2:00PM Water Cooler 11/14/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Trade talks between the U.S. and China are hitting a snag over farm purchases. The dispute over agricultural products hits at a sector that has been central to the trans-Pacific trade war. …[I]t’s now created another obstacle as Beijing and Washington try to lock down the limited trade deal President Trump has outlined” [Wall Street Journal]. “Mr. Trump has said China has agreed to buy up to $50 billion in U.S. soybeans, pork and other agricultural products annually. But China is leery of a precise numerical commitment in a potential agreement, and Beijing also wants to have a way out should trade tensions escalate again.”


“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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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:

Capitol Weekly has released a new CA poll. I added the lines because there was such a great distance between the tiny dotes. As of 11/13/2019, 12:00 PM EST:

Warren Sanders, Biden, Buttigieg, as of11/14/2019, 11:00 AM EST:

I think dk has started a really neat project, and in the near future we’ll seek your feedback (within reason) for the tool “live.”

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UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(1): “Bloomberg registers for 2020 ballot in Arkansas” [Local 12]. “‘I’m going to finance the campaign, if there is one, with my own money so I don’t owe anybody anything,’ he said in Arkansas. ‘Other people ask for donations in return for which they’ve got to give favors. But it costs a lot of money, whether you’re doing it with your own money or somebody else’s money, to get a message out.'” • Stop being so coy!

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Inside The Buttigieg Moment” [FiveThirtyEight]. “As voters have developed Goldilocks syndrome about the leading Democratic candidates — too old, too liberal, too … female? — Buttigieg has benefitted from the strong vanilla flavor of his political porridge. His stump speech is about ‘American values, correctly understood,’ addresses ‘the crisis of belonging,’ scolds the ‘cheap nationalism of hugging the flag’ and encourages ‘Republicans of conscience’ to come on into the Democratic Party…. When I asked what retail politics steps he was taking to appeal to black voters, Buttigieg brought up church visits — he thinks his faith is one central point of connection with black audiences — and an appeal to black sororities, which he called ‘a huge area of social capital.'” • Correct on sororities.

Patrick (D)(1): Announcement video:

Patrick (D)(2): “Big-dollar donors helped Deval Patrick lay groundwork for presidential campaign” [Open Secrets]. “Patrick’s Reason to Believe PAC, launched in 2018, brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars from just a handful of wealthy donors. It then spent a large chunk of that cash on campaign consulting and polling to prepare Patrick for a presidential run. As a hybrid PAC, Patrick’s group was able to accept unlimited contributions. And it did. Just six donors accounted for $620,000, making up nearly 85 percent of its total.” • Reason to believe.

Patrick (D)(3): “Ex-Massachusetts Gov. Patrick announces Dem presidential bid” [Associated Press]. “Patrick was asked on CBS if he supports the ‘Medicare for All’ health care plan, which is pushed by Sanders and would replace job-based and individual private health insurance with a government-run plan that guarantees coverage for all with no premiums or deductibles and only minimal copays for certain services. ‘No, not in the terms we’ve been talking about,’ Patrick said. ‘I do support a public option, and if Medicare is that public option, I think it’s a great idea.'” • [Cheers erupt in the donor class]. I do support bicycles, and if fish are those bicycles, I think it’s a great idea.”

Patrick (D)(4): “Why Deval Patrick Is Making A Late Bid For The Democratic Nomination” [FiveThirtyEight]. “I think the real opening for Patrick is essentially to replace Pete Buttigieg as the candidate for voters who want a charismatic, optimistic, left-but-not-that-left candidate. Patrick, I think, is betting that there’s a “Goldilocks” opportunity for him — “Buttigieg but older,” or “Biden but younger” — a candidate who is viewed as both safe on policy and safe on electability grounds by Democratic establishment types and voters who just want a somewhat generic Democratic candidate that they are confident will win the general election. After all, in his rise in Massachusetts politics, Patrick was not that reliant on black support — the Bay State has a fairly small black population (9 percent). Instead, he won a competitive 2006 Democratic primary for governor by emerging as preferred candidate among the state’s white, educated, activist class. • Weird that the Massachusetts political establishment didn’t coalesce around a single candidate. Also, Patrick won’t get any Sanders voters, so if he gets any traction, Sanders will rise relative to the other candidates from whom Patrick does take votes.

Patrick (D)(5): “Deval Patrick, Foreclosure Mogul” [HuffPo]. Quite a lead: “When Deval Patrick’s daughter was growing up in the 1980s, her kindergarten teacher gave her an assignment: Go home and describe the four seasons to your mom and dad. So she did: ‘First you drive up and the doorman takes your car.’ For the daughter of a Boston power lawyer, the Four Seasons Hotel seemed as sensible a homework topic as the basics on winter, spring, summer and fall.” • Worth reading in full.

Sanders (D)(1): “New Jersey Democrats Back Off Vote to Gut Minimum Wage Law” [The Intercept]. “Under pressure from activists, New Jersey Democrats on Wednesday postponed a vote on a bill that would almost certainly suspend the $15 minimum wage increase they signed into law in February…. On Wednesday morning, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders joined the the bill’s critics on Twitter, urging state senators to “stand on the side of workers and their families,” saying that the proposed measure was a “threat to their livelihood.” By Wednesday morning, the proposal had been removed from the committee’s Thursday schedule. It is unclear when the committee will take the bill up again.” • Hard to see why the other candidates don’t copy Sanders on this; he does this sort of thing constantly.

Sanders (D)(2): “MSNBC Is the Most Influential Network Among Liberals—And It’s Ignoring Bernie Sanders” [In These Times]. “In These Times tallied how often the three candidates were discussed and logged whether the coverage was positive, negative or neutral. For example, while poll results by themselves (whether favorable or unfavorable to a candidate) were simply logged as neutral, commentary about a candidate ‘surging’ was logged as positive and ‘stagnant’ as negative. Clips and previews for upcoming segments were not included. The coverage quickly revealed a pattern. Over the two months, these six programs focused on Biden, often to the exclusion of Warren and Sanders. Sanders received not only the least total coverage (less than one-third of Biden’s), but the most negative. As to the substance, MSNBC’s reporting revolved around poll results and so-called electability.”

UPDATE Warren (D)(1):

Boilerplate you could use for any answer to any question. Of course our problems are systemic!

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“Stop Entering the Democratic Party Primary” [New York Magazine]. “Current Bain Capital employee and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick is probably going to enter the Democratic Party’s primary race. There is no good reason for him to do so. He is not going to win. The masses do not pine for him. But hubris is a ruthless master, and it is driving Patrick the way it is driving former New York City mayor and current billionaire Michael Bloomberg. …The clown car is full. It cannot accept any more passengers. Really, it was pushed beyond its capacity some time ago, but John Delaney simply will not get out of the vehicle.” • Alternatively–

“The Note: Expanding 2020 field speaks to Democrats’ angst vs. Trump” [ABC]. “Interest in Patrick and Bloomberg — plus among the “many, many, many people” who Hillary Clinton says are urging her to run — reflect anxiety about the ability of an overstuffed field to sort itself out. For all the Democratic unity on display in impeachment hearings, concerns about defeating President Donald Trump remain urgent and divisive…. Democrats were largely fans of the unprecedented diversity in their huge presidential field. But at some point the quantity of candidates will say more about the party than many are comfortable revealing.”

UPDATE “Medicare for All a Vote Loser in 2018 U.S. House Elections” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “The evidence in Table 2 suggests that Democrats in marginal House districts were right to be concerned about the potential impact of Medicare for All on their electoral prospects. This table displays the relationship between the Democratic candidate’s position on Medicare for All and the election results in 60 competitive House districts — districts that featured no incumbent running or a Republican incumbent seeking another term where Donald Trump won or lost by a margin of less than 10 points. These 60 districts accounted for at least 31 of the 40 net seats gained by Democrats in 2018.[1] The results in Table 2 show that Democratic candidates supporting Medicare for All did substantially worse than those who did not — winning only 45% of their races compared with 72% for the non-supporters.” • Hmm.


