2:00PM Water Cooler 9/24/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“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 9/23/2019, 4:00 PM UTC/12:00PM 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 2019-09-24: These screens are from a revised version that now includes Undecided-Refused, which is in grey. As you can see, Biden, Warren, and Sanders all went down, and undecideds went up! Which is a slightly different picture from the Warren triumphalism we are seeing. Of course, this is just one or two polls, groupthink/common methodological issues could be messing with all the aggregates, etc.

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.

* * *


Biden (D)(1): “Biden-Linked Firm Tests Messages to Undercut ‘Medicare for All'” [Bloomberg]. “A new poll by a firm linked to Joe Biden is testing messages designed to undercut support among Democrats for Medicare for All, one of the most contentious issues splitting the party’s top presidential contenders. The survey, commissioned by the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, found that primary voters start off favoring the government-run health care system by a margin of 70% to 21%, but can be persuaded to oppose it. The study showed that Democrats are most swayed by the arguments that the program would impose a heavy cost on taxpayers and threaten Medicare for senior citizens.” • Kelton subtweets:

“More money in your pocket” is normally an easy sell. I wonder if Sanders is being too wonkish on #MedicareForAll

Biden (D)(2): “Democrats Pursue Trump Probe on Ukraine Despite Risks for Biden” [Bloomberg]. “Three House committees announced earlier this month that they were investigating whether Trump used the withholding of military aid as leverage to get Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to probe the Bidens — an allegation that has been bolstered by a new whistle-blower complaint from inside the U.S. intelligence community. Democrats could turn up damaging information about Trump’s dealings with a foreign leader by conducting a full-scale inquiry, but they could also give a lot of additional air time to allegations about Biden, linking their party’s 2020 presidential front-runner to a whiff of corruption, whether or not the evidence backs that up. The last thing Democrats want is another candidate on the defensive, after Trump was able to cast doubt on Hillary Clinton in 2016.” • Or not. Important factions within the intelligence community clearly had a candidate in 2016. Do they also have one in 2020?

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “The whistleblower complaint may end up being worse for Joe Biden than Trump” [Ed Rogers, WaPo]. “Voters may think Biden isn’t just too old to be president, but that maybe he carries too much baggage to be the party’s nominee, as well. In the strangest of ways, the whistleblower incident is more likely to end the political career of Biden before that of Trump. Biden is a fragile front-runner and the whole matter involving his son’s foreign business dealings not only raises unflattering questions but provides plenty of reminders about his life in the swamp. Trump, on the other hand, is exceptionally durable with his base, to say nothing of the fact that his entire presidency has practically been defined by his ability to outlive Democratic “witch hunts.'” • Rogers is a Republican. It’s odd that we’re hearing this from both sides of the aisle.

Sanders (D)(1): “The Sanders climate plan can work. Warren’s can’t.” [Carl Beijer]. “Warren’s plan is centered around building a green export industry that will develop technologies and products and sell them to poor countries at a profit for US businesses. Sanders’ plan is centered around taxing the rich and global demilitarization to secure the funds and then turning them over to the United Nations. One plan is plainly grounded in Warren’s faith in markets and promoted with the rhetoric of “economic patriotism”. As I noted elsewhere, Warren’s climate plans are also deliberately designed to accomodate US militarism. The other plan expresses Sanders’ skepticism in markets. His is the only plan that even begins to grapple with the magnitude of the international climate finance problem, and he does it, correctly, by positioning militarism and the fight against climate change directly at odds.” • Important!

Sanders (D)(2): “Sanders targets highest-income Americans with ‘extreme wealth tax’ and ‘national wealth registry'” [Politico]. “Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday proposed an ‘extreme wealth tax’ on the highest-income Americans, along with a ‘national wealth registry’ that he said would help prevent them from avoiding the tax. The tax rate would start at 1 percent on net worth of more than $32 million and rise with income above that, topping out at 8 percent on wealth over $10 billion.” • Seems low.

Sanders (D)(3): “Sanders proposes sweeping wealth tax, an idea highlighted by Warren” [WaPo] • The URL gives the original headline: “/sanders-taking-a-page-from-warren-proposes-sweeping-wealth-tax.” Some editor changed it, since it was false. From the Sanders Senate website, September 6, 2014: “Sanders Proposes Wealth Tax; Piketty, Reich Applaud.”

Sanders (D)(4): Hard to imagine anybody but Sanders saying this:

Laudable policy goal, but I don’t see how the 8% extreme wealth tax achieves it.

Sanders (D)(5): Or this:

Well, so much for comity.

Trump (R)(1): “‘3 Musketeers’ or ‘3 Stooges’? Republicans Running Against Trump May Fall in Between” [New York Times]. Of Mark Sanford, Joe Walsh, and William Weld: “The reality of their shared project of depriving Mr. Trump of his party’s nomination may fall somewhere between fearless and farcical. His challengers were all defeated in their last races and have little to lose in taking on what appears to be a fool’s errand: challenging a president whose approval rating in his own party ranks consistently in the high 80s. But with three Republicans running — each representing a different constituency in the party — coupled with a softening economy and Mr. Trump’s own falling poll numbers against almost any Democrat, the theory of the case is that reluctant Trump voters may start to see a way out.” • Let me know how that works out.

Warren (D)(1): “Warren’s rise shakes up Democratic field” [The Hill]. “A new poll showing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) leading former Vice President Joe Biden in Iowa has shaken up the Democratic nomination battle — and insiders across the party are gaming out what it all means. Warren currently has 22 percent support to Biden’s 20 percent, according to the well-respected Des Moines Register–CNN–Mediacom poll, released Saturday night. The two are well clear of the rest of the field, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in third place with 11 percent support…. With more than four months to go, the experts all agree that it’s too early to make solid predictions. But the battle for Iowa is heating up by the day.”

Warren (D)(2): Yesterday, I ran this tweet:

By contrast:

Of course, there are some distinctions to be drawn: (1) Cattle car v. Acela, and (2) bottom-up list given to candidate v. top-down selfie of candidate (“not me, us”). Warren also, after a few days of controversy her crack staff must surely have told her about, gives her stamp of approval to the WFP’s super delegate-driven endorsement process. Also, where I come from, nobody, but nobody, has the privilege of making noise in the Quiet Car. Of course, in the world of Acela Corridor groupthink, things may be different. But I think the Norms Fairy should slay them all.

* * *

“Democrats increase qualifying thresholds for November debate” [Associated Press]. “The Democratic National Committee is increasing the polling and fundraising requirements for presidential candidates to qualify for the primary campaign’s fifth debate in November. But in a nod to the potential for late-surging campaigns, the increases are not as steep as those from the first and second debates during the summer to the third and fourth debates after Labor Day…. To make the November debate, candidates must have at least 165,000 unique donors, with at least 600 each in at least 20 states. That’s up from 130,000 donors — with 400 donors each in at least 20 states — for September and October. Candidates also must hit 3% in at least four national or early state polls — or hit 5% in two early state polls. That separate early state threshold is a new polling pathway that DNC officials say is meant to reward candidates who may be generating enthusiasm in states like Iowa or New Hampshire even if similar support isn’t registering in national polls. The DNC has not yet announced the date or location of the November debate.”

