2:00PM Water Cooler 11/26/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“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.

Finally, a new Morning Consult. Here is (are) the latest Dem Primary Polling as of 11/26/2019,12:00 PM EST. Biden leads, Sanders strong second, Warren third, Buttigieg third tier.

(I changed up the format a bit: I added a thin trend line, and averaged by the last three polls, making the narrative more clear: First, Biden’s very unexpected — dare I say, Trumpian? — dominance (“This time we’ve got him!”), Sanders’ rise, and Warren’s fall. The chart also now includes events on its timeline; I added the debates and Bloomberg’s announcement. I also added in a new third tier candidate: Mike “Mayo for Life” Bloomberg. Here, the latest national results:

We also have a new poll out of New Hamphire from Suffolk. Warren solid first, the rest bunched, as of 11/26/2019,12:00 PM EST:

And the results:

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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Biden (D)(1): “Biden’s senior Latina adviser quits in frustration” [Politico]. “A senior Joe Biden campaign staffer in charge of outreach to Latino, African-American and women’s groups has quit her post, telling two allies she was frustrated over her lack of input and with the presidential candidate’s immigration rhetoric…. ‘The campaign is just hyper-focused on whites in Iowa and African-Americans and it placed less value on Latino outreach,’ an immigration activist and friend who spoke with her told POLITICO.” • Voters with whom Sanders, whose message is not driven by idpol, is doing very well. Who knew?

Bloomberg (D)(1): Earned media for Bloomberg at MSNBC:

Bloomberg (D)(2): “Michael Bloomberg’s Right-Wing Views on Foreign Policy Make Him a Perfect Candidate for the Republican Nomination” [The Intercept]. “Take the war in Iraq. The then-Republican mayor of New York not only backed the illegal invasion and occupation in March 2003, but he also supported perhaps the most egregiously dishonest and bizarre justification for the war: that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. This, of course, was a brazen lie told by the likes of Dick Cheney and Fox News. But it was also publicly endorsed by Bloomberg…. Three years later, in March 2007, the then-mayor of New York backed the Bush administration against congressional Democrats who were trying to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq…. Then there is the Israel-Palestine conflict. Bloomberg is a longstanding supporter of Israel and especially Benjamin Netanyahu… Bloomberg… helped launder the reputation of the crown prince in March 2018, when he hosted the reckless autocrat in New York and smiled for photos with him in a Starbucks.” • I dunno. Sounds pretty mainstream to me…

Bloomberg (D)(3): “Suppressing Protest: Human Rights Violations in the U.S. Response to Occupy Wall Street” (PDF) [The Global Justice Clinic (NYU School of Law) and the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic at the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice (Fordham Law School)]. Bloomberg was, of course, Mayor at the time of Occupy. “The protests in New York City, as widely reported, have been almost categorically peaceful, and only isolated instances of violence by individuals at protests have been observed or alleged. But in many instances, the police have responded aggressively to nonviolent protest, and have escalated situations—through arbitrary or misapplications of the law, an excessive police presence, or the use of unwarranted force. The police response has thus, in some individual cases and considered cumulatively, undermined basic assembly and expression freedoms. At times, it has itself also presented a threat to the safety of New Yorkers.” • Best quote I could find in the time available, but I’m sure there’s more.

Booker (D)(1): “Booker’s campaign shifts into all-out sprint to persuade voters to get him in December debate” [CNN]. “With the qualification deadline fast approaching for the December Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Cory Booker will seek to boost his flagging poll numbers by ‘reorienting our entire campaign apparatus into a persuasion effort,’ according to a memo Tuesday from Booker’s campaign manager to supporters, obtained exclusively by CNN.” • Oh.

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Pete Buttigieg’s appeal is very much tied to race” [Samuel James, Black Girl in Maine]. • A brutal close reading of Buttigieg’s statement: “I welcome the challenge of connecting with black voters…”

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie lets it rip against Bloomberg ‘arrogance'” [Politico]. “Bernie Sanders insists he has nothing personal against Michael Bloomberg. ‘I really don’t.’ He just thinks he’s trying to ‘buy an election,’ is demonstrating ‘the arrogance of billionaires’ and, as Bloomberg opens his near-bottomless wallet to pay for TV ads, is complicit in ‘undermining’ American democracy.” • And indeed, those charges aren’t personal. I mean, Sanders isn’t asking Mike what brand of lifts he uses in his shoes, after all.

