2:00PM Water Cooler 7/8/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


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

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

“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (average of five polls). As of July 5: Biden down at 26% (31.5%), Sanders down at 15.2% (14.7%), Warren up at 13.8% (13.5%), Buttigieg flat at 5.2% (5.3%), Harris jumps at 7.8% (7.8%), others Brownian motion. Of course, it’s absurd to track minute fluctuations at this point. Looking at the shapes of the curves on the graph, I’d guess that Harris took a big chunk out of Biden’s support, and Warren a smaller chunk out of Sanders. Assuming the numbers aren’t gamed; I’ve started taking a record of the polls used by RCP, because I’m not sure they’re stable.

* * *


Biden (D)(1): “Biden: Russian Election Interference Would Not Have Happened ‘On My Watch And Barack’s Watch'” [RealClearPolitics]. “Look at what’s happened with Putin. While he — while Putin is trying to undo our elections, he is undoing elections in — in Europe. Look what’s happened in Hungary. Look what’s happened in Poland. Look what’s happened in — look what’s happening. You think that would have happened on my watch or Barack’s watch? You can’t answer that, but I promise you it wouldn’t have, and it didn’t.” • “Barack.”

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Friendly Police Fantasy” [The American Conservative (re Silc)]. “In June’s Democratic presidential candidate debate, South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg said he is ‘determined to bring about a day when’ any driver, white or black, has a ‘a feeling not of fear but of safety’ when a police officer approaches them…. The best way to encourage citizens to have ‘a feeling not of fear but of safety’ is to repeal legions of laws empowering police to unjustifiably accost and wrongfully subjugate peaceful citizens.”

Gravel (D)(1): Dunno about this:

Harris (D)(1): “Kamala Harris Says She Was a Progressive Prosecutor. Her Record Tells Another Story” [Democracy Now]. “when you go down the list of the issues that we think about when we think about a progressive prosecutor, on every single one of those issues she was on the wrong side. And in some cases, her opponents ran to her left. So, for example, with marijuana legalization, in her run for re-election as attorney general, her opponent ran to legalize, she was against it. She’s since changed her position, now that the vast majority of the Democratic Party has moved in that direction. There are other examples, as well: her failure to support legislation that would reduce certain felonies to misdemeanors, going after parents criminally for having truant children. So, there’s a lengthy list of policy positions where there was the progressive path and there was the center-right path, and she did not take the progressive path.” • Harris’s record on wrongful convictions is also… not good.

O’Rourke (D)(1): “Rich father-in-law has helped, complicated O’Rourke’s career” [Associated Press]. “O’Rourke’s campaign says [illustrious real estate investor William Sanders] plays no role — either formal or otherwise — in their candidate’s 2020 bid. Still, O’Rourke, known as a down-to-earth champion of little-guy values, might never have made it on the national stage without the help of an intensely private tycoon who embodies the kind of figure top Democrats now rail against…. The two are both advocates for virtually open U.S. southern borders. While O’Rourke argues it’s a cultural and humanitarian imperative, though, Sanders approaches the issue more as an economic opportunity.”

Sanders (D)(1): “27,110 Steps With Bernie Sanders In Iowa” [Iowa Starting Line]. “Who are you calling old? Bernie Sanders showed off both his organizational strength and personal stamina during a marathon of parades over the 4th of July holiday in Iowa. While nine other candidates criss-crossed the state this week, the 77-year-old Sanders certainly had them beat on distance traveled – by foot, that is. Sanders spent three days in Iowa this week, hosting an immigration roundtable discussion, opening three new campaign offices and walking in five parades – four of them on the 4th of July alone. The immigration roundtable saw a max-capacity crowd, and Sanders’ crew at each of the parades grew ever larger. During the parades, many of the local party organizations had one group for their Democrats coalition, but Sanders and his group walked separately. Some people with the local parties criticized the move, while others said it was the respectful thing to do with the Sanders groups being so large.” • Hmm.

Sanders (D)(2): “Where is Bernie’s climate plan?” [Grist]. “Climate activists aren’t questioning Sanders’ commitment, but some have begun to question whether he is leading on the issue in the 2020 race.”

Trump (R)(1): “The Daily 202: ‘Do not write him off.’ Five savvy observations about Trump from the British ambassador’s cables.” [WaPo]. “But, perhaps presciently, [Sir Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the United States whose diplomatic cables leaked to a London tabloid this weekend,] told the British national security adviser that he ‘wouldn’t bet’ on the president’s downfall. ‘Trump has been mired in scandal pretty much all his life and has come through it. He seems indestructible,’ Darroch wrote. Last month, a senior British diplomat flew to Orlando to watch Trump formally kick off his reelection campaign. Based on that, Darroch explained to London that ‘there is still a credible path for Trump – but so much rides on who the Democrats choose in July 2020.'” • Yes, Trump has form.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics today.

