2:00PM Water Cooler 12/13/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Today is Friday the 13th. Look both ways before you cross the street! –lambert


“Trade war: US and China said to agree on ‘phase one’ deal, with new US tariffs set aside” [South China Morning Post]. “In the absence of last-minute problems, the big impact for U.S. importers and exporters will be a more stable business environment as they prepare new orders for 2020” [Wall Street Journal]. “A White House adviser said the deal calls for China to buy $50 billion worth of agricultural products in 2020, along with energy and other goods. That’s far more than China has ever bought in the past, marking a big win for U.S. farmers if the orders come through.” • Hell-o-o-o-o, Iowa!


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

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

Here is a second counter for the Iowa Caucus, which is obviously just around the corner:

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Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart.

Nationally, we have, from the day before yesterday, YouGov and Emerson (Iowa) polls, as of 12/13/2019, 12:00 PM EST. Biden leads, Sanders strong second, Warren six points back, Buttigeig trailing (Bloomberg above the bottom feeders). This seems to be an established pattern (or, if you prefer, narrative). On to the next debate (December 19), and Iowa:

We also have a new Change Research poll from SC:

And the numbers:

The Biden juggernaut rolls on!

CAVEAT I think we have to track the polls because so much of the horse-race coverage is generated by them; and at least with these charts we’re insulating ourselves against getting excited about any one poll. That said, we should remember that the polling in 2016, as it turned out, was more about narrative than about sampling, and that this year is, if anything, even more so. In fact, one is entitled to ask, with the latest Buttigieg boomlet (bubble? (bezzle?)) which came first: The narrative, or the poll? One hears of push polling, to be sure, but not of collective push polling by herding pollsters. We should also worry about state polls with very small sample sizes and big gaps in coverage. And that’s before we get to the issues with cellphones (as well as whether voters in very small, very early states game their answers). So we are indeed following a horse-race, but the horses don’t stay in their lanes, some of the horses are not in it to win but to interfere with the others, the track is very muddy, and the mud has splattered our binoculars, such that it’s very hard to see what’s going on from the stands. Also, the track owners are crooked and the stewards are on the take. Everything’s fine.

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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UPDATE Biden (D)(1): “Biden’s SC firewall in danger? 2020 front-runner’s lead shrinks to new low.” [Post and Courier]. “The latest poll released Thursday shows Biden with just a 7 percentage point lead among likely voters in the South’s first primary, the first time he has not held a double-digit advantage in seven Post and Courier-Change Research surveys taken since February. Most consider South Carolina a must-win for Biden as he stumbles in Iowa and New Hampshire. Biden led the S.C. race by as much as 31 percentage points in May. Now, challengers are slicing into his dominant lead among African American voters in the first primary state with a significant black population…. Sanders gained the most support of any candidate since the last Post and Courier-Change Research poll taken in October. He added 7 percentage points to pass Warren, whose backing was unchanged.” • Well, well. “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” clearly applies to Warren — but it applies to Sanders as well. So far, the story of the Sanders campaign is a slow, steady, disciplined rise… But will that survive contact with the electorate when the voting begins?

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): Hot take on the UK election:

Buttigieg (D)(1): “What McKinsey really suggests about Pete Buttigieg” [The Week]. “That brings us back to Buttigieg. In the first instance, his campaign relies on two McKinsey staples: cynicism and a win-at-any-cost mentality. He’s shifted his positions radically to court big donors and lobbed cheap attacks on his own positions from a year ago…. But perhaps the most marked McKinsey trait in the Buttigieg campaign is the effrontery of the thing. Next to Trump he would be the least experienced president in history, by a considerable margin….[I]t takes an incredible amount of arrogance to look at the crushing problems facing America in every direction and think that running a smallish Indiana city for a few years is sufficient preparation. But that’s the McKinsey mindset — the idea that a bunch of clueless Harvard dweebs can solve any problem in 10 minutes with a spreadsheet and a slick slideshow.” • While nailing Buttigieg on his McKinsey career is good clean fun, and also delegitimizes all those credentials, I worry that this line of attack will end up giving him a free pass on #MedicareForAll.