“Therapy Dogs Visit Capitol Hill to Help Congress De-Stress as Impeachment Hearings Begin” [People]. “Pet Partners, the nation’s leading organization in registering therapy animals for animal-assisted interventions, and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC)… brought a group of trained therapy canines to Capitol Hill on Wednesday — the same day public impeachment hearings began…. ‘This is a happy accident,’ Mike Bober, president of PIJAC, told PEOPLE about the alignment between the visit and the hearings. ‘We had this planned for several months, so when they announced the date of the hearings, we thought ‘if there was ever a time for a bipartisan source of comfort and relief, it’s today.'” • Times have changed since Watergate….

“Barr says watchdog report on Russia probe’s origins is ‘imminent'” [Politico]. “Attorney General William Barr confirmed on Wednesday that an internal watchdog’s report on the origins of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia during the 2016 election is ‘imminent.’ The highly anticipated report, led by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, seeks to establish whether the bureau violated laws and policies that govern the surveillance of American citizens. Horowitz’s report is wrapping up while a broader investigation into the Russia probe, led by U.S. Attorney John Durham, remains ongoing. Former top CIA officials, including John Brennan, have said they expected to be interviewed and pledged to cooperate.” • Presumably the Durham report will drop before Christmas, right in the middle of whatever shambolic process the Democrats are going through to send Trump’s indictment to the Senate.

“Trump is about to face the first social media impeachment” [Mic], “‘Impeachment is a political process that rests on persuading the public, not a legal process that rests of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt,’ [Regina Lawrence, director of the Agora Journalism Center at the University of Oregon] explains. At the end of the day, while removing Trump from office would require a trial, it’s a trial among lawmakers — and as jurors they’re highly attuned to what their constituents want to see happen. That means the winning side will have convinced the public that their message is the right one. ‘Narrative is everything, and no one on that side has a social media presence to rival Trump’s,’ Lawrence says.”

“What We’ve Already Learned From The Democrats’ Impeachment Witnesses” [FiveThirtyEight]. “Understanding each witness’ role in the story can be tricky, though, so one way to think about it is in three rough layers, with each set of witnesses addressing a different part of the narrative. In the first — let’s call it outer — layer, there is a chorus of diplomats and other officials who don’t necessarily have direct insight into the ins and outs of the Trump administration’s communications with Ukraine…. In the second layer, a smaller group of officials tried to raise the alarm about Giuliani’s pressure campaign by reporting misconduct and pushing back against Trump’s allies, only to be met with silence or resistance… And finally, a handful of witnesses — including the top diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor, who is publicly testifying on Wednesday — have said they actually saw evidence of a quid pro quo.”

UPDATE “Josh Hawley: Hero Or Hawk?” [The American Conservative]. “Senator Josh Hawley, at 39 the youngest member of Congress’ upper chamber, will one day run for president.” • He will. I’m filing this here because I’m wondering what Hawley will do when Trump’s indictment hits the Senate.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Justin Amash: The Last Republican in America” [Rolling Stone]. “On the day she was sworn in this past January, Ilhan Omar, the progressive congresswoman from Minnesota, tweeted about all the firsts in the new 116th Congress. The first Somali American and first refugee. The first Muslim women. The first Palestinian American. A few hours later, Amash replied with a correction: “My father is Palestinian, and I’ve been in Congress since 2011.” • Oops. Good background on Armash.

KY: “Nothing to Learn” [The Baffler]. “Beshear ultimately squeaked by, in part because the Libertarian Party candidate John Hicks potentially split the Republican vote just enough to spoil the election for Bevin. The party gloated about the results on Facebook: ‘We are always happy to split the vote in a way that causes delicious tears.'” • Entertaining!

KY: “Kentucky’s GOP Governor Embraces Outlandish Conspiracies As He Refuses To Concede” [HuffPo]. “On Wednesday, eight days after Bevin refused to concede defeat to Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear — and the day before the state will begin the official recanvass of election results to recheck vote totals, something Bevin formally requested — the governor tweeted his support for an event held by Citizens for Election Integrity, a supposedly “grassroots” group started just this week… Erika Calihan, the Lexington-area woman behind the event, has spent the last three days making unverifiable and unsubstantiated claims of fraud and calling on the attorney general’s office to open some sort of investigation into her allegations ― most of which seem derived primarily from posts she has read on Facebook, screenshots of unofficial election results and rumors she’s heard.” • Granted, with our voting systems the way they are, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole. Look at liberal Democrats! But still.

VA: “Progressive wins in Virginia are limited as long as ‘Dillon’s Rule’ is on the books” [Scalawag]. “‘Dillon’s Rule’ is named after a corporate railroad attorney and eventual judge named John F. Dillon. To this day, he is credited with pioneering a judicial attack on municipalities at the peak of post-Civil War Reconstruction—a time of heightened African American electoral participation following the emancipation of slaves and expansion of suffrage to African American men. His treatise argued—in reactionary fashion—that local governments only possess those powers which states explicitly grant them. This idea has morphed into a legal doctrine that blankets the nation. … Just as it was used in the late 1800s, Dillon’s Rule was a tool the State of Michigan used to successfully defend dissolving the power of half a dozen majority African American city governments after the financial crisis of 2008 (including Detroit and Flint). It has been used to defend the Alabama State Legislature’s restrictions on the governing powers of Birmingham, a majority-African American city, and other cities. Everywhere, it defines fundamental power dynamics. The rule is rigorously defended by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative corporate-led, state-level policy network.” • Something to remember!

Stats Watch

Commodities: “The International Energy Agency says in a new report that the U.S. will account for 85% of the increase in global oil production to 2030. …[T]he U.S. surge will reshape global energy markets and bolster the country’s influence over OPEC nations” [Wall Street Journal]. “Production growth is slowing, but the IEA says U.S. output will reach 19 million barrels a day over the coming decade. The agency says the U.S. also will account for 30% of the increase in natural-gas production to 2025”

Jobless Claims, week of November 11, 2019: “In a rise that may well be revised away, initial jobless claims rose” unexpectedly sharply [Econoday]. “Yet the data include a number of state estimates including for two large states, California and Pennsylvania, which limits the impact of the results.”

Producer Prices (Final Demand), October 2019: “A little warmer than expected, producer prices rose” [Econoday]. “These are still very tame reading…. This report is mixed and outside of trade services isn’t pointing to a heating up of general inflation which at the consumer level has been flat, but at least steady, in the neighborhood of the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target.”

Retail: “Walmart earnings beat expectations, stock spikes to new highs” [Yahoo Finance]. “During the third quarter, online sales in the U.S. skyrocketed 41%, driven by the big-box retailer’s online grocery business. In the U.S., Walmart now has more than 3,000 locations for grocery pick-up and more than 1,400 locations for delivery. The retailer expects to offer free same-day grocery pickup from more than 3,100 stores by the end of the year and feature same-day grocery delivery at more than 1,600 stores.”

The Bezzle: About “innovation”:

The Bezzle: “EXCLUSIVE: Ambrosia, the Young Blood Transfusion Startup, Is Quietly Back in Business” [OneZero]. “Earlier this year, Ambrosia, the much-maligned California startup selling blood transfusions from young donors, stopped offering the procedure after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a buyer beware, cautioning consumers against using the service. But now, according to Ambrosia’s CEO, the company is back up and running.” • Yikes.

Tech: “Google taps former ONC chief as first chief health officer” [Modern Healthcare]. “A former HHS official under the Obama administration has joined Google Health as its first chief health officer, the technology giant confirmed Thursday to Modern Healthcare. Dr. Karen DeSalvo, who led the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology between 2014 and 2016, marks the second former HHS official Google has scooped up in recent weeks. Late last month Alphabet, Google’s parent company, confirmed it had hired former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf to serve as head of strategy and policy for Google Health and Verily Life Sciences.”

Tech: “The ‘Uncanny Valley’ Mac Pro – Failure on Arrival” [The Mac Observer]. “Apple announced the new cheese grater Mac Pro over 160 days ago. Still no price list. Still no ship date….. Likely, there is a fair amount of pent up demand for those sticking with the Mac waiting for an expandable pro level machine. But beyond sating the backlog demand, this may be a product that is too expensive, too little, and too late. As such, Apple should consider dramatically cutting the price of the new Mac Pro… If they do not cut the prices, and then release a drastically updated Mac Pro in a short time, the still loyal customers that buy this Mac Pro will likely feel very burned. Otherwise, I’m not sure this is a group of customers that will stand much more antagonization and lack of care by Apple.”

