2:00PM Water Cooler 10/8/2019

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“Chinese trade negotiators are traveling to Washington this week and a stronger sign of a possible thaw in relations may be that new orders for U.S. soybeans are also coming in. Farm exports, new purchasing deals and prices have all been climbing again in recent weeks… as new reports show Chinese commodity buyers making some of their largest purchases in over a year” [Wall Street Journal]. “In August China purchased almost $1.5 billion of agricultural exports, including $945 million of soybeans and followed that by buying 1.5 million metric tons of soybeans in the last week of September. The deals are an upbeat signal as the countries prepare to resume trade talks this week after hitting an impasse in May.”


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

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

* * *


Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart. Here is (are) the latest Dem Primary Polling as of 10/8/2019, 12:00 PM EDT:

At dk’s suggestion, I removed the lines. He writes: “Yes it’s discontinuous but so is the data, I’d say this is actually pretty realistic picture of the insides of many minds+hearts over time, like clouds, like dreams. Note how Undecided has held fourth place for weeks… Biden anxiety or fear of Bernie and Liz? Why not both.”

Still waiting for the impact of Sanders heart attack. If there are no shifts by the end of the week, I’d say Sanders, er, dodges a bullet. Ditto for Warren’s various difficulties with oppo, And here are the poll results for Monday (Morning Consult was Sunday)

At dk’s suggestion, here is Morning Consult since the start of the year, applying “applying the 7-poll averaging”:

If Harris hadn’t flamed out, would Warren be where she is? This chart doesn’t reinforce “the narrative.” And that loveable goof, Joe Biden, still looks like the candidate to beat. How the heck is he doing it?

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): “Donors express frustrations over Biden” [The Hill]. “Democratic strategist Brad Bannon said Biden’s poor numbers suggest donors lack confidence in his campaign. ‘The type of big donors that might give to Joe Biden only invest in sure things,’ he said. ‘Biden’s nomination looked like a sure thing back in the spring when he got into the race with a 25 percent lead, so he raised a lot of money. Now his nomination is a crapshoot after flubs on the campaign trail, poor debate performances and the big surge by Elizabeth Warren.’ Big money people who might favor Biden are investors, not gamblers or zealots, so the money is drying up,’ Bannon concluded.” • “Investors” is wonderfully clarifying, isn’t it? And in games where an element of chance is involved, there’s only one way to create a “sure thing,” isn’t there? That’s right: Rig the game. So one wonders what kind of assurances the DNC gives “big money people.” Not that I’m foily.

Harris (D)(1): “Kamala Harris embraced Peter Thiel’s ‘Big Data’ tech in California. How about as president?” [McClatchy]. “As attorney general of California, Kamala Harris embraced the promise of data and technology to improve law enforcement – including data mining systems developed by the secretive Silicon Valley firm Palantir…. But Harris has remained silent about whether she would pursue some of the more controversial “Big Data” policing tactics she promoted while attorney general. And her campaign declined to respond to questions about whether she would continue to sign federal contracts with data-mining company Palantir…. The Palo Alto-based company was co-founded by Peter Thiel, a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, as a counter-terrorism tool for the nation’s military and intelligence agencies.”

Sanders (D)(1):

“Vote yourself a farm and horses” —Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 slogan. And why not?

Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Sanders Is Spoiling for a Fight With the DNC” [Jacobin]. “In 2016, seventeen donors ponied up three-quarters of the Democratic National Convention’s funding, with many corporate sponsors (including Facebook, Bank of America, and Comcast) donating over $1 million apiece. More than a few of those donors also shelled out for the Republican National Convention, sending a clear message: whoever wins, we expect our interests to be represented going forward. Otherwise, you can kiss our money goodbye. Today, Bernie Sanders threw down the gauntlet on corporate sponsorship of the convention. He released a multipoint plan to get corporate money out of politics. Its very first stipulation: ‘As the Democratic nominee, Bernie will ban corporate contributions to the Democratic Party Convention and all related committees.'” • A real roach stuck in the wedding cake frosting, there, Bernie.

Sanders (D)(3): “Bernie Sanders Is America’s Beating Heart” [Norman Solomon, Truthdig]. “The campaign looks set to fully resume soon. When Bernie left the hospital on Friday, NBC News quoted the chief of cardiology at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, Ehtisham Mahmud, who said that the three-day length of hospitalization indicates the senator ‘probably had a small heart attack’ — and ‘they require really a very short recovery time.'” • Somehow that “small” seems to be missing from tje covervage. Odd. More: “Bernie has a huge and eternally healthy heart, filled with the lifeblood of empathy and dedication. In essence, that’s what the Bernie 2020 campaign is all about. As he has been the first to say, it’s not about him, it’s about us. How much compassion and commitment can we find in our hearts?” • One common reaction from Sanders supporters that I have heard is “We have to work harder, so Bernie doesn’t have to work so hard.”

Warren (D)(1): “What’s Behind Elizabeth Warren’s Rise In The Polls?” [FiveThirtyEight]. “[I]f Warren is gaining among white voters who don’t have a college degree, it’s likely to the detriment of Biden and Sanders, who are the only other candidates who get at least double-digit support from this group. This is especially important in light of the fact that Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote in the Democratic primary, are predominantly white and, as a result, have a large share of white voters without a college degree.”

Warren (D)(2): “The Emerging Anybody-But-Warren Campaign” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “In a parallel development to the prospective revolt of the capitalists against Warren, those purporting to represent the #NeverTrump faction of alienated Republicans are beginning to let it be known that their willingness to support a Democrat in order to defenestrate President Trump and take back their party is strictly conditional on the ideology of the nominee, with Warren being beyond the pale…. So taken together, a powerful elite coalition of non-Democrats and at best quasi-Democrats is telling Democrats they cannot choose Warren because if that happens they will (a) destroy the economy and/or (b) throw the election to Trump. The thing to watch going forward is whether Warren’s Democratic rivals begin to explicitly refer to these concerns as reasons not to nominate her, and tie their individual campaigns to an Anybody-But-Warren campaign.”

Warren (D)(3): “Elizabeth Warren stands by account of being pushed out of her first teaching job because of pregnancy” [CBS]. • Which account? She has given two, both on video. That is the point.

Realignment and Legitimancy

“Restoring felon voting rights a ‘mess’ in battleground Florida” [Reuters]. “Under a Florida law that went into effect July 1, [felons] must pay [courrt-ordered fines and fees for three felony convictions] before casting a ballot or risk being prosecuted for voter fraud…. Florida has no consolidated system for determining what felons owe or certifying that they have paid up. It’s a situation that ex-offenders say makes it virtually impossible for them to prove they are eligible to vote. Those claims are bolstered by state election officials who say they can’t calculate what felons owe, either.” • So liberal Democrats aren’t the only ones who can manipulate complex eligibility requirements to their advantage.

“The Perils of the New, Shiny George W. Bush” [Jacobin]. “Besides this, what makes the sudden push to rehabilitate Bush particularly puzzling is that in many ways Bush’s approach to government was identical to Trump’s, both in its penchant for scandals and its pro-corporate approach.” • What’s puzzling about it? It appeals to suburban Republicans.

Stats Watch

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, September 2019: “Small business optimism continues to ease” [Econoday]. “The report notes that uncertainty is up and respondents are more reluctant to make major spending commitments. Tariffs are cited by 30 percent of the sample as a negative for their business. Labor compensation continues to rise in contrast, however, to selling prices which are comparatively flat.”

Producer Price Index (Final Demand), September 2019: “Inflation at the producer level had been flat and unexpectedly went into reverse in September” [Econoday]. “If inflation is in fact moving higher, it is no more than creeping higher and looks to be under what the Federal Reserve is hoping for. If consumer prices in Thursday’s report show similar softness as today’s report, which they are expected to, policy momentum is likely to shift to the doves in the FOMC’s debate for further rate cuts.”