UPDTATE “To beat Trump, try running an outsider” [Vox]. “the fact of the matter is that Hunter wasn’t on the board because of his expertise in Eastern European energy issues. He’s part of a long and perfectly legal tradition of family members of influential politicians profiting off a vague sense that it’s politically and economically useful to cultivate these connections. That this kind of sleazy stuff has been going on for years doesn’t make Trump’s abuses of power okay, and it certainly doesn’t make his stepped-up and more-egregious forms of corruption okay. But Democrats are kidding themselves if they don’t think it helps explain why Trump’s corruption is tolerated.” • But then this: “Moreover, there is a world of difference between setting yourself up with a boutique lobbying or consulting shop after your time in politics and getting paid by a few clients whose causes you think are reasonable and having a hotel in downtown Washington where you openly collect bribes from all comers. Beyond the corruption, Trump now routinely dabbles in abuses of power that should shock the conscience.” • I’m not sure I agree. There are many, many, many of those “boutique lobbying or consulting shops” — they may be thought of, along with NGOs, as they dark matter in which political parties are embedded — and in the aggregate, they have do far more damage than a single outside figure can do. Would I rather have my house burgled, or discover termites? I think the termites are worse.


UPDATE “Trump authorizes release of transcript of controversial Ukraine call that mentioned Joe Biden on Wednesday” [CNBC]. “President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he has authorized the release Wednesday of a complete trancript of a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.” • Hoo boy.

* * *

“Trump scoffs at rising impeachment calls: ‘It’s nonsense'” [The Hill]. Trump: “I think it’s ridiculous. It’s a witch hunt. I’m leading in the polls. They have no idea how they stop me, the only way they can try is through impeachment. It’s nonsense, and when you see the call, when you see the readout of the call, which I assume you’ll see at some point, you’ll understand. That call was perfect.” • Which he would say. And does. That said, so far as I know, nobody has seen a transcript of the call, and we don’t know where it really comes from. I mean, besides an anonymous source.

“POLITICO Playbook: How the ground is shifting on impeachment” [Politico]. “PERHAPS THE CLEAREST SIGN of the shifting dynamics is what Speaker NANCY PELOSI’S closest allies are saying. On Monday, after the latest news of the conversation between the Ukrainian president and TRUMP broke, Connecticut Rep. ROSA DELAURO — one of the speaker’s closest allies and friends — said that ‘an impeachment inquiry may be the only recourse Congress has if the president is enlisting foreign assistance in the 2020 election. Congress must meet this pivotal moment in our nation’s history with decisive action.’ Michigan Rep. DEBBIE DINGELL said it this way: “This country is divided. We cannot be divided on the rule of law. As an elected official my oath is to protect national security and the Constitution. After recent revelations, I support an impeachment inquiry because we must follow the facts and hold the president accountable.'” • As a parenthesis, Dingell’s oath is “[I] do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” which isn’t really the same as “national security” (although The Blob would beg to differ, I think).

“Seven freshman Democrats: These allegations are a threat to all we have sworn to protect” [WaPo]. By Gil Cisneros, Jason Crow, Chrissy Houlahan, Elaine Luria, Mikie Sherrill, Elissa Slotkin* and Abigail Spanberger*. I’ve helpfully underlined the MILOs readers will remember from my 2018 midterms spreadsheets, and asterisked the actual CIA operatives.

“Trump Impeachment: House Dems Are Discussing a ‘Select Panel’ to Handle the Task” [The Daily Beast]. “As House Democrats find themselves once more navigating the tricky politics of impeachment, a new idea is being floated: creating a select panel of members that would handle those responsibilities.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

Stats Watch

Consumer Confidence, September 2019: “The consumer confidence index had been showing exceptional strength but did fall back unexpectedly in September

” [Econoday]. “[T]his index has been trending higher this year in continued contrast to the rival consumer sentiment index which has been slumping noticeably. The difference between the two indexes is the focus on labor market factors which are central to the consumer confidence report and where today’s results are mixed… A strong negative in today’s report is a sharp decline in those who see their income improving over the next months… Today’s report offers a measure of caution and if nothing else suggests that further acceleration in consumer spending, which the Federal Reserve considers to be by far the strongest segment of the economy, may be limited.”

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, September 2019: “Fifth District manufacturing activity slumped back into contraction in September” [Econoday]. “Coming in much weaker than consensus and the range of analysts’ forecasts, the decline was led by the resumption of weakness in shipments…. The weakness in today’s report contrasts with the strength seen in last week’s Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing survey but does confirm the Federal Reserve’s concerns about weakness in the manufacturing sector and its exposure to global trade risks.”

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, July 2019: “Home prices are mostly flat, confirmed by this morning’s FHFA data and especially Case-Shiller data and indicative of a housing sector that has failed, despite low mortgage rates, to build much momentum this year” [Econoday].

FHFA House Price Index, July 2019: “FHFA’s house price index rose a better-than-expected” [Econoday]. “Yet the yearly rate, outside of June, is still the lowest in nearly four years to underscore this year’s sluggish performance by the housing sector.”

The Bezzle: “How Carlos Ghosn Hid $140 Million in Compensation From Nissan

Honey for the Bears: “Opinion: The U.S. economy isn’t out of the woods yet” [MarketWatch]. “A funny thing happened on the way to the recession, which had been lightly penciled-in for sometime next year: the U.S. economic data showed a marked improvement. From housing starts and home sales to manufacturing production and jobless claims, the economic news last week was upbeat, even as the Federal Reserve administered a second dose of monetary stimulus in as many months to offset the risks from slowing global growth and a trade war.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 59, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 66 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 24 at 12:07pm. Still drifting toward neutrality.

The Biosphere

“Greta Thunberg’s Magic Word: ‘Strike!'” [John Halle]. “For some of us who were there, Friday’s Climate Strike brought back memories of Feb. 15, 2003 when one to two million of us flooded the streets of New York City. It was a huge organizational success, over 3000 groups collaborating to bring together what remains the largest demonstration in history. But our pride in accomplishing what we did should not obscure the bitter truth: we failed. ‘When the people lead, the leaders will follow,’ we told ourselves. But they didn’t. And so, when Thunberg asked the question “will they listen?”, she knew with 100% certainty what the answer would be. ‘No’ roared back a quarter million voices in unison. But at that point, Thunberg turned the tables from naivete into defiance, ‘We will make them listen.’ How would she do it? She didn’t say but she didn’t have to. The magic word is in the title of the event. That word is ‘strike.’ A strike is the only word we have which communicates with those in power in the language they understand. And that is the language of money-of the bottom line cost imposed by refusing to play our part in the system converting our labor into their profits.” • I think Thunberg does “have to” say that. Look at the discouraging detail below on the UAW below. Though I think Halle is right in the abstract…

“Exploring the origins of the apple” [Frontiers in Science News]. “Several recent genetic studies have demonstrated that the modern apple is a hybrid of at least four wild apple populations, and researchers have hypothesized that the Silk Road trade routes were responsible for bringing these fruits together and causing their hybridization. Archaeological remains of apples in the form of preserved seeds have been recovered from sites across Eurasia, and these discoveries support the idea that fruit and nut trees were among the commodities that moved on these early trade routes…. Understanding how and when apple trees evolved to produce larger fruits is an important question for researchers, because fruit trees do not appear to have followed the same path towards domestication as other, better-understood crops, such as cereals or legumes. Many different wild and anthropogenic forces apply selective pressure on the crops in our fields, it is not always easy to reconstruct what pressures caused which evolutionary changes. Therefore, looking at evolutionary processing in modern and fossil plants can help scholars interpret the process of domestication. Fleshy sweet fruits evolve to attract animals to eat then and spread their seeds; large fruits specifically evolve to attract large animals to disperse them.” • I wonder how plants are evolving for climate change; they surely must be (and has labor migration due to globalization caused an upsurge in seeds that have traveled between continents? (I note, for example, my forsythia now has two flowerings, one in the spring, and one in the fall. Perhaps it knows what it’s doing?