Manufacturing: “Rehabbed Parts Linked to 737 Crash Draw FAA Warning to Airlines” [Bloomberg]. “The Federal Aviation Administration issued an alert saying that Xtra Aerospace LLC had failed to keep proper documentation and didn’t follow its own procedures for evaluating aircraft parts it rehabbed. Xtra worked on a sensor that failed on a Lion Air flight Oct. 29, 2018, and that helped trigger a crash that killed 189 people, Indonesian investigators…. Photos produced during the investigation purporting to depict the repair showed the wrong time and at least some of them were taken on a different plane, investigators found.” • Well, well. I wrote in comments after linking to an earlier story on Xtra, 2019-04-03:

I did a little research on XTRA Aerospace Inc., and couldn’t come up with anything. My suspicion, not founded, was that they were in fact brokers, and that (given their Latin America–adjacent Miramar location) they didn’t do anything in-house (whether repair or resale). Their owners, Wencor, are in turn owned by private equity, so I assume XTRA is crapified and looted in some way, but there’s no evidence how.

Crapified they were! Perhaps more will be revealed.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 82 Extreme Greed (previous close: 87, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 91 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 13 at 12:19pm.

The Biosphere

“Electric car future may depend on deep sea mining” [BBC]. “The future of electric cars may depend on mining critically important metals on the ocean floor. That’s the view of the engineer leading a major European investigation into new sources of key elements. Demand is soaring for the metal cobalt – an essential ingredient in batteries and abundant in rocks on the seabed.”

Our Famously Free Press

“McClatchy’s financial distress has the company exploring options — including a sale” [Poynter]. “McClatchy reported a series of financial reverses Wednesday so severe that it may not be able to meet its obligations in 2020. Specifically it has a $120 million pension funding payment due in the spring. That ‘greatly exceeds the company’s anticipated cash balances and cash flow’ it said in a press release. An appeal to federal pension guaranty authorities for relief may not be successful.” • Terrible news. McClatchy was once Knight-Ridder, and they were the only mainstream venue that got Iraq WMDs right. So they are punished, while the Washington Post and the New York Times — whose Judy Miller actually faked WMD stories — are financially sound and going from strength to strength. “The good ended happily and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.” –Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest.

Health Care

“Texas HHS Commission Penalized $1.6M for HIPAA Violations” [Security Boulevard]. “The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (TX HHS) must pay a civil penalty of $1.6 million for having violated HIPAA. Prior to reorganizing under its current name in September 2017, TX HHS was known as the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS). This state agency filed a breach report with OCR in June 2015 in which it stated that a security incident had exposed the electronically protected health information (ePHI) of 6,617 individuals. That data included victims’ names, Social Security Numbers and treatment records. The breach report traced the incident to a period when DADS migrated an internal application from a private, secure server to a public server. A software code flaw had then allowed anyone to access the ePHI.” • 6,617 individuals… is a lot less than Google got from Ascension.

Feral Hog Twitter Returns

“Feral Hogs Find and Destroy Cocaine Worth $22,000 Hidden in Woods” [Newsweek]. “An unknown number of boars allegedly dug up and destroyed the gang’s packages, dispersing their contents in the woods. It was not immediately known what happened to the curious animals.” • I’ll bet!

Groves of Academe

“Things In Your University Office You Can Burn for Warmth” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency]. “Your university has just informed you that even though it is 36 degrees outside, the air system will not be switched over from air conditioning to heat for two more weeks. Since the administration has banned space heaters in offices but has no regulations against starting bonfires in offices, here are suggestions for what to burn for warmth.”

“College Freshman Annoyed About Having To Room With 47-Year-Old Adjunct Professor” [The Onion].

Guillotine Watch

“N.J. country club sues waiter over red wine spilled on member’s $30K purse” [NJ.com]. “A Bergen County country club has sued its own employee after a patron filed a lawsuit last month against the club and employee seeking $30,000 for the value of her handbag, which she claims was damaged in a red wine spill, court records show. Maryana Beyder filed the lawsuit against the Alpine Country Club in Demarest alleging an unnamed waiter spilled the drink on her expensive Hermes handbag in September 2018 and that the club is at fault for its hiring practices.”

Class Warfare

“Amnesty International Violated U.S. Labor Law, NLRB Judge Rules” [Bloomberg]. “According to the ruling, last year a group of unpaid interns, with support from some of Amnesty’s unionized permanent employees, drafted a petition to their supervisor asking to be paid. “Amnesty International’s commitment to human rights should be proven from within first,” they wrote, according to the ruling. In response, Amnesty’s executive director held meetings in which she made implied threats; told employees to make workplace complaints verbally before putting them in writing; equated their organizing with disloyalty; and asked staff to report co-workers’ activism to management. All of those actions violated the National Labor Relations Act, the judge concluded.”

“Southern Poverty Law Center won’t voluntarily recognize employee union” [Montgomery Advertiser]. “Southern Poverty Law Center management said Tuesday they would not voluntarily recognize a union organized by employees at the civil rights nonprofit and have hired a Virginia law firm whose website boasts about victories over labor organization attempts. In a memo to employees sent on Tuesday, Lecia Brooks, the chief workplace transformation officer for the SPLC, said that directors of the nonprofit had voted to allow an election to go forward, saying they wanted “to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to be heard.” “There are employees at SPLC, mostly women of color and lower-wage workers who are often left out or often ‘spoken for’ instead of engaged and given a space for their own agency,” the memo said. “We want current and future employees to know and feel that their voices matter and their needs are met.” • Gad.

NGOs. C’mon, man.

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“College students, seniors and immigrants miss out on food stamps. Here’s why.” [CalMatters]. “At the bookends of adulthood, college students and seniors increasingly struggle to pay their bills yet they are among the groups most likely to miss out on the food stamps they qualify for, according to interviews with more than a dozen outreach workers and state and county officials. Obstacles also face immigrants, working families and homeless people, experts said. When these categories overlap, the hurdles to obtaining food stamps are often higher…. A few days after her third denial, Sultan said she was too discouraged to apply again. ‘It’s too much time. It’s like a job itself to apply.'” • Complex eligibility requirements rule!

“Brains of girls and boys are similar, producing equal math ability” [Science Daily]. “Jessica Cantlon at Carnegie Mellon University led a research team that comprehensively examined the brain development of young boys and girls. Their research shows no gender difference in brain function or math ability… ‘Science doesn’t align with folk beliefs,’ said Cantlon, the Ronald J. and Mary Ann Zdrojkowski Professor of Developmental Neuroscience at CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and senior author on the paper. ‘We see that children’s brains function similarly regardless of their gender so hopefully we can recalibrate expectations of what children can achieve in mathematics.'”

News of the Wired

“I am railing: Sir Rod Stewart reveals his epic model railway city” [BBC]. • Quite the layout!!!

“The Behind-the-Scenes Quest to Find Mister Rogers’s Signature Cardigans” [Smithsonian]. “‘He was oblivious to clothes,’ Newell says. ‘Sometimes we would say, ‘Fred, you have to buy a new sports jacket.’ But he would say, ‘It’s too expensive.” And keeping his weight at a trim 143 pounds—after the number of letters in each word of the phrase ‘I love you’—he didn’t have to buy a bigger size.”

I loved this book:

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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 (SV):

SV writes: “Parsley and late! Monarch caterpillars. Wish we had more for them. …”

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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. Wukchumni

    Frankly, i’d be happier if said pooches were all Pit Bulls that attacked when congress critters raised their hands…

    “Therapy Dogs Visit Capitol Hill to Help Congress De-Stress as Impeachment Hearings Begin” [People]. “Pet Partners, the nation’s leading organization in registering therapy animals for animal-assisted interventions, and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC)… brought a group of trained therapy canines to Capitol Hill on Wednesday — the same day public impeachment hearings began…. ‘This is a happy accident,’

    1. inode_buddha

      I would pay a cable TV bill to see a dog start licking on live TV on C-Span. While the politicians all struggle to remain calm and polite.

      It happened on our local news station once.

