2:00PM Water Cooler 8/21/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, I had a schedule debacle and so this Water Cooler is at present shockingly truncated. I’ll update in a rolling fashion section by section. I hope there’s enough here to get you going. –lambert UPDATE All done.


“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

I’m abandoning the RCP poll on the Democrat Presidential nomination race, despite the fancy presentation, because I don’t like the way the polls used keep changing (and RCP doesn’t include Reuters/IPSOS either, at least not now, even though Reuter is one of the polls that the DNC uses to determine — if that’s the word I want — candidate eligibility for the debates. So I’ll try FiveThirtyEight (I know, I know) for awhile. Here are results going a week back, last updated 2019-08-20:

Top two new from Harris. Morning Consult (B-) is still the pick of the litter today on sample size, and it has Biden, Sanders, and Warren, in that order, and Sanders solidly ahead of Warren. CNN (A-) has Warren breathing down Sanders’ neck. Harris (C+) has interesting head-to-head comparisons. Hopefully we’ll have something better than this screen dump shortly.

* * *


Biden (D)(1): “EXCLUSIVE: Newlywed Hunter Biden DENIES he is the father of the one-year-old baby of 28-year-old Arkansas woman who claims he impregnated her during his relationship with brother Beau’s widow” [Daily Mail]. • Hunter seems to lead a complicated life.

Harris (D)(1): “Harris to appear in CNN climate town hall after backlash” [The Hill]. “The California Democrat was hammered by environmental groups, including the Sunrise Movement, after Harris was the only one of nine initial Democrats invited to the town hall who did not confirm her attendance…. Sunrise had accused Harris of skipping the climate town hall to attend a fundraiser.” • Harris does vacillate rather a lot. She should have just stiffed the donors to begin with; they probably would have respected her for it. This way, she just appears weak.

Sanders (D)(1): Warren works to overcome hurdles with black voters in S.C.” [WaPo]. Despite the headline: “Sanders used his trip to release a wide-reaching criminal justice plan. “This state is a state which has an even more broken criminal justice system than the country, and the country is pretty bad,” Sanders said… at a partitioned-off area at a luncheon hosted by Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia. Although black churchgoers ate nearby, Sanders delivered his remarks to a group of mostly white voters who came just to see him. Several Sanders supporters insisted they shouldn’t have to pay for the luncheon since they had come only to hear the candidate. The overall effect — a crowd of largely white outsiders descending on a weekly lunch for a black church — alienated several churchgoers. ‘I was eating when he spoke,” said Maxine Moses, an African American woman. Although she sat with her son just feet from Sanders, she didn’t go listen to him. ‘I might have gone and listened to him if he had attended the Sunday service,’ she said.” • Of course, this is the Post; I would have liked to know what the (younger) son thought. But this anecdote combines what looks like poor advance work (the partitioned off area) and tactless (if true) behavior, set up by the “partitioned area,” by some Sanders supporters (who might have been poor; and whose race is unstated). Sanders supporters really need to understand that they represent their candidate to an unusual degree at all times, because the slightest slip will be amplified by the press. As here.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Polls suggest Sanders may be underestimated” [The Hill]. “But the surveys give considerable hope to Sanders, who has been largely overshadowed over the past few months by Warren’s buzzy campaign. Given his grass-roots fundraising and his organization, the polling suggests Sanders will be in the race for the long haul and that he stands a good chance of winning. ‘He has the money, the campaign infrastructure and an intense base of supporters,’ said one Democratic strategist. ‘Does he have a tough road to the nomination? Of course, all of the candidates do. But has he been overlooked so far? Absolutely. Out of all the candidates, he is the one you can definitely say is in this for the long haul.’ Then again: “Veteran Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, a columnist for The Hill, said the challenge for Sanders is that it can be difficult for a universally known candidate to grow support. ‘There’s no question he’s a serious candidate in this race and has a real possibility of winning the nomination,’ Mellman said. ‘But he’s also one of the best known, he’s been around the track before, his name recognition is as high or higher than most others, and it can be harder to grow when you’re that well-known.'” • Sanders’ campaign manager:

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): “Bernie Sanders’ famed $27 donors are split in 2020’s sprawling Democratic field” [Los Angeles Times]. “But in the 2020 race, nearly 1.7 million, or more than 80%, of the donors who fueled his earlier run have stayed on the sidelines, according to a Times analysis of campaign finance disclosures through June 30. The 2016 donors who are contributing this election cycle have given more than $32 million to the Democratic field. More than $16.2 million of that went to Sanders, making up about 45% of the money he has raised. But nearly as much went to his rivals, a sign of how split Democrats are as they try to figure out the best candidate to take on President Trump. The numbers need to be viewed in context: It is early. The 2016 donation figures represent 19 months of contributions, including the height of the fiery competition between Sanders and Clinton. But Sanders has an enormous pool of former donors who have not yet committed whom he may be able to tap in coming months.” • And yet Sanders still leads in campaign cash! This shows that Sanders vs. (the widely hated) Clinton is not the same as Sanders vs. a crowded field. The same was true for O’Rourke vs. Cornyn, and O’Rourke vs. a crowded field.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(4): “Bernie Sanders Unveils Sweeping Labor Plan With Sectorwide Bargaining” [Bloomberg]. “Sanders’s labor platform includes ending ‘at-will’ employment, so companies could no longer fire workers without showing they had ‘just cause’; extending collective bargaining rights to state and local government employees; and allowing federal employees to strike. The plan would create a European-style sectoral collective bargaining system in which labor and management would negotiate minimum standards for entire industries, rather than only company by company. It would also halt, via executive order, pension benefit cuts that were made possible by a 2014 compromise signed into law by President Barack Obama, whose vice president, Joe Biden, is now the Democratic frontrunner. Sanders called the compromise a ‘middle of the night deal’ and ‘an outrage.’‘ • There’s the appeal to older voters. Sanders has pensions on his radar, eh? Hmm.

Trump (R)(1): “Trump critics eye GOP primary race, even if defeating him seems ‘preposterous'” [WaPo]. “Joe Walsh, a pugnacious former congressman, is preparing a Republican primary challenge to President Trump that he previewed as a daily ‘bar fight’ with the incumbent over his morality and competency. Mark Sanford, a former South Carolina governor and congressman, said he is inching closer to a bid of his own by sounding out activists in New Hampshire and other early-voting states about an insurgency focused on the ballooning deficit. Jeff Flake, a former Arizona senator and Trump antagonist, said he has taken a flurry of recruitment calls in recent days from GOP donors rattled by signs of an economic slowdown and hungry for an alternative to Trump. And former Ohio governor John Kasich will head to New Hampshire next month to ‘take a look at things’ after experiencing ‘an increase’ in overtures this summer, an adviser said. The anti-Trump movement inside the Republican Party — long a political wasteland — is feeling new urgency to mount a credible opposition to Trump before it’s too late.” • Trump [licks chops]: “Mmm, lunch!”

Warren (D)(1): “Warren works to overcome hurdles with black voters in S.C.” [WaPo]. “In South Carolina, Warren and her team appeared to be navigating the racial landscape more astutely than Sanders. Among the speakers warming up a crowd for her Saturday evening in Aiken, S.C., was Lessie Price, a local black leader and the first vice chair of the state’s Democratic Party. Warren’s message, Price said, speaks to African Americans. ‘Often­times, it’s getting that message out over and over and over, and someone starts hearing it,’ said Price, who is staying neutral in the primary. Speaking to a black church is particularly sensitive, she said. ‘The church in the past has been a rallying point to really see what a candidate is truly about,’ Price said. ‘You have to change your message in that setting.’ And Warren adjusted her rhetoric when she stepped up to the pulpit at a sparsely attended service at Reid Chapel AME Church on the other side of Columbia on Sunday morning. Rather than her usual firebrand stemwinder, she talked about her hardscrabble biography, including an anecdote about how she once struggled to control an unruly fifth-grade Sunday school class.” • Of course, this is the Post. And see above from Sanders.

UPDATE Warren (D)(2): “Elizabeth Warren Has a Plan to Finish What FDR Started” [The Nation]. “Where to begin? Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is proposing a strikingly bold, and strikingly smart, plan to close the digital divide that, according to a 2017 FCC report, has left 26.4 percent of people living in rural areas–and 32.1 percent of people living on tribal lands– without access to minimum speed broadband. The 2020 Democratic presidential contender’s plan can best be understood as a 21st-century version of rural electrification…. The Office of Broadband Access that Warren wants to establish to manage the federal grant program would require that ‘only electricity and telephone cooperatives, non-profit organizations, tribes, cities, counties, and other state subdivisions will be eligible for grants from this fund—and all grants will be used to build the fiber infrastructure necessary to bring high-speed broadband to unserved areas, underserved areas, or areas with minimal competition. The federal government will pay 90 cents on the dollar for construction under these grants. In exchange, applicants will be required to offer high-speed public broadband directly to every home in their application area.'” • That’s not too bad!

