2:00PM Water Cooler 10/24/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, more shortly on the Republican occupation of the House “secure facility.” –lambert UPDATE All done. It’s very ugly.



“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 10/24/2019, 12:00 PM EDT:

I’ve been wondering about the weird pattern of Undecideds, shown in grey — and shown by dk alone, and not RCP — approximately between the left and right blue lines. It seems that Undecideds increased after the first debate. What decreased them? They started to fall before the second debate. They did fall, with a lag, after Sander’s heart attack. Readers, thoughts? And here are the latest results:

dk went ahead and added states, which as readers know have smaller samples and are less frequent. Since IA was Tuesaday, and NH Wednesday, here is NV, as of 10/24/2019, 12:00 PM EDT:

Here, Sanders is doing much better. Let us remember, however, that NV is Reid’s territory, and Reid is in Warren’s corner. And the latest result:

Note the tiny, tiny samples in the state polls.

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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UPDATE Biden (D)(1): “Biden allies intensify push for super PAC after lackluster fundraising quarter” [CNN]. “A coalition of top Democratic strategists and donors are intensifying conversations about setting up an outside group to bolster Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy, people familiar with the matter tell CNN, aiming to create a super PAC designed to fight back against a barrage of well-funded attacks from President Donald Trump’s campaign. The idea of building an outside organization has been the subject of discussion for weeks by Biden allies, but the conversations intensified in the wake of a cash crunch for the former vice president’s campaign. He reported last week having less than $9 million in the bank, significantly less than his leading rivals…. ‘They know they can use all the help they can get,’ one Biden ally told CNN, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the group. ‘Trump is crushing him with spending.'” • Not just Trump…

Biden (D)(2): “Biden brings in biggest total from itemized donors in Nevada, Sanders pockets most individual donations” [Nevada Independent]. “The campaign finance reports hint at the kind of support the campaigns have here on the ground in Nevada, with Biden raising significant sums from well-known casino executives and former elected officials while Sanders and Warren tended to bring in generally smaller amounts from everyday donors.” • Sanders, 30,000 total individual donors. Warren, 650 individual donations.

UPDATE Buttigieg (D)(1): “Pete Buttigieg on His Plans to Address Climate Change and Revamp the Supreme Court and, Oh, Tackle Halloween” [Cosmopolitan]. The interviewer: “News just broke, in fact, that Mark Zuckerberg is advising you on some of your hiring. So given that, will you talk us through why it’s okay for you to accept that kind of funding?” • And that is the single mention of “Zuckerberg” in the article!

(?) Clinton (D)(1): “Freedom Rider: The Return of Hillary Clinton” [Black Agenda Report]. “It’s not clear if smear-mongering Clinton is running for president, or just fleeing reality…. At every opportunity she said that she would not run again. But in the last few weeks that claim has been called into question. She recently said of Trump, “Obviously I can beat him again.” That little hint has become more real in recent days as Joe Biden’s campaign has faltered… It isn’t clear if Hillary Clinton has just lost it and can’t control herself, really thinks she can make a third presidential run, or is trying to keep the unraveling narrative of her defeat together. Like all establishment Democrats she has Bernie Sanders in her crosshairs and will do anything to keep him from getting the nomination.” • FWIW, I don’t think Clinton wants to run (though I am totally here for the liberal Democrat Götterdämmerung that would result of she did). I think she wants to be a power broker.

UPDATE (?) Clinton (D)(2):

Wait, a Democrat went on FOX?! Where’s the hysteria?

Gabbard (D)(1): “The ‘Russian asset’ and the ‘warmonger’: The roots of the Clinton-Gabbard dispute” [Politico]. “The blowback against Tulsi Gabbard began the day after she endorsed Hillary Clinton’s primary rival in 2016.” • Yep. The Clintons always pay their debts.

UPDATE Klobuchar (D)(1): “Amy Klobuchar qualifies for November Democratic debate” [CNN]. “Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is the latest candidate to qualify for the next Democratic presidential debate in November after receiving 3% in a new Quinnipiac University poll out Thursday…. Candidates must receive 3% or more support in at least four DNC-approved polls (nationally, or single-state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada) or receive 5% or more in two of the accepted early state polls. The deadline for qualifying polls and donations for the November debate will be November 13 at 11:59 p.m., according to the DNC.” • DNC jiggering candidate selection by polls is so Third World (and it corrupts the system by making pollsters power players at the tactical level).

Sanders (D)(1): “Sanders Campaign Says Winning Democratic Nomination Requires New Voters” [Wall Street Journal]. “Faiz Shakir, who runs Mr. Sanders’s campaign, told The Wall Street Journal that the lawmaker’s path to both the nomination and the presidency ‘is the most ambitious and the most difficult path of any candidate’ because it relies on support from voters who haven’t been active in the nominating process previously. ‘It is undeniably true that for Bernie Sanders to win, he needs a mass mobilization of people who have not voted before,’ Mr. Shakir said. The campaign is focused on turning out young, working-class and minority voters, demographics that generally vote at lower rates than older, wealthier, white voters. In some states, the campaign will have to convince those voters to register with the Democratic Party to participate in caucuses or primaries. To try to change the electorate, Mr. Sanders’s team is relying on a new app to stay in touch with supporters and touting endorsements from young lawmakers of color…. ‘It’s ambitious to expand the electorate, but that’s what Bernie has always done,’ Jane Sanders, Mr. Sanders’s wife, told the Journal. When Mr. Sanders was first elected mayor of Burlington, Vt. in 1981—by 10 votes—just over 9,000 people showed up at the polls. In 1983, when he was re-elected, more than 4,000 new voters participated. Mr. Sanders won by nearly 3,000 votes, according to records from the city of Burlington.” • (NOTE: Not locked.) First, [lambert preens] as I’ve been saying for some time (no time to dig out the links, but certainly since befoer Shakir was hired in February 2019). Second, how come we’re getting reporting from this from inside a citadel of capitalism like the WSJ? Third, is the app enough? How do we know? Fourth, to the numbers add to 50%+1. What are the proxies for getting a reading on this? On polling: “Mr. Shakir said the team believes Mr. Sanders’s numbers are depressed because pollsters are only contacting likely Democratic caucus-goers, often on landlines. Mr. Sanders pulls his strongest support from voters under age 50, a group that is less likely to be identified as a likely primary voter or use a landline.” I certainly hope Sanders supporters aren’t engaging in groupthink on this.

Sanders (D)(2): See above, again. Now:

This material should already exist. Why doesn’t it? Indivisible has material like this up the wazoo.

Sanders (D)(4): “Listen to 360 – Bernie Blanco Goes to Queens feat. Matt Karp” (podcast) ][Chapo Trap House]. • Very good, and none of the crassness that, in this context, I found grating. (I’m a William Burroughs fan, so don’t @ me for being prudish, mkay?) I’m also a Matt Karp fan; see NC here for a review of his This Vast Southern Empire. Interestingly, that post doesn’t come up in either Google or DDG searching on “Matt Karp” or “Southern Empire.”

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren: All Parents Want Good, Safe Schools For Their Kids. So Do I” [Romper]. “As a teacher and a product of public schools myself, I know how important it is for kids to get a good education. I expect you probably feel the same way. That’s why you’ve spent hours and hours trying to find a good child-care or pre-K program for your little one. That’s why you moved to a neighborhood with a better elementary school, even though it doubled your commute time to work. That’s why you got a second job, to put a little bit more money away for when your daughter applies to college. That’s why you’d move heaven and earth to ensure your children have a fair shot in life. And I want to help you.” • Excellent staffwork from Warren.

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“Most 2020 Candidates Have Something In Common: Their Supporters Also Like Warren” [FiveThirtyEight]. “So what do we make of the fact that such a high share of Biden’s and Sanders’s potential supporters were only considering them? It’s definitely a good sign for their campaigns, as it might be harder for other candidates to win these voters over. But it’s also not the only way to understand the strength of someone’s campaign, especially at this early stage in the primary. If you’re a candidate, getting a lot of voters to at least consider supporting you is important, too, as it means you’re still in the hunt for their vote, and the other candidates on a voter’s list tells you something about what parts of the party your message is appealing to.”


Remember the Democrat sit-in on the House Floor back in 2016 over — dammit, I can’t even remember what for — gun control? The Republicans show them how it’s done by occupying a hearing room. I took some time trying to sort through the hysteria, and these are the best links I can find.

“Republicans breeze past security protocols, occupy secure impeachment area” [Roll Call]. “Defying established security protocols, a cadre of House Republicans led by Minority Whip Steve Scalise and Rep. Matt Gaetz stormed the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday, where the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy in Ukraine was giving her deposition for the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Hours into a standoff between frustrated Republicans and Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry, a handful of GOP members remained sitting in the SCIF, refusing to leave…. As the Republicans stormed the secure area, several brought their cell phones with them into the secure area, according to Democratic Reps. Ted Lieu and Harley Rouda of California.” • Read it twice, and couldn’t find a statement from a Republican on why they entered the “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility.” So–

“Rep. Matt Gaetz and House Republican Press Conference Transcript: House Republicans Interrupt Impeachment Testimony” [Rev]. • Everybody gets a turn at the mike, ffs. The Republican inability to create a coherent narrative, first displayed in Benghazi, continues. This is perhaps the most coherent comment, from Lee Zeldin (NY-01): “I’ve sat through all of the depositions. I’m about to go back into Adam Schiff’s bunker here in the Capitol basement to sit through another deposition today. I want all of my colleagues to know every single question that’s been asked and every answer that’s been told. I want all of my constituents and their constituents to know every question that’s been asked and every answer that’s been told. What is happening behind closed doors is unclassified. There’s no reason why the American public shouldn’t be able to watch this in real time, live. This is a process lacking legitimacy, credibility, and fairness, and we have a huge problem with that.” • This transcript is worth reading in full, simply for the incoherence. Which isn’t to say there’s not a pony in there.