    2. Big River Bandido

      Our brave members of Congress sure are delicate little snowflakes, aren’t they?

      Dog Bless em.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe someone should send them colour-in books to ease the pressure on them like you hear some students use to calm down. Hey, I have an idea – how about sending them some Buff Bernie colour-in books.

  2. Carolinian

    no evidence how

    They fake the certificates that all highly regulated airliner parts are supposed to have. IMO people should probably be a lot more worried about certain airlines than the travails of the Max. Boeing takes primary blame for that October crash but installation of a defective AOA sensor is not a trivial sidebar.

    1. VietnamVet

      Along with the sensor repair records, it was reported that the Max’s certification delay to next year was due to Collin’s records for the MCAS software also being missing. Clearly the first thing to go when transferring money to the rich is record keeping. The net effect is that Boeing has to start from scratch and document everything for the flight control computer to satisfy the foreign regulators. Since it is already shown to cause catastrophic crashes, Boeing should not get away with only two flight control sensors and no flight training for the pilots. But, they just cannot help being skinflints even if spending more money now will save disastrous costs later.

  3. petal

    There seemed to be a lot more press at the Warren town hall than the Sanders rally. Confirmed there was a crew from CNBC/MSNBC-NBC at the Warren town hall-not sure if there was one at the Sanders rally. If they don’t cover Sanders, he doesn’t exist and goes away quietly.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Just watching from across the border (living in the Democratic Farm Labor Republic of Minnesota) I’m seeing a definite pattern to Bernie’s organizing. Time and again he’s a no show at party-sponsored events, using that time instead to do door knocking. Even at the whatever they call the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner this year, Bernie’s folks were by choice in a different part of the building.

      This is entirely consistent with a focus on bringing new voters into the party because the last place to find new voters is at party fundraisers. Intense organizing pays off in caucus states because you need intensity to get people to caucus. It’s not an inviting process and the ‘regulars’ don’t like newbies who don’t caucus with them. I remember my late mother being very upset when Rand Paul libertarians showed up at her Republican caucus. The Iowa Republican party has been disrupted ever since.

      I think Bernie’s going to do much more than just win the Iowa Caucuses, he’s going to reinvent them back to what they used to be: a tool for growing the party so it can win in November.

    2. John k

      Every day fewer people pay attention to msm bc there are more cord cutters and fewer aged conservatives. Msm is accelerating its way into oblivion. Note they hated Bernie then, just the same now.
      Many polls were wildly wrong in 2016 bc they missed cord cutters. Likely worse now.

      1. Carey

        >Every day fewer people pay attention to msm bc there are more cord cutters and fewer aged conservatives.

        That’s my impression, as well. Maddow et al’s audience is getting smaller each day.

    3. flora

      re: Sanders (D)(2): “MSNBC Is the Most Influential Network Among Liberals—And It’s Ignoring Bernie Sanders” [In These Times].

      I’m shocked, shocked! ;)

  4. DonCoyote

    Deval Patrick, Foreclosure Mogul

    Today much of the 44th president’s inner circle is promoting Patrick at elite gatherings…But the support from Obama is the chief reason Patrick is being mentioned as a top 2020 contender in the Democratic Party.

    So Obama hasn’t endorsed Biden so he can endorse Patrick? Every time I think I’m cynical enough…,

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Oh no, no, no. That lead paragraph was so amazing I didn’t read deeply enough.

      And guess what: Everybody who opposes Patrick is gonna do so because they’re racist.

    2. Pavel

      Voters: we care about income inequality, climate change, and health care!

      Dems & Media: Here, try Deval Patrick!

      — VP Bain Capital (plutocracy)
      — VP Texaco (fossil fuels)
      — VP Coca Cola (among the leading causes of obesity epidemic)

      Good stuff!

      1. ptb

        but wait there’s more:

        after Patrick’s stint as GC at coca cola…

        “From 2004 to 2006, he served on the board of directors of ACC Capital Holdings, the parent company of Ameriquest and Argent Mortgage. Ameriquest was the largest lender of so-called subprime mortgages and was under investigation by Attorneys General across the country”

      2. Geo

        “I don’t think that wealth is the problem. I think greed is the problem,” said Patrick.

        Next he went in to state he doesn’t think cancer is a problem, illness is the problem; poor kids without food isn’t the problem, Hunger is the problem; and imperialist wars for resources aren’t the problem, it’s evil that is the problem.

      1. dearieme

        anxiety about the ability of an overstuffed field to sort itself out.
        Yup, the solution is obviously for even more people to join it.

        Democrats were largely fans of the unprecedented diversity in their huge presidential field.
        The most important diversity should be that on Foreign Policy – in other words, on the endless futile wars. The only real exemplar of diversity on that topic is Ms Gabbard.

    3. RubyDog

      First Bloomberg gets a call from Bezos, then “many people” are encouraging Hillary, now Deval Patrick. Is this a sign the corporate Dems are getting increasingly desparate?

  5. Wukchumni

    Retail: “Walmart earnings beat expectations, stock spikes to new highs” [Yahoo Finance].
    I enjoy going into Wal*Mart as a gauge of what’s what. We’re down in LA hanging out with mom, and her coffee machine died, so I went shopping.

    All of the Coleman tents ($30-80) are behind locked glass @ the location I went to, and they offer no ammo, which occupies 2 locked cases @ the Wal*Mart in Visalia I usually go to.

    The homeless situation in LA is heartbreaking, hadn’t been here in a few months, and it continues burgeoning along.

    Those aforementioned tents are locked up in such a manner, on account of homeless people stealing them, and they’re bulky, it’s not as if you could hide a tent on your person in purloining them.

    1. Carolinian

      My brother talks to a lady at his nearby Walmart and she said people walk out with TV sets, much less camping tents. Perhaps all that “shrinkage” has diminished, what with the new set up with all the cameras.

  6. mle detroit

    “The Secret Garden”! It’s my Christmas present to my granddaughter this year. Next year, “A Little Princess,” but I have to re-read it first.

              1. Hepativore

                Archer’s Goon by Dianna Wynne Jones.

                Come to think of it, most of Dianna Wynne Jones’ works are good. She has been writing fiction books for young adults and adults since the early 1970’s. The only book of hers that seems to have gotten any recognition was Howl’s Moving Castle but that was because of that awful animated movie that played fast and loose with the plot and ordering of the book and completely butchered it.

          1. Phil in KC

            This oldish codger read and re-read repeatedly Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days as a 10-year-old. Not a child’s book, but in those days, children read real books, and there was precious little “young adult” fiction.

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            Yeah, spooky stuff as I recall. Anyone watching His Dark Materials on HBO? Ruth Wilson is riveting, as she was in the fabulous—be still my heart—Luther.

            1. Plenue

              I like Wilson and Elba, but Luther was a fascinating case of a very, very stupid show, that was clearly convinced it was very deep and intelligent.

    1. Jokerstein

      Inga Moore has written some fantastic kids’ books about Six-Dinner Sid, a cat for whom one dinner is not enough, and who is therefore a “six-dinner cat.”

      Six-Dinner Sid.

  7. Tim

    On the article regarding brain function of girls and boys.

    Nobody is going to convince me they think the same on average, that they learn the same way, have the same general strengths and weaknesses. They are different and they are complimentary, and no I don’t think the western 1950 era wife at home man working thing takes advantage of those differences properly.

    I do think the ceiling for math capability is “similar”, but if the interest from females is not there it’s a moot point, which is kind of my point. Personality, including preferences, affects everything including development, and because of this the average girl and boy are very different.

    Which explains the folk point of view. The outcomes are different, and it would be impossible to change them without making boys and girls miserable in the process, being manipulated into doing what they don’t like to do all the time.

    1. Plenue

      “I do think the ceiling for math capability is “similar”, but if the interest from females is not there it’s a moot point, which is kind of my point.”

      The existence of women like Cathy O’Neil completely dismantles that notion. Unless you’re going to say she has abnormal hormone levels or something. It makes far more sense that it’s cultural pushing the sexes to or from certain endeavors.

        1. Yves Smith

          Women do better at math than men in the Middle East, because the society is clientele-ist (who you know and who takes you on matters way more than accomplishment, mainly a function of family and tribal connections), so men don’t need to study to get ahead and math/science skills are not esteemed in men.

