2:00PM Water Cooler 11/15/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I’ll have more in a bit. I overslept! –lambert UPDATE All done!


“China Lifts Ban on U.S. Poultry Even as Farm Buys Bog Down Talks” [AgWeb]. “China lifted its four-year-old ban on U.S. poultry shipments, a small sign of trade-deal progress at a time when agriculture purchases have become a sticking point in negotiations…. At its peak, the annual value of poultry exports from the U.S. to China was $71 million for turkey and $722 million for chicken, the groups said.”


“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 11/15/2019, 12:00 PM EST:

For Ipsos, the Biden juggernaut rolls on, but Sanders is in strong second, Warren trailing. Here, the latest national results, as of 11/15/2019, 12:00 PM 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 Buttigieg (D)(1): “The Problem With Pete Buttigieg’s “Douglass Plan” for Black America” [The Intercept]. • This is a must-read. Let me pick out one of the many high- or rather lowlights: “In July, [Buttigieg] released his campaign’s chief piece of policy outreach to black voters, called “The Douglass Plan: A Comprehensive Investment in the Empowerment of Black America….. [T]he Buttigieg campaign began promoting a list of 400 South Carolinian supporters of his Douglass Plan in emails to reporters and posts on social media…. After publication, the Buttigieg campaign said it had sent the plan to the list of supporters and asked them to opt out if they did not want their name included on the list. That email also specified that the list was meant to represent ‘over 400 Black South Carolinians.'” So The Intercept checked “over 400 names,” and “62 percent of the 297 names that can be reliably checked are white.” • This is really laugh-out-loud funny, and should put an end to the idea that the Buttigieg campaign is uniquely competent in any way. (Companion post here.) And then there’s this:

I’m all in my feelings right now, schadenfreude chief among them.

Patrick (D)(1): “Deval Patrick Volunteers to Lose Democratic Primary” [The New Republic]. “Patrick’s candidacy, however, is unique in that it can be understood as the logical endpoint of a media culture which hews to the belief that what Wall Street guys have to say about the world is, by definition, endlessly fascinating—and which, consequently, treats these flagitious aristocrats as wise men of society who must be consulted, courted, and coddled by whoever wishes to be president.” • Flagitious!

Patrick (D)(2): “Deval Patrick joins Democratic presidential race, promising unity, humility, move beyond nostalgia” [WMUR]. “[Patrick] said he is proud that the Democratic field is committed to providing universal health care, and he said that as governor he led the addition of key components to the previously-passed so-called ‘Romneycare’ program by building coalitions among patient care advocates, business leaders and what he called the ‘faith community.’ ‘I want us to have an ambitious agenda. I want that. That is the goal.’ ‘The means for getting there can vary, and I think a little humility about that, a little openness from others about making a place for their ideas and perspectives, is actually how you get to solutions that aren’t just Democratic solutions but also American solutions that last,’ Patrick said.” • I love the humility and openness schtick, when liberal Democrats fought tooth and nail against single payer in 2009, and are still serving up bowls of mush in the year 2009. We’ve given ObamaCare ten years to work, and that’s a lot of suffering and death. What’s wrong with these people?

Patrick (D)(3): “Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s Ex-Brother-In-Law Gets Prison For Rape” [CBS Local]. “[Bernard Sigh, the] ex-brother-in-law of former Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has been sentenced to up to eight years in prison for raping his estranged wife… In 2014, Patrick fired the head of the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board in part because she questioned why Sigh wasn’t required to register for a 1993 spousal rape conviction.” • A thread:

Sanders (D)(1): A good sign for the Sanders supporters in our little universe:

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Sanders says he’ll put AOC in ‘very important’ White House role” [New York Post]. “‘Her ideas are resonating all over this country,’ Sanders told ABC News of the Bronx-Queens freshman congresswoman in a joint interview on Sunday. ‘If I am in the White House, she will play a very, very important role. No question.'” • Sanders must feel AOC did very well on the trail in Iowa (which are the accounts I see as well).

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): “Sanders campaign replaces South Carolina state director” [Associated Press]. “Sanders’ presidential campaign tells The Associated Press that Jessica Bright now heads the campaign in South Carolina. Bright had been Sanders’ deputy state director and previously was political director for Democrat Joe Cunningham’s upset win in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District last year. Bright replaces Kwadjo Campbell, a former member of the Charleston City Council. The campaign provided no details on Campbell’s departure.”

UPDATE Sanders (D)(4): “Why Bernie’s heart attack was good for him” [Politico]. “Since he was rushed to a Las Vegas hospital in early October, the Vermont senator has flourished in early-state polls, held some of the biggest rallies of any Democratic candidate, and scored the endorsements of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of the so-called “Squad.” The curmudgeonly candidate looks happier — sunny, even — on the stump, cracking jokes and sharing personal stories….. In an era in which conventional political wisdom has been set ablaze, Sanders has challenged the notion that a major health issue is an automatic death knell for a presidential candidate. … ‘Maybe it’s just that he’s feeling better. Maybe it’s nothing more than that,’ said Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sanders who has known him for decades. ‘He is far more energetic now than he was in the summer.'”

UPDATE (R)(1): “Trump says Democrats want a ‘nice, big, juicy recession'” [Business Insider]. • Tweet, they said, they said.

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren Vows to Expand Health Coverage in First 100 Days” [New York Times]. • Naturally, it has complex eligibility requirements and means-testing:

The initial bill she would seek to pass if elected would be a step short of the broader Medicare for all plan she has championed. But it would substantially expand the reach and generosity of public health insurance, creating a government plan that would offer free coverage to all American children and people earning less than double the federal poverty rate, or about $50,000 for a family of four, and could be purchased by other Americans who want it.

In essence, Friday’s plan is a detailed road map for eventually achieving that goal, which would create a single government-run health program and end private insurance coverage. Her proposal would move people into that system gradually — in a way she hopes would build public support for a full-fledged single-payer program — while temporarily preserving the employer-based insurance system that covers most working-age adults today…. given the unpredictable nature of politics, a pledge to pass legislation as late as 2023 — in what would be Ms. Warren’s third year in office — represents a somewhat distant goal.

Here is PNHP’s summary of the Sanders transition (no time to find Jayapal):

Provides for a four-year transition. In year one, improves Medicare by adding dental, vision, and hearing benefits and lowering out-of-pocket costs for Parts A & B; also lowers eligibility age to 55 and allows anyone to buy into the Medcicare program. In year two, lowers eligibility to 45, and in 35 in year three

So Sanders has a reasonably gentle transition as well, with immediate benefits, and a much simpler age-based eligibility system. The key point for me is that Sanders has a single bill. Warren has at least two, one after the 2022 midterms, when her mandate is weak! In other words, Warren expects the health insurance to lie quietly while the #MedicareForAll knife is drawn across its throat. That will never happen. Sabotage and assault will be the order of the day from everyone who’s collecting rent from our health care system as it is. Warren’s plan might almost be designed to fail. The most charitable interpretation is that her political judgment is terrible.

Yang (D)(1): “Andrew Yang is locking down way more supporters than other non-frontrunners in the 2020 Democratic race” [Business Insider]. “Yang’s supporters like an average of 5.5 candidates total, the lowest number out of the mid-tier candidates. And seven percent would be satisfied with just one candidate, Yang himself.”