Consumer Credit, August 2019: “Consumer credit came in roughly in line with expectations, up” [Econoday]. “The August decline in credit card debt shows consumers acting more frugal and paying down some of July’s splurge, and larger payments due on their growing student loan or car loan debt may also be imposing necessary spending austerity.”

Commodities: “Glencore’s revamped GEM deal could leave electric vehicle makers short of sustainable cobalt” [Benchmark Mineral Intelligence]. “Benchmark Minerals estimates that the deal will account for 25% of Glencore’s total cobalt hydroxide output in that time frame locking up a significant portion of ‘sustainable’ or traceable cobalt that is not associated with artisanal or illegal sources within the DRC. Glencore is the world’s largest cobalt producer and we forecast that it will account for 31% of total supply in 2019. Having such a large proportion of its supply base being used by one customer will get the attention of those battery and automakers that are not locked into the Glencore-GEM supply chain.” • I can’t speak to the reliability of the source. Readers?

Retail: “Walmart Inc. appears to be overhauling operations in its money-losing e-commerce division. The retail giant is laying off some staff at its Bonobos men’s apparel business just days after agreeing to sell its women’s clothing brand ModCloth…. as the company looks to reset some of the digital investments it took on in a bid to reach new shoppers” [Wall Street Journal]. “The company has been spending heavily to ramp up the e-commerce operations, most prominently by buying Jet.com in 2016. Most of Walmart’s profits still come from its traditional U.S. stores.”

Big Ag: “The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and other groups say the plant-based producers shouldn’t be allowed to call their products milk or meat, and bills have been introduced in 27 states that seek to police such labeling” [Wall Street Journal]. “The growing popularity of alternatives including Impossible Foods Inc. and Beyond Inc. has created a big new market for farmers, but ranchers fear they will lose market share. Advocates for the plant-based alternatives insist consumers know what they’re buying, and that the broader change is that retailers are expanding the definition of the proteins they stock in cold cases.

The Bezzle: “SoftBank’s Damage From Uber, WeWork Could Exceed $5 Billion” [Bloomberg]. “Masayoshi Son’s startups have had a rough few months, from a botched initial public offering by WeWork to a sharp decline in shares of Uber Technologies Inc…. Son is going through a particularly rocky stretch after repositioning SoftBank from a telecom operator into an investment conglomerate, with stakes in scores of startups around the world. He built a personal fortune of about $14 billion with strategic bets on companies such as China e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. But the recent troubles have weighed on SoftBank’s shares, pushing them down about 30% from their peak earlier this year as investors grow skittish about startup valuations…. WeWork and Uber may be losing money now, but they will be substantially profitable in 10 years’ time, Son said in the interview. At a private retreat for portfolio companies late last month he had a different message: become profitable soon. At the gathering, held at the five-star Langham resort in Pasadena, California, Son also stressed the importance of good governance.” •.A bit late!

The Bezzle: “Meet the former prosecutor asked to investigate bitcoin who became the face of crypto VC investing” [CNBC]. • Very interesting (and reads like a beat sweetener).

Tech: “Supreme Court hands victory to blind man who sued Domino’s over site accessibility” [CNBC]. “The Supreme Court denied a petition from pizza giant Domino’s on Monday to hear whether its website is required to be accessible to the disabled, leaving in place a lower court decision against the company. The decision not to hear the case is a loss for the company and a win for disability advocates, who have argued that if businesses do not have to maintain accessible sites, disabled people could be effectively shut out of substantial portions of the economy. A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Robles, writing that the “alleged inaccessibility of Domino’s website and app impedes access to the goods and services of its physical pizza franchises—which are places of public accommodation.”

Manufacturing: “Airbus Plans Venture to Help Airlines Hedge Against Revenue Risk” [Bloomberg]. “Airbus SE plans to establish a financial venture that will help its airline customers hedge against risks to revenue. The London-based Skytra Ltd. operation was incorporated in May, according to filings with Companies House that describe its principal activity as the administration of financial markets… Financial News reported earlier that Skytra is targeting a launch date of May next year and will list futures and options contracts based on indexes designed to represent airline revenues. Carriers already commonly hedge against fluctuations in currencies and the price of fuel.” • Hmm. So what else would they hedge against?

Honey for the Bears: “Decelerating Growth Calls for Accelerating Action” [Kristalina Georgieva, International Monetary Fund]. “Two years ago, the global economy was in a synchronized upswing. Measured by GDP, nearly 75 percent of the world was accelerating. Today, even more of the world economy is moving in synch but, unfortunately, this time growth is decelerating. In 2019, we expect slower growth in nearly 90 percent of the world. The global economy is now in a synchronized slowdown.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 23 Extreme Fear (previous close: 30, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 48 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 8 at 12:09pm.

The Biosphere

“Convivial War: How Wall Street Recolonized Brazil. Part One.” [BrasilWire]. • Must read. If you want to know why the Amazon is burning, one entity to ask is Big Ag behemoth Cargill.

“If 3.5% of the US Gets on Board With Climate Protesting, Change Will Happen” [Vice]. “[Extinction Rebellion’s] strategy hinges on a critical figure: mobilizing 3.5 percent of the population in a given country, which has been repeatedly proven to be a threshold for systemic political change. In this case, members of XR want governments to accede to a key demand: creating a citizen’s assembly that accelerates society away from climate-destroying industries and towards a net-zero emissions economy by 2025, five years earlier even than the ambitious 2030 target at the center of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal…. XR’s strategy is drawn from serious academic research on nonviolent rebellion—in particular, a 2011 book called Why Civil Resistance Works by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, which analyzes nonviolent conflicts from 1900 to 2006 and concludes that overthrowing governments requires far fewer people and resources than you might assume.” • On Chenoweth, see NC in 2012 (during Occupy). That 3.5% figure is not documented in the story. And *.5% feels an awful lot like spurious precision, to me.

“Capitalism Is Helping Us Use Less Stuff. No, Really.” [Medium]. “Capitalism and technological progress are driving dematerialization…. [For example], some materials get replaced by nothing at all. When a telephone, camcorder, and tape recorder are separate devices, three total microphones are needed. When they all collapse into a smartphone, only one microphone is necessary. That smartphone also uses no audiotapes, videotapes, compact discs, or camera film. The iPhone and its descendants are among the world champions of dematerialization. They use vastly less metal, plastic, glass, and silicon than did the devices they replace and don’t need media such as paper, discs, tape, or film.”

“In the Pancreas, Common Fungi May Drive Cancer” [New York Times]. “Fungi, viruses and protozoa call your body their home, too. Your fungal residents are less numerous than your bacteria by orders of magnitude, but as researchers are learning, these overlooked organisms play an important physiological role — and when their numbers get out of whack, they can modify your immune system and even influence the development of cancer…. There is increasing scientific consensus that the factors in a tumor’s ‘microenvironment’ are just as important as the genetic factors driving its growth.”

“Cherokee Indians Can Now Harvest Sochan Within a National Park” [Smithsonian] (DL). “[Tommy Cabe], a forest resource specialist for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and an enrolled tribal member in his 40s, grew up gathering sochan—a traditional Cherokee food akin to but milder than spinach that is rich in vitamin C and folic acid. For years, sochan gathering was relegated to small backyard plots, or along back roads. But one day this past May, clutching an official hunter-orange harvest bag, Cabe stood on a forested hillside in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where his tribe became the first in generations to legally collect sochan within national park boundaries. Because of a new federal policy, 11 tribal members, as of now, are free to forage for sochan in tens of thousands of acres inside the park. The lifting on the prohibition of such foraging marks a reconciliation of sorts, with the federal government finally acknowledging American Indians’ claim to their ancestral homeland.” • The more people taking care of the land, the better.


