2:00PM Water Cooler 8/5/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“Trade Wars Escalate” [Tim Duy’s Fed Watch]. “The big news everyone will wake up to is the latest escalation in the trade wars between the U.S. and China. The situation is obviously a clear net negative for the economy that will keep the Fed biased toward easing again in September. The Fed will remain under pressure to help President Trump fight his trade wars with lower interest rates in the months ahead.” • If the Fed takes away the punchbowl, the worst might happen: A Sanders win.


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

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

“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (average of five polls). As of August 1: Biden fluctuates to 32.2% (32.0), Sanders up to 16.5% (16.4%), Warren down at 14.0% (14.8%), Buttigieg flat at 5.5% (5.6%), Harris down at 10.3% (11.0%), Beto separating himself from the bottom feeders, interestingly. others Brownian motion. If these trends continue in the next release, Sanders will the only winner of both debates.

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Buttigieg (D)(1): “Buttigieg’s New Hampshire Director Leaves Team: Campaign Update” [Yahoo News]. “The Pete Buttigieg campaign has parted ways with its New Hampshire state director Michael Ceraso. The move comes days after the second round of Democratic debates — in which Buttigieg had no breakout moments — and two weeks after the campaign brought on Jess O’Connell as a senior adviser. O’Connell was chief executive officer of the Democratic National Committee in 2017 and has served as executive director of EMILY’s List. Ceraso departs just as she was seeking changes to make the campaign more competitive in key states, and ahead of New Hampshire’s state convention in September, the campaign said, adding that it will soon announce several other staffing changes.” • Yes, “chief executive officer of the Democratic National Committee” is the line on the resumé I want to see…

Gabbard (D)(1): “Tulsi Gabbard Thinks We’re Doomed” [New York Times]. “‘Tracking metrics of Russian state propaganda on Twitter, she was by far the most favored candidate,’ said Clinton Watts, a former F.B.I. agent and senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. ‘She’s the Kremlin’s preferred Democrat. She is such a useful agent of influence for them. Whether she knows it’s happening or not, they love what she’s saying.'” • Presented without comment from the, er, reporter.

Harris (D)(1):

Check source before recirculating…

Sanders (D)(1): “Mike Gravel to Formally Endorse Bernie Sanders’ Campaign” [The Daily Beast]. “[Gravel,] who was cajoled into running an almost exclusively online campaign by teenagers David Oks and Henry Williams, filmed an endorsement video for Sanders on Sunday. Gravel spoke with Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir before coming to the decision to make a formal endorsement and is planning to speak with Sanders himself in the coming days.”

Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Sanders explains why it’s his time to win Nevada” [Las Vegas Review-Journal]. “‘We’ve got Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and California,’ Sanders said. ‘And my guess is that any candidate who does particularly well in those five states is going to be the nominee and the next president of the United States.’… Sanders told the crowd that all of these issues — low pay, high-interest loans, medical bills — are intertwined in a web that keeps half of Americans living paycheck to paycheck.” • That last sentence is interesting, because it’s not Sanders’ language; the reporter was actually listening and thing.

Warren (D)(1):

Oh, I hope not!

Williamson (D)(1): “Marianne Williamson: Holy Fool” [The American Conservative]. “[L]et’s not fool ourselves: Trump, like Sharpton and his identity-politics-besotted enablers in the Democratic Party and the left-wing establishments, are trafficking in “dark psychic forces.” For years in this space, I have warned that leftist identity politics are summoning demons. So is Donald Trump…. Dark psychic force? You’d have to be a fool not to see it. And you’d have to be completely self-deceived to think that only one side has a monopoly on it…. I believe the capacity for this kind of hatred exists within every human heart. What we are losing is the sense that it is a destructive passion to be resisted.”

TX: Suburban Republicans:


“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, spokesman leave her office” [The Intercept]. • Looks to me like Nancy won. I hope AOC is taking care of her district.

The Debates

“Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders Stood Together on Radical Progressive Ideas in the Democratic Debate” [Teen Vogue]. “Despite being jointly labeled as the party’s progressive standard-bearers, Sanders and Warren appeal to very different supporters. As explained by Politico, polling indicates that Warren appeals more to women, to better-educated voters, and to older voters; Sanders, on the other hand, is favored by the less educated, by men, by younger voters, and by those with lower incomes. The fact that the two candidates are running on similar platforms but have such divergent bases of support speaks to the broad appeal of progressive policies. Which, in part, is why it’s confusing to see so many Democrats so eager to attack these progressives.” • What’s confusing about it?


“Should we impeach Donald Trump?” [Patheos]. “For those like me with a more conservative inclination, we are getting a reputation for blindly tying ourselves to one political party without regard to things we have said in the past about how political leaders ought to behave publicly. To use my own crowd as an example, in 1998 while the Clinton impeachment was going on the Southern Baptist Convention passed a ‘Resolution on the Moral Character of Public Officials,’ but you’ll have to work hard to hear that document being cited by certain prominent Southern Baptists these days. We ought to hold elected officials that we like to the same standard as those we don’t. That doesn’t mean we should automatically be in favor of impeachment, but it does mean that if we were charging at Bill Clinton for his moral failings, we should be at least as critical as Donald Trump without rationalizing it away ‘because the other side is worse.'”


“DNI Nominee Intent on Getting to Bottom of Russiagate” [Ray McGovern, Consortium News]. “Shortly before President Donald Trump announced he had nominated Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) to replace Dan Coats as director of national intelligence, Ratcliffe made it clear he intends to hit the deck running on the ‘crimes’ behind Russiagate. ‘What I do know as a former federal prosecutor is it does appear that there were crimes committed during the Obama administration,’ Ratcliffe told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo. Mincing few words, he claimed the Democrats ‘accused Donald Trump of a crime and then tried to reverse engineer a process to justify that accusation.’ It’s an extravagant claim. But it is also true, and the proof is in the pudding of which we should have a steady diet in the months to come.” • This was written before Ratcliffe was unceremoniously heaved over the side, presumanbly after The Blob said “not on your Nellie.”

El Paso Shooting

Readers, I’ll have an El Paso Water Cooler Special tomorrow; I’m still gathering my thoughts.

“After the El Paso Massacre, the Choice Is Green Socialism or Eco-Fascism” [The Nation]. “Writing in New York magazine in March, Eric Levitz predicted that the climate emergency could easily spark two wildly divergent paths away from the current unsustainable model of economic growth: a Green New Deal vision of the future where socialist policies are used to remake the American and global economy to be more ecologically sustainable—or an extreme-right model based on immigration restriction and opposition to economic growth in the Global South.” • The mental health frame is not especially useful, I think.

“El Paso Terrorism Suspect’s Alleged Manifesto Highlights Eco-Fascism’s Revival” [HuffPo]. “Titled ‘The Inconvenient Truth,’ an allusion to Al Gore’s landmark climate change documentary, the ranting four-page document appeared on the extremist forum 8chan shortly before the shooting. Authorities have yet to confirm whether Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old Dallas-area white man arrested in connection with the shooting that left at least 22 dead, is the author. ‘The environment is getting worse by the year,’ the manifesto reads. ‘Most of y’all are just too stubborn to change your lifestyle. So the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.’ • Well, life expectancy is falling, and the birth rate is falling….