“Oil industry refuses to back away from fossil fuels” [Financial Times]. “A who’s who of the global oil industry sketched out a persistent role for fossil fuels on Monday, blocks away from the UN where 66 nations pledged to reach ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by the year 2050.  The meeting of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative highlighted the dilemma of addressing growing demand for energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the earth.  The group’s 13 members include ExxonMobil, BP and Saudi Aramco, which collectively account for more than 30 per cent of global oil and gas production. Under pressure from investors and politicians, they have voluntarily endorsed the 2015 Paris agreement that aims to cap global temperature rises at well below 2C, and preferably below 1.5C.” • Let’s nationalize them.

“Scared Central Banks Face Up to Threats From Climate Change” [Bloomberg]. “Carney did [in his Sept. 29, 2015 speech at Lloyd’s of London] was to start conversations at the highest levels of financial services about global warming, as almost every major central bank began a dialog with the institutions they work with…. Contemplating such dangers, Carney has warned of a ‘Minsky Moment,’ in which a climate-related alarm could cause asset prices to collapse. Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau said this month that global warming could hit growth and lead to upward price pressures, generating a ‘stagflationary shock.’ Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda and Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau Speak At The Paris Europlace Financial Forum

Francois.” • Hoo boy. I have to say that my disaster scenario is something tangible, not finance-driven; something we can’t talk ourselves into or out of. A collapse of some segment of our supply chain, for example. Or a pandemic spread by air travel. Of course, nobody knows anything.

“Fukushima bosses cleared over nuclear disaster” [Nature]. “Prosecutors had accused Katsumata, TEPCO’s former chairman, and former vice-presidents Muto and Takekuro of failing to act on information that showed the plant was at risk, and of causing the deaths of 44 people in hospital who were forced to evacuate. The court’s ruling, according to the Associated Press, stated that it was unrealistic for the company’s leaders to prepare for all tsunami scenarios, and that the TEPCO executives’ actions had been in line with government safety guidelines. Following the verdict, TEPCO apologized in a statement for the accident and its impact on the region. But the company declined to comment on the outcome of the trial.” • Because of course they were.

Guillotine Watch

“The World’s Wealthiest Families Are Stockpiling Cash as Recession Fears Grow” [Bloomberg]. “Rick Stone, a former partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, sees treacherous times ahead for family offices trying to deploy cash. ‘It’s a very hard time for family offices to allocate money,’ said Stone… The head of Stone Family Office said he doubts the bond market will provide any real return over the next decade, that equity markets will suffer a substantial drop and then be flat, and that too much venture capital and private equity money will continue to chase too few opportunities… That view of the markets is shared by many of the 360 global single- and multi-family offices surveyed for the 2019 UBS Global Family Office Report, which was done in conjunction with Campden Research and released Monday. A majority expect the global economy to enter a recession by 2020, with the highest percentage of gloomy respondents in emerging markets. About 42% of family offices around the world are raising cash reserves…. Family offices have become a greater force in global financial markets. Campden estimates that such firms manage around $5.9 trillion.” • Hmm.

Class Warfare

“GM strike, day 9: Negotiations press on as layoffs mount” [Detroit News]. “Bargainers for the two sides worked a long day Monday, with negotiations ending at about 8 p.m. Their divide is centered around wages and health care and securing a pathway for temporary workers to get seniority.” • Yes, that mushy “pathway* for temporary workers to get seniority” is and end to two-tier. NOTE * “Path” and “pathway” seem to be entering the liberal Democrat lexicon, The Book of Crawfishing™. “Path to citizenship,” “pathway to Medicare for All.” A “path” means that you have nice things, just not today.

“GM Strikers Say ‘No More Tiers!'” [Labor Notes]. “Picketers on the line September 16 at GM’s Detroit assembly plant all said that equality for temps and second-tier workers was their priority…. Today, contracted-out janitors in the plants make as little as $15 an hour, but in the past they would have been direct employees of GM and covered under the auto contract, which pays Tier One “legacy” workers about $31. Such jobs were often reserved for employees with high seniority whose bodies were worn ragged from years on the assembly line. Today most such jobs that GM considers ancillary, such as sequencing parts to feed the line, are done by contractors…. ‘These aren’t workers just filling a 90-day hole so that another worker can go on vacation,’ [said Michael Herron, UAW Local 1853 chairman at Spring Hill] said. ‘They have worked every week for three years non-stop. So they deserve to be compensated just like anyone else.'” • Solidarity, what a concept. And more:

Striking auto workers are trying to climb out of the hole they are in, but leaders have done little to offer a ladder. International leaders organized no contract campaign to energize members and pressure management before the strike and did not publicize their demands. Picket signs say simply “UAW on Strike.” At the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly line, a supporter was told not to carry his handmade “Solidarity” sign; only the official signs were welcome.

Not a button was distributed in the plants. There was no survey of the membership, no rank-and-file contract action teams, no bargaining bulletins to keep members in the loop. No “practice picketing,” no turn-down of overtime, no outreach to the public, no open bargaining—none of the tactics that have become common in many unions.

As they have for decades, UAW officials played their cards close to the vest, with only management allowed a peek. Members knew what they read in the media, explained materials handler Sean Crawford at Flint Assembly.

And the strike got off to a bad start when union leaders directed GM workers to cross their fellow union members’ picket lines.

Yikes. (And we should also get rid of two-tier everywhere. Social Security, especially.

News of the Wired

She’s right:

* * *

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 (TH):

TH writes: “I liked the lighting on this cycad.”

Readers, I’m still running a bit short on plants. Perhaps you are all too busy harvesting? All plants and honorary plants welcome (as well as more of those very interesting garden projects).

* * *

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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. ACF

    Glitch above, at least on Safari, missing Sanders 2 & 3:
    Sanders (D)(2):

    Sanders (D)(3): Hard to imagine anybody but Sanders saying this:

    Sanders (D)(4): Or this: [tweet is visible]

        1. Hossein D. Akhond

          No. Not fixed. I wrote you about htis a few days ago. The embedded content is not rendered on the Chrome browser on the Mac (look at my email for details and version numbers).

  2. Mark Gisleson

    Unsure if I mentioned this here, but last Iowa Poll was very odd.

    Four days of calling starting on the Saturday of the Iowa-Iowa State football game, and concluded following Tuesday. This is an odd window for polling which I believe is usually done Sunday-Thursday to reach the most people.

    I think the DMRegister did its best to help Warren by doing a fourth of their polling during the biggest football game in Iowa each year. And, if you subtract all the sports fans, the poll does look about right.

    I’ve already checked. No major Iowa college teams are playing on Caucus night.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thank you. That’s very good. It’s horrid to think of the pollsters as political players at the tactical level, but I suppose that’s where we are. Perhaps dk can sort of which ones are better to trust.

            1. Fiery Hunt

              Hillary Clinton is as vile a political agent as America has ever produced. ..just behind Darth Cheney, W. and Kissinger.

              Never to be underestimated.
              She gets no quarter.