UPDATE Warren (D)(3): “There’s a secret anti-tech message hidden on this campaign website” [Yello]. Lots of info about Trump merch. And all the way at the bottom of the “View Source’ page for Warren’s site:

* * *

UPDATE “Who is ahead in the Democratic primary race?” (charts) [The Economist]. • “National poll average”: Biden 28%; Warren 19%; Sanders 15%; Harris 6%; Buttigieg 5%.

CA: “Which Democrat is your L.A. block backing?” (map) [Los Angeles Times]. The summary: “Sen. Kamala Harris leads all Democrats in the race for L.A. County cash. Large hauls from fundraisers on the wealthy Westside have helped top her rivals here, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, who holds the nationwide lead thanks to an army of small donors spread across America.” • I have never broken down that national map of donors from the Times by location, which I really should do one day.


“Ocasio-Cortez blasts Electoral College as a ‘scam'” [The Hill]. • I want the AOC who occupied Pelosi’s office back. I hope she’s taking care of constituent services, at least.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “The Democratic Party isn’t who Twitter thinks it is” [Chris Cillizza, CNN]. “According to the new CNN-SSRS national poll, self-identifying liberals make up less than half of all Democrats: 42%. The rest of the party calls itself either “moderate” (43%) or conservative (11%)…. What all of these data points say is that while the most liberal elements within the party — which tend to spend lots and lots of time online and on Twitter — are the loudest, they are not nearly as dominant a voice within the party as they (and the candidates vying for their votes) would have you believe.” • He’s right.

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of August 16, 2019: “The surge in refinancing is easing” [Econoday].

Existing Home Sales, July 2019: “Resales have been trending cautiously higher this year with July proving the best month since February” [Econoday]. “Housing hasn’t shown much momentum this year despite low mortgage rates and a strong a labor market. Yet today’s report does point to sales momentum going into August.”

The Bezzle: “Disney whistleblower told SEC the company inflated revenue for years” [MarketWatch]. “A former Walt Disney Co. accountant says she has filed a series of whistleblower tips with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging the company has materially overstated revenue for years. Sandra Kuba, formerly a senior financial analyst in Disney’s revenue-operations department who worked for the company for 18 years, alleges that employees working in the parks-and-resorts business segment systematically overstated revenue by billions of dollars by exploiting weaknesses in the company’s accounting software… .Kuba’s whistleblower filings, which have been reviewed by MarketWatch, outline several ways employees allegedly boosted revenue, including recording fictitious revenue for complimentary golf rounds or for free guest promotions…. Kuba said she brought her concerns to the SEC in August 2017. She was fired from Disney about a month later…. The pattern of interaction with the SEC suggests the regulator is taking the allegations seriously, said Jordan A. Thomas, a former attorney in the SEC’s enforcement division and chairman of Labaton Sucharow’s whistleblower-representation practice.”

Intellectual Property: “Ohio State seeks to trademark the word ‘The'” [ESPN]. “The school, formally known as The Ohio State University, is seeking a trademark on the word ‘The’ for use on clothing and hats. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the filing was made Thursday.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 28 Fear (previous close: 23, Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 21 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 21 at 12:59pmd. Note that the index is not always updated daily, sadly.

The Biosphere



No song, though.

UPDATE “Scorched Portugal Turns to the Goat as a Low-Cost Firefighter” [New York Times]. “The absence of shepherds, goatherds and farmers has left forest lands overgrown, allowing fires to spread and burn faster. Steep slopes are out of reach for a tractor and are very costly to tend by hand, difficult in any case for an aging population. A simple, low-cost solution, Portuguese officials now hope, may lie with the humble goat, which feeds on the underbrush that fuels fires, if only enough goatherds and shepherds can be found and supported in a way of life that is disappearing.” • I wonder if goats would work in California?

UPDATE “Gardeners learn to see time differently” [WaPo]. “But I can’t put aside the fact that with each bud and bloom and fade cycle, first of the bleeding hearts, then the lilacs, then the irises, the Shasta daisies and the butterfly bush, it’s that much closer to fall. I am trying, unfortunately with only limited success, to mature along with my plantings. They’ll come back, I keep reminding myself — the true definition of a perennial optimist.”

“Alarm as devastating banana fungus reaches the Americas” [Nature]. “TR4 infects several varieties of banana and plantain, but is particularly harmful to the Cavendish, which is the main variety sold in grocery stores and accounts for the lion’s share of international exports…. The TR4 strain — which started destroying Cavendish crops in Asia in the 1990s, then spread to Australia and, later, Africa — infects banana plants through the roots and spreads throughout the vascular system, starving the plant of water and nutrients. The fungus can be transmitted by moving infected plants from one area to another, or through water and soil. It can’t be controlled with fungicides, so the main way of dealing with TR4 is to try to stop it spreading…. TR4 can linger in the soil for roughly 30 years. ‘Soil is very difficult to contain,’ says Fernando García-Bastidas, a plant pathologist at KeyGene in Wageningen, the Netherlands.”

“Marsh Mud Hides a Key Ingredient for ‘Anti-Greenhouse Gas'” [Inverse]. “The smell that wafts off of the ocean is instantly recognizable: Sometimes it smells fresh and clean, but other times it’s a little clammy, briny, or sulfuric. That smell actually indicates a plentiful source of what some scientists call an ‘anti-greenhouse gas.’… That sea smell is partially the odor of dimethyl sulfide (DMS), which is released when marine microorganisms break down another sea nutrient called dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP). DMS has sometimes been called the ‘anti-greenhouse gas’ because once it’s in the atmosphere it rapidly breaks down into aerosols that allow clouds to form. Those clouds can help scatter UV radiation back into space, creating a cooling effect. In a paper published Monday in Nature Microbiology Jonathan Todd, Ph.D., and a team at the University of East Anglia have shown that bacteria hidden deep in marsh mud can manufacture DMSP, which is the key ingredient needed to make DMS. ‘Previously DMSP was largely thought to be a molecule made by eukaryotic algae in Earth’s surface ocean,’ Todd tells Inverse. ‘However, we show that DMSP concentration, DMSP and DMS synthesis rates are far higher in all tested coastal mud samples than in the surface water.'”


UPDATE “States cut water use as Colorado River runs low. That’s actually good news.” [Grist]. “For the first time in history, low water levels on the Colorado River have forced Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico to cut back the amount of water they use. It’s the latest example of climate change affecting daily life, but also an encouraging sign that people can handle a world with less: These orderly cutbacks are only happening because seven U.S. states and Mexico had agreed to abide by conservation rules when flows subside, rather than fight for the last drops….. A Bureau of Reclamation study of Colorado River levels, released Thursday, triggered the cutbacks. The Rocky Mountains finally turned white with heavy snow last winter, but despite a galloping spring runoff, drought persists and bathtub-ringed reservoirs in the Grand Canyon are low. In its study, the Bureau highlighted the unique circumstances: ‘This 20-year period is also one of the driest in the 1,200-year paleo record.'” • Nice to see the science driving policy, too.

UPDATE “Iowa uses less restrictive standards than EPA guidance for blue-green algae toxins” [Des Moines Register]. “A toxin from blue-green algae poisoned a child playing in a southern Iowa lake this summer, sending the youngster to the doctor with a headache, rash, diarrhea and sores in her mouth, the state reported. The child might have avoided getting sick had the state followed federal recommendations about when to warn families it’s unsafe to swim in Iowa’s lakes. Iowa instead relies on less-restrictive World Health Organization guidelines when issuing swim advisories.”

Health Care

UPDATE “The Collapse Of A Hospital Empire — And Towns Left In The Wreckage” [KHN]. “The money was so good in the beginning, and it seemed it might gush forever, right through tiny country hospitals in Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and into the coffers of companies controlled by Jorge A. Perez, his family and business partners. It was his “secret sauce,” the rotund Miami entrepreneur would smilingly tell people in their no-stoplight towns. The money-making ventures he proposed sounded complicated, sure, but he said they would bring in enough cash to save their hospital and dozens, even hundreds, of good jobs in rural towns where gainful employment is hard to come by.” • Fraud, naturally. It’s not the prospect of #MedicareForAll that should scare rural hospitals.