“Elise Stefanik: Schiff ‘unfit’ to chair Intelligence Committee” [Roll Call]. Important issue: “House Intelligence Committee member Elise Stefanik called limitations on access to impeachment inquiry transcripts for committee members ‘unprecedented.’ The New York Republican said Intel members were notified this week that the panels would print only one copy of a transcript for every member of Congress to view. ‘And you would have to read it with a member of Democratic staff. That is unprecedented and unfair,’ she said. ‘Americans should know that their member of Congress has had no access to any of the transcripts.'” • If true, this is appalling.

Lambert here: I wouldn’t hang a dog on intelligence community information that the public cannot see or verify, not even if the name on the dog’s diamond collar was “D*O*N*A*L*D T*R*U*M*P”. The fact that the hearings (a) are taking place in an SCIF suggest that the Democrats plan to do just that, as does (b) the CalPERS-like grip by the Democrats on the transcript. This would meet my criterion for a soft coup, expressed here. And anybody who thinks the Praetorian Guard at Langley will go back to its barracks is delusional.

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UPDATE “We’re Tracking the Impeachment Inquiry of President Donald Trump” [GovTrack].

“Why Trump’s Impeachment Might Be Different Than Clinton’s” [FiveThirtyEight]. “[A]lthough there’s still a significant risk that the investigation will be perceived as partisan, the nature of the allegations against Trump are quite different. Many Americans saw Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky as ‘private matter,’ but Trump pressuring Ukraine to investigate the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is much more clearly tied to his role as commander-in-chief. So it’s entirely possible that the public will be less forgiving this time.” • On the other hand, Democrats at that time were seen as having some moral standing, no matter how low.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Beyond Nonprofits, Toward Change” [Sacramento DSA]. “Beyond the clear conflicts of interest that limit nonprofits’ ability to affect change, there’s an underlying philosophy within the nonprofit world that idealizes addressing social problems using the logic of commodity markets and technocratic social controls. Nonprofits aim to direct advocacy, resources, and behavior modifications (sometimes framed as education, skills training, or wellness workshops) on an individual basis as if they’re consumer goods and services, all the while avoiding direct political conflict. In this landscape, coordinator class professionals function as gatekeeping resource brokers or expert concierges for those seeking services. And nonprofit workers can internalize these ideas, seeing themselves in a savior role, paying it forward to their less-privileged clients. They also fit conveniently within a neoliberal schema of privatization because they are designed to be stopgaps against the myriad social crises that emerge after universal public assistance programs are decimated by austerity. Nonprofits exist to replace democratically determined, universal redistribution programs with elite-controlled, quasi-feudal patronage. In short, nonprofits capitalize on crisis by resolving social problems on behalf of those they serve in place of the state. Radicals are often allured to the nonprofit world in hopes they can contribute to a good cause and even alter their organizations for the better, but nonprofit workers with radical politics usually can’t resist the roles and structures they find themselves in.” • Hard to quarrel with; the Maine non-profit I was, for a short time, associated with actually missed the opioids crisis entirely. If indeed they missed it.

“Red Flag Over The White House?” (review) [New Left Review]. Review of Jacobin founder Bhaskar Sunkara’s book, The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality. “Two important flaws vitiate this ‘case for radical politics’. First, no actual transition to socialism, though hoped for, is envisaged. The Socialist Manifesto’s opening parable of a worker-run pasta-sauce factory and its concluding list of vague precepts stand in place of any concrete imagining of transition. Second, no emergent historical logic is identified that would permit the establishment of socialism in a wealthy developed country that has heretofore eluded the first-world left. If radical parties and trade unions were not able to bring about socialism in developed countries in the past, when they were far stronger than they are today, what new conditions make the twenty-first century more propitious for rich-country socialism than was the nineteenth or twentieth? The purpose of what Marxists used to call historical science was to produce useful forecasts of the future; here the project is dropped. Level-headed as Sunkara’s book is on the whole, his silence on this question of transition gives it a utopian rather than scientific air, in Engels’s terms.” • As usual from NLR, lengthy, but worth it for situating DSA.

“Why Political Candidates’ Family and Friends Are Fair Game” [Jacobin]. “A candidate’s class location matters because class shapes our social world, and we are continually reshaped by the people around us. While actual conflicts of interests are important — see: every minute of the Trump administration — the media’s fixation on grifters and parasites tends to miss the way close relationships influence a person’s ideas. So it’s worth asking, who does the candidate associate with? Whose conversation is informing their view of the world? Elizabeth Warren’s daughter, Amelia Tyagi, with whom she has coauthored two best-selling books, has come a long way from her mom’s humble Oklahoma origins. Tyagi is now a founder and CEO of a consultancy called the Business Talent Group. Like Mayor Pete (BOOTEdgeEdge), she’s also worked as a consultant for McKinsey, a secretive consulting firm that has been rightly blamed for some of the worst miseries of working life at many major corporations.”

Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, September 2019: “An emphatically weak set of durable goods headlines for September raises the alarm for the health of the manufacturing sector while unexpectedly substantial contraction in capital goods orders deepens specific questions on the outlook for business investment” [Econoday]. “Breaking down capital goods orders, weakness appears to be concentrated in fabrications… and computers which fell 0.9 percent. Machinery actually rose.”

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, October 2019: “Tenth district manufacturing activity eased further into contraction in October” [Econoday]. “Further deterioration in durable goods production was partly offset by non-durable goods manufacturing, which expanded slightly for the second month in a row.”

Purchasing Managers’ Index Composite FLASH, October 2019: “In what has been a contrast to the ISM manufacturing report, Markit’s manufacturing PMI is showing stability and slight but still tangible acceleration” [Econoday]. “New orders are a big plus this month for Markit’s manufacturing report in contrast to services which sank.”

Jobless Claims, week of October 19, 2019: “The labor market, despite deepening weakness for the manufacturing sector underscored by this morning’s durable goods report, remains very solid” [Econoday].

New Home Sales, September 2019: “Steady is not usually the theme for new home sales which are usually volatile, but back-to-back reports point straight at extending growth at a respectable rate” [Econoday]. “New home sales have been outperforming resales all year though Tuesday’s existing home sales report also showed strength for single-family homes. The gains, especially for new home sales, are pointing to a long-awaited positive contribution from residential investment in the GDP account, this for the third quarter. Housing was a major negative for the 2018 economy but may yet, boosted by low mortgage rates and a strong jobs market, prove to be a useful positive for 2019.”

Retail: “Records show Sears and Kmart, whose previous parent company was a member of a safety-monitoring group, have resumed importing from banned factories” [Wall Street Journal]. “Some clothing items produced by banned factories were for sale by Amazon directly while most were being sold by third-party sellers on Amazon’s marketplace. Amazon says it inspects factories that supply its own brands to ensure they are in line with international safety standards similar to those of safety-monitoring groups.”

The Bezzle: “WeWork Isn’t Worth $47 Billion Anymore, But Its Rent Bill Is” [Bloomberg]. “$47 billion: WeWork’s peak valuation, attained at the start of this year as SoftBank poured money into the venture, is now a fading memory. The Japanese conglomerate’s latest investment in the troubled company values it at roughly $8 billion. It also happens to be the sum of future rent payments that WeWork’s on the hook for, thanks to its model of raising money to rent office space that it renovates and then leases to companies.”

Manufacturing: “Boeing Co.’s troubles are spreading beyond the grounded 737 MAX jet. The aircraft manufacturer is cutting production of its 787 Dreamliner jet next year… as trade tensions weigh on its market for wide-body jets. Sales of the big aircraft used in international transport are more crucial than ever to Boeing as it tries to weather the financial impact of the troubled MAX program” [Wall Street Journal]. “Slowed production of that jet will cost an additional $900 million on top of the $2.7 billion already booked over the life of the program, and the jet maker’s profit fell by more than half in the latest quarter. Perhaps worse, free cash flow came in at negative $2.9 billion, as 42 MAX jets are still built without being delivered every month. Trade tensions and tariffs have slowed the growth in passenger numbers that’s underpinned huge jet orders,”

Intellectual Property: “Disney Is Quietly Placing Classic Fox Movies Into Its Vault, and That’s Worrying” [New York Magazine]. “[E]ven major first-run chains like Cineplex will now lose access to Fox repertory titles. That collection of movies is a gold mine for many commercial theaters — particularly art houses, regional chains, and big-city multiplexes that like to mix things up by sprinkling a few older works into their screening lineups. In addition to films that have already been mentioned, Fox’s holdings include hundreds of notable films in a variety of genres and modes, a layer cake of options which, taken together, give a sense of the richness of American cinema over the last 100 years: everything from Miracle on 34th Street, All About Eve and The Sound of Music to Deadpool, The Revenant, The Simpsons Movie, and Terrence Malick’s version of The Thin Red Line…. Fox classics are going into the vault as well, for reasons the company won’t publicly explain or justify. And Disney’s vaultification of Fox titles is bad news for movie theaters that depend on repertory screenings to shore up their increasingly shaky bottom lines. The decision to broaden Disney’s artificial scarcity tactic to include thousands of movies released by a onetime rival is a wounding blow to a swath of theatrical venues that used to be able to show them, and where film buffs were able to see them with an audience.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Greed (previous close: 55, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 23 at 12:00pm. Yay! Back to greed!

The Biosphere

“A Giant Factory Rises to Make a Product Filling Up the World: Plastic” [New York Times]. “When completed, the facility will be fed by pipelines stretching hundreds of miles across Appalachia. It will have its own rail system with 3,300 freight cars. And it will produce more than a million tons each year of something that many people argue the world needs less of: plastic. As concern grows about plastic debris in the oceans and recycling continues to falter in the United States, the production of new plastic is booming. The plant that Royal Dutch Shell is building about 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh will create tiny pellets that can be turned into items like phone cases, auto parts and food packaging, all of which will be around long after they have served their purpose. The plant is one of more than a dozen that are being built or have been proposed around the world by petrochemical companies like Exxon Mobil and Dow, including several in nearby Ohio and West Virginia and on the Gulf Coast. And after decades of seeing American industrial jobs head overseas, the rise of the petrochemical sector is creating excitement.” • Leave it in ground!

