2:00PM Water Cooler 8/14/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“China Sticking to September US Trade Talks After Tariff Delay” [Bloomberg]. “Chinese officials are sticking to their plan to visit Washington in September for face-to-face trade meetings, people familiar with the matter said, signaling that talks remain on track for now despite an abrupt escalation in tariff threats this month. The U.S. on Tuesday delayed the imposition of some new tariffs after top negotiators spoke on the phone, with President Donald Trump saying the encounter was ‘very productive,’ and that he thinks Beijing wants to ‘do something dramatic’ to end the impasse. That said, Chinese negotiators are not very optimistic of any imminent progress, one of the people said. Officials are unlikely to make concessions in the run up to October 1, the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic, the person said. S&P 500 futures erased their losses, the yen pared gains and the yuan rose slightly on the news.” • Xi the impresario? I dunno…


“US soybeans pile up as trade war tests Trump’s support base” [Asian Nikkei Review]. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday published a pair of highly anticipated reports on crop production as well as world supply and demand estimates. Even though soybean production is expected to fall nearly 20% in 2019 to 3.68 billion bushels, farmers are expected to be left with a surplus of 755 million bushels, only 5% less than last year. The reports brought unwelcome news to corn farmers, too, with corn prices in Chicago plunging to their lowest since mid-May after the USDA announced better-than-expected yields for the previous month, erasing three months of slow but steady price gains…. Many soybean farmers had planned to switch to corn this year due to uncertainty surrounding the soybean trade, but excessive rain made that impossible.”


“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 four polls). As of August 12: Biden down to 30.3% (30.8), Sanders up to 17.5% (16.8%), Warren up to 18.5% (18.0%), Buttigieg down at 6.0% (6.3%), Harris flat at 8.3% (8.3%), Beto back among the bottom feeders. Others Brownian motion. Only four? I for one could use a little more transparency on why these choices are made.

* * *


Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden Knows He Says the Wrong Thing” [New York Times]. “Mr. Biden has a long history of verbal flubs and gaffes, so much so that he is comfortable making light of these self-inflicted errors. But he is also a proud man who has often talked about his own brand of speaking plainly and off-the-cuff. In recent weeks, he has expressed frustration to allies that his candidacy will suffer if he is judged too harshly on the slip-ups, which he thinks he can do little to correct so long as he is being true to himself.” •

Biden (D)(2): “Why Joe Biden’s Gaffes Matter” [The New Yorker]. The conclusion:

The last public event of Biden’s Iowa trip was on Saturday afternoon, in Central City, about a half hour north of Cedar Rapids, where he spoke at a fund-raiser for local Democrats. His campaign has been careful with how much time Biden gives to reporters and the unfiltered public, but in Central City Biden stuck around, lingering outside the venue as people came up to him with questions and requests for selfies. A mother and daughter told him about a struggle that the daughter, who might have been in high school or college, was facing. In response, Biden said, “Everybody has something to deal with.” He spoke of a stutter that he lived with in his youth. “It’s the only sort of generic impediment that people still laugh at—when someone does that. But it is debilitating. It makes you feel like you can’t be smart. Like you must be some kind of idiot,” he said. He was standing with his hands on his hips, holding eye contact with the mother and daughter, confiding in them, speaking of how he’d overcome certain challenges, but also of how he still lived with them. “It’s hard to ask a girl to go to p-p-prom,” he said, stuttering for effect. He spoke about his mother. “Even though she was no speech therapist, she’d say, ‘Joey, look at me. Read your studies. You’re so smart,’ ” he said. “But it’s all about confidence. Giving people confidence. Because there’s—everybody has something to deal with. Everybody.”

Again, maybe gaffes should matter. But I don’t think they do; Presidents Reagan, Bush the Elder, Bush the Younger, and Trump all committed them regularly. Dick Gerphardt, say, didn’t have that reputation. Nor did John Kerry, Al Gore, Walter Mondale, or Michael Dukakis. So what does the record say about gaffes?

Sanders (D)(1): “Inside Bernie Sanders’s Playbook for Winning the Black Vote” [Vanity Fair]. “The young black voters I spoke to resent being told they should vote for Biden because he was Obama’s vice president, and they really resent being told they should like Harris, and they think Booker is a nice guy running the Obama playbook circa 2008… [Aja] Monet’s comments echoed those of other black millennials, who were also critical of Barack Obama for not having embraced the “change” he ran on in 2008. The former president evokes complicated feelings among America’s 30 million eligible black voters. The older generations mostly adore him. He will forever be the first black president, the president whose election marked a cosmic break with the country’s original sin, the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, redlining. That’s why Biden’s African American support skews old. But younger black voters want more than a black president. They want a government that, they believe, speaks directly to the needs of black voters…. The Sanders people seem aware of all of the above, which is why they decamped to Chi Spacca—to hone their message and build on what they view as their growing support in black and brown communities.” • It is true that Sanders support in the black community has been disproportionately young. And if Sanders has the smarts and the stones to figure out a critique of Obama black voters will accept, that’s gonna upset a lot of people. See also “Obama Legacy” below.

Sander (D)(2):

More on Cardi B.

Sanders (D)(3): An enormous Twitter flap. Follow the money (a phrase that originated at the Post):

Unsurprisingly, Bezos has class interests. Also unsurprisingly, his firm is affected by them.

Sanders (D)(4): Not dialing back:

Working toward Der Bezos….

Sanders (D)(5): The self-criticism the press cannot make:

Sanders (D)(6): Stuck pig squeals:

Sanders (D)(7): About that Twitter troll MSNBC signal-boosted, the well-known “Hoarse Whisperer.” Thread:

Lambert here: Readers will recall that I have urged that there are “three carefully assembled strategic assets for the Sanders campaign”: (1) From 2016, the voter files (not available to other Democrats); from 2018, the media empire (not available to other Democrats); and (3) for 2020, the canvassing operation (not available to other Democrats). I would argue there is a fourth unique aspect: Sanders’ movement-based theory of change. “Expect continued volatility as liberal Democrat power brokers and media assets discover they don’t have the power they are accustomed to having.” Now, one of the issues with the Sanders campaign, from an outsider perspective, is that it’s “run silent, run deep.” We won’t know whether the canvassing strategy works, absent leaks of internal campaign data, until the election day (modulo theft). We also can only know whether the media empire is working, except through the negative result that Sanders’ polling numbers (assuming they are not all weaponized) do not drop as one would expect, even under systematic assault.

So it looks to me that we are seeing a test of strength here: Sanders called out the press (rightly) and various press entities hit back. (I’m not going to link to the various self-serving protestations of objectivity from the usual suspects.) What’s interesting to me about MSNBC’s riposte is not how they got the Hoarse Whisperer more followers, but that they tried to pollute the #MyBernieStory hashtag — in other words, they assaulted one aspect of the Sanders media empire by aiming trolls at it. (To be fair, I think the video empire is far more important.) Expect continued volatility.

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“The DNC Debate Rules Are a Game” [Edward-Isaac Dovere, The Atlantic]. “His campaign bought 8 million voter files compiled by the group Need to Impeach and is renting data from NexGen America, two advocacy organizations that Steyer himself founded and still funds. The move gives his team access to information on scores of people. But his ability to get this close to qualifying so quickly is also a reflection of the system set up this cycle by the Democratic National Committee…. Steyer’s campaign is announcing today that he’s cleared the donor threshold. And he’s nearly there on the DNC’s second requirement: Steyer has hit at least 2 percent in three recent polls evaluating voter support. If he hits 2 percent in one more—which is likely, given his performance in public polling overall—he’ll be guaranteed a spot in the next presidential debates in Houston, which would be his first appearance. The polls have likely been nudged along by Steyer’s massive advertising push since he announced his campaign last month: The $7 million he’s put into TV commercials alone is more money than most of the other campaigns have raised overall, and it’s just a sliver of the at least $100 million he’s pledged to spend…. The entire first month of Steyer’s campaign was geared toward getting into the debates. Using the data from his two groups, his campaign has produced 16,000 variations of digital ads, aides told me, including those that are adjusted automatically by software to more effectively target viewers by their interests. The aides acknowledged that they built the early phase of the campaign specifically to fit the DNC’s requirements, postponing other voter-engagement efforts until the fall.” • So a squillionaire is trying to buy the Presidency. Not even Trump did that.

Obama Legacy

“The Case against Obama” [Eli Zaritsky, LRB Blog]. “[P]residents should be judged by how well they respond to historical situations, not by trans-historical criteria such as how many bills they get passed. We judge Lincoln by how he handled the Civil War and Roosevelt by how he handled the Depression. Obama came to the presidency at a potentially momentous crossroads, when the neoliberal order was deeply discredited because of the disaster in Iraq and the financial crisis. In that context, Obama was the object of charismatic longings of rare intensity. Grasping this, he ran on the promise of moving in a wholly new direction, claiming we needed not just new policies but a new mindset. Once elected, however, he governed on the basis of ‘pragmatism’, ‘little steps’ and ‘bipartisanship’. In the end, it was not Obama but Trump who answered the call for a wholly new direction, but in a disastrous way.” • Quite a rant, and well worth reading in full. Interestingly, this very topic was brought up in the meeting described by Vanity Fair in “2020.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Koch brothers funded centrist Democratic group Third Way, according to new book” [Salon (RH)]. “Koch Industries secretly funded a report by Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, to sell liberals on their trade agenda, according to the new book “Kochland” by investigative reporter Christopher Leonard. The Kochs enlisted the help of Third Way, a corporate-funded centrist group that has long opposed progressive populists like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, after the Democrats won control of Congress in 2006…. The report was released in 2007 in coordination with two members of Congress, Rep. Joe Crowley of New York and Rep. Melissa Bean of Illinois.” • Joe Crowley. Who would have made it into the House leadership but for AOC. More: “The outreach to Third Way was far from the Kochs’ only effort to influence Democratic politics, although it has been more customary for the billionaire brothers to back Republicans. Koch Industries was also a member of the executive council of the Democratic Leadership Council, another centrist group aimed at countering progressives inside the party. Hall, whom Third Way thanked for conceiving and designing its report, was a member of the DLC’s event committee.” • If you wonder why so many centrists are indistinguishable from Republicans…

“The Future Is Fascist” [Gods and Radicals Press]. “[F]ascism is a reaction after all, but not a reaction against an aesthetic increase in social rights for select minorities. Instead, it is a reaction to an emergency. Laws against dissent or political opposition during war time, for example, are justified as necessary because the very existence of the government is under threat from foreign powers… So if this increasing trend towards authoritarianism throughout the world is a reaction to an emergency, we must ask ourselves what that emergency is…. Every government of the world is now facing the undeniable question: how do we hold on to power in the face of catastrophic climate change? China has already found its answer, through increased surveillance and management of its people through a “social credit” system… Here we can see that China is responding to the same emergency (dwindling resources) to which Emmanuel Macron was responding when he implemented his highly unpopular diesel tax.” • I’m not sure I agree with this — note the sloppy definition of fascism — but it’s a well argued piece, if lengthy, and well worth a read.

