2:00PM Water Cooler 11/20/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, more in a bit. I got a late start, and then got wrapped around the axle on the latest impeachment stuff. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Hat tip to alert reader Wukchumni for the capsule summary of pilot episode for the new FOX TV Series OK, Boomer, and to other readers for subsequent ingenious down-thread elaborations. That was fun! I think we only got as far as Episode 2, however. Those inspired, see thread… –lambert


“Asian Trade Bellwethers Just Reminded Us the Worst Isn’t Over” [Bloomberg]. “If the world economy is stabilizing as some analysts suggest and many investors are betting, a couple of Asia’s biggest exporters didn’t get the memo. Shipments of goods from Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, suffered their largest drop in three years in October, hurt not just by the U.S.-China trade war but also by extreme weather at home. Japan’s exports to South Korea slumped 23% amid a lingering dispute that’s soured trade relations between the two. Another of East Asia’s manufacturing powerhouses, Taiwan, also showed ongoing weakness in overseas demand.”


“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 11/20/2019, 12:00 PM EST. YouGov has Biden back in the lead, with Warren ten points back, and Sanders and Buttigieg third tier:

Here, the latest national results:

In New Hampshire, St. Anselm’s has Buttigieg taking an enormous lead, as 11/20/2019, 12:00 PM EST:

Here are the New Hampshire results:

Note the sample size.

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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Buttigieg (D)(1): “”Literally Zero Support Among Black People in South Carolina”: The Giant Problem With Mayor Pete’s Momentum” [Vanity Fair]. “Buttigieg is unlikely to go from zero to a meaningful percentage of black South Carolina voters. It might also help explain the leak, in late October, of a 21-page internal campaign memo about focus groups conducted with black Democrats in South Carolina. The report found that Buttigieg ‘being gay was a barrier for these voters.’ His campaign says it didn’t leak the memo. But having it become public could make it easier to effectively take a pass on South Carolina: See, he never really had a chance. It would be an enormous gamble, with the potential for Buttigieg to alienate voters of color elsewhere. But this is already a very weird campaign year.” • The author also writes: “There is also a (Bill) Clintonian dexterity to Buttigieg that is both impressive and unsettling.” Leaking that study would have a Clintonite flavor, or rather odor.

Buttigieg (D)(2): “The Generous Gospel of Mayor Pete” [Rolling Stone]. “”The Republican Party likes to cloak itself in the language of religion,” Buttigieg announced during the second primary debate back in July. ‘But we should call out hypocrisy when we see it. And for a party that associates itself with Christianity to say that it is OK to suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages, [that party] has lost all claim to ever use religious language again.’ That pronouncement, and others like it, has gone a long way toward making Buttigieg a front-runner, despite being the only member of the field’s top tier who lacked national name recognition at the start of the race.” • If your diabetic, remember to take your shots with this one.

UPDATE Buttgieg (D)(3): “THE DOUGLASS PLAN” [Pete for America]. • This is the one with stock photos of Kenyans on the cover — “The campaign said use a black person!” — but has anybody actually read it? This part is interesting:

We will designate and fund Health Equity Zones to address communities’ most pressing health disparities, especially in communities with histories of redlining and economic and social marginalization. These Health Equity Zones will support the identification, development, implementation, and monitoring of plans tailored to address local health inequities. Building from early models like Accountable Communities for Health 8, these Health Equity Zones will create multi-sector coalitions focused on health equity and closing health disparities, and reflect the fundamental economic, social, and political determinants of health in a community. Continuing funding to a Health Equity Zone will be conditional on the presence of concrete, executable plans to address high-priority health disparities in the local community, with a specific emphasis on racial and demographic health disparities.

So Health Equity Zones are a Jobs Guarantee for McKinsey consultants? Or Amelia Warren Tyagi’s body shop?

UPDATE Buttigieg (D)(4): “Pete Buttigieg Was An Effective Mayor — With A Gaping Blind Spot” [HuffPo]. “Buttigieg has become the most prominent example of a management style that has taken over American cities. From Baltimore to Kansas City to Los Angeles, urban policymakers have become increasingly enamored with ‘data-driven’ policies and increasingly reliant on quantitative approaches to social problems. But these methods are not as impartial as their proponents suggest. Throughout his tenure as mayor, Buttigieg’s fixation on measurable goals at times led him to overlook weaknesses in his policies and concerns among his constituents. His initiatives may have achieved their targets, but they also ended up harming his city’s most vulnerable residents. “He’s obviously a person of privilege and highly educated and from a well-off background,’ said John Shafer, the director of Michiana Five for the Homeless, a South Bend-based charity. ‘It’s hard for someone in that position to relate to people in poverty. That may be his biggest weakness.'” • That’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

UPDATE Buttigieg (D)(5): “Pete Buttigieg, Barack Obama, and the psychology of liberalism” [Vox]. “But a lot of liberals, temperamentally and psychologically, don’t want a fight. They don’t want politics to be an endless war; they believe that mutual understanding is possible, that the country will respond to someone willing to believe and call forth the best of it. That’s not just their view of politics; it’s their view of life…. Obama appealed to them because he represented them, because he was one of them, and if they could, they would put him back in office a third time. There are a lot of these Democrats, but there’s not, at the moment, a lot of competition for them.” • It was a con then, and it’s a con now (though IIRC, the 10% made it through the Crash and recession with nary a scratch, so it’s all good).

Chafee (D)(1): “Lincoln Chafee is doing things that presidential candidates do” [Boston Globe]. • No.

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders Banned From All Future Debates After Surpassing Maximum Donor Threshold” [CNM]. • Note the source.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2):

Interestingly, there’s a McKinsey angle to Major League Baseball’s plan to gut the minor leagues (as well as to the recent Astros cheating scandal, as readers know).

UPDATE Warren (D)(1):

The dates check out. Odd decision by the Warren campaign. What’s California, chopped liver?

UPDATE Warren (D)(2): “Elizabeth Warren’s pivot on ‘Medicare for all’ shows the tricky politics of healthcare” [Los Angeles Times]. “She’s still in favor of Sanders’ plan. But she acknowledged that it would take a while to get through Congress. That’s if she can pass it at all — although she doesn’t say that part out loud. So Warren proposed fast-track legislation in the interim to make traditional Medicare available to everyone over 50 and create a Biden-style public option plan available through Obamacare. She calls this the “Medicare for all option,” which sounds a lot like Buttigieg. Meanwhile, she promises, she’ll try to pass a full Sanders-style bill later, probably in the second half of her first term. By then, she said, ‘the American people will have experienced the full benefits of a true Medicare for all option,’ and public support will be stronger. Never mind that most new presidents have more sway in their first two years in office, rarely years three and four.” • As I wrote, and was early to write. (I’d also like to strangle whichever former Clinton staffer coined “a true Medicare for all option.” So many lines packed in so few words! (Articles like this assume, bizarrely, that public opinion is a given. Maybe, just maybe, if liberal Democrats hadn’t been fighting tooth and nail against #MedicareForAll for decades, the polling would be even better than it is?

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UPDATE “There’s Only One Way the Patrick and Bloomberg Campaigns Make Sense” [The New Republic]. “‘Clinton World’ detests Bernie Sanders, is largely on board with Kamala Harris, but has no real problem with Elizabeth Warren, and would greet her nomination without much rancor. ‘Obama World,’ on the other hand, doesn’t share this perspective. They don’t take Sanders seriously, and think of him—even with some affection—as a harmless crank. They, however, strongly dislike Warren. … I am not the first person to suggest this, but Patrick seems to have jumped into the race with a clear purpose in mind: hurt Warren’s chances in New England. (For those who doubt Obama allies would operate like this, please remember who runs the DNC, and why.)… Finally, let us consider Michael Bloomberg, whose campaign makes even less sense… Bloomberg also very much wants to be president, and has only declined to run in the past because he was smart enough to know he couldn’t win as an independent and probably couldn’t win either party’s nomination the traditional way. How could Bloomberg win, then? If he was handed the nomination at a brokered convention. But this is the only way these two late entrants make any sense. The Patrick and Bloomberg campaigns are not mere long-shots, or attempts to harm Sanders or Warren on behalf of the moderates. They are calculated bets on a brokered convention. These are well-connected people at the highest levels of Democratic Party politics (despite his independent status, Bloomberg has always surrounded himself with Democratic campaign veterans and aides), making it clear that they believe there is a real chance that the nomination will be completely up for grabs next July. The fact that these two men and their allies believe this does not make a contested convention inevitable, or even more likely than it was a month ago. All the insiders involved with these latter-day candidacies believe themselves to be much more electorally savvy than they actually are.” • That’s a really fun post. Very plausible!


