2:00PM Water Cooler 11/13/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient reader, impeachment has eaten the world, so I’ll be adding a bit more on the candidates in a bit. Thanks to readers who are describing what’s happening on the ground in their own states.–lambert UPDATE All done!

Trade

“Retailers say they are moving furniture sourcing from China to non-tariffed countries and using new financing plans with customers… even as many companies say they are struggling to cope with the higher costs” [Wall Street Journal]. “…China was the top furniture exporter to the U.S. last year but shipments from there declined 30% from September 2018 to September 2019… while furniture imports from Vietnam increased 51%. A separate solution hasn’t taken hold, however: Industrial-production data shows no spike in U.S. furniture manufacturing since the tariffs took effect.”

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

Here is a second counter for the Iowa Caucus, which is obviously just around the corner:

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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 11/13/2019, 12:00 PM EST:

For YouGov, Warren pulls ahead of Sanders. Here, the latest national results, as of 11/13/2019, 12:00 PM EST:


Monmouth has released a new IA poll. As of 11/13/2019, 12:00 PM EST:

Buttigieg, Warren, Sanders, as of 11/13/2019, 12:00 PM EST:

From the poll:

Buttigieg’s gains since the summer have been across the board, with increasing support coming from nearly every demographic group. Regardless, less than one-third of likely caucusgoers say that they are firmly set on their choice of candidate and most would not be too disappointed if they had to switch their support. The poll also finds that Mike Bloomberg receives a chilly reception among Hawkeye State Democrats as he considers whether to make a late entry into the nomination contest.

Here is a cautionary note on polling in Iowa:

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): “Biden Helped Reform Ukraine. Trump Pushed to Make Ukraine Corrupt Again.” [Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine]. • Again? Chaits gotta Chait, but this headline crosses over into some other dimension of derangement. From the Corruption Perceptions Index:

C’mon, man.

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “Four Takeaways From Joe Biden’s Town Hall in Grinnell’ [WHOTV]. “Biden didn’t explain why, if Republicans had been unbending before Trump due to concerns that they’d anger their conservative base, they’d be more willing to work with Democrats after his departure.”

UPDATE Patrick (D)(1): “Deval Patrick bid would ‘complicate Elizabeth Warren’s life'” [Politico]. “Several Massachusetts Democrats — who declined to go on the record because of the sensitive nature of the issue — viewed reports that Patrick was preparing to join the field as an affront to Warren, who has been running hard for nearly a year. ‘I think not only would he draw from a lot of undecided voters but also from anyone in the race,’ said Deb Kozikowski, the vice chair of the state Democratic Party. ‘Iowa may be half-baked already, but New Hampshire’s not, South Carolina’s not.'” • A pleasant prospect for the Warren campaign, no doubt, having two Massachusetts candidates running in neighboring New Hampshire.

UDPATE Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders returned $470 from the only billionaire who donated to his campaign” [The Week]. “Marta Thoma Hall, the wife of a billionaire inventor, gave $470 to Sanders’ campaign this summer — and when Sanders’ team realized, they promptly returned it, Forbes reports. Hall’s husband David Hall, who ‘doesn’t have as much of an interest in politics,’ holds a patent on a self-driving car sensor, and his stake in the Velodyne company has recently been valued at over $1 billion, Forbes writes.” • The cream of the best being that the valuation of Hall’s patent is, to say the least, Bezzle-adjacent.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Sanders meets with Hispanic lawmakers” [Politco]. “A Latino caucus member in the room said several undecided lawmakers were present, and that Sanders did not exclusively talk about economic issues. ‘It was not what I expected. It was pretty impressive,’ said the member. ‘He was very comfortable with us. He impressed the caucus, to be honest.’ The person added: ‘He really has learned from his past experiences with Latinos and Latino issues and the Latino caucus. It literally looked like a new Bernie.'” • If the people lead, the leaders will follow. Sanders is already polling very well with Hispanic voters.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): “Bernie Blackout” [Bernie Blackout]. • An aggregation of horror stories. I think Sanders supporters will find this very, very useful. A volunteer effort!

UPDATE Sanders (D)(4): “Don’t Underestimate AOC’s Possible Iowa Impact For Sanders” [Iowa Starting Line]. “As Ocasio-Cortez noted at the Council Bluffs rally, this was her first-ever visit to Iowa. She should come back. Often. The freshman congresswoman fired up the crowd in a way few politicians have in Iowa this year. ‘When it comes to the Green New Deal, people say … how are we going to pay for it?’ she said near the end of her introduction of Sanders in Des Moines on Saturday. ‘As though we’re not paying for it now. As though the Midwest wasn’t underwater this year! As though 3,000 Americans didn’t die in Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico! As though Hurricane Katrina didn’t happen! As though sea levels aren’t rising! As though California isn’t on fire! How do we pay for that? ‘Most of the 2,000-person crowd leapt to their feet to cheer.” • Impressive.

Trump (R)(1): “White Trump voters are richer than they appear” [WaPo]. “[P]revious accounts [of Trump’s 2016 victory] have focused on studying how individual incomes affected voting decisions in 2016 by looking at citizens’ total incomes. But what if the relationship between income and who you vote for is related not to how much total money you earn, but how much you earn relative to your neighbors?… As the data in the table show, support for Trump was strongest among the locally rich — that is, white voters with incomes that are high for their area, though not necessarily for the country as a whole.”

UPDATE Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren’s systematic, methodical approach to Iowa — and why she’s rising in the polls” [USA Today]. “Warren has built a highly visible ground team that has made itself known to Iowa politicos as it canvasses cities and organizes caucus leaders. It’s that robust organizational presence that could explain, in part, her rise in the Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll, Iowa Democrats have said…. Warren said her Iowa strategy was born out of the decision to run a grassroots campaign. Instead of holding private fundraisers, she decided to spend time on the ground and in town halls, she said.” • This is very good on the Warren ground game. Sounds different from the Sanders door-knocking approach.

UPDATE Warren (D)(2): Consider listening to this:

Who wants a President who’s “just a player in the game”? (It’s a lot like this: “August 31, 1967, Romney stated, “When I came back from Viet Nam [in November 1965], I’d just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get.'” To which the universal reaction was, “Who wants a President who can be brain-washed?”) Worse, this is from the same interview where Warren said billionaires are billionaires because they work hard. Who wants a President who can be p0wned, twice, in an interview with Amy Goodman? Warren has a glass jaw.

Impeachment

“Democratic Insiders Preview Their Impeachment Offense Against Trump” [Vanity Fair]. The deck: “After the disaster of the Mueller testimony, Democrats know that impeachment means telling a simple, clear, compelling story.” • So it’s all about the narrative, then. Which the anonymous (Eric Ciaramella?) (“whistleblower’s” memo provided. Conveniently. (I used the headline in view source, because that’s the easiest way for me to get readable upper and lower-case as opposed to unreadable upper case, as the (editor-written) headline on the page: “”GENERATED, FACILITATED BY, INSISTED ON BY THE PRESIDENT”: DEMOCRATIC INSIDERS PREVIEW THEIR IMPEACHMENT OFFENSE.”

UPDATE “Trump Impeachment Hearings Open With Schiff on Hook to Make Case” [Bloomberg]. “There’s still no set timeline for how swiftly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schiff intend for his phase of the investigation to wrap up. Officials familiar with Democratic plans say they hope to move rapidly from hearings to a report to be presented by December to the Judiciary Committee with recommended action. That panel would then decide on whether to draft articles of impeachment and advance them to a House vote, perhaps by the end of the year.” • And speaking of the Calendar–

UPDATE “Impeachment threatens to freeze Democratic presidential race” [Roll Call]. • Oh.

UPDATE “Why Republicans should admit there was a quid pro quo” [The Week]. “This is not cynicism. A president cannot do what he thinks is right for the country abroad if he is hampered by difficulties at home, including the difficulty of not being elected (or re-elected) president. Since the conduct of foreign policy is the prerogative of the chief executive, without whom we could not have relationships with other leaders, it is difficult to draw hard-and-fast distinctions between what is good for the president and what is good for the country — at least ones that do not depend upon our prior judgments about the president in question.” • Extortion, or, as we called it in school, “international relations.” Worth a read for the realpolitik….