UPDATE “Democrats sharpen impeachment case, decrying ‘bribery’ as another potential witness emerges linking Trump to Ukraine scandal” [WaPo]. “Several Democrats have stopped using the term ‘quid pro quo,’ instead describing ‘bribery’ as a more direct summation of Trump’s alleged conduct. The shift came after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee conducted focus groups in key House battlegrounds in recent weeks, testing messages related to impeachment. Among the questions put to participants was whether ‘quid pro quo,’ ‘extortion’ or ‘bribery’ was a more compelling description of Trump’s conduct. According to two people familiar with the results, which circulated among Democrats this week, the focus groups found ‘bribery; to be most damning. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the results have not been made public.” • Readers will recall I spotted this change as it happened. But my goodness, I was given to understand that impeachment was all about the rule of law (besides defending whoever the George Washington of Ukraine might be). And now it turns out impeachment is about 2020! I think I’m gonna have to sit down for awhile.

UPDATE “Bill Clinton advises Trump to ignore impeachment: ‘You got hired to do a job’? [The Hill]. “‘My message would be, look, you got hired to do a job,’ Clinton said during a phone interview with CNN. ‘You don’t get the days back you blow off. Every day is an opportunity to make something good happen.’ ‘And I would say, ‘I’ve got lawyers and staff people handling this impeachment inquiry, and they should just have at it,” he continued. ‘Meanwhile, I’m going to work for the American people. That’s what I would do.'” • The Clinton dynasty is still elevating Trump. If Trump is a Russian puppet, as Hillary averred, why on earth are they doing that?

UPDATE “Roger Stone found guilty on 7 counts of false statements, witness tampering” [The Week]. “Prosecutors made the case that Stone’s falsehoods about his contacts with Wikileaks and the website’s founder, Julian Assange, were made to protect the Trump administration from embarrassment. Wikileaks released emails that had been hacked from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign during the explosive days leading up to the 2016 election.” • I’m sure there will be a lot of dot-connecting here…

The Debates

“DNC Announces 10 Candidates in Atlanta Democratic Debate” [Bloomberg]. Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang. And not Julian Castro, sadly. “The forum will be co-hosted by the Washington Post and MSNBC. Candidates will be questioned by four female moderators: Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell and Kristen Welker from the network, and Ashley Parker from the Post. The two-hour event had a higher bar to qualify than previous debates. Candidates must have contributions from 165,000 donors, up from 135,000. And the donors must be geographically dispersed, with a minimum of 600 per state in at least 20 states. In addition, participants must either show 3% support in four qualifying national or single-state polls, or have at least 5% support in two qualifying single-state polls released between Sept. 13 and Nov. 13 in the early nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada.”

2016 Post Mortem

“Incredibly, music is a good predictor of voting EVEN AFTER controlling for demographics!” Thread:

Hard rock: Avenged Sevenfold, Black Sabbath, Disturbed, Dream Theater, Five Finger Death Punch, King Diamond, Korn, and Rammstein. Can any readers comment? I would have thought Metallica is hard rock, but maybe I’m showing my old codger-dom.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Shahid Buttar on Defeating Pelosi and Impeaching Trump, Plus the Return of Lizholio” (podcast) [Useful Idiots with Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper]. • I had no idea how interesting a candidate Buttar is. I really like this podcast.

“Ohio House passes bill allowing student answers to be scientifically wrong due to religion” [Local12]. “The Ohio House on Wednesday passed the “Student Religious Liberties Act.” Under the law, students can’t be penalized if their work is scientifically wrong as long as the reasoning is because of their religious beliefs. Instead, students are graded on substance and relevance.” • Oh.

UPDATE “Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin concedes to Democrat Andy Beshear” [The Week] • Good. The Trillbillies will be happy. (One reason I highly recommend the Trillbillies is that it makes clear how big the country really is; subjects of conversation, sense of humor (very, very dry), and of course accents. For example, on hearing that Epstein would give his targets pills, and then offer them the opportunity to “turn tricks” to pay him back. The reaction: “Isn’t that the most company town thing you ever heard?” Very perceptive, class-based, and a comparison I never would have thought of.

Stats Watch

Retail Sales, October 2019: “The headline edged above expectations but the details of the October retail sales report aren’t pointing to much momentum going into the holiday shopping season” [Econoday]. “For the Federal Reserve, consumer spending is the economy’s bulwark but one or two of reports like this, especially during the holidays, could raise talk that global-related weakness in manufacturing is spilling into the general economy, talk that would point to a resumption of rate cuts.”

Empire State Manufacturing Survey, November 2019: “The Empire State index has had a rough spell the last six months though has held in positive territory, though not by much” [Econoday]. “This report is generally soft, opening November’s run of manufacturing data by underscoring domestic weakness as the factory sector faces the challenges of slowing global demand.”

Industrial Production, October 2019: “The effects of the now resolved GM strike have made a strong appearance in industrial production data and are largely responsible for two straight monthly contractions” [Econoday]. “With the GM strike now over, vehicle production will presumably begin to reverse its declines and make for outsized overall gains in the coming months.”

Business Inventories, September 2019: “Inventories have been coming down, a reflection of easing expectations in the business outlook” [Econoday].

The Bezzle: “Elon Musk said his AI-brain-chips company could ‘solve’ autism and schizophrenia” [Business Insider]. “‘So Neuralink I think at first will solve a lot of brain-related diseases,’ Musk said. ‘So could be anything from, like, autism, schizophrenia, memory loss – like, everyone experiences memory loss at certain points in age.’ It was not clear what Musk meant by saying Neuralink could ‘solve’ autism, which is not a disease but a developmental disorder.” • Even assuming this isn’t a scam, what could go wrong?

Retail: “FDA issues warning to Dollar Tree about selling ‘potentially unsafe drugs’

[CNN]. “The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning letter to Dollar Tree for receiving over-the-counter drugs produced by foreign manufacturers that have been found to be adulterated, including acne treatment pads and Assured brand drugs….Now, in its warning letter to Dollar Tree, the FDA is requesting that the company implement a system to ensure that it does not import adulterated drugs.”

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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

“No laughing matter” [Harvard Gazette]. “About a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere is covered in permafrost. Now, it turns out these permanently frozen beds of soil, rock, and sediment are actually not so permanent: They’re thawing at an increasing rate…. [A] paper published this month in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics shows that nitrous oxide emissions from thawing Alaskan permafrost are about 12 times higher than previously assumed. Since N2O traps heat nearly 300 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide does, this revelation could mean that the Arctic — and the global climate — are in more danger than we thought.”

“It’s Time For Democrats To Stop Taking Pipeline Money” [Robbie Jaeger, Medium]. Goes through pipelines and lists the Democrats who take pipeline money: “[The owner of the Keystone Pipeline,] TransCanada, through their PAC, has donated $5,000 each to Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), former Congressional Black Caucus chair Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) this year, as well as donating to various other PACs.