Class Warfare

“Predatory precarity” [Interfluidity (JB)]. I apologize for the length of this extract: “There are people at the top of the American food chain who are stupid rich, for whom questions of making ends meet and financial security are laughably distant. People like that, they are easy to deal with. If it was “us” (whoever the fuck we are) versus only them, politics would be easy. We’d have taxed the billionaires to pay their fair share a long time ago. But most of the people towards the top of the American food chain are not stupid rich, but stupidly rich. They “make” sums of money that by any fair reckoning, obviously in a global context but even in an American context, are huge. But they plow that affluence into bidding wars on incredibly (if artificially) scarce social goods. Nobody “needs” to live in Arlington (or my own San Francisco). No one’s kid ‘has’ to go to private school (or for the more woke among us, notionally public schools rendered exclusive by the cost of nearby housing). … The point of this is not that you should have sympathy for the Arlingtonians (or San Franciscans). Fuck ’em (er, us). But you are missing something important, as a matter of politics if nothing else, if you don’t get that the people who are your predators financially are, in their turn, someone else’s prey. Part of why the legalized corruption that is the vast bulk of the (dollar-weighted) US economy is so immovable is that the people whose lobbyists have cornered markets to ensure they stay overpaid are desperately frightened of not being overpaid, because if they were not overpaid they would become unable to make all the absurd overpayments that are now required to live what people of my generation (and race, and class) understood to be an ordinary life. It’s turtles all the way down, each one collecting a toll and wondering how it’s gonna pay the next… When goods like health, comfort, safety, and ones children’s life prospects are effectively price-rationed, individuals will lever themselves to the hilt to purchase their place. The result is a strange precariot, objectively wealthy, educated and in a certain sense well-intended, who justify as a matter of defensive necessity participation in arrangements whose ugliness they cannot quite not see. In aggregate, they are predators, but individually they are also prey, and they feel embattled.” • The 10% is, in its own way, precarious. Well worth a read.

News of the Wired

“Funniest Edinburgh joke 2019: What do you think of this year’s winner” [Sky News]. • My favorite is the Australian public’s #1 (“Somebody stole”). #4 (“A cowboy”), too.

“Only a Fool Would Challenge the Pumpkin Spice Latte” [New York Magazine]. “The spice returns in late August, its earliest return ever, but it cares not for your feeble cries of ‘but it’s still summer!’… The spice does not need your approval, or acceptance — all it needs to survive is your continued compliance in the ever-expanding commercialization of fall within an economy reliant on endless growth.” •

“Imitation and Extinction: The Case Against Reality” [Los Angeles Review of Books]. For the philosophers among us, but I think worth a read for anyone: “Natural selection now has a precise formulation known as evolutionary game theory. Applying game theory to evolution means we can run simulations and prove theorems about its effects. The results are clear. Veridical perception does not assist with survival. In fact, an organism whose perceptions are veridical is less fit than its nonveridical twin whose perceptions are focused on what we call ‘fitness payoffs.’… Our senses do not present “a marvelously detailed and accurate view of the outside world” as Robert Trivers writes. They present payoffs. The very language of our senses — space, time, objects, shapes, colors, tastes, smells, and sounds — is simply the wrong language to describe reality; its vocabulary was not shaped to that end.” • This is the first serious article in a mainstream venue that I, at least, have read that is thoroughly a product of a gamers’ perspective.

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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 (Amfortas the Hippie):

A sculpture at left; and… cantaloupes at the right?

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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. dearieme

    I’m not sure why I am being told Newlywed Hunter Biden DENIES …

    So what? It’s not as if the Biden’s are a corrupt clan, is it? Or is it?

        1. Tvc15

          Thank you. I enjoyed reading both articles including the comments of course. Sounds like brazen corruption to me. As Yves mentions, I also wonder when this information will be unloaded on the ever so deserving Joe Biden. The DNC knows this is out there, yet they still push him. Do they think people’s hatred of Trump will be greater than garden variety political corruption aka doing business as usual for the ruling class? John Kerry’s stepson and Teresa Heinz’s son also has close ties to the Ukrainian company. This appears to be a little more shameless than normal or may be Biden’s just not very sharp.

          1. Oregoncharles

            It’s still the Republicans turn (they alternate, two full terms at a time), so the Dems have to find a way to lose.

            (I’m still waiting for events to prove me wrong on this theory.)

          2. Acacia

            …or have they still not connected the dots that Trumpism is driven in part by a longstanding disgust with exactly this kind of brazen, business-as-usual corruption?

  2. dearieme

    “Alarm as devastating banana fungus reaches the Americas”

    How odd: I thought that Mr Corbyn was visiting Ghana not the Americas.

    1. Massinissa

      Forgive me, but I can’t tell if your intent is to say that Corbyn is like a banana fungus, or if your intent is to say that the media regard him as a banana fungus.

      1. ambrit

        The same in effect to the general public. Especially those who fondly mourn the passing of the Page 3 girls.

  3. Wukchumni

    The Bezzle: “Disney whistleblower told SEC the company inflated revenue for years”

    Hot product 1929: Mickey Mouse

    Hot product 2019: Mickeying with the mouse.

    1. Deschain

      As much as one might want this to be true (and as much as one ought to give whistleblowers the benefit of the doubt these days), reading through her allegations suggests that it isn’t. She is alleging Disney overstated revenue by billions of dollars, but even a cursory examination of the company’s cash flows shows that they line up with reported earnings pretty well over time, which would be impossible in the case of revenue fraud at the scale she is suggesting. Mickey may be guilty of many things, but I don’t think this is one of them.

      1. todde

        I agree.

        I would also think their operating assets/liabilities would be going up/down year after year, if they were constantly booking revenue that didn’t exist. That also isn’t happening according to the reports.

        Revenue recognition: it is getting easier to manipulate with every FASB ASC.

    2. Off The Street

      Given news reports of bubonic plague, and what some call other medieval maladies in Los Angeles, it would be unsurprising to find out that a rat, host or two had traveled to Burbank and to Anaheim.

      1. Wukchumni

        The lunar base camp there
        With burning midnight lamp
        They call it Frisbeeland
        It’s just a disneyland
        Android Americans
        Live in the ruins there
        In Dead Loss Angeles
        In Dead Loss Angeles

        They get the tremors there
        Been given babylon
        Plenty of companies
        Such lonely company
        I hear a symphony
        Of lonely timpani


  4. WJ

    “Ocasio-Cortez blasts Electoral College as a ‘scam’” [The Hill]. •

    I have the same feelings toward AOC as I do toward Warren. When I hear either attacked from the Right I tend to defend them; when I hear either praised by somebody who considers herself “Left” or “Progressive” I tend to demur and criticize.

    My suspicion (which is only that) is that AOC like Warren is politically ambitious in a way that makes her susceptible to the wrong sort of influence, such that you can never really be sure what game she’s playing.

    When are these hotshot Dem reps going to announce their support for a Dem candidate, and will they be willing to do so at a time when it still means something and risks something?

    1. Grant

      She and Pelosi had their confrontations, with the most recent one being the most well known. Since then, AOC has fired her chief of staff, has said little about the corrupt party leaders and right wing Democrats and is focusing on relatively safe things. Basically, it seems that Pelosi accomplished what she wanted to accomplish in challenging her, at least for now. She has been pretty damn quiet as of late, and has stayed out of the primary. Given her connection to Bernie and since she is still a DSA member, he not endorsing him is interesting. I realize that Warren is decent on some things, but I would have to assume that AOC is far closer to Bernie than her on a number of fronts. But, overall, I think that it is the result of her having only a few allies and feeling that it is too much, as young as she is, to take on the totality of her corrupt party and the corporate media. I think it is entirely possible that she returns to her old fighting self in the way she was until recently if she gets more allies. But, it is also possible that she gets brought into the fold. Then she becomes the left flank of the neoliberals, whether that is her intention or not. We get no structural changes by being nice to those in power, they are entirely against the radical changes we need, and so I hope her being relatively quiet is more strategic and short term than anything else.

      1. JBird4049

        I have a bad feeling about AOC. However, I also know that I am not a very junior first time member of Congress with a great deal of stress inducing attention on me. She also got herself into Congress despite the party’s opposition, which is quite a feat. So let’s wait before declaring her an apostate.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > However, I also know that I am not a very junior first time member of Congress with a great deal of stressful attention on me. She also got herself into Congress despite the party’s opposition, which is quite a feat. So let’s wait before declaring her an apostate.

          Yes. She’s also breaking in new staff. But yes, Pelosi cracked the whip, for sure.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Omar and Tlalib are crushing it on Palestine right now, and admittedly, I suspect AOC isn’t good enough on foreign affairs issues (ex. Sanders has improved tremendously, and Warren is just a disaster) to jump in to a level where we expect her to be.

            1. anon in so cal

              Seems contradictory that AOC voted for AdamSchiff’s H.R. 3494, which will hide CIA torture programs from the public and harm press freedom.

              AOC has earlier made NeoCon-sounding statements about Maduro.

