2:00PM Water Cooler 8/9/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


The Japanese-Korean trade war seems serious. Thread:


“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 7: Biden down to 31.0% (31.6), Sanders down to 15.8% (16.6%), Warren flat at 15.5% (15.6%), Buttigieg flat at 5.5% (5.4%), Harris down at 8.3% (9.4%), Beto separating himself from the bottom feeders, interestingly. Others Brownian motion.

* * *


Biden (D)(1): “Biden’s Newest Advisor Is a George W. Bush Appointee Who Supported the Iraq War” [GritPost]. “Nicholas Burns, who joined the Biden campaign as a foreign policy advisor this week, was an avid supporter of the Iraq War during his time in the George W. Bush administration. CNN reported Monday that Burns — who was the Under-Secretary of Political Affairs at the U.S. State Department during Bush 43’s administration — had joined Biden’s 2020 campaign for the presidency to drive the former vice president’s foreign policy agenda. Burns also served on the National Security Council in both the Bill Clinton and George H. Bush administrations, and is a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, according to his LinkedIn profile. According to The Intercept, Burns is a senior counselor at the Cohen Group, which the outlet describes as ‘a global lobbying and influence firm’ that ‘represents weapon-makers and other companies with interests in the U.S. and overseas.'” • So what’s the issue?

Biden (D)(2): “President Joe Biden? First, he’d need to answer for his record on drug prices” [Stat]. Full of horrid detail. Here’s a good one: “After leaving office, Biden claimed that he would seek a ‘more rational way of paying‘ for expensive treatments, whatever that means. By hiring a former Pfizer executive to run his charity, count me as skeptical that Biden is about to do anything that really challenges the pharmaceutical industry.”• “Hiring”? Looks more like a pay-off, to me.

Biden (D)(3): “Don’t Blame Black Voters for Supporting Joe Biden” [Medium]. “But it takes more than just being Obama’s first mate to secure the African American vote. It all comes down to beating Trump. If Warren, Sanders, or Harris show and prove that they can take on the president, they might siphon black voters from the Biden camp. For the well-meaning, far-left white progressive contingent looking to change the minds of African American voters who view Joe Biden as the only option, here’s a little advice: Prove that someone else can knock Trump on his ass. And that starts by not going after the record of the most popular Democrat alive today (Obama).”

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Buttigieg ramps up outreach to Democratic superdelegates” [Associated Press]. “Pete Buttigieg (BOO’-tuh-juhj) is ramping up his outreach to Democratic Party superdelegates with a phone call to them outlining the scope of his 2020 presidential campaign. The outreach suggests Buttigieg’s campaign is looking beyond the early primary states to the possibility of a convention fight for the nomination. Superdelegates, who include Democratic National Committee members, elected officials and other party dignitaries, have historically held an outsized influence over the nominating process.”

Gabbard (D)(1): “Tulsi Gabbard’s daredevil act” [Politico]. “Gabbard delivered a piercing, if inaccurate, appraisal of Kamala Harris’ law enforcement record — then turned it into a misleading, yet effective, online ad push.” • That’s all Politico says. I heard what Gabbard said, when she said it, and could have backed up every line of it with links. Gabbard was even nicer than she could have been, because she left out Mnuchin. I wish I could say this article was shocking, but it isn’t.

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders killed it on Joe Rogan” [Boing Boing]. “Bernie Sanders’ appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast was a gamble; the show has dabbled with some pretty reactionary politics in the past, but it has a vast audience (the Sanders episode has had nearly 5m views), and Rogan gave Sanders the space to expound both on policy specifics and wider “vision” questions, and Sanders nailed it…. The vast dark matter of the electorate is at the core of any political campaign, and that’s who Sanders is speaking to in this hour-long interview, and judging from the comments, he’s reaching them.” • Yep.

Trump (R)(1): “This Week Has Already Produced Three Bad Signs for Trump’s Reelection” [Bloomberg]. “The president needs to keep suburbanites, rural voters, and industrial states on his side for 2020, and the last few days have been bad for all of them…. The mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio—and Trump’s reluctance to push strong gun control measures—is likely to exacerbate collapsing Republican support among suburban voters… Trump owes much of his electoral victory to his strength in farm states. Many are already suffering from retaliatory tariffs imposed by China. On Monday, their plight worsened when the U.S. trade rival said it would suspend all imports of American agricultural products. Of all the groups in Trump’s coalition, falling support among farmers may be the least costly in electoral terms, since they hail from such deeply red areas.”

Warren (D)(1):

Opportunism knocks time after time.

TX: “Yes, the GOP Should Worry About Texas” [RealClearPolitics]. “Most importantly, one has to ignore the nature of political coalitions in the Age of Trump. Trump has generally improved GOP fortunes in rural American and in the towns, and in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, all of which has generally helped the Republican Party. But there is little doubt that the GOP has suffered substantial losses in the suburban areas that once formed the backbone of the party while doing little to advance its cause in the major cities. Once one realizes that these urban/suburban areas cast a supermajority of the vote in Texas, one realizes quickly that the rural and small-town areas can’t keep the Republican Party afloat in Texas forever. I wouldn’t bet the farm, or the cattle ranch if one prefers, on Texas turning blue this cycle. But the state is not safe for Republicans in 2020 either, and it will likely be very competitve.” • I do have the feeling that Texas suburbanites really like their guns, however.

El Paso and Dayton Shootings

This is a bad take (1):

Ferguson aside, one keeps reading law enforcement stories like this.

This is a bad take (2):

Holy gawd, I can hear the national security establishment and the intelligence community licking their chops from here!

This is bad take (3): “Who Should Fight the War on White Nationalism” [Bloomberg]. • Please name the “War on ____” efforts that have succeeded since, oh, 1980.

All these efforts read like they were pulled out of the drawer, not written for the occasion. Of course, there may be only bad takes to be had.


“Nadler presses ahead with impeachment probe as Pelosi keeps door open” [CNN]. “The House Judiciary Committee is now engaged in a full-blown investigation and legal fight with the goal of deciding whether to recommend articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump by the end of the year, according to Democratic officials involved in the effort…. ‘This is formal impeachment proceedings,’ Nader told CNN’s Erin Burnett Thursday on ‘OutFront.’ The committee’s argument that it’s effectively conducting an impeachment inquiry already comes after months of House Democrats slowly growing in numbers backing the formal opening of an impeachment inquiry…. But the committee is now arguing that the Democrats’ calls for an impeachment inquiry are unnecessary… Democrats argue that the forthcoming committee hearings will be clearly linked to their impeachment deliberation.” • So, who knows.

“Clinton’s advice for impeachment inquiry: Don’t pursue for ‘trivial partisan political purposes'” [CNN]. • [puts head in hands].

Realignment and Legitimacy

How Soviet:

“Insulin” [Eschaton]. “One reason I am very pessimistic about the possibilities for the current dominant democrats is that if they can’t even take on insulin… [T]his is the ultimate low hanging fruit and the “oh people want to talk about kitchen table issues” crowd can’t even fix this.” • Maybe Chuck and Nancy should hold a presser and promise to “fight for” it.

“Exclusive: Critical U.S. Election Systems Have Been Left Exposed Online Despite Official Denials” [Vice]. “The top voting machine company [Election Systems & Software] in the country insists that its election systems are never connected to the internet. But researchers found 35 of the systems have been connected to the internet for months and possibly years, including in some swing states.” • The only reason I can imagine, besides corruption, for election officials to buy these things is that they want the capability to fix elections, and that goes for both parties.

Stats Watch

Producer Price Index, July 2019 (Final Demand): “A swing higher in energy prices held up producer prices in July which otherwise were very soft” [Econoday]. “Personal consumption measures…are very soft. Overall, personal consumption prices managed only a 0.1 percent increase on the month.”

Banking: “Goldman Sachs, bank of the rich and powerful, is dipping into subprime lending with Apple Card” [CNBC]. “‘I was absolutely shocked I got it,’ said one early user with a FICO score of 620.” • Everything is fine.

Energy: “For Pipeline Builders, a Long Road to Understanding Rust” [Undark]. This is a really interesting article! The bottom line: “It’s easy to forget how newfangled our constructions are. The first successful pipeline was built in 1862. Corrosion theory wasn’t laid out until 1938. Smart pigs, dreamed up in the 1950s, weren’t especially useful until the 1990s. Though our history is rife with technological hiccups, we expect infrastructure to last, and forget what Stuart Eynon and Alyeska know well: the best maintenance starts with surveillance.” • Sounds like we don’t understand soil, either.

Transportation: “Public Transit Projects Cheaper Than Uber’s $5.2 Billion Q2 Losses, Ranked” [Jalopnik]. “Uber announced a $5.2 billion loss last quarter, bringing the company’s total losses to $16.2 billion since 2016. In completely, totally unrelated news, here are some public transportation projects currently under construction in the United States that cost less than $5.2 billion individually…. Combined, these seven major public transportation projects are projected to cost $16.89 billion, or about four percent more than Uber’s cumulative losses since 2016.” • So much capital sloshing about, so little good sense about where to invest it. (Unless you want to increase traffic and hurt public transportation, which Uber’s funders are doing.)

Tech: “Tech Companies Want Out of the Censorship Business” [Bloomberg]. “Decentralized platforms represent the resilient communications system that the internet was intended to be. As a result, obnoxious opinions don’t simply disappear when they’re removed from mainstream service providers. As undesirables are removed from social networks, they find like-minded individuals in darker corners of the web. Gab.com is often described as a “safe haven” for right-wing extremists, even though its founder emphasizes that the site welcomes dissidents of all stripes. The people who seek refuge in Gab tend to be those who have been banned from Twitter, and it just so happens that a lot of them represent the far right. Similarly, 8chan gained traction as a haven for those who had been censored on 4chan, which had previously served as a refuge for those who had been banned by SomethingAwful, a rather dark site to begin with. Facebook moderators have told of the mental distress suffered after viewing relentlessly awful content. This must be what it’s like to be an 8chan user. If society wants to reform radical extremists, it’s probably not a good idea to force them into a cesspool with other radical extremists.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 27 Fear (previous close: 25, Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 36 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 9 at 12:38pm. • Restored at reader request. Note that the index is not always updated daily, sadly.