Warren (D)(1): As we have been discussing:

Warren (D)(2): “Indigenous Scholars Respond to Elizabeth Warren’s Claims to Native Ancestry” [Perspectives on History]. This is from the American Historical Society in March, still germane: “It was like clockwork. Every semester, a few white students in Julie Reed’s classes on US history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, would boast that they had Native American heritage. ‘They all descend from full-blooded Cherokee great-grandmothers,’ Reed quipped during the late-breaking session ‘Rapid Response History: Native American Identities, Racial Slurs, and Elizabeth Warren’ at the AHA annual meeting in Chicago. ‘Or maybe it’s their great-great grandmothers? Or maybe it’s a great-great-great . . .'” • I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but this ticks me off so much because the Penobscots were absolutely essential in our fight against the landfill, and to river clean-up, too. And the way Cherokee ancestry works, you don’t just get to claim tribal membership, you have to check with the tribe. And it’s great that Warren has apologized, but what kind of thought process did she have? How hard would it have been to talk to the Cherokees instead of doing a lab test? Sheesh.

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“Waiting for Obama” [Politico]. “Publicly, he has been clear that he won’t intervene in the primary for or against a candidate, unless he believed there was some egregious attack. ‘I can’t even imagine with this field how bad it would have to be for him to say something,’ said a close adviser. Instead, he sees his role as providing guardrails to keep the process from getting too ugly and to unite the party when the nominee is clear. There is one potential exception: Back when Sanders seemed like more of a threat than he does now, Obama said privately that if Bernie were running away with the nomination, Obama would speak up to stop him. (Asked about that, a spokesperson for Obama pointed out that Obama recently said he would support and campaign for whoever the Democratic nominee is.)” • Of course, of course. Maybe the DNC made him sign a loyalty oath.


“Democrats eye multiple articles of impeachment as some push to go beyond Ukraine scandal” [CNN]. “The party is zeroing in on multiple articles of impeachment, including charges of abuse of power, bribery and obstruction of Congress for defying subpoenas. It is also weighing whether to add multiple instances of obstruction of justice that Mueller found as a separate article, including allegations Trump lied in his written responses to the special counsel. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to embrace including the Mueller findings in the impeachment inquiry.” • They haven’t made up their minds?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“It Only Takes 5 Questions To Accurately Guess Your Generation” (quiz) [Buzzfeed]. • BWA-HA-HA-HA! I didn’t even game my answers, I swear, and here’s my result:

Take that, punks [waves cane].

Stats Watch

Consumer Confidence, November 2019: “On the Conference Board’s measure, consumer confidence surprisingly deteriorated in November” [Econoday]. “Consumers assessment of business conditions saw a net worsening as did their view of the labour market… Despite the latest setback, outside of the July/August bounce, the Conference Board’s sentiment gauge remains broadly in line with levels seen over much of the rest of the year. Back-to-back falls are hardly good news but on balance today’s report should not be inconsistent with continued limited gains in consumer spending over the next month or so.”

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, November 2019: “Fifth District manufacturing activity surprisingly fell into contraction in November,” “much weaker than the consensus forecast” [Econoday]. “Companies were apparently not discouraged by the fall into contraction, however, as expectations for the next six months were mostly more optimistic than previously.”

International Trade in Goods, October 2019: “The goods balance returned a $66.53 billion deficit in October, down quite sharply” [Econoday]. “However, the monthly headline improvement reflected a contraction in both sides of the balance sheet… [E]xports provisionally had a small positive impact on economic growth in the third quarter; today’s update holds out hope of another favourable contribution in the fourth quarter.”

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, September 2019: “According to the new Case-Shiller survey, house prices were slightly stronger than expected in September” [Econoday]. “Although the monthly statistics can be very volatile, there is gradually building evidence that housing market activity is beginning to acquire some fresh momentum.”

Retail: “The Barneys New York Inc. bankruptcy is rippling across a network of apparel suppliers that depend on the increasingly stressed eco-system of fashion retailers…. Mammoth fashion brands whose retail networks include both their own stores and hundreds of others worldwide may absorb the losses, but smaller designers that relied on Barneys for sizable orders and ongoing support are scrambling to adjust as contracts ‘disappear into the ether'” [Wall Street Journal]. “One footwear supplier says his company is looking more closely at its own e-commerce strategy. If you’re not moving to direct-to-consumer sales, says Article Number co-founder Joshua Willis, ‘you’re kind of a dinosaur.'”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 70 Greed (previous close: 70, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 80 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 26 at 1:00pm. I guess it’s too much to ask for excitement during Thanksgiving week.

The Biosphere

“One Whale Is Worth Thousands of Trees in Climate Fight” [Bloomberg]. “Climate activists would be better off trying to save whales rather than planting trees if they had to choose between those options, according to a study published by the International Monetary Fund. Great whales are the carbon-capture titans of the animal world, absorbing an average of 33 tons of CO2 each throughout their lives before their carcasses sink to the bottom of the ocean and remain there for centuries, according an article in the December issue of the IMF’s Finance & Development magazine. A tree, by contrast, absorbs no more than 48 pounds of the gas a year. That difference prompted Ralph Chami and Sena Oztosun from the IMF’s Institute for Capacity Development, and two professors, Thomas Cosimano and Connel Fullenkamp, to argue that supporting international efforts to restore whale populations — decimated to 1.3 million by years of industrialized hunting — ‘could lead to a breakthrough in the fight against climate change.'” • Let’s do both! Effing scarcity mentality. The real scarcity is of economists who aren’t neoliberal!