“Facebook Doesn’t Know If You’re Psychotic” [Bloomberg]. “That reality is reassuring for our privacy, if disappointing for those wanting Facebook to deliver deep new insights into why people get sick. Even with some advanced big data techniques that scanned 20 million words, researchers didn’t do much better than they would have using demographic data and guesswork. Also, remember: The less you share, the less they can figure out.” • Remarkable to see that last sentence in a business publication (“they”).

“Electric scooters: not so eco-friendly after all?” [Agence France Presse]. “‘As of today, it is impossible to say whether e-scooters are good or bad for the environment because we lack long-term statistics on life cycles,’ said Denis Benita, a transportation engineer at Ademe.” • Certainly not if people throw them up in trees!

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Earthquakes. “Southern California is hit by the strongest quake in 25 years” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

The Biosphere

“Gas fears from mass of dead mangroves more than just hot air” [Brisbane Times]. “A huge area of mangrove forest on the Gulf of Carpentaria coast experienced a die-off in late 2015 and early 2016, affecting about 1000 kilometres of coastline…. [Southern Cross University researcher Luke Jeffrey] found an unexpected result: ‘The dead trees were emitting about eight times the rate as the living ones,’ Mr Jeffery said. ‘You picture all these dead trees sitting in this sediment, the methane was travelling from the sediment up the dead trunks and being released.'”

“Scientists find carbon from thawing permafrost is released into the atmosphere at higher rates than previously thought” [Phys.org]. “New research from Northern Arizona University shows even more carbon is being released from thawed permafrost than climate scientists previously thought…. ‘This study was novel because we used new methods to directly track the soil carbon losses, and they were much higher than we previously thought,’ Schuur said. ‘This suggests that not only is carbon being lost through greenhouse gases directly to the atmosphere but also dissolved in waters that flow through the soil and likely carried carbon into streams, leaves and rivers.'”

“Analysis: Major update to ocean-heat record could shrink 1.5C carbon budget” [Carbon Brief]. “The UK’s Met Office recently released “HadSST4″, the largest update since 2011 to its widely used sea surface temperature (SST) record…. The corrections introduced in HadSST4 bump up ocean temperatures by around 0.1C during the past few decades.” • Fascinating discussion of the various methods used to take readings: Wooden buckets, canvas buckets, engine room intakes… Regardless, the trends are clear.

“The California coast is disappearing under the rising sea. Our choices are grim” [Los Angeles Times]. “In the last 100 years, the sea rose less than 9 inches in California. By the end of this century, the surge could be greater than 9 feet…. Should California become one long wall of concrete against the ocean? Will there still be sandy beaches or surf breaks to cherish in the future, oceanfront homes left to dream about? More than $150 billion in property could be at risk of flooding by 2100 — the economic damage far more devastating than the state’s worst earthquakes and wildfires. Salt marshes, home to shorebirds and endangered species, face extinction. In Southern California alone, two-thirds of beaches could vanish.”

“Welfare of Fish—No Longer the Elephant in the Room” [Fishes]. “The concept of fish welfare is fairly recent and was overlooked for many years, based on a popular misconception that fish were ‘stupid’ creatures devoid of any kind of sentience or mental capability. However, a growing body of research on fish behaviour, cognition, learning and neuroscience made clear that this is evidently not the case—fish are indeed socially complex, have developed cognitive and learning abilities with the neural substrate to support them and are sentient… These two studies emphasize a correlation that should be clear for the fish industry: when the welfare of animals is improved, both the quality of the product and its value increase—a rare case when the interest of the industry and the ethical standards underlying its activity walk hand in hand.” • Hmm. “Product quality.”

“Black Resistance in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley” [Boston Review]. “My friends, Janice Dickerson and Vivian Chiphe, were up against Axiall Chemical, one of the largest vinyl manufacturing facilities in North America. The company was seeking to expand its plant onto the grounds of Revilletown Cemetery, where Dickerson’s and Chiphe’s forebears, some of whom had worked the land beneath the plant as slaves, were buried…. Why does a tiny cemetery plot matter to Axiall? The company is worth billions; it is a Leviathan in no danger of shuttering if it cannot own a half-acre parcel of grass and bones. And yet here we were, three years into the legal battle and staring down a team of six corporate lawyers fighting for a company that wanted to own Revilletown’s dead—the most recent of whom it may have had a hand in killing with its years of pollution. Why?” • A cemetary!

Our Famously Free Press

“The death of the political cartoon” [Al Jazeera]. “According to Terry Anderson, Deputy Executive Director of Cartoonists Rights Network International, which monitors threats and abuses against cartoonists, since 1999 over a hundred cartoonists have been victims of ‘murder, assault, kidnapping, physical intimidation, imprisonment, arrest, travel bans, police harassment, politically motivated lawsuits, freezing or seizure of assets, vandalism, cyber attack, online harassment, blacklisting and bullying.'”

