radio]. “In Ketchikan, approximately 30 picketing ferry workers stood on the sidewalk outside Alaska Marine Highway System terminal where the ferry Columbia was set to depart for Bellingham, Washington…. The union had warned the night before that a strike was imminent if it didn’t get a contract deal. It’s been negotiating for the past three years. An impasse last week led a majority of members to vote to authorize taking direct action.”

“These Are the Wealthiest Towns in the U.S.” [Bloomberg]. Handy map:

News of the Wired

“Daemons are the programs that run the internet. Here’s why it’s important to understand them.” [The Conversation]. “Internet daemons optimize how computers actively manage systems toward certain goals or highest-efficency states. Optimization is another way to understand algorithmic governance. It is at once a way of thinking and a way of doing. To optimize is to calculate optimal states that solve social and political problems. Optimization also involves ways to actualize these states…. The technical connotations of optimization obscures its social and political implications. For example, an optimal amount of news to include in Facebook’s NewsFeed or shorter passenger wait times on Uber are technical decisions and business ones.” • Optimization is not neutral!

“Behold, the most (intentionally) poorly designed website ever created” [Ars Technica]. • Here it is. Looks like Twitter’s designers examined this site closely.

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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 (Re Silc):

Re Silc writes: “My 3-year-old bristly locust love southern vermont.”

* * *

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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

    “The Centrists Did Not Hold” [Jeet Heer, The Nation]. The Deck: “Both the moderators and centrist Democratic candidates failed in their attempts to gang up on Sanders and Warren during Tuesday’s debate.” • So we’ve normalizes the idea that the moderators are not refs but players?

    Nice to see The Nation come around to what the common folk have thought for at minimum 2 election cycles (on the low-information end) and for most of us, multiple administrations spanning decades. As my late voted-for-FDR-4-times grandfather told me, “Don’t look left or right. Look UP.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t mean big big, don’t worry. And I do like that people are giving, say, five dollars a month; that does add up and I have the feeling the small amount enables people to participate who would otherwise not be able to. That’s good!

      But the new mix of many more smaller subscriptions and many fewer larger ($25 and up) one-time donations has led to a monthly total that is much lower. And the amount of work that goes into Water Cooler has not decreased! If anything, with climate and the election, it has increased.

  2. pictboy3

    The Constitution also says states are in charge of elections, unless they’re doing something that would violate the equal protection clause (another reason Bush v. Gore was one of the worst opinions in the history of the Supreme Court). The Constitution sets the bare minimum for qualifications for office, but states have long had the power to determine the requirements for getting on the ballot. That’s why qualifications for getting on the ballot for Congresscritters and Senators vary from state to state. None of that is unconstitutional.

    Now there may be an alternative legal argument to make here on Trump’s side, particularly since this is pretty blatantly aimed at him. But I don’t feel like it would fail the arbitrariness test, so I can’t see them prevailing.

    I’m happy to be proven wrong of course.

      1. pictboy3

        There are two parts in a 14th amendment analysis. Firstly, laws have to have a purpose. States cannot implement a law “just because,” there has to be a reason for it that fulfills some public purpose. This is an incredibly easy standard to pass. The second part is that the law cannot violate any Constitutional rights that are incorporated into the 14th amendment. This refers to any sort of general right such as freedom of speech, due process, etc.

        Texas’ requirement runs squarely into the 1st Amendment by gatekeeping what speech is acceptable for public employees, and as such is not permissible. I’m not sure what right having to disclose your tax returns would violate. The one outside possibility is that court’s could recognize a 9th Amendment right to privacy that California would be violating, but that has no precedent that I’m aware of for government documents, and courts are extremely skittish about recognizing 9th Amendment rights, especially these days. It’s more or less DOA.

        One avenue of attack for Trump that might possibly exist (I’m not an expert on tax stuff or laws on federal disclosures, so don’t quote me here) is if there is some federal law against disclosure of these particular records. The supremacy clause would still apply here and federal anti-disclosure laws would protect Trump from any state-level law requiring him to disclose those documents. He could argue that California is essentially coercing him into giving up his federal statutory right to keep these documents private.

        1. todde

          oddly enough, California has one of the strictest laws with regard to tax return disclosure. It is hard to get a court to allow it in civil court cases.

          1. Librarian Guy

            The law affects primaries only, not the general election. (Apology to those who read the link and knew this). Trump will not be successfully primaried anyhow. So it is purely symbolic and feel-good. Which validates the point that it shouldn’t have been signed.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Texas’ requirement runs squarely into the 1st Amendment by gatekeeping what speech is acceptable for public employees, and as such is not permissible.

          Here’s a better example:

          No candidate who has failed to take an oath that they have not used a private email server for official business shall appear on the ballot.

          Are we really arguing that would be OK?

    1. EricT

      The state could just make it a requirement for ballot placement. If you don’t hand in your tax returns, you go to the end of the column.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Does it make any difference that on one side, congresspersons & senators represent the states, while on the other side, the president represents the nation?

      Another question. Have there been additional qualications by states on presidential candidates (not just congressional candidates) before? These would be more relevant.

      1. pictboy3

        It would depend on what kind of restriction was placed on ballot access. I know some states have residency requirements for candidates for federal office. They have to maintain a residence in the state that they’re running in, that they live in for x amount of time per year. Obviously, these would not fly for presidential elections based on either a 14th Amendment challenge, or more likely, some sort of dormant commerce clause-esque argument, in which states would be discriminating unfairly against other states.

