2:00PM Water Cooler 11/4/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, forgive me for being slightly late; the mini-essay straightening out TAP on Warren’s plan took a little more time than I expected, and then I had a technical glitch. I always accumulate too many bright shiny objects of the weekend, and I’ll include more of them soon. –lambert UPDATE All done. In fact, I have a ton more, but it will have to wait ’til tomorrow.


“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

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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 11/4/2019, 11:00 AM EST:

Buttigieg is having a moment, and not without some justification:

Buttigieg isn’t doing well in the latest poll, which is Emerson. Sanders supporters are excited though. As of 11/1/2019, 11:00 AM EDT:

Undecided seemed to be jumping about rather a lot, so just for grins I thought I’d pull it out by itself, also as ot 11/4/2019, 11:00 AM EST:

Readers, thoughts?

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.”

* * *

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Pete Buttigieg Isn’t Going Anywhere” [The Atlantic]. “When I asked Buttigieg which is more ridiculous, the idea of a black freshman senator winning the presidency in 2008, or the idea of the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, getting elected now, he said, ‘I would like to argue that neither is ridiculous.’ Buttigieg’s response carried a characteristic edge to it: ‘He had more national exposure sooner than I did. But then I have the benefit of executive experience. So I guess we’re just different.'” • Buttigieg already was The Beltway Subjunctive (“I would like”) down, doesn’t he? I wonder if he finds that of help dealing with his police department.

Buttigieg (D)(2): “Pete Buttigieg tries to solve his South Carolina puzzle” [Roll Call]. “Why should black voters believe he would be able to implement his plans nationally when tensions between police and minority citizens in South Bend, which escalated after a police shooting, remain, and Buttigieg himself, when asked at a debate why the proportion of black officers dropped during his tenure, said, ‘Because I couldn’t get it done.’ It was not just my question but one I’ve heard from quite a few black voters, and not just in South Carolina…. Two African-American women spotlighted their own South Bend experiences… [I]nformation leaked — not from his campaign, it says — that black voters, particularly if they are older, socially conservative and Southern, may not be as welcoming to a gay candidate. In the ensuing reaction and backlash, some black voters with many questions about Buttigieg’s experience and candidacy wondered if incomplete information from a very small focus group would be used to blame low poll numbers on the perceived prejudices of an entire group, and build a divisive narrative.”

Buttigieg (D)(3): “Pete Buttigieg has a problem with black voters. He needs to fix it or he’ll wind up back in South Bend” [Los Angeles Times]. “Black voters make up about 20% of the Democratic electorate nationwide and more than half in several Southern states, including South Carolina, which falls fourth on the 2020 political calendar, after Iowa, New Hamphire and Nevada. Those numbers aren’t enough to decide who will be the nominee. But African Americans may determine who won’t be the nominee if they vote en masse the way they did for Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008, and for Clinton over Bernie Sanders in 2016.”

UPDATE Buttigieg (D)(4): “Pete for Corporate America” [New York Magazine]. “But running for president tends to clarify a person’s ideology, and Buttigieg has recently encouraged speculation that he is pivoting to the right. He no longer supports Medicare for All and is even running ads against it. In a recent interview with Cosmopolitan, he said he still supports a proposal to expand the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court — and that he would appoint more judges like Anthony Kennedy, who ruled against the Affordable Care Act and in favor of Citizens United, then stepped down to make way for a Trump nominee. While his ‘Medicare for All Who Want It’ plan is a definitive reversal, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Buttigieg has changed his overall ideology. The Buttigieg who admires the conservative Anthony Kennedy is the same Buttigieg who ran for DNC chair and for mayor. He is a technocratic liberal. He tried on Medicare for All for size and when it didn’t fit, he recalibrated. The generational change he promised was never a political revolution. Buttigieg is in no respect significantly out of step with the rest of his party. Even his résumé is impeccable. Harvard, Oxford, military service, a stint at McKinsey: Buttigieg didn’t miss a beat. His father may have driven him around Indiana in a Chevy Cavalier, as he said at the debate, but his father was Joseph Buttigieg, a lauded professor at the University of Notre Dame, and Buttigieg attended private schools. It’s not exactly the stuff of a Bruce Springsteen song. Instead, Buttigieg’s background is relatively common for party leaders.” • Somebody needs to ask Buttigieg if he has asked to be released from his McKinsey NDA. Voters need to know what he worked on.

UPDATE Clinton (D)(1): “‘The stakes are enormous’: is Hillary Clinton set for a White House run?” [Guardian]. “A high-profile book tour. Countless TV interviews. Political combat with a Democratic primary candidate and Donald Trump. A year before the US presidential election, it looks like a campaign and it sounds like a campaign but it isn’t a campaign. At least, not as far anyone knows…. Addressing law students, Clinton appeared more humorous and at ease than on the campaign trail. The final question concerned whether the guests were rooting for the Washington Nationals in baseball’s World Series. Bill interjected: “I guess I should go first. I’m the only one that’s not running for anything. Ever. She may or may not ever run for anything but I can’t legally run for president again.”… Asked about Democratic fretting over finding the right nominee, [Robert] Shrum replied: ‘That’s the bed-wetting brigade in the party donors. That’s not the primary voters.'” • Maybe.

O’Rourke (D)(1): “Goodbye, Beto O’Rourke. What a sad end to a pointless campaign” [Nathan Robinson, Guardian]. When Bernie Sanders was first asked about Beto O’Rourke entering the presidential race, his reply was dismissive: ‘Free country, anybody can run.'” • Salty! Good article, but it boils down to “You can’t beat something with nothing,” which also applies to Bennet, Delaney, Hickenlooper, Moulton, and Ryan. And Harris, for that matter.

Sanders (D)(1): “The 7 big bets that will decide who wins the White House in 2020” [Politico]. “Sanders’ big bet is that this movement has the capacity to grow and to appeal to voters who have not previously participated in Democratic contests. If true, this could give him staying power in the race even if he has yet to score big victories by spring. From early on, Sanders has demonstrated strength with younger voters, with Hispanics and with working-class voters. [Politico Repoter Holly] Otterbein notes the obvious risk: Lots of candidates historically have pledged to expand the electorate and not many have been successful. ‘On the other hand,’ she observes, ‘there was evidence in 2018 that some of these groups actually did see a real big boost in turnout. Latinos — their voter turnout increased more than any other ethnic group. And the younger generations outvoted the boomers and older generations.'” • Both Latinos and young voters going disproportionately for Sanders.

Sanders (D)(2: For canvassers:

Trump (R)(1): “One Year From Election, Trump Trails Biden but Leads Warren in Battlegrounds” [New York Times]. “Despite low national approval ratings and the specter of impeachment, President Trump remains highly competitive in the battleground states likeliest to decide his re-election, according to a set of new surveys from The New York Times Upshot and Siena College.” • Anything to keep Sanders out of a headline, eh Dean? Especially given the chart right after the lead:

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “It’s Not Like Trump Should Have to ‘Watch Very Boring Sports'” [New York Times]. “President Trump walked onto the floor of Madison Square Garden on Saturday night from the same corner that the mixed martial arts fighters did, his own fighters at his sides…. [W]ithin seconds of Mr. Trump’s entrance, the room was a cocktail of boos, roars and cheers, a din that Mr. Trump was eager to spin in his favor.” • There was an enormous amount of gloating about being booed by his own demographic. The problem is, the 10%ers doing the gloating don’t know New York (and apparently the New York Times doesn’t, either). Chris Arnade:

(BlueChecks are verified users, the 10% of the Twitterverse). Ryan Grim concurs:

This demo is, in fact Sanders’, who does disproportionately it. It would take careful advance work, but I think Sanders would do very well at an MMA event. He certainly has the arena experience!

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren is having a moment, but will it translate into South Carolina momentum?” [Post and Courier]. “Warren has yet to secure any major endorsements here. Her visits have been sporadic at best…. When Warren was invited to speak at the Charleston County Democratic Party’s Blue Jamboree, she declined, despite the urging of multiple South Carolina Democratic leaders… The Warren [notes] they have more than 40 paid staffers on the ground and nine offices in eight cities across the state.”