Obama Legacy

“The Democratic party’s quiet abandonment of Barack Obama” [Financial Times]. “As he surveys today’s wreckage, Mr Obama can draw on one other consolation: at least he merits the occasional mention. Bill Clinton, by contrast, has vanished. In the age of #Metoo, America’s 42nd president is persona non grata. Democrats are busy purging the past. Given the mood, it would be a surprise were Mr Biden to make it to the finishing line.” • The key word is “quiet.” The liberal Democrat hive mind operates rather like the Great Soviet Encyclopedia. Deprecated figures in photographs are retouched away — with no explanation and no accountability.

“Obama Reportedly Unfazed By Criticism From 2020 Candidates” [The Onion]. • A survey.

“How Barack Obama Failed Black Americans” [Sandy Darity, The Atlantic]. From 2016, still germane: “The “acting white” libel is symptomatic of a more general perspective—a perspective that argues that an important factor explaining racial economic disparities is self-defeating or dysfunctional behavior on the part of blacks themselves. And Barack Obama continuously has trafficked in this perspective. Of course, there are some black folk who engage in habits that undermine their potential accomplishments, but there are some white folk who engage in habits that undermine their potential accomplishments as well. And there is no evidence to demonstrate that are proportionately more blacks who behave in ways that undercut achievement, especially since it is clear that blacks do more with less. Nevertheless, Obama consistently has trafficked heavily in the tropes of black dysfunction. Either he is unfamiliar with or uninterested in the evidence that undercuts the black behavioral deficiency narrative. These tropes, in my view, do malicious work.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Idiocy of Ballot Bouncing” [Harold Meyerson, TAP]. “The California statute [on Presidential candidates’ tax returns] may just prompt Republican-controlled states to require every presidential nominee to, say, support the ongoing criminalization of undocumented border crossings, or call for the repeal of Roe v. Wade, to get their name on the states’ ballots. If the Democratic nominee’s name were not put before voters in Alabama, it wouldn’t really matter, since Alabama is bound to go for Trump. Then again, California is just as bound to go for the Democrat, no matter who it be. But what about Republican-controlled swing states like Georgia and Florida—or, for that matter, Arizona and Texas? Should the courts rule that states have the legal right to engage in ballot-bouncing, the Democratic nominee may be bounced to far greater, and more disastrous effect, than Trump.” • My example was “No Presidential candidate shall have used a private email server for public business.” NOTE I was wrong to assert that Lincoln was on the ballot in the slave states in 1860. He was not. All the more reason for California not to emulate them.

Why there should never be a digital intermediary between marking the ballot and counting it:

“You are always running exploitable code.” And the author of Bash is a highly competent programmer, unlike the voting machine vendors.

Stats Watch

Purchasing Managers’ Services Index, July 2019: “‘Robust’ — both domestic and foreign — is Markit Economics’ description of US service sector demand in July which, however, is not confirmed by the no more than moderate-to-solid diffusion score” [Econoday]. However, “hiring was ‘only moderate’…, inflationary pressures ‘historically subdued’, [and] optimism in the outlook slipping for a sixth month in a row.”

Institute For Supply Management Non-Manufacturing Index, July 2019: “ISM non-manufacturing has consistently reported very solid rates of growth but it too is at a multi-year low” [Econoday]. “Yet rates of growth, though moderating, are still respectable…. Though it does fit in with the general slowing underway in global diffusion reports, this isn’t a bad report and is a reminder that domestic demand in the second-quarter… was very strong.”

Retail: “Inside the conflict at Walmart that’s threatening its high-stakes race with Amazon” [Vox]. “The company’s US online sales increased 40 percent last year, buoyed by a successful expansion of an online grocery business; the digital-first brands and digital-first talent it has acquired have breathed new life into its portfolio; and it has shed at least part of its reputation for being a digital dinosaur…. But it’s still far behind Amazon, and inside Walmart, tensions are rising. Multiple sources tell Recode that the company is projecting losses of more than $1 billion for its US e-commerce division this year, on revenue of between $21 billion and $22 billion. Walmart does not disclose these figures publicly and declined to comment. That size loss is an eye-popping figure for a company that is used to printing cash and that prides itself on its profitable operations; the overall Walmart business brought in nearly $7 billion in profits during the last fiscal year…. The problem is that building the online version of the Everything Store requires millions more products, and that means two things that Walmart’s current infrastructure does not support: dozens more e-commerce warehouses and a lot more merchants and brands selling through Walmart.com.” • Well worth a read. Almost makes you feel sorry for Walmart. • And then there’s this: “Walmart has not secured the same trust — and long leash — from Wall Street investors that Amazon has.” In other words, Amazon has and has had the privilege of running its operation at a loss for years.

Retail slash Internet of Shit:

The Bezzle: “Autopilot failed to keep Tesla from sliding under semitruck at 68 mph, lawsuit claims” [Orlando Sun-Sentinel]. “About 10 seconds before the crash, Banner engaged the Autopilot system, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.” • So I’m not sure about the case, but at the end of the article there’s this: “The NTSB, in a 2017 report, wrote that design limitations of the Autopilot system played a major role in the fatality, the first known one in which a vehicle operated on a highway under semi-autonomous control systems. The agency said that Tesla told Model S owners that Autopilot should be used only on limited-access highways, primarily interstates. The report said that despite upgrades to the system, Tesla did not incorporate protections against use of the system on other types of roads.” • Because of course they didn’t. Could be that determining whether you’re on a limited-access highway is a hard problem for robot cars, just like turning left?

The Bezzle: “Finnish Tesla Model 3 Inspection Reveals Soft, Thin, Under-Spec Paint” [The Drive]. “A Finnish condition inspection of a Tesla Model 3’s paint has returned extremely poor readings for both thickness and hardness, validating growing owner concerns about easily-worn paint on the firm’s cars. These results come as Tesla negotiates the settlement of some 19 air quality violations at its Fremont, California factory paint shop, raising questions about the possibility of a connection between those compliance challenges and the thin, soft paint found on Tesla’s cars. Paint issues were one of several factors that contributed to the Model 3 losing its Consumer Reports recommendation this year.” • Oops.

The Bezzle: “Uber and Lyft Investors Are Looking for Signs of a Détente” [Bloomberg]. • Would a cartel between two firms whose business models doom them to unprofitability be unique in human history?

Tech: “AMD Ryzen 7 3700X is such a hit it almost outsold Intel’s entire CPU range” [TechRadar]. “In June, AMD’s overall market share was 68% at Mindfactory, so the increase to 79% represents a big jump, and the highest proportion of sales achieved by the company this year by a long way. To put this in a plainer fashion, for every single processor sold by Intel, AMD sold four.” • I’m used to the idea of Intel dominating everything. Oops.

