2:00PM Water Cooler 8/6/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, this is a wildly out-of-whack Water Cooler that I will shortly rebalance. I needed to do a pantry clear-out on the Politics section, which I did not complete because I got a late start. I also need to add the material about the feral hogs (you’ll find out). I hope there’s enough to inspire in the mean time. –lambert UPDATE All done!


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

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

“2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination” [RealClearPolitics] (average of five polls). As of August 5: Biden fluctuates to 32.3% (32.2), Sanders continues climb to 16.7% (16.5%), Warren flat at 14.0% (14.0%), Buttigieg flat at 5.5% (5.5%), Harris down at 10.2% (10.3%), Beto separating himself from the bottom feeders, interestingly. Others Brownian motion. So, I think we can conclude that Sanders won both debates.

* * *


Biden (D)(1): Some of us remember how Obama failed to deliver on the one real promise he made to unions when he had the power to do so:

Maybe I should have filed this under “Obama Legacy,” since Biden is the ultimate Obama legacy.

Biden (D)(2): “Is Joe Biden Too Old?” [Politico]. “Other politicians of a certain age would be punished by voters and the press if they were as consistently loopy as Biden. But his career-long reputation of gaffeing in public indemnifies him from the charges that he has just now gone addle-pated. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he asked Missouri state Sen. Chuck Graham to stand up at a rally so the crowd could see him. Graham is a paraplegic. During the same campaign, he claimed that ‘jobs’ is a three-letter word and introduced his running mate as ‘Barack America.'” • Yes, this is all very reassuring.

Gabbard (D)(2): “Inside the Tulsi Hive” [The Baffler]. “It is true that the Democratic Party is depressingly thin on marginally palpable foreign policy positions, and that, with the DNC’s blackballing of Mike Gravel, she will likely be the most anti-war candidate on display this evening. But despite her Nation byline and experience as a Bernie surrogate, Gabbard’s is not a foreign policy of the left.” • Which is fair; The American Conservative is sound on intervention. This is not an article Gabbard supporters will like.

Sanders (D)(1):

Sanders (D)(2):

Surely coincidence, but I did call for a bit more “joy” from the Sanders and Warren campaigns just the other day.

Trump (R)(1): “Trump Outperformed His Popularity in 2016. That Might Not Happen in 2020” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “Again, the X factor in comparing Trump’s likely vote in 2016 and in 2020 is incumbency, which we tend to think of as an asset even when it’s not. If there is any incumbency advantage, it’s likely baked right into Trump’s approval ratings. As Kondik points out, the relationship between presidential approval and reelection-year vote share is strong. Among presidents winning reelection, Obama exceeded his election-eve approval rating by one point in 2012 (as did Reagan in 1984), and George W. Bush exceeded his by two points in 2004. The only recent president who exceeded his approval ratings in vote share by more than two points was Poppy Bush in 1992, and he got beaten like a drum. It’s worth thinking about this, too: For all the talk about Trump’s boffo economy, overall public assessments of the direction of the country remain sour…. An unpopular president leading an unhappy country could still get reelected, but the widespread, 2016-based belief that Trump is on some clear trajectory to a second term is mostly superstition… An unpopular president leading an unhappy country could still get reelected, but the widespread, 2016-based belief that Trump is on some clear trajectory to a second term is mostly superstition.”

Warren (D)(1): “Warren faces lingering concerns about her ability to beat Trump” [The Hill]. “One strategist who is neutral in the race argued that part of the problem comes down to the one possible mistake Warren made ahead of the race: her decision to take a DNA test after President Trump repeatedly mocked her for her claim that she was Native American. ‘Everyone remembers how she played right into his hands,’ the strategist said. ‘I think a lot of people look at the moment and say she can’t go up against Trump because she’s not electable even if she is a damn good candidate.'” • One thing about Sanders: You can be confident Trump will never get inside his head.

Warren (D)(2): “Elizabeth Warren is running a brilliant campaign” [David Axelrod, CNN]. “Elizabeth Warren is running a strategically brilliant campaign.

More than any other candidate, she has a clear, unambiguous message that is thoroughly integrated with her biography. That is essential to a successful campaign. Her unsparing critique of corporate excess and her expansive — and expensive — agenda for change mirror those of the reigning left champion, Bernie Sanders, in places. But where Sanders sometimes seems like a parody of himself — or of Larry David’s parody of Sanders — Warren seems fresher, deeper and more precise in her execution.” • And that’s all Axelrod has to say about Sanders. I guess you have to pay him for real insight.

* * *

“Here Are The Democratic Presidential Candidates With The Most Donations From Billionaires” [Forbes]. “As of the last filing deadline with the Federal Election Commission on July 15th, 67 billionaires — including spouses and members of billionaire families — had donated to the 20 Democratic candidates that debated in Detroit last week.” • Here are the rankings:

#1 Pete Buttigieg: 23 billionaire donors
#2 Cory Booker: 18 billionaire donors
#3 Kamala Harris: 17 billionaire donors
#4 Michael Bennet: 15 billionaire donors
#5 Joe Biden: 13 billionaire donors
#6 John Hickenlooper: 11 billionaire donors
#7 Beto O’Rourke: 9 billionaire donors
#8 Amy Klobuchar: 8 billionaire donors
#9 Jay Inslee: 5 billionaire donors
#10 Kirsten Gillibrand: 4 billionaire donors
#11 John Delaney: 3 billionaire donors
#12 Elizabeth Warren and Steve Bullock: 2 billionaire donors each
#13 Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, and Marianne Williamson: 1 billionaire donor each
#14 Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro, Bill De Blasio, and Tim Ryan: 0 billionaire donors

“Labor Puts Candidates On Notice: ‘Let’s Be Honest About The Democratic Party’s Record'” [HuffPo]. “Trumka went on, ‘More often than not, the Republican Party is bad for workers. This president is bad for workers. But let’s be honest about the Democratic Party’s record.’ He singled out the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership as Democrat-backed trade deals that were tilted against the working class.” • With Perez in the audience.

El Paso Shooting

Readers, I’m still hung up on a post on the El Paso shootings. My basic idea is to conceive of the country as a sort of cracking tower, with Patrick Crusius, the shooter, as a highly refined product from the very top of the distillation column. (Most of us proles are mere crude, at the bottom.) The various levels of our cracking tower would be, from highest to lowest:

5 Priming and Triggering
4 Mobilization
3 Ideology
2 Ascriptive identity
1 Political economy

I’m thinking of this structure (model) partly just to have buckets to throw the mass of material into, and partly to have a way to sort out where policy intervention should take place. But I’m not sure if I’ve got all the levels I need. Gun purchase might fit under mobilization, for example, if we think of the purchase as logistics. Video games might go under ideology, if we think of ideology as lived experience. Ineffectual Democrat efforts would go under mobilization. Trump’s speeches might (arguably) go either under ideology or priming. I’d welcome comments — ok, help — from readers on this structure.

* * *

“String of gun deaths reshapes Democratic primary” [Politico]. “The tragedies have the potential to change the dynamics in the broader campaign for the White House, as President Donald Trump and his supporters reeled from comparisons of their rhetoric about immigrants with that of a manifesto suspected of being from the shooter in El Paso, a border city with a mostly Latino population.” • I’m not sure I’m up to the task of putting on my yellow waders and doing a close reading of the manifesto, but I think Politico is right that the manifesto is important; it distinguishes the El Paso shooter from the Dayton shooter.

Blooper #1: Trump gets Dayton mixed up with Toledo:

Blooper #2: “Confused Joe Biden condemns shootings in ‘Houston’ and ‘Michigan’ when the deadly massacres actually happened in El Paso and Ohio” [Daily Mail].

Our Famously Free Press

WaPo is up to their usual tricks:

The Debates

Yes, this is what the debates were like. Click the graphic to expand:

The networks really shouldn’t be doing the debates. It degrades democracy to treat the process like a wrestling match, and my baseline for degradation is pretty low.


“Feds probing AOC’s chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti after sudden resignation” [New York Post]. “The feds are looking into possible campaign finance misdeeds by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff and lead rainmaker, who suddenly resigned Friday, federal sources told The Post… The two PACs being probed, Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats, were both set up by Chakrabarti to support progressive candidates across the country. But they funneled more than $1 million in political donations into two private companies that Chakrabarti also incorporated and controlled, according to Federal Election Commission filings and a complaint filed in March with the regulatory agency.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

Liberal Democrats:

“DNC Won’t Create Oversight Panel to Review the Millions It Spends” [TruthDig]. “A proposal to bring unprecedented oversight to the way that the Democratic National Committee spends the billion dollars it raises between presidential elections was rejected by the DNC Rules and Bylaw Committee Tuesday, after a spirited debate highlighting that there is no independent oversight reporting back to the DNC’s 450 members.” • So in essence Perez is running a slush fund? (This is very good reporting, including back and forth by Commitee members.)

“Diversity Dustup Renews Call For Democrats’ Campaign Arm To End Consultant Blacklist” [HuffPo]. “Our Revolution, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the Harvard College Democrats argue that the [DCCC policy blacklisting consultants and firms that work for candidates challenging House Democrats in primaries] makes it harder for women and people of color to win seats in Congress…. Maria Langholz, a spokeswoman for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, argued that gender and racial diversity often go hand-in-hand with advocacy of more progressive policies.” • Like with Obama, whose black skin enabled a direct readout of his progressivism, as is well known.

“Swing State Dems Could Pay Price for DGA Chief Raimondo’s Ethics Woes” [Inside Sources]. “Today, Gov. Raimondo is embroiled in controversy over a secret, no-bid, billion-dollar gaming contract; the Rhode Island GOP has filed a formal complaint against her with the state’s Ethics Commission; and polls show she has the highest disapproval rating of any Democratic governor in America. Raimondo’s first term as governor was dogged by questions over a lack of transparency regarding questionable fundraising and allegations of “pay-to-play” scandals, but she rode the 2018 anti-Trump “blue wave” to re-election. That’s not necessarily a surprise to people familiar with Rhode Island’s tradition of embracing ethically-elastic politicians. What is surprising is the decision of her fellow state executives to make Raimondo chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association (DGA) and, as a result, bring her controversies from Rhode Island to Washington.”

“Voters, groups, parties, and elections” [Lane Kenworthy]. “While the two parties have been evenly matched in national elections in recent decades, a number of indicators suggest looming difficulties for the Republicans: demographic trends, the rise of postmaterialism and accompanying decline of cultural conservatism, and the progressivism and Democratic voting of younger cohorts. Backlash against growing racial diversity and immigration will help the Republicans, but California’s experience over the past generation suggests it may do so only temporarily.” • A lengthy but interesting wrap-up, concluding, as yo see, with support for the “coalition of the ascendant” thesis.

“Who Should Secure Congressional Campaigns?” [Idle Words]. “[W]hat I mean by campaign security: protecting the online lives of people on and around a campaign from intrusion, with a special emphasis on their personal email and social media accounts. I emphasize the personal part because many campaign security efforts start by declaring personal data out of scope, and then solve the easier problem of protecting what’s left. This is like putting a lock on your glove compartment to deter car theft.”

* * *

DSA Convention on fascism. Thread:

DSA Convention rejects special support for small/rural locals:

So now the locals get to raise money on Patreon. I suppose that’s better than GoFundMe.

