2:00PM Water Cooler 9/25/2020

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 Dem Primary Polling as of 9/25/2019, 12:00 PM EDT:

Now we can see Undecideds-Refused. Here is a view from the middle of August, which may make the trend lines a little more clear:

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. 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 (with the exception of Morning Consult on September 22, which has Warren and Sanders more or less tied). 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.

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.

* * *


Sanders (D)(1):

She had “access” to care, here. What’s the issue?

Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Sanders, John Cusack rally with Chicago teachers as strike vote begins” [Chicago Tribune]. “When the Vermont senator later took the stage, he thanked the teachers union for ‘becoming the conscience of the United States of America.’ ‘What we are seeing is teachers standing up and fighting for justice,’ Sanders said. ;… Every problem in society — hunger, domestic violence, poverty — it walks into your doors, doesn’t it? You see it every day and at a time when we, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on earth.'” • Eew. Why won’t Bernie play nice?

Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s farm bailout has cost taxpayers more than double the auto bailout” [Detroit Free Press]. “Back when General Motors and Chrysler faced bankruptcy during the Great Recession, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama pumped billions into a rescue of the auto industry. That bailout ultimately cost the public about $12 billion when everything was settled and loans repaid. But that looks like small potatoes compared with the farm bailout underway now. So far, Trump’s direct payments to farmers hurt by his trade dispute with China have totaled some $28 billion — more than twice what the auto bailout cost…. And the payments are still flowing with no end in sight to the trade dispute.”

Warren (D)(1):

Warren (D)(2): “Elizabeth Warren’s Working-Class Problem” [David Leonhardt, New York Times]. “Boston’s North Shore seems as if it should be prime Elizabeth Warren territory. It is home to working-class towns, and it’s a short drive from Warren’s own house. But ever since she entered electoral politics in 2012, she has struggled on the North Shore… As Warren has risen to the top of the presidential primary field, her North Shore struggles underscore the biggest question about her campaign: If she were the nominee, could she win back working-class voters who swung to Donald Trump in 2016? There are real reasons for concern. In her 2012 and 2018 Senate races, Warren struggled in other blue-collar parts of Massachusetts, like the areas around Springfield and Worcester. And in most state polls asking voters to choose between Trump and potential Democratic nominees, Warren looks considerably weaker than Joe Biden.” • I’m glad Leonhardt raised this question, because I’ve never understood the contrast between Warren’s relatively weak support in her home state, and her national stature. A standing ovation in the Acela Quiet Car, but not on the Red Line. At least the Red Line south of Central Square.

* * *

“You Can Have Brandeis or You Can Have Debs” [Jacobin]. “Warren is a regulator at heart who believes that capitalism works well as long as fair competition exists; Sanders is a class-conscious tribune who sees capitalism as fundamentally unjust. Warren frames her most ambitious reforms as bids to make capitalism ‘accountable‘; Sanders pushes legislation called the ‘Stop BEZOS Act‘ and denounces ceos for exploiting workers. Warren seeks a harmonious accord between workers and employers; Sanders encourages workers to fight back…. Warren’s political tradition is the left edge of middle-class liberalism; Sanders hails from America’s socialist tradition. Or, to put the distinction in more personal terms: Warren is Louis Brandeis, Sanders is Eugene Debs.”

Sure hope the pollsters’ models take this into account:


Lambert here: I will have more to say tomorrow when I have digested the transcript. However, we would all do well to remember that both sides have form: Trump has repeatedly been able to wriggle out of situations that would have destroyed a lesser politician, in his own primary, in the general, and as President. And liberal Democrats always f*ck things up (because if they didn’t, they’d have to govern).

There’s always a tweet:

(Here is the link for those who have issues with Twitter embeds.) Hilariously, the document is not a “transcript.” At the bottom of page one:

CAUTION: A Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation.· (TELCON) is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion. The text in this document records the notes and recollections of Situation Room Duty “Officers and-NSC policy staff assigned t_o listen.and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place. A numper of factors can affect ‘the accuracy of the record, including poor telecommunications connections and variations in accent and/or interpretation. The word “inaudible” is used to indicate portions of a conversation that the notetaker was unable to hear.

It might be better to call the document a “call summary.” And ellipses aside, there’s this argument:

And what’s this about the McGuffin CrowdStrike server? This is getting to be like the Maltese Falcon:

(Of course, we don’t really know anything about the hack from the server, because CrowdStrike contaminated the chain of custody.)

Impeachment is performative speech:

But see my comment above. Trump is not Nixon, and today’s Democrats are not the Democrats of 2019 – 1974 = 45 years ago. Where’s Sam Ervin? Heck, where’s Howard Baker?

* * *

“Impeachment: Is the dam finally breaking?” [Brookings Institution]. Summarizing the case for the prosecution: “What happened to break the logjam? First, a whistleblower revealed that in a conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky the president allegedly held up $391 million in aid appropriated for Ukraine’s military defense against Russia. This move was an effort to push for the Ukranian president’s promise to investigate alleged corruption by Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The aid to Ukraine was held up even after other aid that the Mr. Trump had called ‘wasteful’ was released. As Republican senators and government officials grew concerned about the delay, the Ukranian aid remained on hold. It was finally released two days before news of the phone call between Trump and Zelensky hit the press. The sheer audacity of using properly appropriated money and the formal powers of the presidency for personal political purposes shook Washington. It made Richard Nixon’s break-in at the Democratic National headquarters at the Watergate look like child’s play. Second, amidst all the usual demands for investigations, a group of Democratic members of Congress wrote a letter to the Washington Post saying, “These allegations are stunning, both in the national security threat they pose and the potential corruption they represent.” They went on to say, “If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense.” This letter, more than any other previous chapter in the Trump impeachment story, hit Washington like a bomb because of who these members of Congress are.” • “These members,” as I pointed out yesterday, are the DCCC’s hand-picked MILO’s, two of them CIA Democrats, and most 2018 freshmen. They are, in other words, the fruit of liberal Democrats’ continuing efforts to move the party toward conservatives.

“So You Want to Impeach the President” [Lawfare]. “it is critically important to be disciplined at this juncture—to base articles of impeachment only on that activity which is not merely a plausible basis for removal but is unambiguously justified as a basis for removal. That means that anything that is a matter of policy—no matter how much one might disagree with the policy or how abhorrent one might find it—should not be included. For example, Congress should strongly resist the temptation to include disputes over border security—including both spending on the wall and the grotesque policy of family separation—in any articles it might draw up.” • So naturally, their first move is to revivify RussiaGate.

“Pelosi’s dramatic impeachment move is really just another stall” [New York Post]. “House Judiciary chief Jerry Nadler has already been calling his committee’s work an “official” impeachment inquiry, after all; now the speaker says the same. But she’s still not allowing any actual votes on the House floor about it. All she’s ‘done’ is instruct six committee chairmen, including Nadler, to pull together all the dirt they’ve got. That’s apparently to go to Judiciary, which then might eventually vote on whether to recommend the full House vote on taking some next step. In short, Pelosi is stalling. Now that two-thirds of her members (and most of the party’s base) is howling for impeachment, she needed to do something. But she still doesn’t have the votes — a majority of all 435 representatives — to pass anything.”