Tech: “Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp went down (again)” [Engadget]. “Numerous reports have surfaced of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp being unavailable to various degrees on the morning of August 4th. The failure doesn’t appear to have been as dramatic as it was in July, when image services were out for several hours (we had at least some success visiting them ourselves). Still, it likely wasn’t what you were hoping for if you wanted to catch up on your social feeds on a lazy Sunday morning…. There has been a string of problems across the services in recent months, with roots in everything from server configurations to the previously mentioned media services. It’s not clear why they’ve picked up after a long period of relative stability.”

Intellectual Property: “Fact check: What you may have heard about the dispute between UC and Elsevier” [Office of Scholarly Communications, University of California]. “Elsevier’s offer to increase open access publishing “five-fold” would have resulted in only 30 percent of UC’s research, all of which is supported by public funding, being freely available to the public. Under the past Elsevier contract, which required UC authors to pay an additional charge for open access (after the libraries already paid Elsevier for subscriptions), only 6 percent of UC authors made that second payment — making the majority of UC research published in Elsevier journals inaccessible to the public who helped fund it.” • Elsevier, it is safe to say, is not greatly loved.

Intellectual Property: “Elsevier: “It’s illegal to Sci-Hub.” Also Elsevier: ‘We link to Sci-Hub all the time.'” [Boing Boing]. “Yesterday, I wrote about science publishing profiteer Elsevier’s legal threats against Citationsy, in which the company claimed that the mere act of linking to Sci-Hub (an illegal open-access portal) was itself illegal. You’ll never guess what happens next. Elsevier’s own journals turn out to be full of links to Sci-Hub. It’s also not hard to understand this. You see, the researchers who write the papers that Elsevier publishes are scientists, not private-equity-backed looter/profiteers, so they are more interested in science and scholarship than ensuring that Elsevier continues to rake in billions. And since Elsevier doesn’t pay for any of the work it publishes, it’s hard for them to exert pressure to end this practice.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 23 Fear (previous close: 36, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 5 at 12:49pm. • Restored at reader request. Note that the index is not always updated daily, sadly.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Crime Rate. “America’s 8th deadliest mass shooting occurred in El Paso.” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

The Biosphere

“When Tree Planting Actually Damages Ecosystems” [The Wire]. “Tree planting has been widely promoted as a solution to climate change, because plants absorb the climate-warming gases from Earth’s atmosphere as they grow…. Many of those trees could be planted in tropical grassy biomes according to the report. These are the savannas and grasslands that cover large swathes of the globe and have a grassy ground layer and variable tree cover. Like forests, these ecosystems play a major role in the global carbon balance. Studies have estimated that grasslands store up to 30% of the world’s carbon that’s tied up in soil. Covering 20% of Earth’s land surface, they contain huge reserves of biodiversity, comparable in areas to tropical forest…. Savannas and grasslands are home to nearly one billion people, many of whom raise livestock and grow crops… Calls for global tree planting programmes to cool the climate need to think carefully about the real implications for all of Earth’s ecosystems. The right trees need to be planted in the right places. Otherwise, we risk a situation where we miss the savanna for the trees, and these ancient grassy ecosystems are lost forever.”

“‘This is the beginning’: new study warns climate crisis may have been pivotal in rise of drug-resistant superbug” [Monthly Review]. “A new analysis warns that ‘global warming may have played a pivotal role’ in the recent rise of a multidrug-resistant fungal superbug, sparking questions and concerns about the emerging public health threats of the human-caused climate crisis…. ‘The argument that we are making based on comparison to other close relative fungi is that as the climate has gotten warmer, some of these organisms, including Candida auris, have adapted to the higher temperature, and as they adapt, they break through human’s protective temperatures,” lead author Arturo Casadevall, chair of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a statement.”

“By separating life stages, metamorphosis may circumvent harmful evolutionary tradeoffs” [PNAS]. • I’m only leaving this here in case there’s an evolutionary biologist in the house who can explain it.

Health Care

“What the Measles Epidemic Really Says About America” [The Atlantic]. “Bright-blue counties in Northern California, Washington State, and Oregon have some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.” • There’s the lead, buried fourteen paragraphs down.


“Fame and ‘Fortnite’ — inside the global gaming phenomenon” [Financial Times]. “Fortnite is technically a video game, and one with a simple premise. At the start, players drop on to an island and shoot each other until only one person is left standing. Each match lasts about 20 minutes and slowly, the numbers whittle down. A storm approaches, making the map smaller and smaller. If you jump off the island you die. Antoine Griezmann, the French football star, said playing Fortnite makes him more stressed than professional football.” • Truly a game for the neoliberal era….

Guillotine Watch

Class Warfare

But everywhere in chains (MA):

(Similar case; different reaction.) So Uber has turned cab-driving into an Amazon warehouse. Here is one response to the thread above:

“Make it credit-card based….” I wonder if the repellently infantile word “poop” has suddenly achieved ubiquity because our symbol manipulators are seeing more of it?

“Disaggregating data by race allows for more accurate research” [Nature]. “The term ‘women of colour’ was introduced as a symbol of political solidarity, but its evolution to a biological term encompassing all non-white women has resulted in aggregation of data from diverse ethnic groups. Breaking out statistics by race, ethnicity and gender is therefore crucial for researchers who are committed to inclusion.” • Nothing on income. Superb class erasure!

“How the Other Half Matriculates” [Inside Higher Ed]. “As a community college administrator, it was hard not to notice the sheer wealth of the university…. After the orientation, we spent a couple of days at Virginia Beach to make it feel like a vacation. At one point, the young woman behind the counter at the hotel asked me about the Brookdale Summer Shakespeare Festival t-shirt I was wearing. She mentioned that she had never seen a Shakespeare play. I suggested that the local community college might be a good place to look. She seemed satisfied with that answer. When I mentioned that outdoor community college summer productions are often free, she seemed especially happy with that. Economic reality has a way of creeping in, no matter how pretty the bubble. Back to reality…”

“The Appeal and Limits of Andrea Dworkin” [Jacobin]. “Not coincidentally, Dworkin’s influence grew as the backlash against feminism took hold in the eighties, when the utopian visions of the whirlwind period lost their persuasive power. Her dystopian vision of a women’s experience dominated at all times by male violence, or the fear of it, could feel like a bold stance against feel-good corporate feminism, especially in the absence of a dynamic left…. Particularly prescient, and often ignored in reconsiderations of her work, was Dworkin’s analysis of the Right and its appeal to women — perhaps including herself — in Right Wing Women, written in the early years of the Reagan administration. Dworkin showed how conservative women, far from denying, ignoring, or even embracing sexism, made what often looked like rational trade-offs: in exchange for the promise of what she termed ‘enforceable restraints on male aggression,’ women received relative degrees of safety, economic security, and respect. Dworkin also offered an indictment, highly relevant today, of liberal feminism and its unwillingness to view the women it failed to reach as anything other than dupes.”

News of the Wired

“The 11-step guide to running effective meetings” [Nature]. “1. Do you need a meeting?” • Excellent!

