2:00PM Water Cooler 8/27/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, brunch ran a little late today. I’ll add some more in a bit. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Politics

“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 2019-08-26:

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) has developed the following chart: Since the RCP poll aggregator had a nice chart, but kept changing its polls (and didn’t include Reuters/IPSOS, which the DNC uses to game select debate participants), and the FiveThirtyEight aggregation seemed better, but lacked charts, he came up with an aggregator of his own, driven, as I understand it, by all the 528 polls, but without any secret sauce at all, and allowing some user customization. Here, I have filtered out all the candidates but the top five, and used a “stair step” presentation, which, although a little jarring, conveys the idea that polls are only slices in time; it’s the voters who move in curves, whereas the polls really are jagged proxies for whatever is happening out there in the dark matter of the electorate:

And here are the numbers as of 8/27/2019, 12:30 PM EDT:

The relative positions of Biden, Sanders, and Warren remain the same. However, Biden’s trendline is clear. I think dk has started a really neat project, and in the near future we’ll seek your feedback (within reason) for the tool “live.”

* * *

2020

Biden (D)(1): “Biden calls health care a “personal” fight in new Iowa ad” [CBS]. “In a new emotional appeal to Iowa caucus voters, former Vice President Joe Biden is putting the fight for access to adequate health care at the top of his to do list, telling supporters that safeguarding the Obama-era Affordable Care Act ‘is personal to me.'” • “The fight for adequate health care.” Now there’s a hill to die on!

Gabbard (D)(1): “Gabbard is Victim of DNC’s Rigged Debate ‘Criteria'” [21st Century Wire (Furzy Mouse)]. “Take, for instance, her poll standing in New Hampshire, which currently places Gabbard at 3.3% support, according to the RealClearPolitics average as of Aug. 20. One might suspect that such a figure would merit inclusion in the upcoming debates — especially considering she’s ahead of several candidates who have already been granted entry, including Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, and Andrew Yang. But the Democratic National Committee has decreed that the polls constituting this average are not sufficiently “qualifying.” What makes a poll ‘qualifying’ in the eyes of the DNC? The answer is conspicuously inscrutable.” • Not sure about the source, but n this, they’re right.

Gillibrand (D)(1): “Former Kirsten Gillibrand staffers want senator to quit presidential campaign” [New York Post]. “‘It would be best if she decided that this was not her time,’ said one longtime Gillibrand fundraiser, who claimed the Democratic contender’s well-heeled supporters want her to remain in the US Senate…. ‘I don’t know that anyone even wants to see her on the debate stage. Everyone I have talked to finds her performative and obnoxious,’ said a former senior staffer in Gillibrand’s Senate office.” • Ouch!

Harris (D)(1): “Kamala Harris Ads Tout Support for Sanders’s Medicare for All Bill” [The Intercept]. “‘I was proud to be the first Senate Democrat to come out in support of Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill,’ the [Facebook] ad, which ran from August 2 to August 7, 2018, and prompted Facebook users to share their email addresses with the campaign, read. ‘It is absurd that we are the only major industrialized nation in the world not to guarantee health care to all people. Add your name if you agree it’s time for Medicare for All.'” • Suckers!

Sanders (D)(1): “Op-Ed: Bernie Sanders on his plan for journalism” [Bernie Sanders, Columbia Journalism Review]. “When we have had real journalism, we have seen crimes like Watergate exposed and confronted, leading to anti-corruption reforms. When we have lacked real journalism, we have seen crimes like mortgage fraud go unnoticed [but not by all! –lambert] and unpunished, leading to a devastating financial crisis that destroyed millions of Americans’ lives…. [T[wo Silicon Valley corporations—Facebook and Google—control 60 percent of the entire digital advertising market. They have used monopolistic control to siphon off advertising revenues from news organizations. A recent study by the News Media Alliance, a trade organization, found that in 2018, as newspaper revenues declined, Google made $4.7 billion off reporting that Google did not pay for.” • A small sum for Google, but a large sum for the news business, especially local news.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Out-Raises Biden in Obama-Trump Swing Counties” [The Daily Beast]. “But in at least one “electability” metric, Biden is lagging behind his Democratic competition. In the 206 counties that voted for Barack Obama twice before backing Trump in 2016, the former VP has fewer donors than three primary opponents.” • From those Obama-Trump counties: Sanders: 33,185 donors/81,841 donations; Buttigeig: 14,294 donors/23,320 donations; Warren: 13,674 donors/26,298 donations; Biden: 12,040 donors/9,885 donations. Oddly, or not, the Beast discusses Sanders last. It isn’t clear that donors (plus circles of influence) translate into voters. But it’s also not clear that poll results translate into voters.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): “Twitter sleuths uncover an anti-Sanders conspiracy — and the pundit class is furious” [Salon]. Insider minutiae from the Twitterverse, but nonetheless: “[L]ast week, when MSNBC reported on a trending hashtag among Sanders supporters by picking up a hostile tweet rather than an earnest one, the exhibition of bias was no surprise for Sanders’ fans. A scan of the trending hashtag in question, #MyBernieStory, reveals a fount for Twitter users to explain how personal events in their lives had politicized them and brought them to support Sanders. Exemplary tweets from the hashtag included stories of supporters whose identities clashed with the disingenuous media depiction of white, male “BernieBros” (which is objectively untrue, as a Pew poll found Sanders supporters were the least white, least male and majority working class); or those who had been failed by the welfare state and found hope in Sanders’ plan for Medicare for All….. The hashtag gained enough traction that Brian Williams of MSNBC, reported on it on his show, “The 11th Hour.” But rather than give any context for the tweet, Williams and his crew displayed a single, disingenuous tweet mocking the hashtag from an anonymous Twitter account [“HoarseWhisperer”] with a large following….. Jack Allison, cohost of Struggle Session, a popular leftist podcast, did some sleuthing, in concert with other Twitter users. He connected HoarseWhisperer to a prominent consultant who had worked in the past for oil companies and banks, and done marketing for the military….. Once again, the dust-up proves little beyond what Sanders supporters already knew: that the liberal elite of media and punditry, in general, do not like Bernie Sanders and will go to great lengths to depict his supporters as bad people, hoping that readers and viewers will view his entire campaign through that lens. One could almost conclude they are frightened.” • Glad to have the “Hoarse Whisperer” timeline straightened out. I don’t know if conspiracy is the right word; this all seems more like the normal operation of an elite network. Fascinatingly, HoarseWhisperer seems to have been backstabbed by #Resistance types who were annoyed with him.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(4):

I didn’t have time to watch the whole thing; does Sanders look like he’s having fun, like he did with Cardi B?