* * *

“Tickets for Obama fundraiser in Silicon Valley going for up to $355K” [Mercury News]. “Donors can get in the doors for $10,000 — but to even snap a photo with Obama they’ll have to pony up $35,500. The eye-popping top ticket price will get attendees access to a VIP reception and a premium attendance package for the party’s national convention next year. The event with Obama and DNC Chair Tom Perez will be hosted by Karla Jurvetson, a psychiatrist and ex-wife of a prominent venture capital investor, who became one of Democrats’ largest donors during the 2018 midterms. She gave more than $6 million to the party’s candidates and groups during that election cycle, helping boost female candidates for key congressional seats.” • That’s nice. Of course, Obama is very articulate. Who wouldn’t want to pay $35,500 for a selfie with him?

Health Care

“Warren’s Medicare for All Plan Includes No New Taxes on the Middle Class” David Dayen, The American Prospect]. • Readers may find the last paragraph of interest:

I could see hardcore Sanders supporters cherry-picking the words “long-term goal” and claiming that Warren is not committed to getting Medicare for All done. But this plan is so wrapped up with her other concerns, and so in line with her populist message, that I think it will pass the test for most single-payer fans. And it allows her to go on offense against Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and others, asking them why they don’t cover everyone, why they don’t cut costs, why they don’t want to end the horror of medical bankruptcies and unnecessary deaths.

Dayen must be so busy these days that he has staffers do his reading for him; had he read Warren’s piece, he wouldn’t have made the claim. (Sadly, at least for Dayen, having not read the piece would also mean that he can have had no hand in writing it. Perhaps Neera thinks he’s not ready.) Here is the passage in question from Warren’s “plan.” I have helpfully numbered and underlined the relevant portions:

[1] Every candidate who opposes my long-term goal of Medicare for All should explain why the “choice” of private insurance plans is more important than being able to choose the doctor that’s best for you without worrying about whether they are in-network or not….

[2] Every candidate who opposes my long-term goal of Medicare for All should put forward their own plan to cover everyone…

[3] And every candidate who opposes my long-term goal of Medicare for All should put forward their own plan to make sure every single person in America can get high-quality health care and won’t go broke…

[4]And make no mistake – any candidate who opposes my long-term goal of Medicare for All and refuses to answer these questions directly should concede that they have no real strategy

Here, Warren is using a rhetorical device called anaphora, “Repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive clauses.” (For a master class in the uses of anaphora, as well as many other rhetorical devices, see “Julia Gillard and the Art of Rhetoric” at NC.) Anaphora was Obama’s favorite rhetorical device. Here is why a speaker would use it: “[T]he successive repetition of an opening word or phrase… has a mesmerizing and rhythmic effect: It’s easy to remember, too. Hear it once and you can repeat the basic story and it is that quality above all that makes it so successful and likely to stick and spread. Anaphora is a winning technique because it sticks.” So, “my long-term goal of Medicare for All” as a rhetorical device is baked into the very structure of Warren’s piece. Warren, a scholarship-winning debate champion in high school, would surely be familar with it, and indeed, as with Obama, it’s one of her favorite devices. Warren must surely have read the piece and signed off on it, knowing the effect that anaphora has. “Long-term” is not “cherry-picked”; it is designed to “stick” and Warren, as a debater, a public speaker, and a Professor of Law at Harvard, must surely have known that. She has hammered home “long term” using anaphora to make it “stick,” because that is what anaphora does, and that is why speakers use it. Why Dayen is concerned to erase this I cannot imagine. NOTE: Warren has surprised me before: Her health care page is just a mess, but the Medium piece improves on it. Perhaps she will crawfish away from “long-term,” as she seems to have crawfished away from calling #MedicareForAll a “framework.” Time will tell.


“Biden Up 15. Warren Up 7. Are Primary Polls Too Far Apart?” “[FiveThirtyEight]. “[W]e expect some differences between polls in pretty much any race, even if the differences are just caused by random sampling variability (since no two random samples are exactly the same). And we almost always see some outlier polls, as long as pollsters aren’t herding. But given that the spread between these polls was so large, it naturally raises the question of whether we should expect the polls to differ this much. Are these polls just normal outliers, or are they a sign that the polls overall are too spread out?” • The article doesn’t mention Sanders once; it’s almost like there’s some kinda blackout going on. This is especially ironic, given the article’s mentin of “herding.”

Our Famously Free Press

“Democrats Lost the States. A New Book Says Activists Are Fighting Back” (review) [New York Magazine]. Meaghan Winter, of All Politics Is Local: “Most of these state-based campaigns are synchronized and nationalized. And what do I mean by that? I mean, for example, like an anti-union bill or an anti-LGBTQ bill. Anti-abortion bills. Gun bills. It’s all cookie-cutter legislation passed around the country. Interest groups are using states to push a national agenda. But there’s no platform to adequately show that these are multipronged, synchronized national agendas and strategies that are working. There are hundreds of statehouse reporters who are overworked and underpaid and are upholding a crucial lever of our democracy. National reporters, as we know, cover these bills when it’s too late, when they are being decided by the Supreme Court. What else do we hear about them in the national press? Maybe The Daily Show will make a joke about it if a state lawmaker says something especially absurd. Getting a national pundit on cable news is cheaper, faster, and easier than the laborious, long work of figuring out what’s happening with synchronized political campaigns across the country. It’s a market problem. It’s a collective-action media problem. And I understand to a certain extent that a lot of these media companies feel that they have their backs against the wall because of what’s happened to the industry. But on the other hand, so many of these major news networks and publications are really complicit in not explaining to the American public what’s actually happening.” • I could almost believe private equity is destroying local news not for profit, but because blinding the American people serves their other, collective, business objectives.


“House committees releases transcripts from impeachment inquiry” [Guardian]. • Two of them. Clever to dominate several news cycles by releasing them in dribs and drabs. The chairs are shocked by “…the contamination of US foreign policy by an irregular back channel….” tl;dr: The Blob is having a sad. (In the rush of events, I haven’t been able to determine whether the transcripts were vetted by the intelligence community, or what the policy is on that. Readers?)

“Trump allies assail impeachment on process while House Democrats promise open hearings soon” [The Hill]. “House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that open hearings were forthcoming but added that he could not commit to a specific timeline, as the process depends on what facts the probe uncovered. ‘When [House Intelligence Committee Chairman] Adam Schiff [D-Calif.] is determined that he is through what he needs to have in terms of testimony and evidence, he will then, pursuant to the resolution, submit it to the Judiciary Committee, and the Judiciary Committee will proceed in a manner giving the rights to the president and to the Republicans that exceed, frankly, the rights that were available to the minority’ during former President Clinton’s impeachment, Hoyer said.”

2016 Post Mortem

UPDATE “The Fed Helped Trump Win the 2016 Election” [Bloomberg]. “An excessively tight monetary policy from the Fed helped to get him elected, and could contribute to his defeat next year…. This tightening cycle wasn’t one of the worst blunders in the Fed’s history. The contractionary policies of the Great Depression, the 15 years of loose money starting in the late 1960s and the failure to cut rates at the start of the recession of 2007-2009 did more damage. But this mistake had negative consequences of its own: It suppressed the growth of employment, wages and asset values.Exit polls conducted on Election Day in 2016 showed that substantial majorities of voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — the three crucial states that gave Trump his electoral majority by swinging to the Republicans — rated the economy as poor. And the voters who felt that way selected Trump by a two-to-one margin. Those numbers, it’s true, don’t prove that Hillary Clinton would have won with a stronger economy…. The margin was so thin, it seems highly likely that even a slightly perkier economy would have changed the results.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Civil War Begins When the Constitutional Order Breaks Down” [The American Conservative]. “Civil war is, at root, a contest over legitimacy. Legitimacy—literally the right to make law — is shorthand for the consent of the citizens and political parties to abide by the authority of a constitutional order. Civil war begins when this larger political compact breaks down…. Hence civil war becomes a struggle in which one party must successfully assert a successor legitimate order, and to which the opposing party must eventually submit. This is above all a contest over constitutional authority. Inasmuch as civil war happens after constitutional breakdown, it means that resolution must be reached not only outside of a now-former legal framework, but also unrestrained even by longstanding political customs and norms. Extra-constitutional force is now the deciding factor, which is why these struggles are called civil wars.” • This is a must-read.

