2:00PM Water Cooler 11/7/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“China says it has agreed with U.S. to cancel tariffs in phases” [CBC]. “China and the United States have agreed to cancel in phases the tariffs imposed during their months-long trade war, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said Thursday without specifying a timetable. An interim U.S.-China trade deal is widely expected to include a U.S. pledge to scrap tariffs scheduled for Dec. 15 on about $156 billion US worth of Chinese imports, including cell phones, laptop computers and toys. Tariff cancellation was an important condition for any agreement, ministry spokesperson Gao Feng said, adding that both must simultaneously cancel some tariffs on each other’s goods to reach a ‘phase one’ trade deal. ‘The trade war started with tariffs, and should end with the cancellation of tariffs,” Gao told a regular news briefing. The proportion of tariffs cancelled for both sides to reach a ‘phase one’ deal must be the same, but the number to be cancelled can be negotiated, he added, without elaborating.”

“Trump’s Trade War Has Dire Consequences” [The American Conservative]. “Many in the anti-trade lobby are conservatives who yearn for a return to the 1950s, with local shops and local factories. Some argue that it’s China’s fault for supplying Amazon and Walmart with low-cost goods. But advanced computing and the internet have created an era of growth and change not seen since the 1890s. The creative destruction of capitalism has resulted in all sorts of economic dislocations, yes, but shuttered shops and lost jobs in Appalachia are not the fault of trade (especially with China). And the evidence is already in that raising tariffs won’t bring back those jobs. Domestic factory activity hit a 10-year low in September, while new jobs expanded at the slowest rate in 18 months. Farmers now depend upon Washington subsidies for 40 percent of their income because of lost trade with China and Europe. American prosperity comes from our trade and from our dominance of many of the world’s industries. Standard and Poor’s 500 top companies post 44 percent of their sales from overseas. The idea that America could retreat from world trade and still remain prosperous is ridiculous.” • Note the source.


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

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Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart. Here is (are) the latest Dem Primary Polling as of 11/7/2019, 12:00 PM EST:

Just as (says Quinnipiac) Warren pulls into a tie with Biden, the media turns on her. Odd. Here, today’s results, as of 11/6/2019, 11:00 AM EST:

Here is a new IA poll, as of 11/7/2019, 12:00 PM EST:

And here is the latest result, as of 11/6/2019, 11:00 AM EST. Look at Buttigieg go:

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.”

* * *

Theories of change:




* * *

Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden: An Anti-Endorsement” [The Nation]. “[W]hile the enduring loyalty of Biden’s black supporters is to his credit, the very tenacity of that loyalty diminishes race as a factor at a time when white nationalism is a growing threat. His early withdrawal might well boost candidates of color into the currently all-white top tier.” • Hmmm.

Buttigieg (D)(1): [Pete-‘n’-Hood: On Mayor Pete (& Mr. Rogers) (RC)]. “Think of the best professor you (n)ever had. S/he’s fully at ease and at home in the subject and in the classroom; enthusiastic (but not dogmatic or proselytizing) about the subject and teaching it; elicits and welcomes questions and comments from the students, who may find the going either fascinating or difficult (perhaps both). This last is crucial. S/he looks at the student while listening, then repeats the comment or question, apparently so everyone hears it, but often recasting it while checking to make sure s/he’s got it right. That way any less than fully coherent or on target utterance is revealed to be in fact a real contribution, to which the professor provides an engaged and elaborating response that promotes further student talk. Mayor Pete comes across as this person.” • This piece builds slowly, but it’s the best picture of Buttigieg’s campaign persona that I have seen.

Sanders (D)(1):

I believe this because I know the role that Daou played in the Clinton campaigns in 2016 and 2008.

Sanders (D)(2): “Bernie Sanders ‘Best’ on Health Care, The Economy, Environment and Immigration in New 2020 Poll” [Newsweek]. “Conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Reuters between November 1-4, the poll asked respondents to ‘select the candidate from the list below you think is best on that particular issue,’ with Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker available as selections. Among independents and self-identified Democrats (these questions were not asked of Republican respondents), Bernie Sanders was the preferred candidate in every policy category, which included ‘immigration,’ ‘health care,’ ‘the environment’ and ‘the economy and jobs.'”

Warren (D)(1):

Why not?

Weld (R)(1): “Texting With Bill Weld: “100% Democratic Rule” If Senate Republicans Listen To Trump” [Buzzfeed]. • Interesting — and proof that Weld is still alive — but all SMS screen dumps so not quotable.


I think I’m gonna have to amp up my impeachment coverage, which makes me want to hurl for reasons I’ll be happy to discuss in comments (but mostly because I like to haul out my yellow waders for issues and power relationships; I think changes in the Constitutional order that will come if we give the intelligence agencies veto power over Presidential appointment and powers are far worse than anything Trump has done). I also don’t have a reservoir of riffs and tropes to draw on, so this stuff willl be hard to write. Oh, I don’t love Trump.

That said, readers will recall that I wrote in comments to yesterday’s Links this morning:

> Sondland reverses himself on Ukraine, confirming quid pro quo

I looked up Quid Pro Quo in my OED. Here is the definition:

2 The action or fact of substituting one thing for another.

What we have is a discussion of a quid pro quo. But the whole thing is meta, because there are no actions or facts. (Taking speech about the thing for the thing itself is the sort of deformation professionelle one would expect from a symbol-manipulating political class devoted to performative speech.) But if nothing is actually “substituted” (i.e., exchanged)?

Quoting (sorry) Wikipedia:

In common law, quid pro quo indicates that an item or a service has been traded in return for something of value, usually when the propriety or equity of the transaction is in question. A contract must involve consideration: that is, the exchange of something of value for something else of value. For example, when buying an item of clothing or a gallon of milk, a pre-determined amount of money is exchanged for the product the customer is purchasing; therefore, they have received something but have given up something of equal value in return.


In the U.S., lobbyists are legally entitled to support candidates that hold positions with which the donors agree, or which will benefit the donors. Such conduct becomes bribery only when there is an identifiable exchange between the contribution and official acts, previous or subsequent, and the term quid pro quo denotes such an exchange.

No consideration, no quid pro quo. There is no no quid pro quo to “confirm,” because IIRC Ukraine’s aid was never held up. (Whether that happened because of a bureaucratic snafu is irrelevant, as is Trump’s state of mind; a consideration must have materialized.)

In essence, we are about to impeach Trump not for purchasing (a highly criminal) bottle of milk, but for talking about purchasing (a highly criminal) bottle of milk (if indeed he failed to exercise his Constitutional right to construct carefully parsed sentences). We are confusing the subjunctive with the indicative. Nice work if you can get it.

Well, for weeks everybody’s been yammering “quid pro quo” (possibly because, like kompromat, it’s the sort of word an expert insider would use). Well, just today — not to imply that The Blog Nobody Reads™ had any influence here — the buzzword changed:

(Some might translate “stopped… from coming to fruition” means “we have no evidence.”) Or:

Why deploy a new talking point? I would speculate that it’s because, as I show above, a quid pro quo requires a consideration. Extortion and bribery, by contrast, do not. From US Legal on Bribery:

Bribery is the practice of offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting something of value for the purpose of influencing the action of an official in discharge of his/ her public or legal duties. Bribery is a gain to an illicit advantage. Federal statutes refer to two classes of offenses: graft and bribery.

No consideration. And extortion:

Extortion is the obtaining of property from another, with his/her consent, induced by the wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, fear, or under color of official right. The Use of a threat in order to obtain money or anything of value constitutes the crime of extortion. Intent is also regarded as an element of extortion. Extortion is a specific intent crime. Generally, a demand or a request for a specific sum of money is not considered a prerequisite to a conviction of extortion[ii].

Again, no consideration. Of course, being a realpolitik stan as I am, I’m hard-pressed to think of a model of international relations that is not based on bribery and extortion. I’d welcome commentary and better sourcing from any legal professionals in the NC commentariat.

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UPDATE “Trump impeachment inquiry: Star witnesses lined up for first televised hearings” [Sky News]. “Three diplomats who expressed concern about Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine will serve as star witnesses when the first public hearings of the president’s impeachment inquiry are aired on TV next week.” • I smell book deals!

Ukraine crisis put on ice by Trump staff busy working out how to buy Greenland” [Guardian]. • Trump has always run an overly lean operation, but it has occured to me that a little appreciated source of his difficulties is what is in essence a services strike by the PMC.

2016 Post Mortem

“Did Art Walks Cause Trumpism?” [Belt Magazine]. “What if the culprits were nonprofits? Bear with me. Or, rather, bear with Josh Pacewicz, a Sociology professor whose research focuses on the dwindling power of unions, churches, and local businesses in the region during the latter half of the twentieth century, and the rising power of public-private partnerships and philanthropy in their stead. Pacewicz argues the sense of belonging afforded by unions and churches was replaced, in the 1980s, by colder, alienating public-private partnerships and philanthropy; it’s harder to identify with the Rockefeller Foundation than with the pipefitters local. As city governments turned to ‘building coalitions to secure grants, woo corporate subsidiaries (frequently with public subsidies) and create cultural amenities—art walks, music festivals, and farmers market,’ they left many residents out. ‘Many voters resented what they saw as a lack of recognition by local elites,’ Pacewics writes, ‘and…seethed with undirected populist resentment at a technocratic, corporate-friendly elite.'” • Not implausible. There’s at least one photograph in Chris Arnade’s Dignity of one of those stupid old-fashioned lamp-posts (which admittedly were good for Philly, but they’re not a panacea).

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of November 2, 2019: “Initial jobless claims fell” [Econoday]. “Today’s results underscore the strength of the labor market, strength that has supported this year’s solid growth in consumer spending.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 91 Extreme Greed (previous close: 88, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 72 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 7 at 11:45am. Holy cow! I can’t remember the last time Greed hit the 90s!

The Biosphere

“California’s methane super-emitters” [Nature]. “Here we survey more than 272,000 infrastructure elements in California using an airborne imaging spectrometer that can rapidly map methane plumes…. Methane ‘super-emitter’ activity occurs in every sector surveyed, with 10 per cent of point sources contributing roughly 60 per cent of point-source emissions… Methane point-source emissions in California are dominated by landfills (41 per cent), followed by dairies (26 per cent) and the oil and gas sector (26 per cent). Our data have enabled the identification of the 0.2 per cent of California’s infrastructure that is responsible for these emissions.” • More projects to oppose where encountered. I wonder if these super-emitters are big donors to the California Democrat Party.

“PG&E Says Its Local Plant Can’t Power Humboldt Alone; We Found Documents That Suggest Otherwise” [Lost Coast Outpost (Joe6pac)]. “[T]he underlying question is why Humboldt County would need to rely on outside electricity at all when we have three local power plants capable of producing more than enough electricity to meet our power needs. The most powerful is PG&E’s own plant in King Salmon, the Humboldt Bay Generating Station, which can produce enough electricity to supply about 125,000 homes. Humboldt County also has two biomass plants that burn wood waste, both of which sell power to the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA).”

“Why We Wish for Wilderness” [Alex Hutchinson, New York Review of Books]. “Do our romanticized vision of exploration and perhaps the very concept of wilderness itself require a mental erasure of the native experience—one that echoes their physical removal from the places we now treasure as national parks? Contrary to what William Denevan, another University of Wisconsin scholar, called “the Pristine Myth,” it’s now widely accepted that the pre-contact population of the Americas was vastly greater than once thought, with some estimates exceeding 50 million. The only reason early European settlers found the land seemingly empty was that as much as 95 percent of the indigenous population had already been wiped out by European diseases transmitted at the initial time of contact. Moreover, the “primeval” landscapes and fauna, from the Great Plains to the Amazon rainforest, didn’t exist in some untouched, Edenic original form; they had already been widely and deliberately modified by fire, agriculture, hunting, and other human activity.” • As the wonderful 1491 shows.