“The democratic socialist revolution comes to a crossroads” [NBC]. “On the night Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016, the Democratic Socialists of America had about 8,000 dues-paying members. By the time the group opened its 2017 convention the next summer, its ranks had grown threefold. This past weekend, when delegates from around the country gathered here in Georgia, the number was more than double that — DSA is now home to 56,000 mostly young activists, making it the largest socialist organization in the country. More remarkable than its growth, though, is DSA’s increasing presence on the electoral stage. Nearly 100 democratic socialists now hold office at almost all levels of government, from local school boards to the US Congress, where freshman Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib are at the front line of the fight over the Democratic Party’s future — and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, though not directly affiliated with the group, is mounting his second campaign for the party’s presidential nomination.” • DSA coverage still seems reasonably objective, I can’t think why, especially with RussiaGate.

Stats Watch

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 26 Fear (previous close: 22, Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 6 at 2:23pm. • Restored at reader request. Note that the index is not always updated daily, sadly.

News of the Wired

“From a wrongful arrest to a life-saving romance: the typos that have changed people’s lives” [Guardian]. “Much later, years later, he would learn that a single-digit typo had tied his computer, via its IP address, to someone else’s crime. But that first Saturday, waiting in a cell, Lang knew none of this.” • And much, much more. No doubt the same will happen with facial recognition.

* * *

About the hogs. This tweet was ground zero, although part of the fun was tracking it down:

Suddenly, feral hogs were everywhere! Here are some of the better ones:

Along the same lines:

At least, no more William Carlos Williams:

The meme was so virulent it instantly hopped the Atlantic:

And the Mediterranean:

A return to innocence:

But doubt creeps in:

88. And so:

(The references to “fence” and “solution” are further down in the thread.) I don’t know. When I encountered them, the feral hogs were running freely everywhere, entirely decontextualized, as feral hogs do, and tend to be. And if the original tweet was a dogwhistle, where are the dogs? I think I prefer to maintain my innocent reaction. I very rarely laugh out loud, especially on the Twitter! But those weirdly specific numbers…

* * *

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):

A bit late, I guess, for blossoms against the sky, but the color goes nicely with the bonus (Marku52):

Yesterday, I posted Re Silc’s lovely mobile and asked if other readers would care to submit photos of similar projects. Marku52 responded immediately, writing: “Here’s mine. I take an image off the internet, print on transparency, blow it up using a garage sale overhead projector. Outline the image on thin steel with pentel, then cut out with a plasma cutter. A lot of grinding to clean up, weld on accessories, then paint.” Neat! Reader, how about you?

* * *

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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. Summer

    Re: Bloopers..”confused” Biden and Trump…

    They weren’t “confused.” Those are very dismissive gaffes. Those are highlights of their arrogance and lack of real concern, attitudes shared by their preferred audience.

    1. Carey

      Agree. Biden would have had to make an effort to get both sites wrong.

      The Few: “Die, proles; you deserve it!”

  2. Summer

    Re: “Cracking Tower” model

    No need to rush. School is about to start. You’ll have more data for your model.

      1. Summer

        Unless something changes, I think the school shooters will become more volatile.

        I’m not seeing much change…

      2. hemeantwell

        You’re right, and I don’t think it’s a question of volatility. You won’t need yellow waders to read the manifesto, but I did need to remind myself what he meant with his reference to The Lorax.

        I’m not familiar with the run of alt-right literature, but this isn’t the usual “defend the race from corruption,” restorationist stuff. There is that, but there’s also a Case-Deaton angle to it — can’t get a good job, the environment’s ruined. I worry that this kind of fatalism foreshadows behavioral sink, “what the hell, might as well do it, there’s no future anyway,” madness.

        1. jsn

          Running amok is taking agency with despair and strikes me as sort of evolved “volatility trade” on ones life.

          What’s uniquely American is the cultural acceptance, that it’s normal and there’s nothing to be done: no one believes this is true but the power structure makes it so every time, regardless and the ritual recursiveness enures acceptance.

          It’s another manifestation of our elite psychosis like our refusal at the macro level to address the 150 corporations responsible for 80% of carbon emissions: they’re actually killing us but even in the face of death we cannot overcome the “collect action problem”.

      3. Watt4Bob

        Mass shooters are suicides.

        Mass shooters are deaths of despair.

        They are suicides by police with one added feature, a violent lashing out at the only targets that can actually be found.

        Consider how difficult it is to find one of the Koch Bros. or the CEO of a large corporation that employs large numbers of ‘illegals‘.

        Mass shooters think someone deserves to be shot, but they go crazy long before they can figure out who.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Like reptilian reprobate Pat Buchanan, I am more concerned than ever that the prurient press coverage of shooters, speculating over their motives and circulating their ‘manifesti’ to score political points is tantamount to glorifying them, and spawning copycats.

        I wanna be somebody / You were like that too / If you don’t get given you learn to take /and I will take you. (Peter Gabriel)

        To me, popularizing ing the notion – with the eager connivance of the press – that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, rather than some imputed racist dog whistle, is the worst message Mr Reality Show 45 transmits to the alienated.

        I shouted out, who killed the Kennedys? / when after all, it was you and me (Oo-oo!)

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        No, this is great. I strongly believe that political metaphors should be isomorphic to the systems for which they purport to be the objective correlatives.

    1. GF

      Nobody I have seen has brought up that at the same time period when violent video games were first becoming more life-like and available/”popular”, the assault rifle ban was lifted – thanks Cheney et al. Any wacko violent gamer so inclined could then live out their fantasies.

      Another thing not brought up is the fact that most of the serial killers have no criminal record that would preclude them from buying guns legally. Unless a complete mental health exam – like prospective police officers must go through in order to weed out the psychopaths – is required for every gun purchase, it seems there will be no stopping sickos from legally purchasing weapons of war.

      1. Pete

        I dont think you are using the word psychopath also know as sociopaths correctly. I find that this word has become very popular and is used to define effectively every unpopular behavior one can imagine except of course what it actually is.

        This trend is very damaging to society and effectively creates immunity for socipaths because it feeds into the lie that only unlikable/unpleasant/akward people are dangerous and we should trust the likeable as if that is the same as being trustworthy. This is the specific mechanism they exploit.

      2. False Solace

        There’s no sane reason it should be easier to get a gun than a driver’s license.

        Guns should be licensed with mandatory insurance and required training and background checks redone every couple of years. Interview family members and partners. There’ll be a lengthy backlog — good — delay these maniacs a bit before they shoot up more school shoppers. They’re mostly young so unless idiots are handing them guns they need to buy their own and complete the process. And if you give somebody a gun and they shoot up a bunch of people, you go to jail too.

        1. Inode_buddha

          Depends on what state you’re in. In my state, the *first* thing they ask you on the paper is about your mental health. A background check can take over a year. A seller is *already* legally liable for whatever the buyer does. It has been that way for decades.

          What bothers my greatly is that you seem to think that all gun owners are bloodthirsty maniacs who can’t wait to open up in a crowd. Fact is, most of them are more responsible than anyone else in the room. You know, it is possible to be a non-violent gun owner.

          You are not going to eliminate violence from human nature by eliminating the preferred tools.

          1. John

            “You are not going to eliminate violence from human nature by eliminating the preferred tools.”

            But eliminating the preferred tools could decrease the body count. That would not be a bad first step. I own a rifle. It will hold multiple rounds but it is bolt action and I think not a preferred tool for the mass shooter.

            There are multiple influences in this dreadful phenomenon. To reiterate, it does not seem a radical step to remove as far as possible the most potent weapons from the hands of the murderously inclined.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      I have to interject.. there is no way that pressing left click on your mouse is the same as using a rifle. Not even close to the same skillset, and it is ridiculous to compare the two.

      Video games and mental illness are right wing talking points to deflect from the real issues. Economics and perceived loss of power

      1. foghorn longhorn

        It has nothing to do with left click, it has everything to do with mind rot.

        You can’t watch blood and gore your entire youth, be it in games or every movie made the last forty years, without it affecting your psyche.

        This really is garbage in, garbage out. We have basically poisoned these kids minds, and then we’re shocked, shocked I tell you, when they react to the stimulus society has provided.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Eh, i love the Torture Horror movies like Hostel and Horror games like Until Dawn n Resident Evil n Dead Space n Wolfenstein.

          And yet i abhor real violence and NEVER watch those killing vids online.

          These kids have horrible real lives. Its def NOT the Video Games.

        2. shtove

          You can’t watch blood and gore your entire youth, be it in games or every movie made the last forty years, without it affecting your psyche.

          Perhaps, but the particular hypothesis that exposure to violent video games causes mass shootings is surely disproved by the evident lack of correlation in other countries. American exceptionalism at its most perverse?

          1. foghorn longhorn

            So how many kids in, let’s just pick a country, say Belize play stupid video games 24/7?
            Are you seriously arguing that inputs don’t have an effect on outputs?
            How many people have been offed by american exceptionalism in just the last 20 years?
            I am more surprised we don’t have 3 or 4 of these a fricking day!

            1. Carey

              Thank you for stating directly what should be obvious.
              I hope my comment does not sound like snark.

            2. shtove

              I’m just pointing out that a lack of correlation in other countries disproves the hypothesis. Maybe America is the exception that proves the rule, but please keep it to yourselves.

          2. katiebird

            How easy is it to buy guns, including high powered rifles or whatever they are, in other countries?

            1. Anarcissie

              Obviously it depends where you are. In some countries they are free if you belong to the right group. If you don’t belong to the right group, you can go group-shopping. Among those who contribute to the outfits that distribute guns is the government of the United States.

              Since a poor person with an advanced weapon has something that may be worth $1000 on the street elsewhere, many of them fail to shoot someone as they are supposed to, and instead sell the weapon. Thus there is a global trade in assault rifles and other such.

              My taiji teacher summed it up pretty well:

              ‘Afghanistan. Coming home to roost.
              War, war, war; guns, guns, guns.
              What do people think will happen?’

              I can only add: if you want to control guns, start at the top.

        3. Kurtismayfirld

          Then you better just ban every Hollywood production with an R rating, many shows on TV,, get rid of all the Horror literature, and ban Comic books. Did I miss something that has blood and violence?

          Also, every other country in the world has these video games. How come their minds aren’t rotted?

          1. foghorn longhorn

            I’m not in favor of banning anything, you could buy an effing cannon if you want, as long as everybody else can too.
            You want some heroin, go for it.

            But, let’s try to raise our children in a more ‘Leave it to Beaver’ world than an effing ‘Mad Max’ madhouse.
            We chose not to raise any of the little b*stards, so we are at least happily content our spawn won’t be making the nightly news.

            1. Kurtismayfield

              The “Mad Max madhouse” is the result of living in an empire based upon violence. We have brought up generations to think there is no problem with the US going to another country and killing hundreds of thousands. Video games, popular media, the news all praise it. Start there.

      2. Partyless Poster

        And of course GUNS
        I noticed in Trumps speech he went out of his way to say it wasn’t the guns fault.
        Neither Dems or Repubs will ever admit that their economic policies contribute to this.

      3. WJ

        At this point it’s hard to point to any single cause. It’s a reflection of America’s decades-long deep and broad social and economic decay and cultural rot. Do guns play a role? Yes. Does mental illness? Yes. Does ideological extremism? Yes. Does economic dispossession? Yes. Does entrenched social isolation? Yes. Does xenophobia? Yes. Does neoliberal dehumanization? Yes.

        Our country is like a man in a motorcycle accident with stage IV pancreatic cancer who is on fire and having a heart attack.

        1. shtove

          Our country is like a man in a motorcycle accident with stage IV pancreatic cancer who is on fire and having a heart attack.

          And then his blood boils. And his arse explodes. Seconds later he’s hit by a meteorite. His wife nags him. And then … the sweet release of Rapture. Only in America [places hand on heart]!