About the timing (1):

About the timing (2): “Why an Impeachment Inquiry Now? Democrats Cite the Clarity of the Case” [New York Times]. “The sudden embrace of an impeachment inquiry by previously reluctant House Democrats — most notably Speaker Nancy Pelosi — is attributable to one fundamental fact: They believe the new accusations against Mr. Trump are simple and serious enough to be grasped by a public overwhelmed by the constant din of complex charges and countercharges that has become the norm in today’s Washington.” • So after three years of yammering about Russia, the problem is that Democrats couldn’t explain it? Isn’t a functional political party supposed to be able to do things like that? (Granted, the Republicans could never explain Benghazi, but that proves my point.)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“In the Mood for Democracy? Democratic Support as Thermostatic Opinion” [Christopher Claassen, American Political Science Review]. The abstract: “Public support has long been thought crucial for the vitality and survival of democracy. Existing research has argued that democracy also creates its own demand: through early-years socialization and later-life learning, the presence of a democratic system coupled with the passage of time produces widespread public support for democracy. Using new panel measures of democratic mood varying over 135 countries and up to 30 years, this article finds little evidence for such a positive feedback effect of democracy on support. Instead, it demonstrates a negative thermostatic effect: increases in democracy depress democratic mood, while decreases cheer it. Moreover, it is increases in the liberal, counter-majoritarian aspects of democracy, not the majoritarian, electoral aspects that provoke this backlash from citizens. These novel results challenge existing research on support for democracy, but also reconcile this research with the literature on macro-opinion.” • Hmm.

“The Dead End of the Left?” [Commonweal]. “[Marx] had prophesied that the expansion of capitalism would inevitably lead to revolution, followed by the ‘new man,’ the ‘classless society,’ the ‘reign of freedom.’ But what if the revolution did not arrive, if the ‘new man’ never materialized? In that case, Del Noce realized, Marxist historical materialism would degenerate into a form of radical relativism—into the idea that philosophical and moral concepts are just reflections of historical and economic circumstances and have no permanent validity. This would have to include the concept of injustice, without which a critique of capitalism would be hard, if not impossible, to uphold. A post-Marxist culture—one that kept Marx’s radical materialism and denial of religious transcendence, while dispensing with his confident predictions about the self-destruction of capitalism—would naturally tend to be radically bourgeois.” • Hmm.

Obama Legacy

He’s not wrong:

But since liberal Democrats would rather slit their wrists than appeal to the working class, wealthy suburban Republicans it is!

Stats Watch

New Home Sales, August 2019: “New home sales are definitely pivoting higher” [Econoday]. “[R]eport is clearly about strength, and accelerating strength that is getting a major boost from low mortgage rates and major support from the strong US labor market. Residential investment has pulled down GDP for the last six quarters in a row but increasingly looks to be a positive for the third quarter….”

Survey of Business Uncertainty, September 2019: “The index for business uncertainty decreased… to indicate easing uncertainty over the year-ahead outlook. August was a volatile month marked by rising US-China trade tensions and sharp swings in the financial markets, two factors that have since cooled” [Econoday]. “Yet the business expectations index, which tracks expectations for year-ahead growth, showed no improvement but overall deterioration instead… One positive for expectations is a sharp jump in the capital expenditures component that, however, was offset by declines for expected employment growth and especially sales growth.”

State Street Investor Confidence Index, September 2019: “Global institutional investors reduced their exposure to equities at a slower pace in September” [Econoday].

The Bezzle: “Australia audits PayPal for money laundering, terror law compliance” [Reuters]. “Australia’s financial intelligence agency on Tuesday ordered an audit of PayPal Holdings Inc’s compliance with local anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws, saying it was concerned reporting obligations had not been met.”

The Bezzle: “Behind WeWork Leader’s Rise and Fall: A Wall St. Bank Playing Many Angles” [Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times]. “While SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate, is the biggest and most notable investor in WeWork’s parent company, JPMorgan has been one of its most ardent backer for years, working multiple sides. It lent Mr. Neumann money personally (with his inflated shares as collateral), provided equity and debt for the company, served as a corporate adviser for the I.P.O. and secured nearly $6 billion in financing as part of the now scotched offering. If there was one institution best placed to fully understand the various conflicts of Mr. Neumann, it was JPMorgan.” • Whoops….

The Bezzle: “WeWork, Bankers Have Discussed Laying Off One-Third of Workforce” [The Information]. “In recent days, a group of executives from WeWork’s parent company and bankers have been discussing ways to reduce costs, including laying off as many as 5,000 employees—a third of its workforce. Other ideas include slowing expansion plans and shutting side businesses.” • WeWork to Uber: “Hold my beer.”

The Bezzle: “How WeWork’s “fiasco” could threaten Silicon Valley’s rich and powerful” [Recode]. “And so SoftBank’s daring bets made for a grand experiment. If you pump enough money into young, unprofitable tech companies and press their founders to dream big, can they become the next Alibaba (which made SoftBank $58 billion)? WeWork, according to some observers, has answered that question. ‘The emperor has no clothes,’ Sandy Kory, a tech investor at Horizon Partners, told Recode. ‘I think it’s clear that the most negative version of SoftBank’s impact on the companies that it invested in is true.'”

Manufacturing: “Daimler Fined $960 Million to Settle Rigged Diesel-Car Probe” [Bloomberg]. “German prosecutors fined Daimler AG 870 million euros ($960 million) for “negligent violation of supervisory duties” to settle a probe into selling rigged diesel cars…. The fine is the latest fallout from heightened scrutiny in the aftermath of Volkswagen AG’s diesel-cheating scandal, which continues to reverberate across the German auto industry four years later.” • I hate the way that Manufacturing and The Bezzle are overlapping; see also the Boeing 737 MAX…

Manufacturing: “SpiceJet Eyes $10 Billion-Plus Airbus Deal Amid Boeing Woes” [Bloomberg]. “India’s SpiceJet Ltd. is weighing an order for at least 100 Airbus SE planes as Boeing Co. grapples with the fallout over its grounded 737 Max…. The discussions with Airbus threaten Boeing with a high-profile defection at a time when the U.S. planemaker is enmeshed in one of the biggest crises in its 103-year history. SpiceJet, India’s second-largest airline, has 13 Max jets already in its fleet and has committed to buy as many as 205 of the single-aisle workhorses as it expands capacity to handle the nation’s fast-growing demand for air travel.” • Hoo boy.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 60 Greed (previous close: 54, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 66 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 25 at 11:49am. A dip into outright neutrality! How horrid.

The Biosphere

“‘We’re all in big trouble’: Climate panel sees a dire future” [Associated Press]. “The IPCC increased its projected end-of-century sea level rise in the worst-case scenario by nearly 4 inches (10 centimeters) from its 2013 projections because of the increased recent melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. The new report projects that, under the business-as-usual scenario for carbon emissions, seas by the end of the century will rise between 2 feet (61 centimeters) and 43 inches (110 centimeters), with a most likely rise of 33 inches (84 centimeters). This is slightly less than the traditional 1 meter (39 inches) that scientists often use.”