UDPATE Patrick (D)(1): “Former judges claim unequal pay, retaliation during Deval Patrick’s tenure” [Boston Globe]. “As former governor Deval Patrick runs for president, he faces the uncomfortable prospect of being deposed in a lawsuit over gender discrimination and retaliation filed by three women he appointed as judges. The onetime administrative judges say their performance reviews plummeted and they were not reappointed after they complained that a new male judge had been hired at a higher salary and offered a downtown Boston parking space. Patrick’s labor secretary allegedly defended the pay disparity by telling the women’s supervisor, ‘We have to pay him; he’s our only black judge,’ the suit claims.” • Oops.

UDPATE Sanders (D(1): “Krystal Ball: Is this how Bernie Sanders will break the establishment?” [The Hill]. “Just as he did in Burlington, Sanders is putting his faith not in some mythical negotiating power as Trump did, or in some fantasy of coming to the table in good faith negotiations with Mitch McConnell as Biden and Obama and Buttigieg do, or even in his ability to jiujitsu the levers of government through superior bureaucratic knowledge as Warren does. He believes, just as he did in Burlington, that the only way to break the back of Congressional gridlock and inertia and neoliberal entrenchment is by putting your faith in the people. In serving as organizer in chief.”

Sanders (D)(2): “Koch-Backed Groups Target Bernie Sanders’ GND Support” [Iowa Starting Line]. “The conservative energy non-profit that campaigned against President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection is now set on targeting the Green New Deal and 2020 Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders’ advocacy for it. In an advertisement released on Facebook and Instagram near the end of October, the American Energy Alliance made at least six buys of ads depicting the Vermont senator speaking to three scientists in white lab coats with tape over their mouths and text saying ‘The Debate is Over.'” • The right-to-lifers use the taped-mouth trope, I believe…

Sanders (D)(3):

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren and the magical thinking of the political class.” [Commune Magazine]. “Warren and her daughter, management consultant Amelia Warren Tyagi, will write a book promising ‘the ultimate lifetime money plan.’ All Your Worth will be the second book the Warrens have co-authored, after The Two-Income Trap…. Today, Warren’s campaign has largely focused on her perceived competence in public financing since the financial crisis. At the same time, the appeal of her expertise in personal financing sustains this fantasy that the revolution can be internalized by capitalism itself — that financial security is possible for an individual in a system of unending precarity… ‘We hope this is a lifelong road of smooth wealth building, month after month,’ the Warrens write, as if there’s steady ground to build on. ‘But in just the same way that negative-thinking traps can stop you from balancing your money, these thinking traps can also sabotage your savings plan.’ In other words: the only way out of a thinking trap is not thinking about the capitalism in your bones. When (not if) the next crisis ensues, perfect your work ethic, your personal discipline, and hope for the best. Believe in the longue durée of market recovery, and in the meantime, maybe you’ll get lucky and survive as merely witness to the misfortunes of those around you. While we can talk about how Wall Street is to blame in the abstract, you will always be the one left to survive the consequences.” • Brutal takedown.

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“White Democrats Are Leading the Primary Because Nonwhite Voters Support Them” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. ” Judging by recent national polls, if only African-Americans were allowed to vote in the Democratic primary, the top three contenders would be Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren — the same three candidates preferred by the Democratic electorate as a whole. Meanwhile, black Democrats’ overwhelming favorite among that trio is also the race’s clear front-runner. If Joe Biden retains his current standing, then the Democrats’ 2020 nominee will better reflect the preferences of black Democrats than those of white ones: In Quinnipiac’s most recent poll, the former vice-president boasts only 21 percent support among white primary-goers, but a whopping 51 percent support among African-Americans. For this reason, Biden’s numbers are much weaker in Iowa and New Hampshire than they are nationally.” • 

“A Progressive’s Guide to Choosing Between Bernie and Warren” [Medium (Nippersmom)]. • This is well-worth reading in full.

“The surprising second choices of Democratic primary voters upend political cliches” [WaPo]. “In a large-scale project called Nationscape that we’re conducting with our colleague Chris Tausanovitch at the University of California at Los Angeles, we have queried more than 6,000 voters weekly since July. Using these data, we find a surprising amount of agreement among Democrats on major policy issues. Contradicting the conventional wisdom, clearly defined ideological “lanes” don’t seem to exist in the minds of most voters… This general agreement is reflected in how voters rank candidates. Despite all the talk about the moderate-progressive split, for instance, the most popular second choice of Biden voters is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — followed by Warren. Many supporters of the “progressives” also rank a moderate as a second choice.”

