2:00PM Water Cooler 11/8/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, with both Bloomberg and impeachment, I’m a little overloaded, so I’ll have a bit more quite shortly. –lambert UPDATE All done!


“Shutterstock Employees Fight Company’s New Chinese Search Blacklist” [The Intercept]. “The publicly traded company built a $639 million-per-year business on the strength of its vast — sometimes comically vast — catalog of images depicting virtually anything a blogger or advertiser could imagine. The company now does business in more than 150 countries. But in China, there is now a very small, very significant gap in Shutterstock’s offerings. In early September, Shutterstock engineers were given a new goal: The creation of a search blacklist that would wipe from query results images associated with keywords forbidden by the Chinese government. Under the new system, which The Intercept is told went into effect last month, anyone with a mainland Chinese IP address searching Shutterstock for ‘President Xi,’ ‘Chairman Mao,’ ‘Taiwan flag,’ ‘dictator,’ ‘yellow umbrella,’ or ‘Chinese flag’ will receive no results at all. Variations of these terms, including ‘umbrella movement’ — the precursor to the mass pro-democracy protests currently gripping Hong Kong — are also banned.”


“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 11/8/2019, 11:00 AM EST:

Just as Warren pulls even with Biden, the media turns on her. Odd. Here, today’s results, as of 11/8/2019, 11:00 AM EST:

Here is a new NV poll, as of 11/8/2019, 11:00 AM EST:

And here is the latest result, as of 11/8/2019, 11:00 AM EST. Look at Buttigieg go:

Biden juggernaut rolls on.

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

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Theory of Change, Sanders:

Theory of Change, Warren;

There’s even a button for Bloomberg ($52,000,000,000). Here is the result:

So, billionaire purchasing power will be undiminished. Politicians, political parties, think tanks, newspapers… Everything goes on as before!

* * *

Biden (D)(1): “I Have Fought for the Democratic Party My Whole Career” [Joe Biden, Medium]. “The other day I was accused by one of my opponents [Warren] of running in the wrong primary. Pretty amazing. On one level, it is kind of funny. I have fought for the Democratic party my whole career…. It’s representative of an elitism that working and middle class people do not share: ‘We know best; you know nothing’. ‘If you were only as smart as I am you would agree with me.’ This is no way to get anything done. This is no way to bring the country together. This is no way for this party to beat Donald Trump.” • Front-row, back-row.

Bloomberg (D)(1): “Leon Cooperman, who has been battling Elizabeth Warren, says he will support fellow billionaire Mike Bloomberg for president” [CNBC]. “Cooperman is one of several Wall Street executives who are already preparing to help Bloomberg in anyway they can if he runs for president. A private equity executive, who declined to be named in order to speak frankly about the situation, said he would likely support Bloomberg’s campaign as well.” • Say no more! Say no more!

Bloomberg (D)(2): “‘I’d Do Her’: Mike Bloomberg and the Underbelly of #MeToo” [The Atlantic]. From 2018, still germane: “From 1996 to 1997, four women filed sexual-harassment or discrimination suits against Bloomberg the company. One of the suits included the following allegation: When Sekiko Sakai Garrison, a sales representative at the company, told Mike Bloomberg she was pregnant, he replied, ‘Kill it!’ (Bloomberg went on, she alleged, to mutter, ‘Great, No. 16’—a reference, her complaint said, to the 16 women at the company who were then pregnant.) To these allegations, Garrison added another one: Even prior to her pregnancy, she claimed, Bloomberg had antagonized her by making disparaging comments about her appearance and sexual desirability. ‘What, is the guy dumb and blind?’ he is alleged to have said upon seeing her wearing an engagement ring. ‘What the hell is he marrying you for?’ Bloomberg denied having made those comments, claiming that he passed a lie-detector test validating the denial but declining to release the results. (He also reportedly left Garrison a voicemail upon hearing that she’d been upset by the comments about her pregnancy: ‘I didn’t say it, but if I said it, I didn’t mean it.’) What Bloomberg reportedly did concede is that he had said of Garrison and other women, “I’d do her.” In making the concession, however, he insisted that he had believed that to ‘do’ someone meant merely ‘to have a personal relationship’ with them.” • I imagine we’ll be cancelling Bloomberg shortly? This is a heck of a lot more than liberal Democrats had with Kavanaugh.

UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(3): “China to lift ban on state-owned firms buying Bloomberg terminals, source says” [South China Morning Post]. “China never explained the ban but it came shortly after the agency published a story on June 29, 2012, about the finances of the extended family of Xi Jinping – then the vice-president. … After the ban, the company withheld an investigative report about Wang Jianlin, the chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group and the one of the wealthiest tycoons well connected with Chinese leaders, in 2013, according to a report by The New York Times. Michael Forsythe, the key author of the investigative reports, left the company shortly afterwards. Bloomberg has never admitted the practice of self-censorship.” • Hmm.

Clinton (D)(1): “Hillary Clinton: Warren’s ‘Medicare for All’ plan would never get enacted” [The Hill]. “‘You just don’t think that that plan would ever get enacted?’ interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin asked Clinton at The New York Times DealBook Conference. ‘No, I don’t. I don’t, but the goal is the right goal,’ the former secretary of State responded.” • So, Clinton and Warren are agreed that it’s a long-term goal, but only Warren had the skills and the stones to create a “plan” that would make #MedicareForAll stay a goal. (Caveat that we are still waiting for Warren’s plan for “transition.”)

Sanders (D)(1): “Leftism Isn’t Very Appealing to Nonvoters. But Bernie Sanders Is.” [New York Magazine]. “[T]here’s some reason to think that the class and social position of nonwhite (and/or working-class) nonvoters make them potential constituents for progressive politics, given sufficient engagement from trusted community institutions. But this does not mean that politically disorganized, low-income, and/or nonwhite Americans are especially likely to subscribe to the left-wing economic views that vulgar Marxists would ascribe to them — let alone to the across-the-board social and racial progressivism that is most commonly found among highly engaged, highly educated Democrats of all colors and income levels.” • “Highly-educated” yet “of all income levels”? Huh? More: “[N]onvoting Democrats were also more likely to support single-payer and to approve of Bernie Sanders, who boasted a higher ‘very favorable’ rating among such Democrats than Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren. In fact, Sanders was the only Democratic candidate to enjoy higher favorability among nonvoting Democrats than those who regularly show up at the polls.” • That’s the first confirmation I’ve seen of Sanders’ theory of change. More: “Taken together, the Times’ findings suggest that ‘unreconstructed‘ Sandersism — which is to say, a bold, anti-Establishment message focused narrowly on health care and inequality — might be the party’s best bet for reaching nonvoting Democrats and swing voters alike.” • Plenty of nuance and qualification, though. (Osita Nwanevu: “I think it’s absolutely critical to note that NYT’s “nonvoters” were *registered* nonvoters and that their figures don’t represent the preferences of the eligible but non-registered population.)

Sanders (D)(2): “Dem Presidential Primary 2020” [GoogleDocs]. • Volunteer compilation of all Sanders events.

Steyer (D)(1): “AP Exclusive: Steyer aide offered money for endorsements” [Associated Press]. “A top aide to Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer in Iowa privately offered campaign contributions to local politicians in exchange for endorsing his White House bid, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the conversations. The overtures from Pat Murphy, a former state House speaker who is serving as a top adviser on Steyer’s Iowa campaign, aren’t illegal — though payments for endorsements would violate campaign finance laws if not disclosed.”

Trump (R)(1): “The Twitter Presidency” [New York Times]. • Searchable archive of all Trump’s tweets.

Warren (D)(1): “The Ivory Tower team of wonks behind Warren’s policy agenda” [Politico]. From July, still germane: “Warren’s campaign policy team—four people on staff, plus a close outside adviser who’s a professor at Vanderbilt University Law School—[all] have degrees from Harvard or Yale, some two.” * What, no adjuncts from state schools?

Warren (D)(2):

Bain Capital (Patrick) and Booz Allen (Barnes);

Warren (D)(3):

* * *

“DNC Leaders Bury Heads In Hands After New Moderate Presidential Recruit Immediately Walks Into Oncoming Traffic” [The Onion].


UPDATE Plot twist:

More narrative fragment reconfiguration:

Reasonable, actually, but who thought “quid pro quo” was a good idea?

Never Trumper agrees with Tribe:

“Inchoate,” however, as alert reader David Soares explains, since noting of value was delivered, and there was no public act, ergo no exchange (basically on the level of Tom Steyer, supra).

UPDATE “Mick Mulvaney won’t show up for impeachment probe testimony, despite subpoena” [NBC]. “Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney will skip a scheduled deposition Friday before the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, despite receiving subpoena for his attendance, a senior administration official told NBC News.” • I’m not seeing a lot of subpoena enforcement.

UPDATE “PBS, Televise Impeachment Hearings for All to See” [Bill Moyers]. “The House of Representatives has announced that public hearings in the impeachment inquiry will begin on Wednesday, November 13. We believe that for the sake of the nation, public television should not only broadcast them live as they happen but repeat them in primetime so that Americans who work during the day have a chance to watch and judge for themselves Donald Trump’s guilt or innocence. There’s an important and historic precedent for PBS to do this. We know because we were there. Each of us had just started in public broadcasting when Watergate was at the top of the news.” • I’m torn. On the one hand, public and open are good. On the other, I remember Watergate as being a serious endeavor in a way that these impeachment proceedings are not (and not just because of polarization).