Health Care

“How to Straighten Out the Medicare Maze” [New York Times]. “As parents of a child with a disability caused by a rare genetic syndrome, we’ve wasted hundreds of hours sorting out enrollment choices, completing unending forms and engaging in maddeningly repetitious conversations, all to ensure that our daughter receives the care she needs and that we don’t get stuck with financially devastating bills. While many other Americans continue to struggle with these problems, ours have mostly disappeared because we are spending the year in Britain. In its National Health Service, we found a system that did not demand an expertise in navigating bureaucracies. After 10 minutes filling out a few simple forms, we enrolled our daughter. Within two days she had an appointment and a filled prescription for medication, which was free. We had anticipated the financial relief that can come from a single-payer system, but not the administrative relief. It had never occurred to us that it could be so different.” • Yes, #MedicareForAll should make the “tax on time” that private health insurers demand part of their case. And you pay the tax when you’re sick!

Loss aversion:

“A Tennessee Hospital Sues Its Own Employees When They Can’t Pay Their Medical Bills” [National Public Radio]. “But what is striking at Methodist, the largest hospital system in the Memphis region, is how many of the patients being sued are the hospital’s own employees. Hardly a week goes by in which Methodist workers aren’t on the court docket fighting debt lawsuits filed by their employer. Between January and mid-June, a reporter observed more than a dozen Methodist employees in court to defend themselves in suits brought by the hospital over hospital bills.” • The circle of life…

July 4

First time as farce:

Second time as farce:

Class Warfare

“Progressive Boomers Are Making It Impossible For Cities To Fix The Housing Crisis” [HuffPo]. The headline leaves out the “wealthy enclave” part. More: “Rowdy public hearings are nothing new in city politics, of course. But campaigners and elected officials told HuffPost that the nature of local opposition has changed in recent years. Where protest movements and civil disobedience were once primarily the tools of the marginalized, they have now become a weapon of privilege — a way for older, wealthier, mostly white homeowners to drown out and intimidate anyone who challenges their hegemony. ‘Most of the abuse I got came from older suburban or retired folks, and always from people who considered themselves progressive,’ said Rob Johnson, a Seattle City Council member who retired in April after three years in office. During his tenure, he supported proposals to increase housing density, expand public transit and establish safe use sites for drug addicts. Despite representing a constituency with bright-blue voting records on immigration, reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality, Johnson’s progressive positions on local issues provoked a large and organized backlash. In 2017, after supporting a plan to install bike lanes on a major thoroughfare, Johnson received a death threat on social media. Opponents posted his home address on Nextdoor. Eventually, he stopped visiting local businesses and even skipped events at his children’s school to avoid the increasingly frequent confrontations with other parents.” • I’m really coming to hate that “blue” branding. Most of the issues that come under that heading are non-profit industrial complex-driven, and NGOs aren’t the same as the Party (or are they?).

“Gee Whiz! Communism is sure gonna be keen!” [Monthly Review]. A review of Aaron Bastani’s Fully Automated Luxury Communism. Love the title, but: “Bastani repeats the oft-told story of the ‘Horse Manure Crisis’ that ‘struck fear into the hearts of Londoners’ in 1894. There were so many horses in the city that, The Times calculated, ‘In fifty years, every street in London will be buried under nine feet of manure.” An urban studies conference held four years later found the problem insoluble—but of course it disappeared when automobiles replaced horses a few years later…. [T]he Horse Manure Crisis is a myth. The article he confidently quotes was never published in The Times or anywhere else, and that urban studies conference didn’t happen. The Times itself says the story is ‘fake news.’ A simple internet search would have shown him that the anecdote and his conclusion are, well, horse manure.” • The nice thing about bullshit is that there are no physical constraints on it. It doesn’t pile up, unlike manure.

News of the Wired

“Map Of Other History Podcasts” [Timur]. “Other,” because Timur is itself a history podcast, on Tamerlane. The map isn’t clickable, but the list is intriguing.

“Australian message sticks: Old questions, new directions” [Journal of Material Culture]. From the abstract: “Message sticks are tools of graphic communication, once used across the Australian continent. While their styles vary, a typical message stick is a flattened or cylindrical length of wood with motifs engraved on all sides. Carried by special messengers over long distances, their motifs were intended to complement a verbally produced communication such as an invitation, a declaration of war, or news of a death.”

There’s a lot of this going around (DK):

“How to speak Silicon Valley: 53 essential tech-bro terms explained” [Guardian]. This is a really great glossary. For example: “disrupt (v) – To create a new market, either by inventing something completely new (ie the personal computer, the smartphone) or by ignoring the rules of an old market. If the latter, often illegal, but rarely prosecuted. Uber disrupted the taxi industry by flooding the market with illegal cabs, while Airbnb disrupted the hotel market by flooding the market with illegal sublets. See sharing economy.” • They’re not wrong, are they?

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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 (IM):

IM writes: “There is a line in Marvell: ‘Annihilating all that’s made / to a green thought in a green shade.’ The season of green shade is upon us again. From Jericho Beach, Vancouver.”