“Democratic Socialists look to take over New York’s powerful labor unions” [Politico]. “In its memo, the DSA makes clear its dissatisfaction with some of the same unions that were once regarded as a bedrock of left-leaning Democratic politics. The group argues some unions have become too disengaged, too timid and lack the organizing power they once wielded on behalf of workers. The tension resembles the national strain between left-flank Democrats, who want to capitalize on the energy in their wing of the party, and centrists aiming for broader appeal. ‘We will focus our branch resources on recruiting NYC-DSA members to take jobs in these sectors and on developing a strategy for militant, democratic, classwide struggles based in these sectors,” reads the introduction to the plan.’ • Interesting. That may be a difficuilt transition for some DSA members to manage. Main target: “DC37, a 125,000-member organization representing some of the lowest-paid municipal employees.”

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of August 9, 2019: “The rush in the global financial markets to the safety of US Treasuries is tripping a landslide in refinancing applications” [Econoday]. “Demand for home purchases, however, is showing much less movement.”

Import and Export Prices, July 2019: “Yesterday’s consumer price did show some pressure in contrast to mostly subdued readings in last week’s producer price report and also today’s data on import and export prices” [Econoday]. “Country data continue to show very little price variation for Chinese imports, down 0.1 percent on the month and down 1.6 percent on the year. This suggests that Chinese exporters are only marginally discounting goods shipped to the US. Note that prices in this report, unlike the consumer and producer price reports, exclude tariff effects.”

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, August 2019: “Inflation expectations at the business level have edged higher this month. Still modest [Econoday]. “40 percent of the sample reported passing tariff-related cost increases to their customers versus 48 percent who said they have not.”

Big Ag: “U.S. farmers are growing more crops than expected despite this year’s severe weather. The Agriculture Department is estimating higher production of corn and wheat, the Journal’s Kirk Maltais writes, a bump that could ripple through the agricultural supply chain. Growers planted 90 million acres of corn this year, and corn yields for 2020-2019 are estimated to be 2% higher than was forecast in July. The upward revision took traders by surprise, sending prices for corn, wheat and soybeans falling. Some in the market attribute the increase to June corn plantings by farmers looking to secure USDA aid payments for those hurt by the trade conflict. USDA also lowered its production estimates for soybeans, which have been battered by Chinese tariffs. Grain shipments by rail are down 4.8% this year, according to the Association of American Railroads” [Wall Street Journal].

The Bezzle: “Uber Created a $6.1 Billion Dutch Weapon to Avoid Paying Taxes” [Bloomberg]. “San Francisco-based Uber generated the outsized deduction before its initial public offering in May because it moved some of its offshore subsidiaries to different countries as a result of new European Union rules governing multinational companies. The $6.1 billion deduction came through an increase in the value of intellectual property that Uber transferred between its offshore subsidiaries, according to the company’s first quarterly filing. When an intangible asset increases in value, so do the tax deductions that come with its use over time. ‘It’s safe to say that Uber will not be paying any taxes for the foreseeable future,’ said Robert Willens, an independent tax and accounting expert in New York.”

Tech: “YouTube’s moderators think top creators get special treatment — the community agrees” [The Verge]. “Moderators told The Washington Post that “recommendations to strip advertising” from videos that appeared to violate the site’s rules were “frequently overruled by higher-ups” when high-profile creators were involved. This includes creators like Logan Paul, Steven Crowder, and Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg, all of whom have faced controversies around the content on their channels. While all three creators have been stripped of advertising privileges in the past (Crowder’s channel is still demonetized), several moderators told the Post that advertisers were eventually brought back because of the creators’ popularity. YouTube makes money off of advertisements, and top creators account for a big portion of that. Creators, who often watch notable personalities go through controversies only to continue securing advertising not long after the fact, recognize that YouTube is incentivized to favor those with millions and millions of subscribers.”

Tech: “Twitter admits using user data for ads without consent” [Deutsche Welle]. “The company said “certain data” of mobile users such as country code may have been shared with advertising partners since May 2018 ‘even if you didn’t give us permission to do so.’ Twitter also said since September 2018 it may have shown ads ‘based on inferences’ made about users’ devices, without consent. A statement on the company’s website insisted the data in question ‘stayed within Twitter and did not contain passwords or email accounts.’ The issues were ‘fixed on August 5; and Twitter says it is conducting an investigation into who may have been impacted.”

Tech: “Japan’s FTC investigating Apple over pressure on parts makers: Mainichi” [Reuters]. “Japan’s FTC survey of companies showed that Apple had signed contracts forcing firms to provide free technology and know-how to its affiliates for parts manufacturing, the Mainichi said. It also pressured some suppliers to lower components prices and prohibited them from selling parts and technology to other companies, while requiring them to shoulder the costs of any unforeseen issues, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources. When a company called it an infringement of intellectual property rights and demanded a revision, Apple threatened to end their business relationship, the report said.”

Mr. Market: “Dow decline exceeds 700 points as flashing recession signal rattles stock market” [MarketWatch]. “Part of the impetus for stocks heading sharply lower was an inversion of the 2-year Treasury, and the 10-year Treasury notes, which took place at about 6 a.m. Eastern Time. The spread between the 2-year note and the 10-year note temporarily fell to a negative 1 basis point. An inversion of this measure has often preceded an economic downturn. Investors say its powers as a recession indicator comes from its ability to reflect when tight monetary policy is capping growth and inflationary pressures. A yield curve inversion along the 2-year and 10-year spread has come before the last seven recessions.”

Mr. Market: “The yield curve inversion panic, explained” [Matt Yglesias, Vox]. “while the empirical link between past inversion events and recessions is real, it’s also clear if you look at the chart that there’s a time lag involved. That means there’s nothing automatic about this process. And while the theoretical link between recessions and inversions is real, there are also other sets of future financial situations — like a sudden spike in the value of the dollar — that could produce the same result…. The other important thing to consider is that yield curves seem to have grown structurally flatter over time in developed countries due to a mix of stable low inflation and lower population growth rates. If curves are flatter in general, then inversion events may just start happening from time to time due to more or less random trading noise that doesn’t necessarily signal very much.” • To a layperson like me, this is a good explainer. Perhaps any finance wizards in the readership can correct Yglesias, however.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 23 Extreme Fear (previous close: 27, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 25 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 14 at 12:29pm. • Restored at reader request. Note that the index is not always updated daily, sadly.

The Biosphere

“Effects of climate and land‐use change scenarios on fire probability during the 21st century in the Brazilian Amazon” [Global Change Biology]. From the abstract: “We conclude that avoiding the regress on land‐use governance in the Brazilian Amazon (i.e., decrease in the extension and level of conservation of the protected areas, reduced environmental laws enforcement, extensive road paving, and increased deforestation) would substantially mitigate the effects of climate change on fire probability, even under the most pessimistic RCP 8.5 scenario.”


“3M Knew About PFAS Food Contamination in 2001” [The Intercept]. “it has become clear that 3M, the company that originally developed PFOS and PFOA, had known for a very long time that these toxic and persistent chemicals were in our food. According to a 2001 study sponsored by 3M, 12 samples of food from around the country — including ground beef, bread, apples, and green beans — tested positive for either PFOA or PFOS. One piece of bread had 14,700 parts per trillion of PFOA, though the report noted that the sample was considered ‘suspect.’ The Environmental Protection Agency has known about the study for years, but it is not clear if the FDA was aware of the research.

Our Famously Free Press

“Journalists, Pundits And Retired Politicians Put On A Show For Lobbyists” [Tarbell]. “Woodward said in 1996 that he doesn’t profit from his paid speaking engagements but donates the money to a family foundation, which then contributes the funds to charities. Tax records show that Woodward’s family foundation donated $600,000 between mid-2015 and mid-2018 to his alma mater, Yale University – more than half of its total charitable donations. Woodward’s youngest daughter recently attended school there, according to his latest book. His foundation has also regularly donated to Sidwell Friends School, the Washington, D.C., private school that his children attended.”

“‘Lead’ vs. ‘lede’: Roy Peter Clark has the definitive answer, at last” [Poynter]. • Lead. Fun article, though.

Health Care

“The Exploitative Cancer Drug Industry Needs to Be Euthanized” [Jacobin]. “In more measurable terms, the United States now spends over $50 billion per year on medications that fight cancer — and that could soon top $200 billion. Much of that is driven by the expense of new drugs, including pills that fight cancer. More and more newly approved anticancer drugs are available only in pill form, which should be easy, convenient, and cheap. Those pills are often the best available treatment, have milder side effects, and require fewer hospital stays. Yet the expense is outrageous, regularly topping $100,000 per year. Parity laws, the most widespread attempt to make the drugs affordable, have largely failed… To achieve both equity and cost control, pharma as we know it needs to be put down and replaced with a socialized model. Public research is already the backbone of cancer drug development, and the fruits of that labor should belong to the public, not pharma execs.”

“Superstition, contagion and medical rumour” (images) [Wellcome Collection]. “Following the development of the smallpox vaccine in 1796, rumours spread through 19th century France that the vaccine was an expensive form of British quackery. This satirical print shows a procession of health workers promoting the vaccine. They carry a poster on which the word ‘dindonnade’ is written, which relates to both the French word for turkey (dindon) and to dupe. The Depeuille publishing house published many similar satirical prints which reflect general wariness surrounding vaccination.”