“Recursive language and modern imagination were acquired simultaneously 70,000 years ago” [Phys.org]. “Numerous archeological and genetic evidence have already convinced most paleoanthropologists that the speech apparatus has reached essentially modern configurations before the human line split from the Neanderthal line 600,000 years ago…. On the other hand, artifacts signifying modern imagination, such as composite figurative arts, elaborate burials, bone needles with an eye, and construction of dwellings arose not earlier than 70,000 years ago…. While studying acquisition of imagination in children, Dr. Vyshedskiy and his colleagues discovered a temporal limit for the development of a particular component of imagination. It became apparent that modern children who have not been exposed to full language in early childhood never acquire the type of active constructive imagination essential for juxtaposition of mental objects, known as Prefrontal Synthesis (PFS)…. Thus, the existence of a strong critical period for PFS acquisition creates a cultural evolutionary barrier for acquisition of recursive language…. The second predicted evolutionary barrier was a faster PFC maturation rate and, consequently, a shorter critical period…. An evolutionary mathematical model, developed by Dr. Vyshedskiy, predicts that humans had to jump both evolutionary barriers within several generations since the “PFC delay” mutation that is found in all modern humans, but not in Neanderthals, is deleterious and is expected to be lost in a population without an associated acquisition of PFS and recursive language. Thus, the model suggests that the ‘PFC delay’ mutation triggered simultaneous synergistic acquisition of PFS and recursive language…. Such an invention of a new recursive language has been observed in contemporary children, for example among deaf children in Nicaragua.” • Culture ignites! Fascinating stuff. I’ve quoted the set-up, but check the last few paragraphs for the summary.

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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 (JN):

What a lovely wooded brook!

Bonus plantidote (Re Silc):

Re Silc writes: “My first mobile build.” We have our own Calder! This is more plant-adjacent than plant, but it looks like a really interesting project? I wonder if other readers have done similar things? If so, send in your pictures!

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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. Samuel Conner

    re: ““What the Measles Epidemic Really Says About America” ”

    One of the things I love about NC and Yves, Lambert and J-L “curation” is that their summaries save me from wading through long articles.

    Re the “buried lede”, exploiting herd immunity is a form of exploiting the herd. “Immunization side effects for thee, but not for me”

      1. marku52

        Yes another neoliberal free-rider problem. As long as everyone else vaccinates their kids, I don’t have to vaccinate mine.

        Sadly here in Blue OR, it has emerged in s serious infestation amongst the healing-with-crystals, and CBD-cures-cancer set.

        Any attempt to argue just gets you “The pharma industry lies about everything”, which, unfortunately, is true.

  2. Quanka

    O-K article from the Wire re: not planting trees in grasslands. Importantly, however, it misses many key points. From a biological and physiological standpoint grasses and trees are very different; from a carbon cycle standpoint, they are polar opposites.

    This is hugely over-simplified, but in essence Trees store carbon in their trunks and stems. Grasses transfer carbon from the air to the soil microorganisms. If a tree burns, stored carbon is released. When grasses burn, there is minimal release of carbon b/c its been transferred below the surface. So the throw-away comment about trees burning less than grasses is a complete whiff. Even when grasses burn they release less carbon than a burning forest. Anyway – the take away is that there are hidden consequences of planting trees in native grasslands and this is the most important point.

    Grasslands cover 40% of the vegetative earth surface (excludes ice/rock) and play a critical role in reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Restoring proper grasslands also goes hand in hand with sustainable agricultural and food production practices.

      1. Synapsid

        Lambert Strether,

        Grassland along the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies is expanding westward at the expense of ponderosa pine woodland. Ponderosa seedlings in areas neighboring the High Plains are not surviving after wildfires and are being replaced by grasses, which come back after fires better than the seedlings can. Colorado State is working on this, and there’s a good chance that higher temperatures and increased water stress are at least part of the cause of the problem.

        Quanka pointed out that grasses are to a significant extent underground plants. Grass leaves grow from the base, near the ground, and are less likely to be lost to fire than those of plants that grow from branch tips. That’s why you can mow grass but you don’t mow the garden, and why grazers like bison not only don’t harm grassland but help it spread.

        The basic adaptation of the kinds of grasses that do well in dry climates is increased efficiency at taking in CO2 from the air while not losing as much water to evaporation from the leaves, compared to grasses that do better in more humid climates. We see the great spread of grasslands in the time of increasingly lower temperatures and drier climates that preceded the onset of the current cycle of glaciations around 3 million years ago, and we see an accompanying increase in the diversity of grazing animals (and I’d expect of rodents too but I don’t know) as grasslands spread.

        1. Darius

          I understand the West is plagued with invasive cheat grass, a Eurasian annual that is highly flammable. This may explain the loss of the ponderosa pine forest, which needs years of rest so seedlings may get established. Nevertheless, ponderosa pines are adapted to the fire ecosystem. Periodic fires clear out the underbrush and prevent them from growing too thickly. It also prevents competition from broad leaves. Historically, ponderosa pines grew scattered in a grassy savannah. Somewhat reminiscent of the almost vanished but formerly dominant oak savannas that stretched from Ohio to Illinois with their park-like aspect that allowed the pioneers to drive their wagons freely through the trees.

          1. Synapsid


            The Ponderosa belt is moving upslope at the southern end of the Rockies, in New Mexico, too, and the oak/juniper association is moving up from below to replace it. The is part of the general upslope movement of life zones throughout the Mountain and Intermountain West. Ponderosa itself has an immense range and it’s shifting everywhere not just adjacent to grassland. Cheat grass certainly would be an additional stressor where it’s come in, though, as you point out.

    1. diptherio

      Thank you. For those interested in the gritty details of building soil health and carbon capture through sustainable animal husbandry, I highly recommend the Stockman Grass Farmer newsletter. Really useful information, for those of us on the front lines (or considering how to get there).

      1. Rojo

        It strikes me that the anti-meat thing is a bit of a canard. Ecosystems have …..animals!

        Replacing mono-culture wheat, corn and soy fields with range-lands that yield nutrient-dense animal products strike me as sensible. Worked for the Plains Indians.

        1. Jessica

          The Comanche (and perhaps others) needed to trade with tribes from other ecologies for grains and beans. In times when that trade was cut off, their health suffered.

    2. Lee

      Grasslands are also where the buffalo and antelope play. There’s a reason that hunter-gatherers burned woodlands. They are unsuitable for crop cultivation and support substantially less protein on the hoof than do grasslands.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “…in native grasslands…”

      Meaning, they are grasslands today.

      And the planet has been a mixture of grassland, forests, etc., and was at some sort of an equilibrium, until recently.

      It would seem (the qualifier, native) to suggest, that we don’t replace, for examle, the uncultivated parts of the Amazon forest (full of trees) with grasslands, which are not, currently, native (the key qualifier) to the forest. Or do we?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Whatever best captures the carbon – is there one option under all circumstances, or a mixture of different choices?

