2:00PM Water Cooler 9/26/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Trade

“The U.S. drive to isolate Iran is reaching China’s biggest shipping company. The Trump administration blacklisted several firms including tanker units of China’s Cosco Shipping Holdings Ltd. for allegedly shipping Iranian oil in violation of U.S. sanctions…, part of an attempt to choke off Iran’s crude exports” [Wall Street Journal]. “The Department of Treasury blacklisted companies includes Cosco Shipping Tanker (Dalian) Co. Ltd. and Cosco Shipping Tanker (Dalian) Seaman & Ship Management Co., operators within Cosco’s sprawling global maritime network. The sanctions are the most dramatic step the U.S. has taken to throttle Iran’s revenue-generating oil trade, and it hits the world’s biggest ship operator and a carrier central to Beijing’s global maritime ambitions.”

“U.S. Farmers Get A Much-Needed Break Under Partial Trade Pact With Japan” [NPR]. “U.S. farmers, who have been hard hit by President Trump’s trade wars, got some relief Wednesday, when Trump signed an interim trade deal with Japan. The agreement calls for lower Japanese tariffs on U.S. farm exports such as beef and pork. It also locks in tariff-free digital commerce. But it does not address the president’s threat to level punishing tariffs on imported cars from Japan. A top trade negotiator says Trump has no plans to act on that threat for now. Trump signed the partial trade agreement along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in New York, where the two men are attending the United Nations General Assembly.”

Politics

“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:

Undecideds down, Biden up. With this one poll.

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.

* * *

2020

Patient readers, I should have more, but the impeachment saga drowned everything out. –lambert

Warren (D)(1): “Wall Street Democratic donors warn the party: We’ll sit out, or back Trump, if you nominate Elizabeth Warren” [CNBC]. “n recent weeks, CNBC spoke to several high-dollar Democratic donors and fundraisers in the business community and found that this opinion was becoming widely shared as Warren, an outspoken critic of big banks and corporations, gains momentum against Joe Biden in the 2020 race. ‘You’re in a box because you’re a Democrat and you’re thinking, ‘I want to help the party, but she’s going to hurt me, so I’m going to help President Trump,’ said a senior private equity executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity in fear of retribution by party leaders. The executive said this Wednesday, a day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would begin a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump.” • Party loyalty. I like that in a big donor.

Warren (D)(2): “Elizabeth Warren secured endorsement from far-left ‘Working Families Party’ after think tank where her daughter, is chairwoman gave it $45,000” [Daily Mail]. • The WFP is said to have a million-dollar budget; I’m not sure that a $45K contribution from Demos, where Amelia Warren Tyagi is on the board, is significant. I’m more concerned that Tyagi is President of a body shop, Business Talent Group, with a for-profit health care practice (not because of any direct malfeasance, but because professional-class networks can operate to defeat #MedicareForAll, particularly where their own profits are concerned).

Warren (D)(3): More crawfishing from Warren on #MedicareForAll:

#MedicareForAll all is not a “framework.” A framework is something you have a consultant write up so you can publish it in Medium. #MedicareForAll has been crafted into two pieces of legislation (Jayapal; Sanders), which Warren doesn’t mention on her health care page and very visibly refuses to endorse on the campaign trail.

* * *

NY: “Cuomo Signs Bill Making It Easier To Change Party Enrollment” [Spectrum News]. “The measure addresses a long-standing complaint of good-government organization and voter-rights’ groups that New York’s election laws make it difficult to access party primaries, which are closed to those enrolled in a party. The law signed Thursday will end the Oct. 11 deadline and allow voters to register by Feb. 14 to make changes to party enrollment. New York’s presidential primary is scheduled for April 28.” • Cuomo did the right thing. For once.

Impeachment

On “crossing the Rubicon,” Joe Costello threw the following over the transom. I’m turning the mike over to him:

“For me each reader should give his keen attention to the following: what was the manner of life, what was the behavior, through what men and by what means at home and abroad was empire acquired and increased, then let him follow in his mind how, as discipline faltered little by little, behavior at first subsided, then became more and more unsteady, and then began to plunge headlong, until we arrived at the present age in which we can endure neither our disorders nor the cures for them.” – Livy, The History of Rome, 30 BC

It should be remembered, ok that’s a joke for ahistorical America, nonetheless, when Augustus seized power over the Roman republic, he neither got rid of any of the republic’s centuries old institutions or added any new ones. He did add a few more titles to himself, the best was princeps civitatis, first citizen — the first Latin lesson, a better one yet to come. Imperial Rome would then last another 500 years.

The Roman republic fell not because of their failures, but their successes. Rome grew from a monarchial city-state of renegades, who threw-off their king, conquered Italy and eventually the entire Mediterranean. With this success gradually came a massive centralization of wealth, degrading the ability of most citizens to act as citizens, while the ever increasing weight of empire ossified republican institutions.

It took the Roman republic a good eight decades to fall, traditionally starting with the assassinations of the Gracchi, who had attempted to do something about deepening wealth inequality. Fifty years later, Sulla would be the first Roman to march Roman troops on Rome, to be followed thirty years later by Caesar. After his assassination and two civil wars, Augustus’ reign would begin, the republic was history. The next period of self-government in the West would not be for well over a thousand years with the rise of Renaissance Italy. As historian Gore Vidal wrote, republics are historical anomalies.

So fast forward to today, to the circus that is now the American republic. Its last days heralded not from troops marching on DC, but from an unchecked National Security State, entrenched in DC since the end of the Second World War, the self-aggrandized brain trust of imperial America. We are witnessing the second coup attempt against an elected President in just over two years. It is no coincidence that once again the attack begins from within the former Soviet Union, which despite being dismantled 30 years ago, remains threateningly alive and ever menacing in the paranoid minds, dead hearts, and limitless budgets of our anti-democratic National Security State.

The first coup attempt by the security state bureaucracy came with collusion from the Democratic and Republican establishments, once again arm and arm, despite the endless rhetoric of division. Allied, they attempted to blame Russian interference for their election defeat. After failing spectacularly to do so, now comes a second attempt, this time with the added amusement of old Joe Biden as collateral damage. Joe’s son has been caught with his hand in a Ukrainian oligarch’s cookie jar, following in the footsteps of Paul Manafort and Tony Podesta. By the way, whatever happened to Tony Podesta, brother of John and friend of the Clintons and Obamas?

Most amusing, when announcing the impeachment action, the Speaker of the House used both crossing the Rubicon and alea iacta est — as promised the second Latin lesson. “The die is cast,” Caesar’s infamous words upon crossing the Rubicon river with his troops, on his way to Rome to install himself as dictator perpetuo or dictator in perpetuity – an extra Latin lesson. It seems whoever is feeding the Speaker her lines, as they most certainly are not the Speaker’s, didn’t understand these lines may as well been written atop the Roman republic’s autopsied corpse.

Now, we shall suffer through more bad impeachment political theater, maybe at some point a fellatio or two will appear giving us a little nostalgia for the good old days. The very bad smell of the last decades of the Roman republic wafts across this land, the inability, or more accurately the not wanting to make a more equitable economy, an eminently corrupt political class picking and choosing various crimes to bring down enemies, and institutions incapable of reform increasingly crushed by the weight of an empire they were never designed to carry.

A decade and a half ago, I had the great fortune of spending an afternoon drinking tumblers of “whiskey” with Gore Vidal in his house in the Hollywood Hills. We talked about the state of political affairs in America, including at that point the most recent imperial action of occupying Iraq under a veil of lies and misinformation provided by the National Security apparatus. At one point I exclaimed, “We have to ask the American people if they still want their republic.” Gore looked at me across the table, eyebrows raised in bemused shock and replied, “They’ll have no idea what you’re talking about.”

History repeats, first time tragedy, second time farce, as the Old Moor said.

* * *

The whistleblower’s complaint, which is in the form of a letter to “Dear Chairman Burr and Chairman Schiff,” is now available (PDF); more reading to do. Comment from Politico’s Blake Hounsell:

A reporter, perhaps. Or an intelligence analyst.

Interestingly, the complaint is dated August 12. So one might well ask how long insiders have known about it (and reverse engineer all the current “hot” takes, too).

“Whistleblower alleges White House coverup” [CNN]. • A round-up of CNN coverage.

“Spy chief defends handling of “unprecedented” whistleblower complaint” [CBS]. Live blog, Includes live video coverage.

“Pelosi Says Impeachment Inquiry Is All About Ukraine – for Now” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clearer than before that the impeachment inquiry she announced yesterday would — for now, at least — focus exclusively on the president’s dealings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.” • So, three years of RussiaGate really was gaslighting? “Never mind“?

“Ukrainians understood Biden probe was condition for Trump-Zelenskiy talks, says former Ukrainian adviser” [ABC] but “‘Nobody Pushed Me.’ Ukrainian President Denies Trump Pressured Him to Investigate Biden’s Son” [Time].

“Whistleblower complaint says White House officials acted to ‘lock down’ record of Trump-Ukraine call” [NBC]. “The complaint, which was made public with minimal redactions, makes clear there are witnesses who can back up the account, and it indicates concern over the internal handling of the White House record of the phone call. The whistleblower says White House officials told them the conversation on July 25 between Trump and Zelenskiy was removed from the computer system that is typically used for such records of calls with foreign leaders. Instead, the whistleblower writes, the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is used only for information that is of an ‘especially sensitive nature.’ One White House official [past or present?] described that as an abuse of the secure system because there was nothing ‘remotely sensitive’ on the phone call from a national security perspective, the whistleblower said.” • Hmm.