    3. polecat

      Lambert, I would put video games in the priming block of that Jenga Shooter’s tower of yours. *Once triggered, one needs some quick virtual bloodypractice before the main event, no ??

      I’m neither a gamer, nor currently an owner of sticks that put holes in thing.

    4. Todde

      It is a mindset. To kill another person you have to have a certain mindset.

      Do the video games play a role? Sure.

      Same as the movies. Even the military styled guns help create the mind set.

      But we live an a hyper adversarial aociety.

      Our legal system is adversarial.
      Our economic system is adversarial.
      Our media is adversarial.

      Add in the pharmaceuticals and I wonder why it doesn’t happen more often.

      1. Polar Socialist

        One major source for creating such a mindset is the death penalty. It’s a clear message that the society considers some people deserving to be killed. To get “justice” you can — no, you must — kill those who were unjust towards you.

        Some societies try to sent a clear and loud message that no matter what a person does (say, like Breivik), they do not deserve to die. And in those societies, people often do seek other avenues for “justice” than running amok.

  3. re silc

    Marku52, nice work! I hand draw mine out. Need to look for a cheap overhead now. Great idea.
    Always learning, re silc

  4. BoyDownTheLane

    In re: the billionaires contributing to candidates, I think of the local stories of old men who stay out late at night to collect redeemable cans and bottles so they can honor their family members and contribute to the Dana-Farber cancer treatment programs, and the book “Dr. Mary’s Monkey”, and the Hegelian methodologies.

    1. BoyDownTheLane

      I saw something (sorry, no link) that said if the trends continued, in another decade or so, one person would own everything. Jeff Bezos is gaining; Warren Buffett has billions in cash just waiting for what I do not know; there are others vying for the prize.

      If anyone has phone numbers for billionaires, call ’em, and tell then they are needed:


      P.S.: I had open heart surgery just over a decade ago with concomitant hemiplegic stroke. Insurance covered the necessary care (including 8 weeks hospitalization for rehab and the first five days in the ICU in a coma) but I lost my job. A physician friend paid $15K in living expenses until I was on my feet.

      There are good people in this world. I tried to pay it back but was told to pay it forward.

  5. Synoia

    What is surprising is the decision of her fellow state executives to make Raimondo chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association (DGA) and, as a result, bring her controversies from Rhode Island to Washington.

    Probably because they admire her behavior, but have not the gall to emulate it.

    1. chuck roast

      File anything on Raimondo under “Guillotine Watch”

      A Neo-liberal with a capital N. When she was a PE queen, her firm did a “study” of the RI state workers pension fund and unsurprisingly recommended that payouts be reduced before it went broke. Then when the queen was elected governor, she saw to it that state worker pensions were reduced for a second time.

      The woman clearly has a bright future in the Democratic Party.

    2. Swamp Yankee

      Re: Rhode Island, there is something very interesting going on in the internal politics of the Democratic Party in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Back when I was on Zuckerberg’s Panoptic (i.e., Facebook), I used to follow these developments closely.

      Without intending a glib or 1:1 comparison, what is going on right now in RI reminds me of Italy’s near civil war after WWII. I don’t think this is an accident, either, given that, with its overwhelmingly Italian- and Portuguese-descended population, RI has a significantly southern European feel compared with the Anglo-Celtic North Atlantic polities that make up the rest of New England (sans Fairfield Co., CT, which is really part of greater NYC anyway). I think these cultural roots matter a great deal; growing up on the South Shore in Massachusetts, people’s ethnicity (Irish or English) plus religion (Catholic or Protestant) directly mapped onto attitudes towards The Troubles in Northern Ireland. Deep roots still clutch.

      In addition, RI is, no pun intended, extremely insular. You can be 30 miles from Boston in northern RI and people will go there almost never. A friend from Little Rhody remarked this, too, how whenever Rhode Islanders leave the state, they act like they’re on an expedition to the headwaters of the Amazon.

      Thus, you have on the one hand the Old Guard of the Democratic Party, who are overwhelmingly right of center, especially on social issues like abortion. I would analogize them to Italy’s Christian Democratic Party, especially their lockstep march with the Catholic Church. This group has dominated RI since about the 1930s. Strongest in urban centers like Providence and Warwick and Cranston, which were solidly HRC territory in ’16.

      On the other side, you have DSA- and Sanders-affiliated Democrats, whom I would analogize to the Socialist Party of Italy (PSI) and Communist Party of Italy (CPI — and yes, I know the DSA aren’t Bolsheviks, it’s the structure I’m talking about here). This faction tends to have a lot of support in Rhode Island’s rural towns, where Sanders cleaned up, and wants an actual left-leaning party. They are well to the left of the Christian Democrats on both economic and social issues, and there have been some nasty incidents of parliamentary skullduggery directed their way by the Old Guard at the expense of the DSA wing.

      I expect this internecine struggle to go on for a good long while yet. Rhode Island is interesting in that it’s politics are punctuated, Stephen Jay Gould style, by periodic revolutionary outbursts after long decades of sclerosis. Dorr’s Rebellion, in 1841, finally forced RI to abandon the old colonial charter, write a new constitution, and expand suffrage as well as representation for urban areas in the legislature. Likewise, after the Civil War, Republicans like Ambrose Burnside dominated the state until there was a sudden electoral revolt in the 1930s, when the state went, practically overnight, from Yankee GOPism to New Deal liberal Democrats. I expect we’re seeing something similar today.

      At any rate, just my 20 cents of observation from 45 miles to the eastward of Providence.

    3. Peter VE

      Consolation prize after Raimondo did not get her appointment in the Clinton Administration.
      After she led the “reform” of the state employees pension system as State Treasurer, she made sure that the savings would be transferred to the private sector by investing a large percentage of the pension fund with PE firms with high fee structures.
      OTOH, she ensured strong union support by recently signing two bills, giving firefighters more overtime pay, and requiring that expired contracts be held in force.
      Our state budget per capita is about 40% higher than Massachusetts, which only rarely is brought up by anyone in the public arena.
      All RI’ers know that the real power in the State lies with the Speaker of the House. The current speaker, nominally a Democrat, is pro-life and NRA A rated. Meanwhile, the President of the Senate is trying to build his fiefdom to have equal power with the Speaker.

    4. MichaelSF

      but have not the gall to emulate it.

      Or possibly “but have not the Galt to emulate it.”

  6. John ashley

    So,it has not been read but it is important .
    That’s so like all the media punditry on these crimes.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I wrote in haste. I have read the manifesto, all the way to the end. It’s well-structured and lucid. It’s not crazed scribblings. The shooter can write. When I said, “put on my yellow waders,” I meant to imply doing a close reading” (with highlighting, annotations, etc.). I have corrected the post.

      1. dearieme

        It’s well-structured and lucid. It’s not crazed scribblings. The shooter can write

        Or someone else can write.

        1. john ashley

          Well , I have read the ramblings and I have to say that the points made are all over the map as far as the “sides”.

          He didn’t come off as a crazed white racist or as a nutty antifa wild man.

          The Dayton shooter , to me is the more interesting.

          If one can believe the posting from his GF he should never have been allowed near a firearm. How can his parents have thought it
          was a good mix – mental illness and gun love?
          I do not understand the (profit motive – overdiagnosis?) that has filled the society with mind altering drugs.

          I can recall back in my formative years I had desires to harm someone and had guns a plenty, but never even planned how to carry out the deed. This was in the late 1960’s amid race riots and the like.

          What’s the diff?
          P.S. I felt bad posting the “hit” as Lambert and crew do a great job with the site even though I disagree with lots of the positions.

          1. Inode_buddha

            Whoever provided him with the armament, knowing that he was mental, is now on the legal hook for the rest of their natural lives. That is a fairly unambiguous area of law.

  7. Ember Brody

    Re: El Paso

    In short, America is rotting from the inside out, and peaceful means to stop this seem to be nearly impossible. The inconvenient truth is that our leaders, both Democrat AND Republican, have been failing us for decades. They are either complacent or involved in one of the biggest betrayals of the American public in our history. The takeover of the United States government by unchecked corporations.

    The kid is not wrong. He has a lot of insightful stuff to say about immigration, automation and writes as much about the environment as anything else. He recognizes that America is effed and that “Everything I have seen and heard in my short life has led me to believe that the average American isn’t willing to change their lifestyle, even if the changes only cause a slight inconvenience. The government is unwilling to tackle these issues beyond empty promises since they are owned by corporations. Corporations that also like immigration because more people means a bigger market for their products. I just want to say that I love the people of this country, but god damn most of y’all are just too stubborn to change your lifestyle.”

    Besides the racism and mass murder he sounds quite sane. He recognizes where blame lies, including the general populace.

      1. Expat2uruguay

        I know this isn’t PC, but could somebody please link to the manifesto, I’d like to read it for myself. I get that nobody wants to publish it because they don’t want shooters to feel like it’s a legitimate way to get things published and disseminated, but the current approach seems like sticking our collective head into the sand. I mean here we have these mass shooters who write documents about why they did it and what was in their head but we’re all supposed to just ignore that and remain mystified as to the causes. Or better yet, have reporters summarize what the source said and what it means, which just seems ripe for abuse frankly. All because we don’t want people on the edge to read it and get triggered? Seems like all the more reason to know what it said… I know that I want to read this one for myself, especially if it explains something about this fracture in society. It feels like we’re being treated like children here, little snowflakes who need to be protected from the ideas of deeply unhappy people. Far far better for those people to kill themselves in suicide or murder suicide or elect ridiculous presidents all while we say “I don’t understand these people!” The are all Bad Evil people and really nothing is wrong with society, AKA nothing to see here! I think I’m starting to ramble…

        Lambert even advised to read it to the end, but how can I do that? It’s not like I can just find it using Google.

        1. Carey

          Can it be safely assumed that the shooting and said manifesto were authored by the same person?

        2. neighbor7

          Unabomber’s manifesto was also a sensible analysis in many ways. Always thought it a shame that he was denied the chance to defend himself in court as he wanted to do.

        3. dcrane

          It’s easy to find online with a momentary search.

          Although I will probably read it now, part of me says No don’t, because people should not be encouraged to believe that committing mass murder will achieve a wide audience for their ideas. Probably there isn’t much that can be done. I think that New Zealand shut down publication of Tarrant’s manifesto within their own country, but what would that really be worth with the rest of the internet easily accessible.

        4. Amfortas the hippie

          this is the full version i found the quickest:https://www.citizenfreepress.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/shooter-manifesto-elpaso.jpg

          the saddest line:
          “my whole life i’ve been preparing for a future that currently doesn’t exist”
          we need a real new new deal like RFN…but all we’re gonna get is a bunch of thoughts and prayers and a lot of half-baked reasons why we can’t have nice things…and look how bad the other guy is.

          except for the racism(my wife’s hispanic, my kids are half-breeds)…i could have written this.
          “Both sides” are trying to throw this guy into the opposing camp…but really, neither party represents him, and the non-racist parts of his grievance…which is exactly the problem, and exactly what we won’t get from the media coverage of this “manifesto”.

          1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


            However, most youth are on the internet nowadays so theyre prolly hearing about if theyre Political at all.

          2. Acacia

            Was this manifesto really written by a 21-y/o community college student?

            The analysis is very coherent, and reads like something penned by a much older person.

            Also, if his target was Hispanics, why did he shoot up a Wallmart ?

    1. jrs

      Just another confused young person. But I’d advise: It’s too damn young to be taking on the whole of economic suffering (people losing jobs to automation etc.), some likely awaits. But go to school or get other training. Some young people are homeless and well if they talked about economic suffering they have much to say.