“This Is How Elon Musk Can Fix The Damage His Starlink Satellites Are Causing To Astronomy” [Forbes]. “In astronomy, the greatest resource of all is a dark, clear night sky: humanity’s window to the Universe. Traditionally, its enemies have been turbulent air, cloud cover, and artificial light pollution. But very recently, a new type of pollutant has begun to pose an existential threat to astronomy itself: mega-constellations of satellites. If Elon Musk’s Starlink project continues as it has begun, it will likely end ground-based astronomy as we know it.” • A perfect case for the precautionary principle.


“The most prized commodity in parts of the oil-rich Middle East isn’t crude but a very different liquid asset. Water from the Nile River is growing more valuable as countries China battle over the scarce resource” [Wall Street Journal]. “Dams funded by foreign countries including China and oil-rich neighbors like Saudi Arabia are tapping the river to irrigate industrial farms, many of them producing crops increasingly shipped out of Africa, often to feed livestock. That has meant less water for the 250 million-plus small farmers, herders and city dwellers in the Nile basin, all because the region is essentially ‘exporting water’ to support crops for other countries.” • Just as Michael Burry predicted.


“Friend accidentally sells man’s £1m game character for £400” [Sky News]. “The man, Lu Mou, spent £1.1m developing his character in Justice Online, a massive multiplayer online role playing game in China. Mr Lu had let his friend Li Mouscheng borrow his customised character in the martial arts game. When Mr Li attempted to sell the character back to Mr Lu using Justice Online’s internal marketplace, instead of simply giving it back, the original owner refused to pay up. The character was then sold to a third person over the marketplace for £400, an accidentally low price according to the friend, who said he was exhausted after a marathon session of gaming.” • Interesting asset class…

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Race GPS: Levels of Looks” [Six Perfections (DJG)]. “Okay, here’s the thing: most poc encounter microaggressions, negative body language, and ‘looks’ every day. Racism usually doesn’t come in the form of someone screaming ‘N-word, AHAHAHA’ in an elevator or burning a Colin Kaepernick jersey in front of us. The form is non-verbal and subtle…like a slow-release capsule dripping out poison into the bloodstream throughout the day. If you’re a POC you become an expert at differentiating between plain negative body language (which does happen a lot) and that subtle shift in non-verbal communication that is…something else: the kind of warning sign sets off your alarm. Just like how gay people have gaydar, people of color have ‘race GPS’ and it pings…usually quite accurately. If I start flagging and posting about each one of my ‘pings,’ then it’s like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500. Exhausting. Pointless. Furthermore, a white ally usually doesn’t possess the same race GPS so they don’t believe you or they just don’t see it in the same way straight friends say ‘I never knew about (file in the blank celebrity). But he was married…to a woman! I just thought he was sensitive.’ With race GPS, you just file away the ping with notes: never get drunk with this person, never talk about politics, make sure to never reveal any personal info. The non-verbal takes its form on several levels from subtle to outright hostile.” • This is very good, I advise a read. For sure I’ve handed out this sh*t myself, too. (I don’t like the term, “white ally,” because I don’t think that identities are like sovereigns. But that’s not the point of this post.)

Guillotine Watch

“In the 2010s, Fame Went Multi-Platform Kim Kardashian West on life as a brand and her political awakening.” (interview) [KIm Karashian, New York Magazine]. Kardashian: “I think I’m evolving to where I don’t feel the need to want to keep up.” • I don’t even know if I’ve filed this correctly. Apparently Kardashian has an enormous fan base online. The whole interview is very odd; even odder than Versailles must have been.

Class Warfare

“Ruthless Quotas at Amazon Are Maiming Employees” [The Atlantic]. “[Candice Dixon] started the job in April 2018, and within two months, or nearly 100,000 items, the lifting had destroyed her back. An Amazon-approved doctor said she had bulging discs and diagnosed her with a back sprain, joint inflammation, and chronic pain, determining that her injuries were 100 percent due to her job. She could no longer work at Amazon. Today, she can barely climb stairs. Walking her dog, doing the dishes, getting out of her chair—everything is painful. According to her medical records, her condition is unlikely to improve. So this holiday-shopping season, as Amazon’s ferocious speed is on full display, Dixon is at a standstill. She told Reveal in mid-October that her workers’-compensation settlement was about to run out. She was struggling to land a new job and worried she’d lose her home.” • However, Dixon can take comfort in the knowledge that she’s done her little bit to send Jeff Bezos to the moon. So there’s that.