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

“‘Prince Andrew’s role in Jeffrey Epstein paedo scandal is being covered up by the FBI, claims ex top cop who say he has hours of damning CCTV footage” [The Sun]. “A former US cop claims the FBI may be helping cover up Prince Andrew’s alleged role in the Jeffrey Epstein sex abuse scandal. John Mark Dougan – who fled to Moscow following a raid by the Feds on his home – also says he has hundreds of hours of footage from the billionaire paedo’s Florida mansion.” • Speaking of CCTV, I don’t think we ever did get any usable footage from the Metropolitan Correctional Center, did we? Odd.

2016 Post Mortem

“2016 Revisited: Electronic Balloting Favored Clinton, Paper Balloting Sanders” (interview) [Rodolfo Cortes Barragan, Black Agenda Report]. Barragan: “We saw irregularities in vote patterns. For example, everyone knew that there were discrepancies between most exit polls and reported polls. However, we found that there were more discrepancies in states with strictly electronic voting machines. Clinton won 65%, Bernie Sanders 35% in those states. In states with paper ballots, Clinton won 49%, Sanders 51%.” • Sadly, Barragan (GP) retails Jon Ralson’s false report that chairs were thrown at the Nevada caucus in 2016, by Sanders supporters.

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of September 21, 2019: “Jobless claims remain very low to confirm that layoffs are low and the job market strong” [Econoday]. “Labor market strength is the foundation of the US economy and looks to continue to generate growth for consumer spending.”

GDP, Q2 2019: “The second quarter was a deceptively strong quarter, confirmed by the third estimate which leaves headline GDP at a moderate looking 2.0 percent annual rate” [Econoday]. “But the contribution from consumer spending was unusually strong… The Fed is specifically concentrating on weakness in business investment which was an issue in the second quarter…. But new home sales, benefiting from low mortgage rates, have been pivoting higher and may help residential investment turn positive in the third quarter. The outlook for business investment, however, is flat though consumer spending, supported by a strong jobs market, does look like it will continue to underpin the US economy. Net exports pulled second quarter GDP lower though indications for the third quarter, underlined by this morning’s international goods data, are pointing to improvement as exports are showing less weakness than imports. Inventories also pulled down the second quarter which, however, is a positive for restocking and a possible inventory contribution to the third quarter.”

International Trade in Goods, August 2019: “Sharp improvement in agricultural exports is an isolated highlight of an otherwise subdued August report on goods trade that shows continued weakness overall for exports and limited results for imports” [Econoday]. “Outside of capital goods there’s little sign that domestic demand is strengthening on the import side of the ledger that also shows sharp declines for industrial supplies and vehicles. Yet imports of consumer goods, which are the Achilles’ heel for the US trade balance, did rise… Global trade has been slowing and may well be in contraction right now, a risk underscored convincingly by the year-on-year declines in both US imports and exports. The Federal Reserve is concentrated on the risk of slowing global growth, and this report offers arguments for the doves and their push for further rate cuts.”

Corporate Profits, Q2 2019 (revised): Up [Econoday].

Wholesale Inventories [Advance], August 2019: higher-than-expected [Econoday]. “Overall, inventories have been running on the lean side this year and whatever build that may be taking place in the third quarter is probably welcomed and a plus for employment and production.”

Retail Inventories [Advance], August 2019: Unchanged following a steep build in July [Econoday].

The Bezzle: “Unprofitable Companies Are Raising the Most IPO Cash Since the Dot-Com Era” [Bloomberg]. Uber, WeWork, Peloton. • Um, are markets supposed to do that? And if IPOs don’t take place in a market, what sort of institution do they take place in?

The Bezzle: “SolarCity was insolvent when Tesla paid $2.6 billion to buy it, lawsuit says” [Ars Technica]. “Back in 2016, Tesla acquired solar panel manufacturer SolarCity, billing the $2.6 billion deal as an opportunity to create ‘the world’s only vertically integrated sustainable energy company.’ From a SolarCity solar panel to a Tesla battery, the company promised, the in-house supply chain would scale up clean energy for all and provide cost synergies to the businesses and shareholders. But SolarCity, of which Tesla CEO Elon Musk was chairman, was deeply in debt at the time. Now, newly unsealed documents in an investor lawsuit say the situation was far worse than that. They allege that SolarCity wasn’t just carrying a heavy debt load: it was completely insolvent. The upshot of reams of law surrounding mergers and acquisitions is that C-suite executives and company boards of directors are supposed to make sure shareholders get the most money possible out of their investment. If they’re going to sell the company, they have to make sure they’re accepting the most valuable reasonable offer. Companies doing the acquiring, meanwhile, are supposed to do their homework to make sure they’re not wasting their resources on a bad deal—and Tesla shareholders say the SolarCity acquisition was exactly that.”

The Bezzle: “A top hedge fund’s reported $800 million bet on vaping could be in jeopardy as regulators set their sights on e-cigarettes” [Business Insider]. “As regulatory pressure ramps up against vaping and e-cigarettes, a top hedge fund’s $800 million bet on the space could be in trouble.

Mudrick Capital Management — a hedge fund founded by high-profile investor Jason Mudrick that manages about $2.8 billion — has close to 30% of its total assets invested in e-cigarette maker NJOY Holdings…. Mudrick’s stake in NJOY was the sole driver of the its 25% return in the second quarter, and without the investment the fund would have posted a loss for the period.” • Always pleased to see a bet on regulatory arbitrage go the wrong way for the rentiers.

The Bezzle: “SEC proposes to give big investors IPO information edge over retail investors” [Francine McKenna, MarketWatch]. “Two years ago the SEC gave all companies the benefit of a confidential IPO filing process. Going through the sometimes lengthy and messy SEC review process in public is no longer necessary. However, the provision means the back-and-forth when a company’s “tests the waters” with the SEC about its IPO is not available for retail investors to scrutinize until the agency has given its final blessing on the filing. Companies are required to publicly file the final IPO registration statement and all prior nonpublic draft submissions at least 15 days prior to any road show or, in the absence of a road show, at least 15 days prior to when it will go live on a national securities exchange.” • Speaking of regulations and regulators…

Tech: “Amazon CEO says company working on facial recognition regulations” [Reuters]. ” Amazon.com Inc Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said the company’s public policy team is working on proposed regulations around facial recognition, a fledgling technology that has drawn criticism of the technology giant’s cloud computing unit. ‘Our public policy team [translation: lobbyists] is actually working on facial recognition regulations, and it makes a lot of sense to regulate that,’ Bezos told reporters at the company’s annual Alexa devices launch in Seattle on Wednesday.” • It sure makes sense, from Amazon’s perspective, to write its own regulations. Wowers, Bezos must think we’re stupid.

Manufacturing: “US govt watchdog barks at FAA over 737 Max inspectors’ lack of qualifications” [The Register]. “Potentially, a whistleblower told the [US Office of the Special Counsel (OSC)] – essentially a federal watchdog – 11 out of 17 [Air Safety Inspectors (ASIs)] working for the FAA’s Seattle-based Air Evaluation Group either did not have the right classroom training or the required on-the-job training to perform their duties correctly…. [T]he OSC also alleged that the FAA misled the US Congress about its inspectors’ qualifications and competence when that body was investigating similar reports in April. The FAA was said to have specifically denied that its ASIs working on the 737 Max weren’t properly qualified.”

Manufacturing: “Boeing’s 737 Max Flight Tests Underestimated Risks, US Investigators Say” [Industry Week]. “Boeing Co.’s evaluation of the 737 Max system during development used an oversimplified test that didn’t anticipate the cacophony of alarms and alerts that actually occurred during a pair of deadly crashes, U.S. investigators [from the National Transportation Safety Board] concluded…. The way Boeing designed its flight tests were permitted under existing rules. But the NTSB is calling on the FAA to require more realistic assessments of complex emergencies during certification testing. [Dana Schulze, the director of NTSB’s Office of Aviation Safety] said that it should be done before the Max flies again. Boeing is close to finalizing a redesign of the plane and has said it hopes that the grounding will be lifted before the end of the year. The recommendations also ask the FAA to review all aircraft models to ensure that they don’t have similar safety issues lurking in the background, and to urge other nations to conduct similar reviews.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54 Greed (previous close: 59, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 26 at 11:58am. Whoa, outright neutrality.

The Biosphere

“The ocean is key to achieving climate and societal goals” [Science]. “The just-released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the ocean and cryosphere in a changing climate (SROCC) (1) details the immense pressure that climate change is exerting on ocean ecosystems and portrays a disastrous future for most life in the ocean and for the billions of people who depend on it unless anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are slashed. It reinforces in stark terms the urgency of reducing carbon emissions expressed in a 2018 IPCC report (2). But another just-released report (3) provides hope and a path forward, concluding that the ocean is not simply a victim of climate change, but a powerful source of solutions. Drawing on this report organized by the High Level Panel (HLP) for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, which quantifies and evaluates the potential for ocean-based actions to reduce emissions, we outline a “no-regrets to-do list” of ocean-based climate actions that could be set in motion today.” • It does no good to make people fearful if you still leave them with “no place to go.”

Water

“The Indian children who take a train to collect water” [Reuters]. “As their classmates set off to play after school each day, nine-year-old Sakshi Garud and her neighbour Siddharth Dhage, 10, are among a small group of children who take a 14 km (9 miles) return train journey from their village in India to fetch water. Their families are some of the poorest in the hamlet of Mukundwadi, in the western state of Maharashtra, a village that has suffered back-to-back droughts… They are not alone. Millions of Indians do not have secure water supplies, according to the UK-based charity, WaterAid. It says 12% of Indians, or about 163 million people, do not have access to clean water near their homes – the biggest proportion of any country.”