“Rewilding will make Britain a rainforest nation again” [George Monbiot. Guardian]. “Among our missing ecosystems are rainforests. Rainforests are not confined to the tropics: a good definition is forest wet enough to support epiphytes – plants that grow on other plants. Particularly in the west of Britain, where tiny fragments persist, you can find trees covered in rich growths of a fern called polypody, mosses and lichens, and flowering plants climbing the lower trunks. Learning that Britain is a rainforest nation astounds us only because we have so little left. We now know that, alongside keeping fossil fuels in the ground, natural climate solutions – using the mass restoration of nature to draw down carbon from the air – offer perhaps the last remaining chance to prevent more than 1.5C, or even 2C, of global heating. Saving the remaining rainforests and other rich ecosystems, while restoring those we have lost, is not just a nice idea: our lives may depend on it. But in countries like the UK, we urge others to act while overlooking our own disasters. Foreigners I meet are often flabbergasted by the state of our national parks. They see the sheepwrecked deserts and grousetrashed moors and ask: “What are you protecting here?” In the name of “cultural heritage” we allow harsh commercial interests, embedded in the modern economy but dependent on public money, to complete the kind of ecological cleansing we lament in the Amazon. Sheep farming has done for our rainforests what cattle ranching is doing to Brazil’s. Then we glorify these monocultures – the scoured, treeless hills – as ‘wild’ and ‘unspoilt’.”

Health Care

“Air Methods in talks to contract directly with large employers” [Health Care Dive]. • They’re crooks!


Nice parlor game:

Our Famously Free Press

“Dow Jones and IPG Mediabrands tempt advertisers back to news with alternatives to blacklists” [The Drum]. “Interpublic Group’s IPG Mediabrands and The Wall Street Journal’s publisher, Dow Jones, are both experimenting with alternatives to word blacklisting – a practice borne out of brand safety concerns that has led to the defunding of legitimate news platforms. In August, the Wall Street Journal reported on advertisers’ growing aversion to publishing their content next to certain words and phrases on publishers’ sites. Top words blacklisted by advertisers include ‘dead’, ‘shooting’, ‘murder’, ‘gun’ and ‘rape’, according to data from Integral Ad Science.” • ‘Sanders’… More: “As an alternative, the publisher has begun experimenting with sentiment-based targeting. This means advertisers can review not only the overarching sentiment of an article (whether that be lighthearted, critical, opinionated, and so on), but the sentiment towards a brand, industry or topic within the article itself.” • Read the article for how brain-dead keyword-banning is. How on earth did management sign off on that?


“89-Year-Old Grandma Says Video Games Keep Her Mind Sharp” [Kotaku]. “‘The graphics for the recent games are truly amazing,’ [Hamako Mori] said. ‘I think it’s truly wonderful to have lived this long.’ ‘As you get older, I recommend single-player games over multiplayer,’ she said. ‘Inevitably, if you’re on the battlefield with younger players, you’ll slow them down… But, I think as the number of elderly players increases, there will be dedicated servers where that won’t be a concern.'” • Business model!

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The Conservative Black Nationalism of Clarence Thomas” (interview) [Corey Robin, Boston Review]. “But by the end of the book you begin to see that at the heart of Thomas’s jurisprudence is this belief that, in some ways, Jim Crow was a golden age for the development of black self-organization and black virtues. A word that recurs throughout Thomas’s writings is “survival,” which is a word that also features quite prominently in a lot of Afro-pessimist writing. He thinks that under Jim Crow, black people developed the habits, organizations, independence, and self-sufficiency to survive against all the odds; they managed to build up a thriving civilization and culture.”

Guillotine Watch

“World’s richest families fret about geopolitics, climate change” [Reuters]. “The world’s richest families are worried about the U.S.-China trade spat, Brexit, populism and climate change and are keeping more of their money in cash, according to a survey of family offices by the world’s largest wealth manager…. Fifty-five percent of family office executives expect recession to begin by next year.” • More on those “family offices”….

Class Warfare

“Kaiser strike called off as company, unions reach tentative agreement” [Health Care Dive]. “Following two days of discussion, Kaiser Permanente has come to an agreement with the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which has called off the strike. Under the terms of the four-year tentative agreement, some 85,000 unionized Kaiser employees will receive guaranteed annual wage increases through 2023, additional education, training and advancement opportunities, a defined benefit pension plan, higher travel reimbursement and incentives for using Kaiser’s mail-order prescription service. The coalition of unions and Kaiser reached a consensus Tuesday following roughly five months of bargaining. The agreement still needs to be ratified by coalition union members.”

“What’s at Stake in the General Motors Strike” [Portside]. “The main problem—a truly existential one—has been the inability of the UAW to make inroads among the hundreds of thousands of Americans who work in the “transplant” parts and assembly plants that Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Kia, VW, Mercedes-Benz, and other foreign-based firms have built in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and elsewhere in the mid-South. Fully half of all U.S. auto production is today non-union… And then there is the corruption scandal that is destroying the credibility of the UAW leadership… But despite all this, the strike is solid and public support is growing. GM has offered a modest wage increase, an $8,000 signing bonus, and $7 billion of investment in existing production facilities.”

News of the Wired

How was your day?

* * *

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: “Painted Lady *hanging* out on our butterfly bush.” A fine thing, to have a butterfly bush.

Readers, I’m still running short on plants. Several new people have sent in photos, but I could still be more comfortable about not ending up with bare walls in the gallery. 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. Henry Moon Pie`

    “So after three years of yammering about Russia, the problem is that Democrats couldn’t explain it?”

    My goodness, Lambert. If only you read enough DailyKos and watched enough MSDNC, you would understand that none of this is the Democrats’ fault. The voters were just too stupid or racist or misogynist to understand Russiagate.

    The fault, dear Lambert, lies never in our star Democrats but in ourselves.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      That was posted as one of the many explanations for the 2016 wipeout too. “The voters just didn’t understand.” No, they understood all too well.

      1. hamstak

        They might have understood, but not in the right way — which is to say the RIGHT way — which is to say the SWIPE RIGHT way (with the emphasis on the SWIPE) (and the RIGHT).

  2. Eureka Springs

    Democrats under Obama Biden Clinton Kerry should have never fomented a coup with Nazis in Ukraine. That is what I want to be impeachable, criminal and entirely unforgivable.

    Oh and attempted soft coups should be criminal as well.

    1. Geo

      That’s what makes both this impeachment inquiry and the one of Bill Clinton so ridiculous. Bill lied about sex. Trump withheld funds to Ukraine to get dirt on Biden (who withheld funds to Ukraine to protect his leech son). Bad things? Sure. I wish we lived in a society where these were the worst offenses our leaders ever made.

      WMD lies? Covert coups? Grifting? Rigging of financial markets? Illegal spying on civilians? No. This is all normal business.

      They protect real corruption and use impeachment in a way that makes a joke out of what our government should be. It’s all melodrama.

      Like others here, I hope this one blows up in their faces and exposes Biden and Obama era corruption in the Ukraine mess. Doubtful #resistence peeps will acknowledge their team propped up Nazis, bought off foreign leaders to get dirt on opponents, and aided their kids in shady business deals with “evil” nations. Those things only started under Trump of course! But, at least for those of us who actually care about principles it’d be nice to see some accountability.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Like Benghazi, the whole point is to have an “issue” and get the other guy without risking upsetting potential donors or risking friendships.

        Since it falls under foreign influence, anything too embarrassing can fall under “classified.”

        As far as the #resistance types, I don’t think one can continue to #resist without believing all bad things started on November 2016. There are still people out there who wonder what happened to Lindsey Graham.

        1. Geo

          Re: #Resistence types

          Years ago I had dinner with Clive Doyle who is a Branch Davidian and lost his family in the fire in Waco but still believes Koresh is a prophet. I asked him how, considering none of the prophecies have come true, he still feels that way about Koresh. His response, without hesitation, was to look down and say “I have to believe”.

          It hit me like a ton of bricks. If he didn’t believe he’d have lost everything for a lie. So now, no matter what, he clings to his faith in Koresh.