    2. Ook

      It’s not just brain structure or interest. There are many fields that no one can say women are discouraged from entering, but where men seem to dominate the top of the field: chefs, for example, and musical composition.

      1. Yves Smith

        Still not buying it. Society is set up so men can work full time at their careers over their working lives. Most women are not willing to give up having children to do that. Plus stereotype threat is real. “Chef” still does not = female in most people’s minds. A chef does not just cook, he is the general of a little cooking army. Lotta bossing people around under intense time pressure, the sort of thing that gets women resented.

    3. Procopius

      Considering that most of the computers in the Manhatten Project and most astronomy projects are women, why don’t we examine the possibility that girls actually have superior math talent? ICYMI, “computers” are the people, almost all women, who did the computations.

  8. Wukchumni

    What a water cooler, coked up feral hogs, whining over a $30k purse (it’s important to always mention the value of rich womens’ accoutrements) and more!

    1. dearieme

      I thought that the gracelessness of that woman promoting the ruin a poor waitress was striking. Has she no shame?

      1. Geo

        She bought a sack for $30K. Highly doubt shame is an emotion she has ever felt even the slightest tinge of.

        My first job in nyc was as a waiter and the owner of the Soho restaurant was the daughter of a very wealthy family. They gave her a $250K allowance every quarter. She would often show off her designer bags, shoes, etc to her staff. A few times she ran out of her allowance and would complain about being broke and borrow money from the staff for a few days so she could take a taxi home from the restaurant.

        She was the first rich person I ever knew. Met many more since then and not many have been any better examples of humanity. Most were worse.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Yes, that makes sense, since they feed on parsley family plants. Still very beautiful and worth feeding.

      Swallowtails are the only large butterflies we get, lately, but I’ve yet to see their larvae. Maybe I will now I know what they look like, so thank you. There are whole fields of wild carrot (Queen Anne’s Lace) around here, so there should be larvae on them.

      1. marieann

        They also love Dill plants. I grow them just for the caterpillars so they will leave my parsley alone…..of course I always grow extra parsley just in case.

  9. Isotope_C14

    “N.J. country club sues waiter over red wine spilled on member’s $30K purse” [NJ.com].

    Wow, that’s been my after-taxes yearly wage for doing Cancer research.

    I’m glad our species has its priorities straight.

    1. LifelongLib

      Seriously, isn’t there some kind of insurance for this sort of thing? Why does the club have to recover from the employee?

      1. Geo

        Some restaurants I used to work for made me pay for (or would garnish from my paycheck) things like “dine & dash” unpaid checks, mistakes on an order, broken (dropped) plates/glasses, and uniforms (including aprons).

        I never ruined a customer’s property but considering how it was common to pay for pretty much anything/everything it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

        And those rich customers are important to them. Heck, the places I worked would often give them free drinks, desserts, even sometimes their whole meal was free just for gracing is with the presence of their fabulous wealth. One regular at a place I worked was Tommy Hilfiger’s brother. He ate free every time because once in a while he’d bring his brother or other famous people with him. He never tipped either. The restaurant only gave staff 50% off on one entree while on the job. No discount when off the job.

        Employees are expendable. Rich people are rare and important.

  10. dcblogger

    McClatchey was never Knight Ridder, they just purchased the unit that got the Iraq war right. This is truly terrible news, because until recently McClatchey was known as one of the most profitable news corporations.

    1. Phil in KC

      Not really. McClatchey stock prices have collapsed precipitously over the last 14 years. A share was worth about $750.00 in 2005. Now the stock price is around $1.50. A lot of employees with IRA’s filled with McClatchey stock are looking at a very lean retirement. I know whereof I speak. First Craigslist wipes out the revenues from classified ads, and then the internet wipes out the subscriber base. Newspapers are on life support, with a few exceptions here and there. Oddly, small town papers seem to be doing better than their big city cousins.

  11. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Australian Greens Senator Jordan Steele-John gave a scathing speech in Parliament the other day on coal and climate. It’s beautifully-executed and impassioned oratory so I put it on my blog.

    Liberals: equivalent of Repubs, standard corporo-fascist toadies
    Labor: Like our Dems, sniveling, petty, feckless, spineless, and hopelessly compromised
    ScoMo: slang for our accidental PM Scott Morrison


    1. skippy

      Its quite the act [tm] to ascribe all blame on the Greens when for yonks the LNP has carried water for environmental destruction for short term profit – land clearance for Ag or developer dereg [supply demand arguments].

      Not that every fire chief standing issuing a direct warning, then gagged if still on the pay roll.

      So the party without any political clout or agency is at fault, must have some secret weather – climate machine hidden away which is used to usurp the divine administrators thunder … the cheek …

      Wonder when Scomo and the Beetarooter will invite or visit their friends of a feather from Bolivia.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Not sure there’s ascribing blame on Greens? And he is properly scathing about Labor. Seems there is no viable “Opposition” anywhere in the world

  12. DJG

    Google Health and its related company, Verily. I suppose that the focus group made up of the translators of the King James Version put their collective stamp of approval on it. “I say unto ye, Verily, ’tis snazzy.”

    And “Bespoke” was taken. So was “Ice Lolly.”

    The strange tidbit about Karen DeSalvo is that she was only head of that office of health care technology from January 2014 to August 2016: 32 months. I am seeing this all over–and I note that she was then on the board of Humana for how long? Since November 2017. Twenty-four months?–these super-talented executives flitting from place to place. So when one reaches the 3 percent, is one even expected to have job tenure?

    1. a different chris

      Um, yeah that’s being going on since I was a wet-behind-the-ears “associate engineer”, aka ass engineer. Thirty two months is actually pushing it, you don’t want to go more than 3 years max, and half that is about perfect.

      You stay long enough to get bully points then leave before the chickens come home to roost. Ride the 80/20 rule to fame and fortune. I can’t say these people are stupid, I can say they’re useless to anybody besides themselves though. You do need some hoity-toity credentials to get on this train, unfortunately.

      Note that if you have real guts you can show up at the 95% point and get credit when done yet none of the blame for way-late delivery.

    2. aleric

      No, and it may be an under discussed factor for inequality and reduced productivity. Management class persons are constantly looking for a better deal, and have systematic contempt for those who aren’t.

      ‘Lifers’ are seen as lazy and low productivity employees. Which is why the only way to get decent raises or promotions is to switch employers every 2 or 3 years.

  13. ambrit

    Gadzooks! Talk about using the Law to oppress your inferiors! A $30,000 Hermes handbag. Shouldn’t that have been insured?
    I seriously hope that some radical union pickets this Country Club. Then, said union should sue the Country Club for a cut of the new membership dues their picketing drums up. After all, what red blooded oligarch would not want to be a member of a “private” organization that enrages the ‘deplorables’ so?
    That had better have been a good vintage spilled on the Hermes handbag. No plonk for our Masters and Mistresses!

  14. Joe Well

    >>the Massachusetts political establishment didn’t coalesce around a single candidate

    You weren’t there for the 2019 state Democratic Convention, which was the Warren-Markey show.

    I think Patrick has made an end-run around the state Dem establishment (which is almost all the political establishment) and just gone straight to the state’s financial titans, who can’t ever have liked Warren even though she never really took on the major state industries of (non-health) insurance, mutual funds/wealth management, VC, and private equity (AFAIK, correct if I am wrong–she might have said some mean things about private equity). It seemed she was focusing on Wall Street which the local financial industry (especially State Street with their “Brave Girl” BS statue) has generally viewed as a rival.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Apologies for the report from the links this morning, but I figure this is the kind of anecdote Lambert likes:

        Fun fact on Cadillac Deval Patrick’s record in MA:

        He cut dental coverage for Medicaid recipients during the great recession. My sister had cancer and couldn’t get her rotten teeth fixed for several years because of that.


        More fun facts….Romney, as Governor, was the one who originally expanded benefits. Charlie Baker, another Republican, restored the benefit cuts Patrick implemented.


        Strange how facts don’t fit the messaging from team blue that Repubs are just big meanies and dems are always sweet and nice to the poor!