        2. Grant

          I don’t have a bad feeling at this point, but that could change. As of right now, I understand why she is stepping back a little bit. She is one of the only people that seems serious about changing the system, and she does operate in what is still a very corrupt and right wing party. It’s easy for people commenting online, and existing in a society where most politicians are corrupt, gaslighting liars, to be cynical and to say she should do this or that. But, she, not even 30, has had to take the entirety of her party on, along with the media. If I was her, if I went from being a regular working person to being on the cover of magazines, the center of media attention and attacks, and if the totality of the party I had to operate in came down hard on me, I too might take a step back and think about things. However, if this continues and she stops challenging people and interests that need to be challenged, then that is a different story. She goes from being one of the people that could lead the fight for long overdue changes to being just another politician talking left but working within established confines, and she will not have the impact many thought she would have. Wait and see, I guess. I hope she sees the value in constantly challenging these people, cause few do, they have ruined the country and have no solutions to any of our problems.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Wait and see, I guess

            Representatives are elected every two years, so her next campaign is essentially tomorrow, if not today. That’s why I keeping saying she needs to take care of her constituents. No reason she can’t build a Queens machine of the left, if she wants to. Strategically located right next to Manhattan.

      2. Bugs Bunny

        She’s got a point about the electoral college. Devised by the same guys who came up with that 3/5ths of a person scam, after all.

        1. John

          Neither the 3/5 compromise nor the electoral college were scams. The first was a distastefully necessary genuflection to slaveholders to form a union of all the states and the second recognition of the general fear of democracy as mob rule. Was it not Franklin who when asked what kind of government have you given us replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

          Let’s see where we are after the 2020 election leaves us on the republic – democracy – mob rule spectrum.

          1. richard

            The men who wrote the constitution thought direct votes for president and senators constituted “mob rule”, as well as allowing anyone to vote who wasn’t a white, male property owner. That was all “mob rule”. Maybe we can just get rid of that idiotic 18th century formulation and not worry about it as an outcome of democracy anymore.
            p.s. this is not to say that aoc’s screed against the electoral college was worthwhile – it’s not where she should focus her dissent

          2. JPerry

            I believe that its extraordinarily important for the majority to win by a wider margin of the popular vote. It helps ensure that the majority does not simply keep a minority permanently suppressed with slim perpetual majorities. However if the electoral college is corrupted in 2020, we might have full anarchy. Like you said… Let’s see where we are after the 2020 election.

            1. bob

              What if the winner, again, doesn’t get the most votes?

              How many times does that have to happen?

              “However if the electoral college is corrupted in 2020…”

              This is a bridge way too far. Like it was *corrupted* in 2000 and 2016? Is it better when the supreme court corrupts it too? Why even bother with elections?

              “I believe that its extraordinarily important for the majority to win by a wider margin of the popular vote.”

              What about the winner losing the popular vote? This isn’t even about majority, or a wide margin. It’s about the loser winning, which seems a bit anti-democratic. How am I wrong? Are we better off with the minority keeping the majority permanently suppressed? Do you even get a vote in that?

              The hagiography of The Founders continues.

              1. JPerry

                Of course the elections were corrupt in 2000 and 2016. Just can’t fix the past; can only learn from it. Dems have been making it easy by not showing up to vote, not being better prepared for these insidious power grabs, and just not being willing to fist fight on topics of gerrymandering, court nominations, voter rights etc.

                While I fear what has happened and is happening, the greater evil and risk is an out of control majority that tramples the rights of minorities, which is the unfortunate “raison d’etre” of the United States of America.

                I hope the USA can rise above its wrongs (which are well documented from formation till now) and fulfill the promise of the constitution, which is a hagiography of the Founders, but without it the USA stands for nothing right and has no vision or future.

                If Trump loses popular vote by a wider margin and some corrupt electoral college flunkies decide to give him the election when he should have lost electoral college, then the USA as we know it and its unfulfilled promise will die.

                There’s still hope to fix this mess and make common sense reforms to our election and legislative processes because for all of Trumps bluster… he and his supporters are not the majority… not yet.

                The world I truly fear is a world run by a majority populist mob that thinks everything they do is right even if they are only 50.1 percent of the vote. At least with the minority having a chance to rule (2000 and 2016), the majority gets a chance to see alternative ideas (the good, the bad, the ugly, and the crazy).

                Imagine this… what if Trumps ~45-48% minority was actually all African Americans, Native Indians, and Environmentalists. Do they deserve to be heard once in a while? Or should they be continually suppressed by the majority popular vote. No group deserves to be suppressed because no group (majority or minority) is wrong all the time.

                For 2020, I expect the majority will be energized to show up in mass in and ensure a real political mandate… something that likely hasn’t happened for several decades now. God help the USA is there’s another dubious election.

                1. bob

                  Trump was elected by less than half of the half of the people who even bother to vote.

                  Less than 25% of the people in This Great Country.

                  Our problem is not too much democracy. Why are you advocating for less democracy?

                  How can you be so far ahead in 28th dimensional chess that you can’t even see that?

                  1. JPerry

                    The USA is not a pure democracy. It is a representative republic as the natural inclination of some people is to give up power over time by not voting or being knowledgeable about the issues etc. Every once in a while, the populace gets energized and becomes well informed on issues. Mandatory participation might be achievable today and might be the answer. Would welcome the day when political science etc. is basic requirement of citizen education.

                    1. bob

                      Democracy and republic are not different. Both can operate at the same time time in the same place.

                      Why does this half baked libertarian talking point get any attention at all?

                      There’s also no true, pure scotsman….

          3. Grant

            If I don’t accept the framing? Seems that the “mob” wants to have things like a healthcare system that doesn’t kill up to 45,000 Americans a year, doesn’t lock people into jobs, lead to mass bankruptcies and isn’t horribly inefficient. The “mob” wants to, you know, not have an environmental crisis that leads to societal collapse, wants a political system not drowning in corruption, among other things. Those at the top, if they want this system to stay in place, maybe they should make sure it actually works for most people. Otherwise, you have a corrupt, inequitable, exploitive and environmentally destructive system that those at the top will increasingly only be able to maintain at the barrel of a gun. The mob is running things now if you ask me.

            Using that framing, Sweden, with its really high union density rates, democratic form of economic planning and solidaristic wage bargaining would be mob rule more than a traditional representative democracy. Sign me up.

          4. bob

            So keep the anti-democratic system to save democracy?

            She has a very good point. How many times does the loser of the popular vote win the electoral college before it changes?

            That’s not democracy

            1. Greg

              It took two gratuitously broken outcomes in nz for us to ditch first-past-the-post in favour of mixed-member-proportional. The sort of results where the party that got a third of the vote gets two thirds of the seats and the priminister, in an effectively two party system.

              So yes, two obviously broken results drastically against the “will of the people” over the space of thirty years to allow time for the legal scholarship (and a royal commission of inquiry or two) to come up with a viable replacement.

            2. anon in so cal

              If the electoral college is eliminated, then states such as California, New Jersey, and New York effectively choose presidents, no? California is an approximation of one party rule.

              1. bob

                If the electoral college is eliminated the winner of the election would be the person that gets the most votes.

                Why is this so hard? It’s not a difficult concept. Most other elections are done this way.

                1. Late Introvert

                  Well, first of all that pesky Constitution with it’s shared governance between Federal and State. Whinging about it is OK I guess, but then there’s doing something about it. Do you really want a Constitutional Convention under current corporate ownership of campaigns and elections? I do not. I would rather win the states with Bernie.

                  Given the fact that Hillary won the last popular vote, it seems like the founders were wise. /s

                  1. bob

                    “Do you really want a Constitutional Convention under current corporate ownership of campaigns and elections? I do not.”

                    You and the corporate ownership agree. There should be no changes.

                    But who’s whinging at even the mention of changing this? On a blog post! Beware! They know what we’re up to!

                    The mere suggestion of democracy meaning one person, one vote, is enough to give folks the vapors.

                    “Stop! Before it’s too late!”

                2. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > If the electoral college is eliminated the winner of the election would be the person that gets the most votes.

                  Anybody that thinks Maine — or any small state — is gonna accept having its future decided by the corrupt oligarchy that runs CalPERS is out of their minds.

                  1. bob

                    You’re smarter than that.

                    #1 how do you get all of CA to vote for the same person?

                    #2 Even if every single person in CA voted together they wouldn’t have a majority.

                    #3 You have accepted several corrupt oligarchies already. Maine had no say in them either.

          5. bob

            “republic – democracy – mob rule spectrum”

            What sort of spectra is that? It’s word salad.

        2. John k

          Not at all a scam. The small states, such as Fl, were fearful the larger numbers in the populous states would end up with them dominating policy. This was the deal that persuaded them to join the union. As it was Va ended up winning the pres most of the time even though the EC gave a modest advantage to small pop states.
          The smallest states have changed over time, but there will always be small states, meaning they will vote to keep the EC, and you need at least 38/50 to agree. It will never change, be happy it’s rare the election is so close that it matters.
          Put up a candidate that cares about the average person and it won’t be close. Failing that, what diff does it make?