“In an English country garden: inside the deep, surprisingly political roots of British gardening” [Prospect]. “A very large garden industry has been a feature of [the UK] for well over 350 years. During all this time, it has been neglected by economists, historians and government. An activity that takes up more of our time than any other leisure activity except for watching television or using a computer—far more time than any sport—is treated as a frippery. All the time and energy that we collectively put into gardening is ignored, because that £12.6bn only counts the money that we spend, not the effort that we expend. But even if we only look at the money, we can see it is important—and has been so for a very long time indeed.” • The focus is on elite gardens, but the history is still fascinating.

“The Life Cycle of a Monarch Butterfly” (diagrams) [Flight of the Butterfly]. • Wonders of nature!

“Tiny deer-like species rediscovered after nearly 30 years in Vietnam” [Associated Press]. “A tiny deer-like species not seen by scientists in nearly 30 years has been photographed in a forest in southern Vietnam. ‘For so long this species has seemingly only existed as part of our imagination. Discovering that it is, indeed, still out there is the first step in ensuring we don’t lose it again, and we’re moving quickly now to figure out how best to protect it,’ said An Nguyen, a conservation scientist at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, a partner of GWC in the project.”

Our Famously Free Press

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

NYPD Kept Illegal Database of Juvenile Fingerprints The Intercept

Guillotine Watch

“Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime For Only Watch 2019 Sells For CHF 31 Million, Becoming The Most Expensive Watch In The World” [Hodinkee (JK)]. The deck: “The king is dead – long live the king.” • What a beautiful machine, though! And speaking of expensive baubles–

“Amazon founder Jeff Bezos interested in owning NFL team, has strong support among current owners” [CBS]. “Multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos has interest in purchasing an NFL team and has become close with several current owners, according to league sources, and has strong support within the league to eventually join their ranks….. [H]e is someone who will be increasingly tied to potential franchise sales in the coming years, league sources said, and on a short list of those who could quickly execute a complicated transaction of that nature in short order.”

Class Warfare

“Gimme Shelter: The cost of living in the Bay Area” [Harpers]. “[M]y situation was evidence of how distorted the Bay Area housing market had become, the brutality inflicted upon the poor now trickling up to everyone but the super-rich. … Across [California], a quarter of all apartment dwellers spent half of their incomes on rent. Nearly half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population lived in California, even while the state had the highest concentration of billionaires in the nation. In the Bay Area, including West Oakland, where my shack was located, the crisis was most acute. Tent cities had sprung up along the sidewalks, swarming with capitalism’s refugees. Telegraph, Mission, Market, Grant: every bridge and overpass had become someone’s roof.” • This is great, and well-worth a read. I picked out the policy implication, but this artlcle is an epic about the author’s dwelling places.

“The Inflation Gap” [The Atlantic]. “Using government data and scanner data from retail stores—the bar codes that get swiped at Target, the produce codes that get punched in at grocery stores—Xavier Jaravel of the London School of Economics found that from 2004 to 2015, the prices of the products purchased by the bottom income quintile increased faster than the prices of the products purchased by the top income quintile. As a result, low-income families experienced an annual rate of inflation conservatively estimated at 0.44 percentage points higher than that of high-income families. The trend is small enough to go unnoticed year by year. For a given family, it might mean shelling out just pennies more on a grocery run or back-to-school shopping trip. But such changes compound over time, wedging apart the welfare of struggling households and flourishing ones. Rich families get competitive prices on organic groceries and athleisure and better-and-better electronics; poor families end up paying more for worse-quality alternatives. ”

News of the Wired

“Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in 2 epidemiologic cohorts of men and women” [PNAS]. From the abstract: “Previous studies reported that more optimistic individuals are less likely to suffer from chronic diseases and die prematurely. Our results further suggest that optimism is specifically related to 11 to 15% longer life span, on average, and to greater odds of achieving “exceptional longevity,” that is, living to the age of 85 or beyond….. Data are from 2 cohorts, women from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and men from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study (NAS), with follow-up of 10 y (2004 to 2014) and 30 y (1986 to 2016), respectively. Optimism was assessed using the Life Orientation Test–Revised in NHS and the Revised Optimism–Pessimism Scale from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 in NAS.”

This is the content we need now:

“Physical books still outsell e-books — and here’s why” [CNBC]. “[I]t’s actually younger people who appear to be popularizing print. Sixty-three percent of physical book sales in the U.K. are to people under the age of 44, while 52% of e-book sales are to those over 45, according to Nielsen. It’s a similar picture in the U.S., where 75% of people aged 18 to 29 claimed to have read a physical book in 2017, higher than the average of 67%, according to Pew Research.”

Puzzle Nook:

This is so meta.

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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 (pq):

pq writes: “Taken in mid-August while looking for milkweeds in a swampy patch at the entrance to a public park in my small village in Upstate New York. Didn’t find milkweeds that day, but saw this blue flower and thought it would make a nice NC plantidote. As I was bending down for a closeup, this beasty thing flew right in front of me. I identified it (and the flower) online: humming bird hawk moth and great blue lobelia. Despite the crappy camera in my long-obsolete cell phone…”

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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. Janie

    News flash: per zero hedge (I know) via WSJ, admin has announced required price transparency for medical insurance as well as medical services. It’s way broader than the industry had expected.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Election hatchet against most of the Team Blue field. They won’t be able to roll this out in any time without bureaucratic force which won’t come, but its a reminder of the ludicrous nature of ACA promises of shopping for the best price and MARkeTs!.

      Then with impeachement, Trump can tut tut about it. Without Sanders, “strengthening ACA” is an empty talking point at best.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        While the genius pelosi is infatuated with impeach,impeach, impeach, the trumpster walks casually down the street, picking up the power, carelessly left laying in the gutter.

        But hey, its bloomberg and patrick to the rescue!

    2. False Solace

      I was reading in Links the other day that Cleveland Clinic alone has millions of prices from the thousands of procedures they offer and the hundreds of insurance plans they accept. How much is price transparency worth under those circumstances? It’s yet more feel-good do-nothingism. Clinton-level fiddling while the people burn.

      We need M4A.

      Adding: NC posted about this months ago. Don’t think it makes much difference if it’s “transparency” for insurance too. The system is intentionally too complicated for humans to understand. What we need is health care, not a price list.

      1. marym

        Below is a link to an overview from Kaiser Health News. To your points:

        “It’s also a potentially crushing amount of data for a consumer to consider. However, the administration said it hopes the data will also spur researchers, employers or entrepreneurs to find additional ways of making the data accessible and useful.

        The amount of information the rule requires to be disclosed will be massive — including gross charges, negotiated rates and cash prices — for every one of the thousands of services offered by every hospital, which they will be required to update annually.

        [HHS Secretary Azar] and other officials on a call with reporters admitted they don’t have any estimates on how much the proposal would save in lowered costs because such a broad effort has never been tried in the U.S. before.”

        “researchers, employers or entrepreneurs” !!!


        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          My Mother spent her last few years as a nurse reconciling patient debts with funding sources.* She was a nurse who loved nursing, but she made much more money doing reconciliation than overnight in the ER.

          *~15 years ago. She said she could always find something.

      2. rowlf

        Maybe we’ve come full circle from government is the problem to private enterprise is the problem. Neat!

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Wouldn’t a sane party at this point in the election cycle be be using the House, the most powerful body under the Constitution, to vote for simple statement bills to be sent to orchestrated defeat in the Senate in order to amplify their core policy commitments so as to promote the one sided (!!!) Presidential Primary to commence in a few effing days?