        1. dearieme

          A good analogy might be with the British Labour Party. During WWII the famous Beveridge Report for the coalition government recommended an expanded welfare state medical service. The Conservative Party and the Liberal Party both adopted that as their policies. The Labour Party didn’t, on the grounds that ameliorating the plight of the poor would simply make them less inclined to vote Labour.

          No party depending on the votes of the poor can afford to cure poverty.

          (Eventually Labour relented but that meant that when it won the 1945 election it had had no constructive discussions on how to organise such a service. The consequence was that we were lumbered with the Stalinist NHS which has proved so inferior to its continental equivalents. And, indeed, to its equivalents in Australia, Singapore, … The fact that for many people it is superior to the American system is no consolation because nobody is remotely interested in trying to copy that.)

      2. Another Scott

        The Massachusetts political establishment has had it’s preferred candidate lose every time its got it’s way in the governor’s race since at least 1986 (Patrick was never their preference), and lost a seat to Scott Brown.

        They keep bringing back the same tired faces or Attorneys General to lose and now they have fully embraced identity politics as the driving force in primaries. The center of gravity now seems to live in the wealthiest parts of the state (western suburbs and the City of Boston).

        1. Big River Bandido

          The MA political establishment has had even worse luck in presidential politics. Their lousy track record combines with neoliberal economics makes any candidate they put forward politically suspect.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            With Whitey Bulger on the run and now dead, they haven’t been able to turn to anyone for competent advice.

          2. Joe Well

            Just to be clear, the candidate they’re putting forward is Warren. Following in the presidential footsteps of Kerry, Tsongas, Dukakis, Ted Kennedy…

            1. Big River Bandido

              Yes, I get what you’re saying about the who’s backing who in the Bay State. But nationally, those distinctions will be lost on voters. They’ll just see two more stuck-up prep school kids, and then they’ll remember all those great, charismatic Massachusetts neoliberals you mentioned. /sn

              (I wouldn’t quite put Ted Kennedy in the same category as the first three. He was a New Dealer for most of his career. The significant thing all those candidates had in common was that Bob Shrum ran their campaigns into the ground.

              I had forgotten about Tsongas. I need to go shower now.

        2. Joe Well

          My outsider interpretation of the last election was that the two Dem candidates in the gubernatorial primary were too progressive for the neolibs and so the party supported the slightly more Establishment candidate of the two and then when he won gave him little support. Many Dem elected officials actually endorsed the Republican governor and the party hardly cracked the whip at all. Remember, they like having an excuse for not delivering more progressive legislation.

          Also, progressives tended to prefer the losing primary candidate, Masse, while the party mildly preferred the eventual winner, which severely divided the local left such as it is. Masse or Bust joined up with Bernie or Bust. So not a lot of activist support for the nominee to make up for tepid establishment support.

  15. Synoia

    N.J. country club sues waiter over red wine spilled on member’s $30K purse

    How can an Employer sue an employee? Is not the employer liable for the actions of it’s employees? A

    Accidents are generally considered acts of god, and cannot be litigated.

    And, If you are stupid enough to pay many thousands of dollars for a utility device (purse, handbag) that is exposed to the public and the elements, and can easily be drooped and otherwise stained, what grounds do you have to sue?

    In addition Hermes’ business practices appear to me to be clearly in the realm of “tying sales.”

    That is: You can buy that handbag, only after you buy much other Hermes stuff and establish that you are “worthy” and “creditable (aka Rich).”

    Of course, for those who practice one-upmanship by owning Hermes stuff, a lawsuit would probably get you on their (illegal) black list.

    1. Titus

      As a lawyer in most states an employee going about there job isn’t going to be directly sued unless there is negligence or some criminal act associated with the issue. Maybe the the wine was ‘tossed’ on the purse. One would have to read the police report. Accidents fall under torts and law suits are brought all the time. Medical malpractice is more often an accident. Same with car accidents. That anything be used in public is not grounds that another (person) has a right to destroy it, no matter if it was obtained by being a ‘fool’ or ‘stupid’. People are responsible for what they do. So, to having to be a special customer of Hermes to obtain such a purse – not as a rule. On a lark I bought one for my wife, by just walking into the store (Oak St. – Chicago). I also bought some unique furniture. My mother had one. My wife’s mother had one. There was no ‘one-upmanship’ going. With who? I don’t use money to keep score.

      1. Synoia

        You bought Hermes from stock? That’s hugely usual.

        LV and others no problem, but Hermes is generally out of stock.

        1. Pat

          Depends on the bag style and materials, there are Hermes bags that are available in their store and there are others that are special order wait-list. The status symbol ones are handmade and largely special order

    2. aj

      I do work with a hotel that has a valet department. The valets often, either accidentally or through negligence, dent and ding cars and lose keys. The hotel always covers the cost of these items, sometimes to the tune of 10’s of thousands of dollars. There is rarely a case where it has to go to lawyers. The employees typically have a to take a drug/alcohol screen to ensure that they weren’t under the influence and if that comes back clean they are never held liable. Worse case is if one of the valets has too many issues they get fired. Even in the case where they test positive for drugs or alcohol, I’ve never seen the company go after the employee for compensation, instead just firing them on the spot.

  16. elissa3

    Re: Deval Patrick. Never heard him speak until watching his announcement video. I’m aware that mine is a purely subjective opinion, but does anyone else find the pitch of his voice annoying? Quite in contrast to Tulsi’s voice, which I find assertive, but clear and pleasant in timbre.

    1. neo-realist

      I haven’t watched the video, but from the times I’ve heard Patrick speak, he appeared to have a squeaky voice. I could imagine Trump calling him Mickey Mouse Patrick on the campaign trail if he were to emerge, miraculously, as the Democratic Presidential Candidate.

        1. JohnnyGL

          Most common joke I’ve heard related to the voice was comparing him to a character on an old 90s sitcom called, “Family Matters” named Steve Urkel.

        2. ambrit

          “Squeaky?” Fromm where?
          Cue the obligatory reference to the KJV,
          John 14:2- “…in the house of my Father are many Mansons…”
          So, ‘Doing G—‘s work’ will work for him as well.

        3. neo-realist

          Maybe just Squeaky Patrick. I could hear Donald on the campaign trail, “Did you hear my good friend Squeaky Patrick?”

          1. Big Tap

            At latest it isn’t Squeaky Froome. She shoots Republicans (Gerald Ford). She’d have the Manson Family vote.

    2. Phil in KC

      Speaking of Tulsi, quite happy to see her poll numbers move upward a little. Given how she’s been shunned by the major media and the establishment Dems, anything that keeps her campaign alive and gives her a place in the debates in heartening, even just one tick upward. I think she could shred Trump in debate.

    3. Joe Well

      In his first gubernatorial campaign they made a big deal of him being from the South Side of Chicago and therefore a political outsider. The accent is like a token of that.

  17. ambrit

    Regarding the sea floor mining idea; Ballard, in the presentation he put on at one of our local institutions, of higher learning, specifically mentioned some exploratory and investigative work scheduled for the Pacific Ocean leg of his research vessel’s world cruise. Mining the sea floor was one of the primary subjects of interest, from a “keeping civilization humming along” point of view.
    Keep in mind that Ballard is a reserve officer in the U.S.Navy, specifically Intelligence. Assume that everything he does has multiple objectives.

    1. Bernalkid

      No expert on anything, but this sea floor mining idea has been thrown out there periodically for decades, probably at least since the sixties. Maybe we are at the end of our rope mining minerals and this suddenly becomes practical. Pardon my scepticism, there are no flying cars either.

      1. Christopher Fay

        Remembering my early 1970s Time magazine the Howard Hughes ship Glomar Explorer was built to mine manganese from the ocean floor and not, not, to raise a sunken Russian sub.

        1. ambrit

          I get the angst comrade! Ballard said out in plain that his “expedition” to find the Titanic was just a cover story for the search for the wrecks of the Scorpion and Thresher. The task was to determine if the Soviets had been investigating the wrecks. With a week left from his schedule after observing the two sunken Navy submarines, Ballard began looking for the Titanic and found her. I quote him as saying; “The Admiral was mad. ‘I told you you could look for the Titanic, not actually find it’ was his comment.
          So, another “experimental” ship as a secret tool of the literally here, Deep State, is snark of the most sublime nature.