The Debates

“Trump May Skip 2020 Debates: Report” [New York Magazine]. “Though a head-to-head between the eventual Democratic nominee and the incumbent is months away, his team doesn’t seem to be too concerned by the thought: One senior adviser ‘seemed to wince’ at a debate-related question. Nor is the Trump campaign worried about the nominee to debate: The Times reports that the president is less concerned about his opponent than he is about “which media personality will be chosen as the debate moderator.'” • Correctly! More: “In March 2016, Trump was able to shut an entire debate down after bailing on the event in Salt Lake City; John Kasich refused to join without the front-runner, and Fox News mercifully canceled to avoid two hours of Ted Cruz onstage by his lonesome.”


“Marquette poll: Wisconsinites oppose Trump impeachment, removal” [Journal-Sentinel]. “After multiple hearings, dramatic public testimony and wall-to-wall news coverage, Wisconsinites aren’t budging on impeachment. For the second straight month, a majority of registered voters don’t believe President Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office, according to Thursday’s Marquette University Law School Poll. Forty percent said the president should be impeached and removed while 52% said he should not. The numbers were nearly identical to November’s poll. In fact, the high-water mark for impeachment in the poll came in October, before House Intelligence hearings on Trump’s policy in Ukraine. Back then, 44% favored impeachment and removal to 51% who did not. ” • So the liberal Democrats don’t plan to visit Wisconsin in 2002, either?

The Senate is working as designed:

“Meet the legal minds behind Trump’s impeachment” [Politico]. “Then there’s McCord, the ex-DOJ Russia probe official who is now the legal director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection. McCord and a team that includes former National Security Council and DOJ attorneys first appeared earlier this fall on the legal docket as attorneys representing the Judiciary Committee in its fights for McGahn’s testimony and Mueller’s grand jury evidence.” • And so forth. What frosts me is that this faction may actually believe that it stands above or outside politics — West Wing-style — when the historical record shows that [genuflects] the “rule of law” has been under assault for years, and often by the very President they, as Democrts, not only owe their positions to, but reverse.

“The latest guessing game is figuring out Pelosi’s picks to prosecute impeachment trial” [WaPo]. “But many Democrats, particularly those in the Senate who will serve as jurors, want Pelosi to send over a mix of lawmakers from the committees that handled the Ukraine investigation, particularly Schiff and members of his Intelligence Committee.” • It’s gonna be diverse, though.

Federalist 65: “What other body would be likely to feel CONFIDENCE ENOUGH IN ITS OWN SITUATION, to preserve, unawed and uninfluenced, the necessary impartiality between an INDIVIDUAL accused, and the REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PEOPLE, HIS ACCUSERS?” (caps in original).

Free-floating anxiety:

Tim Wu is no dummy; see NC here.

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

“ABC’s Epstein Story Didn’t Kill Itself” [FAIR]. “ABC’s decision to spike the Epstein exposé in order not to embarrass or implicate his powerful associates, thereby effectively enabling his crimes, is a perfect example of the danger of access journalism. Robach predicted, “There will come a day where we will realize Jeffrey Epstein was the most prolific pedophile this country has ever known.” Thanks to our corporate media system, that day was delayed by at least three years.” • This is a very good overview, well worth a read.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Trust issues (1): “Computer glitch wiped out tens of thousands of California voters’ party preference” [San Francisco]. “In a press release sent out by the Contra Costa County Elections Division Tuesday, voters were cautioned that during the 2018 roll-out of the automatic voter registration system, ‘some voters’ party preference was overwritten.’ As such, individuals who registered with a party may have been swapped to ‘no party preference.’… Being listed as “no party preference” means would-be Democratic voters could have issues voting in the upcoming Democratic Presidential Primary scheduled for March 3, 2020.” • Here we go again?