          Clive was a very kind and gracious man who I loved getting the chance to meet and better understand. He opened my eyes to how faith like that works. His faith I sort of understand and can appreciate even. Those who cling to DNC/HRC fairy tales bug the heck out of me.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The sunk cost fallacy :)

            This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both,
            and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy,
            for on his brow I see that written which is Doom,

            ‘Have they no refuge or resource.’ cried Scrooge.

            ‘Are there no prisons.’ said the Spirit, turning on him
            for the last time with his own words. ‘Are there no workhouses.'”

            This doesn’t make it into the Muppet version of “A Christmas Carol”, but I still think this is the core of the problem. Democrats are the fact based party that “believes” in science (you don’t believe in science), but then so many of them have no knowledge of recent history. Hillary’s Senate record or path to election is just a complete mystery. Even if I liked Hillary, that alone made her a high risk candidate. People simply don’t take the time to look outside their little worlds. Its not like the internet doesn’t exist and we don’t have examples of how to behave as citizens. Who hasn’t read “To Kill a Mockingbird”? When our wise father returns to Star Trek next year, there will be 758 episodes of Star Trek.

            We don’t need ancient philosophers to demonstrate how to be citizens anymore. We are inundated with lessons about questioning authority, doing research, etc The problem with the Team Blue fanatics (excluding more stressed voters) is they don’t follow these easy lessons, and so many of them don’t even get anything out of supporting these “Democrats.” They are fact based not faith based. Rachel Maddow told them so!

            When I dismiss ancient knowledge in favor of our modern moralists, I’m being somewhat hyperbolic and know that we stand on the shoulders of giants (except Plato; he’s a jerk).

      2. MRLost

        Please recall that Speaker Pelosi was one of many members of the Democratic leadership who gave torture a wink and a wave and then blew it a kiss as they buried that report they ginned up but never showed to anybody.

        Investigate, write a report about the investigation, bury the report. Problem solved.

          1. Geo

            Agreed. They like to claim they were lied to but there are only two real possibilities with that explanation:

            1. They’re lying about being lied to.
            2. They’re gullible chumps.

            I believe it’s the first one but they seem to rely on people being ok with the second one.

      3. ewmayer

        Per MofA, the “Trump withheld funds” bit is a red herring, as neither the call record nor any other evidence supports said aid withholding was a quid pro quo for a reboot of the Biden/Burisma investigation:

        Trump indeed withheld money from the Ukraine. But the Ukrainian president did not know that when Trump spoke with him:

        Mr. Trump did not discuss the delay in the military assistance on the July 25 call with Mr. Zelensky, according to people familiar with the conversation. A Ukrainian official said Mr. Zelensky’s government did not learn of the delay until about one month after the call.

        At that time Trump was withholding money from several countries. The money for the Ukraine was released in early September without any known conditions.

        IOW, the only high-ranking US official who we know *did* engage in such a quid pro quo armtwisting was that hero of democracy and the anticorruption struggle, Joe Biden. But that was apparently deemed non-newsworthy by the MSM at the time.

      4. Procopius

        Trump withheld funds to Ukraine to get dirt on Biden …

        Frankly, I think that’s not going to hold up. Trump ordered the Office of Management and Budget to hold up funds for several countries. We still don’t know what is in the whistleblower charge, although for a week I’ve seen dozens of stories pretending that they do know. I think some people are going to revisit the “debunking” of the accusations against Biden. For example, the point that the investigation of Burisma had been closed for a year before Biden demanded the prosecutor’s removal doesn’t mean at all that they were found innocent of wrongdoing. If you’re going to say that prosecutor was fired because he was corrupt, then you’re going to have to regard as suspect every investigation that he closed without bringing charges.

    2. anon in so cal


      And Victoria Nuland, spouse of arch NeoCon Robert Kagan.

      She posed with members of the installed neo Nazi regime that Obama armed.

    3. clarky90

      Foreign Affairs Issue Launch With Joe Biden
      24 Jan 2018

      Council on Foreign Relations


      Beginning at 52 minute mark, Joe Biden describes how a billion dollar USA loan guarantee was contingent on the Ukrainian Prosecutor, who was investigating the Hunter Biden gas company, being fired. And the Prosecutor was fired…..Much merriment ensues amongst the audience….!

    4. VietnamVet

      Brexit and Donald Trump’s Impeachment have the same root cause. The corrupt Empire’s greed went too far when it seized Ukraine. Russia, China and Iran allied to fight back. Arrogant incompetence has doomed the corporate ruled realm. With the Houthis attack, the gulf oil supply is demonstratively at peril. The house of cards is falling everywhere. Globalists have launched their politicians in a last gasp attempt to re-seize control from nationalists and bury populist governments forever. The best scenario is that this will be all huff and puff until November 2020 election. But, a lot of worse things could happen instead, like a war in the Persian Gulf or civil strife.

  3. hemeantwell

    A post-Marxist culture—one that kept Marx’s radical materialism and denial of religious transcendence, while dispensing with his confident predictions about the self-destruction of capitalism—would naturally tend to be radically bourgeois.”

    Oooh, boy. One way to come back at that is to acknowledge that Marx’s critique of ethical socialisms — nicely depicted in Raoul Peck’s “The Young Marx” — was that they tried, in an inevitably overheated way, to work up support for an overthrow of capitalism through moral exhortation rather than drawing on an analysis of tendencies in capitalist development. That doesn’t mean that a form of ethical critique vanishes, as the debates between, iirc, the Bolshies and the Austro-Marxists attests. But for the ethical critique to have much weight it’s best grounded in existing social values and aspirations and so can be thought of critique that is “internal” to the society. And so it’s not hard to find grounds to argue for stable life circumstances as opposed to living through business cycle roller coasters, imperialist wars and such.

    For the Frankfurt School the worry was that the sociocultural resources for internal critique would atrophy. I think this was pretty strongly tied to the notion, very widespread, that capitalism would find a way not only to regulate away biz cycles — that goes back at least to Bakunin, and Frankfurters like Grossman picked it up, it was also pretty apparent in Adorno’s, Horkheimer’s, and Marcuse’s thought — but also that institutions would be subsumed by state administration >>> Huxleyesque dystopias. Oh, and let’s not forget fascism.

    I won’t bother to look into the author’s journey to the radical bourgeois conclusion. I don’t think he’s spent much time looking into the extensive debates, going on 100 years or so, on the left dealing with that question.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Trying to understand this discussion of Catholic Religious doctrines and Marxism made my eyes cross. If I followed some of the arguments then by tossing out religion, I toss out the basis for a theory of justice and injustice, which negates Marx’s critiques of Capitalism … catch breath … and “… society that accepts all of Marxism’s negations against contemplative thought, religion, and metaphysics; that accepts, therefore, the Marxist reduction of ideas to instruments of production” …. and …. ipso facto Q.E.D — Del Noce reduces Marxism to Neoliberal Capitalism. The Left is dead.

      Aren’t Veblen, C.Wright Mills and G. William Domhoff on the left? Don’t even Capuchin monkeys have a concept of injustice sufficient to salvage Marxism and the dead Left Del Noce slew? I remember the Marxists on the student council successfully arguing every proposed action to inaction by shear exhaustion and suffocation. I remember the success of the Democratic convention of 1972 where the elements of “the New Left gained influence at the expense of organized labor and other traditional constituencies of the party.” That was the year I voted for Nixon because much as I was opposed to the Vietnam War and really liked McGovern and held Nixon in extremely low regard — the chaotic shambles of the 1972 Democratic convention left me wondering whether McGovern could actually ‘do’ anything to stop the War. [Yes I soon came to regret that choice.]