“The Las Vegas Shooter, Two Years Later” [TruthDig]. “Paddock. Palast. We sat next to each other at Fernangeles Elementary School, and later at Poly High in Sun Valley, Calif. Steve was a chess prodigy and a math whiz. He finally got to use his extraordinary gift to do complex ballistics calculations that allowed him to murder 58 people in Las Vegas in just minutes from a distant hotel window. That was two years ago this week. Steve should have gone to MIT, to Stanford. He didn’t. For that, he needed Advanced Placement calculus. If you went to “Bevvie”—Beverly Hills High—you could take AP calculus. Or AP French. We didn’t have AP calculus. We didn’t have AP French. We weren’t Placed, and we didn’t Advance. According to a state investigation led by Tom Hayden, our high school was situated on top of a toxic dump site. No surprise there.” • The waste.

Groves of Academe


Class Warfare

“Meet the Rich Kids Who Want to Give Away All Their Money” [Town and Country]. ” Resource Generation [RG], an organization founded on the belief that young wealthy people should give away most or all of their inherited money or excess wealth…. RG has 15 chapters across the country. It’s made up of wealthy ­individuals between 18 and 35 who are among the top 10 percent in wealth in the U.S., and its primary goal is to “redistribute all or almost all inherited wealth and/or excess wealth to social justice movements.” And:

RGers also participated in numerous protests this year in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, and San Francisco in support of immigration, abortion rights, racial and gender justice, the Green New Deal, Puerto Rican independence, and, most important, higher taxes on the rich. They hosted webinars with ­titles like “Class Privilege and Activism,” and in November Resource Generation will hold its annual conference, “Making Money Make Change,” in the Hudson Valley.

I’m not seeing anything here about abolishing billionaires as a class. So apparently, “social justice” has its limits.

News of the Wired

“GNU means GNU’s Not U: Stallman insists he’s still Chief GNUisance while 18 maintainers want him out as leader” [The Register]. “Late last month, after resigning as president of the Free Foundation in the wake of catastrophically insensitive statements posted to an MIT mailing list, and a social media backlash, Stallman also appeared to resign as the head of the GNU Project. A statement saying as much appeared on his personal website. But then it disappeared, leaving speculation that his site had been hacked… In other posts and messages, Stallman has insisted he will continue to oversee the GNU Project.” • It does seem that a lot of FOSS projects (Python, Perl, Linux) depend on a single leader.

“Raging robots, hapless humans: the AI dystopia” [Nature]. “In Human Compatible, his new book on artificial intelligence (AI), Stuart Russell confronts full on what he calls “the problem of control”. That is, the possibility that general-purpose AI will ultimately eclipse the intellectual capacities of its creators, to irreversible dystopian effect…. Human Compatible marks a major stride in AI studies, not least in its emphasis on ethics. At the book’s heart, Russell incisively discusses the misuses of AI. He warns about how, deployed in combination with invasive data collection, AI applications such as voice and facial-recognition technologies, deepfake generators and information-integration systems can be used for surveillance, control and mass-behavioural manipulation. Stressing human vulnerability to such technologies, he emphasizes the right to the mental security of living ‘in a largely true information environment.'” • Yes, our information environment is disoriented enough as it is.

“Neurofeedback Gets You Back in the Zone” [Columbia Engineering]. “Our state of arousal—being fearful, agitated, or calm—can significantly affect our ability to make optimal decisions, judgments, and actions in real-world dynamic environments. Imagine, for instance, walking across a balance beam. Your performance—speed across the beam and the odds of making it across without falling off—are dramatically better if the beam sits a mere six inches off the ground and you are relaxed rather than terror-stricken on a beam 60 feet higher. To keep you in the zone of maximum performance, your arousal needs to be at moderate levels, not so high that it pushes you over the edge. Biomedical engineers at Columbia Engineering have shown—for the first time—that they can use online neurofeedback to modify an individual’s arousal state to improve performance in a demanding sensory motor task, such as flying a plane or driving in suboptimal conditions. The researchers used a brain computer interface (BCI) to monitor, through electroencephalography (EEG) in real time, the arousal states of the study participants when they were engaged in a virtual reality aerial navigation task.” • “Keep calm. I’m a cyborg.”

“End of an Era: Radical Station WBAI Shuts its Doors, Possibly for the Last Time” [Spectrum News]. “Employees at WBAI woke to some bad news Monday morning: the longtime station was being shut down by the Pacifica Foundation, the nonprofit organization out of California that owns WBAI. Engineer and host Reggie Johnson learned of the news while on his way to work. ‘And then when I got here, third floor is locked,’ he said. ‘The elevator to the third floor is not functioning whatsoever.’… Reached by phone, health guru Gary Null, who has probably raised more money for WBAI than any one person in its history, says he believes the Pacifica Foundation is setting the up station for a sale, and the license alone could yield more than $50 million. Null went on to say that, historically, the problem has been that the Pacifica Foundation has chosen ideology over competency when it picked the WBAI management team.” • Competent enough to lock the doors, however.

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi 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: “A rather fierce looking variety of Cycad (Eastern Cape Blue Cycad).” Spiky!

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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. ambrit

    That’s a very ‘Fauve’ shade of Blue in the Antidote there!
    Thinking out side the hive, the bee is doing!

  2. Duck1

    So the sochan herb being gathered is Rudbeckia laciniata, also called Cut leafed coneflower.
    Very cool cycad.

  3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    ” Resource Generation [RG], an organization founded on the belief that young wealthy people should give away most or all of their inherited money or excess wealth…. RG has 15 chapters across the country. It’s made…


    It sounds similar to Mahayana Buddhism.

    Give up your world possessions.

    Stop eating meat. Practice abstinence. Walk around Tibet on foot (no driving) as a (green) pilgrim.

    No mosquito nets, but see the interconnectedness of samsara, and know that insects have to eat and drink too.

    1. NigelK

      Being aware that you are a class criminal (or the descendant of them) is the first step to solving the problem. In the future, one hopes we teach children in school of ‘the great correction’ and of the few princeling aristocrats who were smart enough to get off the tracks before the train came through. And about the vast majority who didnt and got flattened.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Lambert’s got the super rich covered: ‘I’m not seeing anything here about abolishing billionaires as a class. So apparently, “social justice” has its limits.’

        RG (Resource Generation) works with the top 10%, meaning, roughly, those households making over $100,000 a year. Not sure they are all class criminals.

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    And why not? Well, there was that whole “plow up the prairie” thing that ended up in the Dust Bowl. Then there were also those pesky “barbarians” who still had the idea they could hunt some of that land. Lincoln wasn’t proposing taking anything away from big landholders.

    1. Off The Street

      Rare few of the current DC kleptocrats like Biden, Pelosi and so much of that Congressional Chamber of Whorers would acknowledge Abe, but they sure like to vote themselves nice perks. What if we had their health care, access to that insider knowledge or ability to put our kids on Boards, instead of just posting signs like Baby on Board?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Congressional Chamber of Whorers

        I really deprecate this comparison. Ladies of Negotiable Affection provide valued personal services and at some risk to themselves, too, very much unlike most Congresscritters.

        1. inode_buddha

          Samuel L. Clemens would be proud. Mind if I steal this, print it out, and tack it up on my office wall?

        2. hunkerdown

          But what valued services do whorers, aka pimps, provide? Very much like most Congresscritters, the answer and the risk are vanishingly small.

    2. notabanktoadie

      With wealth taxes being considered, a 3%/year land tax, payable in land, not money, would reduce a large land holding by 46% in 20 years (by 60% in 30 years).

  5. a different chris

    Man Domino’s is not only a bad pizza maker but they are bone-stupid. Fighting this at all, let alone all the way to the Supreme Court? Morans. I don’t know anybody blind, so I don’t know the answer to this question – do other corporations offer this on their websites? The answer kindof doesn’t matter, because:

    1) If they do, then there is expertise that a mega-sized corp could have taken advantage of, while shoveling free pizza (which is what Domino’s is worth) down this guys throat while the process is ongoing.
    2) If they don’t, then they get to broadcast about how they are “leading the way” in helping this particular class of the disabled and look really good, while shoveling free….etc.

    Where did they find a law firm stupid enough to let them get themselves into this mess?

