2:00PM Water Cooler 9/6/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, comments are open once more. Moderation will be slow, and please be even more excellent to each other than usual, to minimize the need for it. Thank you! –lambert


“A growing tug-of-war over tariffs is underway between suppliers and retailers. Target Corp.’s recent directive to suppliers to absorb the costs of new levies highlights the financial strains that are stretching from factories to store shelves” [Wall Street Journal]. “Target and other store chains have warned the U.S. government that consumers would be on the hook for the new tariffs on imports from China, with higher prices at checkout. But Target sent a letter to suppliers late last month saying it ‘will not accept any new cost increases’ related to the levies that started taking effect Sept. 1.”


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

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

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

And here is (are) the latest poll(s) as of 9/6/2019, 12:00 PM EDT:

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

UPDATE 2019-08-30: Now the polls aggregated (all available) are shown at the bottom of the poll; unlike RCP, there is no “secret sauce” for poll selection. We also give more detail about each poll than RCP, and allow candidates to be selected or deselected. That’s three reasons what dk is doing beats RCP, and if we can make the individual polls selectable/highlightable, that will be four reasons. With more to come, grid willing.

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Readers, the Yahoo debacle below in Stats Watch > Tech screwed up my link gathering process, so this section isn’t as granular as it should be. (If the Yahoo mailserver doesn’t send my mail, it builds up in the Outbox, but Apple’s brain genius mailer gives no indication that the mail has not been sent. Great UI/UX!) I’ll have to catch up next week…

Biden (D)(1): “It’s Not Whether You Win or Lose, It’s How You Set the Expectations” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “This week, the Biden campaign put reporters and political insiders on notice: despite being the longstanding frontrunner in national polls, they are not counting on winning the Iowa caucus. The Biden campaign seems to have taken notice of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s steady rise in the polls over the summer…. Biden is in a similar situation to Clinton’s. Like the former New York senator, Biden is leading in national polling. Unlike Clinton, he’s also been consistently on top of the Iowa polls. More importantly, he’s based his candidacy on his electability. Once you lose, that’s a harder message to sell.” • Yes, the dreaded frontrunner status comes with many narratives of failure…

Biden (D)(2): “Curb Your Enthusiasms. Biden’s the One” [RealClearPolitics].

Perhaps, just perhaps, support and excitement are not all that connected. Perhaps relatively passive Democrats — who greatly outnumber the excited ones — just want to replace Donald Trump. Although several polls suggest that any of the leading Democrats could beat Trump in a national popular vote, they show Biden beating him more easily, especially in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio, the swing states considered key to Trump’s Electoral College victory. He’s the safest bet. Four years ago, we saw similar crowd-size delusion in the primary coverage of Sanders versus Hillary Clinton.” • Yes, Sanders’ strategy of bringing in new voters means it’s white-knuckle time until an actual election (unless their internal polling — or whatever they’re using — leaks).

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “The Perils of Biden’s Campaign Strategy” [Vanity Fair]. “‘[Biden’s] campaign has done an excellent job staying on-message, hammering home that Trump is the issue and Biden is the most electable,’ a top strategist for a rival Democrat says. ‘But if you’re betting everything on electability, what happens if the perception of his electability starts to slip? Then he’s got nothing to stand on.’ Biden’s advisers can, and do, dispute the notion that their man is relying solely on his supposedly greater odds of defeating the incumbent president. ‘His message about why he’s running—the middle-class economy, restoring the soul of America, and uniting America—is one that really does resonate with people,’ says Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to Biden. ‘The problem with focusing on electability is not going deeper to why voters think he’s the most electable—their belief that he can clean up the mess Donald Trump has created, their familiarity with him as vice president, and their having a firm knowledge of who he is, what his values are, and the priorities he would pursue.'” • Personally, I think that what Democrat strategist Dunn is saying is somewhere between bizarre and surreal, but there’s no question that a significant part of the Democrat base believes it.

Biden (D)(4): “What is a subconjunctival hemorrhage? Blood in Joe Biden’s eye causes concern” [Today]. “The bright red spot looks frightening, but it’s usually harmless, the American Academy of Ophthalmology said…. In rare cases, it may be a sign of a serious vascular disorder in older people. Patients who frequently experience such broken capillaries in the eye may get tests to try to find an underlying cause, such as a blood clotting disorder, the Cleveland Clinic noted.” • Oddly, or not, this story still hasn’t made the majors. You can imagine the reaction if Sanders’ eye had filled with blood: The calls for him to drop out would have been immediate and vociferous, and they’d still be going on. The Jeff Bezos Daily Shopper would probably be running videos of hemorrhaging eyeballs!

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders struggles to win over older voters” [The Hill]. “Bhaskar Sunkara, a Sanders ally who is the founder of the socialist magazine Jacobin and the author of the book The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality, said the lack of support from older voters is ‘definitely a problem.’ ‘He can’t win a coalition with primarily young voters,’ Sunkara said, adding that Sanders needs to highlight his record on ‘Medicare for All’ and Social Security, while hammering home the fact that he can defeat President Trump. Other supporters say the campaign needs to do more to convince older voters that the campaign isn’t just about issues concerning young people. ‘Seniors are often more concerned about not losing what they earned and fearful about what might lie ahead,’ said Larry Cohen, a longtime Sanders ally who runs Our Revolution, an organization that began after Sanders’s 2016 campaign to champion his agenda. ‘We have to convince older voters that they can be ushers for the future not just ushers for the past.’ ‘Sometimes older voters are fearful that change means change for the worse,’ Cohen added.” • With good reason. Yes, loss aversion is a real thing. Hard to dismiss this as a hit piece, when it quotes so many Sanders supporters. Still, the older voters aren’t going away. And a Sanders strategy of expanding the Democrat base means that they are necessarily later along the campaign timeline.

UPDATE Trump (R)(1): “Dismissing Trump as a crumbling, unfit fool will get us four more years. Don’t buy it.” [USA Today]. The bottom line: “We should all be doing what Georgia’s Stacey Abrams is doing — everything we can to ensure every voter gets to the polls. For our greatest threat is underestimating the threat we face.” • Lol, if Abrams were really interested in that, she wouldn’t have rushed off to Washington to get on Neera Tanden’s board right after losing, and then starting a paper NGO. She’d be on the ground in Georgia, which is having real and horrible problems with election fraud.

Lambert here: On Trump, I’ve never been able to find the YouTube I hve in mind again, but it’s a slow motion video of a lion pursuing a gazelle. The gazelle is superbly built for speed and running desperately, but the big cat — which moves a lot like my small cat — is just a little faster. Ultimately, the lion’s front-most paw just barely catches the gazelle’s hind-most hoof, and that’s it. Crunch crunch go the gazelle’s bones, as the lion settles in to feed. Yum. Trump is that lion. It may be that we need to think of him as a superbly functional predator — and not much else. Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan: Crunch crunch. Yum.

Trump (R)(2): “Trump Vulnerability in a Primary is More Fiction than Fact” [Inside Elections]. “Even if you look past the huge hurdles of the president’s popularity among the Republican base and the humongous fundraising advantage, the anti-Trump movement is simply running out of time, and it’s arguably too late to mount a serious presidential campaign at all…. First of all, the president’s job approval rating among Republicans is extremely high…. Secondly, there’s the money problem. Trump’s campaign and the affiliated committees reported collecting $105 million in April, May and June, shattering quarterly records… Finally, there’s the lack of time. There’s no example in recent history of a candidate starting this late and becoming president.”

Trump (R)(3): “White House Plans Biofuel Quota Boost Amid Appeals From Iowa” [Industry Week]. “Top administration officials have developed plans to give a 5% boost to U.S. renewable fuel-blending quotas in 2020, as President Donald Trump seeks to temper farm-state criticism he has undermined U.S. mandates compelling the use of corn-based ethanol and soybean-based biodiesel…. The efforts respond to an outcry in Iowa and other politically important farm states over the oil refinery exemptions. Although federal law authorizes the exemptions for small refineries facing an economic hardship, biofuel advocates say the Trump administration has handed out the waivers too freely, even as farmers bear the brunt of the president’s trade war with China and retaliatory tariffs on U.S.-grown soybeans.” • Ethanol’s been a horrid boondoggle for years; as usual, Trump spoke the quiet part out loud, once in cutting it back, then in backing off to win the Farm Belt.

Warren (D)(1): “Notes on the State of Politics” [Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “Biden [is] clearly leading the other candidates and garnering a little over 30% of the vote. That’s essentially what the polls have shown all year. But amidst the stability, there has been at least one noteworthy change in the polling: Of all the candidates, Warren is the one whose standing has most clearly improved over the last several months…. If the RealClearPolitics average were a real poll with a margin of error — it isn’t, but bear with us for the overall point — we might characterize much of the change for many of the candidates from the start of the year to the end of August as being statistically insignificant, meaning that the changes are so slight that they may essentially be statistical noise as opposed to an actual change in support. That’s particularly true for Biden, Harris, and Sanders. But Warren’s rise, from 4% to 16%, is the kind of change that any half-decent poll would suggest is statistically significant. That does not mean she is leading — Biden still clearly is, based on the bulk of the data — or even necessarily that she has surpassed Sanders for second place. But she is also, along with Sanders and Biden, one of the frontrunners, a group that at the moment is hard to expand beyond three. That said, we also cannot necessarily make the assumption that the shape of the race is set in stone — months remain until Iowa votes in early February.”

Stats Watch

Employment Situation, August 2019: “Stagflation is an initial reaction to a widely mixed August employment report that builds up cases for both a rate cut at the mid-month FOMC and no action at all” [Econoday]. “Data supporting a rate cut are weakness in payroll growth…. Now the data supporting no action which are led by an outsized 0.4 percent rise in average hourly earnings, a result that speaks to wage pressures tied to a narrowing supply of labor. Earnings have now posted four straight elevated readings… The participation rate supports the risk of diminishing supply… Sandwiched between slowing employment growth and rising wages is not the ideal policy combination for the Federal Reserve which would find itself in a bind should inflation begin to accelerate at the same time that global growth and the nation’s manufacturing sector are turning lower. The latter underscores the weakness in manufacturing payrolls that, on the margin, probably tilts the conclusion toward the need to add more stimulus.” • Hmm.

Quarterly Services Survey, Q2 2019: “[S]ector revenue for the second quarter of 2019 increased” [Econoday]. “Year-on-year, second-quarter information sector revenue grew 6.0 percent.”

Retail: “Amazon’s Automation Overreach” [Industry Week]. “With Amazon retraining its workforce to the tune of $700 million, nearly a third of the company’s U.S. workers will become accustomed to more tech-intensive responsibilities. This effort—one of the most historically forceful on Amazon’s part—sets the stage for the company to figure out whether its stated mission of ditching its own human workforce in favor of smart robots is a go. The tech behemoth has made no secret of its desire to go fully automated: It’s been investing in automation technology for years…. So it came as a bit of a shock earlier this month when the company said that full automation is at least a decade away…. For now, Amazon’s 600,000-plus employees will work alongside the robots, which—surprisingly—perform only a fraction of tasks, mostly limited to moving large stacks of products in the warehouses. They simply lack the higher-order cognitive abilities, like applying insight and making decisions, that are required for more precise, nuanced work.” • Lol, how would a working class job require “higher-order cognitive abilities”? Or anything at all that requires “precise, nuanced work.” Bezos must be ticked at the fancy consultants who sold him a bill of goods. Unless this was all his brain-genius idea, of course.

Shipping: “The escalating dispute souring relations between Japan and South Korea could reach the maritime industry. Officials in Seoul are getting concerned that Tokyo may derail plans to merge South Korea’s two big shipyards” [Wall Street Journal]. “The conflict over Japan’s use of forced labor in World War II hasn’t drawn the attention of the U.S.-China trade war, but it’s already buffeting supply chains and raising alarms for the way a diplomatic impasse has threatened to sever important trade ties. The tensions are growing as Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings Co. prepares to seek antitrust approvals from several countries for its planned tie-up with Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. The combination would create a shipbuilding behemoth to compete with yards in China and Japan.”

The Bezzle: “The Big Short’s Michael Burry Explains Why Index Funds Are Like Subprime CDOs” [Bloomberg]. (Note that Michael Burry, whose CDO short is deservedly famous, is not the semi-fictional “Michael Burry” of The Big Short, whether the book of the movie.) Quoting Burry: “Central banks and Basel III have more or less removed price discovery from the credit markets, meaning risk does not have an accurate pricing mechanism in interest rates anymore. And now passive investing has removed price discovery from the equity markets. The simple theses and the models that get people into sectors, factors, indexes, or ETFs and mutual funds mimicking those strategies — these do not require the security-level analysis that is required for true price discovery. This is very much like the bubble in synthetic asset-backed CDOs before the Great Financial Crisis in that price-setting in that market was not done by fundamental security-level analysis, but by massive capital flows based on Nobel-approved models of risk that proved to be untrue.” • Readers? What do you think? Especially those with skin in the game, as we say….

Tech: “Yahoo! customers! wake! up! to! borked! email! (Yes! people! still! actually! use! it!)” [The Register]. Deck: “FFS!” More: “Updated Yahoo!, it appears, is still a thing. Unless it’s Thursday morning, in which case it isn’t. Those still clinging to the past, and their Yahoo! email accounts, found the service had developed a distinct wobble in the early hours of the morning before collapsing in a heap around 07:15 BST. While it has tottered back to life for some users in the UK at least, it hasn’t been a happy time for those around the globe, who have found themselves unexpectedly free of email for several hours thanks to the outage. At one point, even the homepage for the service had dropped over. Verizon-owned Yahoo! itself initially maintained a dignified silence on the matter as users wailed, eventually deigning to tell customers what they already knew via an emission from the company’s social media orifice.”

