2:00PM Water Cooler 10/11/2019

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Lambert here, repeating what I said yesterday: I want to put in a plug to pick up the pace on Original Reporting. Up to this point we have, as it were, funded the tour bus, the venues, the roadies, and the rhythm section. All those are essential! But Original Reporting is the lead guitarist and the singer! So please turn the knobs up to 11 and participate in the Harry Shearer “Double Your Donation” Challenge:

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“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

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Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart. Here is (are) the latest Dem Primary Polling as of 10/11/2019, 12:00 PM EDT:

Undecideds down, everybody else up, including the undisputed leader, Joe Biden. I’m starting to think that the “This time for sure!” dynamic applies to Biden as well as Trump.

Still waiting for the impact of Sanders heart attack. If there are no shifts by the end of the week, I’d say Sanders, er, dodges a bullet (though the impact may be to set a ceiling on his support). Ditto for Warren’s various difficulties with oppo (which I think will affect her in the general anyhow, not the primary). And here are the poll results:

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.”

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Biden (D)(1):

You say “round the clock sex” like that’s a bad thing.

Trump (R)(1): “Trump attacks Bidens in personal and coarse terms at Minnesota rally” [WaPo]. • You mean “coarse” like the pee tape?

Warren (D)(1): “Warren’s Plan to Spurn Big Money Donors Has a Catch” [The New Republic]. “In an interview with CBS News, Warren was asked if she would commit to forgoing fundraising events ‘no matter how much money Donald Trump is raising,’ and she affirmed that she would: ‘Yeah, I’m not going to do the big-dollar fund-raisers. I’m just not going to do it. The whole notion behind this campaign is that we can build this together.”… Hours later, the Warren campaign rowed back that statement, telling NBC News that Warren would ‘continue to raise money and attend events that are open to the press’ for the Democratic Party itself…. The distinction between raising money for her own campaign and raising it for the DNC is not as significant as her campaign makes it out to be. In 2016, the Hillary Clinton campaign raised millions for the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee with the DNC and state parties, though most of that money ended up back in the national DNC’s hands. Politico reported at the time that this setup allowed Clinton to ‘solicit checks of $350,000 or more from her super-rich supporters at extravagant fundraisers.'” • Surely the Warren campaign is well aware of this, since many of them come from the Clinton campaign. Concluding: “Warren’s decision to placate and enmesh herself in these institutions is an indication that she has less interest in revolutionizing the party than in working within its creaky machinery to attain power. But we knew this already.” Yep.

Warren (D)(2): “Elizabeth Warren Information” [Thoughts from Polly’s Granddaughter]. • Quite a bill of particulars, from a Cherokee Nation geneologist.

* * *

“Winning the senior vote for Bernie with Letters to the Editor” [Alice Marshall, Medium]. “Letters to the Editor are the most widely read section of any newspaper, so this is a good place to get our message out. Seniors still get their news from newspapers. The best chance to get your letter printed is to related it to a specific article in the newspaper. Monitor your community newspaper for any articles concerning senior citizens, whether it be housing, healthcare, consumer fraud, or any other story about seniors. Then look at Bernie’s legislature proposals for something that address that issue. I have created a Google Doc spreadsheet of Bernie’s proposed legislation to assist with research. If we all get busy we can get the message out. DO relate your letter to a specific article, newspapers like to confine letters to actual readers.” • I can testify to the effectiveness of Letters to the Editor in our fight against the landfill.


“Chris Hedges on Impeachment, Plus Matt’s Take on Whistleblowers” (podcast) [Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper, Useful Idiots]. • This is a very good podcast, and the interplay between Taibbi and Halper is great. Apparently, Taibbi has gotten some pushback from the usual suspects — I wouldn’t go so far as to say that all of them are intelligence community-adjacent, unlike, say, Moby or Ellen DeGeneres — using the usual techniques of character assassination (from, e.g., Adam Serwer: “The column makes a strong case that the whistle-blower is not punk enough for Taibbi.” An intelligence analyst who worked for Joe Biden and leaked a memo to screaming applause from liberal Democrats, the intelligence community, and their assets in the press just isn’t in the same league as Snowden, Manning, Assange, Drake, or Kiriakou. Spending time in solitary is for “punks”? Dude. Who’s the punk, here? There’s also the argument that real whistleblowers go through channels. Holy Lord. Here are the views of a former spook, if there is such a thing:

Realignment and Legitimacy


This is “looking forward and not back” with a vengeance. Quite literallly.

“Professional-Managerial Chasm” [n+1]. Very good potted history of thinking on the PMC/10% (as anatomized by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). “[S]ocial classes are historical phenomena. They cannot be properly understood as clusters in the income distribution or even as groups of people: they are only comprehensible as social relations first—there is no labor without capital or capital without labor; and second as the constantly changing pattern among those relations. Classes are, in other words, not categories, but processes.

“5 things that went wrong in election” [Cincinnatti Enquirer]. • Another electronic voting debacle. 2020 is gonna be great.

“Twitter Refuses to Verify Credible 2020 Primary Challengers” [The Intercept]. “Twitter’s government relations team has been telling candidates seeking verification that they won’t be giving any new contenders a blue check mark until after they win the state’s primary…. Verification can increase a candidate’s visibility and reach online among journalists, ordinary voters, and potential volunteers and donors. A lively social media presence alone certainly won’t win an election, but the ability to look credible online is an undeniable material advantage. And, for aspiring politicians targeted by trolls, being verified means their accounts are more protected.”

Stats Watch

Consumer Sentiment, October 2019 (Preliminary): “Consumer sentiment bounced sharply higher in October, to… easily exceed Econoday’s consensus range” [Econoday]. “Also of note is that consumers see higher income gains at the same time that they see inflation on the decline, a combination that points to gains for real income where expectations are now at a two decade high…. Despite the headline gain for the index, sentiment is still below where it was in July and well below its peak in May… which was about when US trade tensions with China, among others, began to escalate.”

Import and Export Prices, September 2019: “A swing higher for oil-related products boosted import prices to a stronger-than-expected… monthly rise” [Econoday].

“Today’s report offers its indirect confirmation that global cross-border trade as a whole is flat if not in contraction.”

Tech: “How my iPhone landed me with a £476 fine and made me a criminal” [Financial Times]. • This is brilliant, a must-read: “It all started one October afternoon last year, when a bus inspector asked to see my £1.50 ticket. I had tapped into the bus with my iPhone using Apple Pay, but alas, in the five minutes since I’d boarded, my phone had run out of juice, so I had no means of proving that I had paid. The inspector took my details and I didn’t think much more about it.” Time passes: “[A] few days later, I received a letter telling me that my case had been heard in a magistrates’ court, that I had been found guilty, and I owed £476.50.” • And it goes on. Of course, in America, they’d crapify the system even further, and then somebody would come up with the idea of selling insurance for e-payment failures…

Tech: “Is My Phone Listening in? On the Feasibility and Detectability of Mobile Eavesdropping” [Jacob Leon Kröger and Philip Raschke, IFIP Annual Conference on Data and Applications Security and Privacy]. From the abstract: “Based on previous research and our own analysis, we challenge the widespread assumption that the spying fears have already been disproved. While confirming a lack of empirical evidence, we cannot rule out the possibility of sophisticated large-scale eavesdropping attacks being successful and remaining undetected. Taking into account existing access control mechanisms, detection methods, and other technical aspects, we point out remaining vulnerabilities and research gaps.”

Tech: “Virtual Reality Is Still Failing Half of the World’s Population” [OneZero]. “As I strapped on a VR headset, I was transported to a warehouse, where a sex party was ramping up all around me…. Lust’s film was dynamic and exciting, a sumptuous buffet of erotic action. But shortly into the presentation, I started to feel sick. The nausea I felt wasn’t inspired by the content — Lust’s 360° of Lust is a beautifully crafted experiment in immersive sexual media. My reaction was a run of the mill episode of motion sickness, a nasty side effect of VR immersion that’s significantly more common for women than for men. As I grappled with my low-level nausea, it struck me that Lust’s latest project represented an interesting feminist challenge. Since its earliest days, the porn industry has been seen as the domain of men. Though it’s still in its nascent stages, the VR space is currently dominated by the same demographic. A report from 2017 found that a full 95% of HTC Vive users were men; although other headsets attracted more female users, non-Vive headset users were still 87% male. What does it mean to create something appealing to women using a film genre they’re presumed to dislike and technology thought to make them sick — and what might the process of overcoming those barriers teach us about the biases that shape our media landscape?”

Manufacturing: “Aviation experts blast FAA over 737 MAX redesign approval: report” [Agence France Presse]. “The Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR) was put together in March after a 737 MAX run by Ethiopian Airlines crashed, killing all 157 onboard… The FAA came in for harsh criticism from the JATR, which said there was ‘an inadequate number of FAA specialists’ in place to oversee a new design of the 737 MAX and they ‘had inadequate awareness’ of the system implicated in the crashes…. Their damning 69-page report also found that Boeing had put pressure on some of its staff who had FAA authority to approve the updated designs. The JATR panel included members of the FAA as well as NASA and other regulators from around the world.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 Fear (previous close: 36, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 32 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 11 at 12:31pm. As OregonCharles has pointed out, the wild swings seem to be getting more frequent.