Class Warfare

“Income inequality grew in 2018, Census data shows” [PBS]. “The gap between the haves and have-nots in the United States grew last year to its highest level in more than 50 years of tracking income inequality, according to Census Bureau figures. Income inequality in the United States expanded from 2017 to 2018, with several heartland states among the leaders of the increase, even though several wealthy coastal states still had the most inequality overall, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The nation’s Gini Index, which measures income inequality, has been rising steadily over the past five decades.” • Everything’s going according to plan.

“Billionaires hurt economic growth and should be taxed out of existence, says bestselling French economist” [CNBC]. “In an interview with the French magazine L’Obs, Thomas Piketty calls for a graduated wealth tax of 5% on those worth 2 million euros or more and up to 90% on those worth more than 2 billion euros…. ‘So no, there won’t be billionaires anymore. How can we justify that their existence is necessary for the common good? Contrary to what is often said, their enrichment was obtained thanks to these collective goods, which are the public knowledge, the infrastructures, the laboratories of research,’ [said Piketty].”

“General Motors Co. customers are getting an unwelcome lesson in the fragile nature of supply chains. Many vehicle owners turning to GM dealerships for repairs are finding needed replacement parts in short supply… as a strike against the auto maker persists through a second week” [Wall Street Journal]. “The United Auto Workers walkout has brought production at more than 30 GM factories in the U.S. to a standstill and debilitated the company’s biggest parts warehouse and distribution centers. That’s rapidly affecting repair shops across the country, leaving staffers scrambling to find backup components for repairs and maintenance.” • This is why, from a management perspective, union busting and just-in-time manufacturing are two sides of the same coin.

News of the Wired

“The Requiem Along the Roadside” [The Bitter Southerner]. “For all we have gotten so very, very wrong in the South, we get dying right. Death is the great equalizer. It matters not who a man was in life; maybe he had pulled a child from a burning building, maybe he had set the fire. Rich or poor, respected or reviled, the occasion of one’s burial is marked with great ceremony and solemnity. Or at least it was, once upon a time… And when encountering an oncoming hearse, a motorist would, as reflexively as Pavlov’s dog, pull the car to the side of the road and turn on the headlights. If on foot, one would remove any headwear and stand at attention until the final car in the motorcade had passed.” • That seems quite remarkable to me, almost as remarkable as the Texas “mums.” Readers?

“Seven Key Misconceptions about Evolutionary Psychology” [Areo]. “No matter how widespread the belief, an evolutionary approach to psychology does not imply that behavior is genetically determined There are two ways to appreciate this point. First, like all other life scientists, evolutionary psychologists subscribe to an interactionist view that states that everything in the mind, body and brain is jointly co-determined by genes and environment. Second, an evolutionary perspective emphasizes the centrality of the environment, pointing out that it is crucial at every phase of the causal process: the initial evolution of adaptations, their development across the lifespan and their triggers in the immediate present. In other words, an evolutionary approach suggests that a) environmental pressures drive the evolution of adaptations in the first place, b) adaptations require environmental input to develop properly during an organism’s lifespan, and c) environmental triggers are necessary to activate the adaptation in the present moment. Across all three timescales of import, an evolutionary perspective places the environment center stage.” • Interesting piece.

* * *

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 (Angie Neer):

Angie Neer writes: “Greetings Lambert, here in the NW the blossoms are already being rained off the cherries [Whoops –lambert]. This picture was actually taken last April 18, but it looks the same now.”

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).

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser.Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:




Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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.

232 comments

    1. artmajor

      I grew up in southern Georgia and I remember it happening quite frequently as a kid with my parents always pulling the car over for the processions. I went down a few years ago for my grandfathers funeral ,plenty of drivers did the same.

      Reply
    2. doug

      same in North Carolina, and I don’t ever recall anyone being pissy about it. It was something you did, and then when you were taking your relative to their final resting place, everyone did it for your procession. It felt right at the time.

      Reply
      1. Donna

        I just relocated to North Carolina. In the driver’s handbook, I learned the road rules for when the driver encounters a funeral procession.

        Reply
    3. Doug in SJ

      I was shocked, and a little self conscious, a few weeks ago to be among the 5% or so wearing a suit at a memorial service. Thankfully, i haven’t been to many in recent years so I may be behind the times…

      Reply
      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        in the Midwest, cars in a funeral procession have their headlights on and at stoplights everyone stays put even if the light turns green to let them all pass.

        beyond not cutting into the procession, I don’t recall anyone pulling over to the side.

        Reply
        1. dbk

          Yes, this is correct. Drivers yield to the entire procession, which is permitted to pass on as a body to the cemetery. (Illinois)

          One of the most moving such scenes I’ve ever watched is actually in a film, Taking Chance (2009) starring Kevin Bacon as a military officer who accompanies the body of a young soldier from Dover AF base back to his home in Wyoming for burial. To me, it speaks volumes…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSFmUCuGSo8

          Reply
    4. Plenue

      Why is this approach assumed by the writer of the article to be the ‘right way’? Is it also the ‘right way’ to wear black to a funeral? Try that at a Chinese funeral and you’ll be lucky to not get the crap kicked out of you for being a presumptuous idiot. Different places have different customs; being overly somber and obsequious is not automatically better.

      Also we shouldn’t treat death as a great equalizer. Someone who was terrible in life doesn’t deserve dignified treatment just because they’re dead. If a John McCain-type rolls by the appropriate action is to spit on his corpse.

      Reply
      1. Titus

        I can’t relate. I have seen a lot of death. Some should be respected and some not. Some are. Some are not. No one has a lock on the right way. There are many ways. Some good. Some bad. To each their own.

        Reply
    5. hunkerdown

      Not legal in Michigan, according to State Trooper Randy Gariglio, but I see people do it anyway:

      Oncoming vehicles stopping on the travel portion of the roadway for a funeral procession would be in violation of MCL 257.672, which states you cannot stop on the roadway other than for emergencies, mechanical difficulty or school buses.

      Bottom line is that you can’t cross through a funeral procession and they have the right-of-way when going through intersections, but other than that people should not be stopping. Thanks again.

      Reply
      1. Mark Gisleson

        OK, but seriously — what year is it for real? I thought I knew, now I’m not so sure. Except that it’s Wednesday. That I’m positive about.

        Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        If Lambert is going to be living in the future sometimes the least he could do is to tell us who the final candidates will be. Oh, and grab the listed winning lottery numbers for then.

        Reply
        1. richard

          the only time i can remember living in the future
          it was the late 70s and i was sure the 90s were going to be punk and radical
          somehow i think
          i’d already given up on the 80s by then
          :/

          Reply
  1. GF

    Warren (D)(1): “Wall Street Democratic donors warn the party: We’ll sit out, or back Trump, if you nominate Elizabeth Warren”

    Best thing that could happen to the Democrats. Force them to return to “party of the people” and rely on small donations and grass roots fund raising. Also, all the neo-lib and center left Dems will loose
    (hopefully at the primary level) and progressives will sweep in.

    Reply
    1. Drake

      Where will all the neo-cons who abandoned Trump for the Dems go (along with the neo-libs who were Dems all along) when Warren or Sanders is the candidate? Poor babies will be homeless. Or at least be misssing brunch for another four years. Maybe they can set up a government-in-exile.

      Reply
        1. JBird4049

          They don’t want her because her good points are that she believes in the rule of law, effective governance/enforcement, and she knows where all the bodies and loot are buried. So despite the fact that she is an old school Republican, like say President Eisenhower, she is too much of a threat to their wealth.

          Just like with the Gracchi Brothers and other reformers who mainly advocated enforcing the laws already in existence with some very, very modest reforms, what she wants is just too much for those in power. Here’s hoping we don’t get any unfortunate “deaths” soon.

          Reply
          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Income tax under Ike for incomes over $400K were 91%.

            Wish Warren really was more like Ike. Bernie’s getting crucified for having the gall to suggest they creep up 8% above current levels.

            Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Seems like if Warren is the candidate, they can just sit tight and not worry about the pitchforks (again.) I don’t see her undoing any of the Obama “legacy” as regards the GINI coefficient calculus.

        Query: did Bobby Kennedy get a state funeral?

        Reply
        1. fdr-fan

          Here’s a nice quote from Warren on inequality:

          The human element comes first. I want the employers in industry to understand the aspirations, the convictions, the yearnings of the millions of American wage earners. I want the wage earners to understand the problems, the anxieties, the obligations of management and capital, and all of them must understand their relationship to the people and their obligation to the Republic.

          Out of this understanding will come the unanimous committal to economic justice; and in economic justice lies that social justice which is the highest essential to human happiness. I am speaking as one who has counted the contents of the pay envelope from the viewpoint of the earner, as well as the employer. No one pretends to deny the inequalities which are manifest in modern industrial life. They are less, in fact, than they were before organization and grouping on either side revealed the inequality; and conscience has brought more justice than statutes have compelled. But the ferment of the world rivets our thoughts on the necessity of progressive solutions — else our generation will suffer the experiments, which means chaos for our day — to reestablish God’s plan for the great tomorrow.

          Oops! That’s not Elizabeth Warren, it’s Warren Harding, and it’s not 2020, it’s 1920.