News of the Wired

“Real-Life Schrödinger’s Cats Probe the Boundary of the Quantum World” [Quanta]. “”Schrödinger’s kittens,” loosely speaking, are objects pitched midway in size between the atomic scale, which quantum mechanics was originally developed to describe, and the cat that Erwin Schrödinger famously invoked to highlight the apparent absurdity of what that theory appeared to imply. These systems are ‘mesoscopic’ — perhaps around the size of viruses or bacteria, composed of many thousands or even billions of atoms, and thus much larger than the typical scales at which counterintuitive quantum-mechanical properties usually appear. They are designed to probe the question: How big can you get while still preserving those quantum properties? To judge by the latest results, the answer is: pretty darn big.” • As big as, say, neurons? (Yet another illustration of the wonders and beauties of the natural world, and how little we know.)

“My name is Haines.” Has anyone ever heard this one? Thread:

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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 (ChiGal):

Oh my!

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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. grayslady

        It’s a red maple–probably the species rather than a distinct variety. There are 4-5 in my neighborhood, and every fall they are absolutely beautiful.

        1. russell1200

          It has the distinctive shape of leaf that most maples have.

          My neighbor has a volunteer Black Stripe Maple. It is one of the few that has a different shape. But it still has the little helicopter seed pods.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Pretty sure I sent that to Lambert about a year ago lol; guess it finally rose to the top. It was a ravishing sight, and yes, a maple but I don’t know what kind.

    1. jo6pac

      Yes he wouldn’t want any of his base on wall street to get injurie by the wrong demodog getting elected.

    2. nippersmom

      If I were a candidate, I would decline an endorsement from Obama, or any of the rest of the Third Way tribe. When I am vetting candidates, approval from too many of the corporatist hawks is a real red flag. One of the hallmarks that assures me Sanders will really fight for all the things he says he will is that he, as Lambert says, has all the right enemies.

      1. Briny

        The other is “he says what he does, does what he says.” Unlike pretty much every other politician out there.

    3. Tom Doak

      Oh, my God, I finally just finished reading the entire article, and there are so many incendiary quotes in it about pretty much everyone who’s not Obama, that you could start a cage match brawl at the next Democratic debate just by reading it one line at a time.

      I don’t know who in his entourage thought it was a good idea to put this out there, but they have ramped up the rhetoric way more than Fox or MSNBC ever could.

      1. ptb

        Yeah despite its length article comes off as kindof weak on arguments, not to mention a bit slimy in the way it tries to sanctify the former president.
        Take that part out and you are reporting some cheap shots at basically everyone in the race, and an abstract appeal to centrism without actually supporting anyone or anything specific.

        Among other things:
        (1) Obama himself wasn’t exactly elected by running on a centrist ‘status quo’, at least not as far as the impression he gave voters
        (2) the year 2008 is gone, we’ll need to wait a few more cycles before hope-and-change followed by bait-and-switch can work again.
        (3) look who is in the white house. look who isn’t.
        (4) Obama’s idea of ‘radical change’, as told by this article, is severely tilted. On health care it presupposes that the feasibility of something that has already been done around the world is in doubt. The same on wealth taxes. The same on education. His own administration found that inequality is out of control. it very well rightfully ought to be the top issue. this is not radical

        1. Acacia

          an abstract appeal to centrism without actually supporting anyone or anything specific

          Yes, but isn’t that explicitly an appeal to the status quo of DNC control, smoky back-room dealing, lobbyist gravy-train riders, their toadies and familiars?

      2. katiebird

        I read the whole thing too. I couldn’t stop (and usually I’m more of a speed-reader, just going for the big stuff). It was awful! I can’t count the times they declared Bernie’s Campaign (thankfully) dead. But still couldn’t stop from making it clear how unacceptable he is to Obama.

        I hope Bernie succeeds. I really do. (Guess it’s time for another donation)

        1. Tom Doak

          Yeah, this was the quote near the end that really doubled down:

          When it comes to Sanders, I asked one close adviser whether Obama would really lay himself on the line to prevent a Sanders nomination. “I can’t really confirm that,” the adviser said. “He hasn’t said that directly to me. The only reason I’m hesitating at all is because, yeah, if Bernie were running away with it, I think maybe we would all have to say something. But I don’t think that’s likely. It’s not happening.”

          “We would all” . . . that’s pretty rich right there.

          Oh, and Axelrod’s discussion of the Biden campaign:

          “So many scenarios here are dependent on this idea that Biden is going to collapse,” said former Obama adviser David Axelrod, who has occasionally been withering about Biden’s campaign. “But he continues to have pretty strong appeal to African Americans and to working-class whites. What happens to those working-class whites? I mean is [Michael] Bloomberg really the default candidate for noncollege educated white voters? Is Deval? Or any of them? Maybe Amy [Klobuchar], but I honestly don’t think she’s getting out of Iowa. So the Biden thing is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen in politics because the guy is up there in the air and everybody is just assuming he’s going to come down. There is kind of a Mr. Magoo kind of quality to the whole thing but he’s still driving, you know? He’s still moving forward. You worry that he’s going to hit the wall at any given moment, but he hasn’t.”