Trust issues (2):

“Ursula K. Le Guin’s Revolutions” [Dissent]. “The late British academic Mark Fisher once compared capitalism to the titular monster of John Carpenter’s The Thing—an alien creature that infects, and then assimilates, hapless human beings. The corruption hides behind a familiar face. Capitalism becomes whatever it touches. Inside this totality, the introduction of some new thing might just feel like a dream. Maybe, then, an opening is all anyone needs. A crack. A tear. Some tiny rent in the real. ‘Leave the tombs,’ Ged tells Tenar. ‘And that is the beginning of the story.'” • This is a good synopsis of LeGuin’s work, but capitalism is not really a structuring element of her imagined worlds, except possibly on Urres in The Dispossessed.

Stats Watchd

Shipping: “Crude oil exporters and customers should get used to high shipping costs. The chiefs of two big tanker operators say tight capacity on the water will likely stay with the sector well into 2020…. keeping freight rates high even as producers cope with flagging oil prices and excess output” [Wall Street Journal]. “Oil customers are turning to producers like the U.S., leading to longer and more expensive sailings. At the same time, orders for new ships are depressed as operators look for clarity on how a new generation of ships will meet looming environmental targets.”

Real Estate: “Some grocery chains including Albertsons Cos., Walmart Inc. and others are building small fulfillment centers near existing stores and customers to quickly fill online orders online… in a contrast with the strategies that operators have built around larger, remote warehouses” [Wall Street Journal]. “The so-called micro-fulfillment centers typically range from 10,000 to 20,000 square feet and carry a compelling financial footprint since they can be built in a few months and reach profitability in a year.”

Tech: “She installed a Ring camera in her children’s room for ‘peace of mind.’ A hacker accessed it and harassed her 8-year-old daughter.” [WaPo]. “Several Ring users nationwide have reported that their security systems were also infiltrated by hackers who harassed them through the camera’s two-way talk function. (Ring is an Amazon product. Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.) A spokesperson for Ring told The Post in a statement early Thursday that what happened to the LeMays ‘is in no way related to a breach or compromise of Ring’s security.’ The ‘bad actors’ behind the attacks ‘often re-use credentials stolen or leaked from one service on other services,’ the spokesperson said. Ring has addressed the other reports of hacking with similar statements.” • Lol, “in no way related” is doing a lot of work, there. Maybe the entire product line is a bad idea?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 74 Greed (previous close: 74 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 70 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 13 at 11:49am.

The Biosphere

“Sweet potato can warn neighbors of insect attacks” [Science]. “Sweet potato plants don’t have spines or poisons to defend themselves. But some have evolved a clever way to let hungry herbivores know they aren’t an all-you-can-eat buffet, a new study finds. When one leaf is injured, it produces a chemical that alerts the rest of the plant—and its neighbors—to make themselves inedible to bugs.” • The warning is within a single species. When we find communication between species, we will understand “companion plants” much better.


“Nestlé cannot claim bottled water is ‘essential public service’, court rules” [Guardian]. “Michigan’s second-highest court has dealt a legal blow to Nestlé’s Ice Mountain water brand, ruling that the company’s commercial water-bottling operation is “not an essential public service” or a public water supply. The court of appeals ruling is a victory for Osceola township, a small mid-Michigan town that blocked Nestlé from building a pumping station that doesn’t comply with its zoning laws. But [But?] the case could also throw a wrench in Nestlé’s attempts to privatize water around the country… If it is to carry out such plans, then it will need to be legally recognized as a public water source that provides an essential public service. The Michigan environmental attorney Jim Olson, who did not represent Osceola township but has previously battled Nestlé in court, said any claim that the Swiss multinational is a public water utility ‘is ludicrous’. ‘What this lays bare is the extent to which private water marketers like Nestlé, and others like them, go [in] their attempts to privatize sovereign public water, public water services, and the land and communities they impact,’ Olson said.”

“Congress to halt military use of toxic foam contaminating drinking water” [Los Angeles Times]. “Congress has reached a deal on [the NDAA] … that has been the focus of intense negotiations for months. House Democrats saw it as their best chance to force President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency to increase its oversight of a class of chemicals, called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances — commonly known as PFAS — that have contaminated drinking water sources across the country. The bill that emerged out of a joint House-Senate committee this week had been stripped of measures that would require the EPA to designate the chemicals as ‘hazardous’ and set a nationwide safety standard for PFAS in drinking water. A proposal requiring contaminated sites across the country to be cleaned up under the Superfund program had also been removed, as had one that would limit how much PFAS chemical manufacturers could dump into water supplies.” • Thanks, Democrats. It’s only drinking water, after all.