The Biosphere

“Interactive: How climate change could threaten the world’s traditional dishes” [Carbon Brief]. “From the US hamburger to South Korea’s kimchi, Carbon Brief explores how some of the world’s most iconic traditional dishes could fare as the world warms…. Canada’s most well-known dish is poutine – a combination of french fries, cheese curds and gravy…. The country currently sources the majority of its potatoes domestically…. Canada’s potato crops face threats from extreme weather…. Another key ingredient of poutine is cheese curds, which are made from curdled milk. Canada’s milk industry is concentrated in Quebec and Ontario which, together, are home to 82% of the country’s dairy farms. A study published in 2015 found that dairy cows in Southern Ontario are increasingly dying as a result of heat stress. Poutine’s final key ingredient – gravy – can be made from various meats, but chicken is often used. A government report found that poultry farming in Quebec is “particularly sensitive” to heat stress.”

“Gone” [California Sunday]. “In the mid-1970s, Jane Dolan, who was raised in Chico and became the student-body president at the local state college, decided nothing would change until the makeup of the Butte County Board of Supervisors was changed. She had watched Paradise go from a rustic outpost, where her father took the family every Father’s Day for a spaghetti dinner at Tony’s, to a full-blown city with no governance. The four men and one woman who sat on the board acted as little more than minions for a handful of developers, builders, and realtors. None was more compliant than Supervisor Bob Lemke, a big, bearded man who represented Paradise and could be found inebriated and slapping backs at the annual Gold Nugget Days celebration. ‘The reason Paradise had no infrastructure is Lemke and the rest of the board wouldn’t consider charging the developer fees to pay for any,’ Dolan said. ‘As crazy as it sounds, there was no zoning on the ridge. They had these categories, A-1, A-2, A-3, but they meant nothing. We called it zoning by septic tank.'” • A good long read.

“Sometimes the road to discovery starts with a walk in a local marsh” [Stanford Engineering] (original). “Without touching and without electrical or chemical signals, individual Spirostomum can coordinate their ultrafast contractions so closely that groups of them appear to shrink simultaneously — a reaction to predators that makes them release paralyzing toxins in sync.” •.I know I get a little “Wonders of Nature”-y in this section, but the story of this discovery, and the discovery, are both wonderful.

Our Famously Free Press

Too bad, I liked Pacific Standard:

Turns out capricious squillionaire funding wasn’t the best model.

Too bad, I liked Governing:

Two casualties on the same day!

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Mysterious Deaths Leave Ferguson Activists ‘On Pins and Needles'” [Rolling Stones]. Re-upping from March: “Since the 2014 shooting, about six people connected to the protests following Brown’s death have died — some in violent, mysterious ways, the Associated Press reports. While police say there is no evidence that foul play was involved in the men’s deaths, those within the community report feeling as if they are “on pins and needles,” Rev. Darryl Grey said. The prominent African American leader added that he has received anonymous threats, and that he recently found an unmarked box containing a 6-foot python in his car.” • Nice.

Class Warfare

“Low-Wage Legacies, Race, and the Golden Chicken in Mississippi: Where Contemporary Immigration Meets African American Labor History” [Southern Spaces]. From 2013, a story about the ICE raids the other day in Scott County, MS: “In Scott County’s seat of Forest, population six thousand, there are five large-scale poultry processing plants dominating local industry. Local high school football teams compete for the “Golden Chicken” trophy.4 Typical for poultry-producing areas, many of Scott County’s residents struggle to make ends meet, and nearly half of Forest’s households earn less than $25,000 per year. Just under 50 percent of Forest’s population is African American, approximately 30 percent is white, and almost 25 percent self-identifies as “Hispanic.”5 Scott County, then, differs from some areas of the US South that have attracted large numbers of Latin American immigrants in the past twenty years. Here, these new arrivals have joined workplaces and communities where the largest demographic group is African American rather than white.” • Hmm.

News of the Wired

“The Harvard Professor Scam Gets Even Weirder Six other men describe their encounters with the same mysterious Frenchwoman.” [The Cut]. • I don’t even know where to file this. Cambridge has changed since my day.

“AI felt like the next frontier” [It’s Nice That]. Composer Holly Herndon: “I think we should avoid training AI on existing canon. So far, instead of making new training sets, and instead of trying to take AI to a new place, a lot of work has been focussed on “let’s train it on Bach and then have new pieces of Bach forever.” I feel like that can really get us into like an aesthetic and creative cul-de-sac of rehashing and recycling ourselves. Culturally, we struggle with that anyway, a kind of retromania and nostalgia. Of course, we’re always building on a shared language, we’re never entirely starting from scratch, but I think it’s important that it continues to build and that we don’t get stuck in a loop.” • Herndon’s AI, an ensemble member, is named “Spawn.”

“The Fundamental Link Between Body Weight and the Immune System” [The Atlantic]. “Just as antibiotics are associated with faster growth in cattle, a decrease in diversity in the human microbiome is associated with obesity. As the usage of animal antibiotics exploded in the 20th century, so too did usage in humans. The rise coincides with the obesity epidemic. This could be a spurious correlation, of course—lots of things have been on the rise since the ’50s. But dismissing it entirely would require ignoring a growing body of evidence that our metabolic health is inseparable from the health of our gut microbes…. Because leanness and obesity seem to be transmissible through the microbiome, ‘metabolic disease turns out to be, in some ways, like an infectious disease,’ says Lora Hooper, the chair of the immunology department at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center… Seeing obesity as a manifestation of the interplay between many systems—genetic, microbial, environmental—invites the understanding that human physiology has changed along with our relationship to the species in and around us.” • So there’s hope! A lot of good research.

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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. Briny

    Facebook faces class-action sueball over facial recognition pic-tagging tech to tune of $35bn – The Register

    9th Circuit Court

  2. Reality Bites

    The first article about Biden hiring Nicholas Burns annoys me. Burns was a career foreign service officer and Undersecretary for Political Affairs is traditionally a role reserved for highly distinguished career diplomats. The current Undersecretary, David Hale, is likewise a career diplomat. While it is technically true that they were appointed by the president, articles like this unnecessarily conflate career senior officials with their political bosses. The civil and foreign services are there to serve all administrations and that shouldn’t be politicized.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The civil and foreign services are there to serve all administrations and that shouldn’t be politicized.

      I think it’s a little late for that. Anyhow, the dude services arms dealers. That’s not political?

      1. Reality Bites

        So every employee of the government that doesn’t support Trump should resign? The whole reason for the institution of the civil service was to get rid of the old spoils system before that.

        It’s not too late at all. The overwhelming majority of government employees are not politicized and much of the work they do has not changed from administration to administration. Lumping all of them in with the political leadership is ridiculous and assumes they have way more power than they do.

        Burn’s post career pursuits are one thing and I’m not much on them. But NC is here for commentary that is not just the usual throw away articles that lack any nuance. This article fails on that regard.

        1. Pat

          I cannot speak for all of NC, but I get that the civil servants sometimes have to advance and support policy they do not agree with. That said if you are a top advisor and there is no record of you making the case that this policy is NOT in the country’s best interests you don’t get a complete pass. But more telling that he wasn’t pushing to stop the insanity is the people eager to hire him post civil service.That is what makes him less than acceptable.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          `> So every employee of the government that doesn’t support Trump should resign?

          I don’t recall making that argument. It’s just that if Biden (a) doesn’t want to kick the anti-endless war faction in the ribs and (b) wants to show some repentance for enabling the Iraq War, Burns might not be the best choice.

          > Burn’s post career pursuits are one thing

          The dude waltzed through the revolving door and went to work servicing arms dealers. If that nuance isn’t a problem for you, I really don’t know how to help.

          * * *

          It is true that The Blob, besides losing every conventional war its fought for twenty years, and sucking down extraordinary amounts of money with very little to show for it other than more talking heads on TV, has made it very difficult to find foreign policy/national security experts who are not corrupt, intellectually as well as financially. Trump, in his own way, has faced a sort of intellectual capital strike from the subset of the 10% that is The Blob, and a Sanders or Gabbard administration would face exactly the same issue, but more intensely. But surely there was somebody out there for Biden better than Burns.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Right…because 43 was known for being an apolitical actor…

      The Biden advisory position is inherently a political role. Someone who found Shrub’s approval is well someone who was approved of by Shrub.

    3. nippersmom

      Nothing you’ve said counters his avid support for the Iraq war. He also directly profits from the MIC. Not what I’m looking for in my candidate’s foreign policy advisor. Career foreign service officers are not immune to having abhorrent political ideologies, however much you might like to pretend they are above such things.

    4. VietnamVet

      The thesis that Plutocracy was restored by the Ronald Reagan/Margaret Thatcher counter revolt is wrong. It started earlier. The establishment of the Senior Executive System that placed Political Appointees in charge of the Civil Service went into effect under President Jimmy Carter in 1978. Corporate control of the federal government is supported by both political parties. They work together to create the Blob that rules the American Empire. The problem is that greed has superseded the public good. Boeing Corporation is the perfect example of the private/public synergy that transfers wealth to shareholders at the cost of human life. Government is incompetent and has ceased to function. A new revolt is underway between nationalist and globalist oligarchs over control of the spoils. A splintering apart of the West into warring tribes is inevitable unless Democracy and the rule of law are restored.

  3. dearieme

    Nicholas Burns, who joined the Biden campaign … was an avid supporter of the Iraq War

    I was a keen opponent of the Iraqattaq. I’ve never seen a satisfactory explanation for why something so conspicuously stupid and reckless was supported by so many Americans.