The Biosphere

“Russian scientists find ‘most powerful’ ever methane seep in Arctic Ocean” [The Telegraph], “A research expedition from the Tomsk polytechnic university found the seep, as methane leaks are known, east of Bennett Island in the East Siberian Sea, where its violent bubbles seemed to make the water “boil” over an area of 50 square feet…. ‘This is the most powerful seep I have ever been able to observe,’ lead scientist Igor Semiletov, who has participated in 45 Arctic expeditions, said in a statement this week. ‘No one has ever recorded anything similar.’ Mr Semiletov warned last month that the sudden release of gases from underwater permafrost could harm oil and gas infrastructure. ‘If we don’t take into account research results about the condition of underwater permafrost, geological catastrophes similar to the (Deepwater Horizon) accident in the Gulf of Mexico could occur during exploratory and commercial activities, which would cause irreparable damage,’ he said.” • So leave it in the ground?

“Sutter, Kaiser among hospitals hit by Northern California blackouts” [Health Care Dive]. “Hospitals across the country are required to prepare for emergencies such as natural disasters. They are expected to develop preparedness plans and conduct drills and exercises to test those plans. These revamped laws came in the wake of Hurricane Katrina… Several inpatient facilities on Wednesday and Thursday were forced to use backup generators (which are required by both state and federal law) to continue operating. Many had to reschedule elective procedures. Several outpatient clinics were temporarily closed. Sutter Health, which operates hospitals in both the Bay Area and Sacramento, appeared to be the most affected. Spokesperson Amy Thoma Tan said four of its hospitals – in Amador, Auburn, Santa Rosa and Lakeside – had to resort to backup power, while an unknown number of procedures had to be rescheduled.”

“This Interactive Map Shows Fall Foliage Predictions Across the U.S.” [Smithsonian] (map here; it takes a few seconds to load). “the team analyzed millions of data points collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as other private and public organizations. Dalbey writes that the researchers refine their predictive algorithm every year (this is the sixth annual iteration of the map), building on sources such as historical and forecasted temperatures, leaf peak trends, and peak observation trends to produce the final product…. Last year, a significant delay in fall colors’ Midwest debut led the leaf-spotting Foliage Network to deem the season ‘bizarre.’ According to City Lab’s Linda Poon, 2018 was the first time the group recorded almost no color change by the second half of October; when the leaves finally did change, green and brown appeared more often than vibrant orange and red. Experts say fall foliage is running similarly behind schedule in 2019. As Weather.com’s Brian Donegan reports, above-average September temperatures have delayed the timing of peak foliage by about a week.” • I hope this mao isn’t too late; my hidden agenda is for readers to send in pictures!

“A food to farm as climate changes: elderberries” [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (!)]. “Ancient plant species might hold important clues about which crops will survive in a harsher climate. With that in mind, [Katie Fyhrie, a grower at Cloverleaf Farm] and her team have started growing elderberries. An indigo pearl-sized fruit that grows on a big bushy plant, the elderberry is relatively unknown in the United States; the majority of the commercial market comes from an imported European variety. But Native American communities have been using a Western elderberry subspecies for centuries. The elderberry that’s native to California grows remarkably well in drought conditions. After a couple of years, you can completely remove irrigation and the plant will keep producing. This last season, Cloverleaf harvested 130 pounds of berries from each of its most mature trees, none of which are irrigated. ‘That is a huge deal that we’re getting berries that are good for you, really versatile for a lot of products, and that require no additional fertilizer or water,’ Fyhrie says. Elderberries are just one of ‘many hardy ancient foods and crops that may be a poised to make a twenty-first century comeback,’ as Amanda Little puts it in her recent book The Fate of Food: What We’ll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World.”

Health Care

“As Medicaid work requirements cost taxpayers $408M, government watchdog calls for more oversight” [Health Care Dive]. “Implementing controversial work requirements in five states cost taxpayers nearly $408 million, according to a government watchdog report analyzing administrative costs over a three-year period.

The Government Accountability Office raised concerns about a lack of oversight regarding the administrative costs. The report warns some of the costs may not be allowable under CMS guidance. In one case, the costs in question have already amounted to tens of millions of dollars. ”

Class Warfare

“Are the trades really the economy’s best kept secret?” [The Week]. “We tend to assume that high pay is a sign of a labor shortage — demand for workers outpacing supply to a greater degree. But while those forces matter, labor markets are rarely ‘markets’ in the technical way economists mean. They’re social institutions, structured by laws and contracts and the bargaining power of the players involved. According to [Dale Belman, a Michigan State University], the significant labor shortages in the trades actually tend to happen in the non-unionized regions with lower pay: ‘There’s a belt of labor shortages running from North Carolina across to Texas,’ Belman said. ‘That’s also a heavily non-union area with particularly low wages and a lack of effective training systems. So they neither have the ability to train, nor are the jobs conducive to bringing in workers — because there’s a lot of traveling in construction.'”

“A back-row seat” (interview) [Chris Arnade, World Magazine]. “I’m not religious, but the secular shift has not worked. And I don’t just see religion as having a utility. I learned through this project that maybe religion is just as right as sciences. Maybe my privilege and the privilege of a lot of people like me is obscuring the evidence for religion. We’ve removed ourselves so much from the messiness of life that we don’t see the evidence for faith as being true. I’m on unsolid ground here because I’m speaking about theology, but for me religion is about being humble. One of the things that comes with privilege is hubris. So in some sense, you’re removed from the humility that allows you to understand other things greater than we can understand.” • I hope religion isn’t a requirement for humility, but I see Arnade’s point.

News of the Wired

“Why deep-learning AIs are so easy to fool” [Nature]. “[It is easy] to break the leading pattern-recognition technology in AI, known as deep neural networks (DNNs)…. In their efforts to work out what’s going wrong, researchers have discovered a lot about why DNNs fail. ‘There are no fixes for the fundamental brittleness of deep neural networks,’ argues François Chollet, an AI engineer at Google in Mountain View, California. To move beyond the flaws, he and others say, researchers need to augment pattern-matching DNNs with extra abilities: for instance, making AIs that can explore the world for themselves, write their own code and retain memories. These kinds of system will, some experts think, form the story of the coming decade in AI research.” • Oh, great. The answer to poor algos is self-modifying code. What could go wrong?

“Why Everything Is Getting Louder” [The Atlantic]. “Noise is never just about sound; it is inseparable from issues of power and powerlessness. It is a violation we can’t control and to which, because of our anatomy, we cannot close ourselves off. ‘We have all thought of killing our neighbors at some point,’ a soft-spoken scientist researching noise abatement told me.” • Correct. Noise when I am trying to work or sleep is one of the very few things that can send me into a rage. It’s why I love the Quiet Car! This is an excellent article (and the story hook is a hum that turns out to be from “chillers” at a ginormous data center).

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 and coral 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 (TBH):

TH writes: “A little patch of bamboo goes a long way for a nice shade umbrella.”

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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. doug

    re: missing links. Turns out for me, it was duck duck go ‘privacy extension’ that was making some materials not show up. So check that if you have that issue.

  2. Lee

    Biden reminds me of an old quip: “If he had a brain, he’d take it out and play with it.” C’mon people, who can really take this guy seriously?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I wish I could formulate the Biden equivalent of “take him seriously but not literally.” He’s been like this for years, and, admirably in a perverse way, he’s giving zero f*cks about changing. Is that what his supporters — who, as we keep seeing in the polling, are significant — really like about him?

      1. Watt4Bob

        He’s been like this for years, and, admirably in a perverse way, he’s giving zero f*cks about changing.

        Does it strike anyone else as weird that the same thing is said about Trump, and his supporters?

        Looking back on Biden’s disgusting oil slick, the stuff sticks out like a sore thumb, but back then it was glossed over because we were still excusing hubris, boorish behavior, and sexist language and attitudes as minor faults in our politicians.

        So jump forward to today, Trumps gets dog-piled for being an a**hole, while Biden gets a pass because of some sort of grandfather-clause?

        1. Titus

          There’s trump, Biden, and their ‘supporters’, I think trying to comparing them, in anyway similar just doesn’t work. The basic premise is false.

          1. Watt4Bob

            I’m pointing out that Trumps supporters don’t care that he’s an a**.

            And that Biden supporters don’t care that he’s an a**.

            I’d say it’s clear as can be.

          2. Carey

            >So jump forward to today, Trumps gets dog-piled for being an a**hole, while Biden gets a pass because of some sort of grandfather-clause?

            Excellent question, and I’m interested in the response that “..the basic premise is false.”

            In what way? IOW, Biden gets a free pass as a made man; Trump!, doesn’t.


            In what way is the premise false?

          3. Massinissa

            Explain why the premise is false? Because Trump supporters are ‘deplorables’ and Biden supporters aren’t, or something?

        2. Bugs Bunny

          If Biden were as nuts as Trump I’d be more likely to support him. As it is, he comes off as drugged.

          1. Librarian Guy

            He’s drugged with complacency and privilege. Maybe with Rx meds as well, but that seems to be the overall distortion in his thinking.

      2. Lee

        I recently heard a black journalist pundit (I can’t recall who) state that many black voters try to figure out which Democrat candidates are likely to appeal to white voters and throw their support behind them. That inclination in favor of the safest possible bet is currently shared by a significant portion of Democrat voters at the moment. Such is the hair-on-fire fear and loathing of Trump that has been generated. Here’s hoping for an upwelling of a spirit of adventure among the electorate.

      3. Titus

        Hmm, as to the ‘the situation is hopeless and serious’ (Henry Mencken). Although, with Trump going full on mental (I am sensitive to this issue, however, if morality is doing others harm to others, trump needs to removed & treated), I do believe this provides for greater chances for others than Biden.