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        You must be opposed to Bernie Sanders then because if Bernie somehow ends up as the probable nominee, I can guarantee you that the Democratic Party convention will be a “chaotic shambles.” And it will be more along the lines of ’68, a real shambles, not ’72, which failed to do things in prime time because democracy got in the way. Bernie will face the same kind of determined opponents that McGovern had with the likes of Neocons Jackson, Humphrey, Wattenberg and the rest pulling out all the stops to steal the nomination from him.

        And those union folks, with some exceptions like the UAW, were among the biggest supporters of the Vietnam War and biggest opponents of minority hiring, especially in the construction trades. They were unhappy because the MjcGovern commission demanded a little diversity among the delegates, something that was not so bad in a Democratic Party that had refused to seat Fanny Lou Hamer just 8 years earlier. George Meany did as much to destroy the labor movement in the United States as anyone, including Ronald Reagan.

        1. dcblogger

          When Bernie is the nominee the Convention will be fine. Unlike McGovern, Bernie knows who he is up against, and so do his supporters.

          1. Henry Moon Pie

            The problem was not that McGovern didn’t know the character of his opponents. In fact, they held them off and gained the nomination. The problem was that the party regulars controlled the convention apparatus as they will in 2020. There was no way around that then. There’s no way around that now.

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          Perhaps you missed my concluding sentence: “Yes I soon came to regret that choice.”

          I was young and it were most generous to call me naive about our political system and the world of work and business — among other things. As for the unions and big labor — they didn’t influence my comment above or my vote. The unions favored the war, as did business, as did many of those in the World War II generation. The Republicans were hardly the anti-war alternative. Nixon said he would end the war and McGovern very definitely wanted to end the war, and between the two them Nixon was definitely the most ruthless. As I watched McGovern at the convention he appeared to be a very kindly, pleasant well-meaning man, someone I might enjoy going out for a beer with, but a man easily swayed about and ineffectual at coalescing a coherent program, and solid support for that program. Instead I saw a widely spread rainbow of hundreds of very pale hues.

          Del Noce’s notion that the New Left somehow damaged organized labor is one of many little problems with his analysis and method. I believe many analysts of the politics of that time, including Howard Zinn [ref. Howard Zinn speech – BB0381, “Southern Influence in Politics 1963”], considered Kennedy’s half-hearted support for the Civil Rights Movement the reason for the shift in U.S. politics that lead to the election of Nixon. This analysis rests on the idea that after Lincoln the Democratic Party could count on the Blue-dog Democratic vote in the South. There was an ‘understanding’ that the South and Southern politicians would support the Democrats and programs of labor and industrial control in the North as long as the Southern Jim Crow laws and right to work laws were left untouched. The coalition of Northern labor votes with Southern Blue-dog Democrats was enough to give a majority to the Democratic Party. After some successes for the Civil Rights Movement backed by Kennedy’s government, the silent ‘understanding’ ended. Kevin Phillips, working for Nixon at the time, discovered the shift in state-by-state voting patterns before Nixon’s election — Nixon’s Silent Majority. [ref. Nixon’s Southern strategy ‘It’s All In the Charts’ By JAMES BOYD New York Times (1857-Current file); May 17, 1970; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2003) pg. 215]

          I agree with your assessment that Big Labor and its leadership effectively cut its own throat. But I have trouble viewing Big Labor as representative of the labor movement. I regard the unions as a compromise Big Industry made to control and direct the labor movement. For me, the Wobblies were the real labor movement. They were hunted down, crammed into Federal Prisons, or hung on drummed up charges, shot by National Guard, or had their heads beat in by Pinkertons or bully boys. By the days of Nixon, Joe Hill was either too weak to leave his sickbed, or in a coma. [Now I fear he may be truly dead.]

          Whether Bernie gets the Democratic nomination or not, I am going to vote for him. I’ll write-in his name exactly as it appears on the primary ballots for my state.

      2. Oregoncharles

        The 1972 Dem convention was the most exhilarating in my now-long political experience. Actually, it was the ONLY exhilarating convention, probably in living memory.

        Not only did the peace movement win, but Daley, who had destroyed Humphrey in 1968 (oh, yes, Daley’s pigs certainly did that – with a lot of help from Humphrey), was appropriately humiliated. If mildly – he should have been in prison.

        But then, most of us were young then. 1968 was the first year I could vote. I voted for the pig. The real one. My father, a lifelong Republican who worked in finance, voted for McGovern in 1972.

  4. Hepativore

    I saw this on Secular Talk, yesterday.


    Warren apparently saved some of the money she got from corporate donors to use in her presidential campaign. While Warren certainly is not Bernie Sanders with two X chromosomes, it has been very interesting as of late with how she has been working with DNC party operatives behind the scenes as well as meeting with Hillary Clinton.

    A Warren presidency would be quite troubling indeed after we learn more about what Elizabeth Warren is. While not nearly as bad or unlikeable as the rest of the Democratic candidates during the presidential election, I am afraid that she will use the same old vehicle of neoliberalism as a guide for her policies in practice except it will have a nice, new coat of paint.

    Bernie Sanders should not take her too lightly at this point.

        1. JohnnyGL

          If Warren wins, the moment of truth will be the VP pick. If she picks Sanders (giving him the organizer in chief job), then it’s clear she’s going to take on the establishment. If she picks….really ANYONE else…she’s going to fail.

          It will be clear even earlier than it was with Obama when he picked Summers and Geithner to run Treasury and econ policy.

          1. nippersmom

            I find it unlikely Warren would offer Sanders the VP position (even if she were inclined to, which I doubt, the DNC would never allow it) and almost as unlikely Sanders would accept.

            1. JohnnyGL

              VP is a vaguely defined job….perfect for Bernie to make of it whatever he wants. He wants to be organizer in chief. I think he’d accept (after end of primary, of course) and he’d potentially be a very effective VP….defining the role the way he’d like…constantly organizing, holding rallies, campaigning and generally doing things to reshape the political environment.

              If Warren won’t offer it….either because she permits DNC to exercise a veto or because she just doesn’t want to do it….regardless…she’s already failed.

              To be honest, I don’t even think she wins the election without picking Bernie as VP. Bernie’s core of 18-35 voters won’t show up in sufficient numbers without Bernie on the ticket.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Party id is way down in recent years. Adding in the marginalized is important too. Given recent events, who is still a Democrat? The people who missed brunch that one weekend. What about the families of the 1 in 6 kids who are food insecure?

                Much has been made about HRC having the second most votes behind only Barack Obama, ignoring population growth, but in competitive states, she did worse than Kerry, never mind Obama. This is a major issue. Final vote totals out of California are nice, but its not the system we have, regardless of #resistance types who note Hillary won the non-existent popular vote contest (interestingly enough, they rarely mention Gore and everything wrong with Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris down in Florida).

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              The Chief of Staff and the VP are the only real jobs that demonstrate the course of the Administration since the advent of the telephone (in an earlier age they mattered, and Washington probably gave freer reign to his cabinet than others but they were all part of the Revolution. They weren’t random Ivy League graduates). If Warren were to make Sanders health czar and then turn around and name her CoS as someone like Neera Tanden, she would be demonstrating her true colors, much like Obama did (admittedly he tended to select awful people exclusively).