          Look at some of Harding’s speeches and you’ll understand why he had to be MemoryHoled by turning him into a “scandalous idiot”. He broke Wilson’s Deepstate.

          https://millercenter.org/the-presidency/presidential-speeches/july-22-1920-high-wages-high-production

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Look at some of Harding’s speeches and you’ll understand why he had to be MemoryHoled by turning him into a “scandalous idiot”. He broke Wilson’s Deepstate.

            Oh? Evidence, please, not that I wouldn’t be glad to hear it. (Deepstate one word now, eh?)

            Reply
      2. Fern

        The neocons are quite happy with Elizabeth Warren. She has strongly signaled that she will turn the foreign policy apparatus over to the Clinton crowd. She’s said that Madeleine Albright was her chief foreign policy adviser. She’s hired Ash Carter’s deputy as her current foreign policy adviser. She’s hinted she would appoint the war hawk Michelle Flournoy to be her Secretary of Defense. She’s said on multiple occasions that her ideal president was Teddy Roosevelt, who was a domestic reformer and grand daddy of U.S. imperialism. This is why the neocons Jennifer Rubin and David Brooks are giving her rave reviews.

        Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      I think that this is just Wall Street opening negotiations about what they want in Warren with the democrats. It’s not like the democrats will say ‘where will they go’?

      Reply
    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      I hope the Sanders movement AND the Warren movement are BOTH considering very close consultation between the two movements from now till Convention time . . . to be very sure that each Movement knows how many committed First Ballot Vote Delegates that each Movement has.

      With that knowledge, I hope that the leaders and followers of each movement can reconcile themselves to the following fact: if neither Sanders nor Warren wins on the First Ballot, neither Sanders nor Warren will be permitted to be nominated.

      If the Two Movements can reconcile themselves to the basic truth of that statement, I hope they can decide to see which one of the two nomination-seekers comes to the Convention with more First Ballot votes. If they can bear to even do that much, I hope they do some strategic analysis based on that “first votes numbers” knowledge.

      If they can both bear to do the strategic thinking, and if their supporters can bear to endure the pain of strategy-based tactics, maybe they can bring themselves to accept the following tactic: Whichever of the two seekers comes to convention with less votes than the other seeker . . . should assign all herm’s First Ballot votes to the Other Seeker. That is the one single chance that the Warren-Sanders people will have to get one of the two nominated.
      On that First Ballot.

      Because all the “pledged-for-the-First-Ballot-ONLY” delegates will immediately all vote “catfood” for every ballot thereafter.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        As it stands now, I don’t think the Sanders and Warren campaigns really have much in common, at all, though she said some helpful things in the second debate. Maybe Warren will prove me wrong.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Yes, the two campaigns have little in common. But they, together with Gabbard have even less in common with the ClintoBiden Catfood Elite.

          Could the two groups of Campaign members each decide that supporting the “other’s” candidate would be a bearable pain for the greater pleasure of preventing a ClintoBiden Catfood Democrat from getting the nomination? They may decide that the pain would be unbearable, and each set of delegates would vote for its own Candidate on the First Ballot.

          But if the two Movement-Loads of Delegates and Workers and Supporters all unanimously decide, in their millions, that the Primest Directive of All is No Catfood, Never Ever then they still have time to think about how to get all the delegates from the smaller Movement to vote with all the delegates from the bigger Movement in order to add up the two loads of delegates into one magical 51% mass of votes that gets either Warren or Sanders nominated on the First Ballot.

          Perhaps the Promise and Covenant could include that of those two, whichever one comes to Convention with fewer delegates . . . WILL BE the VP Running Mate Nominee for whichever of those two comes to Convention with the more delegates. Either SandersP/WarrenVP or WarrenP/Sanders VP . . . whichever one came to Convention with the greater number of delegates committed on Ballot Number One.

          Because Ballot Number One is the only Ballot they will get. Ballot Number Two and beyond . . . will be catfood all the way down.

          Reply
      2. WheresOurTeddy

        the wealthy 10%ers who believe America is a meritocracy that just needs some tweaks around the edges and a modest tax increase for the winners have very little in common with the ignored underclass struggling to survive in Austerity America

        Sanders 2020

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Just to clarify: the “underclass” extends from the 10th percentile to the 100th. 90% of people going sideways or backwards, 9% doing pretty well thank you, 1% straight up like a rocket

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            ” The One, the Nine and the Ninety”.

            Perhaps a phrase like that could weaponised and meme-viralized right up there with the 1% and the 99%.

            Reply
  2. Watt4Bob

    A friend and I used to travel to Texas once a year for music related fun.

    On one of our trips we encountered a funeral procession on the interstate highway, and as everyone pulled over, I thought to myself, yes, this is how we ought to behave.

    Reply
    1. sammie

      Speaking of Texas (but not music, which is great) and the article on water in India – there was a discussion today at one of TX regulatory agencies how there are areas, where customers complain water has not been delivered in months and when it runs, it is brown. No kiddin’ … Texas!

      Reply
  3. Pedro Leon

    Man that Joe Costello quote was pointless. The comparison to the Roman Republic was just him reading the tea leaves however he already sees the world. Is this really journalism?

    It’s so stark to read the stories in the American press trying to contextualize the current state of American politics versus the linked stories about Kashmir in the Indian press. The Indian press goes out and experiences what occurs or talks to someone who did, whereas we are supposed to listen to some barely qualified ‘elite’ pontificate about whatever their preogative (ie paycheck) is.

    I know they are very different scenarios, but there has to be someone to interview or talk about this – a corruption expert, someone from Ukrainian administration, someone affected by the war, a man on the street?

    Reply
    1. DJG

      PL: The comparison to the Roman Republic was barely accurate. His positing that no other republics would arise for another thousand years in the “Renaissance” is plain wrong.

      Venice was founded as a republic in 697 (its traditional date) and lasted till 1797. Hmmmm, maybe the Venetians know something about republics. The city of Lucca became a republic aroun 1050. Iceland was founded as a republic around 950.

      So this “fragility of republics” thing only goes so far: In my not so humble opinion, the question is, why are the Anglo empires, England and the U S of A, in collapse? Too much empire? Too little democracy? Too much moth-eaten tradition? Too much protestation of purity of blood?

      Reply
        1. JBird4049

          It is more the “Rule of Law, and Order” with the law meant to protect the people from the state and the necessary orderliness created for a functioning democracy to do what the citizens want and economic prosperity for all.

          It is because the rule of law is becoming a sick joke and that the hierarchy of wealth and connections, and only wealth and connections evermore determines what happens to and for you.

          Reply
      1. Joe Costello

        Don’t the exceptions prove the rule? I left out the Swiss too, but most importantly where did you get the “‘fragility of republics’ thing”? It wasn’t in the piece or even implied.

        Reply
    2. notReallyHere

      know they are very different scenarios, but there has to be someone to interview or talk about this – a corruption expert, someone from Ukrainian administration, someone affected by the war, a man on the street?

      The Bidens – indeed almost all of the Democrats – are too busy to talk right now.

      Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      I think that when Joe Costello was asking Gore Vidal “We have to ask the American people if they still want their republic”, what he was thinking about was when a woman asked Ben Franklin as he left the Constitutional Convention of 1787 what sort of government that had been decided on and Franklin replied: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

      Reply
      1. Anthony K Wikrent

        Exactly. In many ways, republicanism, especially its concept of civic virtue (citizens should set aside their own private interests when they conflict with the public interest) is inherently opposed to the selfish “invisble hand” doctrine of capitalism. But capitalism has supplanted republicanism as the governing ideology of USA.

        Reply
    4. Titus

      Not to be unkind but the entire piece by Joe Costello was weepy and nonsensical. But it was a quote that to someone had meaning. And no I don’t agree, sorry.

      Reply
  4. XXYY

    Warren (D)(1): “Wall Street Democratic donors warn the party: We’ll sit out, or back Trump, if you nominate Elizabeth Warren” [CNBC].

    IMO Warren is in a tough spot. She is neither fish nor fowl politically. She has said enough critical things about Wall Street and shown enough alignment with Bernie to make many financial elites and other establishment figures nervous. Her background as a Republican and Wall Street lawyer (who defended Dow Chemical against breast-implant class action suits!), her “capitalist to her bones” comments, and her thin commitment to progressive issues (still no health care section on her web site!) make her clearly an inferior choice to actual progressives. Many Bernie voters still remember her refusal to endorse him in 2016 and the later revelations that she was secretly negotiating with Clinton for a VP spot.

    I think Warren believed she could somehow appeal to both wings of the Democratic Party, but she may end up appealing to neither.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      She could just have convictions, not do the calculating that the rest of them do, fight for needed changes, and stick to them. The problem is that she is in fact somewhere between Bernie and those that don’t want to change much on policy and is somewhere in between ideologically, and I think she is closer to them at root than Bernie. So, because she isn’t as committed to change, she does have to calculate, and it is clumsy. The problem, of course, is that things won’t get better or change if she goes with what appears to be her inclinations, which is towards the power structure in her party. What is left but to talk left, often vaguely, but then behind the scenes send signals to those that oppose those changes? If there is a battle between the two, it seems obvious who will come out on top. That conversation with Summers is telling though. He told her that those on the inside don’t listen to or care about those on the outside. Well, who in this country is on the outside of the bubble that Summers lives and operates in? Most everyone. What exactly changes if she just works with the likes of Summers and ignores those outside the bubble? Nothing. Did Obama first time around not face the same dilemma? Either you have radical inclinations and push through needed changes with a strong push from mass social movements or you don’t. If you don’t, then most of the leftist-like talk will not be reflected in policy. I have seen this movie many times.