“Trump Impeachment Hearings” [Reuters]. • This live blog from Reuters is the source I would recommend. (Twitter is full of liberal Democrat trimphalists screaming “This time we’ve got him!” because of Sondland’s testimony (opening statement here). Which could be true, but we’ve heard that before.

“‘We followed the president’s orders’: EU ambassador says he had to work with Giuliani” [McClatchy]. “‘We followed the president’s orders,’ Amb. Gordon Sondland said during his opening statement during the impeachment hearing Wednesday. ‘We worked with Mr. Giuliani because the President directed us to do so. We had no desire to set any conditions on the Ukrainians. Indeed, my personal view — which I shared repeatedly with others — was that the White House meeting and security assistance should have proceeded without pre-conditions of any kind,’ he told the U.S. House Intelligence Committee…. ‘Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing investigations of the 2016 election/DNC server and Burisma,’ he said.” • Makes me wonder if Trump’s inability to protect Roger Stone had anything to do with Sondland throwing — as it seems, I haven’t seen a response from “the other side” — Giuliani, Pence, and Trump under the bus. I suppose another way of looking at this is the question of plausible deniability. If that was Trump’s goal, did he achieve it?

“Pence aide denies ‘alleged discussion’ between VP and Sondland on Ukraine aid” [Politico]. “‘I mentioned to Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in [U.S. military aid to Ukraine] had become tied to the issue of investigations,’ Sondland said. ‘I recall mentioning that before the Zelensky meeting.’ Asked by Democrats how the vice president responded, however, Sondland recalled only that Pence acknowledged his words.” • Tin-foil hat time: Pelosi is third in the line of succession after Trump and Pence.

“FBI seeks interview with CIA whistleblower” [Yahoo News]. “The FBI recently sought to question the CIA whistleblower who filed a complaint over President Trump’s July 25 Ukraine call — a move that came after a vigorous internal debate within the bureau over how to respond to some of the issues raised by the complaint’s allegations and whether they needed to be more thoroughly investigated, according to sources familiar with the matter….But no interview has yet to be scheduled. It is unclear what the intended scope of the interview would be or whether the whistleblower’s lawyers will agree to it.” • Hmm.

UPDATE “Some Georgia voters voice doubts over impeachment hearings: ‘This is just useless politics'” [CNN]. • Whenever you see the words “the conversation,” you know the quote isn’t organic. I’ve never heard anybody use “the conversation” in real life the way Democrat operatives use it. So it’s remarkable, in this article, that opinion is as divided as it is.

Health Care

“Majority of likely Democratic caucusgoers shy away from ‘Medicare for All'” [Des Moines Register]. “The poll finds 36% of likely caucusgoers support a Medicare for All plan that would eliminate private health insurance and cover everyone through a government-run health system similar to Medicare. Close to the same share, 34%, back creation of a public option, a health insurance program run by the government that people can choose to buy into. Another 20% say they want to restore provisions lost from the Affordable Care Act and work incrementally from there.” • As Stoller cogently points out below, the Democrats, under Obama, already betrayed voters on health care once. It’s a pretty neat trick for a party that created enormous mistrust in voters to point to that mistrust — indeed, to amplify it — to avoid addressing the problem.


Good karma, a mitzvah, whatever: This from Ilhan Omar is remarkable:

In the glare of publicity that surrounds AOC, we sometimes forget that Omar is extremely talented as well.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Stoller on the destruction Obama wrought (but listen to the whole thing):

Tiny transcript:

[STOLLER:] I mean the left loved Obama and at the time I was like this guy’s kind of a con artist. He’s lying, and it was obvious we was lying from 2005 onward.

Stoller at NC, 2012: “The Source of Barack Obama’s Power to Trick Us Comes from Our Willingness to Be Tricked.”

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of November 15, 2019: “Despite a rise in the November 15 week, yearly growth in the purchase index, reflecting a tough comparison with the year-ago week, fell nearly in half” [Econoday].

Commodities: “Low energy costs may have staying power. Fresh worries about excess oil supply are dragging down crude prices… with benchmark prices now well below their April peaks and analysts anticipating that global oil supply will exceed demand next year” [Wall Street Journal]. “U.S. domestic supply recently hit a record, while futures traders are betting that a slowing global economy and new projects in Brazil and Norway will add crude to the global market in 2020. The falling prices are bringing relief to energy users buffeted by past price volatility.”

Retail: “Home Depot Inc.’s digital integration effort is moving like a lot of home improvement projects—it’s taking longer than hoped. The retailer saw disappointing sales quarterly numbers… and blamed the results in part on e-commerce investments that are taking longer than anticipated to pay off” [Wall Street Journal]. “The results were part of a mixed series of reports from big retailers that included weak demand from department store chain Kohl’s Corp. and strong sales at discounter TJX Cos.” • Hmm. Sounds like a slowdown.

Shipping: “The strike at Canadian National Railway Co. can’t come at a worse time for the country’s agriculture industry. More than 3,000 members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference began picketing the company’s major Canadian terminals… even as talks between the union and the freight railroad continued” [Wall Street Journal]. “Canadian National transports much of the country’s crude-oil and natural-gas, forest, mining and agricultural products to foreign buyers, but the railroad has been hurt by dimming manufacturing and retail business because of trade tensions. A prolonged strike would hit the farm sector hard, with harvests coming in late this year.” • Strikes should always happen when they don’t cause any pain!

Tech: “Amazon will do whatever it can to pull you into Alexa’s ecosystem” [The Verge]. “Sidewalk is a proposed spec on the 900MHz band for locating and communicating with Internet of Things (or smart home) devices at a middle distance — as much as a half-mile. It would be ultra low-power, cheaper than paying for 5G data, and multiple access points would work in concert to provide data and even locate objects. So far, so good — but inside this relatively humdrum paragraph you just read is a data security and privacy nightmare just waiting to happen if Amazon isn’t careful… n other words, just by installing the cheap and easy smart home stuff Amazon sells, an entire city can unknowingly create a wireless network where anything — like your very good dog or maybe yourself — can be located…. Just step back and think about how brazen Sidewalk really is: an Amazon-owned and operated network that could eventually blanket cities simply through customers’ natural purchases of its products. Amazon simply isn’t worried about blowback.”

Honey for the Bears: “‘Reflationary Boom Incapable Of Helping U.S. Bond Market Recovery,’ Announces Finance Article That Actually About Your Entire Savings Being Wiped Out” [The Onion]. “‘The shaky and as-yet incomplete recovery of the U.S. bond market has already plagued the industry with doubts over ready capital and cash positioning,’ the article read in part, implying obscurely but with confidence that your entire life’s savings will soon be liquidated and that you and your family will be homeless in a matter of weeks.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 74 Extreme Greed (previous close: 80, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 87 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 19 at 12:52pm. Seems to be drifting toward neutral. Now the needle is swinging toward neutral. I wonder if its impeachment?

The Biosphere

“North America’s economy is the most resilient against climate change” [CNN]. “By 2050, climate change will shrink the US economy by 1.1%, according to a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit. The same holds true for North America’s economy as a whole, according to the report. Natural catastrophes, such as wildfires and droughts, for example, will continue to be a drag on the economy with worsening climate conditions. Still, the United States is comparably well off. Western Europe’s GDP growth stands to drop 1.7% over the next 30 years, putting it in second place behind North America. Global GDP growth will be 3% lower by 2050 thanks to the impact of climate change, and that means the developing world will bear the brunt of the bad news.” • Hmm. Sounds Nordhaus-inflected.

“Keystone pipeline spill affecting nearly 10 times more land than first thought: report” [The Hill]. • Nobody could have predicted…

“After cutting 4,000 jobs, GM is hiring. But not for traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.” [Detroit Free Press]. “Over the next decade each engine or transmission plant that gets replaced by an electric motor or battery plant may see up to a 75% reduction from today’s manufacturing jobs or morph into new blue-collar jobs requiring different skills as electric vehicle production increases, said [Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at Navigant Research in metro Detroit. ‘These electric vehicles will have simple, single-speed reduction gears. It’s a simple one-speed transmission rather than a 10-speed,’ said Abuelsamid. ‘The engine assembly is a fairly complex process today. But for batteries and electric motors, the assembly process is highly automated. So you’ll have a lot fewer people involved in the engine and powertrains.’ That partly accounts for GM’s idling two transmission plants, said Abuelsamid.” • Makes you wonder if labor force reduction is the driver, here.