“Extinction Rebellion Has a Politics Problem” [Current Affairs]. “‘Beyond Politics’ is a slogan at the center of Extinction Rebellion organizing: You can see it on posters, on flyers, on candy-colored flags…. I do not think it is possible to find an apolitical solution to a political problem…. Another reason why this supposedly apolitical position is deeply worrying is because of the increasing prominence of ecofascism, whose adherents embrace both aspects of the green movement and militant xenophobia. Since Extinction Rebellion’s founding, the perpetrators of two major mass shootings—one at a WalMart in El Paso, the other at a mosque in Christchurch—have left behind manifestos that root their xenophobia in ecological concerns. Whether they frame nature conservation in explicitly nationalistic terms, or latch onto overpopulation as an excuse for curbing nonwhite populations, or argue that climate change needs to be halted because of the waves of migration from the global south that will inevitably result, ecofascists are a growing presence within white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups in the United States and elsewhere. To be clear, XR has in no way endorsed these kinds of far-right beliefs. But in the absence of taking any strong stance in the opposite direction, the movement leaves room for these kinds of reactionary forces to gather strength from the mass appeal of XR’s galvanizing pro-green message, its media attention, and its organizing systems.”

“Extinction Rebellion must decide if it is anti-capitalist – and this greenwashing mining company shows us why’ [The Independent]. “Across Europe, Extinction Rebellion has succeeded against the odds in making climate breakdown a public priority. Its broad-church approach of remaining avowedly ‘apolitical’ (i.e. not anti-capitalist) made sense initially, bringing together a wide coalition from across the political spectrum. As the national conversation begins to move towards specific policy and infrastructure objectives, however, what I see as XR’s reluctance to tackle extractivism threatens to give carte blanche to governments and corporations who are happy to shift the burden of climate destruction onto poor and indigenous communities of colour in the global South.”

Health Care

The neoliberal infestation at NHS is really bad:

I imagine the next step will be the Tories selling off great hunks of it to American private equity. The “special relationship,” donchya know.

“Rob Delaney on Writing While Grieving and the Real Work of Comedy” [The New Yorker]. Interesting:

[I]t’s better to get sick in the U.K. than here. I’m a pretty vocal advocate for Medicare for All in the U.S. and for support of the N.H.S. in the U.K. I had private health insurance that I paid for back in 2002 when I had my accident—this was pre-A.C.A., or Obamacare—so, when I started to generate fairly sizable hospital bills, my insurance company just dropped me, which they could do back then. So I was paying for surgeries with credit cards. People in this room have done that—maybe they’re doing it right now.

So I knew something needed to change here. I knew my dad and my stepdad get care from the V.A., and I knew if you were very poor or over sixty-five there was something for you. I just thought, it’s really weird that some people get health care from the government and some people don’t. And then I went to the N.H.S. in the U.K., and I remember walking into our local general practitioner to sign up my family and being, like, [breathing heavily] “So what do you need? Do you need a retinal scan? What fluids from me do you need?” And they were, like, “What’s your address?” And I was, like, “O.K., now what else?” That’s it. Now we can go to the doctor. It’s not free—your tax dollars pay for it—but, if you get sick in the U.K., you don’t immediately begin to stress out. What’s the story with my deductible? Was my private prescription plan sold three weeks ago without my knowledge to another company, so I got dropped because I didn’t answer an e-mail? The stress that you have when you get sick in the U.K. is so much less than over here because the financial element isn’t a part of it. You’re still sad or angry because your knee fell apart or something’s wrong with your butthole, but you don’t have the ancillary stress of what’s going to happen to my wallet.

We had the worst possible outcome in the U.K. Our son died. He would have died here; there’s nothing you can do for this type of tumor in a kid that young. What we didn’t have to do was spend hours, days, weeks, months on the phone with billing offices or insurance companies making sure this M.R.I. would be covered. And that was time that we got to spend with our son, the little boy that I just described, rather than with some actuary on the phone in Indiana..

So, yeah, I want to abolish private health insurance in the United States. I want to smash it and destroy it. We have to do it, because the amount of money we spend on health care for people in Medicaid and Medicare and Tricare—we’re doing that, and then we’re paying private health-care companies, C.E.O.s who are making hundreds of millions of dollars, and spending money on advertising. “Your choice! Get the plan that’s right for you”—what the fuck is that? The plan is go to the hospital and it’s covered. There’s your choice. Yeah, I’m a zealot on that one, and I won’t stop until you can go to the hospital without fear of going bankrupt.

“Majority of Healthcare Professionals Support Single-Payer System, Poll Says” [MedScape]. From December 2018, still germane: “Sixty-six percent of physicians who responded [to our reader poll] said they favored a single-payer system, compared to 68% of administrators and 69% of nurses. About a quarter of respondents among those three professions opposed single-payer healthcare.”

“Column: A brilliant economist diagnoses the U.S. healthcare system — from beyond the grave” [Los Angeles Times]. “As Reinhardt documents, the American system as it exists essentially rations healthcare by income class. This isn’t always easily discernible because the system is ‘exceedingly complex and almost beyond human comprehension.'” • Well worth reading in full, simply for what every mainstream economist should know and be able to say.

Everything’s going according to plan:

Rule #2 of neoliberalism.

Neoliberal Epidemics

“Lower income neighborhoods have bigger mosquitoes that may be more efficient at transmitting diseases, a study finds” [CNN]. • Again, verything’s going according to plan.

Guillotine Watch

“Caracas Country Club: Where the 0.01% Await Socialism’s Collapse” [Bloomberg]. “[T]he Caracas Country Club isn’t mere frippery. Its persistence represents many things — including how far the world’s oil-richest nation has fallen. The club is also proof of the limits of government power in this self-declared socialist country. The late Hugo Chavez, who dismissed golf as bourgeois, used to enjoy threatening to seize the course for a public housing project but never took it beyond talk. His successor, Nicolas Maduro, has dealt with the place largely by ignoring it. Lately, U.S. economic sanctions have forced him in desperation to turn a blind eye to renewed private enterprise by members and others that could support what’s left of the economy. Some associated with his regime have even sought club membership, sparking a campaign by the old guard to keep them out. Now, inside the clubhouse and on the well-cared-for grounds, there is more than a little regret that before the revolution of the late ’90s, when Chavez created a Cuban-inspired and -supported authoritarianism, the business class had stayed out of politics, yielding the field to populists.”

Class Warfare

“For the first time, workers are paying a higher tax rate than investors and owners” [WaPo]. “Most Americans have to work to earn a living. But the rich are different: They get most of their income not from labor but from what they own — companies, stocks, real estate and the like. These income-generating assets are what economists call capital. And because capital is heavily concentrated among the rich, the U.S. government taxed earnings derived from capital at a higher rate than earnings made through labor for the entirety of the 20th century. But that’s no longer the case, according to economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman of the University of California at Berkeley. In their new book, “The Triumph of Injustice,” they present data showing that in 2018, labor income was taxed at a higher rate than capital income for the first time in modern U.S. history.”

The “recovery” of the labor market:

News of the Wired

Going meta:

Using power for good?

Call any vegetable:

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Changing leaves at least!

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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. Left in Wisconsin

    I’m not sure if any of this has been linked here in the past week or so. Apologies if this is repetition.

    Gabriel Winant, who is a young leftist historian, wrote a piece for n+1 a week or 10 days ago, halfway between intellectual history and political strategy, basically confirming the point that Sanders and Warren supporters are different but arguing that the way forward for Sanders requires convincing Warren supporters (“the professional-managerial class”), who many have noted seem to be the more hostile to Sanders than, say, Biden supporters.

    The piece generated a lot of heat on Tw1tter, much of which Winant has suggested comes from mis-reading his argument. (He is not arguing for a meeting of the minds but for convincing Warren-ites that a working class-universalist program is better than a technocratic one.) As someone who inhabits the kind of academic milieu in which Warren-ites seems to outnumber Bernie backers by at least 4 or 5 to 1, I found much of the piece excellent but was not convinced of the strategic advice – I think Warren-ites can only be defeated, not converted (though I don’t feel that way about the entire class, many of whom can be converted).

    Anyway, Adolph Reed and comrades also have a web conversation up where they discuss the piece. Needless to say, they are not impressed.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Again, apologies. I checked Links and WC going back a week but didn’t go far enough.

        I think it’s a good sign when the left is having at it internally – I see that as a sign of vitality. As with the NLR review of the Bhaskara manifesto, when the long-term objective is so hazy and the near-term needs are so great, it shouldn’t be surprising that there is major disagreement over tactics.

        1. JBird4049

          Having an internal dialog is important for any organization. With the American left having been destroyed often using illegal methods and effectively not existing since the 1980s, except as neutered show pets of the DNC, having any conversation is important.

          Now if we can get an actual non ultra, or reactionary, conservative movement in this country there might be some hope. Having two functioning ends of the political and social spectrum keeps people thoughtful. Both parties are really just grifts now representing mainly the wealthy against everyone else, ideology just being a smoke screen.

  2. David Carl Grimes

    Regarding Sanders polls. I’m wondering if there is a stigma attached to supporting a self-declared socialist like Bernie. Trump’s polls were understated in 2016 because people didn’t want to declare their support for a sexist, misogynist, xenophobic game show host.

      1. Sean T

        Listened to a Podcast recently with Eric Weinstein and Timur Kuran talking about this exact phenomenon – they called “Preference Falsification”.

      2. russell1200

        Agree, but probably more true of those outside the party than within. It’s today’s Perot voter.

        But Warren also picks up a certain amount of voters who might otherwise show up as rather moderate or even conservative on a lot of issues, but are very much with the idea of ending welfare for the banks.

        Though I somewhat lean toward Warren, where I do prefer Sanders is in that he seems less involved with identity politics and more involved with the root economics of the matter.

  3. NotTimothyGeithner

    Simpler logic would lead to the inevitable conclusion Santa is real.

    This is the same problem as the tortoise and the hare race problem. The math proves the tortoise wins as we approach infinity, but only an idiot and Aesop would believe that.

    Occam’s Razor also requires relevant information. The demands on Santa would indicate he’s a deity of some sort or certainly possessing super human powers. Those require explanations defying the simple explanation. If you can show how Reindeer or Elf magic produces wormholes and an unnatural life span, allowing Santa to hit so many homes of rich kids who are all good while dumping on poor kids, then…well…this would fall under relevant information.