“Tibet’s Rivers Will Determine Asia’s Future” [The Diplomat]. “The Tibetan plateau is a rich repository of indispensable freshwater resources that are shared across Asia. After damming most of its rivers, China is now casting its eyes on the major international rivers flowing out from the Tibetan plateau, heralding a new era of damming Tibet’s rivers. Tibet, known as the “Water Tower of Asia,” serves as the source of 10 major Asian river systems flowing into 10 countries, including many of the most densely populated nations in the world: China, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Pakistan. China, through its political control over Tibet, has complete upper riparian control over all major rivers flowing out of the Tibetan plateau.”

“The Aral Sea Is Dying, Putting 60 Million People at Risk” [Bloomberg]. “More than 60 million people in six nations—Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan—rely on the rivers leading to the Aral. In the decades since the fracturing of the Soviet Union, cross-border competition for water, coupled with rapidly accelerating climate change, has made a bad situation worse. The two rivers that feed the basin, the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, carry to the Aral about 10% of the water they did before Soviet industrial projects took hold in the 1960s…. More than 60 million people in six nations—Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan—rely on the rivers leading to the Aral. In the decades since the fracturing of the Soviet Union, cross-border competition for water, coupled with rapidly accelerating climate change, has made a bad situation worse. … The challenges involved in restoring and protecting the Aral’s resources are substantial. While the nations involved vary in their level of development, an overall loss of expertise and technology over the last two or three decades will require the the building of institutions before the problems can even begin to be addressed.” • Hysteresis….

“The lost river” [Guardian]. “The Colorado originates in the Rocky mountains and traverses seven US states, watering cities and farmland, before reaching Mexico, where it is supposed to flow onwards to the Sea of Cortez. Instead, the river is dammed at the US-Mexico border, and on the other side the river channel is empty. Locals are now battling to bring it back to life.”

Health Care

“Why Primary Care Will Soon Only Treat Chronic Conditions” [MedPage Today]. • Because for-profit clinics are creaming off the acute cases. Of course.

Feral Hog Twitter Returns

A feral hog plus a creepy Chinese glass walkway:

Now, if Xinhua had made a joke about 30–50 feral hogs, we’d know they were plugged into U.S. media in a frighteningly granular way. But no.

Groves of Academe

“For Sale: SAT-Takers’ Names. Colleges Buy Student Data and Boost Exclusivity” [Wall Street Journal]. Speaking as a child of academics, this is the worst thing I’ve read in a long time. This is a little verbose, but read on:

Colleges rise in national rankings and reputation when they show data suggesting they are more selective. They can do that by rejecting more applicants, whether or not those candidates ever stood a chance. Some applicants, in effect, become unknowing pawns.

Feeding this dynamic is the College Board, the New York nonprofit that owns the SAT, a test designed [lol –lambert] to level the college-admissions playing field.

The board is using the SAT as the foundation for another business: selling test-takers’ names and personal information to universities.

That has helped schools inflate their applicant pools and rejection rates. Those rejection rates have amplified the perception of exclusivity that colleges are eager to reinforce, pushing students to invest more time and money in preparing for and retaking exams College Board sells. Colleges say the data helps them reach a diverse pool of students they might have otherwise missed.

“The top 10% of universities don’t need to do this. They are buying some students’ names who don’t have a great chance of getting in,” said Terry Cowdrey, an enrollment consultant for universities and Vanderbilt University’s acting dean of undergraduate admission in 1996 and 1997. “Then the kids say, ‘well why did you recruit me if you weren’t going to let me in?’ They do it to increase the number of applications; you’ve got to keep getting your denominator up for your admit rate.”

Or, summarizing: “Elite colleges are buying SAT scores, then recruiting students they know have no chance of getting in, all so they can decrease their admittance rate and look more exclusive.” Elites offering hope to non-elite kids that they have no intention of delivering on. For money. It’s paradigmatic, isn’t it? How is it possible for these (NPR totebag-wielding, farmers market-patronizing) university administrators to do this and sleep nights? It’s grotesque and vile. One of those stories that makes me think that the whole meritocratic system is rotten all the way through and should be purged with cleansing fire. As soon as I finish today’s Water Cooler I’m gonna take a shower. That’s how these academics make me feel.

Neoliberal Epidemics

“CDC: Childhood Trauma Is A Public Health Issue And We Can Do More To Prevent It” [NPR]. “Experiencing traumatic things as a child [see under poverty, unemployment, precarity, etc. –lambert] puts you at risk for lifelong health effects, according to a body of research. The CDC’s new report confirms this, finding that Americans who had experienced adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, were at higher risk of dying from five of the top 10 leading causes of death.” • Everything’s going according to plan!

Guillotine Watch

This time for real:

Looks like somebody’s reading NC?

Class Warfare

“New Report Confirms Just How Shitty US Workers Have It” [Vice]. “According to the report, the average American workers spent 1,739 hours on the job in 2017, more than workers in many European countries as well as Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia…. One explanation for this state of affairs is that the U.S. government guarantees very few benefits for workers, chaining them to their jobs. There is no federal law providing sick or vacation days or paid parental leave, and certainly no subsidy for daycare, unlike some other countries. And even blue states and cities lag well behind most European countries…. But wait, it gets worse: The U.S. also provides less assistance to laid-off workers than any other comparable country. Anyone who loses a job must immediately start searching for a new one. And retirement is often just another mode of semi-employment for the sizable chunk of Americans who don’t have enough savings to live on Social Security alone.” • It’s bipartisan!

“On the Origins of the Professional-Managerial Class: An Interview with Barbara Ehrenreich” [Dissent]. “”Professional-managerial class” (PMC), a term coined by Barbara and John Ehrenreich in a 1977 essay for Radical America, has recently emerged from academic obscurity as a shorthand, of sorts, for technocratic liberalism, or wealthier Democratic primary voters, or the median Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member, depending on who you ask.” • This is a really good interview worth reading in full if you’re interested in the DSA, or in a non-dogmatic history of the ins-and-outs of left organizing from the late 70s on. Ehrenreich is an interesting figure. And some of the incidents ring really, really true to me.

“National Labor Relations Board Investigating Marciano Art Foundation After Staff Layoffs” [Hollywood Reporter]. “Visitors service employees of the arts nonprofit organization — founded by Guess Jeans co-owners and prolific art collectors Maurice and Paul Marciano — were given notice on Tuesday evening in an email that said their jobs would end Thursday. According to the MAF Union, the group of employees that voted to organize at the foundation, 70 workers in total were given notice on Tuesday night. …The Marcianos have been dogged by labor complaints in their fashion work, prior to dipping their toes in the art scene. In 1997, Guess Jeans reinstated 20 workers who said they were fired for organizing after the NLRB got involved. The company says it never intended to intervene in labor activities.” • Don’t interfere with my toy museum!

“Instacart Workers Are Striking Because of the App’s User Interface” [Slate]. “Several thousand workers who ferry groceries for Instacart are on the final day of a 72-hour strike over how the on-demand delivery app pays them. Instacart’s “shoppers” grab items off stores shelves, purchase them, and deliver the order to customers’ doors—but they have a problem with how the platform manages tipping: The default in the app is for users to leave either a $2 or a 5 percent tip for the shopper on top of the 5 percent service fee that Instacart charges every order. The workers allege that this service fee is misleading and that the 5 percent default tip option has cut into their take-home wages—which they say have shrunk because the app previously suggested a tip of 10 percent, and the company didn’t charge a service fee.” • If you have to use an app (whether worker or consumer) the first thing you should think is surveillance, the second is rents, and the third is fraud. Because that’s how Silicon Valley rolls.

News of the Wired

“New Library Is a $41.5 Million Masterpiece. But About Those Stairs” [New York Times]. “It has been heralded as an architectural triumph: A new $41.5 million public library in Long Island City that ascends over multiple landings and terraces, providing stunning Manhattan views to patrons as they browse books and explore. But several of the terraces at the Hunters Point Library are inaccessible to people who cannot climb to them. A staircase and bleacher seating in the children’s section, judged too risky for small children, has been closed off. And the five-story, vertically designed building only has one elevator, creating bottlenecks at times.” • Reminds me of Cooper Union’s New Academic Building, also the result of an assault by architects.

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (timotheus):

timotheus: “The Chilean araucaria or monkey-puzzle tree. It is found all over the south of Chile especially in the higher altitudes.”

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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. Deschain

    The problem with the libruls changing the narrative to extortion is this:

    “I said: ‘We’re leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Mr. Biden recounted at a 2018 event sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. “Well, son of a bitch, he got fired,” Mr. Biden continued”

    If what Trump did is extortion (it is), then what Biden did is extortion (it is). As Lambert suggests, this is pretty typical coin of the realm in realpolitik. But for the chattering class to be this willfully blind, well, it says a lot.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > for the chattering class to be this willfully blind, well, it says a lot

      I think they must think — if any of this is in good faith, which is open to question — that politics works like the West Wing.

      1. washparkhorn

        The Circus without the Bread. News silos limit and dumb down political thought. But I suppose that is the point of that exercise.

    2. Leftcoastindie

      Foreign policy can be messy at times can’t it. The difference between what Biden did and what Trump did was Trump used his powers to go after an American citizen, Biden went after a foreign citizen. I’m not excusing Biden but the constitution is pretty vague on what a President can or can’t do in foreign policy and as long as they keep what they are doing off shore in that regard, they pretty much have a free hand as to what they can do. Now if they could tie Bidens son to this mess that might be a different story. I’m sure there probably is something there (Don’t pay me. Pay my son.) but Biden is too smart to get caught on this kind of stuff.
      Quid pro Quo is definitely not the right word to use. In my mind a quid pro quo is a meeting of the minds so to speak and an agreement reached that is acceptable to the parties involved with no coercion. I’m not a lawyer but I think extortion would be a better word.

      1. notabanker

        Now if they could tie Bidens son to this mess that might be a different story.

        Yeah, it’s almost like you would need a Prosecutor in the Ukraine to do that.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Quid pro Quo is definitely not the right word to use. In my mind a quid pro quo is a meeting of the minds so to speak and an agreement reached that is acceptable to the parties involved with no coercion. I’m not a lawyer but I think extortion would be a better word.

        But that leaves open the question of why the quid pro quo framing was used in the first place. Then suddenly, as if a switch was thrown, the talking points changed. Since the original quid pro quo formulation was sloppy and bad, why use it? My guess is they couldn’t make that case, and so moved the goalposts.

        1. Rob Chametzky

          “Quid pro quo” came from GOP/Trump, so a plausible reason for them using it is precisely that it doesn’t fit, unlike, say, “extortion” or “soliciting a bribe”. The ‘switch’ may amount to a dawning realization that one is being played by using “quid pro quo” rather than the more appropriate, and ENGLISH, alternatives.

    3. Phil in KC

      Prosecute the two of them. While we are at it, prosecute Bush for war crimes, Obama for murder and accomplice to war crimes, and both of the Clintons. We haven’t had honest presidents since Carter and Ford.

  2. Synoia

    Many in the anti-trade lobby are conservatives who yearn for a return to the 1950s, with local shops and local factories.

    And Local Unions?

    But advanced computing and the internet have created an era of growth and change not seen since the 1890s.

    How is that related to a deliberate policy of Exporting jobs?