    And the bugger is a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Silly Walks; just another reason to oppose Hands-on Joe.

    1. Monty

      A simple case of mass hysteria post 9/11. Remember the scenes when lady di died? Like that ,but 1000000x worse.

  4. Samuel Conner

    Re: “I don’t even know where to file this. Cambridge has changed since my day.”

    “Taxonomy and classification” is a difficult thing. Perhaps a new category: “Honeypots”

    You could file “l’affaire Epstein” items under that, too, until/unless the ‘entrapment/blackmail’ theory is replaced with something more persuasive.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Perhaps a new category: “Honeypots”

      The Harvard story, weird though it is, seems like a “lone wolf” episode. My understanding is that honey pots are placed by institutional actors.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Not “Honeypots” – “The Con Game” – it’s become a new normal.

      I blame the 1990s and all those loose morals, doc.

  5. Mike

    Re: “Mysterious Deaths Leave Ferguson Activists ‘On Pins and Needles’” [Rolling Stones]

    Reminds me of the mysterious deaths of important witnesses and potential testifiers after both JFK’s assassination and the Congressional inquiry (was it ’76?) — or the Seth Rich case.

    Or… take your pick from LBJ’s rise in Texas. We do like to murder… er… allow to die under mysterious circumstances.

  6. Quentin

    Will the real Elizabeth Warren ever stand up? Very often she’s not who she purports to be, who she says she is (Cherokee?). This is epitomised by the contrast between her applauding the man who she calls a ‘white supremacist’ (oh really, may she one day meet a real one) and Bernie Sanders’s patient refusal to grovel. Nevertheless she’d do fine as his vice-president.

    1. WJ

      “Nevertheless she’d do fine as his vice-president.”

      I disagree. It would prove too strong a temptation for her political ambition, which tends to exacerbate her incrementalism. She needs to be placed in some high-level bureaucratic financial regulatory role where she bury herself in the weeds of justice. That’s where she shines. I mean this sincerely.

    2. Tom Doak

      I have started to hope that Sanders and Warren have agreed to serve as each other’s running mate, and whichever of them gets fewer delegates in the primaries will endorse and join forces with the other, to try and avoid a brokered convention. I think they both know who they are really up against, and they have refrained from attacking one another at all, even where their positions are different.

      I believe Sanders would be agreement-capable on this, but I’m not as sure about Warren, if the DNC/DCCC establishment threatens her over partnering with Bernie.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Been thinking along these lines too: it’s our best hope against the corporatists/Trump

      2. ambrit

        I am wondering if she is not already co-opted. Is there a Meritocrat wing of the Democrat Party?

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        If that agreement could be extended to include Gabbard as well, then the Decent Democrat with the most delegates going in of any individual Decent Democrat might have an even better chance of being put just over the line.

        They could all agree that the DD coming with the first-most delegates would be the PresNom under this type of 3-way agreement, and whichever DD brought the second most delegates would be chosen as the PresNom’s running mate if the First-Most-Delegate-Rich DD got nominated.

  7. Big River Bandido

    Lambert, the Pacific Standard Twitter post got duplicated in the space where (I assume) the Pacific Standard announcement was to have been…?

    Also, the link to the Ferguson article reads “Rolling Stones”…you were thinking the band. If it had been me I’d have inadvertently typed it “Rolling Stoned”.

  8. Sick Canuck

    “The Fundamental Link Between Body Weight and the Immune System”
    I had a long post a few weeks ago about new findings about cell wall deficient bacteria.


    Basically these bacteria survive indefinitely inside of cells by suppressing the immune system by blocking or destroying the nuclear vitamin D receptor. Its hypothesized that they have likely evolved ways to interfere with other receptors (eg insulin) to modify the host cell to be more habitable for them.

  9. Cal2

    “But there is little doubt that the GOP has suffered substantial losses in the suburban areas that once formed the backbone of the party…”

    A new California state law allows third parties to pick up ballots and drop them off at polling locations on behalf of someone, a practice known as “ballot harvesting.”
    What a shame if some only make it to the garbage can, based on statements, lawn signs, color of skin or other triggers.

    In Orange County, an estimated 250,000 harvested ballots were reportedly dropped off on Election Day alone. County Republican Chairman Fred Whitaker claimed the 2016 law “directly caused the switch from being ahead on election night to losing two weeks later.”

    “Ballot harvesting” by Democratic Party operatives — a surprise tactic they likely saved for the general election — appears to have made the difference. The San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday that Democrats ran a disciplined, door-to-door campaign: “We beat Republicans on the ground, fair and square,” said Katie Merrill, a Democratic consultant deeply involved in November campaigns. “Many of the field plans included (ballot harvesting) as an option to deliver voters or their ballots” to the polls.”

    This is how homeless service non-profits in San Francisco keep getting taxpayer funds from candidates who promise more money. Recently arrived “Homeless”, to and including illegal aliens, who are allowed to vote in local elections, are urged to register to vote using the non-profit’s P.O.box. Their mail-in ballots are then “processed” and are hand delivered to the registrar of voters.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > A new California state law allows third parties to pick up ballots and drop them off at polling locations on behalf of someone, a practice known as “ballot harvesting.”

      Parties shouldn’t touch ballots at all. This is shocking and disgusting. Everything is like CalPERS.

      1. Quentin

        ‘Shocking and disgusting’ is putting it mildly! Potentially (?) corrupt and authoritarian might be more to the point. ‘As California goes so goes…’.

        According to the Intercept Mayo Pete has begun to groom Democratic super delegates in the event of a second round of voting at the convention next year. South Bend Indiana has a population of 102,000. Maybe he should first try to get reelected as mayor of his burg.

      2. Cal2

        How about automatic voter registrations at the DMV?

        “SACRAMENTO — The state Department of Motor Vehicles admitted Monday that it may have incorrectly registered 1,500 people to vote, including some who were not citizens of the United States.”
        “It was the latest embarrassment for the DMV, which said last month that it had included errors in voter registration data for 23,000 people.”
        “The DMV notified Secretary of State Alex Padilla of the possible errors in a letter Monday, saying that any mistaken registrations were ‘through no fault of the customer’…Padilla responded that he is “deeply frustrated and disappointed” by persistent errors that “undermined public confidence in your basic responsibility to collect and transmit accurate voter registration information.”

        Ha! The same Hillary Clinton political activist while secretary of state
        Alex Padilla that disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of potential Bernie voters all over the state in the 2016 primary.

        For an exposé of that see “Uncounted” on Youtube.

          1. John

            You live here. You have a job, or jobs,You pay your taxes. You have a drivers license. Your kids go to school. Should you not have the right to vote? Yes; you fudged on how you arrived in the good old USA, but does this make you less interested and concerned in who gets elected?

            With all of the shenanigans with voting machines and internet connections, mail in ballots, a tsunami of absentees, and whatever else I have left out, this election is going to be one of our most “interesting” and I do not mean that in the benign fun sense of the word. I fear we are in for real trouble especially if the result is at all close.

            1. Fiery Hunt

              Laws don’t matter, eh? As long as the votes go my way, right?

              Cheaters, liars and thieves. ..don’t respect them ever.

        1. richard

          1500 people including some dreaded non-citizens improperly registered? The horror! Not really the same thing as 100,000s of disenfranchised voters, is it?
          DMV automatic registration I’d always thought a good thing. The opposite of suppressing the vote. I’ll take a few “illegal” voters in with that mix no problem.

          1. hunkerdown

            I imagine it’s a lot easier to provide a database of citizens and felons to 50-odd centralized secretaries of state, and to verify that a person isn’t registered in multiple jurisdictions, than to demand the same performance and efficiency as thousands of county clerks.

            One would think that the efficiencies and strengths of nationwide motor-voter registration would appeal to the conservative concerned about people voting in excess of their right in the franchise. Oddly, or not, there seems to be little enthusiasm in either major party for that, Lambert’s ballots made and counted by hand, or any other clean-election regulations. I suspect it has to do with both parties running sham elections, jointly and severally, as needs must, and believing it is their private right to do so.

  10. Tim

    You missed Biden’s Freudian slip saying poor kids are every bit as talented as white kids or something like that. He confused his true understanding of class with bs idpol. His backers must be reeling in horror.

    1. Summer

      “His backers must be reeling in horror.”

      They don’t see a problem with any of it until it’s called out.
      They have no better connection to people or understanding than Biden.
      There’s “no there there” from top to bottom.

    2. Cal2

      Digging his political grave with his mouth:

      “We should challenge students in these schools that have advanced placement programs in these schools,” Biden said. “We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor, you cannot do it. Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”

      Biden said in 2008 that Obama was “the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and nice-looking guy.”

      Biden referred to Theresa May as “Margaret Thatcher” tonight, the second time he’s done that since May. Daniel Dale (@ddale8) August 9, 2019

      Bernie or Trump, it’s your choice Democrats.

      1. grayslady

        Just to round out his gaffes in Iowa this week, he referred to the shootings in El Paso. TX and Dayton, OH as the tragedies in “Houston and Michigan”; he closed out his speech at the Iowa State Fair by saying “We believe in truth, not facts”; and when asked by an audience member for the name of a US politician Biden most admired, but who was never President, Biden named Thomas Jefferson.

        Only the right leaning press is reporting these faux pas, by the way. You won’t see them in the NYT, WaPo, or any other eastern propaganda outlet.

      2. dearieme

        Biden said in 2008 that Obama was “the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and nice-looking guy.”

        Was he far wrong?

        1. a different chris


          And I can’t believe I am dignifying this (family blog) with an answer but you know, even as a little white suburban kid I remember Harry Belafonte, Nat King Cole, and MLK when he wasn’t mad. Muhammad Ali even when he was mad. That’s a pretty long time ago.