    1. Janie

      Hazy on details, but Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather (Santa) role is temporarily taken over by Susan. She sees the unfairness and reverses the distribution.

      1. Hopelb

        A thoroughly convincing method for convincing kids of Santa’s existence, is to “ hide” in a closet, that you suspiciously check often, small boxed lumps of coal wrapped with a dated list of bad behavior, and a black ribbon. When the kids discover the lumps, they will conclude that their parents are move forgiving than punitive Santa.

      2. themurr

        No no, the role is taken over by Death. He never quite gets the ‘Ho ho ho’ right. Also may have given a sword to a small child in said role. Susan battles the evildoer that was tasked with killing the Hogfather. (Good pull though, great book, pretty good movie)

    2. Titus

      Zeno’s the tortoise guy, and he was trying to state a paradox. No one won that race. Just saying.

      1. RMO

        ““The simplest solution is most likely the correct one.” – Occam’s Razor

        so, tell me which is simpler: santa is fake and every parent is engaged in a giant false flag conspiracy to convince us he’s real OR santa is real”

        Sounds to me like a case for invoking Occam’s Shuriken: “When the answer is elusive, never rule out ninjas” – Santa may be a ninja.

    3. ewmayer

      “The simplest solution is most likely the correct one.” — That’s incorrect: This is a.k.a. the Principle of Parsimony, whereas Occam|Ockham’s Razor is to the effect that “in explaining a thing no more assumptions should be made than are necessary.” The distinction is crucial: What Occam’s Razor amounts to is that by restricting one’s hypothesizing to the simplest which appears to explain the phenomenon in question, one obtains the theory which is easiest to test, which includes being able to discern if it is in fact false. Whereas “The simplest solution is most likely the correct one” almost inevitably points the way to unnecessary and progress-blocking reductionism, because researchers with a reductionist bent are prone to simply ignoring or pooh-poohing data which conflict with their hypotheses.

    4. Oregoncharles

      My son pointed out that Santa is a “trainer religion;” it gets kids used to believing the blatantly unlikely.

      Of course, Santa is originally a religious figure (Saint Nicholas), but that aspect has been lost to most of us.

      1. ambrit

        Let us go back to the original Christian version of Santa. The “historical” Saint Nicholas was a rich Christian in Asia Minor who gifted dowrys to poor women so that they could become socially acceptable and productive members of an extant Patriarchal society.
        Your son has a point. Riffing off of earlier comments; belief in Santa encourages a reductionist explanation of the world we live in.

  4. barrisj

    Living in a Red State is hazardous to one’s child’s health:

    Medicaid Covers a Million Fewer Children. Baby Elijah Was One of Them.

    Officials point to rising employment, but the uninsured rate is climbing as families run afoul of new paperwork and as fear rises among immigrants.

    HOUSTON — The baby’s lips were turning blue from lack of oxygen in the blood when his mother, Kristin Johnson, rushed him to an emergency room here last month. Only after he was admitted to intensive care with a respiratory virus did Ms. Johnson learn that he had been dropped from Medicaid coverage.

    The 9-month-old, Elijah, had joined a growing number of children around the country with no health insurance, a trend that new Census Bureau data suggests is most pronounced in Texas and a handful of other states. Two of Elijah’s older siblings lost Medicaid coverage two years ago for reasons Ms. Johnson never understood, and she got so stymied trying to prove their eligibility that she gave up.


    Check the graph within the story…12/14 states with increases in uninsured children are notionally “Red”…that’ll fix those welfare cheaters and illegals, yessir!

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        to be fair, the Texas poor kids programs have treated us pretty well(touch wood). alternated between medicaid and CHIPs for their whole lives. Given, it was nothing like what people i know have gone through–kids with cerebral palsy, cancer or other big time things have a much more difficult time.(i see a theme: more you need it, the crueler we will be)

        my main beef with medicaid in texas ..the eligibility is ridiculous(over $230(LIL) a month for family of 4 household income? you’re fine. apply the bootstraps!), and the default assumption is that you simply must be a fraudster.
        wife’s had a much better experience…whether because it’s cancer, rather than debilitating arthritis(objective tests for cancer)…or because they’ve improved in the last 12 years since i did it, and it went unnoticed.

        (The best part, though, is that around fifty of her republican kinfolks have had an epiphany about 1. how totally frelled our current healthcare system is, and 2. that healthcare for poor people is way cool if it’s one of your own.
        to her credit, wife has found her soapbox at long last, and has preached to them, using “least of these” Jesus-speak, to great effect.)

        1. inode_buddha

          Glad to hear you are finally getting some small breaks. I’ve faced similar issues even up here in NY, but not so extreme. Its the reason why I went independent after 20 yrs in the GOP.

          I think it would be a good idea, in the middle of one of these family conversations, to point out that we’ve been blowing ~4 BILLION per month in the Middle East for almost 20 years, and yet here we are arguing about how to pay for kids school lunches, and our healthcare.

          The issue is one of priorities. What kind of people do we want to be?

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          alan grayson was right.
          “just die” is the preferred outcome.
          the kicker is we’re supposed to be grateful for not having it worse.

          1. ambrit

            Part of the ‘problem,’ but also a potential ‘lever’ is that “not having it worse” is not equally distributed.

    1. Dan

      “and as fear rises among immigrants.”
      Legal or illegal?

      “California will soon extend Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented children and already provides it to some low-income undocumented immigrants. Future options may include comprehensive Medi-Cal and unsubsidized access to Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange. About half of California’s undocumented immigrants have incomes low enough to qualify for Medi-Cal should coverage be offered to them.”

      (That’s approximately 3% of the state population of 39 million~Bienvenidos!)


      1. hunkerdown

        Complaining about the pawns isn’t going to dethrone the knights and rooks who keep hiring pawns because they’re cheaper and more compliant. I would kindly suggest kicking up instead of down.

  5. Stormcrow

    In California. Where it counts. But perhaps not fatally — yet.
    Much will shift if Biden can be knocked out in the early primaries.

    Interesting crosstabs in new Change Research California poll:

    Sanders 28%
    Warren 22%
    Biden 22%
    Harris 7%

    Biden 30%
    Sanders 20%
    Harris 16%
    Warren 13%

    Sanders 30%
    Warren 28%
    Yang 17%
    Biden 16%

    Warren 34%
    Sanders 21%
    Biden 16%
    Buttigieg 11%


    1. Dan

      If you are registered Decline to State, or Independent in California, make damn sure you are registered and can vote in the Democratic primary.

      Please, no repeats of 2016 and the Hillary Clinton for President apparatchik, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who disenfranchised tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of voters likely to stray from the official candidate with confusing rules and deliberate misinformation.

      He’s still in that office and is counting on your ignorance, laziness and assumptions to once again disenfranchise your vote for Bernie in the March 3rd Democratic Primary, like he did once before.

      From the mouth of the beast, the latest release from the Secretary of State:


      Want to see a video of what happened in 2016?
      Google “UNCOUNTED” and watch it on Youtube.

    2. jrs

      And they’ll probably keep on with the nonsense of Sanders support being all white in the face of strong evidence it’s not. *eyeroll*

      fake news.

    3. CatAfficionado

      I registered as a Democrat for the first time in my life, solely to vote in the primary. While my inner contrarian is dying to check a box for Gabbard or Yang, I think I need to listen to my inner pragmatist and throw it in for Sanders.

      I needed a lot of soap after sending in that registration lol…

  6. Pavel

    Re: the price of insulin in the USA:

    I have had a variety of jobs in my rather chaotic life and decades ago worked with physicians around the world. I remember vividly sitting in a cardiologist’s office in a major US medical school/hospital — he was seeing a patient who was on statins (IIRC). The latter pointed out that he was having a hard time paying for them; the doc then took out a bottle or two of samples from his drawer and gave them to the patient — who burst into tears and said something like that was the best thing that ever happened to him. Heartbreaking.

    On the other side of the pond, I witnessed doctor-patient encounters of all kinds, including diabetics. Not once was there an issue of price, even for the most expensive erythropoietin-type drugs for kidney failure (often in diabetics, BTW).

    Trump is a lost cause, but perhaps if Pelosi et al didn’t have their gold-plated congressional health plans and were required to be “covered” (ha!) like the working class and middle class in the US they might actually get off their collective arses and do something about at least the insane price of medications. But I’m not holding my breath, given how much money Big Pharma gives to the Dems.

      1. Pavel

        I may well have misremembered. This was, however, around 1988. Not sure they had generic versions then.

    1. Titus

      Congress is on the ACA, all of them. It would be interesting to see what plans they have on the be exchange. Make for a good story. By law all plans have to cover DC, or wherever they live so, really love to know.

    2. Geo

      Had that positive response experience while in Cuba. Emergency room visit, doctor came from home to do the procedure, given a few days worth of pain killers and two full prescriptions of antibiotics. The front desk apologized for charging me (free care for locals) but even then the entire thing was less than $100 USD. Would have bankrupted me here in the US.

  7. Stormcrow

    Good News on the Biden Front
    Biden is getting crushed in the all-important money race

    Joe Biden’s campaign is drawing more support from big-ticket donors than any other candidate in the race — yet he still can’t match his rivals’ cash flow.

    Obama and Clinton’s biggest donors favor Biden, yet he still can’t match his rivals. Biden has raised $20.7 million from contributions of at least $500 — $1.5 million more than his nearest competitor, despite entering the race later than all of them — thanks to the former vice president’s strong connections and goodwill among the traditional donors who have long financed the Democratic Party. Biden drew donations from 114 former big money fundraisers for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the third quarter, the most of any Democrat, according to a POLITICO analysis.


  8. XXYY

    I certainly hope Sanders supporters aren’t engaging in groupthink on this.

    I think there is a broad recognition in the Sanders camp that the polls we are seeing are likely to be portraying Bernie as worse off than he is. Several factors:

    (o) A history of this being the case in 2016.

    (o) A demonstrable record in the media of cherry-picking the polls that look bad for Sanders and publicizing them heavily, while ignoring the polls that look good for Bernie.

