2:00PM Water Cooler 9/20/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

More on politics shortly. –lambert UPDATE All done!


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

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

Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart:

And here is (are) the latest poll(s) as of 9/20/2019, 12:00 PM EDT:

Biden still sagging, Sanders hacks away at Warren’s small lead. (If you squint your eyes so the big sample shares dominate, the trends are visible: Biden’s slow deflation, Sanders’ consistency, and Warren’s rise to parity with Sanders. You will also note that the narrative that there are only two top contenders (Silver; Cillizza) arose after the last large sampling on September 7. Since then, volatility has been great, but sample sizes small. And the polling detail:

I think dk has started a really neat project, and in the near future we’ll seek your feedback (within reason) for the tool “live.”

UPDATE 2019-08-30: Now the polls aggregated (all available) are shown at the bottom of the poll. We also give more detail about each poll than RCP, and allow candidates to be selected or deselected. That’s three reasons what dk is doing beats RCP, and if we can make the individual polls selectable/highlightable, that will be four reasons. With more to come, grid willing.

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Biden (D)(1): Nice staircase:

Biden (D)(2): Dad jokes:

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders hits 1 million donors” [Politico]. “Sanders’ team said more than 99 percent of his donors can contribute again because they have not yet given the maximum allowable donation. The campaign also said that 125,000-plus people are giving recurring monthly contributions to Sanders.” • Clearly the Sanders campaign is failing and he should drop out immediately.

Sanders (D)(2): Money, money, money:

Sanders (D)(3): “Sanders searches for answers amid Warren steamroller” [The Hill]. “The news media and pundits appear eager to cast the race for the nomination as a two-person contest between Biden and Warren.” • Oddly. Or not.

Sanders (D)(4): A lot of work to do:

Sanders (D)(5): “Manufacturing Consent — How Democratic operatives are undermining Bernie Sanders 2020 candidacy” [Ashok Koyi]. • A deep dive into “Focus on Rural America.”

Sanders (D)(6)(IA): “Iowa Democrats propose ‘satellite’ caucus system to replace virtual caucuses in 2020” [Des Moines Register]. “The Iowa Democratic Party is proposing using an expanded ‘satellite’ caucusing system in 2020 in place of the now-rejected virtual caucuses it had spent months developing…. Groups of people who “demonstrated a clear need” were able to petition the party to add nontraditional caucus locations — places like nursing homes, community centers or work sites, where residents might not be able to easily travel outside the facility to caucus.” • Um, who organizes the “non-traditional caucus locations”?

Trump (R)(1): “Trump Shows Off His Own Circle of Hell” [McSweeney’s]. “I’m the first guy to get a whole circle, it’s terrific. They evicted the Kennedys to put it in.”

Warren (D)(1): “Frederick Douglass photos smashed stereotypes. Could Elizabeth Warren selfies do the same?” [WaPo]. • This headline is peak something-or-other, for sure.

Warren (D)(2): “How Elizabeth Warren Got A Big Progressive Endorsement — And Why It Matters” [HuffPo]. “[56 delegates on the WFP’s national committee] weighted to make up half of the total endorsement vote. An estimated 10,000 of WFP’s dues-paying members and other progressive activists who participated in the online ballot made up the other half.” • In other words, the WFP adopted a superdelegates voting structure; the premise is that the executives of 56 NGOs somehow “represent” their members. Unfortunately, WFP refused to release the tallies, so it’s unknown whether the superdelegates and WFP’s actual, dues-paying members were at odd. So this looks an awful lot like standard Democrat politicking, does it not? Rather than release the tallies, what we get from WFP leadership is–

Warren (D)(3): “Working Families Party Staffers Face Harassment After Warren Endorsement” [Time]. • Oddly, or not, the receipts for “harrassment’ come down to two tweets–

Subtweeting Time and the WFP:

Warren (D)(4): “A Letter from our Movement to Our Movement” [Alicia Garza, Medium]. • Pointing out the the WFP voting process was superdelegate-driven is, apparently, racist. And so it goes. NOTE IMNSHO, Sanders campaign had made two mistakes here: (1) This vote should never have blindsided them. (2) Going into a defensive crouch when liberal Democrat NGOs place the race card (see Adolph Reed here) is not going to work. The Sanders campaign made a good-faith effort to create a far more diverse staff, succeeded, and has ended up with a far more diverse coalition than, say, the Warren campaign. That’s because Sanders is genuinely appealing to the working class, which is diverse by definition, as opposed to Warren’s appeal to professionals, which is not diverse, again by definition (“check your privilege”). While these efforts were justified in and of themselves, they obviously weren’t going to have any effect with liberal Democrats, who were and are going to do what they do, good faith efforts by others or not. Now, what the Sanders campaign should do, instead of going into a defensive crouch, I don’t know. But they’ve got to figure it out, because otherwise it’s going to be nothing but the race card from now ’til election day.

* * *

“The 2020 Electoral College: Our First Look” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “Our initial Electoral College ratings reflect a 2020 presidential election that starts as a Toss-up.” • A splash of cold water:

“To Avoid Repeat of 2016 Disenfranchisement, Sanders Urges Gov. Cuomo to Sign Bill That Would Extend NY Voter Registration Deadline” [Common Dreams]. “In a letter to Jim Roosevelt and Lorraine Miller, co-chairs of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said the DNC should pressure Cuomo to “expeditiously” sign legislation that would extend the state’s party registration deadline to Feb. 14. ‘In 2016, countless voters across the state of New York were disenfranchised by the state’s arcane and inexcusable early party affiliation deadline—countless voters whose first attempt to engage with the Democratic Party saw them turned away,’ Shakir wrote. ‘There is no excuse for letting this legislation languish for three months when the current party affiliation deadline is fast approaching.’ Shakir said the DNC must ‘consider appropriate sanctions’ if Cuomo fails to sign the bill before Oct. 11, which would prevent the changes from taking effect for the 2020 primary. Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Cuomo, said the governor intends to sign the legislation…. Melissa DeRosa, secretary to Cuomo, wrote on Twitter in response to the Sanders campaign’s letter that the governor plans to sign the bill ‘before the October 11 deadline.'” • Which is great. So why isn’t the legislation already on Cuomo’s desk?