    1. Carolinian

      Attorneys for Domino’s, backed by a range of business groups, had argued that the ADA does not apply to online platforms that were not envisioned when the law was passed in 1990. And, they said, no clear rules exist for how to make their platforms properly accessible.

      That sounds like a defensible argument to me. The blind man said his “screen reader software” didn’t work with Domino’s site. Why isn’t he suing the software maker? Or maybe he should just call the store on the phone and order a pizza that way.

      1. nippersmom

        The ADA has been amended since 1990. The current ADA (2010) does, in fact, address digital accommodations. Facilities are expected to follow the updated version. Employers providing accommodations to employees are required to follow the updated version. The fact that online sites were “not envisioned” in 1990 is immaterial. As for “no clear rules on how to make the platforms properly accessible”, we aren’t told exactly how to make buildings accessible, either- we are given guidelines and requirements. There are, however, groups that specialize in assisting people in making their websites compliant, including testing website accessibility from both desktop and mobile applications. I bet Domino’s could have hired one for less than the price of fighting this in court. I wonder if they’d use the excuse of a platform “not having been envisioned” when the law was passed to fail to comply with any other Civil Rights legislation?

        1. Carolinian

          I’m sure there are perfectly legitimate reasons for congress to mandate access to some online sites like that for Social Security or other government services. But to sue over being able to order a pizza strikes me as silly. Is this about justice or common sense? It’s not government’s job to solve all the misfortunes that may befall us–particularly when there are alternatives for accomplishing the same thing.

          1. What?No!

            Websites are normal and everywhere now, like ramps into buildings. The kinds of changes the website needs to make are adding text that text-to-speech readers can find. So you’re right about common sense, but websites are now part of our world, at some points we were complaining about everything having to have ramps.

            1. JBird4049

              I understand that some people are using the ADA to extort money, which is just wrong, especially for some hole-in-the-wall business. Also having some difficulty ordering cheese and tomato flavored cardboard is not a horrible thing. Not a horrible thing at all.

              Here’s the issue though. It was probably not the difficulty of using the website. It was probably being hungry, not be able to order the pizza, and knowing that a major business could not be bothered to do a simple revamp of their website. Call it an insult.

              Having a disability, no matter how mild, can make doing things like having a life very difficult. Using me as an example, I would not be able to easily use a telephone, understand the television, movie, or show, enjoy music, or worse of all having a conversation with another human being without my hearing aids, aid friendly phones, the tele-coil, and even Bluetooth. It is intensely frustrating, even enraging when you know that there is a solution, but that you cannot have it for whatever reason.

              As the progression and expansion of better hearing aids, compatible telephones, cellphones, tele-coil using theaters, and when all else fails close captioning has been a godsend. Even the old teletype back in the day. My own world expanded.

              This does all cost money, true even when done sons l o w l y over forty years, but the benefits are huge. The business incentives and eventually the regulatory requirements to install tele-coils both in the landline telephone and aids, then (after ten years of waiting) in cellphones, the installations of tele-coil using audio in some public places, the eventual placement of *accurate* closed-captions in most movies, shows, and programs has help. As I mentioned earlier, my world expanded. It has enabled me at work, with family, with businesses. Until I run into a forty year old land phone that might as well be a damn brick. Anger and frustration ensues as I cannot communicate and reminded of what I can and cannot do.

              I think that the blind person got a bit frustrated and perhaps really, really angry especially as a disabled person often knows how hard or easy it is to accommodate their problem. Most new phone are compatible for aids, and if it is not, a new top of the line one is less than a hundred dollars. The blind person probably knew fairly well just how easy it would be to fix the website as well as the applicable laws. That is self preservation. They also probably thought that just making some noise would solve the problem. Perhaps just a single letter from a lawyer.

              If Dominos thought so little about millions of people that they would not do a fairly easy, cheap, and profitable website fix… well I think that the plaintiff got really, really angry. Maybe a bit enraged like I would be if some employer couldn’t be bothered to install a decent phone, or a wheelchair user over a simple ramp.

              Yes, some selfish people abuse the system over their disabilities, or of being triggered, or racism, but usually not and even when they are doing so, often they have a valid complaint. Too often people, often not intentionally or in bad faith, cannot see the obstacle course or the mine field that someone is stumbling through, but that obstacle course is still there making life fun. And if not removed, for sometimes it cannot, be made easier, which almost always is.

            2. Carolinian

              Please explain to me how the blind people aren’t victimizing themselves by not simply picking up the phone to order rather than going through an elaborate process of having the Domino’s web page read out loud to them. By definition a pizza company that delivers takes over the phone orders. It would be different if the Amazon page didn’t work because then they really would be left out of a form of shopping that everyone else can do.

              It’s well known that the guy who runs Dominos is a rightwinger and the reason they took this to the courts–asked above–is undoubtedly to draw attention to a use of the ADA that many people would see as frivolous. And when the ADA is abused–and it has been as other commenters have pointed out–it undermines it. The person who sued in this case may have thought he was defending or strengthening the ADA but the result is just as likely to be the opposite to the extent that the result receives any publicity.

              1. JBird4049

                Many people with disabilities would not have seen this as frivolous. That is rather the point. It has taken a lot of effort to get to this point. Often fighting the screaming about the inconvenience and the expense. Any inconvenience or expense what so ever.

                I can at least get up and walk and my accommodations are relatively cheap and easy except for the four thousand a pair of hearing aids can cost. Many people have to use a wheelchair, which can necessitate a ramp and sometimes is expensive. Companies and people still screamed over the money as if being unable to get across streets or into businesses was less important. If it is some tiny bodega or a small business living on the margins like that, I can understand. Sometimes a person simply cannot afford to do some serious remodeling. Otherwise, they can drop dead.

                If the hill someone wants to die on the point is that it’s inconvenient, I wonder just how serious they are. I did note that it is Dominos Pizza, which does not make the problem that serious.

                Of course, when I was working there, with their very aid friendly telephones, before the internet all orders were done by landline. Today, many are done online, which the blind person could not do. And it is possible that he did not have a phone available as has happened to me a few times.

                The big, well financed company could have done the routine matter of adjusting or upgrading its website. It would have been trivial, would have been good for business, and would have made blind people’s lives easier. I really do not see that someone’s lack of giving a damn should allow them to give someone like me problems.

              2. Lambert Strether Post author

                > Please explain to me how the blind people aren’t victimizing themselves by not simply picking up the phone to order rather than going through an elaborate process of having the Domino’s web page read out loud to them

                One very obvious answer would be that there are specials and discounts available on the site that will not be available if one simply picks up the phone.

                A second answer is that both menu prices and items can change. It’s perfectly reasonable to want to know what the price is before ordering something.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > there is a whole science of accessible web development and people have known about this for decades.

          Correct; see my comment below on W3C specifications. Maybe short Dominoes. If the IT is this badly screwed up, probably other stuff is, too.

      2. NigelK

        I support the ADA as much as any American, and think we should do everything possible to make the differently abled not feel othered, but this is absurd. There was a well-known guy in Georgia when I lived there last decade who literally drove around looking for businesses not up to standards to sue them and he lived very well doing so. This smells like that.

        1. New Wafer Army

          I find it strange that you automatically take the side of a major corporation over that of a disabled man with absolutely no grounds for doing so. What you are doing is disgusting. The man you are slandering deserves to be taken at face value for the time being.

          By the way, There was a guy called Nigel who used to hang around playgrounds in the neighborhood here…

          1. ambrit

            Are you making plans for Nigel? Do you want what’s best for him?
            Sam Kinnison had an “otherly abled” comic in his stage show. Most of the “jokes” were at the ‘disabled’ man’s expense.
            The ‘tell’ will be if the complaintant sues for a change in company policy and legal expenses. Anything more will look very suspicious.

          2. nigelk

            Ah, I see: anyone who disagrees with you is a monster (and likely a predator, based on your 2nd paragraph inference).