  18. XXYY

    Patrick won’t get any Sanders voters, so if he gets any traction, Sanders will rise relative to the other candidates from whom Patrick does take votes.

    The Sanders camp is very well aware that all these millionaires, billionaires, and squillionaires jumping into the race are going to take votes from everyone except Bernie and increase the odds he will win the nomination. The fact is, Bernie’s value proposition is that he is crowd funded by small donations and is not a billionaire so his present and future supporters are strongly repelled by the new guys.

    This is not a difficult calculation, so it’s strange to see this activity by people who are obviously trying to keep Sanders from winning. Evidently their vanity is on par with their bank accounts, and they think everyone will immediately support them once they see their centrist politics, their PAC, and their vague and unconvincing agenda.

    1. Geo

      “It is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.” – Douglas Adams

      This is yet another area where Sanders is so different from the rest of the pack. He never seemed to want to be president, he just didn’t see anyone else with decent values applying for the job and is trying to create a movement where there will be better candidates down the line.

    2. Big River Bandido

      I’ve actually thought all along that the establishment’s attempt to derail Sanders’ campaign might very well fail for having too many stalking horses. This is eerily starting to resemble the desperate effort among Republicans to stop Trump in the 2016 primary…how many clowns were in that car? One by one, they all went down, even the spoiled little rich kid who could afford the exclamation point in his name.

      Sanders, obviously, is a very different type of politician and the Democrat Party is even less open than the Republicans. But, he’s an anti-establishment candidate with his own independent bases of power, funding, and communications. He has devoted followers and volunteers. Those resources will be unavailable to the Not Bernie Sanders candidates no matter who wins, and much of Sanders’ electoral support is similarly non-transferable. More and more, I wonder if it’s becoming clear to the electorate that there are only two candidates in this race, and that the Not Bernie Sanders vote will be split.

      1. Hepativore

        All good points, but because of the influx of last-minute Richie Rich corporatists into the DNC primaries, I am afraid that this will result in more pressure to rig things in certain candidates favor.

        Remember what the DNC did to Gravel and Gabbard? I feel we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of last-minute rule changes and goal-post moving. I mean, what if the Democratic Party leadership in a massive display of sore-losership decided that Sanders violated his loyalty pledge that he was forced to sign when he ran as a Democrat this election? The DNC could hypothetically strip his “Democrat” party designation at any time and force him to run as a third party candidate, which would essentially be a death knell for his campaign because of our election laws.

        1. Oregoncharles

          “Death Knell”? Depends on how many of his supporters transfer. To quote Mr. Bandido: “he’s an anti-establishment candidate with his own independent bases of power, funding, and communications.” So he’d have lots of money and people, and those are the secret of getting on the ballot. In the more difficult states, the main requirement is a forbidding number of signatures – but Bernie’s org. could get those overnight, from its own ranks.

          Remember the quirk of plurality voting: more candidates lowers the bar. In an even 3-way race, someone can win with 34% of the vote. There will be more than 3.

          It’s quite obvious that Bernie doesn’t actually want to wreck the party system, but he actually could, and quite possibly get elected. Then the real trouble would start, unless he wrecked it well enough to get a large contingent in Congress.

        2. Big River Bandido

          Every corporate candidate who continues to enter the race just splits that vote more. Those clowns are no threat to Sanders.

          Gravel was never a serious candidate and Gabbard isn’t really either, for several cycles to come. Neither one of them has an organization to even compare with Sanders.

          Party membership is “official” only at the state level, where one declares a party when they register to vote. According to the Vermont Democrat party, Sanders is a member and they recognize him as such. For “the DNC” (however you define that) to step in as you describe would be a gross power grab that would invite an instant and severe backlash from its other state affiliates, who would act aggressively to protect their own prerogatives such as determining its own members.

          1. flora

            No threat unless the exercise is all about insuring a second round vote is required at the convention. The second round vote brings super delegates into play. Keep the field ever shifting and growing to make sure super delegates get to put their thumbs on the scale. (Sanders isn’t the only candidate the estab finds unacceptable.) The super delegates will declare their picked candidate the ‘unity candidate’. imo.

            1. John k

              Supers are only 15%. So whoever they like must still get 35%. Plus supers not as monolithic as in 2016.

  19. Roy G

    The Barr report and Bernie’s candidacy are of a piece; in both cases, the totebaggers will refuse to believe, or even listen, because they live in a world lit by MSM gaslight.

  20. Matthew G. Saroff

    So the two newest Democratic candidates are the most racist Mayor of New York in recent memory, and a hedge fund type who made lots of money foreclosing on people.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Team Rich has a very deep bench.

      “We have more billionaire candidates than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

      Will it make any difference, especially in a long, drawn out campaign?

  21. Jason Boxman

    It sounds like the Democrat party needs a Boston legal style Alan Shore closing to get the president impeached; it’s all about the closing.

      1. Titus

        No, I thought in was ‘Medicare for all’, as to Oscar Wilde, it seems to have gone very badly for him in the end. Unless ‘burn out, rather than fade away’, is your motto.

      2. JohnnyGL

        Also pointed out on the Hill’s morning show was that the Senate trial will pull Warren, Sanders off the trail later this year, during the home stretch of the campaign. Biden, Buttigieg have no such burdensome obligations.

        Team Dem: Always be gaslighting your base!!!

        1. dcblogger

          Trump’s polls numbers must be tanking

          Smart Republicans are changing their minds about Trump’s impeachment — and they’re saying it in public

          Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, has now suggested he’ll oppose efforts to dismiss impeachment charges without a full trial. And he’s not the only one

  22. Summer

    “The masses do not pine for him. But hubris is a ruthless master, and it is driving Patrick the way it is driving former New York City mayor and current billionaire Michael Bloomberg. …The clown car is full. It cannot accept any more passengers. Really, it was pushed beyond its capacity some time ago, but John Delaney simply will not get out of the vehicle.”

    As I said the other day, they are now piling them into a luxury clown car.

  23. BoyDownTheLane

    In re: feral hogs and cocaine, indubitably some fast food executive chef is experimenting with QuikRibs.

  24. Stormcrow

    Meanwhile back in Bolivia

    Oppose the Military Coup in Bolivia. Spare Us Your “Critiques”

    We Are the Problem

    Name a democratically elected president overthrown by a US-backed coup who was not flawed in some way, or whose hard core opponents, even though clearly a minority, were unable to put a lot of protesters on the streets? That list could obviously not include Goulart, Allende, Aristide, Arbenz, Chavez, Zelaya, or anybody who failed to walk on water.

    An honest look at Morales tactical dilemmas shows that the political culture of the US and its top allies is the big problem facing any democracy in the Global South. Democratic legitimacy does very little to protect you when the US and its propaganda apparatus targets you for destruction. The coup against Morales should be an incredibly easy one for any “progressive” to unreservedly oppose – and by oppose I mean demand Morales finish off his term. People eager to highlight their “critiques” of Morales are part of the problem.


  25. Summer

    “Feral Hogs Find and Destroy Cocaine Worth $22,000 Hidden in Woods” [Newsweek

    According to the rest of the article, the Wild Boar Gang has been creating havoc for a while.

    1. a different chris

      Oh man I am not a big fan of “The War On Drugs ™” but the spectacle of a bunch of near-feral hogs hand-addicted to cocaine and then let loose on a troublesome dealer would be worth a few tax bucks.

      I can see a shaky-handed street thug trying to ward off them with a puny 9mm. It would either make them mad or they wouldn’t even notice in their coked-up state. Wouldn’t leave any evidence, of course but we can squeeze the law a bit on what constitutes evidence.

  26. JohnnyGL


    It’s not often you see a Democratic Party consultant float the ‘Tulsi Gabbard is preferred by Russia’ trope and see a political panel slap it down unflinchingly as completely unacceptable.

    But, then again, maybe that’s why The Hill’s morning show is catching on.

  27. Big River Bandido

    Some interesting background tidbits on the Dillon Rule:

    1) This was the original formulation of the quote from “Dune” that preceded the current quote at the top of this blog: “Municipal corporations owe their origin to, and derive their powers and rights wholly from, the legislature. It breathes into them the breath of life, without which they cannot exist. As it creates, so may it destroy. If it may destroy, it may abridge and control.”