“The Impeachment Pantomime” [Patrick Lawrence, Consortium News]. This: “[T]he witnesses are to one or another degree of questionable motives: To a one, they appear to be Russophobes who favor military aid to Ukraine; to a one they are turf-conscious careerists who think they set U.S. foreign policy and resent the president for intruding upon them. It is increasingly evident that Trump’s true offense is proposing to renovate a foreign policy framework that has been more or less untouched for 75 years (and is in dire need of renovation).” And this (sorry for the length, but I haven’t seen this put together quite so well:

Ten days ago Real Clear Investigations suggested that the “whistleblower” whose “complaint” last August set the impeachment probe in motion was in all likelihood a CIA agent named Eric Ciaramella. And who is Eric Ciaramella? It turns out he is a young but seasoned Democratic Party apparatchik conducting his spookery on American soil.

Ciaramella has previously worked with Joe Biden during the latter’s days as veep; with Susan Rice, Obama’s recklessly hawkish national security adviser; with John Brennan, a key architect of the Russiagate edifice; as well as with Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-born Democratic National Committee official charged during the 2016 campaign season with digging up dirt on none other than candidate Donald Trump.

For good measure, Paul Sperry’s perspicacious reporting in Real Clear Investigations reveals that Ciaramella conferred with the staff of Rep. Adam Schiff, the House Democrat leading the impeachment process, a month prior to filing his “complaint” to the CIA’s inspector general.

This information comes after Schiff stated on the record that the staff of the House Intelligence Committee, which he heads, had no contact with the whistleblower. Schiff has since acknowledged the Ciaramella connection.

No wonder no one in Washington will name this phantom in plain sight. The impeachment probe starts to take on a certain reek. It starts to look as if contempt for Trump takes precedence over democratic process — a dangerous priority. Sperry quotes Fred Fleitz, a former National Security Council official, thus: “Everyone knows who he is. CNN knows. The Washington Post knows. The New York Times knows. Congress knows. The White house knows…. They’re hiding him because of his political bias.”

Here we come to another question. If everyone knows the whistleblower’s identity, why have the corporate media declined to name him? There can be but one answer to this question: If Ciaramella’s identity were publicized and his professional record exposed, the Ukrainegate narrative would instantly collapse into a second-rate vaudeville act — farce by any other name, although “hoax” might do, even if Trump has made the term his own.

Tin foil hat time: It has occurred to me (and I have done sanity checks with friends of the blog) that the SCIF, under Schiff’s stewardship, functioned as a “clean room” where witness testimony was reverse engineered to match Ciaramella’s memo. If so, the testimony would all tally, Murder on the Orient Express-style, because it was made to tally. Of course, the way to disprove what is admittedly conjectural, would be to permit Ciaramela to testify (which would also eliminate the appearance that a President was indicted based on secret testimony, or that intelligence community sources and methods took precedence over the American people’s right to know).

UPDATE Always look for the qualification, in this case “reportedly.” Nevertheless:

That timing has always struck me as curious as well, though “emboldened” seems to picture Trump as without guile, which, based on past performance, doesn’t quite seem right.

* * *

The ambassadors’ testimony:

“Meet the witnesses: Diplomats start off impeachment hearings” [Associated Press]. “Diplomats and career government officials, they’re little known outside professional circles, but they’re about to become household names testifying in the House impeachment inquiry. The witnesses will tell House investigators — and Americans tuning into the live public hearings — what they know about President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine… First up will be William Taylor, the charge d’affaires in Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau, both testifying on Wednesday.” • You can read the full article for the bios. First, William Taylor:

“Op-Ed in Novoye Vremya by CDA Taylor: Ukraine’s Committed Partner” [U.S. Embassy in Ukraine]. From November 10, 2019, the penultimate paragraph. I’ve helpfully underlined the dogwhistles:

But as everyone who promotes democracy knows, strengthening and protecting democratic values is a constant process, requiring persistence and steady work by both officials and ordinary citizens. As in all democracies, including the United States, work remains in Ukraine, especially to strengthen rule of law and to hold accountable those who try to subvert Ukraine’s structures to serve their personal aims, rather than the nation’s interests.

It’s kind of Taylor to let the Ukrainians know who’s really in charge of foreign policy, isn’t it? Now, Kent–

“George Kent Opening Statement At Impeachment Hearing: Concerned About “Politically-Motivated Investigations” [RealClearPolitics]. From the full text as prepare for delivery:

Ukraine’s popular Revolution of Dignity in 2014 forced a corrupt pro-Russian leadership to flee to Moscow.

By analogy, the American colonies may not have prevailed against British imperial might without help from transatlantic friends after 1776. In an echo of Lafayette’s organized assistance to General George Washington’s army and Admiral John Paul Jones’ navy, Congress has generously appropriated over $1.5 billion over the past five years in desperately needed train and equip security assistance to Ukraine.

Similar to von Steuben training colonials at Valley Forge, U.S. and NATO allied trainers develop the skills of Ukrainian units at Yavoriv near the Polish border, and elsewhere.

Are these people out of their minds? See, e.g., “America’s Collusion With Neo-Nazis” [The Nation]:

Not even many Americans who follow international news know the following, for example:

That the snipers who killed scores of protestors and policemen on Kiev’s Maidan Square in February 2014, thereby triggering a “democratic revolution” that overthrew the elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, and brought to power a virulent anti-Russian, pro-American regime—it was neither democratic nor a revolution, but a violent coup unfolding in the streets with high-level support—were sent not by Yanukovych, as is still widely reported, but instead almost certainly by the neofascist organization Right Sector and its co-conspirators.

§ That the pogrom-like burning to death of ethnic Russians and others in Odessa shortly later in 2014 reawakened memories of Nazi extermination squads in Ukraine during World War II has been all but deleted from the American mainstream narrative even though it remains a painful and revelatory experience for many Ukrainians.

(To be fair, the Ukrainian neo-Nazis we supported weren’t slaveholders, unlike to many of our own Founders. So there’s that.)

Health Care

UPDATE Confirming thread after thread after thread of horror stories:

Stats Watch

Consumer Price Index, October 2019: “In a mixed report and underneath a higher-than-expected … rise in overall consumer inflation, a more modest … October gain in core inflation hints at slack in the economy” [Econoday]. “For monetary policy, this puts the emphasis more on the direction than the level of consumer prices and especially core prices where today’s results, with medical costs an exception, are mixed to soft.”

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, November 2019: “Inflation expectations at the business level jumped back to the 2 percent line” [Econoday].

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of November 8, 2019: “Mortgage bankers were very busy in the November 8 week judging by applications which jumped” [Econoday]. “Today’s report, specifically the rise in purchase applications, will give a lift to expectations for home sales going into year end.”

Shipping: “Chinese shipping giant Cosco Group announced plans to invest around $1 billion in Greece’s Port of Piraeus…. as Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the site that marks a key node in the country’s Belt and Road initiative” [Wall Street Journal]. “Container volumes at Piraeus have been rising as China has stepped up its investment and Cosco wants to scale up the capacity with a plan that has met some resistance from Greek authorities. That pushback may be fading under a new government in Athens, however, and Cosco’s only barriers may be commercial. Northern Europe gateways far outplace Mediterranean ports in Asia cargo, and they have well developed road and rail infrastructure to move goods inland. Still, more shipments from Cosco Shipping may trigger more investment to move those goods.”

The Bezzle: “Digital freight broker Convoy has a shiny new value attached to its business and the fast-growing sector has cleared another financing gatepost” [Wall Street Journal]. “[T]echnology-focused upstarts…. are pushing their way into traditional freight load-matching business, since it appears to push the sector past $1 billion in investor funding since 2011. So far, it doesn’t look like any of the newer entrants in the highly fragmented freight brokerage sector have turned up any profits [jaw drops]. But the big new backing for Convoy suggests investors believe they are on a path to profitability.” • Or there’s so much stupid money floating around that investors can throw it at brain-dead projects.

The Bezzle: “Blockchain is Dead? Crypto Geeks Debate Merits of Once Dear Tech” [Bloomberg]. “‘Blockchain is dead,’ Meltem Demirors, chief investment officer of CoinShares Group, said on the sidelines of the conference in Times Square. ‘After two, three years of spending a lot of money on this and a lot of investment dollars going into this, I think the bigger question as an investor is: What’s the scalable revenue model and is there equity value that’s created in these businesses? And arguably the answer is: not yet.'” • I’m so old I remember when blockchain was gonna kill off Uber. Battle of the titans.