      4. Art Vandalay

        It’s almost, “if you listen to him literally, it’s impossible to take him seriously.” I listened to a bit more of the LGBTQ town hall. Somehow Biden manages to be offensive while simultaneously incoherent. That’s a tough combination to pull off. His poll resilience is dispiriting indeed. With the recent reappearance of Her Majesty, I have begun to fear the brokered convention/It’s Her Turn scenario is more than a paranoid dream. Next thing you know Tim Kaine will be pulled out of storage.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Your namesake has a better shot of being nominated than Tim Kaine getting a pledged delegate. The doofus like so many VP candidates was put there to make the nominee seem more lifelike and competent.

    2. Tom Stone

      Lee, I think Biden should reach across the aisle and choose a female running mate, Gina Haspel would be ideal.

      1. Massinissa

        A CIA spook as VP would be perfect. Then Biden can have a heart attack and the CIA can literally run the country.

        And according to polls, Liberals would be ok with that!

    1. notabanker

      She was on Useful Idiots podcast with Taibbi and Halper. It was a really good listen.

      There’s a narrative emerging that the US MSM media is not intentionally biased in a nefarious way, but that way because the system naturally selects people that have the inherent bias in them. Basically and extension of idpol, and a premise that people are incapable of independent thought. She is in this camp.

      I call BS. The media is infested with US intelligence, it is by design, it is nefarious and they are an extension of the billionaire elite. This new narrative is just stringing along the status quo because the bias is so obvious it has to have a rationalization. To me, it is interesting just that Taibbi and Halper call it out as a subject on multiple occasions during an hour long podcast. We’ve gone beyond recognizing that the media is feeding us nonsense, now we are debating whether it is nefarious or not? Like it matters that manipulation and flat out lying is not intentional?

      But seriously folks…. it was a good listen.

    1. HotFlash

      Thank you, Lambert, for the exotic vocabulary. I believe this is the first time I have seen ‘orts’ used outside a crossword puzzle.

  3. a different chris

    > ‘There are no fixes for the fundamental brittleness of deep neural networks,’ argues François Chollet,

    Yup. And after that so-obvious-even-bright-people-might-get-it statement, he shows his credentials by proposing….. a fix. Banging head now.

    I keep saying: the scariest thing about pattern recognition in all its machine forms is not that it will work very well. Not at all. It’s that it will work badly and be treated as godlike. Kafka wouldn’t have imagined the world we are going to be subjected once this (family blog) gets really going.

    1. Titus

      Kafka? Sure he would. On the other hand whenever I hear the word ‘future’, I immediate hear the phrase, climate chaos. Wonder where we’ll get all the engine to power all those deep learning servers. Wonder why we’ll need them.

  4. Tvc15

    Love that Spinal Tap scene and finally made a small donation to the blog that goes to 11 when others stop at 10.

    1. ChrisAtRU

      The Squad is very weak on foreign policy vis-a-vis US Imperialism and its horrendous and ever cascading effects.]



    2. pjay

      Yes, Rep. Omar. We certainly wouldn’t want to “reward” Russia and Iran for… what? Preventing the total destruction of Syria? Sorry, I meant “reward Russia, Iran, *and ISIS*”! (the “axis of evil” in Syria, I guess).

      I’m afraid the “squad” is just another part of the Reality TV show. But it’s nice they care about our “commitments to our allies”.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s good, or a good practice, to be skeptical.

      I’m skeptical of myself, other skeptics, and (not an exceptional here) the squad as well, from the start.

      “I doubt myself, therefore I am…I think.”

      “Do I exist? I do, since I am skeptical of it.”

    4. Fern

      Amen. The squad has indeed been very disappointing when it comes to foreign policy.

      That plus the fact that Ocasio-Cortez has refused to endorse Bernie Sanders and has actually been signalling that she supports Elizabeth Warren by sidestepping all direct questions about whether she will endorse Sanders with generic comments about progressives that mention Warren’s name first.

        1. Librarian Guy

          Sad that the “Squad” are becoming political pros the longer they are in there . . . unsurprising, though. And yeah, the Clinton Cult killed any anti-Imperialism in the Dem party decades ago, so not too surprising the Newbs go along with our “kill the wogs, US is always the good guy” Elite consensus

          1. Carey

            Is it crazy to think that it might’ve started before they were “in there”?

            Ocasio-Cortez d. Crowley was a most interesting result.

      1. pretzelattack

        don’t like this. i want to vote for somebody who is an actual leftist. kowtowing on the foreign policy consensus is a high price to pay for some needed domestic reforms.

        1. Yves Smith

          How many wars do you think Sanders can fight at once?

          He’s already just about the only, if not the only, Dem candidate to have talked sympathetically about Palestinians.

          You can see what is happening to Trump, and it’s not because he’s corrupt. It’s because one of the few consistent ideas he expressed while campaigning was that the US can’t oppose both Russia and China at once, it’s too much to take on plus we make them allies, and the more logical country for us to normalize relations with is Russia. Plus he made noises about the wars in the Middle East. Even if those noises weren’t as consistent, it was clear he was not on board with the plan of the CIA/NSA/military types backing Hillary, who wanted hot war with Russia (Hillary’s “no fly zone” in Syria would have led to a hot war). It appears a lot of college tuition checks depended on that.

          1. pretzelattack

            this is the comment i was replying to

            Amen. The squad has indeed been very disappointing when it comes to foreign policy.

            That plus the fact that Ocasio-Cortez has refused to endorse Bernie Sanders and has actually been signalling that she supports Elizabeth Warren by sidestepping all direct questions about whether she will endorse Sanders with generic comments about progressives that mention Warren’s name first.

            but as far as bernie, by denying russiagate he wouldn’t be taking on any more wars. the politicans, political hacks and diehard centrists are still going to be in full anybody but bernie mode, because they have to get that voice out of the party. the soft coup is an attack on our core values, it is an attack on us, just as warren backtracking on medicare for all is an attack on us.

            the part that bothers me the most about bernie’s acceptance of this narrative is i think it is sincere, and that is more disturbing than a tactical move in a political contest.

            1. Yves Smith

              Apologies. I freed it from the backstage as opposed to seeing where it nested after being freed and I tracked it back to the wrong set of comments (I can “approve and reply” from the backstage).

              I agree that AOC has been disappointing of late. Looks like Pelosi showed her a horse’s head.

              However, AOC isn’t running for higher office nor is not on any foreign policy, intel, or security committees. This isn’t an area where she has a nexus.

      2. Massinissa

        If AOC supports Warren over Sanders she has lost ALL my respect.

        Its ok by me if she likes Warren. That’s fine. But OVER Sanders? Then shes a liberal and not a leftist…

    5. anon in so cal

      Some evidence suggests Squad members may not be who they appear at first glance.

      Did Rep Omar support the privatization of public housing?


      Is AOC’s record to the right of Crowley’s? or Pelosi’s?

      Did she take any classes from former CIA agents at Pardee? If yes, was she influenced by them?

      IDK, but AOC seems to toe a NeoCon line. (such as voting for Schiff’s H.R. 3494)

      1. Yves Smith

        Oh, come on. She played a very big role in keeping Amazon out of Queens.

        She has been coasting of late, DK if due to getting beating into line by Pelosi, who had leverage by virtue of AOC campaign violations.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          and isn’t this exactly where things like trump came from on the right?
          casting about for anyone “on our side” that we can actually trust and believe in…and finding that we simply cannot know?
          that we must instead rely on “faith”?
          the water is so damned muddy…on purpose…ontological confusion as governing policy.
          how utterly sad that Bernie is the only person on tv that i still trust to not have some underhanded agenda to serve the Machine.
          and even that trust is conditional.
          in the same way that fear of death keeps people hedging their bets with religion…fear of the alternative keeps them clinging to some iteration of the Narrative….”if we just get a D in there, it will be alright…”
          in spite of the universal betrayal…and the cognitive dissonance.
          the alternative….that literally everything is fake, from news to the value of money, and that we are mere widgets to be discarded when we no longer serve the nefarious and inscrutable purposes of some unknown entity….is just too much for most people.
          The proverbial Cave looks quite nice by comparison.

        2. JohnnyGL

          I was wondering what happened with that. The story died quickly after the chief of staff was fired.

          I recall Nico House was saying AOC was getting undermined by him and he was crooked or something like that.

  5. Hepativore

    I am hoping that we get a clearer picture of what the polling landscape is really like after the Iowa primary. I am hoping that Biden is not as ahead in the polls as he seems to be and that many of the “undecided” voters will switch to Sanders.

    It seems odd that many of the groundbreaking events that have happened with the Sanders campaign in regards to his policy announcements or even his recent heart attack have do not seem to have affected his numbers either way. Either the methodology of the polling is off, or voters are being recalcitrant in their support for Biden. I hope that these Biden voters are not planning to go down with the Biden-ship as it will sink during the general election if they are the ones that drag him all to face Trump.

    I wonder if there would be a relatively clear way to determine what percentage of these hypothetical Biden-voters are “#neverBernie”s?

    1. dcblogger

      the polls were correct in the 2018 midterms. I fear they are correct in Biden’s case. I can’t explain it and hope Bernie’s team have a plan. If you support Bernie the best thing to do is find the Bernie people in your area. That and write a letter to the editor.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Especially here, it’s easy to forget who is actually in the Democratic Party. Remember, they’re down to less than 30%. That lingering residue are those who are still attached as the party proves itself more and more right-wing, and ultimately they are the most likely to vote in a primary or, even more so, go to an all-day caucus. (We hold all-day conventions frequently, so I’m familiar with the sorting process.)

      Biden just might be who the party is, these days. Obviously, Bernie’s hope is to draw in those who are NOT attached to the Democratic Party – like Greens, or independents. But in closed primary states, like Oregon (how many, again?), that takes significant extra effort by the voter. They have to re-register, a process not familiar to most people.