          And yeah those aren’t PhDs and CEO’s but that’s what managed, due to again the class of those individuals, to seep into suburban whitehood.

          1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

            Danny Glover, Dave Chapelle, Forest Whitaker, Denzel Washington, et al for me.

            Not to mention Charles Brooks in 1st grade at JC Ellis public school…

            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              I love me some Dave Chappelle but I don’t think he’s quite right for this list of “clean cut” Black dudes ;-)

              1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

                Ohhhh. Gotcha. I was thinking about the impression he made on me in Half Baked. I laughed so dam hard during that movie!!

    3. Phacops

      Well, sadly in the US people rarely interact with those who are of a different socioeconomic class. Biden’s blinkered thinking does not surprise me. More telling is his inability or unwillingness to understand his shortcomings, but perhaps that is common to the politically ambitious. My distrust of such people runs deep.

    1. shtove

      Hehe! Actually, I found the Joe interview with Bernie a soothing exercise in civilisation.

    2. David Carl Grimes

      Tulsi has appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast twice. The first appearance garnered 1.5 million views (10 months ago). The second appearance garnered 2.2 million views (2 months ago). Joe Rogan has more reach than MSNBC. Joe has 6 million subscribers. MSNBC has 1.8 million.

  11. dcrane

    Re: Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders killed it on Joe Rogan” [Boing Boing].

    This comment from the link also stands out for me:

    I would still like to see more wonkiness from Sanders, a little more of Elizabeth Warren’s detailed policy proposals, but that said, I was seriously impressed by this interview.

    I watched the entire interview and enjoyed it, and I strongly support Sanders, but I had the same reaction. Over and over Rogan asked Bernie reasonable questions along the lines of “Let’s say you’re elected, now what do you do to begin getting us to X point”. And over and over Bernie shifted to talking general principles, his overarching message. He does this well, but eventually the policy has to get more specific.

    It’s understandable if Sanders doesn’t want to get pinned down too much too early, but there is a balance to achieve on this, and he’s too far over on one end. Warren may be too far the other way.

    Honestly, I wasn’t even looking for specifics, because so much of what Sanders would like to achieve will require Congress, so I expect that a first Sanders administration would function as much as a bully pulpit for a crusade to take over Congress, as anything else. Bernie could emphasize his potential role as a presidential voice driving this change, but he didn’t.

    1. jrs

      Candidates need to have a plan for what they will do even without Congress (or we wait 1 1/2 years to elect a Prez, only to wait another 2 to flip congress). Not as much as can be done with congress of course, but Trump does plenty without congress, all bad.

      1. Summer

        Yeah, but on the other hand, he’s more of the viewpoint that Republicans are not “good faith” partners that are going to work with you on their plans.
        Say he mentions some procedure that he could use…only for the Republicans and Republicam lites to pass a rule to head it off now. Not the kind of people one would want to telegraph their intentions too, but yes it does leave him in a communication hole with his supporters.

    2. Grant

      Well, first off, Bernie has to have plans that he cannot articulate in public. The rich and powerful will do all they can to undermine him while in office. He will likely be attacked just as the Mitterrand government was attacked, and he will have to have plans in place as to how to respond. I wouldn’t recommend letting others know what the response will be, but he has to have plans in place. Beyond that though, there are plenty of specifics in regards to his plans, but a good portion of structural changes isn’t about being wonky. It isn’t like the Civil Rights movement said, hey, let’s ditch the boycotts and throwing our bodies to Bull Connors dogs and lets hire some Ivy League educated wonks to create amazing policies. After we have done that, we will have a beer with Bull Connor and the racist power structure in the South and will reach common sense solutions. The labor movement didn’t say, hey, let’s stop the organizing, the sit down strikes, general strikes, boycotts and the like. No, social movements are needed and if any structural changes happen, people will have to get off the couch and will need to get active. You cannot get more detail than is in his single payer plan. His plan for student loan cancellation is not only detailed, but one of his long-standing economic advisers (Kelton) co-authored a detailed study on the various mechanisms of student loan cancellation, along with the potential macroeconomic impacts. There is a lot of facts and ideas on particular issues, and journalists and policy wonks have more than enough information to study those plans and to ask informed questions. Expecting him to do a deep dive into policy specifics on Rogan’s podcast though is a bit much. You have to read your audience, and I think his attention to detail was appropriate for the context. I think Bernie is far and away better than Warren on understanding how structural changes have historically come about, and he seems more aware of the ways in which sticking to capitalism effectively dooms our capacity to deal with a wide range of issues. Besides, I think some of Warren’s plans are way too wonky. Her student loan cancellation plan is insanely complex, and would be easy to undermine as a result. I don’t think her delving into her plan with tons of detail would be much of an advantage. Bernie’s is simpler and is universal, and its simplicity is an advantage. The hard part are the means of realizing these plans, and that is what Bernie has focused on, for good reason. Fact of the matter is that a good portion of the changes we need are simply scaring those with power. Change or far more radical changes will be coming. You do that, you get those in power to fear losing their power and fear far more structural changes, and lots of things we all want become much more likely. Nothing gets done when great plans have no social movements pushing for them and all opposed to them in power. I also think that a very small percentage of the public will pay any attention to the plans. In fact, I see no evidence at all that the TV personalities on networks like CNN or MSNBC have any use for nuanced policy specifics. If they did, or if they used those things to have information discussions, the policy discussions and debates wouldn’t be stuck in stone and they would do a much better job of educating their viewers.

      1. dcrane

        I’m with pretty much everything you say, including the parts about Warren’s policy approaches. Sanders’ concepts seem more along the lines of grabbing Wall Street and the ultra-rich by the short and curlies. Commenter Summer above also points to the problem of telegraphing plans to the opposition. But where Sanders has already laid out detailed policy proposals, he should be able to bullet-point those to some extent in a longform interview like Rogan’s.

        The interview was a great move by Bernie (and kudos to Rogan’s show). I just think he can do it even a bit better.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Thanks for this comment. “Grant” for U.S. Grant?

        Adding, when Obama was asked for policy detail in 2008, the answer his evangelists were trained to give was “check the website.” Perhaps the Sanders campaign could evolve something similar (with an admixture of good faith, of course).

    3. WJ

      “Bernie could emphasize his potential role as a presidential voice driving this change, but he didn’t.”

      I agree with you that it would help Sanders to occasionally become more policy-specific about the implementation of his vision, but I think the above is unfair. I recall Sanders stating that he would personally travel to Kentucky and publicly denounce Mitch McConnell to his constituents should the latter obstruct Sanders’ presidential political mandate. That strikes me as the kind of thing that would be very effective, and that members of Congress are dreadfully frightened of…

      1. dcrane

        Agreed….I must have missed that line. Listened to the interview in stages while doing several other things.

      2. Big River Bandido

        And in that interview, Sanders preceded the statement with “when I am President” or very similar language.

      1. dcrane

        Rogan did ask repeatedly. Maybe I’m just tuned into this too sensitively but one or two commenters to the Youtube thread seem to have noticed as well.

        (Totally an aside, but since I brought up the Youtube comments I have to mention how refreshing it is to read such a long series of positive comments on Youtube, especially on a political topic.)

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          The Slavoj Zizek-Jordan Peterson Non Aggression Pact of 2018 :)

          If theres one thing we can all agree on, its DESTROY ALL LIBERALS!!!

    4. flora

      I watched the entire interview, too. It was great!
      I did get the impression that Bernie was focus on presenting ‘the big picture’ of his ideas – on a public show that gave him enough room to really expand on his thinking. He kept coming back to ‘the big picture’; how his ideas that he has refined over years of experience in government are a response to the current economic inequity and social despair, and how the ideas work together at a deeper level to right so many wrongs.

      That doesn’t leave a lot of room for nitty-gritty detail. I think it’s important to get people on board with the big ideas first. It was clear to me that he’s thought so long and so carefully about these things that I expect he also has a lot of the details worked out. Just having him say, ‘Look, it doesn’t have to be like this. We can do better. And here’s how we can do better.’ No spin doctor’s 45 second poll-tested soundbites in that interview. I might not agree with everything Bernie says, but I never think he’s lying or trying to fool me. My 2 cents.

      1. scoff

        I didn’t read all 125,000 comments on the interview, but I did read a lot of them. Your 2 cents was repeated in various forms by quite a few of the commenters. What heartened me was the number (many of whom professed to be conservative or Republican) who said Bernie had won them over with his “big picture” vision. Many of those said they had previously believed in the MSM’s presentation of Bernie as a “crazy uncle” type of character.

        That kind of awakening and the growing awareness of how the MSM distorts can only be a good thing.

    5. ChiGal in Carolina

      I keep saying, his goal is not to be President but to move the Overton window. He speaks like an Old Testament prophet because like Gandhi and Mandela and MLK Jr he is making what is fundamentally a moral argument, not a political one.

  12. noonespecial

    Sears Corp. – The hits just keep on rollin’

    Bloomberg informs that lawyers for Eddie Lampert and Steven Mnuchin “have asked the federal judge overseeing the retailer’s Chapter 11 case to lift the bankruptcy stay so Sears insurance policies can pay their legal fees, according to a new court filing… The estate doesn’t object to lifting the stay for the insurance payments, according to the filing.”

    (Bloomberg’s piece continues with this this pickle-juice item): “Sears estate filed a lawsuit in April that accused Lampert of wrongly transferring company assets beyond the reach of creditors in the years leading up to the retailer’s bankruptcy, and alleged that company directors like Mnuchin let him do it.”

    Hope that retainer pays out. /s/

    Maybe someone can disabuse me from thinking Lampert’s and Mnuchin’s petition seems a bit off in light of the notice from Sears in March 2019 to its retirees indicating that:
    “Sears has ended life insurance benefits for eligible retirees…It’s unclear how many Sears’ retirees will lose coverage, but the company paid about $16.6 million in premiums for eligible retirees for the year that ended Dec. 31, 2017…Retirees can convert all or part of their group life insurance policies to individual whole life policies and pay the premiums (my emphasis). The federal pension agency moved to take over Sears’ plans, which cover about 90,000 people.”

