2:00PM Water Cooler 11/25/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Killing NAFTA Softly” [Portside]. “But a revised NAFTA had to be approved by the House, which unfortunately for Trump now has a Democratic majority. And the deal that Trump devised was a stinker. It added a couple modestly decent provisions, like wiping out the pro-corporate investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process, which allows companies to sue nations that change laws in ways presumed to violate trade deals for expected future profits. But its protections for labor were far too weak. And it continued some odious provisions such as sweetheart provisions for the drug industry…. So there commenced prolonged negotiations between a House working group headed by Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, the most influential corporate Democrat in the House, and Trump’s top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, on how to improve the draft agreement. Both dearly want a deal. … Two members of the working group have confirmed to me that nothing will be approved unless Trumka signs off on it. And despite a lot of posturing by Neal that a deal is just around the corner, Trumka isn’t budging…. The reality is that Bustos, Neal, and other corporate Democrats are using the supposed need for freshmen to be able to vote for a NAFTA deal as camouflage for the real game—namely, corporate Democrats voting with House Republicans to hand corporate America (and Trump) a victory.” • It’s very good that ISDS is dead, though I suppose if NAFTA dies, ISDS dies with it!


“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 11/25/2019, 12:00 PM EST. Biden leads, Sanders strong second, Warren third, Buttigieg third tier.

Here, the latest national results unchanged since 11/22:

The debate was 11/20. In five days, not one single national poll? WTF?

As readers know, RCP seems to add a good lashing of secret sauce to its results in terms of the polls it aggregate and chooses not to aggregate, so it may, perhaps, be most useful for constructing a narrative:

Note Warren’s trajectory (in brown). dk does not use secret sauce, and so I thought I’d compare the two over the same time period for grins:

(I very unscientifically fiddled with the settings to make the curves look the same.) Warren’s trajectory is the same, although she never actually challenges Biden, unlike RCP.

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

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UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(1):

A lotta Democrat strategists are gonna send their kids to very good schools….

UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(2): Wait ‘tll you get to the Neera Tanden part:

UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(3): Case in point on Bloomberg’s “giving”:


UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(4): “Bloomberg’s Media Company Will Not Investigate Boss, Democrats in 2020 Run-Up” [Variety]. “Bloomberg L.P., the financial-data and news company founded by the longtime entrepreneur and former New York City mayor, said Sunday it will not do in-depth reporting on him or other Democratic candidates for the White House in the run-up to the 2020 election, a move that puts the journalism organization in a curious position – sitting out on one of the major strands of a political story that has and will continue to grip the nation…. Bloomberg will also suspend its editorial board, where its top executive had the most influence, and for the time being cease publishing unsigned editorials.” • Contrast, in 2018: “Michael Bloomberg: I may sell my company if I run for president” [New York Post] . See also Bloomberg’s contemporaneous interview with Radio Iowa.

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Is Pete Buttigieg Just a Shill for Corporations and the Donor Class?” [Common Dreams]. “Buttigieg has become one of the biggest recipients of contributions from the health care, financial services, and big tech industries. Under the proposals advanced by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, Buttigieg’s big money donors are the ones who would have to pay higher taxes to support things like free college tuition and universal health care. In Buttigieg, they’ve found a candidate to speak up for their interests. Buttigieg is the second-largest recipient of contributions from the health care industry, after only Donald Trump. Buttigieg donors include the chief corporate affairs officer at Pfizer, the president of Astex Pharmaceuticals, a state lobbyist for Biogen, a vice president of public policy at Novartis, and the deputy vice president at the nation’s largest pharmaceutical trade association, PhRMA, plus lawyer for AbbVie, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck.” • And much, much more.

Buttigieg (D)(2): Oops:

Nobody seems to be watching Buttgieg’s back in South Bend, oddly; Booker has had much better luck.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(1):

The staffer who is (I assume) handling Sanders’ tweets is doing a great job.

Warren (D)(1): “‘I’m going to make sure I got it right’: What Elizabeth Warren told charter activists after protest at Atlanta event” [Chalkbeat]. “In the conversation with Warren, [“parent activist” Sarah Carpenter] emphasized her personal experience. ‘Charter schools saved my grandbaby because every school in my community was failing,’ she said. At one point, Carpenter said that she had heard that Warren sent her own children to private school, perhaps alluding to a recent article in the New York Post. Warren responded, ‘No, my children went to public schools.. Asked to clarify [for this story], a campaign aide said, ‘Elizabeth’s daughter went to public school. Her son went to public school until 5th grade.’ This appears to align with the Post article, which found evidence that Warren’s son attended a Texas private school in 5th grade.” • Oops. How could Warren not have been prepared for this question by staff?

“I’m just a player in the game,” freezing at the podium, now this. It looks like the Warren campaign needs to wrap their canidate in tissue paper, like Joe Biden.

* * *

Oh good (excuse the heated language, check the image):

I can’t think why Brock would choose to rebrand…

Just in time for Xmas:

Why do I think that whistle for whistleblowing has nothing to do with, say, Assange?


UPDATE “What’s next in impeachment: Judiciary Committee up next” [Associated Press]. “Time is running short if the House is to vote on impeachment by Christmas, which Democrats privately say is the goal. The intelligence panel is expected to spend the Thanksgiving week writing, and maybe even completing, a report of evidence gathered through more than six weeks of closed-door depositions and public hearings. Once the report is done, the panel could vote to pass it on to the House Judiciary Committee. That could happen as soon as the first week of December, when lawmakers return from the Thanksgiving break.” • First the narrative, then the legalities.

“‘It Is Hard To Read This as Anything But a Warning’: New Polling Suggests Democrats’ Impeachment Push Could Alienate Key Voters” [Vanity Fair]. “Three important factors are driving the views of Independents. The first is that, in their view, impeachment distracts from issues they care about. … [A]mong the 11 issues that Politico and Morning Consult tested, impeachment ranked last, well below the deficit at 74%, health care at 72%, and infrastructure at 70%. The second factor is the view among Independents that impeachment reflects the agenda of the political establishment and the media…. By massive margins, Independents say that the impeachment issue is “more important to politicians than it is to me” (62% to 22%) and “more important to the media than it is to me” (61% to 23%). It is hard to read this as anything but a warning to the Democratic leadership and candidates: Stop talking about issues that matter to you, not to me. Impeachment proceedings are viewed as bread and circuses for the anti-Trump crowd in Washington and the media—or, as Stanford political science professor Morris Fiorina described it to me, ‘entertainment and confirmation.’ That’s a dangerous perception as Democrats approach one of the most consequential and fraught elections of our times. Third, as other reporting has suggested, Independents suffer from scandal fatigue and overall confusion. They agreed with the statement “[It is] difficult to tell all the investigations in Washington apart” by a roughly two-to-one margin. (Even Democrats concur by a substantial, if somewhat smaller, margin).”

UPDATE There were giants in those days:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Hand-marked Paper Ballots: How this Tried-and-True Method Makes Us More Secure” [Commercial Appeal]. • As they just did in Hong Kong!

Health Care

“The Army Built to Fight ‘Medicare for All'” [Politico]. “With the images of that Sanders [#MedicareForAll] event replaying in his head, [Chip Kahn, the CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals] made a phone call — and then, over the next few weeks, another and another. Those calls would lead to a series of secretive meetings in downtown D.C. where officials from every part of the health care industry — from insurance companies to hospital giants, drugmakers and even, for a time, doctors — would forge an alliance united to ensure that Sanders’ promises never became reality. Out of their pact grew an influence operation known today as the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a multimillion-dollar cooperative designed to overwhelm not just the swelling Medicare for All movement, but every single Democratic proposal that would significantly expand the government’s role in health care.” • And despite Jayapal’s accepting Warren’s recent equivocations on #MedicareForAll, her proposal for hospital capital budgeting is more radical than Sanders. So never pre-compromise. More: “He also has experience taking down ambitious plans for health care reform. As executive vice president of the Health Insurance Association of America — then the insurance industry’s main trade group — he was a driving force behind the “Harry and Louise” TV ads that played a key role in tanking Bill Clinton’s health care package in 1993 and setting the standard for a generation of hard-hitting special interest campaigns that have shaped policy debates ever since.” • Kahn’s killed an awful lot of people for money, hasn’t he?