      Non Affiliated Voters are coming up fast on a majority. Another none-of-the-above election should do it.

    3. Wombat

      Landlines… who still has one? Boomers. We may not get a good read of where everyone stands till Iowa, and even then, coin flips only go one way….

  6. Shonde

    RE: “Is My Phone Listening in?” Are my hearing aids listening in?

    A couple of months ago I finally got real hearing aids even though my hearing has been bad for years now. Since hearing aids are expensive, I decided to get the best technology currently available hoping they would not become outdated before I become outdated.
    Now I am wondering if my digital blue tooth enabled hearing aids are spying on me. Why are ads suddenly appearing on my computer about a product after I have talked about that product while wearing the hearing aides but out of my house so not near my computer or cell?
    I thought about possible privacy issues when buying these high tech aids but figured hearing aids might still be okay. Was I stupid?

    1. Monty

      I would be very surprised if even the most high tech hearing aids had any storage to record and later upload anything it hears. If you’re linkng it with your phone and have your phone with you, it’s far more likely that some app is “accidentally” doing so.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Can some app hear your typing too* (so it knows what you’re writing)?

        *from the film, Paranoia, maybe?

    2. fdr-fan

      If they’re bluetooth enabled, they’re talking with your computer or iphone all the time. If they have an option to turn off the bluetooth, do it….. but I wouldn’t be surprised if the option doesn’t really work. Most optouts in the iphone world are fake.

    3. Shonde

      Thanks to all for responses. I don’t wear them unless I leave the house which considering I am somewhat of a hermit isn’t too often. Might do what Jane suggested and talk about something “off the wall” and see what happens.

      1. JBird4049

        Oh, no.

        If you are using hearing aids for the first time and then use them only in noisy situations it will *not* be a good experience. With hearing is a use it or lose it as the ability to process sounds including picking up and understanding what you want to hear while ignoring the rest gets better and worse with use. It is like a muscle.

        If you don’t want to feel like ripping off those aids and stomping them because of a growing headache the first time you are in a group or noisy place, wear them at home regularly and gradually add music or the radio. It take some weeks or a month, but your head will thank you.

        1. inode_buddha

          Just saying, as a lifelong user: wear them at all times unless you are going to get wet, or going to bed. Most likely some medical provider or insurance company has sold the info that you got hearing aids. Or some AI figured it out based on your internet history.

    4. jessica

      A few years back, I saw a browser extension somewhere that was supposed to access random web sites while you weren’t using the browser in order to flood any surveillance with nonsense. Unfortunately, I didn’t grab that extension and have never been able to find it.
      Perhaps one of the commentariat knows where such a tool can be found?
      Thank you ahead of time.

        1. jessica

          Oh thank you for these two. I’ll try them. For some reason, I haven’t gotten Firefox to work on my computer for years now. It crashes at the slightest excuse.
          Maybe if I only use it to generate chaff into the surveillance data.

  7. aj

    RE: “..but for me religion is about being humble.”

    “What I’m inviting you to do is to consider emancipating yourselves from the idea that you, selfishly, are the sole object of all the wonders of the cosmos and of nature – because that’s not a humble idea at all, it’s a very arrogant one and there’s no evidence for it.” – Christopher Hitchens

  8. DJG

    Elderberries and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. There are a number of problems. First is the sheer ignorance. No one there has ever heard of elderberries, which are used in cold medicines available a Walgreens? That’s how exotic elderberries are.

    And “ancient” is about as helpful as “smart”: Grapes are an ancient food also, and archeologists and chemists have been busily scraping pots and amphorae for further evidence of how far back consumption of grapes by human beings goes.

    But the tell is Kernza, which is trademarked. How convenient. If the writer were truly concerned about substitutes for modern wheat, she might have looked into spelt, einkorn (“little” farro), or emmer. Possibly teff. These are “ancient,” too–and resilient.

    What I was left with is the impression that so many people are so detached from nature that they have no idea of variety or adaptability. So millions will starve because they can’t get their daily intake of sliders.

    Meanwhile, the estimable Patience Gray, in Honey from a Weed, has a recipe for elderflower fritters, a kind of treat.

      1. Harold

        A lot of them are toxic, if eaten raw, I believe. From wikipedia:
        Although the ripe, cooked berries (pulp and skin) of most species of Sambucus are edible,[7][8] uncooked berries and other parts of plants from this genus are poisonous.[9] Leaves, twigs, branches, seeds, roots, flowers, and berries of Sambucus plants produce cyanogenic glycosides, which have toxic properties.[9] Ingesting a sufficient quantity of cyanogenic glycosides from berry juice, flower tea, or beverages made from fresh leaves, branches, and fruit has been shown to cause illness, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and weakness.[7][9][10] In August 1983, a group of twenty-five people in Monterey County, California became suddenly ill by ingesting elderberry juice pressed from fresh, uncooked Sambucus mexicana berries, leaves, and stems.[10] The density of cyanogenic glycosides is higher in tea made from flowers (or leaves) than it is in berries.[9][11]

    1. John A

      In England, they make ‘champagne’ out of spring elderflowers, or elderflower ‘lemonade’ for kids.

  9. Amfortas the hippie

    re: elderberries…and other “stuff the indians ate”:
    I’m definitely down with that.
    we’ve got prickly pear, tunas(jelly/juice/wine/syrup) and pads(akin to green beans, but better for you:learned that an immigrant buddy of mine has a patch of thornless nopales that I’m gonna take cuttings from)–algerita(a holly like shrub.good for wine/jelly/waffle sauce), “buffalo gourd”(curcurbit foetiida), which i have yet to try(giant,apparently immortal, starchy root, and seeds(that must be fire charred/toasted, to burn off a caustic substance that’ll cook yer insides(!) otherwise super nutricious), and my favorite: mesquite: coppicing for firewood, and the beans make a gluten-free flour that’s high fiber, and contains diabetic-friendly complex sugars, etc…must mix with a gluten-containing flour for pancakes…or corn for cornbread.
    all of these grow here without human intervention at all….and i expect them to weather what’s predicted for at least the next 50 years.
    there’s also more that i can’t think of right now…and turkey pear, the jelly of which is rumored to be a mild hallucinogen…but there’s very little research that i can access(damned elsevier), and i’ve been leery of being the guinea pig.
    cattails…acorns(with cold water drenching)…

    point is…we should stop limiting ourselves(via corporate welfare) to corn/soy/canola and cottonseed.

    1. jrs

      sure elderberries but with some care, as I’ve been told by one of the nature guides I’ve learned from that they they have low level toxins best removed by cooking and a few people are still allergic to them even cooked. I’ve cooked them up as syrup etc. and never had problems though.

    2. dearieme

      We’ve used elderberries (UK) for two things. (i) Chutney – scarcely worth the trouble. (ii) Red wine – not bad at all.

      Elderflower makes an excellent soft drink (now widely available commercially in the UK) and, in our experience, combined with grape juice makes a good white wine.

    3. polecat

      I harvested 3 gallons of Huckleberries* off of a couple of bushes I planted some years ago. This year, the berries were quite large, making it easier to de-stem them. I can a mighty tasty Huckleberry Conserve !

      *PNW native species.

    4. scarn

      I don’t like the gourd (it is indeed foetiida). I grill nopales that I grow here in California in the summer. Try pickling them too!

      Eaten cattail stems, but not roots.

      Never tried mesquite flour, but I’ll have to now.

    5. Oregoncharles

      Look up Euell Gibbons, whose books popularized wild foods decades, well half a century, ago. Should be public domain by now. Not sure about your region, though.

      Any Natives around that you could ask?

      I gather the local NW version of Buffalo Gourd is mind-bendingly bitter and possibly very toxic. It sure gets huge, and smells very strange – like rotted papaya. Consequently, I haven’t tried it.

      And don’t forget Yaupon :)

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        our buffalo gourd—the gourd, itself—is small and round. maybe 3″ in diameter.
        vine trails and climbs for up to 30 feet…make you itch…and smells like dead things. the large flowers smell nice, though. Squirrels like the seeds, and plant them everywhere(along with acorns and pecans)
        to remove these plants from one’s garden, you must dig up the tuber…three plus feet down, and sometimes the size of a toddler.
        so i’m constantly pulling up the vines. they compost adequately if chopped up…i think the dried vines would make good cordage.
        our county is famous for curcurbits…especially cantaloupes and watermelons…something in the soil. I worry about cross pollination transferring the caustic substance to squash…since i’m a habitual seed saver.
        I’ve spoken to the bees about this, but they seem unconcerned.

  10. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Update from Becnelland-

    So i popped hot with a warrant out of Colorado from 2014. Intel hired a company called First Advantage to run my background check. Everything else was fine. I have a phone interview with corporate security on Monday. Ive contacted Colorado Legal Defense Group about taking care of this. Apparently theres a Veterans Court and if i meet certain criteria i can get the Felony (low level) dropped. Ive already completed a VA Rehab in Louisiana so hopefully that will look good too. Sucks because my first day is October 21st, so this is really cutting it close. Im in New Orleans. Jobs in Portland. Sirva, a 3rd party moving specialist, deposited 6400$ in my bank account as a relocation allocation last week. So maybe thats a good sign. Lotta balls in motion as they say…

    Thank you to Yves for hosting such a badass website where i blog my problems to the NC Commentariat!


    1. Oregoncharles

      We look forward to welcoming you to Oregon. (I’m up the valley, not in Portland.)

      Best of luck!

  11. dcblogger

    the purpose of Medicaid work requirements is not to reduce spending, but to shame and humiliate Medicaid recipients.