    The creative destruction of capitalism has resulted in all sorts of economic dislocations, yes, but shuttered shops and lost jobs in Appalachia are not the fault of trade (especially with China).

    NeoLiberal creative destruction, the desire to break the unions and export jobs

    And the evidence is already in that raising tariffs won’t bring back those jobs.

    Without an Industrial policy, the statement is correct. Tariffs are used to protect local industry and local jobs. Where is the tariff money going?

    1. Summer

      And this:
      “American prosperity comes from our trade and from our dominance of many of the world’s industries. Standard and Poor’s 500 top companies post 44 percent of their sales from overseas. The idea that America could retreat from world trade and still remain prosperous is ridiculous.”

      America’s prosperity came from grooming the grandest consumers that ever walked the earth. Someone could come here and sell whatever sh- – they could think of and look like a genius because the consumption is so programmed.
      Let’s see how much leverage “America” has (funny how when something has to benefit corpos the nationalism so decried comes out) as those consumers everyone wanted access to are pauperized.

    2. wilroncanada

      How is that related to the deliberate policy of exporting jobs?
      Because they were not originally exported, they were sent south, from the north-east and the rust belt–and from Canada–to the south (third-world reasons), and only later to Mexico, Haiti, Colombia, Brazil, and eventually China and southeast Asia.

  3. Monty

    “the whole meritocratic system is rotten all the way through and should be purged with cleansing fire.”

    Yes, to really change things up, an “enema” of those upper echelons would need to be very thorough indeed. For the horrific detail of how such a root and branch operation would have to be managed, you could look to the history of Democratic Kampuchea in the 70s.

    Better the devil you know!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I know, I know. It would be nice to fix this before it’s too late. That may not be possible; see “Predatory Precarity” at Interfluidity. The college President’s Mansion is no more a defensible position than the Hamptons.

      1. Monty

        Thanks for the link. I had forgotten about Interfluidity. Praise be!

        I think he says it best:

        “But of course, not doing these things means continuing to tolerate an increasingly predatory, dysfunctional, stagnant society. It means continuing deaths of despair, even as we hustle desperately to try to ensure that they are not our deaths, or our children’s. Even for its current beneficiaries, the present system is a game of musical chairs. As time goes on, with each round, yet more chairs are yanked from the game.”

        Tolerate it they will, until the final “lights out” drop on the S&P 500.

      2. Greg T

        I also wonder if colleges encourage applicants just to collect application fees. Ivy League universities can see 40-50 thousand applications each year. Maybe 10% of these kids will get in . 20% will have a reasonable chance of admission. The rest of them are cannon fodder. But that translates into millions of dollars of revenue for theses schools every year. It might explain why these schools send their agents on recruiting trips to the school and send out letters encouraging students to apply, even though most of them have almost no chance of admission.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I’m sure you’re right, and I should have mentioned that too. The material aspect is important, besides the PMC viciousness of opening a door to hope, knowing all the while you were going to slam it shut before the stupid mark can get through it.

          The depth of corruption is just astonishing. Meritocracy has always begged the question “meretricious [ha ha] at what?” Now we know, if we didn’t already know: Theft, fraud, deception, the long con — all tools that any aspirational student needs!

          I can’t even put into words how angry this makes me.

    2. NotReallyHere

      Haven’t read the article but I have been through the wringer of college admissions a couple of times as a parent. One group buys the names, invites you to apply then rejects you. That’s really cynical but effective. The other way is less cynical, but less effective. You waive the application fee ( liberal arts colleges do this to boost selectivity if application in the previous year suffered a drop ) or elements of the app (e.g the essay). All to make it easier to apply. Indeed, some colleges let you apply to them with nothing more than adding the college name to the list in your common application. And now they are dropping SAT scores needed.

      It’ll work for a while, I guess.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      I did quite well on the SATs in the early 1980s. And was geeky enough about printing to understand the amount of cash put into sending me about a bushel of four color invitations. This is not new.

      Democratic Kampuchea: I can identify any thread of any screw you hold up. Can I keep my glasses?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > .I did quite well on the SATs in the early 1980s. And was geeky enough about printing to understand the amount of cash put into sending me about a bushel of four color invitations. This is not new.

        Like a slowly metastasizing cancer is not new. That said, I always assumed that the test fees made them their money, not selling the data. Innocent days!

        The SATs had my father come to Princeton to grade essays, along with other retired Professors, back in the day. I wonder if they’ve turned that over to algos.

  4. Tim

    “Warren pulls into a tie with Biden, the media turns on her. Odd.”

    That’s just correlation. Causation is her getting behind Medicare for All publicly, even though we all know she won’t execute.

    Once she gets back with establishment to ensure them she has no intent to execute on Medicare for All, or any other major social agendas for that matter, they will back off.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Once she gets back with establishment to ensure them she has no intent to execute on Medicare for All

      We will have to wait for her transition plan to be 100% sure, but I would say that with long-term, and introducing a dependency on immigration reform, she’s sent that signal.

      1. DonCoyote

        Obama ran on a public option and no mandate. I wasn’t paying enough attention then, but does anyone remember his tells? I know HRC was saying a mandate was necessary, so “no mandate” may have just been primary Obama.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I followed that election closely, but I’m not sure what you mean by “tells.” Explain?

          Conventional wisdom at the time, which — hold onto your hats here, folks — turned out to be wrong, was that the mandate was needed to keep the pool large enough. Krugman even slapped Obama around for not supporting it. (I don’t think the word “public option” had been invented by that time; even if Obama used it, it wasn’t the buzzword that it became, 2009-2010, when liberal Democrats used it in their bait-and-switch operation against single payer,

          1. katiebird

            I think the term was first seriously mentioned by Edwards in his plan. But it wasn’t widely discussed until after the election.

          2. katiebird

            I can’t find Edwards actual plan online now. But I found this reference to Edwards use of the Public Option in his plan.

            The Public Option and the Hope of Health Care Reform

            In the presidential primaries, all three top Democratic candidates — Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards — featured in their health care plans something that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago, a public option. The public option is a government health insurance program akin to Medicare, which would be open to anyone. Credit should go to Edwards, who not only was the first of the three to propose it, but who said that if so many people chose the public option that over time it evolved into a single-payer system, that would be fine with him. That kind of talk used to come only from candidates with no chance of winning.

          3. DonCoyote

            Tells that he was lying. In the way that “long-term goal” is a tell for Warren.

            According to this source (Healthaffairs), Obama’s healthcare plan in May of 2007 had a public option. I don’t think Obama vowed not to sign a version that didn’t include a public option until after he was elected though.

            And speaking of tells…(in a discussion of some of the Wikileaks e-mails)

            Tanden and Podesta didn’t take issue with Hillary Clinton breaking the law, but with her clumsy political instincts, her inability to fake sincere apologies and spin scandals as smoothly as Obama. Hillary’s biggest flaw in their eyes was her clumsiness at covering up acts that were routine in in Obamaworld. They didn’t despise her because she broke the law, but because she was bad at it.

            Which (indirectly) argues that maybe Obama’s tells are much more subtle/indetectable.

        2. anonymous

          Obama said that people wanted health insurance and that, if they weren’t buying it, it was because health insurance was unaffordable. He claimed that he was going to lower costs enough, and provide enough subsidies, that people would buy health insurance without a mandate. He used Medicare Part B as an example of health insurance that was voluntary, yet purchased. He said that Massachusetts had a mandate, but had to exempt 20% of the uninsured who couldn’t afford health insurance, and more people couldn’t afford insurance and were paying a fine, making them worse off than if they simply had no insurance. Affordability, not punishment.

          Was the tell that he had said that he was a proponent of single-payer in a June, 2003, speech and, by May of 2007, walked that back to favoring single-payer if starting from scratch, but favoring a less disruptive system because of difficulties in transition? That he could not be trusted?

          Here’s a compilation of Obama’s statements on health care during that time: https://www.ontheissues.org/Social/Barack_Obama_Health_Care.htm
          The section Barack Obama on Universal Coverage has quotes about the mandate.

          Also, if you scroll down to the bottom right of the page, there are links to Obama’s position during those years on other issues.

      2. vlade

        I’m ok with the long-term (explained in a comment before) IF I’d see an viable actual implementation plan (which is more than a transition plan).

        The immigration reform tie passed me by, so would need to look into that, but is not a great signal.

        That all said, it’s an interesting choice between Biden and Warren in a different way.

        If Biden is chosen, that’s definitely a status-quo (in fact, status-quo ante bellum) signal. It’s extremely likely to casue unexpected things to happen down the line, earlier if Trump wins, later if he doesn’t.

        If Warren is chosen, my bet is that there will be some more substantial changes than with Obama (I got Obama’s number down well before he was elected. He talked, never actually did something real. Warren did somethign real – how good or flawed it is is a different story, but she did deliver unlike Obama). I have no idea yet whether they will be substaitial enough, or whether it will just kick it all into a long grass with some changes but not starting/enabling the structual changes that are necessary.

        On that, I’d just say a word of warning to those who wish that if Sanders fails, Biden gets the nomination, because it may cause “revolution” down the line. Be careful what you wish for, for there’s no guarantee at all that from the chaos ensuing your version of the world comes on the top. In fact, it’s very unlikely.

    2. XXYY

      She definitely has no intent. Read her recent piece on how she intends to fund her “long term goal of Medicare for All”.

      The phrase “long term goal of Medicare for All” appears five or six times in the piece. It’s not an accident, it’s a very deliberate dog whistle to the people who are parsing her words carefully for signs of what she will prioritize. IMO no one would use this phrasing unless they had no intention of enacting it in the short term, say, during her own term of office.

      1. richard

        in other words
        no intention of seeing it done at all
        I also love her ridiculous idea of whipping the party by just telling the dem misleadership
        “I ran on this! I won!”
        “We don’t care. Now what will you do about that?”
        no hint of the class traitor in warren
        she’ll hold that silence
        unless someone maybe sets her feet on fire
        but I doubt that would even work

        1. dearieme

          unless someone maybe sets her feet on fire

          That won’t bother a Cherokee. Made of tough stuff, your Cherokee.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The phrase “long term goal of Medicare for All” appears five or six times in the piece.

        While I’m pleased that this point has made it out into the zeitgeist, I made it very early, and then rigorously, here. Naked Capitalism is a great blog, you should try reading it.

        (Note that it’s not simply the quantity of times the phrase is used, but how it is embedded in the sentence structure of Warren’s media piece.)

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      “Warren pulls into a tie with Biden, the media turns on her. Odd.”

      The Media want you to be embarrassed about any savior you pick. Sells better. Not a Warren fan.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Based on the direction change in the fundraising emails I get, being a registered Democrat, Mayor Pete is the new understudy/VP heir apparent. Overnight, my mail from his campaign went from 0 to 3/day, every day, just as he suddenly became a media star.

        This is exactly what happened back end of May when it became clear Kamala Harris was tanking under the weight of her career baggage, and the mild criticism of Elizabeth Warren in the MSM did a 180 praising her nonexistent progressive credentials to the stratosphere.

        I can only conclude it’s now Mayor Pete’s turn.

        1. Late Introvert

          Lots of Pete signs here in Iowa City, most added in the last few weeks (?). McKinsey Guy has sign parity with Warren and Sanders, at least on my regular car and bike and bus rides. Some Andrew Yang signs too.

          I have a Bernie sign but we live on the last block of a dead-end street.

  5. Wukchumni

    “Why We Wish for Wilderness” [Alex Hutchinson, New York Review of Books].
    99% of the visitors here go to 1% of the National Park, and 1% of the visitors go to 99% of it.