“The hurdles that still remain as Maine’s lawsuit over tribal water standards nears an end” [Bangor Daily News]. “fter years of disagreement, the state of Maine, tribes and the federal government appear to agree that a long-running lawsuit over water quality standards is nearing its end, though procedural disagreements stand in the way. The lawsuit over who has the authority to regulate waters on tribal lands used for cultural sustenance fishing, has been paused for a year, while the EPA reconsidered a February 2015 decision to approve Maine’s water standards everywhere except on Indian territories, which the state said created regulatory uncertainty. It looks like all parties are close to getting what they want. The EPA approved in November Maine’s sustenance fishing rules supported by the tribes. The new rules were seen as a possible path to ending the yearslong court case earlier this year and part of Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ efforts to improve the state’s rocky relationship with its tribes. The EPA proposed in November to withdraw its 2015 decisions and approval of certain parts of a 1980s law allowing the state to treat tribes largely like municipalities — though the tribes have never ceded their federal rights — related to inland waters of the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe’s reservations, according to a report filed in U.S. District Court.” •

“Dry man of Europe, Poland strives to save water [Reuters]. “[Poland’s] six-year strategy – which runs from 2021 to 2027 – aims to improve water availability in Poland, a country of 38 million people, through public campaigns and investments, including the building of 30 new water reservoirs…. [B]ig new reservoirs could in fact make matters worse. ‘Rivers have big, natural potential for water retention. If we start to construct big dams and reservoirs, you have to regulate the water stream,’ said Zbigniew Karaczun, a professor at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences…. Wiktor Kotowski, a professor at University of Warsaw’s Department of Plant Ecology & Environmental Conservation, said mis-management was the real problem. Poland could be in a much better position if it had kept its wetlands, instead of converting them into farmland, or had not straightened its rivers to speed up water flow. This intervention stopped nature retaining water then returning it back to the atmosphere through evapotranspiration, thereby cooling the climate, he said. The government’s plans also include deep wells for irrigation which could further deplete the water, he said.”

“Glimmers of Hope Appear for Brazil’s Toxic Water” [Bloomberg]. “The Tiete and the under-served slums on its banks are just one window into Brazil’s sanitation system, deemed among the worst in the world. The state-run infrastructure serves only half of the nation’s 200 million population. Some 33 million don’t have access to drinkable water. The years of under investment are harming the country’s health and impeding economic development. But the situation may be about to change. The nation’s politicians are weighing legislation to privatize the sector, a move that could open it up to $200 billion of investments.” • Worked in Chile. Oh, wait

Health Care

“Medical Advice From a Bot: The Unproven Promise of Babylon Health” [Undark]. “Since early 2018, the London-based Babylon Health has grown from just 300 employees to approximately 1,500. The company has a valuation of more than $2 billion and says it wants to “put an affordable and accessible health service in the hands of every person on earth.” In England, Babylon operates the fifth-largest practice under the country’s mostly government-funded National Health Service, allowing patients near London and Birmingham to video chat with doctors or be seen in a clinic if necessary…. Babylon promises to save money on rising health care costs by using AI to filter patients so that only those who need medical attention will take up time and resources… speedy deployment has raised serious concerns among experts who say Babylon Health has rushed to market without adequate proof that its products work. So far, there are no peer-reviewed, randomized control studies — the gold standard for evidence in medical science — showing how the AI performs in the real world on real patients. Yet Babylon’s symptom checker is already affecting thousands of people daily —with the approval of government regulators in countries where it’s offered…. They have managed to be commissioned by the NHS to do this job without ever having to test the product on real patients and without any independent scrutiny, and yet this seems to be OK for regulators,’ says Margaret McCartney, a general practitioner in Glasgow, Scotland and a Babylon critic. ‘I think it’s staggering.'” • But all the AI has to do is deny patients care unaccountably for adminstrators to embrace it, I am sure.

