2:00PM Water Cooler 10/7/2019

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China

“China Narrows Scope for Trade Deal With U.S. Ahead of Talks” [Bloomberg]. “China’s leadership ‘are interpreting the impeachment discussion as a weakening of Trump’s position, or certainly a distraction,’ said Jude Blanchette, an expert on China’s elite politics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. ‘Their calculation is that Trump needs a win’ and is willing to make compromises on substance as a result, he said.”

Politics

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

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

* * *

2020

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 10/7/2019, 1:00 PM EDT:

Still waiting for the impact of Sanders heart attack. Biden up, taking votes from Warren, Sanders up. All together now: “It’s just one poll!” And here are the poll results:

And a C+ poll with a small sample size, as well.

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.”

* * *

Biden (D)(1): “Top Biden Donors Gather Amid Storm Clouds Over Campaign” [New York Times]. “Over cocktails on Friday evening and a Saturday spent in a drab [Philadelphia] hotel conference room, Mr. Biden’s top financiers and fund-raisers received strategy briefings and PowerPoint presentations, and plotted the path forward for the former vice president, who suddenly found himself in fourth place in the money chase… Multiple attendees said Ms. Warren was, by far, Mr. Biden’s most discussed opponent, with his strategists telling donors they expected her to come under new press scrutiny now that she has risen in the polls.” • Hmm.

Biden (D)(1): “Biden increases lead in South Carolina to 29 points” [The Hill]. From FOX. “The former vice president’s support among black voters appears to be largely responsible for the wide margin. He maintains a 4 point advantage on Warren among white voters but leads her by 41 points among blacks. He also leads among men and those over 45.”

O’Rourke (D)(1): Good for him:

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders’ Wealth Tax Is Wonkier Than Elizabeth Warren’s” [Slate]. “Warren has made taxing the fortunes of the rich a centerpiece of her presidential campaign. Onstage, she does her best to make the idea sound modest, quaint even, emphasizing that it’s just a “2 cent” tax on each dollar of wealth (until it hits 3 cents for billionaires, anyway)…. On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders introduced his own, much more aggressive version of a wealth tax. Though the senator’s plan would raise more money than Warren’s ($4.35 trillion over a decade versus $2.6 trillion), his rollout didn’t focus so much on paying for social programs. Instead, he borrowed a line from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the activist left, and front-loaded the class war. As he put it on Twitter: “Billionaires should not exist.” … Scoping out a bit further: Under the Warren plan [, according to Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman], the fortunes of the 15 richest Americans would be 54 percent smaller today. Under the Sanders plan, they would be about 80 percent smaller.”

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Sanders unveils plan to stop corporate donations to Dem convention” [Politico]. “The Vermont senator pledges to put a stop to all corporate PAC contributions to the convention if he wins the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. AT&T, Facebook, Independence Blue Cross and other companies each gave seven-figure donations to the event’s host committee in 2016…. Sanders’ policy comes days after he was released from the hospital following a heart attack.” • Plenty of heart attacks among the Democratic strategists, no doubt!

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): “Elizabeth Warren’s New Labor Plan Is Good. Bernie Sanders’ Is Better” [Vice]. “Certainly, there is much for workers to celebrate in both Warren’s platform and what it says about the state of the American labor movement…. But declaring Warren’s labor plan “the most ambitious” of the 2020 campaign is a step too far. For all her talk of ‘big, structural change,’ Warren’s platform focuses on workers’ legal rights as individuals, rather than their rights as a collective. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ own labor plan, which issues a more fundamental challenge to the very essence of the American workplace by tackling at-will employment. The overwhelming majority of American workers are employed ‘at will,’ which means that they can be fired for basically any reason, regardless of performance on the job…. Sanders’s Workplace Democracy Plan, which he released in August , calls for the passage of ‘just cause’ legislation, which would prohibit employers from firing workers for anything other than their performance on the job. Warren’s plan leaves this fundamental imbalance untouched.” • That’s not a trivial difference.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(4): “Why Bernie Has To Win” [Nathan Robinson, Current Affairs]. “What is happening right now is that an old man is carrying the most colossal imaginable weight on his shoulders. It is the weight of all of those people you see in that ad, people drowning beneath medical bills and student debt and terrified of climate change and taking care of dying relatives and juggling miserable jobs they work from can’t-see in the morning to can’t-see at night, the people who come up to him and beg him to please please just help them, make it okay, fix this. And you can watch him in that video promising them that he will do everything he can to fix it. And the news that he had a fucking heart attack means we’re learning just what he’ll do to carry out that promise, and when those people hug him and beg him, he knows that it doesn’t matter whether he’d rather be sitting by Lake Champlain with his grandkids instead of crisscrossing Iowa all winter listening to desperate strangers tell him about the worst things that have ever happened to them. He’s got to do it, because there is so much riding on it, and history has put him in a unique position, and if that happens to you then, sorry, you have to do what you’re put on earth to do, and if it kills you, tough luck.”

UPDATE Trump (R)(1): “Trump Wins Delay After Judge Refuses to Block N.Y. Tax Subpoena” [Bloomberg]. • If all this runs true to form, what we will find out is that Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA LLP, are very good. A sales boon to them, a nothingburger for the rest of us.

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “Trump’s enemies add up in the wrong state” [Politico]. “He publicly doubted Hurricane Maria’s death toll in Puerto Rico and spread conspiracy theories about it. He reportedly called Haiti a ‘shithole.’ He balked at the idea of allowing Bahamians displaced by Hurricane Dorian into the U.S., explaining that it risked bringing in “some very bad people. Since taking office as president, Donald Trump has alienated what looks like a mini-United Nations of voters with deep connections to other countries, tens of thousands of whom live in the state that’s essential to his re-election — Florida.” • Maybe. Not clear they’re more alienated than they were in 2016, and Trump will also have picked up some Latinx votes with his Venezuela policy, sadly.

Warren (D)(1): “How Elizabeth Warren could sweep the 2020 primaries” [The Week]. “What if one candidate wins both Iowa and New Hampshire, and then the rest of the field rapidly melts away? With Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) surging in both national and early state polling, analysts are probably underestimating the likelihood that she essentially runs the table in next year’s Democratic primaries and caucuses — like John Kerry did 15 years ago — despite the presence of multiple viable alternatives. No two campaigns are exactly alike, and Warren is already doing much better than Kerry was at this point in 2003. But the two contests share some similarities: a sitting Republican president despised by Democratic activists challenged by a group of Democrats featuring at least half a dozen candidates who you could picture in the Oval Office.” • Extended comparison between 2004 and 2020, with Howard Dean in the Sanders role, and Warren in the Kerry role. Let us remember that Kerry won the primary… and then went on the lose the general. To George W. Bush, dry drunk, fool, and architect of the Iraq War. Be careful what you wish for.