Tech: “16-Inch MacBook Pro First Impressions: Great Keyboard, Outstanding Speakers” [Daring Fireball]. “Apple today is releasing its much-rumored new 16-inch MacBook Pro…. No one would ever suggest that the steering wheel for a car be designed by people who don’t drive. But yet somehow the entire Macintosh world has spent the last three years dealing with or avoiding keyboards that were seemingly designed by people who don’t type.3 The whole saga of the butterfly keyboards — their unreliable switches, poor typing feel, and anti-functional layout — betrays a certain arrogance. The more powerful an organization — a corporation, a nation, a sports team, whatever — the more at risk that organization is to hubris. It’s power that allows one to act on hubris. We shouldn’t be celebrating the return of longstanding features we never should have lost in the first place.” • Also, “de-Jony-Ive-ification.” We’ll have to wait for the tear-downs, however, to know if Apple has changed its ways. Beneath the shiny, is it still a glued-together and unrepairable mess?

Tech: “Google to offer checking accounts next year: source” [Reuters]. “Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google will offer personal checking accounts from sometime next year in partnership with Citigroup Inc (C.N) and a small credit union at Stanford University.” • Lol, some college friend from Stanford is cashing in at that credit union!

Tech: “Researchers discover vulnerabilities affecting billions of computer chips” [TechXplore]. “Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) security researchers Berk Sunar and Daniel Moghimi led an international team of researchers that discovered serious security vulnerabilities in computer chips made by Intel Corp. and STMicroelectronics. The flaws affect billions of laptop, server, tablet, and desktop users around the world. The proof-of-concept attack is dubbed TPM-Fail… The flaws announced today are located in TPMs, or trusted platform modules.” • You know the old joke, right? “Trust is [insert disfavored identity here]-ish for ‘F*ck you’!”? (Also, see Ken Thompson’s “Reflections on Trusting Trust“, from 1984 (ulp), still germane, about possibly the greatest hack ever.)

Mr. Market: I have a soft sport for Joe Weisenthal (who gets MMT):

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 87 Extreme Greed (previous close: 88, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 88 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 13 at 12:19pm.

The Biosphere

Ecological Reconstruction [BIOS (dk)]. From Finland. “Identity politics divides the citizenry into groups that are supposedly represented by different political parties, and politics is seen as antagonism between these groups and parties. The contents of issues and policies, then, become secondary to the coherence of constructed group identities and political positions. In particular, the populism of the far right has utilised this kind of identity politics by constructing an antagonism between the ‘forgotten people’ and the ‘elites’ and ‘immigrants’ who threaten its interests. Identity politics also affects the use and acceptability of scientific knowledge. For instance, when effective climate action is opposed on the basis that it sits ill with certain lifestyles and identities (such as private car ownership and meat heavy diet), often, the result is neglect or even hostility towards the results of scientific research on the environment. The insistence on unchanging and monolithic identities implies cherry-picking of scientific knowledge, even in the case of the most thoroughly vetted science.”


News of the Wired

“Existentialist Firefighter Delays 3 Deaths” [The Onion (RH)]. “‘I’m no hero,’ Farber said after rescuing the family from a house fire on the 2500 block of West Thacker Street, and prolonging for the time being their slow march toward oblivion. ‘Like any other man, I am thrown into this world, alone and terrified, to play a meaningless role in an empty life. In my case, that role happens to involve charging through towering blazes to pull helpless individuals from a sea of flames before they suffocate or are burnt alive.'” • RH asks: “Can you be a meliorist if you don’t believe in meliorism?” I would argue yes. It’s a matter of outcome, not belief.

“My name causes an issue with any booking! (names end with MR and MRS)” [Stack Exchange]. “My name is Amr Eladawy. Whenever I get a ticket through an agent and they put my first name as Amr, it lands as A only in the Airlines system….. It seems that there is a smart rule that considers the suffix MR as Mister and drops it. Is this the correct behavior? What should I do to have my name printed correctly on my bookings.” • Lol, algos.

“‘Noise’ in the Brain Encodes Surprisingly Important Signals” [Quanta]. “by analyzing both the neural activity and the behavior of mice in unprecedented detail, researchers have revealed a surprising explanation for much of that variability: Throughout the brain, even in low-level sensory areas like the visual cortex, neurons encode information about far more than their immediately relevant task. They also babble about whatever other behaviors the animal happens to be engaging in, even trivial ones — the twitch of a whisker, the flick of a hind leg. Those simple gestures aren’t just present in the neural activity. They dominate it.” • Everything, including the squeal. That’s nature!

“Blood, terror and bass: the heavy return of dub poetry” [Guardian]. “With his 1978 album Dread Beat an’ Blood, which fiercely criticised police brutality in London and forecast the 1981 Brixton riots, [Linton Kwesi Johnson] helped to establish dub poetry: a blend of chest-rattling bass and thunderous verses speaking truth to power.” • Too many academics and NGO types quoted in the article for me. So I wonder what’s really happening out in the clubs and where the sound systems are. Here’s a rootsy old tune. Anybody remember it?

His heavy beats will let you know where you are coming from and where you are going to….

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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 (Bleeding Heartland):

Bleeding Heartland writes: “Zigzag goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis) is native to much of the U.S. and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains and thrives in shady wooded habitats. I haven’t encountered this plant often in the wild. Fortunately, Kim El-Baroudi allowed me to explore her lovely Des Moines backyard, where I took all of the enclosed pictures in early October.”

I’m throwing Bleeding Heartland a link because they’re an old-school blog on Iowa politics and Iowa. I don’t always agree with them, but they’re always worth a read.

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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.

162 comments

    1. Wukchumni

      Bernie will be in Fresno this Friday, brave man walking into the belly of California’s red bastion, where the word ‘socialist’ is nearly as dirty as ‘SoCalist’.

      Wish I could make it, but have other plans.

      You really need a reason to go to Fresno, and the combination of a Trader Joe’s run and seeing Sanders would’ve made it so number one.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Try and find Fresno Dan???
        Pink Bunny Slippers have not been able to contact him. Boris and Natasha also worried. (Fearless Leader, well, who knows what goes on behind that monocle.)
        The local NSA Citadel might know his whereabouts. Unless, he is in a cell in their dungeon.

        Reply
          1. DJG

            ambrit + Janie: I also miss Fresno Dan, who was conducting universal messages through those pink bunny slippers and the antennae.

            Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That’s correct. Here is the explanation.:

        Investors are driven by two emotions: fear and greed. Too much fear can sink stocks well below where they should be. When investors get greedy, they can bid up stock prices way too far.

        So what emotion is driving the market now? CNNMoney’s Fear & Greed index makes it clear.

        Reply
  1. Off The Street

    The Hearings should be in a room that lets in sunlight, that universal disinfectant. Make the Front Row Kid Careerists sit by the windows.

    Thus far, my main reaction is that the State Department needs to be shaken up to get rid of those entrenched FRK’ing Careerists and to bring in some accountability. Inspector General positions and functions should not be optional at the whim of some SoS or other.

    Not change for its own sake, just bringing things out of the shadows. In keeping with my light theme, a Sunset Provision would help, too. That is one step toward eliminating the hearsay, innuendo and nonsense suppression of Due Process as that is anti-Constitutional. The people, including back-row, dropouts and all, deserve better from their government.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      One way to look at election 2016 was as a referendum on the right of the 10% to rule (because, in capsule form they’re “smart.” And not racist). The country’s answer — filtered through the electoral college, but then Clinton racking up votes in California and not going to Wisconsin wasn’t “smart,” was it? — was that no, the 10% do not have the right to rule. (See Arnade’s Dignity

      And the 10% just can’t get their heads around it. They still can’t. And these hearings are doubling down on it. And those ambassadors are out of their gourds, for all their credentials. One of them thinks Ukrainian fascists are like the “Founing Fathers,” and the other one writes an editorial that’s self-impeaching with regard to his motive for testifying! How do we even cope with this:

      Reply
      1. sleepy

        Yes, that’s certainly made clear today.

        I’m only half-listening to the congressional testimony today, but from what I hear it sounds like much of it only deals with policy differences between the witnesses and the administration. I’m surprised that the dems are this transparent, but not surprised at the arrogance behind it. Do they not feel any need to “explain” how the president, not civil servants, sets foreign policy whether you like that policy or not?

        Reply
      2. Roquentin

        I think this is a pretty spot on take on 2016. Trump was always just the biggest brick a lot of people felt they could throw through the window of that same 10%, a way to clearly state “your opinion means precisely nothing to us, we’d rather live under an ignorant, boorish reality TV star than endorse your coronation of Hillary.” Russiagate and impeachment, whatever little merit they actually had, have always been vehicles for perpetuating the illusion that the rejection never actually happened. The speed with which the neoliberal Democratic crowd turned on voting public when it wouldn’t get with their program surprised even me. They have to find some way to categorically reject the entire experience of that election so their image as the rightful rulers of the United States can be preserved. It’s been truly awful to watch.