  13. XXYY

    All these efforts read like they were pulled out of the drawer, not written for the occasion. Of course, there may be only bad takes to be had.

    I have the same impression of the comments and proposals after every single mass shooting in the US. Beyond Thoughts and Prayers(tm), we get Closing the Gun Show Loophole(tm), Banning Assault Weapons(tm), and Increasing Mental Health Funding(tm).

    The repetition, the unoriginality, the low likelihood these will do much, plus the utter lack of any of these things ever happening after all the previous shootings, makes comparisons to Groundhog Day inevitable.

    As much as anything, this issue shows the incompetence and corruption of the current societal managers.

  14. cuibono

    Sanders and Warren Bad Takes?

    THis might be a bit too tin foil but just as 9/11 was forecast as being needed so too were these shootings forecast :

    “I think it is prudent to anticipate that a major incident may well occur at any time that will galvanize public opinion on these issues.

    As this debate has dragged on, and deployment of warrant-proof encryption has accelerated, our ability to protect the public from criminal threats is rapidly deteriorating. The status quo is exceptionally dangerous, unacceptable, and only getting worse.”
    Bill Barr

    1. Cal2

      “that will galvanize public opinion on these issues”

      You mean like a pre-written, pulled off the self, then rammed through congress newer version of the Patriot Act to censor the internet?

      Criticizing minorities=”hate speech”
      Criticizing sexual minorities=”hate speech”

      Criticizing bankers = “hate speech”
      Criticizing Wall Street =”hate speech”

      Criticizing the elite=”hate speech”
      Criticizing corporations=”hate speech”

      Criticizing Israel=”hate speech”
      Criticizing Saudi Arabia=”hate speech”

      Quoting the Constitution=”hate speech”
      Criticizing censorship =”hate speech”

      I see where you are going. “It’s for the children” ;-)

    2. ewmayer

      Any comparison of a singular major terrorist plot long in the planning like 9/11 and merely the latest of our near-daily mass-shooting incidents is risible.

      And with you Bill Barr quote are you trying to claim that modern e-comms encryption is at fault for either 9/11 or the mass shootings? What point are you trying to make?

      1. cuibono

        Pretty Clearly Bill Barr is trying to claim that…not me. Clearly I think that this will be used to further erode all of our civil liberties

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        Listen to the On the Media episode about White Power. Turns out there is a coherent ideology and the history of this movement dates from after the Viet Nam war.

        Attacks on Jews, Muslims, and Blacks are symptomatic of a unified movement that also includes home schooling and opposes abortion as fewer “white” babies will be born.

        And there are no “lone wolf” killers out there: they may not all be organized in cells but they share and disseminate a very particular ideology from which their actions flow.

        To treat these as random unrelated events is to underestimate what we’re up against. And it’s way bigger than Trump: he neither knows nor cares about their history, he is primarily the Opportunist in Chief.

  15. pjay

    “Don’t Blame Black Voters for Supporting Joe Biden” – Medium (Keith Murphy)

    Summation: Biden was Obama’s bud. You bad-mouth Biden, you are bad-mouthing Obama. And we *love* Obama. Also, Biden’s our only hope for escaping a return to “Birth of a Nation-like America” under Trump (Bernie wasn’t mentioned in the article).

    I can’t even begin to express my disgust at this piece. And I mean that; if I did I would probably be accused of “whitesplaining” why my many criticism of Biden/Obama aren’t racist. Hopefully the folks at Black Agenda Report will see this miserable essay and respond accordingly.

    1. pjay

      Correction: Murphy did mention Sanders once (in a “Warren, Sanders, or Harris” list), but said nothing about his poll comparisons with Trump, spending most of his time on Warren and disparaging criticisms by the two African American candidates (Booker and Harris). And thanks Grant (below) for venturing where I lack the energy to go.

  16. Grant

    “Prove that someone else can knock Trump on his ass. And that starts by not going after the record of the most popular Democrat alive today (Obama).”

    What a ridiculous framing. So, we are all supposed to assume that Biden (with all of his massive baggage and his horrific right wing voting record) is the best bet to beat Trump and then based on that assumption work to change minds? Some polls have shown Bernie doing just as well nationally, and doing really well in key swing states. Why would anyone start from that assumption? We first have to think critically about anyone running against Trump, then look at a multitude of factors (including the likelihood that any flaws in a candidate, especially their record or corruption, will be a major factor in the general election) and then come to a logical conclusion. If Biden has a horrible record on trade, for example (which he does), give me the logic as to why he is better situated to go to Michigan and Ohio and win people over there than Bernie would be. Why would anyone assume that Biden would be more likely to get people that otherwise wouldn’t vote to vote?

    Let’s ask ourselves, if his connection to Obama is not a good portion of why black people (as if black people are a monolith) are supporting him (Bernie does well with younger black voters, just as he did in 2016), would Biden have more than two dozen black people supporting him in 2020, with his horrific record on issues that impact the black community and working people, if he was never Obama’s VP? Imagine that Biden was never Obama’s VP. He was just a corrupt, right wing Democrat from Delaware that opposed busing, worked with his friend Strom Thurmond on harsh anti-drug laws that were particularly hard on the black community, passed his crime bills that decimated black communities, did the bidding of financial interests that have destroyed black communities, and he decided to run for president, but he was never Obama’s VP. Is the argument that he would have near the same support from black people as he does now? Come the heck on.

    And how exactly do people make sense of Trump getting elected if they cannot be honest about Obama’s record and his own ideological biases? It seems that in order for the “far left” (love the phrase, what exactly is Bernie far to the left of? Certainly not popular opinion) to appeal to black voters they we have to treat black people as a monolith, we have to ignore Obama’s record, and we have to ignore how likely someone like Biden would be in regards to exciting traditionally non-voters to actually vote. In other words, we have to be horribly irrational. My guess is that many of these polls are continuing to over-sample older voters, and we already know that there is a huge difference in the way that older black voters and younger black voters vote.

    By the way, in regards to the “far left” thing, what would the democratic socialist King be called today? Cause he was a socialist, just like Bernie, and there was a reason that the Johnson White House disinvited him to White House functions. He did say pretty harsh things about white moderates in Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

    1. WJ


      And this horsesh*t claim below is a total non-sequitur!

      “Prove that someone else can knock Trump on his ass. And that starts by not going after the record of the most popular Democrat alive today (Obama).”

      Why does showing Sanders’ established popularity in rust belt and swing states “start by not” telling the truth about Obama?!?!?

      I swear. These people.

      1. sleepy

        In my staunchly dem and deplorable region of Iowa, imho it was “America is Already Great” and her failure to offer any plans to deal with what was then a bleak present and a hopeless future that caused it to switch to Trump.

        Dems would prefer not to address those economic issues and to the extent that we deplorables are scorned as unreconstructed klansmen, they can avoid it–“they’re racists, don’t give ’em a nickel”. Thus the emphasis on race not class in this election.

        Thus the emphasis by the dems and the media on the relatively affluent suburban repub women, many of whom are much more refined as racists but get turned off by the overt, white-trashy sound of Trump’s bigotry.

        These are the dem and media elite’s next door neighbors and associates. They identify as members of the same class, and the working class probably makes “their skin crawl”. Hence, Trump’s racism is the perfect issue for dems.

        1. sleepy

          Sorry WJ, I went a little far afield with my response.

          My point was that by framing an attack on Obama as racist rather than economic, it allows dems to escape any discussion of neoliberalism and its effects on the 90%.

          1. WJ

            No need to apologize. You’re 100% right. The whole “don’t criticize Obama because black voters” canard is stupid and insulting and transparently a ploy to avoid discussion of economic reality.

            1. sleepy

              The election of a genuine fascist in 2024 is my take on the prospective election of Biden in 2020–liberal democracy refuses to deliver and the electorate looks elsewhere.

              Maybe I’m an alarmist, but things seem to be coming apart more quickly than I can ever recall, and I’m pushing 70. In the 60s, a belief in progress was still rational–civil rights, women’s lib, etc.–and the economy was good with a future for most. Not now.

              1. ambrit

                Imagine how mad the electorate will be if Hillary gets the nod in a brokered convention. A replay of 2016? Maybe not. Received wisdom has it that a second term election is a referendum on the incumbent. I think that the 2020 election is Trumps to lose. The Democrats, if, really probably when, they screw Sanders again will have nothing substantive to run on. Anti-Trump lost in 2016.

                1. The Rev Kev

                  I can hear the democrat battle cries now-

                  “What do you want!”

                  Incremental change!

                  “When do you want it”

                  At an indeterminate point of time when it is fiscally feasible!

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > My point was that by framing an attack on Obama as racist rather than economic, it allows dems to escape any discussion of neoliberalism and its effects on the 90%.

            It’s more extensive. Framing, as AOC has now done, white supremacy as the master key to American history*, erases capital, then and now. If this view is correct, “the billionaire class” is a side issue, and the answer to making America a just society is (as Adolph Reed urges) [x] female [x] Black [x] Latinx [x] gay [x] trans members occur in the billionaire class in the same percentage that they occur in the general population. This is how the new class of idpol liberals view society: As a bundle of identity-based verticals (“allies,” in the jargon). Justice means allowing the aspirational “voices” in each vertical to rise. (Note that each vertical is also conceived of as sovereign, channelling John C. Calhoun’s view of states.)