* * *

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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. Baby Gerald

    ‘“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (average of five polls). As of July 5: Biden down at 26% (31.5%), Sanders down at 15.2% (14.7%), Warren up at 13.8% (13.5%), Buttigieg flat at 5.2% (5.3%), Harris jumps at 7.8% (7.8%), others Brownian motion.’

    Don’t buy into the MSM brainwashing, Lambert. Only in MSMLand can 15.2 be less than 14.7.

    1. Qrys

      That’s not the correct data – the chart shows Harris is up at 15.2% overtaking Sanders (14.0%) and Warren (13.8%) — but Warren is still inching upward on a longer trend — the old white men are both polling down in recent trending.

        1. Grant

          In his case, it is possible that he can get people that normally do not vote to vote for him, and I dont know what to say about the polls given the problems many have identied with them. But, he also has to run in a deeply corrupt and reactionary party that turned its back on poor people, working people and communities of color decades ago, and a party that is corrupt and internally authoritarian. A party that in large numbers supports people like Biden, mayor Pete and increases support for Harris based on a scripted confrontation and her performance in the theater that was the debates. When it comes to Democratic voters, do they often prove that they support the policies they say they do with who they support? Nationally, never, and they are often easy to mislead. Look at how easy the Russia, Russia, Russia stuff was to sell to the Democrats. I don’t see that party being reformed, the rot is too deep and a big problem is the economically well off base of theirs. What a wreck this political system is.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I think the only possible way for Sanders to win is to bring in non-voters (and AFAIK, the Sanders campaign agrees; I posted a video on this from Sanders awhile back). They won’t show up in the polls. This is also a high risk strategy, since we won’t know the payoff until election day, and non-voters are hard to get to the polls. Yes, Sanders has organizers to do that, but I’m not sure that’s the same or as effective as the time-honored precinct captain method. We shall see!

          Also, propaganda works; the usual suspects are about as biased against Sanders as its possible to be. The headline that Biden is leading, Harris and Warren are tied for third, while erasing Sanders at second, is a classic, and this is pervasive.

  2. Eureka Springs

    Biden: Russian Election Interference Would Not Have Happened ‘On My Watch And Barack’s Watch’”

    Uh, if it happened, it happened on your watch.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Obama’s said things like this, too.

      It’s like they forgot they were in positions with real power and authority. It reminds me of Stoller’s oft-repeated talking point about how dems don’t want to wield power. They just want to strut around and virtue signal.

      1. John

        But it didn’t happen; if it had, it still did not swing the election to Trump and if it did, what possible difference does it make now, three years later.

        Biden is a very yesterday kind of guy and I can say that because I am in my 80s and that gives me license to say what I want to young whippersnappers. I am so tired of millionaire corporate democrats who massage their donors and ignore the people until the people morph into POTENTIAL VOTERS. Then and only then do they pay any attention and make any effort to manipulate us.

        I have seen nothing yet from the front runners. ( I remember when it was poor form to even announce a run for president until January 1 of election year.) Tulsi is hugging the rail well off the lead waiting until the speedsters wear themselves out. She will make her move in the backstretch and push Bernie across the line.
        Sanders-Gabbard 2020

    2. DonCoyote

      It not only happened on your watch, but you and Barack did it (“Creepy Uncle Joe and his buddy Barack”)

      Overthrow Of Yanukovych Was ‘The Most Blatant Coup In History’.

      Perhaps he is saying this because of the videos that were uploaded to the Web which showed it to be so, but this statement by him contradicts the description that is asserted by the U.S. White House and the European Union, and the Western press, which description is that Yanukovych’s overthrow was instead just the result of the U.S. Government’s $5+ billion expense since 1991 to establish ‘democracy’ in Ukraine.

      So the US/West admits to election meddling (“establish democracy”), as opposed to regime change (“the most blatant coup in history”). In 2014. And spending >50,000 times as much as the 2016 IRA Facebook ads.

    3. Eduardo


      Just like George W Bush protected us from terrorist attacks on his watch.

      1. thoughtful person

        Yup! W was such a great president!!! One on of the bestest. He was so much better than Trump! And a great artist too, it turns out.

        Yeah looking back we all now realize how great W was!

    4. Henry Moon Pie

      It’s a lot like the constant refrain of “he kept us safe” referencing the President who was in charge on 9/11/2001 except that there really was an attack on 9/11.

  3. JohnnyGL

    Assuming the numbers aren’t gamed; I’ve started taking a record of the polls used by RCP, because I’m not sure they’re stable.

    They’re not. If polls come in during the time period they’ve already graphed, then they backdate the change. Makes sense when there’s a gap between when the data is gathered vs when the info is published.

    I found this was throwing me off, then I realized what they were doing.

  4. Cal2

    “Kamala Harris Says She Was a Progressive Prosecutor”

    If she gets anywhere near a ticket, conservatives will pounce on her extraordinary weak record of prosecuting crime in SF, let alone as attorney general.