Stats Watch

Chicago Fed National Activity Index. October 2019: “Declines in production components led the national activity index sharply lower in October” [Econoday]. “Of the 85 individual indicators making up the index, only 27 made positive contributions in October. Improvement versus the previous month was registered in 34 indicators, while 49 indicators deteriorated and two were unchanged. Of the indicators that improved, 20 made negative contributions.”

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, November 2019: “Texas manufacturing activity continued to contract but at a slower pace in November” [Econoday]. “Nearly all measures of manufacturing activity showed negative readings suggesting contraction versus October. Shipments led weakness…. Expectations regarding future business conditions remained positive and were slightly more optimistic than in October.”

Banking: “A Dead Doctor, the Trauma of Sexual Abuse, and a Bank in Denial” [Bloomberg]. “The suit has drawn one of the world’s top banks into a reckoning over sexual abuse and who should pay for it. Barclays has defended itself in court by saying it isn’t responsible for whatever the doctor might have done because he wasn’t an employee…. The fight isn’t only about what happened decades ago in that house in Newcastle, or even who knew about it. It’s also about this: When do corporations have to take responsibility for the people who work for them? The answer could reverberate through today’s gig economy.

Capital: “Capital investment by U.S. companies is slowing and that could slim down supply chain pipelines in the coming years. Many of the biggest U.S. companies are moderating their spending on equipment and other capital investment” [Wall Street Journal]. “The pullback began as trade tensions escalated last fall, leaving companies unsure about the impact of trade restrictions on their supply chains. It has continued amid signs of slowing global growth… Capital spending by S&P 500 companies rose just 0.8% in the third quarter, and investment would have contracted but for a handful of big players. Some projects may only be delayed but others will never be completed, putting a long-term hole in economic growth.” • Not what you want to see in a capitalist economy (though possibly reducing carbon). One more reason for a Green New Deal and a national industrial policy.

Shipping: “The shipping industry’s search for a common thread in a recent spate of ship fires suggests there are big gaps in the handling of dangerous goods in ocean transport. A new study shows a large share of potentially hazardous shipments on container ships were mislabeled, improperly handled and carried other safety risks” [Wall Street Journal]. “The survey by the independent National Cargo Bureau was undertaken at the urging of Maersk Line, which was hit by a catastrophic fire on its Maersk Honam vessel in 2018, one of the biggest in an unusual series of fires that have crippled large cargo vessels in the past two years.”

Tech: “We lose money on repairs, sobs penniless Apple, even though we charge y’all a fortune” [The Register]. “That’s right, it may charge you $329 for a screen replacement that costs $100 everywhere else. Or $80 for a battery than costs $30 across the street. Or even $475 to replace a single key at an Apple store. But poor old Apple is making a loss every time. Which is, of course, nonsense, though it’s interesting to explore how Apple can make the claim with a straight face. And the answer is creative accounting…. Even accounting for Apple’s BS however, how does it justify the claim that it is actually losing money on its repair business, despite charging multiples of what every other repair business does? Easy: it counts its own ridiculous repair costs as what customers would have paid had they not taken out its over-price warranty. So if a customer pay $199 for AppleCare+ for their iPhone XS Max and brings it in to replace the screen, paying just $29 instead of the $329 out-of-warranty costs, Apple reckons it has just lost $101 – because that’s what the customer would have paid if they didn’t have a warranty. Of course that completely ignores the fact that it costs Apple nowhere near $329 to replace the screen of a iPhone XS Max.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68 Greed (previous close: 69, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 83 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 25 at 12:41pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 181. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. I wonder when, in 2020, the index will start flirting with 190 again. So far, the latest impeachment push hasn’t affected the Index.

The Biosphere

“Heat-Loving Microbes, Once Dormant, Thrive Over Decades-Old Fire” [Quanta]. “The coal-seam fire at Centralia provides researchers with the perfect opportunity to test a new idea known as a microbial seed bank: that commonly overlooked dormant individuals make up a vast reservoir of biodiversity, ready to spring to life when environmental conditions change…. Regardless of how the microbial populations changed, Shade and Tobin hypothesized that Centralia’s microbial seed bank was what allowed the system to respond to the temperature surge from the fire and return to its initial state. A further study in PLOS ONE showed that the seed bank may also have allowed the soil to respond to increased levels of arsenic and other heavy metals that the fire released. To Esteban, that’s the entire point of the seed bank…. A seed bank means that ecosystem function will never stop. Even if conditions change, the ecosystem can keep going,” she said.” • Again, we know virtually nothing about soil!

“‘Running out of room’: How old turf fields raise potential environmental, health concerns” [York Daily Record (CR)]. “Used artificial turf is expected to produce 1 million to 4 million tons of waste in the next 10 years, and it has nowhere to go, according to solid waste industry analysts. [Larry] Minnich, the Cleona mayor, soon learned that the problem in his borough of about 2,100 people was similar to what communities were grappling with across the country — tons of worn-out, artificial school fields that municipal dumps won’t accept and a growing, unregulated, cottage industry of vacant land owners taking the waste. Turf fields installed in waves a decade ago are reaching the end of their lifespan and need to be replaced, according to an industry trade association. Despite being touted as a completely recyclable alternative to grass, there are no companies in the U.S. that can completely recycle them, according to a trade association president…. The fields frequently end up in empty lots, backyards, in public spaces and on private land. Sometimes, they are given permission to be there. In some cases, they have been dumped illegally by contractors paid to remove them.” • Classic.

“Why Detroit Residents Pushed Back Against Tree-Planting” [CityLab]. “Detroiters were refusing city-sponsored ‘free trees.’ A researcher found out the problem: She was the first person to ask them if they wanted them.” • Excellent article.


“High Plains Farmers Race to Save the Ogallala Aquifer” [Civil Eats]. “It’s well-documented that the Ogallala Aquifer… is rapidly depleting…. The massive, 174,000-square-mile underground reservoir spans eight landlocked states in the Great Plains, from South Dakota to Texas. Along with being a critical source of drinking water, the aquifer supports one-fifth of all wheat, corn, cotton, and cattle in the United States. Irrigation technology, such as center pivot irrigation, patented in 1952, once helped transform the Great Plains into an agricultural oasis; flat land stretched over a seemingly endless reserve of groundwater at farmers’ disposal… Without the Ogallala, agriculture in the breadbasket of the U.S., at least as it is currently practiced, cannot continue. Yet there’s also reason to hope. … [Chris Grotegut] adopted a permaculture practice known as pasture cropping, or intermixing crops with grassland pasture. This method helps him keep more roots in the ground, building the health of the soil. And as the soil grows richer in organic matter, it can also hold more water…. After an initial loss of profits while transitioning from conventional row crops, Grotegut has seen his profits rise, due to saving on the cost of pumping groundwater and land maintenance.” • For you gardeners, horticulturalists, and permaculturists, this is a very exciting must read.

Our Famously Free Press

“Damaged newspapers, damaged civic life: How the gutting of local newsrooms has led to a less-informed public” [Nieman Labs]. “One thing a more robust newsroom allowed was coverage of a particular issue over a broader sweep of its lifespan. Someone dedicated solely to covering city hall, for instance, might hear about a budding legislative idea from a city staffer early on, then see it through as it makes its way (or doesn’t) toward a real bill and, eventually, its impacts on the community. With fewer resources, though, reporters are more likely to report on an issue only when it reaches a public state of prominence — by which time the city’s plans may have already been shaped without much public input. That also limits the newspaper’s ability to influence the civic agenda, for better or worse.” • A very good review.