Warren (D)(2): “No, No, No. Elizabeth Warren Is Not a Socialist” [Bloomberg]. “Wall Street often lumps Warren together with Senator Bernie Sanders as a “socialist.” She is nothing of the sort. As she consistently says, “I believe in markets.” She just wants them to work better. Her stance towards Wall Street reminds me of Franklin Roosevelt’s, who came into office in 1933, with banks failing and the country struggling through the Depression. By the time he died in 1945, bank customers had federal deposit insurance, commercial banks and investment banks had been separated, and the Securities and Exchange Commission had been created to regulate the markets. These three measures did a great deal to restore Americans’ faith in the nation’s financial system. But of course Wall Street hated Roosevelt too.” • Fair enough!

Warren (D)(3): From an associate professor at Stony Brook, hence notionally in the 10%. Thread:

Warren (D)(4): “The white supremacy of Elizabeth Warren” [Twila Barnes, Indian Country]. From March, still germane: “During the summer of 2012, in the company of fellow Cherokee women united by a desire to educate and invest tribal perspectives into the contemporary discourse, I traveled to Massachusetts to seek an audience with Warren’s team. The campaign agreed to the meeting via the Boston press only to renege upon our arrival and falsely malign us as the pawns of “right-wing extremists.” It stonewalled Indian Country Today, the largest Indigenous news platform in the country.[15] It ignored Cherokee protestors at the state nominating event.[16] It rebuffed overtures from Indigenous delegates at the Democratic National Convention.[17]. In summary: when confronted with Indigenous perspectives that posed an obstacle to her personal advancement, Warren’s carefully calculated response was to pretend that we didn’t exist.” • See above. All Warren had to do was ask the Cherokees instead of doing the genetic test. Then she would have found out that Cherokee citizenship is not by blood. But perhaps she knew she wouldn’t like the answer?

UPDATE Warren (D)(5): “Elizabeth Warren comes under fire for claiming she lost her teaching job because she was ‘visibly pregnant’ – after 2008 video resurfaces in which she says she vacated the position because she didn’t have the proper credentials” [Daily Mail (UserFriendly). “The Democratic hopeful, 70, told a town hall audience in Nevada on Wednesday that she lost her job teaching special needs students in the early 1970s because she was ‘visibly pregnant’. ‘By the end of the first year, I was visibly pregnant, and the principal did what principals did in those days – wish me luck and hire someone else for the job,’ she told the crowd in Carson City. However, a YouTube clip posted in January 2008 shows Warren giving a different explanation as to why she left that school. In the video, she tells interviewer Harry Kreisler that her undergraduate degree was in speech pathology and audiology, and, as such, she didn’t have the necessary educational requirements to continue on at the school.” • I don’t know how much difference this will make in the primary; on this side of the water, the story hasn’t broken out of the right wing fever swamp. But the general could be very different. Among other things, 2016 was a referendum on the fitness of the credentialed 10% to rule the country (on behalf of the oligarchs). The verdict went against them. Since then, the sense that the 10%, as a class — the “front row,” as Arnade calls it — is often crooked can only have been reinforced by the summer’s drumbeat of college admission scandals. I shudder to think what the very well-funded Republican attack machine will do with all this.

UPDATE Yang (D)(1): “Andrew Yang faces his critics in the Asian American community” [Los Angeles Times]. “Seeing Yang up on the Democratic primary debate stage should have been a thrilling milestone for me as a fellow Taiwanese American. But when I heard him use model-minority stereotypes to describe himself, it was hard to feel proud. A Taiwanese American man had made it to the platform of the Democratic primary debates without formal support from the party. He had out-polled, out-raised and outperformed many professional politicians, some of whom had openly laughed at him. He had started a national conversation about a universal basic income, commanding rallies of thousands all around the country with his charisma. And yet he still felt that the most practical use of his identity on a national stage was as a joke. He was a powerful man on a powerful stage, powerless to be himself.”

Impeachment

“Trump Is Still Riding Herd Over the GOP” [Jeet Heer, The New Republic]. “You would need a seismograph of extreme sensitivity to register any sign of a Republican rebellion against Trump. Aside from Romney, who has had harsh words but still doesn’t say he will vote to remove Trump, there have simply been no GOP dissents of note. The Never Trump faction of the GOP has been a shrinking sect since 2016. Many erstwhile Trump opponents within the GOP abjectly surrendered after he won the presidency and scored important right-wing victories on tax cuts and court appointments.”

“When Trump Gets His Alligator” [Ross Douthat, New York Times]. “But Alligator mississippiensis is also a useful condensed symbol of how the Trump administration has survived Trump’s own deeply unpresidential conduct: Because most of the time, when the president asks for an alligator, the people around him figure out a way to make sure the sharp-toothed reptile doesn’t actually show up…. If the president thinks that voter fraud cost him the popular vote, you create a voter fraud commission that will subsequently dissolve. If the president wants a “Muslim ban” you settle on a dumb but modest travel ban that leaves most of the world’s Muslim countries untouched. If the president wants a bargain with North Korea no matter the strategic cost, let him have a handshake in the DMZ. If the president wants to leave NAFTA, you come up with a way to keep the deal but tweak it and rename it…. Indeed, the ultimate fizzle of the Mueller report was possible because that report ended up documenting a president whose staff let him rant about obstructing justice, but then — in Mueller’s own words — mostly “declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.” With the Ukraine scandal, though, this protection has broken down again. (Not least because in Rudy Giuliani, Trump found an adviser even more enthusiastic about alligators than his boss.)”

“Texas Rep. Will Hurd, Republican and former CIA officer, at center of impeachment fight” [Los Angeles Times]. “Ever since his time as an undercover officer in the CIA, where he learned how to maintain control at high speeds, Hurd said, he prefers being in the driver’s seat.” • That’s what you want in your Praetorian Guard!

The obvious solution is regime change:

Ukraine, Ikraine, Wekraine:

2019

“Hillary Clinton is the one that got away. But isn’t going away.” [WaPo]. “it’s hard to think of another human whom we so love to hate and so hate to love, and can’t get rid of, and then fiercely miss as soon as we do…. Every time Hillary Clinton makes another public appearance, she is giving us a gift. The gift is not her mediocre book. The gift is not magnetic wit. The gift is all her complications. The gift is being able to tell her to go away while simultaneously wishing she would never leave.”

“Who should run against Trump? How about Hillary Clinton?” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “Clinton beat Trump by nearly 3 million votes nationally in 2016, but of course lost the Electoral College. That’s not bad for one of the worst-run campaigns ever. You’ve got to think she and the party learned something.” • No, you don’t. “She sure seems loose. Clinton has been making the media rounds to promote the book she wrote with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, ‘The Book of Gutsy Women.’ She’s come off as funny, smart and natural.” • It’s not an accident that Clinton’s favorables are highest when she’s not running for anything.