        As to your second question, I’m honestly not sure. I’m not an expert in election law, just someone who went to law school, so I know the baseline constitutional aspects of election law, but not the finer points. I’m pretty sure that states have varying signature requirements for getting independent candidates on the ballot. After all, the amount of signatures required for ballot access would naturally be different between California and Rhode Island. However, that reason is far more germane to elections than releasing tax returns, so I don’t know what it necessarily says about what courts would say about this particular effort by California.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I know some states have residency requirements for candidates for federal office. They have to maintain a residence in the state that they’re running in, that they live in for x amount of time per year.

          If that’s the precedent, I don’t see how it applies to the Presidency. Senators or Represenatives, yes, but not the Presidency. Do you have an example of a requirement that applies to the Presidency, by definition a national office?

          1. pictboy3

            It’s a precedent, not the precedent. There isn’t a whole lot to go on for this area of the law, because all we really have is the Constitution, which isn’t particularly verbose on any particular subject, except maybe enumerated powers.

            To my knowledge, no restrictions like the kind California is proposing have ever been passed elsewhere, but I know that there is no overt prohibition in the Constitution that would prevent it. That doesn’t mean courts can’t create one out of whole cloth, but I just don’t see that happening when there is so little actual written law to go on here. What we know is that the Constitution has baseline requirements for federal offices, but elections are administered by the states and ballot access is also controlled by the states. We also know that states can and do place restrictions on ballot access that are neither uniform throughout the US, nor mandated or prohibited by the plain text of the Constitution. That would suggest that it is the States that have the ultimate say here on ballot access, which is what this California law is all about.

            I don’t have access to Lexis or Westlaw, so I can’t really look in depth into the case law on federal election laws, but if California can create some BS about how this is for transparency in the electoral process, it would probably pass the arbitrariness threshold. You and I both know that’s not why they’re doing it, but courts usually examine these sorts of claims on their face, rather than reading between the lines. Unless Trump has some sort of federal (or California constitutional) right that this law would violate, I don’t see how it isn’t constitutional.

          2. todde

            tax disclosure laws would probably violate California’s constitution. The right to privacy is considered an ‘inalienable’ right there.

          3. pictboy3

            I did some research. Relevant case law (that edmondo referred to in his comment) is Oregon v. Mitchell. The constitution (Article 1 Section 2) says that states make the laws with regard to time, place, and manner of Congresscritters and Senators, but Congress can make laws that affect federal elections, provided they don’t contradict the Constitutional eligibility limits. If Congress hasn’t passed any laws that prevent California from doing this, and there are no federal or state constitutional rights that are being violated, then it should be permissible.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Here is a link to Oregon v. Mitchell. Justice Black writes:

              For the reasons set out in Part II of this opinion, I believe that Congress, in the exercise of its power to enforce the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, can prohibit the use of literacy tests or other devices used to discriminate against voters on account of their race in both state and federal elections. …

              For the reasons set out in Part III of this opinion, I believe Congress can set residency requirements and provide for absentee balloting in elections for presidential and vice-presidential electors.

              I don’t see how this is on point. It’s about ballot access for voters, not which candidate gets on the ballot. (Historically, that’s been limited by parties, who control the ballot line in much the same way that gangs control street corners.)

              > The constitution (Article 1 Section 2) says that states make the laws with regard to time, place, and manner of Congresscritters and Senators, but Congress can make laws that affect federal elections, provided they don’t contradict the Constitutional eligibility limits.

              The Presidency is a national office. If this is a reserved powers argument, I don’t see how one avoids having different Presidential ballots in different states. The future Confederate states didn’t give Lincoln oone single vote. But they still had, AFAIK, Lincoln on the ballot. Are we really arguing that there’s a states’ rights doctrine that they could have crafted devices to keep him off? Because of their “special responsibilities” to preserve the peculiar institution?

      2. Alfred

        I’ll bite, speaking as a southerner, and preferring the literal interpretation of a title: the President of the United States represents (or embodies, perhaps) not any nation but rather those states collectively. What I learned in civics class was that the senators represent the states as such and individually, and the representatives represent the people of (various districts within) those states. The whole point of the Electoral College, again per my civics-class instruction, was to choose the President preferred by the States as such, and not necessarily by their inhabitants. The executive role of the President consists in his (or so far, only theoretically her) execution on behalf of all the States, of the decisions taken by their several representatives in the bicameral Congress. Per https://constitutionus.com/, the word “nation” appears originally in the U.S Constitutional only as a designation of certain foreign powers, where it seems (to me) to be used in advised contrast to the “States” (viz., in I, 8, 3 and I, 8, 10). The words “international” and “national” only appear in headings (respectiveIy, I 8, 3 and VI – where the omission of the word “national” from the subsequent clauses is quite striking). The word “nation” does, however, appear once in a Letter of Transmittal in apparently (though I’d insist, not inevitably) the sense that would by the 1860s be generally (though still by no means universally) attached to it, viz., as the referent of a political and not merely social entity. The upshot seems to me to be this: that although in 1787 there obtained the idea that something called a “nation” was behind the Constitution, its framers took pains always to be clear that the Constitution as such — and hence the officials whose posts it set up — served to structure no such “nation” but rather a union of “States.” The notion that various men characterized as “our nation’s President” have occupied the White House stems, I’d say, not from any historical fact but rather from metonymy.