      I’m coming to ‘qualified’ support for ambrit’s expect-the-stupidest theory. For the DNC it is either HRH HRC or 4 more years of feeding the MSM lots of Trumpenprofits.

      I can’t imagine how the Democratic Party looks in March, though. I’ll probably hold off my first $27 till then. A strategically aligned Senator with an actual grass roots movement has some precedent for getting things done.

      What if Sanders dares Trump to do more?

  2. Mike

    Re; “Amazon founder Jeff Bezos interested in owning NFL team, has strong support among current owners” [CBS]

    Oh, please buy the Pittsburgh Pirates – It’s not the NFL, but money is important here, especially since the talk around town has been for the city to take over the franchise a la Green Bay, and we all know how much Jeff hates making anything public… and the stars he could buy…er…hire.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Don’t be silly! Billionaires don’t put money INTO a team or community, they suck it out.

      Or, if they do put it in, they keep everyone else out.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      He could set up a competition ala amazon headquarters 2.0–which community will commit to building him the most luxurious stadium with their tax dollars, and improving the surrounding infrastructure so he can entertain his friends in the manner to which they have become accustomed.

      Please mr. bezos, pick me………….

      1. voteforno6

        Are you kidding? People in the DMV would love him forever if he would buy that dumpster fire of a franchise. After all, the only person in the region who might be even more unpopular than Donald Trump is Dan Snyder.

    3. Trent


      Nope, no Bezos in Pittsburgh please. I’m super happy we didn’t get the Amazon HQ2 and I don’t want him anywhere near my city.

    4. Bugs Bunny

      The only team I’d be happy for him to buy would be the Cowboys, for one obvious reason, initials JJ.

    5. The Rev Kev

      I can see it now. His team would be losing badly at half time and as they came back out onto the fields after the break, the audience would discover that Bezos had purchased the opposing team and now there was only one big team on the field.

      1. cnchal

        There would be moar whippings for losing than winning. Got to get the incentives right, and as long as he uses the rich government subsidies he gets to aquire a team other than the Steelers, there would be two teams to hate.

        Talk about socialism, for the filthy rich.

  3. Geo

    Re: Bezos Brain Chips:

    Does it come with a complimentary 30-day trial subscription to Amazon Prime and in-brain notifications when my order has been delivered? If so, sign me up! Hopefully it doesn’t send my thoughts to Langley though. If so I’ll probably get a one-way trip to Gitmo.

      1. Geo

        Oh gawd!!! If it implants Ayn Rand quotes into my brain i’ll tear it out myself with a chisel and pair of pliers!

        Can’t wait for Amazon’s updated version of Walter Freeman’s infamous Lobotomobile to make its way around the country implanting chips in people’s brains door-to-door. Ideally it will be a self-driving van and the implant will be done by a robot though.

        1. Hepativore

          Also, because of rampant monopsony, it will not be long before it would be almost impossible to find an employer that does not make brain-chip implantation and behavioral-modification brain surgery (to ensure employee docility) a requirement of the hiring process. Also, I am sure that the brain-chips will be constantly transmitting your whereabouts to a real-time monitoring system so employers can track you both on and off work. They can already do this through your cellular device, but microchips cannot be simply “left” somewhere.

          You would not have to do the above, just like you have the “right” not to be employed.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Still, it’s Musk. So it’s not gonna work as we are speculating. Remember that years of AI research into autonomous vehicles hasn’t produced a car that can drive in the snow. Or safely turn left.

              1. Mo's Bike Shop

                A bit like the ‘which one is Frankenstein’ meme. Artificial Intelligence is the field of study. The monster we have is a really amazing advance in Machine Learning. The rest of the way up to ‘AI’ is just a lot of if/then linearity.

                Experiencing Google leaning more into their belief in AI as the Reality just keeps pushing them further into the uncanny valley for me. It feels like Flowers for Algernon, I really liked Google back when it worked.

            1. FreeMarketApologist

              Is there a brain chip that can ‘solve’ Elon Musk?

              With slight modifications, the quote about Wall Street titans works well: “…a media culture which hews to the belief that what Elon and other Silicon Valley guys have to say about the world is, by definition, endlessly fascinating—and which, consequently, treats these flagitious aristocrats as wise men of society…

              Flagitious! (gonna get some t-shirts made up)

          2. Mo's Bike Shop

            I’d be shocked if any brain chip produced today would last 4 years. Then we run into the same problems with any of our infrastructure: late upgrades, poor and uneven replacements. Nobody can find documentation from 5 years ago.

            Will my Foxconn chip work with my WhatsApp chip?

            Two oligarchs launch a battle of the families and the only result is a Run on Taco Bell. If you know what I mean.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > late upgrades

              Your BrainChip™ is automatically updating. Please do not think until the process is complete, or you may suffer massive and irretrievable data loss. Your brain will reboot when the process is complete.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A bar owner who can quote Ayn Rand?

        It’s not quite the same as a barber with a philosophy degree.

            1. ambrit

              I had a math teacher in High School who worked on the Manhattan Project. No one in class ever thought to ask him what his ‘Degree’ was. Math, certainly, but from where and with whom did he associate in the project, etc.

          1. Yves Smith

            I had a Moroccan taxi driver in NYC who had a PhD in linguistics and met Noam Chomsky. He was the one to bring up the word “neoliberalism” in our ride. So the anti-Ayn Rand guy. See how that is rewarded?

      1. Geo

        Ha! I worry about my Adobe subscription lapsing and impacting my ability to work. Imagine having my brain shut off due to late payment might be tricky too. Maybe they’d do ranked subscription models?
        Free: basic motor functions
        Silver Plan: Standard thinking abilities
        Gold Plan: Standard + critical thinking
        Platinum Plan: Standard + critical + free shipping on purchases over $20.

    1. Geo

      Mayo Pete: The President for all who want him.

      Something tells me our 2020 election is gonna look like a clown re-enactment of what we see happening now in Bolivia. Between “Russian interference”, “fake news”, billionaires crying hysterically, electronic voting machines, establishment desperation for a mascot savior, MSM acting as if Sanders is an apparition that will go away if they close their eyes hard enough, and the Dems windmill hunt for impeachment in the midst of the primaries… it’s quite clear that the PtB are gonna do everything they can to make sure the results of this one are messier than a Florida recount.

      1. poopinator

        Oh my. That stock photo. MSNBC will be all over this story this afternoon…

        I’d be really curious to see how/if the South Bend press covers this as well.

      2. Bugs Bunny

        If it’s of any interest, I heard him “speak” French and it was crap. Two mistakes in one phrase and a poor accent.

        He’s a fake, doc.

    1. dcblogger

      On an e-book you can enlarge the print, not so on a printed book, this is why I prefer ebooks. What I really prefer is audio books.

        1. Carolinian

          I’m with dcblogger on this. Practically all the books I read these days are on my laptop and that’s because they are easier to see. It’s not so much about print size as about the higher contrast you can get with a back lit screen (and also front lit by a lamp). The warmer lamp light also cuts down on the blue light effect that some have said is harmful.

          So the reason young people prefer paper books is that they have better eyesight. Obviously lugging an electronic device around when you want to read something has its downside, especially for browsing or books with pictures.