        Moral of the story: a ruling class, aristocracy, elite, oligarchy, etc along with its supporters will say and do very nearly anything if it means they get to stay in control.

        Reply
        1. inode_buddha

          “Moral of the story: a ruling class, aristocracy, elite, oligarchy, etc along with its supporters will say and do very nearly anything if it means they get to stay in control.”

          There is one thing they are not in control of, and likely never will be — themselves. There is a world of difference between being a ruler, and being a leader.

          Reply
          1. WJ

            The tyrant is a slave to his own passions, yes. Though this truth unfortunately doesn’t mean the rest of us nontyrants are politically free.

            Reply
          1. Sushi

            At least those English toffs had the decency to retire to their clubs. The American cousins seem to want to go on television panels and confess their idiocies.

            Reply
        2. Lil’D

          Yes, seems likely.

          Is there any reasonably good explanation for why Trump remains so popular among, well, those who support him?

          I’m seriously asking for links to hard research…

          My Maddow watching “liberal” friends nearly all agree with each other that it’s the “deplorable” racists and ignorant Fox watchers who are clearly delusional about reality.

          I find that implausible. I think that most people follow their interests at least somewhat. I’d guess that a handful at least think that long term we* are better off with some destruction of elite institutions.

          They are mostly now leaning towards Pete. I’m still the only Bernie guy at the country club.

          Reply
          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Rising/The Hill had Trump’s campaign manager on the other day, he said in the 72 hours after Pelosi announced the “impeachment” the Trump campaign received more than $15M in contributions…more than Sloppy Joe Biden received for the entire quarter.

            As a lifelong Dem I am pleased to cite Nunes’ intro statement as the perfect encapsulation of my views:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XF73fu_0l20&feature=youtu.be

            Reply
          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            That’s a good question. I don’t know if the sort of people who research this sort of thing — that is, from the 10% — could formulate the right questions to ask.

            Impressionistically, Arnade’s view was that Trump voters were “volatility voters” — people who, in a losing game, figured it’s better to kick the table over than continue the game. (It occurs to me now that this might apply to some wealthy voters too, because volatility is good for speculators if they are properly hedged.)

            The Trillbillies — from Kentucky — say its people who want to “burn it all down” and only Trump is likely to do that. That’s an example of the sort of question I think a 10%-er would n’t even consider as legitimate to ask.

            Reply
            1. Plenue

              Lots of them are just ignorant. The constant bombardment of Fox, right-wing radio, etc keeps them completely oblivious to just what a dumpster fire Trump is, and how he works against their best interests.

              The Maddow watchers aren’t wrong about how awful Fox ‘News’ is. They just dont realize that they’re basically the same themselves.

              Reply
            2. polecat

              That’s the reason I, as a lifelong small blue … after witnessing the lighty vailed social destruction continue … on behalf of mr. O and his entourage, why I chose Chaos .. and henceforth, scribbled that tiny bubble for Julius de Orange. I knew, in spite of all he faults, and many he doth have .. that he’d get the boulder rolling, downhill !
              That boulder is like a giant 80 grit orbital sander, laying waste to decades of old, crazed, and flakey establishment varnish ! The sight of some bare wood is a somewhat soothing, if brief, palliative.

              Reply
      3. pjay

        “And those ambassadors are out of their gourds, for all their credentials.”

        Yes! This has been a truly extraordinary expose of our government “experts” and “diplomats” in charge of policy toward Russia and the Ukraine. In response to today’s Ilargi article a commenter had posted a link to John Helmer’s discussion of Fiona Hill’s testimony, which was also mind-boggling in its blinding, paranoid Russiaphobia. Truly a Bizarro world indeed.

        Reply
  2. Monty

    Thanks for the Dub youtube link. Good times were to be had in Ladbroke Grove back then.

    I have been letting Google’s evil algorithm radicalize me on autoplay since 2.01pm

    Reply
  3. hunkerdown

    Blockchain… Chinese mining systems are apparently being torn down and sold on Aliexpress for parts, which is great if you like playing with high-end programmable logic and getting your hands on multi-thousand-dollar FPGA chips with fast ARM cores inside for on the order of $200.

    TPM-Fail… Good riddance. The user’s rights aren’t the ones being protected here. “Platform integrity” means protecting system and application software from the user, so that odious restrictions such as anti-copying (aka anti-fair-use, anti-Save As…), reverse-engineering restrictions (aka you can’t inspect the code you licensed), and subscription-based business models (aka rentierism) can be enforced. What users actually go to the trouble of generating keys that are so important they have to be squirrelled away in some chip? Not I. Mostly just transnational corporations and spy services, and they need the sunlight.

    Reply
  4. Carolinian

    the Ukrainian neo-Nazis we supported weren’t slaveholders

    The real Nazis most definitely did use slaves and neo-Nazis by definition want to be like them. Just sayin.’

    I remember after the coup Margaret Warner of The News Hour interviewed a Ukrainian official and asked, paraphrasing, “what’s this crazy talk about Nazis?”

    Reply
  5. Lambert Strether Post author

    What, no impeachment comments?! Nothing on our wonderful diplomats?!

    I added the campaign trail coverage which continues to be newsworthy despite impeachment sucking the oxygen out of everything; please refresh your browsers. Adding, Warren has a glass jaw.

    Reply
    1. inode_buddha

      Blissfully, I do not own a TV. Even if I did, I would not watch because I value my sanity. I’m pretty sure my neighbors value my sanity, too.

      Reply
      1. dcblogger

        If anyone had told me that there could be impeachment hearings and I would be completely indifferent, I would have scorned the suggestion. But here I am, I am completely indifferent. Just waiting for it to sort itself out one way or the other.

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Yes by all means, let’s all just sit on the sidelines and tune out while the intelligence agencies and the press do their level best to substitute themselves for the electoral process. And of course, mid-level bureaucrats are the ones who should be making policy, not the elected leader. Mm-hmm, uh-huh

          Reply
    2. Braden

      TL:DL

      Career diplomats heard things from other people that made it seem like the foreign policy that they believe the country has toward Ukraine was being sorta undermined by other career diplomats and that rascal Rudy Giuliani. The most striking part of today’s testimony is that none of these people had ever met President Trump. Not even MET him. They are so far out of the orbit of policy-making in Washington that they have to resort to “I heard from my aide who was eavesdropping on someone else’s call with someone who may have been the President”.

      If this is the evidence, it’s half-baked. Kent and Taylor are so irrelevant it would be more convincing if they asked a janitor to testify about overhearing a Trump phone call (in fact, it might be more convincing because it would be hard to accuse the janitor of having improper motives). Maybe if they get Bolton to testify this could become something, but even then, it’s probably too late.

      Reply
    3. chuckster

      And who is Eric Ciaramella?

      Based on previous performance, I suspect he will be a DCCC endorsed candidate for a Congressional seat in Virginia within the next two years. (Assuming he is against M4A, of course.)

      Reply
    4. DJG

      Lambert Strether: All I have to say about impeachment right now is that, from the Left, where I am, I am relieved to see that the liberals and Democrats are in favor, suddenly, of whistleblowing. I assume that they will do the right thing by Thomas Drake, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning (still in prison, I believe). Hillary Clinton, gutsy woman and yoga devotee, will retract those statements about putting Snowden on trial.

      And, yet, why do I have a feeling that Eric Ciaramella (who, as an obvious Italian-American should know better than running with gangs) is just the latest Oliver North, who will twitch his eyebrows and tell stories?

      And meanwhile: I am still (still) waiting for Sen. Dianne Feinstein to leak the Senate Torture Report, so that we can have the well-deserved indictments. Dianne? Yo, Dianne?

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        “in favor, suddenly, of whistleblowing.”

        Only when it benefits them. As soon as whistleblowing benefits someone else like, say, Trump, they will be saying the CIA is their best friend and protector again. Its AGAINST the orange man though so its ok!

        Reply
    5. dk

      I think it’s a glaring mistake to avoid Hunter Biden before the committee, after establishing that the firm premise for his questioning is favoritism to the families of electeds as a line of general inquiry, not as a special case. This would open the door to subpoenas among the Trump family, leading straight to discussion of emoluments, as Yves said earlier, the obvious and most direct path to impeachment on clearly constitutional grounds (and wording).