      And then get involved with politics once you actually have a better handle on it and aren’t all over the place politically (hint: the problem is not Texas turning Dem – it may not be the answer either of course, but it’s not the problem).

      But whatever wanted to self-destruct and did, took innocents at a Walmart with him who weren’t guilty of a darn thing. Whatever his BS ideology, even when he killed it amounted to nothing, random people at a Walmart.

      1. Summer

        “Whatever his BS ideology, even when he killed it amounted to nothing, random people at a Walmart.”

        The thing is…the same can be said about the attacks from sept 2001 to now.
        The 21st century has some of the least “revolutionary” terrorists of all time. The era of the ultimately self-hating terrorist.

        1. Summer

          And to elaborate:

          Despite all the ramblings about the powerful establishment, their targets show that is who they want to identify with the most.
          Self-hating with the authoritarian mindset….

            1. BoyDownTheLane

              “…. treating the two false flag events as if they were actually done by mal-adjusted white supremacists instead of mind-controlled patsies assisted by multiple private military corporation shooters that were SEEN, that are ON VIDEO, but being covered up. Our society is SICK because the Deep State has made it so by design…..”

              Robert David Steele at phibetaiota.net

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                the craziest thing is that that’s not necessarily crazy.
                we’ll never know the details….and if the “Truth” somehow leaked out of the cia adipose, noone would believe it…but things like MK Ultra, Mockingbird, etc etc were real things, that existed in the world.
                Hence, Ontological Crisis…define “Real”.

        2. Plenue

          AQ is stronger and more organized than ever in Yemen, and the Great Satan has spent 20 years battering itself and its reputation to pieces. I think it could be argued 9/11 has worked out great.

        1. Summer

          The 19th Century anarchist may have had their share of cafe bombs, but those deaths aren’t what they are remembered for…

        2. Summer

          I think in the Gilded Age, the hierarchy of power was more established. People knew who was in charge.
          I’ve been wondering if that’s the biggest miscalculation about today’s power structure. Who is clearly and definitively in charge? So much posturing that you start to wonder about a big gaping hole. What if you look behind the curtain and there is no “little man” that you thought was big, but no one is there at all?

          1. ambrit

            The “man behind the curtain” has always really been the “class behind the curtain.” On occasion, a charismatic figure will come along to act as a ‘front man’ for the Elite Collective.

              1. ambrit

                Thanks. I keep referring in my mind to Feynman’s addendum to the Challenger report; in which he stated that system designs can cause particular results without conscious volition.
                As many have remarked about our “moderne” world, “Code is law.” Said codes are written by individuals who are ‘invested’ in particular socio-economic value systems. The biases included in the codes that they write can be subconscious. A perverse variety of a ‘Collective Subconscious.’

        3. Plenue

          “…there are no innocent bourgeois.”

          Let it not be said that edgelord-ism is exclusive to the right.

          1. ambrit

            I had to look ‘edgelordism’ up. I am officially a geezer.
            The difference between henry and today’s Edgelords is that Henry actually did something about it. No matter what you might think about his methods, he acted. That’s the essence of the “Propaganda of the deed.” Keep in mind that the “Propaganda of the deed” does not have to be violence. I would consider the Yellow Vests in France now to be practicing exactly the “Propaganda of the deed.” In a modern civilization, the disruption of the orderly flow of goods and services is indeed revolutionary. When it happens between nations, it is usually considered to be an act of war. Judging by the “official” responses to actions like mass rallys and the like, social protest is often viewed and treated like a class based ‘act of war.’
            Interesting times cometh.

            1. Plenue

              That he would actually do it makes it worse. If someone ever finds themselves blowing up a bunch of frumpy middle class people, doubtless including some kids, that person is a villain. Whatever the injustices of the broader social systems, the bomber isn’t justified.

      2. Darthbobber

        The author’s reasoning is pretty specious in its “palling around with dictators” reference, and the usual ritual invocation of the “troubling homophobic statements” while carefully refraining from discussing when that was or what her words, actions, and voting record have been on those issues since.

        It misses many of the things I find somewhat troubling, including her recent vote for the anti-BDS resolution in the house.
        She was a strong critic of the Iran agreement at first (on hawkish grounds) until persuaded that a more restrictive one couldn’t be achieved.

        She was also one of those insisting on the mantra “Radical Islamic Terrorism” as the only proper designation for what we were or should be at war with.

        And that war she’s always been quite willing to pursue. Not being stupid, she’s well aware that what we’re actually doing isn’t about that at all.

        As to the author’s complaint that her antiwar criticisms are based largely on harm caused to America and Americans as opposed to harm caused to the victims abroad,
        1 That’s not entirely true. I’ve actually heard her invoke civilian suffering occasionally. And
        2. She’s an electoral politician. Those who hope to actually win generally frame their arguments to American voters in terms of some understanding of the interests of Americans. Go figure.

        I note that even the author conceded that on the issue of the forever wars she did seem legitimately to be the most antiwar.

        (Personally I’d qualify that with anti certain wars. Given what she saw as adequate reasons I think she’d be pretty aggressive. But her adequate reasons are not those of the blob, hence the directed hate campaign.

    2. Tttt

      He must have been insane because his solution to “corporations and government are the problem” is “I will shoot random people.” What a piece of shit, his manifesto doesn’t deserve analysis or being spread.

      1. hester

        Yeah, who gives a sh*t if his manifesto is coherent. So what if it is? Plenty of terrorists are smart. He drove 8-10 hours through the state of Texas to shoot brown people, all Hispanic. Calculated and targeted. Domestic terrorism it surely is and also a hate crime, each of which has it’s own definition.

        1. jrs

          And plenty of people could write a manifesto that was coherent, without the killing. There’s plenty of really smart takes on politics on twitter if that’s all one wants, and that’s twitter, the worst possible format for it. And his oh so insightful take seems to be that things are corrupt. Get in line buddy, get in line.

          The unibomber might have been the prototype, but things actually cohered some there. But this guy despite railing against everything decides to shoot-down (as in punch-down) and at a racial minority. A case of your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear anything you say.

      2. john ashley

        He went to Walmart on the border.

        Sounds like he had the targets correct.

        I would bet when the facts come out he was another kid medicated to become “normal”.

        1. hunkerdown

          No, he and the rest of us would have been much better off had he appeared at a state Chamber of Commerce event or the like. When leaving one’s home while employing non-citizens carries a strong likelihood of summary execution, the Laffer curve teaches us that we might expect less of it.

      3. Ember Brody

        He explained why he went for the “low-hanging fruit” and he explained the links, as he saw them, between political misgovernance, immigration, corporatism and environmental degradation. Sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting “”la-la-la” will not make that go away.

    3. john ashley

      In a country this diverse and well-armed the SANE people have to push back on the impossible to change but with violence.


      ANYONE from Trump to whomever will NOT be happy with that.

      The media needs to calm down and realize that they are helping to push toward 20 Walmarts a month.
      Think on that.

    4. Oregoncharles

      Again: Kaczinski (the Unabomber) also was very insightful, and “not wrong”. Best evidence that he was not sane was that his actions did not correspond to his point. I think I see the same thing here – rather as if those insights drive people mad.

      1. Acacia

        By chance, I looked at Kaczynski’s manifesto again last year and found it not only quite readable but eerily prescient of present-day social conflict in the US. It altered my understanding of recent history as being in some ways the continuation of an earlier conflict that I hadn’t yet grasped. E.g. here is K writing in the 1990s, but substitute “liberal” for Kaczynski’s “leftist” personality, and consider where we are today with social media and censorship of “non-liberal” views:

        In the United States, a couple of decades ago when leftists were a minority in our universities, leftist professors were vigorous proponents of academic freedom, but today, in those universities where leftists have become dominant, they have shown themselves ready to take away from everyone else’s academic freedom. (This is “political correctness.”) The same will happen with leftists and technology: They will use it to oppress everyone else if they ever get it under their own control.

        Another data point: Kaczynski was a test subject in the MK ULTRA program at Harvard — evidently, not the “education” he bargained for.

  8. skippy

    Incoming alert to France and its readers, aussie rower paramedic wife inbound for le rallye du canal du Midi …..

    If seemingly vexed play wounded and healer characteristic will kick in and all will be well, don’t ask about the other options.

    1. Plenue

      “If seemingly vexed play wounded and healer characteristic will kick in and all will be well, don’t ask about the other options.”

      Uh…do you want to take another stab at that sentence?

      1. Expat2uruguay

        Actually, it was the first sentence I couldn’t figure out. I think the second sentence omits a “then”, as in “…will kick in and then all will be well…”
        But I confess I still don’t know what the comment means.

      2. skippy

        Very early here [height of dyslexia cycle], sorry, feeding dogs and doing the morning pack reaffirmation whilst wife is away.

        Yes if shes displaying a vexed condition then playing ill or wounded will trigger healer response.

      3. skippy

        BTW wife just txt’ed that police with machine guns are yelling for people to move away from where she is, after hearing sirens over a period of time near the Champs-Élysées – Tuileries Gardens.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I read the manifesto. I think the shooter is, if anything, terrifyingly — how I hate that word in headlines — sane*. Read all the way to the end, too.

      * Rather, he is as sane as our baseline political economy is sane.

        1. Plenue

          Violent anarchists would have bombed important buildings and assassinated elites. Shooting up regular people shopping is not ‘propaganda of the deed’.

          1. ambrit

            Agreed that the anti brown people element of his crime is not particularly anarchist, but the overall arc of the crime is anarchist.
            Secondly, the Propaganda element of the deed itself is that the State cannot keep you safe. The random, terroristic nature of the crime is the main point. Social cohesion is breaking down.

            1. Wukchumni

              Were becoming ok with any old double digit murder spree, which is the worst aspect, the new normal.

              I was @ Wal*Mart in Bakersfield @ 7 pm yesterday, and part of the reason was I needed a few things, but I also wanted to see if there was any fear of being there, for Hispanics make up 45% of the citizenry.

              Didn’t seem different than any other time i’ve been in a Wal*Mart, kinda busy-the store a bit unkempt-par for the course.

            2. Amfortas the hippie

              “Social cohesion is breaking down”

              its been eroding for a long while, now.
              sometimes i think it was a policy objective.
              I’m glad i ended up in this far away relatively cohesive place.

              1. ambrit

                See my reference to Feynman’s addendum to the Challenger report. Particular and malevolent volition is not needed for the breakdown to occur.

        1. Yves Smith

          You need to read Mark Ames’ book Going Postal, on mass shooters.

          He found that they had almost nothing in common, as in you couldn’t readily identify them in advance behaviorally or demographically. Most were more intelligent than average. Few has a history of mental health problems. Aside from being almost entirely male (Ames IIRC did find one female shooter), all appeared to have been bullied badly for a period of their lives.

    2. Acacia

      The college English professor’s take jibes with my (retired academic) reading of the manifesto: it was not written by somebody who is mentally deranged. It’s very lucid and well-organized. However, I would go further in questioning whether it was even written by the gunman.

      Again, is the “diagnosis” of the contemporary United States in this manifesto what you would expect of a 21-y/o community college student, two years out of High School, or does it rather sound like something written by a much older person?

  9. XXYY

    I’d welcome comments — ok, help — from readers on this structure.

    It seems like one thing to crank into here, if you aren’t already, is widespread social dysfunction, isolation, and atomization in US society. One of the big changes in the US since the middle of the last century (I argue) has been the collapse of many of the institutions that provided a social context for people: churches, stable jobs, small towns, extended families, local media, rotary clubs, and so on (you can probably think of many more). At this point, the most vital relationship that many Americans have is with a screen. They have gig jobs, often at odd hours and in the middle of nowhere, or have parachuted into some big city or urban area where they don’t know anybody.