          1. Acacia

            This. In absence of the EC, why would politicians even bother visiting let alone listening to voters the small states? The states with the big population centers would carry the vote. The present ideological divisions in our disunited states would become deeper. And in any case, again, they would not agree to its abolition.

            1. @pe

              This misses the point so badly — and yet it’s believed to be common sense.

              The EC does not protect the interest of smaller states or larger states. It only protects the interests of states where the marginal vote is most valuable — which means large states which are close to 50:50.

              The EC was originally designed for local oligarchs to select the president. That arguably made sense in a non-democratic society composed of almost independent states with their own militaries.

              None of that holds true anymore (the constitution is not a meaningful legal document, but is a sacred document, just like the Bible — and thus can be reinterpreted to mean anything you want). The rationalizations for the EC are absurd — it’s just constitutional fundamentalism, with pretzel logic to try to cover up the purely emotive and frankly religious basis as rationality.

              It’s not — and it’s really obviously not. It’s so obviously not rational, that I don’t feel bad at all about pointing out that there is no good-faith argument possible here. It’s not a logical argument between two sides, but it’s a question of conversion.

              This is a true terrible thing within American culture, a religious inability to face reality. The reduction of arguments of reason to sacred belief. Fundamentalism infects almost every aspect of American society.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > She’s got a point about the electoral college

          But there are an enormous number of things to have a point about, so why pick a liberal Democrat talking point whose only purpose — since abolishing the EC na ga happen — is to delegitimize the next election the Axis of Tanden blows?

    2. Ranger Rick

      She might be left or progressive, but she’s a New Yorker first. The cities hate the very idea of a check on their influence.

      1. inode_buddha

        The rest of the state wishes the cities would sod off. They already have way too much influence, 450 miles away.

        1. Big River Bandido

          That’s hollow. New York City cannot even institute congestion pricing without the approval of Albany. Its entire transit system is held hostage to not one, but two state capitals through the byzantine structure and operations of the MTA.

        2. bob

          So the minority should rule?

          How is this even being talked about honestly in the context of “democracy”?

          It really is startling how many proposals to “fix things” start with ways to stop people being able to have the same voice as other people.

          We need MORE voters, not less.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > It really is startling how many proposals to “fix things” start with ways to stop people being able to have the same voice as other people.

            After abolishing the EC, the voters of Maine — or any other small state — would go from having a small voice to having no voice. No presidential candidates would visit, Maine Representatives or Senators would lose their places on committees, and on and on and on. I have absolutely no confidence that the local oligarchies of Manhattan, San Francisco, and Houston, who would be the ultimate winners in this proposal, would govern with the interests of the country as a whole. (“Just move.”)

            No, there might be a better way of “governing the country as a whole” than the EC, which I’m certainly willing to hear, but abolishing the EC in favor of a single national popular vote isn’t it.

    3. bob

      “AOC like Warren is politically ambitious in a way that makes her susceptible to the wrong sort of influence, such that you can never really be sure what game she’s playing.”

      Bitches be crazy? Yanno Are you really saying that?

      Can you point to an example of both of those women being taken advatage of? How are both examples of susceptibility, due to ambition, similar?

      What were the games being played? How is that different from the games that were purported to be played?

      Most importantly – Who took advantage of them?

    1. neighbor7

      A decent tabloid should be able to headline this story in five one-syllable words!

      Did the headline writers go with the copy editors?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I regard Larry Johnson as dubious, ever since he kept promising to come up with Michelle Obama’s “whitey” tape in 2008, and didn’t deliver, after endless teasing. So, cum grano salis.

  5. dearieme

    The evolution thing: Natural selection now has a precise formulation known as evolutionary game theory. In other words, a precisely defined mathematical model is available. Whether it has adjustable parameters I don’t know. For the sake of argument I’ll assume it doesn’t.

    But now an edit is required:
    Applying the model to evolution means we can run simulations and prove theorems about the model.

    Presumably we can learn a lot about the predictions of the model (assuming various characteristics about its computability). But would we be learning about evolution? The question is how faithful the model predictions are to the results of evolutionary experiments and observations because otherwise the modeller is in danger of confusing his model with reality. I’ve done a fair bit of mathematical modelling and consequently have a warning for beginners: don’t fall in love with your model. In truth it’s a warning for all modellers, beginners or not.

    1. 1wq

      Even the modellers themselves flat-out said they didn’t believe it would apply to the evolution of abstract reasoning, only perception.

    2. T

      Having trouble getting past the idea of seeing and “turning” a steering wheel in GTA. Is that an Xbox thing?


      It’s as if he tried to illustrate by saying, “Considering that goats walk backwards during a full moon” and we’re supposed to go along.

    3. bob

      The idea that you can model completely random events on a timeline of millennia is pure hubris defined.

  6. Cal2

    “Which Democrat is your L.A. block backing?”…Large hauls from fundraisers on the wealthy Westside have helped top her rivals here, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, who holds the nationwide lead thanks to an army of small donors spread across America.”

    Notable is that there is a uniformity of donations to Sanders on the map across the entire L.A. Basin, whereas with all the others, it’s spotty.

    “Kamala Harris for the_______ people”

    “Wealthy? Oligarchical? Privileged? Jet Set?

    An example for the Kamaleon


    Kamala Hypocrisis?
    Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris ripped a law firm’s work on a controversial plea deal involving deep-pocketed pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — the same day she took money from some of its attorneys at a fundraiser. Harris had no problem allowing six partners from the firm, Kirkland & Ellis, help raise dough for her campaign last week by hosting the Chicago event — which even featured her husband, lawyer Douglas Emhoff, the Associated Press reported.

          1. Carey

            My impression was that Gabbard’s words didn’t bother
            Harris much at all; in fact, her perma-smirk seemed to
            grow, and she didn’t even bother to try a misdirection.

            For now, I still say Harris has friends™ in the highest of places.

    1. inode_buddha

      I can’t wait to hear the Republicans scream bloody murder about the use of Executive Orders…. I tend to have a long memory. Certainly much longer than the politicians and upper class were counting on. Oops.

      “But it’s OK when we do it !!!”

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Banning at will employment would be huge. Millions of swords of Damocles beaten into plowshares.

    3. Harold

      This is a version of what FDR did in the armaments buildup before WW 2. No government contracts to firms with segregated workforces by executive order.

      1. dearieme

        And yet the workforce that was his responsibility – the military – had lots of segregation. Very odd.

        1. Harold

          The generals were against it, protesting that they were not in the business of “social engineering” — their words. I guess he didn’t feel able to buck them.

    4. Left in Wisconsin

      I like the part legalizing secondary boycotts (sympathy strikes). It allows workers with economic leverage to use that to benefit different workers with less leverage. A critical part of worker solidarity.

  7. Synapsid

    I just opened Water Cooler and there was the same blocking ad, from E*Trade, on it as there was on Links.


    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I got a request to use camera and microphone on my Android with Waterfox (Firefox based browser).

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the same blocking ad

      What is a blocking ad and what OS/browser are you using? We don’t like this either, but your comment is too vague to be actionable.

  8. Jerry B

    Here is the link for the Predatory Precarity article.


    Interfluidity is Steve Randy Waldman’s blog.


    Also I highly recommend Waldman’s twitter page.


    I do not always agree with Waldman’s point of view/opinions but most of his writing on his blog and twitter page is intelligent and informative

    1. jrs

      gosh are those “middle class” (haha, tell me another one) predators in the interfludity article not relocatable, yea maybe we’ll get to happy ideal solution land, and if not I see no need to spare these people the guillotine when it comes.

      And the groups he rails against are often less privileged (sometimes just need a job) than those he thinks are defendable (those who think there is so much value in spending money on status cr@p).

      1. Summer

        “Reforming government contracting, controlling medical costs, breaking up big-tech, opening the professions to international competition, these sound technocratic, even “pro-market”. But under present levels of stratification, the consequences of these things would be a revolution, whole swathes of society accustomed to status and political enfranchisement would find themselves banished towards a “normal” they used to only read about, opiate crises and deaths of despair, towards loss of the “privilege” it has become some of their custom to magnanimously and ostentatiously “check”. Did I say they? I mean we, of course.

        But of course, not doing these things means continuing to tolerate an increasingly predatory, dysfunctional, stagnant society. It means continuing deaths of despair, even as we hustle desperately to try to ensure that they are not our deaths, or our children’s. Even for its current beneficiaries, the present system is a game of musical chairs. As time goes on, with each round, yet more chairs are yanked from the game.