            There’s also the issue of selling white voters on the idea that fighting a “supremacy” many of them simply do not experience is a reason to vote for Democrats (“I’ve got $50K of debt and just lost my house. In what way am I “supreme”?). Fine for professional class suburbanites, perhaps. The irony of all this is that if you have a working class group, you end up with diversity almost by definition — modulo geography). This is why I support universal concrete material benefits…

            NOTE This view is why you get ridiculous statements like “these white supremacist systems” causing climate change (very much opposed to capital, or even “the fossil fuel industry”). Hard to imagine giving an account of China’s environmental damage using that frame. Whichever non-profit industrial complex apparatchik put that idea into the mind of a child (Vic Barrett) has a lot to answer for.

            1. sleepy

              No one said it like LBJ on the function of racism within capitalism–

              “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

    2. Kurtismayfield

      No wonder Biden is popular.. he did go to their neighborhood and tried to get black men to understand that it is not unmanly to wear a condom.

      “As Hillary points out, there’s neglect in the part of the medical and the white community focusing on educating the minority community out there. I spent last summer going through the black sections of my town holding rallies in parks trying to get black men to understand it’s not unmanly to wear a condom, getting women to understand they can say no, getting people in the position where testing matters,” the Democrat said.

      The video for this, and the reaction to it, says it all:

      Biden’s speech

      Also don’t forget this quote:

      The Democrat infamously praised Obama back in 2007 for being a black man who’s “articulate and bright and clean and nice looking.”

      Biden was also anti busing

      Immediately after the Helms amendment was tabled, Biden proposed his own amendment to the $36 billion education bill, stipulating that none of those federal funds could be used by school systems “to assign teachers or students to schools … for reasons of race.” His amendment would prevent “some faceless bureaucrat” from “deciding that any child, black or white, should fit in some predetermined ratio.”

      … Like the Helms gambit, [Biden’s provision] would still gut Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. But this time, a number of liberal senators that had opposed Helms’s amendment now supported Biden: Warren Magnuson and Scoop Jackson of Washington, where Seattle faced impending integration orders; and Thomas Eagleton and Stuart Symington of Missouri, where Kansas City confronted a similar fate. Mike Mansfield, the majority leader from Montana, also jumped on board. Watching his liberal colleagues defect, Republican Jacob Javits of New York mused, “They’re scared to death on busing.” The Senate approved Biden’s amendment. Biden had managed to turn a 48-43 loss for the anti-busing forces into a 50-43 victory.

      The NAACP called Biden’s proposal “an anti-black amendment.” The Senate’s sole African-American member, Ed Brooke, called it “the greatest symbolic defeat for civil rights since 1964.” But Biden helped his fellow liberals reconcile themselves to the wrong side of history by recasting integrationists as the real racists.

      I am sure this is all well known to the writer of the article.

  17. Synoia

    Please name the “War on ____” efforts that have succeeded since, oh, 1980.

    Depends of the definition of success. For those enriched, they have been very successful.

    1. Pat

      We might want to add the successful black ops funding for the CIA enabled by the War on Drugs, not to mention the ability to jail so many minorities because of that same “war”!

      Pretty sure those aren’t as much about enrichment (though some people were enriched in the process) as they were about advancing political ideologies.

      Goal confusion advances so much.

    2. MichaelSF

      An old comedy line was “In the war on (insert current war here), the only ones winning are those who are passing the ammunition”.

    1. hunkerdown

      According to the Entertainment Software Association, 83% of the $35 billion 2018 entertainment software spend was digital. Physical distribution accounts for only 17%. With GameStop and other nationwide specialist chains being as broadly distributed, and app stores like Steam being only a download away or built into the console, Mallwart might do better to moderate their comparatively minor selection of sensitive products now to “do their part against tragedy” and reduce possible punitive damage awards in the future.

  18. David Carl Grimes

    Regarding the DSA: What’s the main difference between the DSA, Justice Democrats, and Our Revolution? Not clear to me even after reading NC every day. How is Bernie connected to the DSA and Justice Democrats?

    1. richard

      Bernie is not connected at all with the Democratic Socialists of America. They are a group dedicated to bringing aspects of socialism to the usa, and have all sorts of different ideas about how to do it (democratically). They may endorse him, and many of their members may vote for him, but he is not a member and has no direct influence on what they say or do.
      Justice Dems is an organization founded by Cenk Ugyur (sp?) and Kyle Kulinski to primary and defeat corporate democrats and replace them with “justice dems”. Their defining characteristic is not taking any corporate $, and the standard Kulinski is trying to popularize is only donations of $27 or less. Their number includes AOC, Omar, Tlaib, some others. They had pretty good success their first go around in 2018. Bernie shares many policy goals with many members of this group, but it’s entirely independent from his influence.
      Our Revolution was started by Sanders and some others after his 2016 campaign (or maybe even during it?) to fund/support anti-corporate candidates all over the country. Sanders has since left the organization (kinda busy). Kind of analagous to justice dems, but perhaps a broader focus, not just on “candidates”? not sure

  19. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Bout to geaux see Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark so i wanted to get this report back in while this threads active-

    Theres a Discount Zone Convienence/Gas Station on Magazine and Washington. Walked in there and a patron and the Clerk were talking about Bernie and Tulsi and how there needs to be change in this country.

    Good Things!

    1. ambrit

      Is that still considered Irish Channel? The old Warehouse music venue was near there, on Tchoupitoulas Street. Saw some good shows in that place.

        1. ambrit

          Ah, an ancient and eternal love story, New Orleans and booze. I can remember all those little hole in the wall, or in the basement, local bars. The kind of places where, if you could manage to get your money on top of the bar, you got your beer. (Even if you couldn’t see over the top of the bar.)

  20. JohnnyGL

    Re: Biden and the black vote.

    I’m trying to disentangle a couple of things.

    1) Black southern voters are really conservative. Most analyses that I’ve seen have them lining up with conservative whites in the area more than other, more left/liberal black people in more northern states. We saw this on display in 2016 with Clinton’s support in the south. And there’s history with black church leaders resisting MLK’s more aggressive and confrontational approach to Jim Crow.

    2) Black Biden supporters not liking Biden very much, but being propagandized (with partial truth) that he’s the only ‘electable’ candidate in a field that has mostly failed to distinguish itself (Harris, Buttigieg, Beto and Booker have all flopped).

    If #2 is more true, then we’d expect to see something like what we saw in 2008. Obama was behind in polls in the heavily black southern states until he proved that he could win white liberal votes in Iowa, and also got the media onside, in addition to winning over the big portions of the donor class (lots of hediges loved Obama).

    If Sanders/Warren can pull off wins in Iowa, NH, and NV. It may be that the larger voting base reaches a tipping point where they switch to back the ‘electable’ winners. But, per my item #1, I think Biden’s probably got at least a core of conservative support down south.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Biden’s probably got at least a core of conservative support down south.


      1) Ideologically. No crazy schemes like #MedicareForAll

      2) Pragmatically. Picking a winner! (also ideologically, in the sense that centrists are winners, except they aren’t)

      3) Loyalty. The sort of person who calls Obama “Barack” and has the concept that Obama was “helping” him in the White House.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      ^^^”Black southern voters are really conservative…”^^^

      this brought to mind another thing that’s bothered me with the Narrative for a while: Hispanics are assumed to vote team blue…even the el paso shooter hinged his unhingedness on that assumption.
      but i know a whole lot of Hispanics…and am an honorary hispanic, myself(wife is Mexican/American)….and i just don’t see it.
      appears to be about the same percentages and demographic layout as everything else: younger=more Lib/prog…older= more conservative.
      church? then more conservative. catholic vs charismatic makes a difference, too.
      also, like the genpop, most Hispanic people don’t vote, at all.
      sound bite analysis and essentialism fails again

  21. ewmayer

    o “The Harvard Professor Scam Gets Even Weirder Six other men describe their encounters with the same mysterious Frenchwoman.” [The Cut]. • I don’t even know where to file this. Cambridge has changed since my day. — I dunno, it seems to me that weaponized Idpol and highly credentialed supersmart people doing really dumb lacking-in-common-sense stuff is exactly the kind of combination one would find in elite college towns – I spent a decade in Ann Arbor, this sort of stuff would have made for a juicy local titillation-scandal but would have fit right into that milieu. They don’t call ’em ivory towers for nothing.

    o “AI felt like the next frontier” [It’s Nice That]. Composer Holly Herndon: “I think we should avoid training AI on existing canon. So far, instead of making new training sets, and instead of trying to take AI to a new place, a lot of work has been focussed on “let’s train it on Bach and then have new pieces of Bach forever.” I feel like that can really get us into like an aesthetic and creative cul-de-sac of rehashing and recycling ourselves. — A.k.a. the modern Hollywood movie-studio business model. How many Marvel Universe™ CGI-crapfest flicks are we up to these days, anyway?

    1. Carey

      Why in the world do we need AI-generated music/muzak?
      Isn’t composition, um, a good thing for humans to do?

      1. Anonymous

        The fundamental problem with AI is that it is a perceived solution looking for a problem, any problem.

  22. pjay

    Re the Politico article on Gabbard

    Lambert: “I wish I could say this article was shocking, but it isn’t.”

    Yes, this is just relentless. I thought the Biden and black voters article would be the most disgusting read of the day. Then I read this bulls**t. Every time I think it can’t get more depressing…

    1. Carey

      Really “impressive” how many smears and how much innuendo they were able to pack into that piece. This is our corporate media; by
      and for the few.

      1. WJ

        I fully expect her to be excluded through some dirty trick. They can’t afford her speaking truth again.

      2. pjay

        Thanks for the Taibbi link. He has really been coming through lately. Given his visibility, that is a definite positive.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Gabbard must know by now that the fix is in and she will never be allowed to really run for President. I mean to be censored by first Google and then Twitter speaks of powerful forces aligned against her. And it was so in your face and ‘what are you going to do about it’. I have wondered whether Gabbard, being the good soldier that she is, has decided then that it is her duty to help take down those that she would consider (according to the oath that she took) as a ‘domestic threat’. Show them up for what they are really all about. Witness her nailing Kamala Harris to the wall to the anguished wails of the establishment. I wonder then who she may go after next? Buttigieg?