    2) I’ve often wondered if the Dillon Rule originated in his experience growing up in Davenport. As a “charter city” — founded when the region was still part of the Michigan Territory, Davenport enjoys a degree of home rule granted to very few American cities. In Dillon’s time, Davenport was known for its rough edges; as a Reconstruction Republican, I wonder if he equated these things and acted accordingly in his judicial career to prevent that in other places. (The Dillon Fountain, constructed with monies from a bequest in Dillon’s will, still stands at River Drive and Main Street, and the judge’s grave is in Oakdale Cemetary.)

    3) Dillon — famous for his use of the written word — had a grandnephew Charles Dillon Stengel (better known as “Casey” ), famous as much for his mangled English as for his baseball coaching.

    1. Titus

      Living in Ann Arbor, and having served on city council, Lambert’s idea of Dillion’s influence on Michigan needs to be thought of in two part. 1. Cities who go broke and what happens and 2. cities who want to implement public policy, which may be different than that what they like the at state capital. Everyone who lives in Michigan knows that in Ann Arbor, mostly, but not always we have been successful in implementing whatever public policy we want and taxing ourselves to the highest rates in the state – and we’re proud of it. When the state has not liked our local public policy and passed state wide laws, more often then not we have then used binding state wide ballot initiatives to re-establish local control. Same at the county level.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        In many states, like here in Wisconsin, the referendum to legislation option is not available. Ours are only advisory. And our cities have been knee-capped by the right wingers.

        1. Stillfeelinthebern

          Advisory referendum in Wisconsin are only allow by counties or cities, towns. The only allowed statewide referendum questions are for amendments to the state constitution.

      2. Big River Bandido

        New York City and New York State are constantly at war and cross purposes — over what are essentially local issues. This creates inertia which feeds on itself and eventually leads to degradation of infrastructure and institutions. For example, the subway. Authority and accountability for that system have been chopped up and dispersed for 60 years or more, to the point that no one can act, and everyone can escape accountability — but every politician on earth steps up to claim credit for the most meager of cosmetic improvements to the system. Meanwhile, service still sucks and the physical condition of the system continues to degrade.

        I think NYC’s limited home rule is partly to blame for the city’s dysfunction.

  28. Matthew G. Saroff

    Mining cobalt from the ocean floors?

    You mean “Manganese Nodules”?

    time to take the Glomar Explorer out of moth balls.

  29. ewmayer

    First rain of the season here in NorCal (Marin), very welcome but so far just enough to slicken the roadways, as evidenced about every other minute by a car driven by some impatient asshole wheel-spinning its way though the nearby intersection.

  30. Oregoncharles

    ““Things In Your University Office You Can Burn for Warmth””
    Downright nostalgic. When I was in college, in the sixties, students would sometimes build fires (mostly paper, of course) in wastecans to keep warm, because the college – small and expensive – would turn off the heat at night. Being college students, they were often up at night, even all night. Even working, sometimes.

    This practice, besides the obvious dangers, damaged both the wastecans and the floors, so the school decided to stop turning down the heat at night.

  31. Summer

    RE: Unemployment Data
    “Yet the data include a number of state estimates including for two large states, California and Pennsylvania, which limits the impact of the results.”

    So it’s not important enough to survey all states before deciding what it all means?
    And the larger states with the most people being affected “limits” the impact?
    It’s BS because the spin is always political.

  32. urblintz

    weird…. the politico link about Barr says no such page exists and a search for Barr on politico site shows not such article.

  33. flora

    re:UPDATE “Medicare for All a Vote Loser in 2018 U.S. House Elections” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball].

    Not a single mention in that article about which candidates got the most donations and from which industry, like e.g. pharma, insurance, or PE.

  34. ewmayer

    Re. “Things In Your University Office You Can Burn for Warmth” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency] — nowadays this is simple: just spend a couple hundred bucks on some no-longer-cutting-edge used GPUs on eBay and set up a little cryptocoin-mining operation in your office in place of a space heater. They both accomplish the same essential task, converting electricity into heat, but crypto-mining has the added benefits of requiring one to spend many hours in physical setup and software configuration management, and giving hackers a way into one’s office.

  35. ptb

    re: IEA predictions of US dominating oil production growth worldwide …

    Why, yes – now that development in Iran, Venezuela, Libya, Iraq has been knocked back for probably a decade. Interesting coincidence.

  36. flora

    re: “Things In Your University Office You Can Burn for Warmth” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency].

    My dog, that’s funny… because it’s true!

  37. The Rev Kev

    In the book “I, Claudius” by Robert Graves, it comes out that each Roman Emperor did not want to be outshone by his successor. That he wanted to be seen as the “better” Emperor. Thus when it came to be late in their rule, they cast about for someone to replace them that could do the job but would be worse than them. One that would stuff things up and make people nostalgic about the previous Emperor.
    So now, Barrack Obama has chosen Deval Patrick to be the one to follow him for the Democrats.

  38. chuckster

    the Libertarian Party candidate split the Republican vote just enough to spoil the election for Bevin. The party gloated about the results on Facebook: ‘We are always happy to split the vote in a way that causes delicious tears.’”

    There’s a lesson here for Progressives – what if a couple dozen incumbent Democrats lost their House seats because a Progressive 3rd Party who campaigned on M4A and a $15 minimum wage took 10 percent of the vote every election? Do you still think Nancy Pelosi would be adamantly opposed to them?

    1. notabanker

      Democrats aren’t paid to win, they are the loser Mafia. They are paid to maintain status quo. Pelosi does not give a rat’s behind about losing to Republicans. She will simply go from leading to supporting actress in the theatre of Congress. The only enemy is change to status quo and both parties will fight that to their demise.

      There’s no lesson for progressives here. Pelosi is as much an ememy of progressives as Trump. They wear different lapel pins, have different rhetoric that says the same thing. It’s a small club and you ain’t in it.

  39. GramSci

    No one seems to have yet stated the obvious: Harris has sunk to nowhere in the polls, and the Black vote is increasingly headed toward Bernie. The DNC needs Obama2(tm) in the race lest the SuperDelegates not get their chance to Decide.

    1. Carey

      >and the Black vote is increasingly headed toward Bernie

      And the nurses, and the teachers, and the flight attendants, and pretty much anyone else who does real work..


  40. Carey

    “..Asked whether the mistakes made by him and other economists helped lead to the rise of Trump, Krugman responded: “We’re still debating this, but as far as I can tell Trump’s trade policy isn’t resonating with many people, even his blue-collar base. So it’s kind of hard to blame trade analysts for the phenomenon.”

    Others would disagree. Part of the problem is that, back in the ’90s, when the post-Cold War consensus was just emerging, economists tended to take a simplistic either-or view of trade—either you were a free trader or a protectionist—and forced people to choose sides. Krugman was one of them, adopting by and large the free trade position, which was ironic considering that his Nobel-winning work in economics was far more nuanced than his books and columns (and actually helped lay the intellectual foundations for smart strategic trade policy)..”


  41. The Rev Kev

    The Washington DC police are at it again. After arresting Max Blumenthal recently on stale, old bogus charges, they now attempted to do a warrant-less arrest of Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin saying that she had assaulted Debbie Wasserman Schultz at a press conference. She disagreed with being arrested and after detectives reviewed footage of that day, they left to harass some other hapless protestor-


    Disagreeing with being arrested. Is that anything like refusing a vampire permission to come into your home?

  42. scarn

    Warren’s campaign just sent me this text.

    Maybe Black Romney’s entry into the race will push her into being an even more rhetorically leftist player of the game. I don’t mind it, as I think this alienates her actual (liberal) base and acts as free advertising for the real left.

  43. Adam Eran

    McClatchy remains tone deaf to its readership, despite some previous good reporting. It also publishes proto-fascists like Cal Thomas, Hoover fellow Victor David Hansen, and Bob Walters. There are no lefties in its opinion pages, except guys like Krugman. No interest in doing what Huffingtonpost does, either, allowing reader feedback some space in its publications. The Sacramento Bee just cut back the number of days it publishes readers’ letters.

    On the other hand, it does have a multi-millionaire CEO and a history of labor troubles…so everything does appear to be going according to plan.

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