              There is still only one President (there is a Federalist Paper about this), maybe HRC early in Bill’s first term, but even then, one might argue Bill never had any intention of undertaking healthcare by handing it off to a person who had never held or had run for elected office.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Not even if Warren names Sanders as Health czar or Equality czar?

              You mean as a powerless figurehead designed to reinforce Democrat branding? What the Obama administration did to Warren, a Warren administration would do to Sanders. The donor class wouldn’t have it any other way.

          2. Spring Texan

            Yes. Warren said with Clinton that appointments were policy and she hoped to affect Clinton’s appointments. In reality she didn’t succeed even an iota, as Clinton’s horrible Cabinet picks are now known and included Howard Schultz.

            You are so right about the moment of truth. Hoping for the best if it comes to that, I remember her clashes with Obama: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/09/12/warren-obama-2020-228068

            But Sanders is still way better and my candidate, and Warren’s recent actions have made me nervous.

            I remember the moment of truth with Obama. When he appointed Rahm Emanuel, that said everything about who he was NOT gonna be no matter what he said when running.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Oh, poor wittle Timmy. He was DNC chair and Hillary’s running mate, and he’s constantly forgotten.

              In retrospect, there was stuff with Austin Goolsbee, but the moment of truth was having a big todo with Colin Powell in October ’08 long after the election outcome was effectively wrapped up. It was announcement that the most heinous crimes were forgiven as long as Obama was recognized as a celebrity.

              We should be investigating Powell and not letting him play this “good soldier” garbage while he was out of the army.

            2. JohnnyGL

              Yep, agree with all of this.

              Warren’s done well in the campaign, better than I’ve expected. I’m starting to think she’s going to be able to pull together a big enough portion in the Democratic Primary electorate and that she’s getting to a kind of tipping point where she grabs front-runner status.

              Of course, she’s also shown she’s capable of making mistakes….real whoppers, too. But, it may well be her race to lose.

              1. Grant

                I don’t agree, I think there is a lot of time and tons can change. I think part of this is going on current polling, which is highly problematic. However, if anyone but Bernie is elected, sorry, but giant missed opportunity. Whether or not she wins, she will not take on the interests we need to take on and will not do many of the structural changes we need (in regards to the environment and healthcare, as well as foreign policy) that Bernie would. What she offers isn’t enough, and she begins negotiations from an already compromised position.

                Ultimately, Bernie wins if he gets people that normally wouldn’t vote to vote. Will he? We will see. I think, and hope, that it happens, but we will see. Cause I see no reason at all to have any faith in voters in that party, less on the party itself. They may say they support this or that policy, to me it is just words. They never show it with who they support, and I have seen lots and lots of videos of supporters of not only Warren, but other candidates. I don’t see many people on the ideological left. You can support something like single payer, obviously, for non-ideological reasons though. The question is, with how dead set their own candidates are against single payer, how dead set the party is, as well as the media (which many of them seem to follow and value), I don’t know if it will hold. I mean, you can say you support single payer all you want, but if you support Biden or Harris, you don’t in actuality. Anyone can say words, you prove it with who you support and what they would do if given power. Almost all of them would not push for it. In fact, I think only Bernie would. Warren would likely not stand in the way, but I think for a number of reasons that she will not push for it, and we need someone to do just that.

                Ultimately, we have to be rescued from the typical voters in that party, and it is an uphill battle. Given how bad both parties are, it is a tough sell for people to take part in either party. Most see no point, and many people don’t feel that the process itself will be fair anyway.

                1. barefoot charley

                  Bernie’s not an opportunity for the D party, he is an existential threat (especially since I agree with you that he could win). It’s inconceivable that he’d be allowed to run against the party’s owners. I love what he’s doing and completely support him, but I should be investing in options on the Irish gambling sites right now, for money to be made off anyone believing he could actually win the nomination. That’s not what corruption does!

                  1. Procopius

                    I agree Bernie is an existential threat to the Democrats who would make up the Democratic Leadership Council if it still existed (Schumer, Wasserman Schultz, Hillary, Tim Kane, Tom Perez, etc.) The Iron Law of Institutions holds. I think the Democratic Base would be glad of a leader who tried to restore relations with Labor and enforce anti-monopoly laws.

            3. Lambert Strether Post author

              My moment of truth — when skepticism turned to certainty — was in July 2008, after Obama was nominated. He voted for FISA reform, which retroactively immunized the telcos for hundreds of felonies they committed in support of Bush’s program of warrantless surveillance, after promising to filibuster it in January.

              Bush should have been impeached for that. When the Democrats took over the House in 2006, Pelosi immediately took impeachment off the table. And here we are!

          3. dcrane

            When has the Veep position been more than a weak-tea symbolic move? (Other than the case of Dick Cheney, when the guy at the top was the puppet.) Installing Bernie as Veep will not make me more likely to support a candidate for president. Sanders has to be the one in charge (or possibly Gabbard).

          4. Hank Linderman

            Bernie remains the ideal VP choice, as he was in 2016. He’d have been a PIHRC’sA, but HRC would have been President, and no Republican Congress would have dared to impeach her for fear of installing America’s first (democratic) SOCIALIST President.

            The impeachment will likely take both Trump and Biden out of the picture, so Warren/Sanders it is.

        2. hunkerdown

          What about the temporal dimension? Quite likely she’s learned to be a team player in the “left” wing of Plantation USA’s manor house since then. She hasn’t criticized any insiders with due seriousness yet. To wind up on the pointy end of one of her jeremiads is to be warned that one is still the help and to not take liberties exceeding one’s station.

          Sanders, on the other hand, isn’t afraid to pick fights with a man who buys ink by the barrel, and I just have to respect that.

        3. Eureka Springs

          I forgot about that article. Thanks. Everyone dances for their supper, or as Bob Dylan says – “You’re going to have to serve somebody”. I guess I should wonder who pays for her supper and who forced E.W. upon that reluctant Obama admin, then into the Senate?

      1. Jen

        She will owe a lot to the corporate donors she refuses to eschew in the general. And will dance with/for accordingly.

    1. anon in so cal

      Not just NeoLiberalism, but her NeoConservatism. Warren’s replies to the Council on Foreign Relations questions reveals what many already knew: she is likely HRC 2.0

    2. Craig H.

      . . . insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders.

      Also: the Economist basically endorsed her in the Lexington column a couple weeks ago.

  5. Pat

    Response for Kate Hackett’s parlor game….well I have two responses.

    Hillary Clinton should be the President. OR

    I wish Obama were still President.

    But since I never tweet, just my appearance on the platform would probably be enough to have my friends searching for me with the men in the white coats in tow.

  6. Lambert Strether Post author

    I added some more material on the impeachment fracas. Please refresh your browsers. I’d especially welcome comments from those who actually read the “call summary” (not transcript).

  7. antidlc

    RE: Air Methods in talks to contract directly with large employers

    “Some insurers have refused to contract with air ambulances…”

    Not sure it’s the insurers’ fault:


    Consumer groups and insurers counter that air-ambulance companies strategically stay out of health-plan networks to maximize revenue.

    In response to a complaint filed with the state insurance commissioner by a West Virginia consumer last year, insurer Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield wrote that it tried to negotiate a contract with Air Methods, but the company “refuses to discount its services by more than 3% of its total charge.” The consumer was appealing a $51,209 bill for his daughter’s medical flight, of which Highmark paid $10,571.