    I think this situation has created a large number of people who don’t have much stake in the society and are fodder for alienated, violent ideologies and extreme modes of thought. People who don’t think they have significant lives probably find something attractive about going out in a big blaze of glory with their face and name spread out across all the screens.

    Obviously this is all very complex and defies simple or facile analysis, but the above seems like part of the picture to me.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > widespread social dysfunction, isolation, and atomization in US society.

      That goes under political economy. The basic feedstock, if you will. I’d blame it all on the organic damage from deaths of despair, though of course to prove that I’d have to study shooter biographies. But the Columbine shooters were middle-class.

      1. Jerry B

        ===That goes under political economy===

        My two cents : I am not sure I agree. Political Economy has a distinct definition. Now has the political economy contributed to the social isolation and dysfunction? Definitely. But IMO they are separate levels.


        The cracking tower model will be your post so you can define political economy as you wish but most people have a pre-determined definition of political economy in their heads so changing what it means may be confusing.

        My input would be to keep political economy as a level in your model but add other levels to incorporate social isolation, dysfunction, etc. I think another commenter mentioned culture. I think that could be another level. A level that would be of use to a cultural anthropologist and would include things like media, the lack of social institutions, education, etc.

        For example when you look at footage of a baseball game in the 1950’s, the men are in shirt and tie or suits and most of the women are in skirts or dresses as if there are going to a formal occasion. Fast forward to today and people at a baseball game are dressed very casually, maybe even overly casually.
        Whether a person thinks the change in attire at a baseball game is positive or negative is not the issue. The issue is the cultural change that we as a society went through to go from wearing formal attire to a ball game to wearing very casual clothing..

        I used to look at people and their dysfunctions as individual maladies. Therefore I obtained a Masters in Psychology, which was “naively/idealistic” pursued with the goal of becoming a “individual” therapist so I could help people/individuals. But as extremely valuable as therapists/counselors are, helping one person at a time is not really effecting widespread change if that is a person’s goal. The cultural issues that lead people to seek therapy are still there. The problems are systemic.

        I am more and more convinced that our problems are cultural and/or sociological. At various times in our history we used to know and cultivate a civilized society and IMO we have lost our compass and forgotten what a civilized society looks like. IMO a civil society is like holding a delicate or fragile piece of crystal in your hand. It is something to be cherished and handled with care. Our current society resembles something out of the seven deadly sins.

        In sum, Lambert, I like your cracking tower model but would keep political economy to reflect the true definition i.e. capitalism, politics, free markets, etc. I would add levels for cultural inputs, sociological factors, etc.

        1. False Solace

          > , the men are in shirt and tie or suits and most of the women are in skirts or dresses as if there are going to a formal occasion

          Formal occasion? No, in those days the suit and tie was known as the ‘lounge suit’. It was the informal version of morning dress for men. It looks formal to you because fashions change over time.

          1. Jerry B

            ===It looks formal to you because fashions change over time.===

            First, I used the term formal a bit too loosely. I tend to talk in metaphors and symbolically and do not get too focused on exact interpretations of words. By formal I meant more button-downed or straight-laced. IMO it is not a fashion change but a mindset or a way of looking at the world. If it is a fashion change over time then what underlying cultural or sociological themes caused the change?

            It is late and I am tired otherwise I would elaborate more. Thanks for the info on “lounge suit”.

            1. Todde

              It seems to.me the lounge suit makes the point you were making even better.

              Lounge suit is an oxymoron rhese days.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Just a random insight on “, the men are in shirt and tie or suits and most of the women are in skirts or dresses as if there are going to a formal occasion.” I was at the Saturday Growers Market downtown and noticed that many people were really dressed up – in ways appropriate to the hot weather and outdoor location, but showing off their finery. It’s definitely a social, see-and-be-seen occasion. Perhaps it’s replacing occasions like baseball games, at least locally. Does anyone else see that?

          1. ambrit

            Here in the North American Deep South, the primary venue for “el paseo” is church. I cannot think offhand of a single decently sized Farmer’s Market within comfortable driving distance of our semi-rural locale.
            They don’t call us ‘backwards’ for nothing. (Or maybe they do.)

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              agree on only real non-casual parade being church(and funerals and weddings and baptisms and other church adjacent things) and the courthouse(judge kicked me out of jury selection for wearing khaki shorts)

              and…embrace Backwards.
              I’ve embraced “Hill People”.
              it can be a defense…like a psychological weapon…especially for the odd city person who happens by(medical transport drivers come to carry stepdad to VA..always get lost on this deadend dirt road….so i’m always waiting to show them where…hilarious. all i gotta do is step from the woods and point at the correct driveway. look on faces says(shoulda brought extra underwear))

    2. dk

      This works for me. The less complex molecules are more volatile.

      Fungal and some bacterial infections produce more of some volatile chemicals than the organism is capable of processing (or in places where it’s not used to processing them and has to transport or secrete them in situ).

      And what Roger Chittum says about the fractional distillation tower. These kinds of break-down processing are things that happen more slowly in nature with material not being taken up by biological functions, which build more complex molecules and stabilize environments.

      Yves has scolded me for saying that societies and economies are living things, and behave like them, even in their dysfunctions. Atrophy, sepsis, morbidity, these are all very specific processes. When circulation (blood, lymph) is poor, component parts, whether limbs or organs, don’t operate as needed/expected, weaken, fail. They don’t just vanish and reappear if healed.

      The analogies for volatility and isolation… only maybe this kind of (actually basic) chemistry is a bit too “complicated” for the quick-thinkers at the helm. I got lectured one on how a sound bite *has* to be less than seven words. Was told that people don’t understand anything more complicated, but I think it’s just the media folks.

      Anyway i didn’t check out the cracking tower idea earlier because I had something else on my mind and wanted a clear head. My idea is about the different stages of how a tea kettle comes to a boil. The different kinds of turbulence, the way the system has to saturate the water with heat, when it’s all at 100°C is when the phase transition to vapor starts in earnest. But that’s looking at society as a whole, not the various kinds of bubbles. A rolling boil is when more heat keeps being added to the already heat-saturated solution is super-saturated, and the vapor transition is forced to occur below the surface.

  10. Matthew G. Saroff

    The Saikat Chakrabarti investigation won’t amount to much.

    The “Feds” in question are the FEC, not the FBI.

    1. Carey

      Since the inquiry’s subject is of the left (or quasi-left, or faux-left),
      the FEC might well take signficant action, for once.

  11. Wukchumni

    When seeking rasher doubloons
    From multi tusked goons
    Be where they can’t come around
    After the first few shots fail to impress
    And anything from your belt on down
    Looks like one big target for a pig pissed

  12. Synapsid

    Lambert Strether,

    I sent a post on grasslands yesterday, as did Darius. Mine was rather late.

  13. Plenue

    >Tweets about how guy talking about feral hogs is actually using coded language about gunning down brown people

    These are the braintrusts running DSA and Antifa.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      OTOH, the poster is a brain genius who totally owned Twitter for a couple of days to propagate their coded language. That’s hard to believe. OTOH, 30-50 seemed weird to me when I tracked the Tweet down. Who writes that? That’s hard to believe, too. On the third hand, it’s possible to capture the zeitgeist without being consciously aware of it. That’s what poets do.

      1. dearieme

        What do you want him to say? Two score pigs plus or minus ten? Hm. 2 x 20 +/- 10. Oh look, the digits add to 5. Adolf! It’s Adolf! It’s Literally Hitler!!!!!

      2. Plenue

        30-50 might just be his best guess at the size of the herd. It’s probably hard to count them all exactly.

        1. foghorn longhorn

          The pig ‘herds’ are called sounders, 30-50 would be considered small, here in NE Texas.
          They will absolutely destroy your dogs, wild pigs are faster than greased lightning.
          Have found the best way to repel them is with a 19 gauge steel cable, about 18 inches above ground, behind a barbed wire fence, powered by a big ass electric fence charger.
          They try to come thru barbed wire, grounding them out real good, and catch their face on the hot wire.
          It’s a pain to maintain, but you got to do what you got to do.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              “when they invade Dallas and Austin”
              is it bad that my immediate thought was “pay per view”?
              we have them here, but in smaller herds…less lush than NE Texas. Rancher neighbor who 2/3 surrounds us traps them.
              smoked, bbq’d, cooked in a hole in the ground or on a spit.
              too lean for bacon in my experience.
              and you’re right…ordinary fences are at best a mere psychological barrier.
              but i don’t think the original tweet was talking about actual wild hogs, somehow.

      3. Todde

        Maybe the cigar is just a cigar…

        Looked at the guys page or whatever ita called on Twitter.

        Didnt see anything that could be racial or some racial code .

        Who knows.

  14. Pelham

    Re the DSA: I dunno. “Jazz hands,” progressive stack(?), invisible disabilities.

    I see a political lane developing — for plain-vanilla moderates and conservatives on social issues who lean way to the left on economic and environmental issues. Do I hear any triggering applause from the stacked or unstacked?

    1. martell

      Sounds good, that lane of which you speak.

      What’s happening with DSA is a shame. Ideologically, they’re a caricature of wokeness plus a mélange of socialisms, poorly understood. My guess is that the organization will implode in another couple years or so as members, most of whom are in their twenties and early thirties, get on with their lives. Things might have been different if the group had grown out of organized labor movements. They’d have staying power, then, and they’d be a bit more vanilla, as you say, on social issues. In my limited experience with militant, unionized longshoremen, for instance, I got the distinct impression that they were in their fight for the long haul and that ritualistically de-normalizing cisgender identity was really not the thing to do if you wanted to win friends and influence these people.

      1. Pelham

        Thanks for the vote of confidence. By the way, I’m memorizing that last sentence. Classic.

  15. Carolinian

    Re Baffler–a by the numbers hit piece. One might wonder just which of the Dem candidates does have a foreign policy history “of the left” given Sanders’ support for Bill Clinton’s Serbia intervention and Warren’s Madeleine Albright connection. And the author’s description of Gabbard as a “supporter” of Assad might have come out of the mouth of Morning Joe.

    Of course when Sanders shows himself willing to embrace the Washington consensus then excuses are made but when Gabbard openly discusses an area that all the other candidates avoid she gets catty and distorted coverage . If she is indeed a dubious candidate then we, and the public, should at least be given a chance to find out without “journalists” digging through the same old charges and serving them up as fresh gruel. The lockstep eagerness to shut her up–and fast–says a lot.

    1. Rojo

      I’m not a Tulsi supporter and even think we on the left should be a little leery of her.

      Having said that, the Baffler piece was shallow and unfair. Is Trump a Kim Jong Un “supporter” for meeting him? Is Trump a “Putin puppet”? I would be interested in seeing the author’s take on Venezuela or Nicaragua.

      Yes, America’s imperialist overreach has made some strange bedfellows. But let’s examine the bedfellows and not the overreach says journo-snark-clowns.

      1. Plenue

        “But she talked to a dictator!” is literally the most insipid line of attack, and reveals how utterly clueless the speaker is about US history. That also applies every time Trump is singled out as being uniquely bad for meeting with Kim, Duterte, etc.

        The US deals with dictators all the time, and has for many, many decades. Every one of the Arab Gulf States is literally a monarchy. The US gave Saudi Arabia (literally: the Arabian peninsula,. private property of the House of Saud) permission to begin its genocide against Yemen in 2015, and has supplied them with the bombs and logistics to do it.