“The Periodic Table of the Elements, in Pictures and Words” [elements.wlonk.com (DJG)]. • DJG: “Shows how we meet each element in daily life. Handy.”


“Financial crime through video games is on the rise” [The Economist]. “On October 28th Valve announced it was stopping the trading between players of ‘container keys’—an in-game gambling device that players can buy (with real money) to try to win (virtual) rewards such as special weapons or clothing. The firm says ‘nearly all’ of the trades of such keys were ‘believed to be fraud-sourced.’ It is a rare admission of the growing problem of using video games to facilitate financial crime.” • Hmm. More here.

“Half-Life: Alyx: What we know about Valve’s upcoming full-length VR game” [Ars Technica]. “For those who have lost track of the series’ timeline, the original 1998 game saw the Black Mesa research institute loose an alien race (the Combine) onto our planet. The sequel picked up an uncertain number of years later, with a network of researchers and resistance fighters working to take out the Combine’s invasion and domination of Earth, in spite of a human-fronted organization that capitulated to the Combine’s control…. Both of those games starred Gordon Freeman as a silent protagonist. This new VR game mixes things up by putting you in Alyx’s shoes, years before the events of HL2 and before Freeman’s return to the series’ universe…. Half-Life 2 was arguably the gaming world’s first major ‘physics adventure,’ since it revolved around a clever Gravity Gun system that let you pull and toss all manner of items big and small. We’ve gotten some indication that Half-Life: Alyx follows suit.” • I need to do a hat tip, but can’t find the comment. Alert reader, raise your hand!

“Acer’s Thronos is an envoy from a hellish future where gaming chairs have enslaved humanity” [Rock Paper Shutgun]. “At £25,000 / $30,000, [this hulking all-in-one gaming-chair-come-war-machine is] more expensive than a fairly good car, and requires a palatial space to handle its 324kg weight and 8x8x8ft footprint. Imagine it, the size of two steel gorillas, dominating the average home office.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Julia Roberts Was Suggested to Play Harriet Tubman, ‘Harriet’ Screenwriter Says” [Variety]. • Come on, man.

Class Warfare

“The Strange Disappearance of Cooperation in America” [Peter Turchin, Cliodynamics]. • From 2013, still germane. Chart on associations (proxy for social capital):

This might have bearing on the NC post “Why Aren’t Americans Rising Up Like the People of Chile and Lebanon?” of a few days ago.

“Outdated poverty data funneled millions to wealthy D.C. neighborhoods, Post analysis shows” [WaPo]. ” federal program that funneled millions of dollars into the District’s richest neighborhoods at the expense of poorer areas it was created to help used unadjusted and outdated data for years that failed to capture the city’s rapid economic growth. The Washington Post reported in April that hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts were awarded to District businesses enrolled in the Historically Underutilized Business Zones program from 2000 to 2018. Almost 70 percent of the money went to a dozen businesses, mostly in areas such as Dupont Circle, Navy Yard and downtown Washington. What had been unclear was how neighborhoods with higher levels of wealth and private investment fell into the program, while more economically distressed communities received only a sliver of the benefits.” • It’s almost like Our Nation’s Capitol is being run by thieves. In suits.

“‘Parasite’ and the rise of Revolutionary Gothic” [The Outline]. “In the middle of Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, a poor family succeeds in taking over the home of a rich family. [Spoilers follow] It’s only for a night or two, but it’s the victory the audience has waited for ever since we met the desperate yet wily Kims, and watched them infiltrate the household of the decadent and oblivious Parks. All four Kims have been hired in various domestic roles, through subterfuge that obscures the fact that they’re a mother, father, daughter, and son unit intent on defrauding their employers. Now, the Parks have gone camping, and the Kims lay claim to the brightly-lit, hyper-modern house that strikes such a dramatic contrast to the dingy basement apartment where they normally dwell. As the Kims luxuriate and drink themselves silly, the night grows dark and stormy….”

News of the Wired

Maybe a bot could finish the damn 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 (pq):

pq writes: “Joe Pye weed, must-have for pollinator gardens.
2. Lots of swallow tails. They were all over the Joe Pye weed at the entrance to the public park in my village in Upstate New York.”

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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. B1whois

        sorry, The Independent Media project is the one in Hawaii, the podcast on Google is interviewing those people.

  1. B1whois

    Here’s another great podcast associated with Richard Wolff’s Democracy at Work. The podcast is called All Things Co-op and it’s relatively new. This is is the best episode yet, with a new co-op in DC that focuses on workers from the formerly incarcerated population. I love the guy they’re interviewing, he has a great voice and is pretty funny but also really comes from the heart about the importance of solidarity among workers. He says it’s pretty easy to get people to join, because the formerly incarcerated have such a hard time finding jobs, which makes perfect sense. What a great application of a great idea!
    “Cinar and Juan Ried of the Tightshift Labor Cooperative in Washington D.C. talk about the challenges of cooperative enterprises generally, and the added challenges of creating a labor cooperative specifically designed for citizens returning from time incarcerated. Juan gives background on his story and why the cooperative model is the right one for re-integrating folks back into the community and doing real development of communities that have been historically and presently marginalized and criminalized.”

    1. Danny

      I hope he didn’t talk about the Mondragon Cooperative in Spain.
      That mummified horse has been beaten into dust long ago.

  2. Grant

    The polling is all over the place, and often utterly depressing if you think it reflects the reality on the ground. Maybe that is the point, as it is clear at least some of these polls and many of the organizations and people conducting them do want to manufacture consent. But, with the types that watch CNN and MSNBC, they are able to manufacture consent. Who turns up to vote obviously will determine this thing, but who also votes will matter, and I don’t trust those counting, nor do I trust the judgement of many that traditionally vote in Democratic Party primaries.

    1. randomworker

      You play the game with the rules that are in place at the time. Isn’t that what 2016 taught us?

      1. nippersmom

        Except the DNC changes the rules in the middle of the game. Or just ignores them, as it deems most expedient.

        1. JTMcPhee

          DNC “rules” = CalvinBall — https://calvinandhobbes.fandom.com/wiki/Calvinball

          Seriously, why even spend thought on a process that is so entirely bought and paid for? Complaining that the neoliberalist don’t play fair, analyzing the elements of unfairness, where does that get the mopery?

          The real power and “policy” machinery stand out of sight and pretty much out of control and free from consequences.

      2. Grant


        “The Iowa Poll, conducted Nov. 8-13, 2019, for The Des Moines Register, CNN and Mediacom by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, is based on telephone interviews with 500 registered voters in Iowa who say they will definitely or probably attend the 2020 Democratic caucuses and 502 registered Republicans who are not planning to participate in the Democratic caucuses.”

        So, CNN did a poll, and over half of those polled are “registered Republicans who are not planning to participate in Democratic caucuses”. Come on, that is just blatant propaganda and yet I am guessing that, per usual, CNN will not mention this fact. What would a poll be of a Republican primary if over half of those polled were DSA members that didn’t plan to take part in the Republican Party’s primary? The Onion should be really angry, cause this stuff makes what they do much more difficult.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Be nice if Bernie put a couple million aside for strategic independent primary exit polling in the primaries likeliest to be ratf***ed by the DNC. If he made an explicit pitch for that, I’d probably bite.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            The question is, would you let the DNC know in advance that you would be exit polling or try to catch them red-handed doing their election fraud? Because I have no doubt that if Bernie looks like he’s close to winning, they will do anything they think that can get away with to cheat him of the nomination including large-scale electoral fraud. Even the DNC-captive mainstream press would have to report primary rigging if it were sloppily or detectably done.

  3. WheresOurTeddy

    Re: Stoller on Obama

    He’s right. The left (actual left, not corporate centrists who wear a D badge but as Ian Welsh notes, those who fall under ‘most Democrats are bad people who want Reaganism with a side of “but we don’t really mean it”’ @ https://www.ianwelsh.net/hope-is-bullshit/) does not hate Obama enough. The left should absolutely HATE him for the sellout he is and was and always planned to be. He ran as FDR 2.0 and we got Bill Clinton 2.0 with more death.

    The squandering of the D majority in 2009 is one of the greatest betrayals in memory.

    1. Monty

      ‘most Democrats are bad people who want Reaganism with a side of “but we don’t really mean it”’

      I think this is right, if you think selfishness is bad.