“Key Senate panel approves $250 million for election security” [Associated Press]. “The committee approved the money on a bipartisan voice vote. The panel’s top Democrat, Patrick Leahy, said “funding election security grants is a matter of national security.” The House approved $600 million earlier this year, though there is considerable money left in the pipeline from earlier appropriations. Democrat Chris Coons said the funding would help states invest in updated voting systems and combat cyberattacks from foreign actors such as Russia, whose widespread efforts on behalf of President Donald Trump’s campaign were documented by special counsel Robert Mueller.” • The bipartisan effort to suppress “hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public” continues. Digital = hackable. These systems should not be “upgraded.” They should be eliminated!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Let’s Play the World’s Smallest Violin for the Pod Save America Boys” [Splinter News]. “On Wednesday, New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote a column on some of the biggest failures of the Obama administration, which Manjoo concludes were due to the administration’s reliance on neoliberal solutions to problems that required Roosevelt-level government intervention.” And:

We have to go back to Pfeiffer for the most incredibly tonedeaf line, however:

Really? That’s your burden? Because it pales in comparison to the burden tens of millions of people, including some in my own family, face by navigating the world without health insurance. It pales in comparison to all of the people who needlessly lost their homes or went into crushing debt to keep them due to the administration’s pisspoor handling of the housing crisis. It pales in comparison to the burden faced by undocumented people, who were terrorized by ICE well before Donald Trump took office. It pales in comparison to the burden faced by workers—those who want to join a union but are forced to jump through hoops to do so because card check wasn’t deemed enough of priority to publicly pressure the Blue Dogs, and those who are fighting tooth and nail for a higher minimum wage that’s woefully inadequate at this point.

Those are real burdens, Dan. Getting mad online because someone’s criticizing how your old boss—then the most powerful man in the world—handled these problems? Not so much.

Nice use of anaphora!

“In New York, the Far Left Is Targeting a Close Ally” [New York Times]. •˜DSA v. the Communications Workers of America, the Hotel Trades Council, etc. (DSA memo here). Can any New York readers comment?

Stats Watch

Today is a quadruple witching day, but there are no official statistics of note.

Shipping: “Amazon.com Inc. is taking a major step toward electrifying its still-growing logistics network. The e-commerce giant says it is ordering 100,000 electric delivery trucks…. as part of a plan to make the company carbon neutral by 2040” [Wall Street Journal]. “The mega-order from Michigan-based startup Rivian Automotive comes as Amazon faces criticism over its environmental impact, including a walkout by a threatened walkout by some of its own employees to press the company to take action on climate change issues. The environmental impact of e-commerce has become a growing concern, and United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. have been rolling out their own electric vehicles in selected operations.” • Love the Amazon color scheme for its vans; the dark grey reminds me of a cop’s van.

Shipping: “Shipbuilders may get a boost from the burgeoning petrochemical trade. A surge in demand for ethane in industrial operations could drive orders for up to 40 very large gas carriers in the next 12 months… with much of the business likely to go to South Korean shipyards” [Wall Street Journal]. “The American Bureau of Shipping’s Aditya Aggarwal told a conference in Houston that U.S. exports of the gas are soaring as the price of by-product of shale production declines. Global trade in the gas has grown to eight million metric tons annually, and several production sites are due to go online in the next couple of years as U.S. exporters strike more deals in Asia and South America.”

The Bezzle: “Curve’s cloudy crowdfunding” [Financial Times]. “Curve is a banking app that allows you to collate all of your bank cards onto one smart card. Think a wallet which is not a wallet, but is also kept in your wallet…. In aid of its grand plans for bank account unification, Curve raised £43m in Series B funding from names such as Gauss Ventures, Oxford Capital and Connect Ventures… So it was surprising that in August, Curve decided to return to the capital markets. But this time, it wasn’t institutional investors committing cash. But retail punters. The story may just sound to you like one of a buzzy product with ardent followers, but the Curve crowdfunding does feel exceptional for one particular reason: disclosure. Curve’s investment deck for the raise was pretty opaque. The 31 page document, which was shared with FT Alphaville, did not contain one set of financial metrics relating to the company. Indeed, the “financials” page of the document consisted of a title page, and one slide outlining how it proposed to make money. There was no discussion of the sort of metrics an investor might want to know, such as customer churn, cash flow, margins or management’s preferred key performance indicators.” • What could go wrong?

The Bezzle: “WeWork and the Great Unicorn Delusion” [The Atlantic]. “The office-space company WeWork announced that it was postponing its initial public offering this week, a reaction to a sharp decline in its reported valuation from $47 billion a few weeks ago to less than $20 billion today. In many ways, the company’s four-week tailspin has been a one-of-a-kind spectacle. Documents filed in anticipation of its public offering revealed a pattern of behavior from its founder and chief executive, Adam Neumann, that fits somewhere on the spectrum between highly eccentric and vaguely Caligulan. In one lurid example, Neumann insisted that WeWork change its name to the We Company, a title he had already trademarked, thus allowing him to charge his own company nearly $6 million for the shotgun rechristening. But in at least one way, WeWork (as I will insist on calling it) is utterly familiar, even emblematic of this new age of unicorns: The company is bleeding unseemly amounts of money. WeWork is on pace to lose well in excess of $1 billion this year. Like so many buzzy start-ups in the consumer-tech division, the firm is popular, growing quickly, and deeply in the red.” • A reader threw a factoid over the transom: Elizabeth Holmes’ father was a Vice President at Enron. So one can only wonder what Travis Kalanick’s children will end up doing…

The Bezzle: “Oracle Founder Larry Ellison Calls Uber and WeWork ‘Almost Worthless'” [Barron’s]. “[Larry] Ellison asserted that while he is close friends with Softbank’s Masayoshi Son, he doesn’t see the investment case for either WeWork or Uber, both large holdings in Softbank’s Vision Fund. He declared both the companies ‘almost worthless.’…. Ellison argued that while Uber raises capital to spend on gaining market share from rival Lyft (LYFT), the business they secure doesn’t necessarily stay with the company. He pointed out that Uber doesn’t own its cars and doesn’t control their drivers. And he declared that ‘they have an app my cat could have written.’ Ellison said losing money to gain market share is ‘idiotic’ if customers won’t stay with the firm. ‘They have nothing,’ he said. ‘No technology. And no loyalty.’ He mocked WeWork’s assertion that it is a technology company. ‘WeWork rents a building from me, and breaks it up, and then rents it,’ Ellison said. ‘They say, ‘We’re a technology company, and we want a tech multiple.’ It’s bizarre.’ Ellison, who sits on the board of Tesla (TSLA), and considers Elon Musk a close friend, also asserted that Tesla could roll out a ride-sharing service with autonomously driven cars at prices two-thirds below what Uber charges, while also ensuring people get to their destinations safely.” • “Up to a point, Lord Copper.” You were doing fine, there, Larry…