“Once a rising Democratic star, Debbie Wasserman Schultz eyes new leadership role” [Miami Herald]. “Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Weston, is talking to lawmakers about a potential bid to lead the House Appropriations Committee after the 2020 election, according to six sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations.” • We don’t have “rising stars” any more. We have “frontliners.” Get with the program.

Stats Watch

Factory Orders, September 2019: “September factory orders fell” [Econoday]. “Orders for commercial aircraft, pulled down by the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max, have been struggling this year and were down… in September. Orders for core capital goods (nondefense ex-aircraft) have also been weak.”

Shipping: “The logistics market is shifting into a lower gear, if employment is any measure. Truckers edged back into hiring mode last month but the jobs market over transportation’s long haul looks more tepid” [Wall Street Journal]. “The 1,300 additional trucking jobs in October broke a three-month string of job losses, and the annual rate of hiring growth is at its lowest level in nearly two and a half years. That coincides with the steep retrenchment in heavy-duty truck orders, and it suggests that many operators are keeping a tighter lid on capacity as the larger economy shows restrained business investment. The broader U.S. jobs market remains buoyant, and the 3% gain in wages over the past year shows there’s still pressure for companies to pay more to hire and retain workers.”

The Bezzle: “Airbnb bans ‘party houses’ after 5 die in Halloween party shooting at home rental” [USA Today]. “Airbnb is banning ‘party houses’ after five people were killed and several were wounded in a shooting at a Halloween party at a Northern California… Chesky said the company would be expanding manual screening of high-risk reservations, creating a dedicated ‘party house’ rapid response team and taking immediate action against users who violate guest policies.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 86 Extreme Greed (previous close: 80, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 4 at 11:24am. Hoo boy.

Rapture Index: Unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. 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. I thought the California wildfires would give the index a boost under Wild Weather, but no. Perhaps the editors think California is burning in hellfire already, so there’s no net change?

The Biosphere

“8-MILE STRIP OF WILDFLOWERS PROVIDES HABITAT TO INSECTS & POLLINATORS WHILE SAVING £23K MOWING COSTS” [Bright Vibes (https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-to-handle-an-outlier-poll/)]. “The South Yorkshire town of Rotherham has been planting wild flowers along eight miles of highways for the past six years. As well as producing a sensational splash of colour throughout the summer months, it provides a urban habitat for many insects, including bees. Great news for the environment, and the scheme also helps the council save around £23,000 in mowing costs per each two-year cycle.” • This is the sort of project your town could do. “The augmentation of the complexity and intensity of the field of intelligent life” –Ursula LeGuin

Feral Hog Twitter Returns

Austin, not K Street:

Class Warfare

“Auto Workers’ Union Chief Steps Aside as Corruption Probe Widens” [Industry Week]. “United Auto Workers President Gary Jones, who led negotiations that ended an almost six-week strike at General Motors Co., will take a leave of absence Sunday amid reports he is involved in a years-long corruption scandal. … The Detroit News said Thursday that the allegations were outlined in a criminal case filed against Edward “Nick” Robinson, 72, of St. Louis, president of a regional UAW community action program council. He was charged with conspiracy to embezzle — as much as $700,000 — in union funds, the newspaper said. Jones, 62, was not identified in the filing but he was referred to as “UAW Official A,” according to people familiar with the investigation cited by the newspaper. The mild-mannered finance man was nowhere to be seen when the UAW announced the strike against GM on Sept. 15 in Detroit.” • Not perhaps the best state for the union to be in when negotiating a major contract. And $700K is practically pocket change, these days. What’s wrong with these people?

“Striking Teachers and Support Staff Forced Chicago’s Mayor to Find Money She Said Wasn’t There” [Labor Notes]. “Today Chicago teachers returned to school triumphant, after an 11-day walkout that became a showdown between their union and the proclaimed progressive new Mayor Lori Lightfoot. If you’re looking for an example of the power of the strike, look no further. The strikers accomplished what months of bargaining could not. The mayor and her appointed school board had made all but no movement in the 10 months of bargaining that led up to the strike. (Lightfoot has only been mayor for five months, but she kept the previous bargaining team from former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.) Days before the strike, the district presented what it said was its best offer. Once the strike started, the union bargaining team reported that the district was finally moving on its bargaining demands. On day three, the mayor said there was no more money and sent a letter asking the union to end the strike. But the mayor must have found more money. … School resumed today; CTU has 10 days for members to ratify the tentative agreement.”

* * *

“Silicon Valley billionaires keep getting richer no matter how much money they give away” [Recode]. “All but one of the world’s 20 wealthiest tech figures have seen their net worth grow by billions of dollars in 2019… The only one who didn’t made a record-setting divorce settlement this year; even so, he remains the world’s richest person…. Billionaires keep getting richer and income inequality continues to grow. In a decade-long bull market, tech leaders who control the stock of their massive corporations keep getting fantastically wealthier — and often in ways that make any of their flashy philanthropic efforts pale in comparison. And too often, these tech billionaires are amassing their wealth by, in fact, perpetuating income inequality in their day jobs — whether by exploiting tax loopholes, displaying anti-competitive behavior, or pricing out poorer residents in the vicinities of their companies…. Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth has increased by about 40 percent year to date.” • Amazing statistics. Well worth a read.

“When The Robert Kraft Case Fell Apart, The Women Were Left To Pay The Price” [Deadspin]. “A review of court testimony as well as police and state health department records, shows a clear pattern of missteps that led to such a public unraveling. It also shows how unevenly the impacts of those mistakes have been divided between the most powerful man charged and previously unknown sex workers. It looks very likely that Kraft will defeat the charges and—if he succeeds in getting video evidence of his alleged hand jobs suppressed—his life will go on as normal. For the sex workers, who have lost their jobs, their homes, and their reputations, that couldn’t be further from the truth.” • From back in June, when Deadspin hadn’t been gutted by private equity weasels.

News of the Wired

People get ready:

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 (SD):

Getting those whites must have been quite challenging! (I hope the detail comes through on the site.)

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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. Phacops

      Oh, I wouldn’t say that.

      It is more like a mass psychogenic illness, aka epidemic hysteria.

      Because of that, I don’t trust anything they say about the economy or politics. What a sorry lot if highly paid corporate whores.

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      At the MMA event Trump got booed at, Bernie got a shout out from one of the MMA fighters. Saw it on r/chapotraphouse.

      Def wont see that on the MSM!

    3. clarky90

      Donald Trump; “The way I look at it, the democrats work for the media.”

      Trump pushes back against impeachment inquiry in fiery remarks

      The quote is at 5:55 min/sec

      I had never encountered this formulation of the USA political power dynamic. Typically, the media are accused of being the (weak/innocent) pawns, being manipulated by powerful forces; not THE Powerful Force.

      The NYT’s, Weapons of Mass Destruction deceit resulted in about 500,000 deaths and 3,000,000 displaced people.

      The MSM are telling the democrats that Sanders is not an acceptable choice.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      MSM — Main Stream media.

      Looking up ‘mainstream,’ it is associated with ‘normal’ or ‘conventional.’

      Do we cede this ground, or come up with something other than ‘main stream,’ unless we agree it’s ‘normal?’

      1. Jason Boxman

        I’ve always hated the term. I started using Establishment Media when I became aware of the term MSM.

      2. Procopius

        One thing about Sarah Palin, she came up with the term “lamestream media,” which I like. I’ve been using MSM just because its meaning is so widely accepted.

  1. NotTimothyGeithner

    But then I have the benefit of executive experience.

    Isn’t this the Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton argument against Obama? Its these kinds of things that make me think Obama might have faced more opposition than is realized from the paler skinned members of the “woke” crowd.

    Doesn’t South Bend use a county government?

    1. josh

      Claiming executive experience based on being mayor of South Bend is delusional. It’s not even in the most populous 200 cities in the US. Pete has the bougie white dude arrogance. If it wasn’t for the McKinsey connections he’d be a bigger joke than Vermin Supreme.

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        As a Green myself, I have a fondness for another joke candidacy — the ticket of Jennifer Walters and Eugene Patilio . . . a/k/a She-Hulk and the Fabulous Frog-Man.

        Now those are two Green candidates!