        1. martell

          This seems right. It’s a federation of republics. Founders probably got the idea from Montesquieu, who hit upon this arrangement as the solution to the problem of republicanism on a large scale (republicanism as opposed to democracy, because no one in their right mind favored 5th-4th century BCE Athenian institutions). So, the Constitution doesn’t just check power with power, it deliberately decenters it, so much so that some political theorists, such as Arendt, deny that the concept of sovereignty even applies to the US as originally constituted. So constituted, there was no one, independent source from which all power flowed, not a monarch, not some fictional nation (and they are all of them fictions) that a monarch or some other agent supposedly represents.

          1. dearieme

            You don’t think that the United Provinces and Switzerland might have served as models?

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I think that theory was rendered obsolete:

          Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

          Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

          But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

    3. edmondo

      I am old enough to remember when Congress changed the voting age from 21 to 18. The states sued saying that Congress did not have the authority to change voting eligibility, only the states can make that change. It ended up in the Supreme Court. The SC decided that Congress did have the power to over-ride state laws but only for federal elections, in effect saying the voting age for federal elections was 18; for state elections it could be 21 or whatever age(s) the states wanted. Because the age discrepancy by election was so stark, the 26th Amendment making the uniform age in any election 18 was passed toot sweet.

      Bottom Line: The Supreme Court has already set a precedent that federal elections rules are not a purview of the individual states. This will go down in flames. More virtue signaling. Surprise.

  3. nycTerrierist

    re: Krugman above

    ok, now he’s just trolling us

    Can’t believe I used to like his (Bush era) columns

    1. JohnnyGL

      It’s a sign the establishment is turning on her….expect more critical commentary in the coming days.

      1. Detroit Dan

        “It’s a sign the establishment is turning on her….expect more critical commentary in the coming days.”

        Yup. We had to know this was coming. It will be interesting to see if gets to the level of Bernie-level hate.

        1. ambrit

          If she continues to align with Bernie as she did somewhat in the Detroit debate, she will be pilloried along with, and intensely as him.
          I’m thinking that the ‘Powers’ had hoped that Warren and Sanders would have attacked each other and thus neutralized each other. Since they have not, I foresee the return of “Dirty Tricks As Usual.”

          1. Carey

            Oh, yes- starting tonight. I’m sure it was completely
            random that Sanders and Warren appeared on the same night: the first night.

            “The narrative™ is in danger; all hands on deck!”

    1. Plenue

      Man who lives in two million dollar apartment lectures others on how government funded healthcare isn’t feasible or even desirable.

    1. Dan

      You forgot the Other Brown, Willie. By the same author:


      “Gavin Newsom’s inauguration as governor and Kamala Harris’ declaration that she’s running for president after just two years in the U.S. Senate are testaments to Brown’s patronage skills. Shortly after becoming mayor in 1996, Brown appointed Newsom, then a young businessman whose father and grandfather had long-standing connections in San Francisco’s insular political community, to the city’s Parking and Traffic Commission.”

      “A year later, Brown placed Newsom on the city’s Board of Supervisors, its equivalent of a city council. That put him into position to succeed Brown as mayor seven years later, run for lieutenant governor in 2010 and then capture the governorship last year. Brown helped Ed Lee succeed Newsom as mayor and last year, saw another of his protégés, London Breed, continue the string of mayoral winners.”

      “Willie Brown’s patronage of Harris followed a similar path, with a twist. She was a young Alameda County prosecutor in the 1990s when she caught the eye of Brown, both personally and politically. Before being forced out of the Assembly speakership in 1995, Brown appointed Harris to two well-paying positions on state commissions. Three-decades younger than her patron, Harris was also briefly one of Brown’s serial girlfriends.”

      Don’t worry, Willie’s comforter, president Harris, will issue blanket pardons to all of them.

      1. Librarian Guy

        I’m a Bay Area resident. These are all horrible, corporate types and yet we hear about dangerous, Lefty “SF values”. Newsom’s daddy was a judge and he grew up with the Getty boys as best friends, practically adopted into the family. Ed Lee started out in the 70s trying to prevent poor Asians from being evicted from their housing . . . by the end of his career, as Mayor, he was driving the Tech Bro gentrification of SF and driving everyone, Asians included, out of their housing. London Breed is his establishment replacement, her story claims she came from poverty, but she now does the same thing. (And very interesting smaller scandal, her brother’s a convicted murderer who she used her influence to try to get pardoned. And apparently lied for, saying he was sleeping at home when the murder was committed.) . . . Kamala probably suffered the most for her status and power, having to sexually interact with Willie (about to get out the brain bleach).

        Newsom’s done a few positive things, he jump started gay marriage in 2004 (or so) with “illegal” gay weddings, and he supports teachers’ unions, not a supporter of Charters. Overall, though, all good American pols who service the rich and powerful, can’t be bothered with anyone else. Very corrupt “moderate” Dem politicos in a nominally “progressive” city, at least socially.

        1. Philonius

          London Breed? Is that a real person or a Pynchon character? To be honest, your comment reads like the Goodreads synopsis of his next novel..