              1. D shatin

                I suppose being the only Presidential candidate to care about and to propose help for foster children is more vile than Dark Vader. Out of what rock did you8 crawl?
                P.S. Hillary Clinton was elected by popular vote President 2016

                1. Big River Bandido

                  Does her supposed help for foster children cancel out all the children she had droned to death in the Middle East?

                2. Robeson Crusoe

                  Except that she was not elected.

                  She won the popular vote. There is a difference.

                  It will take helping a lot of foster children to make up for the half million Iraqi kids her husband had killed (cue Madeline Albright admitting this).

                3. ambrit

                  Oh, oh oh! A ‘Democrat Party’ pocket universe impinges upon the perceptible borders of the cosmos that NC inhabits. Is there a ‘wormhole’ connecting NC to DK? Rather than appealing to ‘string theory’ for an explanation, we should characterize this as ‘thread theory.’
                  As for the ‘popular vote’ canard, it should be admitted that in some ‘more just world,’ Hillary would be President, of the Pacific States Confederation.

                  1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


                    Hey that wormhole is real. I warped from Daily Kos -> Balloon Juice -> Nakedcapitalism!

                    Lotta Hillbots need radicalization to the NC Darkside.

                    Join us. The underbelly of this rock is nice and cool :)

                    As far as Foster Kids, isnt a broken clock right twice a day?

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        But wait, there’s more:

        But the race is far from settled: Just one in five likely Democratic caucusgoers say their minds are made up, while 63% say they could still be persuaded to support a different candidate.

        “The data in this poll seem to suggest the field is narrowing, but my sense is there’s still opportunity aplenty,” Selzer said. “The leaders aren’t all that strong. The universe is not locked in.”
        But Selzer said Warren’s numbers also reveal some vulnerability.

        Among those who say she is their first choice for president, only 12% say their minds are made up, while 88% say they could be persuaded to support another candidate.


        1. Mark Gisleson

          I don’t subscribe (very long standing grudge) to the DMR, and they’ve taken most of their political coverage off their front page, effectively firewalling it. But their social media has been classic DMR: passive aggressive to an extreme, always nice to favored candidates, always a thorn with the rose for Bernie.

          Their soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, a very conservative playing field, was classic Des Moines Register. One camera position only for all candidates (to be FAIR!), an angle that showed them from behind and below, and gave you no sense of crowd size or reaction (but they ran pix of Bernie’s crowd staying for Warren). It’s not journalism, it’s stagecraft and they work very hard at it.

          It should also be mentioned (and I don’t know what to make of it because I only have a feel for a few of them) that the Register’s political reporting is now almost all female. Watch the by-lines, the two (?) guys are I think borrowed from other depts. They’re ramped up for the Caucuses, both as players and as profiteers. Journalism? Not so much.

          1. Big River Bandido

            They haven’t actually staffed up at all, in fact they’ve continued to lay off people. Now what the Register does around caucus season…is simply reassign people from other beats to cover the caucuses. So you have arts and sports writers covering politics for a few months once every four years.

            The Politico article from April which detailed these changes was featured either here or in Links; if it hadn’t appeared here I’d never have read it.

    2. dcrane

      Re: Warren triumphalism/polls

      Is there any reason to see what is going on as more than just Biden support bailing to “Plan C”, i.e., the next most establishment-friendly candidate who has any apparent chance of winning? Sanders’ support seems solid. Admittedly, I would much rather see Sanders slowly eating away at the “pro-establishment” fraction of Dem voters, but there is nothing to suggest that he is losing support.

  3. Acacia

    Re: Impeachment — Not to be too foily but: why now?

    War with Iran? Skeletons in the closet in Kiev? Biden’s family? …?

    Oh wait, now it seems Trump is authorizing a full release of the phone call in question. Markets are up. Ha!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Oh wait, now it seems Trump is authorizing a full release of the phone call in question. Markets are up. Ha!

      I added a link to that effect just now; please refresh your browser.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Biden and clinton are fixing to have two things in common, they lost to both obama and trump

        1. ambrit

          I’m sticking with my idea that Biden and Clinton are one campaign. Divide to deny Sanders a first round victory, then go to a brokered convention. Next, offer up a ‘Unity Candidate.” (Guess who?)

      1. Summer

        Couldn’t that be achieved by wealthy Trump supporters dumping some of the FANNG plus Microsoft stocks propping up the market and many funds?

    2. NotReallyHere

      It looks like Dims got played. Talk up a “whistle-blower” on Fox news or CNN. Let the media frenzy begin. And after a good amount of momentum has been achieved … – walla – release the transcript!!

      It’ll likely have all the details of how Biden got paid, how they flushed the prosecutor who was about to question the son (or whatever the overt act was). And the Ukraine president’s disbelief at the audacity of it all.

      Media is now in a fix. Can’t ignore it – so they’ll try to spin it. But even then Biden’s corruption will be laid bare for anyone who wants to see. And it’ll be right there in the story … “The details of the phone call which – if true; reveal shocking levels of corruption on the part of the Biden family – are insufficient to show that this president acted appropriately”

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I’m relieved that I haven’t become so warped that I was the only one who thought this. It seems to me that the Democrats are best imagined as the next victim in a horror movie. “No! Don’t go down in the cellar! Don’t do it!”

        1. David Carl Grimes

          I don’t get it. Pelosi wants to impeach Trump for trying to dig up dirt on Biden but then she did not impeach the Shrub for lying about WMDs in Iraq? Which act was more consequential to the country?

          1. Late Introvert

            I’m going to answer you David Carl G.! Because you asked.

            George W. Bush lying about WMD’s was way more consequential. Way, way more.

    3. Jason Boxman

      And John Yoo of torture fame penned an op-ed for the NYTimes cautioning that impeaching the president will “harm to the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy and protect our nation.”

      I can’t really come up with words.

  4. nippersmom

    The more I see of Warren, the less I like her- and I would not have voted for her to begin with. I’m getting very tired of moderate Republicans being packaged and sold as “progressives”.

    1. hunkerdown

      To her credit, Warren does have a theory of change:

      After dinner, “Larry leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice,” Ms. Warren writes. “I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People — powerful people — listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders.

      “I had been warned,” Ms. Warren concluded.

      Message received and understood!

      1. c.kimball

        I first heard a version of this same story in a talk by Yanis Varoufakis which has now been repeated in his book Adults in the Room:my battle with Europe’s deep establishment
        I’ve been trying to remember in what context I had originally heard these words though not as
        Elizabeth Warren’s. It seems curiously outlandish that Mr. Summers would use the same
        vocabulary for E. Warren in 2009 as for Yanis Varoufakis in 2015.

    2. Isotope_C14

      Yeah, I had a discussion with my mom about her “Cherokee” heritage, and how that would essentially make her incapable of beating Trump. Apparently she can’t figure out how truly bad that DNA test was…

      Even the German PhD’s I work with can clearly see that the “Democrats” are working hard to give Trump 4 more years.

      If it’s visible to non-native English speakers, who are admittedly quite literate and smart, that the D’s have no interest in winning, well, it doesn’t bode well for the anti-Bernie class.

      Sharpen up those Guillotine blades, that’s the only way to get rid of them.

      1. Titus

        As a former president of a large German engineering company, I’d say the Germans I’ve worked with probably know every single 538 by ‘name’ and think we’re very poor citizens not to. So there’s that to consider. Very different mind set. On the other hand in my experience those that love to talk politics are very nuanced about it. I haven’t run across many conversations about liberals Dems v the left. Warren is fine they like technocrat politicians. Not one I’ve asked would vote for Trump, so I’m not so sure about your Germans. Like our country the north, south, and east are all very different places in Germany.