        Better yet, Jennifer Walters has a serious history as a practicing attorney in the field of human rights. And near-human and non-human rights, too. She could be considered better qualified than some if not most of the “real” candidates. So, as Thomas Disch said at the end of his short story “Pyramids for Minnesota: A Serious Proposal”:

        …of course it’s a joke — but a perfectly serious joke….

    1. ambrit

      Some of the locals have been known to ‘volunteer seed’ sections of local roadway with wildflower seed.
      Strangely enough, I have never seen anyone do this with seeds from “The Evil Weed.” Of interest, the biggest hemp plantation is up the road a bit outside of Meridian Miss. A U S Navy experimental place. Hemp still is the premier material for making ropes for ships out of.
      See: http://generalcargoship.com/natural-fibre-rope.html

      1. Wukchumni

        If you are in the South Island of NZ around xmas, you’ll see amazingly beautiful Russell Lupins in arrays of pastel colors that make cars stop all of the sudden, so the humans inside can go have a look.

        They are an invasive species, and not everybody is so enthralled with them…

        Twizel-based senior DOC ranger Aalbert Rebergen describes teams of people wearing backpack sprayers heavy with herbicide spending hundreds of hours seeking out and killing Russell lupins in braided riverbeds and wetlands. The work is being done under DOC’s Project River Recovery, supported by energy companies Meridian and Genesis. The perennial’s seed stays viable for decades so the job must be repeated year after year.

        DOC spent close to $147,000 on Project River Recovery Russell lupin control in the Mackenzie Basin in 2014–15 and is this year budgeting a similar amount for the upper Waitaki Basin alone.


        1. Oregoncharles

          I believe the progenitors of Russell Lupines are native here. Pretty spectacular. Legumes, so nitrogen fixing, but toxic to livestock, I understand.

          Similar climate in NZ.

        1. Wukchumni

          Sources: Law enforcement bulldozes purported hemp fields near Arvin

          Law enforcement officials bulldozed purported hemp fields near Arvin Monday after tests showed the plants were actually marijuana, according to people familiar with the multi-agency investigation.

          In a potential setback to Kern County’s efforts to promote cultivation of industrial hemp, two people involved in production of the crop said law enforcement began knocking down plants over the weekend as part of a plan to destroy what was determined to be marijuana.


          1. Kurt Sperry

            The farmer should have legal recourse against the seed seller if the seed he grew the plants from was certified hemp seed as is required in the EU, and no doubt in the current US regulatory hairball as well. Certified hemp seed from a stable line should always be under the nominal threshold. One hopes the LE out to destroy the hemp crop couldn’t commence based solely on dodgy field analytics. If the seed was certified, the “problem” was more likely bad analytical practice by LE.

            1. ambrit

              He had better do something about it. I predict that the local coppers will send him an outrageously inflated bill for the ‘crop eradication.’

    2. Lee

      In CA we should do this under our high voltage power lines. Once we clear the trees that is. We could also plant native perennial bunch grasses instead of the invasive annuals that provide desiccated kindling during the summer.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        depends on when the rain happens…but usually a good show regardless.
        head north anywhere along that stretch of i-10 for even better.
        smaller the highway, the better.
        april, may and june

  2. Wukchumni

    The Bezzle: “Airbnb bans ‘party houses’ after 5 die in Halloween party shooting at home rental” [USA Today].

    Our most egregious ‘party house’ vacation rental here has 4 bedrooms and can accommodate 16 people, according to their website.

    Hope they are ‘out’ of business.

  3. MRLost

    Hogs are not in Austin. Wrong license plates and very, very few buildings in Austin have window shutters like those in the vid.

      1. MRLost

        Cannot say where the hogs are. Resolution of the vid is too low to read the auto license plates. All I can tell you is that Texas plates are not proportioned like that. Look like Euro plates to me.

        1. Clive

          Yes, definitely continental Europe. There’s an Opel branded MPV (Zafira model). Not a particularly tony area judging by the other vehicles. So possibly Eastern Europe or even, gasp, shhh, don’t tell anyone, Russia.

          Those feral hogs just refuse to die, don’t they?

        2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          I’m guessing Germany or Eastern Europe where there has been quite a few incidents of this sort over the last few years. The architecture looks right to me & on the car’s dash are the German words Hohe Kiefer.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            Google maps puts that on a road between Berlin and Potsdam. Looks right.

            They will tear up a lawn like you wouldn’t believe, but they also make a heavenly ragu’.

      2. diptherio

        Somebody links to a story about radioactive feral hogs from Chernobyl running wild in Germany further down the thread. Maybe that’s the locale?

    1. Ignacio

      It is Germany. You can definitely say by the green badge in the corner of the windshield. There are other proofs. The pad in the front has something written in german.

  4. Off The Street

    DWS heading Appropriations Committee eagerly awaiting opportunities to repay her supporters, er, donors, er whatever those shady folks are called now. Film not at 11. Her continuing presence, like so many of her colleagues, is a stain on Congress that many voters will remember.

  5. Bob Kavanagh

    Why should people care about SC? No Democrat is going to win it in 2020. The only polls of any real importance/interest are those dealing with WI, MI, PA and other ‘battleground states. Electoral College is where to focus. Sad to say but African-American voters in SC will have no influenece in Nov of next year.

    1. Wukchumni

      Well Bob, the Supreme Court keeps your brother employed and he’s got a job for life with no possibility of parole. RBG staying alive is our best hope in 2025 if the Donkey Show is still a thing, sadly.

    2. Phacops

      I continually wonder at the outsized influence of SC in the Democratic primary when their electoral college votes cannot be counted on?

      1. nippersmom

        The establishment continues to emphasize it because it helps them to lock down the nomination early. It has nothing to do with the general; after all, they aren’t actually interested in governing, so there is no real advantage to winning.

        1. nippersmom

          Because the democratic Establishment doesn’t want battleground states to have a voice. They want them to shut up and do what they’re told.

      2. nippersdad

        Same reason that virtually all of the Super Tuesday contests are in the South. Their conservatism virtually guarantees that the establishment Dem will rout any more liberal competition.

        Can’t you hear them saying “send them to the red states and let the Republicans sort them out.”?

      3. Henry Moon Pie

        Jim Clyburn. It’s his show and has been for decades. Everybody has to go genuflect at his fish fry.

    3. Monty

      If the voters there were always choosing Sanders type candidates, I am sure the DNC would agree with you.

    4. dcblogger

      When the primary reschedule was redone there was tremendous pressure that a state with a large black population be included in the early states. There is considerable feeling w/in the Democratic party that Iowa and NH gave white voters too much influence in the selection of the nominee. A Democratic candidate with no appeal to the African Americans vote cannot win in November, so it makes sense to include SC early in the process.

      1. notabanker

        Replying here to dc’s comment, but really to the thread of comments here in general. I understand the logic and thinking here, but just get the feeling that it doesn’t apply. Things in this country are changing rapidly and this BAU strategy from the Dem’s feels very outdated.

        Everything is setting up for surge turnouts for the primaries, and what happens in Iowa, NH and SC could be a bellweather, but not in the traditional sense.

        Healthcare is a monster issue. Corporate benefits are horrible and the system is profoundly broken. Things have changed substantially from 2016. It is impacting the vast, and I emphasize vast, majority of people in the US.

      2. Another Scott

        But the problem is the underlying assumption – that all black voters are alike. My understanding is that there are major difference between urban, black voters in Northern States like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan, and the more conservative and rural ones in South Carolina. The former are needed to win the general election, the latter aren’t but get an important primary.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      The AA voters in S Carolina will have a formative influence by influencing who even gets to be nominated.
      If they vote massively for Biden and against Sanders, that vote will be used to impede and cripple Sanders from that point on.

      If the AA voters in S Carolina succeed in getting their beloved Biden nominated eventually by making him victorious in S Carolina, then the AA voters in S Carolina will have guaranteed Trump’s re-election. And that would be having a major influence in Nov of next year.

  6. ptb

    Re: Buttigeg
    Re: Biden’s DNC strategy vs Bernie & Warren

    I put this out there yesterday in Links and want to go a tiny bit further. This year’s DNC has reduced influence for superdelegates, and it is likely to be a 3way or 4way situation. This means coalition building strategy.