          Intuitively, I am not for turning the Amazon forest into grasslands.

          But maybe it can be shown that that is a good option?

          1. Chef

            Considering the diverse and specialized flora and fauna in the Amazon, I can’t think of any way that could be shown.

            1. Darius

              Restoring degraded ecosystems is one thing. Disrupting intact ecosystems, even if well-intentioned, almost always turns out to misguided.

    4. anon in so cal

      Plus, grasslands are critical wildlife habitat:

      “But 97 percent of our tallgrass prairie and 47 percent of our Great Plains native grasslands have been lost in the past two centuries. As the prairie vanished, so did many native food sources, and many prairie bird populations. According to the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, six species of grassland-breeding birds, including the pipit, bunting, sparrow, and longspur, have declined between 68 and 91 percent.”


  3. ambrit

    The ‘app’ requirement for access to what were formerly public commons is driving a split in the society. Now the grocery stores are beginning, around here, to feature iPhone ‘app’ only price deals and sales. Target does it through their REDcard and Cartwheel ‘services.’ It all has the feel of an electronic enclosure movement. The ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ are now under extra stress to pull away from each other.
    The entire culture is becoming “pay to play.”

  4. John Beech

    “What the Measles Epidemic Really Says About America” [The Atlantic]. “Bright-blue counties in Northern California, Washington State, and Oregon have some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.” • There’s the lead, buried fourteen paragraphs down.

    The correct word isn’t lead but lede, as in ‘There’s the lede, buried fourteen paragraphs down.’

      1. ambrit

        What? Are you hinting at, nay teasing us with, a reference to “Lede and the Black Swan??”

      2. plum bum

        In my publishing experience it’s quite standard terminology, not effete or anything (and avoids the misinterpretation of lead, the element, being buried….)

  5. Lunker Walleye

    Re the Kamala Harris jacket pictured. It looks like Levis “manufactured” it. I don’t know who their laborers are. There is also another bedazzled jacket that has a checkerboard pattern and full sleeves. Do not know its origin.

  6. dearieme

    So the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources.

    That is exactly the thrust of much green propaganda. On the whole, though, it doesn’t explain how this decrease is to be brought about. The young madman used the direct method.

    The discussions I see about gun control seem to me to be largely empty waffle. There are two problems to be solved. (i) How to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, and (ii) how to keep them out of the hands of lunatics.

    How do armed-to-the-teeth countries like Switzerland achieve those two?

    1. marku52

      Americans are loonies. We are the descendants of people who couldn’t get along in whatever country they came from.

      1. prodigalson

        It’s not that we’re ruled by the Harkonnen so much as we ARE the Harkonnen. Our entire national mythology is gussied up so we don’t notice we’ve been killing people and taking their stuff as our true national past time all along.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          as Zinn said in People’s History of the World, 1492 is when the Sea Pirates showed up and they never left

          Murder and theft are more American than apple pie. Just look at our police.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I have read Zinn’s People’s History of the United States, but I’m not familiar, or didn’t konw, about his People’s History of the World.

            In any case, ZInn was an American, and he looked straight at America.

            My question is if there is a similar history book about Russia, by a self-examining Russian. It seems that they showed up in Siberia (not Alaska, nor Northern California) centuries ago, and never left either.

          2. Eclair

            Author of People’s History of the World, is Chris Harman. Although, I am sure he was majorly influenced by Zinn’s work.

        2. ObjectiveFunction

          Lol! We haz met the Harkonnens and they iz us!

          Squeeze them, Rabban.

          PS ‘muchos grassias’ to the many erudite commenters above regarding grasslands and carbon. Truly the NC commentariat is the most fruitful commentariat!

      2. Lee

        Bingo! I can’t recall where I read it but it went something like this: America was founded by criminals, misfits, social outcasts and sheep phkrs. Or maybe that was Australia.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          America was England’s go-to destination for petty criminals and undesirables until the revolution. They mounted an expedition to find a replacement undesirables colony that landed first in New Zealand, but the first *10 guys* ashore were promptly eaten, so they continued on to Australia.

          More fun facts: former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s great great great great great grandfather was the first guy ashore. As in, the mariner at the bow of the boat who jumped ashore first, not the officer in charge.

          More fun facts (may be apocryphal): The Brits pointed at the large marsupials they saw and asked “what the heck is that thing called?” The locals responded with the word in their dialect that meant “I can’t understand what you’re saying to me”. That word was: “kangaroo”.

          1. polecat

            Check out Robert Hughes tome ‘The Fatal Shore’ – a history of the founding of Australia ..

            Tis a fine read, indeed !

          2. eg

            Also, possibly apocryphal, that Canada was considered as a destination for the British penal colony before Australia, but was ruled out as “cruel and unusual punishment”

      3. Craig H.

        You are describing the crazy half.

        This leaves out the greedy half. Half of them came here to strike it rich.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If (1) and (2) are achievable, does it follow that the police (most of them) will not need to be armed?

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      “…it doesn’t explain how this decrease is to be brought about…”

      simple. austerity, the pay-to-play mentioned elsewhere re: bathrooms and deals and access…and the denial of healthcare.
      more and more i believe we’re in the beginnings of a culling.
      the sad thing….like so many facets of the Limits to Growth, circa 1970’s…is that we were warned, long ago, and had the chance to change direction, but weren’t allowed to.
      when Big Ag runs out of mine-able phosphate, what’s that gonna do to the population?…especially since sustainable alternatives won’t be allowed to get going.
      (I cannot legally sell an egg, save for “On Farm”)

      the Bathroom twitter thread made me wish i had a beer to cry in….exclusion alluded to throughout as the reason for the whole mess(!).
      san antonio is better about this than austin…the latter has a boner for punishing the homeless, so you get the pee smell all over, because there’s nowhere to go but the alley.
      neoliberalism is the opposite of humanism.
      like i tell my wife when she yells at me for smoking outside in the city(smoke nazis have won):”if i can’t smoke anywhere, i’ll smoke everywhere”
      same applies for human bodily functions.
      we get what we pay for…or, in this case, fail to pay for.

      1. shinola

        “neoliberalism is the opposite of humanism.”

        Try this: Neoliberalism is the modern iteration of Social Darwinism – just using economic determinism rather than eugenics.

        1. Librarian Guy

          I moved to the Bay Area 30 years ago and noticed even then that bathrooms were not easily available publicly unless you were paying for something. (And I am white. I was then young and not prosperous, but am not surprised that the situation has gotten worse in SF, and I’d bet the TechBro MoTU’s don’t have the problem to the extent of the rest of us)

          1. polecat

            Well, of course they don’t. The Tech Bros & Broesses practically OWN all the .. er .. ‘facilities’ in and around San Fran ! Is it any wonder that the now $h!tty-on-the-Bay has become an open-aire latrine ?

            From the Cloud Lords of High Tech .. to your favela .. with virtual wuv ! /$

            High Tech is Cancer metastasized

    4. pretzelattack

      have you heard of this new development called birth control? i’m told it works well. i think you forgot about the other attempt to tackle the problem of agw, reducing co2 emissions. I’m sure you don’t dispute the science behind that, correct?