        For another, non-Gulf example, Egypt, after a brief experiment with democracy, is once again a military dictatorship\, this time under a guy who massacred a thousand protestors in 2013. 2013 and 2015. Now I’m no math surgeon, but I do believe both of those numbers were Obama years. Is Obama also supporter of dictators (the answer is yes)?

        Gabbard has been being a bit feisty lately, in her own calm way. The next time she gets hit with smears for meeting with Assad, she needs to take the gloves off and point out how not just meeting with but supporting totalitarians is literally standard American policy, as is the media praising them when they shell out the money. The idea that the US has some principled opposition to dictatorships is 100% BS. She also needs to keep pointing out, even more clearly and succinctly than she already has been, how awful war is (and that she knows this from personal experience), and that “X is a dictator” is not sufficient cause to destroy countries. It just makes things worse.

        Oh, also Assad never gassed his people, at absolute minimum not after the middle of 2014, when the Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles were destroyed about the MV Cape Ray, crewed by US Navy personnel, with the destruction carried out by US Army members, under the watchful gaze of the OPCW (history is a weapon; arm yourself). And most likely he never did it ever. The supposed attacks after 2014 are fakes (and that’s not just me saying that. The OPCW agrees, for at least the 2018 Douma attack). The fact that most of them were chlorine attacks is kind of a big clue. Chlorine is not an effective battlefield weapon for anything other than maybe disrupting troops right before a charge. It is however, fairly easy to mix up in a dirty garage or basement. Like, say, if you were a ragtag ‘rebel’. And in fact the only factions to have definitively used chemical weapons in this war were such ‘rebels’, using homemade chlorine in the final stages of the battle for Aleppo (again, history).

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          The next time she gets hit with smears for meeting with Assad, she needs to take the gloves off and …

          Not critiquing your comment, rather the method. This is the mindset of codependency: If we can just make our point clearly then we will break through the misunderstanding, etc. No, the rules are toxic, by design. Most of the well meaning people I know have no clue about how many wars we are in, I’d personally have to give a rough estimate. More detail won’t help when people don’t have a narrative about the larger picture.

          There is never going to be a moment on cable TV where the scales fall from everybody’s eyes. Can anyone here imagine going back to watching cable news as a sincere information source? (For me, CNN would have to fire Nancy Grace into the sun. I don’t care if she’s not on contract anymore)

          I gave up debates a decade ago, and blip most debate comments. Fifteen second sound bites of truth are piss in the river. The only interest of debates was that ‘they can’t edit that out.’ Now they can keep you from finding out what that ‘gaffe’ was all about. The medium is only massage.

          1. Plenue

            Not completely removing the scales, no. But specific moments that cut through the fog do happen. Gabbard taking Harris apart over her legal record was one. The crowd certainly loved it.

      2. Bugs Bunny

        I was so surprised by the low quality of the reporting from what in my eyes is a very respectable progressive publication that I now question my past judgment in spending actual money to buy it. I mean, it was founded by Thomas Frank…

        Is everything ruined?

    2. Burritonomics

      Yeah, there was nothing in that article but the same talking point criticisms they keep repeating: She loooves dictators! She was on Joe Rogan! (having listened to Rogan’s podcast since his first days, it’s infuriating to see them constantly try to smear him as right wing ) She used to work for an anti LQBTQ organization!
      It’s all they have, and it ain’t much

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In a non-flat-earth political sphere, you go right to get to the left.

        So, if you are left of those in the middle, or to the left of those who are 1 cm left of the center, you would appear to be close to the right than them.

        (To a flat-earther, the above may not make sense).

        So, Rogan could be, in that politicalworld-view, (Politischewelt Anshauung – I think that’s word), seen as close to the right.

    3. John k

      Clinton’s Serbia intervention is the only foreign war I support at least since the Korean War.
      Pretty short, in and out, saved Croatia and other former Yugoslav states.
      So if that aligns with Bernie, I’m pretty satisfied.
      Only bad thing is it might have encouraged the subsequent disasters.

      1. Librarian Guy

        Bombing and killing Serbian journalists was quite a despicable act, but of course the Empire can murder whomever it chooses as long as they’re foreigners (occasionally even Americans) & get a pass from the US MSM . . . I loved their rationalization at the time, that those journalists (If memory serves, it was a radio station they bombed) were government propagandists. Not like the US press at all, right?

      2. Carolinian

        Bernie also said last time “Assad must go” while later saying he was “certainly not in favor of regime change.” His foreign policy stances seem fuzzy at best whereas foreign policy is the president’s main job. A laundry list of social reforms is all well and good but for that you need a favorable Congress and, probably, favorable media.

        To me Tulsi’s biggest asset is that she seems “for real”–unafraid to challenge orthodoxy even though she surely knew she would be attacked for doing so. This lack of dissimulation is very unlike a politician unless it is itself an act which would be quite a stretch. Her enemies want to attack her with a laundry list but we vote for the person more than the platform. As we saw with Obama promises alone mean nothing.

        1. jrs

          A president can do a lot that isn’t just foreign policy with executive orders, agency staffing etc.. Trump has, only it’s almost all been bad, I want someone pushing at least that hard, for good, who will fully use the office for that, who has it thought out. That’s the debate question we should get: “what will you do if you don’t have Congress?”.

        2. Mo's Bike Shop

          foreign policy is the president’s main job

          Well we need to change that then, don’t we?

      3. The Rev Kev

        That war is not what you thought it was and the Serbs copped a bad reputation when all it was about was fulfilling geopolitical aims. NATO missed most of the Serbian military and even lost a F-117A stealth plane in the process. NATO did get to leave behind a massive base for regional operations – Camp Bondsteel – which was a win for them. But it was never and in an out operation as NATO/US is still there with that base. NATO keeps on demanding that Serbia joins it but they refuse as they knew what was done to them and there is a lot of bitterness about it there. But the worse of it is the depleted uranium that NATO/US used in the bombing as that radioactive material has never gone away. They used about 10-15 tons of it and it is a slow campaign to get it out of the environment which is accompanied by a higher cancer rate among the population-


      4. Bugs Bunny

        Careful with this topic – the Nato bombing of Serbia was totally unjustified. There’s plenty of evidence to back that up.

        The US and Germany had a shared goal with regard to Yugoslavia – destroy the biggest mixed socialist economy in Eastern Europe and make sure that it would be subsumed into the European Community neoliberal market model. This began with Bush père when he refused post-Tito Yugoslavia economic assistance during the period of runaway inflation in the early 1990s.

        Resistance was futile.

        Germany was also the first country to recognize newly independent Croatia. Considering the role Germany played there during WWII, this was pure hubris.

        And btw Croatia was already out of the war when Nato intervened. You’re probably thinking of Kosovo.

    4. WJ

      The Baffler piece is agit-prop trying to smuggle in the CIA-approved assumption that a “Left” foreign policy must be “open” to “humanitarian” intervention. This position really took off during the Syria debacle and Gabbard’s refusal to play along with it is seen as very dangerous for the approved “narrative.” Gabbard is not perfect, no. But she’s right about the pointlessness of US interventionism in the MidEast and her clarity on this issue risks drawing attention to a certain unnamed state in the region and its preferred proxy wars.

      1. Dwight

        Very well said, thank you. Her Stop Arming Terrorists bill brought clarity to CIA proxy wars, but explaining the facts behind her bill might be too hard in a debate format, as the cognitive dissonance would be so high. She would also be seen as saying Obama created ISIS, which would be seen as a Trumpian lie even though there is a kernel of truth. Anyway, the Baffler article should have discussed it in the Assad context, even if to twist it.

    5. richard

      “a by the numbers hit piece”
      yes, except in this regard
      gabbard is not anti-imperialist and it is a big misunderstanding of the anti-war left to see her that way
      she has chosen a narrower lane, identifying heavily with valor and harm to soldiers
      whether or not you make a tactical choice to support her, that is one thing
      (I did before the bds vote, now much less so)
      but don’t kid yourself about where she’s positioned herself
      the rest of the article was more or less rotten

      1. richard

        how could you be from Hawaii and not be anti-imperialist? Maybe kind of a weird association to make, but the state she reps made me assume something about her that doesn’t seem to be true.

  16. Elspeth

    “Biden is the ultimate Obama legacy.”

    No it isn’t, Obama’s legacy was and always will be Trump.

      1. Librarian Guy

        Let’s not forget O’s legacy of increasing poverty and inequality for black Americans over 8 years, despite the wonderful “symbolism” of his being elected.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          That, and his condescension and scolding when he addressed Black audiences.

          Despite his shapeshifting talents, which are considerable, the man is a nasty piece of work.

      1. Hepativore

        It is a reference to all of the drone strikes Obama did, which often included civilians in foreign countries conducting wedding ceremonies or other festivities.

        The War Powers Act is a joke as presidents have granted themselves the power to launch war against anybody for any reason, provoked or not.

        1. john ashley

          Wasn’t Mr. Obama bragging that he seemed to be good at killing people on his hit lists?

          1. Plenue

            “Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.” – Barack Obama, Reported by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Double Down: Game Change 2012 (2013)

          2. Acacia

            Obama is widely reported to have authorized 1,878 drone strikes during his eight years in office. He also really liked to play golf (reported average: 42 games per year). That’s over five times as many drone strikes as games of golf.

            I’ve often wondered how many of those drone strikes he called in from the ninth hole, just before smiling when his ball landed on the green (i.e., as another dozen women and children were blown to bits in a distant land).

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      aye. and remember that psychology can be abused for political purposes(Lgbtq, commies, beatniks, hippies, potheads, etc etc)
      surely Lefty for New Deal will soon be in the dsm.

      1. ambrit

        “…Lefty for New Deal will soon be in the dsm.”
        Around here, that position already is in the Crowdsource DSM.

    2. polecat

      I would go with red herring. The tarnished red/blue coinage is chumming the public’s waters for cheap bycatch !

  17. dearieme

    a clear, unambiguous message that is thoroughly integrated with her biography

    How! Sorry, how?

    1. Carey

      It’s not supposed to make sense; only to add to the fragmentation.

      Sanders, within the limits that he’s been allowed, is the only
      one who’s walked the walk.

  18. Louis Fyne

    Add culture to the cracking tower.

    I’ve always wondered if there is a correlation between SSRI use and crime and/or suicide. There are studies, as always, the hardest part is getting clean data.

    And unlike most of the world, the US over-the-air media/cinema is violence-heavy, but not sex-heavy.

    And of course, these two issues are tertiary, not primary, factors.

  19. MT_Bill

    For the cracking tower, I think mobilization should come later if not last. John Robb’s thoughts on open source insurgency is very similar, worth comparing to your notes.

    On the hog thing. The first and only AR-style rifle I’ve ever used was….wait for it….specifically for feral hogs. Combination of the fact that when your trying to kill them they’re all in the same spot at once so you need the ammo capacity and also the rail system allows you to mount and swap out various optics easily for daytime/nighttime use.

    1. HarrisonBergeron

      Solid comment. Feral hogs are dangerous as all get out. They’ll make short work of even fearsome dogs. FWIW I think many people equate black rifle furniture with dangerous semi-auto negating many many other designs and possibilities. For example in the 19th century outlaws would carry 3-6 loaded revolvers and just grab a new one when empty. Modernly called a New York reload.

    2. Inode_buddha

      True dat. I’m glad we don’t have feral hogs around here — we have geese instead. I’ve never shot any animal and I don’t plan to start, I’m strictly a target guy. (clay birds)

      Thing is, most people don’t seem to know the difference between semi-auto and full auto. If you want a full-auto license, that will cost you 5 grand a year in taxes, and a full FBI background check, year in and year out.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Shh! Or we’ll get to the reality about guns.