Pollsters

“Pew: Phone polling in crisis again” [Politico (RU)]. From February, still germane: “The Pew Research Center reported Wednesday that the response rate for its phone polls last year fell to just 6 percent — meaning pollsters could only complete interviews with 6 percent of the households in their samples…. Most of the major media polls — the ABC News/Washington Post, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, Fox News, CNN, CBS News — are conducted using a traditional phone methodology, as are some of the academic polls regularly cited in the media, including from Quinnipiac University and Marist College. Phone numbers are generated and dialed to obtain a random sample of Americans, or voters. Pew’s report makes clear that the low response rates don’t automatically mean all phone polling is invalid. Indeed, studies show pollsters have mostly been able to counter some of these forces by making complex adjustments to ensure they have a representative sample. But all of that work is getting more difficult, potentially cost-prohibitive and could become increasingly prone to errors, the report says.” • RU remarks: “FWIW, polls are skewed against Bernie Sanders because his young supporters don’t have land lines. With a 6% response rate (link), the fundraising totals could be more representative of support.” “Skewed” if the “complex adjustments” are off. But that’s before we get to the fact that the pollsters are now players, because their results determined who gets in the debates. Of course, polling has always had “house bias.” That’s different from a newly introduced incentive to manipulate individual surveys.

Our Famously Free Press

State Media (1):

State Media (2):

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

Shipping: “Truckers are pulling back at a time of the year when they should be growing. Trucking companies reduced payrolls for the third straight month in September…. cutting 4,200 jobs collectively as hiring in the broader U.S. market slows. Truckers have now cut employment by 9,600 jobs since mid-summer, a sign of a broad retrenchment in the sector from last year’s booming market along with apparent pessimism over peak-season demand” [Wall Street Journal]. “That’s a contrast with logistics operations focused on e-commerce fulfillment. Warehousing and storage businesses added 3,400 workers last month while parcel carriers boosted employment by 3,600 jobs. The difference is that many truckers are more exposed to a faltering American industrial economy even as online retail sales have been growing.”

Shipping: “Railroad Loads Continue to Decline, a Casualty of Manufacturing Slowdown” [Industry Week]. “This year’s railroad slump is getting worse as a slowdown in manufacturing threatens broader weakness in the U.S. economy. There’s no bottom in sight as the decline in carloads for large U.S. railroads widened to 5.5% in the third quarter, the biggest drop in three years, according to weekly reports from the Association of American Railroads. Shipments are down for autos, coal, grain, chemicals and consumer goods, with crude oil the only bright spot. The rail downturn underscores the damage from the U.S.-China trade war, which is making shippers more cautious and crimping freight — validating earlier warnings from railroad executives. Companies that stocked up on inventory last year amid President Donald Trump’s tariff threats are now working it off. Adding to the cargo drop, a brief rise in coal exports has fizzled and bad weather has delayed crop harvests and dragged down grain carloads.”

Retail: “A relief valve for fast-changing retail supply chains may be tightening up. Outlet centers are starting to feel the pain of the mounting storeowner bankruptcies as the impact of online shopping spreads to discount business. ….[T]he shift is hitting a wing of the retail world that provided a release point for excess inventory and seemed immune to the pressures weighing on the rest of the consumer world” [Wall Street Journal]. “Mall owner Simon Property Group Inc. is working with flash-sale website operator Rue Gilt Groupe to launch a curated site featuring merchandise from outlet stores. That’s the latest sign of growing concern that such operations may no longer offer brands and mall owners refuge from the broader changes in retail sales. The pain isn’t being spread equally: Experts say outlet centers with higher-end retailers continue to draw shoppers by the busload while others struggle.”

Tech: “Senators Frustrated by Amazon’s “Evasive” Response to Questions on Driver Safety” [Pro Publica]. “Amazon has refused a request from three U.S. senators to disclose the names of the companies that deliver millions of packages to homes across the country, providing what one lawmaker called ‘evasive’ responses to questions about the e-commerce giant’s network of delivery contractors. Last month, Senators Richard Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown demanded information from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos after the company’s delivery network was the subject of investigations by BuzzFeed News and ProPublica. Those reports found that Amazon uses contractors to carry out an increasingly large share of its deliveries and that the system has led to worker abuses and jeopardized public safety. When problems arise, Amazon denies responsibility, saying it can’t be held to account for the actions of independent contractors, though the company keeps a tight grip on how the drivers do their jobs. At least 10 people have died in crashes involving Amazon delivery providers, ProPublica found.” • What?!?!?! When Amazon’s house organ declares that “democracy dies in darkness”? Really?

Tech: “Google suspended facial recognition research for the Pixel 4 smartphone after reportedly targeting homeless black people” [Business Insider]. “Multiple sources at Google contractor Randstad told the New York Daily News last week that in order to get more pictures of people with darker skin tones, they had been told to rush subjects in Atlanta through consent forms and obfuscate exactly what the photos were being used for…. They rewarded people with $5 gift card for taking part in the “voluntary survey,” and were told to target black homeless people and students, who they were told would be more likely to respond to the offer of a gift card. One source also said they were told to target homeless people because they were less likely to talk to the press.” • So the homeless faces represent… all of us. Or at least all of them.

Tech: “Most Deepfakes Are Used for Creating Non-Consensual Porn, Not Fake News” [Vice]. “‘[A] key trend we identified is the prominence of non-consensual deepfake pornography, which accounted for 96% of the total deepfake videos online,’ the study, titled The State of Deepfakes and authored by cybersecurity company Deeptrace , reads.”

Manufacturing: “Boeing Faces Deeper Antitrust Probe of Embraer Deal in Europe” [Industry Week]. “Regulators said they didn’t see any potential rivals from China, Japan or Russia that would be able to replicate Embraer’s competition with Airbus and Boeing within the next five or 10 years. They also flagged concerns that the American aircraft maker and Embraer compete head-to-head for 100-150 seat aircraft, with the Brazilian company a “small but important competitive force” for bigger 100-225 seat aircraft…. Boeing has had a long relationship with Embraer and the two companies don’t compete directly for most of their business, with Embraer focusing on regional jets and Boeing on larger aircraft. The exceptions are two product overlaps. Embraer’s largest model, the E2-E195, seats between 132 and 146, according to its website. That makes it a competitor to Boeing’s 737 Max 7, which holds between 138 and 172 passengers.” • Oh.

Mr. Market: “Investors Are Caught in a Global Tug of War” [Bloomberg]. “The first part of the week was dominated by investor concern that international weakness in manufacturing had spread to the U.S. and, more importantly, to the services sector, which dominates the domestic economy. The result was a harrowing two-day drop in stocks that erased the gains of the previous five months. The second part was much different. Hopes for support from Washington, fueled by constructive comments from the White House about the coming trade negotiations with China, were accompanied by the release on Friday of the September jobs report, which kept the door open for another Federal Reserve rate cut this month. Stocks rebounded.”