Manufacturing: “Aviation CEOs Warn of Europe-US Split on Boeing Max Return” [Industry Week]. “Sounding the alarm this week over the increasingly tenuous alliance were Aengus Kelly, who heads the largest global jet lessor, and United Airlines boss Oscar Munoz. Alexandre de Juniac, who heads global airline trade group IATA, said he was ‘worried and disappointed” by the lack of unity among regulators. Aircraft-financing pioneer Steven Udvar-Hazy called it “uncharted territory.’… The regulatory discussions, which had been playing out behind closed doors, spilled into the open after the head of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency said this week that his group is conducting its own study of Boeing’s design changes along with a broader review…. EASA has a favorable view of an extensive change Boeing has proposed for the flight-control computer architecture, including autopilot, that will compare readings for the plane’s two onboard computers, according to [EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky’s] presentation. But the European agency still has concerns with the architecture Boeing has proposed for sensors that measure the angle of attack of a plane’s wings relative to the onrushing air. The redesigned system would compare readings from two vanes to guard against the erroneous data that tripped MCAS on the doomed flights operated by Ethiopian Airlines and Indonesia’s Lion Air. ‘Still no appropriate response to angle of attack integrity issues,’ said a slide in Ky’s presentation at the European Parliament.” • Which is tantalizing. Are the “integrity issues” in software? Or hardware? More–

Manufacturing: “European aviation safety agency sets strict demands for Boeing 737 MAX return to flight” [Seattle Times]. This story elaborates on Ky’s slide without specifying precisely what those integrity issues are. And then there’s this: “EASA will require Boeing to demonstrate the stability of the jet in flight tests that include high-speed turn and stall maneuvers with MCAS switched off. The latter requirement should go some way to satisfying one gnawing public concern about the MAX. On the Internet, many Boeing critics have expressed concern that the jet is ‘inherently unstable’ with engines that are too big, and that a software ‘band-aid’ isn’t good enough to fix that. The EASA requirement to fly safely without MCAS should demonstrate otherwise.” • Oy.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 36 Fear (previous close: 39, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 23 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 6 at 11:59am. Note that the index is not always updated daily, sadly.

The Biosphere

“The deadly hidden risks within the most prominent economic model of climate change” [The Week]. “Is climate change a crisis demanding immediate aggressive action to smash down carbon emissions, or is it an annoying inconvenience that can be dealt with slowly over decades? Most climate scientists are in the former camp… But many economists are in the latter camp, taking a relatively cavalier attitude about climate change. They have built models showing the economic damage of warming will not be that great, or that the costs of mitigation could be even greater, and therefore we shouldn’t be too aggressive in keeping emissions down — which could be even worse than doing nothing, by their lights. As a result, they generally serve to advance policy responses centered around putting a price on carbon, or, in other words, using market mechanisms to gradually wean our existing economic structures off fossil fuels, but foregoing any sort of massive intervention that would disrupt the status quo. These models, however, have some hellishly risky assumptions buried deep in their guts. If we take the economists’ advice, we will be taking a terrific gamble with all of human society.” And here’s a good question: “So how can Nordhaus propose an “optimal” climate future is one which might compromise such seemingly-important activities like ‘growing food or working outdoors’?” • And speaking of working outdoors—

“Professor Doug Tallamy urges homeowners to cut lawn area in half” [Yale Climate Connections]. “‘Lawn has been a status symbol for centuries, and we have bought into the commercials that tell us if it’s not a perfect lawn, our neighbors will hate us and, you know, we’re just not good citizens,’ says Doug Tallamy, an author and professor at the University of Delaware…. ‘What I suggest is we cut the area of lawn in half,’Tallamy says, ‘We have an area of lawn the size of New England in the U.S. right now. We’ve got to reduce that. So just look at your yard, and say, ‘I’m going to cut it in half and I’m going to cut it in half by putting plants into my yard.’ But not just any pretty plants. Tallamy urges people to use native species that provide food and habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. And to help the climate, he says to include more than flowers. Plant shrubs and trees that will absorb and store more carbon.” • Of course, there are home owner covenants to attack, and the real estate industry needs to get on board with the idea that lawns decrease property values. But, does anybody really want to “mow the lawn”?


UPDATE “Typical Pitfalls of Simulation Modeling – Lessons Learned from Armed Forces and Business” [Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation] From 2012, still germane: “In practice, simulation modeling is not always as straightforward as the simulation modeling cycle in Figure 1 suggests. Users of simulation methods might encounter the following five pitfalls: distraction, complexity, implementation, interpretation, and acceptance.[4] Every pitfall is associated with a specific step along the feedback cycle (see Figure 2). We will describe and analyze the pitfalls in more detail next.” • Here is Figure 2:

(Figure 2 incorporates Figure 1’s white square boxes and overlays the grey boxes with rounded corners.)

Guillotine Watch

“Two men specifically targeted and set fire to Eagle Rock homeless encampment, officials say” [Los Angeles Times]. “Two men [Daniel Michael Nogueira and Brian Antonio Araujocabrera] have been accused of setting a blaze at a homeless encampment that grew into a large brush fire and prompted evacuations in Eagle Rock and Glendale late last month, authorities said…. Fire officials said the men specifically targeted the homeless encampment, but did not offer a motive for the attack or explain how the fire was set…. Nogueira’s father, Michael, is the president of the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce.” • Oh. And then: “The fire was set one day before another arson rocked Los Angeles’ homeless community. The following night, prosecutors allege, 38-year-old Jonathan Early set a tent ablaze in downtown Los Angeles’ skid row, severely burning 62-year-old Dwayne Fields.” • Your Gini co-efficient at work…

Class Warfare

“Botched Bankruptcy Leads to Standoff in Kentucky Coal Country” [Bloomberg]. “A little more than a mile down the tracks, some 100 CSX Corp. railcars are piled high with coal mined by Blackjewel LLC from the hills of Harlan County. David Pratt Jr., a 29-year-old father of three, is one of more than 200 people who helped dig out that coal and haven’t been paid for it. That’s why he’s helped block the tracks that lead out of the coal mine south of Cumberland for more than a month. No wages, no coal…. Making good on payroll is usually routine in bankruptcy, one of the first matters of business. But that hasn’t happened for everyone, and far from the hills of southeast Kentucky, the omission is creating headaches for white-shoe investment firms with millions of dollars at stake…. The Harlan County blockade might’ve been a minor irritant if not for the U.S. Department of Labor, which sided with Pratt and his fellow workers, arguing in court that coal produced by unpaid miners amounts to ‘hot goods.'” • Lol, Trump’s Department of Labor doing the right thing for once. And: “The miners’ old-school display of solidarity highlights a theme emerging in the world of troubled enterprises: workers have power and bankrupt companies must reckon with it.”

UPDATE “Addiction and Poverty, Dignity and Friendship: An Interview with Chris Arnade” (interview) [The Fix]. Arnade: “People are resilient. So, even faced with these awful structural problems that are kind of put on them, they do their best. It’s like in Hunts Point. The things I worried about that didn’t get a lot of attention are like the pigeon keepers, right? People who take pigeons and make beauty out it. A lot of people think it’s nothing, they’re just rats with wings, but if you go up on a roof and watch the pigeons fly, they’re gorgeous. The same with the guys who fix up Schwinn bicycles, which are literally being tossed out by wealthy people, or ignored, they turn them into these really cool things. So, I think what I appreciated is the resilience. Even in harsh situations people can find dignity, and create these beautiful things. Even in the crack houses, even in the drug spots there is beauty. Where there’s people putting together small works of art, and there’s humor. It’s not just all down and out. There are funny moments, people have fun. It’s not just all evil.” • Well worth a read, particularly if you know anybody grappling with these issues.

News of the Wired

“Systematic quantitative analyses reveal the folk-zoological knowledge embedded in folktales” [Archiv.org]. “The most important knowledge for foraging and pastoral society is folk-zoological knowledge, such as the predator-prey relationship among wild animals, or between wild and domesticated animals. Here, we analysed the descriptions of the 382 animal folktales using the natural language processing method and descriptive statistics listed in a worldwide tale-type index (Aarne-Thompson-Uther type index). Our analyses suggested that first, the predator-prey relationship frequently appeared in a co-occurrent animal pair within a folktale (e.g., cat and mouse or wolf and pig), and second, the motif of ‘deception’, describing the antagonistic behaviour among animals, appeared relatively higher in ‘wild and domestic animals’ and ‘wild animals’ than other types. Furthermore, the motif of ‘deception’ appeared more frequently in pairs, corresponding to the predator-prey relationship.:” • Read Beatrix Potter from this perspective. She’s brutal!

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

TH writes: “I can’t decide which I like best, the flowers or the leaves. There was no label my this bush at the arboretum, so sadly, I do not know what it is.” Readers?

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      This seems to be the key paragraph:

      Indexing is an odd risk to worry about. It’s bizarre that some people think it’s a bad thing investors are shifting money into funds that:

      • save them money in fees
      • are more tax-efficient
      • have lower turnover and trading costs
      • beat the majority of actively managed funds over the long-term
      • are simpler and easier to understand than most investment strategies
      • It’s also bizarre to blame a bubble on the idea that more investors are actively avoiding the search for alpha by thinking and acting for the long-term. It’s like worrying about a trend where everyone decides to eat better, thus hurting sales at McDonald’s.


      1. PokerCat

        That blog post is great, I wish I could write my thoughts on the matter as well. One of Ben Carlson’s best posts

        The only thing he glosses over is the idea of leverage. Although he’s correct, index funds don’t leverage, I think it’s important to note that they don’t leverage now.

        There’s always a stupid genius who adds leverage to everything, Then we can worry.

      2. Watt4Bob

        I believe that what Burry is explaining is not that Index Funds are ‘like‘ CDOs, but that this time around, the risk that others are missing is not hidden in derivatives, but in mis-priced stocks.

        The stocks are mis-priced because of a variety of reasons, including manipulation by C-Suite owners via stock buy-backs, and inadvertently by passive investors who don’t really know what they own.

        Burry is simply explaining where the current risk is at.

        He is saying nobody really knows what the stocks are worth because there’s no real price discovery going on, buy-backs are goosing prices, and fearful individuals are investing passively so much less of what is assumed to be legitimate input from the hidden hand to inform the market.

        1. Wukchumni

          “Do not be alarmed by simplification, complexity is often a device for claiming sophistication, or for evading simple truths.”

          “Of all the mysteries of the stock exchange there is none so impenetrable as why there should be a buyer for everyone who seeks to sell.”

          John Kenneth Galbraith

        2. prx

          A comment on the index-funds-are-a-bubble idea:

          Price discovery: I don’t see the evidence for it as a ‘bubble’ and I see huge incentives for it to exist and to get it right. That said, correlation is high (and dispersion is low) of stocks in the US and Europe, which is evidence that the overall market is causing more individual stock performance than usual rather than individual company factors.

          I would imagine it’s frustrating to be a small cap value investor and see that you have great companies but the markets don’t yet agree with you. That might feel like the CDO thing to him, where the world has diverged from his view of fundamentals.

          But there are missing preconditions for a bubble– I don’t see massive leverage in the market or the potential for forced selling or that a lot of the money (maybe even most) isn’t trying to get the right price for stocks.

          The definitive book for those interested: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/367596.Manias_Panics_and_Crashes

          A better explainer of the “stock bubble” we are in: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/paradigm-shifts-ray-dalio/

          ^ CTRL-F “unsustainable things” for the money chart

          1. Watt4Bob

            That might feel like the CDO thing to him, where the world has diverged from his view of fundamentals.

            The last time the world diverged from his view of fundamentals he made a killing by by betting against ‘the world‘.

            The world didn’t understand his insight the last time, and laughed at his ‘big short’.

            I haven’t heard what he thinks as far as a tactic for profiting from his current thinking, but it would be interesting to know if he’s acting on this one?

            1. Dirk77

              Yes. I recall Buffett saying recently that his way of investing doesn’t really work anymore. To which I infer that we are indeed in a bubble of some type, which TPTB have managed to sustain for a very long time. I mean in comparison the dot com boom was only five years? But if someone has found a way to short it, you’ll hear about it only when the short pays off. So he already may be set and is just cautioning others who might listen to him.

      3. moss

        From time to time I read articles which suggest that ETFs are the principal weak point of failure for the next “biggie”. I’ve wondered about this as it is a point often recurred to by analysts I greatly respect, such as Doug Nolan. Consequently I’ve looked very closely at their structure to consider this for myself though I’m purely an armchair spectator and don’t own a single share (or ETF, fund of whatever). This is purely my own assessment and as such is worth exactly what you’ve paid for it.

        To ETFs there are three parties: the manager, the buyer and what’s called an approved participant. When the ETF pool is growing the manager buys matching indexed elements to match the number of ETFs created and provides a daily asset valuation (NAV). Although they trade on the market the manager creates and sells new securities to enable to the price to closely track the NAV.

        On the downhill, however, a totally different process occurs as the manager has NO obligation to repurchase the ETFs. As the buyer is dependent on whatever price is offered on the market, liquidity is provided by the approved participants who have the right to deliver a wholesale number of the ETFs that they may hold to the manager and receive in exchange a basket of the actual of the underlying securities, which the approved participant then sells on the market. The arbitrage between the value of the underlying securities and the ETF price creates the liquidity.

        Many indices include low liquidity components. The untested element of ETF structures is what will happen when the market demand for the low liquidity components collapses under severe selling pressure. The approved participants have only the right to buy and exchange the ETFs – not the obligation. Consequently it is thought that were the approved participants to walk away, conceivably there could arise a significant mispricing between the ETF and the market of underlying assets.

      4. drumlin woodchuckles

        The more investors actively passive-ize their investing, the less high active-management fees and other charges the Wall Street Money Handlers are able to collect. And the more of their own money the actively-passive investors get to keep.

        The Wall Street Financialists and Money Handlers bitterly resent losing some of that beautiful money. Everything they and their Fake Stream Media spokesfolks say against passive investing is a purely self-serving completely-bad-faith Information Operation being waged against the Brains and Minds of the passive investors.

    2. eg

      This was excellent, thank you. I only invest in equities via broad market ETF precisely because I know I am the “dumb money” in that space and have no desire to give my dumbness any further scope than asset mix and investment timeline. And I certainly don’t want to pay more for the privilege of giving my own dumbness additional scope, eh?

      1. Wukchumni

        An EMP would wipe out ETF’s, stocks and bonds and anything else electronic, so don’t feel so bad about your investment, everybody is precariously placed in the same boat, the one saving grace in such a scenario being those with old fashioned cash.

        My dad was in the stock business when stock certificates had to be matched up with all trades, and he told me in the late 60’s, activity had ramped up so much, that there was oftentimes a day to 2 lag between trades being consummated & stock certificate transferred to the new owner.

        1. inode_buddha

          So would flooding …. all of a sudden, global warming could be a problem to the traders. And NYC/NJ is supposed to be underwater literally when its all over.