            I’m an abuse survivor and you just triggered me, by the way. Feel like an asshole? Because you’re an asshole.

            1. Yves Smith

              No, you made an ad hominem attack, which is a violation of our written site Policies, and he served you one back. That’s not the best response but you set yourself up for it.

              And whining that you were triggered doesn’t get you any sympathy here given the topics this site routinely covers.

        2. TimmyB

          I have no problem with handicapped individuals going business to business to make sure those businesses are complying with the law. If it happened more often, then more businesses would voluntarily comply with the law instead of waiting to be sued.

          Moreover, it isn’t “absurd” for the ADA to require those businesses engaged in internet commerce to make their businesses ADA compliant. This is especially true as e-commerce grows and brick and mortar sellers shrink. The ADA requires businesses to accommodate those with disabilities. Businesses shouldn’t be allowed to escape those requirements by shifting to e-commerce.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The ADA requires businesses to accommodate those with disabilities. Businesses shouldn’t be allowed to escape those requirements by shifting to e-commerce.

            Ha, more regulatory arbitrage ( = “innovation,” “disruption”).

          1. Off The Street

            Los Angeles has had its share of vexatious litigants, opportunists and other street-level entrepreneurs. One used a paraplegic to shake down dozens of non-chain restaurants on dubious grounds until a judge finally smacked him down and said Enough! Not that there aren’t plenty of access issues to be improved, but that guy set back public sympathy and support in the name of his own ego and income.

      3. Josh

        I work in tech. It is really really easy to provide basic if imperfect functionality to screen readers. If you work to basic web standards you basically get it for free. And with a little work it’s perfect. They basically didnt gaf when designing the site.

        Also, I have reason to believe Domino’s IT team is tiny. They under funded their IT and got burned. I have no sympathy for Domino’s.

  6. hunkerdown

    Pacifica… Ideology over competency? Last time it was brunch-class Bill Clinton appointee Mary Frances Berry. I can only hope the present board is as incompetent and unsuccessful at selling off the station as she was.

    1. polecat

      I remember back in the late 70’s, when independent ‘free-form’ radio station KZAP got taken over by some mundane ‘corporate-formula-lineup’ neoliberal radio syndicate … twas Not a happy time for Both the Staff-to-be-booted, who vented about the imminent demise of both the station and their livelyhoods .. Big Time, over the air .. and us faithful, but saddened Sacramento Area listeners.

    2. dearieme

      brunch-class Bill Clinton appointee

      Have a care! That conjures up some distinctly unpleasant images.

    3. Robert Hahl

      I heard a rumor about one year ago that Pacifica had just found out that the general manager had not paid some bills for a long time, e.g., for the transmitter on the Empire State Building, and the station debt was in the millions.

    4. Toshiro_Mifune

      I’d be sad to see WBAI disappear. It’s true a lot of it was leftover 60s radicalism that was calcified and hadn’t anything new to say in a long time but there was a lot of interesting and strange stuff late at night that an insomniac like my self really enjoyed; The Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade, Weaponry with Tom Wisker, Back of the Book, Off the Hook and a bunch of others were awesome in the pre-internet era for odd and different voices. I hadn’t listened in a long time but I liked the idea that it was still there.
      Full disclosure; my uncle is Bob Fass from Radio Unnamable

  7. petal

    NH is 9th on the list of states with holders of Bachelors degrees or higher according to wiki(36%), while Iowa is 36th with 27.7%. High school graduate or higher: NH is #2 with 92.8% while Iowa is 9th with 91.8%. For Advanced degrees, NH is 10th with 13.8% while Iowa is 42nd place with 9%.

    1. sleepy

      Iowa has a high rate of high school students who go to college and graduate. Afterwards, they just leave the state for jobs in Minneapolis, Chicago, KC, and Denver. That’s also why on average Iowa has a high elderly population–the last generation or two that was able to make a decent living here without leaving are now old.

  8. Data Nerd

    Removing the connecting lines on the polling chart was a good call. Would you consider adding local regressions along with their confidence intervals? A good example is on Wikipedia’s page for opinion polling in the 2019 Canadian federal election, which you can see here:

    The effect is quite nice, as it makes trends in the data clearer while not overstating its own accuracy. It also avoids the arbitrariness of the RCP collection.

    1. dk

      Thanks Data Nerd! And thanks for the link, which has a lot of reference on the underlying math; I need that.

      Unfortunately the current data source doesn’t include confidence interval or margin of error (CI/MoE), I’d show it if we had it. And honestly we *could* have if I went through the (currently) 617 polls and dug them out where available, the dataset does have links back to most of the individual poll sources (available in the app). But the formats are inconsistent and I haven’t written a scraper yet(?), this project has some novel challenges for me and my hands are pretty full right now.

      Instead of CI/MoE I offer what we do have, sample size. The circle sizes reflect the total sample for a day’s polls, and candidate’s scores are weighted averages (accepting a <±1% MoE which I don't feel bad about, it's the pollster's/source's rounding not mine). So the chart's points can be read as "On this day, this many people gave this candidate this percentage score." (Sample sizes scaled with log2(sample)²/f where f is user-selected from 1 to 5, 3.5 here and by default.)

      It's not a local regression, but I question whether local weighting is even appropriate here. We use it in physical measurement with predictive goals, but this is no predictive application, it's purely retrospective. These polls are snapshots of particular points in time and won't occur again in any case. That's also why I feel that removing the lines is appropriate; those lines don't exist, this is not continuous data. Each poll is unique not just in sample and size but in questionnaire format, pollster's sampling methodology (not always uniform within a pollster's oeuvre), etc. The only thing they have in common is the candidate's names and the target population. So while overlaying a line or curve is not unreasonable, one of my goals here is to offer a more honest, if less comfortable/comforting, view. Having said that, I wish this charting library (Recharts) made it easier to offer more kinds of overlays (like bounding regions), because being able to regard the data several different ways is one of the goals of the app.

      I don't like to make a lot of promises (especially not to a lot of people!), but certainly understand your suggestion, and I'll see what I can do down the road to satisfy it.

      And thanks to Lambert for casually mentioning it might be nice to see better visualization for polls, and for further encouragement and good suggestions; and also to NC and the vital commentariat here, and to Yves for making all of this happen, just wow.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Thanks for doing this. I’m very happy that the NC commentariat is appreciative. Ever since I understood that the RCP aggregation was being gamed, yeeeeesh.

        Blue-skying here, but it’s my general sense that the pollsters — all (?) of them — are now political players, since the DNC has in essence delegated candidate selection for the debates to them. This is different from, say, Rassmussen being a Republican shop. Rather than a constant bias that can be discounted for, this would be, well, manipulation at the tactical level in the short term. (For example, impeachment polls. If your belief that Trump must be impeached is “deeply felt,” then the means, motive, and opportunity are there, plus the moral justification. It would be a “hard choice,” but neceessary).

        So what I am getting around to is the idea that this would presumably show up in the questions. Making the assumption that most polls are merely biased, and that the tactical polls are not the norm, is there any way to use natural language processing on the questionaire to detect what’s out of band?

        1. JBird4049

          So there are effectively no neutral pollsters out there? Have they all been taking over by monied interests and turned into MSNBC/Fox News propaganda outlets? If that’s so, just how do we find out what people are really thinking?

        2. dk

          I don’t think it’s that explicit or closely/deliberately directed in a top-down way. I think this polling is fairly accurate in reflecting the sentiments of people that they reach.

          But selections of “Likely Voters” tend to skew to the right, because in the past the more conservative/right voters have been the more consistent voters, that’s a pretty inarguable statistical observation even if it comes through the proxies of economic security and home ownership. And to have a solid history at all you have to have been registered for a while, which means you’re older. And when people move to another state, their voting histories aren’t always carried over; vendors like Catalist and orgs like the DNC and recently RNC try to track them independently with considerable success, but should a pollster be going the the parties for voter histories, or the the official state/county records?