      I think it is tied in to the 401k and property markets. Stick with the “me first gang” and your assets will be pumped. Go with a revolutionary like Sanders and watch those assets plummet until you rectify “your mistake”.

      One day the tipping point will come. There wont be enough people with something to lose left, and the whole shebang will come tumbling down in a flash.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      There’s a We Don’t Get Fooled Again moment somewhere on the horizon, maybe after the somnambulist shuffle into a Biden nomination and then either 4 years of handwringing over having a president with late-stage dementia (what does The Constitution say about euthanizing a sitting president diagnosed as brain dead?) or else Trump Part Two on steroids, so 2024ísh. They can run the animatronic Hilary then, just program in the vitriol, denial, voter hate and shaming, she/it can go on The View and Bezos and Zuckerberg can program in the question answers in realtime in between the corporate ad segments. Ad #1 can show a slow motion video of just how fabulous Raytheon bombs are at incinerating Yemeni children and grandmothers, Ad #2 can show a graph of the profits of the nation’s sole remaining supplier of insulin, maybe alongside diabetic death rates. Up, up, and away! What a great country. Followed by a gushing segment on the 150,000 sq foot mansion and compound of the pharma CEO, his plasticene wife can gush about how much the puppy blood transfusions have done to perk up their dog Beelzebub. Good times.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        There’s a We Don’t Get Fooled Again moment somewhere on the horizon, maybe after the somnambulist shuffle into a Biden nomination and then either 4 years of handwringing over having a president with late-stage dementia (what does The Constitution say about euthanizing a sitting president diagnosed as brain dead?) or else Trump Part Two on steroids, so 2024ísh.

        Nope, the American people want to be fooled. There is a reason why the Circus lasted so long in this country.. PT Barnum knew that they desired the show and not the substance.

        1. Titus

          No, PT knew most of the people most of Could be fooled most of the time and in that way was money. Lots of money. Don’t have to fool everyone. Nor all the time. Actually, it was A. Lincoln that speculated on that very idea in his diary.

          1. Titus

            No, PT knew most of the people Could be fooled most of the time and in that way, there was money to be made. Lots of money. Don’t have to fool everyone. Nor all the time. Actually, it was A. Lincoln that speculated on that very idea in his diary.

            *edited in English

      2. Prairie Bear

        Those ads on The View can be directed by Roman Polanski. I imagine he will make that one with the Yemeni kids and grandmas getting vaporized especially awesome. And Whoopee can introduce them and pay him special tribute as a swell guy.

        1. ambrit

          I was wondering, pace Polanski, whether he was a devote of Epstein.
          That was an earlier version of the Epstein pander. Powerful people in Hollywood romping with seriously underage girls. (Boys too, in the interests of ‘fairness.’) Look up C B DeMille and his “Paradise Ranch.” It began with the Dawn of Time.

    3. GooGooGaJoob

      I was a bit dumbfounded in how Stoller framed the left in this interview. He seems to be committing the sin of conflating ‘the left’ to include liberals, neo-liberals, centrists etc.. Hard to know what left circles he’s running in but it is a bit rich to state that the left doesn’t care about business, military or finance.

      Despite the insights he does provide, it’s hard for me not to sum him up as a liberal that hates the left more than he does the right.

      1. Carey

        Interesting that Krystal Ball pushed back firmly on those notions and Stoller didn’t
        back up, or clarify those fuzzy conflations at all. Not sure what to make of it.

      2. Oregoncharles

        “the left doesn’t care about business, military or finance” – isn’t that the Social Justice Warrior “left”? (I think it’s important, I just don’t think it’s everything, or able to stand on its own.) That’s a pervasive conflation these days. The “left” seems to have actually bifurcated – a situation that leaves us little chance at power. We need a new version o fthe Yippies, who tried to reconcile the Hippies and the Radicals. Abby, where are you when we need you? (Abby Hoffman, RIP)

        1. Yves Smith

          Have to disagree on finance and businesses. Stoller is correct that the left was nowhere to be found in the foreclosure crisis, when one in every six home with a mortgage was foreclosed upon. Eileen Appelbaum yesterday in her Congressional testimony said that when she brings up finance matters like PE with people in labor, they go into My Eyes Glaze Over mode…even though the ones who are government employees have pensions that are invested in stocks, private equity, real estate, bonds, hedge funds…..

          As Mark Ames said:

          By a quirk of historical bad luck, the American Left has gone two generations without understanding finance, or even caring to understand. It was the hippies who decided half a century ago that finance was beneath them, so they happily ceded the entire field—finance, business, economics, money—otherwise known as “political power”—to the other side. Walking away from the finance struggle was like that hitchhiker handing the gun back to the Manson Family. There’s a great line from Charles Portis’s anti-hippie novel, “Dog of the South” that captures the Boomers’ self-righteous disdain for “figures”:

          He would always say—boast, the way those people do—that he had no head for figures and couldn’t do things with his hands, slyly suggesting the presence of finer qualities.

          That part about the hands—that would refer to the hippies’ other great failure, turning their backs on Labor, because Labor didn’t groove with the Hippies’ Culture War. So the Left finds itself, fifty years later, dealing with the consequences of all those years of ruinous neglect of finance and labor—the consequences being powerlessness and political impotence.

    4. VietnamVet

      I agree with Matt Stoller, at the end, where he said the populist left and the populist right will have to learn to work together to end (neoliberal) financialization. All the money in the world will be spent to make sure that doesn’t happen. However, even If a world war or a global economic collapse due the shutoff of oil from middle east oil is somehow avoided, the 2008 subprime collapse will reoccur, once more, since the underlying private debt is only getting worse. Maybe then, like during the Great Depression, the survivors will will talk again and work together to rebuild a healthy society.

    5. Oregoncharles

      Sorry, it’s who the D’s really are and have been at least since Clinton.

      Some of us remember that it was liberal Democrats that got us into the Vietnam War. The New Left hated them very particularly.

    6. meeps

      > As Stoller cogently points out below, the Democrats, under Obama, already betrayed voters on health care once. It’s a pretty neat trick for a party that created enormous mistrust in voters to point to that mistrust — indeed, to amplify it — to avoid addressing the problem.

      Ironically, the most apprehensive voters aren’t those who felt betrayed on health care; they’re plenty pissed and bent on fixing it. It’s defenders of Obama and the ACA who are the targets of this amplification. Reaching the reasonable among them is work that needs to be undertaken by Sander’s Medicare For All campaign.

      I say this because while I gathered signatures for Colorado Care, the people who were leery about signing the petition first wanted to know who wrote the plan. They wanted reassurance that it wasn’t a Republican ploy to take away what they perceived as gains under the ACA. After I showed that the plan was written by a {x} woman {x} Democrat, and that benefits were equal to or better than the benefits of the ACA *as required by law as established under the ACA* many doubts were assuaged. ACA defenders like these will convert to single payer when they understand the gains.

      Some ACA defenders are less reasonable. I was conversing with one such at a celebratory gathering hosted by a couple of old friends. Their other friends are all professional 10%ers and I was speaking with a woman who works at a trauma center. She loathes Trump, and I remarked that I was confounded by the number of people who voted for him because they thought he’d deliver Medicare For All. She barked at me in exasperation, “They HAVE the ACA!” Also settled at that moment was the end of the conversation between us, lol.

      Sanders has been reluctant to talk about the ACA when he talks about Medicare, but he can expand the base by talking about what the ACA didn’t do that Medicare can do better. Current Medicare recipients, of course, also need to hear what Medicare isn’t doing that improved Medicare can do better. I don’t think Sanders can continue to avoid addressing these problems, either.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I say this because while I gathered signatures for Colorado Care, the people who were leery about signing the petition first wanted to know who wrote the plan. They wanted reassurance that it wasn’t a Republican ploy to take away what they perceived as gains under the ACA. After I showed that the plan was written by a {x} woman {x} Democrat, and that benefits were equal to or better than the benefits of the ACA *as required by law as established under the ACA* many doubts were assuaged. ACA defenders like these will convert to single payer when they understand the gains.

        That’s a very cogent point. ACA was so not designed as a “path” or “stepping stone” to single payer, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t gains, albeit randomly distributed through gatekeepers, that cannot be consolidated.

  4. Carey

    “Whaddaya gonna do about it?” is really notable these days, that Amazon Alexa™ piece
    being a superb example.

  5. Summer

    “Julia Roberts Was Suggested to Play Harriet Tubman, ‘Harriet’ Screenwriter Says” [Variety]. • Come on, man.