“DeepMind’s Latest A.I. Health Breakthrough Has Some Problems” [OneZero]. “[T]he researchers make no attempt to explain the A.I. model they used. How did it work? Why did they decide to construct the model in the way they did? Why was this a good conceptual fit for this particular dataset, and how effectively could it generalize to a wider population? How did the A.I. address the needs of specific patient types, and what impact would this algorithm have on them? A spokesperson said that DeepMind aimed to justify all of the decisions made in the VA study through supplemental information and a non-peer reviewed protocol paper. However, none of these questions were answered with precision and, as a result, the study offers few meaningful insights into either renal medicine or A.I. prediction. The study is littered with unexplained choices that may have been medically instructive, as well as omissions of details (such as 36 salient features discovered by the deep learning model, and what they mean) and outliers — distractions from a clean model, perhaps, but all representing real patients, at the end of the day.” •


“Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft to require loot box odds disclosure” [GamesIndustryBiz].

Class Warfare

“San Francisco Taxi Drivers Getting Letters Demanding Repayment Of Medallion Loans” [CBS SH BayArea]. “Some embattled San Francisco taxi drivers, struggling to survive in the face of competition from Lyft and Uber, have received letters calling for full repayment of their taxi medallion loans. It’s the latest wrinkle in the long, dark saga that is the meltdown of the San Francisco taxi industry. About a dozen letters demanding loan repayment sent out drivers have cab operators even more worried. ‘They send me the letter, you know? I cannot sleep. I’m nervous, all week, nervous,’ explained cab driver Tien Bui. Heis just one of the San Francisco taxi drivers who received a letter demanding full payment on the balloon loan issued for his medallion. ‘$176,000,’ he explained, looking at the letter. ‘I cannot afford that.'” • Maybe GoFundme?


News of the Wired

No, there is no subtext here:

It took me a minute…

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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 (MF):

MF writes: “I love this Oak Tree. I smile every time I see it.” The S-curve really works!

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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. giantsquid

          A bit of luck. I was trying to get a decent shot of some sunflowers a little ways ahead of me, and, as I was searching for a good angle for that, I realized that there was a better shot of the tree behind me. I did walk a few feet into the brush on the left to get the shot of the tree though.

    1. giantsquid

      This Valley Oak is a Woolsey Fire survivor. There are bits of charred branches about it, and two nearby oaks that weren’t so fortunate (along with a few others in recovery).

  1. Summer

    RE: My most cynical take is the elites are basically saying, “Ooops, we broke the working class. Lets import another!”

    — Chris Arnade (@Chris_arnade)

    More cynical is what is says they think of the abilities of the former middle class…

          1. jrs

            you can identify with them whatever your status I guess, but many of those who I know who are plenty middle class will NOT identify with you! (as in solidarity with other workers as fellow workers etc., they don’t yet know the sting). that’s why in life I see the fine grained distinctions, that determine what people can see, and don’t tend see (and I don’t see all either of course).

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          hourly wage vs salary, punching a clock vs filling out a time sheet in my experience divide working from middle but my experience of middle as a social worker is around 50k and I guess many who punch clocks in factories make way more than that.

          biweekly vs monthly paycheck, filling out a time sheet vs not having one, having an expense account, in my experience divide middle from upper but that’s probably my naivete since my sister the astronomy professor at a state university and her husband who works for a biomedical startup make about 160k between them which many would not consider upper class and indeed except for eating out at fancy restaurants they act middle class, buy Toyotas they keep forever, don’t have a cleaning lady, don’t buy expensive clothes, etc.

          my brother is truly upper class, owns two homes back to back in Palo Alto, goes to Hawaii every year, drives all Beamers, wife wears a 2k rock on her finger. for their month-long honeymoon they went to Fiji, Thailand, and Mallorca. he got a Stanford MBA, worked first as an investment banker and then got hired by one of his clients and in short order became CEO, retired at 60.

          his life is nothing like how we were raised.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            To me, it’s working class (90%), professionals (10%), elite (0.1%).* Probably there’s real scholarship on this somewhere with some rigor to it, but this comment is not that (link welcomed).

            Elite (0.1%): Own the “means of production” (and distribution (and reproduction))**. Hire the professionals and working class for profit. Base of the Republican Party at the auto dealer/local oligarch level. At the national/global oligarch level, some are apolitical (pay both parties), some are advocates (Steyer, Kochs), some conceal themselves as much as possible (family offices).

            Professionals (10%): Service the owners of the means of production (with many fine gradations of relative autonomy, i.e., the service provided by institutional hood ornaments like tenured professors of classics is a lot more tenuous*** than that provided by a marketing consultant). Distinguished by credentials, guilds, Flexian networks. Political class, “The Blob,” the press (at least for those with personal branding (talking heads, national reporters)). Base of the Democrat Party. (The lower stratum of this class is younger, in debt and cannot find work commensurate with their credentials — adjuncts, interns, etc. IMNSHO that’s the base of the DSA****.) IdPol is, in essence, about how to run meetings and handle interactions among professionals with weak ties, especially globalist ones. (It’s the functional equivalent of the sort of guidebook that says, for Japan, not to get in the communal tub without showering first. Of course, inside the credential manufacturing plants IdPol is thought of as justice, but it’s really just a form of training that includes hazing. After the credentials are granted, in the real world, it’s a form of etiquette and a set of pitfalls to avoid if one seeks professional advancement.)

            Working Class (90%): Sell their labor to survive. (They are “fungible” in a way that professionals are not seen to be.) Many, many fine gradations accreted over time, wages vs. salary among them. Union, non-union. Full time, part-time, precariat. lumpenproletariat. White collar, blue collar. And of course all the various identities. (From my experience, I put most “small business” — petty bourgeois — in this category, because “owners” are not paying themselves, so they are in essence self-exploiting.) Working class interests are unrepresented by the parties, except for aspirational professionals (“voices,” as Reed says).

            This is why I find “middle class”***** mushy. It conceals who owns and who hires. In other words, you can’t “follow the money” with it, analytically. That’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

            NOTE * Figures may not add due to rounding.

            ** This is one reason why the ADOS reparations project is so problematic. Wealth is capital. So the idea of housing as “intergenerational wealth” is misconceived. It would be nice to know whether the reparations project intends to constitute a strong ADOS capitalist class, or not. My guess is that it would, regardless of intent, a la the warrants in Russian privatization.

            *** Not in England, though!

            **** Not necessarily problematic; provincial lawyers played a big part in the French revolution.

            ***** I know people “identify as” “middle class,” but people identify as all sorts of things.

            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              Thanks for an alternative framing of how to think about this. So my sister and I are both in the professional class though neither of us interact directly with any owners of the means of production, and despite the spread in our incomes. My brother meanwhile has advanced from the professional class to become a bonus fide capitalist, living off his investments and handily making it into the 1%.

        2. WheresOurTeddy

          Work for your money: worker
          Money works for you: Capitalist

          The Capitalists have convinced a staggering % of workers that they are not their mortal enemies. Often without wage increases. It’s a triumph of propaganda over objective analysis and its victory is complete.

        3. @pe

          Private, non-comm officers: working class
          commissioned/field officers: middle class
          Flag rank/general officers: upper class

          Analogize across the workforce.

      1. jrs

        it’s a real distinction though it’s all working for a living, credentialed puts the line way high up there and of course excludes almost everyone. Which is fine for mass movement building I guess (we are the 99% – yea that’s fine for movement building)

        But for analysis doesn’t really reflect life on the ground all that well, because not many people work in a field with a hard credential (not just a bachelors degree) barrier to entry like law, and there is a difference between having the trappings of middle class life (a job with benefits for instance) and not.

      2. Oh

        Everone’s middle class – the uber rich, the rich, the well to do except the poor. But noone wants to says I’m poor.

        1. JBird4049

          I’ll admit to being poor. Where I live HUD (the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development) basically says that you qualify for low income housing at 75,000 per year in income (the figures at HUD are jaw dropping) the national average is about 48,000, and I’m a college student. :-(

          I believe that poverty was more unpopular than racism, but now racism is more unpopular than poverty. Too bad that they cannot both be equally unpopular especially as both are used together.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I don’t think income-based distinctions are all that useful or interesting. It’s better to put people in relation to each other, and then look at how money (and power) flows in the relation. Of course, the official statistics track income, not relations, so we end up with novelistic treatments. But maybe it’s harder to lie (as opposed to creating a fictional treatment) with statistics than with a novel.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps it is a psycho-social cultural orientation and self-identification. Perhaps people who determinedly think of themselves as “middle-class” should be studied in detail as to what they think “middle-classness” is and means and requires.

        Perhaps “middleclass” is not a Class but a Way. A Way of Being.

    1. Summer

      And another way of looking at is that the elite doesn’t think the working class in the USA is “broken” enough…

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      subtract the “oops”…it gives them the benefit of the doubt that this is not a multi-decade strategy executed to near-perfection. Which it is.

  2. John k

    … buy the presidency… not even trump…
    What about Koch bros and adelson? Didn’t they buy it?
    Real billionaires buy the policies. Pretend ones might occupy the office but are just there to service the real ones.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      one wonders why Steyer needs the title and the desk when he could likely get most of his .0001%er BS through with less money and effort doing it the old fashioned way – bribery.

      He is aging and likely has a spectacularly large ego though, so perhaps we can chalk it up to that.

      All that being said….Tom, I will donate $1 to your campaign if you send me $1000. I will vote for you in the CA primary for $5K.

  3. Big River Bandido

    The clip from the Sanders/Cardi B. clip is cute; there’s even a little bit of joy in that. Will be especially effective if the full show has more of that self-deprecating humor.

  4. Lambert Strether Post author

    I tinkered a bit with the “Obama Legacy” section and its relation to the meeting described at “Sanders (D)(1)” under “2020.” This is important!

    1. DonCoyote

      Personal anecdote: my wife and children are African-American (I am white). A few months ago, my wife asked our 22-year old son who he (and his friends) were thinking about voting for. He said “the OG” (Old Guy). I pointed out that this could refer to either Sanders or Biden. He gave me a “Are you serious?” look, but then verbally clarified that he meant Sanders. (My wife likes Harris; she and Harris are both AKAs).