  1. sleepy

    ‘Seniors are often more concerned about not losing what they earned and fearful about what might lie ahead,’

    Which is precisely the reason this senior is supporting Sanders. It’s a no-brainer imho.

    1. paintedjaguar

      I support Sanders too but since I’m retired on a very small fixed income, the inflationary effects of measures like radically jacking up the minimum wage do scare me quite a bit, regardless of how justified (and it is of course way overdue). I’ve heard absolutely no one on the left talking about this. Quite the opposite in fact, all I hear lately is how lucky I’ve had it as a baby boomer – old vs young, the latest IdPol trope. It’s very like people going on about the “white privilege” of the homeless.

  2. WJ

    “They [robots] simply lack the higher-order cognitive abilities, like applying insight and making decisions, that are required for more precise, nuanced work.”

    Bezos is automating middle management.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      An item in the stock bin is broken, instead of eating the demerit, you ship it to a Prime customer who will then send it back to the returns department, reporting broken in shipment. No harm no foul. No ‘managers’ within observing distance will disapprove.

      It’s nuanced work all the way down.

  3. Wukchumni

    Had a disquieting conversation last night with one of the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) team members who told me that a few dozen Giant Sequoias have succumbed to the bark beetle in the past year, and it had previously been thought said trees were safe from the tiny predators, but that was then and this is now.

    He told me that said Sequoias started dying from the top down, which is how other species of pine trees met their demise, and in one case he contacted UC Berkeley, which has a team of tree climbers, as he wanted them to get a sample of a branch on high to see what’s what, and was told their arrival was about 2 months out, and in the meantime the tree that was slowly dying, was dead about a month later, and getting a sample limb not so hard. He showed me the limb with the tale-tell marks on the wood below where the bark would be above, and it was no different than the look on devastated trees of lesser species that the drought and beetles killed around 130 million of in the Sierra Nevada. The killer is just a little bit bigger in size than the seed that produces the gargantuans.

    There’s around 75 groves of Sequoias scattered on the western slopes of the Sierra, and it’ll take some time to do them in, but you get the feeling they’re not long for the world after being here oh so very long.

    1. Eclair

      Wukchumni, that is really depressing news. All over the Rocky Mountains are patches of dead trees, victims of pine bark beetle. Here in Western New York, we have groves of dead ash trees throughout the countryside. And we have a half dozen large pine trees that have died. I have noticed dead ones all throughout the area. Not sure what is killing them. On the bright side, lots of work for tree removal businesses.

    2. Carolinian

      There’s an excellent PBS show on Yosemite from a couple of years back where they go up in the big tree canopy and talk about the drought stress. It didn’t come across as quite so dire, prediction wise.

      1. barrisj

        An old entomology friend of mine who has done work on a variety of bark beetle spp. has always maintained that a combination of (1)drought-stress, and (2) mild winters will lead to massive tree kills; so far, he’s bang-on. And as the climate warms, normal seasonal die-off of bark beetles seen at the higher elevations ceases, leading to a population explosion and full-on assault upon conifers.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        There is an amateur nature-observer/ blogger who has been maintaining a blog called Wit’s End.
        It has focused on rolling tree-death and forest-death all around the world. This blog’s thesis is that un-admitted-to ozone pollution down at ground and near-ground level is sickening trees through caustic oxidation of their in-leaf tissues. Trees poisoned by caustic ozone-burn are rendered metabolically unable to resist droughts the way they had been able to resist droughts in the pre-ozone past.

        She references the ground-level pollution which helps generate the ozone in ground level air. She also discusses other tree-degrading pollution.

        Her “basic premise” is here, together with links to what she presents as being scientific papers and articles on various aspects of “creeping tree death”.

        Of course, recently she has decided that most life on earth will go extinct, man is a dead-species-walking, etc. She just wants everyone to join her wallowing in the tarpit of despair.

        Still, the link remains as interesting as when it was first posted.

        1. Wukchumni

          An interesting link…

          Sequoia NP is consistently the smoggiest National Park in the country, bad air from as far away as the Bay Area and all of the Central Valley has nowhere to go and settles here and only dissipates when you get above around 9,000 feet, and when you’re above the smog line and look back into the abyss, it has the look of a dirty snow globe. The air in Three Rivers is as bad as L.A., but you don’t really see it so much, not as evident when you’re in the thick of it.

          This is nothing new however, and until the long drought killed oh so many trees in the Sierra, with the Sugar Pine having the largest die off on a percentage of population basis, the forest was healthy.

          I visited a tree at least 3,000 years old the other day, and perhaps the oldest Sequoia of all, i’d hate for my next visit to be a wake.

        2. witters

          She just wants everyone to join her wallowing in the tarpit of despair. Instead of the verdant groves of ungrounded optimism.

    1. Grant

      Totally. I don’t want anyone offering any actual solutions. I prefer that politicians begin negotiations from already compromised positions and cozy up to the interests they need to challenge. That way, instead of actual change, we have really catchy bumper stickers and plans that will sit somewhere collecting dust. With things like the environmental crisis, I don’t think we should look at what the science says we need in the time it shows we have. And we shouldn’t analyze how good any politicians plan is in relation to what the science says we need. We should instead look at what is “realistic” within this corrupt system, and then pretend that Mother Nature cares what we consider to be reasonable. And I really hate it when people move the Overton Window to the left and in a direction that we need, and towards policies the public actually wants. I want the watered down version, the people who create policies that copy that politician, but don’t go nearly as far. If that isn’t good enough to actually solve our largest problems, oh well. The relatively well off will be okay, and the peasants can stew with their “purity” or whatever.

        1. Librarian Guy

          ++++++ . . . sick of all the Bernie haters. No, we can’t have any aspiration for real solutions, we need to support Corporat-purchased pols who will throw us the occasional symbolic scrap or slogan instead.

            1. ambrit

              Why not +27? :>)
              Good luck on the credit check. (That a credit check should be of any importance in a hiring decision is a sign of how sick the present socio-economic system has become.)

    2. russell1200

      Way too early for that.

      The folks that need to worry are Buttigieg and Harris. Of the front runners, I am leaning toward Warren, but it is too soon to say that she isn’t simply peaking at a higher point than Buttigieg and Harris did.

    3. Otis B Driftwood

      Care to comment on what it is about Sanders you don’t like? Setting the trend on the healthcare debate, climate change, ending imperialism and wealth inequality are first and foremost why I support him with my $$ and canvas on his behalf.

      1. B Topp

        I like Sanders but I do have three issues with him. I still support him but.

        First he won’t stop talking about Russiagate. It irritates some of his supporters and generates no additional establishment Democratic support for him. They hate him. Jimmy Dore https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gukpKO91dA (10:12) has profanity.

        Second he never mentions Julian Assange and his incarceration and possible extradition to the U.S. Why not?

        Third he never mentions Tulsi Gabbard who’s been attacked in the press and in interviews for months. She should be in the next debate but the DNC thought otherwise. Gabbard supported him in 2016 and lost a DNC position as a result but he says nothing in her defense.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Sanders may come to regret not standing by Gabbard. In the long run, it may come down to

          First they came for Tulsi, and I said nothing…

          I hope that this was not a case of Sanders wanting to keep his powder dry. If so, he has been hanging around too many democrats.

        2. pretzelattack

          i didn’t realize he hadn’t defended her. the first two issues stick in my craw, and fit into his less than desirable foreign policy views (better than all the others but gabbard, but still).

        3. Elizabeth Burton

          You assume Tulsi Gabbard needs him to defend her, which is both patronizing her as a woman and ironic given her military service. Perhaps Bernie understands that. Their mutual affection is abundantly clear.

          If Bernie wants to talk Russiagate, it will irritate but most recently he has toned that down and expanded it to include “other foreign interests”. This is encouraging.

          He has repeatedly spoken out against violations of freedom of speech and the press, and his proposal to wrest journalism from a slow death speaks volumes. I support Assange and always have, but I don’t need Bernie to do likewise because that’s his decision.

          Let’s get the man elected first.

          Sanders/Gabbard 2020

          1. ambrit

            The best candidate, historically speaking, to run against a sitting president is Mr. or Mz. Economic Downturn. Otherwise, it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other. (Adjusted for inflation, that would be, twelve of one and a dozen of the other.)

  4. DonCoyote

    How much time have you wastedspent following the 2020 race? Match up these 2020 political contenders with their slogans (Thanks to Katie Halper & Matt Taibbi’s new podcast):

    1. A Fair Shot For Everyone
    2. Brave Wins
    3. Building Opportunity Together
    4. Come Together
    5. Join the Evolution
    6. Keep America Great
    7. One Nation, One Destiny
    8. Our Best Days Still Lie Ahead
    9. We Will Rebuild the Middle Class/We Persist/Win With {Candidate Name}
    10. Working People First


    A. Michael Bennett
    B. Joe Biden
    C. Steve Bullock
    D. Julian Castro
    E. Bill DeBlasio
    F. Kirsten Gillibrand
    G. John Hickenlooper
    H. Donald Trump
    I. Elizabeth Warren
    J. Marianne Williamson

    Answers: (Look below in the next post)

      1. bassmule

        Very entertaining. The Steve King/Susan Sarandon bit was very funny. The slogan ID had some moments, although the got the origin of “Persist” wrong. Mrs. Clinton’s supporters came up with “She Persisted.”

  5. Wukchumni

    Tariffism, a tax

    “A growing tug-of-war over tariffs is underway between suppliers and retailers. Target Corp.’s recent directive to suppliers to absorb the costs of new levies highlights the financial strains that are stretching from factories to store shelves” [Wall Street Journal]. “Target and other store chains have warned the U.S. government that consumers would be on the hook for the new tariffs on imports from China, with higher prices at checkout. But Target sent a letter to suppliers late last month saying it ‘will not accept any new cost increases’ related to the levies that started taking effect Sept. 1.”

    Sounds as if Tarz-jheh is trying to double dip by making both suppliers & consumers pay for Smoot-Hawley version 2.019

  6. Summer

    “A growing tug-of-war over tariffs is underway between suppliers and retailers…”

    I think Target is a little bit closer to the ground with consumers.
    Guess that’s their two cents on the “resiliency of the American consumer?”

    1. curlydan

      Or maybe Target thinks it’s got a bigger stick and angrier/louder shareholders than its suppliers?

    2. ambrit

      What I wonder is, does Target intend to match the vendor’s sacrifices with an equivalent reduction in their own profit margin?
      Right now, WalMart, Target’s ‘deplorables’ level competitor, squeezes their vendors till those pennies in pockets cry out for surcease of agony. How is WalMart handling this “trade war” fallout? A big chunk of their drygoods comes from China.
      This is shaping up to becoming a primary driver for a reassessment of the, to the ‘deplorables’ at the least, fetishization of cheap gimcrackery.
      Some forms of austerity have a moral purpose.

      1. Wukchumni

        Wal*Mart & Target are the same store with 95% of the merchandise imported from China, only the clientele is different.

        A shopper @ the former knows that the latter is too classy for them, and shoppers @ the latter wouldn’t be caught dead shopping @ Wal*Mart.

        1. curldyan

          Target is just a little more expensive (the “cheap chic” premium?), and I feel crazy uncomfortable the few times I shop there. I’m not sure what it is, but somehow I think being “a guy” somehow factors into it. My cheapa$$ self will drag myself into Walmart to get something at the lowest price that I can find and go.

        2. Carolinian

          Agreed. Both are discount department stores but in my town at least the Walmarts are much bigger and simply have more stuff. Targets do seem aimed at a more middle class clientele.

            1. ambrit

              Well pardner, there is a cohort of the populace that may not be in the 10% class but dreams hard enough to try and fake being so. They will do a myriad of self delusions and self (and family) sacrifices to maintain the appearance of being what a generation ago was considered to be “middle class.”
              You see it in the dress and demeanor of the Target shopper class, around here at the least. Roughly speaking, an overt consciousness of the “Opinions of Others” that drives their behaviour.
              The WalMart shopper, in the main, is the definition of working class and ‘declasse.’ I personally fear that I fall into both categories, although what the order of occurrence is I am not sure.

              1. Wukchumni

                Target greets you with the smell of popcorn wafting in the air, just a little bit away from the entrance to the store, it’s generally cleaner than Wal*Mart, and the clientele doesn’t have a ‘People of Target’ website that mocks their appearance, nor does it have an ammo selection much larger than it’s book selection, as it doesn’t push guns.

                1. Carolinian

                  My one and only Target did away with the popcorn in favor of a Starbucks. Take that Walmart!

                  And Walmarts have gotten a bit cleaner after recent revamp. They are still cluttered.

                  1. Wukchumni

                    Will the retail public absorb the tariffs and just buy less stuff?

                    It isn’t as if there’s a plan B, as there is no competitors to the 2 behemoths, only in a downward spiral of Dollar stores.

                    1. ambrit

                      Check out the places of origin for most of the merchandise at the Dollar Stores and Fred’s etc. As the boys down at the corner store put it; “Ain’t from ’round here!”

        3. Jonathan Holland Becnel


          My mom thinks customers who go to my Wal Mart on Tchoupitoulas are ‘scary.’

          I wish i was making this shit up.

          Only Targe’ for her and my lil sis!

          1. ambrit

            As I mentioned in a previous comment thread, even WalMart is split up into various ‘classes’ of store. Here, our town has a ‘suburban’ WalMart and a ‘ghetto’ WalMart. (Both terms being in use among the public.)
            But, good Lord, a WalMart on Tchoupitoulas???? I guess that even “The City That Care Forgot” moves along with the times.

            1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


              And guess where its built? On top of the grave of the St Thomas Projects they demolished after Katrina.

              Our Suburban Walmart is off Clearview in Harahan under the Huey P Long bridge. It has a Coffee shop inside too! Not starbucks tho lol

              1. ambrit

                My Starbucks! That is, or was, a big industrial supplier’s warehouse area back “in the day.” Is Veazy still there?
                I remember going to the giant indoor flea market just up the Jefferson Highway from the bridge.

      2. Summer

        And they will all throw whatever weight they have around. Wal-Mart and Target, with all their problems, are hire big numbers in this country.

  7. Tim

    It seems like EASA is becomming the world’s de facto aviation safety agency. At least in regard to re-certification of the max. Which country is going to allow the max to fly again based on FAA approval alone, without waiting for EASA?
    Boeing just lost one of its greatest assets: closeness to its main regulator. Ironically, Boeing brought this over itself, by lobying congress to do self-certification.