    That’s not trying to have good sense. This was 1994? If it would have happened, every black person in America would still be talking about “Remember that time when silly-ass Hollywood…”

    1. bronco

      no it sounds more like a tale from the casting couch , in the pre-Weinstein world. Julia slept with a guy who promised her he would get her a part in something.

      He then put her name up for stuff that he knew she wouldn’t get, as a show of good faith LOL

      Then its back to the couch , just another old school hollywood #HerToo moment

    2. Montanamaven

      When talking about Moliere and what a good writer he was, I was asked by a studio exec:
      “Does he do rewrites?”

  6. toshiro_mifune

    Half-Life: Alyx….. I need to do a hat tip, but can’t find the comment. Alert reader, raise your hand!

    Gosh, I believe that was me #blushes

  7. dcblogger

    There are examples of gay and lesbian candidates winning elections for mayor with the black vote. It just takes an extraordinary candidate for break that barrier, and clearly, Buttigieg is NOT that candidate. To win the presidency the Democratic candidate MUST win 85% of the black vote, that is the absolute minimum, and McKinsey Pete can’t do that.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Not even with the assistance of “electronic voting?” And other such thumbs on the scales of “democracy?”

      And all most of these “candidates who are anything but candid” are vying for is the PARTY NOMINATION, not the Big Kahuna title…

    2. jrs

      But does it matter, is that vote in swing states or is that vote concentrated in a bunch of all or nothing solid states whose votes in the general don’t matter much? Have the Dems EVER (ok let’s say last 40 years) won South Carolina in the general?

    3. Dickeylee

      But what about a McKinsey/Bain ticket? Boot edge edge and Deval! Why that would garner support from every single billionaire out there!

  8. Kurt Sperry

    [Ukrainian MP] Derkach also announced the amount of money transferred to representatives of the Burisma Group, including Hunter Biden. According to documents, in general, in favor of Hunter Biden, Alexander Kwasniewski, Alan Apter and Devon Archer, Burisma paid about $16.5 million.

    According to Derkach, ex-Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin repeatedly appealed to the NABU Director Artem Sytnyk in the framework of criminal proceedings for Burisma, but constantly received formal responses. The activities of Shokin, according to the MP, irritated then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during his fifth visit to Kyiv in two years. The visit on December 7-8, 2015, was devoted to solving the issue of Shokin’s resignation for the affairs of Zlochevsky and Burisma, he said.


    Mistakes were made. Some billions got laundered. The important thing is that we need to look forward rather than looking backward.

  9. Wukchumni

    Fun to watch the Sargent Schultz defense deployed by the teflon Don regarding Sondland. He seems more squirmy than usual as of late-combined with the hospital trip, something wrong. Hope he doesn’t pull a Harding and leave us in suspense.

      1. Danny

        “To Impeach is to Impence!”

        Bet the Democrats would really like Q-Tip’s finger on the nuclear launch button.

        1. JTMcPhee

          We think Trump is bad on policy — imagine Pence with his butt in the chair behind that Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. Or Pelosi for that matter.

  10. Danny

    The Popeye’s chicken sandwich fight in Temecula, between a bunch of white suburbanites, is to me, a telling moment. What could trigger such insane behavior between disparate strangers?
    Then I read Charles Hugh Smith’s article. It makes sense:
    “That economic, social and political conflict is accelerating is self-evident. What’s open to debate are the core drivers of conflict / disorder /unraveling…
    1. The status quo elites can no longer mask soaring costs of essentials nor soaring wealth / income inequality between the top .01% (Oligarchs), the top 9.99% who enrich the Oligarchs with their discretionary spending and technocratic/managerial labor, and the bottom 90% who are rapidly losing ground on all fronts: economic, social and political…”


    The instigator of the fight, the “I’m psycho” guy, probably has little in his life other than ballgames and no economic prospects. His behavior and vocabulary are lifted from the lowest alien ghetto culture, which, at this point, is all that is provided to the unimaginative with the main cable/satellite packages.

  11. Stephen V.

    Wherever at the head of some new undertaking you see the government in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States you will be sure to find an
    association (de Tocqueville, Democracy in America.[1835]
    Thank you Lambert for the Turchin piece.
    I’ve been looking at this history in recent years. Tidbits:
    From the “self-reliance” espoused by Booker T. Washington in the late 1800’s to his partnership with Julius Rosenwald (Pres. of Sears, Roebuck & philanthropist) to Pres. Herbert Hoover (of all people) –there was a shared sense that merely giving people money was harmful. (Sorry Yang & Co.) Today we hear this as “blaming the victim–” which is another story.
    History has tended to excoriate Booker T. for not being a political activist but if you look at Tuskegee’s
    curriculum and graduates (see Paula Newkirk) it becomes clear that the educational achievement outweighed any possible legislative success–if possible during Jim Crow in any event.
    “Herbert Hoover envisioned a society governed by dense networks of associations working
    in partnership with government to advance public welfare by combining the pursuit of
    profit with the higher values of cooperation and public service.” (see Ellis W. Hawley) Some scholars go so far to say that is was Hoover’s cooperative strategy that was “re-branded” as the New Deal and accounts for its success. [The way I think about it is there was a culture of craftsmanship–could also be seen as “local autonomy”– to draw upon for all those beautiful WPA buildings–not just “command and control” by U.ncle S.ugar]
    Obviously I think there’s a lot here that speaks to the present. Maybe Stan Goff’s DSA ideas deserve a mention as well.

  12. petal

    I have to say, though, Bailey was a fun guy to meet. Really nice dog. Was the best part of her town hall by a country mile. Can’t help who his owners are. heh. Her husband was taking care of him while she glad-handed and selfied, and it seemed her husband would’ve rather been anywhere but there at the town hall.

      1. petal

        Amen to that!! If only…
        He’s your typical Golden-happy, playful, glad to meet anybody and everybody. Neat dog.

          1. petal

            This could make a great tv show/thread as well: Dog President! Go! haha I am wasting myself in science.

    1. divadab

      I’d rather walk my dog than attend the California Democrat Convention also. But then I’m not running for President, and I think soon enough neither will she be.

  13. Adam1

    Warren, “‘the American people will have experienced the full benefits of a true Medicare for all option,’ and public support will be stronger.”

    More proof she’s nothing more than another lying Democratic machine politician. 70% of the public supports M4A. She knows this but “needs” time to grow support? Liar Liar your pants are on fire!

    1. Hepativore

      After Warren’s latest backpedal on Medicare-For-All, I really do not know whom she is trying to appeal to at this point. I mean, the center-right Democrats do not like her previous attacks on Wall Street, and she has just burned bridges with the progressive left. In trying to have it both ways, she has offended either side.

      I thought better of Warren in years past, but now I know she is just another bait-and-switch Democrat in the same mold as Obama and the Clintonites.

      Warren cannot be trusted.

      1. nippersmom

        One stance Warren has held consistently is that of war hawk. That immediately disqualified her for me.

      2. petal

        You are spot on in your characterisation. It was obvious to me the dog was/is just another prop to make her seem likable and real/like you and me instead of out of touch and fake. It didn’t work. Everything is an act-right down to the poor dog. I don’t understand how people don’t see through it. Or maybe they don’t want to.

      3. Dalepues

        I know nothing about psychology, but I would describe Sen Warren as someone who has no real identity. She is a shell of a person, and can be filled with whatever identity that is convenient at the moment. At various times in her life being an American Indian served a purpose.

  14. Carey

    >We will designate and fund Health Equity Zones..

    Dog, *just the language* of this tripe tells all you need to know.
    Bubba fed us this kind of stuff, too; how’d that go?

  15. Wukchumni

    OK Boomer

    Episode 3:

    Sooner Boomer’s got Mutual of Tijuana for a dental plan, follow him en route south of the border on root canal 66 to Molar City, where the prices won’t drive you to the poorhouse. While there he’s sorely tempted to buy some prescription Rx at a drugstore for a fraction of the price charged here, but is worried about bringing it back over the border.

    1. Monty

      Episode 4:
      Sooner Boomer lives to regret the thrifty decision to buy generic cat food for dinner at Walmart. The Medicare+ copay on the life saving iv re-hydration, wipes out all 65 years of their expired food savings at a stroke.