      1. richard

        When I look at Gabbard’s enemies, and she’s amassed an array that goes beyond even Bernie’s, I can’t help but love her, despite some misgivings.
        I mean love in a political sense, and i do mean love.

  23. Summer

    “Who Should Fight the War on White Nationalism” [Bloomberg]. •


    It’s part and parcle of the kind of language that led to this moment…

      1. ambrit

        Now there’s a cage match for you. The NAACP versus the NAAWP. For what it’s worth, I see this ‘Evil White Nationalism’ as a distraction from more important issues. My more cynical side wonders if anyone has figured on the blowback that this meme will engender? One very good way to cement people together is to make them feel as if they are under siege. Trump could spin this into votes in places that he needs to carry.

        1. Acacia

          That blowback is well underway, I think. Trumpism may be seen in part as a response to the out-of-control idpol discourse (a.k.a. “the hysteria”) that has come to dominate the more liberal channels of US media. And instead of learning the lesson of 2016, the media has now apparently doubled down on this lame idea of “a war on white nationalism”. Sigh.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        theres a truckstop we stop at on the way to san antone(clean rastrooms) that has a mcdonalds attached. i usually get coffee.
        last several times, there’s been wall to wall poster ads pushing corn related products…obviously due to trade war(“what the hell are we gonna do with all this frelling corn?!”-Cargill executive)
        I expect the same for soy.
        should be interesting to see how they square that circle.
        it’s not like corpse fast food can go all in on chinese food,lol…given that trade war with china is the reason for the glut.
        lots of furrowed brows in the marketing division, i’d expect.

    1. rps

      For American Farmers, China’s Soy Tariffs Are Least Of Their Worries
      Excerpt: For starters, it is China that slapped 25% tariffs on U.S. soybeans, not the other way around, of course. Based on what some soy farmers know, the Chinese government is importing soybeans in order to circumvent tariffs for private companies.

      “What they have done in lieu of rescinding tariffs during the trade war truce has been to have the government make their purchases in order to keep private companies there from having to pay the tariff,” says Brent Bible, a soy and corn farmer managing around 5,000 acres of land near Lafayette, Indiana. “The government makes the purchase then turns around and sells it to the private Chinese users,” he says.

      “China is out of the American soy market not because of tariffs, per se. China is out of the market because, in its trade war, it wants to make the farm belt collateral damage. The Chinese are also aware that the American heartland tends to vote Republican.”

    2. ewmayer

      Reality is far from being that simple – bit dated but still good article fom last September about the various creative ways buyers and exporters are getting around the tariffs. key takeaways:

      o Much of the imported soy is for feeding pigs, not humans: “Cutting the soy ration for hogs from the typical 20 percent to 12 percent would equate to a demand reduction of up to 27 million tonnes of soybeans per year – an amount equal to 82 percent of Chinese soy imports from the United States last year. Chinese farmers could cut soymeal rations by nearly half without harming hogs’ growth, experts and academics said.”

      o Even with the additional 25-percent tariff, U.S. beans are still cheaper than Brazilian offerings;

      o Since soybeans are not a year-round crop in the major growing nations, there is a seasonality effect: “With Brazilian exports drying up at this time of the year, traders are having to get creative to supply the world’s largest buyer. One strategy is to bring U.S. soy to Argentina and ship the South American nation’s output to China, thereby avoiding the Asian country’s 25 percent tariff on American product.”

      o At the same time (direct) exports to China have fallen, U.S. soybean exports to Europe have soared – again from the above article “…the European Commission has published the latest figures on EU imports of soya beans, showing that the U.S. has become Europe’s main supplier of this commodity, reaching a 52% share compared to 25% in in the same period last year.”

      So, for the same reason Trump’s tariffs on Chinese-made goods are not causing a huge wave of re-shoring of those industries, Chinese counter-tariffs of soybeans are not wreaking the havoc on U.S. exports of same that simple-minded analyses would predict.

  24. JCC

    The twitter link to the guy that died due to no money for insulin struck home, I lost a younger brother to the same cause a couple of years ago… not that these stories aren’t becoming as common as Russia!Russia!Russia!

    Then after reading this, my phone rang. Another younger brother needed to have an angiogram prior to a serious operation coming up. The head and neck angiogram took 1 hour. He received the bill this afternoon, $39,500.00! The average cost nationwide is supposed to be around $16,000.00 which is still too much.

    He’s potentially on the Financial Ropes already, even before the big show gets underway.

    Combine that with the Jalopnik story on Uber and it pretty much seals the deal on how little we were taught about the way Capitalism, US Style, really works.

    Economics 101 in 1971, along with general MSM, taught us to believe, and praised, the fact that efficient, rational markets drive Banks and other large investors to effectively allocate funds for the good of all society.

    On multiple levels, food, health care, insurance, war, and other national infrastructures, it doesn’t seem to have worked out very well.

    1. shtove

      Ouch, what a terrible story. Death sentences delivered by the invisible hand. Why do people of faith impose such horror and death?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > On multiple levels, food, health care, insurance, war, and other national infrastructures, it doesn’t seem to have worked out very well.

      Multiple? I’m having a hard time thinking of an infrastructure that does work*. Maybe cellphones. Too pessimistic?

      NOTE * For some definition of “work, I grant. Work in some other way than sucking rents upward.

    3. JW

      In Singapore, my private insurance at the 30-40 y/o bracket costs US$450 per YEAR for zero copay on ALL hospitalization and long-term illness charges from both private and public healthcare providers.

      And I also only pay a mere 0.6% income tax on my US$41K / year income.

      It’s frankly absurd just how hard you Americans get ripped off left, right, center at both.

  25. Elspeth

    The House Judiciary Committee per precedent once declares it is investigating grounds for impeachment can obtain trumps taxs. That is a matter of law. Once obtained that is enough. Trump won’t resign but he should.

    1. shtove

      I thought it was implicit in Mueller’s report that they did get their hands on Trump’s tax returns. Surely if there was any there there, they would have there’d it there and then. Now then, now then.

      ps. Oh dear! I just quoted Jimmy Savile’s catchphrase.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The House Judiciary Committee per precedent once declares it is investigating grounds for impeachment can obtain trumps taxs. That is a matter of law. Once obtained that is enough. Trump won’t resign but he should.

      This time for sure!

      1. rps

        To paraphrase Greenspan, the house judiciary committee’s ‘irrational exuberance’ has unduly escalated their asset value.

        According to SSRN article: congressional committees do not have unrestricted authority to demand a President’s tax return. Though a federal statute seemingly compels the IRS to furnish, on request, anyone’s tax returns to some congressional committees, a statute cannot transcend the constitutional limits on Congress’s investigative authority. Congress enjoys a near-automatic right to review a President’s tax returns only through a proper impeachment inquiry. (well-written 42 page pdf analysis)

        However, the congressional democrats have quantitatively tainted that well through their dogged pursuit of Trump via endless investigations from day one.

        “Senate involvement may make any related litigation even more complex. Under Section 6103(f)(1), the Senate Finance Committee enjoys the same authority that the House Ways & Means enjoys for tax return requests. Yet, Senate leaders have forcefully criticized their House counterparts. In litigation, the Senate might argue, as amicus, that a politically motivated request for tax return information compromise its own oversight authority. That is, public confidence in congressional investigations may diminish if, as Senator Grassley alleged, those investigations become viewed as “ways to sow division and tear down your political opponents.”

        As the Supreme Court explained in Watkins v. United States, “there is no congressional power to expose for the sake of exposure.” Rather, if Congress wants to collect information from the executive branch or other outsiders, it must do so in connection with its legislative power. That is, a Congressional attempt to investigate an official or request information from him is valid only to the extent it serves proper legislative purposes. Congress cannot simply engage in “a fruitless investigation into the personal affairs of individuals.” Kilbourn v. Thompson, 103 U.S. 168, 195 (1880). Thus, for example, it seems unlikely that Congress could properly request the tax returns of all civil rights leaders solely for the purpose of harassing them, even if there were potential non-discriminatory reasons for making those requests.”

        Lastly, No authority suggests that a congressional committee can invoke impeachment for illegitimate
        reasons and then obtain any information it wants. According to the Yale Journal on Regulation, “The IRS takes everyone’s tax privacy very seriously. It thus seems unlikely that the IRS would defy nondisclosure orders from the White House.” No authority suggests that a congressional committee can invoke impeachment for illegitimate reasons and then obtain any information it wants.

        IMO, Congressional democrats are caught in their own delusional web believing they are David and Trump is Goliath. Through their dogmatic myopic lens, they are the persecuted rather than what they have become- the persecutors.

  26. Elspeth

    “Trump has generally improved GOP fortunes in rural American and in the towns, and in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio” I don’t so. 2018 bankruptcies over 2017 57 %. 2019 over 2018 another 53%. This is funny.

    1. Adam Eran

      I’ve heard anecdotes about the oil patch (OK, TX, etc.) being full of bankruptcies before Trump came along, so maybe this is uneven.

  27. Summer

    RE: “Don’t Blame Black Voters for Supporting Joe Biden”

    That would all make sense if Black people were responsible for electing Trump…

    Instead of being concerned with who Black Democrats are supporting and all the polls, if the Democrats were serious about the Black vote in the general election, the would be scouring voter rolls making sure every who is eligible hasn’t been thrown off and making phone calls to make sure they are properly registered.
    The only concern the Democrats have is how useful the pawns will be for the primary.

    1. Summer

      And more:
      I’m not going to blame Black people, but I plan to ask them why they think the same apparatchiks who said Hilliary was a no-brainer are now right about Biden.

      1. Librarian Guy

        It was surely revealing that Hillary won so many Southern primaries in ’16 (due to her popularity with suburban and black voters accd. to the narrative) and all the Establishment insiders pointed out what a “viable” candidate this made her . . . & of course Trump won all those states in the general election.