The Bezzle: “Airbnb announces it plans to go public in 2020” [CNN]. “Uber and Lyft are each trading well below their IPO prices. Slack (WORK)’s stock took a beating after its first earnings report as a public company earlier this month. And WeWork is struggling just to make it across the IPO finish line. And yet Airbnb, one of the most highly valued tech startups around, wants the world to know it still intends to go public despite all the red flags from its peers — just not this year….. For its part, Airbnb says it was profitable in 2017 and 2018, excluding some expenses. Since its founding in 2008, Airbnb has slowly evolved from a home-sharing site into more of a full-service travel company.” • Regulatory arbitrage pays off big!

Mr. Market: “The repo markets mystery reminds us that we are flying blind” [Financial Times]. “[T]he fact that a ‘temporary’ cash squeeze created so much drama shows that neither the Fed nor investors completely understand how the cogs of the modern financial machine mesh. … A decade of extraordinary monetary policy experiments has left the system badly distorted. Thus the Fed is now like a pilot flying a plane with an engine that has been stealthily remodelled. Neither the passengers nor the pilot knows how the engine’s shifting cogs might affect the controls during a wave of turbulence, because there is little historical precedent…. But the bigger point that investors need to understand is this: the more that QE (and its partial reversal) reshapes global finance, the greater the risk that the cogs in the machine unexpectedly misfire. That is no reason to panic. But central bank pilots — like investors — are learning on the job. Better hope they stay completely alert.” • And let’s also hope “the machine” isn’t running MCAS.

The Fed: “Tracking the Labor Market with ‘Big Data'” [Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System]. “Payroll employment growth is one of the most reliable business cycle indicators. Each postwar recession in the United States has been characterized by a year-on-year drop in payroll employment as measured by the BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, and, outside of these recessionary declines, the year-on-year payroll employment growth has always been positive. Thus, it is not surprising that policymakers, financial markets, and the general public pay a great deal of attention to the CES payroll employment gains reported at the beginning of each month. However, while the CES survey is one of the most carefully conducted measures of labor market activity and uses an extremely large sample, it is still subject to significant sampling error and nonsampling errors.1 For example, when the BLS first reported that private nonfarm payroll gains were 148,000 in July 2019, the associated 90 percent confidence interval was +/- 100,000 due to sampling error alone…. [C]omplementary data from private payroll providers can lead to more accurate, timely, and detailed information on the labor market. One such source of alternative labor market data is the payroll-processing company ADP, which covers 20 percent of the private workforce. ” • I dunno. I don’t like the timing. Isn’t rejiggering the numbers a bad sign?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 63, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 68 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 20 at 12:27pm. Note that the index is not always updated daily, sadly.

The Biosphere

“The Worst Environmentalists in the World” [Jacobin]. “The LCV’s New York affiliate, however, one of its most important, especially at a time of so much potential progress on climate issues, should be reviled and shunned by even the most half-assed environmentalists. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of capital and demonstrably more dedicated to protecting the interests of the fossil fuel industry and the 1 percent than those of the planet. Two board members of the New York LCV work as lobbyists for the Williams Companies, the Tulsa-based energy company trying to gain approval for a pipeline off the Rockaways, reports LittleSis, a publication of the nonprofit world watchdog Public Accountability Initiative that has been researching LCV.”

“A brief introduction to climate change and sea-level rise” [Yale Climate Connections]. “So how much have the world’s oceans risen? On average, sea levels have gone up more than eight inches since 1880 – and three of those inches have been over just the past 25 years, which suggests that the globe’s seas are rising faster in this century than they did in the last.” Good explainer on ocean rise.

“Something strange is happening to Greenland’s ice sheet” [National Geographic]. “‘Ice slabs’—solid planks of ice that can span hundreds of square miles and grow to be 50 feet thick—are spreading across the porous, air pocket-filled surface of the Greenland ice sheet as it melts and refreezes more often. From 2001 to 2014, the slabs expanded in area by about 25,000 square miles, forming an impermeable barrier the size of West Virginia that prevents meltwater from trickling down through the ice. Instead, the meltwater becomes runoff that flows overland, eventually making its way out to sea. As the ice slabs continue to spread, the study’s authors predict more and more of Greenland’s surface will become a ‘runoff zone,’ boosting the ice sheet’s contribution to global sea level rise and, perhaps, causing unexpected changes.”

“The Climate Hunters” [Reuters]. “But methane, another carbon-based compound, is emerging as a wild card in the climate-change equation. If CO2 has a warming effect akin to wrapping the planet in a sheet, the less-understood methane is more like a wool blanket. Emitted from sources such as thawing permafrost, tropical wetlands, livestock, landfills and the spidery exoskeleton of oil and gas infrastructure girdling the planet, methane has been responsible for about a quarter of manmade global warming thus far, some models calculate.”


Bigger crowds than the marches against Iraq, for sure.MR SUBLIMINAL Kicking a puppy. As one does

“Here’s why the Amazon climate walkout is a big deal” [Recode]. “On Friday, over 1,500 Amazon workers plan to walk out of work to protest their company’s environmental impact. It will be the first time in Amazon’s 25-year history that its corporate employees have participated in a walkout demonstration. Employees are calling on Amazon to reduce its carbon footprint as part of a larger, youth-led global climate strike that has planned hundreds of events around the world.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Black Panther Fred Hampton Created a “Rainbow Coalition” to Support Poor Americans” [Teen Vogue]. Lest we forget:

At about 4:45 a.m., the Cook County police department burst into the Panther headquarters. They shot 18-year-old Mark Clark, who was on security detail, in the chest, killing him instantly. They sprayed close to 100 rounds as they swept through the apartment, heading for Hampton’s room, where he was sleeping with his pregnant fiancée. His fiancée and another man heard the gunshots and tried to wake Hampton up, but they couldn’t. The police charged into Hampton’s room, dragging his fiancée and the other man out.