“‘Medicare for All’ backers notch win with high-profile hearing” [The Hill]. “The Energy and Commerce Committee discussed the single-payer health plan backed by White House hopefuls Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) after a sustained campaign led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and other members of the party’s liberal wing. Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), whose committee has primary jurisdiction over health care issues, included eight other bills that aim to achieve universal coverage as part of Tuesday’s hearing, stealing some of Medicare for All’s spotlight. Jayapal nonetheless touted the “historic” hearing as a success, even as polls show support for the proposal is waning.” • “Waning” thanks to P4ADHCF, Partnership for American’sDystopian Health Care Future (with an assist from liberal Democrats).

“Americans take fish antibiotics because it’s cheaper than a visit to the doctor” [Guardian]. “Researchers analyzed reviews for fish antibiotics available online, and found a small but significant percentage of consumers reviewed the antibiotics for human use…. ‘Self-medication and the availability of antibiotics without healthcare oversight might contribute to increasing antimicrobial resistance and delayed appropriate treatment,’ Bookstaver said. ‘We were particularly concerned that the high volume of positive feedback on the comments about human use might encourage others to attempt to use these drugs.’ Researchers found nine antibiotics for sale at 24 different websites, including some of the most commonly prescribed to humans, such as penicillin and amoxicillin. Only 55 of the 2,228 comments reviewed described human use, but garnered nine times as much attention as others through ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes.’ Additionally, at least one online seller responded to an online question, saying fish antibiotics were suitable for human use. There is also anecdotal evidence Americans are increasingly taking veterinary medicine. Dr Farzon Nahvi, an emergency room doctor in New York City and a member of Physicians for a National Health Program, said he had a patient overdose on fish antibiotics.” • Greatest health care system on earth.

Our Famously Free Press

“Do journalists know less than they used to?” [Poynters]. “The ability of journalists to know the people they cover close up, to walk the crash site, or get human insight into the people in power in most cases is substantially reduced. The press is more conduit now than constituent — or public surrogate. And while there are fewer journalists in America overall, more of them are swarming over a smaller range of stories, which means, too often, they tend to be the stories where newsmakers exercise the most control and journalists are kept more at a distance.”

Class Warfare

“How consulting companies like McKinsey optimized American inequality” [WaPo]. “[T]he larger issue [than the Buttigieg campaign] is the very nature of management consulting firms; so much of their work ‘is about increasing investors’ share of profits by reducing labor’s share,’ Anand Giridharadas, a former McKinsey consultant turned journalist and author, recently put it. Consulting firms, by this line of thinking, are one of the drivers of the current state of runaway economic inequality. Academic and journalistic findings tend to support this idea. The key to management consulting firms’ function is in the word management. Management consultants work for a company’s executives, not its employees, and the hiring of one is often a sign that layoffs are imminent. Wendell Potter, a former vice president at the health insurer Cigna, says ‘it was clear that when [a management consulting firm] was brought in there would be layoffs. In my own department, there were times when I had to lay people off because off because of McKinsey’s work.'”

“Samsung VP gets jail term for attempting to break up labor union” [Korea Herald]. “Friday’s ruling is the first since a document dubbed the “S Group labor strategy” first surfaced in 2013, raising allegations the conglomerate deliberately targeted labor unions. Kang was charged with obstructing labor union activities at Everland from June 2011 to March 2018 based on the group’s labor management scheme. He is also suspected of illegally collecting the personal information of labor union members and their families as well as putting them under surveillance.” • Maybe we could learn something by following the example of First World countries.

“Hearst Workers Are Organizing but They May Already Have a Union” [Bloomberg]. “An effort to unionize hundreds of Hearst Magazine editorial workers at outlets like Esquire and Popular Mechanics hit a potentially significant roadblock with the discovery that the employees already may be represented by another union that’s been around for decades… The odd twist emerged after a union called the Hearst International Employees Association [HIEA] filed to intervene in the Writers Guild of America, East’s highly publicized organizing effort at the company’s 24 magazine brands… The HIEA lists 300 W. 57th St. in New York as its headquarters, the same address as Hearst Communications headquarters. The secrecy of the union and its location is suspect, according to Gordon. He said it’s indicative of a ‘company union,’ referring to an illegal union run through employer influence that’s often meant to prevent independent unions from forming.” • Plot twist!