Warren (D)(1): “What Elizabeth Warren Is Quietly Telling Democratic Insiders” [New York Times]. “Ms. Warren’s wooing could prove important should the nominating contest deadlock at the Democratic National Convention next summer: Many of the officials she is courting are so-called superdelegates, who are able to cast a binding vote should the primary go beyond a first ballot…. While Ms. Warren has been careful to avoid directly criticizing Mr. Sanders, her regular references to being a capitalist withstanding, she is also quietly taking steps within the party to make clear that she does not want to create a competing power base should she become president.” • In other words, despite her public words (“our movement“), Warren does not want to create a movement — which is a competing power base by definition — and that’s what she’s telling insiders in private. Her theory of change is 180° opposed to Sanders’ theory of change. This isn’t a movie I’ve seen before, but some of the plot points are similar to movies I have seen in the past… .

UPDATE Warren (D)(2): “Elizabeth Warren isn’t just a former Harvard professor. She doled out advice for Dr. Phil” [Los Angeles Times]. “Between 2003 and 2005, Warren appeared three times on the ‘Dr. Phil’ show, doling out personal finance advice to a live studio audience in Hollywood — and millions of Americans at home. After the financial crisis in 2009, Warren expanded the role on late-night TV, appearing often on ‘The Daily Show,’ which was popular with liberals.” • Not exactly The Apprentice, but still!

UPDATE Warren (D)(3): “Native American critics still wary of Warren despite apology tour” [Politico]. • They really have Warren where they want her.

* * *

UPDATE “FEC paralyzed by resignations as 2020 approaches” [Politico]. “The federal agency regulating campaign finance has been rendered powerless heading into the 2020 election cycle, with the resignation of another commissioner leaving it unable to punish violations of election law.” • Cool, cool. And then there are the electronic voting machines….

Health Care

UPDATE Union support for #MedicareForAll:

UPDATE “4 Senate Dems shaping the future of health policy explain what they’re thinking” [Vox]. “he grinding legislative gauntlet that produced Obamacare, combined with the decade-long Republican campaign of obstruction, sabotage, and legal challenge, has produced a grim realism. Senate Democrats recognize that failure is possible and the path to passage is slim. But they are cohering around a rough consensus on where the next bid at health reform should begin.” • Apparently, Bill Clinton being impeached, followed by the Bush administration, didn’t make Democrats jaded or grim enough. Oh well, that’s blood under the bridge. More: “It starts with abandoning the political idealism behind the Affordable Care Act. Max Baucus, the powerful chair of the Senate Finance Committee, believed he could secure Republican votes with a hybrid public-private expansion based on Mitt Romney’s reforms in Massachusetts and slow, bipartisan negotiations. President Barack Obama, who still sought to make good on his promise to lead a more collegial political system, backed his plan. Everything about the ACA, from the policy to the messaging, reflected the belief that Republican support was possible.” • In other words, Democrats following the 2008 election were completely delusional, living in a fantasy world. And so naturally we turn to the very same people to fix the problem: “”I understand the aspirational notions around Medicare-for-all, but if there’s one thing that I think we still have to wrestle with, it’s that Americans want to see more of their fellow citizens covered but they are very nervous about losing what they have,” says Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). ‘There’s a huge risk aversion.’ Brown, who has long supported single-payer, agreed. ‘I think you want people to have choice still,’ he says. “You don’t want to take people’s insurance away. A lot of people don’t want government insurance. I understand that.'” • Sigh.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Lincoln Yards’ race for subsidy” [Chicago Tribune]. The Chicago Way.

“Barbara Boxer: AB5 is not the answer for all workers” [Barbara Boxer, Los Angeles Times]. “The California Legislature is currently evaluating a bill, AB5, that would reclassify independent contractors as employees in a wide range of industries. For some industries, this reclassification makes a lot of sense. In others, it will lead to anxiety and loss of income for thousands of workers… When Lyft approached me to advise them on how to find a compromise that would allow their company to grow while ensuring needed benefits and flexibility for their workforce, I said I would love to help….” • Ka-ching.

Stats Watch

Consumer Confidence, August 2019: “Despite stock market volatility and escalating trade tensions, the consumer confidence report from the Conference Board did not give back very much of July’s gain at all in August, easily beating high-end expectations” [Econoday]. “Today’s report is surprisingly robust and contrasts not only with forecaster expectations but with the rival consumer sentiment index from the University of Michigan which fell very sharply in its mid-month report for August. Yet the methodological focus of the confidence report is the jobs market and today’s results — specifically for August’s conditions — point to yet another month of strong payroll growth.”

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, August 2019: “Fifth District manufacturing activity bounced back into expansion in August” [Econoday]. “The surprising strength in today’s report follows yesterday’s equally surprising rebound in manufacturing reported by the Dallas Fed and suggests that in some regions a recovery may already be under way for a sector that had recently fallen into contraction.”

FHFA House Price Index, June 2019: “Home price growth keeps slowing, the results of both Case-Shiller and FHFA, both released this morning” [Econoday]. “FHFA, like Case-Shiller, are lagging data, tracking way back in June which was before what is an ongoing and steep decline in mortgage rates which is very likely to provide firmer support to underlying housing demand and prices with it.”

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, June 2019: “Both this morning’s FHFA and Case-Shiller reports show very weak price traction in the housing market during June” [Econoday]. ” Yet both of these reports are lagging, tracking way back in June which was before what is an ongoing and steep decline in mortgage rates which is very likely to provide firmer support to underlying housing demand and prices with it.:

Tech: “How four rotten packets broke CenturyLink’s network for 37 hours, knackering 911 calls, VoIP, broadband” [The Register]. “A handful of bad network packets triggered a massive chain reaction that crippled the entire network of US telco CenturyLink for roughly a day and a half. This is according to the FCC’s official probe [PDF] into the December 2018 super-outage, during which CenturyLink’s broadband internet and VoIP services fell over and stayed down for a total of 37 hours. This meant subscribers couldn’t, among other things, call 911 over VoIP at the time – which is a violation of FCC rules, and triggered a formal investigation. ‘This outage was caused by an equipment failure catastrophically exacerbated by a network configuration error,’ America’s communications regulator said in its summary of its inquiry, published yesterday.” • I guess we really are in the Age of Steam, aren’t we?

Manufacturing: “Boeing faces first lawsuit from 737 Max customer” [Financial Times]. “Avia Capital Services, a subsidiary of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, claims two deadly crashes were due to the ‘negligent actions and decisions of Boeing’ not just in designing a plane that was ‘defective’ but also in ‘withholding critical information’ from the US aviation safety regulator during certification.  The complaint, which was filed in Cook county circuit court in Chicago on Monday, claims that Boeing ‘intentionally’ failed to disclose information about the airworthiness of the Max to its customers, including Avia, in order to induce them to buy the aircraft.”

Tech: “Huawei Seeks Independence From the US With RISC-V and Ascend Chips” [Tom’s Hardware]. • Plus a development framework for AI applications “in all scenarios” (!) named “MindSpore” (!!).