Take that, Alden Capital:

Groves of Academe

From the University and College Union, London, thread:

Class Warfare

“It’s not thanks to capitalism that we’re living longer, but progressive politics” [Guardian]. “Serfdom was a brutal system that generated extraordinary human misery, yes. But it wasn’t capitalism that put an end to it. As the historian Silvia Federici demonstrates, a series of successful peasant rebellions across Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries overthrew feudal lords and gave peasants more control over their own land and resources. The fruits of this revolution were astonishing in terms of wellbeing. Wages doubled and nutrition improved. It was a period of dramatic social progress by the standards of the time. Then the backlash happened. Upset at the growing power of peasants and workers, and angry about rising wages, a nascent capitalist class organised a counter-revolution. They began enclosing the commons and forcing peasants off the land, with the explicit intention of driving down the cost of wages. With subsistence economies destroyed, people had no choice but to work for pennies simply in order to survive.” • Hmm.

Squillionaire philanthropy thread (dk):

News of the Wired

“K-Pop artist Goo Hara found dead at home aged 28” [BBC]. • Two in a month; very sad. Motown had similar problems, back in the day.

“The taxonomy of whining” [The Week]. “[T]hese guttural kid noises, which at times fuse with actual language, can reveal more about their mood and needs than words alone. For instance, if my four or six year old tell me they’re hungry, and that statement is accompanied by a kind of drilling groan that makes my brain feel like it’s slowly being fed into a cheese grater, then I know it’s probably just boredom. They do not, in fact, need a fourth serving of Cheddar Bunnies.”

This is, I believe, a parody:

Gearing up for Thanksgiving:

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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. Danny

    After the PG&E disasters, hundreds of deaths and outrage at the utility friendly puppets appointed to the Public Utilities Commision, you just knew this was on the way:

    Recall Gavin Newsom


    Californians can, fortunately, take matters into their own hands. Governor Gray Davis was recalled because of the Enron Power blackouts. Looks like it’s Newsom’s turn.

    1. laughingsong

      This recall effort (and another recall effort started by Erin Cruz) aren’t because of PG&E, at least according to the website of Veltemeyer and the statement released by Cruz.

      Both Veltemeyer and Cruz were failed Republican challengers for Democratically held seats in the 2018 cycle. Both sites want to recall Newsom for supplying medical care for “illegal aliens”, for “over a decade of proven mismanagement of policies, public monies and resources, and lack of infrastructure (that) have led to deterioration of California communities, poor schools, crumbling infrastructure, outrageous rise of costs from gas to utilities, mass housing crisis, frightening increase in homelessness and insurmountable debt.” (from Cruz’s statement).

      Veltemeyer also calls out homelessness, rising taxes, and sanctuary cities policies. So this seems like the usual California BS. Although I don’t like Newsom, he’s only just got elected so how can he be responsible for “over a decade” of mismanagement? You can maybe make the case for San Francisco specifically but that’s not how the statement reads. And the homelessness is much more complex an issue than any one governor. Sheesh.

      When I was in California recently (during the second round of PG&E shutoffs) the open speculation on local TV was that PG&E themselves might try to put together a recall effort. If they did, I can guess that they would use someone to front for them. So maybe that’s why we see this: two recall efforts that make no explicit reference to the issues of PG&E, fires, or power.

      1. Danny

        Guess you missed this link at the site above:
        “Fires & Blackouts – Newsom Owns This”

        Newsom is the defacto heir of Jerry Brown who was around for decades and who appointed the P.U.C. All part of the list of official chosen apparatchiks which includes Kamala, who never prosecuted PG&E when she had an opportunity, and who will never have another Democrat run against her.

        Newsom and his wife have taken over $700,000 in cash contributions from PG&E:

        PG&E has donated far more to the ruling party. Homelessness, illegal aliens, 6% of the state’s population, the pension disaster, all are part of Newsom’s overt activity in support of them, i.e. Sanctuary state policies, or inaction.
        Speculation on local TV, got a link to that? Let us know when you are coming back to California for a visit. I can suggest an itinerary for you to gauge how much loathing there is for Newsom, along with the final tally of petitions.

        1. laughingsong

          I know about Newsom taking PG&E money, and I know he’s been around and is implicated in getting heat off of PG&E, but Newsom himself didn’t cause the homelessness problem which has been there for a lot longer than he was in power (though he didn’t help it either). He also wasn’t at the front lines of the lack of infrastructure spending (at least outside his own bailiwick, which was bad enough – I am constantly astounded at the deterioration of the area when I visit). All the items you cite fall at the feet of the “ruling party” for sure, but that’s a group effort, not just Newsom.

          I don’t have a link to the TV – it was on KTVU, but I can’t remember what day it was and I was there for over a week for my Dad’s funeral.

          Please don’t think that I am some kind of Newsom fan – I ain’t. But although he’s part of the Machine I still think it’s a stretch to blame Newsom for “over a decade of ” for the entirety of California. Honestly Brown didn’t need any help to preside over that.

          My statement was pretty much confined to checking out the two specific recall groups and their stated reasons. Their stated reasons did not include Fires or power outages, or make any reference to PG&E. And I found that odd — don’t you?

          1. laughingsong

            I should say their MAIN stated reasons do not include PG&E – as a nod to the one article that Veltemeyer’s site throws in. But mostly it’s about taxes, immigrants (health care and sactuary), crime and guns.

      2. cgregory

        California needs a law that bans paid signature collecting for referenda and initiatives. It’s what Darell Issa did to Ed Gray; Issa was planning on running (but the Gropenfuhrer derailed his plans by stepping in). Now the GOPers are doing it again. Take away the money.

    2. Whoamolly

      “If you can’t keep the lights on, you get fired.”

      I will sign, campaign and vote for recall.

      Since the blackouts began Newsom is nowhere to be seen.

      1. Laughingsong

        Wouldn’t mind seeing him turfed out, I was kinda surprised he was actually elected. I am unfortunately unaware of any likely replacement candidates that would truly be willing to stand up to PG&E and clean up the PUC. Doesn’t mean there isn’t one, just that I don’t have detailed knowledge of who’s who.

  2. poopinator

    Regarding Squillionaire philanthropy and the fact that Buffett and Gates donate 3-4% of their wealth annually, I’d bet that number is significantly lower than their annual returns. This is just PR and media control to mitigate negative press around the obscene inequality in the US. Gates and Buffett somehow avoid a lot of criticism, but they deserve it just as much as those who only give away 0.3%.

    1. Robert Valiant

      3-4%: the boon of kind and generous kings.

      Personally, I didn’t vote for these kings, and I don’t want kings at all — kind, generous, or otherwise.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Most telling is the civic-mindedness of Sergey Brin, who immigrated to this country. Apparently he believes he owes exactly nothing to the society that enabled him to billionaire-ize. Ties in nicely with Yves’ separate article about de-Googling.

        These are not cool guys. These are rapacious monsters

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      Hmpf, I thought the rule of thumb for us peons was 5% (and yes goddamit I count NC and Bernie donations in my head if not on my taxes)—they are so far from making that standard, mostly would have to give 50x what they do. Shame! Shame!

      And what’s with the Google folks? 0%?!

      And anyway isn’t a lot of this giving to their own benevolent foundations which also give them influence and tax shelters?

    3. russell1200

      Gates avoids criticism? Buffet maybe, but Gates?

      Both of them have given huge amounts of money to certain causes. Gates at least at one point made it pretty clear that his heirs weren’t going to be billionaires.

      Not saying you have to like them, or the situation, but unless you do some real digging and come up with better numbers, your just hand waving.

      1. poopinator

        His net worth has increased twofold since 2010. This isn’t hand waving. That’s 7+% per annum of increase despite the 3-4% annual “Charitable” contributions. I’ve got some bridges to sell you if you believe for one second that his offspring won’t be billionaires.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          there was an article around here….or in the sidebar of one from around here…about how, apparently, difficult it is to give away one’s billions.
          they give it away, but the rest grows so fast that they can’t keep up.
          i haven’t even had a checkbook for 20 years, so i’m no financial whiz,lol.
          but still…i nearly broke the calculator on my phone dividing bill gate’s worth(which i can’t remember, now) by 350 million americans.
          he could just cut a check to everybody…or send us all a franklin.
          problem solved.
          similarly, the politico thing about Big Healthcare building an army…and spending millions of dollars…to fight any change at all to the current parasitical mess we have, today…I went to their website to look for a contact number.(none was available, and i ain’t in faceborg or twitter) to ask them why they don’t spend all that jack on, you know, healthcare.
          i mean we’re given to believe that the issue is not enough money, right? and also that the poor, persecuted rich folks and their immortal vehicles of rapine can’t afford any taxes?
          but they can afford to lobby effectively and purchase my government?
          and this is to say nothing of the idiotic drug ads i hear from the next room.
          i say we eat them…just eat them all.
          i’ll make the sauce.