      The GOP is bluffing and the Dems are blinking furiously here. Tactical losses not really an elite thing, they’re supposed to be above that and dammit, we will be, all we’ve worked for, the American way, Hasn’t My Family Suffered Enough *cue Biden pere tears*.

      Reply
    6. katiebird

      I broke my foot last week and am mostly couch-bound and I STILL can’t make myself watch the hearings. When I watched for a few minutes, it was like the babble fish had fallen out of my ear. It was all gibberish to me. And I’m one of those people who could take my eyes off the Nixon Impeachment hearings.

      Reply
      1. tegnost

        Ouch! Get a pile of paperbacks, I like jonas ward buchanan books and the john d macdonald travis mcgee series is pretty pulpy, too…you know, for when you finally get sick of all the play by play!

        Reply
    7. Summer

      As long as a President using the office to enrich himself isn’t impeachable for Nancy and crew, it just shows the thorough corruption in DC.

      Reply
    8. VietnamVet

      Lambert,

      Corporate Democrats jumped head long into the impeachment hearings. They can’t help themselves. The truth breaks their rice bowls. The Obama/Biden Administration in concert with NGOs and the State Department functionaries (Victoria Nuland) intentionally overthrew the elected Ukraine government and installed a puppet government supported by Galician Neo-Nazis. They and their sponsors profited. It is human nature. One cannot see themselves as clearly as someone else. The aggression was blamed on the Russians. This inability to face reality dooms the corporatists. Young politicians are now pointing out that the costs of doing nothing about climate change or the endless wars (which enables the transfer of the profits to the rich) are much more expensive for Americans than facing reality and the government doing the right thing and saving lives.

      Reply
    9. notabanker

      In the ten minutes I spent eating lunch, I read the closed captions of the talking heads on CNN educating me on the new and improved tenets of impeachment. Hearsay is just fine, as long as it established a “pattern of corruption”. No need for actual first hand witnesses. The whistleblower is no longer relevant since there is now plenty of hearsay to corroborate what they reported. The goal is to convince enough Republicans in the Senate to turn on Trump. That is all that is required, mission accomplished.
      Then I went back to my desk to negotiate a contract with our attorneys who, shockingly, insisted it’s terms follow actual US law. I guess they haven’t gotten the memo yet. It would have been a whole lot easier if we could just make stuff up and tell everyone that’s just the way it is now.

      Reply
  6. McDee

    “Retailers say they are moving furniture sourcing from China to non-tariffed countries…” I went to work for the Santa Fe Ry in 1966. We Handled carload after carload of quality furniture from the Thomasville Furniture Co, and others, in North Carolina. Shipped across the country by rail, winding up in Southern California. A few years ago I went to pick up a bed at American Home. On the loading dock were many cartons marked “Thomasville Furniture Co. Made in China” For the outsourcers apparently China isn’t cheap enough any more. Got to find somewhere cheaper. Will they keep looking til they find somewhere where slavery is still legal? We have traded our jobs for cheap imports.

    Reply
      1. Monty

        “We” bought it, instead of higher priced locally made stuff. The bosses noticed where “our” allegiances were, and did what they needed to do to stay solvent.

        Reply
        1. a different chris

          Not entirely true. They answered to the stock market, which wanted greater profit margins. Remember the China crap (and it’s got a lot better, TBH) we were buying initially came to the reseller at like 1/5 the cost of better American stuff, so said reseller could sell it for 1/2 the price of the American version and still pocket a lot more change.

          Back when the shift happened, the retail establishments (remember them?) still stocked what they sold. So they had a lot of incentive to move us down the chain.

          Reply
        2. ambrit

          “We” had to buy the cheap stuff because the bosses refused to pay us decent wages.
          It’s all one big global circlejerk now.

          Reply
        1. McDee

          I remember back when there were posters and bumper stickers that read “Buy American. The job you save may be your own.” Thought of that today at the market when I waited in line to checkout with a person rather that use the self checkout.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            You are far from alone in that feeling. I do the same and find many fellow ‘live person checkout lane’ users have that sensibility.

            Reply
      2. Michael Fiorillo

        Live long enough and you’ll witness Marx’s adage about everything g solid melting into air under Capitalism play out everywhere.

        When I was a child, the furniture industry was centered in NYC – the furniture workers union was on Bleecker St. and Broadway in Lower Manhattan. Into my early twenties, there were large unionized furniture factories in the city. Then, overnight, they migrated to the South, especially the area around High Point, NC. Then, overnight, they migrated to China… and now…

        Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Vasque boots used to be made in Italy, and fabulous footwear…

      A pair of Skywalk boots would last you a decade, solidly built.

      To this day, NPS rangers here wear made in China Vasque Skywalk leather boots that are garbage compared what they wore in the past. They look the same and that’s where the similarity ends.

      Reply
      1. Socal Rhino

        A friend recently mentioned to me he’s resoled his Vasque boots for the fourth or fifth time. I remember breaking in my pair (really need to pull them out of the closet and put some more miles on them).

        Reply
      2. Kurt Sperry

        I used Vasque Sundowners for years, expensive and worth it. Then they moved production from Italy to China and didn’t pass the no doubt enormous savings on to the buyer. I don’t care how good Chinese-made Sundowners are really, knowing they probably cost about $10 a pair to make there means I will never pay three figures for them. Vasque lost me as a customer forever when they outsourced to the PRC and kept the Made in Italy prices. Screw them, they are dead to me now.

        Reply
    2. Tom Doak

      The douchiest thing I have ever heard someone say in person was the billionaire entrepreneur who said, “I travel the world in search of cheap labor.” That was when he was moving production from China to Vietnam and Cambodia, 6-7 years ago. I guess he was ahead of the curve.

      Reply
      1. Danny

        I predict Burma.

        The absolute fantasy of the globalists: North Korea.
        Bet they’d be willing to work cheap. Union activists?
        Blow them to pieces with anti-aircraft guns.

        Reply
    3. eg

      Your State Department was complicit all through the Cold War, trading asymmetrical trade agreements for cooperation in their contest with Communism at the expense of American labor. See Judith Stein’s “Pivotal Decade”

      Reply
      1. inode_buddha

        Yay Miss Sweetiepoo! I thought I was the only one!!! Thank you, you made me smile today… it’s been a while since I’ve seen that crowd.

        Reply
  7. Michael Fiorillo

    Granting the resilience Biden’s candidacy has shown thus far, it’s nevertheless hard to see how a Ukraine-based impeachment process is anything but ungood for him.

    If that’s true, it underscores the willingness of the Dems to bed the intelligence agencies in their effort to bring down Trump; that the #McResistance TM is willing to countenance, let alone bet the house on, turning one of their prime candidates into collateral damage is very revealing.

    Reply
      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Yes, that had occurred to me, but it still suggests how far the Donor Class Ds are willing to go to regain the White House; given the banana republic-type stuff that went down with Russiagate (predictably, to Trump’s ultimate benefit) the Norms Fairy has got to be a little quesy, no matter Hair Furor’s lack of couth. They apparently will do anything to get Trump out; anything, that is, except aggressively contest him electorally with a people-first candidate and program.

        Reply
  8. ptb

    Warren – “I’m just a player in the game”

    ok that’s pretty lame.

    why was she predisposed to hear that as a trick question? context?

    Reply
    1. russell1200

      The question is asked in such a way that she has to either say she wants to take away Iowa and New Hampshire’s early positioning: something both states ferociously defend. Or defend the positioning, and come across as being racist.

      Her point is that she didn’t set the rules. And asking her to go into the question right before the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries is foolish. And it is. Typical Identity Politicals distraction.

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        I agree that Goodman’s question was a transparent “gotcha” question. Moreover, it reeks of the arrogance, the smarmy self-satisfaction, the tone policing and the holier-than-thou attitudes of the “professional class”. It was very obvious that the question itself was contrived, designed to generate controversy. It was so obviously a bad-faith question, and so out of line, that Warren’s instinct to to slap it down was the correct one.

        But the way she did that was a bloody train wreck.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          Huh? Since when does the “professional class” care about these issues? This is much more a combo plate of a stereotyped SJW concern and political insider concern. I don’t see this resonating with most voters, which is why Warren could and should have breezed past it.

          Warren could have pleasantly acknowledged that these were concerns, but that the pace of primaries moves quickly and in horseraces, the winner in the first quarter mile is never certain to win, and that political consultants debate the importance of Iowa and NH. She could have blathered anything to look like she acknowledged what Goodman said but not take much of a position either way.