  8. Summer

    RE: LA / Homeless / Fires

    Remember that this type of thing happened in the Bay Area a couple of years ago.

    1. Wukchumni

      I can sense that denizens of the City of Angles are quite fed up with homeless living cheek by jowl in their pee’d-à-terres, in a there goes the neighborhood fashion. Empathy is fading away.

      1. Summer

        ” Fire officials said the men specifically targeted the homeless encampment, but did not offer a motive for the attack or explain how the fire was set…. Nogueira’s father, Michael, is the president of the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce…”

        Just stands out.

    1. scoff

      I think definitely some type of mimosa, but the flowers are unlike the type I’m used to seeing.

      A Mimosa pudica (after searching mimosas) shows the same leaf structure and similar flowers to the plantidote.

  9. Hepativore

    So, as a millennial myself at 35, I wonder what would be the best way for Sanders to get more seniors to support him? I cannot see why many boomers and silent generation people are on board with Biden and the rest of the mainstream Democratic Party considering how prescription, healthcare, and retirement costs have spiraled out of control while they did nothing. There is also the fact that both Biden and Obama were pushing hard for a “Grand Bargain” to cut social security and almost got it. For all of you people out there who are my parent’s age and older (69 and 62) what exactly is Biden’s appeal for your demographic? The Democratic Party leadership is certainly not a friend to senior citizens from what their actions have shown.

    Is it just that most people get their news from places like CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News and do not care enough to be critical about what they hear from these outlets? Or do they actively discount anything that they hear that challenges their preconceived notions about Biden or Sanders? Biden may be a gaffe machine and his brain slowly seems to be turning into mush with each passing day, yet it seems that much of the over-50 crowd is stubbornly supporting him and will not change their minds no matter what happens.

    1. Wukchumni

      Relatively few older citizens of the USSR were clamoring for change as the end neared, as it was all they’d known and when you’re settled in your ways, any deviation from the known norm is devastating.

      …we’re not so different

    2. laughingsong

      You know, I wonder about this whole “Old people don’t like Sanders” meme. Not that I actually know anything, but …
      – I’m almost 60 and I have liked Sanders since 2015 (before, but he wasn’t my senator)
      – My friends are mostly even older and they all like Sanders
      – I haven’t volunteered yet (too early) but I did volunteer for Sanders in 2016 and the volunteer meetings were full of people my age (other ages too, but I wasn’t an outlier)
      – I see Sanders — and ONLY Sanders — bumper stickers and window signs, and when I have noted the age of the person sporting then (admittedly not often) there seems a good mix of ages, including farts such as myself.

      So this whole meme puzzles me, I don’t see it matching in any way with my own experience and observations. Are we THAT different over here in my neck of the woods (Eugene Oregon)? Is it maybe due to how polls are conducted? Or that other farts like me haven’t engaged yet because we all think it’s too d*mn early to start spending energy on this. What do y’all think?

      1. curlydan

        My parents are mid-70s and they won’t even consider voting for Sanders _despite_ the aggravating fact that his policies fit their beliefs the best. I couldn’t believe they didn’t vote for him in 2016 (“there’s no way he’d get elected”). And I’m guessing they’re holding on to that belief in 2020. It’s aggravating. They’re voting in the primary not to express themselves and their beliefs that are certainly at odds with the DNC, but in an effort to prognosticate what they think would happen the general election. And they haven’t learned from 2016 either.

      2. laughingsong

        Great replies, many many thanks O lovely NCers. Made me really think, too, about the ways my circle truly is that little bit different:
        – many of you talked about folks that bit older than me and mine, like 70 +
        – How broadcast/cable TV/Newspapers factor in (most in my circle don’t watch TV at all, although a few still give credence to NPR)
        – most of my posse are active in the community and do hang with a range of age groups therefore, which helps broaden the viewpoints.

        I try to talk with people about these things, and try to convince, but although I am trying to get more eloquent, I am very introverted and not very good. Y’all could certainly use a better ambassador! :-(

      3. Oregoncharles

        Yes, Eugene is different, as are Corvallis and Portland. And apparently you have a rather select group – my understanding, from about 40 miles away, is that Eugene is sharply split, with a sizeable conservative contingent. But maybe not Trump supporters, so much. Those are the other yard signs that might be showing up – but not much primary challenge, so maybe not yet.

      4. NotTimothyGeithner

        With older voters of a certain perceived class, a vote for Sanders now invalidates all of the tactical voting for Third Way types who were either candidates in seats corpses would win or wound up losing. In the end, the Third Way promises an easy path to victory, just run a proper candidate who marks boxes and all will be well.

        Sanders conversely demands critical thinking and more than finding a candidate who marks a few boxes. “For every Democrat we lose, we’ll gain two republicans” was always a promise of an easy way to win that didn’t require any divisive actions with people In the right circles or registering the poors.

    3. shinola

      Blatant stereotyping. Wifey & I are about your parents age and we’re both Bernie supporters. While I may not be typical (after all, I’m a regular NC reader) wifey does get most of her info. from TV news (she prefers ABC). For both of us, Biden has all the appeal of HRC – which is to say none what so ever. My 80+ y.o. mother leans Bernie also but would probably vote Biden over Trump.

      If the Dem. apparatus foists Biden or anyone else from the Clinton/Obama wing of the party onto the ballot, we will again vote Green. (Are you listening DNC/DCCC? I doubt it.)

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Blatant stereotyping

        I don’t think so: “I cannot see why many boomers and silent generation people are on board with Biden.”

        For Sander supporters, support for Biden is a fact that demands an account. The issue is not whether your parents support Sanders. The issue is why “many” parents do not.

        I remember in 2008 that many twenty-something children converted their parents to Obama voters (and I use a word with religious connotations advisedly). I wonder whether this can happen when children are in their forties and fifties, and parents in their sixties and seventies. Why or why not?

        1. JohnnyGL

          stealing my earlier comment below….

          Cable TV News still has power especially…
          1) it’s still primary news source in that >65 demographic that can’t use a computer/mobile device and
          2) around the narrative of ‘electability’ with that age demographic.

        2. Pat

          I’m going to throw out a couple of things that might deserve consideration:

          1. many older people grew up in the height of the cold war. As much as I think that the blanket socialism equals communism and both are bad mindset has suffered significant losses, it is still the go to position for many.
          2. The dismal state of journalism in America, regardless of which mainstream outlets one watches has meant that a lot of old people who still watch broadcast television and read newspapers are not as familiar with Sanders positions as they are with Trump’s tweets and Biden’s aw shucks poses. And they do think Clinton lost because of Russian interference, which effects point 3.
          3. They believe the polls, no matter how wrong they were in the past, that they do get to see. You know the ones that say Biden is the choice of most Democrats and can win against Trump. Being a front runner is a draw AND beating Trump is for many Democrats the only thing they care about.

          and on a minor level they are getting the whispers and believe that because of the deficit their Social Security and Medicare are in danger (not realizing that many of the Democrats are gunning for them) so do not want to have that endangered. With the increasing problem of finding Medicare providers, Medicare for All might also make a few think that they would have even less access to health care (and I mean real access) as more people scramble for the same limited pool – not understanding that the pool essentially just becomes almost every Doctor and hospital in the country.

          All that is just off the top of my head. I’m only in my early sixties and have been a DFH coupled with a union/workers rights advocate my entire life. But I figured out a few years ago that we weren’t being given the big picture regarding the situation in this country, so have been increasing anti-Democratic leaders. So despite Bernie hitting all my buttons, I am not surprised my generation and slightly older isn’t all in. I am shocked that Biden hasn’t crashed and burned with all of them already, but emperor’s new clothes and all seems to still be in place.

            1. Librarian Guy

              Agreed. And sadly, the inability of “many” people in generational cohorts to break out of deeply set paradigm limitations they’ve carried around for decades is shown in a lot of polling and research . . . I’m a bit younger than “Pat”, coming up on 60 pretty soon, but I was an angry young punk rocker when Reagan got elected and started this country down a steeper hill to full on Oligarchy and despair. I don’t understand why more folks from my demographic don’t think like I do, but I know that is the case.

              1. Late Introvert

                I still remember the night Reagan got re-elected and the eerie feeling that most people don’t think like I do. I was just 21, voting in my first Presidential election. I’ve since learned that the effort put into keeping people misinformed is enormous and that many otherwise very decent humans get propagandized into voting against their own interest.

                Pat’s second point is I think the most salient. My parents (85/90) watch the local news on TV and read the Des Moines Register, and that’s it, for the last 6+ decades. They worry about how to pay for M4A. And my mom a life-long nurse, with many horror stories about admins and doctors. I don’t capitalize either word on purpose.

                I also work part-time at a Senior Center in a Liberal college town and meet up with similar attitudes all of the time. And they actually feel friendly towards Biden because he has visited Iowa a lot over the years. That matters to these people. Iowans are nice but also completely insecure, butt of many jokes. And seriously, it’s pigs and corn, which bring you bacon and soda pop, and cancer and dead zones (not to forget Lambert’s fave and mine, the ethanol scam). The football teams are college level, and always just good enough to be losers on the national stage. So when a friendly guy like Biden shows up and shines everybody on, they eat it up.

                Sorry, I hope I didn’t cross the line. I’m a native who moved back and is glad I did, but family blog.

                1. Eclair

                  Thanks, Late Introvert, for your perceptive vignette of Iowa life. The coasts have no idea of what it’s like to live amid hundreds of acres of corn and soybean fields, with the occasional concentrated animal feeding operation raising hogs.

                  1. Wukchumni

                    Its kind of like that here in the Central Valley, but replace corn & soybeans with fruit & nut trees, and gobs of CAFO milk cow operations.

                    A bumper sticker you’ll occasionally see around these parts:

                    “Dairying Is Not A Crime”

          1. Efmo

            And don’t forget the ever present fear of your taxes going up! That’s still an effective argument (smear?) for people in more comfortable income brackets, even if retired. And, after hearing how ‘big’ government makes things worse or cant fix anything (something the Clintons and Biden helped push, too) all their lives, it’s not surprising if that belief might be affecting their decisions, even if on a subconscious level. And since Carter, at least, that’s not so far-fetched! (Just not for the reasons they’ve been led to believe.)

          2. notabanker

            I was recently at a backyard gathering where the majority, 8 people, were boomers 70+ years of age. I was born in the latter half of the 60’s. These are all white suburban, what I would call solidly middle class mideasterners, generally well educated, all have pensions of some sort, worked the majority of their careers in one place, a couple were in law enforcement.

            The conversations became more and more political and I pretty much kept my mouth shut and just listened. It was quite interesting the bent towards Trump from 5 of them (4 men 1 woman), without openly supporting the guy. Anti immigration tropes, socialism is evil, the media is giving him a hard time and exaggerating things, I worked hard for what I got why can’t everyone else do the same mentality. It just became obvious to me that these folks were a product of prime-time USA capitalism and even considering a candidate like Sanders is the equivalent of converting the Catholics to Islam. Ain’t gonna happen, it’s hard-wired in.

            1 person was kind of neutral, but clearly was unhappy with Trump and not comfortable with some of the talk. 2 of them I knew well and were a product of the Vietnam protests. Ardent Obama and Clinton supporters that are now pretty firmly leaning towards Sanders because of one key issue, healthcare. My general impression from them is that it is not so much Bernie is the man, but the rest of the field is so out of it he is the only one who has a credible plan to address healthcare. All three of these folks were women.


            1. Wukchumni

              Older Boomers will cling the hardest to the old ways, kind of how some older people living in Eastern European countries, now long for Communism, as it was all they knew for oh so long.

              They’ll be quite adrift when push>meets<shove, and guess what, they're in the same predicament as younger generations, who will adapt much easier to the new normal.

              1. ambrit

                The trouble with that formulation is, as my dear old Dad would say after a beer or two, “Don’t f— with the old man kid.”
                The older cohorts have little left to lose. It may come down to “war to the knife.”
                The shame of my generation is that we have not, apparently, done any radical left organizing.

              2. flora

                oh boy! stereotyping a generation!
                Yep, we all got drafted and sent to ‘Nam, we all got deferments and stayed home, work on Wall St., work in a coal mine, work in a factory or diner, got elected to congress, dropped out in the 8th grade, finished our PhD, , sang at the Met, sing in the shower, are homeless, own and live a $14 million mansion… etc etc.. ha.

                1. skippy

                  Yeah I find the whole Market [tm] based generation meme nothing more than a sunshine spreader of biases environmental [local] or useful manufactured Bernays PR.

                  Whack on some Chomsky Dialectal programing “Everything is a Market” framing and watch the unwashed go at each other whilst the malefactors snicker in their compounds.

                  Considering the recent link to the 1974 Charles Koch Speech:

                  “The important strategic consideration to keep in mind is that any program adopted should be highly leveraged so that we reach those whose influence on others produces a multiplier effect. That is why educational program are superior to political action, and support of talented free-market scholars is preferable to mass advertising.”

                  Then some wonder how such a mangled perspective got traction in academia, then filtered down through media, and ultimately the unwashed perception of self, others, reality.

                  But then again in the military its a well known fact that repetition with a side of Milgram does the trick 99% of the time ….

        3. Kate

          I am 61 and have spent years observing the aging process amongst friends and acquaintances. It’s my belief that, around age 55 or 60, people take one of two pathways into old age: either they narrow down (become more and more distrusting, protective, set in their ways) or they broaden and deepen. More of the former, I’m afraid. Especially with regard to the well-off or those actually struggling–and for different reasons, certainly–risk becomes something to avoid. The status quo is already delivering, or it’s trickling down just enough and the elder becomes engaged in a spiral of fear and grasping: hunkering down; sheltering in place, if you will. I would love to see Sanders drive a wedge into this fear–maybe channeling some combination of FDR (concrete benefits, emphasized over and over) and Marianne Williamson (open up to hope, engage for the sake of the young.)

          1. neo-realist

            Looking at this from a similar age range, upper fifties, and knowing a few acquaintances/family members of similar and older age, the status quo is delivering for those that have had jobs in a particular field for one employer for a long time, and as a result are either receiving pensions and or have saved enough bank from making a lot of bank that old age destitution is not an issue. However, I’ve also known a few people in their 70’s from another company that I’ve lost contact with who continued to work, not because they liked working, but they did not have the savings to retire (big spenders in the past on fun), and had to keep working to survive.