        1. Isotope_C14

          There is quite a divide between engineers and scientists. My guess is that my Germans are just scientists, and are used to data analysis and projections. I’m in Berlin, and in a medical research area with lots of lefties, as far as I can tell. I didn’t ask most of the older folks who they voted for, but everyone younger, I did. They were mostly Die Linke, Diem25, or more center like Green/SPD.

          My last discussion on the topic started yesterday as I was greeted: “So, I see the Democrats plan to lose to Trump is well underway”. I’ve told them that the DNC has no interest in giving their donors a frowney-face.

          I was talking to a different girl, who is alarmed that her little coastal town that has a major AFD presence, might end up working with SPD…

          Gotta love those centrist parties and the direction they take their alliances. Perhaps they shouldn’t have been pushing austerity since that never works.

          I suspect if I knew engineers that they would like Warren too, but that isn’t exactly a selling point for her.

    3. richard

      I also have this totally more superficial dislike to her and so many other mainstream pols who
      overuse their hands
      when making a point
      she is so bad with this, especially when she is shining you on or just outright lying
      (“I don’t believe in unilateral disarmament!”)
      she tries to shape her words into a more pleasing form with her goddamn hands
      it is such a tell
      Beto too of course, but he’s not a threat to win anything

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Like Harris, she’s a lawyer. Lawyers are taught extensively how and why to be extremely careful with how they word things, from clauses in contracts to closing arguments.

        Bernie saying “M4A” or Warren saying “working toward healthcare that is accessible to everyone” may be too fine a distinction for everyone to understand what they’re really saying. Alas.

    1. nippersmom

      When the other candidates prove reliably progressive, I’ll consider them. So far, Sanders is the only one to reach that threshold. You may call that “purism”; I call it not supporting candidates who don’t support me.

      I contributed to Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign (and supported her as a potential VP candidate) despite having reservations about her, specifically because I wanted her to be on the debate stage to promote her anti-imperialist foreign policy views. She lost a lot of ground with me on her vote on the anti-BDS referendum.

    2. Terry Humphrey

      Not about purity, just retail politics of Tulsi splitting the progressive vote in the primary which is the tough one.

    3. Roy G

      Save the Bernie Bro condescension for Balloon Juice or Daily Kos, please. It’s so 2015.

      I support Tulsi (contributed just yesterday, btw), because I think she is a valuable anti-war voice to have in the race. That said, she’s not really a viable candidate, so my ultimate support is for Bernie.

      1. John

        Sanders/Gabbard indeed The DNC crowd has tried so hard to squeeze Tulsi out with the able assistance of the MSM. Perhaps this will cause agita.

      2. richard

        Hey JHB, was looking for you to talk Righteous Gemstones…
        I missed danny mcbride in the last episode
        Nobody does arrogantly entitled and stupidly triumphant better

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Oh man, its so goodddd

          I thought the flashback scenes with Baby Billy (Walter goggins) and Aimee Lee to be good character development. Plus we got to see Danny Mcbrides character as a young teen who gets drunk af and embarass his sister at her own bday part and call out his dad (John Goodman).

          The fact that he literally caused the black mailers Van to crash with his wife in the car was epic. Then he passes it off as a prank!! Genius. Hes like a grown up Kenny fn Powers.

          I wish hed write some anti capitalist working class tv/film but i guess in a way the Gemstones are shown to be pretty despicable. I love how Baby Billys new ‘Church’ is where the mall sears used to be.

          Oh and that reformed Satanist is hilarious. The scene where he runs into his old devil worshipping friends outside that warehouse is classic!!!

    4. Grant

      I am a cancer survivor, I want a healthcare system where private insurance companies play no role, because they may kill me because I am not profitable. Bernie is eons better than Warren on the issue. I want the best environmental plan there is, because I don’t want society to collapse and I care about the world I am handing over to my children. I don’t want someone that supports our murderous foreign policy, because I, unlike you, am not indifferent to the violence our state engages in and supports outside the country. Does this stuff make me “pure”? Or, do I not want to die because of our healthcare system or environmental plans that are nowhere near enough, and care about other human beings outside the country, the victims of our state violence? Seems that someone would have to be privileged as hell to think as you do and to vote on “purity”, a tone deaf concept if there ever was one. Maybe you don’t like Bernie supporters, but people like you make it really hard to like Warren. Maybe try to communicate with humans to your left and people not as economically privileged in a way that doesn’t dismiss them out of hand. You might learn something from a working class or poor person supporter Bernie, if you allow yourself to.

      People to your left are allowed to take part in policy debates and to critique your candidate from the left. If you can’t defend or effectively respond to those critiques, maybe think about them.

      1. Baby Gerald

        Aside from the first five words, I am cut-pasting this response by Grant to use whenever someone claims this purity nonsense when I voice my support for a candidate. Even Bernie is eligible for criticism. Does that mean he’s not ages better than the downright fake and mainstream versions of progressive as represented by the other candidates? False syllogisms need to be called out because they destroy reasonable conversation.

        And for everyone wondering why the Working Family Party supported Warren, look no further:

        Eyes Turn To Elizabeth Warren’s Daughter Following Surprise Endorsement By The Working Families Party

        1. Divadab

          Who is the WFP and who cares what their corrupt leadership does with dirty money to endorse a corrupt candidate?

          Man the dims would rather lose with anybody than win with Bernie

      2. Titus

        Grant – Takes some courage to say all that and if it matters i’m having a very hard time with my health and hope your doing better. Everything is way to complicated. None of us should be living harder lives because this is ‘the best we can do’. No it isn’t. I agree with you about healthcare and I’m baffled as to what it will take to get people to understand that climate change is going to be an abrupt thing. It said 9000 companies world wide need to be shut down. That going to take a lot of Will on the part of the people to get done. And it’s going to make our lives harder likely. But ya, our kids, grandkids get to live a decent life. So we need people in politics to step up and help us solve our problems. Trump isn’t a problem, trump is shameful at worst, and annoying mostly. Gone soon either way. Anyway keep the faith.

        1. Grant

          I am sorry to hear that. I hope you get the care and support you need. Solidarity. Healthcare policy is not some abstract thing to me. And regardless as to what happens to me, I don’t want this murderous system to continue. I want people less privileged than myself to get the care they need, and being poor shouldn’t be a death sentence. I get beside myself with anger when I see sick people denied care because the owners of health insurance and drug companies want bigger houses and more money, and I detest the politicians that take their money and do their bidding. I also find Biden using his son to prop up this system to be absolutely grotesque. What a horrible person he is.

          But, I don’t think a caring person on the left would say that people like me that support Bernie and critique Warren act on notions of purity. Bill Maher can vote for silly reasons like that, I cannot. A caring person on the left would not be so cut off from the experiences of those less privileged than they are that they would say something like that. I have kids too, and doing 10% of what is needed in regards to the environment is not acceptable. I think of the children, the innocent people we kill with our state violence and economic wars. So, I am not a big fan of Warren, I liked her more when I didn’t know as much about her, and I like Biden far less than her.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Just a note from someone who emigrated from the US to Australia: there is hope. Single payer: accept no substitutes.