    I enjoy exploring and the best stuff is off the beaten path, so off-trail is where its at when seeking the treasure. Its not as if i’m ever discovering something nobody has ever seen, just a precious few. I’m shocked when rarely I come across somebody else doing the same endeavor, people stick to trails.

    The wilderness taught me a lot about self-sufficiency and how to coexist in nature’s realm with the client list. It’s also the one thing in my life that hasn’t changed much, granite is so slow to react.

  6. Quite Likely

    “I think changes in the Constitutional order that will come if we give the intelligence agencies veto power over Presidential appointment and powers are far worse than anything Trump has done”

    I see this argument all the time but am not sure what to make of it. Some parts of the intelligence community do seem to be anti-Trump and leaking like a sieve, but what does acting on those leaks or not have to do with giving the intelligence agencies veto power over anything? Even if this Ukraine stuff is ignored and Trump isn’t impeached they’ll still be just as able to try the same thing on another president, while Trump getting impeached wouldn’t make them more likely to be able to take down another president.

    1. Hopelb

      I disagree. The leak being acted upon shows Trump trying to investigate the nefarious origins of Russiagate, which was funded by the DNC, assisted by Intel( foreign & domestic), and psyoped by the DNC aligned presstitutes. The rampant corruption(asset stripping/gmos/ HRC’s Fracking Initiative) of Ukraine by the very same administration that installed the post coup Ukrainian leaders is necessarily a part of this wider investigation. Russiagate was an attempt to oust an elected Prez by framing him with treason. Ukrainegate is an attempt to stop the investigation into the crimes of sedition that occurred in the Russiagate frameup. How is this not terrifying? And I never voted for Trump.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Calm yourself Good Citizen! Much Smarter People in the press and spy agencies can select our leaders for us without all of that pesky “democracy” and elections stuff, it’s so distracting and in the end The People are too stupid to choose correctly anyway. We should Be Glad this burden on us is being lifted.

    2. clarky90

      Some history rhymes

      Trial of the Group of Conspirators of the ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyists’: The Crushing of the Traitors
      Harry Pollitt 1938, International Press Correspondence, Volume 18, no 14


      “The trial of the 21 political and moral degenerates in Moscow is a mighty demonstration to the world of the power and strength of the Soviet Union….

      ….The roots of the cancer are being ruthlessly plucked out. We must, however, appreciate one point clearly – there is a lot of talk about ‘confessions’ – it is not a question of confessions which bring to light the deeds of these criminals. These people have been forced to admissions when faced with the facts produced by the judicial authorities (GPU, CHEKA, NKVD; the USSR Deep State). They can no longer hide the truth.

      You will remember how Zinoviev and Kamenev grovelled when faced with the death sentence and cried out that they had revealed everything. The facts show they had told nothing in comparison with what they were still hiding. The evidence of Yagoda is conclusive on this point. The full facts only come to light now through the patient and painstaking work of the Soviet authorities…..”

      1. dearieme

        No doubt Mr Corbyn finds himself in heartfelt agreement with Mr Pollitt’s shrewd analysis, especially as Mr Pollitt had the good taste not to be a rootless cosmopolitan.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      How do you do an ISO 9000 on a completely secret, black box agency? Thanks for your answer.

      Hurry up. Money could be lost here for god’s sake.

  7. Jason Boxman

    The quoted summary of that trade article in the AC is hilarious — “American prosperity comes from our trade and from our dominance of many of the world’s industries.” Aren’t we just a few expropriations of foreign assets away from having no such dominance? If we don’t build it here, how is it our dominance? It’s easier to move IP than it move a factory. The people with the shop floor knowledge aren’t American citizens and don’t live in this country.

    Can you actually have national sovereignty if someone else builds all your stuff, ownership notwithstanding?

    1. russell1200

      Reasonable points, but we have the US Navy and they don’t. So apparently we can. We have significant numbers of aircraft carriers and nuclear powered submarines, they don’t.

      That the Chinese are now getting some of these (even if geography puts them in a very bad place to fight a naval war) makes us nervous though.

      1. HotFlash

        Wait, what? They will produce ‘our’ goods for us at gunpoint? I don’t think that will work.

          1. John

            Where are we finding our “public servants of a political nature” these days? Does this mean we have the “world’s greatest military machine” as long as Russia and China supply the spare parts? Do you suppose the profit margin and share holder value are enhanced thus the deal is too good to pass up as long as it is never put to the test?

            1. jsn

              Yes, but some idiot will eventually decide, like M Albright, “what good is the best military in the world if you can’t use it?”

              You can’t advance in the kleptocracy if you don’t use the approved rhetoric in the approved way.

              So it’s only a matter of time till some innocent who really belives in it accidentally BSs themselves into the position to act on “what everybody knows.”

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Does this mean we have the “world’s greatest military machine” as long as Russia and China supply the spare parts?

              If the inventory of our supply depots is known, that sets an outer time limit to the length of a war we can fight. I wonder if its years, or months?

      2. Hepativore

        Actually, a lot of the components of American military equipment produced by private contractors as well as the software that runs a lot of it is also increasingly being offshored to China. Also, so much of our domestic industry now relies on Chinese supply streams that they could easily cripple us from an economic standpoint if they wanted to, making our military dominance increasingly moot.

        Besides, much of the purpose of our military equipment only exists as a result of giving lucrative contracts to private corporations, and often fails catastrophically when it comes to actually using it in battlefield conditions.

      3. notabanker

        Is this the same US Navy that is parked in Virginia waiting to be repaired? Hmm, I wonder where those parts may be coming from?

        1. dearieme

          You might almost guess that one good mine-laying submarine could lock those six carriers in position for many a month.

      4. MillenialSocialist

        Those aircraft carriers are floating targets with 5000+ casualties waiting to happen and are as outdated as a battleship in the 1950s, but if it makes you feel like we’re not an empire in decline, all I can say is “ok boomer”

        1. Carey

          You are right, but I think those things are, or are meant to be, today’s version
          of a “line in the sand”. Who’ll be first to take one out? Interesting times..

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > “ok boomer”

          The Times and then CNN legitimizing this viral phrase is a fine example of Hate, Inc. at work.

          I’m surprised to see a putative socialist (a) propagating hate speech* and (b) treating generations as if they had agency, and generational analysis as a serious analytical too.

          Sanders is a Boomer ffs.

          STUPID MEME PROPAGATOR: “I don’t mean that kind of Boomer.”

          PISSED OFF ANALYST: “I don’t mean that kind of n*gger.”

          NOTE * Clue stick: That 75-year-old Walmart greeter had nothing to do with building enormous sitting ducks for boatloads of money. That would be down to “the military industrial complex,” which is full of militarists and profiteers of all ages.

          1. Elizabeth Burton

            Or, as I’ve said over and over, if you have to explain the joke, it’s not funny. For the last 5 years the PTBs have been trying to find a tool to drive a wedge between the generations. Article after article, all of which failed. Clearly, some clever consultant finally found a gimmick that worked.

      5. dearieme

        The Chinese are in an excellent place to fight a naval war i.e. on terra firma with an arsenal of effective anti-ship missiles. (And if they are not effective yet I dare say they soon will be.)

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          That’s how I feel.

          China naval person asks: “How many drones does it take to overwhelm a carrier’s defenses?” “OK, build double that amount times the number of carriers.”

          (Maybe do a two-phase thing. First take out the support ships, then the carriers.”)

      6. Procopius

        Errr… The U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force are completely, and the U.S. Army and Marine Corps largely, dependent on China for essential replacement parts. See POGO (Project OnGovernment Oversight). In other words, if we go to war with China, in about two months the U.S. Navy will stop working. Maybe sooner.

    2. Phacops

      Just wait for one more generation when all of the skills needed to support manufacturing, including shop floor experience, disappears. Just in my lifetime I’ve seen our nation go from a leader in machine tools to a has been and fundamentals like a rigorous statistical approach to process control has been dumbed down to six-sigma while even non-standard elements like screws are employed by corrupt designers to deter actual device repair.

      I really do think we are headed to a world of s**t where we will be whipsawed by nations who actually manufacture things. Worse is that I see no Democratic candidate discussing actual industrial policy even as the orange horror, Trump, is about to cave to china, folding like a cheap suit.

      1. Carey

        What you’re written can’t be emphasized enough, IMO. A nation of perhaps the
        greatest resources ever, human and otherwise; utterly squandered, so a very few could get yet richer.

      2. inode_buddha

        Yep. Some of us still have shop floor and machine tool experience, but we ain’t gonna be around forever. Problem is, the greedy ones wanted to charge American prices without having to pay American wages. Ultimately that model is *going* to collapse and leave a lot of bagholders. And of course all you will hear from the media is “Who coulda known”

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      How can local manufacturers provide a $15 dollar blender that only lasts 18 months? It is a puzzlement!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > How can local manufacturers provide a $15 dollar blender that only lasts 18 months? It is a puzzlement!

        A blender for a dollar a month isn’t so bad. Blenders As A Service! I smell business model, where’s my Series A?

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        our blender(Waring) cost $3 when my grandmother bought it in the 60’s.
        and there’s apparently a warehouse full of parts for it somewhere.(i ended up having to just clean the innards, not replace anything)
        my eldest made smoothies with it yesterday.
        as near as i can tell, the people who made it had a higher standard of living than i currently enjoy.
        relocating Our physical plant to china is one of the biggest betrayals in american history…and it was a choice.
        a bipartisan choice.
        that the great majority haven’t exacted revenge for this is a testament to the power of the Mindf&ck.

        1. Carey

          >relocating Our physical plant to china is one of the biggest betrayals in american history…and it was a choice.
          a bipartisan choice.
          that the great majority haven’t exacted revenge for this is a testament to the power of the Mindf&ck.

          Thanks for this.

        2. Jak Siemasz

          That would be about 25 bucks in today’s $$$$. But using durable metal parts is just so..so 60’s.

  8. Lambert Strether Post author

    > intelligence agencies veto power over anything

    You don’t think successful impeachment process driven by the intelligence community won’t give them veto power? Why? (I agree that the intelligence community is factionalized, but the dominant faction has the public face of Brennan and Clapper and it’s been driving it (and making good money on TV too).

    > Trump getting impeached wouldn’t make them more likely to be able to take down another president.

    You think the Praetorian Guard will to back to its barracks? I don’t. People rarely give up political power once they can it. My guess, however, is that the parties would adjust by having the intelligence community vet candidates before they run. Secretly. Naturally.

    Adding, I’m sort of amazed that you see this argument all the time, because I was one of the first to make it (December 13, 2016).

    1. inode_buddha

      … and if any incoming President has a brain, he will can all agency heads, cold turkey, on his first day. Just to send a message.

      1. jsn

        JFK tried that, not first day, but just after the Bay of Pigs which was pretty early in his term.

        Didn’t work out so well.

        1. inode_buddha

          Very first day, without saying a word to anyone prior… no warning whatsoever, then don’t leave the white house for a while after that. Have a USMC escort at all times.

            1. ambrit

              LHO was also a Russian language ‘listener’ at the big signals station in Japan for a tour. He had connections to some odd corners of the services.

      2. The Rev Kev

        One of the first places that Trump went to was CIA headquarters after being elected. It did not help. Since there is no longer such a thing as the fourth estate anymore, perhaps the intelligence organizations can take up the title now.