“He’s still alive,” they overheard an officer say. They said they heard two shots, and a second officer said, “He’s good and dead now.” They’d shot Hampton point blank in the head.

Years later, it was revealed that Hampton’s bodyguard, William O’Neal secretly worked for the FBI. He’d been coerced into becoming an informant in exchange for getting criminal charges dropped. O’Neal had given the cops a map of the apartment that helped them locate Hampton in the predawn raid. It’s long been suspected, but not confirmed, that O’Neal had also drugged Hampton ahead of the raid. Years later, O’Neal killed himself.

Hampton’s killing was part of the FBI’s secret COINTELPRO program. COINTELPRO targeted members of the Black Panther party and other leftist groups in the 1960s and early 1970s, surveilling and infiltrating them to sow discord.

Pretty amazing to see this in Teen Vogue.

Class Warfare

“As line speeds increase, meatpacking workers are in ever more danger” [USA Today]. “One meatpacking worker I interviewed cried telling me how an industrial bag sealer seared away the flesh from her fingers. Another got emotional telling me about her supervisor’s constant screaming and the stress of keeping up. One told me that when she is on the line trimming chicken wings, she is terrified of breaking the cardinal rule that workers from meat and poultry slaughtering and processing plants across the United States shared with me: Don’t stop the line.” • Not sure what W. Edwards Deming would think of a production line run on principles the exact opposite of the Andon System, but you’ll soon be eating the outcome of that philosophy.

“Uber and Lyft Drivers Gain Labor Clout, With Help From an App” [New York Times]. “”From the beginning, they’ve been the voice of ride-share drivers not just in California but nationwide,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the bill’s author, said of Rideshare Drivers United. “Any union that wants to be the voice of ride-share drivers has to be inclusive of that group and others.” Rideshare Drivers United is not a household name within the labor movement, or even a legally recognized union, and it represents only a fraction of drivers in California. But its growing clout challenges the notion that highly dispersed workers are nearly impossible to organize absent a deal with their employer or the state, which can come with strings attached. While frustrated drivers have often formed loose associations using Facebook or even home-brewed technology, Rideshare Drivers United appears to have outpaced its predecessors by deploying an app that enables organizers to contact drivers as seamlessly as if they shared a water cooler.” • Important!

“Student loan crisis, not Mideast wars, helped Army leaders exceed recruiting goals this year” [Military Times]. “‘One of the national crises right now is student loans, so $31,000 is [about] the average,’ Muth said. ‘You can get out [of the Army] after four years, 100 percent paid for state college anywhere in the United States.’ A significant part of the recruiting push has been showing that the Army serves as a pathway to America’s middle class, with several service leaders noting that their children used GI Bill benefits and ROTC scholarships.” • Everything’s going according to plan.

“Serious crime has doubled on Chicago’s ‘L’ system, despite the CTA adding thousands of security cameras” [Chicago Tribune]. “Reports of serious crimes on the CTA rail system have doubled since 2015 even as ridership declined and such crimes rose only slightly citywide, according to a Tribune analysis of Chicago police data. At the same time, the arrest rate for these “L”-related crimes has dropped, suggesting that even as CTA’s rail system has become more dangerous, there is less chance the perpetrators will be held accountable. The troubling trends have occurred despite the CTA installing tens of thousands of security cameras that city officials have credited in the past for reducing crime on public transportation.” • So we totally need more cameras, right?

News of the Wired

“Is the dictionary sexist? Petition calls for Oxford English Dictionary to remove sexist terms for women” [ABC]. • Make them unwords!

“Mapping ‘woman’ in the Oxford Dictionary of English and Oxford Thesaurus of English” [Oxford English Dictionaries]. “These texts are based on the methodologies of descriptive, corpus-based lexicography, meaning that editors analyse large quantities of evidence from real-life use to determine the meanings of words. If there is evidence of an offensive or derogatory word or meaning being widely used in English, it will not be excluded from the dictionary solely on the grounds that it is offensive or derogatory. Nonetheless, part of the descriptive process is to make a word’s offensive status clear in the dictionary’s treatment. For instance, the phrase the little woman is defined as ‘a condescending way of referring to one’s wife’, and the use of ‘bit’ as a synonym for woman is labelled as ‘derogatory’ in the thesaurus. Sensibilities regarding language are constantly changing, and our editorial team is always grateful for feedback to ensure that the status of offensive or denigrating terms is clear to our readers.” • It’s easy to sign on online petition. It’s not so easy to change the corpus by sending in examples of words whose offensive status needs to be made clear. but that might be a more effective way to get the text of the OED to change.

I don’t know:

But there are nice neighborhoods on the Twitter, and I get a lot of pleasure out of art bots.

Manufacturing consent:

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (Stephen V):

Stephen V. writes: “Tomato hornworm caterpillar. We’re hoping for a sphinx moth!” I suppose this caterpillar could be said to be plant-adjacent; looks like somebody’s been chewing on those stems!

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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. Henry Moon Pie

    “A decade of extraordinary monetary policy experiments has left the system badly distorted. Thus the Fed is now like a pilot flying a plane with an engine that has been stealthily remodelled.”

    No sweat. Just update the software, right? And we can do that on the cheap. Problem solved.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Can’t wait for an all-AI-robot Fed that can talk to self-driving cars, and other smart, new gadgets.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Here’s my earlier comment on the Fed’s recent repo adventures – to much the same effect:

      ” In other words, in the presence of more than $ 1trillion in bank reserves, the market-clearing federal funds rate is close to zero even if the Fed would like it to be higher”
      Which makes zero sense to me, hardly surprising, but raises a more fundamental problem: we’re seeing a financial system that is complex to the point of opacity, at least for all but specialists. Isn’t that exactly what we saw in “derivatives” leading up to, and contributing to, the Great Financial Collapse? It became clear that opacity was a tool of fraud – or at best impossible to manage. I’m now wondering whether the system as a whole has now reached that point – like, say, the IT systems that can’t be replaced because no one knows how they actually work.

      Not witty, but essentially the same take on the current state of financial regulation.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > opacity was a tool of fraud

        Phishing equilibrium, IoW. Note, BTW, that “encapsulation” in object-oriented programming and more to the point compilation, are both opaque, by definition.

        1. Titus

          The ‘inner workings’, by definition are to be ‘hidden’, not made opaque, although I can see how it could get that way. The goal of the entire system is to be in a known state – state machine wise, a Bezzle is a state of being ripped off, whatever the details.