          BTW they built a new high school in my town and pictures of the interior suggest that it doesn’t have lockers. Is this because students no longer carry books?

          1. Carey

            Interesting, and maybe I shouldn’t generalize. When my eyes are tired but I still want to read, low-angle raking light helps quite
            a bit, as far as contrast goes. I like books!

          2. Mo's Bike Shop

            Terrifically near-sighted, so I find books ‘hot’ for reading anything long form.

            But lately my current drug of choice has been a new tab of Wikipedia. F*ck P*rn, this is the kind of thing I wanted from the Internet. Wish it were better.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > On an e-book you can enlarge the print, not so on a printed book, this is why I prefer ebooks. What I really prefer is audio books.

        I am extremely online and my device is an iPad Pro, which has a screen the size of a book page. I’ve tried both, and obviously for short articles and tweets the iPad is great, and paper isn’t even an option. But for an immersive experience where I’m reading for hours at a time, nothing beats a book. And I say this as a trifocal user with progressive lenses (athough sometimes I just take off my glasses and hold the book close).

        I attribute the superiority of books to centuries of symbiosis between printers, paper and ink manufacturers, and typographers. A collective effort by unknown thousands to make reading with physical, tangible paper comfortable and easy. No such effort even possible with digital, no matter the resolution, because there’s no texture.

        One might also consider that books are Jackpot-ready in a way that e-books are not (to the extent that the paper won’t crumble and rot, of course).

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Acid free paper won’t crumble and rot for a long time. Paper used to be made out of hemp fiber and such hemp paper is supposed to last few centuries.

          A side effect of legal marijuana might be legal hemp, hemp so legal that industrial scale amounts of it could be grown. Perhaps some of it for hemp paper for books to last a few centuries.

          1. Procopius

            Very few books or documents are printed on acid-free paper. Parchment lasts for centuries. Even papyrus has lasted if it’s in a dry climate. I wonder how many books from the last five hundred years will still be around five hundred years from now (assuming there will still be people around five hundred years from now).

    2. fdr-fan

      This matches what I’m seeing on the street. For a few years everyone was reading Kindles. Now the youngsters are mainly reading paper, and the oldies are still with the Kindles.

      1. RubyDog

        Some of us can do both. What a concept!
        I like physical books at home or in bed at night. Ebooks great for waiting for appts or riding the bus, can read on your phone and don’t have to carry anything extra. Also lots of free content available if you know where to look, or download from your local library.

  4. Field Marshal McLuhan

    You didn’t oversleep, Lambert – you slept as long as you needed to. If an alarm wakes you up prematurely, it means you’ve underslept

    1. petal

      Well, this should be fun. We’ll see if any of those new Pete signs disappear over the weekend. I doubt it, though.

  5. Summer

    “Patrick’s candidacy, however, is unique in that it can be understood as the logical endpoint of a media culture which hews to the belief that what Wall Street guys have to say about the world is, by definition, endlessly fascinating…”

    Hey, you have to admit nothing says “front runner” like Wall Street guys.

    1. Kurtosmayfield

      His Candidacy is all about him.. he will leverage this into his next gig just like he leveraged his Governorship into Bain. Bain must have been giving him signals the gig was up.

  6. Summer

    “Gimme Shelter: The cost of living in the Bay Area” [Harpers].

    Send the article to Nancy Pelosi. See if that issue can be tackled after impeachment.

  7. petal

    Good question on what constitutes hard rock these days. Does Metallica count? I’d say Rammstein does(I like them-it’s fun). As I’ve aged and been beaten/ground down, I’ve come to appreciate and enjoy it(if Metallica is included) a lot more than when I was younger. Could probably write a whole thesis on it. The local rock station is what my car dial is set to. Makes good listening/outlet after a day of work. Cheers.

    1. Collapsar

      If Metallica is old, what does that make Black Sabbath? And I would put King Diamond down as being contemporaries of Metallica. I find this list interesting mostly because of the bands that aren’t on this list that I think would overlap with a lot of the acts that are named. For instance: Korn and Disturbed, but no Slipknot; likewise Metallica, but no Slayer, or Megadeth.
      There may be a thesis lurking in this.

    2. IMOR

      Avenged 7fold is essentially Metallica for people who were in high school 2006-2010. Covers that base okay. Rammstein’s famous single isn’t bad as an indicator, but body of work could be replaced by any of the suggestions here. Sabbath toured enough and long enough after their ’99 reunion that they might as well be included. After all, voting still skews way old.

    3. ambrit

      I’ve been wondering a similar question this afternoon.
      What constitutes “hard” rock?
      My musings bring up the factor of emotional, almost visceral intensity being present in most identifiably “hard” rock songs. I here make a distinction between the musical groups and the individual pieces of music. A good band can switch from head banging to introspection to balance out the emotional content of an album or concert. Therein lies the art portion of the musical equation.
      True “hard” rock songs induce a frenzy in the listener. A sort of catharsis is achieved. Think the long haired acolytes thrashing their heads forward and back to the base line beat. When done in the proper attitude of reverence, a trance state can be induced. Heaven is touched, for an ineffable moment. A Quantum Revelation blazes forth and leaves a residue of the Mind of G-d in the acolyte’s mind. Materialist Individualism is confounded by the demonstration of a mystical state of being. The Lonely become One.
      Rant over.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Heaven is touched, for an ineffable moment. A Quantum Revelation blazes forth and leaves a residue of the Mind of G-d in the acolyte’s mind. Materialist Individualism is confounded by the demonstration of a mystical state of being. The Lonely become One.

        I had that happen to me a few times at Grateful Dead concerts. But they’re hardly hard rock.

        1. ambrit

          Good point. The subject of the biology and physiology of “mind” is fascinating.
          Arther C. Clarke had a short story from his story collection, “Tales From the White Hart,” titled “The Ultimate Melody.” Fun with Science!

    4. Polar Socialist

      Me thinks hard rock happened in the sixties: Cream, Led Zeppelin etc. Black Sabbath was already metal. And Metallica is an amalgamation of new (late 70’s) British metal and punk, usually denoted as trash metal. Slipknot is kinda groove metal, which is basically trash metal played in slower tempo. Korn and Disturbed are nu metal, where metal meets hip hop. And so on with the subgenres…

      But hard rock they ain’t.

      Disclaimer: I like ’em all, and listen them often in the office. Needless to say, my co-workers like them too. And we don’t really care about the genres that much.

    5. Angie Neer

      When my son discovered metal as a teenager (not that long ago), he introduced me to a bewildering array of sub-genres, including such gems as “blackened folk metal.” But more interesting to me was how worked up some people get about taxonomy, and who deserves membership in which superior or inferior classification. In other words, people can be cruel, tightly-pinched sphincters about anything. Not just politics, nationalism, race, religion, economics. It can be about whether the folk metal is properly blackened. On the other hand, in metal as in the rest of life, the sphincters tend to get the most attention, overshadowing a much larger number of ordinary nice people.

      1. Carey

        I think what you describe is at least partly about a primal need for identification and connection within a (truly) heartless consumer culture;
        and I expect those distinctions to get even finer-grained as the ship goes down.