The Bezzle: “Keeping Tesla Roadsters Alive Is Serious Work” [Road and Track]. “Tesla service centers are busy with the S, X, and 3, and as a result, don’t have much time to work on the 2500-or-so Roadsters the company built. Moreover, some of the personnel who worked on the Roadster when it was new have since left the company… There are unique challenges that come with working on these cars. You might have to rebuild a circuit board one day, and fabricate a new hood the next day. Actually, if any body parts are damaged, you’ll have to fabricate them. Tesla doesn’t sell parts to anyone, so Medlock has taken to fashioning new panels out of carbon fiber himself.”

Manufacturing: “Ford says its autonomous cars will last just four years” [TechCrunch]. “”Explained [John Rich, operations chief of Ford Autonomous Vehicles]: ‘Today’s vehicles spend most of the day parked. To develop a profitable, viable business model for [autonomous vehicles], they need to be running almost the entire day.’ Indeed, Ford very notably isn’t selling these cars to individuals any time soon. Instead, it plans to use the cars in autonomous fleets that will be used as a service by other companies, including as delivery vehicles. Ford sees the “initial commercialization of AVs to be fleet-centric,” said Rich. We also wondered if Rich’s prediction for the lifespan of full self-driving cars ties to his expectation that Ford’s autonomous vehicles will be powered by internal combustion engines. Most carmakers appear to be investing in new combustible engine architectures that promise greater fuel efficiency and fewer emissions but that still require more parts than electric cars. And the more parts that are being stressed, the higher the likelihood that something will break. Rich says the idea is to transition to battery-electric vehicles (BEV) eventually, but that Ford also needs to “find the right balance that will help develop a profitable, viable business model. This means launching with hybrids first.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 20 Extreme Fear (previous close: 19, Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 23 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 27 at 12:47pm. Note that the index is not always updated daily, sadly.

The Biosphere

“Invisible Designers: Brain Evolution Through the Lens of Parasite Manipulation” [Quarterly Review of Biology]. From the abstract:

The ability of parasites to manipulate host behavior to their advantage has been studied extensively, but the impact of parasite manipulation on the evolution of neural and endocrine mechanisms has remained virtually unexplored. If selection for countermeasures has shaped the evolution of nervous systems, many aspects of neural functioning are likely to remain poorly understood until parasites—the brain’s invisible designers—are included in the picture. This article offers the first systematic discussion of brain evolution in light of parasite manipulation. After reviewing the strategies and mechanisms employed by parasites, the paper presents a taxonomy of host countermeasures with four main categories, namely: restrict access to the brain; increase the costs of manipulation; increase the complexity of signals; and increase robustness. For each category, possible examples of countermeasures are explored, and the likely evolutionary responses by parasites are considered. The article then discusses the metabolic, computational, and ecological constraints that limit the evolution of countermeasures.

Tell me. Are the brain parasites in the room with us right now?

“Increasing wildfires threaten historic carbon sink of boreal forest soils” [Nature]. “Boreal forest fires emit large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere primarily through the combustion of soil organic matter. During each fire, a portion of this soil beneath the burned layer can escape combustion, leading to a net accumulation of carbon in forests over multiple fire events. Climate warming and drying has led to more severe and frequent forest fires, which threaten to shift the carbon balance of the boreal ecosystem from net accumulation to net loss, resulting in a positive climate feedback. This feedback will occur if organic-soil carbon that escaped burning in previous fires, termed ‘legacy carbon’, combusts.” • 

Our Famously Free Press

The dark side of podcasting. Thread:

“Attribution issues” is putting it kindly.

Class Warfare

“A Year of Organizing Freelance Journalists” [Portside]. “In March of 2019, the Industrial Workers of the World Freelance Journalists Union unintentionally went public. Having recently settled on a formal name for the organization, committee members were attempting to subtly stake out corresponding web assets, but the IWW FJU’s Twitter account — the social media platform most popular with journalists — immediately exploded. Within 24 hours, the union had received more than a hundred requests from freelancers looking to learn more. The IWW FJU was officially on the map…. In order to map the workplace, IWW FJU organizers — most of whom are freelancers themselves — began by working through their own personal and professional networks, conducting one-on-one in-person meetings or calls. These one-on-ones played on the standard AEIOU (Agitate, Education, Inoculate, Organize, Unionize) model, asking freelancers about the publications they wrote for, their problems, how they thought freelancers could work together to address those issues, and what, if any, concerns they had with organizing.”

“Barry sobbed as he begged for his job. VR is getting heavy, man” [Los Angeles Times]. “‘It doesn’t seem like it now, but this may be a good thing for you,’ I said. Comforting lies were not the move. Barry buried his face in his hands, sobbing. Then everything went black. I took off the virtual reality headset, and the real-life offices of the Culver City VR studio Talespin, the architects of Barry’s very bad day, came back into focus around me. I had failed the termination simulation.” • VR training for managers on how to fire people. Truly, we are ruled of Harkonnens.

“Between Plagues, Medieval Peasants Enjoyed Bawdiness and Brawling” [Atlas Obscura]. “In stark comparison to the stringently capitalist workweek of the so-called modern era, work patterns in medieval Europe—loosely defined as the years 500–1500—were decidedly more relaxed. For one thing, the calendar back then was stuffed full of religious holidays… By one estimate drawn from 14th-century manorial records—documents generated by the administration of manors and estates—most servile laborers in England worked 27.7 hours a week…. Ultimately, the peasants of Europe in the Middle Ages loved many of the same things we do today, except with a particular penchant for communal brawls. “It’s wrong to say, ‘Oh, peasants—what a horrible life they led,’ [Eleanor Janega, a medieval historian] says. “They had really hard work, and life was difficult. But they were also really into having fun.'”

“Read: Jeannette Ng’s Campbell Award acceptance speech, in which she correctly identifies Campbell as a fascist and expresses solidarity with Hong Kong protesters” [Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing]. “Last weekend, Jeanette Ng won the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer at the 2019 Hugo Awards at the Dublin Worldcon; Ng’s acceptance speech calls Campbell, one of the field’s most influential editors, a “fascist” and expresses solidarity with the Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters. I am a past recipient of the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer (2000) as well as a recipient of the John W Campbell Memorial Award (2009). I believe I’m the only person to have won both of the Campbells, which, I think, gives me unique license to comment on Ng’s remarks, which have been met with a mixed reception from the field. I think she was right — and seemly — to make her remarks. There’s plenty of evidence that Campbell’s views were odious and deplorable.”

News of the Wired

“Keming Revisited” [Ironic Sans]. • Anyone can coin a word. The problem is getting other people to use it.