  4. Brindle

    The Debates…

    “…while bizarrely elevating John Delaney for much of the debate”. Nothing bizarre about it Delaney was proxy for Tapper on stage. He is one of the lowest in the polls but CNN elevated him to be spokesperson for the staus quo. Sanders hating Jennifern Rubin (WAPO) has a column out praising Delaney. I don’t think the creation of Delaney’s supposed success is an accident.

    1. zagonostra

      I’m trying to gauge the generalized reaction to Dem debate last night so I have to make forays into what one NC commentator calls the “blob,” which I take below source to be a member of.

      Also, when I read comments on the “blobosphere and compare with those on this site, I can only be thankful that I stumbled my way here…

      Delaney’s campaign told Fox News on Wednesday morning that they saw a 10-fold increase in fundraising during the 24 hours surrounding the showdown – the first of two back-to-back nights of second-round Democratic presidential nomination debates.


      1. jrs

        Do we have any idea that the people giving to Delany are Dems or progressive/left leaning independents? Because frankly I REALLY suspect they are Republicans. But fundraising is fundraising and by DNC rules even if a candidate raises the money from Republicans he might get in the Dem debates.

        So media attention drives fundraising (and maybe polling), and fundraising and polling is how you get in the debates by DNC rules, never mind get elected (brought to you by the media that brought you trump).

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        The term “The Blob” as this commentator uses it, was originated by Obama official Ben Rhodes in an article in the New York Times magazine:

        Here’s how [New York Times writer David] Samuels describes Rhodes’ basic foreign policy worldview:

        He referred to the American foreign-policy establishment as the Blob. According to Rhodes, the Blob includes Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and other Iraq-war promoters from both parties who now whine incessantly about the collapse of the American security order in Europe and the Middle East… [His passion] derived from his own sense of the urgency of radically reorienting American policy in the Middle East in order to make the prospect of American involvement in the region’s future wars a lot less likely. [The New York Times Magazine]

        Whatever good has come from the Obama administration on foreign policy — and it must be admitted that it could have been much worse — it comes from this attitude. The fundamental attribute of “the Blob” really is a sort of amoral incompetence, where constant bloody and catastrophic failure has virtually zero impact on elite thinking. (And that’s leaving aside the leaking of classified documents to get laid, drunkenly lambasting the president to a journalist, the inept handling of the nuclear arsenal, and so on.)

        I would guess “The Blob” is an hommage to the eopnymous movie, The Blob:

        The Blob is an amorphous, gelatinous alien entity that was brought to planet Earth trapped inside a meteorite. Nothing is known about its origins, the natural habits of the species, or how common they are in the universe. This creature has no definite shape or size, being able to change its form at will.

        Replace “trapped inside a meteorite” with “a degree from Harvard or Yale”….

        1. Off The Street

          How much free publicity did Ben get from brother Dan over at CBS News on that or any other matter? He isn’t the only one. It helps to have those DC-NYC connections to supplement the Ivy League pedigree, or is it vice versa? I could never tell given how incestuous the Acela Corridor riders had become.

    2. Tom Doak

      Delaney was the designated (and expendable) hit man, so that Beto and Mayor Pete didn’t have to risk the embarrassment of a knockout riposte from Sanders or Warren. There are still hopes for the latter two to get to 15% in some state and take delegates away from Sanders. Delaney was not going to do that.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Which is part of the reason that Gabbard and Williamson being around is helpful. The left needs additional attack dogs who can go at candidates and help Sanders/Warren avoid charges of ‘divisiveness’. This becomes more important after last night’s double-barreled shotgun performance from Warren and Sanders.

        I’m very hopeful that we’ll get a Gabbard disemboweling of Biden’s foreign policy record. It needs to happen.

        1. John

          Biden speaks for the “blob” as do most of the others. I do hope Tulsi takes him to the woodshed on forever wars and regime change. I hope she gets the opportunity to, metaphorically speaking, eviscerate any and all ‘blobites’. I shall find it hard to vote for any of these people who want to the wars to continue or at least to have the contributions from the ‘merchants of death’ continue.

          Are they ever going to mention the fact that climate change will too soon make whatever else they might say irrelevant?

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think the DNC set it up so that the incentives were there for a hitperson to exist. It’s what a bottom-tier candidate in a crowded race — especially if independently wealthy — would do. I don’t think there was a conspiratorial conference call where Delaney was selected; a hive mind doesn’t work that way, or need to.

        Meanwhile, Delaney is getting some visibility for his whiny and unpleasant personality. How nice for us all.

  5. John B

    On Trump’s attack on the WTO system, many senior officials in the Trump trade administration spent their legal careers representing US industries in trade cases, particularly the US steel industry in antidumping cases. They deeply believe that starting with Kodak’s complaint about Japanese photofilm price-fixing in the 1990s, and continuing to the present, WTO dispute settlement panels have issued dishonest opinions, rewriting the WTO agreements to make them more favorable to free trade.

    WTO panelists tend to be academics and free-trade oriented officials who believe the institution’s mission is to promote trade and, thus, international growth and solidarity. Both sides have a point, but the Trump administration would be delighted to see WTO dispute settlement panels replaced by international arbitration panels. They reason that international arbitration panelists do not have an ideological ax to grind when it comes to trade, and are more likely simply to interpret the language of the agreements, which contain (at least in theory) a variety of concessions to nationalist interests.