    1. jrs

      That’s maybe an added bonus, but the purpose is probably to make people take any jobs regardless of how bad and ridiculous the job is, to work in slavery conditions if need be. That suits employers just fine. And also regardless of how sick the person might be. I mean think about it, requiring people to work to get any healthcare at all (not even “good healthcare” but Medicaid for heavens sake, which isn’t even that easy to get to begin with) is requiring in many cases extremely sick people to work.

      The humiliation helps with the social pressure toward making people work like dogs, like slaves, but the raw economic pressure of needing medical care is the much bigger stick here. Even the insurance companies don’t favor this “work rule” nonsense, they really don’t, it’s pure punitiveness and because we want an economy run on slave labor especially in the south where this is mostly taking place.

      1. Dan

        However, in a population often excused from following any law they choose to ignore because they allegedly “do the jobs that Americans won’t do”, or “only come here to work”, what’s wrong with requiring them to work in exchange for taxpayer funded benefits?

        “Under the Trump administration’s final “public charge” rule, legal immigrants who use Medicaid and other government benefits for which they’re eligible could be labeled a public charge — meaning they could be prevented from obtaining U.S. citizenship”

        “Yuri, who came to the United States from Michoacán, Mexico, was enrolled in CalFresh, California’s food stamp program, for her 7 children, who range in age from just over a month to 15 and who all were born in this country. But with the new rule, Yuri, wondered, would staying on food stamps imperil her asylum application or get her deported?”
        Good news for Yuri!
        “Yuri, would not be affected by the rule change: Refugees and asylees are exempted from the policy, as are the food stamps she gets for her children, who are citizens.

        But many immigrants like her, who are not subject to the rule are feeling the chilling effect, with some withdrawing from social services unnecessarily. (because) California will soon extend Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented children and already provides it to some low-income undocumented immigrants.”

        Now let’s have a conversation about the affordable housing shortage…

        1. marym

          The states that have Medicaid work requirements approved or pending aren’t the same states as those that provide Medicaid/CHIP to some undocumented immigrants.
          (Link, Link)

          Here’s a detailed analysis of the projected impact of work requirements imposed on some of the most vulnerable of Medicaid-eligible people (already working or are ill, disabled, caregivers, or in school, according to the study).

          I think it’s possible to make a reasonable case against Medicaid work requirements even if one is still generally opposed to benefits for undocumented immigrants.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            and, in Texas, at least, getting declared officially “Disabled” is often a tall order.
            especially with “invisible illnesses”, like my global arthritis and fibromyalgia.
            even xrays and mri’s and the assurances/testimony of disability’s kept doctors make no difference.
            if there’s a job in “the national economy”(say…Guam) that the “employment expert” sitting in the folds of the judge’s robes determines that you could conceivably do, you’re not “disabled”.
            as i’ve said for 13 years now, to any who would listen…the default assumption with all the poor people programs is that you are a fraudster, looking to hang from the teat and play video games all day. Burden of proof otherwise is on you…and essentially amounts to luck.
            as for work requirements…I manage to do all manner of work around here…except when i can’t.
            to get a job, I’d have to promise that I’ll be there tomorrow…or next week…and i simply cannot make such promises.
            to my knowledge, there’s not a box to check for that.
            medicaid got me my hip…after 6+ years…and it saved my wife(so far)…and it’s taken care of the boys, off and on, from the get-go….but it’s still a cruel and all too usual way to provide healthcare to poor people.
            people who have no experience with it can be identified by their rhetoric,lol.

            1. inode_buddha

              That’s horrible. As much as I kvetch about NY (we wrote the book on corruption) at least its not that bad up here. Not easy up here, but from what I hear, you couldn’t pay me to move to Texas. Too much third-world rugged individualism being dished out by those who have lily-white smooth hands…

  12. flora

    re: Warren fund raising.

    The distinction between raising money for her own campaign and raising it for the DNC is not as significant as her campaign makes it out to be.

    But it’s a very lawyerly parsing…. that is one of the very things that annoys me about the Dem estab… depending on what the definition of “is” is.

  13. barrisj

    Just came in on my emails…Taibbi beating the “intelligence agencies coup against Trump” drum really hard:

    We’re in a permanent coup
    Americans might soon wish they just waited to vote their way out of the Trump era

    My discomfort in the last few years, first with Russiagate and now with Ukrainegate and impeachment, stems from the belief that the people pushing hardest for Trump’s early removal are more dangerous than Trump. Many Americans don’t see this because they’re not used to waking up in a country where you’re not sure who the president will be by nightfall. They don’t understand that this predicament is worse than having a bad president.

    The Trump presidency is the first to reveal a full-blown schism between the intelligence community and the White House. Senior figures in the CIA, NSA, FBI and other agencies made an open break from their would-be boss before Trump’s inauguration, commencing a public war of leaks that has not stopped.

    CIA/FBI-backed impeachment could also be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Donald Trump thinks he’s going to be jailed upon leaving office, he’ll sooner or later figure out that his only real move is to start acting like the “dictator” MSNBC and CNN keep insisting he is. Why give up the White House and wait to be arrested, when he still has theoretical authority to send Special Forces troops rappelling through the windows of every last Russiagate/Ukrainegate leaker? That would be the endgame in a third world country, and it’s where we’re headed, unless someone calls off this craziness. Welcome to the Permanent Power Struggle.


    Now, I get Taibbi going the full monty on the “deep-state coup” narrative, but IMO he dismisses the serious implications of Trump’s and his surrogates’ behavior re: Ukrainian govt. officials, past and present. And the indictments of Giuliani buddies Parnas and Fruman for campaign finance violations can hardly be described as intelligence agency misfeasance.

    Good piece, for all that, and here’s hoping it makes it out of moderation.

    1. Yves Smith

      You appear to forget that Taibbi saw extreme neolibearlism first hand and the rise of Putin. Putin happens to be extraordinarily good at geopolitics, and he also cracked down on the oligarchs and succeeded in getting Russia back on the path of growth. But he is also an authoritarian. You also appear to forget it was Obama who “suspended” habeas corpus, and as Snowden pointed out, was all in for increased surveillance. You further appear to forget that it was the Obama Administration that asked Ukraine for dirt on Manafort, which it provided because….drumroll…Ukraine has a joint prosecution agreement with the US! Manafort was merely a suspect when we asked. So it should not be surprising that the Ukraine president insisted again, just yesterday, that he didn’t feel pressured or “blackmailed” by Trump.

      I’m not a fan of Trump but this Ukraine business stinks to high heaven. If they wanted to impeach him, they could have done so the day after the Dems took the House on emoluments, over foreign diplomats and businessmen seeking favors form the US staying the DC Trump hotel. And this would have given them a legitimate basis to root around in his finances too.

      I suggest you watch this section of A Man for All Seasons on why running roughshod over the law to get a bad guy is not in your interest:


      Your posture, no matter how prettily you dress it up, is “the ends justify the means.” You are advocating that the CIA and the military, have a say in who becomes president. That is the sort of thing you see only in the worst nominal democracies, like Argentina under the Perons, or Thailand.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Between the very murky Ukraine-gate affair and now the big flap over having the audacity to barely move a few troops in Syria, I’m starting to get creeped out over impeachment, too.

        Most of the trumpers I speak to are holding steady, but a couple are worried the Republicans will break with him and throw him out of office in a vain attempt to save their own skin.

        I do worry Trump’s getting increasingly isolated and paranoid, — never a good mental state for decision-making. But a lot of this is the result of having very little people he could choose from to staff important positions, other than members of the republican establishment. They’re CONSTANTLY undercutting him on foreign policy.

        Anti-Trump dems have gotten as screechy as the anti-castro cuban nuts in Miami. They seem like they won’t be happy until the guy gets the death penalty.

        I write the above, not as a Trump fan (I’m a solid Bernie guy like most on this site) but I want someone to peacefully, systematically disentangle the USA from this ridiculous empire before it consumes the Republic.

        Re: Taibbi’s experience in post-communist Russia — I’d point out that American society right now is MUCH, MUCH more stable than Russia after the fall. Luckily, this sort of elite infighting is happening in a time of relative prosperity. If this kind of thing was going on in 2008-9, I’d be much more afraid. Obama and his crew were awful and corrupt in their handling of the crisis, but they were all on the same team and singing from the same sheet of music. That alone did a lot to stop the liquidity freeze up.

        In the bigger picture, I worry the deep state is generally getting the upper-hand against Trump. It’s only going to embolden this collection of bad actors next time a president dares to challenge them.

        President Warren or Sanders is going to have these people jumping on either of them from day 1.

        1. TheHoarseWhisperer

          It is your perception that American society is ‘ MUCH, MUCH more stable’. Having lived through the collapse of the Eastern block, I have to tell you that in 1987, the odds of what happened in 1989 seemed ‘VERY, VERY long’ from the inside.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          “….won’t be happy until the guy…”

          In Akhenaten’s case, it was deeper than that. The old guard priests wanted to make it look like he never happened, and so, the heretical pharoah’s likeness was removed from all buildings.

          It’s kind of like an annulment is different from a divorce.

        3. John

          “…the audacity to barely move a few troops in Syria,…” A very few troops who functioned as much as a symbol of support as its reality in military terms. It does not look to me that the negative reaction is to the movement of those troops, but to signaling that the USA is once again, as too many times in the past, walking away from people to whom we had pledged support. If you repeatedly forswear your word, why would you be trusted in the future?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            On the one hand, you have ‘fool me once.’

            On the other, there is the not-so-substantiated* American showman PT Barnum quote ‘There is a sucker born every minute.’

            *And many believe he did say it. That is, many are being fooled still.

          2. Johnnygl

            Kim iversen did a good video where she laid out the context of obama’s argument when he made the case for going in.