“Cassettes Are Back, and It’s Not About the Music” [Bloomberg]. “If it were all about the sound, the cassette would have been as extinct as the wax cylinder (though, of course, plastic versions of those are still being made for people who can’t part with their phonographs). But our relationship with music is much more complicated than mere audio enjoyment. … As Goran Bolin of the Sodertorn University in Stockholm wrote in 2014, people ‘develop specific, sometimes passionate, relationships with reproduction technologies such as the vinyl record, music cassette tape, comics, and other now dead or near-dead media forms.’ The passion, as Bolin put it, ‘is activated by the nostalgic relationships with past media experiences, the bittersweet remembrances of media habits connected to one’s earlier life phases.’ That means an attachment not just to a record, but to a specific record.'” • Walter Benjamin would appreciate that.

“Walter Benjamin: Fragments, salvage and detours” [Times Literary Supplement]. “This meandering, unpredictable and yet highly focused way of thinking would become Benjamin’s hallmark. It is an approach that is also illustrated in another of his books: the short prose collection One-Way-Street (1928; Einbahnstraße). The book’s title sets the scene for the assembled pieces, whose headings evoke the street signs and placards we might encounter on a walk through the city: “Travel Souvenirs”, “Optician”, “Toys”, “Polyclinic”, “These Spaces for Rent”, “Office Equipment”, “Mixed Cargo: Shipping and packing”. Its short pieces oscillate between aphorisms, essays and short stories, and they show us a very different Benjamin: not a literary historian but a thinker keenly interested in contemporary politics and culture, ranging from the avant-garde to the mass media of radio and film. The form of the book is meant to reflect this focus. As Benjamin declares in the opening piece, the present-day writer “must nurture the inconspicuous forms that fit … in active communities better than does the pretentious, universal gesture of the book – in leaflets, brochures, articles, and placards”. • Another goddamned book to read.

Nancy goes meta:

Or perhaps Nancy was always meta. I’m not sure.

* * *

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 (AM):

AM writes: “Once a sugar baby watermelon vine gets started it takes off.” See, you don’t need a lot of space to garden!

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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.

125 comments

  1. flora

    re: Sanders’ OpEd

    “A recent study by the News Media Alliance, a trade organization, found that in 2018, as newspaper revenues declined, Google made $4.7 billion off reporting that Google did not pay for.”

    All the more reason to link to local newpapers and increase their ad revenue outside the Google skim, imo.

    Reply
  2. Tim

    “What Elizabeth Warren Is Quietly Telling Democratic Insiders” [New York Times].
    Warren is the real Obama 2.0; Biden is just a poser.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Sagar Enjeti made the comparison with Ted Cruz during the 2016 Republican nomination fight.

      Republicans all hated Ted Cruz, but when he looked like the only person who could maybe beat Trump, they warmed right up to him in a hurry. Of course, it didn’t work. :)

      Reply
      1. Tim

        In the hypothetical Trump vs Sanders or Trump vs Warren, doesn’t Sanders have a significant advantage? If so, that is a bad analogy.

        Obama’s legacy was being a master of feeling people’s pain yet doing nothing to help them intentionally or otherwise.

        The article shows that Warren intends to do the same, except the intention is clear as day.

        That’s why I called her Obama 2.0. More progressive, but same end result.

        Reply
    2. russell1200

      Sanders is reinforcing his “outsider” position. Warren is tiptoeing up to the line, but not crossing it.

      Obviously she is hoping to avoid getting screwed the way Bernie was (and is) last time and Gabbard is this time.

      What I find really interesting is Harris noting her support of Bernie’s health care bill. Not sure what calculations are going into that.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        IMO, Sanders is not “positioning” himself as an “outsider”. Watch his imterview with
        Krystal Ball, below. Can’t be that congruent if you don’t believe what you’re saying
        (BidenBookerMayoHarrisO’Rourke et al).

        Reply
        1. Carey

          Adding: Booker’s *impression of* congruence can be pretty effective, I think; to the point that I occasionally have to remind myself that he’s just another neolib shyster.
          Others might see it differently.

          Reply
  3. Mark Gisleson

    “Keming” was “kerning” for me until I clicked the link. (And looking at the preview, “keming” is still “kerning” for me). But what really hurts is knowing that all the normally sighted people reading this have no clue what I’m talking about.

    Reply
    1. Judith

      I moved real close to my computer monitor and squinted because I thought it said “kerning” but I have been wearing eyeglasses since grade school.

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      That’s one I often have trouble with ( a few others, too), though this time it read OK. Might depend on which glasses I’m wearing.

      Reply
    3. shinola

      Until I corrective surgery, I had trouble distinguishing between “m” & “rn”. Led to some interesting misreads on occasion.

      Oh, and I learned a new word today: ‘Kerning’ (which spellcheck doesn’t like) is adjusting the spacing between letters. Thanks!

      Reply
      1. Voltaire Jr.

        Old typographer here. Kerning was originally applied to lead pieces that were shaved to fit better.
        A good example is a WA, a VA and similar that allowed the two lead slugs to fit inside each other. Notice how this text allows that. Ligatures were the same but more compact.

        Reply
      2. JCC

        I got to learn about kerning when I dove into Donald Knuth’s TeX and Lamport’s LaTeX years ago.

        Until then I never thought much about it, let alone knew there was a “word for it”. Knuth took it very seriously as it related to a computer screen’s display and readability.

        It’s actually a fascinating subject in our modern age of thousands of different computer fonts on screen or paper and the various ways it affects readability, and ultimately comprehension of what is read.

        Reply
    4. DJG

      Mark Gisleson: Yep. I’m not sure what the post is about. Kerning is kerning, whether one has to tell the typesetter to tighten up letter spacing or whether one has to tell the typesetter to check the kerning program because all of the letters are crashing. (Crashing, another “technical” term of long standing.) A kern was a physical matter–when there was physical type.

      You should see how I confuse some of the younger editors by using the word “leading”–from back when those kerns may have been made of lead.

      And the lead in Linotype machines came from pigs. Pigs.

      Reply
    5. Mo's Bike Shop

      But what really hurts is knowing that all the normally sighted people reading this have no clue what I’m talking about.

      No, there are quite a few people, of varying degrees of sightedness, who angst out quite a bit over the actual result that the reader experiences. No running gutters is just the start, for instance in print you want to read all the headers on the page to make sure it doesn’t come out as something rude from a distance. And on and on. I suppose typography could be seen as the outermost level of occult knowledge in our culture. And it is one of those jobs where no one is supposed to notice you’re doing it at all, if you’re doing it right.

      I scanned, but did not see a pronunciation guide. The author may not have noticed that the visual joke sounds lame in meatspace. With either pronunciation I can imagine. It is not useful for cocktail parties. But the visual joke is cute. And the the Mystery of typesetting is something more people should be nerding out about. I am raring to argue that font design is indistinguishable from magic.

      Reply
  4. Off The Street

    Front row kids to become dispersed row kids in new DeBlasio NYC schools plan mentioned in NYT.