UPDATE “John Bolton’s Old Rivals Say Trump Should Be ‘Very, Very Worried'” [Medium]. “The biggest question hanging over the impeachment inquiry may be whether John Bolton details what he witnessed about a plot to extort Ukraine to benefit President Donald Trump. Bolton is reportedly willing to testify against the wishes of the White House, the Washington Post reported Thursday, and spill about conversations he had with Trump. But he’s waiting on a court order sought by a lawyer working for Bolton and his former deputy at the National Security Council that will determine whether the pair must talk to Congress or abide by the White House’s opposition on the grounds of executive privilege.” •

UPDATE So the issue is really who conducts foreign policy, the President or The Blob?

(I love “the expert community.”)

UPDATE Zaid is the “whistleblower”‘s lawyer. From 2017:

Trump’s not the only one who says the quiet part out loud, apparently.

Health Care

“Medicare for All Is a Strategy” [Jacobin]. “But Medicare for All is more than just a matter of fixing our broken health-care system. And it’s more than just a good policy. It’s the perfect fight to pick with our ruling class — one that can unlock the power of a mass, working-class movement in the United States. But on political grounds, if we want to take the nascent left renaissance in America and turn it into a durable, working-class movement in the 2020s — a precondition for addressing more morally and more scientifically urgent issues of the day — the fight for Medicare for All must be at the very top of the Left’s priorities.” • Yep.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE Party of the rich:

“Opinion: Trolling Is Now Mainstream Political Discourse” [Wired (Re Silc)]. “The number of real people who are participating, including those who inspire and galvanize others to take political action, like vote, is on the decline. Instead, social platforms are increasingly populated by machines: bots, conversational AI, etc. Their agenda includes silencing real people who voice opposition and support for certain views. They also serve as threat intel—connecting our conversations, discovered through the monitoring of our expressed feelings and shared posts, with political issues. In our latest study, we found more than half of some 100,000 tweets about two female Muslim congressional candidates in the 2018 midterms (both of whom would eventually win historic victories) involved outright hate speech. What’s more, the bulk of the harassment and provocation came from a small cohort of troll-like accounts. These amplifiers didn’t simply retweet news stories and spam links. Content wasn’t necessarily their primary weapon; connectivity was.” • I think any Sanders supporter who dealt with Clinton’s million-dollar troll army in 2016 knows all about this.

Stats Watch

Consumer Sentiment, November 2019 (Preliminary): “Consumer sentiment is steady and favorable” [Economist]. “One in four respondents in the survey cited tariffs as an important issue for the economy, in continuing contrast to the impeachment proceedings where concern, according to the report, is ‘virtually non-existent’.”

Wholesale Trade, September 2019: “Wholesale inventories fell [sharply] in September against no change for wholesale sales, a mismatch not significant enough to change the stock-to-sales ratio” [Econoday].

The Bezzle: “Self-Driving Uber in Crash Wasn’t Designed to See Jaywalkers” [Bloomberg]. • Oy.

Concentration: “Amazon Is Accused of Forcing Up Prices in Antitrust Complaint” [Bloomberg]. “In a letter sent to federal lawmakers, an online merchant has accused Amazon.com Inc. of forcing him and other sellers to use the company’s expensive logistics services, which in turn forces them to raise prices for consumers. The 62-page document, reviewed by Bloomberg, lays out an antitrust case that emphasizes harm to consumers—the traditional basis for such cases in the U.S…. It accuses Amazon of “tying” its marketplace and logistics services together, an antitrust violation in which a company uses dominance in one market to give itself an advantage in another market where it’s less established…. ‘The most intimidating stick in Amazon’s arsenal is the ability to suspend or threaten to suspend sellers,’ that don’t use Amazon logistics, the complaint states.”

Fodder for the Bulls: “Recession Fears Are Receding. That Doesn’t Mean They Were Unfounded.” [New York Times]. “[Three months ago] some unusual swings in the market for United States Treasury bonds stirred a wave of economic pessimism. Three months later, things are looking a great deal better — and the odds of a recession, in the near term at least, appear more remote. The entire episode has some lessons for understanding the economy, and gives reason for optimism that the expansion, despite being more than a decade old and the longest on record, need not end anytime soon.”

The Bezzle: “Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund is pumping $400 million into the new company of Uber Technologies Inc. co-founder Travis Kalanick… in a deal that could value his CloudKitchens startup at about $5 billion” [Wall Street Journal]. “CloudKitchens is a bet on the food-delivery boomlet. It buys cheap real estate, often near city centers, and builds commissary ‘ghost’ kitchens for restaurants that can prepare food exclusively for delivery. The attempt to add an industrial-production component to food delivery aims to solve key logistics hurdles by creating capacity that’s not tethered to restaurants also serving sit-in diners.” • Who on earth would want to eat food prepared by Travis Kalanick?

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 89 Extreme Greed (previous close: 91, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 80 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 8 at 11:41am. Holy cow! I can’t remember the last time Greed hit the 90s!

The Biosphere

“Anatomy and resilience of the global production ecosystem” [Nature]. This is the abstract: “Much of the Earth’s biosphere has been appropriated for the production of harvestable biomass in the form of food, fuel and fibre. Here we show that the simplification and intensification of these systems and their growing connection to international markets has yielded a global production ecosystem that is homogenous, highly connected and characterized by weakened internal feedbacks. We argue that these features converge to yield high and predictable supplies of biomass in the short term, but create conditions for novel and pervasive risks to emerge and interact in the longer term. Steering the global production ecosystem towards a sustainable trajectory will require the redirection of finance, increased transparency and traceability in supply chains, and the participation of a multitude of players, including integrated ‘keystone actors’ such as multinational corporations.” • I don’t know why they don’t just say “apex predators” instead of ‘keystone actors.’ And what we have built sounds an awful lot like a tightly coupled system; see NC here, here, and here. From the last link: “In tightly-coupled systems…. measures intended to reduce risk typically wind up increasing them because no one really understands how it operates.”

“We mapped every wine country fire. They’re larger and more destructive than ever” [Los Angeles Times]. “Seven of wine country’s 10 biggest fires since 1950 occurred in the past five years…. The fires aren’t just bigger — they’re also reaching territory that hasn’t burned in many years. Since 2000, wildfires have consumed more than 600,000 acres of wine country land that has been untouched since at least 1950… Experts say many of the losses are due to increased development, as more and more homes have been built in areas prone to fire. ‘The homes are the fuels,’ Moritz said. ‘We see these burned neighborhoods where there are still shrubs and trees, and it’s clear the homes propagated the fire.'” • That’s sustainable.

Handy map:

“ANALYSIS-As climate change hits crops, debate heats up over use of plant gene data” [Reuters]. “Rich and poor countries are at loggerheads over how to share benefits from genetic plant data that could help breed crops better able to withstand climate change, as negotiations to revise a global treaty are set to resume in Rome on Monday. The little-known agreement is seen as crucial for agricultural research and development on a planet suffering rising hunger, malnutrition and the impacts of climate change. ‘We need all the ‘genetics’ around the world to be able to breed crops that will adapt to global warming,’ said Sylvain Aubry, a plant biologist who advises the Swiss government… [CRISPR] could enable businesses to circumvent the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture which stipulates that the benefits derived from using material from species it covers – including money and new technology – must be shared.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Talk of Reparations for Slavery Moves to State Capitols” [Pew Stateline]. “This year, Democratic lawmakers in California, New York and Vermont — states that either outlawed slavery before the Civil War or never allowed it — have introduced legislation that would apologize for their state’s role in slavery; recognize the lasting, negative impact of slavery on current generations of African Americans; and explore monetary reparations…. To be sure, except for one California resolution that passed with bipartisan support, none of the state bills has yet made it past committee. All were introduced by Democrats… The state bills seem designed to ignite conversation about systemic racial injustices at a time when the nation is sharply divided over issues of race. Like the federal bill currently being considered in the U.S. House, the state measures would create commissions to study reparations and propose solutions.”

Slave rebellion re-enactors:

And why not indeed?

“California Court Destroys Files in Historic Police Corruption Case” [The Appeal]. “n 2015, the Superior Court in Alameda County, California, quietly destroyed the criminal case files for three former Oakland police officers, known as “the Riders,” who stood trial for beating, falsely arresting, and framing dozens of African American men in the late 1990s and early 2000s, The Appeal has learned. The files—which consisted of thousands of pages of hearing transcripts, motions, and evidence—were the best public record of the longest criminal trial in Alameda County history. The destruction of the Riders files is also an erasure of an extraordinary case of corruption that ended with the Oakland Police Department placed under a federal judge’s oversight.”

Guillotine Watch

“Jeff Bezos Dreams of a 1970s Future” [CityLab]. “The “O’Neill colonies” that he designed in response to this question, first with his students, and later with teams of architects, planners, engineers, and artists, were huge cylinders, spheres, and toruses with new surfaces for new kinds of civilizations inside. O’Neill’s book about this work, The High Frontier, was read by millions and has remained in print almost continuously….. Jeff Bezos was one of Gerard O’Neill’s students at Princeton in the mid-1980s…. Bezos’s proposal is a version of O’Neill’s project that somehow manages to look and feel less futuristic than its predecessor… Is it even possible to build new worlds from scratch, and if so, who would they be built for? Bezos is as much a real-estate developer as he is a tech leader. He mentions that Earth, in his scenario, would be “zoned light industrial and commercial,” but what, specifically, would happen to the old world?”