    2. Danny

      OK Boomer

      Episode 5:

      Sooner Boomer’s wife has pain in her nether regions. She goes to the only affordable health clinic but can barely understand the woman at the front desk who treats her with contempt and chats in Spanish to the other clients who laugh a lot. After watching people who came in after her get served first, she rises in anger and goes up to the desk. “How long do I have to wait? These people came in after me!”
      Woman shrugs shoulders. Finally, after four hours, Boomer’s wife loses it.
      “Why are you ignoring me” she screams. The front desk lady points at the sign on the wall behind her;
      “For the safety of our staff, we do not tolerate racist or disruptive clients.”

  16. Carey

    >“Acer’s Thronos is an envoy from a hellish future where gaming chairs have enslaved humanity”

    “Gaming chair?” Man, there is *so much* I don’t want to know these days.

    1. Massinissa

      They’re exspensive chairs made especially for video gaming, so they twirl around, have adjustable armwrests, are ergonomic, some of them vibrate, etc.

      Basically think ‘luxury chair for people who sit in said chair for hours upon end’.

      This info from the local video gamer (me) who does not possess said luxurious chair.

      1. Jeotsu

        My partner and I enjoy the occasional video game, but we very deliberately use simple (and hard) wooden chairs. The buttocks falling asleep is a very effective reminder that it is time to go and do something else. Like walking outside, in actual reality, which in places is quite nice.

        1. Carey

          >Like walking outside, in actual reality, which in places is quite nice.

          Works for me, especially after reading about stuff like the Alexa™ thingie today. Lots of birds, flowers and bees to see in the here-and-now.

  17. Louis Fyne

    —“The Strange Disappearance of Cooperation in America” [Peter Turchin, Cliodynamics]. • From 2013, still germane. Chart on associations (proxy for social capital):—-

    One brother’s family, a police officer and veteran = 0 church and extracurricular organizations….he just wants to go home after working the graveyard shifts/overtime and spend time w/his family

    other brother’s family, hedge funder married to a doctor = country club, alumni organization, curling club, Montesorri pre-school board.

    Compared to 50 years ago, I’d bet a lot less social cohesion-networking among the bottom 85%. (given social atomization and non-traditional work schedules and longer commutes to affordable housing)

    And I’d bet the same, if not more, social cohesion-networking at the top 5% (stable work schedule, can afford to live close to work/commuter trains, having a non-supervised desk job where one can take some personal time).

    Another reason why the bottom 85% is losing the class war….they’re divided and burnt out while the top 5% are unified and class-conscious.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In ‘Leave It To Beaver,’ it seems they have breakfast and dinner together every morning and night.

      And in the ‘Honeymooners,’ if I recall correctly, neighbors hung out together all the time.

    2. zagonostra

      This reminds me of “Bowling Alone”

      Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community is a 2000 nonfiction book by Robert D. Putnam. It was developed from his 1995 essay entitled “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital”. Putnam surveys the decline of social capital in the United States since 1950. He has described the reduction in all the forms of in-person social intercourse upon which Americans used to found, educate, and enrich the fabric of their social lives. He argues that this undermines the active civil engagement which a strong democracy requires from its citizens.


    3. Arizona Slim

      I would also like to point out that, back in the day, a lot of the extracurricular organizations would not admit women or minorities. Trade unions and fraternal organizations especially. Likewise, service organizations like Rotary.

      1. Danny

        So what? They had their own cultural organizations and probably enjoyed more social cohesion than they do in today’s so called tolerant world.

        What cohesion is there today among your presumed ideal working class members who speak, say, three different languages and maintain their own cultural identities with no common assimilation or goals, beyond more stuff?

        That identity politicking assures one thing, they won’t exercise political power as once did the white working class, with the most powerful unions in the world with the highest standard of living ever.

        1. JTMcPhee

          And that standard of living is the death of the planet, maybe? But we still “aspire” to that blessed state? Figuring out ways to provide sufficient energy from “green” sources for our autos and electric toothbrushes and mood lighting…

    4. JohnnyGL

      I think this is right.

      One of the reasons the Chavistas in Venezuela have survived numerous coup attempts is they’ve created community organizations and kept the working class mobilized.

      Brazil, Argentina each either didn’t create/organize people or even actively dismantled or resisted attempts to organize for changes. We’ll see what Kirchner (and maybe Lula) decide to do the 2nd time around.

      In Bolivia, it’s the social movements of the indigenous pushing back. They may yet get the upper-hand if they can bring the country to a halt….hence the armored vehicles and helicopters have been deployed.

      1. JBird4049

        Once people go on a general strike, it becomes extremely difficult for the powerful to regain control. It becomes “work or else” which is kinda silly. If a extremely large portion of the population is on the streets, an even larger number is supporting them.

        Those with the tanks can win, but it becomes a waiting game. A long waiting game.

        1. inode_buddha

          … which is why I have advocated a month long general strike here in the US for almost 20 years now…. We The People will finally assert ourselves in a way that cannot be ignored

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Data driven…

    From above:

    UPDATE Buttigieg (D)(4): “Pete Buttigieg Was An Effective Mayor — With A Gaping Blind Spot” [HuffPo]. “Buttigieg has become the most prominent example of a management style that has taken over American cities. From Baltimore to Kansas City to Los Angeles, urban policymakers have become increasingly enamored with ‘data-driven’ policies and increasingly reliant on quantitative approaches to social problems

    I assume the ‘data driven’ initiative here is similar to the one depicted in the film, Brexit, and also similar to analytics being used ever more often in sports these days.

    And in baseball, to take one particular sport as an example, they talk about the need to manage the club for the newfangled managers. That is, dealing with players as fallible humans.

  19. RMO

    “Half-Life: Alyx: What we know about Valve’s upcoming full-length VR game”

    Well… I guess I’m going to try it, whenever it actually comes out (Valve Time y’know) This is even though I’ve never even tried a VR headset.

    We’ll see how it turns out. Worst case is that it could be equivalent to Lucas stopping with The Empire Strikes Back – but not as the movie actually ended, imagine it ended on a cliff hanger of Luke letting go of the railing and starting to plummet… then the credits roll. Jedi never gets made, but twelve years later he gives us The Phantom Menace.

    1. Plenue

      VR has been a fractured disaster. On the PC less than 1 (one!) percent of users own one. You can maybe double that number if you add in the console players who own one, PlayStation VR and…oh, that’s it; Microsoft pulled out of VR.

      I think Valve is trying to force the issue by making a major, must-have franchise game be VR. But it’ll have to come with a major price drop. Even Valve’s own Vive setup will cost you 400 dollars right now.

      1. RMO

        “VR has been a fractured disaster”

        That’s putting it mildly. And I doubt making this game VR only is going to increase adoption much either. I doubt there are too many people like me who haven’t got into the current generation of VR yet but may be sucked into it by a Half Life prequel. Reviews from people I trust also tell me that even leaving aside the price the technology and it’s implementation leave a lot to be desired.

  20. XXYY

    “By 2050, climate change will shrink the US economy by 1.1%, according to a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit. The same holds true for North America’s economy as a whole, according to the report.

    It’s amazing anyone can write this kind of thing without laughing.

    The Earth’s climate and biosphere, and the human society within it, are complex systems that by definition defy prediction. The idea that one can make a calm, confident prediction, to two significant figures, about what will happen in 30 years under an unknown and rapidly changing climate regime, is facially absurd.

    I can easily argue the case that the US economy will shrink 100% by 2050, as a result of a pandemic, a runaway temperature rise, a collapse of the food or energy system, a nuclear war, or a sea level rise that destroys all the world’s coastal cities and shipping ports. None of these is particularly far fetched and I just made up the list off the top of my head as fast as I could type.

    Even if made in good faith, soothing predictions about the future in an era of climate change are just whistling in the dark.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Could not bring myself to read it, I’m guessing they assume that once property insurance takes over 100% of the economy, then sky is the limit on growth.

    2. Titus

      No, ‘complex systems that by definition defy prediction’, they do not, it’s being done, and I do (via the Santa Fe Institute) it. What is ‘defied’ is the acceptance of the results. But guess what, you (royal) don’t have to believe in reality™ It believes in you.

  21. ChrisPacific

    The GoT bot extract is a good illustration of the limits of the technology in its current state. It clearly has some understanding of character viewpoints and identities and grammatical structures, and is able to work with them at a grade school level (“You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Who knows nothing? John Snow. John Snow, what do you know? I know nothing). But it’s just a learning engine powered by recurring patterns, and has no understanding of higher concepts or literary context. So it doesn’t know that it makes no sense for Jon to say “I know nothing” because what Ygritte really meant when she said that was: “You think you know everything, but there’s a lot you don’t know, and what you do know is often wrong or doesn’t apply in this context.” Or that “the dragon’s mom” is not equivalent to “Mother of Dragons” because it’s colloquial and not a formal title.