Honey for the Bears: “Recession Signals Accumulate As Trade War Continues” [Forbes]. “Over the last two months, negative signals have been accumulating. Both the UK and German economies registered negative GDP growth, we were recently witness to a yield-curve inversion (suggesting that market participants are anticipating a downturn), final revisions to Real Gross Private Domestic Investment–a key determinant of GDP–confirmed that it has fallen, traders continue to worry about fallout from the trade war, last month’s employment figures were disappointing, and ‘the ISM’s U.S. manufacturing index showed its first contraction in over three years. It came down to 49.1%; anything below 50% suggests contraction.’ This week’s announcements have offered more reasons to be pessimistic.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 33 Fear (previous close: 32, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 7 at 12:20pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged. “Several nations are suffering from drought conditions” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. I wonder when, in 2020, the index will start flirting with 190 again. So far, the latest impeachment push hasn’t changed the Index.

The Biosphere

“Cows are killing the Amazon. Pledges from Walmart and Nike didn’t help save it” [Los Angeles Times]. “JBS and other big meatpackers are required to monitor only their direct suppliers — and not the ranches and fattening farms that frequently supply those suppliers. Experts said it has become common practice for dirty ranches to “launder” their cattle through ranches that have been deemed clean.”

“Don’t Take Movements at Face Value: Reading Cory Morningstar’s Research into Environmental Activist Greta Thunberg” [Medium]. “During a discussion with a guy who was involved in the financial end of foundation work on climate change and ecosystems, he termed the natural processes occurring in ecosystems as ‘ecosystem services‘ that need to be quantified monetarily. ‘That’s weird’, I thought, so I probed and he enthusiastically explained how financializing the functioning of ecosystems would help the foundation he worked for create ‘deals’ to structure the ways in which they would agree to use their resources to help preserve or restore ecosystems in various parts of the world. His explanation made a certain amount of sense at the time, but the framing of natural processes to fit within a neoliberal concept of markets and payments troubled me.” • As it would any non-sociopath.

Class Warfare

“GE Freezes Pension Benefits to Cut Deficit by $8 Billion” [Industry Week]. “General Electric Co. took a bold step to cut the debt hampering its turnaround, freezing pension benefits for more than 20,000 U.S. employees…. The company, which closed its pension plan to new entrants in 2012, will offer a lump-sum payment to eligible former employees who haven’t started receiving their monthly pension payments.” • See on pension freezes here.

“Union Says Talks With GM Have ‘Taken a Turn for the Worse'” [Bloomberg]. “Progress toward a deal broke down over investment in U.S. plants. GM has offered to build its electric trucks in a plant that straddles the line between Detroit and the town of Hamtramck, which is scheduled to be idle in January when the sedans it builds go away. But there is no promise for GM’s idled compact car plant in Lordstown, Ohio. The UAW wants GM to allocate new work for those factories, even if it means moving the assembly of the Chevrolet Equinox and Blazer and GMC Terrain sport utility vehicles from a plant in Mexico, one of the people said. The pressure for a deal has been increasing, on both sides, and the issues are complex. They include corruption investigations of union leaders; the shift from traditional engines to electric powertrains; and the possibility that the economy could flip into recession with damage of a longer strike at a company like GM. The fight won’t be over once an agreement is reached, since the deal must be ratified by all members. After four years of record profits for the company, workers want a share of the spoils, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of the labor and economics group and the Center for Automotive Research. ‘They will have to sell it,’ she said.”

News of the Wired

For all you business travellers out there:

The Xmas season is coming up:

I saw — was chivvied into seeing, really, but rightly — June’s Netflix documentary “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story,” directed by Scorsese. It’s very good. This song seems a propos:

See “Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue: A user’s guide” [Los Angeles Times]; the rhythm section of Rob Stoner (bass) and Howie Wyeth (drums) was very well-regarded. As we can hear!

* * *

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

TH: “I find that trying to maintain any amount of detail in a white-petaled flower can lead to an otherwise dismally dark scene. So here, there is vein detail in the lowest petals, but it’s lost in those receiving the lion’s share of skylight that form this disinterested bee’s pedestal.” Hmm.

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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.

103 comments

    1. Isotope_C14

      Is there a particular reason to use hooktube over youtube?

      I’m intrigued since it just directs there anyways.

      https://hooktube.com/watch?v=6EefPcht54c

      Devo had nothing on this guy. Perfect music video, for the exact perfect time.

      I couldn’t help but to watch it (again) and now this is going to be in my head for weeks.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Hoo, that was quite something for this old guy. ;)

        I use hooktube, where possible (less and less, these days) in an effort to avoid
        the googleplex and those evil IMO environs. YMMV, of course.

        Reply
        1. Isotope_C14

          I’m on the darker side of music. :)

          Here’s the Bernie – Birdy Sanders video. Sorry, it is still youtube, but that’s my president, if I have to have one.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jc2TVLoxsDA

          Ya see, this little bird doesn’t know it, but…

          Arguably the most priceless moment in a presidential campaign.

          I’m sure Warren is better, will this be her campaign song?

          Or will it be Trumps?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21ixwIaN7qw

          Cherokee people … Cherokee tribe. Won’t this be Trump’s anti-Warren song?

          Professional democratic strategists actually need kindergarten, and that’s about all. Funny how they all seem to have missed that…

          Reply
      2. Hepativore

        Hooktube used to have its own player. Aside from that, the website loaded faster due to the lack of ads on Hooktube’s frontpage as well as the fact that Hooktube removed Google’s trackers as it did not use Google’s APIs and it also removed ads off of the videos themselves. Finally, it did not use YouTube’s heavily-biased search algorithm so it was easier to find content that Google was trying to bury. However, Google issued a Cease and Desist letter to the creators of Hooktune last year so they abandoned it. It still works, but a lot of bugs have crept in since then.

        Now, the best replacement is Invidious at

        invidio.us/

        It leeches content off of YouTube with all of the advantages that Hooktube had, except it still has it’s own video player. As a bonus, you can toggle between video and audio-only by clicking on the “headphones” symbol next to the video title. In both cases, it will still play in the background even when minimized

        By the way, I heard that in around four moths or so, YouTube is going to make their age-restriction policy very stringent. This might cause most creators to put their videos in the 18+ category to be on the safe side or face YouTube’s wrath. Leech websites like Hooktube and Invidious bypass the age block, but this will probably deal another blow to the ability of independent content creators to survive on YouTube.

        Reply
  1. fdr-fan

    On the “troubles” of pollsters: Everyone is using their phones all the time now, and big data knows what everyone is thinking at every microsecond. If pollsters can’t take advantage of those two trends, they don’t deserve to be paid.

    Reply
  2. Tim

    Regarding phone polling. Anything that is optional risk demographic error. Getting a court case longer than 2 weeks in California ensures an extremely conservative jury pool.