“Challenger Wins Re-Run Vote to Head NewsGuild” [Labor Notes]. “Jon Schleuss helped win union recognition and a historic first contract at the Times (a non-union paper for 136 years) before ousting NewsGuild President Bernie Lunzer, a three-term incumbent twice his age. In the first round of balloting last spring, Lunzer beat Schleuss by a margin of 261 votes out of 2,300 cast. With backing from many upset members, Schleuss challenged those results, based on election irregularities. To avoid a further appeal to the U.S. Department of Labor, the NewsGuild ordered a rerun, with voting overseen by the American Arbitration Association, a neutral third party. When the AAA completed its tally in New York City December 10, Schleuss emerged as the victor, receiving 1,979 votes vs. 1,514 for Lunzer. The challenger’s stronger showing this time was partly the result of more Guild members participating in their union’s unusual one-member, one-vote system of electing top officers. Overall turnout increased by nearly 50 percent.”

“Recent moves by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette management have led to a shrinking and increasingly chaotic newsroom. Can the P-G survive?” [Pittsburgh City Paper]. “Since the start of this year, 20 guild members have left the P-G, while nine managers have either taken buyouts, been fired, or been forced out by management. Another newsroom manager will leave by the end of the year. Some positions have been replaced, but not many… Michael Fuoco, P-G staff reporter and president of the guild, says management is practicing an intentional strategy to make the newsroom so unbearable that guild members quit. ‘He is driving people out, he’s driving younger people out,’ Fuoco says of [executive editor Keith Burris]. ‘We believe it is a coordinated effort.'”

“GM Workers Shocked to Learn New Hires Will Still Take Eight Years to Reach Top Pay” [Labor Notes]. Missed this at the time: “After six weeks on the picket line, General Motors workers ratified an agreement that left many major areas unchanged, but one provision stood out as a true gain: the time it took to ‘grow in’ to the top wage would be cut from eight years down to four. The eight-year grow-in had been established, amid much controversy, in the 2015 United Auto Workers agreements with the Big 3 automakers, as an improvement over a system where Tier Two workers would never catch up to Tier One wages. But it turns out that the gain is only partial. Tier Two workers on the payroll now will progress to top pay by the end of the four-year pact, but any future hires will still take eight full years to get there.” • Dear Lord. Now we have tiers within tiers. Has anybody defenestrated the UAW misleadership yet?

News of the Wired

“The Gospel of Wealth According to Marc Benioff” [Wired]. “Integral to Benioff’s reputation for goodness is the insistent badness regularly displayed by his ultrarich brethren. Benioff does not offer the Russians a handy platform for derailing our democracy or erode civil discourse 280 characters at a time. He doesn’t use his wealth to undermine public education or fund climate change denial. He does not accuse British rescue divers of pedophilia. At a moment when his plutocrat peers seem increasingly hell-bent on mucking everything up, Benioff has carved out a different brand altogether: the good billionaire. The particulars of the brand can be dissected, but the point is a feeling, a man-sized dollop of hope that powerful interests might start working for us rather than against. On November 6, 2018, San Francisco residents passed Prop. C. But in a sense the biggest victor was the magnanimous billionaire behind it.” • Let me know how that works out.

“Magic Mushrooms Pass First Hurdle as Depression Treatment” [Bloomberg]. “The active ingredient in the mushrooms, psilocybin, was found to be safe and well tolerated when given to healthy volunteers in a study by researchers at King’s College London. Unsurprisingly, the subjects got high… [Psilocybin’s] potential is drawing researchers beyond depression. Scientists are seeking to enlist patients to test the chemical for ailments including addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, anorexia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and migraines. Closely held Compass Pathways is working to bring to market a version of psilocybin it manufactured for depression that resists other treatments. Compass sponsored the trial, which according to organizers was the largest controlled study of the chemical to date.” • Because we can’t just grow the damn mushrooms. We have to give Big Pharma a cut.

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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 (TH):

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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. toshiro_mifune

    Trump May Skip 2020 Debates: Report That’s interesting. This very thing was being discussed on Chapo recently with the opinion being; If Bernie gets the nomination Trump doesn’t debate to avoid getting mired in issues. If Biden wins, Trump debates and its nothing but personal attacks. I’m not sure I disagree with the prognostication.

    1. petal

      If Biden gets the nom, then stuff is going to get ugly personal real quick-it makes sense considering the D’s going all-in on impeachment that boils down to the Bidens. A no-holds barred cage match. Would be amusing to watch.