    2. Titus

      Historically, let’s check the numbers – disliked presidents as it were historically are more likely to be shot then impeached so there’s that. Intelligence agencies if they had the power which has not been proven – to remove a president might to some be an improvement. Certainly, historically, ‘leaders’ of empires have been removed it such a manner. The larger question is, if we are to be a democracy doesn’t then current setup between the states that forms the basis for government work? That is to say can 55% of people want something – medical care and be deprived of it by other the 45%? 2 Senators to each state is not working well. Again the issue is the will of the people, I don’t really care too much about ‘minority’ views when they are of the 10% + 538 billionaires in the Country. Do you really think, whatever you think, things can continue in this way. Nope. No. They. Can’t.

  9. Jason Boxman

    Also, if you’re in Boston tomorrow, Sunrise Movement Boston is doing a solidarity action with Boston’s UNITE HERE Local 26 hotel workers. I found out about it from the “Making Waves” post on Baffler posted earlier this week, after learning about the strike that’s been ongoing for months now.

    I’ve never participated in anything of the sort, so I thought I’d go participate.

    We will showing up in continued solidarity with the workers on strike at the Battery Wharf Hotel this Friday, Nov 8th at 5:30. We will be meeting at 5 at the Boston Public Market (next to the Haymarket T stop) near Banh Mi, and marching over together to join the striking workers on the picket lines as they continue their historic fight for good, decent paying jobs.

  10. Carey

    From the piece linked by a commenter this morning (thank you!), Glen Ford at BAR- ‘By trying to Silence Sanders, the Corporate Media De-Legitimize Themselves’:

    “..In the absence of massive, grassroots movements, corporate voices always drown out all the others. Capitalist ownership of the media allows the rich to frame their own worldview as the political “center,” thus relegating contending ideologies to the “extremes” of left or right. In this sense, “centrism” is nothing more than the political position of the corporate owners, who construct media versions of reality that make corporate-concocted policies seem the most logical, commonsensical and socially responsible approach to the world’s problems. As long as the rich can sustain broad public trust in the “truth” of their “journalistic” products — newspapers, electronic newscasts, books and other media created by professional operatives directly answerable to rich owners – widespread revolt against the corporate order is unlikely..”


    1. Ranger Rick

      What’s next for us in this new and chaotic world of mass media disenfranchisement?

      I remember when we used to mock “low-information voters” after the 2000 election, but now I’m starting to wonder if they had the right idea all along.

      1. Carey

        A quote from a commenter on another site keeps coming to mind:
        “If you’re paying attention, you’re being played.”

        Still not sure just how to take that, but the thought remains.

        1. richard

          it’s somehow part of a long game:
          they accuse enemies of interfering in and cheating with elections over a long period of time
          as they are interfering in and cheating with elections over that same long period of time
          which causes everyone to sicken and go mad over long long time hurt brain
          okay, i haven’t totally worked out the game part yet, but i’m sure that’s coming

      2. JohnnyGL

        Here’s the thing….the ‘low’ information voters aren’t any less well informed than the political junkies.

        I try to imagine where my head would be these days without Lambert/Yves to help chaperone us through the maze of confusion. Perish the thought…

  11. Carolinian

    there are no actions or facts

    Thought crimes, aka pre-crime. The sci-fi future is here. Pearls are clutched not over what Trump is doing (some of which is quite bad) but over what he might do. Of course none of this seemed to apply to Hillary or Obama who did things that were quite bad even if their thoughts were pure (so they said). The only conclusion therefore is that a large class of people are not so much worried about what Trump might do as about what Trump might do to them. Rice bowls are at stake.

  12. Carla

    Amazing plantidote! Until I scrolled down and saw the vehicle, I thought it was a wood-cut and not a photo.

  13. Alex morfesis

    Bandar Bush and ukrainistan impeachment….probably missed someone else pointing it out, but all this Ukraine noise seemed to burp out moments after the Whitehouse allowed disclosure of a certain Saudi name from the 28 pages to the lawyers in that now soon to be almost 20 year old lawsuit

    1. russell1200

      Vanderbilt and University of Chicago are 2 schools mentioned in the article, both have already sent my 15 year old letters.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > both have already sent my 15 year old letters.

        Bastards. They’ve poisoned their own well because now there’s no way to figure out if the letter is legit or a scam.

        Is your son considering becoming a plumber? Seriously.

  14. Rod

    “CDC: Childhood Trauma Is A Public Health Issue And We Can Do More To Prevent It” [NPR].

    I heard it. Felt triggered. Did not blame ACE.
    Waited for the CDC Prescription ’till the report(er)) finished.
    Despite my ACE, I firmly believe M4A/Universal Child Care-PreSchool/Pre-K/ are part of the solution.
    Senator Sanders-for one- stumps on these issues.

    1. jrs

      In general, of course some of us with completely middle class upbringing, had parental violence that landed us in the hospital a time or two. But the hospital bill from fixing up the violence was paid at any rate, it getting paid was never a source of worries. That’s middle class advantage for you.

  15. zagonostra

    Trump Fatigue Syndrome – TFS.

    After more than 2 years of the Russiagate lies I’ve totally tuned out Ukraingate. If there is something there someone will have to wake me up after it’s all over because my mental health can’t bear anymore MSM-ruling elite internecine toxicity.

    The way I see it the game is up, Bernie either gets elected and there is a glimmer of hope things will improve or we patiently wait for the apocalypse.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      you and me both.
      i avoid mom’s around evening news time(easier, with time change, because the chickens, et alia go in earlier).
      and strive to tune out wife’s morning background noise of GMA.
      i didn’t even try to vote tuesday…too busy, and didn’t care about anything on our ballot(primarily about adding more fat to Texas’ already obese constitution…usually to the hidden(or not) benefit of some wealthy squeaky wheel).
      cutting firewood and other farm chores are much more interesting these days.
      overheard a local dem(in public, no less!) chiding someone about creeping socialism the other day…and i’m like, “enough!”.
      all those years trying to singlehandedly register the local poors to vote, and they couldn’t be bothered…but they come down from their hilltop manse for this?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > all those years trying to singlehandedly register the local poors to vote, and they couldn’t be bothered…but they come down from their hilltop manse for this?

        Who is they?

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          local dems, who only timidly came down after 2004 to protest the bush darkness after my series of letters to the editor of the local brochure embarrassed them…then retreated when Tea raised it’s head…flying off to ohio for obama’s reelection, while i pointed out the window at the barrio, far below…”lets get off this hill and go register all those nonvoters”.(nervous shuffling and wild eyes)
          then another letter to editor attempting to shame them into joining me in the sheriff’s office for the little class to become deputy voter registrars(nobody showed,lol)
          for most of the last 20 years, I’ve been the only non-gop-er out here who was out of the closet….local dems are like a secret society, mortally afraid that uncle billybob might learn that they’re a pinko.
          …which only encourages the handful of righty lunatics.
          last dem soiree i was invited to(obama’s second inaugural), me and my MIL were the only po folks…and she the only brown person.
          i made everybody nervous…just sitting there, drinking their expensive wine.
          elitist cowards.
          at the time, i still thought this was just the local dems, due to teabilly hostility.
          sadly, it’s a more general contagion.

  16. john buell

    Re: Meritocracy is rotten all the way through. NC readers might be interested in John Schaar’s classic essay, “Equality of Opportunity and Beyond.” A meritocratic society has the potential to become the most oppressive social formation. It fosters competition to become one of the few who dominate the many. And because their position is based only on merit there are fewer moral checks on their authority or domination.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        “Well, ambrit, that sounds a bit hostile, certainly not what we would expect from a team player. Perhaps your skills and talents would be more at home elsewhere.”

        The beauty of the concept of merit is that it can’t be questioned, because anyone who questions it by definition doesn’t have it.

        1. ambrit

          Perfect! An application of the old; “If you have to ask the price, you cannot afford it.” method.
          I have been in just that situation in the past. I generally ended up being the ‘clean up man,’ or ‘repair man’ on jobs. When the job would approach final completion, I was the ‘indispensable employee.’ When rote production was the norm, I often got a few weeks off, without pay. Then, and this has happened to me, a former employer meets me at the supply house and asks, in all seriousness, why did I leave?
          The essential ‘genius’ of short term thinking. It’s no wonder America is quickly approaching collapse.

            1. ambrit

              Precarity is a bad feeling, I know from experience. Plus, the ’employers’ do not pay extra to tide you over the lay offs. If I had understood the ‘game’ early on, I would have gone into a life of crime. At least, make the rewards commensurate with the risks.
              I hope you have a robust support network.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > “Well, ambrit, that sounds a bit hostile, certainly not what we would expect from a team player. Perhaps your skills and talents would be more at home elsewhere.”

          I very rarely laugh out loud, particularly when reading on the Internet, but I got a good belly laugh out of this. Thank you!

  17. AndrewJ

    On the “Why We Wish for Wilderness” blurb and the idea that pre-contact populations of North America numbered in the tens of millions – and that nineteen of every twenty soul died by disease before ever seeing a colonist – I do wonder if these ideas don’t gain traction because they benefit nobody if they are true. Those that make a living speaking for our living indigenous peoples don’t have as compelling a narrative if it turns out they are tribes formed out of a Mad Max -type apocalypse from five centuries ago, or if their ancestors have shaped the landscape for millenia; and it’s certainly not in any modern government’s interest to acknowledge we live on soil that once hosted a civilization of a breadth and depth we can hardly imagine. (Who knows how many stories and songs and social structures disappeared when 95% of your population dies?)
    “You live on stolen land” doesn’t quite have the punch it does when “and we are the descendants of the few that survived a faceless apocalypse that has largely fallen from memory” is also true.

    1. Carolinian

      I found the article odd in that he is in the wilderness but giving himself over to thoughts of whether he should or should not feel guilty about the erasure of the original inhabitants. Surely the point is that a few wild places are being preserved now, not whether they are in pristine pre-human conditions. Here in the South–indeed in the East in general–practically all of the old growth forest was cut down other than tiny pockets. But it’s still worth having some places where nature can thrive with minimum human interference.

      Many of those pioneers, heroes or not, came here to start a new life and survive just as the indigenous inhabitants did when they crossed the Bering Strait. It’s unclear to me what bearing this has on wilderness areas or how we should think about them.

      1. Oregoncharles

        ” in the East in general–practically all of the old growth forest was cut down other than tiny pockets.”
        A little off topic, but a worthwhile tip if you’re in the area: one of those tiny pockets is in Spring Mill State Park in southwestern Indiana. I grew up near there and had no idea, until we went there for a family reunion a few years ago. It also has caves and a pioneer mill driven by water flowing out of a cave. And you’ve never seen hardwoods that big. Amazing place, worth seeing.

        1. Carolinian

          Joyce Kilmer in western North Carolina is one of those pockets. My region was very much logged over by big lumber companies in the post Civil War period.

  18. DonCoyote

    From Going Postal (Terry Pratchett):

    There was no safety. There was no pride. All there was, was money. Everything became money, and money became everything. Money treated us as if we were things, and we died.

    Which is a nice encapsulation of the two rules of neoliberalism.

  19. Trent

    “It’s bipartisan!”

    Nah dude, Hillary would have fixed this within the first 100 days. She would have shut down all of the corporations and corrected every issue America has ever faced. Dastardly Russians.

  20. David in Santa Cruz

    Lambert, while Trump was unable to complete his attempt to extort the President of Ukraine, as someone who practiced the criminal law for 34 years, let me be the first to clue you in to the concept in the criminal law of the inchoate offense. This is criminal law, not contract law.

    An inchoate offense includes an attempt, a conspiracy, and the solicitation of a crime. All focus on the state of mind of the perpetrator, and none require that the offense be completed — only that a person or persons having the required criminal intent took material steps toward completing the crime. Such a person becomes a principal in the contemplated crime, and in the eyes of the law is just as guilty as if he or she had completed the attempted offense.