      So yes, one data point that reinforces the 2016/2020 “Bernie has the young vote, and in 2020 at least this includes the young African-American vote” narrative.

      1. ForFawkesSakes

        I understand OG to mean original gangster. That may explain the incredulous look. It means ‘authentic, exceptional.’

        I would link to the Urban Dictionary link, but not terribly tech savvy.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Here is an Urban Dictionary definition:

          Acronym for original gangster. Means you have a classic style or stay with the older ways instead of newer.

          Seems to me this is quite accurate. It expresses the idea that Sanders has been saying the same thing for forty years (and maybe Sanders is a throwback to a time when government was thought to function on behalf of its citizens).

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > He said “the OG” (Old Guy)

        I wonder if that’s prevalent and, if so, whether the Sanders campaign knows about it.

        “Vote for the Old Guy. It’s important.” Ha.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I wonder how many of these articles expressing disillusionment with the Great One started off as, “why Obama is the bestest President evah!” and then gradually became concessionary tales about Obama missing opportunities when the high point was the time Obama randomly broke into Al Green song.

  5. Louis Fyne

    Obama’s legacy: Trump won on, “what the heck do you got to lose?”

    Ironically Obama was the best thing that ever happened to Trump. For taking out Hillary in 2008 and 8 years ofno changeand a lot less hope

  6. laughingsong

    “Again, maybe gaffes should matter. But I don’t think they do; Presidents Reagan, Bush the Elder, Bush the Younger, and Trump all committed them regularly. Dick Gerphardt, say, didn’t have that reputation. Nor did John Kerry, Al Gore, Walter Mondale, or Michael Dukakis. So what does the record say about gaffes?”

    What I get out of it is that gaffes only matter when the non-anointed say them.

    1. nippersdad

      Electronically produced “Dean screams” would be the obvious example.

      I guess he learned his lesson./s

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is a poor comparison. The GOP voter’s id is dedicated to irritating “libruls”. Gaffes are irrelevant to their candidates. This is why Trump could never be an embarrassment. Trump doesn’t dog whistle as often as he is supposed to. The Country Club types don’t care. They find it amusing the professional class gets all in a huff but simply smiles and nods when their Republican employers say these things.

      What do the gaffes represent to Team Blue? Was the low black turnout in 2016 due to gaffes? The answer is no. Obama had gaffes. He even randomly wore that white suit once. WTF was that? The reason they lost is they didn’t organize or offer a reason to convince people to organize. I have no idea if John Delaney or Seth Moulton are gaffe machines, but if they were the nominees and did everything right according to Nate Silver, they would lose 39 states.

      Biden hasn’t made a career of gaffes. He’s made a career of holding a safe seat and being the uncle who makes everyone uncomfortable at thanksgiving. Too many Team Blue types don’t demand accountability. His gaffes are horrible things. Fans like to point to gaffes. Howard Dean’s polling collapsed prior to his infamous scream (Trippi practically abused the Dean organizers who were basically crazy by the time of the caucus), but Dean lost because he was well to the right of the Democratic party base on numerous issues. He was right about Iraq.

      Also, Gore won…so gaffes didn’t do him in.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Gore won

        Gore won in exactly the same way as Hillary won. That is, he didn’t. Yeah, the electoral college isn’t democratic, but Clinton knew that going in, and didn’t change her game to win according to the rules. As for Florida 2000, yeah, what the Bush Dynasty did was heinous, but (1) enough Florida Democrats voted for Bush to give him the win, (2) the original Gore lawsuit was to count votes only in counties they thought they would win, forfeiting any moral high ground, and (3) Gore caved anyhow. Remember the scene in Fahrenheit 9/11 where Gore gavels the Congressional Black Caucus — the CBC!!!!! — into silence, and refuses to let them bring up election fraud? Gore lost, because Gore was a loser. Ditto Clinton, if it comes to that. Granted, Clinton was a fabulously destructive sore loser, unlike Gore, but still.

    3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I think The Gaffe meme can be extended to include our entire body politic. In the “Oops honey I shrunk the kids” spirit.

      Wall St: Oops we broke the markets
      Corp America: Oops we broke the middle class
      The Fed: Oops we broke the currency
      Bush/Obama: Oops we broke the Constitution
      Big Pharma: Oops we broke the health system
      Hilary: Oops I broke Libya

      Absentminded stupidity by our leaders is a much more charitable fiction to sooth ourselves with as we all ride the last turds down the circling drain. Much nicer motive to ascribe than regular old unmitigated evil.

      So: Biden is perfect. Awshucks, hardie-har. I’m an idiot. And so are you. Goodbye.

  7. epynonymous

    So i was planning a post on video games and how they’re predominantly anti-authoritarian and (even if quite violent) anti-violence in their meta messaging.

    However, I ended up watching a bunch of the AI Alphastar playing the real-time strategy game “starcraft.”

    After some show matches where they beat two of the best human players in the world rather handily, it turned out (like the developers didn’t know… which is even more sinister if it’s true) that the AI was reserving extra actions – actions per minute being limited in order to approximate human limitations for a meaningful competition, so that it could blow the human away in a single second by having more actions per second.

    So to untangle an ugly paragraph, the show matches were kinda junk. Now, the developer has rolled out three versions of the AI on the European competitive StarCraft ladder , with players who opted in to play the AI.

    The win rate for these were all around 95%, but the AI is still remarkably stupid. It doesn’t understand larger “meta-concepts” such as grand strategy. I cannot even understand the importance of scouting an oppenents actions. Early air attacks – termed a harass – fail immediately if the AI runs into an anti-air turret. There is no object permanence even! It will walk the same vulerable unit directly into a known hard defense point.

    Every build is essentially the same, with the “zerg” strategy being most telling. It just builds endless specialist ground units. This is a viable strategy only until the moment it is countered. The ground units don’t “shoot up” so a single plane can slowly pick them apart.

    This attack does beat 95% of the players, many of whom are quite casual and never study the theory behind the game or use only a fraction of the options available to them. Because it’s perfectly fun that way.

    Again, there are maybe 3-5% of the population who can beat these AI’s as they currently stand. It’s not about the odds, it’s about being a master of the game.

    A trading algorithim, chess algorithim, or even an ‘ai doctor’ will never be better than EVERY person in a given field. AI’s aren’t smart enough. They just play the odds, and someone who reliably plays the odds is making the smart move, but they are vulnerable to the few people who master the game in question.

    Game theory isn’t even known to these AI’s, so they have no chance to improve as is.

    1. JohnnyGL

      This attack does beat 95% of the players, many of whom are quite casual and never study the theory behind the game or use only a fraction of the options available to them. Because it’s perfectly fun that way.

      Again, there are maybe 3-5% of the population who can beat these AI’s as they currently stand. It’s not about the odds, it’s about being a master of the game.

      I don’t know much about the game you’re talking about, but what you’re saying makes sense. Most people play video games like kids playing in the sandbox. They’re not being hyper-competitive…they’re just playing.

      But for the people who take it seriously….the AI looks foolish.

      I play the Total War series by Creative Assembly. It’s fun, but the AI generally isn’t very good.

      1. Procopius

        I still love Medieval, because on Easy setting I can win about two out of six or seven times. I gave up on Medieval II. It should have been even more fun, but it turned out I couldn’t generate enough income to make enough armies to defend myself more than ten or twelve moves. I finally just deleted it. Rome is fun. I appreciate the turn based style. Real time is too fast for me.

      1. Avery T

        However, Starcraft 2 is orders of magnitude more complex than Chess or Poker, on the basis of enumerating potential gamestates. Chess and Poker are highly discrete games that are reducible to well studied mathematical problems. Starcraft 2, comparatively, has a much larger board than chess, with more possible pieces (both in the number of categories they can occupy and the number that can be present on the board at once), beyond digging into the more complex way these pieces interact.

        All of which is to say existing AI techniques have been only partially successful at playing video games, and fair AIs may hit a performance ceiling because of the limitations of existing machine learning techniques that fuzzier, abstract human thinking is not subject to.

        1. pretzelattack

          no limit poker isn’t yet, and they didn’t “solve” chess just by math, but by brute force calculation. the same objections were made by players in those games, back in the day.

          1. epynonymous

            I’m not totally up on this, but I question what percentage advantage the computer has in these games, particuarly poker, where any new player at the table has an advantage.

            The best chess player in the world -reportedly Magnus Carlson – plays a good deal of speed chess online (he used to have the user name “dr. drunkenstein” but had to change it recently because professionalism…) but the next-best players might still take 40% of the wins or have a large number of draws.

            The Jeopardy AI was the most impressive, in my mind, especially given that it had no internet access, and relied entirely on it’s internal hard drives and particular databases.

            These AI’s have good ‘mirror neurons’ in that they can calculate the statistically most likely and strategically most valuable moves, but there is a hard limit for a chess skill ceiling.

            In fact, the speed chess players have adopted a “mixed up board” (I don’t know the insider term, but the back row peices are in non-standard positions) to keep the game fresh and exciting.

            I wonder how the existing AI’s would do if thrown into this less prestegious version.

            I am curious how much better the AI is, because it is undeniable, but I don’t know by how much.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Those who can often reduce life to a game, and force people to play in it.

          Making it even more challenging than those vidoe games, often its rules are not disclosed.

          How will AI do in that game?

      2. Synoia

        I always understood the best way to win all games of chance was not to play. Thus I’d assert that all these game playing system are beaten by not playing.

        I find the ethos in Las Vegas unpleasant. I interpret it as “Give us all you money, and f… off!”

        1. ambrit

          The biggest “game of chance” I can think of is war. War’s little sibling is policing. Both can be launched against an otherwise ‘innocent’ person, persons, or population. Thus, mastering the intricacies of basic games theory would be an essential survival skill.

    2. rusti

      A trading algorithim, chess algorithim, or even an ‘ai doctor’ will never be better than EVERY person in a given field. AI’s aren’t smart enough. They just play the odds, and someone who reliably plays the odds is making the smart move, but they are vulnerable to the few people who master the game in question.