          1. inode_buddha

            “i say we eat them…just eat them all.
            i’ll make the sauce.”

            Mmm, perhaps a delectable Bernays sauce?

      2. inode_buddha

        As far as I’m concerned, Gates stole everything he has. If you read up on the company history you’ll see plenty of ethical challenges.

        Such as dumpster-diving the code out of Harvard that he used to startup his company, when his mom mentioned his name to an IBM exec at a Rotary Club meeting. He didn’t write that code.

        Not to mention Spyglass Software, an early web browser that became IE. Spyglass itself was an attempt to commercialize the NCSA Mosaic project, which was Free Software (as in freedom). Gates told them they would get a percentage of sales, then turned around and bundled it for free with Win95. Percent of zero is zero.

        There was more than a few really greasy moves like that, spanning decades. I plan to piss on his grave from a considerable height.

    4. Michael Fiorillo

      I can’t speak to Gates’ “giving” outside of education, but as a public school teacher who spent years fighting the privatization of the schools, which was super-charged by his foundation, I can tell you the underlying purpose of Gates’ malanthropic investments was clearly to solidify his personal and class interests.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Thank you, ChiGal in Carolina

          Malanthropy (n): the process of using taxpayer-subsidized, ostensibly non-profit entities to advance the economic and political interests of oneself or ones class.

          Some protect-the-public-schools comrades instead liked to use the term “Villainthropy” when referring to these privateers.

    5. JTMcPhee

      How long does it take for a Bezos or that Gates guy to recover their outlay out of current accounts? And what does all that phoneyanthropy really amount to? Who gets the moolah? Mopes?

      I’m having a hard time formulating a search in DDG that will lead to where all those billions are actually being disbursed. Lots of stuff on the quantity, dang little on the quality.

      Kind of like the Clinton Foundation?

      And these billionaires — they are relative cheapskates, compared to the mopes: https://businessconnectworld.com/2017/07/17/why-dont-rich-give-more/

    6. @pe

      I prefer the 0%. For 0%, we know that they gave no money as charity to and through old Jeff, unlike the money sent by others as we know through the MIT Media Lab scandal.

      Charity can be sleazier than no charity.

  3. Big River Bandido

    Lambert, a few weeks ago you put out a query for books about the Sixties. Took me awhile to locate the one had read, but finally found it.

    The Movement and The Sixties: Protest in America from Greensboro to Wounded Knee by Terry H. Anderson.

    I read it years ago and I seem to recall it was informative and thorough, although to reach that level of thoroughness the waters seemed to run fast and shallow at times. On the other hand…there was a lot of stuff going on at that time. Anyway, FWIW…

    1. Carla

      I missed Lambert’s query, but here’s one: “Don’t Shoot, We Are Your Children,” by J. Anthony Lukas.

      Lukas also wrote one of the best books I’ve ever read: “Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families,” for which he won a Pulitzer in 1986. In terms of American history (framed by the conflict over school busing in Boston), I’ve never read better.

    2. inode_buddha

      “The Greening of America” by Charles A. Reich, has pretty much come true and not in a good way.

  4. Pavel

    That list of the 20 wealthiest Americans and their charitable giving (or lack thereof) is a disgrace.

    If they are so afraid of paying higher taxes, perhaps they will change their minds when the rabble arise in the streets with pitchforks and demand French Revolution-style executions.

    How much money does one need, FFS?

    /s/ Disgusted In Tunbridge Wells

    1. Danny

      You assume that they will be dumb enough to be caught by a mob storming their Montana fishing cabin or trapped at the top of their 60 story Central Park view highrise?

      Dude, this is the P.J. Set, they’ll have flown away at the first sign of trouble. These private jet people have huge passive incomes, some stolen, most legally ‘earned’.

      However, far more guilty actors deserve the guillotine: Want to hear the clearest explanation of the largest theft in World History, perpetrated against the American taxpayers in 2008?

      Dylan Ratigan: The Super Rich Have No Country. – YouTube
      Start at the 55 minute mark for the crux of it.

      25 or so minutes of some of the most explanatory financial reporting I or my friends have ever heard. Get out pen and paper. You can make your list and check it twice. One of them signed the pieces of paper in your wallet.

    2. Hepativore

      The trouble is that in our current era, the aristocracy has both militarized police forces as well as the military itself at its beck and call. Thanks to the wonders of modern weaponry, it takes far fewer people to hold down a rebellion than it did centuries ago.

      I fear any large demonstration by the peasantry in the US would be strafed by drones, rockets, and armored vehicles.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If it were still at the level of large demonstrations and not yet rebellions, and the Overclasses still felt like maintaining control-in-place, they might start with Raytheon OvenRays, LRAD ear-melters, etc.
        If they were in an experimental mood, they might also spray the crowds with time-delayed cancer juice. They might also experiment with various microbes.

        If the peasants went on to rebel anyway, then yes . . . large fleets of Puff-The-Magic-Dragon helicopter gunships would be a small part of what gets rolled out. See link for images of Puff-The-Magic-Dragon.

        Perhaps the peasants should think about other ways to make their displeasure known . . . ways which do not involve packing together into dense lucratively-targetable groups and crowds.

      2. HotFlash

        As a peasant myself, and seeing the possibility of armed conflict with the state in my lifetime, I am enheartened by the failure of the US military to conquer (for instance) relatively lightly armed peasants in Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

        1. inode_buddha

          Not to mention that those same soldiers will be very reluctant to turn against their own families, friends, and countrymen.

          1. Hepativore

            To the first point, the whole reason for the Bush-era wars that have continued to the present is for rent extraction by private contractors, not to “win”. All of these wars are a giant mission creep boondoggle.

            As for soldiers not wanting to fire upon their fellow citizens, I am not optimistic enough to think that would cause a significant amount of detractors. Indoctrination is a powerful tool in a police state such as ours. Plus, service members that did not comply would probably have to fear for the safety of their civilian family members. Finally, I am sure that the elites would not hestitate to declare demonstrators as not being “real citizens” and therefore “non-uniformed enemy combatants”.

            1. inode_buddha

              I am not so fearful as yourself, simply because the majority of my acquaintances are either active or former military. I know how they think. If something smells “fishy” or wrong to the inactive members “back home”, the active ones will pick up on that very quickly.

          2. rowlf

            I was always amazed about ten or so years ago when in the emails my cousin passed around from her son who was an infantry company commander in Afghanistan at the time contained his mentions of the popularity of the Occupy Wallstreet movement with his troops. Living with and around veterans their view of the Constitution is very different than the DC crowd who seem to want to shred it into Möbius loops.

            1. inode_buddha

              X2 I can confirm this. The former and current military that I know, are very fundamentalist “Constitution and bill of rights, as written”

              1. Michael Fiorillo

                Then I imagine they must love Russiagate, Son of Russiagate and other antics by the #McResistance TM… /s

  5. ptb

    “The debate was 11/20. In five days, not one single national poll? WTF?”

    I noticed this too… there probably are polls but they don’t always release them. (note the release dates often trail the data dates by a couple weeks). I think the business model here is exclusively-sell what you can, release what you can’t. But also release what your customer pays you to release.

    The resulting incentives are interesting, you could make the most money from the poll result your customer likes the least =)

    1. fnx

      I posit that there were but that they have yet to determine how to force the results to fit their narrative.

  6. diptherio

    I determined long ago that one’s generosity is not to be judged by how much they give away, but rather how much they keep for themselves. There has never once been a generous billionaire, QED.