      1. Milton

        Here’s some demographics and science. One American consumes 35X the amount of CO2 as one Nigerian and so much more when compared to Sahel-bordered nations. To look at the third world as being responsible for our dire circumstance, borders on lunacy.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          I think we’re pretty well trained here to beware of averages/means. Let’s take the Defense Department out of it, then find the carbon emissions at the 25/50/75/99 levels and compare those the Nigerians.

        2. pretzelattack

          yes, i know. i was replying to the poster who seems to think solving the climate crisis is a matter of decimating the u.s. population.

        3. John k

          India rapidly increasing coal plants. And their coal os low grade.
          China too, but also renewables.

          1. Tyronius

            This is a serious mistake for India; renewables are already cheaper than fossil fuel fired power plants. Solar panels work better in/for small villages, don’t need grids and fit on the roof- they can even be used as roofing. There’s a huge opportunity being missed there.

        4. jrs

          But what is their lifestyle? If rapid population growth is “sustainable” only because of people dying from treatable disease and inadequate nutrition etc. then it’s sustainable in a way noone would wish for, and this is no doubt true in some extremely poor countries.

          But a *decent* life even most minimally defined, I’m not talking about the “american way of life being non-negotiable”, I’m talking pretty basic things, the question is, IS THAT sustainable with population growth or even the current population? And yes of course population should be controlled by birth control.

    5. Lost in OR

      Does Switzerland, perhaps, place more focus on taking care of people than taking care of guns?

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      > it doesn’t explain how this decrease is to be brought about.

      Falling life expectancy (deaths of despair) and falling birthrate (debt, housing, crap wages) are doing the job just fine. William Barber calls this “policy murder.” He is correct. There’s a very good reason that both these well-documented and enormous social trends are not “on the table” in the party Establishments: They support the policy and approve the results.

      1. Altandmain

        To be fair, many of the European nations, although sadly, moving away from social democracy and into neoliberalism, have even lower birthrates than the US does.

        Both American parties appear to be attempting to “resolve” the issue through immigration. So it is possible that the US population will continue to grow. This is likely to remain very politically contentious, as the rise of Trump illustrates. There are other trade-offs, such as the downward pressure on wages, greater stresses to infrastructure, and social cohesion.

        Likewise, the US is not the only nation which is facing a great immigration divide – the European nations are as well as the rise of the far right reveals.

        The real issue is the extractive ruling class of all nations concerned.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          In China too?

          Did Beijing not revise their one-child policy recently?

          Is it an attractive destination for immigrants? Is Russia (of shrinking population size throughout the 90’s and later)?

          What about Japan?

          1. John

            I have not checked sources on this recently, but the one child policy created a rather severe gender imbalance. Chinese culture may have changed but there is a distinct preference for a male firstborn and in the countryside the more children the more labor for the farm. Measures were taken to see that the one child was male. I have been to China more than once and I have been told that young women, especially in the cities, do not look twice at a young man who cannot provide an apartment and a car.Then there is the question of the work force and since China does not have the same sort of safety net the young are expected to help support their parents. Add it up: apartment + car + school fees + support the grandparents + living in the big cities in China is not cheap. The one child policy had distorted the generational pyramid. The changes are an effort to correct it.

            In addition China’s birth rate has fallen as happens in all societies that educate women and otherwise modernize. The population is expected to peak in the 2020s. The is a growing older generation with a relatively small under 35 cohort. Sort of like the USA in the absence of immigration.

            I wrote this off the cuff; there may be errors and if so I hope someone will correct me.

    7. Dan

      “…a Green New Deal vision of the future where socialist policies are used to remake the American and global economy to be more ecologically sustainable—or an extreme-right model based on immigration restriction and opposition to economic growth in the Global South.”

      False choice, what’s wrong with going to alternate energy sources here, enforcing our borders, helping our own people first, stimulating economic growth here and in the Global South, with those countries minding their own business, along with all their talented human resources we keep hearing about, that we have returned to them if they don’t want to bother to assimilate?

      Socialism policies or not, a United States with 450 million people is not sustainable, nor desirable. The Demographic Socialist would love it that way. Their Libertarian cheap labor, new markets, keep the debt-ball rolling masters would love open borders and an overcrowded America which would create new distracting problems and help prevent the American people from focusing on the real power brokers and controllers of the economy as the last few decades of identarian kabuki have done.

      1. notabanker

        What’s wrong with helping everyone not named Dan first? The Dan’s of the world seem to be the ones beefing the most. Let them fend for themselves and take care of the ones who really deserve it first, by virtue of them being born with a name that is not Dan.

        1. Dan

          I’m not asking for any help.
          Feel free to donate to anyone and everyone you want. Hell, you don’t even need to write checks anymore, just a few clicks away are a constellation of various organizations that will send socks to children in Chile, help build houses in Mexico, you name it. House a family of refugees in your living room.

          The toothless burned out free spirits of the last century that never got their shyit together, you know, the kind that live in a dangerous barrio, or are seeking an inexpensive room to share, the kind that praise the diversity around them, or the overwealthed financial parasites feeding off middle class Americans seem to be the ones complaining the most.

          My taxes go to my countrymen first.
          BTW, how many close relatives have you lost fighting in wars for this country?

          1. Darius

            The browns are coming here because US-enforced climate change and US-enforced criminal regimes are destroying their livelihoods and physical security. Under the circumstances, I’d say we are louts for keeping them out. We’ve destroyed their countries. And we’re about to do it again in Venezuela. Just wait for the refugees from the murderous Random Guydo regime.

            1. Dan

              Add Chinese and Indian and Brazilian “enforced” climate change for the other 2/3rds of added carbon. The other 97% comes from volcanoes and natural sources.

              So, we’re supposed to destroy our own country by just letting in anyone who can walk across the U.S. border?

              Other than inexpensive bananas and coffee, I get no advantage from U.S. Central American foreign policy.

              I’d rather have more expensive coffee and bananas and cheaper rents, less crowded schools, streets free of graffiti and gang violence, the ability to send my kids to school wearing either red or blue shirts w/o fear of being attacked and low cost health clinics where people speak English and waiting times aren’t hours long. And yes, Medicare for All, as well.

              1. pretzelattack

                it’s the human contribution that is causing the climate to change. and china and india are least more committed to renewable energy. we’re destroying our own country with fossil fuels. we have been the biggest cause of the problem. you keep deflecting with bs because you’ve accepted the notion that it will make you worse off economically to accept science in this instance, so you scramble around for reasons to reject it. i’m not even going to address the statement that “i get no advantage from us central american foreign policy” because it is just another deflection.

    8. John

      The armed to the teeth Swiss are military reservists or militia. (I do not know the terminology the Swiss use.) Recall the wording of the Second Amendment, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of the state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Handing out assault rifles to all and sundry does not to me bespeak a “well regulated militia” but a recipe for exactly what keeps happening over and over and over again.