      3. Cat Burglar

        When people hit me with the “purity” canard for supporting a presidential candidate credibly advocating mildly social democratic policies, I say, “Heck no! My vote is totally for sale to anyone getting us single-payer, Social Security expansion, and free college and vocational education!” I usually ask them, “Moral purity, in politics!? You ought to have your head examined.” I want a politician who will buy my vote and make the payoff.

      4. Summer

        Here’s some speculation:

        “…House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally announced Tuesday that the House will begin an impeachment inquiry into whistleblower charges that Trump tried to pressure Ukraine’s president into investigating presidential contender Joe Biden and his son. That announcement came less than a week after Pelosi and other top Democrats unveiled a proposal that would allow the government to negotiate with drugmakers on the prices of at least 25 of the most expensive drugs in Medicare and the private market in an attempt to lower prescription-drug prices.

        With an impeachment moving through the House, you can either kiss any and all legislation and cooperation goodbye, or Speaker Pelosi will try to move something through “to inoculate vulnerable House Democrats from the ‘Do Nothing’ talking-point,” Cowen analyst Chris Kruger wrote in a note Tuesday.

        Two prime examples could be the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement for North American trade or a drug pricing bill that could get presidential support. Either of those options, however, do not seem very likely with an impeachment moving forward….”

        Sounds like the Democrats known all too well….

      5. Tom Stone

        Grant, thanks for this.
        I’m not a cancer survivor and won’t be ( Mine is not curable).
        Our current healthcare system is almost impossible to navigate without expert help, which I don’t have.
        I’ll most likely opt for palliative care, it seems the most dignified way out.

        1. Grant

          I am sorry to hear this Tom. I hope you too get the care and support that you need. It is for these reasons that we should no longer accept tinkering with this system. It must be replaced. In the meantime, with people in need of support, we have to band together and help one another. We really do live in a deeply inhumane society, and enough people are well off enough that making it more humane is an uphill battle. But, I got nothing to lose, and neither does humanity at this point. I really do wish you well. Keep on fighting the best you can.

        2. ambrit

          You have our support, for what it is worth. Phyllis is in the same situation.
          Gather up a circle of friends and family and get ‘things’ hammered out now, before ‘things’ get too dire. If you go to hospice care, check into the companies very closely. It is a business in our “wonderful ‘access’ medical system.” Results vary widely. If you can, get to know a local nurse and get his or her opinion. Sites like “Glassdoor” have extensive comment sections on each company they cover. The stories insiders tell can make one aware of potential problems to come in dealing with such entities.
          Try not to get too depressed for too long. That’s where family or friends come in greatest use.
          Be strong. Love from our family to you.

        3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          My aunts currently incurable from brain tumors and spine lesions. Shes in University Medical as we speak. Prolly gonna die soon. We are meeting Thursday to discuss her lack of a will and power of attorney to her oldest daughter.

          I wish you well, friend.

    5. Geo

      I’m adding to the pile on. I’m a Bernie supporter that also likes Gabbard. Think she’s a valuable voice on many issues. Yet, it’s also very apparent she holds views I have a hard time reconciling. She’s better then the rest of the pack and I even made a small $1 donation to help her make the debates (something I’ve not done for any other candidate because I’m flat broke) but Bernie is easily my favorite of the candidates.

      So, please, stop with the vapid “purity” garbage. It’s very dismissive of the many thoughtful and knowledgeable readers here (and even the dumb ones like me) who are capable of seeing shades of gray when measuring their values with their preferred candidates.

        1. Mark Gisleson

          “listen to the whole speech”

          I haven’t heard that one, but I did a close listening to her infamous AIPAC speech. It was stunningly brilliant. At no time did she ever link herself to AIPAC or Israel. Every word of praise used this formula: Your friend NAME, is a friend of mine who has often told me [long list of pro-AIPAC baloney]. And then she’d move on. She recited the words they wanted to hear, but they never came out of her mouth, and she never quoted others in an approving way.

          If her comments on Modi are parsed as carefully as her AIPAC speech, we might be looking at the next Eisenhower.

    6. Plenue

      Not a Gabbard ‘fan’, despite donating to her. She was never a serious candidate; her usefulness was in bringing a genuine anti-war platform into the debate. Now that the ‘democratic’ Party has cut her out, she doesn’t have much point. She’s still a drone loving Zionist, and her continued supporting of literal fascist (or the next closest thing) Modi is just gross.

    7. Darius

      Purity suggests politics is about morality. It isn’t. It’s about who’s going to get you stuff. Only Bernie talks in those terms. And he isn’t pure but barely acceptable.

      Purity is posturing for those who think politics is about public performance and self expression. Upper middle class liberals can afford to approach things this way, but most people are too busy trying to keep their horse out of the ditch. They need stuff.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That was fast.

      Surely the people pushing this must have anticipated such a move?

      (We don’t know if the transcript is good, of course. Anybody here remember Rosemary Woods?)

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          But look, that would mean that the entire Democrat nomenklatura plus their assets in the press lost their minds about a single-source story from the intelligence community where a whistleblower was operating on hearsay. I don’t see how that can be.

          To be fair, the WSJ IIRC story looked an awful lot like a quid pro quo. So much will depend on the transcript. If it really is a full transcript (which, interestingly, the whistleblower would not know).

          1. ambrit

            Well, the other interlocutor is in the Ukraine, so, there must be someone here who knows what a FOIA ‘request’ costs there. Better yet, ask the Russian FSB for their copy of the conversation!

              1. uncle tungsten

                I am told that the FBI or NSA could have a copy. Could that be true? At least you wont have to azk the Russians or the Chinese for a copy. Then you could always ask one of the five eyes.

          2. Acacia

            Why can’t it be? The Dems have been frothing at the mouth about impeachment ever since their candidate lost. They feel entitled to the White House and the only question is what line of argument would “prove” this to the public. Many of them have long exhibited signs of acute TDS, and it seemed more a question of what would produce consensus. They’ve latched onto this single-source story, but are hatching plans B, C, Q, X, Y and Z to prepare multiple lines of attack.

            Trump has pulled the rug out from under them on the Ukraine “whistleblower” report, but they’ll say “oh but that’s not all…”.

      1. marym

        NYT 06/21/1974: Nixon and House Versions Of the Tapes Differ Widely

        House Judiciary Committee transcripts of some of President Nixon’s Watergate tape recordings differ extensively, and in many cases significantly, from the edited transcripts made public by the White House.


        The law requires that the whistleblower complaint be provided to Congress. I’m not following closely enough to know how the transcript of a particular call became a focus in the media. I vaguely think it started when there were some leaks to media about the contents of a call. We don’t (and Congress doesn’t) yet know if the content of the complaint was based on multiple sources.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Once this happened, msnbs started saying that the dems also want the unredacted whistleblower complaint released, since the complaint allegedly concerns not just the single phone call, but “multiple” incidents of “wrongdoing.”

      Start walkin’, you stupid goalposts.

      1. DonCoyote

        Remember back in April when the only thing the Dems wanted was an unredacted version of the Mueller report? Then they heard Mueller testify…

        Maybe “unredacted” should be the word of 2019…

  5. Macartney

    The Warren tweet from the Acela train was posted four days BEFORE the Sanders tweet on a plane. But don’t let reality get in the way of your storyline.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      My bad. I’ll revise. It came across my feed, from Warren (i.e., not a RT), subsequently to the Sanders date. Thanks, Twitter timeline!