    1. smoker

      So true. So very many people with no DISPOSABLE INCOME, help out those they love and those they don’t even know, many times far over the – utterly meaningless with their amassed wealth – 3-4% Gates and Buffet were noted at. So very sick of decades of Gates Buffet Philanthropy™ lionizing. Never noted either, are the strings attached to Gates Buffet Philanthropy™, nor that charitable giving™ can many times include giving to IRS determined Charities™ which do nothing whatsoever for those who most need it. When the Elite start helping people by taking a bite out of their basic human needs income/wealth , with no strings attached, to help the vulnerable, is the only time they should be spoken of as benefiting the most vulnerable at their own expense.

      (also, diptherio, I added some alerts regarding RIP to your earlier request for RIP comments, after my initial comment and further research. An historic and pathetic state of affairs that so many Charities™ can end up being wealth scams (and even worse, abuse scams – Sandusky and The Second Mile comes to mind) and necessitate so much vetting.)

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      A gorgeous tree, the kind I would promptly have clambered up and ensconced myself in with a book when I was a kid.

      1. barefoot charley

        It’s gotta be a live oak with that great low trunk blossom-branching high up and out, whose thin moss makes me think it could be a Californian.

        My only gripe with these trees is that the branches too are big. It’s a long reach to climb these puppies! and a lot easier to go out than up.

        1. Paddlingwithoutboats

          It’s a garry oak, Vancouver Island. I took the photo. Don’t think we have live oaks here, but plenty of other fabulous trees.

  7. td

    Referring to the class warfare item from the Guardian: the peasant revolts had some success primarily because the Black Death eliminated half to two-thirds of the labor force in the 1340’s. The plague then recurred regularly making labor scarce for a couple of centuries. Peasants could quite often get a better deal by travelling a little.

    Also, serfdom did not end in much of eastern and northern Europe until the 18th and 19th centuries. The Russians began freeing the serfs in 1861 and the Russian Empire had a big chunk of the European population.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I was (sadly only mentally) connecting this to the peasant’s Republic of Dithmarschen, discussed last week.

      The road from feudalism to capitalism seems a good deal twistier than many, including me, would have thought. Even including the Black Death, the peasants had more agency than I ever imagined. Rather puts Marx’s strictures on “the idiocy of rural life” in a different perspective (especially since Marx was German!)

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The peasants had levels of bio-knowledge and bio-culture which the Marx the urbanite would never attain. Perhaps his jealousy and envy over the peasant culture which he would never have led him to hate them so much.

        Perhaps the fact that a viable self-supporting peasantry would reveal the worthlessness of his religious cult disguised as a “theory” to all with eyes to see.

        1. Danny

          Witness what was done to the Kulak peasants in his name in The Soviet Union, there there’s the Holodomor.

          1932–33, Stalin and henchmen, Lazar Kaganovitch and Vyacheslav Molotov, conducted a merciless campaign to crush resistance by Ukrainian farmers to communism and collectivization. They isolated Ukraine, then cut off all food supplies and seeds. Six to nine million Ukrainians died from the ensuing man-made famine and mass shootings.


          1. Roger Boyd

            The “Holdomor” is a subject of much academic debate, as the page you referenced states:

            “The causes are still a subject of academic debate, and some historians dispute its characterization as a genocide” Some very distinguished historians. This page better covers the academic debate:


            There is no question that Stalin consciously waged a campaign to break the Kulaks, a very brutal one, but that is very different from a campaign of genocidal starvation.

      2. Jeff W

        Jason Hickel, the writer of that Guardian piece, is always worth reading or listening to.

        Here he is on Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnsons excellent Citations Needed podcast about “The Neoliberal Optimism Industry” talking about the discourse of the Global North “helping” the Global South:

        So the aid discourse makes it seem as though what’s needed is like little technocratic fixes here and there, some more malaria bed nets here and there, but it distracts our attention away from the fundamental structure of the international economy and you know, the rules that govern international trade and that’s really what needs to be addressed because effectively if you look into the way that that system operates, it’s effectively designed in such a way that facilitates the siphoning of wealth and cheap labor and resources from the South to the North.

        [Emphasis added.]

      3. GERMO

        During this period Marx had high esteem for peasant struggles, and the phrase “idiocy of village life” I’ve read mistranslates the intent of the original — his meaning is much more in line with “isolation” (the greek root of idiot) not stupidity and certainly not contempt.
        Peasants weren’t necessarily poor people. The Peasantry as a category included subsistence farmers, something like sharecroppers, and also richer ones who owned land, controlling thereby the means of food production, and who oppressed the others, as well. As an actual class the peasantry has largely disappeared in the modern era.

        1. scarn

          Yeah, that’s Hobsbawm’s argument iirc. Though the quote is from the manifesto, not the most theoretical of his works.

          IMO, Marx was a bit of a bumbler on lots of his historical arguments for transition in modes of production. He doesn’t make the “punctuated equilibrium” of the process clear all the time, though I think that this pragmatism is available in his more theoretical writing. Thankfully we have people like Federici to expand on Marx with additional data and theory, and we have people who have expanded on Caliban, masterpiece though it is.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Thankfully we have people like Federici


            Perhaps “pioneer” instead of bumbler? We have a lot more knowledge, despite the bullshit, than we did when the Bearded One was reading in the British Museum.

  8. Jim A.

    “As the historian Silvia Federici demonstrates, a series of successful peasant rebellions across Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries overthrew feudal lords and gave peasants more control over their own land and resources. ”

    Arguably the biggest factor increasing the power of laborers (both on the farms and in the cities) during the 14th century was the scarcity of labor brought on by the plague. Peasant revolts were probably more of a result of the the increasing power of workers than a cause of it. People fought because fewer workers meant that land was going fallow. Even in the face of laws that prevented them from leaving for town or a distant village that was easier than when there were too many people for the amount of arable land. Contrast that with the current desperation of workers in the face of automation-driven lowered demand for labor.

  9. Off The Street

    Class warfare with a Burkean Connections twist. (Connections was an America TV program some four short decades ago that showed the wonderful serendipities and aha moments of history, and here is a non-Wiki link for fun.)

    An enclosure here, a Highland clearance there, and you could induce some emigrant activity. America benefited in many ways, ranging from stubborn independence and moonshine to NASCAR and beyond. ;)

    1. anon y'mouse

      hence that round of books a few years ago that racked up countless of our socio-political problems to them White Trash Crackers of Scots-Irish descent and their warlike nature driving our place to idiocy and poverty-class cultural interests (country music, anyone?).

      now if we could just rid ourselves of “them”. wait, whoops…we ARE them. at least if our ancestors have been here for any length of time exceeding 50 years.

  10. TroyIA

    “‘It Is Hard To Read This as Anything But a Warning’: New Polling Suggests Democrats’ Impeachment Push Could Alienate Key Voters”

    For Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren’s sake I hope the impeachment isn’t sent to the Senate because there is almost 0% chance the Republicans will vote to remove President Trump. If Sanders or Warren win the Democratic Nomination and vote for impeachment it will be non stop negative ads about radical Democrats trying to overthrow the government. We are already being bombarded with negative Abby Finkenauer and Cheri Bustos ads about the impeachment and this fiasco will play right in to Republican hands.

    Didn’t the impeachment of President Clinton backfire for the Republicans? I don’t understand why the Democrats thought this time it would work any better.

    1. nippersmom

      I don’t understand why the Democrats thought this time it would work any better.

      Never underestimate the hubris of the Democratic Party.

      1. Synoia

        Impeachment appears as a bright shiny object to tell their voters the Ds are “Doing Something.”

        It is occupying the space where there would be substantive support for Medicare for All.

        1. russell1200

          Based on a completely non-scientific survey of people I know who are Democrats, the mainstream Democrats have pretty much bought into the idea that the Russians stole the election. Their hysteria over the matter needed some sort of venting is best I can figure out why they went ahead with it.

          But Trump has so many weak points, leadership could at least have picked an area where they didn’t look so stupid (aka Biden Jr.) themselves.

          In fairness, the Republican folks I know are not particularly attached to reality either.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > the mainstream Democrats have pretty much bought into the idea that the Russians stole the election.

            I had fun on Twitter trying to get one such to show me where votes were actually changed. And the idea that a Russian $50K popgun took down the $1.4 billion Clinton leviathon doesn’t seem to generate any cognitive dissonance at all.