      1. cj51

        You will run into gun fans who will tell you the
        “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of the state”,
        part of this single sentence means nothing, and they ignore it.
        pure nonsense.

        1. hunkerdown

          The Founding Oligarchs knew their English perfectly well, and they proved throughout the Articles that they were entirely capable of explicitly qualifying and limiting their authorizations and prohibitions according to their aims. The first half of the 2A prohibits or authorizes nothing and serves only to provide a rationale, just like the similarly void Preamble. It’s reasonable to conclude that they wanted an armed populace to protect their “opulence” and their slave property against the genuine interests and needs of everyone else, e.g. the Levellers. And that’s what they and their successors got.

          Ronald Reagan’s strongest-in-the-nation gun ban as California governor was a response to armed black leftists. Considering the aggressively propertarian, right-wing nature of gun culture, I suggest it is simply an instrument of the USA’s economic order, designed to keep the political center-of-gravity of gun owners firmly to the side of the ruling class. If you want guns banned, arm some commies.

        2. @pe

          English Bill of Rights, 1689:

          That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law;

          That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law

          If they taught the American Revolution properly, there would be no problem. But they teach it as ex nihilo, as if the founders were geniuses instead of a basic iteration on the British and Dutch revolutions and constitutions.

          The right to bear arms is incredibly tightly bound to the requirement that the US have no standing army but instead have a militia reserve system, which was never removed from the constitution, but “re-interpreted” to mean the opposite of what it says, which leads inevitable to an insane legal order — it requires people to not believe their lyin’ eyes.

      2. JCC

        There is a fairly good article on the Swiss situation at the BBC

        Prof Killias cannot hide his anger with those in America who use Switzerland to illustrate their argument that more gun ownership would deter or stop violence.

        “We don’t have a gun culture!” he snaps, waving his hand dismissively.

        “I’m always amazed how the National Rifle Association in America points to Switzerland – they make it sound as if it was part of southern Texas!” he says.

        “We have guns at home, but they are kept for peaceful purposes. There is no point taking the gun out of your home in Switzerland because it is illegal to carry a gun in the street. To shoot someone who just looks at you in a funny way – this is not Swiss culture!”

        Street violence has gone up in recent years in Switzerland but there hasn’t been an increase in gun-related incidents.

        However, they have their problems, too.


    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      In Australia if you want a permit to buy a rifle the police will have to come to your house first and verify that you have a suitable gun safe on the premises. If the safe is less than 200 kilos it must be bolted to the floor. The visit probably also serves to help weed out mentally ill or otherwise wacko prospective purchasers

  7. marku52

    “new study warns climate crisis may have been pivotal in rise of drug-resistant superbug”


  8. toshiro_mifune

    Tracking metrics of Russian state propaganda on Twitter, she was by far the most favored candidate,’ said Clinton Watts, a former F.B.I. agent and senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute

    For once I’d like to see push back* from a reporter who knows at least something about IT to call one of these people on their BS. A simple question of how are they quantifying this? Do they really have access to the originating IPs of whatever messages they believe are Russian? Are they sure they aren’t spoofed? Do they have the MACs to back that up?

    * – Yes, I know it wont be in a NYT article on Tulsi.

  9. WheresOurTeddy

    “.@SenWarren has been publicly critical of Wall Street in the past. Can she convince the finance industry that she’s the right candidate to lead the Democrat campaign in 2020?”

    Considering financial industry types are are very small % of the population who need to be governed for the first time in a long time, why do we give a damn what they think?

    1. Carey

      Because our mcVotes have little or nothing to do with what actually happens in “our” political economy, perhaps?

    2. cj51

      > “very small % of the population”
      but with enormous influence over the economy.
      The POTUS should have a working relationship with Wall St. and corporate America in addition to the fact they own the Republicans.

    3. Bill Carson

      The writer understands that the Democratic Establishment sold out to Big Finance back during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Why do you think Hillary made so many private speeches to Wall Street?

    1. ambrit

      Well, how would you feel if china devalued the Yuan out of you?
      Look overseas. Europe and Asia are in as bad shape.
      How do you say “Black Swan” in Mandarin?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is Beijing signalling that they can’t afford to wait till the D party takes over the White House, or that the D’s will lose to Trump?

        The former shows they have a weak hand.

        The latter, it’s the Democrats that are weak (to Xi’s thinking).

  10. pretzelattack

    oh grand
    Putin on Monday ordered the defence and foreign ministries and Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service to closely monitor any steps the U.S. takes to develop, produce or deploy missiles banned under the defunct treaty.

    “If Russia obtains reliable information that the United States has finished developing these systems and started to produce them, Russia will have no option other than to engage in a full-scale effort to develop similar missiles,” Putin said in a statement.

    the headline? “Putin threatens U.S. with nuclear weapons“, courtesy of yahoo news.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Recursive language and modern imagination were acquired simultaneously 70,000 years ago”

    And straight away I notice a peculiarity. About 70,000 years ago you had a population bottleneck when our genetic diversity shrank dramatically. Whether is was due to a volcano or perhaps the population was spread out to thin, the effects were real. And now they are saying that recursive language and modern imagination kicking in at the same time. You wonder if these were “winning” traits that quickly won out.

  12. Dwight

    NY Times on Gabbard talks about Syria and Gabbard’s “outlier” foreign policy positions, but leaves out the Stop Arming Terrorists Act she sponsored.

    NY Times on Gabbard gives Russia the policy veto again, like they did on 5G health concerns. If Russia Today talks about it favorably, we can’t have it. Never can the real interests of the Russian and American align, never can a Russian speak except as an agent of Putin, and never can an American politician seek peace with Russia without being Putin’s dupe. All no matter how long our policy preferences pre-date the Russia hysteria.

    1. Dwight

      Based on toshiro_mifune’s great question about reporters failing to authenticate Russian not claims, I’ll add:

      All a government or corporate flack has to do now is send fake Russia bots at any policy position he doesn’t like. Or just claim Russian bots, since no one at the NY Times checks, even after the NY Times reported on that fake Russian bot incident in Alabama.

  13. flora

    re: Elsevier

    More about Sci-Hub and the lawsuit.
    (rip, Arron Swartz)


    That’s where Sci-Hub comes into the picture. The site works in two stages. First of all when you search for a paper, Sci-Hub tries to immediately download it from fellow pirate database LibGen. If that doesn’t work, Sci-Hub is able to bypass journal paywalls thanks to a range of access keys that have been donated by anonymous academics (thank you, science spies).

    ‘donated by anonymous academics…’

    It’s almost like, I don’t know, like Elsevier is engaged in theft by arbitrage of intellectual property and some academics don’t like that “business” model which restricts the distribution of their work, done at public expense, and for the public good.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      Elsevier is one of my least favorite companies in the world…right up there with dowpont.
      i think it’s awesome that “anonymous academics” are engaging in that kind of direct action…and it’s even more awesome that they’re doing it while knowing that 90%+ of the other humans will never even know about it, or how important that fight is
      knowledge should be free.