    (o) A big disconnect between polling numbers and other metrics like fundraising, donor base count, volunteers, outreach, crowd sizes, etc, which show Bernie in a very strong and perhaps leading position.

    (o) Technical factors that make it likely that the strong Bernie demographics (cord cutters, people under 50, non-voters, non-whites, independents) are being given short shrift by pollsters.

    (o) The fact that a big chunk of the population is still undecided in the Dem primary.

    (o) Iffy projections about the likely makeup of the voting population in 2020.

    These are all real things, though you can certainly have an argument about what they add up to.

    I have seen zero signs that any Bernie people are complacent as a result of all this. Everyone involved with the campaign from Bernie on down is running full-bore on every possible front.

    1. chuckster

      The best part of the “Establishment hates Bernie” conspiracy theory is that when he doesn’t come anywhere close to winning a primary you all can say with authority that his votes weren’t counted. The possibility that his programs just aren’t that popular will never be accepted. The Clinton Democrats aren’t the only ones who live in their own world.

      1. pretzelattack

        oh, so it’s a conspiracy theory. however could people have gotten this farfetched idea, i wonder.

      2. jrs

        It depends and it won’t be that clear cut. If Warren wins running on Bernie’s platform (which IS what she IS doing), it won’t exactly be an argument against his programs at all, far from it, whether or not one even likes or trusts Warren. If Biden or Buttigieg wins, well the former will be a vote for “ANYONE to beat to Trump” I suspect because I have seen no real support for him. Maybe Buttigieg could be read as a vote for moderation.

      3. Grant

        “The best part of the “Establishment hates Bernie” conspiracy theory”

        LOL! Sorry, this is a conspiracy theory? There’s no clear and obvious evidence of this? This is the type of silly comments you might find in YouTube comments sections.

        “The possibility that his programs just aren’t that popular will never be accepted.”

        Except polls showing his policies are popular. Also, explain how he isn’t popular when he beats Trump in every national poll and did far better than Clinton did according to polls versus Trump in 2016. Recent polls came out with him beating Trump even in Iowa and Texas and he tends to do better than most other Democrats running, especially those offering policies to his right.

        Who do you support? You’ve been doing this propaganda here for a couple days now, really hacky nonsense. Who do you support? If no one, who do you like the most, or dislike the least, among the Democrats running, and why?

        1. Otis B Driftwood

          What’s the difference in methodology between the polls showing Sanders does best vs. Tump and those that show Sanders trailing Biden and Warren?

    1. clarky90

      Kerensky and the Russian Provisional Government of 1917

      “…..The Provisional Government was unable to make decisive policy decisions due to political factionalism and a breakdown of state structures. This weakness left the government open to strong challenges from both the right and the left…..”


      I am concerned that the USA is at a 1917-like watershed. IMO, a small faction of determined political operatives are trying to stage a political coup. If it were not so, why wouldn’t they wait, just one year, for a fair election? Let the candidates and parties make their case, and let the people decide who would govern them for two or four more years.

      In 1917, the non-democratic, political machinations of the Bolsheviks, became a chaotic disaster. If Karensky’s provisional government had only survived……?

  9. Grant

    I don’t think the strategy that Sanders is employing in trying to get people to vote, is an example of group think. I think it is an acknowledgement of what the Democratic Party is, and what its voters are. There is no left party in our system, no party primarily concerned with working people and the poor, and contrary to what you might hear on TV, class matters. It is a fact that the poor vote less than the middle income and rich, people of color generally vote in lower numbers than white people do, the young vote in lower numbers than middle aged and elderly voters, and those groups would benefit from Bernie’s policies more than others. Just relying on who typically votes in Democratic Party primaries, especially with this many candidates and the propaganda against Bernie, guarantees he loses. Beyond that though, as I said in another thread, the obstacles to Bernie winning are very much the same obstacles of movements winning. They will run up against the same interests, the same media system, the same propaganda, and the same group of people and institutions that have clear ideological and class biases of their own. The relatively well off and whiter supporters of Warren are generally okay and are well situated in this social structure, and it doesn’t really matter to them if her policies don’t radically change what needs to radical change, or that she is far less likely to push for a more humane, equitable and efficient healthcare system. If they cared about the victims of US foreign policy, they wouldn’t be supporting her, now would they? They are less likely to be moved by decades of stagnating wages, their wages are just fine. They are less likely to be as concerned about the WTO or NAFTA, or issues like that, because even though the international economy is structured in such a way as to undermine democracy, environmental sustainability, working people and the capacity to control and manage private financial capital, they are more likely to be the ones in a position to control and benefit off of things as they are. I see many of them to be similar to the type of people I see and hear on MSNBC.

    So, Bernie going after the groups he is going after, those very groups are the ones that will be needed to push the structural changes through, and those very groups are not well represented in our political system or media. They system doesn’t belong to them or care about them. Yes, it is a challenge, winning by doing that, but pushing for, say, single payer is a challenge for the exact same reasons. We all know Warren won’t push for it, and I think a decent portion of her supporters know that too. I see the Bernie campaign the same way I see the push for single payer, the radical changes need to deal with the environmental crisis, the fight for 15, workers cooperatives and stronger unions, among other things. They have the same interests challenging them, the same class and ideological biases to deal with and confront, the same structural barriers to change. There is no other way to win. In my experience, the Warren supporters are very much the same as Clinton supporters in 2016. They often talk a big game about supporting this or that change, but they never prove it with who or what they support. Their class and ideological biases won’t let them, and their policies won’t lead to the ends they claim they will. The more effectively someone points this out, the angrier their responses will be towards that person. Deep down, I think many of them know this, but they will do what they have to do to fend off the types of changes Bernie is pushing for. If he democratizes the party, our society and the economic system, many of them would then have less power. AOC will face the same exact thing when she runs, and so will the left in the coming years. It isn’t about Bernie, it is about the changes he wants to see come about.

    And all of this is even more readily apparent when thinking about what challenges would await him or anyone on the left if they actually get power. I fully expect, should he win, that Bernie will get the Mitterrand treatment from capital.

    1. lambert strether

      I wasn’t clear. I don’t think the strategy is groupthink at all. In fact, I think it’s the only way forward. I’m concerned that there’s groupthink on how it’s working and whether it needs any mid-course corrections tactically. For example, Petal’s report on the Dartmouth rally, or Sanders (D)(2).

      Yes, Sanders would face a PMC skills strike, like Trump, and a capital strike, unlike Trump. It’s gonna get ugly any way we go, though.

      1. Grant

        I don’t think we will know how it is working until the votes come down, and there is a lot of evidence that the polls are not reflecting popular will. I find it to be odd that many people are skeptical of polls (in part because of the obvious bias that many of those taking the polls show, and how problematic their methodology often is), but then many of those people despair because of those same polls. Is that because they feel it is a reflection of actual reality or how the media will use those polls? I don’t think the polls are entirely off, like I don’t think that if Biden continues to poll where he is that he will drop to sixth when the actual voting comes in. But, I also don’t think it is at all out of the question that Bernie does in many instances what he did in Michigan last time around. His volunteer base, his donor base, his crowd sizes, or even when polls focus on younger voters how dominant he still is. There are some polls, to the extent we value these polls, where Bernie does well relative to other candidates versus Trump. In Iowa and Texas even, recent polls showed that he was the only one that actually beat Trump. I think that it all points to the polls likely understating Bernie’s support (and probably to a lesser extent Warren’s support) and probably overstating the support that Biden has. To the extent that groups that tend to vote in lower numbers show up in larger numbers, the polls will be off.

        I also argued yesterday that I think a comparison between this primary and the last is problematic, in that in the last primary there was Bernie versus Hillary, whereas there are a number of candidates this time around, and the number of candidates and the way the media can use other campaigns (Warren’s in particular) means it isn’t exactly an apples to apples comparison. I would also add that not all universities are alike. For example, I would imagine that Bernie and Warren would often get radically different responses at any given university. At Harvard, I would imagine that Warren would do well, and if Bernie did last time, he might not as well this time. Would Warren do better at a university in which the student body is largely coming from working class communities? Maybe, but doubtful. It seems that Warren would have done well last time at Dartmouth, but Warren didn’t run, and she didn’t back Bernie, and here we are.

        For a number of reasons, I do not think she is nearly as strong of a candidate as Bernie would be in the general election, and the Democrats have a really bad record at picking candidates those outside their party will find appealing. Given that the Democrats are only about 30% of the public, that is a huge problem.

      2. JohnnyGL

        Per my comments regarding my mother, I worry there’s some low-hanging fruit to be grabbed by going after seniors with some targeted ads around drug prices, hearing aids, etc. on some of the cable channels focused on the elderly.

        Sanders has a good bankroll to play with, and a good ad buy might make a dent. He’s doing ABYSMALLY bad with seniors.

        Picking up a couple of seniors (who may already see him favorably) might be easier than trying to text/call or find other means to reach a few more people who are time-pressed, working 2 jobs at odd hours.

        1. Grant

          “Sanders has a good bankroll to play with, and a good ad buy might make a dent. He’s doing ABYSMALLY bad with seniors.”

          Is the left generally doing well with people in that age group? If so, who did well and when? Did the left do well when those people were younger? Not in the US it didn’t. It effectively disappeared from the political scene nationally and only started to re-emerge a few years ago within the political system at the national level, and Bernie has been instrumental in that. The notion that Bernie can just change this situation with an ad, to me, is missing a lot of context and some really uncomfortable conversations. I think, again, that people are laying this on Bernie as opposed to much wider problems for the left with that age group. It seems to be that there are in fact not only stark differences on policy in regards to age, but labels too. I articulated these very things a few months ago, although I could have done a better job at the time in doing so. Okay, he places an ad on CNN, a senior sees it. Then that senior watches three hours of propaganda against him and all the ideas he supports. How good will that ad have to be to overcome that? Is it going to overcome decades of propaganda against the types of policies Bernie supports? CNN relies heavily too on money from big pharma. What if the relative peanuts Bernie offers them angers big pharma and they threaten to pull their ads (entirely possible)? With Biden, he has openly called for cuts to programs that are popular with seniors, he has done so throughout his career, and he is killing it with voters in that age group. If anything, Bernie could more directly confront Biden about this at the debates, but some argue that him going after Biden too aggressively could actually harm him even more with seniors. It’s easier to lay this at Bernie’s feat as opposed to the left broadly and to the seniors themselves.