    Trump officials are probably correct that arbitrators will be more likely to uphold protectionist decisions by national governments in WTO disputes. On the other hand, arbitrators do tend to be corporation-friendly, so they may not be more favorable as regards environmental questions.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Didn’t the Left make a huge effort to block the WTO? I seem to remember that being the issue that got me into politics. Ironically, it has proven an occasional obstacle to US trade interests, probably because it requires unanimity.

      So if Trump wants to sabotage it, I’m fine with that.

      1. JBird4049

        Until very recently, the leadership of the American “Left,” what there is of it, is the neoliberal Democratic Party, which is controlled by the 1% who believe unregulated free markets, completely free trade, and any regulations are excellent with nationalism as truly evil (you peons) via their servants like Feinstein and Pelosi. Pelosi is only a little less loathsome and obstructionist as McConnell. The lizard versus the turtle.

        With the American left effectively powerless just what could any individual do? The situation is also the same on the American right. Fairness, the rule of law, the general welfare, human decency are all part of both left and right ideologies with only the emphasis being really different. This being so, those who benefit from the current regime have made sure that the leaders of by parties see things their way.

        Dumping product onto the American market at below cost and destroying American businesses, industry, and society was unacceptable to the mainstream political thought of forty years ago. Left, center, and right.

        In short, the Congressional leadership was just fine with the undercutting.

  6. Carolinian


    A saner Democratic Party might realize the chances are far greater that their nominee will be a covert hawk rather than a secret right-winger. Only time will tell if vestiges of that party still exist.

    He lost me at “saner.” The reality is that even if Gabbard makes it to the next debate her chances of getting the nomination are practically zero. Gabbard’s stance of representing those who are required to fight is not where the establishment, the media or the Dems are coming from.

    1. JBird4049

      Gabbard’s stance of representing those who are required to fight is not where the establishment, the media or the Dems are coming from.

      Having the help represented by someone like them is so gauche, don’t you think? Even if they are doing the fighting and dying for the Empire.

  7. Jason Boxman

    I thought that Onion post about O’Rourke was real until I finished reading it; The funding emails these campaigns send are so over the top, it felt legit at first.

  8. flora

    re: Delaney (D)(2) – DNC designated tr0lls don’t need no coherent arguments. /s

    adding: Delaney’s edited Wiki page made me laugh out loud. Hilarious cause it’s true!

  9. JohnnyGL


    For those who are confused about how Biden seems to have a protective coating of teflon along with strangely buoyant poll numbers….it may be that there’s underlying deterioration and a tipping point hasn’t yet been reached where the dem loyalist base realizes he’s a sinking ship and abandons him.

    It’s coming…slowly, but it’s coming…

    1. ambrit

      I still see him as a place saver for Hillary.
      Does he know, deep down that he is being used?

      1. sleepy

        It’s a ongoing criticism that the dems were headed for a repeat of 2016, but I didn’t realize it was that literal.

      2. Pat

        I will spend the rest of my lifetime shouting at most of the people in this city AND at any so called Democratic leader along with party representatives that their was kissing idiocy led Donald Trump to a second term and demanding they spend the rest of their lives on their knees begging the country and the world’s forgiveness. Because he will win if she is anywhere near the ticket.

        (I wish I thought they were not that stupid but greed and the bubble could account for such idiocy.)

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > how Biden seems to have a protective coating of teflon

      Purely subjectively, meaning I’ve never seen polling on this, there are two groups of Democrat voters I imagine to be large-ish that are rarely taken into account:

      1) Women of a certain age who want to see a woman President in their lifetime because Third Wave feminism. One would not think it possible to support Clinton and then Warren, but for these voters, it is. And their support is not readily transferable to Sanders, another reason Sanders and Warren have different bases.

      2) Voters who would prefer a rollback to the first Obama administration, when things were civil and we didn’t have so much of that nasty divisiveness. (These are most likely 10%-ers, or the sort of black voters who see Biden as having “helped Barack.” Remember that the recession didn’t really hurt the 10%-ers as well; foreclosures and job loss and suicide are abstractions to them.) These are Biden voters; Biden is the only candidate of restoration. Their votes, too, are not readily transferable, though I would bet that nice young fella, Mayo Pete, could pick up some of them. (“I voted for the first black President, the first woman President (“We wuz robbed!”), and now the first gay President! [smug smile of satisfaction]”).

  10. Craig H.

    > The Wildest Moments From the Second Democratic Debate, Night One

    Fake news lives within me!

    (it’s inside my left baby toenail)

    1. Glen

      Nothing new here. Back when I went to the college it was common for the rich to get the cheap loans and buy their kids a BMW. Or a Porsche.

      I knew one gal that was mad at her dad so she wrapped the Porsche around a telephone pole and walked away from it. She didn’t want to go to college. Her dad used her to get cheap loans.

      College, like much else is just one more scam for the rich. Pretty eye opening for me.

      Just so you know, if you read this blog, you are not rich and you don’t live in that world. People that are rich don’t bother with blogs like this.

  11. cuibono

    Rein in the sociopaths in the boardroom? He fails to mention the obvious: sociopaths will be sociopaths.
    we have set up our entire world based on a system that maximally rewards sociopathic behavior.