      I live in an urban area, and if some idiot next door actually sleeps with a 357 under their pillow, it could have effects on my life in very bad ways.

      If I had a place in BFE, with an acre between me and anyone else, I would definitely have a few long guns. One specifically for rock salt.

      Our Pepsi/Coke politics demands that there can be no spectrum about this. Guns are good or bad only, like every other technology. The gray areas must be contemplated no more!

  20. Dan

    How about suspending mentally ill people’s right to the First Amendment?
    Wouldn’t it be easier to ban them and permanently block their internet access than try and prevent them from obtaining hardware from some other person?

    If they can’t publish a manifesto, would they bother to shoot up a place?

    1. Dan

      On second thought, ever wonder if the Texas event isn’t about controlling guns, but is rather about controlling the internet, which is the greatest thereat to revealing the scope and type of power and dominion exercised by the powers that be?

      A lunatic shoots up a Walmart and supposedly posts a clear and coherent manifesto about attacking the powers that be, thus giving more license to censor the internet.

      If millions of secured credit data points can be hacked, how hard would it be to counterfeit social media postings? Anyone with a modicum of technical skills could have placed that manifesto online and or altered it.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Everyone is crazy, except thee and me. And I’m not too sure about thee.

      i.e. Poor plan.

      See: mental illness used as an excuse to lock anyone in particular up. Eastern Bloc, Western Bloc, take your pick.

      And: Second Amendment, not First. At the time, if you could muster a gun, you really had to be pretty functional in society.

      I am though now thinking about the First Amendment. Up until twenty five years ago publishing was really only for the highly functional and capital endowed. Obviously not any more.

  21. chuck roast

    So what’s the deal with DSA? They passed a resolution for “open borders” and at the same time they support union organizing? I can see the future now, and past is prologue… “Two chickens in every pot, and an icepick in every Trot!”

    These guys should stick to repairing tail lights.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Funny you should mention the Trots and DSA.

      I was involved with and helped found an opposition caucus in the United Federation of Teachers, which was effectively destroyed by party-building, rule-or-ruin tactics and weaponized IdPol conducted by members of the International Socialist Organization.

      Now that the ISO has disbanded, guess where all that cadre flocked to, and guess who’s leading it’s Labor Committee in NYC?

    2. Plenue

      “So what’s the deal with DSA?”

      IdPol ate their brains. Leftist movements have a horrible tendency to fracture, but at least it used to be around reasons with a bit more substance https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/trees/trotchart2.jpg

      This whole episode reveals just how damn stupid much of the DSA is. Not only is their support for open borders objectively wrong and counter-productive, but it’s also a non-starter from a purely practical standpoint. They’re effectively resolving to have no impact whatsoever on future politics, while demonstrating how virtuous and ‘woke’ they are.

      Also they literally cite 100+ year out of date, pre-WW1 Lenin in their support. What is this, baby’s first Marxism? Did someone just start reading Lenin’s works from the beginning and got to that part, showed it to their DSA friends and everyone was all “Righteous! Let’s go with that!”? Lenin was wrong, geniuses. The international workers revolt never happened.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Two crabs in every bucket!

      I simply can’t imagine how authoritarian politics overwhelms anarchic politics.

      Every. God. Damn. Time.

      Maybe the new rule is that the Fed is the one urging consensus?

  22. Ed

    You’re right, I didn’t like the Tulsi article in the Baffler. My crit: It included smears already debunked elsewhere(“willing to align with horrendous figures like Assad”), and uses stupidly trashy arguments (“Even self-professed support from outright fascists doesn’t mean that Gabbard herself is necessarily right-wing, and it certainly doesn’t imply as much about all of her supporters.”) Oh, thanks. The substance of the article? “Gabbard’s is not a foreign policy of the left,” because of a lack of principled anti-imperialism. But, after 50 years of being myself a principled anti-imperialist, I’d be thrilled to see a President end interventionist regime change wars and I wouldn’t demand a principled leftist program from them in order to support that.

    1. shtove

      Yes, I agree. The article was daft, although I’ve no doubt plenty of Trump supporters see Gabbard as a good alternative, perhaps like Little Englanders in the 19thC who opposed empire. Not sure why Lambert referred to the American Conservative in his comment.

      1. Carey

        Daft? Maybe; I read it as quite savvy. Left-like publication takes
        down only one of two minimally anti-war candidates (Sanders
        saying some good things in the debates™)..

        Pervasive propaganda works.

      2. Jessica

        Lambert, of course, can explain what he meant, but what I took away from his reference was that the American Conservative is an example of being very good about non-interventionism but conservative about most everything else. It is kind of the existence proof that one can be non-interventionist and non-left.

        1. Plenue

          The brand of paleo-conservatism The American Conservative pushes is anti-war because it is conservative; eg it focuses first and foremost on how foreign war is bad for Americans.

          1. Dwight

            War is bad for Americans, both those that are killed and injured and their families, and for the resources not spent on improving the lives of Americans. Gabbard has talked about the link between military spending and domestic spending, even referencing climate change in a few statements. All this, climate change perhaps aside, seems like a left position that conservatives would agree with. Which should be a good thing, in terms of electability. Both Obama and Trump were elected in part because of anti war claims, and Gabbard may just be trying to capitalize on anti war sentiment. I’m happy she’s saying it though, and don’t care if she is not a real anti-imperialist, which is not a viable campaign slogan.


    As the Gilroy Garlic Festival shootings were going on, I attended a “Better Angels” workshop to help “heal” America’s partisan divisions. See the link for a write-up. Excerpt:

    The entire workshop produced no confrontation of the political class’s lies, and no conversation about any game-changing policies. To be fair, statements like the one about how Republicans are Fiscally Responsible™ are not really made in the service accuracy. They’re more like a pledge of allegiance to the creditor class, who profit whenever Federal spending lags.

    My personal take is that the political right (even the billionaire “left”) sponsoring these workshops has figured out they have moved the respectable public policy options as far right as they can for now, and the incivility provoked by those policies could be dangerous, even for the plutocrats, so they are looking to calm the waters. Even Taylor Swift has joined the effort (You need to Calm Down! is her latest).

    But the despair, anger and fear abroad in the land is an indication things really need to change. These are the societal analogy to the pain your body feels. Someone who cannot feel pain is in danger of burning or injuring themselves, so maybe the incivility in public discourse could have a useful outcome. As we sat in the workshop’s meeting room, someone killed three and wounded more than a dozen at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, for just one of many examples.

    1. john ashley

      “But the despair, anger and fear abroad in the land is an indication things really need to change.”

      I really do not get this idea. Do you really believe that today is worse than the mid-late 1960 period?

      I think most of the sentiment comes from an idealized set of “choices” many see as their birth-right and if not given will be taken.

      Change is always going on.

      1. Plenue

        “Do you really believe that today is worse than the mid-late 1960 period?”

        Yes. Significantly.

        1. Oregoncharles

          You have a case. For one, the 60’s were part of a Golden Age; prosperity for all more or less (but less racial, etc. justice – that’s what some of the fights were about), whereas we’re now in a period of sharp economic decline.

          And somewhat ironically, the left was far stronger and more radical then. That was first because of the Civil Rights movement, then because of the high casualties of the Vietnam War. And it may actually have been partly because the economy was much better; people weren’t drowning in debt (clever way to assert social control, until it collapses), and expected decent jobs, etc. when they went back to normal life.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      As we sat in the workshop’s meeting room, someone killed three and wounded more than a dozen at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, for just one of many examples.

      Oh geez.

      I was wondering how many weeks it will take before Trump and Biden’s gaffes apply to a real situation. This is awful.

  24. Jeff W

    “Elizabeth Warren is running a brilliant campaign” [David Axelrod, CNN]. “Elizabeth Warren is running a strategically brilliant campaign.

    More than any other candidate, she has a clear, unambiguous message that is thoroughly integrated with her biography. That is essential to a successful campaign.

    That is, frankly, insane. As commenters, including me, have pointed out, Warren was a Republican until 1996 and she says, disingenuously, for a law school professor at Harvard, that she was “not political” at that time.

    She knew Hillary Clinton switched her vote in 2001 to support a bankruptcy reform bill, the essence of which Warren had taken pains to editorialize against—it wasn’t just any bill, bankruptcy law was Warren’s specialty and signature issue—but had no problem endorsing Clinton in 2016. She calls for “big, structural changes” but her history is replete with small bore, technical fixes—I recall when she appeared on Frontline’s 2004 “The Secret History of the Credit Card,” after talking about how the credit card companies were wheeling and dealing in the halls of Congress, the big, structural change she called for was “some minimum regulation”—and reinforcement of the neoliberal status quo, e.g., supporting school vouchers and charter schools. And, although she’s fully aware of the inadequacy of health insurance in preventing bankruptcy due to medical costs—she co-authored the study on medical bankruptcy with PNHP honchos David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler which shows [PDF] that three-quarters of those filing bankruptcy due to medical costs had health insurance at the time they got sick or injured—she’s been equivocal on the one policy, single payer, that would eliminate private insurance’s role in health care and can’t even mention health care as a top-tier issue on her campaign site.

    “More than any other candidate”?

    Obviously, Bernie Sanders message is more “thoroughly integrated” with his biography—he has a forty-year record of fighting consistently for the same issues (although Joe Biden’s might be, too, in a negative way). It’s stunning, but perhaps not surprising, that Axelrod can make that claim with anything resembling a straight face.

    1. Carey

      More #anybodyBut Sanders stuff, as I see it. Trump would crush Warren
      in the General- as Axelrod surely knows.

      1. Jeff W

        “#anybodyBut Sanders”

        Exactly. It’s just so obvious people should be guffawing in Axelrod’s face.

        And, while I agree—Trump would crush Warren in the General—the real problem from my point of view—or maybe benefit from Axelrod’s point of view—is that at least some non-trivial amount of support that gets thrown to Warren is support that would otherwise go to Sanders, who could (and, probably, would) win against Trump. So the calculation isn’t really about Warren getting the nomination, it’s about making Sanders less likely to get it. Again, #anybodyButSanders.

  25. edmondo

    “I am proud and honored to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for the presidency of the United States.” pic.twitter.com/Y7uf8ebbhD

    — Mike Gravel (@MikeGravel) August 6, 2019

    Sanders/Gravel 2020.

    If one was superstitious, one could consider it auspicious that the “2020” adds up to a total of both their ages. Besides, putting Gravel on the ticket would make Bernie look younger in comparison.

    1. Hepativore

      As much as I like Gravel, I think his age would be a problem for a position such as vice president. There would be a non-trivial possibility that he would not be able to finish his term or end up dying in office. In that case, Nancy Pelosi would temporarily fill the role of vice president (Horror of horrors!) and you can guess how well she would get along with Bernie Sanders.

      As the icing on the cake Sanders would have to get congressional approval for his new vice presidential nomination while in office. We would probably see a repeat of the Merrick Garland debacle from congressional Republicans with Mitch McConnell smirking all the while.

  26. Carey

    ‘The Technological Revolution Devours its Children’:

    “..Technology without a superabundant resource it can tap into is as useful as a spoon if your bowl is empty. The logic is simple: spot the resource; if you can’t, it’s probably you..”