    Hassling people by phone (whether land line or cellphone) limits you to idiots and/or people with way too much time on their hands that still pick up a phone call from an unknown number, just like the other 10 calls from unknown numbers that turned out to be telemarketers that week.

    Nobody I know (I’m 40 married with children) answers a call from an unknown number anymore.

    I’ll go so far as to say: TELEMARKETING HAS RUINED POLLING.

    My solution? Keep doing phone polling and start also doing text message only polling, and start doing email only polling. Use same methods of questioning in both. Not quite the scientific method, but at least a sanity check on what we are getting right now.

    Reply
      1. David Carl Grimes

        I was wondering how Bernie can remain stuck polling at the 14% range when his fundraising prowess from small donors is higher than anyone else – $25M in the third quarter. Are these just his rabid followers as the MSM suggests? Is Bernie just preaching to the choir? Or is he gaining new converts?

        Anecdotally, I don’t see too many Bernie signs (Suburban MD). If I do, they’re from 2016. Maybe Warren has adopted the Microsoft Strategy of Embrace and Extend, adopting some of Bernie’s progressive outlook and policies without diluting her “capitalist to the bone” market-based approach. I also constantly get feedback that Bernie is too old. He’ll be 79 on inauguration day. People think he can only serve one term – and his recent heart attack only serves to highlight his age.

        Reply
        1. jrs

          I don’t see a ton of any political stuff, but the bumper stickers here (greater Los Angeles area), it’s more Bernie than anyone else. I think he’s the only one that generates much enthusiasm at all, he’s the only one I see people table for etc.. I’m not saying the rest don’t have some fans (well maybe noone is really a fan of Biden) but overall.

          Reply
        2. Utah

          My two cents: Bernie seems to do better in registered voter polls as opposed to likely voter polls. He’s targeting everybody and not just likely voters most likely.
          I trust that Bernie will choose a VP that is like him enough that if he can’t make it to a second term we’ll still get the reforms he’s pushing. That’s why I’m still Sanders and what I’ve been talking to my friends about. He’s the only one with a robust single payer Medicare for all platform and that’s my biggest priority.

          Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      A friend is a “professional” (his quotes) poll taker – that voice on the phone. I think I’ll ask him.

      I don’t answer to numbers I don’t recognize, either.

      Reply
    2. hunkerdown

      Also, personal financial stress increases the chance that an unknown caller will be a debt collector, which further disinclines one to answer them. Which is quite convenient for those who would prefer not to gauge the sentiment of the economically distressed but don’t want to be too obvious about it.

      Reply
    3. eg

      I generally only pick up my landline if I’m really bored and feel like stringing along a telemarketer — otherwise that is what the answering machine is for: to figure out which calls are worth returning …

      Reply
  3. DonCoyote

    re: Will Hurd, the CIA Republican…

    Don’t worry, his Democratic opponent in 2018 (and probably top contender for the seat in 2020) impressive resume as well:

    In the 12-years following her active duty service, Gina has continued to build her career in national security, intelligence, and defense – including advising on operations in Latin America and Africa, to include advising on military operations that supported South Sudan’s independence referendum and serving in the Libya Crisis Intelligence Cell.

    So it’s spooks all the way down…

    Reply
    1. Off The Street

      Some of those in the news will be craning their necks for nooses before long.

      In related news, the Clinton operetta isn’t over until the fat lady sings. She should be on stage soon, introduced by a Barr-itone and friends. Maybe after that one of the unpleasant noises in American history will start to fade out.

      Reply
  4. marku52

    Biggest news of the day: Trump stating he was pulling out of Syria

    “President Trump vowed on Monday to pull back from military involvement in the Middle East and leave it to others “to figure the situation out,”

    Of course, we’ve seen this play before, somehow the Blob always gets to keep its wars going, but listen to the hysterical wailing of Republican Senators?

    “The announcement set off a swift and bipartisan backlash from other lawmakers as well, with some of the president’s closest allies on Capitol Hill taking to Twitter to denounce the decision, all while carefully avoiding the president’s name.”

    Imagine the MIC lobbyist $$ pouring in to keep the wars going.

    Is this how we get President Pence? (He would be thrilled to start some new Christian wars)..

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Trump could announce doubling the minimum wage free health care and free college and the “left” would scream in opposition.

      Makes you realize to what unbelievable extent Democrat = CIA = MIC

      Reply
    2. marym

      Some comments on the scope of the “withdrawal”

      Justin Amash @justinamash

      President Trump is not ending any war. He insists on keeping American troops in Syria in violation of our Constitution. He’s simply moving troops out of a specific area and green lighting Turkey’s attack on the Kurds and others who have helped combat ISIS. It’s just more war.

      https://www.cbsnews.com/news/turkey-move-into-northern-syria-take-captured-isis-fighters-held-by-kurdish-forces-white-house-says/

      A senior U.S. security official confirmed to CBS News that U.S. forces had pulled out of observation posts at the border and pulled out of a joint patrol mechanism that was recently set up with Turkey. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin said whether the U.S. now pulls all its forces out of northeastern Syria entirely would depend on how deep the Turkish incursion is and whether the U.S.-backed SDF fight back.

      A senior State Department official said Monday the number of U.S. troops being removed from northeastern Syria outposts was “very small,” about two dozen troops, which constitute two detachments, CBS News’ Christina Ruffini reports.

      https://www.newsweek.com/exclusive-official-who-heard-call-says-trump-got-rolled-turkey-has-no-spine-1463623

      The New York Times reported Monday that about 100 to 150 American forces would withdraw from northern Syria but not completely from the country. Newsweek confirmed the Times reporting but the National Security Council official said the number was closer to 230 service members, among them U.S. Special Forces and reconnaissance units.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        For me, the bigger takeaways…

        1) Trump does NOT have control over the national security apparatus.
        2) If he’s had 3 years and 1) is still true, then it’s clear he will NEVER get control of the national security apparatus. He’s not up to the job, sadly.

        Reply
    3. Massinissa

      I decided to go look at the comments of the fox news article announcing this to try and get a feel of what the GOP rank and file think about this: It was split straight down the middle. Usually Fox News comments sections have a sort of consensus, but not this time. Trump is either a feckless coward, or a hero finally bringing the troops home.

      Reply
  5. John

    Hillary Clinton the person we love to hate and hate to love as what Washington Post Puts it. I do not love her. I do not hate her. I do wish her to remain a full time grandmother and a once upon a time candidate.

    Reply
    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      I just assume the “we” they’re talking about is the cocktail circuit, who’d probably love nothing more than a Clinton/Trump rematch (good for ratings, dontchaknow?)