    1. inode_buddha

      I’m willing to bet the actual cost of the flight was under $15k. The rest is pure gravy based on grossly overstating expenses. Business models like this need to be purged from our society, in all areas of the economy.

      1. Bill Smith

        Depends on what “actual” cost means. Do you marginal cost above what the cost would have been if the helicopter just sat at the field, that is didn’t take that flight?

        1. inode_buddha

          “actual” == the all-in cost of the flight, including the monthly payment on the chopper itself, insurance and regulatory fees, supplies, pilot, paramedics, etc etc. (probably divided by 12 mos and how many times it flies in a month, etc.)

          Basically, how many hours does it need to fly in a month to break even? And from that, its simple math.

    2. ambrit

      It isn’t just air ambulances who are “greedier than sin.”
      I called the collection agency handling my “obligation” to the ambulance company that transported me to the hospital after the bus accident. I asked the lady why, when the insurance adjusters are actively engaged with the ambulance company directly, was I referred to collections. Her explanation was that these things are handled by algorithms. After a set period of time, she explained, if no payment had been received, the bill was forwarded to the collection agency, automatically. (Code is law. LOL.) I have until December 12 to resolve the issue or I am referred to a Credit Reporting Agency. “I do hope your insurance company can come to an agreement with the ambulance company by then, to save you the embarrassment.” she averred. I started laughing at that and explained that I didn’t use credit. She responded, after a noticeable pause, “Oh, that’s nice.” and wound up the call. At no time during the call did she offer any help whatsoever.
      It is time to nationalize all ambulance services as public services. While we are at it, nationalize the credit score agencies as well.

      1. vlade

        Sounds like Space Merchants by Pohl and Kornbluth were prescient – the whole point is to get you into a cycle you can exit, while extracting money at all points..

  8. Samuel Conner

    The snark of the Feldman tweet gave me a much-needed deep-ventilation belly laugh.

    I’ve been thinking that there’s a word waiting to coined, a combination of the semantic fields of “charisma”, “machismo” and “corruption”. Perhaps “burisma” is what I’m looking for?

    That said, DJT is IMO incredibly bone-headed to be negotiating with the leader of a foreign country the way he would with a contractor.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Yeah, he should just send in Nuland and a stack of cash and a cache of weapons, and just put in his own guy.

  9. temporal

    Not a complaint but potentially useful information.

    When I come in via Safari on a mac the browser will randomly have a new window opened to “deej.almeusciu.site”, and others, and lets me know that the flash player is out of date and generously offers me that chance to install a newer version via their site. Obviously never gonna happen.

    Sadly, Safari doesn’t even light up and tell me I’m being played.

    One of the global scripts for NC is doing this because it happens on various links including the home page.

    1. Monty

      Check your safari extensions, cull them all. Next click Top Corner Apple Logo > System Preferences > Network > Advanced > Proxies and make sure all are unchecked.

      My mother in law had some malware problem just like this yesterday, and these steps fixed it.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      Somewhat related, here today via Chrome instead of my usual Firefox for Mac and now I’m getting the entire page again (including a bottom of the screen ad for Progressive I’ve never seen before). Since Firefox updated, Naked Capitalism has not been the same.

  10. dcrane

    On the poll chart: There is a lot of wasted white space above the 40 percent level. The Y-axis should top out at 50 percent (depending on the current max value), which would make it easier to resolve the overlapping traces.

    1. hunkerdown

      Personally, I’d like to see a stacked view of the graph. Is there a nicely compiled data source in CSV format available?

  11. Deschain

    What I find most interesting about the whole Biden/Trump thing is that I keep reading that ‘there is no proof that Biden did anything wrong’. I mean . . . isn’t that because there hasn’t been an investigation to see if he did anything wrong? Isn’t that what Trump was asking for (in his own horrible way)?

    As for Hunter Biden, if there is any question whatsoever whether his employment was legitimate, this answers it. The guy shouldn’t be let anywhere near any board, ever.


      1. Deschain

        If Joe Biden knew that Burisma might, or even should, be under investigation, then any action he took would be heavily tainted, full stop. Relying on motives is dangerous because you can never know what’s going on in someone’s head. That why avoiding any appearance of corruption is (or should be, in a better world) important.

        1. Geo

          “In a better world”

          If you find that one can you share directions to it for me? I’d like to live there.

          Seriously, this debate over which corrupt dynasty is acceptable is getting tiring. Maybe it’s my lack of quality education but I thought we were supposed to have moved past the era of feudal lords and dynastic royals who made the laws but never were bound by them. No wonder the works of Shakespeare are as relevant today as ever.

        2. notabanker

          Yeah good thing his son is such a world renowned eastern European gas company expert and just happened to be available for the Ukraine post when they most needed him. What a coincidence his Dad was on point for some political stuff there as Vice President of the US. We wouldn’t want to have even the appearance of potential corruption there. /s

          Gimme a break. $50K a month was deposited into H Biden’s personal accounts immediately after massive wire transfers from Burisma to his “consulting” firm. What is there to investigate? What “appearance” is in question? The guy was getting paid because his Dad was the VP of the US and Obama personally put him, the VP, on point to communicate billions of dollars in aid. Obama didn’t know his son sat on the Board? The CIA had no clue? It slipped right past NSA and the FBI?

          Oh but now we have an “intelligence community” whistleblower who knows what Trump talked about to the Head of State?

          This country is done. It’s over. It is completely morally bankrupt and corrupt. Spare me the naive “I’d like to believe” nonsense. These people are in it for personal gain, huge, big money, and don’t give a damn about the American public. They should be tried for treason.

        1. grizziz

          There is something weird about The Intercept, Ukraine, and Pierre Omidyar. Another one of their writers, Robert Mackay wrote an article the other day stating there was nothing to see in Hunter Biden working for Bursima: https://theintercept.com/2019/09/22/reporters-stop-helping-donald-trump-spread-lies-joe-biden-ukraine/
          I searched and found this old Pando Daily article by Mark Ames showing that Omidyar was funding the Maiden Coup: https://pando.com/2014/02/28/pierre-omidyar-co-funded-ukraine-revolution-groups-with-us-government-documents-show/

      2. Geo

        Thanks for sharing this. I’d like to believe Joe is clean on this but there’s still the ride he shared with his son on Air Force 2 to China that muddies the waters. Maybe it was a “hear no evil, see no evil” type of thing but it shows Joe was tacitly approving of the systemic corruption. Add to that his catering to creditors over the years and it’s clear, at best, his loyalty is to a system of corruption, even if he’s not personally benefitting it. Or, if he truly isn’t aware of all the corruption around him, which is believable too, then he’s incredibly dumb.

        Finally, looking at his draconian views on drug criminalization over the years despite experiencing the impact of it with his son Hunter, it shows a moral hypocrisy. It’s OK to lock up others and ruin their lives but his son, who has admitted smoking crack, just needs understanding and rehabilitation because he’s a good person.

        Biden, it seems, is the G-rated family-friendly establishment corruption, whereas, Donald Trump is the NC-17 “in-your-face” version that glamorizes and sensationalizes it. Both should be intolerable but due to primitive tribal alliance in our politics it seems each is protected and even celebrated for using their own corrupt power to hurt the other side, all while wielding that same corrupt power to make all our lives more difficult and preserve their own status, power, and comfort.

  12. WJ

    Re: And what’s this about the McGuffin CrowdStrike server?….