          So the precariat voter doesn’t get polled as thoroughly for at least partially organic/systemic reasons. Pollsters like Zogby and Public Policy Polling that have tried to normalize their screens to be more inclusive aren’t getting the business any more, and the media analysts/critics/pundits are quick to dismiss them because their models are “unusual” (sorry I don’t have a link for that but I’ve heard it a few times last year).

          So I don’t see active tactics here as much as the consequences of long term strategies, some of them very indirect to the polling context. We’re seeing reflections of currently powerful economic and social pressures that are actually independent to particular candidates, that they’re at best proxies and symbols for. And if that sounds a bit abstract and imaginary, consider that humans do actually think abstractly and imagine prolifically. Hard numbers may not be the surest way to capture fluid opinions and sentiments.

          Regarding how polling agencies handle undecided/refuseds, if the surveyor doesn’t ask something like “or are you undecided?” at the end of the series of candidates, or presses the respondent for a selection if they first say “I’m not really sure,” they can reduce the undecided responses. This somewhat favors top-line candidates (through name recognition and herd following), obviously Biden but also Warren and Sanders (gawd ferbid).

          Before sunset, the shadows are long and distorted, and as the sun sinks lower in the sky the distortion increases. This should tell us something about the suns motion and position, not as much about the things that cast shadows.

      2. Data Nerd

        Ah, I see what you mean! For some reason I was thinking that each data point represented an individual poll, not the day’s average across pollsters. I can see why you would elect not to include a trend line then, it would be redundant. Adding in a local regression makes more sense when each poll is presented individually, and in that case it essentially would convey about the same information as your daily averaging does. Both methods have their pros and cons.

        Anyway, the project does seem to be coming along nicely! Honestly, the biggest issue right now is probably just the image resolution on these posts. Are the chart images Lambert is sharing screenshots? It would be nice to have high resolution exported images, or ideally a svg file.

        1. dk

          Thanks for reminding me to provide SVG export. Right now the legend is rendered in regular HTML not svg, have to fix that and add some other identifying notes.

  9. dcblogger

    Elizabeth Warren stands by account of being pushed out of her first teaching job because of pregnancy
    it really does not surprise me that the school has a different version. Women are never fired because they are pregnant, some other pretext is found. Millions of women have been fired because they were pregnant and they will identify with Warren.
    Warren consistently out polls Bernie, and for reasons I cannot understand, Biden out polls both of them. I don’t worry about polls, because I make it a rule not to worry about things beyond my control. If you support Bernie you need to connect with Bernie supporters in your area and let Bernie and his team worry about polls.

    1. nippersmom

      Except that Warren herself contradicted the story that she was pushed out of her first teaching job because she was pregnant. This isn’t her statement against that of her former employer; it’s her statement now against her statement in the past.

      I do agree with not worrying about polls, though. By adjusting sampling methodology and phrasing of questions, one can a make a poll say whatever one wants it to.

      1. russell1200

        “Which account? She has given two, both on video. That is the point.”

        It is not unusual for there to be multiple issues with a fired employee. In fact, it is not unusual at all that the stated reason (insufficient credentials) masked the real ones (showing pregnancy). Given the way that schools often work, it wouldn’t stun me if there were demonstrated cases where other teachers were allowed to continue working lacking credentials, while Warren was not. It’s why governments lose so many employee termination cases: they fire people they don’t like, giving some seemingly plausible reason, but don’t fire everyone in the same category.

        My point is not to jump to conclusions.

        1. Yves Smith

          She was nor fired. Records show she resigned.

          Her 2007 video account was was that she quit because she didn’t have the credentials to get a permanent position, started taking courses to get the needed degree, and decided she really did not like them. This account is more lengthy and detailed than her mean principal story, which certainly makes it sound more credible.

          On top of that, the school board approved her teaching an additional year, per recent documents allegedly found, yet she resigned a few months after that.

      2. Paul_Z

        Lambert, why do not you read the article to which you linked https://www.cbsnews.com/news/warren-stands-by-account-of-being-pushed-out-of-her-first-teaching-job-because-of-pregnancy/ . I am not a fan of Warren, but in this situation I tend to believe her. The board extended her contract (earlier decision of the school board) when they did not know that Warren was pregnant. But when her pregnancy became “visible” a few months later, they hired somebody else but called it “resignation” for the record (later decision of the board). The same article states “Interviews with retired teachers who worked for the Riverdale Board of Education at the same time as Warren suggest that while they do not remember Warren or the circumstances of her leaving the school, the workplace culture at the time may have left Warren with no option but to move on when her pregnancy became apparent. “

  10. XXYY

    At dk’s suggestion, here is Morning Consult since the start of the year, applying “applying the 7-poll averaging”:

    I strongly encourage this kind of presentation of dk’s data going forward. It’s many times more informative than the presentation over the last few weeks, in which the noise tended to drown out the trends and the visual complexity made it hard to parse, especially on a phone or small screen. Good show.

    Note in today’s trends, e.g., that Warren’s “surge” since late July seems to precisely track Harris’ “sink” during this same period, suggesting the latter’s supporters are defecting to Warren, and that’s really the only dynamic happening in the race. Biden and Sanders have been pretty level during this same time.

    Super interesting.

    1. dk

      Thank you XXYY. I agree, I like having the 7-poll average to cut through the noise, but think it’s good to look at both. Averaging and aggregating help us to see trends in the messy data, but the noise is real too, and it contains meaning (although much of that meaning turns out to be about the variations across polls and pollsters). Having a tool to view the information several different ways is the primary goal of the app. Tech Data above was asking for another kind of aggregation and I myself want to be able to compare these various kinds of summary, to each other and to the raw(er) direct view.

      I do want to apologize in advance, I have some further work to do to make the app work better on a small screen. It’s (semi?) usable on a phone, and I want to do better. This is a learning situation for me, I’ve written a couple of simple apps for mobile in the past be this one is a challenge. I chose to pursue a complex control interface first, but the small screen is important and I hope to satisfy users needs there. I regret that I expect early versions will not be very friendly to the small screen, but getting it to be so is one of my top end-goals.

      Note also that the second screenshot is for only one pollster’s polls, and the biggest pollster at that; Morning Consult. This probably accounts for much the uniformity; it’s not necessarily the most comprehensive view of the state of race. But the Harris/Warren interplay is clearly visible in other scenarios as well, an unmistakable set of trends.

      I think we can conjecture that the stability in Biden and Sanders is in part a function of their prior name recognition, and a significant set of respondents feel comfortable sticking with a known quality (at least at this point). One can disagree with a choice, but appreciation of familiarity is adjacent to valuing consistency, which I feel is a very important consideration for the position. So I think to see a sign of serious engagement in the stability of Biden and Sanders, even if some of these respondents are open to reconsidering down the road.

  11. shinola

    I would suggest that the Jacobin article “The Perils of the New, Shiny George W. Bush” is a must read. The image rehab. of Dubya & his puppet master, that Dick, Cheney must be derailed. We should not let their crimes against humanity be swept under the rug.

    A small quibble though. In the article it is stated: “Trump’s insanity has led many liberals and other former Bush opponents to start “reconsidering” Bush’s presidency.” It’s not Trump’s insanity that’s driving this; it’s the insanity caused by TDS afflicting so many “liberals” & other former Bush opponents.

    1. barrisj

      Too bloody right…it sickens me that the recovering alcoholic cokehead cretin Dubya is getting all this belated love, when it was he as president who turned over the reins of government to Dick “ Dark side” Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, et al, and they and their neocon allies in turn initiated ruinous policies out of the PNAC playbook, leading directly to the appalling chaos and instability of today’s ME, the rise of ISIS, the collapse of several ME governments, forever war in Afghanistan, trillions of US dollars trashed in pursuit of ludicrous goals, torture as an official US government policy, and on and on. Honestly, as much as one is tempted – albeit for sound reasons – to label Trump as worst-president-ever, Shrub has walked away with the trophy in perpetuity, the all-time failure in office. F**k the rehab efforts, this fool should have been gibbeted ages ago.