    Trump is not accused of bribery. The allegation will be that Trump committed the inchoate offense of Attempted Extortion Under Color of Official Right in violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 USC 1951. Trump attempted to obtain property (dirt on Biden) from another (the President of Ukraine) under color of his claim of an official right to withhold military aid. It is sufficient under the law of attempts that a quid pro quo was contemplated, whether or not the the intended target cooperated.

    It is no different than if a person pulled a gun on another person and demanded her wallet. If she refused to turn over her wallet and walked away, there is no robbery — but there was an attempted robbery. The gunman is still guilty of an offense in the eyes of the criminal law — an inchoate offense which punishes their subjective intent to rob, even though the robbery failed.

    1. Carolinian

      Your presumption is that Trump did all those things you said he did and also that this would consist of sucha a “high crime” that Senate Republicans would impeach him.

        1. Carolinian

          An offense that everyone in DC violates–including Biden–sounds like an unenforced law to me. What does the law say about selective prosecution?

          Ya know I can get 5 years in prison for copying a DVD. I don’t think anyone has ever gotten that sentence although a few unfortunate souls have been sent to jail for more egregious piracy.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I like granular detail a lot. It’s unfortunate that I can’t trust reporting on this from WaPo and the Times any farther than I can throw a grand piano, and it’s doubly unfortunately I can’t trust those who signal boost it.

        I’d like the transcripts, but they’re coming out in dribs and drabs, and because they come from the Intelligence Committee, they’re polluted at source. For example, I would like to know if the IC reviewed and/or corrected the transcripts. I will also be looking carefully to see if there’s any evidence whose sources we are not allowed to know about. Not that I’m foily.

        The whole thing is driving me nuts, and I’m not easily driven nuts.

    2. ewmayer

      Your argument falls apart if you start with Biden’s self-admitted act of Extortion Under Color of Official Right while he was VP. Trump is sworn in, the key part of his oath of office is to “uphold the law”. How is his pushing the Ukraine government to investigate Biden’s self-admitted extortion “solicitation of a crime”? So Ukraine re-opening the investgation which Biden extorted them into shutting down might expose “dirt on Biden”, as in evidence of Biden’s own criminality, which yes, would help Trump in the 2020 campaign. So what? How is getting at the truth a crime?

      And your last analogy is way off: Trump was not threatening to take anything possessed by Ukraine, he was, at worst, threatening to withhold disbursement of discretionary aid payments by the US to Ukraine, which is his prerogative, as the setter of US foreign policy. Secondly, he was not soliciting a crime but rather “soliciting a prosecutorial investigation” into an alleged crime which the alleged criminal – Mr. Biden – publicly admitted to engaging in. How do you justify analogizing that with armed robbery?

      1. Monty

        “How do you justify analogizing that with armed robbery?”

        Because that’s what his bosses at the DNC funded troll farm put on today’s talking points?

    3. notabanker

      This just blows my mind.

      The sitting VP of the United States sat before a public youtube camera and told the story of how he withheld aid from Ukraine unless they fired a prosecutor, and they subsequently did. And there is a sworn affidavit by that prosecutor, that he was investigating said VP’s son, whose consulting firm was being paid 6 figures a month by a Ukrainian oligarch.

      But because the DNC nominates this guy to be their hand picked candidate for the next President of the United States, Trump is the one guilty of crimes for withholding aid until he is investigated.

      Trump is POTUS because these morons picked HRC to be their candidate. Now the same morons have picked Biden, an easy target, but Trump is the problem.

      I am no fan of Trump and hate that I have to constantly defend his junior high school behavior, but it’s not like he asked them to make something up about Biden to smear him. The guy is corrupt.

      1. David in Santa Cruz

        Biden’s evident corruption is likely the reason for Pelosi’s foot-dragging over impeachment. Biden is toast. If you don’t think so, take note that Michael Bloomberg has just announced — and I strongly suspect that it’s because the DNC elites can see that their days are numbered.

        But Biden’s guilt of a similar offense doesn’t excuse Trump’s behavior. Trump is only interested in extorting an investigation out of Ukraine when it involves his political rival. Did he demand an investigation of Manafort and Gates? Does he demand an investigation of Don Jr, Jared, and Ivanka for conspiring to launder money through real estate deals? Of course not! Trump isn’t engaging in an anti-corruption campaign.

        He’s not “just doing his job” and “enforcing the laws.” Neither Trump nor Biden had any business threatening under color of office to withhold congressionally-mandated aid — in fact that’s another crime! Let the Republicans in the Senate argue that “everyone does it.” We’ll see how that goes over next November, if Bloomberg hasn’t hijacked the nomination from Bernie or Warren!

        1. notabanker

          If they want to go after him for emoluments or corruption, have at it. Withholding Congressionally mandated aid? LOL. He’s head of US foreign policy. How’s that working out for Iran and Venezuela.

          1. Code Name D

            This is what really torques me. There is a LONG list of impeachable offenses. His border policy, attempting to engineer a cue in Venezuela, abandoning Puerto Rico, accessory to war crimes in Yemen, de-regulations that endanger the general public. I am sure that list could be added too, but only ONE is needed to justify impeachment.

            Hell, even Russia Gate could have been used to fight for the sort of comprehensive election reform we have been fighting for sense the eights. Hardening our elections from foreign influence? I would be all over that if it also meant dealing with Jerry Maundered districts, voter purges, and hackable voter machines.

            But nope. Can’t even bring those up in polite circles. If Putin wanted to rig an election, all he need do is register Republican – and he can do what ever he wants. Impeachment only because a thing when Joe’s reputation gets besmirched.

    4. Code Name D

      Insert a preemptive -Lambert smacking me in the back of the head- here, because I am about to blow off some major steam.

      1. The transcript that started this whole mess, doesn’t say what the Democrats claim it does. The “favor” was clearly asked in requesting more information regarding the origins of Russia gate. In conservative circles at least, the Ukraine government played a major role in sourcing the Steel Memo which launched Russia Gate in the first place. It was Zelensky that brings up the issue of the Bidons – not Trump. And at no point is there any threat to withhold anything from Zelensky.
      2. Democratic apologists appear to be aware of this, hence the argument that the “threat” to withhold aid was “coded subtext.” It was “implied.” Well hell, that being the standard, why couldn’t I claim Trump was invoking little green men from Mars or diplomatic relations with the African nation of Wakanda? Especially problematic given that the leaker learned of this third hand, after the fact, and from a lose transcript. Where the hell did this “coded subtext” come from?
      3. And then I find out that at no point was aid ever interrupted. Despite the fact that zero evidence of a Ukrainian investigations targeting the Bidons has been produced. Where is the quid-pro-qoue?
      4. You said, “Biden’s guilt of a similar offense doesn’t excuse Trump’s behavior.” Actually, it does. There is this little thing called precedence. As it has been already pointed out, it’s Trumps prerogative, as POTUS, to offer or withhold aid as he sees fit. And that withholding aid has been standard US policy for 80 years. As evidence BY Biden’s behavior as VP.
      5. Even if I accept Democrat’s claims AT FACE VALUE! I am simply not impressed with Trump demanding an investigation into alleged wrongdoing as particularly offensive. Especially when contrasted with Bidon’s demanding the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor – for any reason. For the past three years we were treated to non-stop screeching about Russian twitter mems amounting to a Pearl Harbor level event. But such medaling into another country’s legal system is perfectly acceptable? Democrats have got to think me rather stupid to expect me to fall for that one.
      6. It’s the god-dammed hypocrisy of the whole thing. When Hillary Clinton looks for dirt on Trump, its “opposition research.” When Trump does the same exact thing, it’s an “impeachable offense.”
      7. How about the timing! Just when Muller’s testimony failed spectacularly, his “smoking gun” essentially ending the absurdity of “collusion with Russia,”! Hurry! We need a new witch to hunt because we can’t seem to find the last one.
      8. I am a skeptic. Evidence must come BEFORE conclusions. Yet I am apparently expected to get all hysterical about Trumps alleged wrongdoing BEFORE any evidence is ever presented. Hell, for the past three @#$!#$$#@@#$%@!@&%$$ years, I have been beaten over the head with the so called “classified evidence. The Muller Report will reveal all. When it finally came out, I was told that the evidence was in the redacted portions of the report. When THAT was released, I was told that Muller’s testimony would seal the deal. The thing is, classified evidence that I can not see, is indistinguishable from evidence that does not exist. So where is the god-dammed evidence! All you got is one transcript. That is, it. Sorry, but basic rules of skepticism demands more. You want to convince me. Show me multiple transcripts where Trump repeated his demands. The more you produce, the more convincing the claim. Show me where he made similar threats to other world leaders, demonstrating a pattern of behavior. Show me the documents where he acted to follow through on his threats. Show me the statue that he violated. And because this is such a dammed obscure and arbitrary regulation, show me Trump was properly briefed of the statute in question, or that his advisors warned him away of said action. Instead, I am apparently a monster for even asking for evidence at all. Not even in the course of satisfying my skepticism. I am COMANDED to accept said claimed without evidence. Oh yay, that’s convincing.
      9. Oh, and I especially LOVE this one. “The allegation will be that Trump committed the inchoate offense of Attempted Extortion Under Color of Official Right in violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 USC 1951.” Well if that isn’t a load of legal bull. So let’s just imagine a crime Trump failed to achieve, then declare INCHOATE OFFENSE. Can I play this one? Trump failed to reanimate Hitler’s head. INCHOATE OFFENSE! Trump failed to steal viburnum from Wakanda. INCHOATE OFFENSE!! The invocation of “inchoate offense” is all but an open ambition that you have nothing against Trump, and thus have to invoke an imaginary standard of evidence for an imagined crime. Trump doesn’t even have to be guilty – we just have to imagine he is. Especially galling given the hysteria asserting that he IS guilty of an actual offense that has already taken place. The media isn’t asserting that “he may have” or “could have” blackmailed Zelensky, but that he “actually” blackmailed Zelensky.
      10. How about the change in message? It’s no longer “quid-pro-qoue,” but “bribery and blackmail.” And then you toss out “inchoate offense”. Moving the goal post isn’t suspicious at all. What will the charge be next week, I wonder?

      As Jimmy Dore said, “The Democrats are so out of touch with reality – that they think they are winning.” Impeachment is a political disaster for Democrats.

      Every day I see on MSNBC how “Trump is running scared” or “Trump’s options are running out,” or “Trump running out of steam.” But from where I stand, the opposite it true. Trump and conservatives like him have a persecution complex. The last thing you want to do is to feed into their delusions of persecution. Trump is THRIVING under impeachment! And the rallies he is throwing is proof of this. It’s red meet for his supporters, and political fuel for his re-election campaign. Conservatives who would otherwise start asking hard question about his trade policy, expansion of foreign wars, the failure of his trade war, etcetera; are instead rallying to his defense because of Hillary fueled, Russia-gate witch hunts.

      Conservatives who would have already abandoned Trump by now, are compelled… COMPELLED… to come to his defense. Let me repeat this! Conservatives are setting aside their own, real and legitimate concerns over Trump in order to defend him against (perceived) baseless Democratic-lead witch hunts. (If I am not convinced, they sure as hell are not.) And I can only imagine how the genuine-skinhead-racists supporter thinks about all this.

      1. Eric Anderson

        Thank you. This sums up what this household has been feeling for a while. Never expected to change parties.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks for this; it’s good to have somebody with actual legal expertise involved.