    “Progressive” means movement in a direction, up, down, forward, backwards. In her case,
    she needed a seeing eye dog to not notice her fellow city official and political ally being a gun runner:


    In spite of allowing multiple felony “undocumented ” gang members to be sheltered from deportation, before they went on to slaughter the Bologna family, in a case of “mistaken identity”…
    she failed to notice a little bookkeeping error:

    “San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris said Monday that she is trying “to get to the bottom” of how her office obtained millions of dollars from a grant program for prosecution of border crimes that federal auditors have concluded the city had no right to receive.”

    “Federal officials said last week that San Francisco had received $5.4 million since 2004 in grant money intended to reimburse local jurisdictions for prosecuting crimes on behalf of federal authorities. In 2006, the $3.7 million that San Francisco received from the Southwest Border Prosecution Initiative was the most of any county in four states that border Mexico, and it was far more than the total of grants awarded to other Bay Area counties, the audit by the U.S. Justice Department’s inspector general said.

    “The audit concluded that none of the money that went to San Francisco was justified because Harris’ office prosecuted no cases that fit the program’s criteria. The federal government is demanding that the city return all the money it received.”


    1. Synoia

      She was progressive.

      Her cases progressed from arrest to indictment to conviction.

      She will sleep on it….

      “Federal officials said last week that San Francisco had received $5.4 million since 2004 in grant money intended to reimburse local jurisdictions for prosecuting crimes on behalf of federal authorities.

    1. Dan

      Ban foreign ownership of property in the U.S. and you have solved the homelessness problem, lowered rents and made home ownership more affordable.

      100,000 homes sit empty in San Francisco Bay Area


      San Jose for example; imagine what banning foreign ownership of property and controlling immigration would do to rents:


      Born in California

      Native Born

      Foreign Born

      Non Citizen

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Where do corporate owned homes go in there?

        In the ‘Non Citiznen’ category?

        And renting out bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, dining rooms, etc (daily/short term/etc) also increases demand for housing, becuase those owners can afford the higher asking housing prices.

    2. Geo

      “Supply and demand” once again shown as a myth in our investor class rigged economy.

    3. tangfwa

      Thank you! Until I saw your post, I was too intimidated to add this link to the comments. The housing/ homelessness crisis is largely due to too much development rather than not enough. Also, the YIMBYs are the more powerful group, consisting of Chambers of Commerce, builders, and speculators. Now they’ve weaponized propaganda around “white” NIMBYs. Famous NIMBYs? NoDAPL. I don’t know if “foreign ownership” is the crux of the matter, because “domestic” perpetrators are plenty dangerous on their own. Please read this, thank you!

    4. ChrisPacific

      This is an outrage! The government needs to offer a default protection service in order to incentivize financial companies to offer loans to the homeless, so that they can afford to rent a home. The assumption of all downside risk by the taxpayer should allow financial companies to offer a relatively modest interest rate for this – say high single figures. The loans could then be bundled, tranched and securitized, offering a lift to markets and ensuring a healthy rate of GDP growth, which (as everyone knows) is the sign of a healthy economy! Financial services executives can then be offered fat bonuses in thanks for doing their part to solve the housing problem.

  5. Pat

    Another take on the Russia interference on elections not happening on Barack/Biden watch.

    Of course, it doesn’t happen on your watch – you didn’t lose an impossible to lose election and rather than admit your incompetence blame essentially fake Russian interference. And in the process of doubling down on said interference, claim it was significant in other elections whose outcome you didn’t really like. IOW, it is easy to say it won’t happen, because it didn’t really happen and isn’t really happening and would never have become a thing when the ‘right’ people win.

    (And I’m one of those crazy people who says any major government who isn’t trying to influence our electorate is not doing their job. Advertising, reproducing social memes, and encouraging our voters to avoid electing politicians intent on attacking their countries is probably a good idea.)

    1. aj

      Remind me again who the sitting president and vice president were during the elections in which the “Russian interference” too place.

      1. Geo

        The same ones who got Merrick Garland appointed to the Supreme Court and solved the Flint water crisis.

        Oh, right, they were too busy traveling the country trying to sell us in the TPP to bother with those things.

      2. Pat

        The supposed interference for 2016 was during the Obama administration, the supposed interference in the other countries mentioned would have been during Trump’s administration. Unfortunately telling the truth that it didn’t happen on their watch makes them look like idiots because they also support the meme that it did and was so influential the incompetent Mrs. Clinton lost despite spending millions more on the same platform that supposedly did her in.

      3. richard

        the site name: Real Clear Politics
        the content: Joe Biden explaining how he and b had everything covered
        the discongruence: plenty

        btw, does anyone else think that biden’s constant use of the first name when referring to a former president he worked with is sub or semi-consciously disrespectful? It’s really pretty out of order (or seems so by my recollections) and i wonder if trump hadn’t already dynamited so many norms, people would have noticed and perhaps commented unfavorably. Especially coming from a guy who projects condescending entitlement anyway, pretty much non-stop.
        I know that he is consciously using the first name to suggest shared purpose in terms of intimacy, which is creepy enough.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > consciously using the first name to suggest shared purpose in terms of intimacy, which is creepy enough.