            The status quo and the future appears to be potentially problematic for people who don’t make a lot of money in their work life and don’t have a lot of savings, but we as a society don’t care to hear about the problem nor design economic solutions to deal with this problem.

            1. Librarian Guy

              I could definitely retire with security for the future in the next few years, BUT I have really seen the overall violence and despair of US society ramp up so fast and far since the Bush II electoral coup of 2000, the Iraq War and ’08 Wall Street bailouts, mass shootings, Obama’s refusal to make any fundamental “change” or create real hope that I could not just narrowly cocoon into my own selfish survival and accept the status quo . . .

              But your point is sound, we’ve all been pretty well media-trained to accept the rising heat in the boiling pot and just concern ourselves with being one of the lucky frogs who jumps out or is randomly spared full boiling.

              1. notabanker

                My personal view is that the boomers have such a stranglehold on the US political system that they are going to skate through any retirement funding issues and Gen X will be the first generation to have core societal issues with large retiree aged populations that are destitute. And it will get exceedingly worse from there, if we even make it past the Gen X retiree generation given accelerating climate change.

                1. Wukchumni

                  Is the ‘sharing economy’ (none dare call it socialism) really more of a prepping exercise for Club X & Millennial, in getting them ready for a life of less?

              2. flora

                Mindful that people who were entering/in their 50’s in 2000 probably had most of their retirement savings in 401k’s (defined benefit pensions even then becoming a rarity), the 2002 stock market plunge wiped out a big chunk of savings for a lot of people. Then Wall St. sort of recovered on housing and real estate – along with subprime loans and Big Bank fraud – only to plunge again in 2008-9, wiping outs another big chunk of savings. If you knew people who reached retirement at either of those times and saw what happened to their retirement savings, well… becoming wary and distrustful seems like a reasonable response… or not a crazy response. imo. The banks were let off the hook and continue to prosper when their CEOs should in many cases be in jail, imo. (At least W prosecuted Enron, Worldcom, and broke up ArthurAnderson LLC for fraud, and put the CEOs in jail. (might be the only thing his admin got right.))

        4. randomworker

          My inlaws – 80s – hate hate hate Sanders. Its the socialist tag, mostly. Also they are Jewish and don’t think Americans will vote for a Jew. But I guarantee you they will get out there and vote for whoever has the D by their names. Including Sanders.

          1. Jack Parsons

            Y’know, one of the fabled norms that Trump has broken is that the Pres has to be a Christian. He goes along with it, but everybody knows he’s an old fraud.

            The Christians lost control of general culture in the 1960s- “Old People Politics” has been their last general culture stronghold among the coastal elites.

            I’m not so sure the “Bernie is Jewish” thing is a problem. He does not do Jewish stuff in public, and may even be secular (from what I know). He doesn’t have a Jewish name. He has New York accent, but after 9/11 New York became good again. (Before 9/11, NY was Babylon.) What he is is an old guy with white hair who yells, and as such is the perfect candidate for Fox News.

    4. taunger

      My parents have absolutely no idea what policy solutions/failures are actually in play. CNN, MSNBC, NY Times, they don’t get information they need (also they think the grand bargain benefits them).

      My parents “don’t like” Sanders. I’ve been able to show them how horrible Biden is. I think that is the best I can do. I imagine there are LOTS of others their age in similar situation.

        1. Pat

          Depends on whether they already have started receiving Social Security benefits or not. Some of the hardest sells I have had on the Grand Bargain thought it protected them from cuts once the trust fund by extending that time frame. It takes a bunch of information and time frame on the changing frame of the how long the trust fund will last, plus a snarky outline of Chained CPI with pointed questions to get them thinking this is not protection so much as ripping off.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Taking down a candidate is much easier than getting them to pick one. In fact, taking down Biden is the MOST important job right now (Harris and Mayor Pete are hopeless).

        1. anon y'mouse

          people are floating the idea of Harris as a V.P. pick for Warren, and how comfortable that idea is (corpro-dem sellout educated wonkishness feminism, yay!). the next best thing to Hillary, with herhighness.

          Harris (nor any of them) is totally out of the game, so take them ALL down.

          so sayeth this rabble.

          1. JohnnyGL

            I don’t think Warren is dumb enough to pick Harris as a VP.

            I suspect that, in the end, the Bernie vs. Warren race will be close (Biden will fade). If she edges Bernie out for nomination, she’s gotta pick him as VP (a Dick Cheney level VP) or else she’s already failed.

            If she picks Harris, then it’s truly Obama 2.0. We’ll have Tom Cotton as president in 2024.

            1. Librarian Guy

              I would not take a bet against your prediction. I don’t however see what good Bernie could do as VP, do understand the “Dick Cheney level” reference but despite how many ideas of Sanders she’s stolen and watered down, I think she’s more self-confident than poor, intellectually lazy Dubya, doubt he’d really get the influence he deserves even if given the post.

              In any case, I doubt she could BEAT Drumpf at the head of the ticket, so it may be a moot point anyway (I concede she would get a lot of the bitter Hillary “Never-Bernie” crowd’s votes, though.)

              1. ambrit

                Don’t count out the “Queen of the D—-d” herself yet. Taking Yve’s comment about personality into account, I don’t see Warren as anyone’s second in command. Likewise, I don’t see Warren as choosing anyone who could mount a credible threat to her position and status as her Veep.
                Either way, Warren would probably lose to Trump. Her status and outward appearance as an “intellectual” type would be easy to turn against her with a large chunk of the electorate.
                I still say that, absent Sanders running in the general election, this race is Trumps to lose.

      2. skippy

        Possibly tax related, try: https://twitter.com/StephanieKelton/status/1170028823062228992

        So much of the narrative is shaped around taxes on an individual level, though grounded in 1% optics, hence the need to inform of the core system realities contra political agendas.

        Per se when people react negatively to a JG I always frame it from the perspective of why would a capitalist not want everyone working that wants too, why induce un-under-employment largely targeted at the most vulnerable and then moralize about their collective personal failings.

        Not to mention how much pressure or legal machinations were applied on everyone to self fund job income stagnation via the financial markets.

    5. JohnnyGL

      “Is it just that most people get their news from places like CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News and do not care enough to be critical about what they hear from these outlets?”

      I was talking to my mother just yesterday (mid-70s) and asking what she thought. She’s awful with the computer and hence, is trapped by her limited access to info. She isn’t fired up about any particular candidate, but doesn’t like Warren (native american stuff is all she cared to know). I asked about Sanders, she generally likes him, but indicated he’s been ‘quiet’ and wasn’t really convinced. I mentioned the TV news is doing a blackout on him (even though he’s 2nd in most polls) and that he’s a danger to their business model and pointed to the drug ad that was on screen at that exact moment. I also made a point that he called out CNN during the debates for running tons of drug ads.

      TV News still has power especially…
      1) in that >65 demographic and
      2) around the narrative of ‘electability’ with that age demographic.

      Biden’s going to have to fade some more to give Bernie some upside here.

    6. Lost in OR

      After the performance of polls and MSM in 2016 I don’t see how anybody can give any of them any credibility. Being of the centrists they are behind the times. Let’s move along.

      I’m 63 and for a Bernie/Tulsi ticket.

      I have yet to see ANY Biden enthusiasm.

      1. Janie

        Salem, Oregon, age 80 and for Bernie/Tulsi. The few Biden supporters I’ve met are lukewarm about him but are younger and busy with teenagers and businesses, so not very well-informed.

    7. Jeff W

      …what would be the best way for Sanders to get more seniors to support him?

      Well, one of the most obvious ways would be if the Sanders campaign talked more directly about those policies that would benefit seniors.

      Medicare-for-All would include dental care, hearing aids and eyeglasses and would help pay for long term care and seniors wouldn’t have to pay the premiums under some parts of Medicare currently because the benefits provided would be covered under Medicare-for-All.

      Social Security would be strengthened—Sanders is staunchly opposed to Social Security privatization (no surprise) and wants cost-of-living adjustments tied to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E)—which would result in more accurate (probably higher) adjustments for seniors.

      And certainly Sanders’s plans for tuition-free higher public education and the wiping out of student debt would help seniors—there’s growing retiree student loan debt, for one thing, and, indirectly, many seniors subsidize younger generations, who, because of their student loan debt, can’t afford to buy homes, to get married and so on—not to mention the psychological toll that occurs when your children and grandkids “can’t get on their feet” due to crushing student loan debt.

    8. Grant

      I also think that one really big problem for this country is just how utterly it has been beaten out of peoples’ heads that structural changes can happen. People have simply given up imaging another world at all, and they are often uneasy about structural changes, even if the structural changes are needed. It has gotten bad enough that even if you could show how much better and more efficient (and humane) single payer systems are, how much more efficient traditional Medicare is than private insurance, because single payer would be a pretty radical change, they have been trained to reject it outright. To me, that is why neoliberalism marches on, no matter how horrible it is, and even though it has no future if we want to at least mitigate what is coming in regards to the environmental crisis. Thatcher’s TINA comment, in the end, has been cemented in many of the minds of older people. It doesn’t bode well, given what the environmental crisis will demand as far as structural changes. I see no real analysis on what the science says we need, in the time we have, and an analysis by most anyone about what it would mean as far as having what amounts to a radically different economic system. Given how inequitable and hierarchical this system is, given the power of those at the top, it speaks volumes about the utter collective failure of those at the top.

      Ultimately, since those at the top benefit from a system that has no solutions to our largest problems, but since what is needed would result in radical changes and a new system, they have no solutions and will not let anything else emerge. Brings to mind Gramsci’s quote, “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born.” Many people do not have the time to pay attention to these issues, others get their information from media outlets that mislead them, and many others have given up hope that anything will get better. And older voters have existed in this context for decades now. In order for them to support Bernie, they have to believe that the impossible (in their minds) is possible. It is a hard sell with many it seems. The young are more on board with structural changes because they are doomed without them, and because they haven’t had this drilled into their heads for decades on end.

        1. Grant

          “Everyone can imagine structural change”

          I don’t see that at all. I see a complete lack of vision in this country by most with power, the media and many voters, especially the age group Sanders is struggling with. We are just now slowly escaping the TINA, end of history era. It is assumed that things will largely stay as is. When it comes to environmental crisis, most people I know just assume away that a carbon tax or a cap and trade program can solve the issue, as if the environmental crisis is just carbon emissions and as if the system can stay basically in place while taxing bads and subsidizing good stuff. The capacity for those things to capture the actual direct and indirect impacts is also assumed away, and even if we could, given their scale, that it wouldn’t result in most everything the relatively well off buys and values exploding in price. I do not see many with a good systematic analysis of what we are facing at all, but I understand that the issue is complex and the solutions multi-disciplinary. However, because what is needed requires very radical changes and requires us replacing capitalism, it seems that many will dismiss the needed changes out of hand. The media, for example, never talks about what the science is showing and the time we have to make the needed changes, and the particular changes it requires. Single payer is considered far left and radical, forget the far more structural changes needed in response to the environmental crisis. The questions all revolve around, how are we going to pay for it? Beyond the obvious answers, informed by MMT, it is like saying, “Yeah, we might be able to shoot down the asteroid that will destroy life on Earth. But, have you considered the impact the missile would have on inflation?”

          Also, if the alternative to what they call globalization is common currency, I must have been asleep in the last few decades. I grew up politically as the alter-globalization movement was growing. I remember the intense focus on NAFTA, the WTO, the Another World is Possible books and the like. A lot of that is not mentioned tons by the left these days. I am active in the DSA in my neck of the woods. I don’t think anyone in the DSA, especially with relatively younger members, knows tons about what the WTO is, or what the IMF is or has done. There is some knowledge of alternative institutions like cooperatives, but not tons. Most people can see in some nebulous future this or that change, and assume that it will happen at a snails pace.

          1. Hepativore

            Great replies from everybody here. I did not know where to put my reply as I did not want it to seem like I ignored anyone, yet did not want it to get buried in a long string of nested comments.

            Anyway, there are lots of older Sanders supporters, particularly a large portion of the regular readers and commenters on this blog. Still, I wonder if we represent but a tiny fraction of the attitudes of the electorate at large. The constant mainstream news reports of senior voters who vote Democrat who are #neverbernie worry me.

            I know that there is probably a large degree of corporate astroturfing involved. Still, I have had many personal dialogues with older people in my area, and more often than not, I get eyerolls about Sanders and replies like:

            “How is he going to pay for healthcare?!”

            “Taxes will be sky-high!”

            “He isn’t a real Democrat!”

            “He is why Hillary lost!”

            …and so on. I am not sure if people’s minds who are like that can be changed. The problem is that older people are generally the ones that actually vote and while the generation-X and millennial demographics overwhelmingly support Sanders, voter turn-out among younger people is still a huge issue.

            If you look at the cesspool that is the Balloon Juice blog, the readers and commenters there are almost universally middle-aged or older. Yet, the sheer hatred and rabid vitrol that their posters like Annie Laurie and her ilk have had for Sanders and his supporters since Hillary lost is frightening. The mere mention of Sanders will get you dog-piled and called a “Bernie bro” “racist” “misogynist” “Russian stooge” and “purity pony” to name a few. Every stereotype of the smug, identiarian neoliberal Democrat seems to be present there. As we speak, they are fawning over Biden and Kamala Harris. Yet what have either of these candidates done for seniors lately, like the largely senior membership of Balloon Juice? There are other posts on there bemoaning the state of healthcare or corporate influence in politics. Yet nobody there seems to connect the dots on what the Democratic establishment is and has been for the past 40 years or so.

            So, I hope that this is not representative of the older population at large. Sanders is our best shot for at least trying to undo the damage of decades of neoliberalism. Warren worries me over Biden at this point. She is rising in popularity but her policies are basically diet Sanders. There are many strong indications that she will roll over and kotow to the corporate Democrats/Clinton wing if she gets into office.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Yup. The MSM is selling M4A as an additional cost. (Apologies for going over the TLA limit)

        And people are further Stockholmed with siloed discussion of any issue. Imagine suggesting that we have a debate on Climate Change, Resource Depletion, and Industrial Policy?