      However, as an overview, I don’t think impeachment is a matter of criminal law, or even a legal process.* That cuts two ways: First, the President isn’t automatically granted the protections of the criminal law, like the right to cross-examine witnesses (although it may be expedient, or even moral, to grant them; I think both). Second, legal doctrine is purely heuristic; it’s there as a persuasive device, as a generator of talking points, and not in any way dispositive.

      It also does no good to rely on “the rule of law,” as a yardstick, first because it doesn’t apply to elites anyhow, and hasn’t at some point between Bush prosecuting Enron and Obama, and second because anybody knows, you can prosecute anybody at anytime for anything; you just have to thumb through the rulebook long enough, as the intelligence community did with Kiriakou. In other words, the goalposts will be constantly moving. As they just did, with the the change from quid pro quo to bribery extortion.

      I had encountered the Hobbs Act, but I didn’t know what to do with it. So thanks for this:

      Trump is not accused of bribery. The allegation will be that Trump committed the inchoate offense of Attempted Extortion Under Color of Official Right in violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 USC 1951. Trump attempted to obtain property (dirt on Biden) from another (the President of Ukraine) under color of his claim of an official right to withhold military aid. It is sufficient under the law of attempts that a quid pro quo was contemplated, whether or not the the intended target cooperated.

      Well… I don’t think either a liberal Democrat or a Republican can say this, but we didn’t impeach Bush for multiple felonies in his warrantless surveillance program or for torture, and we didn’t impeach Obama for whacking a US citizen with a drone strike and no due process, but we’re going to impeach Trump because he had ? Isn’t there some legal doctrine that says that’s nutso? Isn’t there a doctrine that translates “leap over a block and stumble at a straw” into legalese?

      We’re not going to impeach Trump for anything he did. We’re going to impeach him for something he (allegedly) determined to do. First, in the legal frame, why is that a “high crime”? Surely it’s reasonable to assume that high crimes are supposed to have some material effect? Second, in the institutional frame, because Trump (allegedly) had ill intent, we’re going to (a) select Pence, and more dangerously (b) change the Constitutional order to give the intelligence community veto power over Presidential selection, and (c) tear the country apart? Really?

      You write: “It is no different than if a person pulled a gun on another person and demanded her wallet.” It’s absolutely different. First, impeachment isn’t a criminal matter. The law is a heuristic and a source of tropes (and both sides are using it that way). Second, this is a matter of international relations, which are, in their very essence, about “pulling a gun on another [nation] and demanding their [compliance].” I mean, we’re an imperial hegemon, for pity’s sake. Now, one could argue — if one were watching a lot of the West Wing in syndication — that Trump thought whatever it was that he thought because he hoped to gain political advantage. But that is (a) what all Presidents do — Lincoln, for example, was extremely concerned with the political calendar when planning strategy — and (b) what we want them to do, because we want Presidents to be responsive to voters, which is the effect of seeking to gain political advantage. Of course, one could argue that Trump was seeking to gain political advantage in the wrong way, that is by seeking oppo, but then one runs into the inconvenient truths of how Democrats managed to fund the Steele report and then launder it through the FISA court.

      In shorter form, if I were a Democrat lawyer, I wouldn’t be trying to sell something called “inchoate offense.”** I would also be girding my loins for tu quoque which while a logical fallacy isn’t necessarily politically or even morally impotent: It’s reasonable to ask that one’s judges have the moral standing to judge. See, e.g. Matt 1:7-3.

      NOTE * This toad leaps out of Lawfare’s mouth: “From the language in the Constitution, it is not all that clear whether Congress should be adhering to particular legal processes or is free to deploy its political discretion.” So no need to look at the rest of the article….

      NOTE ** First, the talking point is quid pro quo. Then that magically shifts to bribery/extortion. But if you’re correct, the talking point will have to shift yet a third time, to some more persuasive wording for “inchoate intent” (or as a Trump operative might frame it, “thought crime”). Something about that goalpost shifting smells bad to me. Not that I’m cynical.

      1. Carolinian

        If one wants to get even more meta there’s the way the law itself is being abused. After all historically “the law” has been used as often to foster tyranny as to defend the weak or provide justice. If the process is not seen as fair or reasonable then the law no longer serves its ostensible function of promoting public order. As you say, a Congress unwilling to prosecute former presidents or this president for much greater crimes may have trouble persuading the public about this crime –assuming it ever happened which is itself dubious.

        If the Dems want to tear the country apart then full bore impeachment is probably the way to do it. If they want to bring the country together then selecting a decent candidate and defeating Trump the old fashioned way is a much better strategy..

  21. Seth Miller

    Quid Pro Quo?

    Lambert: The promise to lift an impediment is sufficient consideration to support an agreement. For most contracts, an exchange of unfulfilled promises is enough consideration.

    I think what you are trying to say is that, if the aid to Ukraine was never delayed, Trump’s threats were just bluster, not to be considered as improper pressure for any improper purpose. That is a contentious point of view, since the aid appears, in fact, to have been delayed. The purpose was not “rooting out corruption”, or “conducting foreign policy.” The purpose was to create the appearance of an investigation, to call attention to the already-well-known facts regarding Hunter Biden and Burisma. I’m sure there are people who think that stagecraft is statecraft, but I don’t think that’s what the founders meant when they provided that the president conducts foreign policy.

    And just to be clear, there was nothing more to “investigate.” The MSM keeps saying that Trump wanted “dirt” or “an investigation” but that’s all wrong. He wanted Zelensky to give him a photo op. I have yet to see a credible claim that there was anything still secret to be uncovered by “investigating” Hunter’s no-show job, or Uncle Joe’s “fire the prosecutor before my plane leaves” threat.

    1. ewmayer

      Wait – VP Biden extorts Ukraine into shutting down an investigation of influence-peddling involving his son and Burisma, proudly and publicly admits to having done so, suffers no legal consequences whatsoever, and you conclude that [a] there is nothing more to investigate, and [b] the person pushing for reopening of said shuttered investigation is the one who should be criminally sanctioned, simply because the resulting exposing of facts which you claim are already well-known might benefit him potitically? To quote Lloyd Bridges’ character in Airplane, looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue!

      1. Seth Miller

        so what exactly is there left to investigate? You seem convinced that you know all you need to.

        And what evidence is there that Ukraine was undertaking “an investigation”, or that what Biden did amounts to “shutting down” anything?

        And what did you find in my comment that concludes that (for this particular infraction) Trump “should be criminally sanctioned”, as opposed to impeached? Clearly he wanted Zelensky to help him politically, and just as clearly, he didn’t care whether Zelensky could charge either of the Bidens with any crime, so long as the photo op led to some type of embarrassment for Biden. Sorry, that’s not a legitimate basis for refusing to spend duly appropriated funds. Trump does not become a crime-fighter just because you wish to impute a motive that he never had. The fact that Biden is, in fact, corrupt does not change the analysis.

        1. notabanker

          And what evidence is there that Ukraine was undertaking “an investigation”,

          A sworn affidavit from the Prosecutor. Surprisingly, WaPo, NYT, MSNBC, CNN and the rest of the lot have failed to mention that.

          1. Seth Miller

            The Trumpies all believe the prosecutor, taking him at his word. The impeachers don’t believe him at all.

            I’m just an innocent bystander, and I see no reason to believe him. There’s no corroboration at all. No investigative file. No documents. No related prosecutions. Nada.

            Recall that Trump demanded a photo op, and wanted Zelensky to “open” an investigation. The transcript doesn’t say he wanted a copy of any existing investigative file, and there’s no evidence that the prosecutor had obtained any real proof. Recall that Joe’s admission and the reports on Hunter’s no show job all came from the mainstream US press.

            So once again, what, beyond a photo op, was Zelensky in a position to furnish? If not a photo op, then what? I suspect that Trump would have been okay with staged photos and falsified recordings.

            1. flora

              The Trumpies all believe the prosecutor, taking him at his word. The impeachers don’t believe him at all.

              I’m just an innocent bystander, and I see no reason to believe him.

              No. By your formulation, you’re an impeacher. (Your formulation depends entirely on ‘belief’, not evidence. )

              1. Seth Miller

                I’m willing to follow the evidence. Got any?

                Specifically, do you have a case to make for believing the ousted Ukrainian prosecutor? Or are you just taking his word?

                I told you why I doubt his word. What evidence points to a different conclusion?

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > I’m willing to follow the evidence

                  There’s no evidence here, because there are no links to anything, let alone cites to transcript. What there are, are recycled taking points (narrative fragments, as Caitlin Johnstone said the other day).

                  Up your game before you get huffy.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The promise to lift an impediment is sufficient consideration to support an agreement

      OK, fair enough. From a book called “Elements of Consideration” I found on the Internet, albeit from an accounting professor:

      Legally Sufficient Value may be established by: [4316.08]

      (1) promising to do something that the promisor has no prior legal duty to do (e.g., promising to pay money for the promisor’s goods);

      (2) performing an action that the promisor is not otherwise obligated to undertake; or

      (3) refraining from exercising a legal right which the promisor is otherwise entitled to exercise.

      You write:

      I think what you are trying to say is that, if the aid to Ukraine was never delayed, Trump’s threats were just bluster, not to be considered as improper pressure for any improper purpose.

      No. From my technical background in a past life, I think of a consideration as a “token” passed between two parties (like an ACK) and not as a promise to pass a token at some unspecified future date (because that assumes a level of trust that doesn’t exist (isn’t there a case where a defendant successfully argued that he was such a known liar that nobody should have believed him?)).

      You write:

      That is a contentious point of view, since the aid appears, in fact, to have been delayed.

      The ban was lifted September 15
      . If that was the consideration, than Zelensky should have held his presser shortly thereafter. (As an aside, with paywalls everywhere, it’s a lot harder to do this research than it used to be, but then who wants to pay for disinformation? ‘Tis a puzzlement!)

      You write:

      I’m sure there are people who think that stagecraft is statecraft, but I don’t think that’s what the founders meant when they provided that the president conducts foreign policy.

      That is the West Wing view of the world, which I regard as fantastically naive at best. I mean, we’re calling the Iraq War, rebooting the slave markets of Libya, and the F-35 “statecraft”? Really? The framers, as I am sure you know, structured the government so that ambition would counteract ambition; that’s the issue here, that the intelligence and community and that national security establishment are acting is if they were independent branches of government.

  22. ChrisPacific

    The Buttigieg article was very interesting. I can see why a Mr. Rogers type would be appealing to those for whom Trump is fingernails on a blackboard (Obama was very good at this part, despite his other flaws). I also have a lot of time for people who are willing to listen to questions from kids and answer them seriously.

    However (and this has always been my biggest problem with Buttigieg) all of these are meta-indicators and tell us nothing about where he actually stands. Based on his positions on the issues (at least those few where he actually has a position) he still looks like a bog-standard corporate Democrat seeking to put a happy face on the depredations of neoliberalism. (He is ex-McKinsey, after all). He may be strong in the Force, as the article suggests, but so was Anakin Skywalker and look how that turned out.

    1. Grant

      He would not win against Trump. It wouldn’t be close, he has a lot of qualities that will probably make him a lot of money in the coming years, I can already see his really boring book at the airport bookstore, but he is a horrible candidate when we have all of the problems this country has. In a logical world, he would be running to be Biden’s VP or whatever, and that would be an even worse ticket than Clinton/Kaine. But, the traditional Democratic primary voters are so utterly lost that they just might go with someone for pretty superficial reasons and can’t see how horrible of a general election candidate he would be. Blows my mind that this isn’t obvious. We can complain all we want about Democrats in power, but voters put them there, and they often had much better options than the wet pile of socks in power. I realize that the media has done a lot of damage to the way people think and has actively mislead them, but with people like him and Biden, the problems should be something a well oiled propaganda machine can’t provide cover for.