      What do you base this on? Like pretzelattack says there is increasingly evidence to the contrary and I can’t imagine any way of proving your assertion. There are many complex tasks in which AI will out-perform humans, just like a microprocessor is infinitely faster at doing arithmetic. Human-level performance is even a common performance metric in machine learning.

      A Starcraft-bot trained on playing lots of crappy amateurs will make a lot of dumb decisions, just as a cat image detector trained with only pictures of cats and buildings will likely give a false positive when presented with a dog. When the bot is trained against multiple professionals employing diverse sophisticated strategies, then it will start to become much better at recognizing them and probably become better than the best players in the long-run.

      It doesn’t mean we need to welcome our new robot overlords, it just means that one could probably build a sufficiently sophisticated system to be very good at Starcraft given enough processing power and training data.

      1. epynonymous

        All the raw data and calculation in the world will not reveal the sort of meta-data (true metadata, like the intricacies of mind games and psychology) that allow a top-level human player to excel. My point is that very good doesn’t make one the absolute best in a given field.

        AI’s lack a theory of mind and empathy. Humans have ‘mirror neurons’ that constantly evaluate the emotional states of those around us. Even before we can walk, we see a “smiley face” posted on the wall, and something within us will attribute real emotion to that simple drawing.

        AI’s do none of this. AI’s also lack the sense of time we have. They can correlate everything to a humanly impossible degree, but they have no real theories. Just associations.

        That AI doctor can see all the associations that lead to diabetes, but it cannot empathize with the patient and it can’t understand what makes them physically and possibly psychologically unwell. (sometimes illness is just bad luck, but sometimes it is bad living.)

        Your right that there are some sub-par competitors out there, and we don’t know how that effects the development of this AI… and two months or so is nothing in the span of history, and Alphastar AI will improve. Just If it cannot really be in the moment and adapt, there will always be a small percentage of people who can outperform even a specialist information AI in it’s own field. Some of that may even be random noise, and a peference to report the successes of humans or such.

        I just think alot of the pro AI sentiment is equally biased, and wanted to share some.

    3. Spring Texan

      On games, Patriot Act with Hassan Minaj (Netflix) has a recent episode . . . worth watching

      More $$ than I imagined in the industry and full of exploited workers . . .

    4. The Rev Kev

      Your comment made me wonder about about AIs in general. Often you read how they train them using old data-sets. For gaming, that might mean examining how past players did their game plan to learn from them. But when you think about it, this is a case of “Monkey-see, monkey-do” writ large. It is a trick in a way where the AIs copy what they are shown. A “pure” AI should be able to draw their own conclusion by what data it chooses to look at. Any data set offered an AI contains its own prejudices in the same way that we find that we have algorithms that discriminate against black people by the data chose. Makes you wonder if this generation of AIs will be that smart when you get down to it.

      1. epynonymous

        Interestingly, there is a mix of ‘machine learning’ and ‘directed learning’ in Alphastar.

        The computer was being a bit whacky, and still hadn’t learned strategies like “building a wall” to prevent early game aggression from the opponent etc.

        I find it interesting that the AI has near-omniscience and such a quick reaction time, but hasn’t learned the obvious advantage of using cheap units for scouting. It would be uniquely able to capitalize on this information, but there is currently no framework in the AI for it to be able to do this.

  8. flora

    re: Biden.

    As long as journos are writing about Biden’s gaffes, they aren’t writing about his policies, especially his economic policies. Does anyone know what those are? Maybe I missed the reports.

    This Bloomberg article is interesting for the people it mentions.

    That would be Robert deregulate-the-banks-and-derivatives-trades-and-pass-NAFTA Rubin in the Clinton administration.

    I’d like to see some solid reporting on Biden’s economic policies, his opinion of TPP and TPIP, his opinion of reining in tech and other monopolies, etc. Instead, we get lighthearted gossip, posing as serious journalism, about his gaffes. sigh….

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The IO operatives who staff the LSM ( Lame Stream Media) are tasked with the job of obscuring Biden’s policies long enough for Younger Voters to not know all about them till Primary Season is over. The LSM reporters’ job is to put the spotlight on Biden’s gaffes in order to keep the cameras away from Biden’s policies ( and his pro-Nazi family profit-seeking corruptionism in Ukraine).

      1. flora

        “Dump the Hump”

        I haven’t heard that for a looong time. The reference to Hubert Humphrey’s 1968 campaign for president is apt. (Biden seems to be running as a continuation of the O policies and administration.) Humphrey was Pres LBJ’s Vice Pres; he announced his campaign after LBJ said he would not seek renomination in ’68.

        Humphrey’s past wins and outlook were out-of-step with the times.

        ‘Many saw Humphrey as LBJ’s stand-in; the vice president represented the “establishment.” A frequent chant was, “Dump the Hump!” ‘


  9. dcblogger

    from February, but still relevant
    The Trump administration says it can’t reunite missing migrant children with their families; instead, many of the children are being shipped to a Christian adoption agency with ties to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

    Earlier this week the Trump administration told a federal court that it would require too much effort to reunite migrant children with their parents.

      1. marym

        Prison labor too, maybe. Children taken from their parents at the border and reclassified as unaccompanied minors may face a lifetime in detention if they’re not adopted (Link).

      2. JBird4049

        More like judging for profit. For at 175 years, American state and municipal level governments have had a corruption problem with family, juvenile, traffic, and criminal courts. Actually all all levels, all types, and throughout the entire country.

        Going chronologically, the payoffs to judges by professional kidnappers masquerading as slave catchers to declare that any black person before them was an escaped slave, a freedman.

        The semi professional and regularlized arrest, conviction, and sentencing to work(slave) camps usually under bogus charges as needed for the local businesses, plantations, mines, and public construction. Mainly blacks with a healthy dose of poor whites.

        Legalized kidnapping by the police and children’s welfare from those “unable” to care for their children to sell into adoption for profit poor whites with a healthy dose of native Americans and some blacks. The judges conveniently would ignore the circumstances sometimes helped with bribes. Poor whites into (I think) into the middle 20th century. Some of the reservations still had a semi official program into the 1990s-2000s. Fortunately, this particular evil got regularly hammered.

        In some places (not too many) judges would get bribes to convict children, usually poor, to orphanages, and as in the linked example, to juvenile detention. More children more money from the state.

        Similar problems with family courts, like Marin County in past it was an open secret who you knew and perhaps paid determined divorce settlements including alimony and child custody.

        To my knowledge, there was never any real corruption in the various sterilization/eugenics programs in the United States. Thank God. The government itself authorized the effective kidnappings, lies, and deceptions to sterilize thousands of Americans with the last likely known examples in California women’s prisons around the 1990s although those were illegal. However, there was not a regular system of bribes to judges to have sterilizations approved. Although I do wonder about the police and the health clinics, prison hospitals, and mental institutions that could make money. Something to check.

        The fact that DeVos is using the concentration camps to steal children, which is what this is, is just like all the other examples of using the government and the judicial system to get wealthy by screwing the poor and minorities in the past two centuries. Think of this as a kind of human forfeiture that mimics civil asset forfeitures.

      3. WheresOurTeddy

        “So, like….Lebensborn, but specifically for future domestic servants?”

        suddenly his comments about wanting immigrants from Norway make a lot more sense aside from just racism…

  10. Big River Bandido

    The tension resembles the national strain between left-flank Democrats, who want to capitalize on the energy in their wing of the party, and centrists aiming for broader appeal.

    The phrase “centrists aiming for broader appeal” is breathtakingly self-unaware propaganda. This kind of writing is largely why I don’t read Politico — it makes The Note and TPM appear intelligent and prescient.

    Going after Big Media is smart politics. Trump proved that in 2016, but I suspect Sanders is a much stronger player at that game. I hope he continues to make the media an issue.

    1. WJ


      70% of Americans want Medicare for All

      60% of Americans support tuition free public college

      In order to pretend that neoliberal “centrism” has any kind of “broad appeal” you have to actively and intentionally discount the actual views of actual Americans. The “centrist” voter the media loves to go on about is more mythical than Sasquatch.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think in 2016, Trump already had those who listened to Rush and other radio shows, but was going after NYT and WaPo, which those listeners didn’t read.

      Today, Sanders will be trying to stop those who read NYT, WaPo, etc. from believing what they read.

      The effort is good, but the task is different, I believe.

      1. Big River Bandido

        The people who take those outlets seriously will be the trailing edge of Sanders’s support in a general election. They will oppose him no matter what up until he gets the nomination. After that they are less important but some of them will come around at that point out of partisanship and jersey color. His leading edge of support comes from elsewhere.

        1. WJ

          “people who take those outlets seriously”

          This is a great way of accounting for the two demographics most hostile to Sanders: (1) white liberal professionals and (2) people of all colors and classes over 50-55.

    3. hunkerdown

      You might have misread their room. Politico and The Hill are trade publications for lobbyists and lobbyist-adjacent, not the general public. In their taxonomy, donors and clients are people to be appealed to. Voters are objects, or at best animals, to be herded, driven, and “produced”. The very notion of public benefit is the antithesis of their influence business and the ruin of their upper-middle positions in the Order, which is almost always good for the rest of us.

      1. Big River Bandido

        I didn’t misread *their* room. I know that’s their audience and that’s why they report such nonsense. My point is…their room is tiny, and they are misreading the larger room of the entire country.

  11. richard

    re Gorby’s Pizza Hut ad
    someone reflected the other day, I think it was on chapo trap house, how you never see stand alone Pizza Hut restaurants anymore, just the taco bell hybrids, and (crapification!) how the quality of the pizza is much worse.
    So that commercial makes me a little nostalgic for Gorbs, but even more so for the old Pizza Hut!
    Thanks for the no subtext material. Even if there was one secretly. Please feel free to do more of this :)

    1. Olga

      Pretty sure my commie father has never forgiven gorby for being soooooo stuuupid and naive to trust the west and give away what was ussr. What an idiot he was. May he burn in hell – you know that special place reserved for extraordinary idiots.