        The only way out of this, the only escape, is to reduce the degree of stratification, the degree to which outcomes depend on our capacity to buy price-rationed positional goods. Only when the stakes are lower will be find ourselves able to tolerate, to risk, an economy that delivers increasing quantity and quality of goods and services at decreasing prices, rather than one that sustains markups upon which we, or some of us, with white knuckles must depend…”

        I don’t think people are ready to believe or understand how much turning off the television and other assorted monitors can do for balancing perspective and changing the entire calculus of revolution. That’s where the precariat of all classes go to compare themselves to the hyper-phony…even when it’s allegedly “reality.”

      2. LifelongLib

        His point is that for many, the basics of a decent life (housing, education, medical care) are inextricably mixed with the “status cr@p”, and require similar incomes.

        1. jrs

          but it’s nonsense, one’s kids don’t need to go to a private K-12 school or an elite college. In fact if they do they will probably become part of the problem. They will be “successful” perhaps but not good, since most lose all ability to relate to other human beings when they live such a life.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            “…They will be “successful” perhaps but not good,…”

            and there it is.
            What is “The Good”?
            both my boys went through a phase where they answered that question…in the context of “what do you want to do with yerself?”…with “get rich and live in a castle”.
            but then we spent 3+ years building the house, momma got cancer, and momma and i kept hammering away at what’s “really important”.
            I think it’s safe to say that the boys are past that phase, now…that it was, indeed, just a phase.
            the problem, i reckon, is that so many don’t get past that phase…due to tv/media/games, peers, and the general milieu we swim in, where everythings for sale and transactions are holy and skimming is the path to glory. there’s no Humanism washing over them to counter it.

            years ago, after the local isd librarian called me to tell me about books headed for africa(more likely, the dump), i went and collected several copies of the complete works of Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides(!) and even Herodotus….several boxes of the foundations of western civilisation, sitting in the parking lot by the door to the school.
            as my grandad would say, “there’s yer problem, right there.”

            it is almost certain that most of the people within 30 miles of me right now would council more religion…but i don’t really see that working too well,currently…after all, in a county of 4500, we have 20-somide churches. But those churches have been increasingly infected with the cynical “culture war” nonsense to keep the gop relevant….and with the “prosperity gospel” nonsense to justify the inequality that inevitably flows from gop rule…
            Humanism doesn’t grow on trees(it does sometimes grow under them)

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > the local isd librarian called me to tell me about books headed for africa(more likely, the dump)

              In general, I love librarians, but there are a few who think books are a problem.

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                she was ok, just lacking sufficient spine…did what she was told.
                the cards inside the front cover showed that none of those books had been checked out since the mid-80’s.
                so, “policy”.
                ….and(not making this up!), they had to make room for bill oreally and sarah palin.
                that librarian retired…replaced by the daughter of the bank president. she does have a spine, but it’s for stirring up (R&L) idpol and other drama, and for making certain that the library is not somewhere the kids want to hang out. silver spoon entitlement at it’s best.

            1. Carey

              I think it’s starting to happen right now, which might be why there’s so much misdirection and finger-pointing (hey, Neera!) going on amongst the explainers.

              “it’s unclear..”

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                idk….i think the misdirection and fingerpointing indicate that the Big Center still hasn’t figured out what to do about the sudden failure of their program of mindf&ck.
                trump , after all, was supposed to ensure the Best Candidate Ever had an easy “path to” the Big Chair.
                They got complacent over the last 30 years, and don’t know how to herd the various flocks back into the paddocks.
                it’s a conundrum.
                I’m sure many of our 10% enablers are thinking that letting the arpanet out of the box to be monetised wasn’t such a good idea, after all.
                for a while, it appeared that flooding the Web with bullshit would serve to keep the hoi polloi confused enough to manage….but a kind of order emerged from the chaos…an order that doesn’t fit into their models.
                the Big Center is in a pickle.
                The “Right Side” of it is floundering around, unsure how to proceed with trumpism…Flake’s primary threat,Wm Kristol’s halfassed maneuverings, kasich’ “looking around”…they’ve at least accepted that the Base has a working memory…that they remember the worldview, however contradictory with itself, and will notice a sudden change in direction…which will only add to the illegitimacy of the whole program.
                The “Left Side” of the Big Center is flailing, too…but they’re still enraged and crazed that their plans backfired so horribly, and they’re working their way through the stages of grief, stuck on denial and bargaining, lashing out at all and sundry, not wiling to entertain that they’ve lost the Herd with their flavorless, soulless soylent.
                Neera’s twittering is fascinating through this lens.
                as is the occasional paulryanesque blank page offering…”better deal”, ” a less bad deal”, whatever.
                not to get too Foily…but i think we’re rapidly approaching the point in all this where a false flag, LIHOP Shock will be deemed appropriate…whether it’s a market crash(they always come out well in those) or some Remember the Maine affront that “must be answered”

                and! before i forget, just look at the blind, deaf and dumb paeon to hypercapitalism i found: https://theweek.com/articles/860050/americas-new-ceos-are-telling-wrong-story-about-capitalism

                just pretend real hard that “everything’s fine”.

          2. Harold

            This is exactly right. If Bernie’s programs were to be enacted people, including doctors, who now earn twice as much as those in other countries, would not need so much money and would not need to send their kids to exclusive schools.

            With better infrastructure and public transportation people would not need such positional goods as SUVs. These are benefits that enormously benefit the middle classes, including the upper middle class professional like doctors.

            The huge burden of high co-payments and deductibles would vanish from people’s budgets, for one thing. College tuition would be free, including medical school, presumably. In any case, college debts would be relieved if not canceled.

            Dr.s would not have to hire staff to deal with medical bills, and would have to pay less malpractice insurance, because with medical costs for injuries covered, people would not be forced to sue.

            If childcare were made available, another fearsome expense would be eliminated.

            Money would circulate in the economy and salaries would rise. Etc. It would be a revolution, all right. It’s a no brainer.

            As far as I could tell, all of this is left out of Mr. Waldman’s gloomy prognostications.

  9. Louis Fyne

    I’m assuming that the ESPN OSU article is satire? …as mocking “The” in “The OSU” is an old joke.

    1. nippersmom

      Unfortunately, no. This was actually reported on a sports site I follow last week. The consensus of opinion among the commentariat there was the proposal is asinine and University counsel should have killed the idea at birth.

  10. laughingsong

    Bernie’s $27 donors, 2016 v. 2020: “But nearly as much went to his rivals, a sign of how split Democrats are”

    Speaking for myself: I pretty much feel I will be voting for Bernie in my primary; however, I have given a bit to Tulsi, Williamson, and Gravel, NOT BECAUSE I am some kind of dividedor undecided dem but becuase that was the only way to hear their voices in the debates.

    If I am not an outlier in this, then it becomes a more fascinating speculative data point: how much does the Dems’ weird debate qualifying requirements skew these numbers and make determining popularity/support more difficult? And can the numbers be collected in other, better ways to capture what that support is really saying? Like $27 donations to an aggregate Progressive challenger pool v. Establishment pools?

    1. nippersmom

      Laughingsong, we may be outliers, but you are not alone. Nippersdad and I also donated to Gabbard and Gravel because we wanted them on the debate stage. Both of us have always intended to vote for Sanders, and still will.
      I think some supporters are also waiting for later in the cycle to make their donations, especially since Sanders doesn’t seem to really need the money yet. The primaries are still a long way off.

      1. cm

        ditto – I donated to Sanders, Gabbard and Gravel. I’m holding off on giving Sanders add’l money until later in the game. Will be interesting to see if Gabbard is excluded from the next debate — I expect she will be.

      2. bird

        I also gave to Tulsi and Gravel – along with frequent donations to Bernie. I was pleasantly surprised to receive from Gravel as a thank you – ‘pentagon papers’. They are actually rolling papers and are a classic. My daughter loves them.

          1. Shonde

            For all Minnesota Bernie NC’ers, just got an email Bernie will be at the Minnesota State Fair this Saturday.
            Minnesota Public Radio Candidate Question and Answer. Saturday, August 24
            Event starts at 1:00 PM
            Minnesota State Fair, MPR Stage
            North side of Judson Ave between
            Nelson & Underwood Streets
            St. Paul, MN 55108

            Also having a fundraiser that evening which is ticketed.

            Company in town on Saturday so can’t go unfortunately.

    2. inode_buddha

      You are not alone. I gave to Sanders 4 years ago, and continue to do so ever since. This time around I also added Gabbard to my list. However, my own situation has become extremely precarious over the last few years and I cannot give much at all for a while (medical issues). I wish I could do more.

      Basically, I give to those, and sign petitions, for those that I want to have in the debates and in the running.

    3. ForFawkesSakes

      Same. Sen. Sanders is my choice, but wanted Gravel and Gabbard to be heard and remind voters that Team D was not always so bellicose.