Class Warfare

“As L.A. ports automate, some workers are cheering on the robots” [Los Angeles Times]. “Day after day, Walter Diaz, an immigrant truck driver from El Salvador, steers his 18-wheeler toward the giant ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Will it take him half an hour to pick up his cargo? Or will it be as long as seven hours? He never knows. Diaz is paid by the load, so he applauds the arrival of more waterfront robots, which promise to speed turnaround times at a port complex that handles about a third of the nation’s imported goods. ‘I’m for automation,’ Diaz says. ‘One hundred percent. One hundred percent.'” • Diaz has no union. Otherwise, he’d be paid by the hour, too.

News of the Wired

“Explaining the puzzle of human diversity” [Science]. “Schulz et al. present an intriguing thesis: The Western Catholic Church’s Marriage and Family Program (MFP), launched during the Middle Ages (in 506 CE), can partially explain the distinctively individualistic and nonconformist psychology of Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies in modern times. The MFP radically altered the institution of marriage by prohibiting nuptials within extended families and often requiring newly married couples to set up independent households. Schulz et al. predict that longer exposure to the MFP, along with weaker kinship ties that presumably arose from such practices, would drastically alter human psychology, from one that emphasized in-group loyalty, obedience, and conformity, to one that was more individualistic, prosocial toward strangers, and less conforming…. . Although multiple religions have moralizing supernatural agents (6), the authors argue that Western Christianity is unique in its emphasis on specific marriage practices and kinship structures that have shaped psychological profiles lasting for generations.” • Fascinating!

Kill them with fire:

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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 (EW):

EW: “A magnolia tree and lake effect on Cayuga Lake. As they say in GoT, ‘winter is coming’.”

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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. Drake

    “Trump is guilty of Bribery and Extortion.”

    I guess what I’m having trouble with is — is there any foreign policy involving financial or military leverage that isn’t bribery and/or extortion? The Marshall Plan? Alliance for Progress? Sanctions of any kind? Aid to Israel and Egypt? What isn’t bribery and extortion? If it doesn’t involve quid pro quo, then it’s charity. I just can’t see what Trump is supposed to be guilty of except making this transparent.

    1. John Beech

      It’s all a big joke. Impeach Trump, quickly move on Pence, and presto, President Pelosi (note the awesome alliteration) takes office! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

    2. turtle

      The distinction I’ve heard being made is whether the bribery (or whatever they decide to call it) happened for personal gain or the public’s/nation’s gain. What’s being alleged here is that this was a case where it was for personal gain.

      In other words, whatever shady tactics a public representative uses to obtain concessions is just fine if it’s to benefit those he or she represents, but not fine if it only benefits the representative him or herself.

      I think this line of argument actually makes some sense, so I’m starting to come around to the idea of this impeachment.

      1. Pat

        Clinton, Military aid to Saudi Arabia, Saudi donation to Clinton Foundation.
        Biden threat to withhold aid from Ukraine unless prosecutor fired, son gets to keep five figure job AND stay out of Ukrainian prison.

        I am pretty sure a fair case could be made for some other items in the Middle East and South America especially when you look at post government employment and positions.

        If I thought any of this would actually change business as usual in DC, I would be all for it. But just as with Benghazi, those in charge of the investigation are trying to take out limited targets while keeping changing SOP out of it.

        It is political show and directed by a group of people who should be limited to the same power I have, one vote.

        1. turtle

          Unfortunately what you say rings true about the usual players trying to selectively prosecute. But at what point do (did?) we just throw our hands up and say (said?) “forget it, let’s just ignore this part of the law (constitution)” even in the face of clear evidence that it happened?

          As I learn more, this is starting to look to me like a clearer case for an impeachment trial than there was against Clinton, or even against Nixon, since bribery is very specifically mentioned in the constitution as a justification for impeachment (as opposed to the less specific “high crimes and misdemeanors”, which I presume is what those other two cases fell under).

          1. witters

            The trouble is that “selective prosecution” presupposes “selective non-prosecution” and that both imply “selective justice” which, of course, simply poisons the wells of justice itself, for what determines the selection or non-selection is sheer, justice destroying, power.

            Sure you can pick your side, but there’s no justice in that.

          2. anon in so cal

            The individuals who should be investigated and held accountable are Biden, Obama, Nuland, for engineering the Ukraine Maidan putsch that deposed UA’s democratically elected president because he dared choose to accept a trade arrangement with Russia over the EU. The putsch resulted in a Nazi-infused regime and permitted opportunistic Americans to move in and essentially loot Ukraine. Hunter Biden got >$50,000 a month from Burisma, as ordinary Ukrainians struggled to afford heating.

            Why shouldn’t a US president ask about Biden’s corrupt actions?

            The individuals involved in the Ukrainegate coup attempt seem to be largely vehemently anti-Russia career CIA and NSC employees, all attempting to unseat a legitimately elected president who dared to campaign on peace with Russia.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Speaking of Nazis. A coupla days ago, the third committee of the UN General Assembly on social and humanitarian issues adopted by majority vote the Russian draft resolution which was called ” “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobiea and related intolerance”.”
              The tally was 121 states voted in support, 55 abstained and 2 were against. The name of the two countries that voted against this resolution? The US and the Ukraine. One of these two said during consultations in writing this document that “no one should ever be blamed for cooperation with Nazism.” I wonder what WW2 vets would say about that.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Why shouldn’t a US president ask about Biden’s corrupt actions?

              Because that might smash an elite failson’s rice bowl, and cause problems for Biden’s re-election. Get with the program.

          3. JTMcPhee

            One wonders whether the “I’m coming around to this (impeachment argument” is not the kind of subtle mind poison that those managing the defenestration of the President might deliver. No love for Trump, but no love for those who are crying “high crimes and misdemeanors” and working very hard to get the mopes to accept the “where there’s smoke there has to be fire.” Even where the smoke turns out to be some sneaky Pete with a Juul pipe puffing out from behind a pillar.

            The Game has gotten so subtle and rotten that nothing is clean or trustworthy any more (see the entries about bots on public forums, and of course Operation Mockingbird and its enormous brood)… I imagine the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover, standing beside Wild Bill Donovan, offering the crowd what they think is a choice — “do you want Trumpence, or Pelosi?” and the crowd screaming, as they have been conditioned to do, “Give Us Pelosi!” Or maybe some lesser centurion… And no, Trump is no Christ figure.

          4. Lambert Strether Post author

            > bribery is very specifically mentioned in the constitution as a justification for impeachment (as opposed to the less specific “high crimes and misdemeanors”,

            Here is the article:

            The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

            IANAL, but “other” implies to me that treason and bribery are a subset of high crimes, not disjunct from them (“Red, blue, green, and other colors”). So no, not opposed to.

            Remember, as David Soares points out, we would be impeaching Trump for an “inchoate” offense; Trump, accepting arguendo the narrative, had formed the determination to commit bribery, even if no exchange took place. So we would be impeaching Trump for something that had no material effect at all.

            Forget the hypocrisy of Pelosi not impeaching Bush for warrantless surveillance, which involved multiple felonies, or torture, a war crime, in 2006. Assume that sets the precedent:

            The precent is that multiple felonies are not a “high crime.” Nor are war crimes. But an “inchoate” offense is. Really? (I realize that neither liberal Democrats nor Republicans can make that argument, since it gores oxen from both camps.)

            Or take Bill Clinton — please. Take as the precedent the liberal Democrat narrative that “they impeached Clinton over a blow-job” at face value. Does anybody believe that the Republicans of that day, even as genuinely crazed and vengeful as they were, would have impeached Clinton for the inchoate offense of forming the determination to seek a blow-job? Speak up!

            The (alleged) offense and the remedy are so wildly out of proportion that I cannot but think that there is some other agenda at play; my candidate is the desire lust of the intelligence community, aided by liberal Democrats and their assets in the press, to become a co-equal branch of government, through being granted veto power over the selection of Presidents.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              “I realize that neither liberal Democrats nor Republicans can make that argument, since it gores oxen from both camps.”

              bipartisan gored oxen?
              that’s a bar-b-q i’d volunteer to cook for.
              “none of the above” should be on the ballot.

              1. polecat

                An inconvenient truth grilled to a crackly carbon crunch ?

                Yummmmy .. it what’s for a whitehouse dinner !

                But … All those U.S. Choice bits of seditious beyondmeaty treason need to be hung first, to cure …. for what ails the moakstest.

          5. kiwi

            While I haven’t read the Federalist papers, here is the section of the Constitution to which you refer.

            The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

            I would think that the ‘bribery’ mentioned would be in the context of the president being bribed to the detriment of the country.

            But I don’t think Clinton should have been impeached anyway.

      2. redleg

        If that’s the case, then Trump’s team has to show that the Bidens were being investigated for corruption. I’m sure that the GOP would gladly include a show-trial of sorts into impeachment proceedings to demonstrate this was the case even if it wasn’t.
        This whole thing is ridiculous and will only serve to boost Trump, especially when the Dems (again) force-feed a conservative through the convention as their nominee.

        1. turtle

          Right, one of his possibly effective lines of defense could be that he indeed made that request for the benefit of the country, and that it was just an unfortunate coincidence that it was regarding a political opponent. And he would have some backing evidence in the form of his other unusual requests like pressuring Sweden to release the rapper and all that.

          I also agree that this whole thing could possibly boost him, but not necessarily. It may well enrage his base, but it may turn away people in the middle who are still open to solid arguments and evidence.

          I don’t think the whole thing is ridiculous anymore, and feel that Pelosi decided that she finally had something substantial to start impeachment after talking about it for so long.