      1. OIFVet

        Not sure about Gorby being stupid and naive as much as him being extraordinarily vain. My godparents were fairly important apparatchiks in Bulgaria back in the day. Earlier this summer my godmother was reminiscing about the Gorbachevs, and she told me this story: the Gorbachevs were visiting Bulgaria (not sure whether before or after he became the general secretary but definitely in the 1980’s), and she was assigned to be Raisa Gorbacheva’s tour guide of sorts. They hit it off pretty fast and got quite close. Among other things, Raisa told my godmother that Misha is very vain and she was worried about how that vanity could be manipulated by others.

        Apparently the Americans noted that as well in his psychological profile, and flattered him into giving it all away. QKind of makes sense, Gorby being born in a small selo must have left trace amounts of hickdom and insecurities in him. In any case, my godmother loved Raisa, can’t stand Gorby.

        1. richard

          This post is a good example of why NC’s commentariat is the best. No contest. Everyday, someone here gives us one more clue to the secret meaning of the universe.

      2. richard

        he certainly got taken in by promises about NATO not expanding
        he was dealing entirely with wolves
        But I get what you and your dad are saying
        what does this say about my nostalgia?
        vaguely formed and conveniently ahistorical as always
        I don’t even really miss Pizza Hut

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Is there any reason to think that Reagan and Bush 41 did not mean and believe the promises they gave about no NATO expansion at the time they gave them?

          Bush 41 did not expect to lose the election to Dirty Rat Clinton. And it was Dirty Rat Clinton who cancelled the No-Gro-NATO “gentleman’s-agreement” promise made by Reagan and Bush.

          Or am I wrong? Were Reagan and Bush secretly intending to pull a “Clinton” all along?

        2. Procopius

          Back in the early aughts the biggest franchisee for Pizza Hut in Thailand had some kind of dispute with the main office in the States. I don’t remember what it was about, but he took all his locations and renamed them Pizza Company, so now we have two. Unfortunately, both of them sell the abominable pizzas with pineapple on them, and if not watched will also put mayonnaise under the cheese, but they are still able to produce pizzas which are not completely inedible.

  12. Grant

    I have to say, again, who in the hell that pays attention to facts and is based in objective reality would deny that the coverage of the press not just towards Bernie (they are indifferent to him as a person, it is the threat he poses to their class interests and the interest of the corporations that own the media, as well as the corporations that pay most of the ad revenue) but anyone seeking long overdue structural changes that would benefit working people is slanted against him and them? There is tons of evidence to show this (simply read the articles from those rags over the course of the week if you are too lazy to read studies on the matter), asking those to prove it is akin to proving to them that water is wet. But, what would they expect of any media owned by corporations with most of the on air talent being rich class warriors?

    Also, why would someone on the left critiquing the media be “Trump lite”? Have there been no good leftist critiques of the media? Ever heard of Orwell, Chomsky, Robert McChesney, or the countless articles and studies on media bias overall? I mean, it isn’t just Bernie, it is what they focus on and what they ignore, the facts they allow in the debate and the facts they leave out, the ideas and ideologies they allow to be part of the conversation, those they choose to give space to make their arguments, etc. How much has the media covered climate change and the environmental crisis versus Russiagate or even Stormy Daniels? When they discuss issues like single payer, do they not clearly take a side, frame questions a particular way and focus on some polls and facts that help their critiques and ignore facts and studies that don’t? I know everyone here knows this, but it is really maddening.

  13. drumlin woodchuckles

    About the unfolding Bonfire of the Amazon lit and fanned by the Bolsonarians even as we speak . . . the only way for the Outside World to get the Bolsonarians’ attention is to spell out how the Outside World will do its very best to keep the consequences of desertifying Brazil confined to within the borders of Brazil.

    The only way I can think of to do that would be for the Outside World to adopt and enforce a Worldwide Unanimous Policy of ZERO Brazilian climate refugees being allowed to leave Brazil. ZERO. Not one.
    The Bolsonarians should be forced to understand that if they turn Brazil into a desert which can only support 100 million of the 200 million Brazilians who will be in Brazil by the time New Desert Brazil takes full effect, that ALL 200 MILLION Brazilians will be FORCED to stay IN BRAZIL. And Socially Explode IN BRAZIL.

    Bolsonarians have no right to escape the Desert water-famine food-famine hellscape they have voted to create. The only way we can be sure that they are not allowed to escape it is to force every single one of their enemies and victims to stay right there in Brazil with them . . . festering in the dry foodless waterless heat and letting their hatred for the Bolsonarians who did this build and build and build.

    1. jrs

      Of course that election almost certainly wasn’t legit and was flat out stolen. All the more reason for the people of Brazil to hate their ruling plutocracy and their fake democracy but ..

      We could in theory ban all import of Brazilian products, we do sanctions for less. But as Trump was in part, the inspiration for these kinds of right wing swings and doesn’t give a F ..

      1. JohnnyGL

        “Of course that election almost certainly wasn’t legit and was flat out stolen.”

        If you’re saying this because Lula was put in jail on spurious charges….then, yes, I’d agree to that.

        If you’re saying this because you think votes were tampered with, I’d say that I really don’t think so. Their voting system is WAY more solid than ours. The margin of victory was MASSIVE for Bolsonaro.

        People are really desperate for solutions in Brazil. GDP per capita has cratered, unemployment doubled since 2014. Crime is RAMPANT. When my wife was visiting, it seemed that everyone she talked to has been a victim of some kind of crime, often violent.

        Glenn Greenwald said before the election that he figured Lula would have won, probably. But, after seeing the results and the big margin for Bolsonaro, he was really unclear how a Lula-Bolsonaro match up would have turned out and thinks Bolsonaro might still have won because of the anti-PT sentiment over corruption (and upper-class backlash). I think that’s a fair assessment.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I would not support such a boycott. Whatever we boycott . . . China will step in to buy. China will thereby fan the flames faster.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Again, what I would support is . . . a Unanimous World Declaration that Not One Brazilian will be permitted to escape the desert hellscape that the Bolsonarians will turn Brazil into. Make them all realize that there will be no escape for them from the desert they intend to create.

          Perhaps they will have their mega-death civil war beFORE Brazil becomes unable to support the amount of human numbers it currently supports. Perhaps the anti-Bolsonarians will realize they have nothing left to lose if they try and fail to crush the Bolsonarians in a civil-war-to-the-death over the eco-survival or eco-extinction of Brazil . . . since fully applied Bolsonarianism will result in mega-death eco-collapse in due course anyway, which the Bolsonarians will try to direct against the anti-Bolsonarians exclusively.

          Perhaps the anti-Bolsonarians might even succeed in securing their own bare ecological survival by killing enough Bolsonarians to weaken the rest into utter defeat before the Bolsonarian terracide program is fully rolled out.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        A better approach might be to buy and support those things made in Brazil by anti-Bolsonarian sectors . . . . such as products coming from the intact rainforest AS rainforest, thereby creating a slight power-balance-tipping money-incentive for leaving rainforest AS rainforest.

        Perhaps the country to boycott would be China . . . in order to make China so poor that it could no longer afford to buy any soybeans from Brazil or anywhere else, including the future ex-rainforest.
        Since China will propel the anti-rainforest terracide-arson project through the determined and thorough purchase of every single soybean grown over the Amazon’s dead body. And the only way to stop that is to make China too poor to buy soybeans.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Honestly, you’re behind the curve.

      The Brazilian elites punished the Brazilian people for repeatedly voting, incorrectly, for the Worker’s Party. They did so by slashing GDP by around 20-25% over from 2014-2017 or so. Unemployment doubled during this time. This was in a bid to regain control. It sort of worked…sort of…

      The hellscape you predict is already in effect. And yes, there’s plenty of emigration from Brazil to here in the US (mostly confined to certain regions). But, it’s mostly been imposed through political economy, not through environmental destruction.

      Bolsonaro was the RESULT of that elite project. In the meantime, Glenn Greenwald is busy dismantling the guy.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I’m probably behind the curve you are referring to, of Brazilians fleeing from political decay.

        But I am talking about a different curve. I am talking about the curve of turning the Amazon into a desert which will desertify and semi-desertify much of Brazil beyond the Amazon itself . . . . leading to at least a hundred million people having to choose between starving or drying to death in Brazil, or fleeing Brazil in order to survive. And that is the mass flight which has to be blocked-off in advance, so that every Brazilian KNOWS that there will be NO ESCAPE from Bolsonarian Terracide Unbound.
        It might inspire them to try exterminating the Bolsonarians to stop the Terracide, since if they don’t even try, they WILL all die in the Great Bolsahara Desert to come.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > About the unfolding Bonfire of the Amazon lit and fanned by the Bolsonarians even as we speak

      I knew we hung onto those aircraft carriers for a reason.

  14. Librarian Guy

    Chapo Trap House podcast is at the Iowa State fair and they had a taped stream of the Biden verbal faux pas salad. It was pretty sad (about 10-12 min. into the episode, otherwise not among their best), & they did point out the obvious, that if Bernie was sputtering incoherently that way the MSM would be ALL over it . . . but since it’s Insider Joe nothing to see here, kind of like the New Yorker take above.

  15. JohnnyGL

    “My most cynical take is the elites are basically saying, “Ooops, we broke the working class. Lets import another!”

    Elites to workers: “quit complaining or we’ll replace you with new workers with more positive attitudes”

    Majority of Americans: “we’d like to see less immigration, please”

    tiny fraction of whackos: “you will not replace us!”

    Elites who live in mostly white neighborhoods: “How did this ideology of white nationalism grow in our midst?”

    1. laughingsong

      ‘Elites to workers: “quit complaining or we’ll replace you with new workers with more positive attitudes”’

      21st century version of “The beatings will continue until morale improves”.

      I am very grumpy and cynical today. Musta got up on the wrong side of the world or something . . .

    2. marym

      Majority of Americans:

      Pew 01/31/2019 Majority of Americans continue to say immigrants strengthen the U.S.

      As in recent years, a majority (62%) say immigrants strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents. Just 28% say immigrants are a burden on the country because they take jobs, housing and health care, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center.

      Gallup 06/21/2018 Record-High 75% of Americans Say Immigration Is Good Thing

      A record-high 75% of Americans, including majorities of all party groups, think immigration is a good thing for the U.S. — up slightly from 71% last year. Just 19% of the public considers immigration a bad thing.