    1. GregG

      A bit tangential to this, but it’s a good example of a phenomenon I’ve been seeing. It’s probably “just” a result of the complexity around us, but it’s now almost impossible to find agreement or consensus on any issue; every issue splits and splits again so eventually you get one family member saying something like “I hate Elon Musk” [and also, always Bill Gates], and another saying “I love Elon Musk, but I hate everything about electric cars and rockets” and another saying, “it’s impossible to build safe transport to Mars, but we need to replace all energy sources with nuclear.”

      Which leads me back to Dmitri Orlov, who I have always appreciated, and then we get a couple of posts like Highly Unlikely Conspiracies and How to Fake a Mission where he appears certain that Skripal is totally fake and/but just as certain that the moon landings are as well.

      Maybe it’s a clever troll within a troll, or not. But sadly now, for me, even Orlov has become yet another split the in the elusive mind-share of what’s going on in our very complicated world. [sigh]

      1. Carey

        Many of us are still trying to make sense of it all, and I’m not
        at all sure that’s possible, now. The need for at least some
        trivial order seems, to me, to be a deep one.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          …and when i started yelling about an Ontological Crisis 20 years ago, the geese thought i was crazy….

          Chaos is Policy.

          1. ambrit

            Entropy being what it is, Chaos Policy could be as simple and deniable as Dick Nixon’s “Benign Neglect.”
            Oh, and what’s this, preaching to the birds? This reminds me of one of the older Christian saints.
            Father Sun, Sister Moon.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              geese are a sociological model for the Tea Party…or more broadly small-c conservatives in small towns.
              I’ve spent far too much time among geese.

        2. polecat

          It will probably take a plague, a major geological event, or un-noticed celestial bolide making planetary contact to shake some sense into the the teensy hominids that inhabit Gaia’s skin. So on a long enough timeline, a curveball will come our way to put things into perspective …if that’s any consolation …

      2. Plenue

        Oh, Jesus, he’s literally claiming Kubrick filmed the moon footage. Either he’s a troll or he’s an idiot. Either way, firmly in the ignore column.

  27. Michael Fiorillo

    That’s so mean of you to attack Obama over his doing (less than) nothing over the the Employee Choice Act!

    Don’t you remember everything he did to support the public employee uprising in Wisconsin, when their collective bargaining rights were being attacked?

    Oh, wait…

    1. ambrit

      Yes, he did say “You can keep your Union,” didn’t he. A dark pattern is emerging here.

  28. Jessica

    What is on the menu at “Inside the Tulsi Hive” [The Baffler]”?
    “Today’s special is guilt by association, topped off with a delicious sauce of pro-imperialist smears.”
    I was quite surprised to see this coming from the Baffler. It felt of one piece with what the author of the “DSA Convention on fascism. Thread:” writes about running into.
    Although in the case of the Baffler article on Tulsi, careerism may be more important than virtue signaling.

    1. Carey

      To your last sentence: as can be said about so many- almost all, in fact-
      of our left-like media outlets, which now satisfy themselves with idPol
      and various signallings.



  29. Tom Stone

    Gosh, if only Americans had paid attention to HRC’s inspiring message of “You’ll get 4 more years of the same and like it because it’s my turn” we wouldn’t have Trump disfiguring the White House and everything would be WONDERFUL.

  30. Wukchumni

    The movie Wild was quite the catalyst in getting young women into backpacking. I talked to 6 in their 20’s and asked them if it had been important, and they all beamed with smiles when asked. Awful film, although with a good ending-in that it inspired a new generation to explore on foot.

    Hollywood generally only does movies about the subject matter if there’s a murderer on the loose in the backcountry, or somebody has hurt themselves badly, or a Lear jet* laden with bundles of Benjamins has crashed nearby, resulting in a race to riches in a place where there’s absolutely nothing to spend it on. A sad state of plot development is a given.

    Our trip started & finished @ Red’s Meadow, which makes for a really handy resupply point for the JMT & PCT trails, along with restaurant, store, showers & more. It’s perfect for people watching, and they come and go, taking off the taped lid of a 5 gallon bucket they’d sent there a few weeks or months prior, with more tucker to keep on keeping on, joy joy.

    *more likely you’d come across something such as the odd sight of hundreds of evang music cassettes on the side of a mountain, as I did on Mt Goddard about 20 years ago, the Cessna which crashed and smashed into granite was overburdened with recorded faith as it turned out, no survivors.

    1. Carolinian

      Awful film

      Hear hear. The one thing it wasn’t about was backpacking. People should visit nature because it is beautiful, not to “find themselves.”

      1. polecat

        I used to go, in my backpacking days, to lose myself ‘in the moment’, of which there were many. Alas, I am no longer fit to carry out such treks. I think I miss most the granite in all it’s variety as well as the sparkling immensity of the night sky. Oh well.

        1. Carolinian

          Fair enough and of course one can go to nature for any reason one wants. I just thought the movie was a bait and switch that had little to do with its ostensible subject. “Inward journeys” are a film cliche and not that interesting unless first rate writing and acting is involved.

          1. Wukchumni

            I dislike the onus on doing stupendous long walks with Reese leading the way, as i’m content to stay out for as long as say 10 days, as much as I can carry food-wise. You should have fun when you’re out there, is my idea of a good time. I got rid of my liter of box wine in the first couple of days of our trip, nipping the Lagavulin to the finish.

            But possibilities are everywhere. My favorite backcountry campsite of all time, is just 4 miles walk from the trailhead.

            It’s nirvana-adjacent

        1. ambrit

          A lot of us are closet addicts who never had the gumption, or the resources, to do the rehab trip. As one old drunk I worked with put it; “If you don’t want to go get sober, no one can make you.” The first step towards rehabilitation must be taken within your mind.
          Stay clean and sweet!

  31. freedomny

    Saikat Chakrabarti resignation and the inquiry into Brand New Congress/Justice Dems finances is not a surprise. Being an ex-Banker, I could see the deliberate opacity just from Open Secrets and a quick google search on Saikat. And I also thought it odd that AOC hired both Saikat and Trent Corbin to be on her staff. I chalked it up to a lack of confidence on AOC’s part. Justice Democrats always framed their involvement with AOC’s win as “they” discovered her. They were a great support system, but as someone who volunteered for and met AOC –

    She was the one who won…..because of who she is and what she believes in.

  32. Implementor

    Fake violence in art: games, movies, tv, books, music, roleplaying games, doesn’t lead to being violent. I (and my friends) and my ‘generation’ of people I’ve interacted with have been immersed in fake-violence in many of our hobbies since age 5 (when i discovered zombie movies). None of us are even close to to violent. Before I get the ‘anecdotal’ card, just think of the millions of millions of people who have partook of such activities over the last five decades…there aren’t millions and millions of people ready to commit violence because saw it/acted it out in imaginative venues.

    Children being raised more in ‘leave it beaver’ and less ‘mad max’ grow up to be philistines and illiterates as they’re lives are filled with dumbed-down entertainment and information. Nothing wrong with an eight year old watching the Good The Bad and the Ugly or Apocalypse now, or the Guns of Naverone or Alien, or Game of Thrones for that matter.

    I absolutely loathe when overly conservative people with 19th century values drum this up. That people here would be on board with such is disheartening but not surprising given the victorian-values everyone seems to be indoctrinated in.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Parents came and got me outta school when i was 8.

      To go see Alien 3. Ill always love them for that special memory :)

    2. ambrit

      Well, how shall I approach this minefield of a comment?
      There is a layer of violence within all of us. It must be shaped through the education process. By education process I mean both formal education and the child rearing ‘values’ parents inculcate in their offspring.
      The outright adoption of a violence oriented method of interacting with others you meet and deal with every day is the extreme of this phenomenon. The ‘middle’ zone of this phenomenon is an apathy and callousness towards the sufferings of others.
      One of the primary positive values of the Victorians was the value given to the spiritual life. Underneath all the cant and hypocracy of the ‘official’ Christian faith lies a core of radical egalitarianism. “Treat thy neighbour as thyself” is a truly radical concept. Now, “Treat thy neighbour as a zombie,” harkens back to savagery.
      “Lord of the Flies 2: The Return of Mike Meyers” is not in my syllabus.

      1. Plenue

        “One of the primary positive values of the Victorians was the value given to the spiritual life. Underneath all the cant and hypocracy of the ‘official’ Christian faith lies a core of radical egalitarianism.”

        …which Victorians are we talking about again?

  33. Big River Bandido

    Thank you for the chart of billionaire contributors to each [cough] Democrat. I will be sure to share this.

    Ed Kilgore has managed to convince himself that the power of incumbency and its structural advantages has suddenly died or something. The “x” factor is not incumbency; that’s a baked-in advantage for Trump.

    The “x” factor is whether the Democrats will run the only authentic candidate they have against him.

  34. bruce

    I doubt that many people will scroll down this far to read this, but I didn’t want to cheat by piggybacking it onto anything.

    If I were Mayor Pete’s campaign manager, I would advise a bold rebranding. He gives a press conference, tells the world his name is now “Peter Butt” (pronounced “Boot”) because it’s more relatable than what he has now, and he hoists a banner “Butt Trump Out”. Shortly thereafter, the President holds a news conference where he half-jokingly says he’s changing his name to Donald Tru, and he puts on a cap “Keep America Tru”. Why yes, I’m the same guy who thought Barack Obama should have entered politics as “Rocky”, how did you know?

    I can, uh, trump the tricky arrow thing (we’re gonna need a new verb for that), with the gomboc (I don’t know how to do umlauts), the three-dimensional mono-monostatic object believed to be impossible until it was discovered in the early oughts by two Hungarian engineers who were inspired by a Russian mathematician they met at a conference. A two-dimensional M-MO is positively known to be impossible. The gomboc obeys three simple rules…

    Uniform density throughout, no weighted or hollow areas.

    It is entirely convex. A line segment from any point on the surface to any other point on the surface will reside entirely within the object.

    It has only one point of stable equilibrium and only one point of unstable equilibrium about its entire surface. This means it’s self-righting; no matter how you lay it down on a flat surface, it will shake, rattle and roll until it’s standing up on its point of stable equilibrium.

    The discovery story is also classic. Maybe Yves or Lambert or somebody will see how cool it is and put it up on top, but they would have to read through 205 comments to get here, and I didn’t read ANY of the comments.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      I read all 436 comments between the Links and WC.

      Politics is the Best Story on Earth, and guess what? It never ends :)

      I read all the comments every day except here and there. This site is without a doubt gonna be studied by future Internet Researchers for the wealth of knowledge and beliefs we all have. Every commenter is unique and as the days pass i learn a little bit more from each of yall like Age, Gender, Political Affiliation, Religious Beliefs, Job, Etc. You wouldnt be able to do this on any other Public Website on Earth – English language only is the only draw back.

      Right here and now we are a creating an Internet Public Commons. My hope is that other commenters around the World use the ideas espoused on here to take on the Global Elite and we get to form a new govt based on Solidarity and Saving the Planet. IOW the elimination of Otherism. The birth of collusion without the Rich obfuscating us into Oblivion. Let us all talk to each other and reset our societies.


      P.S. I dont really understand Geometry. Pete Butt should totally do that. And President Tru would ‘Own the Libs.’

    2. ambrit

      Poor dude! Some of us employ a shotgun approach to the comments section. Others of us employ ‘filters’ for desired content and or commenters. One of the best ways to learn new things is to read random comments on superior blogs. Since there is a finite and reasonably small number of even plain old decent blogs, this is a doable process.
      Now for the hard part; finding the decent blogs. If I ever figure that one out, I’ll get back to you.
      (I did read your comment and wondered if perhaps you have stumbled onto a formalized way to accommodate the essentially chameleon like nature of our political class. Perhaps multiple names for the different sets of voters.)

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