      3. integer

        I’ve read the transcript and I don’t see any bribery, extortion, or quid pro quo. Also, a good case can be made that Trump making an effort to get to the bottom of the Russiagate hoax, which is/was the basis of an attempted coup, is in the public’s/nation’s best interest, even if those afflicted with TDS are too short-sighted to see it.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Yes. Insofar as I can figure out the witness testimony, it’s about diplomats and national security thought about the call, and not about what the call said. The whole thing seems like a very closed loop (and I would hate to think the stories tallied because they were co-ordinated). To be fair, those ellipses bother me, but why the heck raise a giant red flag like that if you’re not ok with people to taking shots at it?

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > In other words, whatever shady tactics a public representative uses to obtain concessions is just fine if it’s to benefit those he or she represents, but not fine if it only benefits the representative him or herself.

        Personal gain in what sense? Winning an election? Don’t we want Presidents focusing on that?

        If you want to look at foreign “meddling” and politicians making policy decisions for cash, start with AIPAC.

      5. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The distinction I’ve heard being made is whether the bribery (or whatever they decide to call it) happened for personal gain or the public’s/nation’s gain. What’s being alleged here is that this was a case where it was for personal gain.

        As I said, Lincoln was very conscious of the election calendar when planning strategy in the Civil War.

        Was Lincoln acting “for personal gain” in taking his re-election into account when planning strategy?

        [ ] Yes

        [ ] No

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I don’t expect people to return to dying comment threads, but I still think this is a good question. The record is quite clear that Lincoln wanted battles fought and won before his second presidential campaign, at least. The Civil War podcast is quite clear on that.

          1. kiwi

            Essentially everything an officeholder does could be construed as done for personal benefit. After all, politicians sometimes do what their constituants want so they get re-elected. Are those actions now for personal benefit since the officeholder personally wanted to get into office?

            The circles are endless.

          2. turtle

            Hi Lambert, I do check my previous posts for replies occasionally. I dropped off this one because I went out of town for the long weekend on a family care trip and was too busy to reply.

            As for your question, sure, I totally agree that presidents make many decisions expressly based on how it will help or hinder their reelection. But I think that the Ukrainegate case crossed a line. A president on the record asking for dirt on an opponent in exchange for aid sets an awful, awful precedent.

            Yes, this time it was used against a terrible opponent (who I wish would drop on the polls already), but remember that if this is allowed to go unchallenged it could be turned around and used against a broadly well-liked candidate. What if Trump were to turn around and try the same thing, or worse, against Sanders? This kind of thing really sends us further down the path toward third-world country, and I say this as someone who is originally from a third-world country and wishes not to see a repeat of the chaos that that entails.

        2. DonCoyote

          Yes, but with a footnote that being president in the 1860’s was not the cash cow connection machine that it is today (although the $25K presidential salary of the time was nothing to sneeze at {raised to $50K in 1873}).

          OTOH, virtually every US president is going to think the country is better under them than under the “leader of the opposition”, so in that sense strategizing for reelection is also for the good of the nation.

      6. kiwi

        Maybe this will help. A daffynition from someplace on the web.

        persuade (someone) to act in one’s favor, typically illegally or dishonestly, by a gift of money or other inducement.
        “an undercover agent bribed the judge into giving a lenient sentence”

        See the word’s “illegal” and “dishonestly” above? I guess you could consider Trump’s efforts to find out what happened in the 2016 election illegal. I guess you could say that Trump’s vow that no other president should face a similar Russia-gate attempted coup morphed into some sort of ‘quid pro quo’ coup is illegal. I guess you might even say that a treaty of cooperation with Ukraine on criminal matters is illegal.

        I agree with Trump’s efforts. I find the dem’s efforts, backed by the deep state, to be nothing less than horrifying. There is way too much ‘show me the man and I’ll show you the crime’ in the efforts to overthrow Trump. From what I’ve seen, I don’t want that free-ranging, illegal dragnet operating anywhere in the US.

        And I don’t know why people are trying so hard to convince themselves that strings on some free items are criminal.

        Further, if those strings are criminal, then we better damn well scour all of the presidential tapes for several decades and come up with something to charge Obama, Clinton, and Bush for too, because it would be next to impossible not to find some foreign aid somewhere that could be construed as advancing them politically as well.

    3. polecat

      The only things he is guilty of, is being an uncouth D.C. outsider that relishes pulling festering scabs off of the tony eastcoast pearl-clutchers, and giving the one-finger salute to California liberals (“I • Drink • Your • Impeachment • MILKSHAKE !, Nancy .. I DRINK IT UP … siffft !!) ….. when he’s not bullchinashopping the Brunch Crowd, swilling the Dom Perrier before making off with the Belgian Waffles.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Pffft. He also wanted to impeach George W. Bush & Dick Cheney using the website ConvictBushCheney.Org. He also contributed to the introduction of Dennis Kucinich’s ‘The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush’. Obama he seems to have given a free pass to for all his recorded crimes.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          There are plenty of reasons to impeach Trump (and Obama (and Bush)). I’m not sure UkraineGate is one of them.

          So far as I can tell, everyone agrees that Trump’s conversations with Zelensky had no material effect whatever. The hysteria surrounding it, and the institutional effects are completely disproportionate to the offense, so far as I can tell. So we’re looking at pretexts.

    4. Titus

      Mhmmm, it’s not a joke. As it seems received wisdom here @NC that trump will be re-elected, & liberal Dems don’t get it & lefty can’t get elected, what harm is there in holding trump accountable for something, whether you understand it or not, for something that he is actually responsible for? It matters not if every other president is equally guilty which they are not. There are prices to be paid.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Speaking for myself, there is little to like about Trump. But your Democrats have decided that the hill that they are willing to die on is Ukrainegate – which is really a coup by the deep state to take him out. It will blow up spectacularly like Russiagate did as so Trump will get his second term. The Democrats could challenge him on healthcare and taxation but as they have the same policies as the Republicans and Trump, they have ‘nuthin to challenge him on. And it is people like the person below that will galvanize his supporters to vote for him in 2020-


        Pro tip – read the full thread of what he said.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I wouldn’t venture to predict that Trump will be elected or not, so I don’t know where you’re getting that from. What I will say is that Trump is a stronger opponent, especially in swing states (see the recent Times story) than liberal Democrats think that he is.

        I’m not going to ever advocate holding somebody accountable for something I don’t understand. I’m all for realpolitik, but not that much.

        > It matters not if every other president is equally guilty which they are not. There are prices to be paid.

        It absolutely matters. Once again, Matt 1:1-3:

        7 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

        2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

        3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

        If liberal Democrats had the moral standing to serve as judges, fine. But they don’t. They so very don’t. The crew (Pelosi et al) that refused to indict Bush for offenses that were orders of magnitude worse, now gets up on its high horse about Trump, Why is it a good thing to empower them?

        1. Daniel Ricardo

          So following the logic of the Bible quote…if the Democrats refuse to judge Trump, then they will escape judgment. And that’s what we want, for Democrats to escape judgment?

      3. flora

        It matters not if every other president is equally guilty which they are not. There are prices to be paid.

        So then, a ‘nation of men’ and not a ‘nation of laws’?

  2. Carey

    RE: “Self-Driving Uber in Crash Wasn’t Designed to See Jaywalkers”

    Next goalpost-shifting: “She wasn’t even wearing her transponder!”

    1. notabanker

      If only she hadn’t opted out of the infant implant. We told you liberals not to give them a choice.

      1. Arizona Slim

        ISTR much being made about the fact that Elaine Herzberg had (gasp!) drugs in her system. And that she was homeless. Which, in my not-so-humble opinion, implied that she deserved to be struck and killed by that Uber car.

        BTW, shortly after this murder-by-car happened, Tucson had its spring Cyclovia. I rode in protest of the death of Elaine Herzberg. On my bike, I had signs that said “Uber Kills” and “Elaine Herzberg Didn’t Have to DIE.”

        The signs didn’t get many comments from the Cyclovia riders, but one of our state’s gubernatorial candidates thanked me for displaying them.

  3. petal

    Warren did that(what Alex Thompson tweeted about) at her town hall here. Called herself a teacher, really pushed her teacher history, and asked “Are there any teachers in the crowd”, etc etc. It was so…fake and pandering. I wanted to barf. Do people really fall for this stuff? The folksy garbage was poured on mighty thick. I was sitting there thinking “Come on, lady-you’ve been a professor at the highest profile law school in the country for how long now?”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The folksy garbage was poured on mighty thick.

      Lime green Jello with marshmallows. That’s the sort of thing I think of. Food I’d avoid at a church basement supper if at all possible.

      1. petal

        It’s funny-I spent 10 years at Harvard, and I lived near The Yard and the law school. I knew a lot of faculty at H, and was privy to a lot of the politics that went on. My bs detector was honed there. At the town hall, I could see right through her. It was all so familiar. Don’t underestimate the cunning and doublespeak. What is that quote-“When someone shows you who they are, believe them”?

      2. JBird4049

        Interesting way of describing Warren.

        The church/picnic/potluck with its lime green Jello with the marshmallows or walnuts, oh yummy. Those creative 70s recipes I remember so unfondly eating as a child.

        1. polecat

          Only with a judicious quotient of righteous anti-H SPAMmed chunks added (hand cut to the quick, by no other than Chief Tulsi herself ! …) would I deign to consume such a mold.

        2. JBird4049

          Well, yes. The plain “cherry” flavored Jello was fine especially without any additions that was to “enhance” the flavor. That was bearable. I vaguely remember thinking that these things were not improvements.

    2. XXYY

      Biden’s ode to Centrism is great.

      But at another level these kinds of attacks are a serious problem. They reflect an angry unyielding viewpoint that has crept into our politics. If someone doesn’t agree with you — it’s not just that you disagree — that person must be a coward or corrupt or a small thinker. … It’s representative of an elitism that working and middle class people do not share: “We know best; you know nothing”. “If you were only as smart as I am you would agree with me.” This is no way to get anything done. This is no way to bring the country together. This is no way for this party to beat Donald Trump.