          Wouldn’t want to give Trump any oppo by comparing the frontrunner of your party to Mr. Magoo!

          It’s pretty clear that the only candidate he can support is Michelle.

          1. Beniamino

            Re the inexplicable buoyancy of the Biden campaign – I think Biden’s strength (such as it is) largely reflects the fact that he’s essentially the only Democratic candidate holding out against the current “open borders” orthodoxy. Maybe also that he’s perceived as being more reserved on the LGBTQ / transgender front. The blue dogs or whatever they’re called now don’t really have anywhere else to go for the time-being – maybe Bloomberg?

          2. notabanker

            These people are obsolete. They didn’t see Trump populism in the 16 general and they don’t see the same for Sanders in the Primary 2020. It is going to be really interesting when Sanders barnstorms the first few states.

            1. Hepativore

              I, for one, am looking forward to the wailing and gnashing of teeth on Balloon Juice. Their favored picks are Buttgieg and Harris.

              We are going to need an entire fleet of fainting couches for all of the Clintonites there.

              1. inode_buddha

                Even though I don’t read there, I have heard wonderful things about DailyKos. I can’t wait to see the reaction there when Sanders wins, let alone at the GOP.

        2. Grant

          Them proclaiming his campaign dead is a great sign. Not only is Bernie doing well, in polls that are themselves problematic (his support is certainly larger than the polls show, although how much we will see), but if that were the case it wouldn’t need to be said so often. It is funny though, because while his campaign is dead, those around Obama felt the need (in between sailing with Richard Branson and getting hundreds of thousands of dollars to give speeches to oligarchs where he slams working people that are fighting for their lives) to “leak” this. Does he bother to “leak” about finding anyone else unacceptable?. You don’t “leak” to your friends in the media for campaigns that are dead. This is the corrupt nothings, and he is the king corrupt nothing, ratcheting up the Bernie doesn’t exist campaign. But he does and he is doing well. Obama entered office with a strong, right wing ideological bias, and he left office with the same bias, but now has enriched himself and has an even stronger class bias.

          Obama will do more to harm his own image, which was always a bit absurd, than he will undermine the left. This isn’t 2008 and what he did led to his own party collapsing, things getting progressively worse for most working and poor people while those at the top doing progressively better, and he directly preceded Trump taking office. If what he did was worth building on, none of that would have happened. If Bernie can win in that corrupt and undemocratic party, he will have things worth building on, and Obama has all but announced what side he is on regarding the class war. Everyone here knew this, but he is now announcing it publicly. For once, he is being honest about where he actually stands.

          1. John Zelnicker

            November 26, 2019 at 5:53 pm

            Great comment!

            Especially: “If what [Obama] did was worth building on, none of that would have happened.

          2. Acacia

            @Grant While I agree with your overall analysis of Obama here — the underhandedness and inadvertent self-harm to O’s brand — I wonder if the general landscape of damage you describe will only be widely acknowledged a few years down the road still. For now, MSM discourse, ergo the gaslit Weltanschauung of many liberals, still seems broadly in denial of these developments. Many of us know people who, even in 2019, still lapse into O-botic praise of the man. Thus, I fail to see how “Bernie can win in that corrupt and undemocratic party”. The convention will be rigged against him, the superdelegates will nuke him, and this article documents an open admission from Team O that they will do whatever it takes to support that rigging. In the face of all this treachery, how do you see Sanders winning the nomination?

            1. Darius

              I know liberals who still think he’s the greatest thing ever and scratch their heads when I say he was and is an enormous con.

        3. richard

          i’ve been putting off putting Sanders on monthly
          but its time
          it’s just for a year, after all

          tulsi is on my “donate everytime she punches up at someone hateful” list

    4. Vegetius

      >if Bernie were running away with the nomination, Obama would speak up to stop him

      Of course.

      Obama seems quite comfortable playing the Democrat version of Romney, as it requires little in the way of effort, imagination or risk. But if the Woke wing ever seizes control of the party apparatus his eight years will be retconned again, and he will be recast as a tragically pre-mature neo-Black Panther.

    5. polecat

      He should’ve stayed put, luxuriating in the vats on Ix … along with his failed mentat Rahm !

      F****n spacedtards ‘:(

        1. polecat

          Affirmative. Then there was the time that V. Neuland thoptered on down into that Maidan crowd .. handing out flesh cookies ….

    1. Pat

      And I am slightly older, this “millennial” is counting the months to Medicare.

      Was it Reddit that gave me away?

    2. potted frog

      Calls me Z also and that’s way off. Gotta wonder about their methodology. Or maybe just the meth.

    3. MJ

      I think some fine-tuning is needed to improve accuracy.