            If we show ‘loyalty’ to the kurds, aren’t we betraying our turkish allies?

            You can’t make a single foreign policy move without pissing off someone. That’s the nature of making difficult, complex decisions.

            This whole ‘betraying allies’ line is as disingenuous as the whole ‘human rights’ R2P pitch line. A lot of purported lefty, anti-imperialist types are getting suckered into it because the kurds have a decent, egalitarian culture.

            You want a chance at preserving that culture? Stop sending weapons and cash.

          3. Librarian Guy

            Well, and the troops removed from Syria were added in equal or greater #s to our wonderful Saudi murderous, medieval “allies”. Trump being anti-endless war is as big a scam as all his other scams.


            Trumpism is nothing but a shit pile thru and thru . . . and let’s not forget he’s no less a lover of Netanyahoo-ism than $Hillary was . . . Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

        4. Amfortas the hippie

          “…Luckily, this sort of elite infighting is happening in a time of relative prosperity…”

          I see little evidence of “prosperity” in the places i frequent.
          and i pointed out to my brother just the other day that the current epidemic of deaths of despair is analogous to what happened in Russia after the fall….(mostly)male life expectancy plummeted, due to vodka and dope and suicide.
          “prosperity” depends on perspective, and what you leave out of the counting.

      2. pjay

        Thank you for making these points. I don’t think many NC readers are defenders of Trump, and I certainly understand the hostility toward him. But I believe Taibbi is absolutely right in his belief “that the people pushing hardest for Trump’s early removal are more dangerous than Trump.”

        1. pretzelattack

          it’s our newest lesser of 2 evils choice. i see the cia/intel complex as cthulhu, and trump as the blind idiot god of chaos.

            1. pretzelattack

              cause cthulhu is too effective relatively, and the blind idiot god screws up. now mind you, the agency that missed the fall of the ussr and plotted to make castro’s beard fall out may not make a very effective stasi.

            2. richard

              this cthulhu fellow seems all right, but how do I really know he’ll follow through on his promise to eat me?
              I do like him on gun rights
              bow before me and insert your barrels anally
              and abortion
              all are aborted in my presence
              and he surprisingly supports card check
              all workers should have the right to organize into a collective mass to be consumed in my unspeakable oriface
              so i don’t know, really

        2. Carolinian

          Taibbi’s piece is good but he’s so very late to the party on this. The time for serious journalists to protest was 3 years ago.

      3. Fern

        Thanks for the Taibbi link. Great stuff. I don’t think anyone is dismissing the fact that Trump abused his office for personal political purposes. Trump doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the unwritten rules of the game and he will be the price. Most presidents have this sort of thing done at arm’s length, for example, by the Justice Department.

        I agree with Yves. Trump’s crass display of standard corruption is bad. But far worse is the empowering of the intelligence agencies to play an active role selecting and dismissing presidents.

        The Democratic leadership is barreling down a very dangerous road right now and unfortunately it seems to be easy for them to whip up and manipulate the rank and file. Reading the posts and comments on the Bernie Sanders Facebook support pages is disheartening. They’re all in for politicized intelligence agencies and any neoconservative who is willing to turn on Trump.

        1. John

          Is ‘Democratic Leadership’ an oxymoron? What is you evidence of Democratic Leadership? This entire impeachment investigation is an exercise in utter futility distracting attention from choosing a candidate who has more than “I’m-not-Trump.” as a reason to attract our votes. Perhaps I am not paying close enough attention, but somewhere out there is there a coherent program that is not Neo-liberal Republican lite? Maybe it is too early in the game for that. I see far more twisting and dodging to appeal to this or that slice of the electorate than is comfortable for me. It bespeaks shallow waters at the center. It ought not matter to me at all. As a New York resident, the outcome in the state is all but assured and I can do as I did in 2016. Indulge my distaste for all candidates by voting for none of them.

      4. barrisj

        Your posture, no matter how prettily you dress it up, is “the ends justify the means.” You are advocating that the CIA and the military, have a say in who becomes president. That is the sort of thing you see only in the worst nominal democracies, like Argentina under the Perons, or Thailand.

        Whoa, now THAT’S a real stretch of my “posture”…I was hounded off two “liberal” blogs — Political Wire and Lawyersgunsandmoney — for constantly ridiculing the entirety of “Russiagate”, so I don’t need counseling on “deep-state” machinations, thank you very much! I in no way am “advocating the the CIA and the military…etc., etc.”, and I absolutely take exception for such a facile characterization and distortion by poor argumentation of my actual position. What I am saying, in rather plain terms, is that there is a very reasonable case to be made for the Trump gang’s — including his “unofficial” envoys — conduct regarding representations to present and former members of various Ukraine governments to be highly dubious, unethical, and verging on extortion, not to say fabrication of claims to defame a domestic political figure.
        You make think otherwise, but please, don’t put words in my mouth to support your own arguments.

        1. Yves Smith

          First, you made no such remark as to what you are saying now. You said:

          …Taibbi beating the “intelligence agencies coup against Trump” drum really hard…

          but IMO he dismisses the serious implications of Trump’s and his surrogates’ behavior re: Ukrainian govt. officials, past and present.

          So you discredit Taibbi with your introductory comment, insinuating that his entire argument is all wet, while not deigning to actually provide more than a handwave. That is what is called a drive-by shooting. In other words, you had no original position except pissing on Taibbi.

          If you don’t like what comes back at you for not making a proper argument, you don’t have much grounds for being upset. In fact, one might surmise that part of the reason why you got run off other sites wasn’t your position but also making too many casual imprecise statements.

          As for Trump’s conduct, where you also don’t deign to say what in particular is offensive (even in your later retort, where you again handwave), you brush past that, as Mark Ames has been pointing out regularly in Twitter, that the US has been more than meddling with Ukraine. Did you miss that we fomented a coup under Obama against a president who was was doing so badly in the polls (well under 20% support, it may even have been single digits), that there is no way he would have been re-elected at the scheduled election, a mere six weeks after the coup (which BTW tore up the existing constitution, which is reason enough to depict it as a coup). Or that Biden bragged about getting the prosecutor fired? Or my comments above about Manafort?

          Oh, and the harrumphing today about Trump wanting the Dem appointed ambassador to quit? Did no one in the press get the memo that ambassadors are political appointees and are expected to leave in a regime change unless asked to remain or otherwise left alone? Fer Chrissakes, the likes of Shirley Temple and alpha Dem fundraiser Pamela Harriman were ambassadors.

          1. barrisj

            Sorry, but your original “rebuttal” is known as “inductive fallacy”, or hasty generalization, and if you can’t see the holes in your — well, “arguments” — in discrediting my remarks, well, tant pis . And it looks as though I’m heading for banning from the site…so be it. But you must concede that your own rather rigid posturing leads to a gemisch of non sequiturs unrelated to my original post. It is what it is and it’s your site, after all.

      5. notabanker

        For me this is the money quote:
        Many Americans don’t see this because they’re not used to waking up in a country where you’re not sure who the president will be by nightfall.

        Americans just cannot fathom living in a country that goes sideways overnight. It hasn’t happened to them in over 150 years, therefore it never will, until it does.

      6. John Zelnicker

        @Yves Smith
        October 11, 2019 at 4:49 pm

        Thank you, Yves, for bringing up the emoluments issue. I agree with you and Taibbi that the Ukraine thing isn’t much more important than the original Russigate madness. Secret and not-so-secret efforts to get other nations to help a candidate in some way go back at least as far as Nixon and Anne Chennault.

        The emoluments clause, however, is actually mentioned specifically in the Constitution. No need to parse “high crimes and misdemeanors”, it’s completely straightforward. And the evidence is rather compelling.

        Nevertheless, the Dem nominee will be cutting their own throat if they run on what’s happening with impeachment. IMNSHO, they need to present policies that will provide “concrete, material benefits” for the working class (what are you for). Attacks on Trump should be restricted to occasional mentions of how he has failed to fulfill his original campaign promises. An emphasis on his bad deeds in office, with a couple of exceptions (concentration camps), will not work.

    2. Plenue

      “the serious implications of Trump’s and his surrogates’ behavior re: Ukrainian govt. officials, past and present”

      Asking them to maybe abide by a treaty and help investigate the obvious corruption of the Biden clan? Because that’s what this all boils down to.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Yeah, SDNY and House committee, led by Schiff seem to be lined up on one side.

        Trump, Giuliani and their entourage on the other. If the article’s correct, they seem to be using low-life scammers to do their dirty work. It’s beyond me why they’d do that. Perhaps Trump’s crew can’t help themselves? Perhaps they’re so isolated in DC that this is one of the few options available?

        But, yes, to Taibbi’s point….rule of law is starting to come into question as each side digs in and refuses to cooperate with law enforcement mechanisms.

        1. Carey

          >refuses to cooperate with law enforcement mechanisms

          So who’s the honest broker, or could be, these days?

      2. VietnamVet

        Taibbi nails it. Besides the Coup not being reported in corporate media, the precarious position of American troops and contractors in Syria and Iraq is also ignored. They are literally hundreds of miles from the coast and safety with no allies. If the USA starts bombing Hezbollah, Iranian or Iraqi Shiite militias, there is no safe way out. Also, the world economy is dependent on Saudis continued oil production. If the Saudi Crown Prince doesn’t make peace, the Houthis will destroy Aramco’s facilities triggering a global depression. Not just the Trump Presidency or the fate of United Kingdom are at stake this Halloween; but the whole global kit and caboodle. All caused by Joe Biden restarting the Cold War in Ukraine in 2014.