      This is from the party that has spent the last three years vilifying both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in every possible mean, vicious way? Evidently Joe is only in favor of “bringing the country together” if leads to the victory of his particular faction, not as, you know, and actual thing.

      1. chuckster

        He also believes that the Republicans in Congress will work with him when he wins next year. Apparently he intends to give away more than Obama did to get their cooperation.

        Grand Bargain Part 2

    3. Pavel

      Why didn’t she proclaim her great groundbreaking achievement of being Harvard’s “first woman of color” professorial appointment? Isn’t she proud of that any more?

      Dog, that woman seems to be in a race to seem the least authentic. Can’t her staff tell her to act natural?

      After I post this comment, I’m gonna get me a beer.

      1. Phillip Allen

        “Can’t her staff tell her to act natural?”

        Why assume that what we see isn’t her natural self, such as it is? Or, rather, that there’s anything more genuinely human underneath the pandering, opportunistic surface? As Petal cited above, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

  4. Quite Likely

    “I imagine we’ll be cancelling Bloomberg shortly? This is a heck of a lot more than liberal Democrats had with Kavanaugh.”

    Wait what? Those comments are pretty sleazy but there was a credible rape accusation against Kavanaugh.

    1. Drake

      If by credible you mean a politically-motivated 30+ year old memory with no substantiating evidence, then there are shades to the word credible that I’m unaware of.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        The man himself provided the evidence: his calendar and demeanor. And the FBI declined to do a complete investigation of all the evidence iirc.

        Guess there are shades to the word oblivious I was previously unaware of.

  5. Summer

    “So the issue is really who conducts foreign policy, the President or The Blob?”

    Wasn’t that question answered in 1963?

  6. Carolinian

    I used to love Bill Moyers until, post retirement, he jumped on the Russia Russia Russia bandwagon. Will his impeachment enthusiasm get him back on the air after PBS more or less gave him the boot? He is well into his 80s I believe.

    Moyers has long been listed as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Even venerable and beloved liberals seem to be members of the Blob when it comes to some areas. But then he did once work for Lyndon Johnson.

    1. chuckster

      “He is well into his 80s I believe.”

      That’s the perfect age to run for the Democratic Party nomination for president. Maybe he can be Bernie’s VP and run for his own term in 2028.

    2. ambrit

      Not only did he work for Lyndon Johnson, but inside the White House “inner sanctum” as well. What bothers me is that Moyers has refused to talk about the Johnson years. I get loyalty, but at the expense of History?

      1. Yves Smith

        No, he was not kicked off PBS. He’s well over 80. Retired at 79, decided he didn’t like being retired, came back for a year+ and decided he really could no longer handle the pace.

        1. Carolinian

          I know he retired due to age and said so on air but I don’t think PBS was particularly enthusiastic about his self funded program. Some of their affiliates didn’t carry the show or scheduled it at odd times (NC PBS was one of these).

  7. Monty

    Would you agree that Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) is among the most detestable Blue Checks on the platform?

  8. Lee

    The Bezzle: “Self-Driving Uber in Crash Wasn’t Designed to See Jaywalkers” [Bloomberg]. • Oy.

    This brings up another problem:

    The State Farm insurance company estimates that there were over 1.9 million animal collision insurance claims this past year. The costs really add up. The Highway Data Loss Institute (HLDI) reports that the severity of crashes also increases in the fall. The average cost of November animal-strike claims over the past 13 years was $3,560, compared with $2,801 for February, the month with the least severe crashes. (Consumer Reports)

    A possible upside is that it is now legal in California to harvest and eat road kill. Yummy!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One even option is to bury all the roads underground, next to the power lines.

      (Cheaper if we do both at the same time…volume discount).

      1. Carolinian

        Out West they are starting to make animal specific highway overpasses–bridges covered with shrubs and trees with fencing to direct the browsers to the safe crossing. I saw these in Nevada.

        And on the same trip I saw at least a dozen roadkill deer along the freeway. I almost hit one myself at night. Many trucks in the Midwest have big steel tube bumpers–perhaps for this reason.

        1. wilroncanada

          In some places they put signs along the highway about deer or elk. Unfortunately, neither can read very well.

          1. RMO

            Last summer I went through the Rockies on my way to Hannah Alberta for my aunts birthday – saw quite a few of the shrub and tree covered overpasses in the parks as well as considerable amounts of fencing to keep the four-legged safe and clear of the freeway while still providing for their movement.

            – wilroncanada: I’m surprised when the humans on the highway demonstrate any reading comprehension of road signs, let alone the deer and moose…

          2. John A

            In Europe the beware of elks etc., signs usually have a representation of the animal and no words. Sadly, elks cannot recognise a wordless representation of themselves either

  9. notabanker

    So I guess The Intercept has said all there is to say on the US surveillance state and has moved on to China. Good to know we’ve solved those issues.

    1. Lee

      In other China news:

      Is US Science Vulnerable To Espionage? (Science Friday)

      The FBI, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other agencies who oversee federal research grants are currently asking if the open culture of science in the U.S. is inviting other countries to steal it.

      The FBI has been warning since 2016 that researchers could be potentially sending confidential research, and even biological samples, to other countries. On Monday, a report in the New York Times outlined the scale of ongoing investigations: nearly 200 cases of potential intellectual property theft at 71 different institutions.

      New York Times health and science reporter Gina Kolata, who broke the story, explains the investigations, and why China is featuring so prominently.

      It’s one thing for our tax dollars to be funding research for the benefit of U.S. private sector profits but having it then hijacked a second time by the Chinese is a theft too far.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Pehraps, one day when things cool down, more Americans can go to college in China, and stay to do research there.

        Nanjing university, established in 1902, can trace its history way, way back.

        From Wikipedia:

        Nanjing, situated in the lower part of the Yangtze, has historically been the capital of various kingdoms and dynasties, with the reputation as the center of education. In 258 CE, the Kingdom of Wu under the reign of Emperor Jing of Wu, founded a Confucian learning institute for the purpose of learning Six Arts. In the first year of Jianwu reign (317), Taihsueh (太學) campus was built in today’s Fuzimiao (夫子廟) area on the banks of Qinhuai River, and Nanking Imperial University began recruiting students from common families instead of only from noble families.[14] Like its forerunner Chengjun (成均) and succeeding Shang Hsiang (上庠) founded by Yu (禹, 21st century BCE) in Chungyuan, the earliest recorded imperial higher learning institutions and their successors, it was the Kingdom’s central university, which after Han dynasty excellent students from local schools could be selected to attend to pursue further education

        Remember, like scientific knowledge being provisional, you first learn about the best explanation when Newton lived. You may later update or revise the above. It’s like that 1,000 mile journey – you have to take that first step, somewhere. I quote the above, thinking it’s a good introduction for a general audience. For those who are more advanced, my apologies.

        Student: Where do I enter the Way?

        Old guy: Hear that babbling brook?

        Student: Yes.

        Old guy: There.

        1. pricklyone

          >>Student: Where do I enter the Way?

          Old guy: Hear that babbling brook?

          Student: Yes.

          Old guy: There.<<

          i suppose that's more polite than "go jump in the lake" :)

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It can be pretty not-polite in Zen (beyond telling someone to go jump in the lake).

            From Keisaku, Wikipedia (to know beyond this introductory quote, it’s best to visit a Zen center…Wikipedia being, well, Wikpedia):

            In Zen Buddhism, the keisaku (Japanese: 警策, Chinese: 香板, xiāng bǎn; kyōsaku in the Soto school) is a flat wooden stick or slat used during periods of meditation to remedy sleepiness or lapses of concentration.

            Usually, it is applied, forcefully, to be most effective, on the forehead of the offending monk.

            1. Darthbobber

              In the Soto branch, at least, it’s usually applied in a not all that forceful manner on the back and shoulder. And the meditator inclines slightly to request this.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The Dojo is not a resort, and for sure, they don’t pamper those seeking the Way, and they can be more severe in other ways than telling the guy to jump into the lake.

      2. notabanker

        The alleged theft involves not military secrets, but scientific ideas, designs, devices, data and methods that may lead to profitable new treatments or diagnostic tools.

        Before you know it, those Chinese will be using this stuff to save their own people, for free.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The Chinese are human too.

          The billionaires in Shanghai and Beijing are not less ‘productive’ than ours. In no way can we assume that they are ‘inferior’ than Western ones.

          1. notabanker

            Not quite sure I understand this, but if the point is the Chinese can use this for nefarious purposes, that certainly is valid.

            However, the overarching point here is that the NYT is advocated not for the protection of scientific and medicinal knowledge for the betterment of mankind, but for the protection of the ability to profit from it. That is what is wrong with America, and until we fix that, we shouldn’t be throwing stones at the Chinese because we’ve allowed them to play our game better than we can ourselves.

      3. hunkerdown

        China would like its silkworms and gunpowder back, please.

        It’s almost as if now China are subsidizing us, the petit-bourgeois end of the proletariat, by renting the means of production to us for insanely low prices. It used to be that it cost about $100 to get three bare printed circuit boards manufactured. Just the fiberglass, copper, and maybe a patterned lacquer coating. Today, $100 gets you three printed circuit board assemblies, with components mounted and soldered. It’d be daft not to be accumulating means for yourself and learning how to have things manufactured for exchange and use value. Not that it’s the way capital should be organized, but any little reduction in our subjugation to local permission slips is quite welcome, from my perspective as someone who makes stuff. I am literally okay with this rather than the diseased concept of intellectual property, which is little better than intellectual nationalism.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When Zen was in China, it was known as Chan. Even then, the focus was on ‘living in the present.’