      Gallup 06/21.2019 New High in U.S. Say Immigration Most Important Problem

      Asked their preferences for U.S. immigration levels, 37% of Americans say it should be kept at its present level, while more say it should be decreased (35%) than increased (27%).

      Even as they acknowledge immigration as one of the nation’s most pressing problems, Americans still view immigration positively in general, with 76% describing it as a good thing for the country today and 19% as a bad thing. Since Gallup first asked this question in 2001, no fewer than 52% have affirmed immigration’s value, with the current year’s figure the highest to date by one point.

      tiny fraction of whackos:

      As this includes the US president, his cabinet, and other powerful politicians it’s more than just numbers promoting the issue of “replacement.”

      1. Kurtismayfield

        If you add “illegal” to all those polls, the numbers reverse. Workers do not mind documented immigrants.. illegal immigration undercuts them.

      2. Cal2

        “As in recent years, a majority (62%) say immigrants strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents.”—Working nights, weekends, holidays, living four to a room, with no expectation of privacy or those outdated union benefits and work schedules.

        “Immigration’s value” to high property prices, high rental incomes, low employee salaries, thus corporate profits, markets, markets, markets, just in case the poll taker becomes a millionaire…

        The majority of Americans simply don’t earn enough to live a Middle Class life since wages have not grown in inflation adjusted terms since the late 1970s, when mass migration into the U.S. started. Perhaps that’s not a coincidence.

        “Eighty-nine percent of the public says that it is a “big problem” when people have to spend more than half of their monthly income to pay for housing. Moreover, 61% say that they themselves have had to make at least one sacrifice in the past three years because they were struggling to pay for housing, such as taking on an additional job, cutting back on healthy food, stopping retirement savings, cutting back on materials or out-of-school activities that support their child’s learning..”

        “The 1980-2000 immigrant influx, therefore, generally ‘explains’ about 20 to 60 percent of the decline in wages, 25 percent of the decline in employment, and about 10 percent of the rise in incarceration rates among blacks with a high school education or less.”

        National Bureau of Economic Research


        1. marym

          It wouldn’t be surprising that any factor with a negative impact on US workers’ job opportunities, wages, benefits, or working conditions would have a racially disproportionate effect on African American workers, and a disproportionate ripple effect in areas beyond employment. If I were qualified to assess the methodology of the NBER study, a 20-year time span and an impact range of “20 to 60 percent” would be worth a further look, though.

          I may have a different opinion on the weight of various reasons for declining availability of good jobs, wages, and other resources “since the 1970’s”, but respect the position taken by people commenting here, often with data from their own local experience, that immigrant labor can depress employment and wages for native workers.

          However, those making immigration policy now don’t even pretend to have workers’ interests in mind, or policies on job creation, wages, benefits, working conditions, or labor rights that serve those interests.

          I remain skeptical that hostility to workers’ interests and a whitening of the workforce through immigration policy will somehow be beneficial to US workers.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            If an immigration policy is indeed designed to Whiten the work force, then it won’t help workers’ power-money position and situation any. After all, under a White work force policy, we could still fill up the country with illegal alien student visa overstayers, ship jumpers, etc. from Europe.

            But if an immigration policy is designed to shrink and shortagize the work force, it will work to increase the bargaining power of those workers currently already here.

        2. Efmo

          It must be coincidental that all those illegal immigrants took all those jobs, drove the cost of living so high and everyone’s wages so low at the same time neoliberal economics was adopted. I sure believe that treating all those “illegal” immigrants, including those fleeing the results of neoliberal policies the U.S. imposes on their countries, so inhumanely will fix the living conditions of those of us who qualify as working poor in the U.S. NOT. In the meantime, the “civil service” part of government has been so deteriorated by neoliberalism, there was a link the other day (I think here) that it töok a couple something like 18 years to get their green cards and thousands of dollars. Immigration, illegal or otherwise, is a sideshow to the real problems facing those of us not in the 10%. Sensible immigration policies will never be developed as long as it can be used as a cudgel to break apart the working classes.

      3. JohnnyGL

        Translation: Americans treat immigration like eating vegetables.

        We believe they’re good for us, but we want less of them!

    3. JBird4049

      Elites who live in mostly white neighborhoods: “How did this ideology of white nationalism grow in our midst?”

      It is annoying to have American nationalism conflated with White Nationalism, but is done deliberately; if you don’t support open borders including free trade, you are a racist. Also having actual freaking racist alt-right White Nationalist tell me that there is no such thing as American nationalism, implying that only good racist white people can be Americans.

      Also the desired replacement workers had their countries destroyed. They cannot make a living in the neoliberal economic wasteland that the United States has imposed, so they come here. They have been properly traumatized into cheap obedient workers.

  16. Summer

    Re: UBER- Tax break

    “Willens, the tax expert, called the $6.1 billion deduction “unusual” relative to Uber’s roughly $73 billion market value. Another independent tax and accounting expert, Frank Vari in Boston, said he was “surprised” that the deduction was “that large.” The benefit reflected the lofty value that Uber had given its IP when it moved its subsidiaries to new locations.”

    I went through the entire article and saw no description of the $6.1 Billion intellectual property.
    “Unusual” and “surprised,” but not so much so that the said intellectual property isn’t worth a story of its own?

    Whatever it is, it’s worth more than the Beatles music catalog.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      It’s not “real” IP. It’s an accounting method allowing Uber to run revenue from subsidiaries through a low tax jurisdiction, calling the subs “marketing” charging them the estimated value of the trademark (and perhaps other IP) and the corresponding goodwill.

      I’ve simplified it greatly. A good international tax lawyer is what you need.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        When I worked for the largest software company in the world in California, selling their largest software product to a large company in California, we had to book the majority of the sale (representing the “IP” of the software) through the subsidiary in Ireland.

        1. Bugs Bunny

          That’s the system – sales are booked in the low/no tax jurisdiction (or run through 2 or 3), revenue can be recognized there for tax purposes, because the local subs (in your case, including HQ) are nothing but “marketing and sales support” affiliates. And this has been going on for many, many years.

  17. PKMKII

    The Hoarse Whisperer got ID’d, surprise surprise, big-wig at a healthcare marketing firm.

    Regarding the DSA-union story: I heard recently that DC37 had been sending out “feelers” to employees at the NYC YMCA locations about unionizing, which was odd as DC37 has historically been focused on public employees. Wonder if that outreach and the move by DSA to gain influence/control over DC37 are related. Perhaps trying to move the public unions into the private sphere, as they have the muscle that most private ones don’t much anymore. Plus public employee unions are used to having diverse (in terms of type of work done) membership, while private employee unions tend to be focused on particular industries/professions.

    1. pretzelattack

      where did that poster get identified? i see someone with the same name at moon of alabama.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The Hoarse Whisperer got ID’d, surprise surprise, big-wig at a healthcare marketing firm.

      I have been unable to find how the connection got made. Sourcing?

  18. Ptb

    Re: Trump-China negotiations

    Likelihood of success weighed down by the discount that is applied for the probability that the other side does not keep its word on whatever it offers…

  19. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: gaffes and GOP Presidents

    Republican voters simply have a whole different set of standards. Their gaffes are usually forgetting to dog whistle which appeals to White Flight Republicans. Biden’s gaffes demonstrate he belong in the GOP.

  20. CarlH

    Regarding the Obama Legacy story, Lambert wrote:
    “Interestingly, this very topic was brought up in the meeting described by Vanity Fair in “2020.”
    I do not know the background on this. Can someone please explain what Lambert meant. Thanks in advance!

  21. lambert strether

    It’s conventional wisdom that Sanders has trouble appealing to black voters. This is partly false, since Sanders does respectably well among young black voters. It is also partly true, since Sanders has trouble with older black voters, who disproportionately favor Biden, whether from loss aversion, pragmatism, “Barack”’s halo effect, or membership in the Black Misleadership Class. So here we have Sanders sitting down to dinner in Hollywood with young black influencers (and the VF article gives lots of interesting detail about all those round the table, including Sanders. At a minimum, this is excellent staff work from his campaign, putting it together and getting good press coverage. I would also speculate there will be follow up meetings with the attendees, not only in policy, but on the niceties, and above all how to peel off some of those older black voters — i.e., dynamite the South Carolina “firewall.”

    It’s also conventional wisdom, especially among Obama alums but the Democrat nomenklatura generally, that Obama cannot be criticized. But the VF article shows that’s not necessarily true for the stratum at the dinner, and I would bet for younger blacks generally. So can Sanders do what Obama did, and reach parents through their children? Logically, his “not enough” framing should be enough, but this is “third rail of American politics”-level stuff. However, Sanders seems to be reaching out to the kind of people who can help him.

    So, a very interesting story!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Can Sanders do what Obama did?

      Speaking of now and then, and Obama, the other question is whether Hillary wished there had been 20 candidates with a brokered convention at the end, in 2008.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      was it Bruce Dixon who said ” a black ceo doesn’t trickle down.?
      (google and duck duck go don’t know, apparently)
      that’s the vibe i get from the people interviewed.
      idpol as currently weaponised and filtered through the AI in the basement essentialises overmuch.
      just like the “all men”, “all white men” and “all republicans” tropes that have colonized the team blue zietgeist….life is a lot more messy than that.
      it’s a similar situation with Hispanics….the talking heads assume that they all vote Dem. But most of the Hispanics I know are either apolitical but conservative, or vote gop(abortion is a big factor in this,imo).
      I think it’s insulting(as a white dude) to be lumped in with a caricature of torch-wielding, spittleflecked morons.
      reading this, i don’t think i’m alone in that sentiment.
      to assume such monolithic essential qualities for whatever pigmentation level(or what’s between the legs, etc etc) is a fatal flaw of the dem establishment.
      it’s a welcome feature of the legitimacy crises currently unfolding.

      1. Hepativore

        I think that all of the predictions of a permanent Democratic majority due to changing demographic shifts were quite premature. Barring an unlikely electoral victory by Sanders, the Democratic party will continue the failed playbook of fielding neoliberal Clinton clones for their Congressional and presidential elections. Eventually the Democratic party will fade into irrelevance being little more than a center-right party with identity politics thrown in for good measure.