          1. scarn

            All great comments, friend. While generation is not a category with clear boundaries, IMO it does have some utility in understanding how politics work in the USA right now. Older people in the USA have utterly different political views, media consumption, general skepticism of authority, and experiences within capitalism than younger people do. Age is not the primary reason people behave the way they do, but it’s clearly playing a role here.

            There is a reason why kids and young adults literally use “Boomer” as an insult, and a catch-all meme phrase to describe anybody who thinks neoliberalism is a good deal.

          2. Amfortas the hippie

            i think that the biggest problem right now is not that the Left disappeared(although it did), but that the Neolib/Vichy Dems essentially adopted the word…so all those older, bidenlovers not only think Soshulizm is Evil(and Russian!), but that they are the True Left…Pragmatic(tm) and Smart.
            this is not only because of the 50 year mindf&*k from the Right that Hillary, et alia are socialists….it’s also that the hillary/biden/obama/Bill people, now entering their dotage, have been fending off that ignorant criticism for so long.
            all of this, of course, confuses matters on the ground, in mom’s living room and in the feedstore considerably.
            when i get exasperated with the tiny group of this cohort that i know, and argle bargle about the New Dems being Moderate Republicans…this is a pavlovian trigger…they cannot think of themselves that way,it’s unconscionable… so they lash out, and punch left.
            …or worse, equate the left with the teaparty/trumpian right.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Having a corporation decide on a nation’s culture and who is allowed to see it? Sounds legit.

      1. inode_buddha

        It’s been ongoing for decades, old news. Very contentious subject on sites like slashdot.org.

  10. Dan

    Warren; “That’s why you moved to a neighborhood with a better elementary school, even though it doubled your commute time to work…”

    Enter stage right, Kamala Harris, praising your obligation to praise busing your child to a low performing violent school to redress racial unbalances, or bringing it to your neighborhood school. No wonder she’s dead last.

    1. Big River Bandido

      That’s why you’ve spent hours and hours trying to find a good child-care or pre-K program for your little one. That’s why you moved to a neighborhood with a better elementary school, even though it doubled your commute time to work. That’s why you got a second job, to put a little bit more money away for when your daughter applies to college.

      How many working-class and poor people have the time and resources to do these things? Warren is speaking to the 10% here — IOW, her base. Her tone-deafness is embarrassing.

    1. hunkerdown

      The earliest print reference I can find for that term was an Oregon forester’s article on the uses of cottonwood trees, in a parenthetical, “excelsior (before Styrofoam nurdles were invented)”, in 1994, which in context seems to refer to the blow-molded “peanut” product in contrast to other forms of packing material, rather than the granules that went into molding them. The earliest sighting of the term in Google Trends is in 2005. In my three years in the injection molding industry, working all around the shop floor and not quite being the process engineer’s little shadow, I don’t recall that I saw or heard the term even once.

      “Real problems can have fake solutions.” -J.M. Greer

  11. Another Scott

    Living in Boston, it seems like there’s a growing consensus among our elected officials, especially Democrats, about congestion pricing as a solution to all of the area’s transportation problems (especially the MBTA – Massachusetts’ answer to CalPERS and PG&E). But to me, it seems like it’s the embodiment of a neoliberal answer, transforming public property (roads) that everyone has equal rights to use into something that people can use only if they can afford it.

    I’m looking for good analysis on the subject (the type that doesn’t come from neoliberal house organs and/or centrist Democrats) but have had trouble finding one. Can someone point me in the right direction?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      not sure, but what your question reminds me of is the TexDot discovering a couple of years ago that toll roads owned by foreign conglomerates(that often don’t take cash!) was stupid….after decades of insisting that it was pure genius, and indeed, the only way forward.
      i don’t have a link.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Wasn’t that stable* genius, Rick Perry, the one who signed off on that deal?

        *as in D GPA in Animal Husbandry from A&M

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          texas started building toll roads in the late 80’s(Hardy Toll Road in north houston is the first i remember, but i worked ON East Hardy, just outside the Loop, so had to endure it’s construction.)
          Lil george made that ball roll, and perry ran with it….but its been pretty bipartisan.
          now there’s toll roads all over houston and austin(haven’t seen any in san antone, and haven’t a clue about DFW).
          they’re bad enough by themselves(roads should be Public, dammit)…but as if to slap po folks in the face, the signage sucks…so you accidentally end up on the damned things and get a ticket in the mail a year later, wondering where it came from…and, like i said, they don’t take cash in many instances…(“EZTAG Only”, like it’s a feature,lol). well off relations nod their head and say…”well just get an eztag”, as if it’s the simplest thing in the world, and utterly uncontroversial to need a pass from a quasigovernmental entitiy to drive on a highway you already helped pay for.
          of course, my city driving is at such a low level that even this neoliberal truism is just not worth the effort.
          Instead,I endeavor to avoid them…which should be easier, now that TexDot has decided that they’re stupid(no more surprise toll roads on my infrequent trips into the big cities.)

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            This is what I was referencing. Notwithstanding Obama’s many faults, he did have a Nobel Laureate in physics running the nation’s nukes.

            My oldest is in Austin. When I last visited, he noticed I kept taking 30+ minutes to travel 2-3 miles. Told him I refuse to pay tolls to travel on public roads.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              lol. i did not know they “went bankrupt”.
              what came across my proverbial desk a couple of years ago was a texdot report that essentially said, “oh, nevermind…toll roads suck”.
              perry did a lot of things to screw up this state even more than the mean….esoteric things, in the margins: like suddenly ripping out the roadside parks that we used to be sort of famous for(LBJ), and replacing them with what amounted to fusion centers with bathrooms..(.never took off, thankfully)…or the interlibrary loan mess…or effectively banning the obamacare navigators..or the whole state investment vehicle thing(can’t remember the name) that funneled state $ and sweet tax deals to big players. lots of weird little things that cumulatively made things worse. and with the opacity of texas gov online, and the lack of comprehensive news coverage of what the lege, et al are up to at any given moment, a lot of it went unnoticed by most.
              wife met him once, for a photo op on the steps of the big pink brothel(for esl teachers). said he had a LOT of makeup…pancake,lol…so that he looked like a wax model of a human….and that his hand was ice cold when she shook it.

            2. metannoya

              ha ha . . .Thoreau would dig it. He pointed out that to walk a 30 mile journey could take a day, but to work for wages to travel the same distance by train would take more than a day.

    2. Oregoncharles

      My town made the buses free, after the voters passed a special “fee” for the purpose. It also emphasizes bike use a LOT. Of course, it’s only about 50,000 people.

      And bikes have their disadvantages; there’ve been two severe bike accidents right in front of the Co-op in the last year or so. I drive past the locations every day. And yes, half the time I should probably be on a bike myself.

      Still, those are the alternatives that I know of. Plus: a friend pointed out that the cheapest way to get people into public transit is to just let the car traffic clog up – IF, big if, your public transit isn’t on the streets. Not popular, so not politically palatable, but it can be hidden behind budget issues.

    3. Pat

      My personal belief is that NYC has been deliberately messing up traffic in Manhattan for at least a decade (starting under Bloomberg) in order to get congestion pricing. To me it is the only explanation of the useless pedestrian plazas on Broadway, the weird roll out of bike lanes, the new road markings that lose lanes, and most particularly the design of bike lanes for side streets which guarantee traffic stoppages.

      It also reminds me of how multi state lotteries were sold to the public implying they would be used as increased funding for schools. As most aware people know that was a bait and switch and the lotteries have done little to increase school funding. I fear congestion pricing will be exactly the same, where it becomes a tax increase that funds public transportation freeing the funds currently budgeted for it to be used for the things elected officials would rather be funding that have less public support. (Here in NY that is practically guaranteed since Cuomo immediately cut the MTA budget right after a major fare increase supposedly meant to shore up a budget deficit went into effect a couple of years ago.)

  12. Tom Stone

    Should there be a political quote of the Week as part of the watercooler?
    There have been some real gems lately.
    Tulsi and Jill as RUSSIAN ASSETS!!!
    And this week it’s HRC as the most reasonable person in the Democratic Party.
    It shouldn’t be HRC all the time, ” Slow Joe” will always be competitive and there are others, many, many others whose words should never be forgotten.

      1. The Rev Kev

        No. No. Hillary is a Russian asset! She blew up her own two billion dollar campaign to get Trump elected President so that he could unintentionally cripple America with his bull-in-a-china-shop approach to the economy, trade, foreign relations, etc. I could pick ten commenters at random here who, with her resources in 2016, would now be President of the United States but it took a lot of hard work on her part to blow it all to hell. And she is still doing it by trying to wreck the 2020 campaigns.

        1. Oregoncharles

          It’s still the Republicans’ turn, as it was in 2016. They take turns in the Presidency, two full terms at a time, esp. since Slick Willy was re-elected.

  13. arielle

    May I tell you how much I appreciate your Frank Zappa reference? Boy, do I love me some Mothers (of Invention). Used to listen to this album every day after middle school (1972). “Call any vegetable- call it by name! — A vegetable will respond to you!”

        1. ambrit

          “Baby’s On Fire” opened up an entire movement of Metal. Then I discovered “Music For Airports.” Segue to early Tangerine Dream and Hoenig’s “Departure From The Northern Wasteland.” The big takeaway from these musical experiences is that Reality is not equally distributed, much less properly defined.

  14. barefoot charley

    Surreality check, this message hot from Working Families Party:

    barefoot, Politico just reported some pretty big, shocking, totally-not-expected news:

    Corporate America freaks out over Elizabeth Warren

    That’s right: Wall Street CEOs, hedge funders, and Democratic corporate megadonors are all running to the press to attack Elizabeth’s campaign as she rises in the polls. They’re terrified because they know that when working people come together, we pose an existential threat to the unsustainable status quo.

    For decades, corporate donors have exerted their influence in both major parties. They are used to being courted by candidates, not shunted aside. But with progressive candidates and their bold ideas capturing all the momentum in the Democratic primary this year, they’re getting scared. They should be.