  12. Elizabeth

    I watched the debates last night, and was surprised that there was not one question on Russiagate – it’s like the whole thing never happened – which is surprising because CNN was a major player in the hysteria. Also, I thought it was strange that the national anthem was played at the beginning – I don’t ever recall this happening before. I really do think the networks should get out of the business of holding these events.
    Lambert, thank you for doing such a superb job of live blogging – you always do.

    1. 3.14e-9

      Seconded. NC debate blog got me through without losing the little bit of sanity I have left (and it has to last 461 days, a long time in sanity rationing).

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Lambert, thank you for doing such a superb job of live blogging – you always do.

      Thank you both.

      On RussiaRussiaRussia, I was wondering about that. Three years of round-the-clock daily hysteria, and now suddenly it’s as if it had never been. Totally demonstrates why Democrats are fit to govern.

  13. Left in Wisconsin

    I think one person mentioned this on the feed last night but none of the pundits did (natch) – Bernie was the clear winner inside the house. While Warren got mostly tepid applause (aside from her excellent takedown of whatsisname), Bernie got loud applause numerous occasions. More evidence that as much as they are lumped together, their supporters are completely different.

    1. Dan

      “What’s his name”: “Peek-a-boo”?

      He pops out, looks around, then goes back in.

      No punchbowls need apply.

  14. Oregoncharles

    ” I know this is the genetic fallacy, but it’s very hard for me to believe that TAP and Hacker are operating in good faith.”

    That is not the genetic fallacy. It is a question of character – are they “operating in good faith.”? Their record is relevant to that; it’s almost the only thing that’s relevant. Have they offered a mea culpa and explanation of the change? Serious grovelling is called for before they’re taken seriously.

    If you were claiming proof, you’d be wrong, but you’re only claiming grounds for suspicion. Which was my immediate response when I saw “Hacker.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Today was my day to be nice*.

      NOTE * “But… it’s a nice day today, the birds is singing, there’s stuff like…kittens and stuff, and the sun is shining off the snow, bringin’ the promise of Spring to come, with flowers, and fresh grass, and more kittens and hot summer days an’ the gentle kiss of the rain and wonderful clean things…” –Terry Pratchett, The Truth

  15. Matthew

    “No, Professors Aren’t Discriminating Against Conservative Students” – I think that the study does support this conclusion, however, i think its the wrong question.

    My experience, with the caveat that I have liberal and conservative convictions, was that the majority, not all, of professors attack anyone who espouses heterodox opinions and grade accordingly. Right now, there is a strong liberal orthodoxy in academia that has been growing for decades. I think this is bad for academia, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is discrimination, just a refusal to accept new or different ideas. If you have ideas that go against the grain, you’d better seek out like minded professors, or else just regurgitate whatever your professor thinks and forget about academia as a career.

    1. Punts Pete

      +100. Especially in economics. Stray from the Neoliberal bible and you get slapped down.

      1. Off The Street

        Old Russian saying: They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.
        New American college saying: They pretend to teach us and we pretend to learn.
        Some will drink the Kool-Aid and others will go with the flow until graduation, attempting to maintain equanimity and independence of thought. How woulda thought that heterodox-normative would be so controversial!

  16. Left in Wisconsin

    “The tyranny of productivity” [The Week].

    Much as I agree with the sentiment of the author, her naivety is stunning.

    More than 100 years ago, states began listening to workers’ demands and limiting the hours employers could make people work. Later, in the 1930s and ’40s, the federal government did the same thing on the national level.

    No mention of unions or communists or socialists. Must have been something in the water.

  17. bwilli123

    ‘Disaster waiting to happen’ as airlines increase use of offshore repair centers

    …”Airlines looking to increase profits aren’t the only forces aligned against the demands over safety issues. Nations that are home to lower-cost repair centers make up the largest lobbying group fighting aviation unions in Washington, D.C., said Greg Regan, secretary-treasurer at the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO. “They just don’t want to see any hindrance to their ability to get more work,” he added. “Frankly, if basic safety is a hindrance for them to get more work, then I don’t know that we should have our work being done there.”

    Labor unions have succeeded in lobbying for the passage of federal laws to “level the playing field” with uniform requirements both here and abroad, Regan added, including background checks and drug and alcohol testing (on the books since 2012). But to their dismay, both the Obama and Trump administrations failed to act on enforcing these congressional mandates overseas…”

    Looking at who came first and oddly, there’s that name again.


  18. Inode_buddha

    Is the fix in?

    I just got an email from DGA.net asking if Harris or Biden should be president.

    It goes into the “spam” file.

    1. Carolinian

      Directors Guild of America?

      That Grayzone link from this morning makes Biden out to be a real monster and it doesn’t even mention Ukraine. Time to paper over my Anyone But Hillary sticker with Anyone But Biden.

      1. ambrit

        Keep that underlying bumper sticker safe and usable. You will need it after the brokered convention.

    2. Dan

      If you are a Trump supporter, you should answer,
      “Kamala Harris, definitely make her the nominee!”

      Nominate Bernie and win the presidency.

      Anyone else?
      Write in Bernie, or just vote for Trump and get it over with the Democratic Party.

  19. PKMKII

    Oh, Trump might not be on the ballot in California. His chances of winning there in 2020 will go from practically zero to zero.

  20. dearieme

    Gabbard has so far been unable to penetrate this madness despite being … a woman of color

    I suspect that she’s the wrong sort of woman of color. So’s the Cherokee. So, logically, should be La Harlot.