          Reply
          1. Big River Bandido

            My point was that they *don’t* care about those issues, it’s all phony window dressing and SJW nonsense. (Hence the reference to tone policing.). And I agree, it was the kind of question she should have been able to dismissively wave off or laugh off. That she didn’t reveals a serious personality flaw that will doom a presidential candidate.

            Reply
    2. Yves Smith

      I was even more struck by the way she got pissy as soon as she figured out where Goodman was going and interrupted her. WTF? Let Goodman go on, nod sagely, and make a sympathetic but equivocal comment. Or say “I agree this is problematic, but any ordering of states will product ethnic or demographic skews, and this isn’t the biggest ‘what’s wrong with our electoral process,'” if she wanted to disagree.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        It was really bizarre. There are about 100 harmless ways to answer that and avoid headlines. Most seasoned politicians see those potholes and maneuver comfortably to avoid incident.

        Losing patience and getting huffy was the only way she could have made a mess of it. Just completely unnecessary unforced error there.

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Rising/The Hill makes the point that perfection and thin-skinnedness are exactly the qualities you do NOT want in the president, because the only questions they get are sh*t sandwiches with no real good answers. If the problem was solvable it would have been solved long before it reaches the president’s desk.

          Reply
        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          I’m not sure its bizarre as much as its closer to how most people would react to being questioned. Yes, she won a race in Massachusetts in the wake of Coakley’s disasters and Scott Brown actually being in the Senate, so like Kamala Harris, she’s never run a hard election fight. She’s never dealt with emotions over streets not getting plowed.

          Obama despite the softballs was never really cut off guard, but in a sense, he proved himself when he was a state senator and really would get the most insane, emotional, or immediately important items brought to him. Though they are Senators. They didn’t all get there the same way. How are they so bad at this? They skipped the audition process and enjoyed the easy stuff (goofy rallies, msm fluff pieces) of relying on simply being the Senator from State X to build a crowd.

          Reply
  9. russell1200

    “softball question” …Ok, so this is the pro-Bernie anti-Warren Blog, I get that.

    But she took it at as an ambush question, stated the reason why, and refused to answer the question. From that you get brainwashing? OK..whatever.

    Reply
    1. WJ

      Sorry but that is false. She purposefully reframed a question about DNC election procedures as though it were a question about IA and NH specifically; then she faked umbrage about what she pretended was Goodman’s implicit “attack” upon IA and NH to avoid having to answer the question about the DNC.

      She often likes to “reframe” questions into altogether different questions and then answer those instead. She’s not particularly good at this, so it’s easy to catch.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Thanks for this, which is what I saw as well, though I’d not be able to explain it. The faux-indignance
        was / is a tell with Warren.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous Coward

          Also, when she was leaving the stage and shook hands, Amy Goodman thanked her. The Warren response was, “Yeah,” as if that is ever an acceptable response to “Thank you.” There’s my tell that she was genuinely miffed.

          Reply
          1. Carey

            Agreed. Also, Goodman’s crumpled body-language during the exchange was not that of someone engaged in a “gotcha!” moment.

            Reply
          2. T

            Indeed. More and more she seems like the type who’s so invested in her jolly professional persona thst she ingnites with rage when anyone or anything interferes with the show.

            Hale fellow, well met, and how dare you suggest anything else.

            Reply
            1. Big River Bandido

              Professors — specifically, tenured celebrities at northeastern colleges — do tend to have very brittle egos. I think it comes from the culture of academic politics; people are never so shallow and petty as they are when playing for such low stakes as in academia.

              Reply
    2. richard

      if she got ambushed by that question, it doesn’t say much about her ability to think on her feet
      not a particularly hostile environment or a gotchya question imo
      she could either take a position against process rigging by the DNC, or punch left, or do some wishy-washy middle thing like sort of acknowledging a problem exists while at the same time burying it i.e. I’ll bring all stakeholders to the table and together we’ll arghh i already want to stab my brain out. At least she didn’t do that.
      She chose to punch left, by framing a question on election integrity as a personal attack. All hurt feelings and norms violated.
      Not a good look man. Not good at all. President Cheeto will take her apart.

      Reply
    3. Jeff W

      Elizabeth Warren can take the question as an ambush question, if she likes—I see this clip as Warren showing yet again that she is terrible at answering these types of questions. She’s so…brittle. She’s like the straight A student who knows all the answers to what’s on the test and nothing else—ask her anything outside of what she’s prepared for and she falls apart. She has no capacity to bob and weave (contra Bernie Sanders who never takes the bait—it’s one reason why Sanders can appear on Fox News and deftly handle the questions and Warren won’t risk it), no ability to reframe the question persuasively (as AOC can). Part of President Trump’s malevolent genius is to hone in precisely on his opponents’ weaknesses and I can’t imagine a target more willing, if unwitting, to step into his sights than Elizabeth Warren.

      The most generous interpretation of Warren’s “player in the game” answer that I can come up with is that she won’t second guess a process that she’s taking part in while it’s going on. She could have gotten away with saying something like that. But her hands-off response and her use of the metaphor “player” in the “game” sounds like a defense of “business as usual” in Washington—it’s guarded and tone-deaf. (President Obama was at least savvy, if disingenuous, enough to say while campaigning “I don’t want to learn to play the game better. I want to end the game playing.”) Her curt “Yeah”—it’s almost “Yeah, whatever”—in response to Amy Goodman thanking her for the interview comes across as ungracious and thin-skinned, not exactly the qualities I’d look for in a leader.

      Reply
      1. flora

        see this clip as Warren showing yet again that she is terrible at answering these types of questions. She’s so…brittle. She’s like the straight A student who knows all the answers to what’s on the test and nothing else—ask her anything outside of what she’s prepared for and she falls apart.

        I think that was/is Hills’ glass jaw, too.

        Reply
    4. Yves Smith

      Help me. It WAS a softball question. This is an issue on which Warren has zero previous position and it’s low stakes to boot. Warren could have pleasantly blathered just about anything. Instead she got hostile…towards mild mannered Amy Goodman, fer Chrissakes, and then makes it worse by producing a soundbite that can be used against her.

      If you can’t see that, you are the one who with a vested interest.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        >Warren could have pleasantly blathered just about anything

        This. But the Q went a little off script, so angry librarian got insta-huffy, and it *is* telling, IMO.

        Reply
    5. Will S.

      Wow, you’re not great at reading things, are you? FWIW this blog is definitely not pro-Bernie or anti-Warren, it’s pro-truth and anti-cowardice. FFS, even Joe Biden had a better answer than Warren did to that question, and he didn’t lose his temper over being asked it. The brainwashing reference was referring to a Romney gaffe.

      Reply
  10. XXYY

    Who wants a President who’s “just a player in the game”?

    Warren has serious problems reacting to unexpected or challenging situations. She tends to get defensive, go blank, or lash out. Aside from the fact that these are not qualities we want in a president (!), they are also going to be disastrous in a general election against Donald Trump.

    Whatever else you say about Trump, and I do too, he is a skilled campaigner who fairly effortlessly beat about 20 opponents in the process of winning his current post, including several who had a lot of money, support, and experience going for them. His tactic is to unerringly zero in on his opponent’s weak spots, and pound them mercilously, often with engaging humor and snark.

    Most politicians have a hard time handling this, but Warren seems to do it especially badly. We saw this in her embarrassing “Pocahontas/DNA test” episode, where Trump successfully taunted her into a raging and nonsensical Twitter diatribe of incredible length, followed by her actually agreeing to get a DNA test to “prove” her nonexistent American Indian ancestry. Rather than defusing the story, her response kept it alive for many news cycles and made her look foolish, as well as indelibly inscribing the issue in the minds of the American public.

    This whole fiasco is probably only a whiff of what we could expect if she somehow makes it to the general election.

    Reply
    1. chuckster

      We’ve got a president who pays his prostitutes a quarter million bucks for a roll in the hay (and he boasts what a great dealmaker he is); who is selling every national asset he can get his hands on for no-bid contracts to his friends and who is probably seriously delusional if not actually insane and you somehow think that Warren’s DNA test is going to be a topic on conversation in a hypothetical matchup next fall?

      LOL. I know this site is Sanders’ country but c’mon man!

      Reply
      1. Trent

        whats with all these “sander country” comments? Here is a question for all the Liz Warren “country” people…… Why didn’t she run in 2016? My guess, she didn’t want to step on the gift from heavens toes. If that is the case, then i know she’s not the right person to vote for.

        Reply
        1. chuckster

          I suppose if she ran in 2016 you would have complained that she was stepping on Bernie’s toes and not given him a clean shot at Madame Secretary.