    But the more scared they get, the more desperate they’ll become. Some of these guys have endless wealth at their disposal — enough to buy entire countries — and they’re set to pour mountains of cash into lobbying, attack ads, or worse to try and slow our movement down.

    This fight will only get tougher, but we can win if we keep this up. Can you split a $3 donation today to make sure we have the resources necessary to fight back whenever these billionaires come after Elizabeth Warren and our progressive movement?

    She’s cheaper than Bernie too! I’ve noticed her mainstream boomlet’s busting into stories of how mean to banksters she was. Is this a form of negotiation?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe when Americans go off to vote next November, Corporate America will storm the polling stations, recording everything, demanding to know who people vote for and insist in looking over their shoulders as they vote to make sure that they do the “right thing” as the public have a right to know.

      1. ambrit

        You are more right than you know. We got a mailer in the snail mail today from an outfit based in Florida calling itself “The Center for Voter Information.” This organization identifies itself as a “..non-government, nonprofit, 501(c)(4) research organization. http://www.centerforvoterinformation.org.”
        The mailer was tailored to me, showing my having voted in the General Election going back to 2014. A simple block graph comparing me to the ‘average’ voter was in the mix.
        Near the bottom the mailer states: “P.S. To better understand why people do or do not vote, we may call you after the election to discuss your voting experience.”
        There is also a link provided to: http://www.Vote411.org.
        A generic “Get Out the Vote” drive?

  15. JBird4049

    >>>And anybody who thinks the Praetorian Guard at Langley will go back to its barracks is delusional.<<<

    But so many of them are!

  16. Synoia

    Boeing Co.’s troubles are spreading beyond the grounded 737 MAX jet. The aircraft manufacturer is cutting production of its 787 Dreamliner jet next year… as trade tensions weigh on its market for wide-body jets. Sales of the big aircraft used in international transport are more crucial than ever to Boeing as it tries to weather the financial impact of the troubled MAX program

    Umm, according to my rumor mill the Boeing 787 is in trouble because its Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines break in flight. Rolls-Royce has a new USian Chief Executive focused on the problem.

    1. JBird4049

      So Rolls-Royce jet engines are breaking down during flight? Is this a problem?

      It is nice to see the close working relationship between America and Britain going so well. Next up, I expect snafus in the air or fuel system to suffocate or explode everyone.


      I don’t much like flying because of the TSA “security” screen and Kabuki show. Add in the shrinking everything of everything and extra fees for everything but for oxygen and I rather drive across country.

      1. Synoia

        “So Rolls-Royce jet engines are breaking down during flight? Is this a problem?”

        No, not if you don’t mind getting out and walking…
        Or flying by your own efforts.

        Please let me know when and where you practice this. I’ll bring my camera.

        1. polecat

          I would love it if some enterprising conveyance firm had a fleet of affordable flight routes via derigible. I think society’s ready for another go at lighter-than-air travel.

        2. JBird4049

          JBird the superhero! Has a nice sound to it.

          Unfortunately, whatever superpowers I might have, I cannot fly like a Blue Jay, but scurry along the ground like California quail.

    2. paintedjaguar

      “extra fees for everything but for oxygen”

      Oh you innocent lamb… ok, it’s not a direct fee exactly but in the US at least, airlines have for decades been cutting back on the amount of fresh air provided in the passenger cabin. Letting in fresh air costs them money you see…

  17. petal

    Hi, I went to the Warren thing at Dartmouth this afternoon. I’ll try to do a better job this time with the write-up, Lambert. Also have a couple photos.

      1. petal

        Sent it late last night. Was really tired when I wrote it, so it’ll need work. I’ve had a pretty bad week.
        It was an interesting experience. Glad I went. It’s nice to be able to see the dog and pony show up close, kind of like being in Oz and peeking behind the curtain. Rueters was there, CNN, CNBC/NBC, and all the local stations. I counted 13 video cameras. There was one of those huge satellite trucks, too. That wasn’t there for the Sanders event. Big difference in media coverage, it felt like, between Warren and Sanders.

        1. ambrit

          Ah, as the boys down at the bookie joint coffee shop would say, “The Fix is in.”
          “Thank you for your service! You are a Political Veteran!”

  18. JBird4049

    So Rolls-Royce jet engines are breaking down during flight? Is this a problem? I thought the Dreamliner had a spare engine.

    It is nice to see the close working relationship between America and Britain going so well. Next up, I expect snafus in the air or fuel system to suffocate or explode everyone.


    I don’t much like flying because of the TSA “security” screen and Kabuki show. Add in the shrinking everything of everything and extra fees for everything but for oxygen and I rather drive across country.

  19. sleepy

    —Sanders volunteer delegate article—

    IIRC, in Iowa delegates to the county convention are selected by popular vote at the same time as the caucuses. Mostly someone volunteered and was voted in unanimously. After that, not sure how the voting works, but delegates are then selected for the state convention, and then for the national.

    1. Big River Bandido

      There’s also a “regional” convention in between the county and state conventions. Or at least that was the case in 2004, the last time I went to an IA caucus.

  20. In the Year 2525

    Don’t confuse Foreign Service Officers with the intelligence community. Also, SCIF’s are not Star Chamber’s. They’re set up in hotel rooms all the time. And witnesses are never interviewed in public, ever. Ever… Testimony is given in open court. Impeachment is a criminal investigation. If it’s the administration attitude that the President is immune from Article III proceedings. Groovy. This is an Article I proceeding.

    The President is unfit because he is a criminal. Our prison’s are full of incompetent criminals. Serving a vital role, criminal behavior provokes social cohesion by galvanizing society to respond and affirm common values. A leader who is also a criminal? Well, that’s the glue-y-est kind of criminal. Trump is basically a modern-day Elagabalus. What Trump is not, is a flash-point for that Marxist Revolution just over the horizon. A just society is further away than ever, not closer. From our eyes, we could all use a little harvesting of the crust.

    1. hunkerdown

      Which of the people mobbing the SCIF were not Article I officials?

      Also, only Article II officials have the power to decide criminality. Unless you’ve heard a case under official proceedings and made an official judgment, you’re begging the question at best, politicking for neoliberals at worst.

    2. pretzelattack

      was social cohesion promoted by not prosecuting bankers and war criminals? that dear sweet man george son of george skated, and obama and pelosi were fine with that. do the allegations re the ukraine make trump a criminal? this sudden concern with social cohesion (yeah, impeachment will advance that) strikes me as hollow. the restrictions on congress and the utter lack of transparency are red flags.

      1. VietnamVet

        Joe Biden is at the center of the corporate Democrat’s bizzaro world view. He was the pointman for the Obama Administration’s takeover of Ukraine and restarting the Cold War. By the way, his son, at the same time, made $50,000 a month from a Ukraine gas company. The corruption and responsibility for expanding the endless wars is simply erased from their consciousness. Investigating corruption in Ukraine is an impeachable offense. Let’s keep spending $3.6 billion a month on the forever wars, periodically turn off Californian’s electricity, and let 45,000 die a year needlessly because of lack of healthcare. The USA is working for the top 0.1%; not anyone else.

    3. John Zelnicker

      @In the Year 2525
      October 24, 2019 at 5:22 pm

      (I love that song.)

      “Also, SCIF’s are not Star Chamber’s. They’re set up in hotel rooms all the time.”

      This one was set up in the basement of the Visitor’s Center(!).

    4. anon in so cal

      Are you advancing the notion that, when a social group expels a member for some alleged crime, the remaining community members consequently achieve greater group solidarity and reaffirm community norms? That was a theme in Kai Erikson’s, “Wayward Puritans,” a study in the sociology of deviance which considered the Massachusetts Bay Colony witch hunts aka the Salem witch trials.

      “More than 200 people were accused, 19 of whom were found guilty and executed by hanging (14 women and 5 men). One other man, Giles Corey, was crushed to death for refusing to plead, and at least five people died in jail. It was the deadliest witch hunt in the history of colonial North America.”

      The post-9/11 regime change wars of Bush and Obama killed approximately 3 million innocent people and left many formerly stable Middle East nations destroyed. Bush and Obama should be on trial in the Hague for their murderous actions.

    5. Oregoncharles

      Impeachment is a job action, not a “criminal investigation.” The only penalty is loss of employment (and a potential permanent ban).

      A criminal investigation would come after. Yes, I know the article refers to “High Crimes,” but it doesn’t specify them. That is left to Congress to decide, so a “High Crime” is whatever Congress says it is.

  21. ThomG

    RE: Beyond Nonprofits, Toward Change

    The author is using “nonprofit” loosely, but the point is of course correct for most health or human services type nonprofits. Obviously wouldn’t need a homeless shelter or a homeless advocacy group if there were universal housing.

    Worth noting too that nonprofits relation to the state (at least in the US) has fluctuated over the years. Per this article:


    “A number of features governed the relationship between the Keynesian state and NPO service providers and distinguish it from the neoliberal period: 1) funding provided by the state to NPOs was primarily base or core funding allowing for significant latitude for spending purposes; 2) funding was long-term and stable which enabled NPOs to build institutions that became embedded in communities; 3) the relationships between the state and NPOs tended to be regulated by bonds of trust, not highly regulated contracts, which awarded nonprofits considerable autonomy in how they constructed and delivered programs supported by public funds; 4) the role of NPO service providers was not to replace/displace state provided public goods but to fill gaps thus complementing Keynesian welfare state measures; and 5) a system of adhocracy, rather than rigid forward planning bureaucratic regulation, tended to govern the evolution of the relationship between the state and NPOs.”

    1. timotheus

      NGOs are often guilty of playing social worker to an unfair system, which certainly can lead to the psycho-political distortions described. However, there are exceptions of groups that explicitly approach their initiatives as challenges to the unfair and exploitative conditions that caused the problems in the first place. It will not surprise NC readers that such groups rarely pull down the big grants and are constantly trying to build up a small donor base a la Bernie S. They lead a fragile existence and constantly expose their key personnel to burnout. But they persist.