    4. richard

      good point
      I’ve donated to sanders several times
      tulsi 3 or 4 times (usually after some s*&^head smears her)
      gravel twice

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > how much does the Dems’ weird debate qualifying requirements skew these numbers and make determining popularity/support more difficult?

      That the DNC was smart enough to game the qualifying requirements against Sanders like this, and that the DNC is so stupid in other ways, really boggles the mind.

      One wonders if there will be a “coming home” moment for Sanders voters when the field thins. Perhaps that’s why the Axis of Tanden is going so nuts right now; that’s what their internal polling is telling them.

      1. pretzelattack

        i’m certainly not going to vote for any of the centrists, and may not vote for warren (there are some red flags there, but she comes up with some good proposals, i just don’t know if she is going to do the obama pivot if she gets in. to the extent actually winning elections is necessary to please the donors, enough democrats doing this will put the dnc machine under pressure.

        1. Skip Intro

          I don’t think you need to worry about an Obama pivot from Warren, since Trump will be elected in 2020 if she is the nominee.

      2. Pat

        I don’t think it takes much intelligence to go we need to make our favorites look popular with small donors (nothing stops a couple from one giving a bundle and the other giving under a hundred.)The happy accident for them was so many long shot candidates with something to say voters thought was important.

        I wish I thought Tanden was going more nuts than usual because of internal polling, but to me it is just more of the same with a little added tantrum because there is more and more pushback on the declarations meant to keep people in line. And when it is done as well as Turner does it, it is hard to miss that you lost that battle.

  11. grayslady

    Re LA Times article on Bernie donors: Even on solidly Bernie or progressive websites, many small dollar donors have been splitting contributions due to DNC rules on who participates in Dem debates. Many gave to Tulsi, Mike Gravel and, unfortunately, Yang, in hopes of crowding out establishment candidates, as well as hearing views never allowed by legacy press from more candidates than just Bernie. I anticipate stronger Bernie financial support as more marginal candidates drop out.

    Also, I think you mean Cornyn, not Corbyn.

  12. JBird4049

    “Predatory precarity”

    As I see it, there are two or perhaps three separate problems here. First, all the resources especially money is being accumulated by an ever smaller group as shown by the various bubbles in stocks, real estate, education, and top tier wages.

    Second, the bare minimum cost to survive keeps rising to the resource level of the 10%, which means falling to the 10.1% really means falling to the bottom 50%. Third, that means the price of failure, and the chance to do so, keeps increasing.

    In the first ⅔ of the Twentieth Century especially the 1950s-60s, not rising to the top 10% merely meant reduced expectations or maybe a little disappointment. Today, instead of slightly less nice car, apartment, house or yard, maybe a vacation closer to home, it’s the constant threat of the jalopy dying, the streets, of not having your kids going to college, of not having health insurance.

  13. Amfortas the hippie

    predatory precarity.
    i will contemplate that while burning dead animals.(pork ribs)
    one of the links was cool, though:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_theorem
    “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences”

    points to a conditional/contingent reality…things look different if you have a yacht…and they look different if you live in your car.
    in my wandering around the south tecas medical center the last year, talking to all and sundry, i tried to keep this in mind…even with the few Suits I encountered.
    What lenses are they using///and how does that inform their apprehension of Reality.

    and…those are Spaghetti Squash. absentmindedly planted seeds saved from one i bought at the store, and it went all crazy…grew up over the pergola thing over the barbque place, and into the mesquites in the gully.
    some of my eldest’s buddies wondered when they were gonna hatch.
    got prolly 50 of them stuck in odd dark corners.

    1. Steve H.

      > “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences”

      We are self-deluded monkeys with a capacity for the divine.

  14. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    For TV fans out there, The Righteous Gemstones and Succession are back on HBO (or Pirated as i do)

    The former is Danny McBrides latest and the latter is Adam Mckay of Vice/The Other Guys fame.


    Danny McBride in Eastbound and Down

    “Lets put some tiger balm on this jungles nuts!”

    Danny McBride in Tropic Thunder

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      I just saw the end of the world movie he was in with Rogen and Franco. (First half was great, second half less so.) Didn’t know who he was, even though I’ve seen Tropic Thunder a bunch of times.

  15. russell1200

    While I realize that Warren and Sanders don’t necessarily share the same type of voters, I do think that both of them doing well, and not having to attack Biden directly, helps both of them. By staying above the fray, they seem more presidential. They are gobbling up most of the left side, and are not antagonizing each others supporters. If either of them starts picking up enough additional supporters as candidates drop out, one of them can drop out leaving a candidate on the left with a serious block of votes.

    In my case, I prefer Warren, but that Sanders hasn’t attacked Warren, it makes me much more amenable to switching my allegiance to him if she drops out.

  16. roxy

    “John Kasich will head to New Hampshire next month to ‘take a look at things’” Kasich. I can’t forget the image of him hoovering up a bowl of chowder in a diner booth as Heilemann and Halperin tried to interview him during the 2016 primaries. “So Governor, how’s the campaign going?” “Mffff, slurp, oysterettes, mfff.”

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’m sure Joe Scarborough and the daughter of a war criminal will be agog about a Bill O’Reilly fill in host running for President.

  17. Max

    I occasionally see herds of goats clearing brush in open fields along the highway. I think you can rent them out. They seem to do a pretty good job! It is kind of fun to track their progress over the course of a few days. From what I have seen, it does not take very long for 50 goats to clear a pretty sizable area.

    1. amfortas the hippie

      if i lived a little closer to austin, i’d consider renting my geese for eco-lawnmowing
      i mow cart trails and footpaths, and then only everything else once the wildflowers go to seed
      wouldn’t fly(snort) out here,though

      1. Oregoncharles

        Geese do a great job of cleaning up fallen apples – as we learned by accident when the neighbor’s geese decided to live here, instead.

        Would make for very tasty holiday dinners, too.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      We had neighbors in New Mexico who kept goats. The woman of the house went outside to smoke, and she’d often sit and smoke with a goat she called “Larry.” She’d even share her cigarette with him.

      These were fine neighbors, very generous people. One day, she came over to give us some frozen meat wrapped in white paper. On each package was written with magic marker, “Larry.”

      1. polecat

        I ate goat tacos once, at a really good & funky mexican joint that was located across the street from the Sacramento Bee, back in the 80’s. They were quite tasty .. but so was the rest of the menu. I really miss that place !

  18. Synoia

    I wonder if goats would work in California?

    No reason that they would not. The mountain lions would like them too.

    1. Shonde

      Goats were available for rent in San Diego County, where I lived until last year. The homeowners association checked into using them to clear a large area and was told by the city that goats were not allowed since their excrement might contain seeds of undesirable plants. That was about 6 years ago so maybe things have changed. Goats for clearing were being used in inland areas.

    2. Off The Street

      For years I heard reports of goats and sheep grazing on a hillside by the 101 Freeway north of Los Angeles. They reportedly kept the brush down and while there were coyotes in the area no mountain lions were sighted. After the fires last year, maybe CalFire or whatever agency handles such matters could bring back a flock or two.

    3. Tommy S.

      goats in san francisco, in backyards……and on the hills…I thought they were being used up north too…maybe a new job for me?

    4. Auntienene

      My sister just bought a house in Northern California. It was surrounded by brush and they are contracting for goats to come in and do a cleanup.

    5. Whoamolly

      Northern California here:

      We used goats for reducing brush and Star thistle for 20 years. Then the goatherd retired. Have not been able to find a new goat herder since then. I would rent a new herd in a heartbeat.

      They work great. Eat everything up to about 6 feet off the ground.

      They are difficult to pen in, apparently. They can escape from just about anywhere.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > We used goats for reducing brush and Star thistle for 20 years. Then the goatherd retired. Have not been able to find a new goat herder since then. I would rent a new herd in a heartbeat.

        Jobs guarantee.

  19. epynonymous

    Disney cooked the books at Disneyland? (youtube – nerdrotic)


    To save you a quarter hour, a whistleblower (whose allegations lead to an interview, where many such “revelations” are ignored by our government) involved changing high tax items to low tax items in the park, and double to triple counting disney gift cards, which allegedly reaches nearly a billion dollars.

    His source is

    – this is backed up by two day old CNBC stories attributing a Disney stock drop to the above story –

    Also mentioned


    Article claims movies inflating attendance numbers (a known practice in the music industry) through ficticious pre-orders through fandango.

    Tickets keep getting bought in regular batches, but nobody would arrive in the theatre…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Tickets keep getting bought in regular batches, but nobody would arrive in the theatre…

      The book industry has remainder bins for is. “Where there can be fraud, fraud already exists.”