      Adding, people who cheer in the Quiet Car should still be slain.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      What crap:

      The registrar’s staff will place one Hart Verity Touch Writer, an accessible touch-screen voting machine, at each polling place in the county. That machine can be used by people who can’t put pen to paper because of a mobility issue or visual impairment and by those who need an audio ballot due to limited reading proficiency. When the voter is finished, the machine prints a full paper ballot marked with their choices that Dubroff said “will look exactly the same as every other paper ballot.”

      They have merely shifted the attack surface to the printing software. A ballot is not a receipt!

      1. dcrane

        Isn’t that OK as long as it’s the paper printout that is submitted and counted, in the end? (I.e., as long as the machine is not counting the vote electronically.)

        The real issue is probably here:

        Dubroff said the voting experience for most people will be mostly unchanged, with paper ballots to fill in, but the new ballots will look slightly different. In the past, San Joaquin County voters marked their votes by filling in a small red bubble next to the selection. The new ballots will have larger rectangles to fill in, a change Dubroff said will make them easier to mark. Completed ballots will be placed in a ballot box as usual, and when the polls close, the ballot boxes will be taken to a secure warehouse to be scanned.

    2. Carolinian

      My SC town has just announced that a paper ballot will be issued with every vote that is made on the electronic terminals. The report didn’t go into much detail but presumably you will be able to look at it before turning it in? The ballot therefore becomes a paper trail for the electronically reported vote.

  6. Tim

    On Sander’s wealth tax, remember it is a true wealth tax, it taxes the stock (wealth) not the flow (income/capital gains). It will chip away at the rich in an extremely effective way.

    1. JBird4049

      From housing starts and home sales to manufacturing production and jobless claims, the economic news last week was upbeat, even as the Federal Reserve administered a second dose of monetary stimulus in as many months to offset the risks from slowing global growth and a trade war.”

      So the Fed just gave another hit of meth to keep the tweaking American economy going? The economy that hasn’t had a decent meal in years? At some point those hits just won’t do and the addict just drops (hopefully not dead).

      Of course the Fed could be trying to crash the economy in October, 2020, which would be perfect timing in getting President Trump not elected.

    2. PKMKII

      However, it would also change the basis of the calculation from an absolute (actual dollars from income and capital gains) to a valuation (estimated market value of wealth at end of the year). Which, assuming this tax comes to be, means we’ll start to see creative devaluing of net worth in the service of tax evasion.

    3. John k

      8%/year could stir things up.
      I’m a little worried sanders and warren might be bidding against each other… there’s a limited number of progressives, too extreme helps biden

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The Eisenhower years were a period of rapid rise in American standards of living, industrial expansion, and investment in infrastructure. One breadwinner job in the family was enough to get the kids fed and educated and the house paid off.

        Sanders should continue to mention the top tax rates under Eisenhower: > 90%.

        Somehow the society got along and prospered nicely without billionaires.


  7. dcblogger

    looking at the trio of Republican losers “running for President” I am thinking of dusting off my plan to run for President as a never Trump Republican using a Maine Coon Cat as my mascot. I realize I really do not have to do anything other than put up a web site and mebbe an Instantgram account with lots of pics of the Maine Coon Cat.

  8. jsn

    “• I’m not sure I agree. There are many, many, many of those “boutique lobbying or consulting shops” —”

    And how is Trump’s shakedown hotel any different from DNC dialing for dollars? Or would it be better if he limited himself just renting out the Lincoln Bedroom like the Clintons did?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I want to reiterate the point that Yglesias seems incapable of recognizing* that a network of small shops could create more damage than one guy, even a titan. Look at health care policy, for example. It looks like Elizabeth Warren’s daughter runs a body-shop for the kind of person Yglesias regards as harmless. Thread:

      NOTE * Incapable of recognizing, because obviously professionals don’t have class interests.

      1. Baby Gerald

        Wow, thanks for this, Lambert. See my link to the story in a reply above for yet another shady bit about Warren’s daughter. I wouldn’t normally find myself on RedState, but searching ‘WARren daughter WFP’ in the googlygoo brought this up first and after a read-through, seems pretty straight-up. It even includes reporting from Jordan Chariton in the meat of the story.

        It’s time for Warren to drop out. She’s way too compromised.

    2. Another Scott

      It’s not. The Clintons made political corruption normal and acceptable, provided that it takes the form of donations to campaigns and foundations, book deals, and speaking fees. That they acted in the interest of these donors is purely coincidental and not evidence of any corruption. Remember when Hillary Clinton changed her mind on bankruptcy once she got donations from financial firms? Yglesias doesn’t. Obama is free to become a billionaire in exchange for a mediocre presidency serving the interest of the rich. But they’re not corrupt, only Trump is.
      I really have no way of knowing who is the most corrupt president. How do we even measure corruption? Wealth? Whose net worth increased the most from holding the position? Whose positions have changed the most because of real and future donations? I don’t know but am certain about one thing – Trump is the most crass about his corruption.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Trump is the most crass about his corruption.

        Presumably because he dotted the ‘i’s and crossed the ‘t’-s on setting it up. The front row kids all have ‘people’ doing it or it was part of the Welcome Basket with their new office.

        I’m wondering if by March whether I’ll know that it’s over until 2024, or if there will be an implosion of the Democratic Party when it can’t get the results it wants, which is probably the same result.

      2. kimsarah

        Remember Hillary left the White House dead broke?

        “You have no reason to remember, but we came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” Clinton said.

  9. Lee

    “The World’s Wealthiest Families Are Stockpiling Cash as Recession Fears Grow” [Bloomberg]

    Should things go as I suspect in the not that distant future, these families will come to find they have over-invested in toilet paper and kindling. Except that said cash is mostly digital and so will have a utility value of zero. Better luck next kalpa.

    1. BobW

      I would bury a coffee can of cash in the back yard, if I had a yard, if I had some cash, if I had a coffee can.

      1. JBird4049

        And hopefully actual physical cash will still be legal a few years from now. Once the 2020 elections and/or the Brexit Saga are over, if the current elites are still in power, look for another serious push to go all digital even in the United States as that means another point of control.

        1. Greg

          Things I have learnt recently – baby formula often comes in quite good airtight cans. Plastic lids, but still good.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      The family office I worked for (indirectly) is deep into fintech and blockchain and other unicorn crap now, using the dividends from their actual productive businesses which are also way overpriced. But in the latter case, they know it.

      The repeating theme on many finance blogs (Wolf, Alhambra, Setser) is that chasing yield leads to mispricing of risk. Until it doesn’t.

      Good summation from Jeff Snider here: Waiting on the Calvary (sic – he meant cavalry, but this spelling is even more apropos)

      Experience suggests “stimulus” only shows up way, way after it is ever needed. Optimism (really recency and confirmation biases) predominates until negative pressures are too obvious to ignore any longer. A state of denial always, always persists on official levels.

      The more important consideration is, once they catch up with economic conditions as they are what are they really going to do about them? Not in theory but practice.

      (note his worldview doesn’t accommodate MMT, but then neither does mine)

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Thank you very much for this interesting comment. My spidey sense certainly twitched when I heard the phrase “family office’ (familiar to finance professionals, no doubt, but not to me). I am sure there were many “family offices” in France in 1788.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Yes and it was only when they (the .1%) realized how screwed they were getting by the .0001% that the Revolution happened, tumbrils and peasants with pitchforks only came after that. We have a ways to go, not a long ways, but a ways.