  2. Dan

    “The e-commerce giant says it is ordering 100,000 electric delivery trucks…. as part of a plan to make the company carbon neutral by 2040”

    Where will the electricity to charge the batteries come from? If Amazon relies 100% on solar panels, then they are actually doing something, otherwise it’s just more climablather.

    p.s. Will those trucks be driven by employees, or independent contractors, under the new California law?

    1. Krystyn Walentka

      It is RIDICULOUS that Amazon can do ANYTHING about reducing emissions let alone become “carbon neutral”. It’s sole purpose is to sell more products that all need emission contributing products to survive.The only way they go carbon neutral is if every seller on its site goes carbon neutral.

      Fer christ’s sake, even electric vans are not “carbon neutral”!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Carbon neutral goal – not just transporting, but the products themselves.

        So, an electric truck delivering charcoal briquettes can lead to a lot of carbon emitted in the air.

      2. jrs

        they could start by ending the one day delivery nonsense, of course that’s not zero carbon, it’s less carbon. But really end that stupidity. End one day delivery.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When I read this morning’s link to the Forbes’ article about China and Iran’s 25 year agreement (25 plus 2019 = 2044) that includes, among other things, exploring and producing oil, I sense fossil fuels will still be important at that time.

  3. Grant

    Regarding Sanders and Warren:

    “But Democrats say that staffing isn’t necessarily the issue. They say Sanders needs to find a new formula, because playing the same hits from 2016 isn’t working as effectively this go-round.”

    The article then goes on to show that not only does the polling not support the people on TV pushing for Warren and Biden, it also mentions something that is very likely the case, which is that Bernie’s support is very likely understated in polls. Yes, Warren is doing decently well, no it is not coming as a challenge from the left. It seems obvious in fact that her support is older, whiter and more economically well off. A large chunk of people that supported Clinton now support her, and it was known that she was the second choice more than other candidates of people that were supporting Harris as of recently. Harris has collapsed, and that has benefited Warren a bit. But Warren, like Bernie, is not continuing to go up. She has fluctuated around where she is now in polls, polls that I think should be questioned a bit. If Biden were to fall, Bernie would likely benefit more than others, and as Biden has fallen, he seems to have benefited a bit. The framing though of that quote is that the issues that Bernie fought for are no longer working, which is odd given that the same article essentially argues that Warren is now challenging him by focusing on roughly those very issues. But, if they aren’t effective, other than having Bernie still at or near the lead nationally and in key states, with far more volunteers and donors, and with Warren using many of those ideas (watered down of course), would it be because those issues are no longer issues with the public? Did corruption, inequality, the lack of democracy go away? Did the healthcare system become more efficient, less deadly? Have we started to solve our biggest issues? The problem with articles like this is that they use the framing that we see on stations like MSNBC to try to make logical sense of the politics. You can’t do that, because the stuff on MSNBC is propaganda, there to manufacture consent. Instead of using that framing, maybe just look at the damn data, look at the current grassroots support Bernie has, think about whether or not the polls are understanding his support, and think it through. If the author did that, it would be more interesting to write about how the framing on TV seems wildly at odds with the reality on the ground. Warren is doing well, it makes no logical sense to do as MSNBC, CNN and the DNC is doing, which is to pretend that it is her and Biden and that Bernie doesn’t exist. If Bernie wins key early primaries, all of them will be in full panic mode.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If Bernie wins key early primaries, all of them will be in full panic mode.

      The reason the WFP clusterf*ck worries me so much is that it fits beautifully with my formulation that the Democrats are like a gang whose turf is the ballot (and that the WFP is emulating them, which is the change the NGOs on the board orchestrated).

      Remember those Iowa coin flips?

      1. Arizona Slim

        I sure do! All six flips went in favor of Hillary Clinton.

        The odds of six flips going one’s way are infinitesimal at best.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Yves tells a story that I will have to paraphrase, but suppose (say) that a coin lands heads five times in a row.

            So it’s time for the sixth flip.

            You say “Heads five times!” and ask a statistician “What are the odds that the sixth coin will be heads?” and the statistician will say: “The odds are the same each time!” (mentally adding “you dummy”).

            You ask Tony Soprano, and he will say: “100%! The coin flip is rigged.”

            So, given the totality of the circumstances, who is more likely to be right?

        1. roadrider

          Well, actually about 1.6% – still small but not infinitesimal. I agree that the DNC probably rigged it.

      2. JohnnyGL

        I’m less worried about coin-flips and more worried about polling places being closed near college campuses and voter registration purges in closed primary states. Jim Crow NY!!!

        Have any states opened their primaries whereas they’d previously held closed ones?

        The reason for optimism is Bernie had such a big hole to dig out of in 2016 so early on because he got absolutely hammered down south. He lost SC by like 50 points.

        This time, he’s built the name-recognition and volunteer networks down south. He’s got very high favorability ratings and he’s the 2nd choice for a LOT of voters (according to Morning Consult). So, even if polls are accurate (they’re probably not WAY off), there would seem to be a lot of potential for him to pick up a lot of voters in a hurry from, say, a faltering Biden. However, Warren’s been closing the gap a bit on that front.

        Also, anyone else think Bernie probably gets the Tulsi and Yang voters, if and when they drop out? Yang at 7% in CA is nothing to sniff at.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I’m less worried about coin-flips and more worried about polling places being closed near college campuses and voter registration purges in closed primary states. Jim Crow NY!!!

          I used the coin flip only as an obvious example. But yes, I’m worried about rigging in a thousand small ways. That, and not enough voting machines, and misdirection to polling places, and Iowa establishment Democrats getting entire nursing homes to vote their way, etc.

          It’s absolute madness to let the parties near the electoral apparatus in any way. They’re simply too conflicted. It’s true that “hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public” is the only technical solution, but the institutional setting needs to be changed too, because all the incentives are bad.

      3. Grant

        Yep. The WFP thing reminds me too of the rank and file of the teachers union going for Bernie but the leadership for Clinton. I think the Democratic Party will do all it can to tank it for him, because that party is the piggy bank and access to power for tons of people that would be nothing without it. Take Tanden. Remove the Democratic Party and its affiliated donor network and think tanks. Say that she exists in isolation. What exactly is her societal worth? Who would pay her to write, run or speak about anything if it wasn’t for some end that benefited large donors and capitalist interests? Same thing exists with the media. Good bye access, good by the decades of propaganda and talking points if Bernie was to win. California is a horrible place for progressive politicians looking to challenge the power of those that control the Democratic Party.