        Meanwhile, Republicans will try and court the hispanic vote which tends to be both socially conservative as well as strongly religious because of the influence of Catholicism in their culture. They might also branch out and try and go after the black vote and many blacks are also socially conservative and religious. That might be a longer shot because of the “Southern Strategy” of the Republican party and the racist connotations that go with it. However, if the Democrats continue on their current trajectory of being the party that hates its own base as they probably will, we might be facing a permanent Republican majority in a few decades.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > if the Democrats continue on their current trajectory of being the party that hates its own base as they probably will,

          The base of the Democrat Party is the professional class, as Thomas Frank shows. Democrat don’t hate professionals; they are the one segment of the population that the Democrats never do anything to harm.

          The Democrats hate the voters who vote for them “because they have no place to go,” and they hate people who are loyal to them, even though they are not professionals. After all, that’s stupid, and Democrats are smart, right? It’s not unusual for a con artist to hate the marks, I would think.

  22. Summer

    RE: “The Future Is Fascist” [Gods and Radicals Press]. “

    Not sure you agree?

    Watch the development of this “eco-fascism” and I’ll bet they get more reverential treatment from law enforcement and authorities than other environmemental activist groups: Standing Rock, Instinction Rebellion…

    1. Summer

      And just in today:
      How Trump Is Reversing Obama’s Nondiscrimination Legacy
      A new rule would allow federal contractors to make hiring and firing decisions based on their religious beliefs and practices.”

      Good luck finding a job after your gay wedding.

        1. Summer

          And as if to emphasize the point of “The Future Is Fascist,” the headline from the LA Times article uses the word “raci –” so “moderation” is triggered, but not for the use of the word “fascist” in previous post.


          1. jrs

            i’ve just given up and use f-ist and “prejudiced” and etc. hoping the meaning comes across, sometimes have to hint more. so much for intelligent conversation when you can’t discuss actual political movements (regardless of how relevant they are to the present).

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          And the Catfood Democrats will get this newest Trump policy permanentized by preventing Sanders from getting nominated, forcing the nomination of a Catfood Democrat instead, and thereby losing the election to Trump. Again.

      1. Summer

        More in LA Times.

        “So it’s not surprising that Trump’s Department of Labor is preparing to release a proposed rule that would allow federal contractors to discriminate against employees on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation for religious reasons.”

        The headline link uses the “r” word and to protect the degenerate won’t be allowed to post….emphasizing the entire point of the “The Future Is Fascist” article.

      2. Pat

        Pretty sure at least part of that is on its face illegal (gender, race and religion are protected but not sexual preference.) As in they would need to change the laws in order to officially do it to women, pagans, and people with darker skin tones.

        What this is is a dog whistle saying we won’t prosecute when you break the law. And what is not being said is we are stacking the courts with judges who will ignore the law or find some reason to throw it out.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        The “whole bad stuff = fascism” convo gets tiresome. Much as crying wolf gets tiresome. There are real wolves, so it’s important to be able to distinguish them from barking dogs, lunatics in wolf costumes, canine shadows, etc.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Not sure you agree?

      I don’t necessarily disagree with his conclusion, but I’m not sure about the way the author reaches it. Identifying fascism and authoritarianism, as the author does, is just sloppy. But it’s at the heart of his argument!

  23. Kurtismayfield

    RE: “San Francisco Taxi Drivers Getting Letters Demanding Repayment Of Medallion Loans”

    The drivers should threaten to mail in the Medallions. Then the bank will have to put the loss of a write down on paper. Watch the banks take back their threatening letters then.

    1. richard

      (I read your “again” with a Rocky the Flying Squirrel intonation, as I think it merits)

    2. John k

      Maybe so.
      Every four years that passes as we do little on climate change ratchets up the importance.
      Plus it seems we are getting closer to a war that might involve two or more nuclear powers.

  24. Synoia

    “Joe Biden Knows He Says the Wrong Thing”

    I could care less about what he says.

    I do care about:

    1.Home Loans
    2. Student Loans
    3, Protection of bankers
    4. And universal heath care for all, WITH LESS INDIVIDUAL COST THAN MEDICARE FOR ALL.

    I do wish our gerontocracy would go home, play with their great-grandchildren and leave Governance to those who have to care about 50 years in the future/

    1. Geo

      Yes, down with the gerontocracy! Let the new generation of politicians like Beto and Mayor Pete have their shot. And while we’re at it, Noam Chomsky and Mike Gravel should step aside and let younger voices like Ben Shapiro and Steven Crowder speak out.

      Sorry but that kind of broad generational demonizing doesn’t merit a thoughtful reply. If you think the problem is generational and not power dynamics and class you may want to reflect on why you feel that way. There are tons of older people who have been trying to make the world a better place. Instead of arbitrary age divisions, maybe unifying with them would be beneficial?

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        Sanders 2020
        AOC 2024

        hey look I didn’t even need to invoke neoliberals or alt-right racists to undercut the argument of someone who can look around and realize it’s a hell of a lot worse for a non-moneyed person — of any age — in 2019 than it was in 1959, ’69, ’79, ’89, or ’99, to say nothing of this disaster of a century so far!

        Do you think Beto and Pete are the voices of our generation or something? Your comment makes me think you’re one of those types that think Lena Dunham is relevant to anyone who isn’t a navel-gazing trust fund kid.

      2. Cal2

        Tulsi Gabbard. 38 years old. Surfer, ocean swimmer. Major in U.S. Army reserves, combat veteran. House member. Is that young enough for you?

  25. Bugs Bunny

    The “‘Lead’ vs. ‘lede” piece is excellent. I’ve been irritated by that hipster spelling for years now. NYT is especially guilty. Hanging offense.

  26. ejf

    As far as inverted yields go, you can see the results by following Treasury bond prices. Treasury bond prices increase when yields decrease. There’s a fairly good explanation here:
    Yield Curve Inversions & The Stock Market
    These inversions can last a while, from 1978 to 2005, ranging from 3 months to 23 months. As the link states: “…downturns in… economic recessions have followed yield curve inversions with a lagged effect.”
    What that means for the current day, I don’t know. The inversion itself could last a while.
    What I do know is that all kinds of money has been going into 20 year Treasury bonds since the middle of last week, everything from fleeing from betting on Argentina bonds (which are crashing), Euro bonds (which are negative yielding) and running away from junk bonds that Wall Street has blessed us with.
    Again: when bond prices go up, yields go down.

  27. anon in so cal

    More on the forest fires in Siberia, Russia (think it was yesterday a tweet from Deutsche Welle was posted concerning the forest fires?). (Not to trivialize the forest fires and their exacerbation or reflection of climate change)

    “Siberia Forest Fires: Reality vs Liberal Media Propaganda”

    “Radio Svoboda, which can be trusted (I joke, I joke), reports that in Siberia 3 million hectares of forest is burning.

    An awful figure – 3 million, right?

    And now let’s count. Don’t be frightened, it is possible even without a calculator.

    Everyone went to school?

    Do you know what 1 hectare is? It is 10,000 square meters. Or a 100×100 square.

    100 hectares is a square kilometer.

    10,000 hectares is a square 10 kilometers by 10 kilometers in size. I.e., 100 square kilometers.

    A million hectares is a square 100 kilometers by 100 kilometers in size. I.e., 10,000 square kilometers.

    And 3 million hectares is a rectangle of 100 kilometers by 300 kilometers in size. I.e., 30,000 square kilometers.

    It’s burning. Across all of Siberia.

    It is less than the area of the Kharkov region, for example (31,000 km)

    And you know what the area of all of Siberia is?

    13.1 million square kilometers.

    I.e., less than 1% is burning. And it is even less than 0.5%.

    If to be exact – only 0.23% is burning.”



    (not sure if Stalker Zone is legitimate?)

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      But if these fires are happening at a time and place where no fires at all ever happened until recently, then they are a sign and a result of new conditions setting in. Same for fires happening in Alaska and Greenland at the same time. If so, the mere fact of their tiny size relative to all Siberia is not grounds for dismissal of importance.

      So . . . are these fires a new and unusual event for this time and place?

  28. chaco

    “Joe Biden Knows He Says the Wrong Thing”
    Biden admits he’s too stupid to stop saying dumb things. I guess that makes him electable.
    Jesus wept.

  29. Cal2

    Sticks and stones may break my bones, names never hurt.

    Washington Post: “Autopsy reveals broken bones in Jeffrey Epstein’s neck.”
    Yeah, when he was on his knees, he leaned forward and the tissue thin paper sheet that he attached to the sky hook must have snapped his neck.

    What a coinkydink!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From the article:

      Among the bones broken in Epstein’s neck was the hyoid bone, which in men is near the Adam’s apple. Such breaks can occur in those who hang themselves, particularly if they are older, according to forensics experts and studies on the subject. But they are more common in victims of homicide by strangulation, the experts said.

      And near the end:

      In 2008, Ronnie L. White, a teenager accused of killing a police officer, died of an apparent suicide in a suburban Washington jail cell. But two days later, the cause of death was changed to homicide when a Maryland state medical examiner discovered the teen had a broken hyoid.

      The incident fanned racial tension and fueled conspiracy theories about the suspect’s death in Prince George’s County, Md.

      Medical examiners concluded White was probably strangled with a sheet, towel or “crux of the elbow.” The officer who moved his body pleaded guilty to obstruction. But no one was ever charged in White’s death. A federal judge said in 2013 that it remained a mystery whether the inmate was slain or took his own life.

  30. John Beech

    “‘Lead’ vs. ‘lede’: Roy Peter Clark has the definitive answer, at last” [Poynter]. • Lead. Fun article, though.”

    And I agree this was a a fun article. I learned the use of lede. It’s been reinforced through association with two someones who had cause to use it professionally. One by an old editor for a newspaper and the other a grizzled veteran of the magazine world. What they taught me is lead is how the story leads off. Lede is how editors refer to this part of all story. A story’s lead is an editor’s lede because the editor’s craft involves editing stories not writing them.

    Otherwise, what did I learn new today? A major reference doesn’t have lede defined.

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