      “Tomorrow do thy worse, for I have lived today.” That wasn’t even Asian (Horace, Dryden), but universal.

      Intercept may well say more about the US in the future, as it had in the past. Just perhaps not today.

      In any case, for the present, the filter “Chairman Mao” is interesting. Is it a really a red flag to Beijing?

  10. shinola

    From the Medium article “John Bolton’s Old Rivals Say Trump Should Be Very, Very Worried”

    “I don’t think dirt-digging would offend Bolton. What would offend Bolton is interrupting military supplies to a country in a deadly battle with Russia. Doing something that for whatever reason appeases Putin,” Thielmann said.”

    The country referred to is Ukraine. I guess I’ve missed all the msm articles detailing all those deadly clashes between Russian & Ukrainian military units along with casualty figures and all that. I suppose I need to pay closer attention (or something).

    1. Misty Flip

      UN says 12,800–13,000 killed since April 2014. So… Congress bought a pile of Javelin AT munitions, the ones with a top attack flight profile that will place a high explosive shape-charge of molten copper through tops of young Russian tank commanders’ heads, who are sons of Putin’s base, if there was a mechanized push further into Ukraine. [The political tolerance window for which is narrowing.] Our benevolent leader said, “Hold-on. You gotta first get your FBI to clear my campaign and come up with some trumped-up charges against my political opponent. My FBI won’t do it.” Congressional impoundment, solicitation of a bribe for personal gain, and abuse of power. In any case, Ukraine’s getting a smaller pile of missiles until next year, so, gross incompetent moves, both domestic and abroad.

      1. Darthbobber

        You recall that the Obama administration opposed giving Ukraine any lethal assistance?

        Congress has just come up with an excellent method of giving the Russians a lot of free Javelins if there were a serious fight. Which there continues to be no sign of.

      2. anon in so cal

        So, you support and advocate for funding and arming the Banderite Ukraine regime so that it can continue to kill ethnic Russians in the Donbass and Donetsk?


      3. integer

        the ones with a top attack flight profile that will place a high explosive shape-charge of molten copper through tops of young Russian tank commanders’ heads

        Deranged (and revealing).

    2. Darthbobber

      The great bulk of (pro-government) Ukrainian casualties occurred in the course of ill-advised and poorly conducted offensives against the breakaway republics. When it only defends, the Ukrainian side doesn’t suffer casualties. Because nobody attacks it.

  11. FreeMarketApologist

    “John Bolton’s Old Rivals Say Trump Should Be ‘Very, Very Worried”

    Way back when, it was taken as mostly-gospel that Trump was surprised as anybody that he won, and that he didn’t really want the job. While it appears that he’s having lots of fun being #1, maybe he’s not so worried about an impeachment, because it will get him out of the White House, and back to making money. Impeachment could be Donald and the Repub’s wet dream: they get rid of an odious figurehead (but one who has given them everything they have wanted), they get Mike Pence to finish off the term and run in 2020, and he can claim he was unjustly removed from office, all the while raking in the $$ from speaking engagements, new TV shows, merch sales, and additional influence peddling.

    1. urblintz

      I’ve always felt that Trump’s best move would be to not run again. It would be perfectly in character for him to say “been there done that” and exit with his middle finger extended. He’s done it his whole life and his “brand” for those who ever bought it to begin with would be even stronger. Successful impeachment might slow him up a bit but does anyone really think he’s just gonna go away with his tail between his legs after he leaves the White House? He’s shameless and unless he goes to jail he will be with us forever which, loved or hated, is the only thing that matters to him

      1. Carolinian

        This of course is the true hope of the impeachers–that he will just quit–since they know he won’t really be impeached. They look fondly to the Nixon precedent.

      2. The Rev Kev

        If he does not go for a second term, his enemies will go after him legally and he would be without the protection of being President. The establishment would pin anything that they can (or make up) so as to teach any other future Presidential candidate that you do not become so without getting the nod from them first. So Roman that.

        1. dcblogger

          He can beat any rap on the grounds that he is not mentally capable to stand trial, and for once he would be telling the truth.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Trump may be unimaginative and very much self-obsessed but it was really bad when he said: “Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.”
            Oh wait, that was Obama. So I guess that that does not count as an indication of their mental state as he was a “good” President. Unlike Trump. And Hilary would have made a great defender of the American people as President. And Biden is just a regular old Joe. And Warren wants to fight for the working class.

      3. Aumua

        I’ve always felt that Trump’s best move would be to not run again. It would be perfectly in character for him to say “been there done that” and exit with his middle finger extended.

        Might be his best move, but in character for him? Come on I mean getting less than the maximum number of terms as president would be losing, and Trump does not lose, ok? Especially with all the pushing to get him out even before his first term is up. That can only steel the resolve of a guy like Donald Trump.

  12. Tim

    I really do love the way Warren is trolling the Billionaires. A button for their names!

    Part of me asked “Is this legal to identify the rich by name?” GUARANTEED that puts a cold shiver down their spine, because they don’t like being identified so directly with their wealth so publicly, in a listed fashion. The truly wealthy love their privacy and being segregated from “wage earners.” It keeps them safe.

    This is the opposite of keeping them safe. It may be a wake-up call to them to start playing ball with the more socialistic minded policies.

    1. neplusultra

      Give me a break. She has buttons for Bloomberg, Gates, and Cooperman. Not exactly the most media shy individuals. And she even follows it up by reassuring them that they will still be fabulously wealthy! Contrast this with Bernie’s statements

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The whole ruckus does have an element of “please don’t throw me into the briar parch”. Warren and her acknowledgement of African Americans she knows amounts to noting an employee of Bain capital.

    2. Off The Street

      Hard to get too excited about Warren’s latest effort, even though kinda funny, when she admits to proposing M4A coverage for illegals. Why not use all those taxes to take care of more pressing matters among the citizens? There are only about 330 million reasons to do so.

      1. notabanker

        If you are going to commit to something you have no intention of actually doing, then why not commit to the grandest, least likely version of it?

  13. Roy G

    Regarding Bolton and Ukrainegate, what I wonder is, how many people think Ukraine is part of Russia? It’s rather bizarre that Russiagate seamlessly morphed into Ukrainegate. The clown car kicker is that the Borg are dirty dirty dirty in Ukraine as well. From MH17 to supporting the Ukronazis to ‘F the EU’ Nuland, to Biden himself, there are plenty of skeletons to dig up on the ‘opposition.’

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps a Russian can comment, but historically, Kiev was the preeminent Russian city a long time ago, and has been called the mother of all Russian cities.

      And the Tsar, even since Ivan, had been known as the Tsar of All Rus (or All Russias, or All Russia). I think perhaps there was a mistranslation or difficulties in translation. In any case, the Russias refers to three Russia states/areas, including one around Kiev.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Which is natural, when we think about it, as Moscow was called The Third Rome, (after the one in Italy, and second one – I assume – at Constantinople), especially, if I recall correctly, after a Moscovite prince married a Byzantine princess from the Second Rome.

      1. DWF

        Kiev was a prominent KIEVAN city up until the 11th century when it was destroyed by The Mongols of Genghis Khan. Moscow was maybe a collection of huts on the Moscow R. Back then, the rivers of Ukraine were major trade routes linking East with West. After the destruction of Kiev, cultural centers for The “Rus” moved to Nizhny Novgorod (IIRC) before being moved to Moscow late in Rus history.

        Historically, Ukraine was a conglomeration of lands into an administrative district of The Russian Empire. Ethnically, Ukraine consists of 27 different nationalities from Tatars to Poles.

        The foundation of Rus culture was laid in Kiev. After the 11th century, Kiev was essentially a backwater until revived as an administrative center of The Russian Empire.

        Interestingly enough? Two Danish or Swedish princes – brothers – are credited with the founding of Kiev.

        Kiev is “The Mother of Rus”. Moscow is The Father. Russians have a hard time accepting Kiev as The Mother of Rus.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Rus culture started to develop when Novgorodians conquered Kiev and thus controlled the route from Baltic to Byzantium. Great Novgorod, and it’s amalgamate of Finnic-Slavic population was the heart of ‘ruskaya zemlya’, Russian lands.

          Moscow’s rise among the princedoms of Russian lands was due to the Mongols needing a counter for growing influence and power of Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 14th century. At the time Grand Duchy expanded to the western parts of Ukraine. So they not only allowed Moscow to gain power, but actively encouraged this development.

          I believe Ukraine means literally ‘border lands’ in slavic languages.

      2. John A

        The disintegration of the USSR happened so suddenly. Imagine if the US were to split into individual sovereign states. How many US citizens move between states, marry someone from a different state, kids live in a different state etc? To all intents and purposes the separation of Ukraine from Russia has posed similar questions. One additional problem is that at the end of the Second World War, there were all sorts of country border changes. Parts of Poland became Ukraine, parts of Germany Polish etc. East Ukraine is predominantly ethnically and emotionally Russian. Western has bits of Poland, Romania etc. and less of an affinity with Russia. Plus there was a huge dispora both post revolution and post WW2. Generations down the line that still have a hatred of the country they felt that had to flee from.
        Bulgakov and Gogol were Ukrainian for example, but the world thinks of them as Russian. It is all a mess, much of it of Obama/Nuland/Biden etc making

  14. Tim

    “The Bezzle”

    You missed the second money quote: “The safety driver involved in the accident told investigators that “sometimes the vehicle would swerve towards a bicycle.”