      1. polecat

        Well, that was all swept under the table .. by ‘to impeach, or not to impeach’ Nancy.

        … who now, apparently … has discovered the concept of ‘quantum-impeachment’ …a process whereby form is imperceptible .. while action is unobserved !

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The sight if Michele O playing goo-goo with Shrub made me retch.

        And the John McCain love by Michele, Sloppy Joe Biden, and the other leading Dems.

        Makes me think Trump must really be onto something: he’s got the FBI, the CIA, the press, and the Dems all hair on fire against him. Based on the evidence this means I should be for him.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Honestly, as much as one is tempted – albeit for sound reasons – to label Trump as worst-president-ever

        Bush was orders of magnitude worse than Trump. There’s absolutely no comparison. It’s sickening to watch liberal Democrats erasing history like this.

    2. Roy G

      Agreed. Personally, I throw up in my mouth a little every time I see a post about Dubya and Michelle Obama’s friendship. All part and parcel of the neolib panacea.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        How about he and ellen d. hamming it up at the cowboys game the other day.
        It’s a big club and we ain’t in it.
        He was just carrying out the carter, reagun, bush, clinton legacy anyway, tho.

          1. inode_buddha

            She is also a Human Being who maybe learning things like “tolerance and love” along the way of this journey we have here on Earth. Yes, even for war criminals.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Somebody give that man a lolly. Since when did CIA spooks become heroes of the Republic? Bill Maher can call Bush an “honorable man” all he wants but I personally know where Bill Maher can go and what he can do when he gets there. Is Cheney due to be given a Humanitarian award? Will John Yoo be made Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? Is David Addington set to be made head of Human Rights Watch? All this is only possible when you have a captive media that reports what it is told to. In all seriousness, if all the main TV, radio and newspapers were shut down, would people be better informed or worse informed on what is going on in the world?

      1. Off The Street

        It also takes a subdued populace with a short-term memory problem. With the 72-hour news and amnesia cycle, all according to plan. Too many shiny objects to maintain focus or objectivity unless rising above a shifting threshold of revulsion.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Will John Yoo be made Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?

        Don’t give them ideas. Look, anybody can make a mistake….

        > In all seriousness, if all the main TV, radio and newspapers were shut down, would people be better informed or worse informed on what is going on in the world?

        It’s a question of whether the decrease in public relations + the decrease (?) in reporting would net out positive for humanity. Hard to say.

        UPDATE I see you qualified with “main.” So, yes.

  12. Otis B Driftwood

    I’m seeing yard signs for Warren in my little nook of the SF east bay, where four years ago I found signs for HRC. Still Bernie supporters here, too, of course.

    1. ddt

      SUV in front of me yesterday had both a Warren and Bernie sticker. A bit misplaced tho as the Warren sticker was on the left…

      In Berkeley btw.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        I had a Sanders/Warren 2016 sticker on my pickup a couple of years ago. My oldest asked me if I was trying to start a fight. On the road outside my house, I see guys driving around with 3’x5′ Trump flags and 3’x5′ Gadsden flags on THEIR pickups every day. Good thing they aren’t trying to provoke libtards or anything, eh? Might get messy.

        1. barrisj

          Reminds me of way back in the day (1968) when I used to commute across the Bay Bridge from SF to Richmond, and on the back of my ‘66 Beetle was an “Eldridge Cleaver for President” bumper-sticker…to this day, I marvel at surviving all the road rage that was induced by that bit of decoration.

  13. Kevin

    “Capitalism Is Helping Us Use Less Stuff. No, Really.”

    “So much acreage was abandoned by farmers and given back to nature that cropland in 1992 was almost back to where it had been almost 25 years before.”

    Given back to nature? No one gives away land. It was sold to suburban home builders and strip malls – at least around Chicagoland area…

    1. Krystyn Walentka

      That article was horrible.

      First, it does not take externalities into account (pollution). Making an iphone might cause more environmental destruction than the things it replaces.

      While the ad didn’t include a compass, camera, barometer, altimeter, accelerometer, or GPS device, these, too, have vanished into the iPhone and other smartphones, as have countless atlases and compact discs.

      What? Who had all those devices before the iphone? When I grew up everyone only had ONE phone in the house.

      Oh, I now I see, his livelihood depends on him having this paradigm.

      McAfee was educated at MIT and Harvard. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, watches too much Red Sox baseball, doesn’t ride his motorcycle enough, and starts his weekends with the NYT Saturday crossword.

      1. inode_buddha

        It also does not take into account that the camera in a phone cannot compete with a decent DSLR, among other things. It is a well-known truism among engineers that dedicated devices are usually superior to those that try to do it all and master none.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > In all seriousness, if all the main TV, radio and newspapers were shut down, would people be better informed or worse informed on what is going on in the world?

          It would be nice if phones didn’t kill off DSLR (or mirrorless) cameras. The gorgeous lenses and big sensors don’t automatically make for better images, of course, but it’s nice to have the range available. I shudder at the thought of some programmer reverse engineering 80% of Leica or Zeiss optics into software. Of course, to be fair, “what’s really there” is a bit of an open question, and it’s not like DSLRs aren’t little computers themselves… I guess what will happen with phones, though, is user control will be removed for the sake of “convenience,” so the artistry that has to do with light gets amputated and moved into the algos. Everybody an influencer, because why else would take a photo?

          I’d love to move to an old-fashioned view camera, if only there were digital backs at a reasonable price point….

          1. inode_buddha

            To this day I am kicking myself for giving away my old 1980 Fuji with all the lenses and etc (pentax mount)… working perfectly.

      2. Darthbobber

        How often did one replace a typewriter or a barometer? And how often does one replace a smartphone? (And then there’s the small matter of the vast network of towers to make the whole thing work.)

        Sadly, the Keurig single-serving coffee dispenser is a more typical example of contemporary capitalist ingenuity than anything he covers. To say nothing of expensive bottled tap water.

        One could go on at length, the article is so bad, but it’s really not even good enough to reward the effort, except maybe as a middle school critical reading exercise.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Has anyone worked out how big a pile of mining tailings one smartphone leaves behind? Weight of coal consumed?

      Did not read. I couldn’t even go there for the stupid. A nice compass can last a lifetime. How many typewriters did your parents need to buy in the course of their career?

      1. inode_buddha

        That is a Great point! My dad did his PhD in 1969-1970 on a typewriter which I still have, and it still works just fine (Sears IBM selectric clone)… you can still get ribbons at Office Depot.

          1. eg

            We still have two, though I haven’t used one since the mid 80s when I got a Commodore DPS 1101 daisywheel printer

      2. Moshe Braner

        Also, the smartphones do all those things with a little help from cellphone towers nearby to everywhere, high-capacity long-distance communications cables, and server “farms” that use more electricity than a typical African country. Emissions elsewhere.

  14. dearieme

    Because of a new federal policy, 11 tribal members, as of now, are free to forage for sochan in tens of thousands of acres inside the park.

    Hang on, shouldn’t that read “Because of Literally Hitler’s new policy …”? Very green, Hitler was.

    1. Titus

      No wasn’t he clear-cut mountain of all it’s trees to ‘enjoy’ a better view. Liking a salad for dinner doesn’t make you green

    1. Robert Valiant

      I watched these today and really enjoyed them. The films convincingly illustrate the superior effectiveness of non-violence. Thanks for the link.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I’m wondering if “Synchronized Slowdown” mentioned in one of the links above will become a new Olympic event?

  15. TalkingCargo

    Re: “Capitalism Is Helping Us Use Less Stuff. No, Really.”