    I guess that those Stuyvesant-Dalton grudge matches will take on new importance. /s

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      talk about obfuscation…from the NYT article ‘Last year, New York’s elementary school gifted classes ….were nearly 75 percent white and Asian. ‘

      I’m presuming that the gifted program is majority Asian….as if it was majority white the NYT would say so. But I guess that saying NYC’s gifted program is majority Asian (or very disproportionately) goes against the narrative that standardized testing only favors white people.

      Just saying

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Standard testing favors a cultural and mental type as well as the training needed to do the test well, but it does not really correlates with intelligence. Someone with dyslexia or has never taken a particular standardized test is likely to do poorly. Standardized tests do make it easier to sort and rank winners and losers.

        Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        To answer your Q, not as much fun as with Cardi B. But, he’s relaxed and thoughtful and he’s gotten more confident in recent months. He’s also loosening up the tongue on his criticism of team dem.

        He’s much more interesting and enjoyable when not getting the absurdly loaded questions like:

        “Polls show you’re dropping, will you please drop out and endorse?!?!?!”
        or
        “Everyone’s already adopted your agenda, so it’s okay for you to go away quietly now and ride off into the sunset!”

        Asked about ‘colleagues he admires who are running’, he name drops Warren and Klobouchar. Conspicuously absent….Harris and Biden! :)

        Reply
      2. Bugs Bunny

        Wow. Ability to address each of the issues and bring them to a logical conclusion that I frankly think any of us here can agree to.

        He talks about how he grew up in the bottom of the working class (like this rabbit did) and he talks about it with passion and ties it to M4A.

        Let’s say that his foreign policy is still developing. The Brazil sanctions idea would not move anything in the right direction and the carrot and stick comment is unhelpful. That said, I’m no Talleyrand.

        I guess send money is all I can say because there’s no one better out there.

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          I liked the sanctions idea. Obviously, it’s not credible and seems in bad faith considering our country’s track record, (the sanctions on Venezuela and Iran are flagrantly in bad faith) but there has to be a disincentive to destroying the rainforest if we’re going to keep coastal cities around the world from becoming deep-sea diving tourist attractions.

          Banning imports of Brazilian beef should be on the table. So should banning palm oil from Indonesia/Malaysia. Deep water and Arctic oil drilling, mountaintop strip-mining of coal, ban those, too.

          We’ve got to get serious about climate change, all options should be on the table.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i’d add(just to be consistent) that we shouldn’t be importing meat from anywhere…we should be paying ranchers(including small bird ranchers like me) to grow it here.
            the thousands of cattle that pass through the auction in my town all go into the global supply chain…and yet, the store beef says “product of argentina”, etc.

            Reply
          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            I wonder what the legal status of the Amazon tribes is. If they’re sovereigns, maybe we should just write them a big fact check to maintain the Amazon as it is (as we should also do to “re-prairie” the appropriate parts of flyover IMNSHO).

            Reply
    1. dearieme

      1) Bernie’s willing to use sanctions to preserve the Amazon Rainforest.

      So he’ll follow the US tradition of bullying weaker nations especially if they are in Latin America. Very radical.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I asked the other day if Sanders would go after politicians of countries with state owned oil companies, now that he was going to go after US oil executives, under the conditions he listed.

        And one response was that Sanders would not do regime change by going after their politicians.

        On the other hand, if it is the law, now or later, future presidents could use it to implement regime change in countries with state owned oil companies, even if Sanders himself does not.

        Reply
        1. pretzelattack

          what do economic sanctions have to do with prosecuting foreign politicians (why would the u.s. have jurisdiction?), and what do either have to do with prosecuting scamming u.s. oil executives?

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I was reminded of it. They are connected in the sense that Sanders mentioned them.

            As for the US having jurisdiction, or not, it was part of the discussion I had with another poster (thus, I wrote, ‘one response) the day it came up, in the water cooler section (if I recall correctly). The poster responded that he or she would be excited for Sanders to go after politicians of countries with state owned oil companies, as an extension of going after oil executivs, in the US, and (to the poster) in other countries as well.

            My response to that was, isn’t that regime change?

            Reply
              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                The issues are connected in the sense that Sanders mentioned both, and since we were talking about Sanders and the Amazon Rainforest, I was reminded of Sanders’ early call to go after oil executives.

                Reply
      2. pretzelattack

        no the us tradition is overthrowing the goverments to get control of cheap resources, not using economic sanctions to preserve those resources.

        Reply
      3. Grant

        Actually, part of his recent environmental plan is setting aside money for developing countries, and I would imagine that the Amazon would be a big focus. Seems a bit different than supporting the 1964 coup in Brazil and our support of the right wing fascists thereafter. And part of this is the violent land grabs, which the landless peasants (the MST) in Brazil have been fighting against. The current government there seems to be of a different mind.

        Reply
      4. John k

        It’s all about when, exactly, the ends justify the means.
        We bomb in wars. Some wars justify such actions better than some others.
        Eventually most nations will look at climate change as an existential issue, but even then there will be those that resist.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Dearieme made a specific claim that this is the US bullying weaker nations.

          You write it’s about when, but I am not sure if you think, in this case, it’s justified.

          Reply
          1. John k

            I do.
            Sanders also mentions carrots.
            I wish somebody would mention free birth control pills for all, pop growth is a lot to do with fires in the Amazon, Africa tool

            Reply
      5. drumlin woodchuckles

        If it makes you feel better, perhaps Bernie could re-phrase that as ” willing to withdraw support for the Brazilian Euro-Settler Lebensraum-Genocide project against the Amazon Indians and their Rainforest.”

        And one way of withdrawing support for Brazil’s Euro-Settler Lebensraum Genocide project in Amazonia is to ” fail-to-permit” the import into America of Lebensraum Genocide soybeans and Lebensraum-Genocide beef from Brazil into America.

        Another way to withdraw support from the Bolsonarian Lebensraum-Genocide plan for Amazonia would be to “fail-to-support” any lending or anything else to Brazil which could be fungible-ized to support Bolsonaro’s Plan Lebensraum-Genocide for Amazonia.

        There. Feel better now?

        Or does that not support the EuroBrazilian Lebensraum-Genocide bullying against the Indians of Amazonia that you would like us to support?

        Reply
    2. Carey

      That was superbly on-point and sharp as a tack from Sanders, particularly around 19, 22, and 25 minutes in. I take mild exception to his claim early in the interview that McConnell is
      the problem in the Senate; he has very willing collaborators on the other side™ of the
      aisle, it seems to me, who’d happily take up the slack in his absence. Still, good to put the spotlight on Ol’ Mitch.

      Sanders / Gabbard 2020

      Reply
    3. Oh

      Krystal is great as an interviewer and gives time for the interviewee to answer until the pompous, self important, arrogant, all knowing effing interviewers in the MSM.
      The Sanders interview was excellent and Bernie had clearcut, non hesitant answers to all the questions, especially the difficult ones about the DimRats.