        I think Bernie by himself can most certainly win, but can he win in that party?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Take Tanden

          That’s “Take Tanden — please!” Fixed it for ya.

          That’s a very interesting perspective, thinking of Tanden (for example) as a node whose value is the sum total (?) of its connections. From there we go to graph theory, power curves (Tanden being a hub node, not like those long-tail trolls with 30-50 followers) and various theories about how to break up a network.

          Then there would be the types of connections: finance, “Rolodex,” etc. And of course Rovian- and Brock-style illegal connections for election theft, oppo, etc. (the “intelligence community” obtruding both on the oppo side and on the balloting side, interestingly).

      4. notabanker

        All of the ballots in my state are now electronic and automatically tabulated so there’s nothing to worry about. What could possibly go wrong with that?

          1. Eureka Springs

            Here in Arkansas, Nov. ’16 I asked for a paper ballot and was told none were available although they had been for early voters, none on election day. I called County Clerk and offered to drive twenty miles to her office if I could just vote on a paper ballot. She said no.

    2. nippersmom

      I hope and believe he will do well, and will lay in a supply of popcorn to munch as I enjoy the spectacle of the DNC and their minions in the MSM in full panic mode.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The votes can’t be close. But Sanders is trying to bring in new voters, who can be discouraged for a variety of reasons. I’m worried what happens at the margins.

  4. Shonde

    Another reader commented on this problem a few days ago: Twitter links do not show up. I am using Firefox. Any one else have this problem? For some reason, if I refresh, the twitter comment shows up but disappears again quickly and too soon to read it.

    1. Krystyn Walentka

      If you use Firefox and have your content blocker on “Strict” it will block the Twitter embeds.

    2. Phillip Allen

      That was me. Today, reading on my phone, I’m seeing all the links. It may well be Firefox-related.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        It’s Firefox’s new update. I’m tweaking it but still not seeing Twitter pix which is strange since I live on Twitter.

          1. Oregoncharles

            I don’t use Opera because I caught them in some fairly obvious political censorship: their system marked Counterpunch as an attack site. (Which it is, but not the way they meant it.) They didn’t respond to my complaints, either. A word to the wise…

            I’m using Waterfox, a variant on Firefox; not a sophisticated user, so I doubt a VPN would do me much good. Some apps don’t “support” it, so I have to switch back for those.

            I have so much trouble navigating Twitter, which I do not live on, but I do see the pictures.

  5. nippersmom

    Pretty amazing to see this in Teen Vogue.
    It seems to be a sad but true phenomenon in recent years that one finds far more examples of real journalism in Teen Vogue than in “serious” news publications.

    1. jo6pac

      My thought also but then I stop reading the so-called serious publications. To bad they couldn’t take over npr & pbs;-)

    2. doug

      Good history lesson. Anyone else recall the grainy picture in the Black Panther Paper at the time? Captioned ‘Smiling pigs carry Fred…’

    3. jrs

      well it has to do with the infiltration of teen vogue really by Jacobian socialists. And no, I don’t in the slightest suggest teen vogue was producing anything of worth before, I’m saying it’s what happened.

  6. Left in Wisconsin

    Not only has WFP failed to report the separate vote totals, I have been unable to locate even a list of the 56 people on this national committee. Does anyone know who they are?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Adding, the blurring/merging/morphing of press, parties, and pollsters seems even more open and pernicious this time around than it was in 2016. Does anybody recall major networks like CNN and MSNBC openly misranking candidates* in 2016? I don’t.

      A 32% , B 21%, C 18%
      Press then ranks them A,C,B, or even says “it’s a two-person race between A and C!”

      I mean, that’s just blatant.

      I hate overly linear explanations but “in a crisis, things correlate.”

  7. JohnnyGL

    Re: hornworms…

    Found a few in my tomatoes some years back. My daughter and I put one of them on her swingset in the yard. Some bird snatched it up in a few minutes. Once they lose their camouflage, they’re easy targets for predators.

    When the predatory wasps find them and lay eggs on them….it’s even cooler! :)

    1. Stephen V.

      *cool* I dunno. I saw a monarch caterpillar in early spring and in the one minute it took me to go get my phone to take a pic a wasp had eviscerated it! No eggs required.
      There’s a lot I don’t get but when I compare the crazy amount of insects that would swarm our porch light on a summer night in my childhood and the utter absence of same now….

      1. ambrit

        I commented yesterday about having not seen any honeybees this year. Not a good portent.
        Rachel Carson was ahead of her time.

        1. Oregoncharles

          We have a lot of honeybees, but that’s because our neighbors are extremely industrious beekeepers – and there are a lot of blackberries around. At the moment, they’re feeding on fruit; my son just found one in the grapes we picked htis afternoon. He put it outside, but it wasn’t very healthy by then. Anyway, there are going on 20 hives.

          Butterflies are much scarcer than they used to be, though I saw a Monarch this summer. I haven’t managed to grow any milkweed, though, so it moved on.

  8. GF

    MR. Market:

    According to the Martens’:

    the Fed is pumping $75 billion A DAY into the “overnight loans” of the unnamed Wall Street Banks (The Fed is silent, as during the 2009 debacle, about naming which institutions are the recipients). They also state that the Fed ran a test of the loan system in May and actually authorized the payments on July 31, 2019. There’s something rotten in Fedland.

  9. WJ

    Sanders (D)(5): “Manufacturing Consent — How Democratic operatives are undermining Bernie Sanders 2020 candidacy” [Ashok Koyi]. • A deep dive into “Focus on Rural America.”

    I highly recommend this analysis. It is *very* revealing. It makes me wonder how far the polling shenanigans go. I hazard pretty far. Too bad there’s not a way to put pressure on the DNC to require them to only use polls whose sampling methodologies are transparent and regarded as sound by data scientists. I mean, is this asking too much!?!?