        The Establishment including esp. their top MSM media lapdogs is very clear that 40 years since the Reagan coronation of redistributing wealth upward cannot come to an end ever. Thus Bernie is “dangerous” and even as the country clearly goes down the drain politically, economically, socially etc. they’re very clear there is no real problem (except Trump’s occasional “rude” or “blunt” words) & either a moderate RePug or a total corporatist who’s slick enough (Buttigieg, Harris, Beto etc.) is the solution to get back to the good old Washington consensus daze.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I plan to ask them why they think the same apparatchiks who said Hilliary was a no-brainer are now right about Biden.

        Apparatchiks built “the South Carolina firewall,” essential to Clinton’s selection as Democrat candidate in 2016. Thanks guys, let’s do it again.

    2. edmondo

      OK. I won’t blame black voters for supporting Joe Biden as long as they don’t blame me when I vote for Trump if Uncle Joe wins the nomination.

      I voted for Trump in 2016 because I considered him the lesser evil (and I still do). There’s nothing in Biden’s record that would convince me he’s any better than Hillary.

      1. ewmayer

        You underestimate Uncle Joe’s ability to to out-Trump Trump – after all Biden, as a senator, was the principal author and sponsor of a bill to make it illegal to desecrate the US flag. And in the context of the El Paso shooting, back in 2006, long before Trump got into politics, Biden suggested a 40-story fence along America’s southern border to stop the inflow of drugs coming through “corrupt Mexico”, with a quote that sounds downright Trumpian:

        “And let me tell you something folks, people are driving across that border with tons, tons, hear me, tons of everything from byproducts for methamphetamine to cocaine to heroin and it’s all coming up through corrupt Mexico.”

        And 40 feet high! That’s way yuuger than what Trump wants, I bet.

    3. Tom Doak

      Yes but those new black voters they could register might not be Reliable black voters who vote how the party establishment tells them to vote . . . And as defense lawyers say, you never ask a question if you’re not sure what the answer is going to be.

  28. Summer

    “Holy gawd, I can hear the national security establishment and the intelligence community licking their chops from here!”

    Especially considering who their favorite recruits were at the end of WWII. They’d have to clean house from top to bottom for this to be anything but laughable.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > They’d have to clean house from top to bottom for this to be anything but laughable.

      Indeed! It only took Gina Haspel eight (? ) years from Obama “looking forward and not back” on torture to clamber to the top of the greasy pole at the CIA. Democrat Andrew “Ratface Andy” Cuomo’s plan for a national mental health database ought to make your skin crawl, as we say, if you’re a dull normal. (Greg Bear’s Queen of Angels takes this idea to its logical extension, with its concept of the “untherapied“).

  29. Keith Howard

    Today’s second Biden article (his being in bed with Big Pharma) is certainly pertinent. The Ds ought to spend more time talking about how Medicare Part D is a catastrophe and should be repealed or drastically restructured to eliminate the huge insurance company overhead entailed by its basic structure. I would very much like to read in-depth discussion of how the various M4A versions actually handle the issue of prescription medicines. I believe the astronomical rise in the prices of such drugs is the biggest driver of our out-of-control health care expenditure. Here’s a link discussing (in a shallow way) the House M4A bill by Pramila Jayapal. Much better than this is needed.


  30. Summer

    Trump threatens to ‘reciprocate’ travel warnings

    Donald Trump threatened to strike back at countries issuing travel advisories against the US with “reciprocal” advisories.

    Countries including Uruguay, Venezuela and Japan have issued advisories surrounding travel to the US following multiple mass shootings in the country last weekend that killed 31 people.

    When asked about them, according to the Hill, Trump replied: “Well, I can’t imagine that. But if they did that, we’d just reciprocate.”

    “We are a very reciprocal nation, with me as the head. When somebody does something negative to us in terms of a country, we do it to them,” he added.

    “Look, our country has been taken advantage of by foreign countries, even allies –including allies, and in many cases, more than anybody else,” Trump said. “We’ve been taken advantage of for many, many years, and it stops. It stopped.”

    Japan warned of “the potential for gunfire incidents everywhere in the United States”, and described the country as a “gun society”.

    Uruguay told its citizens to be aware of “growing indiscriminate violence, mostly for hate crimes”.

    Venezuela similarly warned of “the recent proliferation of violent acts and hate crimes”.

    from “The Gaurdian”

  31. The Rev Kev

    “Another report that says Samsung Electronics is cutting all Japanese components from all of its product lines.”

    Japan might have shot itself in the foot in the fight it has with the South Koreans. It is one thing for a supplier being unable to fulfill orders due to a natural event like an earthquake and this has happened in the past. But to have a supplier being unable to deliver due to a political decision by its government is something else again. It puts your company into the category of ‘unreliable’ which in a just-in-time manufacturing world must be like the kiss of death. Yes, this effects South Korean companies but I am willing to bet that there are other countries now who are wondering just how reliable a country Japan is now.

  32. Donald

    On Tulsi’s supposedly unfair attack on Harris—

    Some people here know the details of Harris’s record better than I do. What I can add is this link to the NYT interview with Harris and various other Democrats. No doubt NC linked to this back when it happened.

    Anyway, watch the clip where they ask Harris whether Israel has violated human rights. Her response is in total bad faith. Basically in her view Israel has a fine human rights record. I am not a single issue voter, but the Israeli- Palestinian issue is a useful litmus test for determining how honest a politician is when it might be politically risky. And even grading on a curve, Harris fails miserably.

    It’s a short clip, worth watching so you can make your own judgement.


  33. JBird4049

    Unless you want to increase traffic and hurt public transportation, which Uber’s funders are doing.

    Maybe. How else are we gonna get them Self Driving AI cars?

    Seriously, I don’t believe that there is any nefarious intent. Just remember that to many wealthy people Government is Bad while The Free Hand of the Market Good! Because having the government instead of entrepreneurs spending money is Stalinism or something. So they feel that they wasting billions is obviously not as bad as the government using billions.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I don’t believe that there is any nefarious intent. Just remember that to many wealthy people Government is Bad while The Free Hand of the Market Good!

      So a belief structure can’t be nefarious? I’m not so sure.

      1. RMO

        We’re just about to get all UberLyftish here in the Vancouver area. I was really hoping the whole thing would collapse before that happened. Up to over 5 billion lost in the last quarter and Uber is still being sprayed with money though.

  34. @pe

    l’Affaire Epstein really pulls the cover off the amorality of the elite. The top physicists, computer scientists, politicians, finance community, lawyers (include Ken Starr!), NGOs and charities… they all had to know. He brought them to his island, where he got “massages” in the back of the conference room!

    The intelligence agencies must have known — even being generous, they had to investigate him simply to confirm that he wasn’t working for their competitors!

    The scientists can at least try to pull with a straight face that they didn’t “understand”, they’re just poor semi-autistic narcissists who don’t understand social relations. But presidents, businessmen, prime ministers? They’re trying to claim that they didn’t understand the rumors, what they saw with their own eyes, they didn’t do background checks on their partners, competitors and funders? Really, Trump is too stupid to recognize black mail material when he sees it? Clinton, Mitchell, and on and on and on.

    It makes it extremely difficult for the rest of us to continue to pretend that the rulers are wearing pants, that if they’re capable of looking the other way on this, they’re not actively acting amorally, that they’re not sociopaths.

    Interesting that Obama doesn’t come up at all — that in fact, he has the sense that he claims when he says his slogan is (quoting) “Don’t do stupid shit”. We know Epstein actively recruited anyone who looked like an up-and-comer, so avoiding ever being a funds recipient required actively recognizing the threat and avoiding it.

    Those who have had contact with this layer of society know what goes on — but it’s difficult to convince other normal people that it’s not a CT. But now the blinders are off, it will take really active efforts to not see what is to see, which tends to make folks insane.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      “Those who have had contact with this layer of society know what goes on …”

      prolly told this tale before, but it informs my thinking about such things.
      long ago, when i was living in my van, hiding from the law and playing music for a living…my band got a gig for a birthday party for an old lecher who owned a bunch of strip clubs…wealthy as all get-out, with a constant entourage of hot young things in lingerie. we of course said yes.
      turns out he was part of the local/regional elite. giant greenhouse with a heated indoor pool. we built a stage of pallets and plyboard in a corner under a palm tree and jammed all night(had our own keg and everything…biggest paycheck i ever had for a one night gig).
      …and watched the real show: mayors, county commissioners, judges, constable, big contractors, superintendents,businessmen, oil execs…everyone who was a mover and shaker in that part of the world was there…drinking, yukking it up…and snorting coke off the pubic mounds of painted naked chicks. the bedrooms of the attached house had lines out the door for more intimate entanglements. looking for the bathroom at one point, i wandered in and said “where’s the head?”(grew up on boats and with navy people). tall naked black woman says, “right in here, honey…”
      I saw all kinds of crazy that night(didn’t partake, given the clientelle)
      and knew that i would regret knowing it early on(it’s dangerous to know such things).
      there were photographers wandering around…and these aristocrats didn’t care at all about getting their pics taken with a bunch of naked girls.
      the 4 of us in the band made almost $6K that night…
      in the intervening years(this was 90-91?), I’ve often thought that, if this is how the podunk elite roll…what about the truly elite?

  35. Balakirev

    ” Composer Holly Herndon: “I think we should avoid training AI on existing canon.”

    I have to wonder if Herndon or possibly the writer was deliberately punning on “canon” and “cannon,” of whether it’s just the universe displaying a sense of humor.

    Incidentally, computer games designer Sid Meier invented an AI back in the 1990s that wrote fugues. No two were alike. It was put on display at a games convention meant to show off a video game system which failed. Shame he never made the algorithm available to the public–or even marketed it.

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