      I am actually pre-Boomer (born 1943) but the survey concluded I am Millennial-Gen X Cusp (ages 37-42).

      I had a hard time with the social media question. I don’t actually use any of them but I had to pick one in order to complete the survey. So I picked Reddit at random. What would that say about me?

      The question about TV shows may have also skewed me younger. I haven’t seen any of them but I do watch YouTube a lot for home repair and “how-to” videos, classical music performances, piano master classes, etc.

      Back to the drawing board.

      1. RMO

        It said this Generation-Xer was a Boomer. I suspect going through the quiz with varying answers would show the social media question is the one that is doing most of the classifying work which would explain why they didn’t provide a “don’t use any” option. I was given a Facebook account early on by a Millenial age friend who wanted me to have it as she used FB a lot to arrange social gatherings. I still have it but I use it maybe an hour total per year. Since the closest I come to other social media is 1: clicking on Twitter links here and 2: occasionally coming across a Reddit thread when I’m doing an internet search I answered Facebook and I think this was what was primarily responsible for the Boomer result.

        1. RMO

          OK, ran it a few times and I can get every result from Boomer to Z just by changing the social media answer while keeping all other answers the same (and honest).

    4. Summer

      Somebody 19 or not that far from it probably designed the quiz…it’s hard at that age for many to imagine much outside themselves, so everybody is going to be kinda like them.
      Think that could be it?

  1. WheresOurTeddy

    Mayor Pete is a lying MF was trending earlier

    First the black police chief ouster, then the “opt-out” non-endorsements from black people in SC, then a stock photo from Kenya, then the video where he says POC and low income kids don’t have role models.

    Is it fair to ask at this point if Pete is a racist, even if it’s the Clintonian paternalistic kind? I’ve known more than a few rich, well-meaning whites who would nod their heads in agreement at his statements about education… #PaternalisticPete

    1. Darius

      I think any adequately deliberated and disinterested analysis could only result in the inescapable conclusion that Mayor Pete is a Lying MF.

  2. jsn

    On Kardashian:

    Guillotine watch isn’t quite right, more microdrone swarm like that scene in The Peripheral where the beautiful face collapses from the inside out like a pumpkin rotting in fast motion.

    1. jrs

      “No question about it; you’re a Millennial-Gen Z Cusp. You’re probably between the ages of 19 and 25, and you’ve probably gone back and forth a few times about which generation you most identify with”

      Ok but I’m actually Gen X. I’m between the ages of 19 and 25 only in my dreams.

      1. John Beech

        Me? 61 y/o who came up as . . . You Are: Millennial-Gen X Cusp.

        Probably because I love killing time on reddit (and of all the chores, I don’t mind hand washing dishes).

        1. Massinissa

          Thats the one I got too. But like, why can’t a younger millenial like me use Reddit? I don’t even use it for politics, I use it for talking about video and tabletop games.

  3. aj

    RE: “Real-Life Schrödinger’s Cats…”

    This article is excellent–orders of magnitude better than most popular articles on quantum mechanics. It meets the following three criteria and I award it all of my internet points for today. Highly recommended. Good find Lambert.

    1) The author tells the correct story of Schrodinger’s Cat
    2) The discussion of entanglement and coherence are scientifically accurate.
    3) The overall importance of the science aren’t absurdly exaggerated

        1. Massinissa

          Queen of Babylon? Now I’m imagining Hillary represented as Ishtar, with wings on her back and bird claws for feet… Being a goddess of war would certainly help explain why she is so hawkish on foreign policy.

    1. urblintz

      The pics remind us that at one time EVERYONE wanted a photo op with the Donald. Ironic that back then they knew him as a crook but now they know him as the President. Hmmm….

    2. Duke of Prunes

      Strange, as I scroll through the replies, some one tweeted some pictures of Tulsi, but Twitter did nt automatically display because it contained “sensitive material”. I looked and looked and looked, but all I saw was some pictures that might trigger war mongers

  4. Expat2uruguay

    Lambert, is it just me or do the countdown to the election counters show the same number of days is yesterday?

    1. Jules Dickson

      The countdown clocks adjust for all posts simultaneously instead of staying static for the date of the post. So, if you read an earlier Water Cooler — like yesterdays –today, it will show the same countdown as today.

  5. Beniamino

    Dunno about the “Six Perfections” piece. Sure, it’s interesting to catalog the microaggressions but everyone on the planet experiences these kinds of slights a thousand times a day. Even rich white people direct petty aggression at one another pretty much non-stop. Just read Proust for Christ’s sake.

    1. Oregoncharles


      The intro Lambert posted struck me as implausible, but I’m not in a position to know.