    1. ambrit

      All this “woman of colour” stuff is just a casting of aspersions. She is one quarter Samoan, a Polynesian group. The other three quarters are European.
      Unless one were to adopt the methodology of the late, unlamented “Reich’s ‘Office of Racial Policy,'” she is ‘white.’
      Far better to bypass all this pseudo-scientific pontificating and refer to the denizens of the Earth as ‘Terran Humans.’

      1. Dan

        Actually, Tulsi’s more “colorful” than Harris.

        Harris’ mother is 100% East Indian. Considered white by anthros.

        Her father is at least 3/4 Irish. The only African in her, is one of her grandmothers, who might be half Caribbean Indian.

  21. dcblogger

    It will be truly embarrassing for Biden if ratings for tonight’s debate are substantially lower than last night.

  22. barrisj

    Has M Williamson walked back any of her OTT anti-vaccine screeds? Given the well-documented outbreak of measles in several states, laid mainly to parents refusing their children appropriate vaccinations, it would seem that Williamson may want to take a second look at her sweeping dismissals.
    And several million depression sufferers and their physicians would certainly take exception to her anti-meds stance. While over-prescription is an issue, a large cohort of the chronically depressed can and do lead a reasonably productive life by virtue of medication.
    Williamson has certainly gained a bit of cred from her two “debate” appearances; here is where the rubber meets the road now, and perhaps – if she gets to Rnd 3 – the moderators and/or panelists will hit on those themes.

    1. Monty

      “I am not anti-vaccine,” Williamson said, when confronted with the issue on The View. However, she has also called mandatory vaccinations “draconian and Orwellian.” Williamson didn’t walk back those comments, but she told hosts of the View, “The days of blind faith in Big Pharma are over — the ideas of blind faith in the idea that our government agencies are doing the proper oversight and proper advocacy for the American people against at times the overreach of profit-making industries that are putting money before people — that is not an irrational or unreasonable thing.”

      Hard to argue with that, based on the stories we read here.

      1. Plenue

        That. Is. How. Vaccination. Works.

        It’s called herd immunity. Refusing to get yourself, or worse, your children, vaccinated doesn’t just affect you. You’re increasing the risk to people around you. That’s on top of the fact that not being vaccinated makes someone literally, directly, a threat to people who have compromised immune systems. Refusing vaccinations doesn’t just make you an idiot; it makes you an asshole as well.

  23. Stephen Gardner

    I do not understand why this article makes such a big deal about daemons. To hear the author of the article they have an almost mystical significance: “Daemonic optimization became a template for digital platforms.”. This is just hyperbole. Daemons are just computer programs that run in the background. I would venture to say that most do not have any optimization functionality as such. The process that allows people to connect to this web page for example is a daemon. The process that allows you to log on to your computer is a daemon. The program that backs up your data every night (if you have one) is a daemon.

    It’s a shame some of the rhetoric is so devoid of technical knowledge because I can’t say I disagree with this: “The power of optimization is too much to be left in the hands of a few companies.” but it has nothing to do with daemons per se and anyone technical reading the article is probably going to just walk away because of over the top nonsense like “daemonic optimization”. People who work with computers daily and understand how they function will just be turned off by this kind of talk and not read to the part where it condemns corporate control of algorithmic optimization.

    1. ewmayer

      I think the point was that if you’re running e.g. Linux, you’re a victim of daemonic possession. Way more sexy-sounding than “system utilities”, no?

  24. ewmayer

    Gilead, Novartis cancer therapies losing patients to experimental treatments – Reuters

    A.k.a. Big Pharma Price-Gouging Chronicles, Vol 539443. I always love the inane app-generated names of said priced-to-the-moon drugs, though, they sound like characters in some tawdry reality show: “So 3rd night on Hookup Island™ me and Yescarta got together and it was great, don’t get me wrong, but turns out she’s the clingy type, so a couple days later this freedom-valuing bachelor had to give her her walking papers, I was really nice about it too but she still cried a lot … anyway later that very evening I ran into Kymriah coming out of the gym, you know, the kinda top-heavy chick with the $1000 three-inch-long claws, the one I was kinda making fun of at the start … anyway, turns out she’s actually a really down-to-earth girl, so me and her are now officially an item…”

  25. Bugs Bunny

    Ya know, I think racial blood boy Buttigeig is alright, if someone (cough, Sanders or Warren) is looking for VP material that can reassure the “moderates”.

    If this rabbit, meaning me – an expat voter living in a rather nice hole – identified as black, he’d probably not be voting in this election.

    Which is a distinct possibility.

    1. edmondo

      If either of them chose Booty-Judge as VP, either would be impeached within a month. Booty-Judge is a DNC wet dream that would make regicide acceptable.

      Bottom Line: Nancy Pelosi would lose all inhibitions about impeachment if it gets the Booty into the Oval Office.

    1. VietnamVet

      It is counter-intuitive that Mike Pompeo and John Bolton are competent enough to duplicate Victoria Nuland and Joe Biden and start a color revolt within China as the USA did on Russia’s border. It’s been over half a century since I was last in Hong Kong and saw Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson in the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel. What the USA intelligence community does have is money. The FED computers create it. The Five-Eyes Spooks are masters at stoking ethnic conflicts. Chinese are Chinese. Even more chauvinistic than exceptional Americans. My aged guess is that this is young English as a second language HK globalists verses communist Mandarins. Whatever it is, the continual hitting of hornet’s nests for profit is exceedingly dangerous.