    So the AI software creator has a bias against cyclists?

    1. flora

      There’s a well known bias against bicyclists in a segment of the ‘the roads are ours, get out’a my way’ motor vehicle drivers. (note: not all vehicle drivers.) It’s well known. I was going to link a utube vid as an example of my point but there are so many I couldn’t choose which to link. Not talking about inattentive drivers, talking about drivers who deliberately accost cyclists.

      Back to your point; AI may well encode the biases in toto of the dominant class. Not for any personal coder’s biases, but because the corporate culture trends toward this outcome, trends toward privileging the outlook of its funders. imo.

      1. flora

        adding: AI is far from a dispassionate utility. It is coded by humans who recreate in AI algorithms their own, or their corporate employers own, assumptions and outlook. imo.

      2. Summer

        “AI may well encode the biases in toto of the dominant class…”

        Just like those biases get encoded into people – until they take a step back and reflect.

      3. JTMcPhee

        Around here we have these gaggles of skinny people in Spandex and Lycra up on their tippietoes on $3,000 road bikes. They run in a bunch, sometimes dozens, stretched out over considerable distance. They (and a lot of individual cyclists with attitudes and/or death wishes) who demand their “rights” in traffic, not bothering to stop at intersections where cars have to and dodging through traffic. Tends to aggravate people in 3,000-pound steel vehicles, p[eople who are already frayed from the rest of what is happening in the political economy and its impacts on their little lives. Not surprising that there is the occasional outlier behavior, when we get to read about people running amok almost daily with guns and knives, bashing random fellow humans.

        And the legal system is kind of loaded in favor of the unprotected cyclist (min. 3 foot separation, duty on car driver to comply and avoid collision, and suchlike. But how does the jingle go? “S/He was right, dead right, as he rode along, but just as dead as if s/he’d been wrong…”

        1. JBird4049

          I have noticed a steady increase in people apparently thinking that authority of any rules like that of the vehicle code, physics, or the Grim Reaper really should not apply to them. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers all. I have this vision of the deceased arguing with Saint Peter that he had the Right of Way so send him back!

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe cyclists should have explosive devices strapped to their bikes. That way, if they were hit by an AI car, the explosion would take out that car – and its driver – as well. If you are going to go, you may as well take the person responsible with you. It may serve to make those drivers – or should that be “passengers” – a lot more attentive when they see cyclists.

      1. HotFlash

        I have long thought that *all* cyclists should be required to have, in addition to bells, lights front and rear, and reflectors where appropriate, loaded pistols in handlebar holsters. Many of my cycling friends agree.

        1. RMO

          “loaded pistols in handlebar holsters” That’s just plain crazy.

          I support requiring cyclists to carry an 84mm Carl Gustav and at least two rounds of ammunition for it.

    3. sierra7

      Some form of unaccountable “Freudian” algorithmic created attraction in the Uber software????? LOL!

  15. DonCoyote

    Didn’t see any Bloomberg links…separate post?

    If so, let’s get it started:

    CNN: Michael Bloomberg is the antidote to Donald Trump

    “Bloomberg is the antidote to President Trump; while Trump always finds new ways to lower the bar, we are confident that Bloomberg will bring a sense of élan and grace to the most powerful office in the world. ”

    Bloomberg 2020: élan and grace. I’m sure Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin will go for that.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What is the name of the physical therapy wehre you use the same to treat the same?

      Or even psychological therapy. For example, if you fear broccoli, the treatment, under that philosophy, is for you eat much, much more of it, to get over the fear.

      Then, hopefully, you’re cured.

      1. Jokerstein

        Spike Milligan said that this was the approach of the British Army – if a man dies when you hang him, keep on hanging him until he gets used to it.

    2. Janie

      Aside from crossword puzzles, one rarely sees “elan” outside of writings about the lead-up to WWI. Strange word choice, and not a quality I’m looking for.

      1. Off The Street

        John Kerry locked up joie de vivre years ago, so that tainted the phrase for subsequent campaigns. Curiously, savoir faire remains unclaimed. /s

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Don’t you feel Bloomberg is for people who lament the dumb dumb hillbillies after finishing their Monday NYT crossword puzzle after the week it takes them but still feel a sense of pride?

        I am such a puzzle snob.

        1. Carolinian

          Counterpunch’ St Clair quotes his late friend Alex Cockburn that anyone rich enough to own a helicopter should be smart enough not to fly in one. Bloomberg pilots his own helicopter.

          Perhaps Bloomberg can one up Trump by not only showing up at the Iowa fair in his helicopter but hopping out in a flight suit. Worked for Dubya.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Chris Matthews talked himself off on air during that stunt.


            Here’s a president who’s really nonverbal. He’s like Eisenhower. He looks great in a military uniform. He looks great in that cowboy costume he wears when he goes West. I remember him standing at that fence with Colin Powell. Was [that] the best picture in the 2000 campaign?

            He looks for real. What is it about the commander in chief role, the hat that he does wear, that makes him — I mean, he seems like — he didn’t fight in a war, but he looks like he does.

            Women like a guy who’s president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It’s simple. We’re not like the Brits. We don’t want an indoor prime minister type, or the Danes or the Dutch or the Italians, or a [Russian Federation President Vladimir] Putin. Can you imagine Putin getting elected here? We want a guy as president.

            Yep, this is just hard hitting analysis from MSNBC! Trump didn’t break these people. He’s simply a louder version of them, and they are all jealous they didn’t go full in on an anti-immigrant, anti Jeb Bush platform in the GOP primary.

            1. Carolinian

              Yes, envy is a terrible thing.

              If Trump would just slap them on the back and give them nicknames they’d love him.

            2. NotTimothyGeithner

              LIDDY: Well, I — in the first place, I think it’s envy. I mean, after all, Al Gore had to go get some woman to tell him how to be a man. And here comes George Bush. You know, he’s in his flight suit, he’s striding across the deck, and he’s wearing his parachute harness, you know — and I’ve worn those because I parachute — and it makes the best of his manly characteristic. You go run those — run that stuff again of him walking across there with the parachute. He has just won every woman’s vote in the United States of America. You know, all those women who say size doesn’t count — they’re all liars. Check that out. I hope the Democrats keep ratting on him and all of this stuff so that they keep showing that tape.

              MATTHEWS: You know, it’s funny. I shouldn’t talk about ratings. I don’t always pay attention to them, but last night was a riot because, at the very time [U.S. Rep.] Henry Waxman [D-CA] was on — and I do respect him on legislative issues — he was on blasting away, and these pictures were showing last night, and everybody’s tuning in to see these pictures again.

              The early 00’s were completely insane. Yes, that is G. Gordon Liddy appearing on MSNBC! and discussing George W. Bush’s costume.

            3. The Rev Kev

              Chris Matthews is really kinda getting brown there. Was the same for Obama when he said-

              “I have to tell you, you know, it’s part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama’s speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often.”

        2. Kurt Sperry

          The only way to make the Monday NWT crossword a decent challenge is to solve it using only either the down or across clues.

      3. ambrit

        Yes, and ‘elan’ was a massive failure as promoted to the French army. The Poles had lots of ‘elan’ but were crushed by the German war “machine.”
        Elan is fine to have if one has no real policy to promote. “Appearance is now reality.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think it was some sort of psychological mental block, or bias, that the boxers (as in Boxers Rebellion) were not described as having ‘elan,’ cause they sure looked like they had it.

          And like the Poles, they were not match for the guns of the nations of Russia, Germany, France, etc.

          1. ambrit

            Ah, the “Righteous Fists!”
            No right thinking Western Imperialist, not to mention garden variety Mercantilist would ever equate the ‘Wily Oriental” with the ‘Exceptional Westerner.’ It just “isn’t done, you know.”
            The Empress had an excellent argument for the Rebellion, but was hemmed in by circumstances beyond her control. Sad, really.

  16. buermann

    “since noting of value was delivered, and there was no public act, ergo no exchange”

    I am presently incarcerated, imprisoned for a crime I did not even commit. “Attempted murder”! Now, honestly, what is that? Do they give a Nobel Prize for attempted chemistry? Do they?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Surely you’re not claiming that murder and bribery (assuming the narrative) are equivalent? I assume that your focus is on attempted, and not the mortal sin (murder) vs. the venial sin (bribery). That said–

      Is attempted bribery a high crime? I suppose it might be. Advocates of that position should be able to give an account of why it is, when committed murder and committed multiple felonies are not; see below at (1) and (2).

      Here is another good link on inchoate crimes. “Although these acts are not themselves crimes, they are illegal because they are conducted in furtherance of a crime, and society wishes to deter individuals from taking such steps.”

      (1) Obviously, attempted murder would be a high crime (although successful murder, as when Barack “Turns out I’m really good at killing people” Obama whacking a US citizen with a drone strike and no due process, is, apparently, not. If it were, Obama would have been impeached).

      (2) Obviously, any attempted felony would be a high crime (although not committed felonies or war crimes, as committed by George W. Bush before Pelosi took impeachment off the table.

      * * *

      I haven’t seen any such account, which might lead the more juandiced observer to think that a process marked by ever-shifting narratives, and ever-moved goalposts, was dominating news cycle after news cycle for sone tendentious purpose.

  17. anon in so cal

    Off topic:

    Southern California plans to build one million new homes along the coast in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

    “In a dramatic shift in how Southern California cities plan to grow over the next decade, a regional agency decided Thursday to push for more housing in coastal rather than inland communities….

    Culver City, for example would have to zone for 3,300 new homes….Huntington Beach will be responsible for 13,000……

    …cities and counties will have to rezone land….