  20. Mattski

    “The Democratic Party isn’t who Twitter thinks it is”

    And the Democratic Party, in its turn, is not America, but just 3 of ten voters. This is, of course, why Sanders has such a tough row to hoe. And why closed primaries are another scam.

    And why Bernie needs to pivot quickly if he should lose and help us form a real third party in the yawning space not occupied by the Democrats or Republicans. Before fascism comes to occupy that space full time.

    1. Mattski

      The point, which is worth making explicitly: It is not Bernie’s natural constituency that he is courting in pursuing the Dem Party nomination.

    2. Monty

      If Bernie made a new party, it would get zero mainstream coverage, unless it was to mock some gotcha moment where someone pwn’d themselves, or sounded like a commie. (See DSA)

      It’s going to take a Pol Pot style, root and branch operation to stand any chance of changing the way this country works… Better the devil you know.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        This is why bush and clinton rolling perot was such a big event.
        He was actually running third party at a time when there wasn’t the lockdown on the two party status quo like today.
        It seems like, excuse the hyperbole, an extinction level event at the time.
        Now the two party system is firmly ensconced and even ol bernie has to run as a dem.
        Six ways from sunday and all that.

      2. jrs

        Bernie kind of did pawn himself by calling himself a socialist. Now I hope it’s not fatal or anything, I like Bernie. But it was really I fear as bad a pawn as anything the DSA did in terms of mainstream U.S. culture.

        I don’t have a problem with socialism , but I don’t think that represents much. Most of Bernie’s proposals are social democrat which one could debate back and forth are or are not socialism, but what matters is the voting public’s definition.

    3. SlayTheSmaugs

      Agreed the Dem party isn’t who twitter thinks it is, but, this is really a button for me: “self-identifying liberals make up less than half of all Democrats: 42%. The rest of the party calls itself either “moderate” (43%) or conservative (11%)” in that all of those words are content-free as relates to topics like “Medicare for All” “Making Billionaires pay their fair share” “marijuana legalization” and “criminal justice reform”.

      Just because most Americans, and a majority of Democrats, do not self-identify as “liberal”, has nothing to do with whether candidates like Bernie or Warren are running on agendas that only that relatively narrow slice of Americans approve of, which is what people who make such comments are usually trying to indirectly (or directly) argue. Such as that article “To be clear: There is absolutely a constituency within the current Democratic Party for ideas like “Medicare for All,” which would end private insurance entirely, and the decriminalization of illegal immigration. But it is just as clear — from the CNN poll and others — that this is not the only, or even the majority, voting bloc among Democrats. There’s a considerable chunk of Democrats who are in favor of more pragmatic solutions, like, say, amending and extending the Affordable Care Act rather than doing away with it.” The constituency for Medicare for all is not the slice of Dems self-identifying as liberal, as polling shows, and this line of argument is misleading policy slander.

      1. WJ

        Thanks for making this point.

        Most of my college-age students are obviously in favor of Medicare for All and student debt relief. Lots of them are more or less “conservative” on social issues. Others of them are pretty much indifferent. Nearly all of them regard labels like “liberal” and “conservative” as out of date and unhelpful. Every one of them recognizes that the two national parties are corrupt and that the media can’t be trusted.

        The next decade is going to be interesting.

        1. Oregoncharles

          You must be doing a good job of enlightening them – or did they arrive at those positions on their own?

          1. WJ

            They already hold these beliefs because of the experiences and practices of their young lives. They are *all* members of what would be pejoratively called the “alt-right” or the “alt-left.” None are racist; some are more libertarian; others are more social democratic; all believe that the “official” political system is phony and that the media tell lies.

            I was surprised to discover how prevalent these views were among them. I just tease out and enable their own articulation. I don’t pronounce “truths” upon them. (I hated professors that did that.)

  21. Matthew

    Colorado River: I love this. Going to the geological record instead of relying on models, algorithms, and talking heads. More people will understand observable measures than predictive measures. Then again, how long did SoCal have to live with visible particulate matter in the air before deciding they needed regulation? Decades. Good change happens slowly; bad change happens in the blink of an eye. At least the named states are being proactive.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Greer makes a nice argument for anarchism:

      That’s the mental equipment we have for making sense of the immensities and intricacies of a cosmos billions of light years across: a lump of flesh the size of a meatloaf, a set of not very accurate sense organs, some habits of data processing that turned out to be useful for staying fed, getting laid, and dodging lions, and a certain amount of recorded experience we can use, if we’re minded to, as a source of guidance. Does that provide the kind of godlike omniscience that experts nearly always end up fantasizing they’ve achieved? Not a chance.

      Thus the ultimate reason why the dream of a managed society always turns sour is that we social primates simply aren’t smart enough to manage the world. Our models, theories, and ideologies are inevitably too simplistic for the overwhelming complexity the world throws at us…What seems to work a good deal better is to set things up so that the people on the spot can make most of their own choices, and make sure that when choices have to be made on a larger scale, there are ways for the people who are directly affected by those choices to make their voices heard even if what they say isn’t what the self-proclaimed Good People want to hear. That’s the great virtue of democracy—a word which means, by the way, government by the demos, the masses of ordinary deplorable citizens.

  22. ewmayer

    “Intellectual Property: “Ohio State seeks to trademark the word ‘The’” [ESPN]” — Good lord, that habit of former OSU players announcing themselves in the intro to NFL games with the pompous overloud overlong “THE” prefixing is annoying. What, like there’s a second Ohio State University lacking the “The”? Anyhow, whenever I hear one the aforementioned twits doing this on a TV broadcast I silently flip them THE finger. So sue me for trademark infringement!

  23. fdr-fan

    Bernie’s labor proposal is the BEST thing I’ve seen in politics in many years. Germany has kept its industrial sector alive because of its union setup, where corporations and labor generally work together to keep the whole system growing. The key is putting SKILLS first, not share value. Develop human capital, not debt.

    I don’t know how Bernie plans to get the corporate side on board. Even our unions are unaccustomed to the goal of keeping things going. Everyone is aiming to shut the whole system down, and they’re succeeding magnificently.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Ohio State seeks to trademark the word ‘The’”

    And I intend to go to Silicon Valley and take out a patent on ‘1’s and ‘0’s.

  25. Jeff W

    “Imitation and Extinction: The Case Against Reality” [Los Angeles Review of Books]

    We think that perception imitates an animal-independent world. Instead it creates a virtual reality whose details depend crucially on the needs of the animal. This is the key idea of the “interface theory of perception,” or ITP.

    Ugh, Donald Hoffman’s convoluted “interface theory of perception.” Cognitive scientists and their computer metaphors for human behavior.

    First of all, perception doesn’t “create” anything, least of all virtual reality, and our senses do not “present payoffs.” Perception is the way an organism experiences sensory inputs; the senses of any organism have been shaped by evolution (and the organism’s own history) so that that organism can respond in its environment in a way that favors its having offspring. Bees can see “honey guides” or “nectar guides,” based on UV light, that humans can’t—that’s not “virtual reality,” that’s what they see—and their senses don’t “present” anything—rather the bee’s sensory apparatus allows the bee to discriminate these patterns, ones that we can’t perceive. (If anything, the flower is presenting payoffs via its honey/nectar guides.)

    If you think about it for more than about two seconds, the whole idea of “veridical perception” doesn’t make any sense from an evolutionary standpoint—which is the “veridically perceived” flower, the one we humans see, the one the bees see, the one perceived via echolocation by a bat, or the one at the subatomic level that is 90% space? Perception makes sense only in terms how the organism has evolved in its environment, not in terms of some Platonic reality.

    To say, as Hoffman does, that evolution “endowed us with perceptions that are an interface…” is wildly confused and confusing, not least of all because an interface is a visual stimulus and perceptions describe the way an organism experience and possibly respond to stimuli, including visual stimuli like interfaces. But, worse, it’s so unnecessarily convoluted. Bees don’t have “perceptions that are an interface,” they have senses that have evolved to enable them as organisms to experience and respond in very particular ways to the environment, including “interfaces” like flowers with their UV-visible guide patterns.

    I don’t have any problem with the underlying idea that humans may have evolved in such a way as to make it difficult for us to perceive “reality” or spacetime in a way to make questions about consciousness (or other deep questions) soluble. But I doubt muddying things up with an “interface theory of perception” is really the way to start unraveling these mysteries.

  26. Xquacy

    Re: Imitation and Extinction: The Case Against Reality

    As the late American pragmatist Charles Peirce would say, equating “accuracy” in perception with “veridical” (truth) would be to succumb to nominalism. Truth consists not in arbitrariness of perception but in the permanency of settled belief (which is nothing else but adapted behavior).

    From this point of view greater accuracy in perception just means more “noise,” useless information to the task at hand. The dramatic tenor of the essay is somewhat unwarranted given how modest the conclusion is.

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