      Having said that, it seems that most of those supporting her don’t care tons. If she does what Obama did, I think many of them would be okay with that. So, it may not even cost her, even if it should.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Anybody else been getting push “polls” and fundraising emails from the “National Democratic Training Committee? Wanting me to sign a loyalty oath, answer YES! To the repeated request for me to do everything in my power to help elect more Democrats, and nudging on their chosen candidates behind a smokescreen of “giving all the candidates an equal chance.

        The push yesterday morning was a trial balloon for Hillary! for goodness’ sake. “Hillary Clinton is considering a run for the presidency. If she were to run, would yo support her? Yes, No, Unsure.” No check box for “No effing way” or an essay-form response box to list all the reasons why not.

        “When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?”

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I’ve been getting those. I delete them each, I delete them all, I delete them every one.

          The first one I got said: ” You mean you voted for TRUMP!?” My first thought was . . . how did they know? My second thought was to click the link and see who it was.
          The Clintocrat Training Committee. So I deleted it.

          Reply
    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      Agreed, although the cynic in me says this is exactly the kind of story I would want to plant if I was trying to sell Warren to skeptical progressives.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        >..the cynic in me says this is exactly the kind of story I would want to plant if I was trying to sell Warren to skeptical progressives.

        My very first thought.

        Reply
        1. richard

          listen to your cynic, i say
          bernie has many, many powerful enemies
          tulsi has a f*%$load of enemies who are stone murderers
          warren?
          not so much and it doesn’t look good at all in comparison
          better rustle up a few
          oops, should have replied to J. Carpenter

          Reply
  5. Drake

    Can’t a whistle-blower who was not a witness to anything be dismissed for lack of standing or some other technicality (“is the alleged behavior in the room with us right now?”). Oh right, it’s Trump, that justifies anything.

    Reply
    1. flora

      You can’t defend yourself against this court, all you can do is confess. Confess the first chance you get. That’s the only chance you have to escape, the only one. However, even that is impossible without help from others, but you needn’t worry about that, I’ll help you myself.”….

      Nancy Pelosi – Franz Kafka

      Reply
      1. Drake

        I was just thinking about The Trial within the last few days. I was thinking of it in the context of what it is like to fall into the hands of the medical system for an extended period of time, where the unstated charge is that you’re displaying human frailty and you’re preparing for trial for the rest of your unfortunate life.

        Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        SEE? SEE? WE RESISTERS HAVE BEEN TELLING YOU THIS FACT FOR THREE YEARS! TRUMP IS GUILTY, I TELL YOU, GUILTY! THE RUSSIANS ARE ALL OVER THIS, TOO! THEY ARE DASTARDLY TRYING TO SUBVERT OUR DEMOCRACY AND FINAGLE OUR ELECTIONS! /sarc, of course

        Reply
    2. Pavel

      I sure wish all those Dems who are now shrieking about the value of whistleblowers would come the the defence of Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and most urgently Julian Assange. Just sayin’.

      Reply
      1. Blowncue

        A formidable drag queen, Lady Bunny, who is as revered as RuPaul but does not have a cable show, has tweeted just that today.

        Reply
      2. Late Introvert

        Best comment on the topic so far.

        Stupid loser Dems. Pick a battle with no upside (Pence, really?) that they will likely lose. McConnell chuckles.

        Reply
  6. Dan

    “Now, we shall suffer through more bad impeachment political theater, maybe at some point a fellatio or two will appear giving us a little nostalgia for the good old days.”

    Appear? It’s already on the presidential stage.

    The servicer of the eponymously named Willie Brown.

    About Kamala’s handiwork with a married man, Speaker of the California State Assembly, who handed her lucrative positions on various state agencies for which she was hardly qualified.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IiN_tnDse8

    Reply
  7. Duck1

    re 737: “FAA misled the US Congress about its inspectors’ qualifications and competence when that body was investigating similar reports in April”
    first read “that body” as “that toady”.

    Reply
    1. Samuel Conner

      funny thing how expectations influence perception, at least at first glance.

      Always look twice, or thrice, before crossing a road or interpreting a written phrase!

      Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, I couldn’t get to those today. Tomorrow is another day, and I had to choose between these and Medicare for All….

      Adding, the reporter is CBS, so the “FLAG” is to some extent against interest, but oddly, the Times and WaPo haven’t picked up on it, although the Washington Examiner and the Free Beacon have.

      I wonder who posed the question….

      Reply
    2. Hopelb

      Alternatively, Ukrainegate serves many purposes, one of which is to eliminate Biden replace with Warren/Or Hillary as DINO rescuer. The others all have to with fear of actual investigations into Russiagate/ crowdstrike/ Ukraine assistance in the collusion hoax/ origin of the Maidan coup which installed Neonazis(Nuland/Hillary/Biden).

      Reply
  8. Monty

    John Bolton certainly had the means, motive and opportunity to be, or at least brief, the whistle blower.

    I hope Trump survives, and learns a valuable lesson from his brush with the PNAC crew.

    Reply
      1. Mike

        I do believe he anticipated trouble with Trump, and is not above saving such information to ensure his beneficial treatment. Betray me once, shame on me…

        Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thank you, that’s great. The lead:

      A long-running Justice Department investigation of two of Washington’s best-known lobbyists was closed this week, the latest sign of the challenges facing prosecutors attempting to more aggressively pursue possible violations of foreign lobbying rules.

      “Challenges” [nods vigorously].

      Reply
      1. Mike

        It’s just two more “cops” let go after killing someone incorrectly the wrong color. What is interesting is the tie between Manafort and these jugheads – the Demopublican Repocratic Party strikes again!

        Reply
    2. Joe Costello

      ho ho ho – all of DC shook when Mueller went after Manafort for his Ukraine money, “Hey, that’s how it”s .” Tony went and hid till at all blew over, after all they weren’t after Mrs Bill, they were after Trump. Now the CIA’s bought it all back into the spotlight with old Joe and his ne’er-do-well son

      Reply
  9. Geo

    “Wowers, Bezos must think we’re stupid.”

    Is he wrong? How many of us does he have paying monthly “membership privileges” to his online flea market because we don’t want the inconvenience of spending money in our own community? How deeply has he been able to root himself in our institutions and systemic infrastructure with servers, a newspaper, and more? His hubris is well merited at this point I’d say.

    Reply
      1. Geo

        At the rate we’re going I fully expect our elections will soon all be held on Amazon server held electronic voting machines and Alexa will be elected president within the decade. Kind of a perfect President: IdPol would love “her”, the reassuring and calm voice would appeal to moderates, and the Blob would have a perfect rubber-stamp president.

        Reply
      2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Samuel L Jackson, along with some other celebrities, are selling their voices to amazon.

        Alexa, SAY WHAT AGAIN MFr, I DARE YOU, I DOUBLE DARE YOU!

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          That would make a good horror show plot. An actor or actress sells his or her voice to a company and wakes up next day mute. Has to begin a new career as a mime.
          I scent Emmy gold!

          Reply
            1. ambrit

              No. Another piece of art to see, read, and or hear. The older I get, the more I know I don’t know.
              Somehow, Boots Riley’s work reminds me of Godfrey Cambridge in “Watermelon Man.” Directed by the ever inventive Melvin van Peebles. (If you only get to watch one ‘blaxploitation’ filck, it has to be Van Peebles’ “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.”
              See ‘Watermelon Man’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watermelon_Man_(film)
              Also, ‘Sweet Sweetback’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Sweetback%27s_Baadasssss_Song
              The times may change but the humans stay pretty much the same.

              Reply
              1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

                Agreed. Melvins son Mario has made a remake IIRC.

                You HAVE to see Sorry to Bother You. It starts off with this slacker type, Lakeith Stanfield, getting a job at a call center. Danny Glover teaches him the way of success by using his ‘White guy’ voice. David Cross is the actual voice. Lmao. I wont ruin the surprise, but. shit. gets. weird.

                Reply
                1. ambrit

                  Thanks. I will keep my eyes open for a copy. It is surprising how quickly copies of new and offbeat movies end up in the thrift stores.

                  Reply
    1. Dan

      We continually and accidentally mention our prime video streaming password and always end up getting free meals and drink from our friends.

      Same thing with obviating package delivery charges for non-members who pay us half the delivery charge and thus get a 50% discount.

      Get creative and use the system against itself. It’s a money maker. Best $99 bucks a year we ever spent.

      Reply
      1. Late Introvert

        But, you’re still giving your money to the Borg, instead of just about anyone else. Even Wal Mart still lets us go into their retail outlets and make sure they are not totally evil.

        Reply
    2. Mike

      You can’t measure stupid in this situation, but you can beat it. Thanks, educational system and media, for a job well done (pin medal on eye).

      Reply
    3. cnchal

      I would bet that the prime law to obey in the future will be that it will be made illegal, with fines leading to jail time for anyone to attempt to evade or fool a farcical recognition camera, with the fine money shoved into Bezo’s pocket.

      A criminal genius at work.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Bezo-boy not just writing “our” laws behind the scenes (stakeholder!) but pointing it up?

        What Must Be Done becomes clearer and clearer.

        Reply
        1. ChrisPacific

          Normally billionaires know to keep up the pretense that democratically elected governments write the laws. Bezos obviously didn’t get the memo. I guess when you’re as rich as he is, you don’t have to listen to anybody.

          Reply
  10. ptb

    re: impeachment, my take

    Among the many neat things about the congressional inquiry is that developments in Repub retaliatory investigations could now be interpreted as obstruction. (the actual potent part).