    2. Yves Smith

      It is crazypants and it makes me worried about linking to MoA again, when it has been so sound on the Middle East.

      #s way way too large. This is clearly organic. May someone in State is trying to take credit to get his budget increased, but it’s as plausible as that $100K of FB ads (1/4 of which were seen by no one!) by that St. Petersburg troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, having gotten Trump elected.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t think we’re that competent, either to start it, or not to f*ck it up now that it’s rolling. We can’t even foment a coup in our own backyard, in Venezuela. If you look at all the insanely creative detail of what the protesters are doing, plus the sheer scale of it, there’s just no way it’s not organic. None of this is coming from any playbook I’ve ever seen (or inferred). It’s leagues ahead of anything done at Maidan (color revolution) or even Occupy (organic).

      * * *

      I don’t think one can reverse engineer the presence of a color revolution from a media critique, which is MoA’s method here. I hardly ever read the Times, so I wasn’t aware of what they were writing, but I see it as opportunistic shit-stirring in parallel, not as, well, part of a plot. And quoting Jack Ma’s South China Morning Post as a counter-weight? Really? They’re players too. I also fundamentally disagree with his model for the entire situation: “The U.S. and the NYT lost their second attempt to turn Hong Kong against mainland China.” A substantial portion of the HK public wants Hong Kong to be Hong Kong, and not just another city on the mainland. There are distinctions in language (Cantonese), society (British legal structure), culture (sense of crowding from mainlanders), and what I suppose we may call “freedom” (no social credit system). All of this is organic and not the result of U.S. machinations. Now, “substantial portion” is a fudge, and what we are seeing is a test of strength to see how substantial public support for the protesters is. From the insanely large numbers of marchers, and the (so far) gilets juanes-level of persistence, we can say that the support is substantial indeed.

      Now, I would be the first to say that I see a tragic outcome. I don’t see what the endgame for the protesters is*, if Lam remains in place, and the extradition law is still ready to be tabled. I don’t think the mainland wants to send the tanks across that new causeway they so cleverly built, or any of the old ones, for that matter, and that would mean they think a combination of police work and lack of real, strategic options for the protesters will do the trick. After that, the slow and steady pressure of the mainland on HK will continue. Speculating even more freely, I would think the HK 1% would step in when things get really “bad for business,” and broker some sort of deal. Or maybe they’ll just wait it out. And after that rapidly adopt as much as possible of the mainland surveillance systems as they need to. Apparently, facial recognition is already in play, but I’m not sure the entire system is.

      NOTE * Last I saw, the protesters were blocking public transit. That’s dumb (and could be a sign of desperation). Working people need to go to work. Why not surround the army camp, since that’s the real source of the difficulty?

      1. Expat2uruguay

        Lambert, I’m reading this comments section late, so that’s how I already know that tomorrow you will suggest a tipping strategy when we especially appreciate your link selection. But it’s funny, in this comment you’re really like a bartender, creating and maintaining a sense of community with a visible motivation of kindness. (LOL, the bartender comparison is especially funny when you think that you’re the person who serves what we’re all drinking here!) Also, in many of the comments above you bring knowledge and thoughtful commentary to the conversation.
        While I agree that you have fantastic links that deserve a tip, I don’t think you should under sell yourself on your skills as a moderator and participant in the commentariat. Big Love and thanks for the fear/greed index!

  26. JBird4049

    “These Are the Wealthiest Towns in the U.S.” [Bloomberg]. Handy map:

    Looking at the map somehow makes me think of an American reverse Gulag Archipelago with the gulags being the white zones and not the little green spots. That is somewhat disturbing to me.

    Also, that handy little map shows the Bay Area wealth zone ending around the city of Santa Rosa, which is about right, but you would still have to drive roughly an hour to find what “affordable” housing that is available. So 2 1/2 hours of driving one way from that well paying gig in San Francisco to home in some tiny town north of Paradise.

    Unless of course there is an accident on the only highway between them, not counting the coastal highway that is actually a glorified goat track or the long, long way looping around to the highway to Sacramento, or some other goat tracks in the small mountains/big hills crossing somewhere between them. Then half a day maybe. One way.

    What a truly f—- up mess we’re in.

  27. thoughtful person

    “The Latest: Drug industry warns importing meds risky” [Associated Press].”

    Just had to, belatedly as usual, mention this. 2 things. First pharma is itself importing many of the ingredients in the brand name drugs you may buy. Why not buy imports yourself and save 90%? Second, buying from “Canada” in this case means buying globally. I recently bought from Canada and the drugs were from Turkey. My daughter got drugs from India. No Canada is not about to run out of drugs due to Americans buying online from companies with offices in Toronto!!! Noce try pharma lobbyists….

  28. The Rev Kev

    Unintentionally hilarious. Trump is trying to put together a naval fleet to patrol the Gulf and the ships that transit it. The problem for US allies is that not only does the US insist that it would be in charge of such a squadron but, as a US admiral admitted today in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, about 80 to 90 per cent of the work of this squadron would be done by the allies and partners and the rest by the US. The Germans have already said “Nope”!” to no-ones surprise-


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