          That’s how I read it, though you also hear “Barack” from more irrendentist Democrat types.

    2. Geo

      How dare the countries we sanction into poverty and strong arm into subservience try to influence our politics!

  6. Big River Bandido

    So I go away for a family wedding over the Independence Day holiday, and learn from NC what the New York Board of Elections has been up to. It’s almost as if they were hoping people wouldn’t notice. This general timeline of the special primary election held in Queens on June 25 for district attorney is one of less-biased that I have seen. Most of the coverage from the New York dead-tree papers are trash. (The NYT describes Shaun King with the “activist” epithet. Even the paper King writes for spouts the party line.) But in a nutshell:

    On Election Night, Tiffany Caban (endorsed by Sanders, AOC, Warren, and Larry Krasner) defeated the establishment candidate (Queens “Beep” Melinda Katz, a tool of developers and the FIRE sector and, natch, Andrew Cuomo) by 1100 votes.

    There were still 6000 paper ballots to be counted, meaning that in order to change the outcome Katz would needed to have won around 4100 votes (68%) in order to flip the result. Lo and behold, the Board of Elections threw out 3000 ballots…flipping the total and leaving the establishment candidate eeking out a 16-vote victory. In order for that to have actually happened, Katz needed to win only 2600 actual votes instead of 4100. But that means her percentage of the remaining vote rose; in order to win she now had to have won 87% of the non-disallowed votes — an astonishing margin that simply defies mathematical logic and any credible political probability.

    The “recount” starts today, for all the good it does. (In 2016 the Board of Elections, you may recall, purged 200,000 voters from the rolls, in Brooklyn alone. Remarkably, a yuge number of them were Bernie Sanders supporters. Funny how that happens.)

    It probably won’t make much difference since a Republican hasn’t won this office in decades. But if Katz is declared the winner, I think I’ll vote Republican in the fall. I’ve had it with the family-blogging Democrats, and I don’t see a way around their electoral rigging save for a massive popular uprising which seems unlikely to come in time.

    1. Wombat

      Thanks for sharing. It’s also as if they dont expect anyone to be able to run a statistical test: if the candidates were 50-50, the odds of pulling 2,198 out of 3,000 votes in a “representative sample” (assuming the BoE didnt just toss the Caban votes), is infinitesemally small~ as in statistically impossible. What a Joke!

  7. clarky90

    Re; ““The California coast is disappearing under the rising sea….”

    Here is a credible contrarian response….

    Shameless Sea Level Lies At The LA Times

    “The LA Times says California sea level is surging, as much as nine feet by the end of the century.
    There is no indication this is happening, Sea Level rise rates in California peaked over 40 years ago, and have always been very low. Sea level is actually falling in Northern California.”

    Who is Tony Heller (the author of this YouTube)?


  8. Wukchumni

    Sanders (D)(1): “27,110 Steps With Bernie Sanders In Iowa” [Iowa Starting Line].
    Wow, over a 13 mile walk…

    Beat me by 4 miles yesterday, but we didn’t have to do any glad handing on our walk to the Mosquito Lakes (too early for their winged namesake to be there in force, but expect V-pack formations in the not too distant future…) and people were scarce, the last 6 miles we didn’t see a soul, and when we got down to my car burrito (anti-Marmot prep) below in the Disney parking lot (the Disney Corp owns almost 30 acres in Mineral King that they bought through 3rd & 4th party buyers in the early 60’s, including the aforementioned lot-no acres of which can be developed, and said parking lot is easily the worst kept Disney anything-not that too many visitors to MK know the history & ownership, in that it’s an ugly mixture of broken asphalt, scattered gravel and protruding rocks) the Marmot Cong weren’t fruitful in their quest to disable my ride, although I could swear by their chirping whistles that they were sharing my license plate number amongst themselves, as per my deciphering efforts.

    It’d be great to have a President that can walk the walk…

    A view from Mosquito #2, looking up towards Hengst Peak


    1. Cal2

      Meanwhile, Kamala Harris is crowing about the fact that her speech in a hall for 150 had 300 people?
      At least 20 of them her staff.
      Sioux City population is 83,000.
      That’s hardly an enthusiastic turnout for a presidential candidate.

  9. Wukchumni

    Sherman, revisiting Atlanta.

    SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. July 8, 2019 – Following a successful test burn this morning and a determination by the burn boss and fire management staff, ignitions have begun on the Sherman Prescribed Burn in Sequoia National Park. Three to five days of ignitions are planned to complete this critical fuels treatment.