    Truly there have been impressive gains in relative dematerialization in the past couple of centuries, but apparently the author of this piece hasn’t heard of Jeavon’s Paradox. He quotes from Vaclav Smil’s book Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization about the reduction in material used in aluminum cans. However, in that book, Smil also states that “Data on actual shipments of US-made beverage cans by category are available only since 1979: between that year and 2011 the weight of a can was reduced by 25%, but per capita consumption of aluminum cans doubled from 149 to 296 a year (AA, 2013): once again, relative dematerialization has been a contributing factor to an absolute increase in material consumption.” In fact, Smil concludes that “But, to stress the key point for the last time, these impressive achievements of relative dematerialization have not translated into any absolute declines of material use on the global scale…”

    As for his point about smart phones replacing several devices, he fails to mention the millions of cell phone towers and associated computers, etc. that are required to make them work. Without that massive infrastructure, your cell phone would just be a few ounces of useless plastic and some tiny amounts of metals. Smil does note however that “surface gold mines yield 1– 5 g Au/ t of rock while computer circuit boards yield 250 g/ t and mobile phones up to 350 g/ t (Owens, 2013).”

    1. Off The Street

      Using less stuff is part of the process. Keep squeezing until something barfs, then revise. Sometimes that is more artful. That has been part of the asymmetric capital program for generations. Upsides includes innovation while downsides get less notice for tailings and other externalities. Public benefits and hidden costs.

    1. anothermichael

      I wonder if Mr. Vice President has been visited by his friends from Langley to ascertain his views about moving those troops back into Syria if Mr. President was “unable to discharge his duties”?

  16. NotTimothyGeithner

    I saw an Atrios tweet about Jeff Gannon:

    What was the deal with that guy? How did he get started? Reviewing the wiki, it seems like his introduction to the White House press corp would be more discussed or remembered in light of the other stuff. I thought he was a GOP crank or just assumed he was a blogger for one of their sites like Red State.

    I actually forgot his name and even thought about this incident a couple of months ago and the name escaped me, but this was really weird. Stranger than the Vice President making a man apologize for having the gall to be shot by the VP and causing the Cheney family embarrassment.

    There were way too many jokes about this and the obvious GOP hypocrisy during their war on gays (Ellen has apparently forgiven her new BFF; those were the “good Republicans”), but this was not terribly long after 9/11.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Not very impressive. Digital evidence is no more evidence in 2005 than it is in 2019. The known facts are lurid enough. Thank you for reminding me of the dude’s original name. You can see why “James Guckert” would far rather be “Jeff Gannon.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > it seems like his introduction to the White House press corp would be more discussed or remembered in light of the other stuff.

      That and Gannon’s* multiple entries to the White House, as shown by the logs. Piss-tape level, but, like, real.

      NOTE * Ex-Marine, Gentleman of Negotiable Affection (shown by pix and a website), frequent (overnight?) visitor to the White House (shown by the White House visitor log), latter-day White House press pass-holder as representative of a tiny, seemingly made-up organization. He actually posed a question — as a plant? I’m not sure — that caused some sort of minor scandal or moral panic, but I forget what the question was. It’s been too long…

  17. Darthbobber

    There’s presently a problem with an “anybody but Warren” campaign, and he has a name. Maybe an “almost anybody” campaign?

    What’s an investor in candidates to do?

    Timing, timing…they have no other hope but Warren for keeping Sanders’ support to “manageable” levels, so they can’t seriously attack her until she gets job 1 done.

    Assuming that the malefactors other than large investment bankers actually have serious objections to her in the first place, which I’m not convinced of thus far.

      1. notabanker

        Sanders is way behind the times. Someone ought to show him how to start a charitable foundation to funnel foreign sovereign state funds into. That’s where the real money is at.

    1. John k

      Neither am I.
      Sounds more like ‘don’t throw me into the briar patch…
      If it was real they would have included he who cannot be named.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        If it was real they would have included he who cannot be named.

        That’s so cunning that I’m cheesed at myself for not noticing it.

  18. Chris

    I can’t believe we’re seeing the rehabilitation of GW Bush in this manner. I can’t believe that my friends, so many of them Democrats, are posting Ellen’s familyblogging BS today. I guess there’s hope for Trump after all. In a year or three, they’ll forget all about him. In another either years, a celebrity will go to a baseball game with him and everything will be fine with the world. How can you be sane in a world such as this?

    1. TedWa

      I do know what you mean, Ellen made me sick and disgusted with her new friend that belongs in a nice ….. …. .. … ……

    1. Steve H.

      FFS. A working/professional relationship is more than just being a registered Democrat.

      At best, very best, it’s what Bill Black was expressing about Biden. Even if it was completely clean, he never should have put himself if that position and focused the corruption spotlight on his ally. El Prez can go a-tweeting, demanding to know which rival, even though I’m pretty sure the IG cannot legally release that info. Scratch ‘even though’ and put in ‘especially because’. For hearsay? Are they Trying to drown themselves in pig muck?

      (Btw, that source be nasty. Them faces up top…)

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “Hatchet man” or “hit man”?


      Yes, it’s almost like (factions within) the intelligence community, (factions within) the Democrat Party, and (their jointly owned) assets in the press are merging into a single horrid entity. (“Why not one all-purpose blob?” –William Burroughs, Naked Lunch.) From the Washington Examiner link:

      Under questioning from Republicans during last Friday’s impeachment inquiry interview with Atkinson, the [[the Intelligence Community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson]] revealed that the whistleblower’s possible bias was not that he was simply a registered Democrat. It was that he had a significant tie to one of the Democratic presidential candidates currently vying to challenge President Trump in next year’s election.

      All three sources said Atkinson did not identify the Democratic candidate with whom the whistleblower had a connection. It is unclear what the working or professional relationship between the two was.

      Perhaps the lack of clarity on the nature of their “professional relationship” brought Jeff Gannon to Atrios’s mind?

      1. Acacia

        Operative does sound better, yes. And to continue with the Naked Lunch reference, a future court of inquiry might decide the blob has become a “creature without species”.

    3. Josh

      Considering Trump has essentially admitted to the facts, does the identity of the whistleblower matter?

  19. buermann

    “A statement saying as much appeared on [Richard Stallman’s] personal website. But then it disappeared, leaving speculation that his site had been hacked”

    Stallman has a volunteer update his website by hand from emails he sends. If there was a GNU coup to oust him they probably just worked with whomever was maintaining it. I was that volunteer for a couple years a long time ago.

    1. LifelongLib

      I only know of him from his computer-related writings and videos, but I’m shocked and saddened by what has happened with Stallman. It certainly seems he was right in his free software ideas (just use your cellphone or surf the web and see). He was obviously not the most socially adept guy in the world, and academia looks like a minefield for people who are a lot more circumspect about expressing unpleasant ideas than he was…

    2. scarn

      I will cop to having a sad about Stallman. Of all the ways he could fall short, it’s this stupid obvious mode of prurience which does him in, smh.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      IIRC, Pepe Escobar parachuted into HK, interviewed only his old landlady and Filipina helpers (no that that’s a bad thing, it’s a good thing) and then wrote his piece. I don’t view him as a wu mao tankie, but that’s a little too close to Thomas Friedman interviewing cab drivers for my comfort.

    1. Yves Smith

      Prediction markets work only when the people betting in the market either are like or have a good understanding of the actual actors/decision makers. Bets on the Brexit referendum were fabulously wrong because the sterling value of bets for Remain greatly exceeded the sterling value of votes for Leave. But…..the # of bets, which is the better proxy for votes, were greatly pro Leave.

      You can imagine that the sort of well off people who like to frequent prediction markets are rich libertarians, followed by financial services industry types with too much time on their hands.

      And the person most likely to jump in if Biden crashes quickly is Bloomberg, not Hillary.

  20. Synoia

    “So one wonders what kind of assurances the DNC gives “big money people.””

    It’s Access Insurance. Provides access if required.

  21. Wukchumni

    I’d mentioned that for the first time, I received counterfeit retail items from Amazon, and to their credit, they refunded me fairly promptly and didn’t even ask for the bogus goods back.

    The seller doesn’t appear to exist anymore, either.

Comments are closed.