    Looks as if the plan is to fill in every last square foot of open space in California.

    I live in Los Angeles and during rush hour it can take two hours to drive 28 miles. Surface streets and freeways are gridlocked.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What about the rising sea levels?

      Inland, inhabitants have other problems – earthquakes and high (or higher) winds.

      1. JBird4049

        Earthquakes are not really a problem. They only happen once in a great while and the right building methods means little damage. Which we got. Even the winds can be worked with. If they were a real problem, then the entire state would be in trouble.

  18. dearieme

    Schulz et al. present an intriguing thesis Intriguing but not remotely new. Anyway, have they tested it by looking at another high trust society – Japan?

    he replied, ‘Kill it!’ If true, he is no gentleman. As if that matters.

    claiming that he passed a lie-detector test validating the denial Maybe it’s terribly unfair of me but whenever I see an American defending himself by allusion to a lie detector test I simply assume that he’s a practised and skilful liar.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(3): “China to lift ban on state-owned firms buying Bloomberg terminals, source says” [South China Morning Post]. “China never explained the ban but it came shortly after the agency published a story on June 29, 2012, about the finances of the extended family of Xi Jinping – then the vice-president. … After the ban, the company withheld an investigative report about Wang Jianlin, the chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group and the one of the wealthiest tycoons well connected with Chinese leaders, in 2013, according to a report by The New York Times. Michael Forsythe, the key author of the investigative reports, left the company shortly afterwards. Bloomberg has never admitted the practice of self-censorship.” • Hmm.


    Sounds like someone Beijing coud work with.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    MIT’s mini cheetahs.


    Do they have to work for a living?

    It seems to me those mini cheetahs get Universal Basic Income in the forms of

    1. Free food (free electricity provided the MIT, which pays, presumably, but not the cheetahs)
    2. Free medical (mechanical and software repair).
    3. Free education (software upgrades)

    Basically, everyting a human serf would dream of wanting.

    And they look happy (or is this anthrop-projecting?)

  21. The Rev Kev

    “I Have Fought for the Democratic Party My Whole Career”

    And when Biden said that, he chose the truth and not the facts, to paraphrase him.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      He’s saving ‘I have fought for the American people my whole adult life,’ for later.

      At this stage, the obscure object of desire is the party.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe what he really means is I “have fought the American people my whole adult life”. It would match his actions.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe like Hillary, he distinguishes public vs. private statements.

          Or maybe. I will give him the benefit of the doubt, someone else can cast the stone.

  22. Michael

    RE: Amazon money in WA elections, Sawant has pulled ahead of Orion in the city council race as of last ballot count. My doomsaying in the comments on Wednesday was apparently premature.

    1. tegnost

      What cracks me up about that is $125,000 invested in the national election by cambridge analytics “stole the election”, but 1.1 million from amazon in the weeks before the recent seattle election had no effect on the outcome. The really disturbing aspect of that election was the $30 car tabs, which will hurt public transit and, added to the toll roads, that is going to make the horrible traffic much worse. These are the smart people I keep hearing about?

      1. JTMcPhee

        Those “smart people” tend to find the interstices and niches where THEY get to live comfortably and well cosseted, while the mopes who serve them have to put up with the “discomforts” of living in a company town. Lots of advice in the high-level talk space about how to beat the system, if you have the chops. Mopes need not attend.

  23. The Rev Kev

    Can’t let this story pass without mentioning it. We have just had the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. So the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation had commissioned a seven-foot bronze statue of Ronald Reagan so that it could be placed where he gave the Tear Down this Wall speech.
    The Germans recognized this as an attempt to rewrite the history books so that all credit for this event would henceforth be given to Ronald Reagan and little for the German peoples on either side of the Wall so they dug their heels in and refused in spite of US pressure.
    So the US Embassy renamed the outdoor space of the Embassy as the “The Ronald Reagan Terrace” and erected the statue there instead as “We had to place it on American soil, but at least that soil is going to reside in the city of Berlin.” Idjuts.


  24. djrichard

    “Explaining the puzzle of human diversity”

    Schulz et al. predict that longer exposure to the MFP, along with weaker kinship ties that presumably arose from such practices, would drastically alter human psychology, from one that emphasized in-group loyalty, obedience, and conformity, to one that was more individualistic, prosocial toward strangers, and less conforming

    It mentions that obedience and conformity to the kinship was weakened. But it doesn’t mention what filled the void. If we’re not obedient and conforming to kinship, what are we obedient to? Well the Church obviously. At least that was the idea back then.

    Now of course, we’re obedient to whatever earthly authority crosses our path. As St. Paul said, all earthly authority is God’s authority. And that still seems to be the idea now.

  25. JBird4049

    To be sure, except for one California resolution that passed with bipartisan support,

    WTF is my state involved in reparations? California, despite its various flaws and black marks like the genocide of the original inhabitants, was never involved with slavery. Never had slavery, was not involved in the slave trade, and joined the Union, not the Confederacy. We do have oodles of the poor, the hungry, and the homeless of just about any race, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, gender, or religion you could care to name. Now, if we were talking about reparations to the California Native Americans…

    Native Americans are the worse off of all Americans, but we don’t talk about them for some reason.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Not enough Native Americans organized to constitute a significant voting bloc? maybe not a part of their cultural heritage? It was pretty easy for the Europeans to displace and destroy them back in the day.

      And who wants to look imperial genocide (“How the West was Won”) in the face?

      Also, Native Americans tend to have their own misleadership cadres, with lots of Anglos ready to tag on to the casino economies and other “special opportunities.” https://oneidaeye.com/2016/08/06/misleadership-oneida-business-committee-chair-cristina-danforths-hypocrisy-knows-no-bounds-yet-not-one-obc-member-is-innocent-of-having-violated-tribal-law-undermining-the-constitutional-authori/ My own encounter was with the Tulalip Tribes in WA, https://www.tulaliptribes-nsn.gov/, where the Jones famiglia stripped a lot of wealth and did dang little to develop decent living conditions for their own mopes… One story I recall was of the tribal chairman Stan Jones (now deceased, his daughter is now tribal chairperson) using section 8 money supposedly allotted to build decent housing for Tulalip members who often were living in rotting mobile homes, to build a nice mansion for himself overlooking Puget Sound.

      So SOME Native Americans are maybe the worst off, at least. Though the bottom tier of the political economy has a lot of folks who can argue that they hold that signal honor…

      1. JBird4049

        I tend to forget about the Indian Misleadership Class, which I should not do. Then there is the (in)famous Black Misleadership Class and our our ruling Meritocracy™️ the White Misleadership Class. It is all one gigantic American Misleadership Class.

        I do have to mention that most of the natives live in isolated communities. This might be a non sequitur or just out of place. One of the reasons for the successful reforms of the Progressive Era including some unionization is that society’s problems were hard to ignore like when, as at the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, the shattered corpses were laid right on the streets.

        Today’s disposable Americans dying are usually doing it out of site, often in apartments, hospitals, morgues, and prisons with only the increasing population of homelessness inescapable. Although it is amazing how hard some try to put all the blame on those who are often sunburnt, windburned, and scarecrows.

        So much spinning being done really hard to deny so much reality.

    1. polecat

      HeyZeus on a thunderbolt !! Who but pearl fingering brunch b!tches Actually indulge in WATCHING such a production full of decrepit drama queens …. ??

      …. seriously ?
      Thank Gaia I no longer own a tv ….

  26. ChuckT

    Christ those robot dogs scare the bejeesus out of me. When they jumped out of those leaves I was just waiting for the bullets to kill all the nearby humans. Bezos must have these on preorder to guard against incursions onto his estates during the coming revolution…

  27. Richard H Caldwell

    So, Lambert — if the Western Catholic Church’s Marriage and Family Program (MFP) in fact had the effect indicated by the researchers, this would be an extremely-interesting example of a BIOS-update-equivalent for a segment of humanity. The researchers don’t use this term, but I hear in what they say a reduction in tribalism behaviors toward outgroups as one behavioral outcome of this re-programming of a human group value system. Holy Hari Seldon!

    Again, stipulating the premise, what do we imagine was the impetus for this update? What “bugs” and/or “features” was it intending to address? And did it achieve its intended objective, or are we seeing simply a set of unimagined and unintended outcomes? How long did the update take? Was it conceived within a strategic framework to lay a better foundation for the church’s empire? Was it based on some scientific understanding of the benefits conferred by increased genetic diversity on individual, and by extension, group health? Or was it driven by some spasm of moralistic revulsion to incest from fantasizing celibate priests? Very interesting questions.

    My ur-question about humanity is, with our current hardware/OS/software stack, do we “scale”? We are looking back down an exponential population growth curve into a history of tiny populations, widely-dispersed. An extremely different context (set of use cases) from today’s. Our recent growth rates seem to have vastly outrun our rate of genetic, hardware-level evolution. Trying to modify hardware genetically is a current scientific fascination, but our reach would seem to vastly exceed both our understanding and our grasp in this area at this point — risky… Software-level evolution is rapid, but also unstable and chaotic—sans git, with too many chefs. See even the last 100 years per example.

    Human firmware would seem to be the point of most-fruitful, and most-likely stable, root-cause interventions. Which brings me back to MFP and Hari Seldon and the idea of a true social “science” aimed at intentionally and systematically debugging and modifying our cultural and individual firmware. Radical, indeed! Will we get there before we flame out?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Holy Hari Seldon!

      All I can do is recommend or at least mention a very interesting book from a believing Catholic scholar, Brad Gregory, called The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society. It’s extremely dense, and I haven’t had time to finish it. But its method bears on the “firmware” issues you raise.

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