      Reply
    2. Off The Street

      She did love hiking in the woods. Maybe Wuk’s eastern friends can send out suggestions for the App Trail, and she could meet Mark Sanford for a chardonnay break.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Maybe Wuk’s eastern friends can send out suggestions for the App Trail…

        The App Trail?, not her e-mails again, perhaps in pursuit of Pantsuits Я’Us-sia, or other apps!

        Reply
      1. Massinissa

        Wasnt the difference that the Dems CHOSE Adlai Stevenson to come back because they didnt have anyone else who wanted to try? With Hillary, she would be shoving aside like a dozen people

        Reply
    3. Chris Cosmos

      There’s an article in the Duran that speaks of the likelihood of a Clinton run. I believe it is possible whereas a few months ago I would never have thought it. I believe it for the following reasons different from the article: 1) Biden is incoherent and looks like he’ll be cruising for the nomination if current polls hold up–he’s held up by nostalgia which I didn’t think was so big–Clinton is at least able to speak in normal sentences and is smart at least; 2) Sanders is going nowhere–his heart attack makes him difficult to vote for other than as a placeholder for other left of center candidates; 3) Warren has located herself in a good place on the issues so that most people will vote for her she lacks the gut-level appeal of Sanders.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        ..which is to say Warren is Obama v2.0, or Bubba v3.0.

        Not buying what she’s selling; no chance, and I’m not alone.

        Reply
    4. Chris Cosmos

      We still have to face the ugly truth that Biden is still way ahead of his rivals. I never thought the guy would last in the lead at this point. Sanders is done, IMHO, and Warren is too much an intellectual for most Americans to tolerate in this radically un-intellectual age so….is it going to be Biden? I know I cannot vote for a man as crooked and malevolent (the best smiles often hide the nastiest of intentions) as he is.

      Reply
      1. dcrane

        Here’s one Sanders voter who couldn’t care less about the heart attack. I’d rather vote for just one year of Sanders – or his brain in a jar as someone said here – than four years of any other candidate except Gabbard. Give him a good VP candidate and he’s fine. What matters the most is the message and the policy.

        Btw many of the candidates, including the front runners, are over 70.

        Reply
    5. The Rev Kev

      ‘my God, it’s hard to think of another human whom we so love to hate and so hate to love, and can’t get rid of, and then fiercely miss as soon as we do.’

      Isn’t that describing a relationship with an unfaithful partner?

      Reply
      1. foghorn longhorn

        Don’t love or hate her, those are emotions, not rational decisions.
        But have zero respect for her or any of the other clown cars in the parade.
        Bernie is someone to respect for his decades long service trying to do the right things.
        Begrudging respect for orangeman, because he thumped the clintons and bushes in one electoral cycle.
        Further, he appears to be unafraid of the blob or the six ways from sunday IC.

        Reply
    6. notabanker

      Let’s ask Sean Smith, Chris Stevens, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty if she should run again. If they all answer yes, I’m in.

      Reply
  6. Jeff W

    Warren (D)(2): “No, No, No. Elizabeth Warren Is Not a Socialist” [Bloomberg]
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Sheesh. The whole frame of this Liz-Warren-is-not-a-socialist (does anyone who pays any attention to Warren think she is?) as response to Wall-Street-is-very-afraid-of-Warren spate of articles work together for this subtext: she’s “left enough” that you might mistake her for a socialist but she’s FDR, in other words, she’s the “left-most acceptable candidate,” pick her. (Sanders is beyond the pale.)

    It’s ridiculous. Warren has no theory of change, other than “if I say I want it during the campaign, Congress will have to enact it.” She has no idea about movements as Sanders does. She’ll take big-donor money during the general election because she, ostensibly, doesn’t “believe in unilateral disarmament“—in fact, she doesn’t need that money; small-donor money will pour in if, perish the thought, she becomes the nominee. It’s her way of signaling that she will not disrupt the status quo. She can’t enact what she says she wants and she won’t because she’ll be too compromised—and, ultimately, she “loves markets” (as one former aide put it).

    This she’s-a-socialist-no-she’s-not recurring theme shouldn’t even be in play (except in right-wing circles where Otto von Bismarck would have been called a socialist). It all works horribly but quite deliberately to Sanders’s detriment.

    Reply
    1. John k

      But I want a socialist. So for me, there’s only one candidate.
      What would I do in the general if it’s her vs trump? Not a problem for me in Ca, my vote doesn’t matter, I’ll do what I did in 2016 and write in Bernie.
      Tough if I was in a swing.
      Speaking of which, if dems want to win the general, the ten closest states in the last election would count 2-3x as much as others in the nomination… course, this would reward flyover, anathema because elites in coastal… and anyway dnc view is its better to lose to trump than win with Bernie, so non starter.

      Reply
      1. Phenix

        In Pa it is Bernie or Trump for me. If Warren wins I will campaign for Trump. A similar movement happened last election. Bernie supporters I knew in Michigan worked for Trump’s campaign. One in particular put in overtime to defeat Clinton. They and he hates Warren more. A similar vibe is in NY but that state is solidly blue. I wish they would work for a 3rd party.

        Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            But what if the message you want to send is “exterminate the Catfood Democrats”? Voting for Trump was the best way to do that last election, and if the Dems nominate another Catfood Democrat, it would be the best way to send that message in 2020.

            IF . . . the message is “exterminate the Catfood Democrats”.

            Reply
    2. hunkerdown

      Warren’s theory of change has been spelled out for years, and it is apparently her operating theory, however weak treacle it may be:

      After dinner, “Larry leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice,” Ms. Warren writes. “I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People — powerful people — listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders.

      Reply
  7. curlydan

    I saw the Dylan Rolling Thunder Revue documentary as well and was very impressed. I’ve always loved his album, “Desire”.

    It’s the best concert footage I’ve seen/heard from him besides his 1966 tour. The documentary also features really good performances by Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, and Alan Ginsburg. Even a very young Sharon Stone somehow gets in on the tour!

    I am going to see my first Dylan concert in 2 weeks. Not expecting a lot, but I’ve already missed too many chances in the past.

    Reply
    1. Krystyn Walentka

      Just so you know, it really cannot be called a documentary since several parts were fictional, as in made up. The politician “Tanner” for example.

      Reply
        1. Kael

          I was really taken by that Hard Rain. Definitely watch it on a large screen and reasonable sound. It’s like a demon is squeezing the words out of Bob.

          Reply
    2. petal

      Enjoy! Saw him in Lake Placid in February of ’99. He’s kind of lost his voice but I still enjoyed it, and it caused my boyfriend at the time to get hooked on his music. It was a win-win for sure. Glad I got to see him.

      Reply
  8. rd

    GE freezes pension plan

    Pension plans are generally of great value if you can work at the same place for 20+ years, preferably at least 30. If you are like most workers now, you will work for multiple companies in your working life and the pension plan values wouldn’t be maximized anyway.