    3. Carey

      FEC ‘violations’ are typically slap-on-the wrist stuff; and that way, way after the fact.
      I read Taibbi’s piece and see nothing to even quibble with.

      1. Yves Smith

        Yes, just about never are they prosecuted. I am pretty sure you can count on at most the fingers on two hands and have fingers left over how many times there have been criminal charges. You pay a fine. If it’s bad, a big fine.

        How about Hillary massively violating individual donating limits in 2016 with her scam of having joint state/Hillary campaigns in addition to giving to her campaign? It is not an exaggeration to say that virtually all the money, as in way over 90%, went to Hillary. State level Dems who weren’t Hillary operatives were furious.

        1. JBird4049

          This is one of those reasons Clinton lost. The state and county level Democrats had no money to fight Trump. One should not be shocked, if upon abandoning by never campaigning there and then taking all the resources of the local party to campaign for you, do not be surprised if you lose.

          1. RMO

            No, I’ve been told by important people that it was a few grand spent on childlishly inane clickbait by those Russian devils that snatched a sure landslide victory from the jaws of the smartest presidential campaign for the best presidential candidate ever! /s

            The past half-century plus of the CIA being an unaccountable private army for the president of the US to wield in whatever way fancied was corrosive enough to democracy and law in the US and around the world. I’m terrified at the possibility we could well be seeing the CIA and the other spook agencies becoming self-directing kingmakers… and kingbreakers in the near future. Until fairly recently my big fear was that a few more years of neoliberal hellscaping under a Biden/Clinton/Bush/McCain type business as usual president would leave the US ripe for a genuinely competent, sociopathic authoritarian false populist to rise to power and march the nation into full-on dictatorship – now I’m worrying about the even worse possibility of the Praetorian guard taking over and ruling through a figurehead.

            I think we can make a game for our times out of this – it’s easy: just think of some awful institution, trend, business etc. and then play “Now, how can this be replaced by something even worse?” Because it’s a good bet that it will be.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Taibbi beating the “intelligence agencies coup against Trump” drum really hard

      I don’t know if this gives quite enough credit to Taibbi for taking on a large network of the political class that, IMNSHO, has lost its mind; it’s comparable in courage to taking on Iraq WMDs when a similarly large network, comprised of many political actors who still inexplicably, or not, retain power today, also lost its mind. I mean, Thomas Frank was ostracized in the Axela Corridor for a far gentler critique. Maybe a little credit is due?

      > Now, I get Taibbi going the full monty on the “deep-state coup” narrative, but IMO he dismisses the serious implications of Trump’s and his surrogates’ behavior re: Ukrainian govt. officials, past and present. And the indictments of Giuliani buddies Parnas and Fruman for campaign finance violations can hardly be described as intelligence agency misfeasance.

      One minor point: Taibbi does not deploy “deep state” as part of his conceptual apparatus. He quotes Trump, with whom I am sure you would not wish to confuse Taibbi, who uses the phrase.

      More seriously, in accusing Taibbi of “dismiss[ing] the serious implicatons of Trump and his surrogates behavior,” you omit what Taibbi actually says:

      Trump stands accused of using the office of the presidency to advance political aims, in particular pressuring Ukraine to investigate potential campaign rival Joe Biden.

      It’s not that Taibbi “dismisses” the point you are trying to make; he disagrees with it, and explains why:

      Trump, at least insofar as we know, has not used section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor political rivals. He hasn’t deployed human counterintelligence “informants” to follow the likes of Hunter Biden. He hasn’t maneuvered to secure Special Counsel probes of Democrats.

      And while Donald Trump conducting foreign policy based on what he sees on Fox and Friends is troubling, it’s not in the same ballpark as CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post and the New York Times engaging in de facto coverage partnerships with the FBI and CIA to push highly politicized, phony narratives like Russiagate.

      Trump’s tinpot Twitter threats and cancellation of White House privileges for dolts like Jim Acosta also don’t begin to compare to the danger posed by Facebook, Google, and Twitter – under pressure from the Senate – organizing with groups like the Atlantic Council to fight “fake news” in the name of preventing the “foment of discord.”

      Exactly. If anybody thinks that the Praetorian Guard — for us, (factions of the) intelligence community + (factions of the) Democrat Party + their mutually held assets in the political class, including the media — is going to return to its barracks after successfully defenestrating a President, they’re delusional. We’re looking at a fundamental change in the Constitutional Order, which is at least at order of magnitude more important than RussiaGate UkraineGate.

      NOTE I like “The Full Monty.” You’re really implying that a desperate Taibbi is waving the family jewels in the air for money? Classy!

      1. notabanker

        This is so well written and why I come here. Thanks for taking the time on this. It is important.

  14. Sushi

    From afar, the American impeachment spectacle looks like a desperation move by Senator Pelosi and her supporters. Hearsay as evidence, proposals for written answers, abandonment of conventional standards of jurisprudence and other assaults on common sense leave some readers to conclude that the problems in the Democratic Party are far worse than are being admitted.

    The collapse of already low standards supports an argument that there is an existential crisis brewing. Now there is a race to see what will happen first, the impeachment or the peeling of the next layer of the Russiagate-coup onion. Whatever the results, there will be crying.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is there an equivalent of the 25th Amendment to removing the Speaker?

      Why is there one for Trump and not for Nancy, when we are seeing an epidemic of Trump Derangement Syndrome among some Very Important People?

      1. Titus

        Yes, a simple majority vote, by the full house to remove her from office. Actually, it is a form of having one’s credentials being removed, i.e., being legitimately allowed to take one’s seat in the House. It ca, like impeachment be done for any reason.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


          I wasn’t clear and my apologies. I meant the part about requiring only 14 people, and not over half of the House of Representatives.

    2. foghorn longhorn

      “From afar, the American impeachment spectacle looks like a desperation move by Senator Pelosi…”

      From anear, it appears the same way. Between her, biden and warren, they are gonna run out of toes to shoot soon.
      They are really ripping the facade off the old edifice.

    3. Neutron

      Nice try. Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House, not a senator. The whistleblower reported what was heard who spoke to the original sources. The Democrats are following the rules.

      1. notabanker

        Yes, whistleblower hearsay. And where in the Constitution is Impeachment Inquiry specified? Is that under the section of Can’t get enough votes in the House to Impeach therefore must manufacture a media driven crisis? I can’t find that part in mine. Or are there some other “rules” by which the Democratic Party operates?

      2. pretzelattack

        the “whistleblower” doesn’t have direct evidence, only hearsay. who is this whistleblower? john dean was willing to identify himself, and this after at least some in the white house were trying to get jack anderson whacked.

      3. Massinissa

        “Nice try. Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House, not a senator.”

        It was a mistake, and one that doesn’t invalidate any of the points he was making at all.

      4. lambert strether

        > The Democrats are following the rules

        If the Democrats follow through on their trial balloon of allowing the “whistleblower” to testify anonymously, will that be “following the rules”?

    4. dcblogger

      Speaker Pelosi has been dragging her feet on this for months and has publicly stated that Trump’s supporters won’t accept anything but electoral defeat. What changed is that during the summer recess the Democratic base lit a fire under the feet of their Representatives. In fact, if Pelosi loses her primary it will be partly because she dragged her feet on impeachment for so long.

    5. Whoamolly

      It’s worse than desperation by a senator.

      It appears to be a coordinated attempt by the intelligence services to overthrow a democratically elected president.

      I’m not a political expert of any kind, so I might be wrong, but it sure looks like a coup from where I sit.

      Matt Taibbi explains it in detail, here:

      1. Carey

        ..of course they don’t; that’s why they’ve instigated an “impeachment inquiry”,
        complete with, for now at least, anonymous sources (as with the last two-plus
        years’ RussiaGate (see Taibbi’s newest, for a nice collection of quotes).


      2. Yves Smith

        The media thinks otherwise and the Dem leadership is messaging to the media. Even the WSJ is on board, to the fury (at least a few days ago) of its subscribers, who way over 90% in comments were complaining about the coverage. Mind you, WSJ readers bitch regularly about Trump. For instance, the comments on his tariffs were at least 60% against him.

        The Dems are raising expectations in a big way. What happens when they don’t deliver?

  15. ambrit

    Uh, maybe the peripatetic Mr. Becnel would be more au courant than I on this, but “round the clock” in regards to parareproductive coitus is some new fangled code for what we used to call “round the world?”
    (Them depositing funds in a moving account for Mr. Becnel is a good sign. It means they want you bad enough to venture some money on you entering their employ.)

  16. Dan

    “Why Everything Is Getting Louder”

    Our technique for getting neighbors to cool the amplified music. Call them;
    “Hey, if we are going to be kept up by your loud music, then I guess we are invited. What kind of beer you got? We’ll be right over…”

    If don’t have phone number, just show up at their door, or walk into their backyard pool party. The funny thing is the couple times we’ve done this, nobody noticed us and we end up drinking their liquor then going home.

    When we were noticed, it got interesting.
    “Who are you!?”
    “We’re sorry”
    The kids were nice and turned the music way down.

    1. Arizona Slim

      This is a sore subject for me. For more than 20 years, I have tried to get SOMETHING done about barking dogs here in Tucson.

      Yeah, I know. I’m supposed to go over to the dog owners’ houses and pretty-please ask them to keep their dogs quiet. Did you know that people have been killed while trying to do that very thing?

      And don’t get me started on our local animal control agency. Their response to the problem is to send the dog owners a Sternly Worded Letter. Fat lotta good that does.

      Now, contrast this situation with the one that rousted me out of bed during the 3 o’clock hour of this morning. I heard some angry man grunting, shouting, stomping, cursing, and giving somebody’s car a real beatdown. I called the police.