    Overall it’s a bit like a precocious toddler learning to speak, combining (sometimes startlingly good) pattern recognition ability with a lack of understanding of the underlying subject. This leads to contrasts of grammatical rigor and nonsense worked into a seamless whole, and is why we find toddlers and language bots funny.

  22. fdr-fan

    How does Deval Patrick “make no sense”? He’s young, he’s black, he has real elected experience in a big state, he’s fairly well known, and he doesn’t have any scandalous or negative taint. By normal political standards he makes plenty of sense.

    1. jrs

      Yes fine if he had declared his candidacy 6 months ago maybe, although he would have been just another contender, vying for the same vote as Corey Booker (young, black, no real scandalous or negative taint, experienced).

      But yes, experienced enough to take a shot, I mean we have the mayor of the 4th biggest city in Indiana running, so yes *objectively* much more qualified than that. Jumping in the game at this point though where you’ve missed half of the debates and may not even get in any …

    2. Kurtismayfield

      If those are the only reasons to vote for him then that isn’t saying much. What has he done?

      And he had a few scandals.. look up what he did for his brother in law:

      In September 2014, near the end of Patrick’s two-term governorship, the former head of the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board, Saundra Edwards, alleged in a lawsuit against Patrick she had been pressured by other administration officials not to classify Sigh as a type of offender who would be obligated to register in the state. Edwards said she went along and did so despite her beliefs to the contrary, effectively helping Patrick to do a favor for a family member.

      Not exactly scandal free

  23. Summer

    “Majority of likely Democratic caucusgoers shy away from ‘Medicare for All’” [Des Moines Register]

    Does it really matter who is President when so many in the country don’t give a rat’s if many die?
    It’s just voting for fast or slow death preferences.

    1. Geo

      Agreed. My humanist ideology only works when I avoid masses of humanity. When I’m exposed to too masses my nihilist ideology takes over.

      I’m not informed enough to know whether it’s a social thing or a nature thing, but we are a very cruel species when looking at the big picture of all the suffering our self-interest imposes on others. Individuals can be lovely and inspiring. Small groups sometimes lots of fun. Masses are almost always frightening.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “My humanist ideology only works when I avoid masses of humanity.”

        aye. that’s why i live on a dead end dirt road in the middle of nowhere, and speak mostly to dragonflies, squirrels and geese…lest i succumb to misanthropy.

        1. inode_buddha

          you have no idea how much I envy you except for the fact that it’s Texas… I want that up here in the Northeast, we have plenty of woods and pastures

  24. dcrane

    UPDATE “There’s Only One Way the Patrick and Bloomberg Campaigns Make Sense” [The New Republic]

    Very interesting post. Are there any filing deadlines for candidates to be introduced at a brokered Dem convention? Can a person (let’s say Hillary) be nominated even if she remains outside the race formally all the way to the convention?

  25. Geo

    “Tin-foil hat time: Pelosi is third in the line of succession after Trump and Pence.”

    Anyone else have zero doubt such a scenario would be the start of a civil war? The only part I’m less than sure of is whether it would be Right vs. Left which would be tragic, or us vs. the blob which would be needed at that point. I hate Trump and Pence but bringing home a “regime change” operation like that is negating any semblance of a government of the people and anyone not in “the blob” should be repelled at the thought.

    Also, Dems have a profound knack setting shortsighted precident that bites them back soon as GOP gains power. Which is what makes this theory seem plausible. And it would be the end of the presidency, and probably our so-called democracy, if they did that.

    1. Massinissa

      If we entered a civil war, it would probably be more like the Spanish Civil War where there are at least a dozen major factions (at the start at least) and a few dozen minor ones.

      The simplistic nature of the American Civil War sort of spoils us in terms of imagining a new civil conflict. I can pretty much assure you it won’t be as simple as a North-South redux, or even as simple as Coastlines-vs-Heartland.

        1. Massinissa

          No argument there. At least the Spanish Republicans and Anarchists all owned weapons for self defense…

          1. JTMcPhee

            Oh, goody! We can look forward to something like this? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Civil_War

            Who gets to play the Germans? Nice chance for LockheedBoeingMartinRaytheon to test new weapons — anti-personnel, crowd control and subjugation, area denial, of course drone swarms and all that kind of stuff that the military mind comes up with in all the lethality augmentation and Full Spectrum Domination idiocy that fuels ‘arms races” and dreams of hegemony, not to mention Really Cool Stuff to play with…

            Don’t forget that the US Imperial Military, working with all the militarized police and the rest of the Fusion Centrists, has an off-the-shelf plan to “deal with civil disturbance and insurrection” (vaguely defined..) It’s called Garden Plot, part of CONPLAN 2502, the DoD “Civil Disturbance Plan. One thinks ones rights and safety are restricted and compromised the wya things are already? I can hardly wait for GARDEN PLOT to be brought to an Operational Area near my family and friends… https://cryptome.org/garden-plot.htm

            All just a Conspiracy Theory chicken-little worry, of course. Never happen, No way. Ever. Says the Vietnam veteran assigned to the 2nd Armored Division at Ft. Hood, Texas after getting back from ‘Nam In mid-1968, in time to be told to suit up and get on a C-130 with a bunch of other GIs, to go to Chicago and put down the “insurrection” and “civil disturbance” surrounding the 1968 Democratic convention there.

            That time, a whole bunch of mostly conscript Black troops said “Sir, No Sir!” and refused to lock and load. Wonder what the Troops we Thank and Support so fervently today would do if one of the many possible schisms does eventuate?

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        depends on a lot of variables….the biggest of which is precisely how incompetent the bubble people really are…including the “deep state”.
        part of me thinks(and has thought for a long while) that a “civil war” is one of many rip-cords in place to save the aristocrats from losing it all and/or becoming dinner. for all the long term evisceration of the bill of rights(and so on), they haven’t hardly touched the Second, and gun manufacturers have been a growth sector for a long, long time.
        add in the divide and confuse and rule efforts of the last 40+ years, leading to exactly the sort of alienation and disconnectedness we were lamenting yesterday…as well as apparently habituating a great many of us to a lower standard of living….
        grim, but plausible.
        but nemesis forever stalks hubris…and the all knowing blob in it’s impenetrable bubble is fallible, to say the least…forever biting off more than it can chew and each fix ensuring seven new blowbacks.
        another part of me sees this duval/mike/herself airdrop operation as another attempt at ginning up a Big Center Party of Adults and Pragmatism, so they can retire the tired old bipartisan dance.
        the rubes are losing faith/interest in all the dogs and ponies…so lets move to a one party state in a manner that preemptively negates any potential challenge(left and right = extremists, terrists, etc)
        i still think they tried this in ’15-16, and were blindsided by their stalking horse…i’ll never forget the looks in the eyes of trump, melanoma, and the entirety of the bobblehead class that late night in november.
        I don’t think such a reboot will work this time, either….barring a “catalysing event…like a new pearl harbor”…but the folks who dream up this sort of thing make myriad assumptions…not least of which is who the great unwashed actually are, what they believe, etc.
        i get the distinct picture that the elite have no idea just how thin our patina of civilisation has become in the last 40+ years…nor do they have any idea how the masses will react.
        do they have the regular army on their side?
        (the guys that will be sent in to “restore order”)
        lots of little things like that.
        what will some catastrophic own goal coup attempt do to all that digital wealth…let alone the incestuous nature of global finance?
        all of this is scary to think about….and i detest feeling like i must think about it. but i have thought about it a great deal since the late 90’s, because these things happen, sometimes…and it’s better if at least some of the little people game things out.
        barring a large black swan, I expect a chaotic attempt to maintain the status quo, then total frelling collapse, because there’s no there there anymore. then local and regional warlordism until things settle down a bit.
        what i do not see is any of the perhaps 2 thousand(?) people i’ve observed/talked to in the last year take up arms to either defend or overthrow “the government”.
        they’re all gonna try to go about their business, until they can’t.
        it will end up being a giant mess, and all because a certain group of people couldn’t abide the thought that their time was past.

    2. jeremyharrison

      If that civil war broke out, at least it would be the first war we’ve fought in since 1945 that would actually be in the national interest.

      1. flora

        Well, you know, the US civil war of 1860 was to settle the inherent conflicts between federalism and nationalism in the US Constitution, imo.