      2. super extra

        This describes my working class, aged 60 and 72, parents exactly. They stopped voting after 2000 or maybe even 96, I’ve never really pushed it. They admitted plainly that voting didn’t change anything and you had to miss work for jury duty when you did it. My mother voted for the first time in at least two decades on a marijuana initiative that won. If Bernie is allowed to be the nominee, I’ll attempt to convert them, but not before. They don’t even bother commenting on the news anymore other than the occasional blurt of mild TDS (their being so checked out has some mild advantages, not gonna lie).

      3. eg

        This widespread inability to imagine positive change is a purposeful project of the oligarchs as Michael Hudson outlines in “Killing the Host” — the first thing a parasite attacks is the brain …

    9. sleepy

      I’m close to 70 and have supported Sanders since 2016. When I caucused back then (I live in Iowa), the Sanders folks seemed mostly young, in their 20s, or mostly old like me. The middle-aged cohort seemed to be the Clinton fans.

      Funny thing is that at caucus night everyone on my block–all six houses of us–appeared and supported Sanders. I didn’t even know my neighbors that well at the time, but they were all young families or retirees.

    10. mtnwoman

      I could be your parent and I’m happily supporting Sanders. I’ve been waiting 40 years for a candidate like him. Finally!

      Your 2nd graph seems on the money: “Liberals” think they are well informed watching CNN, MSNBC, reading WaPo and I suspect they are not hearing much about Sanders , or negative stories.

      Then there is the (very odd to me, a feminist) 2016 Sanders voter who emotionally craves that XX candidate and ignorantly thinks that Warren is “close enough to Bernie” to switch their vote. GAH!!

      Re how Biden and his rapidly deteriorating brain is not a turn off to voters, I’m afraid it reflects on the cognitive status of the electorate — not to bright and perceptive!

    11. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      35 y/o Millenial here too.

      My 59 y/o dad thinks Bernies doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning.

      Mom – 51 -…she’ll prolly vote Warren but theoretically could be convinced to vote Bernie.

    12. Elizabeth Burton

      Joe Biden is the favorite of those aged 50+ who are low/no-info straight-ticket voters who check off the name they recognize. Thanks to the Bernie Blackout, they won’t know anything about what Bernie stands for, as demonstrated by the media talking points variously cited here.

      I find it ironic they’re mirrored by the number of Yang cult members (and yes, they are, as anyone who’s dealt with them at length on social media will attest) convinced they’re going to buy houses and start businesses with their Freedom Dividend. People can be very shortsighted, so fear of losing what one has and believing free money will solve everything are two sides of the same coin.

      Nevertheless, Berners have learned how to lead people past their cognitive biases, even if only to the point of giving them something to ponder. Minds are being changed.

  10. dearieme

    Passive funds: I wouldn’t buy passive funds of corporate debt. There’s too much risk that the assets will prove illiquid when there’s a smash. If I understand the guru correctly he thinks the same might be true of smaller, or less frequently traded, corporate equity. Could be.

    But what will people invest in? Real estate? Massively illiquid. Gold and silver: vulnerable to confiscation by robbers, not least governments. Foreign exchange, commodities, …?

    Fixed interest government debt? But the government might print enough inflation to destroy its value. Inflation-linked government debt? But the government controls the inflation index. Hey ho.

    We halved our lawn area late last autumn. Until this autumn’s planting season we are using the spare ground to grow pink fir apples. Yum.

    1. Oregoncharles

      If you’re investing primarily for income – as in, you’re retired – illiquidity doesn’t matter so much, as long as the income doesn’t stop. So rental real estate or even high-return bonds, barring a bankruptcy, would work just fine.

      And what are “pink fir apples?” I thought I knew all the food plants – might be a British term. Tomatoes, maybe?

  11. Lunker Walleye

    The beautiful plant pictured looks like the Summersweet (Clethra) we have flanking our front door. Ours are a baby pink version and the bees love them. I have seen similar red versions in Chile and Argentina. They look rather like bottle brushes.

      1. polecat

        Um .. it’s not Callistemon .. the leaves are of compound arrangement, whereas Callistemon have single leaves attached to the branch .. having virtually no leaf stem.

        Albizia sp. would be my guess.

  12. Wukchumni

    even as farmers bear the brunt of the president’s trade war with China and retaliatory tariffs on U.S.-grown soybeans.”
    China went with Brazil instead of the USA on soybeans this past year, and the South American country responded in kind by burning off as much rainforest as they could, to increase production.

    Our farmers only short term hope is to be bailed out by the numbskull that got them into this mess. Who cares about long term hopes after the 2020 election when he either loses or wins and doesn’t care anymore of their plight.

    1. ewmayer

      “China went with Brazil instead of the USA on soybeans this past year, and the South American country responded in kind by burning off as much rainforest as they could, to increase production.”

      Things are nowhere near that simple, in particular as a result of soybeans being a seasonal crop and the opposite seasonality of the northern and southern hemisphere.
      From this article a year ago:

      And Bloomberg writer Isis Almeida reported last week that, “President Donald Trump’s trade war with China is turning the global soybean market into a merry-go-round.

      With Brazilian exports drying up at this time of the year, traders are having to get creative to supply the world’s largest buyer. One strategy is to bring U.S. soy to Argentina and ship the South American nation’s output to China, thereby avoiding the Asian country’s 25 percent tariff on American product.

      1. Wukchumni

        Not all of the food that American farmers couldn’t sell, ended up in China, as per this feel good article.

        As America’s trade war drags on with China and other nations, the federal government has spent billions on agricultural products to prop up farmers facing export restrictions abroad.

        One result of all those purchases is more items and better-quality products are showing up at local food banks, helping to ease food-insecurity pressures that are just now starting to drop below pre-recession levels.

        “I rarely got dairy (products) before, and now I’m getting that and free meat, too,” said Caralee Alldredge, a 36-year-old married mom of six kids who lives in Mesa. “It’s helping our family tremendously.”


  13. Summer

    “And now passive investing has removed price discovery from the equity markets.”

    And “unicorns” didn’t?

  14. flora

    Interesting post today about surprise medical billing from out-of-network providers. Interesting follow-on is this from The Kaiser Family Foundation, 2016:

    Out-of-network services (Medicare) – Rules governing the traditional Medicare program generally limit patient exposure to balance billing, including surprise medical bills. Providers that do not participate in Medicare are limited in the amount they can balance bill patients to no more than 15% of Medicare’s established fee schedule amount for the service.3 Since these rules were adopted in 1989, the vast majority of providers accept Medicare assignment, and beneficiary out-of-pocket liability from balance billing has declined from $2.5 billion annually in 1983 ($5.65 billion in 2011 dollars) to $40 million in 2011. The rules are somewhat different for Medicare Advantage plans, which typically have more limited provider networks compared to traditional Medicare and which may not provide any coverage out-of-network. For emergency services, Medicare Advantage plans must apply in-network cost sharing rates even for out-of-network providers. Balance billing limits similar to those under traditional Medicare also apply. For non-emergency services, enrollees in PPO plans in surprise medical bill situations would be liable for out-of-network cost sharing, but Medicare balance billing rules would still apply, while enrollees in HMO plans might not have any coverage for non-emergency out-of-network services.


    Traditional Medicare and Medigap policies do not have networks; Medicare Advantage PPO and HMO insurance plans do have networks.

    I think that’s one important distinction between traditional and advantage plans, and I wanted to point it out since we’re in the ‘sign up for next year’s plan’ time of the year.

    1. marym

      This is more related to the surprise billing post, so I hope it’s not too rude to add here.

      There’s a supposedly bi-partisan bill HR 3630 “No Surprises” in the works. From the Daily Beast today:

      Congress is getting close to advancing one of the few significant bipartisan reforms to the health care system still on the docket: legislation to curb the practice of “surprise medical billing.”

      Naturally, that progress has sparked a last-ditch, dark money blitz bent on sinking these relatively modest bills, which aim to make it harder for unsuspecting patients to get hit with exorbitant bills if they see the wrong doctor in an emergency situation.

      A group called “Doctor Patient Unity,” formed in June, has bankrolled a sweeping campaign of radio and television ads to pressure senators up for re-election in 2020 to oppose proposals to reform surprise medical billing.

    2. Dan

      Flora, Here’s some delicious related news:

      Schadenfreude alert!

      “A parade of doctors and medical executives with ruffled clothes, muffled hair and untucked shirts appeared stunned as Judge Joseph C. Spero read the charges against them. They didn’t enter guilty or not guilty pleas.
      Home health work — including hospice aides taking care of people near the end of their life and in-home nurses attending to sick patients — is one of the fastest-growing employment fields in the country. The industry’s rapid expansion makes it “ripe for the potential of fraud,” Anderson said.
      Authorities started looking into Amity after an initial complaint to the Department of Health and Human Services in July 2016. The investigation involved multiple cooperating witnesses inside the scheme, undercover FBI agents acting as corrupt health executives, and a wiretap of Singh’s iPhone that showed her discussing kickback payments over WhatsApp, the indictments say.”


    3. Kris Alman

      Flora, thanks for this comment. I am a volunteer SHIBA (Senior Health Insurance Benefit Advisor) in the State of Oregon. Our state is #3 when it comes to Medicare Advantage enrollees. I worry about how balance billing will affect these plans. The best links to review this is here: https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Guidance/Manuals/Downloads/mc86c04.pdf

      Maximum Out-of-Pocket calculations include cost sharing for out-of-network services (which can be higher than in-network) only for Regional and Local PPO MA plans, not the HMOs. So how does that impact the person who is traveling outside of their MA HMO service plan and who needs urgent/emergent care? Well it all comes down to the fine print: the Evidence of Coverage (EOC) and Summary of Benefits–which nobody tends to read.

      I presume that as more specialty doctor practices are bought by private equity firms that any calculations for cost-sharing through a MA plan will increase. Moreover, benchmark pricing for doctors’ services and tests through the non-profit FAIR Health will increase. This will make these doctors protest that much more the use of Medicare negotiated prices as a benchmark.

      1. flora

        Thanks for this link. Very useful information about current Medicare Advantage plans.

        I agree with your comment that specialty doctor practices being bought up by PE will likely have the effect of driving up out-of-pocket costs in MA plans, imo.

  15. XXYY

    Re: “Amazon’s Automation Overreach”

    For now, Amazon’s 600,000-plus employees will work alongside the robots, which—surprisingly—perform only a fraction of tasks, mostly limited to moving large stacks of products in the warehouses. They simply lack the higher-order cognitive abilities, like applying insight and making decisions, that are required for more precise, nuanced work. Amazon’s revelation might serve as a warning to other companies that singularly prioritize automation over human workers. There is such a thing as too much, too soon.”

    I think executives tend to vastly underestimate the capabilities needed for low-paid operations in their companies. This is no doubt a matter of cognitive dissonance: If the employees were actually skilled, why would we be paying them so little? They must be dumb as a post to only earn $7.25 during the same time I make $100,000!

    Anyone who has ever tried to actually automate something quickly realizes the difficulties. There’s a constant stream of corner cases and unforseen situations that are impossible or impractical to anticipate, and require judgment and at least some experience to handle. Robots are basically just pre-scripted automatons, and the “pre-scripting” (in the form of system software) can usually handle only a tiny fraction of what takes place out in the real world. With skill and diligence, this can be improved somewhat, but these systems will never be able to handle anything that had not been encountered by the time of the latest software release.

    1. Late Introvert


      Evolution turns out to be better than Technocrats 2019. And in the coming environmental crunch, exponentially so.

    2. cnchal

      Deep down, I bet Bezos is happy the robots are not going to be taking over anytime soon. It is impossible to humiliate or crack the whip at a robot when it blows a bearing or oil line and stops working.

      The article never touches on the implication of automation overreach as practiced by Amazon. Mr Market believes Amazon is a near trillion dollar company according to it’s stawk price and poised to soar on the supposed perfection of it’s cloud business where governments are deliberately grossly overpaying for that service, instead of doing it themselves.

      I question Mr Market’s judgement. Is every algorithm coded up by an Amazon employee a shining example of coding perfection? Are they perfect employee that welcome Bezos’ whip cracking management style and have only Amazon’s interest at heart? Mr Market says yes.

      Mr Market ignores the ugly. Wasn’t there a data breach at AWS a short while ago, done by a disgruntled employee with access to the servers? Which raises the question, how many more pissed off employees are within Amazon that resent Amazon’s cheapness and harsh working conditions? With the rapid groaf of the number of employees, my instincts tell me there are tens of thousands of Amazon employees that hate getting up in the morning to take another daily whipping.

      Moar ugly. A 30% return rate for goods. An egregious waste of resources, and the odds of buying something that has already been bought and returned are greater than the odds of buying something new. I wonder what the record is for an individual item being shipped and returned over and over again?

      Moar ugly. Amazon admits to a counterfeit goods problem that they have no actual interest in resolving as that costs money.

      I could go on, but the point is, Mr Market sees perfection. Amazon is a juggernaut that will crush everything in it’s path to total world dominance where one cannot sell or buy anything unless Amazon gets a fat cut.

      I see a hot mess. The reason? Amazon would make moar money if they dropped the warehouse business and concentrated on ripping off governments even more.

  16. Copeland

    “does anybody really want to “mow the lawn”?”

    Not me certainly, but yes many people do, actually.

    Many years ago on an online gardening forum I commented that nobody would actually like mowing lawn and there was a huge backlash(!) Turns out a lot of people have such dreadful lives that mowing lawn (noise & vibration=blissful isolation) is their favorite way to escape from (wife, husband, neighbor, boss…fill in the blank)

    As I look back over my long career in ornamental horticulture, I remember many cases that bear this out. I once worked at an arboretum where the choices of garden work were vast, and a significant portion of the labor force actively argued over who got to mow lawn all day long.

    PS: My lot is 10,000 square feet, none of it lawn.

      1. katiebird

        Exactly. As the oldest of eight kids, I never minded doing dishes. It was about the only time I was ever alone.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > noise & vibration=blissful isolation

      Yes, that’s well put; I remember that feeling, in fact. I wrote of “the great wave of sound from the mower” but you put it much better. And it never occurred to me that many others enjoyed the same feeling!

      1. JBird4049

        What about the old fashion mechanical push mower? They weren’t so noisy. Just the clatter of the gears. Even for this hearing aid wearer, gas powered mowers are just a bit too loud.