    1. anonymous

      Former Lt. Governor Patty Judge was a late entry and the DSCC candidate in the Democratic primary in 2016 for Grassley’s Senate seat. She has been a friend of Big Ag throughout her career. In the Iowa Senate, in 1995, she supported the bill that removed all zoning authority regarding local animal confinements from local elected officials and that has subsequently facilitated the rapid growth of CAFOs in IA. She was a board member and media surrogate for the Iowa Partnership for Clean Water, formed and funded by corporate interests and the Farm Bureau, to oppose the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit against three drainage districts over nitrate pollution. The Iowa Partnership for Clean Water ran misleading television ads opposing Des Moines Water Works, and Patty Judge said that there are many sources of nitrate pollution other than conventional agriculture. The IA Farm Bureau, which worked to ensure that IA’s nutrient reduction strategy for waterways was entirely voluntary (not surprisingly, it hasn’t worked), gave Patty Judge a “Distinguished Service to Agriculture” award in 2013, recognizing her promotion of renewable fuels when she served as secretary of agriculture. She was also co-chair of America’s Renewable Future, the biofuels industry group advocating for the ethanol mandate. Focus on Rural America is her relatively new group formed to “find out which ‘progressive’ economic messages ‘resonate’ in rural Iowa.” FORA has Facebook and Twitter pages promoting its poll and its pick up by the media. See Bleeding Heartland March-April 2016 posts for more on Patty Judge, Radio Iowa’s May 2017 announcement of Judge’s new FORA, and FORA’s FB and Twitter pages.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Thanks for this. Great stuff. Bunch of NGO grifters — sorry for the redundancy. (That Trillbillies podcast on NGOs really validated, as we say, my own experience).

  10. Summer

    RE: WeWork and the Great Unicorn Delusion

    With the evidence losses after losses and money still coming in, the establishment writers need to stop deluding themselves and realize the investors are throwing money at deregulation.
    They are investing in an ideology of deregulation and hell for workers is the bonus.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Coworking veteran Slim here.

      As mentioned previously, I was part of a coworking space that was located in Downtown Tucson. Place went out of business at the end of June.

      Like other coworking spaces, this one had a significant problem. I think it’s the kind of problem that plagues a lot of others. Namely, the tenants were renting short, as in, on a month-to-month basis, and the owner was leasing long. There was a five-year lease on the place, and it also ended on June 30.

      Over time, the turnover started to catch up with the management. More and more offices and desks stayed empty, and that was before the staffing cutback.

      In February 2019, all three of the staff left to take other jobs, and only two were replaced. The one who wasn’t was the sales and marketing manager.

      That was something that made a lot of us go “Hmmmm …”

      For me, it also served as motivation to upgrade the furniture in my home office. Y’know, just in case.

      Well, then came May 2, 2019. Two of the guys from the management company invited me out to the porch for a chat.

      “Uh-oh,” I thought. They’ve figured out that I’m Arizona Slim.

      While I was at this space, I had been sharing my thoughts about coworking on Naked Capitalism and Wolf Street. I assumed that I’d finally been busted, and I was getting the heave-ho.

      Actually, all 80 of us were getting the heave-ho. I was invited out to the porch for advance notice of the closure of the coworking space. Since I was a longtime member, I was told the day before the email landed in everyone’s in-box with a huge thud.

      These days, I work from home, and you know what? It’s working just fine for me.

        1. Arizona Slim

          It did not. But it sure made heavy use of the word “community,” even though that wasn’t reflected in the behavior I witnessed.

        1. Summer

          Would be interesting to have more detail on how he was set up so nicely.
          Is it the teeth that just make banks churn out the loans on such a “proven business maven”?

          1. Monty

            You don’t want to start poking around down that rabbit hole! You might end up talking like David Icke once you see what’s in there.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Yes, I shiver involuntarily every time I see a photo of that man. His eyes are black pits, dead, soulless. Look for him to relocate the We HQ to Guyana sometime soon.

        The Atlantic piece on unicorns ended on an oddly cheery note:

        “At companies like WeWork, the truth is that they have built extraordinary businesses with billions of dollars in annual revenue and hundreds of thousands, even tens of millions, of satisfied global customers…. The solution here is not exotic: Lower valuations, tighter margins, and expansion plans whose costs don’t resemble a land war in Asia. Not a venture-capital-backed hallucination. A business.”

        Not convincing, with or without the psychopaths in charge. At best, the usual Sillicon Valley shtick of ‘pee on my shoes and tell me it’s space as a service.’

        1. Dan

          An even more unflattering portrait of he and his wife…talk about two souless weird zombie faces, or just bad luck with a photographer?

          “So in a nutshell, this is what we know about this charade so far:
          Its not a technology company in any way, shape or form. No income is derived from the sale of a product or service delivered by a technology. They owe $47 billion in lease commitments. Claiming WeWork is a technology company is one of the many indicators that illustrate how Adam & Miguel intentionally seek to mislead and defraud existing & potential future retail investors. The product is the easiest to replicate and there isn’t one barrier to entry.
          When asked what inspired him to create a shared workspace company, Adam said that when he was growing up in Israel he used to live in a Kibbutz and was so mesmorised by the ‘sharing ideology’ that he invented Co-Working. Mark Dixon founded Regus in the 1980’s. LEO, Workspace Group, The Office Group, ServCorp, MWB, HQ and many others were around way before Adam thought up of this ponzi.
          WeWork post full year invoices for the year ahead this year to inflate their revenues. They then heavily discount those invoices they’ve already raised and treat them as expenses. They then pay whichever broker secured that lead 100%, yes 100% of the contract value. Note the industry standard commission is 10%….”


      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        That’s “founder.” I hate the way YCombinator colonized the language. I mean, the entrepreneur who wrote a dog-walking app and collected a few million bucks of all the stupid money floating around isn’t in the same league as Ben Franklin or James Madison, are they?

        1. Dan

          Thank you for throwing me a reminder rope to avoid that slippery slope.

          How about,

          “Financial Metastasizer?”

          “Fictitious Financial Fire Starter?”

          “Conniving Ponzificator?”

  11. JohnnyGL


    Andrew Yang to Krystal Ball: “Wealth Tax is too hard, rich people are sneaky and will dodge it and leave the country. Let’s do a VAT tax, instead.”

    My inner Matt Stoller: “Yet another candidate who doesn’t have the appetite to pick a fight with the rich and powerful.”

    1. Baby Gerald

      “Wealth Tax is too hard, rich people are sneaky and will dodge it and leave the country.”