        2. ObjectiveFunction

          Nah, I worked for crazy rich Asians, the oligarchs who will still run their countries after the revolution, paying off the leaders (who are also their cousins). They can always agree on shaking down foreigners, which is pretty much the entire basis for EM economies.

  10. Synapsid

    For all, on the domestication of the apple:

    Fruit from the Sands, by R N Spengler. Spengler is an archaeobotanist whose work has concentrated in Central Eurasia from the looks of it, and that’s where apples come from. The book is up to date and well written, and covers time from a couple of millennia before the Silk Road up to the present. The short article in the link fits right into it.

    1. Lee

      Since fruit tree seeds don’t throw true, some unknown somebody long, long ago figured out grafting, which is rather amazing. Thank you, whoever you were. I am beginning to appreciate ancestor worship of a certain kind.

      Thedomestication of woody species that do not root easily from cuttings,
      such as apples, pears and plums, did not come until the discovery of grafting, at least several thousand years later [than the domestication of grains and other crops], about the beginning of the first millennium BCE.

      Thus, grafting is a pivotal technology in the history of temperate fruits and probably influenced their movement from Central Asia to Europe (Juniper and Maberly 2006). However,
      when and where detached scion grafting, which made possible the
      domestication of a new range of fruit trees, was invented is not clear.

  11. Tom Doak

    I like that Sanders’ proposed wealth tax, with its top tier of 8%, mirrors the low-risk return that the wealthy are aiming to achieve with all of their investments. So, it should not be thought of as a confiscation of their wealth, just a redistribution of the dividends of their wealth to the society at large. Essentially, they will be risking their capital to create wealth for others, just as they have always claimed [facetiously] to do.

    1. Tom Doak

      I do wonder, though, if individuals will start to do Repo 105 transactions with banks, to lower their wealth totals on the key dates of reckoning.

      1. Monty

        Who is qualified to appraise all their trusts, antiques, real estate, art, jewelry, cars, bitcoins, gold, private businesses etc, to calculate the taxable amount? Does the IRS have the manpower or wherewithal to do it fairly each and every year? Wouldn’t they need to assemble an incredible team of experts and detectives to do this? Not to mention the search warrants and international cooperation they would need.

        1. Bugs Bunny

          Ah, just give it a once over, set the penalty and make them appeal to a special IRS wealth court staffed by tax experts. They’ll come in there with a truckload of Wall Street tax lawyers facing a special judge making 80K. That will go well.

          Ever read “The Pale King”?

        2. False Solace

          If they assert ownership of something they can be taxed on it. If they conceal ownership through onion layers of shell corporations, they still have usufruct which can be taxed. In other words: somebody owns the fancy jet they’re flying around on and the vast Montana estate they live in, and the right to fly around on the jet and live on the estate is another form of property. The art collection in their house might be in trust to a museum, but the paintings are sitting in their house for their exclusive use.

          I mean, assuming a world in which someone with power was actually motivated to make the rich pay a gorram dime. Which as we know is a fantastical assumption.

        3. Hoppy

          Gotta put those fossil fuel & healthcare insurance industry accountants to work somewhere. Sounds like a good green job!

  12. hemeantwell

    Kelton’s tweet is soooo circumspect. More than the case for M4A needing to be clearly affirmed — it’s a tax cut! — that case should be twinned with the end of Biden’s career as WaPo worries about from Ukraine fallout. Biden’s a liar trying to scare people away from a tremendously beneficial program in order to help out the insurance industry that has colonized his state. It is incredible to me that the Clintonoid Dems are still confident that they can run someone who is morally compromised against a president who is also morally compromised. If there’s any moral high ground to be had in a race between those two, it will be overshadowed by a low curb.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I was struck by the quote in yesterday’s WC from Yahoo News:

      The position has left her vulnerable to attacks from Sanders supporters as well as from opponents of Medicare for All, which would eliminate private health insurance and require the government to pay for Americans’ health coverage.

      The stringer seems to grasp the basics better than the leadership of the DNC. Single Payer OR Private Insurers for twice as much. Not hard. ‘Senator Harris, why don’t you want to put more money in people’s wallets?’

      And nobody likes the devil they know, everyone is waiting for when they can finally get on Medicare as we know it.

      Maybe someone should tell Biden to lead the charge in taking back Senior Citizen Health Insurance from the Socialists. Warren could clap along for Capitalism.

  13. John

    The presidential candidates and the impeachment kerfuffle are interesting. It is 406 days until the election and at least 200 until we have a real read on who will be facing Trump, or maybe just maybe Pence. The House will investigate and can most likely pass a bill of impeachment, but if they do so with no or few votes from the other side of the aisle, it is a dead letter in the Senate. Nixon resigned because he knew he would lose a vote in the Senate. I think Trump would do the same in like circumstances while declaring victory. I refuse to get excited by any of it until March 2020.

    1. polecat

      Well, of course he did ! … after scarfing up mucho primo Unicorn $kittles. He be set for life, no?
      The whole thing reads like Theranos .. if one were to substitute cheap melamine work stations for a bogus blood testing device !

  14. noonespecial

    MIC File

    From the Asia Times, a look at how tax payers’ funds are so well invested by those folks at Boeing and Raytheon struggling to make ends meet. Or maybe its like the old Smith Barney ads featuring actor John Houseman who reminds us that some folks just “Make money the old-fashioned way. We earn it.”


    “[T]he Next Generation Interceptor program will replace the US$1 billion Redesigned Kill Vehicle which was cancelled last month after Pentagon leadership came to the conclusion that the multi-billion dollar program just wouldn’t work… [A spokesperson at the annual Defense News conference said,] ‘The money, which was spent, did not go toward hardware which will be mothballed somewhere. It went towards the acquisition of knowledge, which will inform our future. Mr. Griffin said.’
    Boeing and Raytheon also won’t have to pay back any of the billion-plus dollars the government awarded them to do the work — money down the tubes, essentially…“We terminated for convenience, not default,” Griffin added. “There are no paybacks due, and we learned quite a lot that we’ll carry forward into the next-generation interceptor.”

    Of course ya’ll gained from the experience, now go on and profit from it some more.

  15. D shatin

    It’s Biden or no one. Warren is incompetent. Maybe political corruption is less important than governing competentcy.

    1. albrt

      Biden? Competency? Um, no.

      I reached an important decision today. If the Democrats nominate Biden and there is not a decent third party choice, I will vote for Trump in 2020.* Not something I thought I would ever say, but Trump seems to be murdering slightly fewer people in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia than Obama. Probably because Trump is administratively less capable, but I will take what I can get.

      *This assumes the Democrat party will fail to impeach Trump, which seems like a safe assumption because failing is what the Democrat party does.

      1. marym

        Chicago Sun-Times 05/08/2019: Under Donald Trump, drone strikes far exceed Obama’s numbers

        Bloomberg 03/06/2019 Trump Cancels U.S. Report on Civilian Deaths in Drone Strikes

        President Donald Trump revoked a requirement that U.S. intelligence officials publicly report the number of civilians killed in drone strikes and other attacks on terrorist targets outside war zones.

        Trump formally ended the requirement with an executive order on Wednesday, months after signaling such a move. The administration last year ignored a May deadline for an annual accounting of civilian and enemy casualties required under an order signed in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama

  16. OldLion

    Biden Impeachment.

    Because of senate, there is no way Trump can be impeached.
    But the whole process will position Biden as “the threat for Trump”

    So seen from afar, it looks like Trump choose his prefered opponent, and that the DNC agreed to play in the same show.

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