        1. mpalomar

          Also called a reel mower. I purchased a beat up one at, appropriately enough, a yard sale and restored it to working condition. I’m close to achieving my goal to shrink the lawn to the point I can cut it with a battery powered weed whacker.

          The challenge is the only remaining expanse of grass is over our septic field. We’ve developed island beds of milkweed, coriopsis, cat mint, lavender etc to eat into that last remaining grassy knoll.

    2. katiebird

      Also it lowers blood pressure pretty significantly to mow for 30+ minutes. And really significantly to mow more.

      1. scoff

        My BP should be in negative numbers then, as I have 2 lawns to maintain – my own and that of my mother-in-law who is much too old to be doing so. Mother-in-law’s less-than 1/4 acre lot I do weekly (along with trimming hedges and edging sidewalk and driveway) since her neighborhood has covenants requiring such. It’s small enough I can use a plug-in electric mower and a reversable head weedeater that doubles as an edger. The hedges get trimmed with shears.

        My own gets mowed about every 2 weeks…. If I feel like it. Neighbors can forget about me doing it more often. Since I live in a relatively rural area, no one is going to tell me differently.

        I joke with my spouse that I have to go mow the weeds because a good portion is no longer strictly grass, but a mixture of wild grasses, ferns and assorted other volunteers. About a third of the 3/4 acre lot is wooded and left natural, and I like the privacy it provides. Spouse is making the area I have to mow smaller all the time by planting new trees and shrubs. I keep saying thanks for making my life easier

        If not for the extreme heat and humidity here in summer mowing might be enjoyable, but as it is, it’s a chore and not something I really enjoy.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Maybe for a lot of people, mowing is a part of their lives in which they have full control. When the job is done, they can look around in the satisfaction of a job that they have done themselves and say to themselves – “I did this”. It would be the descendant of the feelings that our ancestors would have had with a successful hunt or with chopping down a large tree down. Maybe not a dopamine level event but still satisfying. Myself, I hate mowing.

    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      Okay, I haven’t had to mow a yard since I was young and immortal, so forgive me for being late to the game, but, how healthy is it to be going around in circles while a small cheap engine is fogging the area with emissions? No worse than what you get from the neighborhood traffic?

  17. zagonostra

    >The Enduring Mystery of Tulsi Gabbard – The Atlantic

    They call this journalism (sic & sick).

    Many high-level Democrats I spoke with for this story, who insisted on anonymity to share their true feelings about her, suspect that Gabbard is up to something other than actually trying to win the party’s nomination

    …to this group, Gabbard looks like Jill Stein, who also talked about progressive politics and peace, but whose 2016 Green Party run was, to them, a self-centered campaign that blew a crucial hole in Hillary Clinton’s chances, eating up money and getting Russian support along the way.

    RT, the Kremlin-backed news agency, often highlights Gabbard’s campaign. The Russian embassy in South Africa has tweeted defensively about her, Russian bots have boosted her, and neo-Nazis bragged about helping her small-donor count so she could qualify for the first two debates. (She fell just a few polls short of qualifying for the September debate, but might make the stage once again in October.)

    Theories I’ve heard from top Democrats include that Gabbard is trying to get a TV show—“I already know which network: Fox,” one senior Democrat not affiliated with any campaign said, speaking anonymously to remain publicly neutral…

    Gabbard’s supporters are a mix of old hippie peaceniks, cryptocurrency enthusiasts, people who obsess over American imperialism, and former Trump voters…

    Gabbard’s refusal to disavow Assad is disqualifying on its own. In August, the Syria-focused blogger Eliot Higgins wrote a long dissection of her official statements on Assad, which he called an “error filled mess.” In an email to me, he summarized: “The claims she’s using are pretty much classic positions used by chemical weapon truthers and pro-Assad war crime denialist, and are littered with errors and contradictory information, so even apart from the political dimension of criticism of her claims there’s basic factual criticisms that she should address.”


    1. Summer

      When I saw the pic of Russia and Turkey meeting about Syria without the USA during the Obama administration…I knew they would lose their collective mind…(singular intentional).

    2. The Rev Kev

      ‘a self-centered campaign that blew a crucial hole in Hillary Clinton’s chances’

      Oh this is just great. I can see it now. Tulsi Gabbard will be blamed if the favoured democrat does not win in 2020 and will become the Susan Sarandon of the post 2020 elections.

      1. Librarian Guy

        It’s all Sarandon’s fault!!
        It’s all Nader’s fault!!

        Your Vote is owed to LO2E, even if that candidate constantly spits in your face and tells you you’re a worthless DFH, because life is bi-polar (you can have Coke or Pepsi, nothing healthy) and “pragmatism.” The gaslighters know what’s best for you, and what’s best is to “swallow” (per Mrs. Biden) the lies and mediocrity and choose the person that all the Gatekeepers have declared is “electable.” After all, those gatekeepers were never wrong about the Iraq war, the economy, Jeb’s shot at the primary or Hillary’s chances, right?

    3. WJ

      What is so obvious to me about this article is neither the author nor any of the people he talks to grasps that there exists such a thing as *principle*.

      1. inode_buddha

        That’s because they sold theirs a long time ago — To such people, the only possible motivation for anything is personal gain.

    4. Oregoncharles

      The comparison with Jill Stein is even more idiotic, because they’re confusing (conflating?) the primaries with the November election. The point of being a “3rd” party is that you run in the main election, threatening the 2-Party’s hold. But Gabbard is a Dem, running in the primary. She isn’t a threat to the nominee – unless she decides to run in November. She’ll get invitations; a lot of Greens support her.

      I’m perpetually amazed at even political people’s difficulty keeping those straight.

      That said, she isn’t running for President because she isn’t getting enough support. She hasn’t checked enough boxes, either. I think she’s running for VP – that happens a lot; or for the same reason as 3rd parties, to get some ideas out there and give the PTB some grief.

    5. dearieme

      She’s the only one of the pack I’d vote for (if I had a vote).

      Mind you, if Donald LH Trump can make no progress against The Swamp, how could she expect to?

    6. QuarkfromDS9

      "to this group, Gabbard looks like Jill Stein, who also talked about progressive politics and peace, but whose 2016 Green Party run was, to them, a self-centered campaign that blew a crucial hole in Hillary Clinton’s chances, eating up money and getting Russian support along the way."

      Yeah uh, total BS. That’s how I knew Russiagate was a crock when they started accusing Jill Stein of being a Russian puppet.

      "people who obsess over American imperialism"

      Yeah what a meaningless trivial thing to “obsess” over.

  18. Synoia

    “What is a subconjunctival hemorrhage? Blood in Joe Biden’s eye causes concern…

    In only happens when he sees people to the Left of him….

  19. Darius

    The pursuit and downing strategy you describe is for cheetahs, not lions. I believe lions are more of a pack-hunting species. Cheetahs are fastest land animals. But they can keep it up only for short bursts.

    1. JBird4049

      Cheetahs sometimes hunt in packs especially siblings although not nearly on the same level of tigers. Serial bursts or sequential ambushes to tire out the prey. Rather like passing the torch while running.

  20. ewmayer

    Over in today’s Links: “The Enduring Mystery of Tulsi Gabbard | The Atlantic (re Silc)” — The author shows his and his establishment-fishwrap-employer’s true colors fairly early on:

    Many high-level Democrats I spoke with for this story, who insisted on anonymity to share their true feelings about her, suspect that Gabbard is up to something other than actually trying to win the party’s nomination—even if they can’t quite identify what her goal is. These are people who have been wary since Gabbard became a Fox News favorite for criticizing Obama’s foreign policy. They believed that their distrust was vindicated when Steve Bannon brought her in for a meeting with then-president-elect Donald Trump just two weeks after the 2016 election, which was one of Trump’s first meetings with a Democrat. To this group, Gabbard looks like Jill Stein, who also talked about progressive politics and peace, but whose 2016 Green Party run was, to them, a self-centered campaign that blew a crucial hole in Hillary Clinton’s chances, eating up money and getting Russian support along the way.

    RT, the Kremlin-backed news agency, often highlights Gabbard’s campaign. The Russian embassy in South Africa has tweeted defensively about her, Russian bots have boosted her, and neo-Nazis bragged about helping her small-donor count so she could qualify for the first two debates. (She fell just a few polls short of qualifying for the September debate, but might make the stage once again in October.)

    Because any member of Team D who dares question said team’s embrace of the imperial permawars clearly must have some kind of unsavory, possibly even – gasp! – TREASONOUS ulterior motive, right? No fewer than 17 independent U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that, in all likelihood, Ms. Gabbard is Teh EvilPutin’s secret lover. “Two weeks off the campaign trail in Indonesia for National Guard training” – ha! A likely story, that – I bet she was in Moscow at the feet of her Master – picture the Star Wars scene where Jabba the Hutt has Princess Leia on a chain at his, um, feet – getting her latest set of Kremlin-provided talking points!

    Moreover, Gabbard is clearly a bizarre Hindu-religious cultist – “Some Democrats say that everything they find curious about Gabbard tracks back to her particular religious upbringing, which she does not like to discuss but involves an offshoot Hindu group and a revered religious leader with a very committed group of followers, and a father who raised his family in this environment and is currently a Hawaii state senator himself” – and a slutty polyamorous despot-chaser, to boot: the author does not omit to repeat the highly trending Assad-lover smear, quoting none other than crook and liar Eliot Higgins as an authority, and using the same passage to again imply Putin-puppetness:

    People are intrigued by Gabbard, and not because they have read the media coverage of her trip to visit President Bashar al-Assad in Syria two years ago and her subsequent refusal to call him a war criminal.

    If it’s a leadership question, to many people, Gabbard’s refusal to disavow Assad is disqualifying on its own. In August, the Syria-focused blogger Eliot Higgins wrote a long dissection of her official statements on Assad, which he called an “error filled mess.” In an email to me, he summarized: “The claims she’s using are pretty much classic positions used by chemical weapon truthers and pro-Assad war crime denialist, and are littered with errors and contradictory information, so even apart from the political dimension of criticism of her claims there’s basic factual criticisms that she should address.” The response on Twitter from the Russian embassy in Washington was forceful: “Higgins is spam-attacking US presidential candidate @TulsiGabbard for posing questions to the MSM-propelled narrative on the alleged #Douma incident. #ThoughtPolice & #ElectionMeddling irony aside, Ms Gabbard visited #Syria herself, unlike certain bloggers …”

    This article deserves its own Matt Taibbi-style drinking game – at every occurrence of the word ‘Russia’, ‘Putin’ or ‘Assad’, drink!

    And I see there is in fact a Taibbi piece also in today’s Links, “The Pentagon Wants More Control Over the News. What Could Go Wrong?” — I needed that as an antidote to the above.

    1. Carolinian

      For those who skip over the blob boilerplate the interesting part of the article was that Tulsi is getting enthusiastic crowds on the trail. Could her “ground game” still offer us some hope even if the media chooses to carp and ignore?

      And her appeal is not a big mystery. She’s a charismatic politician who seems real rather than focus grouped.

    2. JohnnyGL

      “Many high-level Democrats I spoke with for this story, who insisted on anonymity to share their true feelings about her”

      As soon as I saw that snippet from your comment, I knew had to brace myself….

      I believe Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Grim have been heavily critical of beltway journalists casually granting their favorite insiders anonymity so they get license to launch all the lies and smears they really want to unleash but can’t be seen to do so in public, because it would reflect very badly on them.

      If you want to criticize someone, you should be willing to go on record to do it. And you should be prepared to take the heat in response. It’s very cowardly to do this sort of thing anonymously.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        If you want to criticize someone, you should be willing to go on record to do it. And you should be prepared to take the heat in response. It’s very cowardly to do this sort of thing anonymously.

        Why are you treating a hack job like it is doing any other work? Why assume a shred of decency when none is to be suspected?

  21. marku52

    Well Froma Harrop is not wrong. Nominating Biden will certainly end any enthusiasm I have for Voting D in the general. I suspect I will write in “The Reanimated Corpse of Idi Amin” instead.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      That’s The Reanimated Corpse of His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular to us mere mortals!

      And might I say….an excellent idea.

      1. JBird4049

        Oh, how about Bubba Ho-Tep? If I see Biden’s name anywhere… Seriously, or maybe Cthulhu or Nyarlathotep.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      If Catfood Joe is nominated, why not write in Sanders instead?

      Indeed, if Catfood Joe or Catfood Whomever is DemParty nominated, perhaps the organized SanderBacker community-movement could do some research on how, in each one of the fifty states, the name of Sanders could be written in in such a way that it would have to be legally counted? Every state’s ballot-design engineers will try to insist that only the most obscure possible name for Senator Sanders will be considered “write-in legal” in order to get most write-ins discarded for not conforming to whatever bizarre and mystical name is invented as being the only “ballot-legal” way to write Sanders in.

      But if the SanderBacker Movement could discover the 50 Secret Names of Sanders on the 50 Statewide Ballots, the SanderBackers could make every SanderSeeker in every state fully aware of just exactly how to write in the SanderName in their own particular state.

      1. inode_buddha

        It is my fervent hope the Sanders campaign does write in both the primaries and the general, in such huge numbers that it cannot be ignored nor manipulated away. This will require precisely the ground game and organization that he already has. Overwhelming landslide by write-in, such that his numbers are larger than the others combined. I know what I’m going to do on election day.

        1. marym

          If Sanders isn’t the nominee he’s unlikely to do anything that would jeopardize the election in favor of Trump. A grassroots write-in effort, without his actual participation, would be impossible in most states.

          A total of 33 states require a write-in presidential candidate to file some paperwork in advance of an election. In nine states, write-in voting for presidential candidates is not permitted. The remaining states do not require presidential write-in candidates to file special paperwork before the election.

          Some states bar candidates who sought and failed to secure the nomination of a political party from running as independents in the general election. Ballot access expert Richard Winger has noted that, generally speaking, “sore loser laws have been construed not to apply to presidential primaries.”… According to Winger, 45 states have sore loser laws on the books, but in 43 of these states the laws do not seem to apply to presidential candidates. Sore loser laws apply to presidential candidates in only two states: South Dakota and Texas.


      2. Elizabeth Burton

        Unfortunately, in 21 states the candidate has to officially apply for write-in status. So, Bernie’s a no-go there unless he takes that Indivisible Pledge he signed for the worthless sheet of Charmin it is.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Looks interesting, saved for when it is not too late. When I was English Majoring in the 80s, postmodernism was a descriptive for how the signifier was losing all moorings to the signified. As a result I find people treating Post! Modernism! like a conspiracy as similar to people who are chuffed that the Patent Office won’t do perpetual motion machines.