    6. anEnt

      It is no surprise to me that metal is relevant given that it is an angsty medium (contra pop which earns its cotton-candy pop moniker), but one must be careful of tooling around in piles of data… One may find spurious correlations. Like pirates and global warming.


      King’s X – Broke, from 2008 right at the beginning of the recession.


      The Shiela Divine – The Things That Once Were, from 2012 (HOPE 2.0)


      KXM – Gun Fight, from 2014 after Obama failed for 6 years


      The Shiela Divine – Watch Out For Us, from 2015, after Occupy


    7. meeps

      Some on that list is hard rock, but plenty is metal. Black Sabbath is slag metal, Tool is alternative metal, and Metallica was thrash, though they passed their subprime years playing Bob Seger, which is hard rock, I suppose.

      The categories in that study are poorly conceived but correlating them with voting behavior is spurious because it’s an exercise in identity politics. Among my peers, no one who listens to the metal on that list voted for Trump or HRC, although some voted for Obama. I know Trump voters who listen to hard rock and country—mostly, but these were too Republican to vote for Obama. Perhaps regional idiosyncrasies are more revealing, but I see no accounting for majority voters who don’t identify with either of the mainstream parties–whatever their tastes in music.

      ID politics seeks to pin-down demographics for purposes of advertisement, but identity is fluid, which is why Id Pol misses its targets so much of the time.

  8. Summer

    Re: “Ohio House passes bill allowing student answers to be scientifically wrong due to religion” [Local12]

    Paging all witches and Scientologists….

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “………Instead, students are graded on substance and relevance.”

      “Relevance” to what? I guess they’ll have to get pat robertson and / or the pope to do the grading.

      1. wilroncanada

        The rev Kev
        They had to imitate the British parliament, whose Pi bill was introduced by Sir Cumference.

        1. ambrit

          Good Heavens man! Sir C is a well rounded solon. The beauty of the Bill of Pi was that, no matter how you sliced it, you ended up with the hole thing. A mathematical Johnny I see in the hallways of the Ministry from time to time has warned me that the zealot’s proposal for Infinite Pi is something to a-void.

  9. Danny

    Class Warfare, Gimmie Shelter:
    “[M]y situation was evidence of how distorted the Bay Area housing market had become, the brutality inflicted upon the poor now trickling up to everyone but the super-rich. “

    Lack of affordable housing? Wonder what effect 240,000 illegals in Oakland San Francisco have on housing availability and rent levels??


    Meanwhile, the uber-Progressive city of San Francisco, that allows illegals to vote in local elections, wants to assure them the right to live in tax payer funded public housing.

    Numbers are xenophobic!

    1. JBird4049

      Oh I no problem with wanting to deal with illegal immigration as they should not be here, and are used for union busting and for driving wages of everyone down; I do have a problem blaming the poorest, most vulnerable among us for the actions of the entitled gods of the universe who have created this situation deliberately. The detention centers are hell pits, then add the kiddie koncentration Kamps. We can do better. Human decency, the rule of law, and all that.

      Also, speaking of numbers the number of illegal immigrants has been going down, presumable back to the hell holes the United States made of their countries, while the number of homeless Americans has been going up. So, if at worse, the illegal immigration population has remained static, while the homeless population keeps rising, sometimes in the double digits, each year, what the does that say?

      1. Danny

        “Why punch down, to the most vulnerable…” back of hand to forehead.
        Yes, the banksters and Military Industrial Complex are on a dollar basis, more to blame for our woes, prices, rents, than illegals.

        However, focusing on illegals locally makes sense because there are plenty of non-profit groups and advocacy organizations in favor of illegals, affecting local tax expenditures and politics, claiming to speak for the community, while denying their effects on rents, schools, medical clinics, emergency rooms and street crime. They drown out citizens’ voices and influence.

        There are no local organizations loudly calling for more money to be spent on elites, on neo-cons and financialization in our communities. There are no sanctuary cities, towns and states where bankers, the elite and special interest financial groups are not only invited, but sheltered and protected by district attorneys, police mandates and politicians grubbing for votes. (Except Biden’s Delaware). There are no vociferous organizations showing up at local supervisors chambers to get local and state laws changed for the benefit of bankers.

        The numbers of Mexican illegals is going down, but not Central Americans.

        A large number of the traveling “homeless” are illegals by the way, at least in sunny California.

        One cannot advocate for open borders, or “immigration reform”, (mass rubber stamping of citizenship), and then expect to live in any kind of democratic welfare state with affordable housing and any semblance of an intact environment.

        1. richard

          “there are no local organizations loudly calling for more money to be spent on elites, on neo-cons and the financialization in our communities”
          apart from the evening news and the city council, I’d say you’re dead on target
          “There are no sanctuary cities, towns and states where bankers, the elite and special interest financial groups are not only invited, but sheltered and protected by district attorneys, police mandates, and politicians grubbing for votes”
          Again, dead on accurate except for every city and town I have ever lived in, visited, drove through, or heard of.
          seriously. wtf dude?

          1. Danny

            Name a couple of local laws in San Francisco, or Oakland, specifically allowing bankers and private equity to ignore national laws then.

            What community activists are demonstrating for the PTB?

            I think your splitting semantic hairs. We are on the same side when it comes to the Borg.

            1. richard

              I don’t live in the bay area, but in seattle. We have very recent experience of a corporate behemoth dominating our political life, so I’d say you’re the one splitting semantic hairs. The bankers’ advantage is not in dodging laws, though they do it all the time, but in writing the damn things.

            2. richard

              also, i should add in full disclosure
              not to limit or check your speech, but to add mine to it
              that i work with recent immigrants everyday, and live with many recent immigrant families in my apartment building, and also in my neighborhood
              this is pretty much everyone i know and all of my life so
              you shouldn’t presume about sides in reference to anything
              I won’t ever turn you in, how about that
              and you do the same for me
              (Phil Ochs taught me a lesson the other night :))

              1. Danny

                Seattle, Ugh. I have to grant you 100% on that.
                Things are, on the surface, different in the S.F. Bay Area,

                excluding Silicon Valley which is an abomination.

        2. GERMO

          states where bankers, the elite and special interest financial groups are not only invited, but sheltered and protected by district attorneys, police mandates and politicians

          Off the top of my head I can think of 50.

    2. marym

      From your sfchronicle link:

      From your link:

      Existing regulations already prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving federal housing subsidies. But families with varying immigration status — what HUD calls “mixed” households — are currently allowed to live together, provided that at least one member of the household is a legal U.S. resident. Federal housing aid is based in part on the number of eligible people living in a subsidized unit. Undocumented immigrants don’t receive any subsidy, so they don’t factor into that calculation.

      But under the proposed changes any member of a mixed-status household would be forced out of subsidized units. That, Breed and Herrera said, would break up families..

      Replacing mixed-status households with eligible residents would also cost the agency at least $193 million annually, since HUD would be forced to provide full subsidies to each member of the household…

      Adding: Undocumented immigrants are taxpayers too.

      1. Danny

        Yes they are net taxpayers, IF they do not work for cash, if they earn over the standard deduction and do not take deductions for each child, whether here, or allegedly back home.

        Remember, a legal immigrant or citizen in the job which they did not get because a cheaper illegal was used, would also have paid taxes.

        Illegals do pump millions into social security by the fraudulent use of other people’s social security numbers through identity theft. That’s a positive.