            Unless I’m the one who’s losing his mind, of course.

            1. Misty Flip

              Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Vol 2, Page 25:
              “According to the Special Counsel’s Office, the IRA was funded as part of a larger interference operation called ‘Project Lakhta’, which was part of a global set of operations undertaken both within Russia and abroad. The *monthly* budget for Project Lakhta ‘exceeded 73 million Russian rubles (over 1,250,000 U.S. dollars), including approximately one million rubles in bonus payments.’” [Emphasis mine.]
              – So maybe the true figure somewhere in the middle? If you were having fun on Twitter, then, yes, you lost your mind, if only for a brief moment. We should all be so lucky.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                Accepting the figure*, the disproportion between $1.4 billion and a million is still wildly extreme. It’s as if a North Vietnamese peasant took down a Phantom jet with a slingshot instead of a rifle.

                * IIRC, $50K is the figure the Times used for those ridiculous Facebook images.

            2. Geo

              “Unless I’m the one who’s losing his mind, of course.”

              I feel that way often. Try to remind myself of Erich Fromm’s words that go something to the effect of, “In an insane society the sane man is isolated and feels himself to be insane.”

              Felt much the same way in the frenzied early days of the GWOT and pretty consistently since then. At this point, my two options are to accept I’m out of my mind or that our society is. Neither is comforting.

              “He wrote, ‘Diagnosis: out of touch with reality.’ Since then, I have been trying to find out what reality is, so that I can touch it.” – Jeanette Winterson, Lighthousekeeping

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            Its not as extreme, but Hillary’s credibility as an unstoppable candidate or a slam dunk win was always problematic. I expected her to be the President, but I expected a result that didn’t meet expectations. I completely missed how far states like Ohio had drifted, but the problem with “why didn’t Hillary go to Wisconsin” and the electoral college was a problem of how she sought pledged delegates in 2008. Not having an explanation for Iraq when she hoped to claim Libya was an example of a Democratic SMRT War.

            Then of course, there are down ballot races. We’ve seen the Clinton stewardship of the Democratic Party. Given the consistent plea for Democratic voters to vote pragmatically, there is a simple question for every Hillary primary voter: was Hillary a pragmatic choice? You don’t have to accept Sanders was, but there was nothing in the history of Team Clinton worth risking an election on Hillary. She was a risk to lose. Even in 2008, she consistently was behind McCain in head to head matchups and was a drag on Senate races when 60 was a real possibility. I think “OMG Russia” is very much a demand of absolution. It wasn’t lazy citizens (look how many huff about the electoral college and never complained between 2000 and 2016) it was Russians, a non quantifiable enemy.

            But Trump has so many weak points

            Trump like most successful Republican politicians does one thing that satiates the GOP voter id which is annoy “liberals.” All of that West Wing attributes is all bs. This is the primary driver of the GOP electorate.

            1. kiwi

              “This is the primary driver of the GOP electorate.”

              Just keep believing that while Trump laughs all the way to the ballot box.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Right…and what is your disagreement? I fully expected Republicans to vote for Trump. Every prediction about Trump embarrassing the GOP was futile because the GOP only cares about annoying liberals. It is their unifying principle. Reagan, Shrub, Palin, Mittens, and Trump. All clowns who Democratic strategerists were assured would lead to Republicans clamoring for Team Blue adults. The GOP voter doesn’t care. Their hate for the other tribe is where they vote.

                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  Too simplistic. 20% probably want revenge on liberals, for a variety of reasons (money, coolness, religious conservatism, lecturing tone, deplorable characterization). 20% agree with Trump on things like the media (he’s not wrong there IMO). 20% agree with him on China (where I also think he’s right).

                  Their hate for the other tribe is where they vote. And I think your quote applies better to TDS people these days.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the “impeachment” reaches the Senate, let us pray that Sanders is smart enough to vote ” No. Do NOT convict or remove.” Whatever Trump may have done is as nothing compared to what Bush did and compared to what Obama did, both in retro-immunizing and impunifying Cheney-Bush and also the care Obama took to see that the laws were faithfully obstructed. Sanders could even say that very thing in the Senate as part of his speech about voting NO.

      If Sanders votes to convict, that would show his thinking would have degraded and decayed down to Democratic levels. He would lose every Deplorable who might have voted for him. And the Pink Pussy Hat Clintonites and the Older Generation Black Racist ObamaFans would all vote against him one way or another in any case.

      1. turtle

        How would Bernie ever be able to win the primary or the general election without the vote of those who want Trump impeached? If he votes NO to impeachment, none of that crowd will vote for him.

        This makes me think that the Trump impeachment process (and RussiaUkraineGate) could have a secondary(?) purpose as a tool to control the progressive candidates.

        1. Geo

          Agreed. If Bernie voted “no” he’d be banished to a dungeon where the Dem voters, fed in a consistent diet of Russiagate hysteria and party propaganda to the point of mania, would toss any and all undesirables.

          He’s already been branded with the scarlet letter for having dared challenge the queen in ‘16. A betrayal of orthodoxy like that would be the end of his already troubled acceptance by diehard Dems. He’d be locked in the gallows with all the other heretics like Ralph Nader, Glenn Greenwald, Susan Sarandon, and Tulsi Gabbard.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Susan Sarandon and Tulsi Gabbard strike me as a separate issue, and I think the idea of anyone but especially women speaking out of turn still upsets much of the Democratic establishment. Hillary was the Queen, not rabble. Klobuchar and Harris are laboring in obscurity, and despite their loyalty to the Queen, they are just also rans already, Harris even had a path to victory at one point.

            The treatment and questioning of a Nina Turner has a particularly nasty element, and I think it boils down to a basic disdain for equality and even female equality. Hillary and few token individuals are special, but the vitriol from Team Blue types towards relatively inconsequential women speaks to something…perhaps, I don’t know what it is, but I think its due to the idea of women still having their own thought…only women who want to blow things up as well as men need apply in the neoliberal world.

        2. Code Name D

          If he votes NO to impeachment, none of that crowd will vote for him.

          You got any data to back up this assertion?

          I don’t think its nearly as dire as you make it out to be. First, Trump is no saint. True, Russia and Ukraine-gate are witch hunts. But its not like Trump doesn’t have a dozen other impeachable offenses to go after. Independent voters are hardly running around wearing MAGA hats.

          Second, Bernie’s support is built on the issues – not identity politics. Its a mistake to assume how independent voters will react with a Bernie-Yes vote. When it comes for MCFA and other issues, they may just look past this.

          That said. One should not take this question lightly. I think a yes vote is inevitable. But a great deal may hinge on Bernie’s reasoning for his vote.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i think his campaign bus should have engine trouble in the middle of nowhere with no cell service on the day of the vote.
            team blue is unlikely to vote for him anyway.
            if he gets the Nom, they’ll find a thirdway third party candidate/savior, and support them instead.

          2. Michael Fiorillo

            If/when there’s a senate vote on impeachment, Bernie will be in a difficult position, but I can’t imagine him voting “No.”

            The key takeaway is that Russiagate/Son of Russiagate and impeachment have always been motivated by a combination of magical thinking by morally complacent liberals, combined with a convergence of interest among the National Security State, corporate media and the Clinton/Obama/Donor Class wing of the Ds.

            It’s always been about confining/controlling the debate, harmlessly diverting oppositional energies, and, as journalist Aaron Mate has correctly said, maintaining a privilege protection racket for those who helped get us here.

      2. The Historian

        I do think that the current impeachment inquiry is, to paraphrase Shakespeare, “full of the sound and the fury, signifying nothing”. But for those who are entertained by it, by all means, enjoy yourselves. No problem! But don’t expect any changes to our political system or our lives because of it, just as there were no real changes from the Johnson impeachment, or the Nixon impeachment, or the Clinton impeachment.

        But to say that Sanders shouldn’t vote his conscience because of how it looks to you or because he might lose votes from the deplorables is a really callous view of what we expect of our politicians, isn’t it?