    The Sherman Prescribed Burn is located in the Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park approximately one half mile northeast of the Giant Forest Museum. The purpose of this 245-acre prescribed burn is to promote sequoia tree reproduction and reduce hazardous fuel loading around one of the parks’ most visited areas.

    “We are excited for this project to be occurring in an area where the public can safely view a prescribed burn being executed,” says Burn Boss Andrew Cremers. “When a prescribed burn is conducted in a highly visited area such as the Giant Forest, it provides us with a great visual tool to share with the public why hazardous fuels reduction for the protection of park infrastructure and our natural assets is so important.”

    1. dearieme

      Burn Boss Andrew Cremers: you’d better get it right, sonny boy, or it’ll be the cremertorium for you.

  10. Wukchumni

    I’m sorry to hear that MAD magazine will no longer be published, I hope there’s a way to fold the last page online.


  11. Fern

    I think there’s a typo: Real Clear Politics actually has Harris at 15.2% and Sanders at 14%. But of course, many of these polls were taken before Harris started taking the same position on busing that Biden had taken.

    And after the debate, Harris said that she did not support federally mandated busing — that she felt the decision should be local — which was Biden’s position.


    Another significant issue is that, during the debate, Harris touted that she had instituted police body cams. But in fact, the Sac Bee reported that she opposed statewide mandates for body cameras, saying that the decision should be local. This is exactly Biden’s stance on busing that was the object of her attack on him. But the difference is that polling shows that police body cameras are far more popular with black voters than busing ever was.


    The mainstream media gave these incidences of extreme hypocrisy far too little coverage. If people ever realize how hypocritical her attack on Biden was, I suspect she will drift down in the polls. That’s a big if, of course, given the bias of the media coverage.

    Also of note. I went back over the transcripts and the videos. Regarding Harris’ rehearsed, canned put-down about food fights: There had been a lot of cross-talk with people trying to get the floor when Harris raised her voice and the candidates ceded the floor to her. Later in the course of the debate, there was a lot of cross talk, and Harris demanded to be heard although it was not her turn. She kept talking over everyone and over the moderator. Finally Rachel Maddow gave up and gave her 30 seconds. She went over her time and talked for 90 seconds. That’s when she launched into her attack on Biden. She was the main food fighter of the evening. I didn’t see any of the pundits mentioning this.

    1. ambrit

      On busing; didn’t anyone there mention that the busing was Federally mandated because the local policies amounted to segregation? How far have we fallen when a national candidate for President advocates for “States Rights Lite?” and a Democrat at that. Call them what they are: Neo-Dixiecrats.

      1. Cal2

        Berkeley’s busing was chosen by the local school board, not the federal government.
        Berkley schools were already mostly integrated. They wanted to get staff’s children to a school closer to the University of California campus so that the workers could pick their kids up after work.

        Harris’ parents were two PhDs, a cancer researcher and a University professor, in other words, she was richer than 95% of Americans, hardly a poor little black girl.
        Besides, she only had one grandmother on her father’s side who was partially black.
        The four grandparents on her mother’s side were east Indian and on her father’s, 3 were white Jamaican Scottish descent elite slave owners.
        In her own father’s words:
        “My roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (née Christiana Brown, descendant of Hamilton Brown who is on record as plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown’s Town) and to my maternal grandmother Miss Iris (née Iris Finegan, farmer and educator, from Aenon Town and Inverness). The Harris name comes from my paternal grandfather Joseph Alexander Harris, land-owner and agricultural ‘produce’ exporter (mostly pimento or all-spice), who died in 1939 one year after I was born and is buried in the church yard of the magnificent Anglican Church which Hamilton Brown built in Brown’s Town.”


    2. edmondo

      I don’t think that you are being cynical enough. You act as if Harris’ attack on Biden had something to do with policy. It had a lot more to do with the South Carolina primary. Any African-American politician who can’t carry the black vote in South Carolina is toast. She did what she had to do. She attacked Uncle Joe’s black support and her numbers rose. I am too lazy to look it up but I am willing to bet the ranch that the 6% points she drained off Biden were almost all women and minorities. Even better it was a shot across the bow of the SS Jim Clyburn that the nomination contest wasn’t over and he shouldn’t endorse Biden (who would be his natural mis-leadership class choice).

      Personally don’t like Kamala Harris that much but any stick will do to send Joe Biden back to his million dollar house in Dewey Beach.

  12. False Solace

    Re: AP story about O’Rourke

    “The two [Sanders and O’Rourke] are both advocates for virtually open U.S. southern borders”

    Uh, no. Sanders has explicitly said open borders is a Koch Brothers proposal and something he opposes (Vox interview, Youtube).

    Here he is on the campaign trail saying he opposes open borders, virtual or otherwise: “Media Makes Fake Scandal Out Of Bernie Opposing Totally Open Borders” Secular Talk, Youtube. He’s said he wants to increase funding to clear the backlog of cases etc.

    1. False Solace

      Oh I see, the Sanders in the article is O’Rourke’s father in law, not Bernie. My bad!