        Diapers and gasoline charge sales taxes.
        Hand me downs, hand offs, trades, charitable donations and food charge no sales tax in California. What do you think of eliminating the tax deductibility of employees from business income if they do not pass E-Verfy?

        1. marym

          Employers who hire undocumented workers should be prosecuted. As far as penalties, languishing in an ICE detention center seems appropriate.

          Trump: E-Verify Would Make It Too Hard to Hire Undocumented Workers

          Last week [05/2019], the president unveiled his new vision for immigration reform — and a call for all employers to adopt (and rigorously enforce) E-Verify was conspicuously absent.


          Two months later, some 300 people who were arrested in that raid remain detained at two ICE centers in Louisiana…None of the companies targeted in the raid have been charged with immigration or labor law violations.

          Vanity Fair 08/2019

          The Washington Post reports that the Trump Organization currently employs a “roving crew of Latin American employees” to perform masonry and maintenance work at his winery and various golf clubs around the country.

          (Link to WaPo story)

          Forbes 10/2016

          Collectively, America’s undocumented immigrants pay an estimated $11.64 billion in state and local taxes every year with at least 50 percent of undocumented immigrant households filing tax returns using Individual Tax Identification Numbers.

          Many who do not file tax returns still have taxes deducted from their pay checks. Out of that $11.64 billion total, undocumented immigrants pay $6.9 billion in sales and excise taxes, $3.6 billion in property taxes and about $1.1 billion in personal income taxes.

          ITEP [ The Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy] estimated that if America’s 11 million undocumented immigrants were granted citizenship allowing them to work legally, current state and tax contributions would be boosted by over $2.1 billion a year.

  10. Jeff W

    …actually how you get to solutions that aren’t just Democratic solutions but also American solutions that last,’ [Deval] Patrick said.

    “We’ve got to develop a uniquely American approach to this problem.”
    —President Barack Obama, press conference, 10 August 2009

    1. Art Vandalay

      I thought Lambert neglected to underline a key passage:

      ” . . . I want us to have an ambitious agenda. I want that. That is the goal.”

      agenda – noun – a plan of things to be done or problems to be addressed

      Yes, having a really ambitiously long list of things is totally the goal. Achieving anything? Not so much.

      Come on, man.

      1. Carey


        Patrick’s *goal* is to have an “ambitious agenda”?

        A proposal for a glide path to a plan to

        Dear Dog

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      American Solutions are kind of final.

      Like killing the abos*. Taking half the country next to you. Owning people.

      *Could not check the spelling on Urban Dictionary?

    1. Toshiro_Mifune

      Stealing This from someone on Twitter;

      I’m sorry, I’m going to want to see crosstabs on pre/post Justice Metallica or this data means nothing.

      Follow up poll; How is Biden playing with the Kraut-rock crowd?
      Politics broken down by associated musical tastes would be much much more interesting

      1. Chris Smith

        “Justice” was fine; not as good as “Ride the Lightning” but that was their absolute peak. Metallica jumped the shark with “Enter Sandman.” Still I appreciate the sentiment.

  11. Samuel Conner

    Re: “We’ve given ObamaCare ten years to work, and that’s a lot of suffering and death. What’s wrong with these people?”

    My first thought is that “what’s wrong” is that they’re flagitious, but the meaning I was reaching for is shamelessly wicked. Don’t know what the right term for that is.

  12. anon y'mouse

    word to the wise: Hard Rock is not the same thing as Heavy Metal. many people like both but some only like one or the other.

    although i am sure there is some strong overlap. Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and Black Sabbath being two strong contenders.

    Metallica -used to be- but no longer is. now they sound like a machine is singing the songs, playing the instruments and writing stuff. which is a shame, but then again considering how Hetfield used his voice, not surprising that he would go that route.

  13. Pelham

    Let’s just not give Elizabeth Warren the benefit of the doubt on her healthcare plan. Plans for implementation are rigged with a number of landmines, any one of which will blow it all up. Of course, the entire sorry process is also designed to play out over Warren’s “long term,” so maybe we won’t notice so much.

    1. John k

      Remember, those polling for warren are seniors with Medicare. M4a is not so important to them. Long term goal might be about right for that group,

      1. sleepy

        Medicare plus private supplemental insurance costs me c. $350/mo plus another $350 for my wife. A total of $700 per month, plus about $100 apiece for out of pocket drug costs.

        $900 a month. It’s by far our largest expense.

        Medicare is a far cry from M4A.

  14. grayslady

    I saw the Useful Idiots interview with Shahid Buttar this afternoon. He’s witty, gracious, articulate, committed, authentic. Very impressive. His personal appearance was off-putting at first, but once you listen to him, you realize that this is someone who cares more about essentials than trivialities, and his personal appearance preferences are immaterial to the magnificent mind underneath.

    1. Jeff W

      Shahid Buttar is, in a word, brilliant.

      I recall listening to Buttar years back when he was Bill of Rights Defense Committee Executive Director. (Here’s one such podcast.) He nails the issues in a dazzlingly articulate way—virtually every word he says is worth listening to.

      This Useful Idiots podcast is no exception. The substance of the interview begins here, with the fairly arcane felony murder rule, which Buttar addresses in his characteristically perspicacious and fascinating way, but moves onto the current political landscape fairly quickly.

      1. CoryP

        He’s an incredible speaker. I was impressed by how every word he says seems perfectly chosen yet his delivery comes across as non-pretentious, non-arrogant/“elitist”. To my ears at least.

        [in real life I often use slightly complex sentence structures.. I’m pretty sure I just sound like a douche]

        I love this show too.

  15. Janie

    Re: English country gardens. The book “Earthly Joys” by Phillipa Gregory, about John Tradescant, is a favorite in our household.

  16. roadrider

    Re: optimism study

    Someday someone will have explain to me the difference between “optimism” and wishful thinking. I’ll stick to my curmudgeonly realism if they don’t mind. Us crusty old bastards will outlive everyone.

    1. False Solace

      The Rick and Morty argument says that optimistic people are dumb and only manage to survive because smarter pessimists are around to save their bacon. But if the pessimists have to endure the emotional burden of their own negativity in addition to dying sooner — who’s actually smarter?

      Finally, correlation causation etc. Maybe some pessimists get that way because their health gives them a worse outlook on the world.

      1. roadrider

        “Pessimism” and “negativity” are far too often the slur that fools who buy into the “optimism” scam love to hurl at those who prefer to deal with reality. This “emotional burden of their own negativity” you speak of is something I’m not familiar with and I think exists largely in the minds of those who refuse to take off their rose-colored glasses. “Optimism” is not necessarily the same thing as believing that things can be better. Too often its used as an excuse to overlook a dangerous or unwise course of action by those who will benefit from it. See under Titanic, Challenger, Columbia, 737-MAX and countless other engineering disasters that were the product of “optimistic” thinking. Optimists may live longer but maybe that’s because their blunders kill off enough people to skew the outcomes.

        1. RubyDog

          In my past as a practicing family doc who made nursing home rounds, it was commonly accepted wisdom among the staff that the crankiest and most “ornery” oldsters lived the longest.
          Where is the study about “orneriness”? That’s what I’d like to know.