    2. Sol

      Agreed. The piece seemed to be highlighting bog-standard social treatment of members of an outgroup. The odd thing about human sociology is this tendency to look at another recognizable homo sapiens sapiens and convince ourselves we’re looking at a different, lesser species. It’s a competitive predator viewpoint, with all the cognitive logic of a chocolate hammer. And yet, despite all its inherent foolishness, competitive predator social behaviours appear to be enormously popular.

    3. Basil Pesto

      Just read Proust for Christ’s sake.

      ha! the constellation of microagressions surrounding Charlus alone. And the Dreyfusards.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > everyone on the planet experiences these kinds of slights a thousand times a day.

      Some have it worse than others, depending on where they are, geographically and socially.

  6. FluffytheObeseCat

    Lambert, did you have the opportunity to read Poorman’s Perspectives on History article in its entirety?

    It starts out with 2 adult professional women (mainly the author, but she was retelling the professor’s milder expressions of disdain) describing their disgust at the blithe stupidity of certain students……. because the poor dopes made the mistake of mentioning a family background they couldn’t pin down to the nth degree.

    The writer insinuated that some ~19 y.o. kid’s mention of a Cherokee great-grandma is tantamount to attempting to grab special access privileges. She equated these young peoples’ words with the repeated, self-aware lying of a high powered, middle aged professional woman – Elizabeth Warren. She did so, because she clearly sees them as identical in privilege, and preemptively despises them on account of it.

    The article is an exemplar of identity gamesmanship at its most venomous and forthright. My only take away from reading it is:

    Students who need to take that professor’s class in order to graduate should refrain from speaking in class and careful parrot her in all written assignments. Education is not the point; success means getting out in one piece, nothing more. If the writer, Poorman, also teaches, she should be handled even more cautiously. These professional women appear eager to injure a certain selection of students. They are identical in that regard to the (now aging out of the classroom) men who consistently damaged students of color in the past. They just have a different target. Those targets usually can’t afford to fail classes either, and they need to protect themselves.

    Just a note: Mixed family backgrounds are real common in that region, not odd or unexpected. I believe the author’s aside at the end about falsified family histories (for land grabbing back in the day) is intentionally defamatory, and intended to stymie kids’ ability to re-establish connections to tribes. There is both money and prestige at stake in tribal affiliation nowadays, and Prof. Reed, at least, is clearly very aware of it.

    For the most part, this down-punching piece has little to do with Angry Librarian Liz. It’s targets are the next generation.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Lambert, did you have the opportunity to read Poorman’s Perspectives on History article in its entirety?

      I did. You get to claim membership in the Cherokee tribe based on what the tribe says, not on family stories. Case closed.

      In this case, the students are being stupid, which is one reason people go to university, to get help with that.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        If they are stupid, then pretty much every family is stupid. I’ve a genealogist friend and she says that most of her job involves telling people that their family legends are probably false. Every family has a few harmless stories like that, most people never find out until they get around to doing some primary research. Why would anyone question their parents if they are told that their great grandmother was X?

        At least two stories I was told as fact about my family background when I was growing up proved to be either false or misleading when I went through the records. In addition, some stories are just meaningless – when I was growing up my mother told me I was descended from a line of Kings of Munster. This was true – but I later realised that pretty much every person with Irish roots can claim the exact same thing – there were lots of local self proclaimed Kings back then. Similarly, I’d imagine that most people who can trace their ancestry back to the 18th Century US will have some native American blood. Even if the tribes themselves (quite legitimately) do not recognise this as enough, this doesn’t change the DNA and an individuals right to feel some kinship, however faint this may be.

  7. ewmayer

    o “Michael Bloomberg’s Right-Wing Views on Foreign Policy Make Him a Perfect Candidate for the Republican Nomination” [The Intercept] — Substitute the name “Hillary Clinton” or “Joe Biden” for Bloomberg’s and the headline still works.

    o “One Whale Is Worth Thousands of Trees in Climate Fight” [Bloomberg] — not that we shouldn’t be trying to help restore whale populations, but I call BS on the deliberately misleading statistical ‘comparison’ here, where the lifetime CO2 capture of a whale is compares with the annual one of a tree, and nothing said about how many whales a square km of ocean can support versus how many trees a square km of land can.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Sure, but I also think we need to be doing everything we can, and carbon capture by whales seems real. (Intuitively, whenever we complexify or re-complexify “the web of life” (let’s call it), we’re doing carbon capture. Prove me wrong!)

  8. Oregoncharles

    ““One Whale Is Worth Thousands of Trees in Climate Fight””
    Category error. Whales don’t fix carbon, because animals in general don’t. They emit it.

    What I assume they’re talking about is that they sequester carbon originally fixed by phytoplankton in their flesh, which then ultimately falls to the bottom – if it doesn’t wash ashore, or get consumed by surface predators. But I’ve seen video of “whale falls”: they’re hives of activity. Everything besides the bones is gone, quickly. If all those animals stay down there, so does the carbon, of course. But it’s already back in the wheel of life at that point.