    2. edmondo

      I still think the best line in the story was this: “Still, O’Rourke, known as a down-to-earth champion of little-guy values….”

      When did this empty-headed backbencher turn into FDR redux? When he was fighting to fast track TPP? Voting against minimum wage increases? Demolishing working class barrios in El Paso for urban renewal projects for his father-in-law?

  13. RMO

    ” “Biden: Russian Election Interference Would Not Have Happened ‘On My Watch And Barack’s Watch’”

    Wait… who was president of the US when Trump won, with the help of all that alleged Russian interference? Must have been Madison…. or was it Garfield?

    Then we get to the logical contradiction that if the devilish Putin can throw your elections to whoever he prefers (as Biden seems to believe) so long as neither he nor Saint Obama is in charge doesn’t that mean that his running is futile… unless Biden himself is Putin’s preferred candidate? Could it be? Putin and Biden making goo-goo eyes at each other getting ready to put the coup de grace to hallowed US democracy? /s

    1. ambrit

      Shouldn’t that be, “..hollowed US democracy?”
      Considering all the harm America did to Russia after the break up of the Soviet Union, (think Chicago School,) Putin’s supposed antipathy towards America is down right rational.

  14. TonyinSoCAL

    “You think that would have happened on my watch or Barack’s watch? You can’t answer that, but I promise you it wouldn’t have, and it didn’t.”

    Um didn’t exactly that happen under your and “Barack’s” watch during the 2016 election? Russia interfered with the election. How clueless is this guy?

    1. Baby Gerald

      It’s the same cluelessness that had Giuliani gloating on Good Morning America in 2010 that there were no major terror attacks on the US during the Bush/Cheney administration.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “The California coast is disappearing under the rising sea. Our choices are grim”

    They are more grim when you consider the following. I bet a major desire is to save California’s beaches as the seas rise. And concrete walls are seen as an answer. But the concrete required to make those walls needs sand. So, do you use all the sand of California’s beaches to make these concrete walls with?
    And if this is done, could these walls be breached in a future earthquake? Will they be tall enough in the long run? In any case, these won’t be like those 2,000 year old Roman concrete structures. The concrete made today will only last a few decades, especially against corrosive sea water. The only viable answer is a fighting retreat inland as the seas rise. And checking topographic maps to see where the next series of beaches will be located.

    1. MK

      And, not to add too much doom, if a decent magnitude quake hit close to the shore, that concrete wall would not only fail, but probably act like a funnel for the incoming tsunami.

    2. polecat

      Lovely. Just what I want to look at while sitting on the beach .. a monolithic wall of concrete instead of the sea. All so that some billionaire’s (or hundreds) palace doesn’t eventually pitch into the ocean and become a reef. Brilliant !!
      I say we move humanity’s infrastructure BACK some, and let Gaia do her thang ! .. and yes, there will be new beaches, new tidelands and marshes, etc. .. as has happened for eons, just maybe not all where they were before inundation.

      She’s gonna do it anyway …. best to give her some room to work her geologic magic.

  16. VietnamVet

    We see what we want to see. But, then, the Eastern North America radar map was unlike I’ve ever seen it. The jet stream appears to have died out. 2-4 inches of rain fell here in two hours this morning. At least I am about 100 feet above the creek bed but then last year in North Carolina the Cape Fear River peaked around 62 feet. Perhaps this is why there is no longer comprehensive evaluations of future consequences. The Elite grab the money and head for higher ground. For those who can’t, tribalism proliferates. One faction hints California deserves its fate for being a blue Babylon. But who deserves hellish fire tornado subdivision destroyers, earthquakes, sea level rise, and being within range of Taepodong-2 North Korean missiles? Not to mention, one party rule.

  17. Idland

    Didn’t the Chinese hack into an O campaign? It’s obvious that his main goal was to use better propaganda to preserve the public belief in the integrity of the election system.

    1. kernel

      The first sentence of that blogpost indicates that “manhattancontrarian” specializes in propaganda, not science. Gotta get better at evaluating sources, Luke.

  18. Procopius

    From Biden (D)(1):

    You think that would have happened on my watch or Barack’s watch? You can’t answer that, but I promise you it wouldn’t have, and it didn’t

    But it did. It’s been widely reported that Obama was notified that there was a Russian interference campaign going on. I still believe the story was bullshit, but Obama took it seriously enough to expel some diplomats and impose some sanctions. Does Biden assume our memories are as short as his?

  19. Luke

    Kernel, that article was loaded with data and graphs. Skipping all those due to the introductory sentence’s “tone” that you apparently found distasteful for some reason refutes nothing, but is more like a concession to the author on your part.

    1. pretzelattack

      but are they relevant data and graphs? why hasn’t manhattan contrarian published this in a peer reviewed journal?

      the author doesn’t seem to have any qualifications to dispute the science. why don’t you tell the royal society that an economist disputes science he doesn’t understand?

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