      But, Bloomberg is probably going to enter the race. So, my guess is that the media campaign propping him up will probably come to an end soon.

      1. Carey

        >We can complain all we want about Democrats in power, but voters put them there

        Not sure about that, not at all.

    2. Big River Bandido

      Fred Rogers was a lifelong Republican and an ordained minister whose positions on economic, social and military issues were well to the left of Buttigieg.

  23. richard

    we have some of those monkey puzzle trees in the nw u.s. as well, but i was taught they were called monkey tail
    or maybe i was only half listening
    (what? monkey butt trees you say? cool…)

    1. 3.14e-9

      There was a restaurant called the Monkey Tree on Vashon Island (“off the coast of Seattle,” as Bill Clinton famously said), so-named, because of the lovely monkey tail tree in front of the building. Alas, the tree was cut down, and the restaurant got renamed to … something unmemorable.

      1. wilroncanada

        Wee have monkey trees on Vancouver Island and the lower mainland of BC. Many seem to have been deliberately planted as decoration (homeowners’ front gardens. The arbutus trees, however, are much more a feature of the shorelines.

  24. turtle

    Regarding the current proceedings, I wanted to post a quote from a play here. It may have been posted before and most here may already be familiar with it, but I think it encapsulates the problem with the current impeachment thrust as well as anything I’ve ever seen:

    “William Roper: “So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!”

    Sir Thomas More: “Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”

    William Roper: “Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!”

    Sir Thomas More: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”

    ― Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons

  25. Wukchumni

    Methane point-source emissions in California are dominated by landfills (41 per cent)
    When I was a kid, the dump was on Azusa in West Covina, now there’s a bunch of homes on top of it, along with a similar gig just off the 405 in West LA.

    Who would ever buy a home on top of a prior landfill?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      because it’s cheap land…at least out here.
      there are 2 former landfills in my county…soon to be a third(the politics of which have been a hoot)
      both of those were closed down long before our current permitting process(giant covered over holes in ground, leaking who knows what into aquifer). people without means bought them for a song. the one family that’s been there for 3 generations is cancer ridden, of course…the more recent landfill pioneers put in expensive water treatment in their well house(partially subsidised).
      interestingly, there are numerous private dumps, begun when the county dump started caring about what got put in there…I’ve roamed in a few of these, chasing goats, and such…archaeology of the 70’s hill country(!).

      nowadays, developers pretty up the full up landfill, put in playgrounds and tract homes…and the few i’ve noticed(outside of austin and dallas) have a discreet little building off to the side where the equipment is housed to clean the groundwater

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          aye. i could only recognise that equipment because there’s just such an installation in my little town, just off the square, due to 50 years of a gasoline leak. there’s actually a city ordinance about not using private wells in town, since they’re all in the 100 foot part of the aquifer, where the gas plume is. city wells are carefully placed “upstream” of that old gas station, and are at 600 feet, in different strata.
          the machinery pumps water up and through some kind of elaborate filter-thing and back down.
          TCEQ(Texas’ half-hearted attempt at their own EPA) installed it 20 years ago.
          local mandarins are reluctant to discuss it.

  26. Chauncey Gardiner

    Re “… Because that’s how Silicon Valley rolls.” It appears to me that both internal and public awareness of Big Tech’s exploitation of private information and its broad adverse effects on individuals and society are increasing. Although what has happened is very disturbing, this awareness is a necessary precursor to overcome oppo from those who are willing to ignore ethical considerations and social costs for personal financial benefit and political advantage from a lucrative business model based on massive extraction and monetization of our thoughts, emotions, and actions.

    From the Center for Humane Technology:

    “”Today’s tech platforms are caught in a race to the bottom of the brain stem to extract human attention. It’s a race we’re all losing.

    The result: reduced attention plans, addiction, social isolation, outrage, misinformation, and political polarization—all part of one interconnected system called human downgrading that poses an existential threat to humanity.”


    1. Carey

      I’ve received emails recently from the ‘Center for Humane Technology’, and they seem
      to be enthusiastically advocating online censorship, if I’m parsing their message correctly.

      Beware of strangers bearing gifts (my first thought when encountering a smart™phone, too).

      1. ambrit

        Thanks. The ‘moniker’ seems so appropriate, with the added bonus that she encompasses not one, but two Three Letter groups! Like something from a cypher!

      2. flora

        HRC took the IRT Down to 4th Street USA, When she got there What did she see? The Dems of America on TSD… HRC, IRT, USA, TSD TSD, HRC, FBI, CIA FBI, CIA TSD, HRC

        1. carycat

          The West 4th Street station is primarily IND (M train is BMT) not IRT even though the original lyrics of the “Initials” song from HAIR do say IRT. I used to get off the F train at West 4th during the time of the initial run of HAIR and still remember their posters that were plastered all over the village. That album is on my music player which I use on my long walks, i will sing along using your revised lyrics the next time it pops up. HRH HRC is much scarier that LBJ.

    1. ptb

      Weird. Mayor Mike would take votes from Biden and probably keep Mayor Pete from reaching the 15% threshold.

      Cynical me sees 2 reasons for Bloomberg to run:

      #1 is in case DNC reckons Buttigieg can’t be trusted to get to the 15% mark but Blooms can (in their analysis, centrist/moderate votes would be wasted if cast for a candidate who falls below the 15% threshold). (also I don’t see Bloomberg doing any better than Buttigieg so it’s silly)

      #2 is in case Biden has something Bloomberg wants, and he would ask it in exchange for NOT joining the race. Ya. That would be a quid pro quo. iz how you play the game.

      1. Pat

        Sorry to tell you this but the investment class believes Bloomberg will have the biggest effect on Warren and Sanders. Bloomberg’s”reality based” view of the world will cut through the fractured view that our economic system is broken and that our problems of inequality, lack of educational opportunity, and growing dissatisfaction are the result of corporate and investment malfeasance that require regulatory oversight and higher taxes. That while his appeal to the center is valuable it is his ability to destroy the myths fueling Sanders and Warren and offset the extremes they represent that is really important.

        (No shit, Sherlock. Heard it from one of the Masters of the universe myself. Just before he celebrated that Mike can fund his own campaign and probably only spend a year’s income of a billion to do it. The audience of sychophants and wannabes applauded. This in a city where as unhappy as they are with the current mayor I haven’t heard one average person want Bloomberg back.)

        I really would love to be a fly on the wall in a few of these people’s homes when Bloomberg crashes and burns because the reality is he has Nothing to offer the majority of Americans not even false nostalgia like Biden.

  27. The Rev Kev

    “New Library Is a $41.5 Million Masterpiece. But About Those Stairs.”

    The thing is that modern architecture is about the buildings and the awards and accolades that an architect can get for them. It is rarely about the people that will have to use them the next coupla decades. I am willing to bet that the firm did not call in the actual librarians to comment on the design to pick up on the worse howlers.
    There should really be some sort of Ig Nobel Prize for architecture ad voted in by the public for some of these buildings. How would those architects feel if they won an Ig Nobel Prize for their building?

    1. John

      During an interview with CNBC, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said of Warren: “She uses some pretty harsh words, you know, some would say vilifies successful people.”

      Successful? Like you, Jamie?

      A Wall Street financial terrorist who is now a billionaire after the US taxpayers bailed him out for burning down the economy

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > A Wall Street financial terrorist who is now a billionaire after the US taxpayers bailed him out for burning down the economy

        How is that not a success? It’s an amazing personal comeback story!

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      One time pads. Easy to code up too. Just gotta pay really close attention to your RNG. Came close 8-9 years ago to buying some (minute) radioactive samples at ~$80 per to build an unbreakable source, but realized my smoke detector had one for much cheaper.

      Edit: RNG random number generator

    2. ambrit

      Speaking of Klingon; it is almost time for the annual staging of the Charles Dickens classic, “tlhIngan ram nI’ bom.” (“A Christmas Carol” in Klingon. The narrator is a Vulcan, who does scene setting and explication.) Staged in Klingon, there is an English translation in a scroll above the stage for the less well educated.
      Barr would make a perfect Klingon. Maybe a Kzinti. “Scream and leap!”

    3. Jak Siemasz

      Good luck getting a “real” landline….I tried in Houston and out here in the Edwards Plateau….no such thing happenin. Only thing offered is VOIP. But do let me know if you succeed.

  28. 3.14e-9

    Re: CDC’s “new study” on childhood trauma

    Although raising awareness of the lifelong effects of childhood trauma is a good thing, much of the “news” that NPR attributes to CDC is more than 20 years old.

    The landmark “ACEs study” was done by Kaiser in 1998. Not only did the authors of that report coin the phrase “adverse childhood experience,” but their work led to multiple permutations and spin-offs. AFAIK, no other work has replaced it as the standard-bearer. Within the mental health field, “ACEs study” and “Kaiser study” are used interchangeably when referring to the original report, which was based on data collected from Kaiser Health Plan members in 1996 and 1997. The CDC report does include a citation in the reference section, but it’s not clear (at least, not to me), that the entire concept of the “new report” is based on that seminal study. Here’s the link, for anyone who’s interested:

    Among the many spin-offs inspired by the Kaiser study were studies of ACEs and suicide risk, and also studies of specific populations, such as veterans. For whatever reason, veterans have a disproportionately higher number of ACEs than the general population, leading to a neoliberal-friendly conclusion that the high suicide rate among veterans isn’t due to combat exposure, but to “pre-existing conditions.” At any rate, the VA won’t be able to reduce the veteran suicide rate (if it actually wants to) without acknowledging and treating early childhood trauma. The VA’s current mental health guidelines are woefully inadequate in that regard. If it takes a “new report” to get their attention, then I suppose CDC deserves some credit.

  29. VietnamVet

    Donald Trump is a hospitality CEO. Richard Sackler is a pharma CEO. Dennis Muilenburg is an aerospace CEO. Each are backed by lawyers who let them do what they want to do, make more money for themselves. Since plutocrats took control of Western governments, none of them will see in the inside of jail no matter the number of deaths they caused.

    This is the ultimate corruption. No consequence for their crimes.

    Corporate politicians are handmaidens to the corruption but to live with themselves, they deny their own participation. Democrats simply cannot acknowledge that they supported the Maidan Coup d’etat that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine for the specific purpose of extracting more resources for the West and to destabilize Russia, the ultimate goal. And, “Oh, by the way”; this also resulted in payments directly to the Biden Family. Harassment by neo-Nazis of ethnic Russians led (with Joe Biden’s prodding) to the Donbass Civil War that has killed thousands and continues today.

    Since the intelligence community is his antagonist, Donald Trump used his lawyer to dig up dirt. After all “Lock her up” worked in 2016. His Impeachment, just like the Benghazi inquiry, will ignore the regime change shenanigans.

    All of it is crazy.

  30. meeps

    “Three diplomats who expressed concern about Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine will serve as star witnesses when the first public hearings of the president’s impeachment inquiry are aired on TV next week.” • I smell book deals!

    Indubitably. I smell families torn asunder over turkey dinner.

    1. ambrit

      I ‘smell’ Neo McCarthy hearings.
      Can we say, “The House RussiaRussiaRussia Affairs Committee” boys and girls?

      1. meeps

        Ugh, I’d rather not. What an unimaginably ugly power play. Were not enough civil liberties eroded by the Patriot Act?

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