      This is a regurgitation of the infamous napkin sketch that Laffer turned into a theory. Tax too much, he says, and the tax revenue will actually go down instead of up. Black is white. Forward is backward. So cut taxes instead and that solves everything. Thirty-plus years on and we still haven’t learned.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Don’t get your hopes up about a VAT. We brought a Goods and Service Tax into Oz about twenty years ago. It was only years later that it was found that it specifically did not apply to stuff like caviar and on wealthy people coming to casinos here to gamble. So you know that a VAT can be rigged. It still gives me a fair bit of aggro that whenever I pay a bill here, that I have to pay 10% tax on what I pay. Let that sink in a minute. If I pay a bill, 10% of that is a tax on the money that I am paying, even if it is to a government entity. I would assume then that if you had a VAT/GST tax in America, that you would have to pay an extra 10% on bills like your health provider.

      1. Off The Street

        One American variant: the Alternative Minimum Tax. My tax prof said that it was like the camel’s nose under the tent, with expectations of those minima, many somewhat local and variable, could be redefined through subsequent non-Congressional action. How convenient to add onto the process of bespoke taxes!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That’s the kind of thing that Pelosi and the liberal Democrat leadership moving the party’s center of gravity right has enabled. “He’s got some good ideas….”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      On the ciimate front, I think it’s better to boycott (buying non-essential products) than to strike.

      And we can do that on more than just one day.

  12. upstater

    Re. surge in demand for ethane:

    Great news on the climate strike day for free trade, feedstocks for more plastics, being shipped all over the world in ships fueled by high sulfur bunker oil.

  13. Chris Hargens

    Looking for a link to apparent racist comments regarding WFP voting with super delegates. If the Jacobin article is the place to find them, then I’m left bewildered.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I published a tweet to them with screenshots; you’d have to search on the accounts.

      Amazing how easy it is for liberal Democrats to gin up a moral panic. It’s like bubbles, in a way.

  14. DonCoyote

    Jordan Chariton (Status Coup) has been talking about the NY primary thing for a few weeks:

    Here’s an example

    Jordan said Cuomo has had it for awhile; Cuomo’s aides claimed in Politico yesterday he hasn’t received it and intends to sign it.

    Anyone wanna research the actual status: it’s NY Senate Bill S6532A

  15. geoff

    Thanks for the Sabato electoral map. Great to see that it looks like once again fewer than 100,000 people in PA and WI will determine our next President. A splash of cold water is right.

    1. John k

      Fl has flipped before… and they have really good reason to worry about climate change.
      And Houston has a problem, too.

  16. ewmayer

    PayPal ups the gouge – just got this in my InBox, boldface mine:

    Earlier this year, we notified you that we were updating our User Agreement to change our refund policy. We want to let you know that the policy change is going into effect beginning on October 11, 2019.

    In line with industry practice and according to our updated policy, we will not charge a fee to process refunds, but the fees from the original transaction will not be returned. This policy will not apply to duplicate transactions, voids and most disputed transactions. You can review the PayPal User Agreement for more information on our return policies.

    [remaining self-laudatory boilerplate snipped]

    What this means: Typical eBay seller pays ~10% in fees to eBay and Paypal for each item sold. Until now, though, if a user returned an item or item was damaged beyond repair in shipping, when one issued a refund one at least got said fees back. What Paypal is saying is that their 2-3% portion of the sale is now no longer gonna get refunded. But hey, at least they’re “not charging you a refund fee”, they’re just no longer gonna return their fee on the original sale, which is, like a totally different thing.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Thanks for actually reading one of those PayPal mails that I reflexively delete. I wish there were an alternative that people would actually accept using. In France, the biggest eBay alternative site, leboncoin, has set up their own escrow system. No fee.

  17. Baby Gerald

    Re: “Let’s Play the World’s Smallest Violin for the Pod Save America Boys”

    I seem to recall a certain Mr. Pfeiffer being a major stakeholder in a little mom-and-pop establishment called GoFundMe. In fact, he’s their Vice President of Communication and Policy. Raising money from friends to cover ridiculous medical expenses is one of GoFMe’s uses and, thus, one of its chief sources of revenue. Screw that guy.

  18. Oregoncharles

    A quick take on the Climate Strike high school walkout today: I made it to the rally, in front of City Hall (because they’re asking for new city and county initiatives). Extremely gratifying, mostly very young people with a seasoning of the well-seasoned. The highest-pitched crowd noise I’ve ever heard: the girls are on this. Huge crowd – they couldn’t do the planned die-in because there wasn’t room. We all sat down instead. It was heart-warming and a bit heart-breaking.

    The kids are fired up, and planning to change things. Organizing this event was a good start. I just hope they have time. They deserve it. Meanwhile, the low ground i nthe Southeast is going under.

  19. dk

    This is how cookie cutters are made

    Notice how the implementation is on a jig-table, the central die and the push-in faces can be reconfigured for the run. Good luck to AI trying to automate that.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Is the dictionary sexist? Petition calls for Oxford English Dictionary to remove sexist terms for women”: “My girlfriends don’t speak like this so it’s a man’s point of view,” she recalled thinking.

    And here I was thinking that girls trash-talked about each other whenever one of them is not present. My mistake.

    1. Off The Street

      As a parent-survivor of those dreaded middle school and high school (and even college) years, I heard, and heard about, all manner of girl-on-girl verbal assaults from my daughter and from neighbors and fellow parents. Social media only exacerbated the issues. Mrs. Street says that intrasex verbal interactions weren’t anywhere near that bad in her youth.

  21. Skip Intro

    Meanwhile, in CA, one of the great pitfalls for voters was the American Independent Party, which is where voters landed who selected “Independent”. This made them ineligible to vote in the Dem. primary. They should have chosen No Party Preference (NPP) to be eligible to request a Dem. primary ballot. The legislature just passed a bill to force the party to change, or be delisted. Apparently all the ‘Independents’ will be switched to NPP. As in NY, the bill awaits the Governor’s signature.

    On August 30, the California Assembly Appropriations Committee passed SB 696, the bill to force the American Independent Party to change its name to something that doesn’t have either “independent” or “independence.” All Democrats voted for it; all Republicans voted against it.

  22. anon in so cal

    Re: Elizabeth Warren and the WFP

    Elizabeth Warren’s daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, was/is on the board of the public policy org, DEMOS, which has links to the WFP. Some personnel seem to move back and forth between the two organizations.
    Not saying this influenced the WFP endorsement. Apologies if this has already been posted.

Comments are closed.