    I think also it is primarily politically motivated, for the primaries. Biden’s aura of electability is starting to be in doubt, and he needs it to stay ahead of the more issue based candidates. (in particular, support of black voters is, for Biden, based overwhelmingly on his supposed electability). Shifts the discussion away from non Trump issues.

    Reply
    1. BellsAway

      There is no way this is helping Biden. If Trump looks beatable due to impeachment then Biden’s sole argument of “electability” fades.

      Reply
      1. Mike

        Meanwhile, his “poll ratings” go up as his tongue manages to slide underfoot. The media is, as usual, looking at the leak instead of the info leaked. Party membership proven.

        Reply
  11. petal

    An update on the Love Me I’m a Liberal House: Jen and I were both wrong….instead of their next sign being a Buttegeig sign, they have instead disappeared the Kamala Harris sign and put a second(!) Amy for America sign in its place. So to recount that makes one Warren sign, and 2 Amy Klobuchar signs. Apparently Kamala Harris is now toast, so much so that she has been given up on by these people, and Amy Klobuchar is so awesome they are doubling down on her. Pretty funny.

    Reply
    1. Drake

      Wow, Kamala’s already been airbrushed out of history. Don’t know (or care) what your own affiliations are, but you should put up a Sanders sign (they’d probably disappear it or vandalize it), or a Trump sign (they’d probably dox or swat you).

      Reply
        1. inode_buddha

          I like to keep them all nervous. I live on the corner of a 4-way intersection just a block off the main drag. So I put out a bird feeder.

          Reply
        2. russell1200

          LOL – At least you have signs. Living just outside of Raleigh NC, we are a very mixed politically. Nobody want to get the neighbors mad, and your sure to get somebody mad at you. I haven’t seen a single sign for anyone. My wife donated to, and got an Elizabeth Warren bumper sticker but is afraid to put it on her car.

          Reply
              1. blowncue

                Not if you scratch deep enough. I waited on a bona fide Republican Elector who gushed subsequent to attending Trump’s inauguration.

                “My favorite part was when he said ‘If you open your heart to patriotism there can be no room for prejudice.'”

                Holy shit! I thought.

                But huge Upstairs/Downstairs dynamics abound. And yes, roll into Chatham or Alamance County, etc and physical and political landscape changes.

                Reply
        3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          I have my light up Bernie sign in the window facing Washington Ave right down the street from Commanders Palace and Magazine St.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Oh good God! Some of the things I’ve seen in the upstairs banquet room at ‘Commanders Palace!’ (I would help out in a bus capacity. The money was the least of the incentives.) Gaining a reputation for “discretion” gives you entry to many obscure and esoteric ‘happenings.’
            Hope the ‘credit check’ is going well. You would bring a breath of ‘fresh air’ to the Northwest.

            Reply
        1. ambrit

          From what I read, Murphy was pretty good at politics. It was Ronald Reagan that ruined the image for actors and actresses to enter politics in America.
          I remember reading of an interview with a chinese bigwig where the subject of Reagan came up. His reply was along the lines of; “We tried actors in politics. It ended badly.” That was a reference to the widow of Mao, the Chinese actress Jiang Quing. She lost a power struggle after Mao’s death. It almost became a civil war. Her faction was called the “Gang of Four.”
          Read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiang_Qing

          Reply
    2. Jeff W

      What if they were actually reading your updates here and switching the signs in and out just to mess with us? That would be funny.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Look, a frumpy middle-aged woman with limited experience, stage fright, a reedy and annoying speaking voice, and no new ideas is really not going to be the Commander-in-Chief.

        She can head the PTA, or go run a mid-sized car rental franchise or something.

        What we will get is either His Orangeness Redux, another Obama (talk progressive, act reactionary conservative), or real reform (Bernie). Not some in-between flavor harkening back to the Dem Party of 1979.

        Reply
    3. Copeland

      Just this evening I saw my very first yard sign of the season while walking the dog in my neighborhood:

      “Trump 2020”

      Suburb of Seattle

      Reply
  12. Harold

    What a strange twist if it turns out that the *British* secret service turns out to have murdered Epstein to protect their country’s honor. (Of course some other countries may benefit from have their honor [faves] protected.)

    Reply
  13. Jim A.

    Re: Evolutionary psychology. It is best used to look at why we have some of the drives that we have, rather than any kind of exact explanation for particular behaviors. So people have both the capability for love and for violence. Either or both can be evolutionarily useful at times. But trying to use evolution to try and explain why exactly somebody uses one or the other is a fools game.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      The article does a good job of laying it out. Another approach is that culture and society evolve in response to the same pressures that genetics do, but considerably faster, so it’s very difficult to tell which is which. That was a basic goal of anthropology (often neglected in these discussions): to compare people from very different cultures in an effort to find out what’s learned and what’s inherited. EG, facial expressions are largely universal, so probably inherited.

      Reply
  14. Grant

    “The WFP is said to have a million-dollar budget; I’m not sure that a $45K contribution from Demos”

    I don’t know. For one, to me, it is just as much of a signal as anything. Lobbying seems to be similar. Most lobbyists give money to politicians that aren’t, by themselves, very large. But it signals to the politician to play ball, knowing that a benefits in the future will follow. The contribution, from what I understand, was not insignificant in regards to Demos’ budget. I also have heard, don’t know if it is true, that the WFP may have some financial difficulties. I haven’t seen anything to prove that, but that is what I have read and heard. Either way, I don’t think a donation from one non-profit to another, from an organization led by Warren’s daughter and someone high up in her campaign, is significant just because of the amount of money.

    This could have all been avoided by the WFP handling the situation in a more democratic and transparent way. They created this mess with how they handled things, and it opens up people looking into what is going on behind the scenes, which makes the optics even worse. Think there is nothing behind the scenes with all the positive coverage in the corporate media towards Warren?

    Reply
  15. Summer

    L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

    “‘Prince Andrew’s role in Jeffrey Epstein paedo scandal is being covered up by the FBI, claims ex top cop who say he has hours of damning CCTV footage” [The Sun].

    Think of the possibilities if there wasn’t such abject corruption thoughly embedded in all the institutions for such a long, long time.

    Reply
    1. Geo

      I really hate it when someone claims to have damning evidence but doesn’t make it public. What are they holding onto it for? A payday? Post that footage online and let the world see it. What kind of cop holds on to important evidence?

      Rhetorical questions of course… I sometimes like to pretend we live in a society of principles and goodwill.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        If the footage is what he implies, he could be prosecuted (at least in this country) for posting it, and the victims wouldn’t like it, either. He would have to give it to law enforcement – and is there presently an investigation? Maxwell is vulnerable, but the main culprit is dead.

        In any case, he doesn’t sound like a reliable source – I saw something else on him, too, probably here.

        Reply
    2. ambrit

      Prince Andrew might have to do like his Dad and eschew the crown for simple survival’s sake. What a prospect! Not one, but two generations pass up the crown to an infant. A new Regency Period beckons.

      Reply
  16. Mike

    RE: NY: “Cuomo Signs Bill Making It Easier To Change Party Enrollment” [Spectrum News].

    Nice. I’m sure that the primary & election results will be guaranteed by the machines used to count the vote.

    In Philadelphia, the Inquirer came out with a probe that was completed by Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, faulting the city’s choice of ES&S, a voting machine manufacturer (maybe you remember them as the Republican-led company guaranteeing victory for Bush in Ohio in 2000?) who won a no-bid uncontested contract to install machines for the entire city – after having spent $428,000 lobbying for it. Of course, the honesty of city councilcritters is unimpeachable, so howls went up demonstrating that honesty – howls by the critters themselves.

    We’ve had voting machine fraud endemic to local and national elections with nothing much done about it except to double-down on fraudulent machines. And, be clear here, this is a Democratic bastion of a city buying such fraud. Makes you wonder about the 2016 primaries all the more.

    Remember Stalin – counting counts…

    Reply
  17. hunkerdown

    The slave whispering lines in the Third Citizen Speaker’s ear forgot to whisper the most important Latin lesson of all: Memento mori.

    Reply
  18. JohnnyGL

    https://the-realignment.simplecast.com/episodes/ep-8-bhaskar-sunkara-debating-the-socialist-manifestol

    Bhaskar Sunkara debates marshall kosloff and saagar enjeti

    Pretty good interview. I think Bhaskar missed a chance to attack the assumption of the cartoonish argument of “We can’t have socialism because China will rule the world and we’ll be boring and sclerotic under socialism”.

    Sunkara should have posed the question whether external circumstances (America’s neo-con fueled drunken, idiotic imperialism post 9-11) helped justify the consolidation of power under Ji Xinping. It makes a lot of sense for him to say, “America’s smashing up countries all over the place. It’s only a matter of time before they turn towards us. Give me all the power and I can prepare us to manage the confrontation.”

    American dominance is also a prime reason for Russia’s and Cuba’s turn towards authoritarianism, too, back in the 20th Century. Disclaimer, I’m certainly not ‘blaming America’ for the world’s problems, but throughout history it’s kind of a recurring theme that the top dog gets challenged. Britain and Rome each held a dominant position and consistency inspired/provoked/created challengers to their dominance. As the grip tightens, the challengers often up the ante, too.

    Maybe if America tried a little less dominance, it’d get a little less in the way of challenges to its dominance?

    Reply
  19. Geo

    Lambert, where is that Joe Costello piece about the “Rubicon” from? Been searching online but no luck. Would love to read further into that great piece.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      Me too! Loved it.