    2. Plenue

      About 90% of defending postmodernism is simply explaining what it actually is. Literally no one on the right, and some people on the left, seems to get it. The basic point of it is about subjective perspective, and especially how accepted narratives that are deemed to be objective are themselves just an opinion backed up by power. None of which is to say that an objective reality for human events doesn’t exist, and especially it doesn’t claim that a physical reality outside human heads doesn’t exist. Sometimes I see people ranting about how ‘postmodernism thinks gravity is just an opinion!’, but I’m pretty sure literally no postmodernist thinker ever said any such thing.

      My experience withy people who actually know and use stuff like critical theory is that they very much do actually care about things like facts and evidence. Some of what they do I haven’t figured out (I genuinely don’t understand what queer theory is supposed to do or how it’s useful, for example), but a lot of their analysis is coherent.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Queer theory is useful as a Stalinist loyalty test. The power-seeking Social Justice Warrior cult leaders demand your total Jonestown obedience to their thoughts and wishes. If you are not willing to use their Queer theory language in exactly the way they speak it, they will mark you for destruction lest you give their cult-members ideas of escape from their SJW cult.

        1. Plenue

          …you don’t even know what queer theory is. It’s a model for examining texts. I just don’t see how it’s useful.

      2. paintedjaguar

        I understand the argument. However I’m still of the opinion that someone who uses jargon like “My Truth” is essentially just a grifter.

    1. JohnnyGL

      A bond market rout in treasuries or in govt bonds across the world wouldn’t be a big deal. We’ve had big moves in recent years and not a lot of damage was done.

      In private credit markets, that’s a different matter, entirely.

  22. John k

    Evolution of the rep lion…
    Reps have lost in the past because they wouldn’t stoop to woo flyover.
    He won the rep nom because he said things that resonated with the rep base, like the Iraq war was a disaster, globalism is the problem, and Tpp is another trade mistake.
    She lost the election because she would neither stoop or concede any neolib policy was a mistake… plus public policies vs private ones whispered to banks.
    So he has a feel for what both bases want… but like most pols is constrained by commitments to his donors.
    If downturn happens in 2020 he knows he has a secret weapon, he can support ,m4a, particularly effective if either Biden or warren gets nom since they both oppose…both capitalists to their bones…. a natural pair…
    voters know he can deliver if he means it, dems couldn’t oppose if he proposes… granted not a given he means it. Bear in mind he doesn’t feel constrained by the deficit.

  23. JBird4049

    I don’t particularly like Warren because she is capitalist, but the PTB really wouldn’t like her because she appears to not only say, but does believe in the rule of law, and is is willing to back its enforcement, complete with actually punishment, perhaps even prison time, on everyone including the upper classes.

    Warren appears to be a true conservative while most American politicians and business types labeled as conservatives/libertarians want to make conservatism a synonym for corruption. In the broadest sense, being conservative means saving what should be conserved, the best or most important of what we have and being a liberal/leftist means changing what needs to be changed for the better. I am seeing very little of either in our country. I am seeing the labels being used to wheel, deal, and steal.

  24. ewmayer

    “Systematic quantitative analyses reveal the folk-zoological knowledge embedded in folktales” [Archiv.org] • Read Beatrix Potter from this perspective. She’s brutal! — By way of an antidote to the neoliberal-esque meme of predator/prey and eternal competition, I offer a classic folk tale about a group of disparate animals cooperating in order to improve their lot: The Town Musicians of Bremen (German: Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten.)

    1. dk

      I thought it amusing that they used NLP for the analysis, because if only humans read the stuff nobody takes their conclusions and insights seriously.

  25. Summer

    Addiction and Poverty, Dignity and Friendship: An Interview with Chris Arnade” (interview) [The Fix]. Arnade: “People are resilient…”

    Guess we’ll find out about 5 years or so from now when Arnade does a follow up?

  26. Camp Lo

    America’s seniors are puzzling to me, but they did witness first-hand the most educated bourgeoisie class in history proletariat-ize itself, thereby losing privilege and political power, while expecting to lose neither. One could take Sander’s 1% talk as literal, but then you have to explain how a hedonistic class outnumbered 99-to-1 bucked historical materialism [despite labor giving one considerable strength, literally] and wrecked the place without the 99%’s consent, or at least their indifference. Other historical down-trodden groups with significantly lesser odds managed to emancipate themselves, so why not America, why not Sanders, and why not now?

    Then it hits me: human beings thrive under the conditions that morality condemns. War, inequality, theft, debt slavery, these environments invigorate on a biological level. Survival instinct trumps solidarity at every turn. Under stress of unanticipated danger and unpredictable environs is the only mindset in which humans can work-out solutions. Hence, MAGA fever. You can observe it in the wild. Lesson in that.

  27. Plenue

    From today’s link post, I must say I got a hell of a laugh out of the CounterPunch article about how Biden is imploding and the nominee is going to be either Warren or Sanders, and how Sanders is the much better candidate. This right across from an ad for CounterPunch’s smug book denouncing Sanders and his ‘failed’ revolution.

  28. Carey

    Between the piece smearing Gabbard at the Atlantic, and the gaslighting
    in the Froma Harrop thing requiring the proles to go all-in for Biden,
    I’d say Our Elites have had about enough of the pesky commoners.

    Next year’s Democrat Convention will be interesting.

  29. Flowergirl58

    I think the “Old People Don’t like Sanders” meme is just another of the thousand cuts strategy that the Establishment Dims and their like minded supporters are putting out to undermine his candidacy. Similar to how they went on and on in 2016 saying “Women Don’t Like Sanders”. I am 61 and female. I have supported Bernie Sanders since there was a possibility of him running in 2016. I donated funds, phone banked and knocked on doors for him in 2016. My husband did too. He’s 70. We attended several of his rallies. His supporters are from groups of all ages, genders & races from my real world observations. Since 2016 everyone should know that most polls support the status quo and should be looked at with real skepticism. TPTB are terrified and will do and say anything they can think of to try and stop Bernie Sanders. (Kitchen sink, anyone?) Most of his Democratic rivals are at least giving lip service to his policy positions. He’s already winning like the Hare, slowly but surely. His supporters are Democrats, Independents & even some Republicans. Even with the very limited media coverage that was allowed for Sanders in 2016, the only way they did stop him then was by stealing the Primary with numerous dirty tricks & lies. (I would add some links, but it’s not that hard to find the info if you look.) Sanders/Gabbard 2020

  30. barrisj

    From al-Monitor’s ME Lobbyist Update newsletter:

    2020 watch ?
    Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, hosted a fundraiser for Vice President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign on Thursday. Rosen told Jewish Insider he had warned Biden against automatically re-entering the Iran nuclear deal, stating that President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign against Tehran “might provide an opportunity to improve the deal” in 2021. Biden has previously voiced support for re-entering the deal but appeared more equivocal at the fundraiser, reportedly telling attendees he would “pull back together the international community” to revive key tenants of the accord. Rosen also told Jewish Insider he thought Biden would be more supportive of Israel than Obama, pointing to his longtime friendship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
    That’s all that is needed now — yet another “Friend of Israel/Netanyahu” taking the helm…Biden lining up trad. centrist support, and trying to show the donor class that he can “out-Israel” even Trump.

    1. Shane Mage

      “Nous allons écouter les merles…siffler” (Th. Gautier, “Villanelle:” set by Berlioz in “Les Nuits d’Eté”)

  31. VietnamVet

    In a past life, a decade ago, I dealt with Federal Regulations. Boeing, Airlines, FAA and EASA are obfuscating. I think what is going on is a replay of the PG&E “Cat and Mouse Game” in California. With fees for service, Regulators’ jobs are just as dependent on the fortune of the industry as pilots. No one wants to scare the customer or let the secret out that life for the public is getting incrementally much more dangerous, across the board, in order to increase shareholder value and pump executive bonuses. I am pretty sure that FAA regulations require at a minimum of three attitude sensors. Boeing is proposing only two. The flight control system on the 737 is maxed out. Adding a third sensor like a gyroscope means a complete redesign. Leading to the stalemate how to deal with it. But, in fact, to avoid killing more people in the future; executives of both Boeing and PG&E must be jailed for manslaughter as a deterrent to force the Elite to start behaving morally and in accordance to the law.

    1. RMO

      An angle of attack sensor is not an attitude sensor – they are very different things. The MAX came with two AOA sensors from the start but the MCAS by default only used one leading to a damaged AOA sensor causing it to overrun the trim and cause the crashes.

      Even if the EASA approves the proposed changes to the MAX and determine that flight characteristics with the MCAS non-functional Boeing will still have a big problem in that they sold the aircraft on the assurance that it would not require expensive type transition training – something which would be required if it’s approved for flight again under the EASA’s conditions.

      Bet they regret dropping the 757 now.

  32. richard

    If i can give just a word from the 2nd grade front, in political news that stunned onlookers, the children in room 107 voted to name their class the rocket turtles. Their secretly delighted teacher, who never once mentioned the name gamera or even anything to do with turtles, his hand to god, was also bankrupted, as he had bet heavily on a wolf-dragon, ninja-dragon, cat-dragon trifecta, that finished place show out of the money.
    After the unlikely victory (a straw pool that many secret experts believe presages a Sanders victory in Iowa), the teacher baffled his students with his perfect gamera impression, spinning in space, and I swear to god none of the little %$#^&@ had ever heard about him.

  33. Wukchumni

    A hiking buddy has been a 7th grade science teacher for around 25 years, and he’s a bit of a saint in lasting that long with newly minted teenagers, as far as i’m concerned…

    His latest missive:

    “I’m back at teaching. We’re in the middle of our third week. I’ll see if I finish the year. Everything from last year has gotten worse. I have a meeting with the retirement system in late Sept, but I’ve met with them previously. So I don’t know what new info they can give me.

    There’s really nothing going on. My student load is up about 55%, and our prep time is down 20% or so. That means we’re all taking work home. Long, complicated story, but it’s not fun at all. I’ll see what the outcome becomes.

    And my school situation is getting worse by the day. It’s now gotten to the point where people are just disenchanted, dissatisfied all the time. People are sort of dragging around instead of wanting to be there, and do their job well.”

    1. Whoa

      Assuming your friend is in California.

      Tell your friend to meet often with retirement people, and keep asking “how much will retirement be?” Continue asking until they give same answer two meetings in a row.

      If you dont do this, When first check arrives the actual number may be quite different than one calculated by the benefit counselor. Nothing you can do at that point.

      Also, ask about inflation protection.

      Also Ask what he/she can do now to increase number.

  34. Wukchumni

    This absurd Presidency greatly reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life” with an ad hoc Anthony Fremont, who rules by an odd terror, where truth is wished into the scornfield.

    NOAA being the latest to kowtow to his lies, wouldn’t want to upset him.

  35. Wukchumni

    53 years ago, arguably the best starting rotation in MLB history: Sandy Koufax & Don Drysdale, both held out each for a $500k 3 year deal (no pro athletes ever got more than a 1 year contract, what if they got hurt and couldn’t play?) but no dice.

    Koufax inked a 1 year deal for $125k, and Drysdale signed for $110k for the same duration.

    Fast forward to today, and Antonio Brown just walked away from $30 million, but don’t fret for him, as he’s guaranteed for $20 million he got for signing on with the Raiders.

    We’ve gone from one extreme, to the other.

  36. Carey

    ‘Former Boeing official subpoenaed in 737 MAX probe won’t turn over documents, citing Fifth Amendment protection’:

    “..Mark Forkner, Boeing’s chief technical pilot [!] on the MAX project, invoked the privilege in response to a grand jury subpoena issued by U.S. Justice Department prosecutors looking into the design and certification of the plane, the person said..”


  37. ewmayer

    AP again caught spreading fake news – over on today’s (9/7) Links:

    “Iran injects gas into advanced centrifuges, violating deal | AP”

    So what “deal” are the AP propagandists talking about? From the article itself, bolds mine to help the digital-ink-stained wretches at AP out:

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran on Saturday said it now uses arrays of advanced centrifuges prohibited by its 2015 nuclear deal and can enrich uranium “much more beyond” current levels to weapons-grade material, taking a third step away from the accord while warning Europe has little time to offer it new terms.

    While insisting Iran doesn’t seek a nuclear weapon, the comments by Behrouz Kamalvandi of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran threatened pushing uranium enrichment far beyond levels ever reached in the country. Prior to the atomic deal, Iran only reached up to 20%, which itself still is only a short technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%.

    The move threatened to push tensions between Iran and the U.S. even higher more than a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal and imposed sanctions now crushing Iran’s economy.

    Hey, AP, see that bit about the US president having unilaterally withdrawn America from the nuclear deal? You know what that means? That means THERE IS NO LONGER ANY DEAL, because the US has once again acted in bad faith and demonstrated its agreement-incapability. Ergo, nothing Iran does can “violate the deal”. Seriously, this is contract law 101 stuff, to say nothing about basic principles of logical inference.

    1. Acacia

      Indeed. It’s the ‘disinformation with plausible deniability’ effect. The title (for the many who just browse titles) contains the propaganda claim, while the article content contains the crucial information (for the few, genuinely attentive readers) that provides the cover.

  38. duh

    As regards the 2020 election, where in the hell are the demands for Age Discrimination policies with actual razor sharp teeth????? Particularly when those ages considered as hirable with livable wage pay have been getting insanely younger and younger, and more and more under retirement age persons are ending up homeless as a consequence? And I am not at all talking about only those with no college degree(s) or professional credentials.

    Females have been particularly brutalized by this agism, especially since: many put off work to care for children and elders; a vast majority of them have alway/and still made/make less than a males dollar (if they could get hired) and have always been considered over the hill at a far, far younger age than males in those professions which pay a livable wage.

    No small wonder the suicide rates have skyrocketed. No one wants to live out of their car, or on cement and defecate on a lawn, cement, or in a dark back alley.

    Even for the amoral – who are only concerned with dollars and cents – this is insane social and fiscal policy.

    Why is this not a major discussion?

    I won’t vote for anyone who does not highlight this TRAGIC reality, particularly someone way, way older than I, running for office; or (equally) younger than I, running for office.

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