  22. barrisj

    The Onion strikes again:

    Republicans Storm National Statuary Hall, Demand To Be Allowed Into Elijah Cummings’ Casket

    WASHINGTON—Staging the protest in response to what they called “a lack of transparency,” House Republicans stormed the National Statuary Hall Thursday, demanding to be allowed inside Elijah Cummings’ casket. “As voting members of Congress, we have an obligation to our constituents to get inside and find out what’s in there—it could be anything,” said Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who explained how a closed-casket viewing went against the very foundations of American democracy while House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Steve King (R-IA) furiously pounded their fists against the coffin. “Right now, it’s an all-Democratic casket. Not even the press are allowed inside. We’ve been knocking all morning and have yet to receive a response, those cowards!” At press time, freaked-out House Republicans were calling for a counter investigation after discovering a body inside the casket.


  23. smoker

    I just commented on this two days ago, and today I see Facebook is getting more richly deserved coverage (way too late, as usual) of it’s sickening, now ballooning [Poorest, Minority Section of East] Menlo Park, CA Facebook Headquarters Police Unit. It’s hit the UK Daily Mail Facebook accused of ‘privatizing the law’ by paying Silicon Valley police department $11.2 million to create an entire unit responsible for protecting the tech giant’s campus, which sourced from, and links to, an October 23rd Vice piece on it: How Facebook Bought a Police Force – Hundreds of pages of documents obtained by Motherboard show how Facebook is using the Menlo Park Police Department to reshape the city.

    Unfortunately, the Vice piece doesn’t go all the way back to the March 2014 initial purchase of one cop. Peter (Facebook Mentor, Initial Investor and a Director) Thiel’s once nemesis (which Thiel destroyed) Gawker’s priceless Valleywag gave that some of the ridicule it well deserved – Facebook Just Bought Itself a Police Officer – sourcing an ultimately fawning San Jose Mercury News piece, as did NBC Bay Area Local which, in this case, did a far, far better job of objective reporting than the Mercury allowed, in a piece titled Facebook Will Be First Private Company in U.S. to Pay for Full-Time Beat Cop (which came up for me when searched by title).

    That major historic omission may, or may not be the fault of the Vice author, since searching for older news articles on the internet (sometimes even when the exact title is known) has been a frightful disaster of disappearing (and/or updated™) pixels, and changed urls which don’t reroute, for quite a while now. Whatever the reason, very tired of watching some of Silicon Valley’s nefarious history utterly disappear in supposedly highly researched articles, and in stunningly ill maintained news archives; where the subject “tags” one would most obviously expect are not included, and articles are noted as updated with no explanation as to what the update was.

    1. notabanker

      Interesting discussion in the fall of the Romans threads on the oligarchs controlling their own militias. The fact that Facebook sees the need for it it says it all, really.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “The ‘Russian asset’ and the ‘warmonger’: The roots of the Clinton-Gabbard dispute”

    Richard Nixon only had a hit list but it was the Clintons that took it to the next level by having a highly enhanced enemies spreadsheet. I guess that what with the attack on Gabbard, that their motto must be “Never forgive, never forget!”


    I wonder if there was a copy of that enemies spreadsheet on her server?

  25. Kengferno

    While it’s true that a lot of NGOs end up benefiting various elites, there are still quite a few that work directly with the people in need, working around the existing power structure, especially in poorer countries. Here’s a great example: https://trickleup.org/

    I’ve donated and think very highly of their mission

  26. dcblogger

    California changed the date of the primary in an effort to boost Kamala Harris. Clearly no a successful strategy. The thing about rigging an election is that there is a limit to what you can do. Whatever else you can say about the Davos Democrats, they are not invincible. if we organize, we can beat them.

  27. Heliopause

    Undecideds: Don’t read too much into this. Some pollsters don’t push undecideds at all, some push them to decide, and some don’t even report them. So in the limited time frame you’re talking about just one or two pollsters can skew this number pretty hard.

  28. Carey

    Edward Snowden quotes, from Joe Rogan’s how:

    “..Smartphone users, Snowden said, need to demand the right to control what their devices actually do – if we could see what was going on at any given time, we’d be horrified.

    “If there was a button on your phone that said ‘Do what I want, but not spy on me,’ you would press that button, right?”

    “Unfortunately Google and Apple… neither of them allow that button to exist. In fact, they actively interfere with it, because they say it’s a security risk,” Snowden continued, lamenting that the devices’ complexity has rendered them vulnerable to exploitation by government spies. The constant, desensitizing flood of stories about data manipulation “happens as a result of a single problem – an inequality of available information. They can see everything about you, they can see everything about what your device is doing, and they can do whatever they want with your device.”

    “You on the other hand… you paid for the device, but increasingly these corporations own it. Increasingly, these governments own it.”

  29. eg

    I wonder whether or not US presidential polling wouldn’t benefit from something along the lines of what this outfit has done in Canada, harvesting social networking activity to infer voting intentions


    Their “Polly” prediction of the Canadian Federal election was surprisingly accurate, given the parlous state of polling lately

  30. Mildred Montana

    Re: “For the first time, workers are paying a higher tax rate than investors and owners [WaPo]……… in 2018, labor income was taxed at a higher rate than capital income for the first time in modern U.S. history.”

    For the first time? What kind of nonsense is this? In my time workers have *always* been taxed at a higher rate than investors. For the last two decades at least ordinary income (eg. workers’ income) was taxed at a top rate of 35-39% while long-term capital gains (investors’ income) enjoyed a top rate of 15-20%. (See: wiki/Capital gains tax in the United States/History)

    Many years ago Warren Buffet (investor) famously pointed out that his tax rate was lower than that of his secretary (worker). That makes these quotes appear so blatantly false that I keep wondering if I’ve read and understood them correctly. If I have then they’re simply more disinformation off the WaPo assembly line.

  31. Oregoncharles

    ” First, no actual transition to socialism, though hoped for, is envisaged”
    “Ecotopia Emerging” actually provides this, in novelistic detail. (Considering it’s a utopian novel.)

  32. Oregoncharles

    ” no emergent historical logic is identified that would permit the establishment of socialism in a wealthy developed country that has heretofore eluded the first-world left.”

    Maybe not in the book being reviewed, but it certainly is on here: collapse.

    When “the scepter is rolling in the gutter” – the most convincing available explanation of both the French and Russian revolutions – someone is going to pick it up. Much depends on who that is.

        1. jrs

          And only worth doing if running to the incumbents left in the Dem primaries (the DSA strategy) or if nothing else to their left of foreign policy at least (anti-interventionist).

    1. jrs

      Maybe she is literally tired of being in politics, because other than as *personal* choice of what she wants to do with her life, and maybe politician isn’t it at all, and she is entitled to other dreams, it makes zero sense. Unless there really is some unknown dirt on her, and Clinton was right, and well I’ll believe that when there is ANY proof of that. Or else who got to her?

      Little chance to win, no kidding. So VP? But who would choose her, Bernie is the only one who might have any sympathy, but I think he’s far too smart and strategic to take a potential Sarah Palin type risk with his very real shot at the presidency, when he can find so many that are so much less thorny and so much more on message (economic populism) anyway. Cabinet position in a Bernie admin or something, well possible I guess, but what a long shot, betting both that Bernie wins the Presidency and he chooses her for a cabinet position.

      She should just run for Congress, eventually endorse Bernie, and if that time ever comes (requires a Dem Senate probably), cast votes for all of Bernie’s legislation, we need a lot of people voting for it to get it through.

  33. meeps

    > FWIW, I don’t think Clinton wants to run (though I am totally here for the liberal Democrat Götterdämmerung that would result of she did). I think she wants to be a power broker.

    Agreed on all points, while noting my concern that Democrats might start fires that would spread uncontrollably beyond the confines of the palace. They cannot be trusted with matches.

    As for Occam’s razor, Clinton’s latest derangement likely aims to deter any candidate from switching to an independent or a third party run when the DNC cheats to lose–again. The party reinforces its intent to thwart the will of the majority at every turn, leaving no other electoral alternative (the Republicans aren’t one, in my estimation). What power does Clinton have to broker at this point other than rump-buffing?

    1. ambrit

      The Power of Money, and just possibly, Epstein’s “secret” blackmail material. (If Epstein was a Mossad “asset,” Chelsea’s marriage makes a lot more sense.)

  34. Basil Pesto

    A review of a Holly Herndon gig, posted here because I seem to remember there was a link to an interview with her posted on WC last month.


    The concluding paragraph:

    This show is ravishing in its grace, its invention, its detail, its generosity, its pushing back of limits. The more futuristic it feels, the more human it becomes. This matters, because Herndon is a rare explorer who sees in AI the potential for it to make us more ourselves. It’s not that she is unaware of technology’s capacity to generate alienation and dystopia; on the contrary, her previous work shows she was well ahead of that curve, Rather, that she does not consider it inevitable. PROTO shows another way, and it shows it beautifully.

  35. ultrapope

    Re: Gabbard

    Something weird I noticed – During my morning Twitter scroll I came across 4-5 tweets disparaging Tulsi (“secret Republican”, “Assad Supporter”, etc.). Now its not the disparaging of Tulsi that’s the weird part – the weird part is that none of these tweets are from accounts I follow, nor were they retweeted from accounts I follow, nor were they simply liked by accounts I follow. Rather each one appeared simply because some account I follow happens to follow said accounts. Again, the fact that these 2-degrees-of-seperation tweets appear on my timeline is nothing new and I think its related to the old “tweets you might like” section. However, having all 100% of them attacking a single candidate like they are Tulsi, that is something I haven’t seen before.

      1. jrs

        Some of it might just be some really angry Harris supporters out there. I’d have serious reservations about Gabbard as president, but why the vitriol? Hillary supporters? No I really think Hillary is history and entirely irrelevant at this point. But Harris supporters? Yea maybe. And she ended the Harris campaign (and we can thank her for that one. Hey maybe California will even get a real progressive Dem Senator someday! I can dream).

        1. ultrapope

          Good point about the Harris supporters. My assumption is that this coincidence probably wasn’t done by Twitter internally. I would bet, however, that there is probably some way to “exploit” the “you might be interested in these accounts,” feature on Twitter. Whether this exploit is a bug or a feature in and of itself…

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