        So, if you’re going to claim a new civil war, what great governmental organizational conflicts do you see at stake? And, seriously, it can’t be a simple ( or wholly unresolvable) matter like ‘left’ vs ‘right’ as every govt formation has its ‘left’ and ‘right’, imo.

        1. John

          It is profoundly disturbing when talk of civil war becomes common place. I have a sense that states are beginning to look to their own devices and resources as the federal government becomes increasingly dysfunctional. Look at the presidential electoral map and you can see one version of a fractured United States. New England was on the verge of secession in 1814. Add to it New York and New Jersey and away we go. Just as in 1861, New York City with its financial tentacles might wish to split off as a city state to keep the money flowing. These are not happy thoughts.

          1. inode_buddha

            “New York City with its financial tentacles might wish to split off as a city state to keep the money flowing. “

            The rest of us New Yorkers deeply wish they would. It would make the rest of the state inhabitable, maybe even pleasant.

            In fact years ago, I joined a regional party that advocates just this, but lately they seem defunct.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              one iteration of the “republic of texas” pseudomovement flamed out just to my west some years ago.
              mostly lunatics from what i could gather.

              oth, i wouldn’t mind a radical trend towards smaller, more manageable polities,lol. but i reckon there’d be some contention over a name for a republic of the texas hill country.

              years ago, there was a long read in texas monthly about a sort of new city state movement…where, with the withdrawal of federal and state government(them being busy with a whole other level of shenanigans) some of the big cities were doing state like things…like foreign trade deals and regional, intercity agreements, and the like.
              in texas, the last two biannual sessions of the texas lege saw an abandonment of the former gop/tea love of local rule,lol…regarding fracking and minwage mostly.
              so there is thinking going on out there…if not necessarily about post collapse, then about a withering away of the current order.
              we’re not the only ones to notice a bunch of the spinning plates starting to wobble….and much prior to the current craziness.

          2. Oregoncharles

            @ John,
            The Left Coast, too, defended by mountains and the sea. There is quite an urban/rural divide here, though, that might make it very complicated.

            It’s all in “Ecotopia Emerging,” of course.

            JM Greer came up with a different scenario, a couple of years ago – forget the title.

            The best explanation of the War for Independence I’ve heard is that the colonies fell off of their own weight. Ultimately, all the colonies did. What’s the equivalent situation for a current breakup?

          3. Yves Smith

            Huh? New York City could be starved out in a ten days max. 2 water mains. 3 tunnels. I should count but what. 11 bridges? It was cordoned for 4 days after 9/11 and food shortages were starting, despite the fact that the full time resident population is way lower that the working-day population (which eats lunch in the city and snacks there and sometimes gets dinner there).

    3. Jen

      Assuming that republicans were to support Trump’s removal, even in our bat guano crazy state of politics today, does anyone really think the republican controlled senate would remove Pence even if Pelosi wasn’t next in line? And since she is…..

  26. anon y'mouse

    looks like Matt just wanted to crap on “tha Left”. if he doesn’t like the left, he doesn’t.

    he doesn’t have to.

    doesn’t mean he is right. it’s not just “doing it better/correctly”. it IS the system. Obama is the just desserts of such a system.

    i would say no genuine leftist “loves” Obama. he is strawmanning and almost anyone who tries to discuss “tha Left” is strawmanning in this country. we have a situation here where no one actually knows what leftism is anymore.

    1. jrs

      I don’t even care about what leftism is anymore, why should I. I’d rather concern myself with actually existing people and movements rather than stuff that one openly admits has no on the ground relevance. But I don’t think there are that many left of mere Dem party apologists, that defend Obama, a few probably a bit caught up in the identity aspects, and in hating the admittedly very real awfulness of Republicans.

    2. Massinissa

      Yeah, I don’t really get his conflation of ‘Jacobins’ and ‘Obama supporters’. Is he calling the rabid Identity Politics crowd Jacobins? Because that sounds terribly inaccurate (and rude to the historical Jacobins, heh). And if its not them, then who the hell ARE these alleged ‘jacobins’? They don’t sound like any Leftists/non-liberals I know.

      Lastly, if Jacobin = ‘Liberal’ I’m going to facepalm because that makes even less sense than the above. What makes liberals even close to being as radical as the Jacobins? Liberals are basically conservatives who like social justice a bit and dislike ‘deplorables’.

      1. John

        Obama ended a profound disappointment. Hell, he started as one when the banks were made whole and everyone else go the shaft.

      2. jrs

        I know some left of the Dem party, left of liberalism, perhaps a bit shy of radicalism that wouldn’t say much negative about Obama, but at best this is tolerance of him, and LOTE, and not wanting to give any sympathy for those who hate him for the wrong reasons (prejudice, birtherism etc.). It’s NOT actually fandom of Obama. And I would describe them as progressives, and the good sort not just Dems, but not Jacobins.

    3. Donald

      I just watched it. The attack on the Jacobin left was utterly nonsensical. And the idea that “ centrists” agree with him? In what universe?

      I agree with his contempt of Obama, but most of the far left was there from the beginning. I distrusted Obama when I saw how he handled the Jeremiah Wright affair. He didn’t just throw Wright under the bus— he threw the far left there with him. It was the sort of politics glorified by The West Wing.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > i would say no genuine leftist “loves” Obama. he is strawmanning and almost anyone who tries to discuss “tha Left”

      I don’t think a decade ago matters had sorted themselves out as they have today. I would say that ten years ago it would have been possible to conflate liberals and the left simply because the left was so small and without influence, and the left “had no place to go.” Then came the Crash, and then came Sanders. Now that is not possible, at least for any outside observer. Things may be a little more blurred in Brooklyn and the Beltway. Jacobin, for example, pushed the line that Warren and Sanders were both good left candidates, at least a year ago.

      But there were plenty of people in 2008-2009 who were of both good faith and got conned by Obama; Thomas Frank, for example. The Trillbillies, for example. And especially younger people for whom Obama was the first candidate they really did support (“hope and change”) and who were crushed by his betrayals.

      I also don’t agree that nobody knows what leftism is. If you put the working class first, you’re on the left. If you don’t, you’re some flavor of liberal or conservative. Warren puts markets first, for example.

  27. Martin Oline

    I have a question about the water cooler presidential poll. I assume the percentage numbers shown in the middle column are the percent of likely voters preference from the poll cited. When the percentage change is shown is that a change from the national poll preference at the present time or change in the data from the last poll by the same organization, or what? You have probably covered this in the past and if so you can just re-direct me to the thread that discussed it and save yourself some time.
    Thank you

    1. notabanker

      That is heart wrenching. You just gotta love that lady;
      “I was so pleased I had something to put over him and to get him out of harm’s way. It was a handy top. I’ve washed it, it’s back in the wardrobe.”

      1. D.M. Dunkle

        Keeps one from turning into a misanthrope. Australia has been suffering through enormous drought and wildfires. Climate change is here with a vengeance.

  28. integer

    This 2 min clip from CNN of the impeachment hearings is interesting, as Sondland’s testimony is directly at odds with the banner at the bottom of the screen.

  29. Oregoncharles

    Chances of a brokered convention: just looking at dk’s graph of polling so far, I’d say the chances are excellent, and Patrick and Bloomberg are doubtless looking at the same data. The reason is that the lines, except for Warren’s, are darn near level, and no one is anywhere close a majority. That’s a good case for Ranked Choice Voting, incidentally, but I don’t think the results would be predictable. Warren took a hop, but now has dropped back down where she was.

    Granted, polls aren’t real reliable; but this has now been going on for a long time, lending it a certain convincing quality. Biden is well ahead, but not enough to actually win. A couple of real elections may make a big difference, but if I was betting, it would be on a stalemate and smoke-filled rooms. Haven’t had that in a long, long time.

  30. HarrisonBergeron

    Reading notions on this site and on others about a civil war frightens me. With that in mind I’ve lived in rural parts of the American west, that are geographic fortresses on par with Switzerland and at least as heavily armed. The corollary with the Spanish Civil war seems quite apt, again it scares me. I’ve perused the online haunts of affluent preppers of all political persuasions, and the marginally attached to the workforce, both right and left seem to be itching for a fight. Both seem to be stacking weapons and planning. The mass of young men disenfranchised by neoliberalism, scare me. As much as there is anger there is as Chuck Palhunik observed a desire that if one is to struggle that it should have some meaning. To struggle is human to struggle without purpose is horrible. We live in a country with a 3rd world level of wealth disparity, with the largest notional debt burden in history, with enough firearms to arm every man, woman and child. What happens when the policies of the Empire return to Rome?

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