  14. diptherio

    Re: Tesla paint jobs

    iirc, there was a kerfuffle awhile back about Telsa importing some H1-B workers from Poland to build the paintshop, in order to avoid paying union scale.

    1. diptherio

      My bad. It was Croatia and Slovenia.


      When Gregor Lesnik left his pregnant girlfriend in Slovenia for a job in America, his visa application described specialized skills and said he was a supervisor headed to a South Carolina auto plant.

      Turns out, that wasn’t true.

      The unemployed electrician had no qualifications to oversee American workers and spoke only a sentence or two of English. He never set foot in South Carolina. The companies that arranged his questionable visa instead sent Lesnik to a menial job in Silicon Valley. He earned the equivalent of $5 an hour to expand the plant for one of the world’s most sophisticated companies, Tesla Motors.

  15. VietnamVet

    China did it to Wall Street. Normally one doesn’t stuff the golden goose. But, these are interesting times. The Chinese Diaspora in S.E. Asia boasted to me long ago that refugees from the Russian Revolution that made it to China had no chance. The Chinese took them to the cleaners. Donald Trump brings out the worst in everybody. Rather than kowtow, Chairman Xi blew up the trade deal. Most interesting are the HK riots which is another Chinese tradition. I’d like to think they have the same roots as France’s Yellow Vests. The working middle class has had it with the exploitation of labor, automation, the destruction of the environment, and insurmountable debt. This is a sign that the Global Oligarchs have lost the Mandate of Heaven. The Communist Party could be re-seizing control of the market economy. Perhaps, wisdom will prevail and democracy will be restored in the West before heads adorn lampposts here, again.

    1. LEAFY

      Yea, no. HK rioters are college educated ppl who can’t cut it in HK’s economy. The disruption of transportation actually makes it harder for the working class to survive, and is the opposite of the hearts and mind campaign that was waged only a month ago. Rather than target the oligarchs who are responsible for the insane rent prices they go after mainlanders miles away. If you are looking for a communist revolution in HK you won’t find it. These protests are nothing but a display of false consciousness.

  16. Plenue

    “I’m used to the idea of Intel dominating everything. Oops.”

    For pure performance they still have the edge at the top. But the cost/benefit ratio, which has always been AMD’s strong-point, is downright ludicrous with the Ryzen series. They spent several years consistently trailing Intel, endlessly repackaging clunky, outdated architecture while they developed Ryzen. But it paid off in the end. It looks like both the next Xbox and the PlayStation 5 will use customized variants of Ryzen as their CPUs as well. which will likely be the single biggest area of improvement over the previous generation; the Xbox One and PS4, which to a large extent are basically the same system under the hood, were both severely hampered by what were essentially up-jumped mobile CPUs (and also made by AMD).

  17. anon in so cal

    Tulsi Gabbard:

    “Due to your efforts and Tulsi’s amazing debate performance, we blew past our first goal of 130,000 donors to meet one of two qualifications for the DNC Debate Stage in September.

    First, we want to hear your thoughts on the last debate! Click here to take our survey.

    Now we need three more qualifying polls of 2% or more to land Tulsi on that debate stage. To ensure our voice and message is heard, please take the time to answer if you receive a call from a pollster or are presented with an online poll. As a reminder only YouGov and SurveyMonkey online polls are qualifying.

    Here’s the full list of ways you can increase your chances of being selected for a debate-qualifying poll:

    Take our debate survey now and be sure to keep answering additional surveys if prompted afterwards
    Sign up for YouGov and take a few surveys with them

    If you are called from an unknown number, remember that it could be a pollster. If you are selected to participate in a poll, make sure to specify if you’re a registered Democrat or leaning Democrat and that you plan to vote for Tulsi in the primary election

    Remember, the more online polls you take, the higher chance you have of being selected to take a poll on the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary. So whenever you’re asked to take a poll, take it! “

  18. Bill Carson

    ODG—please (PLEASE!) do not link to articles written by Rod Dreher. Most of the other stuff at The American Conservative is interesting and relevant, but Dreher is an insufferable asshat. Not kidding.

    1. JBird4049

      Rod Dreher is an insufferable asshat???

      I have to disagree. Yes, the man is a very socially conservative Eastern Orthodox Christian who was born, raised, and has come back to live in Louisiana town. He polite, but persistent jihad against the extremist SJW as well as his conflating Stalinism and the oligarchic, authoritarian repression of the USSR and its client states governments with any economic and social models along communist or even socialist political economy is annoying.

      So what?

      I have read him for over something like fifteen years, and I find him consistently strong, intelligent, thoughtful, and open to opposing views. So long as you are respectful, especially to fellow commentators and post something at least distantly related to the topic, he will post it. Furthermore, he has constantly gone after the sexual abusers across the political spectrum and in all the major denominations especially Catholic as well people like Epstein. He has a particular loathing of hypocrisy among the influential, especially those in positions of authority. He has even taken whacks at the well off hypocrites who use or even just mock the poor.

      So, if he latest rash of sermons is too annoying, wait. He will post another thoughtful article on something different. Sometimes a long string of them. He always does.

      1. Bill Carson

        The man is obsessed with sexual puritanism. So much so that one might think he doth protest too much. He loves to mock those sex kittens he secretly adores, such as Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus. He is insufferable. Save yourself from the faux piety and humility, the covetousness of le creuset cookware, and readings from Confederacy of Dunces. He makes me want to slap the Harry Potter glasses off his face and hold him down while someone combs his hair.

        1. hunkerdown

          Self-righteous abstinence is virtue signalling. I wouldn’t recommend it for those of us who can entertain thoughts without automatically shacking up with them.

      2. Plenue

        Personally I’ve become completely burned out on the Eastern Orthodox reactionary gimmick. Especially the particularly retrograde Russian variant (oh look, Dreher even managed to name drop Dostoevsky. Because of course he did!). I’m also not much interested in being leactured on the dangers of politicalized hate from someone who spends an inordinate amount of his time complaining about gay rights (he does think it’s time for conservatives to move on from the gay marriage issue…but only because they’ve already lost that battle). And I really love the scaremongering in that article about Al Sharpton leading ‘racist anti-white mobs’.

        As for Williamson’s ‘dark psychic forces’….yeah…those are certainly words. And they’re arranged in a technically correct order, I suppose.

        If you’re not talking concrete material benefits, you’re not talking anything useful. Treating ‘hate’ as if it exists in a vacuum is pointless. Widespread behaviors follow material conditions (and not the other way around. A refusal to accept this is something that I think is foundational to conservatism). I’m no fan of identity politics (‘SJW’ is a dumb right wing internet slur; it doesnt actually mean anything), but my chief issue is that it’s often used as a substitute for class politics, rather than any issue with the concept of assessing ones unique identity (economic class is part of identity).

  19. Jonathan Holland Becnel


    Oh geez, really lettin me down, NC Commentariat!

    Lambert to the courtesy phone please!

    Edit – HATCHET MAN is a ref to Insane Clown Posse

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