          1. Wukchumni

            My mom and 4 or 5 others out of 50 residents are the token liberals @ her assisted living place in a LA locale that always votes for the Donkey Show in elections.

            That’s quite something… 90% of the 90 year olds voted for Trump

            I wonder how the politics is @ other nonagenarian hangouts?

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Did not read, but set me off to similar maunderings. I’m annoyingly optimistic by reflex, but I always assume 50/50 is weighted 40/60 against my wishes because Murphy.

  17. dearieme

    it has been neglected by economists, historians and government. An activity that takes up more of our time than any other leisure activity except for watching television or using a computer—far more time than any sport—is treated as a frippery

    The writer must be brain-damaged. I don’t want the bloody government interfering in our garden. And I don’t want economists telling fairy-stories about it. Since historians almost all have a déformation professionnelle in favour of centralised state direction of everything they can bugger off too.

    1. Oregoncharles

      There are garden historians; and endless books about it, some very academic. I don’t really believe it’s a neglected subject.

  18. ewmayer

    “Democrats sharpen impeachment case, decrying ‘bribery’ as another potential witness emerges linking Trump to Ukraine scanda” [WaPo] — Ah, so now they’re fishing for the best kneejerk-outrage-word to use … well, why stop with a milquetoasty word like ‘bribery’ when you could use, say ‘genocide’ or ‘mass murder’ or ‘what Trump did is tantamount to ripping millions of helpless tiny premature babies from their incubators, ripping their heads off and drinking their blood’? Oh, wait – those first 2 are the kinds of crimes the establishment would never impeach a president for, because they’re good for business in and around DC, and the incubator bit, an updated version of the tried and true “the villainous Huns spitting babies on their bayonets” WW1 meme, served as a highly MSM-effective bit of pro-war propaganda in the runup to Gulf War 1. Got it. Love the newfound outrage over the concept of foreign aid as a form of bribery, though.

        1. anon in so cal

          Unbelievable. Hard to know where this is headed. Putin and Lavrov are the only agents working to prevent WW3.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Are there Russian warships in the Gulf of Mexico, or even the Caribbean? International waters, both.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          Rather like Nelson turning a blind eye, no?

          Nevertheless, what a crapfest. The officers should be court-martialed, because apparently we don’t have civilian control over the military. Taking a war away from these bozos is like trying to to take a bone away from a vicious dog — a dog that despite its viciousness, isn’t good at guarding the house, and bites children and the post-person.

          “What do we learn, Palmer?”

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      foreign aid as a form of bribery

      I have made myself a promise to come back to this tomorrow. Because right now my reaction is that the Deep State is saying the quiet parts out loud.

    1. ptb

      yes nice interview! Long at 2.5 hours but DR breaks it down very well.

      currently 35 mins into it, they’re digressing about being barefoot vs wearing shoes after a pretty intense 15 minutes about whether or not people on MSNBC actually believe what they’re saying … seriously tho, recommended!

    2. Procopius

      Thanks for the link. I often don’t like Jimmy Dore, but Dylan Rattigan kept him engaged so he didn’t laugh at his own jokes. Just trying to figure out what category to store the bookmark under.

  19. voteforno6

    Re: Deval Patrick

    Wow, is the fastest that somebody has tanked their candidacy? Of course, that assumes that he was viable to begin with. If Buttigieg goes down, too, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hillary jump in, because the most important thing is for Trump to be defeated.

    The reactions to that would be entertaining, to say the least.

  20. Pookah Harvey

    In the Reuters/Ipsos poll they split the sample. Half with Bloomberg and half without Bloomberg.

    Without Bloomberg
    Biden: 23%
    Sanders: 18%
    Warren: 11%
    Butthead: 6%

    With Bloomberg
    Biden: 19%
    Sanders: 19%
    Warren: 13%
    Butthead: 6%
    Bloomberg: 3%

    Reuters reported:
    “The result puts the billionaire media mogul well behind Biden and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (19% each), U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (13%) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana (6%).”

    The funny part is the headline, not that Bernie had tied Biden but:
    “Reuters/Ipsos poll: 3% support Bloomberg for Democratic nomination”

  21. The Rev Kev

    “The Inflation Gap”
    ‘Rich families get competitive prices on organic groceries and athleisure and better-and-better electronics; poor families end up paying more for worse-quality alternatives.’

    Should read

    ‘Rich families get competitive prices on organic groceries and athleisure and better-and-better electronics; poor families end up subsidizing them by paying more for worse-quality alternatives.’

    There, fixed it for ya.

  22. Lee


    Bernie and his working-class movement are surging, and in response, a billionaire and a Bain Capital executive frantically announce their candidacies.

    This is not a coincidence. This is the corporate class utterly freaking out and terrified.

    If Warren and Sanders can be seen to occupy the same wing of the Democratic party, and viewed from a certain angle with the lighting just right, they may be perceived as such, then the simple arithmetic of adding their poll numbers together, is a doubly good cause for a corporate class freak out.

    1. inode_buddha

      Sanders has just explicitly said that AOC will occupy a very important position n the White House if he is elected. The corporate class should be freaking out. They’ve earned it over the last 50 years, it’s time for some karma around here.

      1. richard

        Well, she isn’t eligible for veep. Are there age restrictions for cabinet positions? Secretary of Labor, though maybe that is too on the nose. Commerce? Where is the department where you get to smack around usurers?

    2. dcrane

      Fwiw, I fear that Warren’s number will contain a significant fraction of #Neverberners angry at Sanders’ disloyalty to Clinton last time around.

  23. richard

    “He is far more energetic now than he was in the summer.”
    that is so good to hear
    he keeps to a crushing schedule

  24. Stillfeelinthebern

    Useful Idiots is THE best political/policy podcast out there. I can’t wait for it to come out.

    Their interview with Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova painted an interesting picture of Putin and life in Russia. Matt Taibbi could ask really good questions since he once lived there.

    The interview with John Kiriakou, again, filled with good information that brings you closer to understanding how things transpire from the actual experience of an individual. Kiriakou’s telling of how Rachel Maddow labeled him is so petty (on her part) and confirms how MSNBC has it’s specific point of view to push. Gwad, this is the man who exposed the Bush torture regime. And he told how he lost his government pension and John McCain was trying to get it back for him. Only McCain wanted to help him. This show is complex and deeply interesting.

    1. anon in so cal

      All one need know about Pussy Riot:

      “”The United States is concerned about both the verdict and the disproportionate sentences handed down by a Moscow court in the case against the members of the band Pussy Riot and the negative impact on freedom of expression in Russia,” read a statement by spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.”



  25. Tommy S.

    Yes, that harpers article is very good, and filled with nuance too….as in he recognizes there are still tons of affordable place in both sf and east bay, but a fraction of what is needed, and yes, often locked in by certain working class cliques. I tried to not be part of this, having a great flat for 25 years in the MIssion, and even did CL, with no weird shit….and would get 100 responses in just 24 hours. UGH. Imagine if we had a real democratic party in the 90’s, that saw the true value of funding and building real dense housing back then, and what a great diverse mix of neighborhoods we could have now from here to LA to Brooklyn etc…but as NC smarties know…. clinton cut urban funding even more than reagan……and Jerry Brown and Obama? damn them…….

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