    I read the portion of the cited transcript, and can’t for the life of me understand why it constitutes the ultimate gotcha moment it is being portrayed as. As I read the transcript, Trump is asking for help investigating Crowdstrike’s unexplored connection with certain rapidly anti-Russian Ukrainian state/private interests. The thought is that Russiagate was cooked up in part through the dubious testimony of a self-interested and non-neutral party (ie crowdstrike). And Trump is asking whether anything can be done to shed light on this situation. How is this “obstruction”?! Isn’t Trump doing the kind of thing the FBI should have done but, ahem, chose not to do?
    What am I missing?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Remember all that “Fancy Bear” stuff that crowdstrike cited when it declared that it was Russia that hacked the dnc servers? It was challenged at the time, but, with the fbi not having examined the servers, it could not corroborate and the challenge, like so much else about crowdstrike’s work, was ignored.

      Later, crowdstrike again used “Fancy Bear” in “attributing” a hack of Ukrainian weapons systems to Russia, but was forced to retract the claim. Those who noticed suggested that the forced retraction called into question the original dnc “hack” attribution, but by that time Russiagate was off and running and not looking back. Ignored again.

      Here’s one of the articles I found with an explanation, published at the time of the forced retraction. I found it by searching crowdstrike+ukrainian artillery malfunction. I suspect we’ll see more now that crowdstrike is mentioned in the call. At least I would hope so.


      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > searching crowdstrike+ukrainian artillery malfunction

        Somebody needs to write a book called “Great Searches of Our Time.” I love “artillery malfunction,” because it reminds me (and I would bet the algo) of “wardrobe malfunction.”

      1. Geo

        I’d love to see reality imitate the movie “Bulworth”. It’s already done a fine job of imitating “Idiocracy” but the former is a far superior movie in my mind. Bernie is getting there slowly and Tulsi seems like she’s on that path too.

        Bulworth: “You got half your kids are out of work and the other half are in jail. Do you see ANY Democrat doing anything about it? Certainly not me! So what’re you gonna do, vote Republican? Come on! Come on, you’re not gonna vote Republican!”

        1. Carolinian

          Bullworth, when confronted by a constituent, “but you didn’t give any money to my campaign!”

          But I’m not as big a fan of the movie as you are. And if H’wood as a whole is jaded with the Dems it’d be hard to find the evidence.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I think one problem with the movie relative to today is so much of the current Democrats started as non-entities. Bulworth’s back story implied he started out and made compromises to win elections. Eventually he became a cog within the machine.

            There are some other problems with the movie, but I think Bulworth isn’t so much about Al Gore not caring about people (I believe a clip of Gore is featured when he says they don’t care about you and Steve Forbes, not exactly a man of the people). But for the most part, I think the message is we are too nice, awaiting on messiahs to descend from the mountain, neglecting to remember democracy is not a spectator sport.

            Bulworth goes out pushing for single payer healthcare. Eff, Warren’s plans and Obama’s 853rd dimensional chess. We already know the answers. The problem isn’t Republicans. Its awaiting Al Gore to be nice to us. Its the opposite of the “Obama’s got this” meme. The mistake was trusting a rando to act in our best interest.

      2. dcrane

        I’m with Tulsi here….she may move above Bernie on my list if this keeps up. I want Trump out, but I want him beaten democratically in an election by a candidate who wins because they put regular voters and the country first. Not by his political opposition or the sleazy DC establishment maneuvering him out, with nothing else changing. Especially if the guy keeps standing in the way of bombing Iran (if that is, indeed, what is going on)…

          1. Darthbobber

            What are you calling her about face on that? I remember onelack of a raised hand they tried to spin as that, but it really just reflected that she, unlike some who raised there hands, was actually familiar with what the bill would do.

            Her vote for the anti-BDS resolution, on the other hand, I took as a clear negative.

  13. Wukchumni

    We walked through the scene of decline yesterday @ Snowslide Canyon, where it’s namesake took out 1,500 mature Giant Sequoias along with everything else above board in the way one day in 1867…

    “One of the most cataclysmic events affecting the Sierra Nevada in historic times impacted the Garfield section of the grove. On December 20, 1867, a warm rain fell on heavy snowpack blanketing the higher elevations of Dennison Ridge. One observer wrote that “the north side of Dennison Mountain” fell through the heart of the grove into the South Fork of the Kaweah, destroying a reported one-third of the grove’s forest. The avalanche and landslide swept down from as high as 7,500 feet, covering hundred of acres, and devastating an area about 2.5 miles long and ranging in width from 1,500 to 4,000 feet. A natural dam was created measuring a half-mile wide and 400 feet high, and the reservoir that formed behind it breached the dam on Christmas night.”

    “The flood scoured the canyon, then flooded Visalia in the Central Valley to a depth of five feet. Sequoia logs and tree sections were carried to the valley, where they floated far and wide beyond the riverbanks. Though new growth has disguised most signs of the 1867 avalanche in the grove, its effects are still dramatically apparent in the vicinity of Snowslide Canyon, where dense sequoia forest ends abruptly at an avalanche boulder field which swept away all that was growing there before the slide.”

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Rewilding will make Britain a rainforest nation again”

    Excellent article this. I was watching a doco on Dartmoor last night called “Britains Ancient Tracks” (the Dartmoor segment) which seems to be mostly empty hills and plains these days. They actually built Dartmoor prison here as there would be little cover for an escaping prisoner to find there. But then the host, Tony Robinson, showed a small pocket of woods (I forget what he called it) and then said that this is what the whole of Dartmoor looked like once.


    1. Monty

      Tony really sounds like he has had 4-5 pints before recording the voice-over on that one!

      If you are ever on Dartmoor, stay a night and eat in Bovey Castle. We had a really memorable time there a few years ago.

      1. divadab

        The weird thing is that British people I’ve been hill-walking with over their degraded treeless mountains believe they’ve always been that way and rejected the concept the natural vegetation is forest. Good for George Monbiot for educating them.

        We here in North America have access to actual natural environments which europeans do not – as Europe has been environmentally degraded for thousands of years.

  15. JBird4049

    He thinks that under Jim Crow, black people developed the habits, organizations, independence, and self-sufficiency to survive against all the odds; they managed to build up a thriving civilization and culture.”

    It is a two sided blessing. Clarence Thomas is right, but that was because they were expelled from large areas of the country, and like with many European Jews forced into ghettos, Blacks were also effectively ghettoized. They faced becoming strange fruit sometimes for the sin of being too successful or some other “crime” the small, insular communities in which everyone saw everyone. The banker, preacher, school teacher, and the homeless drunk were all visible to each other, which meant that everyone could see the possibilities of being successful; the successful leaders could also help aid their unfortunate neighbors.

    However, once both being more widely successful and not dying became possible most of the successful people just left, leaving the poor, the problem people, trapped, unable to either get the support that had existed before or being able to see the possibilities for success.

    You can think of it as an early example of what started to happened nationwide a decade later. The monies, the college educated, the connected abandoned most everyone and moved into their own enclaves, leaving those behind with the joys of disappearing businesses and jobs.

    So, Black travelers do not have to use the Green Book to safely travel the country and find places to eat, sleep, buy gas, or just use a bathroom, and something like the Tulsa Race “Riot” is very unlikely to happen. This is good, but somehow MLK’s dream of judging people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin or cashing that check he talked about during his Poor Peoples Campaign during which he was assassinated. It just sorta seems to have all just stopped.

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