        BTW, exactly what is a deplorable? Isn’t that a Clinton term that really has no meaning other than to shame people who wouldn’t vote for her?

        And there is that other thing: I know of a guy who got away with murder. Should no one else ever be charged with murder simply because he got away with it? Why should we have any laws or why should we try to enforce laws, because there will always be someone who breaks that law and gets away with it, won’t there? Should we allow whataboutism as a defense in our court system?

        Isn’t there a point when we have to stand up and say enough – that we aren’t going to tolerate this behavior any more? And that whataboutism never solved any of our problems -that it is only a reminder of our past failures that we should learn from and not repeat?

        And if that point starts with Trump, well, so be it. Better late than never.

        1. hunkerdown

          Why now? There’s an election in less than 12 months. What are they hiding or trying to prevent by acting now, other than the Establishment’s utter irrelevance to anyone outside the Beltway-New York bubble? And why should I have any problem with an aristocracy being taken down? The decision has been made. We’re working on the Democrat establishment first and ignore their screaming.

        2. integer

          The push for impeachment has nothing to do with the law. Even if it was, Ukraine received the “aid” before the date specified by Congress and all the “impeachment investigation” hearings have revealed is that Sondland has no evidence the release of the aid in question was contingent upon Burisma being investigated, yet had “presumed” it to be the case.

          What this is about, is the intel agencies, Blob, and D party – aided by their mockingbirds in the liberal media establishment – wanting to remove a sitting president in a way that maintains the appearance of the US being a democracy. They also want to cover the tracks of their misdeeds during the 2016 election, which were egregious and numerous.

        3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          So your argument is “it won’t do anything at all” but “it’s very important we do it”. OK then.

          I think: No. We don’t drop absolutely every last one of the nation’s many *real* problems just to give a feelgood bread and circus 100% partisan circle jerk to show “we are doing something”. (While Nancy the First re-signs The Patriot Act). And especially one that is framed in the dire, Constitutional tones absolutely calculated to divide. And double-especially: not with an election less than 12 months away.

          Trump is corrupt. Biden is corrupt as the day is long. The nation that made the largest contributions to Hilary’s “Foundation” was The Ukraine, her corruption is absolute and it’s Dems, not R’s who need investigating on Ukraine. The Dems need to do something that is actually good for the people (notice I did not say “their constituents”), not just faff about and pretend they are not corrupt.

          1. The Historian

            No, my argument is a lot more nuanced than that. Our impeachment process is a farce and it always has been. It’s like trying to use your fist in place of a hammer. But it is all we have. Our only other option is to let a President run rampant for four years and hope whatever he’s done overwhelms his demagoguery. That hasn’t worked out so well, has it?

            My point is that haven’t we had enough? Are we going to put up with this political impeachment process that accomplishes nothing forever just because that’s the way its always been done? Shouldn’t we be taking steps to improve the impeachment process and get it out of the hands of politicians and into the hands of professional investigators who can properly gather all the evidence before Congress gets involved? Congress doesn’t have the ability to investigate OR interrogate/interview which is why impeachment hearings are always a farce. And if this starts with Trump, well, so be it.

            My other point is that whataboutism is NEVER a reason for doing nothing.

      3. @pe

        So, my comments have gone to the ether, but Chomsky seems to say the same point:

        It’s not something new. It’s common now to invoke Watergate — when President Nixon’s terrible crimes, domestic and international, were ignored while elite opinion agonized over the attack on the foundations of the republic — thankfully overcome in a “stunning vindication of our constitutional system” (according to famed liberal historian Henry Steele Commager). What was the attack? A break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters by some thugs organized by Nixon. That’s half of the U.S. system of political power, which doesn’t take such offenses lightly. Turning to today, the prime charge so far is the abuse of presidential power to implicate a leading figure of the Democratic Party [Joe Biden] in some concocted scandal [“Ukrainegate”]. Does that suggest some conclusions about what matters to elite opinion?

        But it is important to honestly look at the elite values and why they do what they do, instead of simply dismissing it with insults. That’s if you want to have a predictive understanding and not just rah-rah my side.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > But it is important to honestly look at the elite values and why they do what they do, instead of simply dismissing it with insults. That’s if you want to have a predictive understanding and not just rah-rah my side.

          I’m all for predictive understanding, but I’m not sure where the “insults” lie, because you don’t say. I’ve helpfully underlined what they could be:

          If Sanders votes to convict, that would show his thinking would have degraded and decayed down to Democratic levels. He would lose every Deplorable who might have voted for him. And the Pink Pussy Hat Clintonites and the Older Generation Black Racist ObamaFans would all vote against him one way or another in any case.

          It’s a common technique to refer to party factions using cultural markers as proxies and other tropes. Not all these are the markers I would have chosen (“Black Racist”( but I don’t think these rise to the level of insults. And trust me on this, I know what an insult is.

  11. Carla

    Re: “The Army Built to Fight ‘Medicare for All’”

    Chip Kahn, Hit Man.

    You got it exactly right, Lambert.

    1. Duck1

      Kahn’s killed an awful lot of people for money, hasn’t he?

      Health insurance spokesperson, “but we think it was worth it.”

      1. Arizona Slim

        I get a boatload of those Partnership for America’s Health Care Future ads on YouTube.

        All about that scary government-run health care. Yikes. I’m trembling in my boots.

  12. XXYY

    Lambert, your “average of the last five polls” graph is really nice, telling the story that has been missing from dk’s polling data to date. Thanks for putting this up.

    Even better would be to include smoothing or a trend line or something, so the broad trajectories are clear.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And maybe make the graph vertically taller, so that the different lines and colored bubbles would not crowd eachother.

      1. hunkerdown

        Better yet, why not plot a stacked line graph? If only I had the sauce I could feed it all into InfluxDB and play with it every which way.

  13. zagonsotra

    Yang – M4A

    I was reading NC on my phone and an advertisement banner for Yang was blazoned on the top reading “Medicare for All.” This is disingenuous, as other’s have pointed out he uses the label because it is popular, not that he supports it.

  14. XXYY

    The staffer who is (I assume) handling Sanders’ tweets is doing a great job.

    I agree totally. But we have to admit it’s a very target-rich environment!

  15. dk

    “Damaged newspapers, damaged civic life: How the gutting of local newsrooms has led to a less-informed public” [Nieman Labs].

    Related: The Left’s Plan to Slip Vote-Swaying News Into Facebook Feeds

    Series of related tweets and article links:

    The seminal modern effort by partisan operatives to create what looked like independent journalism, but wasn’t, might ring a bell: Fox News.

    Acronym and @taraemcg aren’t violating a heretofore sacred norm. They’re adapting Roger Ailes’s template https://theintercept.com/2018/10/30/fox-news-has-done-more-to-incite-domestic-political-violence-than-donald-trump/

    I’m not saying I love seeing partisan, ersatz ‘news’ organizations flourish. I don’t. But we won’t understand why this is happening if we don’t acknowledge how the country started down this path.

    Where we are now: While private-equity is nuking local newsrooms, partisan operatives are rushing into the new gaps with stuff that look likes independent journalism, but isn’t.

    I guess this is a return to historical status quo, because the origins of American newspapering are very much synonymous with crusading of the partisan rag, but it’s still a bummer.

    I’ve always considered all news (and everything else that’s 2nd/3rd hand information) to be rumor. That doesn’t make it untrue, but it’s going to be distorted by transmitters (not strictly speaking “the medium” fuck Marshal McLuhan for that). Understanding how those distortions affect the information is something we have to deal with even on more directly physical levels. We learn to recognize echoes, fog, and even regular darkness as inhibiting factors we just have to deal with.

    The common response is “we invented lights so we could see in the dark” but consistent use of those lights require resources and infrastructure. Several generations have now matured in contexts where nocturnal lighting was a given, and consequently undervalue it, in the sense of overestimating its availability. The expression “dark ages” is not particularly euphemistic, it’s explicit.

  16. KevinD

    Rick Perry: Trump is God’s Chosen One

    I agree with Ricky.
    God looked around for someone to appropriately lead a nation consumed by greed.
    He saw trump crapping on a gold toilet – and BINGO!