    The big key is to have generous contributions to the 401k with minimal vesting requirements. GE’s new plan ends up putting in 7% if you put in 8%, giving you 15% of your gross salary as a contribution. If you have this arrangement through your working life, you will be in good shape financially for retirement and you won’t have to worry about the solvency of the company and its pension plan if you have invested in a simple diversified account over the years.

    If all companies did this, there wouldn’t be much of a retirement crisis.

    Reply
      1. dearieme

        If my mother had wheels, she’d be a tea cart

        For God’s sake be careful; you might inspire Elon Musk to new heights of idiocy.

        P.S. When the time comes to investigate Mr Musk can the affair please be referred to as “Elongate”?

        Reply
    1. Off The Street

      Awaiting news of Jack Welch, Whatsisname Immelt and Gary Wendt the GE Capital destroyer contributing their portions to help former employees.

      Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      Except for the fact that pensions are defined benefit plans while 401ks are defined contribution only and despite the Fed’s asset-goosing policies the market still does go down.

      Reply
      1. rowlf

        I’ve had my 401K turn into a 201K a few times. Having started working in a period when pensions were the plan I suspect the 401K was meant to benefit some other people more than the retiree.

        Have members of Congress all switched over completely to 401K plans?

        Reply
  9. tegnost

    This is funny in a fishy kind of way…
    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/hundreds-of-lime-bikes-and-scooters-burned-in-spokane-valley-warehouse-fire/

    FTA…”The Spokane Valley Fire Department says the Sunday night fire likely destroyed the bikes and scooters, which were in the warehouse awaiting maintenance.”

    file this one under “virtual reality meets physical reality”. Probably cheaper to burn those and make new ones than it is to fix the ones that burned.

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      You assume they want new ones. Probably cheaper to burn those and collect the insurance than it is to put them back into service of an obnoxious business model.

      Reply
  10. JohnnyGL

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/do-americans-support-impeaching-president-trump/

    Wow, check out the charts. Unintentionally damning on how Mueller report didn’t move public opinion and may have slightly moved it in the OTHER direction, towards LESS support for impeachment.

    Also interesting that the Ukraine incident actually moved the needle a bit. It helps that Trump actually DID something. That does seem to have moved public opinion somewhat.

    The way all the actors involved are behaving makes more sense. Pro-impeachment dems have been emboldened….holdouts have been ‘won-over’….Trump seems like he’s lashing out with his full general election playbook against Biden in a desperate bid to save his own skin (showing he feels he’s vulnerable).

    Reply
  11. ewmayer

    “State Media (2): CBS Studios to produce 4 hour mini-series on James Comey book starring Jeff Daniels as the former FBI Director.” — My druthers would’ve been to file that one under Kill Me Now. [Aside: Since Obama nominated Comey, who formerly served under W. Bush, to head the FBI, maybe call the docudrama(mine) “Baracknophobia”? Yes, ’tis a feeble pun, to be sure.]

    Tech: “Most Deepfakes Are Used for Creating Non-Consensual Porn, Not Fake News” [Vice] — From Deep Throat to Deep Fake — that seems an apt metaphor for the evolution of our digital-content-consumer culture.

    Reply
    1. Phenix

      He is great. I used to read everything he wrote but now I have kids. His podcast is good. I listen to it while cleaning.

      Dore is funny but be is more of a gateway drug for progressive politics.

      Reply
    2. notabanker

      I’ve been listening to the pussyriot PC they just did and it’s really fantastic. I received the link from here too. :)

      Reply
    3. Oregoncharles

      I saw him in an interview a couple of years ago. I was startled at how tame he looks, compared to his writing persona.

      Reply
  12. scarn

    People need to click through Stephen Boni’s Medium article to get to Cory Morningstar’s work. Part one is here. I’m working through this series and I already want to cut my eyes out in disgust. Capitalism really is our specie’s gravedigger.

    Reply
    1. UserFriendly

      I would have a hard time coming up with a better way to delay action on climate change than convincing the left that every movement to stop climate change is really an evil capitalist plot. And what better way to do that than writing a tin foil hat level paranoid conspiracy theory that is based entirely on logic like person x knows person y and person y likes capitalism therefore person x is fundamentally committed to destroying any chance of socialism.

      I think this is the Tankie view of Climate Change. i.e. We need to have a worldwide violent overthrow of capitalism before we can tackle climate change. If socialism is to be democratic than it is a process that involves winning people over to it.

      Neoliberalism is the water we are swimming in, you can’t operate outside of it until you are in a different pond. I am all for jumping ponds but until then we need to start with the premise we have.

      I don’t know how on earth anyone could think Greata chiding the UN about ‘fairytales of endless growth’ is somehow an evil plot to ensure capitalist dominance.

      Corey Morningstar has no theory of change, she is just that annoying type of leftist insisting on ever greater purity tests and factionalism. Rather than thinking of Greta and the GND as a framework we can use to win socialism it’s already denounced as impure and a way to save capitalism.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Those attacks on Thunberg are offensive. There is no reason to think she’s involved in some neoliberal conspiracy. She’s a pissed-off 16 year old with a social deficit and a cause – in which she’s absolutely justified. She, or somebody, has managed to start something big and inspiring.

        From her point of view, we’re the people who had a party and left her with the bill. And we were warned. Some of us tried, but we failed and now it’s her turn. All we can do is try to help – and refrain from undercutting the movement. It’s our last chance.

        Reply
      2. Scarn

        So I finished all of it. I don’t think Morningstar is arguing quite what you think that she is arguing. I think that she has built a convincing case for a complex of “not-for-profit” organizations and blatantly for-profit corporations and scams that are using Greta and the original GND (not the Sanders version) to attempt to start the process of grafting neoliberal scam capitalism into the possible future of state-sponsored industrial transformation off of carbon energy. That’s not the same thing as saying everything is a conspiracy, or that Greta is fake. It’s merely gathering evidence that capitalists literally marketed this girl from the beginning for their own disgusting purposes. Which isn’t unexpected. As you say, neo-liberalism is practically the oxygen we breathe nowadays. While Morningstar does seem to think that GND is poisonous because of this, I do not agree with them. It seems to me that these articles are pretty useful info for anti-capitalists like us about enemy movements and ambitions, and a reasonable warning about the motives of these sorts of people.

        I think Morningstar has a theory of change, and it’s insurrectionist, anti-industrial, anti-colonial, anarcho-communist. That isn’t my theory of change, which I like to think is graduated, industrial, outcome-oriented and marxist-leninist. I’ve never encountered this person before but I’ll read the rest of what I can that they have produced.

        Changing tracks a bit, The rise of Purity-politics really is one of the biggest challenges we face in the contemporary political arena. And there are “tankie” purists who (While I often agree with their political positions) are some of the most conspiracy-minded people I have ever encountered. At the same time, “tankie-ism” itself is a pragmatic political expression. It’s utterly relational, which is why it takes so much heat nowadays. Lately tankie-ism is a relation of opposition to american imperial interests, but in the past it was a relation of attachment to Soviet interests. There isn’t a lot of “purity” in that, but a zombie attempt to correctly weigh the balance of powers and join the right one. At least they take the right positions on USA war, which is more than I can say about most.