    Biden campaign sees they are outnumbered by Warren + Sanders put together. I strongly believe they are counting on a center-right 4th candidate scoring delegates (remember 15% minimum at state level!) as the DNC strategy (i.e. survive first round, then bring in the superdelegates)

    Biden does not want the 4th candidate to take black votes away from him (so no Harris, Booker, and also no Hillary or Michelle Obama). The 4th candidate cannot take the “electability” votes or the social conservative votes either, if possible. He or she needs to be a good debate surrogate but without any possibility of upstaging Biden completely, and needs to just barely hit the 15% mark in maybe half the states. Buttigeg fits the bill perfectly. 

    Sanders and Warren supporters, in my opinion, should be aware of this and raise awareness of the delegate counting and coalition and 15%-threshold gamesmanship that is coming up.

    This gambit also risks backfiring very badly on Biden if Buttigeg ends up with under 15%, or if he gets there but steals too many of Biden’s votes.

    1. Hepativore

      The DNC has also shown that they are perfectly willing to make up the “rules” of their primaries as they go along as well as ignore them when they feel like it. Even if Buttigieg does not get enough delegates to pass the 15% mark, what is to stop the DNC from simply changing their minds mid-primary and bringing in the superdelegates into the main delegate count whenever they want? They would be saying “tough turds” to everyone but I do not think that the DNC will accept defeat if they do not get the brokered convention that they are after.

      To them, I think that Trump 2020 would be a small price to pay rather than put their donors at risk in the event of a Sanders win.

      1. ptb

        That would be extremely brazen, considering they were already caught manipulating the primary last year in favor of Clinton.

        The rules are still plenty stacked — if the Democratic party wanted to be true to its name, all the primaries would be on the same day, the would be zero superdelegates (aka “PLEO” delegates), voting would be Ranked Choice, eliminating both the possibility of deadlock and the need for the existing convention chicanery that is excused by it.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          “Extremely brazen” only for the 5% of people actually seeing and understanding it, the 95% would be comforted by the dulcet tones of Rachel and Co on CNN, MSNBC, NYT et alia that this was a wonderful turn of events, So Innovative! So Responsive! So Representative!

          Agree with the previous formulation that the Dems report to The Establishment Media, not the other way around.

          Witness the scandal 100x worse than Watergate, where the administration used the intelligence agencies to attempt to cripple and then de-legitimize their political rival. Breezed completely out of the national consciousness, leaving not a wrack behind. (Imagine if the other team had done the same, OMG fire and brimstone, perjury, sedition, treason charges).

        2. polecat

          A quibble, if you will ..
          It’s the ‘Democrat’ Party …. there is nothing Democratic about them …

  7. Carolinian

    Civil War–whaa? Here’s what the poll referred to in the article actually says

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – A majority of Americans believe political, racial, and class divisions are getting worse, according to the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service Battleground Civility Poll, the second component of the Battleground Poll. This includes three-quarters or more of men and women; urban, suburban, and rural voters; approximately 7-in-10 or more voters in every age cohort; white, black, and Latinx voters; and nearly two-thirds of voters of all partisan stripes.

    These observations contribute to the Civility Poll’s additional finding that the average voter believes the U.S. is two-thirds of the way to the edge of a civil war. On a 0-100 scale with 100 being “edge of a civil war,” the mean response is 67.23.

    In other words it doesn’t exactly sound like the public is stocking up with canned goods and ammo. And while many Americans indeed are armed, the notion that large segments are going to start shooting at each other–over Trump–is surely clickbait.

    Someone said our age increasingly suffers from “pre traumatic stress disorder.” An example?…..

    1. Wukchumni

      I’m only going to be worried about the possibility of Civil War, when Wal*Mart starts stocking red & blue military uniforms right next to locked glass ammo display case.

      1. Carolinian

        It’s true that I mostly hang out here among the civilized precincts of NC and may be out of touch. But surely it’s the Maddow watchers who are most inclined to be “up in arms” and they aren’t the ones with the arms.

        BTW Walmart did say they would stop selling ammo for the Civil War useful assault weapons


        Market research must tell them no Civil War in prospect.

        1. ambrit

          Those ‘assault style’ useful calibres are a big chunk of the ammo trade. Stuff like 5.56mm and .223 are made for military style rifles. Besides, many of the true hunting calibres, like 30/30 or 7mm Mag aren’t exactly cheap. You need some serious ‘loose change’ to rip off a few 30 round mags of 35 Whelen or .300 AAC Blackout. So, those ‘assault’ calibres also constitute large sales. Finally, when did WalMart ever do anything except for the money?

          1. scarn

            The same article says Walmart stopped selling AR-15’s in 2015. It’s been the most popular rifle in USA sales for all years since (and at the time!), lol. I don’t think these policies are about sales, to be honest. Nor would I trust market research as a guide to possible political insurgency.

            An AR-15 is “civil war useful”, but so is any weapon correctly deployed.

              1. ambrit

                A lot of the 7.62×39 ammo for the AK platform is bought in “Spam Cans.” Said cans are hermetically sealed tins, which come with honest to goodness can openers, that contain, at least the East Bloc variety, 640 rounds. I have seen people at gun shows buy four cans at a time, a roughly $600.00 USD ‘investment.’
                So, the ‘fringe’ groups are armed to the teeth. No laughing matter when they are the largest cohesive group in a small town.
                Then we come to the reloaders….

                  1. ambrit

                    Ah my. The 6.8mm round, otherwise known as a .270 calibre. That round is used by snipers a lot out of bolt action weapons. The end of the piece mentions the emphasis on marksmanship. That highlights the basic fact that an army used fallible human beings to carry out it’s job.
                    Rumsfield and company thought that “shock and awe” would win wars. They forgot “boots on the ground.” Irak turned into a nightmare.
                    No level of sophisticated technology can compensate for poor training, crummy leadership, or bad morale.
                    The old Soviets figured that rugged and simple guns would be the best balance for the variability of troops that come to hand. The AK, rugged and reliable, is still a main combat rifle all around the world seventy years later.
                    When will they ever learn?

                    1. The Rev Kev

                      Will the Pentagon demand that all the NATO counties upgrade their stocks of weaponry to this new caliber? That could get expensive for a lot of NATO countries.

    2. dcblogger

      speaking ONLY for myself, I am very worried that we will see a breakdown in public order. I think electing Bernie is our best hope of avoiding that. IF there is another civil war it won’t be like 1861, it will be like Lebanon circa 1984, a million war lords with shifting alliances.

      1. scarn

        Friend, I’m afraid the far right will attempt to light that bomb no matter what if Trump loses. A Bernie presidency is the only way to combat that future successfully, because if he wins it will be on the back of an organized and militant movement with populist policies that would benefit working class people in all parts of the country. Even then, President Bernie could be faced with some very hard knots to untie. Imagine organized, far-right militias with organic popular support and a lot of guns who occupy state houses in the western states, with copycats in the south. Bundy // Malheur but bigger and smarter. I hope Bernie’s people are thinking on this already.

    3. Lost in OR

      We seem to be unable to get outside of the red/blue divide. It is NOT red v blue. NC did a great job illustrating Obama states turning Trump states. Framing this conflict as republican/democrat is not valid. More accurate would be something along the lines of…
      1. The MSM, dark state, FIRE, are NOT your friends. Who are your friends?
      2. Deep down, we all know the Jackpot’s coming. Watcha gunna do with that?

      This election is NOT a civil war between Neo-liberal red vs. Neo-liberal blue. Trump and Bernie both shamed old-school apparatchiks in 2016 (the Dem’s just didn’t get the message). If this is a civil war, it’s between Neo-liberalism and what ever is next. This is a class war.

      What’s the difference between a civil war and a revolutionary war?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        No. Red Blue divide just makes sense. States that vote 53-47 Democratic over Republican are full of enlightened Morning Joe viewers, and states that vote 53-47 Republican over Democratic are full of evil hillbillies who deserve bad things and are the cause of all bad things especially the poor ones. I read Dkos every day, and Jeb Bartlett would not have been booed at the Nationals game.

        1. Yves Smith

          Not correct. “Blue states” are red if you look at the county level but are dominated by high population blue cities. The blue cities are not contiguous and have no access to resources like food. They could be easily cut off and starved out. Also easy to cut they power lines.

    4. Summer

      “the notion that large segments are going to start shooting at each other–over Trump–is surely clickbait…”

      Trump is the stand in for frustration that everybody doesn’t live exactly the same way and worship the same things all the time…as if that ever existed.

      People like that will always be on the verge of civil war.

    5. VietnamVet

      There are two incipient civil wars brewing. Nationalist verses Globalist Oligarchs [Donald Trump verses Jeff Bezos] much like the USA in 1858. The other is the neoliberal elite and their servants verses everyone else, like France pre-1789. The Yellow Vests are trying but Chile and Hong Kong appear to be the future. What will trigger a revolt is the simple incompetence of government neutered by the wealthy to cut taxes and regulations. The Pentagon is a black hole that is perilously close to collapse stealing oil fields while all the East Coast Carriers are out of service docked at Norfolk. Or the recent exchange between California Governor Newsom and the President on the California Apocalypse.

      Juan Browne said that two of the fires in Grass Valley, CA were due homeless campfires that firefighters contained. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hH9jpEOmgw

      Cutting off electricity willy-nilly and looking the other way at the horrors of early death, indebted servitude, opioid addiction, medical bankruptcy, climate change, and spreading homelessness; directly impacts the professional 10% who run the world. When they turn against the 0.1%, neoliberalism will be finished.

    6. Michael C,

      Regarding the Federalist article from the American Conservative about an impending civil war, I can only say though that much of what is said in the article rings true, it fundamentally is flawed because it fails to recognize that the real coup has already taken place–and that is the takeover of our government by the corporate interests. Yes, the national security state is undermining Trump, but that is because of Trump’s failure to carry out the two-party Washington Consensus, not because the because the corporate wing of Democratic Party is initiating this coup d’état in its own. There are factions within the Republican Party that support keeping the interests of the Washington Consensus in place, and the “deep state” is divided in the pursuit as well as both parties are divided within their ranks.

      The example of the EPA being undermined by partisans within its ranks who oppose Trump is a rather stupid argument. Might it be that there are people within the EPA who see that its purpose it to protect the environment for the nation and thus balk at the cutting of standards and the gutting of regulations. Without mentioning the corporate interests that have a large stake in this deregulation, and the money they use to get their way, the author ignores a large component of the breakdown of the democracy and the reasons for the impending civil war.

      The author cites Mother Jones but ignores the main argument of the paragraph it cites and never alludes to it as if this main reasons for the breakdown of our democracy does not exist.

      But of course the Federalist would naturally support monied interests since that is what our Constitution was written to protect, and therefore it is unable to see the preeminent reason for the slow roll to a civil war.

  8. Steve

    Sadly if I were to bet on 2020 I would bet on Trump. I have primarily supported Democrats for most of my entire voting life with the exception of never voting for a Clinton. I like Bernie and Elizabeth Warren and think either would be a solid step in the right direction. Neither can beat Trump and the DNC at the same time. I have total contempt for the National Democratic Party at this time and see them as so corrupt that they incapable of impeaching Trump or winning then Presidency. To beat Trump they must stop being the toadies of Wall Street and Corporate America and that is something they cant’t do. Like the monkey holding the mango through a hole in the tree. The monkey wants to escape and to keep the fruit at the same time which is why it gets neither and is trapped :(

    1. Wukchumni

      I had a nightmare last night involving Livia Soprano and Nancy Pelosi, and in my delirium I couldn’t tell them apart.

    2. Lee

      The phrase “eventual single payer” stood out for me. Evidently, “eventual” is a long, long time.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Pure paternalism. “Maybe eventually we’ll get a pony’ is a reasonable lie when your 12-year-old asks for a pony. Scumbaggery when you can’t ask because yer dead.

        Maybe someone should ask Warren to explain in detail about what is so wrong with current Medicare that makes her reject it as a demonstration of a working solution. Seems like a working solution to me. I thought she was pragmatic.

        1. chuckster

          If Debbie Wasserman Schultz heads the House Appropriations Committee, then “long-term” would be the correct answer because nothing will get through that morass. The Democrats collected $50 million from Healthcare lobbyists in 2018. You think they want some ROI on that investment?

          Maybe Bernie will wave a magic wand and make DWS disappear but I doubt it. She can outwait him.

  9. EGrise

    Regarding the Chicago teacher’s strike, I listened to union member Kenzo Shibata on the Chapo Trap House podcast (yeah, I know, I know) and he mentioned that one motivation for the timing of the strike was that one or two pots of money had recently become available to the mayor. When Rahm had access to similar pots, he doled out the money to cronies, and the CTU wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again so they acted.

    If he’s correct, then that is an interesting tactical development on the part of the union. We need more thinking like this.

    1. barefoot charley

      I’m a union human and native Chicagoan, where Daddy Daley had reliably stepped into union disputes, banged heads and gave the unions what they wanted. Now Chicago is bankrupt, Cook County is bankrupt, and Illinois is bankrupt–but we can still settle strikes until we can’t.

      What does ‘bankrupt’ look like before the hammers fall? Like this: large lakefront co-op and condo buildings can’t sell their units because taxes and assessments are so high. We’re developing a Potemkin Wall of apparent affluence rotting out from under.

      Hyde Park gossip has it that Obama’s ziggurat soon to disfigure our lakefront park had to be 200 feet tall, he said, “so it can be seen from the Loop.” Good thing no one’s paying for any of this . . .

      1. Wukchumni

        Looking at the artists rendition of what Obama’s Presidential Library will look like, and my first thought was a German Flak Tower, circa 1944.

        1. EGrise

          I just looked it up, and you’re not kidding – it does look like a Flaktürme.

          Good grief. Does no one in that over-privileged set have any sense of historical memory, or for that matter taste?

          1. Wukchumni

            It’s a funny country, live accordingly and laugh large at the foibles of what we’ve become.

  10. jsn

    “And $700K is practically pocket change, these days. What’s wrong with these people?”

    It’s a class thing.
    For a blue collar crime, that’s 10-20 years.
    For a white collar crime, it’s the “cost of doing business” fine.

    Union leader is a blue collar job, he’ll do the time. Penalties double if you commit crimes across class lines, ask Strauss Kahn.

    1. jsn

      I wrote this before reading the Robert Kraft story: looks like the aristocracy’s plugged the hole Strauss Kahn fell through.

    2. chuckster

      “…Union leader is a blue collar job”

      No, I think you need to look at what the head of unions earn. “Union Leader” hasn’t be a blue collar job since the 1940s.

      146 union presidents earn more $200,000 a year. Three of them make more than $500,000 in base salary alone.

      1. scarn

        This is a really interesting question to me, actually. If you are a union administrator for UAW and your compensation is, say, $450,000 per annum, but you engage in at least minimal class struggle on behalf of your members, what is your class position? Are you “working class” or not? If not, why not? My gut is to say that they are not, but not because of the salary but because of their relation to capital. If UAW workers were paid the whole value of their labor, and the external “benefit” semi-wages (pension, healthcare, other funds the capitalist has to pay into) were assumed by the state (as they should be in any just society), then they would be earning a wage far, far beyond the $30 or so per hour that old hands get as a median. This is the goal of any socialist reforms: put the money back in the workers’ pockets. High paid workers are a success. And the line workers would still absolutely be “working class” if capitalism was still the mechanism for producing and selling automobiles in that scenario. But, this does not really apply to the UAW brass, because their relation with capital is too comfortable. Too often, it seems like they exist to buffer class struggle instead of taking advantage of circumstances to turn the screws. Perhaps that is what is symbolized by their high wages. I may be completely wrong here, though.

        1. eg

          “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

          Heed the words of Eric Blair and govern yourself accordingly …

  11. Wukchumni

    I thought the California wildfires would give the index a boost under Wild Weather, but no. Perhaps the editors think California is burning in hellfire already, so there’s no net change?

    This last go round didn’t cause that much damage compared to previous efforts, and amounts to what some might charitably term a ‘prescribed burn’.

    Not out of the woods yet though, and no rain in the forecast.

    1. integer

      That was Kevin Lee, the winner of one fight. FWIW many USian fighters are Trump supporters, including Jorge Masvidal, the winner of the main event. I sometimes read MMA forums, and people who attended the event say there was more cheering than booing when Trump made his entrance. Here is a video of said entrance. Worth keeping in mind that it’s from the Guardian, so was likely edited to portray Trump in a negative light. On a related note, there was a Kurdish fighter on the card named Makwan Amirkhani. He lost his fight, however had he won I expect he would’ve used his post-fight interview to call out Trump on the US withdrawal from Northern Syria, which would have been interesting.

      1. integer

        Turns out my expectation was correct:

        WATCH: Kurdish UFC star plans to ‘speak out’ about northern Syria after fight Kurdistan 24

        The Kurdish athlete said he plans to “speak out” about the situation in northern Syria, where Turkey has launched a military offensive against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), leaving hundreds dead and tens of thousands displaced.

        “It’s not something I haven’t thought about since this whole fight camp,” he stated. “It’s been something I’ve been thinking constantly, so I’m happy to get this chance to go there and finish my opponent. Then, [I’ll] speak out.”

        During the weigh-in on Friday, he donned the traditional red, green, and yellow scarf worn by Syrian Kurdish fighters.

        Glad he lost, the pro-war liberal media establishment would’ve had a field day. Instead they had to settle for reporting on Trump getting booed by some attendees lol. I do hope Kurdish civilians can live in peace with their neighbors in the near future, but their leadership allying with the US and Israel and attempting to carve out a Western-backed state will not achieve that.

  12. Jeff W

    Warren “long-term goal of Medicare-for-All”
    While I agree with your take regarding Elizabeth Warren’s use of anaphora, I’d just say that her use of “long-term goal” even once is pretty telling.

    The 27.5 million Americans (8.5% of the population) who are without health insurance have to wait? Till when? The cancer patients who have insurance but nonetheless have to resort to GoFundMe have to wait? Till when? The patients who can’t afford insulin have to wait? Till when? [Epistrophe intentional.]

    It’s a travesty that people in the US don’t already have what people in other advanced countries have had for decades—and Warren’s telling us to wait “long-term,” some unspecified time not too close in the future?

    I have no doubt that Senator Sanders, if he’s elected, would hit the ground running and make Medicare-for-All—which he’s strongly advocated for for decades—his top priority from day one. He understands the real human costs involved. Warren, with her mealy-mouthed “long-term goal” of Medicare-for-All, does not or simply doesn’t care.

    1. notabanker

      It’s not just about the uninsured anymore. Employer benefits are squeezing everyone, and destroying many. High premium, high deductible, low co-insurance. Then add outright billing fraud. I posted a similar thought upthread, I think the establishment is dramatically underestimating this issue.

    2. randomworker

      If that 27 million people came out to vote, there would be no problem. But most of them wont. So likely voters will skew towards those for whom m4a is not their top priority.

    3. inode_buddha

      “The 27.5 million Americans (8.5% of the population) who are without health insurance have to wait? Till when? The cancer patients who have insurance but nonetheless have to resort to GoFundMe have to wait? Till when? The patients who can’t afford insulin have to wait? Till when? [Epistrophe intentional.]

      It’s a travesty that people in the US don’t already have what people in other advanced countries have had for decades—and Warren’s telling us to wait “long-term,” some unspecified time not too close in the future?”

      But we don’t want to be like those other countries, they have to ration their healthcare!

    4. Jen

      I find it quite revealing about Warren is that of all phrases to lean on she chooses “my long term goal.” Am I the only one hearing “No we can’t! No we can’t!”?

      She doesn’t have the courage to fight, and she’s not comfortable being as feckless as Obama. Everything with Warren is timid lawyerly parsing. It’s like she’s telling you right up front that she’s not going to deliver on a single thing she’s promising, and she wants to make sure that when you call her on it, she can tell you that if you read her plans closely, you will see that she never promised what you thought she was promising.

      1. vlade

        Sorry, how does “long term plan” match with courage to fight?

        IMO, who ever is going to do a single-payer, they have to have a long term plan. For a number of reasons:
        – The very earliest they could get something into law is in a year’s time since inauguration. That is assuming friendly Congress, and even then there will be negotiations. President is not a Dictator (luckily, as Trump found out), they need to persuade legislature, even their own.

        – MCA is, in a way, like Brexit. A tons of people support it, but most of them have somewhat different idea what does it mean (for example, how many of them know how the US MC actually works? Like that hospitals are penalised for re-admissions, which is really bad for poor and old patients who may not have access to good or any post hospitalisation care, so have high-readmission likelyhood. Which means that from the perspective of hospitals, it’d be cheaper to let them die than treat them). Like Brexit, there are some similarities, but like Brexit, it turns on tons of details. Unlike Brexit, there are working examples, but again, fitting them in into US is working with tons of details *)

        – As a result, it’s a pretty safe bet that ANY implemnetation of MCA will almost certainly fail, in a short term, the expectations of most of its supporters.

        – hence working in irreversibility, both from potentially dissatisfied voters, and political opponents. At the best, any president could get two terms to implement it. But they might not. In fact, “get X done” is a perfect thing for just about any president in office to campaign on – and gives much stronger chance of bedding it in in such a way that is harder to reverse (cf even crappy Obamacare turned out hard to reverse)

        So, there has to be long term plan. But, at the same time, there has to be a pretty damn clear implementation plan, one that doesn’t start in five years and carries for another twenty.

        *) the Brexit metaphor here is mostly to say that to mobilise a lot of people, your promises must be simple, even if you know the solution is unlikely to be. No single payer in the world is really simple when you look under the hood – because it involves a lot of data, lot of providers, and, ultimately, medicine is not simple anymore [apart from all other NHS problems, the allocation of money to care is a fundamnetally unsoluble problem. With a finite resources, someone will always have worse care than someone else].

        Single payers when introduced used to be, but the world was much simpler then too [my favourite is comparing GPs 100 years ago, 1920s to now. Then, it was (simplified) – you have one of these 100 ilnesses I recognise, and can treat at least a bit. Doesn’t fit? Well, you’re gonna die or get better, nothing I can do. Even simple X-rays were becoming common only in 1930s.]

  13. Misty Flip

    “I’m not into politics.” I’m not, really. Case studies: A) Spectating at the gladiator fights, sine missione, backfires for the President. B) New Englanders fighting over health plans, neither of which could ever pass the Senate as is. — Gag me with a spoon. I’m not into politics like I’m not into neurodegenerative disorders. But something Danish science fiction film writer and director, Ib Melchior, wrote in his wartime memoir “Case by Case: A U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent in World War II” haunts me. When Melchior liberated a concentration camp, a skeleton [man or woman, starvation made it impossible to tell], only wanted a newspaper, any newspaper, desperate to know what was happening in… well, politics. Current events. Being isolated from the intellectual tools that could explain her/his place in a caged world, a world where genocide is only possible under wartime conditions. Wars happen when the contradictions between political movements becomes untenable. Political movements are pathogenic social behavior: an aggregate of displaced fear and the blandest typography this side of the Gutenberg. I’m not into politics so much as I am into markers of distressing late-hominid behavior.

  14. epynonymous

    Winning Arizona is a fantasy for the Dem party. Once you break the state into counties, the electoral vote will almost certainly go red, because those Democratic voters are all concentrated in cities. Everywhere else goes for the Republicans.

    Unless new demographics or the Trump magic wears off, those 11 electoral votes are out of reach.

    I suspect many other states follow the same pattern as well, so the polls need to be read carefully.

    If I was a betting man, Trump gets it unless he implodes or a third party candidate on the right emerges… or some other unlikely event.

    Also, Clinton got a nice bump in the polls from his impeachment proceedings. I might have earlier mentioned the Clintons of all people ought to know this.

    1. urblintz

      I think the Clinton’s do know and I’m pretty sure Hill does not want to lose twice to Trumpster, but I’m not at all sure she wants the Dem candidate who ultimately emerges to win. I think she wants to share the ignominy with a fellow Democrat so as to soften history’s sure-to-be-harsh judgement That’s how she rolls…

    2. scarn

      If Berndog can clinch the nomination this Californian will be spending a lot of time in AZ registering voters and canvassing. If the nominee is anyone else I’ll hike, camp, hunt and fish instead. Best enjoy public land while it’s still public, cuz 2nd term Trump will auction it off. And any other dem nominee pretty much guarantees him a second term.

    3. chuckster

      What difference does it make where the votes are concentrated if the overall vote total dictates the winner of the electoral vote.
      AZ is seeing a huge influx of Californians who are moving to the Phoenix area to avoid California’s taxes. The problem is that these new arrivals are really the old Republicans who are abandoning California for Arizona. Think Libertarians who hate taxes Californians, not the coastal, liberal Democrats.

      It will go red in 2020 regardless who the Dems nominate.

      1. epynonymous

        I stand corrected, and thank you for it.

        I was under the false impression that intra-regional gerrymandering, etc. had an impact.

        Much appreciated.

  15. Summer

    RE: “Civil War Begins When the Constitutional Order Breaks Down” [The American Conservative].

    Which laws get followed or people’s panties in a bunch?

    Let’s first make the distinction between laws that force people to do something and ones that allow people to do something…

    1. Carey

      Good thing money™ is only a proxy for resources if there’s widespread assent..

      “Your money’s no good here, Mister..”

  16. ThomG

    ‘I care’ — billionaire investor tears up talking about America, Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump


    I got this notification on my phone, read the headline, and initially thought it was an onion link. Here’s a gem: “I don’t need Elizabeth Warren telling me that I’m a deadbeat and that billionaires are deadbeats. The vilification of billionaires makes no sense to me,” he says.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe if billionaires stopped rigging elections with their money and started paying taxes under the same levels that they did under Richard Nixon and stopped stashing their money out of reach of the taxman overseas then Warren would have no grounds to call them deadbeats.

  17. Summer

    “Silicon Valley billionaires keep getting richer no matter how much money they give away” [Recode]

    What else do you think all the “machine learning” is learning?
    Nothing but how to put the transfer of wealth upward on unaccountable autopilot.

    1. meeps

      Yes, coupled with that oh-so-clever trick whereby the money from their left pocket is ‘given away’ to their right pocket via charitable foundations. Who do they think they’re fooling?

  18. Stormcrow

    Sanders is going all out on the Green New Deal in Iowa. Yuge.

    “When we take back the White House, we will not only rejoin the Paris Agreement. We will launch the decade of the Green New Deal to lead the world in averting the climate crisis and create 20 million new jobs.”



  19. scarn

    That AmCon civil war article is spot on. I especially appreciate the links to The Fifth Column and that youtube video of the John Brown gun club. Vlahos is paying close attention to this nation with clear eyes. However, if insurgency comes, it’s going to start on the right, with the left joining in after the fact.

    1. hunkerdown

      A bit surprising that a Naval War College professor would draw the battle lines so incorrectly, as if party were the principal dividing factor among the people and Good Partisans just fell in line behind their oligarchs. Maybe Vlahos really wants it to matter, needs it to matter in order to rationalize his life as a devotee of the aristocratic Constitutional Order. We are, after all, the narratives we hold true.

      Also. Not a peep about the Huey P. Newton Gun Club? Clearly a deep state partisan who’s not to be taken all that seriously.

      1. scarn

        Huh, that’s not at all how I read it. But I’m no conservative, and sometimes I project my own thinking on the smart ones. I guess I’d say that a big ol chunk of the right won’t follow the oligarchic script, but will also act against their own interests out of serious confusion / ideological bad-ness. Thanks for the note about the Newton club – I didn’t know about that group, and seeing them makes me very, very happy.

    2. metannoya

      The American Conservative article is good on Constitutional Order and legitimacy.
      But as for civil war? That will be an internecine Blob fight, IMO. which may already be underway.
      Widespread ( vicious) public violence —or public terrorism — could happen simultaneously, but it won’t be the main event; and will be accompanied by ever more bazaar television programing.

      The article reads like the authors predict a Ken Burns documentary will breakout.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Once a rising Democratic star, Debbie Wasserman Schultz eyes new leadership role”

    Well that explains something. Several months ago there was a 5-minute Jimmy Dore video showing Debbie doing her part to overturn the government of Venezuela. Did not think it her style to get down in the weeds overseas but now I realize what she was doing. She was burnishing her resume with the Washington establishment for a future job-


    It may end up that Debbie will be in Washington longer that Nancy Pelosi has been when she should really be wearing an orange outfit.

  21. flora

    re: Lambert’s comment on “Democrats Lost the States”:

    I could almost believe private equity is destroying local news not for profit, but because blinding the American people serves their other, collective, business objectives.

    Great comment. May I quote you?

    1. metannoya

      + 1!
      strategic capture and kill or monetized capture and kill

      (hope Lambert keeps track of these insights and expressions of his. There’ve been so many of ’em; they’re original; they’ve gotta add up to something.)

    1. JBird4049

      So what the USN routinely did since fighting the Barbary Pirates and did with aircraft carriers since before the Second World War (along with dozens of carriers during the war) it cannot do now?

      The United States’ military has the more funding than the combined funding several of the next largest militaries. The navy has not been in any naval conflicts recently, so just where is the money going? And why are we cutting the already inadequate SNAP budget going into a recession when over half of the carrier fleet is inoperable despite the endless flood of money is going to them?


    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      By the day it gets more and more maddening even to grace this entire sh*tshow with my presence.

      The worst imaginable people seize positions of power over us. I offer you Donald Trump. I offer you Debbie Wassermen Schultz.
      We shower the fattest of despicable moral creatures (the MIC Merchants Of Death) with three-quarters-of-a-friggin-trillion dollars per year and they still cannot beat a band of destitute goat herders or keep their colossal missile magnets even: FLOATING

            1. frijoles junior

              Most places have native mice and songbirds, but housecats are not native and their predation doesn’t support ecological health.

              So, hooray predators! But boo to cat predation!

              1. Wukchumni

                The problem of cat versus bird is as old as time. If we attempt to resolve it by legislation who knows but what we may be called upon to take sides as well in the age old problems of dog versus cat, bird versus bird, or even bird versus worm. In my opinion, the State of Illinois and its local governing bodies already have enough to do without trying to control feline delinquency.
                For these reasons, and not because I love birds the less or cats the more, I veto and withhold my approval from Senate Bill No. 93

                Adlai Stevenson

                Vetoing a Bill that would have imposed fines on owners who allowed cats to run at large. (23 April 1949)

  22. Plenue

    The chairs are shocked by “…the contamination of US foreign policy by an irregular back channel….” tl;dr: The Blob is having a sad.

    This thing in particular is really doing my head in. Setting foreign policy is literally one of the prerogatives of the executive branch. The bureaucracy doesn’t just get to run its own parallel foreign policy because it doesn’t like what Trump is doing. If there’s any foreign dealing being done that doesn’t come under the label of ‘doing what the boss says’, that’s the invalid ‘irregularity’, not Trump’s actions.

    I know liberals have shown over the last three years that they don’t understand civics, but holy hell.

  23. anon in so cal

    Former San Francisco Mayor, Willie Brown (former “benefactor” of Kamala Harris) warns Democrats about impeachment:

    “Impeachment a winner for Democrats? Don’t bet on it

    If the goal was to damage President Trump by formalizing the impeachment inquiry, it’s Mission Unaccomplished for House Democrats.”

    ““Come next year, Trump will have an impeachment victory and quite possibly a solid economy. The Democrats will have — what?”


  24. Mattski

    I noted how the Times went out of its way to avoid mentioning Sanders on the comments page. They didn’t print it. Paper of record my a**.

  25. Daryl

    > Pete Buttigieg Isn’t Going Anywhere
    This headline is spot on although probably not in the way the author intended it

    1. chuckster

      Maybe. If Biden loses his competency hearing I could see the kids at the DNC rallying around Mayo Pete. Remember the goal isn’t to win but collect campaign contributions so the consultant class makes enough commissions till 2022.

      Finding a candidate who can draw $$$$$$ is the only consideration.

  26. Cuibono

    “Who wouldn’t want to pay $35,500 for a selfie with him?”

    Isn’t 35K for some of these folks like the equivalent of me sending Bernie 27$

  27. The Rev Kev

    “Russia Isn’t Getting the Recognition It Deserves on Syria’

    Loyalty to allies, integrating diplomacy with military pressure, patient and pragmatic negotiations with the principle actors, using an diplomatic offensive through back channels when the UN was blocked, using military police as peacekeepers instead of just sending Tomahawks & airstrikes, having clear cut policy aims – what’s not to like? Here is a thought. What if the US had been doing the same for the past twenty years? Where would it be now?

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