      To the Tucson Police Department’s great credit, the patrol officers arrived shortly after my 911 call.

      And, oh, goodie. I heard them tap-tap-tapping on the front window of my next door neighbors’ house. I also saw the cops’ flashlight beams pointing around their yard.

      These people moved in at the beginning of the month, and one of them has already distinguished him or herself via LOUD drum practice sessions. They’re happening in the late afternoon and evening, and they don’t go on for too long. I’ll have to admit that whoever is playing is pretty darn good.

      Whatever was happening in the wee hours of this morning didn’t continue after the police arrived.

      But, here’s my point: It seems like some noise, like a loud, disruptive human in the wee hours of the morning, gets more attention than other noise, like chronic barking. And, yes, chronic barking is a problem. Link:


      1. inode_buddha

        In my town they just buy a load of cheap steaks and soak them in anti-freeze, leave them laying around. Extremely dick move is extremely effective.

        1. ambrit

          The ‘necks’ out here do something similar. Mainly to “combat” the seasonal overgrowths of feral felines. Thankfully, our little metropolis has two outfits who do “free” spaying and neutering. I understand that some State and local governmental funds grease the skids. I could not find anything on the relative financial merits of spaying versus animal control “officers.” I would imagine that such a program would be both moral and cost effective.

          1. inode_buddha

            My town has recently discovered that we have more feral cats than humans due to deindustrialization. We *do* have animal control and shelters but they are just too overwhelmed, in a very poor area.

            Similar sideline: We are having coyotes for the first time in living memory in western NY (buffalo bills country), because the place is over-run with white-tail deer. The white tails are everywhere because of the hunting restrictions in populated areas, seasonal bag limits, etc. Rifles are only allowed in a few counties. Dunno if there’s any restrictions on the coyotes, but it doesn’t matter because of said rifle restrictions.

            I’m so disgusted with so-called civilization I can’t wait to bail to the upper midwest.

            1. Dan

              Stayed overnight in Mill Valley, ten minutes north of San Francisco.
              Asked hostess as we watched raccoons play on the the deck outside: “What’s that other noise?”

              “Oh, those are coyotes. And foxes. A mountain lion was spotted up the street last week.”

              Wild turkey gobbles in the early morning.
              Some suburbs that have lots of wild areas and trees are turning into jungles.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        this works:https://ultimatebarkcontrol.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3o37v8mW5QIVHyCtBh1GNQ6JEAAYASAAEgLPJvD_BwE

        i mounted it on a fence post in a plastic coffee can.
        neighbor never even knew it was there, and the chained animal stopped barking all night.
        this was while we lived in town.
        during that time, there was a sort of low level crusade, instigated by a handful of petit bourgeoisie, regarding animal welfare. (i noted with some disgust that none of them seemed to care about the hungry kids in our midst).
        One of the habitual dog rescuers lived at the end of my street…he had 12+ strays at any given time, and they were always getting loose(at same period, city had difficulty hiring and keeping effective dog catchers…including sex scandals,lol)
        so one very cold morning, i hear a ruckus, and learn that several of these dogs are in my fenced in back yard, eating my chickens.
        out i go in my bathrobe, with the recurve, and launch an arrow(firearms are prohibited, bows are a convenient loophole). hit one already bloodied(rooster blood) dog in the leg, and away they all go.
        sent son(home sick) out front to watch where they went, while i got dressed. gathered up 10 dead chickens into a large flower pot and delivered them to the offending dog rescuer…who called the sheriff.
        couldn’t get me for fire arm violation….and I was persona non grata for a time among the bourgeoisie animal welfare only types…but the city soon overcame their druthers about hiring a dog catcher, and upped the fines for loose dogs.
        among a not so inconsiderable cohort of other barrio dwellers, i was a john wayne figure.
        pretty sure i was a hero to the barrio chicken population, too.

        1. inode_buddha

          I have been tempted to do similar up here re the deer and coyotes, but a bow in an suburban area is guaranteed arrest and jail/fines. NY counts bows similar to muzzle-loading for legal purposes. (bow season and muzzle-loaders overlap to some extent)

  17. PKMKII

    Where my mom lives, October was always peak tourist season, because that’s when the fall foliage would invariably be in the bright browns, reds, and yellows. Clogged the roads up real good. According to the smithsonian map, where she is won’t see peak foliage this year until, November. More effects of climate change becoming manifest, it seems.

  18. Summer

    RE: Tech: “Virtual Reality Is Still Failing Half of the World’s Population” [OneZero].

    I didn’t know it was serving the other half.
    Sooooo full of themselves.

    1. Massinissa

      The number of people who use VR that I know is… Zero?

      Anecdotal evidence, but with an extraordinary claim like “half the worlds population”, then the state of Georgia must be in the half of the world that doesn’t use it.

  19. fdr-fan

    Arnade’s little piece is excellent. He learned something and the learning changed his mind. Some journalists (eg David Brooks) seem to understand the Deplorables in a quantitative way but haven’t changed their attitudes.

    The best recent piece is by the British Spiked website, with lots of narration by Salena Zito. Salena is the ONLY journalist who fully understands Americans outside NYC.


  20. kareninca

    It really looks like Matt Drudge has soured on Trump. All of a sudden. Has anyone heard of any explanations for this?

      1. kareninca

        But what makes this expected sinking different from the innumerable “Trump sinkings” that were always just about to happen in the past?? That’s the question.

    1. Dan

      Oh no! What will Trump do now that a gossipy, gay, gift-shop owner, gave up on him?

      Could it have something to do with Sheppard Smith?

      1. kareninca

        I don’t really care about Drudge’s sexuality. I’m interested because he is very influential; loads of people go to his links every day. I don’t know why you would characterize him as a “gossipy, gay, gift-shop owner;” that is weird. His relevant characteristic is that he runs a major website. I am guessing that Drudge’s readers are not happy about his shift re Trump, if this is in fact for real.

      2. Massinissa

        Your first sentence verges on being a non sequitur. He may be all those things but hes still an influential conservative. The gift shop owner part is especially strange: The gift shop isnt nearly as important as the Drudge Report and I don’t know how you could claim otherwise.

        In fact… What gift shop are we even referring to? The only thing I can find is that one of his earliest jobs was running one for CBS, but I can’t find any evidence of him running or owning one lately

        1. Dan


          “one of his earliest jobs was running one for CBS” at Television City, at Beverly and Fairfax in L.A.
          Eminently qualified to influence weak-minded reactionary Americans.

  21. JBird4049

    Gays and their bathhouses. That’s something I haven’t heard in a long time. Hmmm, l am very much like a hermit nowadays, but as I remember those gay bathhouses that got Biden all riled up went away when AIDS did its danse macabre in the 80’s.

    A few goofballs did want to keep them open and unchanged as a reflexive response to the virulent homophobia still around. “No one is going to tell us what to do!” As if a then completely lethal, infectious disease from an unknown pathogen cared. Bigotry makes fools of us all.

    Perhaps Biden has not only not left Cornpop in the 60s but the 80s yet either. Has he called AIDS “GRID” (Gay related immune deficiency) yet?

      1. JBird4049

        Interesting, I guess so. Randy Shilts was a good read.

        I remember, fear, perhaps panic, was the thing. An unknown something spreading by unknown means giving a sure, prolonged, and painful death. How nice. One didn’t have to be gay, but only living in the Bay Area. Nothing dramatic, just seeing people decay or fade away.

        Lots of obituaries with people, usually men, “passing away after a brief illness.” Then HIV got into the blood supply and having surgery or being hemophiliac was a possible death sentence.

        A very big problem was the perception that it was the gay disease or gay plague as the first known American population was gay. Something supposedly earned by homosexuals by their “deviant lifestyle.” That was a reason why many people hid their status. Being ostracized, fired, perhaps evicted. Add the usual posterior coverage, excuses, and victim blaming. Then throw in egos, bigotry, and money.

        So first gays, then sex workers, then addicts using needles, then hemophiliacs and hospital patients. Finally, it got into the poor and worked its way up the social ladder. People do have significant others at least and it could take a one night stand years earlier. And much, if not most, of the dying could have been avoided, if the state, the Feds, or even just the CDC had gotten serious when people first got sick.

        And damn, I am making myself depressed because of stuff that happened over thirty years ago.

      2. Basil Pesto

        To belatedly add, this particular milieu is being depicted with typical finesse on the current (3rd) season of David Simon’s ‘The Deuce’, set in NYC in 1985 during the AIDS crisis. Prior seasons, set iirc in 1972 and 1978, also touched on the subject but not in as much detail.

  22. ewmayer

    Tech: “Virtual Reality Is Still Failing Half of the World’s Population” [OneZero] — She says that like it’s a bad thing. At the end of her I-got-motion-sickness-while-trying-out-this-hot-new-immersive-VR-p0rn whinge, my thought was “…or you could try getting out more or reading a good book.” Yah, I know, I’m a wymyn-hating techno-Luddite. I wonder, though – if one were truly able to poll all of the world’s women, what percentage would confirm that they feel “as a woman, the virtual-reality immersive-sex-perience industry is failing me.”

  23. Paradan

    My Dad just told me that Trump got Sheppard Smith fired, today was his last day. He was the only decent person on Fox.

    1. Carey

      Who’s Sheppard Smith. They still have that Carlson guy, don’t they? The one who’s
      always pointing out the Blob’s eternal warmongering and dissembling on behalf of the
      few? Whether he’s just more controlled oppo or not, he’s often saying good things..

      “Nativist!!!” “Rayciss!!!”

  24. BruceK

    Re Elderberries

    They not only good for the fruit – you can use the flowers as well, as a flavouring.

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