    If God had anything to do with it, Trump was chosen as punishment.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      it has been said (s)he has a very dark sense of humor. looking around, it’s hard to argue with that conclusion based on the results

    2. Massinissa

      I mean, you left out the part where Perry says Obama, too, was ordained by god.

      But following this logic, does this mean God ordained Jimmy Carter?

  17. Summer

    “K-Pop artist Goo Hara found dead at home aged 28” [BBC]. • Two in a month; very sad. Motown had similar problems, back in the day.

    Any entertainer worth more dead than alive needs to rethink the drugs and the company they keep.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t think these two suicides were drugs. I think they were the products of the K-Pop star system, a brutal assembly line that places extraordinary demands on the artists, as do the fans — and detractors.

    2. Massinissa

      To follow up Lamberts comment, there is lots of documentation that South Korea has the most advanced and exploitative music industry in the world. Its a veritable corporate pipeline that cranks out young teen stars, controls most of their day to day lives, and discards them all before they hit 30.

  18. Another Scott

    So Buttigieg takes millions from billionaires and corporations and then tells them what they want to hear. Sounds like he’s got the McKinsey model down pat.

  19. curlydan

    Thanks for the article on the Ogallala Aquifer. Although I’m no gardener or horticulturist, I did grow up in Lubbock, TX long ago. I’m a bit more hopeful about the aquifer’s future after reading the article. It’s kind of amazing the aquifer has been able to produce so many crops over the years in such as arid region.

    The most interesting piece for me was the discussion of “playa lakes”. I never really knew that term although occasionally I would see them in the country after a monster rain. The Panhandle is so ridiculously flat that playa lakes (I think) are basically just really small and almost imperceptible low lying areas that simply fill up with water. These improbable lakes apparently are responsible for the majority of the aquifer’s recharge and are of the “here today, gone tomorrow” variety. I suspect a lot of playa lakes have been wiped out by farmers who thought they could be a nuisance.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I would suggest that everyone who read and enjoyed the post on pq’s garden read this link in full.

      It’s really interesting, with a degree of optimism backed by evidence literally “on the ground.”

      Also, capturing water where it falls is good, basically. We build impermeable surfaces everywhere, like sidewalks and parking lots and highways, and the water flows over those surfaces to the nearest waterway, hence flooding, etc. So small efforts like gardens or plantings in public spaces help capture water for one’s local soil which is generally a good thing (and if bad, something else needs to be fixed — module places like New Orleans, below the water level).

  20. a different chris

    >They began enclosing the commons and forcing peasants off the land, with the explicit intention of driving down the cost of wages. With subsistence economies destroyed, people had no choice but to work for pennies simply in order to survive.

    Hmmm… this targets my constant “people simply don’t live on $2/day why do they say that?” whine. Now I think I do know why they say that. Can’t have cheap labor if everybody is feeding themselves. So have some celebrity cry on TV over them and suddenly they get a lot of “help” they didn’t actually need.

    This realization is *not* making me feel any better.

  21. dearieme

    How could Warren not have been prepared for this question by staff?

    What preparation could possibly be needed? Just answer it. It seems that Red Woman Speak With Forked Tongue.

    1. Massinissa

      “It seems that Red Woman Speak With Forked Tongue.”

      More native american stuff *again*? Do you have to do this every single day? We get it already. You did this yesterday and even got called out by Yves.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Former grocery store worker here.

      If i see those anti-labor abominations in a store, i will actively sabotage those machines and then walk out the door without buying anything.

  22. RMO

    Even the Gates-Buffet level of 3 to 4% should be put into perspective – According to the IRS the average Americans in the $100,000/year and lower income levels claim charitable donations equal to or more than about 4% of their annual income. Those in the under $25,000 category averaged over 12%. Not a direct apples to apples comparison but instructive nonetheless.

    1. Tom Doak

      The chart printed in the article is misleading because it lists the WEALTH of the 20 billionaires, rather than their annual INCOME, which is normally the standard for taxable giving, and being used for all of the comparisons here.

      Maybe they preferred being branded as “cheap” toward charities rather than letting everyone see how much money they MADE in 2018.

  23. WheresOurTeddy

    Squillionaire philanthropy thread (dk): Gabriel Zucman tweet

    Thanks for the handy list of class enemies all in one place, with undeniable evidence of their greed.

    Will send far and wide.

  24. Massinissa

    You know… It just occurred to me…

    If Bloomberg doesn’t like the result of the primary…

    Its entirely possible he could go full Ross Perot and run as an independent.

    Probably even more likely if its a Sanders or Warren win.

    1. Tom Doak


      And that’s why he is spending so much money now to try and put the Democratic Party nomination in the hands of the superdelegates on a second ballot . . . because it is cheaper than having to run in the general election.

  25. allan

    New ad claims Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez want to punish success [Marketwatch]

    Spare a thought for the billionaires? The very richest among us have been getting smacked around by the likes of presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders during this contentious run-up to the 2020 election, and the Employment Policies Institute, a Washington-based conservative think tank, has had enough …

    The Employment Policies Institute, which rails against a $15 minimum wage, appears to be a dark money think tank. It uses the same initials as the progressive Economic Policy Institute, its website lists no donors, and its “About Us” page names only one person.

  26. Louis Fyne

    no one on the left should be celebrating Bloomberg entering the field….his wealth (Bloomberg terminals) *literally* depends on Wall Street’s parasitic vampire business model running unfettered by DC interference.

    If you want to be cynical, Bloomberg entering the fray as the Democratic Party’s kamikaze pilot—-spending $500MM+ of his own money (campaign financing loophole), even if Bloomberg polls at 0% in the primaries.

    And if the Democrat nominee winee in 2020, guess who’s going to be calling in some favors in Feb 1, 2021? Mike Bloomberg on line #1.

  27. Vegetius

    ShareBlue/American Indepedent –

    It seems clear this outfit is as loathsome as claimed. But if you do not like hearing the kids say “Ok, Boomer” it is important to never say things like “Neocon Fascist”. Just sayin.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, that’s why I added the qualification.

      There are neo-cons, and there are fascists, and maybe there’s some overlap, but the verbiage is just sloppy, and because sloppy, disempowering.

  28. Vegetius

    Re: Detroit’s “Free Trees”

    It is true that the parts of Detroit still inhabited by the underserved community lacks trees. But we cannot lost sight of the fact that prior enforcement of laws, black rioting and white panic, de-industrialization and decades of misrule have combined to produce a lot of greenspace in Detroit. This bi-racial effort has produced the most successful urban ecological restoration effort in the US.

    The Motor City is being reforested naturally. You can now shoot deer inside the city limits. I don’t want to poke my own (admittedly white) noise in, but could this be part of a sustainable solution to the crisis of Motown’s food deserts?

    In this light, the white people involved might be silly, but not arrogant. But this happens far too often. And it seems that progressive-minded whites are the worse offenders. It’s a tough problem.

    And what makes it really problematic is this: I bet these white people believed they were being nice and helping. And thus the community was compelled to resist.

    Yet if the white people did nothing, this lack of action would also be resisted, however nicely this nothing was achieved . As a white myself, I can’t know what sort of toll such constant resistance against helpful white people takes on a marginalized community. It is bad enough they do not have trees, but white efforts to get them trees unnecessarily compound the problem.

    Thus it seems clear though that no white person, however helpful the think they are being, ought to do anything (or especially nothing) until the problem is solved.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Thus it seems clear though that no white person, however helpful the think they are being, ought to do anything (or especially nothing) until the problem is solved.

      I don’t think that’s true. The “black people” just wanted to be asked. The suburban Lady Bountifuls were too clueless to have outreach. Now they do. Hopefully the ultimate outcome is positive for all races. (It would also be helpful if they didn’t just plant trees and go away.)

  29. djrichard

    deficit at 74%, health care at 72%, and infrastructure at 70%

    At least the democrats have found bi-partisanship in keeping the deficit front and center as an issue.

  30. Gregorio

    If you like bologna cake, you might want to try the hotdog ceviche that’s a popular party appetizer here in Mexico.

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