  9. NotTimothyGeithner

    “Michael Bloomberg’s Right-Wing Views on Foreign Policy Make Him a Perfect Candidate for the Republican Nomination”

    I wonder when Bloomie determined his last name meant he could only go so far in the GOP. He and Pete Buttigieg can share notes.

    1. RMO

      What are the accepted right wing views on foreign policy now? Seems like until just a short time ago the (professed) foreign policy views of what passes for the left wing in American mainstream politics was basically don’t go around the planet killing people, don’t violently overthrow other governments, don’t torture people, try to reduce military actions and spending, try to implement treaties that reduce the arms race and which make it more likely that we can avoid vaporizing the planet and that people who see the nefarious actions of a foreign government everywhere they look despite a complete lack of evidence are paranoid McCarthy-ist loons. Then everything went mirror universe.

      1. JBird4049

        The Neoliberal Borg assimilated what American Left that survived the Right’s attempted Exterminatus. As the Neoliberals are merely Conservative in drag…

  10. none

    Michael Tracey had a good tweet about Bloomberg:

    I wonder how US commentators would depict it if one of the wealthiest people in Russia (ahem, oligarch) directed the media company he owns to shut down all negative coverage, then launched a bid for the presidency by blanketing the entire country with advertisements

    link: https://twitter.com/mtracey/status/1199190833800593408

    1. inode_buddha

      I actually tried this one out on a few people at recent gatherings.. regardless of their personal political leanings, they were all grateful that stuff like that doesn’t happen in America, because Freedom.

  11. Wukchumni

    A powerful early winter storm is coming, and a golden opportunity to have staged prescribed burns all over the state missed.

    It takes quite some effort to prepare an area you want to do a burn on, and this is the perfect storm to have lit them, say yesterday or the day before, and then let Mother Nature do all the heavy lifting of putting them out, but not before clearing out a nice swath and creating firebreaks for future conflagrations.

    If you don’t get the early storm (such as this one) you’re ready to go the next year/s possibilities.

    Being preventive in these times takes a different tack…

  12. Joe Well

    “Race GPS: Levels of Looks”

    Wow, that’s depressing.

    I am in Latin America again, where I’ve spent a large part of my life (I am 1000% North American, non-Latino white, it’s mostly work that takes me here). Many, if not most, members of the Latin American upper-middle-class, who are collectively some of Earth’s most deeply entitled human beings (they take servants for granted the way Americans do running water and yet cherish a sense of grievance as members of the oppressed Global South), are unbelievably xenophobic, something you won’t appreciate if you don’t speak Spanish at close to a native level.

    I have experienced everything the author wrote about. I got used to identifying the warning signs and then disengaging as fast as I can before the person becomes seriously abusive. I avoid networking-type events and instead choose my contacts carefully.

    It is something that I have never been able to explain to anyone who hasn’t been subjected to it (a number of dark-skinned Latin Americans I’ve mentioned it to have totally gotten it). The gaslighting! The “you just don’t understand our culture.” (The culture of rich a—holes?)

    I don’t have any such issues in the US, ever, and I am frequently the only white, or US-born person, or the oldest or youngest, in a given room. My God, to think that any American has to go through this, in their own country, and from other Americans. Shudder. Horror. I want to scream.

    1. JBird4049

      Well, the jackasses are everywhere, and honestly almost all of us have some of that in us. It is disturbing that you have to hide from friends, for instance, that you have black roommates, (oh, you just what those people to stay on their side? Well, umm…okay then!) or to have some SOB find your disability either illusionary or indicative of of stupidity. (Sorry, I’m deaf, not stupid, rude, or racist, that was the back of my head, and the aids ain’t fake.)

      Then again, I have had my own biases occasionally bubbling up from some dark parts of my head. It’s like huh? Just WTF did you come from?

      The best I can do is look at it and ask is there any validity at all to what I’m feeling/thinking (for often both happen together, too intermingled to easily, if at all, to separate) in reality, or do I have to do the uncomfortable work of dredging up, examining, and reassembling whatever it is? And who wants to do that? So, too often I don’t.

      Also, l have noticed an increase in identify weaponization. One can not be old fashioned, misinformed, mistaken, or even just wrong. No, one must be evil. One cannot be annoyed or hindered by bigotry or misconceptions. No, one must be greatly oppressed by this evil. It must a contest of who is the greatest oppressor or the most oppressed instead of just human beings being fallible.

  13. Carey

    Waiting for Obama

    What must it be like to hang on every well-placed word in a 5-percenter piece like this?

    oh dear breathless

  14. richard

    “reorienting our entire campaign apparatus into a persuasion effort”
    Commenter: “That is so fundamentally a sad thing to say that it almost feels wrong to make fun of it.”
    Voice blurts out from offstage: “Charter school Cory can suck it!”
    Commenter: “ah richard, c’mon man…”

Comments are closed.