          Every time you tell me how Bernie is going to win the nomination I remember that in 2016 he couldn’t beat the most hated woman in America – a woman so horrible that she lost to a game show host. So go ahead and believe that he’s going to be the nominee next year but the odds don’t look that good from those of us in the cheap seats.

          Reply
          1. inode_buddha

            You forget how much the game was rigged in her favor. Said rigging was very thoroughly documented here.. If not for that, he would have beaten her.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              And the ‘show’ is quite obviously being rigged against him this election cycle, also thoroughly documented here. I snark about concerning Hillary rising from the political grave to run again, but she really is as ruthless and ambitious as I have “joked” about. Unfortunately, Warren is replicating many of Clinton’s failings in the political sphere.
              Bold Assertion Time. Whether witting or not, Warren is being used as a sheepdog against Sanders. She vacuums ‘centrists’ away from Sanders up until the convention. The goal, not necessarily her goal, but the overarching goal nonetheless is to deny Sanders a first round victory in the Democrat Party presidential candidate nomination race. After that, the convention goes into broker mode and the superdelegates foist whoever the DNC insider candidate of choice is. That candidate will not be either Sanders or Warren. I’m still thinking H Clinton will be the Democrat’s “Unity” candidate for 2020.
              There may be a lot of politics involved in academia, but that does not make many academics competent politicians.
              I really wish that I am wrong. However, recent history has taught me to imagine the worst but that the reality is terror incarnate.

              Reply
      2. jrs

        You *should* be right, but it’s one of those nobody every went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people things ….

        Reply
        1. Tvc15

          I do not trust Warren. She should have endorsed Bernie based on her purported policy stances, but wasn’t stong enough in her convictions to cross the anointed one. Obama 2.0

          Reply
      3. Carey

        >you somehow think that Warren’s DNA test is going to be a topic on conversation in a hypothetical matchup next fall?

        You can count on it, Chief.

        Reply
        1. Michael Fiorillo

          And just wait until Trump starts campaigning with a copy of “Pow Wow Chow,” the book of “Indian” recipes she appeared in…

          Reply
      4. Big River Bandido

        Talk about completely missing the point. The Pocahontas fiasco has already doomed Warren’s run for the White House. Not because of the substance but the optics.

        One does not need to be a sophisticated voter to tell when a candidate is being phony. Now that this seed of thought has been planted, every time a piece of Warren’s facade falls off (“long term goal of Medicare for All”), it reinforces the Pocahontas metaphor.

        Trump is brilliant at that kind of politics. Warren? She’s the perfect chump for it.

        Reply
      5. psv

        If she were to become the nominee, I’d be very surprised if it didn’t come up, and I think that for a lot of people it will not reflect well on her character. From what I’ve seen, I’m not confident of her ability to defuse that, regardless of what I might like to believe.

        Reply
      6. scarn

        Yeah, the DNA test would be a topic of conversation. She lied about being an Indian for years and even used it on employment forms. It should have ended her campaign, that’s some Rachel Dolezal type antics. It’s hugely telling to me that white liberals don’t care about this. IdPol only has value as gatekeeping when it’s convenient. You think that won’t matter to white workers? Then you understand nothing about this country.

        Warren is a kneeler. She bowed so fast to Gates I’m surprised she didn’t break her spine. Another reason why Trump would eat her entrails – she has no courage against the powerful. Bernie, like Trump, will not kneel, and people respond to that.

        People who consider voting for Trump do not see the guy like you do. They don’t care that he overpays hookers or that he engages in the same corrupt scams that the ruling class of both parties have been running their entire lives. They definitely don’t think he’s crazy, because they don’t listen to the breathless exposes about Trump’s mental health that sell so well to the front row kids. They did not like the pre-Trump status quo, and they see it as a worse option than the post-Trump upheaval. Trump is far from adored even by people who will vote for him against a typical Democrat, but people like Warren are simply despised.

        You should stop wasting time on politicians who won’t even try to deliver the goods, and join us over here on the Sanders side, where common labor builds common value, instead of a firewall for our oppressors.

        Reply
        1. chuckster

          You should stop wasting time on politicians who won’t even try to deliver the goods, and join us over here on the Sanders side, where common labor builds common value, instead of a firewall for our oppressors.

          You mean like when Sanders endorsed Her Highness – and will endorse Joe Biden (or Michael Bloomberg) at next year’s convention. I had a brother who had delusional paranoia so the Sanders’ fantasy isn’t anything I haven’t lived through. I wish you well in your recovery but I suppose you think Bernie will run again in 2024.

          Reply
          1. scarn

            I do appreciate your cynicism, but you miss the point. Sanders is a doorway to more working class power, if we can get it done; Warren is a grave. Never choose certain failure over possible success. If we lose again and Sanders endorses some ruling class scumbag, then I’ll go back to largely ignoring electoral politics and spend my time gumming up the gears of the machine where I can, without regret. But I’ll know that I spent my time organizing otherwise apolitical working people and demanding what is possible from this bourgeois democracy. And that is always good labor.

            Reply
        2. JohnnyGL

          I think the Q of “who’s trump bringing to the debates?” needs to be asked.

          This guy rounded up all of Clinton’s old victims and sat them down in the front row.

          If Warren’s the nominee….Trump/RNC will find some tribal leader from some tribe to sit in the front row and Trump’s going to talk about how insulting Warren has been to the tribe and their wonderful history.

          It’s going to happen if she’s the nominee. How’s she going to handle it? Early signs aren’t good.

          Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      That’s as succinct and penetrating a political analysis of both Trump and Warren as I’m likely see. I’ll use this line in my discussions with others.

      Reply
  11. aj

    Re: Blockchain is dead.

    Good. Blockchain is decent tech, but has been oversold as the solution to everything. Reminds me of how in the late 90s and early 00s “the internet” was going to solve all our problems.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      I read quite a few articles purporting to explain the wonderfulness of blockchain, but even after taking in
      all those thousands of words, couldn’t quite get it. Not the brightest light here, but Peter Lynch’s maxim
      seemed to apply.

      Reply
    2. Briny

      We are now in the “trough of disappointment.” Now we can get into using it for useful engineering , rather than following some consultant driven management narrative.

      Reply
  12. John

    If a Grand Jury can indict a ham sandwich as the old saying goes, then a determined majority can impeach a president or any other officer of government subject to removal by impeachment and conviction. We are in the first five minutes of the game. Perhaps even a general sports analogy is inappropriate to the potential seriousness of the moment in which we find ourselves, but nothing else comes to mind. That said, please excuse me if opt not to pay much attention for a while. As Lambert said in his opening, “Impeachment has eaten the world.” While we are not watching, what are Betsy DeVos, Wilbur Ross. and Stephen Miller doing to degrade the future. It gets lost in the media frenzy to follow every minute of the hearings. How are the ratings? I am sure there are ratings? Sponsors?

    I followed the run up to Nixon’s resignation, which forestalled certain impeachment and certain conviction and removal. That was dramatic and consequential.

    Clinton’s was at once tawdry, mean, and overtly political. It was not high drama, but sniggering farce.

    Trump? A small minded tyrannical personality who scares people who want to keep their jobs, scares congress people who want to keep their offices, entrances folks who seem not to see beyond the small circle in which they live, bemuses the crafty and sly who see in him an avenue to the satisfaction of their desires, and enrages beyond reason those who think the presidency was unfairly taken from their champion. All fail to see that the tin-pot emperor has no clothes.

    I see a clear path to his impeachment. I see no path …at the moment … to conviction before the Senate and if that plays out, we shall have to suffer him in office until at least January 2021. If in November 2020 we manage to elect someone who is neither a neo-liberal in economics nor a neo-conservative in foreign policy and who has the fortitude to stand fast in the face of resistance from those so-labelled, then we have a chance at a future.

    Why only a chance? Any mitigation of the effects of a rapidly changing climate will require a near total mobilization of resources and people; it will be costly. Redirecting the foreign policy of the nation from the path of global hegemony on which we are embarked (and which cannot possibly succeed in the long run; look at the history of empires.) will require patience and wisdom never the strong suite of American government. Add to those the domestic needs of the nation and you have a program for at least one generation.

    I wish I saw a program, a party, or a person that had any promise of tackling these tasks and staying the course.

    Impeach Trump. It is neither a bad nor a good thing. He will be gone soon enough anyway, but be mindful of the future by tending to the needs of the day.

    Reply
    1. flora

      Meanwhile, what real and/or important news is the msm avoiding while it breathlessly covers this impeachment dog and pony show?