        Sorry for any typos, i typed this on my phone in a bar.

        Reply
        1. UserFriendly

          I’ve read 4 or 5 of them and they all are based on these tenuous connections about who got @’ed in a tweet. I most definitely have major disagreements with much of the environmental movement (most notably their insane assumptions about wind and PV’s ability to supply all power) but if I was trying to promote a climate strike you better believe I would be contacting all of them to spread the word.

          Yes, some capitalists will be doing everything possible to try and co-opt environmentalists. Yes some companies will turn the green washing up to 11. No the NGO complex are not benign actors. That doesn’t mean we throw out the baby with the bath water. I’ll start getting suspicious about GT when she starts getting dogmatic about a specific solution beyond ‘listen to science’ or starts trying to cash in significantly.

          Do I think Corry Morningstar is intentionally slowing action? No. But she most certainly is slowing it.

          Reply
          1. scarn

            I love Greta. I love what she says and how she says it, I love her bluntness, I love that my autistic son sees her as an absolute hero, I love how angry she makes my enemies. I even like Extinction Rebellion for their rawness and nascent militarism, even though I have an instinctual distaste for primitivism and anti-modernism. I do not think that Greta is a sellout or that she has a neo-liberal goal in mind, or that neo-liberals will be able to control her.

            There is an interesting dialectic in Morningstar’s story (which goes beyond tweets, come on now!). The neo-lib faction around Thunberg needs her militant voice for their branding – but her militant voice opposes their interests. Without her, they wouldn’t be able to proceed, and without them, and other rich people giving her free stuff, she wouldn’t be as famous as she is. Obviously, this is an unsustainable relationship that contains a pretty different future arrangement within it. Either she eventually becomes their creature or she becomes their utter enemy. If she becomes their creature she loses her militancy and her value to them, which is bad for the capitalists. If she becomes their utter enemy, it is also bad for the capitalists. Seems win win to me!

            Reply
  13. buermann

    “All Warren had to do was ask the Cherokees instead of doing the genetic test. Then she would have found out that Cherokee citizenship is not by blood. But perhaps she knew she wouldn’t like the answer?”

    She explicitly denied any claim to tribal citizenship in the first place.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      The tribe has the right to define tribal membership; it does not have the right to deny Cherokee, or Native American, ancestry. That is a question of fact. So it may have been politically clueless to publicize that test, but it was not actually offensive unless it was used to claim membership.

      A LOT of Americans claim Native ancestry, more or less plausibly. They may well have been offended by the tribe’s reaction, which looked like censorship. All they had to say was that that does not make her a member.

      Disclosure: there is no chance I’ll vote for Warren, so I’m not advocating for her. I’m defending logic.

      Reply
      1. VietnamVet

        This is another part of American History that is avoided. Elizabeth Warren’s family are Sooners. Someone who jumped the gun to settle on land opened in the Indian Territory in 1889. Cherokees were forced to move there on the Trail of Tears from the Southern United States. 4000 were estimated to have died on the Trek in 1838 and 1839. There is a history behind the claim to be a Cherokee that is disregarded.

        Also, an Okie from Norman is an inappropriate credential for Harvard professor to become an Insider. It is better to be an Identity favored by the Democrats which is used to get enough votes to keep getting donations.

        Reply
  14. Carla

    Beto’s statement re: “no fears about Bernie” is the classiest thing I’ve heard out of O’Rourke yet. Good on him.

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      What did he mean by this? Whenever a yuppie says something, my rule is to always parse it against the general welfare and public interest. “No fears” for Sanders’ health, or is he suggesting inside knowledge about decisions that, in true agency-free Democrat form, “have been made” and will keep O’Rourke’s upwardly mobile gravy train on track for decades to come?

      Reply
  15. Wukchumni

    Been a bad week for 60’s & 70’s rock stars…

    Kinda sad when you only find out who the bassist player was for Lynyrd Skynyrd, in passing.

    Reply
  16. polecat

    Over the course of this last weekend, I read Cory Morningstar’s “The manufacture of Greta Thunberg” in it’s entirety. Ye Gods ! .. if I were to make a chart depicting all of the principal players involved, it would appear as a Jackson Pollock painting … Anybody, and Everybody whose a ‘Whose Who’ (across the political divide) is involved in what seems a colossal financial con-job directed at the global soon-to-be-serfs, under the guise of saving the Earth (even our left pedestaled all-stars ACO and Bernie Sanders are given mention !) .. because we need to do Something .. like holding a makeshift cardboard signs or something, and walking in crowds, virtue signaling ! .. like NOW !!!!! .. because Al Gore, Bill McKibben, and their corporate brothers in arms say so.
    So, leave it to our betters to come up with a multiverse of ‘plans’ via Big Capital/Level-4 revoution Industry to steer, coax, and massage the lumpins into austerity, or worse, by the vangard of the likes of precious eco-children .. who’ll, once having fullfilled their Corporate sponcered usefulness … will either have to step aside into a future life of obscurity .. or join their NGO Sith Lords for the attendent perks, by virtue of their new-found Super-Celebritdom. It’s the worst of all worlds for doing anything to truely reverse mankind’s environmental destruction. Franz Kafka couldn’t come up with a more devilish scheme …
    It all makes me want vomit .. green slime !

    Reply
  17. polecat

    What, I believe, she has brought to life through this series, is Neoliberalism co-opting the very real fears and concerns of the masses, chewing them up, to then be regurgitated into a shiny, and positive ‘new’ Bernaysian consumerism … in the guise of sustainablity (read ‘Business-as-Usury’ model), shielded in an invisibility cloak of multi-national corporate-conspired $green$ leaves … using naive youth movements to push the greater public into acquiescence towards achieving the power- elite’s aims … which are the complete opposite of an environmentally benign and enlighted ethos !! Thus, we’ll have oodles of green branding, so it’s all A•O•K …. while what little assets one owns is put through the wringer of creative destruction, and ‘reinvested’ by the ones who know best …. leaving the chump to get by as a green new slum dweller trying to dodge all that ‘used champaign raining from high above …..

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  18. Luke

    From above:

    “UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “[Trump] reportedly called Haiti a ‘shithole.’ He balked at the idea of allowing Bahamians displaced by Hurricane Dorian into the U.S….”

    1) Haiti IS a shithole.

    2) Why would Bahamians have any right to come to the U.S.? There are plenty of places in the Caribbean that were untouched by hurricanes this years for them to go. They wouldn’t have to travel as far, the climate and people would be more what they’re used to, and their travel time to go back home when the power comes back on in their home islands would be shorter as well as less expensive. Win-win-win.

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