      What’s fair use on it? I’ve been having no end of fun cutting and pasting bits and bobs (with linky attribution) from this site to Daily Kos, so as to introduce a note of eyes on the prize sanity over there. I’d love to plop Mr. Costello’s brilliant little piece in its entirety over there.

      Reply
      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Me three. Similarly Roman analogies have been simmering in my brain from before her quote. From now on every administration will be ratf*cked by the Inertial Bureaucracy. And the Republicans are better at ratf*cking, so nice own goal Nancy. And continued institutional incompetence is a gateway drug for authoritarianism.

        You can’t make a third party in the US, but has anyone examined the potential for Pepsi or Coke to splinter?

        Reply
  20. RopeADope

    Wasn’t some of Elon Musk’s net worth tied up in Solar City? He needed to protect it in order to keep his rocket man dreams alive.

    Meanwhile Jeff Bezos was in Riyadh with MbS and Jeffrey Epstein around the time of the 2016 election. That is how non-pikers advance their space domination plans.

    Reply
  21. Pespi

    I have to quibble with this line, Lambert.
    “This is why, from a management perspective, union busting and just-in-time manufacturing are two sides of the same coin.”

    According to Joshua Murray and Michael Schwartz’s book “Wrecked: How the American Automobile Industry Destroyed its Ability to Compete” just in time manufacturing was originally done away with as a way to decrease the effectiveness of strikes. Ford used flexible manufacturing techniques all the way back to the Model T. They were replaced after WWII with monolithic centralized factories that became a liability when faced with competition from Japanese companies that wisely used flexible production/

    “Today Japanese and many European automakers produce higher quality cars at lower cost than their American counterparts thanks to a flexible form of production characterized by long-term sole suppliers, assembly and supply plants located near each other, and just-in-time delivery of raw materials. While this style of production was, in fact, pioneered in the U.S. prior to World War II, in the years after the war, American automakers deliberately dismantled this system. As Murray and Schwartz show, flexible production accelerated innovation but also facilitated workers’ efforts to unionize plants and carry out work stoppages. To reduce the efficacy of strikes and combat the labor militancy that flourished between the Depression and the postwar period, the industry dispersed production across the nation, began maintaining large stockpiles of inventory, and eliminated single sourcing. While this restructuring of production did ultimately reduce workers’ leverage, it also decreased production efficiency and innovation. The U.S. auto industry has struggled ever since to compete with foreign automakers, and formerly thriving motor cities have suffered the consequences of mass deindustrialization.”

    Reply
    1. Mark Gisleson

      Great history lesson! Factories are relentlessly efficient and when Japanese concepts were introduced in the 1970s, union resistance wasn’t to improving the process so much as objecting to all the cross-cultural BS. It was clear that in American hands, Quality Circles were little more than group snitch sessions.

      JIT always made sense, which is why it was so odd when it was ‘invented.’ That it had been discarded to weaken unions makes perfect sense to me. We’d slow down/refuse overtime before a strike to prevent inventory stockpiles. Catching the company with no inventory at contract time would have been great leverage so it never happened.

      Reply
    2. Steve

      Japanese manufacturers use extended supply chains so they don’t have to lay off their own people, they make the suppliers take price reductions or reduced hours as a condition of being in the big keiritsu. For instance, RYOBI makes the engine blocks and transmission housings for Nissan. This is seen in RYOBI printing posters showing cool, older, discontinued models of Nissan Motors.

      Reply
  22. Eureka Springs

    My question of the hour.

    I don’t understand how Democrats can justify impeachment of Trump over the Ukraine call and not demand Biden, with much worse behavior in re Ukraine, drop out of the race immediately? Anyone have an explanation that doesn’t include hypocrisy?

    On Bankers and Warren, I read on twitter a claim those WSJ bankers are Republican bankers, not the Demos. I thought Bankers bought both sides?

    On pulling over for funerals I remember the same, especially in the south. What surprised me maybe ten years back and feels dangerous is people madly pulling over as an emergency vehicle approaches from the opposite direction. Seems reckless and unnecessary.

    Reply
    1. anon y'mouse

      you are supposed to on an undivided roadway, so that the ambulance/fire engine can travel down the center if necessary.

      at least, that is my understanding.

      Reply
    2. Acacia

      Coke habit that got Hunter kicked out of the Navy and the crack pipe he left in a rental car were part of the cover story?

      Reply
    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Anyone have an explanation that doesn’t include hypocrisy?

      I don’t know about that hurdle, but I would point out that the classic Clinton tactic is to accuse your opponent of what you have, in fact, been doing.

      Reply
      1. kimsarah

        Projection (Merriam-Webster):
        b: the attribution of one’s own ideas, feelings, or attitudes to other people or to objects
        especially : the externalization of blame, guilt, or responsibility as a defense against anxiety

        Reply
    4. marym

      Same reason people upset about the Bidens don’t think Trump’s Ukraine solicitation and his and his family’s behavior making $$ off the presidency mean Trump should drop out? Whatever that reason is, it involves hypocrisy though.

      Reply
  23. Synapsid

    When I opened Water Cooler a pop-up ad from Progressive was blocking the center of the lower edge of the screen. I had to click the little “x” to get rid of it.

    Reply
      1. ChrisPacific

        I mostly get the corrupt survey type these days, where you are presented with a controversial question and a bunch of answers that are inadequate in different ways and/or incomplete. I like them because they are obvious clickbait and visually distinguished from the main site, so it’s not difficult to avoid them. (I’ve used one of the global opt out tools for ad targeting, so I rarely get targeted ads).

        I don’t seem to see the ones that borrow NC’s styles and try to disguise themselves as native content any more, which is good.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          The Democrat Party, or several of it’s proxies do that ‘phaque’ poll trick with direct mail throuigh the snail mail to us with some regularity. These missives always end up with a fund raising pitch. “We take credit cards!” I’ll bet they do.
          I have been conditioned by the site admins to be more than circumspect on the subject of advertising.
          It’s a fallen world we inhabit, and I am no angel, avenging nor fallen.
          (Time to search out my copy of “Wings of Desire.” It is a film I highly recommend.)

          Reply
  24. JohnnyGL

    This link is for those who find themselves in a discussion and make the statement, “the media/democratic party/establishment HATE Tulsi Gabbard” and get challenged on it.

    https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2019/09/25/tulsi-gabbard-2020-democrat-candidate

    Perfect example of NPR’s gentle, calm, soothing voices….unleashing vile, rotten smears.

    On a side note…Tulsi goes soft on M4A….starts talking about ‘choice’….it’s disappointing. We’ve seen all the imitators in team dem slowly-but-surely revealing they aren’t serious and just like to use terms that poll well.

    It’s GOT TO BE Bernie, in the end. No one else is good enough. If I have to compromise….the nominee can pick Bernie as VP and let him be ‘organizer in chief’. That’s as far as I’m going.

    Reply
    1. David Carl Grimes

      Has Bernie jumped on the impeachment bandwagon? Just like he did with Russiagate? Doesn’t he realize that this impeachment will take the focus away from the very issues he has been campaigning on (like Medicare for All)?

      Reply
      1. inode_buddha

        Yes, in his Facebook ads he has been on the impeachment bandwagon, and the TDR thing, for quite some time. I am sure he knows the ways and means of Democrat corruption as well as anyone, so I figure it’s a political move on his part to attract more ” centrist” DNC mainstream types.

        Reply
          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            He will lose a Deplorable for every ClintoRat he gains, so what is the point?

            How many OOT counties do you think his stance on RussiaGate will swing?

            Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        “On health care, Gabbard supports “Medicare for All,” but says she prefers to call it “Medicare Choice.” She says there is “no excuse” that the U.S., one of the wealthiest nations in the world, still has “far too many Americans who are underinsured or uninsured and who are one health care emergency away from total financial disaster.””

        From my link above…

        Reply
        1. hunkerdown

          On the one hand, reclaiming cynical neoliberal shibboleths to serve the public interest is a stroke of genius, and the article didn’t use the dog whistle “access” anywhere. On the other hand, “do so” is serving a few different masters in her response, if closely read. Overall, I still read it as an endorsement of the policy, if not as full-throated as Sanders’. I mean, she’s got a few years before everything starts going haywire, and she’s had single-payer for much of her working life already, and she’s only been in the public eye for a little while and might not have seen a lot of “some real s–t” in the civilian world. Medical penury isn’t necessarily real to her yet.

          I will gladly accept the policy endorsement with thanks, but I will still hold the CFR membership against her until she’s willing to declare them an enemy of the state.

          Reply
    2. JCC

      The questioning was awful and her answers were, as usual, well thought out.

      But the best part of the article/interview were the comments. Almost everyone called out the interviewer and NPR for being MSM/Corporate toadies.

      People are wising up, slowly but surely.

      Reply
    3. John

      Sanders-Gabbard 2020.

      We have Medicare for the over 65 crowd. It has worked wonderfully well for me. Would it not be possible to simply extend the existing program to anyone 60 or over who chooses to enroll? Follow that after an interval by extending it to those 55 and over and so on. Could it not be worked in like fashion from the youngest? How long would it take to cover all who choose to enroll? I have no answer. What about employer provided insurance? It will, I suppose, ultimately disappear as will most of the companies supplying such insurance.

      Such a change does break a slew of rice bowls, but if the will to do it exists, it will happen.

      Reply
      1. notabanktoadie

        I think people would be far less resistant to the breaking of one rice bowl if they had another, made of “iron”, to eat from instead.