      Reply
  13. Misty Flip

    The “snipers” at Maidan Square were members of the disbanded Berkut, the Ukrainian OMON, federal police paramilitary loyal to Yanukovych, and now part of the Crimea gendarmes, an organ of the National Guard of Russia. The paramilitaries killed with armor-piercing 12-gauge sabot-ed slugs in what otherwise looked like shotguns firing rubber rounds. The paramilitary also provoked counter-sniper fire from regular police units. The “neo-nazi” angle is disinformation from the GRU. The Maidan uprising was, and is, not a modern-day Einsatzgruppe. Really? Godwin’s law? — Start here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/30/magazine/ukraine-protest-video.html

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      A response to your article

      However, no expert knowledge or familiarity with the Maidan massacre or Ukraine is needed to see blatant misrepresentation of elementary data in that 3D model.

      The wound locations of the killed Maidan protesters in the 3D model do not match the wound locations in the forensic medical examinations of the bodies. The reports of those examinations were used in this simulation to determine the locations of the shooters. They are published in Ukrainian and English on the linked website. According to one such report, Ihor Dmytriv was shot in the “right side surface” and the “left side surface” of the torso “from the right to the left, from the top to the bottom, and a little from the front to the back” with the entry wound 20.5cm (8 inches) higher than the exit wound. However, in the simulation, his wounds have been moved to the front and the back and made nearly horizontal.[…]

      Changing the wound locations invalidates the entire reconstruction and, therefore, the conclusions of the SITU analysis and The New York Times article, that these and other Maidan protesters were shot from the Berkut positions.

      https://consortiumnews.com/2019/04/22/the-buried-maidan-massacre-and-its-misrepresentation-by-the-west/

      Of course it’s shocking that the NYT would skew their reporting of this incident /sarc

      Reply
  14. Summer

    RE: Blockchain

    Didn’t keep up with developments, but I remember thinking it was like some kind of next level Excel for databases and inventory.

    Reply
  15. fdr-fan

    Putting it simply, Democrats are colluding with Ukrainian officials to dig up dirt on Republicans, in order to punish Republicans for colluding with Ukrainian officials to dig up dirt on Democrats.

    This is absurd, but admittedly a little less absurd than the 1998 impeachment. In that case the Republicans were punishing Bill for his love life. This year’s absurdity is at least related to politics.

    Reply
    1. inode_buddha

      Dunno, I thought they were punishing him for being untrustworthy. After all, he *was* the President. You wouldn’t want some lying sack of crap in that office. At least, I sure don’t. Guess what? Clinton was, and is, a lying sack of crap. And shouldn’t be in any kind of office, because of that.

      Reply
    2. flora

      I still thank Monica (and later, the Tea Party) for saving SS.

      Your discription of current sounds like Spy vs Spy cartoons.

      Reply
  16. Summer

    RE: Blood, Terror & Bass
    “So I wonder what’s really happening out in the clubs and where the sound systems are.”

    I’m just glad phat “bass” as a frequency is still hanging in there. Was worried about that….

    Reply
  17. Jen

    I don’t want to steal Petal’s thunder, but the Pete/Booker house on LMIAL row in Hanover, NH now has a sign for, wait for it…Bernie.

    I think they’re messing with us.

    Reply
      1. kimsarah

        Once the political landscape becomes clearer. As a backstop, at the Dem convention where she can be drafted (and coronated) by all those supporters who’ve been urging her to run. Patience. Keep those balloons and champagne close by.

        Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The King (Queen) is dead, and the ruling party doesn’t have a natural successor. Hillary through her token status and nostalgia did what Shrub did to the GOP with his union of blue bloods and evangelicals. The divides among potential Democratic voters and the elites in the party are coming out.

      My suspicion is the polls are shaped based on perceived electorates, self identification, and the limits of telephone polling. Even within the circles Biden does well in, I imagine people like Patrick and Klobuchar are hearing how wonderful they are.

      Its like all the doofuses who signed up for the GOP primaries since 2008. Even the “credible” candidates were the ilk of John McCain, a man who should be in prison for his role as a member of the Keating Five, and Mitt Romney, is any explanation needed for this?

      Myths about the “Obama coalition” are important. Team Blue elites never accepted the importance of Obama simply not being a dull, safe Democrat and his meaningless vote for a referendum calling for more time for weapons inspectors because recognizing this would be an indictment of much of the political class. Instead they created a myth about what originally created the Obama phenomenon. O’Rourke, Buttigieg, Ossoff, Booker, and soon to be Patrick are and will be momentarily high profile losers because the DC class will rush to support them because they meet the DC Pundit’s reasons for loving Obama but they don’t really match the Obama phenomenon anymore. These are guys trying to become Willie Mays, but they are simply inferior players with no story to tell or a story that has been told like yesterday.

      I also want to harp on the effects of Bill Clinton’s 42%. By virtue of being the only Democrat in town after 1994, Bill was able to shape a narrative about his political brilliance because there was simply no one with a bully pulpit to counter him or point out Bill ran the party into the ground. Newt and the GOP didn’t want to acknowledge Bill was a terrible leader for the Democratic Party but rather focused on keeping Democratic voter morale down and GOP morale up by just saying, “the country is turning on the liberal left.” In the absence of a Ross Perot wrecking the GOP base and regular coverage (As bad as it is), the buffoonery of Bill Clinton that was always there is now on display in his lesser children.

      Reply
    2. Yves Smith

      Bain Capital and PE generally want to fuck with Warren over her:

      1. Wealth tax

      2. PE plan (makes PE kingpins liable more or less personally when they bankrupt companies).

      They don’t seen Sanders as being as serious a threat (they read the MSM).

      I can’t see Patrick as serious, he would have launched earlier if so. He’s not a Bloomberg who is late even with his ability to money carpet bomb.

      Or maybe he is running for VP.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        It’d be hilarious if they manage to knock her down a peg and accidentally give Sanders a bump in the process.

        Bernie’s starting to perk up in the ‘2nd choice’ category and also his favorability numbers for Morning Consult’s big sample poll are up a bit.

        Reply
    3. Big River Bandido

      what’s going on?

      To hazard a guess, I’d say the Party’s chosen distraction candidates are flaming out, but it’s still too early and they’re getting desperate. They need new, late entrants to agree to be distraction candidates until one of the Party regulars manages to sew things up. Trouble for the Party is that none of its chosen candidates can sew things up.

      For the candidates who agree to service the Party, it’s a pretty precarious gig; just ask Robert Francis O’Rourke, who was “born to be in it”. I wonder what they promised Deval Patrick in return for running a sacrificial race which can only harm him. He’ll wish he’d stayed at Bain before too long.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Seems like a good take to me. As for Mr. Patrick, I think he’ll do fine-after-flameout. Friends in high places, and all that.

        Reply
  18. Summer

    “The insistence on unchanging and monolithic identities implies cherry-picking of scientific knowledge, even in the case of the most thoroughly vetted science.”

    Is it always science in general under attack in these accounts or is it it the vetting being questioned?

    Reply
  19. polecat

    Staring at Adam Schiff’s eyes alone would induce continuous after-images on my retinal tissues, possibly resulting in permanent blindness. And since I don’t have the kind of healthcare he has …. I’ll refrain from watching the circus act.

    Reply
  20. Tim

    “UPDATE Confirming thread after thread after thread of horror stories:”

    Lambert, the Impeachment process has really knocked you off your game. You forgot to add “Everything is going according to plan.” after the referenced tweet.

    Reply
  21. Big River Bandido

    Didn’t see anyone comment on the WHO report about Biden’s CNN town hall in Grinnell, so I’ll throw mine out there.

    Biden’s verbal explanations have not only become convoluted and foggy, but also embarrassingly thin. He attacks Warren as an elitist who isn’t listening to people. And what are people supposedly telling Warren that she’s not listening to? Why, that they like their health insurance, of course. Sure, that’ll play well in Iowa.

    Does Biden actually believe there are people in the Rust Belt who feel such warmth and loyalty toward their health insurance? He’s left himself a sitting duck with that nonsense. On the other hand, the other candidates may just ignore him; at this point even the Democrat Party chieftains seem to have realized that he’s dead already.

    Also, I was pleasantly surprised to follow the link to a teevee station news piece…and find it transcribed. Can’t say the writing was deep or represented much political awareness. But the piece did create a pretty good sketch of Biden, managing to convey Biden in his own words…or rather, the words of the source he read most recently.

    Reply

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