      Reply
  5. JohnnyGL

    https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/alberto-fernandez-renews-criticism-of-deal-after-meeting-with-imf-team.phtml

    It appears the IMF tried to housebreak the opposition candidate in Argentina. It didn’t go well. This guy Fernandez talks WAY too much truth about IMF policy….

    Fernández’s economic team said after the meeting that, “as they had warned in the first meeting” with the IMF’s mission team back last June that “the last disbursement [of the IMF credit-line] had been entirely intended to finance the flight of foreign exchange.”

    The IMF’s policy of open capital markets combined with hefty hard currency loans has always had the effect of helping the bank robbers exit the building in a nice, orderly fashion, ensuring a smooth looting spree for all involved!

    Reply
    1. deplorado

      Fernandez’s account is literally what Prof. Hudson said was happening, a couple of months ago. Almost verbatim!

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        It happens EVERY SINGLE TIME the IMF tries to push a free-floating exchange rate with an open capital account, while lending in hard currency.

        It happened in Asia in 1998, Mexico in 1994-5, and pretty much every other emerging market debt crisis episode.

        As Yves has pointed out, their own research dept points out that open capital accounts are a BAD idea, but they keep pushing it.

        Reply
          1. JohnnyGL

            Yes, post-crisis, almost every country sees big falls in wages, increases in inequality. Lots more ownership of the commanding heights of the economy by foreign multinationals.

            Reply
            1. jsn

              It’s a feature, not a bug: after Kennedy all the Breton Woods tools set up to strengthen “the alliance” were retooled to exploit “allies”.

              Reply
  6. Geo

    “Cassettes Are Back, and It’s Not About the Music”

    Recently been using an old tape deck rewired with 1/4” input/outputs to record instruments (banjo, lap steel) for a film score. Added a speed dial to the unit as well so we can create “tape warp” where desired. Even sampled the clicks and clacks of the play/pause button and whirr of the inner gears for percussive elements in the music. The clicks, tape his, and other audio artifacts of the cassette tape experience really are evocative of a bygone era.

    Also, was listening to a CD of an album I’d played nonstop back in the cassette days and at the midway point the still get that sense of annoyance about the impending three minutes of silence I’ll have to fast forward through so I can flip to the other side.

    I don’t miss the “user experience” of cassettes but can understand the nostalgia for them.

    Reply
  7. Summer

    “They had really hard work, and life was difficult. But they were also really into having fun.’”

    That was over as soon as they tossed their reality for the tyranny of clocks.

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      “Clocks” were evident very early.

      As was the calendar, especially Lent and Easter.

      All those Churches and Monasteries ringing hourly bells were the clocks of the day.

      Bells are Tolled. A toll as a fee is the same concept.

      Reply
    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Once the railroads conquered space the only commons left to exploit was time. Which they had luckily brought along wherever they laid their tracks.

      Haven’t read the article yet, but I have savored various accounts of Early Modern overseers who were driven to distraction by what the peasants thought a full days work was. Janega plays to my priors.

      Reply
  8. Cal2

    “I was proud to be the first Senate Democrat to come out in support of Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill”

    Sure, a threefer:
    1. Look like she’s a real progressive, coat-tailing on Bernie’s multi decade genuine work.
    2. Harvesting suckers’ emails.
    3. Most importantly: Early lining up of the future donors who do not want Sander’s Medicare for All to ever see the light of day, so as to later foist her own Wall Street Friendly Medical bill off on the dazzled colorblinded dupes.

    Speaking of the Kamaleon’s time travel:

    Kamala Harris says she listened to Snoop and Tupac while smoking weed in college – years before they released their breakthrough albums

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6697089/Kamala-Harris-says-listened-Snoop-Tupac-smoking-pot-college.html

    Reply
  9. neighbor7

    Biden:

    putting
    the fight
    for access
    to adequate
    health care
    at the top of
    his to do list

    Hey, there’s a lot of subtle topographic layering on this hill to die on! Let’s give credit…

    Reply
  10. Matthew G. Saroff

    The question is not what Senate Democrats are thinking about single payer, it’s whether they are thinking at all.

    Seriously, these folks never miss a chance to go with bad polikcy that is bad politics.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      Bad policy and bad politics *for whom*?

      The article cracked me up, in a macabre way: “we’re tryin’ so hard!!! [to keep the proles
      from having a decent life]..

      “It’s just all so complex™ and confusing™!”

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        I suspect it’s worth more than the $20M offered!

        Telling the G-7 to go pound sand was probably the first and last time I’ll agree with Bolsonaro on anything.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Trump can order Amazon to pay for the purchase of the Amazon.

          Never too late to pay for naming rights.

          Reply
    1. polecat

      His Hotel would slipslide away ito the mud …. although the Parana and Arrowana might find it an attractive spawning ground.

      Reply
    2. ewmayer

      Ha, ha, he could have the USGov buy the Amazon rainforest, then take a cue from Ohio State U. and sue Jeff Bezos’s company for trademark infringement, since its name infringes on that of THE Amazon.

      Reply
  11. JohnnyGL

    More polling fun….

    https://twitter.com/EchelonInsights/status/1166386997474287617
    Biden +11, down from Biden +19 in previous poll from this pollster. Biden down 3, Bernie up 5.

    Emerson’s got one, too. Biden up 7 over Bernie. Down from Biden up 13 a few weeks ago.
    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2020/president/us/2020_democratic_presidential_nomination-6730.html

    At this point, it’s becoming clear, Bernie’s rising and Biden’s fading. The Emerson result with Bernie at 24% is the highest result for a long time. He’s done better in the Emerson poll twice, his highest being 29% back in April. That poll with him leading Biden caused a wobble in health care related stocks.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe Biden can take a page out of Mao’s playbook (of swimming the Yangtze to prove his health).

      Free styling across the Mississippi would be comparable.

      Reply
    2. JohnnyGL

      Gabbard put up a 3% in that Emerson poll. Anyone know if that gets her in? Does it count? Does she need one more to make the debate stage?

      Reply
      1. redleg

        Since she’s calling for an end to US’ perpetual warfare, there isn’t a poll in the world, or any world, that would get her in.

        Reply
    3. shinola

      My theory on Biden: His polling results are mainly due to name recognition & association with Obama. The more people see & hear him, the more he drops in the polls.

      Reply
      1. Mike Mc

        Joe Bye Done has been running for President since 1988 for crying out loud, and has done poorly every bleeping time. Couldn’t beat Obama or HRC in 2008… over a decade later, he STILL can’t speak off the cuff and not end up in the ditch.

        This slow fade will accelerate as the campaign tightens up for 2020. Go home, Joe, you were a decent VP and a great meme, but get off the stage before the curtain falls on your head and the hook comes out from the wings.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The Democrats are always on the lookout for anything Russia, and yet, this ageing leadership thing with Joe Biden reminds (I hope I remember correctly) me of the ageing leadership of the USSR in the early 1980s.

          Is this another plot by Putin? This time, the establishment Democrats are working for the man?