        An ethical finance system would necessarily require that all fiat creation be for the general welfare and that might include an equal Citizen’s Dividend to supplement deficit spending.

        Initially, a Citizen’s Dividend might or might not constitute an adequate rice bowl but eventually it should as the need to counter productivity driven price deflation increases – especially if combined with anti-rentier measures such as a new Homestead Act.

        Reply
      2. Fern

        The problem with “Medicare for Those Who Want It” is that the insurance companies will cherry-pick the healthiest and hence least expensive clients, leaving the public option with less revenue and higher expenses. They’ll do that by having their actuaries select employers of educated, white-collar professionals predicted to have fewer health problems, and offer them sweet packages. The public option will then run a big deficit and lose public support.

        Reply
  25. notabanktoadie

    or more accurately the not wanting to make a more equitable economy Lambert

    Our government privileged finance system is fiendishly corrupting in that it allows, almost requires, that the richer steal from the poorer.

    The alternative is to be purely a victim – priced forever out of the, for example, housing market.

    Btw, the root word of equitable is equity, right? Which is exactly what the rich would have had to share with poor workers except for government privileges, explicit and implicit, for private depository institutions, aka “the banks.”

    Reply
  26. Carey

    I hope to say a little more about this later, but recent experience of giving away Sanders2020 stickers
    over the last few months makes me wonder if those with comfortable-and-above livelihoods have been gently ‘requested’ to not support him, or something like that. For reference, these are people who’ve talked a good game about supporting Sanders2016 in the past, and now cut off the conversation about him *in an instant*. The sample size is for sure too small to be conclusive, but something sure feels odd.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      I believe the phenomenon is called “group think.” It indicates an unwillingness to ‘engage’ in serious debate. It reminds me of the phenomenon of the voter who votes “the Party Line.”
      (I’m still trying to figure out how to ‘create’ a lawn sign of “Hillary fur Furher.”)
      I’ve got it bad.

      Reply
  27. The Rev Kev

    “Elizabeth Warren secured endorsement from far-left ‘Working Families Party’ after think tank where her daughter, is chairwoman gave it $45,000”

    Jimmy Dore did a video on this story too but his angle was that nobody was listening to what the party members wanted which was Bernie. Sort of what happened back in 2016 when union leaderships were choosing Hillary in spite of what their members wanted-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJyVTPX5F_c

    Reply
  28. Tomonthebeach

    I wonder if Hunter Biden is the Achilles Heel of this entire fiasco. The story seems to go something like this:

    Hardly an angel – disgraced and dishonored for substance abuse (cocaine), lawyer Hunter Biden was kicked out of the Navy. He winds up landing on his feet in a big NYC law firm (daddy’s influence? – at least indirectly). The law firm, not wishing to ruffle political feathers sends Hunter to the boonies where his hijinx will be less likely reflect on the firm while giving Hunter a fat salary (some of which I gotta believe went to law firm overhead). Alas, the board appointment for the firm had a corrupt history as most wealthy firms in the era of Ukraine Oligarchy at the time did have. Hunter’s likely only sin was accepting exile and a fake job to atone rather than man up and take his punishment stateside. But, FoxNews and its friends saw juicy conspiracy accusations to keep amusing their listeners, and Hunter got snagged to use as a PeeWee Herman defense for Trump: “I know you are but what am I?”

    Atonement over, Hunter returns stateside, daddy admonishes sin no more, and all is forgotten. Alas, not by Alt-right conspiracy trolls – enter Rudy Altzheimer Guiliani – again.

    Reply
  29. Jeff W

    I did rather enjoy this take in today’s NYT: “Carrie Lam Comes Face to Face With Angry Hong Kong Residents at Town Hall”:

    Many of the 70 people randomly chosen to ask questions among the 150 allowed inside were visibly emotional, and they did not mince words, harshly criticizing Mrs. Lam and at times ending their allotted three minutes by reciting a phrase often heard during raucous street protests: “Five demands, not one less.”

    The complete lack of “civility” is refreshing.

    I was struck by how not stage-managed this town hall was (in contrast to such events here in the US) and how people really had no problem nailing the issue, given Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s penchant for muddying the waters by talking about “bold initiatives to tackle deep-seated problems, such as access to affordable housing.” (Sure, people in Hong Kong want affordable housing but “the five demands” are pretty clear and “affordable housing” is not one of them.)

    Reply
  30. hunkerdown

    This link was posted a few days ago: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/09/23/dhss-s23.html

    McAleenan’s reference to the danger that the youth, disenfranchised and disaffected can cause the “social fabric” of American society to “fray at the seams” is highly significant. The most conscious elements within the state—who are entrusted by the ruling elite with protecting and defending the capitalist “homeland”—have concluded that the US is on the brink of significant social and political struggles and that preparations must be made to suppress them. Above all, this means identifying left-wing and socialist political organizations and groups with “violent extremism.”

    My interpretation: Hey, @Democrats! All clear to throw the election again. We gotchu, fam!

    Reply
  31. BoyDownTheLane

    The morning after the next Presidential election, how many will be pulling over for the hearse, and what will the hearse be carrying?

    Reply
  32. elkern

    A Commenter at MoA added some history (CIA assets on Board of subsidiary of PDVSA = Venezuelan Oil Co) which makes sense of the Hunter Biden thing. It’s elegant; humorous, even: Nepotism/Corruption was just the cover story for installing CIA asset (Hunter) on Burisma Board! See Comment #69 by JohnH in…

    https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/09/the-democrats-impeachment-attempt-against-trump-is-a-huge-mistake.html#more

    Explains IC pushback on Trump twisting Zelensky’s arm, and also the bald cronyism of Hunter’s appointment (Obama Admin was weak, but pretty clean compared to pretty much everybody since Carter at least).

    Anyway, Impeachment is fine with me, and with any luck, Biden will have to drop out of the race. My big fears now are (1) the Dems will screw it up (how can they be so bad at political theater?), and/or (2) President Pence.

    Reply
  33. blowncue

    There seems to be a large outbreak of sour grapes today – or jaundice – as regards our evidently annoying whistleblower.

    Despondent as you catalog the decline of our American empire? Muttering about a second coup attempt (not sure how you square that with the fact that senior White House officials, and White House lawyers specifically, decided to file away transcripts of conversations in the file system marked Super Duper Code Word Stuff)?

    Well, cheer up, irritated proles! Dean Baquet has light-to-moderately doxxed – or burned, as the grown folks say – our earnest intelligence analyst. Thereby causing, oh, 10,000 or so NYT subscribers to burn their membership cards. The WA Post is offering a flash sale of an annual subscription for $30!

    But wait! There’s more. Our most-hated executive editor has given a mini-course in How To Succeed in Extortion Without Really Getting Tried (and Convicted).

    First, keep the number of people involved in the hatching of your scheme to the bare minimum. Two is a good number. Belicheck and Kraft, for instance.

    Second, publish a perfectly plausible reason for burning our poor analyst. Sure, it’s total bullshit, but it’s a whole lot better than do me a favor, or let’s beat the grass to startle the snakes, or fuck the Post, this time we bust this thing wide open!

    Baquet is total gangsta – my guess is three of the more than six officials our analyst spoke with did not plan on our analyst blowing the whistle, and they are mighty pissed – or mighty scared – or both.

    So Baquet decides to move things along.

    After all, our Acting DNI seems a little confused to the point where he vitiated the raison d’etre of a whistleblower process.

    (No worries though – Trump is a betting man, and he’s daring the democrats to impeach not only him but Pence. Make the common people think that this is….as you say….attempted coup #2. God forbid Nancy Pelosi sits in the oval office. We all starve to death (I’m making $13/hour directing traffic, up from $9/hour bagging groceries until I hurt my back and lost my comp claim. But hey, I’m in the South, what I expect?). But at least those migrants kids and adults don’t suffer human rights abuse level abuse anymore, am I right? You remember them, right?)

    OK, so Baquet sees Maguire faithfully demonstrating that whistleblowing will get you the shaft. And then three guys come knocking. So, why not break our analyst egg and make an omelet of any and all whistleblowers in the pipeline? Baquet can’t help you if you don’t help him.

    Take that CNN and Fox! John Yoo one week, Trump musing about executing our poor analyst the next. This is some arms-dealer s— right here.

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        I suspect that more people than anyone guesses are running short of disposable income. I am. I no longer eat out, not even my former favourite, chili cheese fries. Addiction issues start with food I bet.

        Reply
  34. blowncue

    One more thing about the bonfire of the NYT subscriber base:

    You’ll be seeing lots of tweets asking people to reconsider their cancellation. “But what about the talented journalists who —- what about the 1619 Project?”

    Back in the day some woman who shilled Ed Koch got up and tried to extol about all of the good things Koch was doing as regards city programs for PWHIVs.

    (He wasn’t doing spit, as compared to San Francisco. Feels like a hundred years ago).

    She was getting booed big-time. “But what about —”

    An AIDS activist was videotaping her and spliced together the scene from the Wizard of Oz where Nancy Walker goes “look at the poppies!” No voiceover from the Wicked Witch, just the pan shot of poppy fields.

    God it was funny.

    Anyhow, look at the poppies! says the gray lady.

    Reply
  35. smoker

    I’m in my early sixties and I remember the funeral procession tradition of pulling over so as not to interrupt with the procession, and turning on the lights across all three states we lived in when I was growing up; one state off the North East Coast, one on the Pacific Northwest coast and one in the Northern Midwest.

    Living in Silicon Valley now, for years, I sorely miss the simple and meaningful regard strangers offered one another which no longer, or very rarely, occur.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *