2:00PM Water Cooler 11/5/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“China’s design for the electric-vehicle battery supply chain is anything but complicated. Beijing has been pressuring foreign auto makers to use locally-made batteries in the country, and that business is increasingly funneled through a single manufacturer, Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd., or CATL. …[T]he aggressive effort is aimed at dominating global supply chains for the burgeoning market to supply the power to the world’s growing fleet of electric cars, buses and commercial vehicles” [Wall Street Journal]. “That’s a concern for U.S. and European policy makers, who are increasingly wary of the Communist Party’s influence over new technologies and products. China has also been seeking to lock up much of the world’s supply chain for cobalt, a vital battery component. The drive has given CATL a commanding role as new technology triggers an upheaval in automotive supply chains, and suppliers elsewhere now are struggling to keep up.” • The argument can be made that, at least in the US, EVs are just a pathetic effort to hold on to our demented suburnan sprawl, but that’s a little hard to undo.


“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

* * *


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 111/5/2019, 11:00 AM EST:

The Biden juggernaut rolls on, with Warren and Sanders tied. And here are today’s results, as of 11/5/2019, 11:00 AM EST:

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

* * *

Sanders (D)(1): On Warren’s head tax:

Steyer (D)(1): “Tom Steyer aide resigns after stealing Kamala Harris’ SC 2020 volunteer data” [Post and Courier]. “A South Carolina aide for Tom Steyer’s 2020 presidential campaign stole valuable volunteer data collected by Kamala Harris’ campaign using an account from when he worked with the S.C. Democratic Party, according to multiple state and national party officials. The Steyer campaign said that it does not have possession of the data and that Democratic officials were only aware of the download, which they said was inadvertent, because they proactively notified them. Both the Democratic National Committee and S.C. Democratic Party denied that.”

Trump (D)(1): “‘The kind of voter Trump can’t lose:’ Working-class white women drift toward Democrats” [McClatchy]. “one pivotal group showing the most evident signs of splitting from the president are white working-class women, according to a review of polling data, focus groups and interviews with more than a dozen party strategists and voters like Heather. It’s these voters — packed in eastern Iowa, central Minnesota, southwestern Wisconsin, northern Ohio and throughout Michigan — who will wield outsized influence over Trump’s 2020 fate. Republican pollster Patrick Ruffini calls these women the essential voter as it relates to the Electoral College. ‘If I could talk to one voter in the country, it would be a non-college-educated white woman,’ he said. ‘It’s definitely the kind of voter Trump can’t lose.’… Trump carried non-college-educated white women by 27 points in 2016. They’ve been slipping away ever since” • Something to watch!

Warren (D)(1): “Was Chicken Little Right About Elizabeth Warren?” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. A critique of this article from the Times, the key chart of which I publish below. “What we do know is that Warren’s “electability” credentials have steadily improved along with her name ID and her rise in the percentage of Democrats favoring her for president. The last national poll showing her trailing Trump was a Fox News survey in July. In August, Fox had Warren up by seven, in September by six, in early October by ten, and in late October by five. You can find a similar upward drift in her performance against the incumbent in virtually every outlet conducting regular polling.” • This is fair; dk’s chart shows the “upward drift.”

Warren (D)(2):

The word “access” does not appear, thankfully.

* * *


“Nancy Pelosi Should Not Be President” [Jesse Wegman, New York Times]. “Consider the following scenario, which would have seemed wildly implausible only a few months ago: Donald Trump is forced from office over the Ukraine-Biden shakedown. Vice President Mike Pence takes over, and before he can name his own vice president, he is impeached and removed for his own role in the scandal. The nation is now led by … President Nancy Pelosi. It’s true: Under a 1947 federal law, the speaker of the House is second in line to the presidency, after the vice president, even if she or he is of a different party than the president.” • This seems wildly implasible to me, but Wegman is a member of the Times editorial board…

“A FOIA victory for BuzzFeed and CNN puts Mueller back in the story” [Buzzfeed]. • Swell.

From the right, a thread:

“Establishment’s Coup Attempt Is Approaching End Game” [Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative]. “And in the end it will be about what it has been about since the beginning: An attempt by the deep state and its media, bureaucratic and political allies to overturn the democratic verdict of 2016 and to overthrow the elected president of the United States.” • The lizard-brained old reprobate and all-round horrible human being is, IMNSHO, correct.

“Roger Stone’s trial could hang on a comedian’s drunken texts” [Michael Isikoff, Yahoo News]. • tl;dr: They were all lying to each other, and to Trump.

Health Care

“Elizabeth Warren Is Jeopardizing Our Fight for Medicare for All” [Jacobin]. “Warren’s remaining financing methods bring us to the biggest problem with her plan: its clear lack of urgency. Warren argues that her plan for comprehensive immigration reform could free up $400 billion toward Medicare for All over ten years, while cutting the dangerous military slush fund will free up another $798 billion. On their own these are important goals, but using major political fights like these to cobble together funding for Medicare for All is a fairly good tell that Warren’s plan is not designed to be implemented anytime soon. This is further evidenced by the language in Warren’s Medium post about her plan: she describes Medicare for All as a ‘long-term’ goal seven times, while couching the rest of the post in similar language (such as saying she wants to move to a Medicare for All system ‘eventually’). There’s a lot to be said for Bernie Sanders’s consistent Medicare for All advocacy, but one of the most important things to note is that he never describes Medicare for All as a “long-term” goal.”


“National cash flows in for AOC” [Crain’s New York Business]. From July, still germane : “A Crain’s analysis of the self-identified democratic socialist congresswoman’s fundraising since the end of March shows almost all of her money originating from outside her district—and much of it from outside New York. Of the more than 4,200 contributions she received during the latest filing period, only a few dozen came from individuals who live in the East Bronx and western Queens neighborhoods she represents, and fewer than 400 originated inside New York.” • Total: $1,216,011. $1,216,011 / 4,200 = $289. If the math works (maybe not) she’d be a lot less vulnerable with smaller donations from the district. We’ll see.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“If Trump wins re-election while losing by 5 million votes” [Damon Linker, The Week]. ” Trump remains quite competitive in the states that put him over the top in the Electoral College last time — Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Those are states he would likely carry, as he did last time, by a relatively narrow margin. Meanwhile, Trump’s extreme and intense unpopularity among Democrats points to a 2020 vote in which the margin of his loss in “blue” states could be enormous…. In that case, the will of the majority would not so much be checked, as the Constitution intends, as completely blocked on nearly all fronts — very much including those fronts that enable unpopular institutions (like the Electoral College) to be reformed. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents would find themselves trapped in a system in which they possess almost no institutionally legitimate means to reach and exercise meaningful political power.” • So the choice for Democrats is clear: Option A: Win back Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Option B: Civil War (“a far darker political possibility”). Obviously, Option A is impossible, because there’s no Democrat candidate who can do that. Oh, wait. From yesterday:

* * *

“Shit Neolibs Say: The Democrat to Progressive Translator” [Medium (Nippersmom)]. Uneven, but this is spot on: “We don’t need your votes: But we’ll blame your lack of support for our inevitable loss.”

“The Dictionary of Capitalism” [Current Affairs]. “money /ˈmʌni/ n. a freedom-unit; the imaginary scorekeeping measure by which your freedom to do things is tracked.” • Heh. I like “freedom units.” This really ought to go under Class Warfare, but I’m putting the two lexicon snippets together.

Stats Watch

JOLTS, September 2019: “Hiring has been keeping pace but job openings, in a possible warning sign of slowing for the labor market, have been on the decline” [Econoday]. “In a further sign of slowing in the labor market, quits fell” sharply…. Growth in nonfarm payrolls, though still favorable, has been slowing this year and the slowing in openings in this report points to continued slowing for payrolls ahead. For the Federal Reserve, these results highlight the risk that employment may be moving from strength to moderation and that the outlook for wage growth may have already peaked, results that favor the doves in their arguments for continued rate cuts.”

Purchasing Managers’ Services Index, October 2019: “[E]dged lower… and is now at a three-year low and barely showing any growth” [Econoday]. “Price pressures remained flat and, in an isolated positive and despite all the weakness, year-ahead expectations improved.”

Institute For Supply Management Non-Manufacturing Index, October 2019: “[B]etter-than-expected acceleration in composite activity” [Econoday]. “The headline gain probably overstates the strength of October’s report as business activity may have been propped up in the month by the draw down in backlogs, the latter not a favorable indication for future employment readings. Yet of the 18 industries tracked in the report, 13 did report composite growth led by agriculture in what is welcome news for a sector that has had an uneven year. ”

International Trade, September 2019: “The trade gap came in as expected, hitting Econoday’s consensus’ [Econoday]. “Total exports… and total imports…. are both down year-to-date and are in line with trade reports from other countries, many showing outright contraction underway in a year that has been headlined by trade tensions and rising tariffs.”

Real Estate: “Pied-a-Terre Tax Revival Is Latest Threat to NYC’s Luxury Market” [Bloomberg]. “There’s a growing desire among Democrats to address wealth inequality, and for them, the idea of slapping an annual tax on the uber rich who scoop up Manhattan apartments is long overdue. But for William Zeckendorf, whose firm built some of the city’s most expensive condo towers, the proposal is the wrong idea at the wrong time. He and other developers — and the lawyers, appraisers and brokers who cater to millionaire clients — argue that going after pied-a-terre buyers would further dent demand in the already struggling luxury real estate market. Thousands of new high-end condos are on their way, adding to a glut, and takers for them have all but disappeared. New rules that promote a political environment where buyers feel targeted would push even more of them away, Zeckendorf said. ‘It’s a sin tax,’ said Zeckendorf, whose projects include 520 Park Ave. and 15 Central Park West. ‘It’s a tax meant to discourage economic behavior. And does the city really want to discourage pied-a-terre owners from coming to New York?'” • Yes.

The Bezzle: “The Big Bitcoin Heist” [Vanity Fair]. “It was cryptocurrency, ironically, that helped save Iceland after the bankers bankrupted it. For years, the country’s economy was centered around fishing and aluminum smelting. …. One wintry day, a German cryptocurrency entrepreneur named Marco Streng stepped off a plane at Keflavik International Airport. Like most German kids, he recalls, he had only seen Iceland on TV, which glorified the frozen nation as ‘something from another planet.’ Now, driving from the airport to the old naval base at Asbru, he encountered a ‘ghost town’ pockmarked by ‘car rental places and trash yards.’ To Streng, it looked like the new cryptocurrency frontier. Iceland was rich in everything that Streng needed to mine Bitcoins. There were plenty of empty warehouses to house his computers at absurdly low rents. There was cheap geothermal energy, literally rising from the earth, to power them. There was what he calls ‘the most important part of the Bitcoin world’—a consistently cold climate to keep the machines from overheating as they mine cryptocurrency 24/7. And in a country with almost no crime, there was little need to spend money on extensive security measures.”

Tech: “ISPs lied to Congress to spread confusion about encrypted DNS, Mozilla says” [Ars Technica]. “Mozilla is urging Congress to reject the broadband industry’s lobbying campaign against encrypted DNS in Firefox and Chrome… Mozilla’s letter to Congress said the ISP lobbying against encrypted DNS amounts to telecom associations ‘explicitly arguing that ISPs need to be in a position to collect and monetize users’ data. This is inconsistent with arguments made just two years earlier regarding whether privacy rules were needed to govern ISP data use.'” • Hmm…

Supply Chain: “The first map of America’s food supply chain is mind-boggling” [Fast Company]. “Our map is a comprehensive snapshot of all food flows between counties in the U.S.—grains, fruits and vegetables, animal feed, and processed food items.” • There’s also a database. Here is one map:

Those nine would be the counties to organize… .

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 89 Extreme Greed (previous close: 86, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 71 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 5 at 11:48am.

The Biosphere

“TC Energy Says Keystone Pipeline Failed Due To Protestors Making It Lose Confidence In Itself” [The Onion (RH)]. • G/O Media, which just gutted Deadspin, also owns The Onion. The Onion has a union, but that may be all the more reason for these private equity weasels to destroy it.

“Hundreds of thousands of people in California are downriver of a dam that ‘could fail'” [CNN]. “Hundreds of thousands of people live downriver from a dam in California that recently had its risk characterization changed ‘from low to high urgency of action’ by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Those communities, which include Hesperia, Barstow, Apple Valley and Victorville, could flood if the Mojave River Dam fails, a statement from the agency said. More than 315,000 residents in those four communities in San Bernardino County, about 70 miles northeast of Los Angeles, are in the path should floodwaters overtake the dam, according to US Census data.”

“‘Mailbox 200’: Soviet waste dump a landslide away from poisoning millions” [Reuters]. “Neglected for decades by the Soviet Union and then Kyrgyzstan, uranium ore dumps near the town of Mailuu-Suu must be urgently reinforced to prevent disaster, according to the European Commission and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) which are raising funds for the project. “There are 14 million people in the Ferghana valley and in the event of a natural disaster water may wash away the tailings into the Naryn (Syr Darya) river which will be a tragedy for the whole valley,” says Bolotbek Karimov, an environment researcher based in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh…. The river flows down into the Ferghana valley, one of the most densely populated areas in Central Asia, now divided among Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.” • An ugly story, probably even more ugly than our own nuclear weapons story.

“Here’s a reverse supply chain that’s going very, very deep. Some companies seeking to cut plastic use are tapping into the vast piles of garbage that are fouling the oceans… in part by seeking to turn the junk into a new source of raw materials for products or packaging” [Wall Street Journal]. “Companies including Coca-Cola Co., HP Inc. and Dell Technologies Inc. are among those leading the effort, in part by scooping up litter in oceans, rivers and on beaches and in some cases recycling the material. Adidas AG even has a long list of sportswear products made from collected beach waste. Several of the companies are working through a consortium to commercialize supply chains that prevent plastic getting to oceans. One study shows roughly eight million tons of plastic reaches the ocean annually, amounting to about $10 billion worth of packaging materials.” • Of course, if we hadn’t thrown it in the ocean in the first place. Nor will this do anything about microplastics.

“Going Peat Free” [Seedball]. “There would be an outcry if a company started excavating top-soil from your local park and selling it to gardeners. And yet most of us are silent about the excavation of peat from habitats that are just as valuable to us. Like most of us, I’m a weekend gardener (when I have time), and for the majority of gardeners like me, there really is no excuse not to use peat-free compost.”

Spotting Big Oil propaganda. Thread:

Health Care

Thread after thread of horror stories like this one:

“You Did Not Teach Me What You Thought You Did” [JAMA]. “Perhaps my job is not teaching pathophysiology but instead how to think about the person inside of patients, to recognize their fears and questions, to link their humanity with ours.” • This is a lovely article, well worth a read. Carpe diem!

Guillotine Watch

Who the heck needs 25 bathrooms?

Or, for that matter, football coaches: “Florida State will end up paying 3 buyouts, totaling over $20 million, to fire Willie Taggart” [USA Today]. “ESPN’s Mark Schlereth reported that the Seminoles had raised $20 million from its boosters in order to pay off the buyout.” • Awesome. More stupid money.

Class Warfare

“Making Waves” [The Baffler]. “These and so very many other players are the driving force behind our current moment of widespread labor unrest, one that has seen almost half a million workers hit the bricks in pursuit of a better deal since 2018. The year’s not over yet, and it’s likely that those numbers will shoot even higher before 2020. While a bona fide general strike may still be a revolutionary’s daydream (for now . . . ), one thing is certain: direct action gets the goods. More and more regular working people, union and otherwise, have realized that the only way to win anything resembling equity—let alone liberation—is through militant collective action, and they’ve shown that they are prepared to take that battle to the bargaining table, to the picket lines, and to the streets. The spirit of 1919 lives on a century later, even if it looks a little different. The trouble now is that there are so many campaigns, actions, and contract fights happening at any given moment that it can be difficult to keep up—even when it’s your job to do so.” • This is a really good summary of union organizing drives and strikes, and the difficulties of covering the story. Well worth a read. Good job, Baffler!

“What a Tour of an Amazon Fulfillment Center Reveals” [The New Yorker]. “The unnerving truth is that facelessness and placenessness are part of the value Amazon offers. Amazon culture is anonymity culture: anonymous objects ordered through an anonymous interface from anonymous sellers, funnelled, sorted, shipped, and delivered by workers who are often unseen. … Amazon is actually a company full of people, with all their inefficiencies—their bodily needs, their grief, their camaraderie, boredom, humor, and despair. The anonymity to which Amazon shoppers are accustomed is palliative, illusory.”

“Back to Work: Review of David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs” [NonSite]. Very dense, as is typical of this genre, but a massive takedown, in its slow, bulldozer-like way: “What we get in Graeber, however, is a premature post-capitalism, in which the aggressive automation of the post-war period is seen as a cue for humanity’s jump from the sphere of necessity to that of freedom. Cybernetics, computers and dreams of full automation all figure prominently in this story, as they do in most of post-war visions. Little politics is involved. Some campaigns for a raised consciousness, with a healthy degree of PR. Maybe we can do a YouTube video… Bullshit Jobs is one long exercise in evasion—an attempt to go “beyond” capitalism without actually going through it.

News of the Wired

I’m so old I remember when you could actually buy light bulbs (dk):

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 (Carla):

Carla writes: “One of the prettiest autumns ever in NE Ohio this year.” Indeed! Lovely how the colors are different at each level of the canopy.

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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. Wukchumni

    Supply Chain: “The first map of America’s food supply chain is mind-boggling”

    Most of them are in California, and with the average age of a more than likely Mexican field worker in the Central Valley being 45, now would be a good time to have young Americans taking their place, to ensure that the food supply chain remains intact.

    The way to do it is to take a page from the way active military & veterans are portrayed as nothing but 100% heroes in the media, simply change it around to Ag being all that, and add accolades in regards to the work force.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I have a quibble with this diagram of the ‘food supply’. I thought corn, wheat, and soy beans were our primary food supply. Don’t the “nine counties — mostly in California –” grow mostly fruits and vegetables?

      1. TroyIA

        The corn that is grown in the midwest isn’t meant for human consumption. It is mostly used for livestock feed or ethanol production. What little corn that is used in the food supply is converted to corn syrup and dumped in all kinds of processed foods. (Hello diabetes!). The same goes for soybeans as well. The vast majority is crushed for livestock feed and a very small portion is used in our food supply. Think tofu, soy sauce and soybean oil.

          1. Late Introvert

            My parents get mad when I say how nothing grown in Iowa is actually good for you. Meat and soda pop. OK, I know meat can be good for you, but not the way they do it here.

            They both grew up in Sac County, major Steve King country, and grandpa owned a John Deere franchise. My uncle lost it to the bank in the 80’s farm crisis. I have the opposite of street cred in this case.

            Now, my sweet parents 85 and 91 are long time liberal Dems but that of course doesn’t mean what they think it does.

            1. inode_buddha

              Much like my Dad, who hasn’t updated his politics since that closet commie Roosevelt got us into that war.

            2. Jack Parsons

              Yeah, I’m a Sacramento suburbs boy, with parents the same vintage. People from that era were either commies or right-wingers, and the right-wingers seemed to live longer :)

              We had a family friend who was a Grapes of Wrath refugee, but I did not know while she was alive. I wish I had been able to talk to her about it.

    1. John Beech

      I’ll preface this with, I’m an Alabama fan, but I did pay for my daughter’s degree, which to my shame she obtained from Florida State. To my point; I don’t believe they gave Coach Taggart enough time to turn the program around (less than 2 years). Thing is, they were in the toilet before he arrived and it’s been a long slog to where they are now but those young men ‘deserve’ stability. Those who point to Coach Saban’s record at Alabama neglect the fact Coach Shula did an admirable job of recruiting during a near NCAA death decree of the University of Alabama such that when Coach Saban arrived, he had a fantastic recruiting class at hand. Taggart hasn’t had that luxury because his predecessor (now at A&M) has never been known for top notch recruiting and left despite winning the National Championship in 2014. Why? Simple, Jimbo was (and remains) a stinker in terms of recruiting. Too bad FSU doesn’t have it in them to approach Bobby Bowden hat in hand and on bent knee and ask him to take the reigns once again because he could right that program . . . but it would still take about five years. Note; what they did to him (Bowden) was a disgrace! So is firing Taggart. Of course, it won’t happen so they’ll open the booster’s purse (Strong?) and/or make another wonder kid hire at $5M/year off Coach Saban’s staff (I’m thinking they hire his OC, who carries a lot of baggage – or – maybe they hire Bobby Petrino). Anyway, in three years, guess where they’ll be?

  2. Danny

    “Tom Steyer aide resigns after stealing Kamala Harris’ SC 2020 volunteer data”

    Great! Now watch him sell it to the Greater Spartanburg Mercedes Dealer’s Association.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Why in the world would anyone want Harris’ volunteer data to begin with? After all, she’s doing so *well* in the campaign.

  3. Angie Neer

    Ken “Popehat” White’s commentary is “from the right?” I follow Popehat closely, and one of the reasons I like him is that he does not hew to the conventions of the stupid one-dimensional left-right spectrum. But if forced to place him on that spectrum, I wouldn’t put him on the right. I’m not sure where that label came from.

      1. inode_buddha

        Popehat is how I found NC — their writers and commentariat lean distinctly to the left in civil rights matters. In matters of money they tend to conservative. I wish I could get paid to read (and possibly edit) all day, I’d have it made.

        1. Angie Neer

          Opposite for me: I found Popehat through a link on NC. Popehat is the only Twitter feed I look at regularly (I don’t have an account, just lurk).

          Commentary on civil liberties (in general, not just Popehat) often doesn’t fit into the left/right framework, nor should it. Hypocrisy knows no partisan bounds. Right now, people of all stated political persuasions are screaming that simultaneously 1) their sacred liberties are being violated, and 2) other people’s liberties have “gone too far.”

  4. Wukchumni

    Sondland admitted as much today, will it have any bearing?

    Remember, remember!
    The fifth of November,
    The Ukraine treason and plot;
    I know of no reason
    Why quid pro quo treason
    Should ever be forgot!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Sondland admitted as much today, will it have any bearing?

      I can’t keep up with the clickbait churn, and I don’t trust the press to interpret events correctly or even quote accurately (see under RussiaGate (“In war, truth is the first casualty.”) So what does “admitted as much” mean?

      As for treason, if the Constitution means anything these days, I think it says Trump is entitled to conduct his own foreign policy. The Blob disagrees, as do the sort of liberal Democrats who think the West Wing was real. Of course, The Blob has done such a great job, especially since Bush invaded Iraq, that it’s hard to challenge their authority. But some crazy people do, imagine that.

      1. Wukchumni

        Q: “Okay. And Mr. Giuliani was involved in the drafting of that statement?”

        Sondland: “I think Mr. Giuliani was the one giving the input as to what the President wanted in the statement.”

        Q: “And what did Mr. Giuliani add that the President wanted?”

        Sondland: “He wanted Burisma and 2016 election mentioned in the statement. And I don’t believe the Ukrainians were prepared to do that.”

        1. NotReallyHere


          The whole impeachment thing is embarrassing. It doesn’t matter if Trump had Krusty the Clown tell Ukraine Stand on its head singing Clinton is a moron before handing over the cash/arms or whatever. He is allowed because … and you may need to sit down before I say this …. HE IS THE PRESIDENT.

          I repeat …. Trump is the PRESIDENT … you don’t like it, I don’t like it but there it is. Please, please please …

          Get over it.

          1. dearieme

            As I read your Constitution the President is the elected monarch. But for some reason he’s given the powers of a British monarch of the early 17th century rather than the late 18th century. I suppose impeachment is meant to be a symbolic chopping off of his head.

      2. Titus

        The Constitution only has meaning any given day if we the people decide it should. Most people have no idea what ‘high crimes..’ etc., means because it is an English common law term from the 1600s or earlier. It means to use one’s power – (or office) for one’s own benefit. If one manages the feat of having almost everyone hating you, then your toast. It’s not per se legal, or political, more what people can stand or can’t. The Blob™, Swap, Deep State, Matt Tabbi or otherwise, no one forced trump to be so stupid. One may not like the implications of impeachment but so what? Trump, the Dems, liberals, lefty’s, Neolib, focus on class v. ID politics aren’t the problem. The Senate is the problem tactically. The people deciding its time to deal with our problems and force the issue is the other problem. Else what? Civil war you say – maybe. More likely – civil nothing, which leads to the ‘Jackpot’ – We knew better and did nothing. Impeachment isn’t going to change the outcome of anything.

        1. JBird4049

          For the past thirty to forty years, the political parties/factions/morons have taken to pulling apart all the customs, rules, and laws including common sense as a means of getting power. Not anything concrete, unless you include money, like healthcare, or civil rights, or even religion. This impeachment is just another example.

          Since we are increasingly comparing our current mess to the United States during the time of the Antebellum South let me make a comparison. The pre-American Civil War Secessionists and their Copperhead allies had some concrete goals however evil. As did the Unionists, the Abolitionists, and their allies. Ultimately, when all the blathering was pushed aside, it was whether the Republic would be split into two nations and whether slavery would continue in the South or end everywhere.

          Ever since Newt Gingrich began his political bomb throwing as a backbench Representative in his successful rise to the Speakership, everyone else noticed and started to emulate him. First more of his fellow Republicans and much later the Democratic Party. The thing is that then Representative Gingrich’s goal was really only that of hugging the limelight. Look at meeee! Not to actually do anything. Unless it was getting a fat paycheck from the donor class on the down low.

          Maybe, one could say that the ruling elites are using the narcissistic corruption of the political class to maintain and increase their wealth; however, only a fool could look at the deteriorating political economy including the ever greater poverty and not think tumbrels and Madam Guillotine’s close shaves.
          Whatever the reasons for the increasing chaos and hate mongering, the results of deliberately delegitimizing most of the government and a splitting the population into large opposing groups labeled as evil to the other group is likely to have the same results. It cannot remain as it is. It’s a cliched, but it is real enough.

          1. Procopius

            Minor quibble:

            Ultimately, when all the blathering was pushed aside, it was whether the Republic would be split into two nations

            Actually, the likelihood wasn’t two nations, but, eventually, twenty or thirty, as parts of each seceded again and again, until each one of those tiny “countries” was easy pickings for one European power or another. I’m thinking of the Free County of Jones, and IIRC there was another significant one in Texas.

      3. russell1200

        It seems like Trumps treatment of Puerto Rico would have been a bigger deal. But for some reason, we are are only getting the smoking gun on that now, and it didn’t seem to make much of a splash anyway.

        So instead, House Dems go after him on something that makes them look just about as bad. Great!

        1. JBird4049

          Unfortunately, Puerto Ricans are the wrong kind of Americans, citizens though they be. Even since the colony was taken by conquest from the Spanish and had its own independence and/or civil rights movements crushed by the American military at the behest of business interests, the mainstream, heck, the entire American mainland has ignored it.

          Focusing on distance Ukraine and Russia allows a much easier spin than the 120 years of greed, oppression, and racism of what are American citizens much closer to home. Rather like the complete blackout of the poorest and most oppressed group of Americans. The Native Americans.

        2. hunkerdown

          “Insiders don’t criticize other insiders.” -one half of Elizabeth Warren’s theory of change

    2. nippersdad

      I fail to understand why investigation of international corruption wouldn’t be within the bailiwick of the executive. We have treaties for such things.:


      If Trump didn’t follow protocol to invoke them it would really be no surprise insofar as he has no allies within the existing neoconservative foreign policy bureaucracy, but that doesn’t make it a high crime or misdemeanor for him to try. As for the threat of with holding aid, Biden did the exact same thing to shut down investigation of Burisma holdings.

      What it looks like to the casual observer is any stick to beat a dog. If they are down to a matter of situational ethics then they really don’t have a leg to stand on. One doesn’t have to like the guy to see that.

  5. ambrit

    That NYT piece about Presidenta Pelosi is a trial balloon. It could also be an early step in the Restoration of HRH HRC to the Throne. In this scenario, Pelosi fills the role of Regent. Trump plays the ‘Usurper in Chief.’
    I do wonder at the Byzantine and frankly Ancien Regime thinking on display in the ‘Corridors of Power.’

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Or maybe we will have two popes…one in the American Rome, the other in our Avignon.

      1. Bernalkid

        Can’t the House majority elect whoever it wants as speaker, ie doesn’t have to be a rep? Nancy steps aside at the right moment and HRC is elected speaker and becomes the successor. Now that is a nightmare scenario.

        1. ambrit

          Alas good sir! You are in the right! However, I don’t see the Democrats in Congress getting that level of cohesion along those lines. Now, if HRH HRC were to make overtures to the Old Guard Establishment Republicans left in Congress….I could see a formal coup arising from that sort of alliance.

  6. dcblogger

    The result of the 2016 election was that Hillary won the popular vote by 3 million. In any other country she would be president. As for impeachment, I think that Atrios said it best:
    In very general terms I’d sympathize slightly with the “look forward” desire of our elites, except for the fact that Trump KEEPS DOING CRIMES. Like he’s doing crimes RIGHT NOW.

    1. a different chris

      Yes this is like a hard drug dealer heading downtown for an “exchange” that’s basically a trap. Trailed by a plainclothes car, he hits a bicyclist but good.

      If the cops in the car don’t pull him over and arrest him they aren’t doing their job. Sucks massively but whatyougonnado. Crime is crime.

      I am rather glad Hillary isn’t President, BTW.

      PS: I actually would expect our corrupt police to ignore the bleeding bicyclist, in truth.

      1. Trent


        I honestly can’t think of a single thing that would be different right now if we were under a Clinton presidency. So please do tell, what would be different? Wait wait, the tone of the press would be way less hostile. Is that it? Epstein might still be alive? On second thought he might still be alive so who knows.

        1. DonCoyote

          >50% chance we would be in a shooting war with Russia over her “no fly zone” in Syria.

          And Dems would not have won the House back (with mil/int Blue Dogs) in 2018–loss of seats would have accelerated.

          And we’d all be at brunch right now.

          1. polecat

            “And we’d all be at brunch right now” …

            With the possibly of having become shadows on what was left of the imperial brunchroom wall, showing the blackened silhouettes of formerly corporeal carbon-based lifeforms who were in the process of raising their expensive glasses of mimosa to toast the Conquerer Wormette’s ascension to the Throne !

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            We might all be part of a glowing cloud of radioactive gas plasma particles by now if Clinton had been elected President.

            Thank God and the Constitution for the Electoral College . . . . which saved us from all those Clintonite voters in California.

        2. dcblogger

          This is not about Hillary Clinton, it is about the voters, rightly or wrongly, they voted for her. If Trump is removed from office Pence, or Pelosi will be President. Not Hillary. The Trump White House has been a cesspool of corruption from day one. He violated the emoluments clause before he even took office. If we do not impeach Trump it really will be a case that when the President does it that makes it legal. Or at least for Republican Presidents.

          1. nippersdad

            There is the little issue of the Electoral College to consider, though. “Rightly or wrongly” that has been the law of the land for over two hundred years now, and no one can say that the fifty-plus-one strategy that the Dems have followed for decades isn’t partly to blame for the two DLC Dems that lost under this system. Maybe they should have thought about that before they deep sixed Sanders in the primaries and promoted Trump.


            “When the President does it became legal” when Obama refused to follow his oath of office and prosecute the Bush Administration for war crimes under the treaties that we are a party to. It is a little late to be discovering that no one is above the law now that there has been a bi-partisan consensus about he who has the money determines what laws are applicable for nearly a generation.

          2. polecat

            Dude … you need new sunglasses of the seeing kind !

            Trump, with all his faults, has laid open the ghouls for what they are, both red and blue

          3. hunkerdown

            No, the people voted for Sanders and were ignored.

            When the Democrat Party accepts the people’s will as binding, rather than something to be managed, THEN they can complain about winning the popular vote. Until then, they can sit down and stop whining about being hoist on their own petard.

            1. Late Introvert

              Pretty much. The lib Dem crowd with blinders on are just relentless. “Rightly or wrongly” is a good clue for their ways.

          4. The Rev Kev

            Clinton knew the rules of the game as well as Trump. You can’t ignore the Electoral College. Worse actually as she had decades in Washington to learn this fact but forgot to take action to lock it down. She had one good shot at the Presidency but through arrogance blew it. I doubt that her health would be up to taking on another challenge at the Presidency so now she is done.
            As for corruption, Trump is really only extending what he found in place thanks to previous Presidents. As an example, if Obama had prosecuted tortures, the CIA would not have Gina Haspel as their head right now. There is plenty that the Democrats could go after Trump for if they wanted him impeached but dragging Russiagate out of the bin, hosing it off and renaming it Ukrainegate is not going to do it. And secret witnesses will not do it either. Just one of those things.

        3. Dean

          1 We would not be withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement
          2. Neil Gorsuch would not be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
          3. Brett Kavanaugh would not be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
          4. 100’s of other (some highly unqualified) federal judges would not be on the bench
          5. Climate change would not be a hoax
          6. CAFE standards would not be rolled back
          7. Coal ash would not be dumped back into the environment
          8. Betsy DeVos would not be trying to privatize education so that good christian values can
          be taught to everyone
          9. We would not be commenting on privatizing National Parks to allow Amazon deliveries
          10. etc.

          1. nippersdad

            1. The Paris Accords are both insufficient to the need and voluntary.

            2., 3., 4. would bring into question whether or not someone like Manchin wouldn’t perform the same function that Biden did in getting Clarence Thomas over the finish line. It is hardly a rare occurrence for Democratic Senators to rubberstamp Federalist Society nominations; thirty of them were waved through just so that they could make their planes for summer break.

            5. See number one. Is it worse to say there is no problem or to admit to one that you are unwilling to do anything about? Obama remade the US in Saudi Arabia’s image and Hillary got the title of “Fracking Queen” for a reason.

            6. I’ll give you that one, but would they be observed in the absence?

            7. Coal ash has been dumped into the environment whether or not it is legal. Laws don’t preclude slaps on the hand for abrogating them when your dam fails in a rainstorm.

            8. Two words: Arne Duncan.

            9. Yet. Saudi America is privatizing vast swathes of private land for pipelines, and those pipelines must be supplied……

            That is the problem with the Washington Consensus. You don’t get a real sense of the actual differences, or lack of same, between the Parties until people who are not “real” Democrats show up to illustrate them.

          2. John k

            You’re right on all counts.
            But as noted above, we would have confronted Russia in Syria, and their missiles are more powerful than ours. And if that didn’t start ww3 we’d try again in Ukraine.
            We continue to steal Syria’s oil, so bipartisan.
            And the Clinton foundation would be doing pretty much what trump kirschner is doing now. They’re both crooks, not much to pick there.
            Paris… is a voluntary agreement. Granted trump has greater fealty to fossil than Clinton.
            Yes, he’s made really awful appointments. OTOH were still alive.
            Beyond that useful fact, progressives have a narrow opening that wouldn’t be there so long as Clinton is pres.

            1. Kurt Sperry

              Beyond that useful fact, progressives have a narrow opening that wouldn’t be there so long as Clinton is pres.

              This, for me, outweighs all the Trump awfulness, even the Y’alliban judges who will be infecting the judiciary with their crazy for decades. If Hillary were POTUS today, there’d be no political life nor hope for the left at all. As it is, I give Sanders maybe a one-in-three chance next year vs. the zero chance, he or any other remotely left leader would have had with the Clinton DyNasty reinstalled at 1600.

              You might rightly say a one-in-three chance (or however you reckon it) isn’t worth it, but that ignores the once-in-a-lifetime nature of Sanders and this moment. If Hillary had won, I’d probably never live to see another left-leaning candidate get even that one-in-three shot. Not even close. Those just don’t come along every decade–the entire system is designed to prevent it and Clinton would build the DP to prevent it even more than it currently is. The problem isn’t really the Republicans–it never is; the problem of getting popular leftish policy actual put into place is getting it past the obstruction of the right-wing Dems. The whole purpose of the Democratic Party is to defend against, to thwart , and to kill the left.

              The policies themselves are popular enough that if a highjacked DP were to militate for them, the people would get behind them. It’s only the donor class and the systemic, even Clintonian, corruption of the Party keeping left populism from topping the levees.

              I’ll take one-in-three chances over zero chances every single time. I think having right-wing Ds in office is far worse and more dangerous than having right-wing Rs.

              1. nippersdad

                I agree. He is a monster, but he is their monster and that makes all the difference. It gives us the breathing room to coordinate an opposition that otherwise would not have been possible. I see these conversations and then think about how we have been operating in the Republican end zone for most of my life.


                How is that any kind of winning?

          3. chuckster

            Don’t forget that we’d all be dead from the nuclear war that Hillary started to show she had “balls” against Putin.

            Also had Hillary been elected in 2016 I would suspect that the GOP would have won veto-proof majorities in both chambers of Congress so we probably would be planning for House Speaker Paul Ryan to assume the presidency after Hillary and Tim Kaine were impeached.

            Alternate history has many strange turns.

            1. Mo's Bike Shop

              The firing of the blame cannons as we lurched towards first launch would have been spectacular though.

              The idea that HRC selling access to the Presidency would be more savory than Trump’s grift is not credible. The main thing about the cattle futures fiasco for me was how cheaply she could be bribed, just hand over fist grifting.

              And at this point I can’t imagine her actually getting the brass ring and not going unhinged rapidly. Her animus to rules that interfere with her getting what she wants is too great.

          4. jrs

            – National parks like Bears Ears would still be protected
            – The rich wouldn’t have gotten such a big tax break (not saying Dems never favor them, but Trump really did give away the farm)
            – Labor laws and protections wouldn’t be under this level of attack
            – Vast quantities of decent people wouldn’t have quit the government unable to work under Trump, not to mention all the scientists in the government he silences
            – Racial animosity wouldn’t have reached this level of extremes, which is literally splitting the country into Trumpsters obsessed with criminals crossing our borders and open border advocates

            1. tegnost

              No comment on the national park, other than to point out the forest service was underfunded in previous neoliberal administrations.
              The rich would have been coddled of course, and would have had the opportunity to influence policy by giving money to the Clinton Foundation.
              Workers rights would have been eroded to enhance the gig economy to benefit said coddled rich.
              Most of the people I know with TDS live in lily white neighborhoods and get a ping from their nest whenever someone walks by the door. Class animosity has been and would still be growing.
              Public position/private position
              Victoria Nuland and her wretched husband
              Chelsea Clinton as head some agency (if a rich dem does it it’s totally normal behavior)
              Homelessness and the criminalization of poverty would have continued apace
              Student Debt
              Continued right drift of the court system (you’re kidding yourself if you think corporate dems care about people. Weren’t Bezos, Brin Page Musk et al. hillary supporters. Travis Kalanick? What favors do you think Hills would have showered on uber particulary and self driving tech in general? Free stuff for potential donors, no question. Corruption. Assange, Manning, and Snowden continually hounded and (gasp, my pearls!) with their civil rights undermined and ignored.
              Also the country is not split into open borders vs all immigrants are criminals. Get a grip. Those are probably both minority views.
              Also echoing an above point, bernie is still making the debate better than it would have been, we would still be a capitalist country who sows conflict on other peoples borders so employers in our country, many of whom are deep blue dems, could have cheap labor.
              I could keep going without much effort, but there’s work to do…

          5. drumlin woodchuckles

            None of those things are as bad as becoming a cloud of radioactive fallout, which could have happened under World War Hillary.

        4. neo-realist

          I’m not a Hillary fan, but offhand, If she were President, I’d say we would not have two more hard right wing judicial appointments to the court (If none were likely not appointed under her Presidency, fine with me); The Iranian Nuclear Deal would still be in place and we wouldn’t have the Iranians gearing up the centrifuges to generate nuclear weapons grade plutonium; and the Federal Monitors for Police Accountability would still be in place, which if you are a POC, you’d appreciate that.

          I’m not saying Hillary’s the change we need, but that it would be arguably less painful than a Trump administration.

          1. Oh

            One day you’ll wake up from your dream that the two wretched parties are different. This comment also applies to jrs above.

            1. neo-realist

              They’re the same in enormous fealty to corporate dollars and austerity for the 99 percent, but on issues such as civil rights, abortion, and race, they are very different animals.

        5. Jeff W

          I honestly can’t think of a single thing that would be different right now if we were under a Clinton presidency.

          Hillary Clinton would be the incumbent running for a second term and it would be much more difficult for someone like Bernie Sanders to run for the Democratic nomination and challenge her from the left.

    2. Another Scott

      No, she wouldn’t be president in any other country. Just look at Canada, Trudeau was reelected despite getting fewer votes than Scheer.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Hillary won the popular vote by 3 million.

      When did they start giving out prizes for this? She had more votes than Trump, but like the 1960 Yankees, she didn’t actually win the World Series. Yes, other countries have different rules, but for Team Blue types who love to be part of the reality based community, didn’t the 2000 election kind of wake people up to the rules?

      Delegate allocation is a little different, but the electoral college has been around for 230 years. Its not new.

      1. Titus

        Ya, to be clear 230 years ago the president was not directly elected either. So what we now have is an half assed system.

        1. nippersdad

          That half assed system showed that the Rust Belt was feeling a pain that would not otherwise have been recognized if it had been plastered over with a simple majority vote, though.

          There is something to be said for an electoral system that gives voice to the needs of “flyover country.”

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I’m not so sure that this is the case. Safe states skew everything, but the dilapidated ruins of many of the wealthy blue states might not be the lock if the votes were really open. The threat of voting third party might come up again.

            1. nippersdad

              Are the safe coastal states dilapidated due to federal elections, though? One look at how the state tax codes in Washington, for example, militate against affordable housing cannot be put at the door of the Feds, can they?

              I’m no Trump fan, but he does have a point about homelessness in California and New York that goes to the heart of Democratic virtue signalling. When Bezos’ home town in Washington cannot afford to pay to pick up the trash even as Amazon gentrifies the region one has a difficult time thinking that such as Pelosi will ever be voted out of office. Their pols are representing their constituencies, unfortunately their constituencies are not subject to the same issues that plague the working classes that they supposedly also represent.

          2. jrs

            what does recognized even mean? bloviated about? ok then … Trump feels you pain. Yea but at least Bill could say that with feeling.

            Giving voice to the needs of flyover country means the rest of the country gets no voice over their needs apparently (noone is less of a president of the whole country than Trump – he is Prez only of states that vote for him it’s perfectly clear). And if the needs of Puerto Rico were given voice to, who knows the results of the election might be different

            1. nippersdad

              We have spent the past three years listening to the bloviations of people who think that WI, MI and PA in the rust belt “blue wall” were lost due to Jill Stein and the Russians. If they had worried more about why there is a rust belt in the first place then maybe those states would not have gone to Trump.

              That is what I meant by recognizing their pain only after losing them.

              Bill Could say a lot with feeling even as he was signing NAFTA and PNTRC and his wife was calling the TPP the gold standard of trade deals. I would worry less about what Bill can say with feeling and more about why they can’t show their faces in the states they had so much of a hand in destroying.

              Make PR a state and put them in the first three primaries and then we can talk about Puerto Rico, but I have yet to see DLC Dems promote such an idea, so I don’t give them much more credit than I do Trump. It was, after all, Obama that put them under a conservatorship, and that has harmed them at least as badly as Turmp delaying funds for their reconstruction.

            2. JBird4049

              People voted against the status quo, not for Trump. It was a message, which so far is being ignored by the Democratic leadership.

              The growing underclass would be growing under a President Clinton at least as well as it is under President Trump. Only thing really different is our overlords would have taken the election of the Inevitable One as approval of their increasingly violent, unhindered economic rapine of not just the United States, but the rest of the Earth as well. Both parties operate under the Washington Consensus, are corrupt, and favor the Forever War. The Democrats are politer about the beatings and robberies, as well more subtle on their bigotry, but otherwise are the same as the Republicans.

              1. tegnost

                Only thing really different is our overlords would have taken the election of the Inevitable One as approval of their increasingly violent, unhindered economic rapine of not just the United States, but the rest of the Earth as well.

                Of all things this would be one of the worst!

            3. polecat

              Oh please !! … Did Bill feel anyone’s pain whilst at ‘flyover cruising speed’, ensconsed as it were, on Epstein’s expressive ride … ?? He is not the signifier of party virtue you’re looking for … move along now …

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        To oust a president by senators voting, it’s a similar tale:

        Each senator gets a vote – even small state senators.

        Can you imagine if the popular vote* total of ‘yes’ outnumbers that of ‘no?’

        *each senator is assigned half of his/her state’s registered voters.

        Of course, we don’t look at it this way each a bill comes before the Senate. We just say, this bill receives, or does not receive, more than 50 votes. We don’t weigh a big state’s senator’s vote more than the vote of a small state’s senator..

      3. ian

        There’s a good reason for the electoral college. It forces a candidate to win more elections, in more places. This gives the candidate an incentive to campaign outside of a handful of coastal urban areas. How is this un-democratic?

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Yes. Without the Electoral College/Senators North Dakota, or the like, would be turned into a National Sacrifice Zone. See how well Puerto Rico and similar US Possessions are doing. I’m open to new ideas to balance regions, but pure popular vote would move secession from fringe to a constant buzz.

          And ‘we should just do what New York and California want’ is not a winning catch phrase. Maybe worse if you include Florida.

        2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          I try telling people about this, and they just go crazy, looneypants.

          Something about it being 230 yrs old.

          If it aint broke, dont fix it.

    4. Frank Dean

      The popular vote argument is idiotic, because if the rules were different from what they are, people would behave differently. Turnout would not be the same. A competent candidate campaigns to win under the rules as they actually are.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        This particular debate about the popular vote is not just deja vu…we really have had the same one repeatedly.

        1. JBird4049

          Also, the country is a federal republic comprising fifty semi-sovereign states (the United States), which is why the election is partially a choice of the states’ individual nations, and the not the American nation as a whole.

          It is to prevent a region or a state from dominating the rest of the states. Like California over Alabama or New England over the South.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        Is it just me, or is there always some damned kind of ‘special pleading’ going on whenever HRC is involved in a project?

    5. Peter VE

      “In any other country she would be president.”
      Not in Canada, which is an actual country which had a Federal Election two weeks ago. Trudeau’s Liberal Party won 33% of the popular vote, whilst the Conservative Party won 34.4%. Since the Conservative votes were more concentrated in particular ridings, they only won 121 seats, vs the Liberals 157 seats in Parliament. Trudeau gets to form a minority government.

      1. scarn

        Usually when people say that, it’s the emoluments clause. Saudi princes buy lunch at his golf courses every day! Which is pretty weak as far as “super evil crime” goes. Me, I’d say his migrant camps are “super evil”. But, sadly, they’re not crime, and I’m certain Pence wouldn’t close them in any case. The guy needs to be beaten in an election by someone who isn’t also awful. Everything else (short of total revolution, lol) is a waste of time.

        1. inode_buddha

          Unfortunately, the stuff Trump is doing has been going on for decades, in a bipartisan fashion. The only difference is that he is open about it. The Clintons were famous for this kind of crap. Of course, the Democrats didn’t care one bit about corruption when it was *their* guy.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Actually, I was agreeing with it, but shorter. That claim about the popular vote is very annoying.

            I disagree, however, with “The purpose of the Electoral College is to prevent regional candidates from dominating national elections…” No, the purpose was to reassure and protect the smaller states – from, in this case, California. Or New York, at the time. I’m not convinced it has a purpose now, but we can’t get rid of it because there are more small states than large – Oregon is a small state, electorally.

            1. Big River Bandido

              The same purpose still serves. New York and California politics are one-party states in which the one party is completely corrupt and odious. Other states would be fortunate to escape their influence.

    6. Janie

      In 1954 the national high school topic was “Resolved that the president of the United States should be elected by direct vote of the people”. It’s not a new issue. The Hayes-Tilden election of 1876 was always discussed at length by the affirmative.

      1. ambrit

        Louisiana electors were literally “sold” back in the 1876 election. And that won the election for Hayes. Then as now, money was the prime corrupting force.

  7. JohnnyGL

    Re: Bernie critique of Warren

    Clearly the media has been itching for a fight for months, looking for them to tear each other down.

    However, have we considered that the media has gotten the potential effects of a good policy-based spat spectacularly wrong (as they’ve been consistently wrong since at least 2016)?

    What if Warren and Bernie decide to start a good, tough policy based debate and media breaks its blackout of Bernie (to cover what they want, so badly, to be disastrous a food fight) and both candidates are able to show they’ve got the ideas and energy necessary to win and lead?

    What if Biden and Buttigieg have nothing to add to this debate and are left talking about useless, mushy stuff like healing ‘the soul of the nation’ and ‘unity’?

    With Taibbi in mind, WWE often stokes rivalries which end up boosting both players (Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior…..Stone Cold vs. The Rock). It’s entirely possible Warren vs. Bernie could (and should?) be played out this way?

      1. Carey

        Steadily fewer people are listening to the spin doctors, these days;
        perhaps because Jane and Joe Sixpack are now aware that their
        own circumstances are deteriorating, as with the PG&E debacle
        here in California.

        “Everything’s fine! Really. but Russia Russia Russia..”

        1. polecat

          If a black Kamala cobra were to slither amongst the burnt remains of a formerly overgrown democrat forest, would there be anyone left alive to raise their blue-inked thumb ?

    1. John k

      I’d like him to focus minds on the long term goal statements… in the long run we’re all dead, sooner without healthcare.
      What would somebody 50 years old with issues think of long term goal? Or 40?
      I’m reminded of the movie Lincoln, where he insists on getting the amendment passed so a future pres couldn’t undo his proclamation. Now, now, now! Pounding desk for emphasis.
      Bernie should pound the podium on this.

  8. .Tom

    “everyone gets the care they need and that no one ever goes broke because of health care costs.”

    The word “access” does not appear, thankfully.

    Yes. But it doesn’t say that everyone gets the care they need free at the point of delivery, only that the cost won’t make you broke.

    1. a different chris

      Actually I expect the cost will still “make you broke”, it’s just that the leeching will stop at that point, rather than put you into debt that would take two lifetimes (even if you were actually restored to the type of health you would need to work 60hr weeks) to pay off. So that’s an improvement, all the Democrats agree.

      What was that Churchill said about Americans doing everything but the right thing until they have no other choice?

    2. dearieme

      As I read your Constitution the President is the elected monarch. But for some reason he’s given the powers of a British monarch of the early 17th century rather than the late 18th century. I suppose impeachment is meant to be a symbolic chopping off of his head.

      1. JBird4049

        To fair the executive branch of government is supposed to be counterbalanced by the legislative and judicial branches. The only reason why the president is so powerful now is because Congress decided not to do its job, which left the president. Also the federal bureaucracy is a shattered, anemic mess, which again gives the president and his personal staff less interference and more control. If the system is functioning, impeachment is Congress’ big-red-emergency-stop button in case any president got undemocratic ideas. It was supposed to be used as a very last resort.

        The House of Representatives to indict him on behalf of the general public; the supposedly more sober Senate, representing more of the ruling class, to put him to trial.

        It is telling that in two hundred years that there were only two efforts at impeachment; one over serious disagreements on Southern Reconstruction, which really was a kind of continuation of the Civil War, and the other in which the articles of impeachment were being written, but were not presented because President Nixon resigned the morning of.

        In the past thirty years we have had, or probably will have had two attempts. Any changes, while possibly valid being used in an attempted coup instead of dealing with a serious extant threat of a dictator.

    3. Bugs Bunny

      She apparently didn’t have enough characters to include her mantra “the long term goal of” before “Medicare for All”.

      I was surprised that she wants to make employers pay for it. Bad idea. Bad plan. It’s similar what we’ve got in France and it hits SMBs hardest.

      She obviously had the research wonks busy with an international regulatory survey as part of the financing review. That’s actually commendable.

      If you listened closely to Kate McKinnon doing Warren on SNL last week, she made a subtle reference to MMT: something like “money’s not real, it’s just some numbers in a computer”.

      Didn’t see that radical little nugget mentioned anywhere in the US entertainment press but I didn’t bother googling.

      1. chuckster

        So where’s Bernie’s plan? All I can find on his website is a list of “possible funding sources”. If he intends to run on MMT I think you can expect 4 more years of President Trump.

        1. nippersdad

          Stephanie Kelton is his economic advisor and if he were going to run on MMT he prolly would have done so already. More than likely he is going to point to his possible funding sources and ask people to discredit their possibilty before going onto a dissertation into MMT.

          He has enough problems popularizing the word socialist. Why exacerbate them needlessly? Time enough to do that once in office over a fireside chat.

          1. Aumua

            “popularizing” would definitely be generous. The overall sense I get in the mainstream left is of a suspicious and uneasy truce with the word. While all-out demonization continues on the right.

          2. chuckster

            So Bernie has no idea how he is going to pay for it?

            Better yet, please tell me how he gets M4A passed when his own Speaker of the House hates the idea?

            1. nippersdad

              Actually, he has a list of possible ways to pay for M4A on his issues page. Anyone interested enough in knowing what they are can look them up any time they please. All will do the job, it is for those who don’t want it to demonstrate why they couldn’t. This puts the onus of proof on the naysayers.

              So get started on your research.

              As for Pelosi, she has informed us that she still has her sign in the basement, and film has been uncovered of her wanting single payer in ’93.* Again, the onus will be on her to prove that it is unworkable; why she was for it before she was against it. That is the value of a bully pulpit that can pole vault the gatekeepers, and she knows it quite well even if you don’t.

              * https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4682193/nancy-pelosi-single-payer-health-care

            2. inode_buddha

              Consider that my insurance is 5x greater than my medicare taxes *per month* , I don’t think there will be any problem paying for it, when the insurance is eliminated as redundant.

            3. scarn

              He literally released a tax schedule for his plan broken down by income, and details about total costs, payments to providers, timeframe, and even adjustments to the medicare cost schedule abound. Nobody cares how we pay for bombing people, but suddenly paying for something the entire first world already has is just impossible. Use your imagination, if google is that difficult for you.

              As for how we pass it in the face of opposition? Mass political pressure and we make good on our threats. Questions like that are absolutely absurd – anything worth doing is hard, else it would be done already. Not all of us back down from work that needs doing just because its hard and we might fail, lol.

        2. Jackson

          It is the lack of critical thinking skills and that a majority of individuals in the US believe in “American Exceptionalism”. I recognize that denial is not a river in Egypt… LOL

          1. chuckster

            Those are “options” but no one will tell me what Bernie actually wants to do and who pays what. Why is that? Because there is no “plan”? I understand that word is anathema here because Warren has a plan but WTF is Bernie’s plan?

              1. chuckster

                Again, for the third time. HOW DOES HE PAY FOR IT? There’s no answers in any of these links just “possibilities”. For all the Warren bashing that goes on here one would think that Bernie’s entire plan would be out and discussed. Ain’t happening as far as I can see.

                1. inode_buddha

                  I see that you seem to be trying to redefine things and set the narrative.

                  I won’t presume to speak for Sanders, and plenty of answers have been given in this thread, IMHO.

                  But I will say this: My insurance premiums are at least 5x more than my Medicare taxes. As a single, W-2 wage earner. The coverage is identical. If I could choose one or the other between private insurance and medicare, and since they both have the same coverage, which one do you think I would choose?

                  My viewpoint being, I don’t owe anyone a living, but they sure as hell have been taking it from me. Bunch of profiteering gluttons.

  9. Carolinian

    Martin Scorsese expands on why Marvel comic book movies are not cinema.


    His main thrust is that H’wood has been taken over by bean counters and lost all appetite for risk–therefore the endless sequels and remakes and other presold movie ideas. Coppola has joined in the criticism…Bob Iger huffily objected.

    So there is an actual economic angle. Stockholders love Disney’s share price and box office even as the movies get worse

    1. a different chris

      Man there was a funny conversation about that at work just today. It turns out – I didn’t know, as I’m not really *into* Marvel Comics but can be dragged to see them with the family – that nobody really knows how the movies “fit” together. I mean, the timeline is apparently at least not obvious at best and possibly a complete mess.

      I had no idea, I just figured it was my lack of detailed attention.

      1. Oregoncharles

        How very modern and, actually, 1960’s of them.

        There is at least one modern French novel, by Alain Robbe-Grillet, which is carefully written to have no coherent timeline – even though detailed descriptions of the growth of the surrounding banana plantation appear to indicate one. After diligent effort, I can assure you, they don’t.

        Which is all I remember about the book.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Which is all I remember about the book.

          I’m still trying to figure out how many rocks there are in Wales from Long Dark Teatime of the Soul.

        2. Basil Pesto

          La Jalousie / Jealousy

          (Robbe-Grillet is an inspiration of mine)

          that said, I think it’s a bit different. Like you said, the novel’s written very carefully. In the case of the ~MCU timeline~ it just seems very ad hoc. This seems to parallel the world of comic book publishing (I’m not a reader myself) where everything becomes extremely integrated and then convoluted to the point where they have to blow it up and start again.

          1. Oregoncharles

            “The second time as comedy…”
            They are comic books, after all.

            Thanks for the title; it’s been a long time. Didn’t much like Robbe-Grillet, personally, but would be curious what he inspired.

            A recent movie that might be inspired by it would be “21 Grams” – but I thought the timeline of that was surprisingly clear.

      2. Carolinian

        Don’t ask me. I find the plots mostly incomprehensible. What’s annoying is that some sequel is presented and you are expected to remember the plot of the previous movie from a year or two ago.

        Scorsese–and he has been widely criticized for speaking out–says he’s never been able to finish watching any of them.

        1. Bugs Bunny

          I thought maybe the whole “Marvel Universe” was just too complicated for me to grasp since I only liked a couple of those comic books as a kid (Spiderman, Fantastic Four).

          Glad to hear I’m not the only one who can’t figure out what the heck is going on and I also usually stop watching before the end. Even the ones that get good reviews.

          I sort of liked Black Panther but the stupid effects and silly plot did nothing for me. Made it to the end though! It felt like an accomplishment. Jeez.

          1. Aumua

            Man, sure is Boomer in this thread. The Marvel plots are just fantasy shlock. I mean I don’t particularly like them either, but they’re not that hard to understand.


            1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              James Gunn and Taika Waititis Marvel movies kick ass.

              Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok

              Avengers Movies are BORING and chock full of Identity Politics like Captain Marvel and Black Panther.

              1. Carolinian

                I’ll admit I did get a chuckle out of Ragnarok. But it’s still not exactly what you would call highbrow entertainment. I think Scorsese is saying that these films are crowding out–because of their considerable success in the international market–more interesting fare. The moguls making money may not care but perhaps we should.

                1. polecat

                  After having actually enjoyed the first Thor flick, I found Ragnarok to be … well, let me just say that I thought it less than stellar .. by a universe ! Just another actor’s meal-ticket* movie.

                  Agent : “Whadda think of this plot/story line ??”
                  *Actor(ess) : “Well, I’ve seen better, but everyone’s gotta eat, right ? I be shameless, ride on my prior cred, and accept the part .. There ! It’s a Done Deal !
                  The fans won’t care …….”

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Im with Scorsese and Coppola.

      But screw Scorsese for during a Streaming movie instead of one meant for Theatres.

      1. polecat

        It would be nice, for a change, if Scorsese were to ditch his obnoxious leading man, eco-hypocrite Leo D…

        But then again, by that standard, there’d be no one in Hollwood left to ‘act’.

      2. Basil Pesto

        I don’t resent him for it. I just wish someone would nudge him in the direction of Matt Stoller’s contra Netflix piece. Not everyone has the benefit of being apprised of this kind of valid but against-the-grain criticism. I think Netflix as a boon for artists, an idea which Scorsese seems to have come around to, is a false promise (and understandably given the state of the studio system such as it is today), but I can see why it’s a seductive and superficially convincing one.

        What was most disappointing about his piece was his remark about him not arguing that film has been or should be subsidised. True enough in the US, but there are so many national film industries that benefit from government subsidy. Results may vary, mind – in Australia, national film subsidies are very much geared towards marketable dross. A bit better at the state level.

        1. metannoya

          Union organizing is a dangerous occupation. Over the years Reuther was beaten by Ford goons in the 1930’s, shot in 1948 in his own kitchen ( he favors his right arm in the Wallace interview) and escaped (barely) a kidnapping and murder attempt, also in the 40’s. In ’68 he came out against the Vietnam War, which enraged LBJ. Important politically since it was Reuther’s UAW workers and their sons and grandsons who were fighting and dying in the war ( not the likes of Bush, Clinton, Cheney, Wolfowitz, or Trump.) Reuther died when his plane crashed May 9th, 1970; five days after Kent State, where 4 students were shot and killed by Ohio National Guard; and one day following the so called Hard Hat Riot in NYC, where 200 union construction workers brutally attacked 1,000 students. (Wall St. brokers and traders were seen in the street protecting students from construction worker attacks.) Both protests were a response to revelations that Nixon had secretly and illegally invaded Cambodia. (and the upcoming trial of Captain Calley for the My lai massacre.) David Axelrod’s term “hippie punching” comes from the Hard Hart Riot. Nixon would appoint Peter Brennan, a union organizer of the riot, labor Secretary. ( In Scorsese’s The Irishman, Nixon will commute the prison sentence of Teamster’s President Jimmy Hoffa.)
          (it’s worth noting that in the summer of ’69 Scorsese was Assistant Director on the film Woodstock.)

          The photo above is obviously 1963 but Reuther backed the full rights of African Americans in the work place 30 years before during the Great Depression.

    3. Deschain

      Disney is making these movies because millions of people are going to see them and they are making billions of dollars. Full stop,

      Disney isn’t making Martin Scorsese’s movies because people aren’t going to the theater to see those types of movies when you can see something as good or better on Netflix or Amazon or HBO, etc. Marvel movies demand to be seen on a big screen because of their scale, the VFX, etc. Adult dramas, not so much hen you have a 70” TV at home with clean floors and no annoying chatter from the people in front of you.

      It’s absurd to criticize Disney for making movies that people clearly enjoy in great numbers. You don’t have to like them, but don’t shit on the people that do. It’s horribly elitist. Basically, Marvel fans are Scorsese’s deplorables.

      1. Carolinian

        I wonder how much people really enjoy the current Disney which commodifies other people’s creativity or that of Disney’s past. Is there really any excuse for Mary Poppins Returns or a live action Dumbo? Meanwhile lots of people are complaining about the $129 it now costs to get into Disney World. Here’s suggesting the current management is coasting on brand fumes and headed for a downturn.

      2. Acacia

        “It’s absurd to criticize Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and KFC for making food that people clearly enjoy in great numbers.” FIFY.

  10. Nick

    Re: Wegman on Pres Pelosi.

    The Senate confirms cabinet positions, including the Vice President, should a vacancy arise. Does anyone honestly believe that were Trump removed and Pence succeeds him, that the Senate would fail to put another republican in the VP slot before Pelosi ever had a chance? Like, even in Wegman’s cockamamie scenario, if things were getting real grim for republicans, so much so that Pence is being impeached (which requires a Senate vote to convict!!), who honestly believes that Mitch McConnell would not have a replacement in there lickety split?

    Come on.

    Mitch McConnell runs the government and understands it far better than Wegman and the NYT editorial board. What a silly article.

    1. nippersmom

      Agreed. Wegman seems to think the Republicans are as inept as the Democrats. As much as I dislike the things they do, it must be acknowledged that the Republicans do actually manage to get things done.

    2. ptb

      Not to mention that there aren’t 17 Senate Repubs ready to give up their seat, which would be the consequence of joining Dems in voting to remove Trump.

      Marvelous clickbait tho.

      1. hunkerdown

        For the right prize on the other side of the revolving door, I don’t doubt you could roll half of the two classes that aren’t up for reelection this next year. Consider that the House Finance Committee is a common assignment for the rookie Representative, so that they can network and get themselves a piece of the action. It’s almost a given that neoliberal Democrats will nominate the Senators who help them to Cabinet positions or other bureaus rich with grift. There’s no quid-pro-quo, we promise. Just their “experience” and “managerial qualities”.

    3. chuckster

      The new VP needs approval; from both the Senate and the House. Jerry Ford did anyway.

      Remember Supreme Court Justice Merrick Garland

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        These are Democrats. The rush to restore decorum will bring in a 1/3 of the House caucus for Pence easily and probably 10 to 15 Team Blue Senators at least.

  11. Arnold RN

    “You Did Not Teach Me What You Thought You Did” [JAMA].
    • This is a lovely article, well worth a read. Carpe diem!

    Really? A ‘lovely’ article?!? OK, cancer (leukemia) is no fun. This doctor/patient admits to (what is at least on one level) faking her way through her work yet she appears oblivious as to how privileged she is (/was) compared to the millions who can’t get others to take up the slack when they themselves can’t perform the duties of their jobs. Sorry; reality check.

  12. Wukchumni

    Moose Lake in Sequoia NP has a reputation for weird things happening, about 25 years ago a friend was there by himself and around midnight lights appeared in the low sky that he couldn’t reconcile and it so spooked him that he up and left in the middle of night. The lake itself looking from a distance in the Tablelands, appears tilted at an angle where it wouldn’t hold any water.

    About 20 years ago I saw strange red lights in the Kaweah range I couldn’t figure out and some days later when I was back in the frontcountry, a ranger friend showed me a 10 page pamphlet regarding an incident in 1955 incident involving an extraterrestrial near Moose Lake and i’ve been searching on the internet for it ever since with scant luck, that is until today.

    We examine the still little-known case of the visitor from Venus along the Wolverton Trail, taking place in 1955.

    The contactee in question was one Oscar F. Knight. He was a very successful rancher living in Central California, just a little to the west of Porterville. He and his wife, Kitty, had owned and managed, since 1950, quite a comfortable ranch where they raised cotton, fruit and walnuts. Speaking for both of the Knights, however, Oscar informed the Arnolds that, “My wife and I are well-liked and responsible citizens. We are only coming out with our story now because the people have the right to know the facts and make their own interpretation.”

    “Well, no one was on the trail. Yet, Ken and I were now startled to see a finely dressed gentleman coming down trail and not over fifty feet above us. He noted from our surprised features that we were mystified at his sudden appearance and made some comment on it.

    “At once certain things became apparent to us. The stranger was not dressed for this wild woodland setting. From somewhere he had come from a dressing room. Low topped oxfords, brown in color, brown bands of a heavy drill, like whipcord, neatly pressed, light blue shirt; old fashioned wrap-around dress tie. His eyes were different from any I had ever seen. They were a clear transparent brown that one looked into, with depth- not opaque like ours. I was getting a little nervous. I thought this gentleman might be a ghost from the nineteenth century, dressed as he was and appearing out of nowhere.”

    “OK, so Ken and I were familiar with this mountainous area, generally. As our new friend sensed this, he started asking us various questions in a manner we had not known of anyone.”

    “What manner might that be?” asked Arnold.

    “His clipped and precise phrasing of words, for one… I mean, he was cutting each word separately. It was so noticeable. And as the questions came along, a feeling came over me that by thought transference from my mind he had the answers before it was given.” Oscar paused for a moment, and then became very animated. He continued, “There was courtesy in his well-modulated voice as he would ask, ‘Gentlemen- where- are- you- going?’ Gentlemen,- how- high- is- that- peak?’ It was as if he had recently learned our language. Following our meeting, we were to go on with our minds searching for answers as to whom our meeting had been with. How little did we know that the mystery was to deepen…”

    “Suddenly,” Oscar informed Arnold, “I called out in amazement, for five or six moving blobs of light rose up the sides of the large rock, and near these a long string of softly glowing lights. They were so close together that they almost seemed to blend into each other. They appeared as if they were coming from some sort of portholes! The smaller lights came to rest on the big rock surface; while the huge object, which I estimated to be about a quarter of a mile long, began to very slowly rose up to a point about one-third of the way up the shoulder of Milk Ridge Peak. And there it stopped!”

    “When I asked him what he was doing here, he said that he and his friends often visit this canyon as well as other wilderness spots on Earth. Wondering in my mind what was so special about this particular canyon to the Venusians, Arthur explained that, ‘The- seclusion- of- this- area- makes- it- an- ideal- place. But,- of- course,- it- is- California,- after- all. We- are- all- enamored- by- your- beautiful state.’ I suppose the California Tourist Bureau or Chamber of Commerce might like to know this.


    1. scarn

      This is so unbelievably cool. Moose Lake is way up past Lodgepole, right? I’m going to take my kids and see some dapper aliens next summer!

      1. Wukchumni

        I’m not much for UFO stories, but so convincing of a tale, and corroborated by others, including an NPS ranger!

        Moose Lake has an amazing view of the Great Western
        Divide, and an odd feature in that can ‘walk on water’ (well
        up to your knees) for about 150 feet into the lake on a long granite slab, be the Jesus.

        You’d start from the Wolverton trailhead and go on the trail to Alta Meadow for the night, and then go mostly on off-trail (well delineated for the most part) to Moose Lake the next day.

        1. scarn

          The whole story reminds me of Indrid Cold and Mothman. It’s excellent. Thanks so much for the info. I looked the route up. My Sierra days are numbered for the year except for a traditional winter drive up past Johnsondale, but Alta is now on my solid list for next season.

          1. Wukchumni

            The similarities of the 2 encounters with alien beings using telepathy makes for even more intrigue, thanks for sharing.

      1. Wukchumni

        Now, there’s no way a mid 1950’s earthling could’ve known that Venus was 872 degrees on the surface, which would’ve been even too hot for mad dogs and/or Englishmen.

        1. ambrit

          Velikovsky predicted it back in 1950. One of many predictions of his that have turned out correct, and the conventional science of that day wrong. The dapper gent could have meant Venus in an allegorical sense, which would have strongly suggested that it was L Ron Hubbard. He was famous for fooling people and coming up with outrageous plots.

  13. Wukchumni


    If you want to see a black bear, now’s the time. My friend that runs the sightseeing tour in Sequoia NP told me a Nat-Geo filming team has been up in the park, and saw 3, 4 & 7 bears eating acorns along the Generals Highway in a stretch of 3 days. Also, yesterday David Attenborough was up in the park filming Giant Sequoias, damn, I would’ve like to have met him!


    Why is it so hard to understand around here that MfA is a long-term goal? Maybe after you’ve gained the confidence of a solid majority of people with successes in climate change, income/wealth equality, foreign policy, good government, and general de-trumpification…..

    No, it’s not a rallying cry, it’s not an organizing principle. It’s stupid politics.

    The country exhausted itself on health care in 2009-2010. Don’t go back there right away.

    1. scarn

      Friend, there is no benefit more concrete than universal healthcare free at the point of provision. Nothing. People want this, it’s literally a huge increase in wages for the entire working class, it will get people to the polls who have never voted. The country didn’t exhaust itself in ’10, a buncha people working for the ruling class did. M4A is the solid base on which your list can be built. Otherwise that list is just a bunch of immaterial “goals.” We are done with that, we demand results now.

    2. ambrit

      The ‘country’ did not ‘exhaust’ itself on health care back then. The political class refused to heed the wishes of, not to mention the best interests of, the people. The Kayfabe political ‘fight’ over the desirability of Heritage Foundation Care exhausted the available MSM coverage available, thus avoiding having a real debate concerning the glorious mess that is the present American Health Provision System.
      Under Johnson back in 1965, Medicare was rolled out and stood up in a single year. So, “long term” is at best an abrogation of responsibility.
      Your biases are showing with your gratuitous inclusion of “de-trumpification.” I’m sure you didn’t mean to make an unconscious connection between Trump and the NAZIs. No one could be that mean spirited and stupid, could they? Especially when remembering the Obama administration’s cozy relationship with the genuinely NAZI Bandera party in the Ukraine.

    3. Daryl

      You don’t get rid of a cancer like the FIRE sector with incremental change.

      Once health insurance companies are gone, there’s plenty of time for tweaking things.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Why is it so hard to understand around here that MfA is a long-term goal?

      Why on earth do you think it’s a matter of “understanding,” and who do you think it “is” a long-term goal for?

      Why on earth do you identify “the country” with liberal Democrat gatekeepers and policy wonks?

      Trust me on this. The people drowning in medical debt or being denied care by insurance companies playing doctor (countless, countless examples) aren’t “exhausted” at al. At least not by the #MedicareForAll debate.

    5. Big River Bandido

      Delay is a classic strategy for outright preventing reform. The so-called “reform effort” of 2010 is correctly viewed in that light — it succeeded in preventing reform for 10 years. How many billions of dollars wasted on useless premiums is that?

      Transactional politics must be immediate in order to be effective. Social Security was rolled out in one year — at a time when the state-of-the-art technology for bureaucrats was the manual typewriter.

  15. Jessica

    About “Back to Work: Review of David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs”
    I think the author misunderstands what Graeber is doing with the concept of bullshit jobs. Graeber is using not this concept as the foundation for a critique of capitalism – that he does elsewhere.
    Graeber says in the book over and over that by bullshit jobs, he only means those jobs that the jobholder themselves recognize as being of no social utility whatsoever. He clearly distinguishes this from jobs experienced as having social utility but with increasing administrative bullshit, for example most academic jobs in recent decades, including his own. Such bullshit in jobs is a worthy topic for discussion, but Graeber makes quite clear that that is not what he is writing about in this particular book.
    What he is doing in this book is pointing out that something is going on that makes no sense even within radical critiques of capitalism. If we think (and I do) that capitalism is about profit maximization at the expense of workers, then why would it tolerate needless jobs? Such jobs produce nothing, so the wages involved have to come out of profits. We can clearly see that capitalism has a hard time tolerating even jobs that are necessary (maintenance work at PG&E as just one example).
    Graeber is also a theoretician, so if something is going on that makes no sense in anyone’s model (‘free market’ models can’t explain this either), that is a data point worth poking at.

    1. aleph_0

      Agreed. This article really missed the mark.

      The book never said “All jobs are bullshit”, which is what this author seems to state; the book was saying “Why are there so many jobs where the worker get paid to do literally nothing productive?”

      I feel like the author wanted to make a point against UBI and wanted to find a more famous name to attach his theory to so people would pay attention. It’s honestly irritating because the insights in BS Jobs are so much more subtle and interesting than this philosophical pontificating, and I haven’t seen much more follow-up on them.

      If nothing else, the insight that modern corporate structures often make reports function like medieval feudal retainers for the bosses has honestly opened my eyes on how the firms I’ve worked for actually work.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I don’t know Graeber’s explanation, but I think it verges on a silly question. The obvious answer is that business management – capitalism, but more than that – isn’t actually efficient in the normal sense. Managers aren’t superhuman; they proceed by trial and error, mostly error, like anyone else. And there are glitches in the reward system: usually, more underlings is more prestige; so why not hire a few drones? Or rather, why look too closely at their productivity?

        The system survives by eliminating businesses that are TOO inefficient.

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