          Reply
  12. barrisj

    As reader Petal noted at the Biden rally, the “DS” meme was heavily featured, and now is appearing in a big teevee media splash…oy vey.

    Reply
  13. DJG

    Strether: Brunch? Aren’t you the one who coined the golden adage:

    Leftists don’t do brunch

    ??

    And don’t tell me that you were lingering over the bloodies.

    Reply
      1. DJG

        Amfortas: I am active when home, yet I can’t get away with second breakfast or elevenses. But when I am traveling, I do second breakfast, too. Second breakfast can get one all the way to midafternoon.

        And it’s nice when a café happens to have some brioches or croissants that have to be demolished. The joys of travel. Usually, my first traveler’s breakfast is more serious–yogurt. And the second one is more whimsical–shortbreads(!).

        Reply
    1. Carey

      Team Dem™ losing what little credibility they have left, with this action, since many
      non-inside-baseball people now know who Gabbard is, and are becoming aware of
      just what the DNC is and represents.

      Big thanks to Joe Rogan for having her on his show a good while back.

      #goLoserCrats! Don’t ever change!

      Reply
  14. JohnnyGL

    https://twitter.com/TheStalwart/status/1166306976034381824

    An explicit threat from a member of a too-powerful, unelected, unaccountable institution.

    The Fed should be brought back under the purview of the Treasury Dept. Also, you can just fire Dudley. He’s openly admitted his judgement on monetary policy is clouded by his preferences on trade policy which are outside his job description.

    Again, a lot of people don’t see this, but there’s real value in President Trump getting people to show you who they really are. He’s done it with China, and now he’s gotten the Fed to show their hand, too.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Whoops, it appears Dudley is the former NY Fed President. It’s not very effective to fire someone who’s no longer in the job! :)

      Reply
      1. Tim

        Yeah, but ex fed governors are like ex presidents, they are still considered of that title and agents of the office.

        This is a big deal and many people are not happy about it.

        Reply
    2. notabanker

      There is a real issue between Trump and the Fed. There was a comment on this in Trump thread yesterday. Very interesting.

      Reply
      1. barrisj

        It’s quite simple, actually…the Fed is his backstop on trade wars. He sincerely (sic) believes that near-ZIRP will overcome the disastrous effects of rupturing global supply chains by allowing US multinationals to borrow cheaply in order to finance a “back-to-Murka” manufacturing shift, not realizing that Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, et al offer far better “labour cost-controls” than here in the good ol’ Yewnited States.
        Oh, of course, should mention that driving down bond yields will prop up the equities markets, how could I forget!

        Reply
  15. ChrisPacific

    Re: brain parasites, there was a Brian Aldiss novel (I forget the name) in which a human’s brain was taken over by a highly intelligent parasitic fungus. It later claimed that all significant humans throughout history had been similarly controlled, and that the fungi were responsible for all of human society, culture and technology.

    Reply
  16. barrisj

    One of Lambert’s favs, the used-to-be-good Chas. Pierce, having come down from his RussiaGate high, is now touting Sleepy Joe…why? Well, very simple, it’s coz people are pining for “normalcy”, and Joe has it in spades…was willing at one time to subscribe to Pierce’s Esquire feed based upon past performance, but now…?

    Joe Biden Promises Not to Rock the Boat. It Might Make Him President.
    “A return to normalcy” has worked before, and it could work again.

    https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a28816868/joe-biden-2020-return-to-normalcy/

    Jesus wept.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      I will say again that the list of non-compromised news outlets is most likely *much shorter* than the apparently compromised ones, these days.

      “we need a small favor from you..”

      Reply
    2. ChrisAtRU

      Jésus Francisco Cordobá … !!!

      “Joe Biden Promises Not to Rock the Boat. It Might Make Him President”

      Isn’t this the same crap #HRC promised in 2016?!

      #ForFamilyBlogsSake

      #TheyHaveLearnedNothing

      Reply
  17. ForFawkesSakes

    Ernie Bushmiller’s original Nancy is incredibly refreshing and subversive. It is surreal and absurd, in the vein of Looney Tunes, and is aware of itself as a comic strip. Bushmiller is delightful in pushing the limits of the medium and it holds up rather well still today.

    There is a Dada inspired game called Three Card Nancy. You create a deck out of some choice Nancy panels (photocopy a bunch of them and slap them on cardstock), deal the cards to a few players, and each person plays a Nancy frame, in their turn, until a comic of three panels is created. You set that aside and when you’ve played through the deck, players vote on the wildest comic. It’s wild to play with creative types.

    Reply
  18. Deschain

    Re: “You don’t want to take people’s insurance away’

    I had the following incredibly frustrating conversation with my mom the other day. I should say that my mom (1) is literate and intelligent (2) has reliably voted Dem her whole life and (3) worked in the healthcare industry for 40 years at a hospital so she knows exactly how the sausage gets made (and that it is sausage and not prime rib).

    Mom (apropos of nothin): I don’t think the Dems pitching Medicare for all understand that people like their insurance

    Me: o rly, do tell

    Mom: Medicare doesn’t cover everything and my private insurance fills in the gaps

    Me: first very few of the Dems are actually pitching real Medicare for all. Second Bernie’s M4A plan would mean no costs at the point of service

    Mom: but I don’t want to lose my insurance

    Me: with no costs at point of service you don’t need insurance

    Mom: well (pause) how are we going to afford that

    Me: (grits teeth in anticipation of having to explain how government spending actually works; decide to take different tack) mom, we can’t afford the system we have now. Single payer means the government can negotiate costs down, which is how it works in other countries, and we eliminate all the excess profits and overhead

    Mom: (pause) well I don’t believe it will actually work that way

    I mean … the reality is that the ‘people don’t want to lose their insurance’ (who have it, ofc) sentiment is right. It’s only right because they are (have been deliberately) misinformed about how M4A works. But there’s still a lot of education that needs doing.

    Reply
    1. inode_buddha

      Going thru healthcare hell myself. The cost of insurance has basically bankrupted me. Yet most people seem to think that all that money somehow is doing something productive, like paying the poor doctors (not), or funding drug research (not) and hey its a free market so that means the price is right! (wrong)…

      Some numbers for your mom: I was making 16/hr after 30 yrs in my field. plus formal training. About 2000/mo. Platinum coverage came to 600/mo out of my pocket. This puts me underwater. Big time. The cochlear surgery I just had? The doc said he got 2500. The hospital, anesthesia, etc. (outpatient) came to 75K.

      They should be damned ashamed of themselves. As it is, I am now long-term unemployed and looking at starting over in my 50’s. I had to wait months for this procedure.

      For my whole life, I was told that my situation only happens in socialist countries. They lied their asses off. Please quote me on this.

      Reply
    2. ChrisPacific

      Well, to be fair, she might be thinking that she’ll have her existing arrangement taken away to be replaced by something that promises to be better, but ends up falling short of expectations or having gaps and deficiencies that weren’t advertised. (Now where could she have got that idea, I wonder?)

      Reply
      1. Deschain

        Yeah this is pretty much what it amounts to. Neoliberals have a great scam going – tell people government sucks, and then ensure that it does when they get elected. See, we were right!

        Reply
    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      they are (have been deliberately) misinformed about how M4A works

      Or conditioned to believe that anything new will just be one more layer. Maybe the lobbyist pitch should be that M4A will give people more cash on hand to give to new scams?

      Reply
    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      You might try this: the taxes you would pay for M4A would be less money than the premiums you would no longer pay for private insurance.

      Reply
      1. inode_buddha

        Exactly, that was my conversion moment: when I actually read and understood my pay stub. They could *double* my medicare taxes and it would still be a tiny fraction of what I pay into the health plan via work. I would save something like 10k a year and actually be able to live and pay all my bills by myself.

        Reply
  19. The Rev Kev

    “Barry sobbed as he begged for his job. VR is getting heavy, man”

    Why go high tech when they could just show people that movie with George Clooney “Up in the Air”? I mean, the movie was about a guy whose job was to fly around the country to fire people on a company’s behalf-

    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%22up+in+the+air%22+2009

    A strange twist was at the end of that film was where you had some of the people that were fired saying how optimistic they were and how maybe being fired wasn’t so bad after all.

    Reply
    1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

      Existentialism imposed by the zietgeist.

      My attitude to work (after I learned the zeitgeist of seemingly the majority of modern corporations) is that this day, and any day, is my last day. That way, if it is the last day, I am prepared mentally. This attitude may be viewed as bad. If it is negative, it is only a reflection of the zeitgeist.

      If Alfred E Neumann were my mentor, he’d be proud.

      Pip-pip!

      Reply
  20. scarn

    Rick: Ugh. Sorry, Jerry. You’re real.

    Jerry: ( crying ) I’m a parasite!

    Rick: Yeah, but you’re real.

    Consciousness and ego as a side effect of parasitism is blackly funny.

    Reply
  21. Earl Erland

    So, old DNC Joe. I doubt he ever knew who he was. That makes him the perfect Vice President for Obama, who also is not sure who he was, or is. The thing about fluid systems is they are stable unless a screw has not been tightened enough, air is introduced into the system, or the mechanism that keeps up the pressure for the good of the larger system fails. In 1991 I noticed and read an article in the New York Times about the 50th Anniversary of the Construction of the AlCan. As everyone who reads this blog knows, in the 18 hundred hundreds, at the same time we were killing each other in beautiful waves of soldiers, we were also placing wooden ties and metal rails and metal spikes heading west. And we were not just killing each other. We had moral certainty, enough, for fucks sake, as everyone who has been to Gettysburg or read Judith Miller, to know that sanctioned murder was the and the only political or diplomatic or practical solution. The solution that carries weight. The solution that future generations will understand and respect.

    Reply
  22. richard

    Hey, my mind is in a state right now
    just got back from the SEA (Seattle Educators Association) meeting where we approved our contract,
    i thought it was a shitty deal, small increases in # of counselors, no increases in # of nurses, a decent salary bump (11% over 3 years), but not much that the public gets a benefit from
    and that’s not even why i’m in a state
    it’s the phrase “racial equity”
    I must have heard it used 1000 times tonight
    our union rep, who is f*&^ing awesome in so many ways
    told me I should view my free school lunch idea primariy through a racial equity lense
    ohfergawdsakes
    a concrete material benefit? nope! A slap in the face to white supremacy, i guess
    i feel pretty lousy about my union, and depressed about things
    i live in the center of the idpol hurricane
    but don’t bomb me donny, i still want to live

    Reply
    1. richard

      I feel like I should say, I totally support most of the “racial equity” work we do. When a mostly white teaching staff is failing to educate black or latinx youth at much higher levels than white youth, you’d have a hard time arguing that racist premises and baggage don’t play any part. And the way our supposedly public education serves poor kids is a crime, and of course that is also connected with institutional racism.
      They’re just making it (“racial equity”) work too damn hard, to use a lambertism.

      Reply
      1. WJ

        Racial inequity gender inequity etc is always premised upon and presupposes material (economic) inequity. Because if there were no material inequity, then there could be no racial inequity nor gender inequity. Hence the best way to overcome racial and gender inequity is to do away with material inequity.

        Reply
  23. Carey

    ‘The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains’ by Nicholas Carr (2010) was quite an interesting read. He makes his case slowly and in a limited but effective way;
    it’s not a jeremiad, but a real help in understanding what might or might not be
    unconsciously happening as we use our tools, or they use us. I liked it well enough
    to order Carr’s next book, on automation and its consequences, called ‘The Glass
    Cage (2014), which I’ve just started. Some of this brings to mind Ivan Illich’s
    ‘Tools for Conviviality’, except we’re so much further down the [rail] road..

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  24. VietnamVet

    The 737 Max saga continues. Der Spiegel has published the latest on Boeing’s existential crisis.
    https://www.spiegel.de/international/business/737-max-boeing-s-crashes-expose-systemic-failings-a-1282869.html
    The article lays out Boeing’s and FAA’s failures. This indicates (as also shown by Jeffery Epstein’s assisted suicide) that government has been rendered totally incompetent at the direction of the Elites. Boris Johnson is the latest political failure who will terminate the United Kingdom. At G7 his disheveled sickly pallor made Donald Trump look gloriously healthy.

    The revelations in the article also indicate that German media is starting to divorce its reporting from the British and American media mogul’s propaganda. The USA to avoid an economic depression will get the airplane flying again. All will assure passengers of the safety of airline travel and cover up the problems caused by neoliberal cost cutting. However, there is escalating conflict between nationalists and globalists in a multipolar world. China will not recertify the 737 Max until Donald Trump ends his tariff wars and Hong Kong is pacified.

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    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I wonder if we need a new word for how Epstein was suicided by experts.

      Something like “suassassinide” or suissassinide” or something like that.

      He was suissassinided in his cell.

      Or we could just say he was suicided.

      Reply
  25. JBird4049

    “Cassettes Are Back, and It’s Not About the Music” [Bloomberg]. “If it were all about the sound, the cassette would have been as extinct as the wax cylinder (though, of course, plastic versions of those are still being made for people who can’t part with their phonographs). But our relationship with music is much more complicated than mere audio enjoyment. …

    Hey, I resemble this remark. I love my LPs, even with my hearing aids the sound quality is still slightly better than some mp3s. Also some music is only available on old recordings sadly. So getting them is a long search through LPs or CDs.

    Reply
  26. Michael C

    Want to see what a great union is about? Read up on the history of the UE. They didn’t sell out in the late 40’s and 50’s. Inspiring really. And the way they control union leadership pay is the best of democracy. My favorite union, and I a retired Teamster, which has a good history decades ago.

    Reply

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