      1. D. Fuller

        It would be amusing to watch. However, the end result is a lose-lose for The United States no matter who wins.

        Crook(D) v Crook(R) is the perception – much as it is with impeachment with Pelosi playing the part of Biden – with Trump standing a good chance to win. As of right now, the 2020 election is Democrats to lose. They are doing a great job of that so far and it is not even 2020.

        Centrist Democrats will be trying to court the same voters – suburban center-right Republicans – that Trump will be angling to get. Should it be Biden that wins the nomination.

        If Sanders somehow is nominated and Trump refuses to engage in debats? Run a “Trump Tucks Tail and Runs” campaign with a massive highlight of his policy failures. Trump excels in the arena of personal attacks. Biden would lose. Sanders could keep it clean and focused on policy, dropping nuke after nuke on Trump. With Biden? Given how Centrist Democrats and Republicans are both guilty of cooperating on issues such as Syria, Libya, Wall Street, torture, Iraq, etc?

        Centrist Democrats have no powder or if they do? Their powder is all wet. It was amazing the number of policy attacks and opportunities that Centrist Democrats had to use against Trump in 2016… yet were too afraid to. Opting for personal attacks. I still remember that ambush by Andersen Cooper and Hillary Clinton against Trump at the 2nd(?) debate discussing the allegations against Trump regarding rape, etc.

        Never mind that Hillary Clinton had Bill with his prior allegations of sexual abuse. That was the lamest ambush I’ve ever seen. You could practically see Hillary Clinton’s vein pop out on her forehead when Trump responded. I thought she was going to have a stroke. That ambush wasted approximately 25 minutes of debate time and achieved less than nothing.

        As we’ve seen with the latest funding bill? Centrist Democrats gave Trump what he wanted. So, what do Centrist Democrats have to run on?

        Practically nothing.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If Sanders got nominated, he could do what you suggest. He ( or surrogates) . could also coin the phrase The Cowardly Lyin’ . . . Trump . . . with a picture of Trump’s facial features photoshopped into the center of the face of the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. It would be a clever political pun and a memorable visual image. I give it away for free to anyone who wants to use it.

          But the CenDems don’t want to see Sanders nominated. Or Warren or Gabbard. So they will do all they can to prevent it. The only hope Sanders or Warren or Gabbard has for winning the nomination is to win it on the First Ballot. The only way one of them can do that is if All of their delegates uNANimously combine ALL their delegate votes behind ONE of those three candidates. And ALL the combined delegates for those three candidates would have to ALL uNANimously aGREE to do that . . . and which one to do it for. Because the First Ballot is the one only single chance that the Decent Three have to prevent a Catfood Nominee by getting one of themselves nominated. The CenDems actively and fervently prefer losing with C. Anof Catfood than winning with Sanders or Warren or Gabbard.

          As Yoda would say . . . ” First Ballot or First Ballot Not! There is no Second Ballot.”

          If the Decent Three cannot collectively co-win the nomination for one of themselves on Ballot Number One, all they will have left is to obstruct every effort to stop the balloting for a Brokered Convention. They have to make the ballotng go on and on and on . . . until Balloting becomes such torture for the Catfood Delegates that the Catfood Conventioneers will give in to whatever the Decent Three choose to extort from the Catfood Leadership to make the pain stop.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > As of right now, the 2020 election is Democrats to lose. They are doing a great job of that so far and it is not even 2020.

          On the one hand, Trump is impeached (in an obviously “partisan process”) for the Executive Branch equivalent of littering.

          On the other — and at the same time, I can hardly believe it — Trump, with the willing co-operation of those same partisans, signs an NDAA that includes a Space Force, gets a China trade deal, is expected to sign a new trade deal with no ISDS that’s ok’ed by the unions, and keeps delivering what everybody hails as a decent economy. With liberal Democrats screaming that he’s a fascist monster in the morning, and then helping him get his bills passed and deals done in the evening. Oh, and after years of yammering about pee tapes and his Russia dealings being impeachable, the Democrats don’t even impeach him on that.

          Trump, no matter his favorables, is going to be a formidable opponent in 2020. Of course, Trump always traps himself, and then escapes from the trap. If there is useful psychologizing to be done about Trump, it’s there. Assuming the election is on the same knife edge as 2016, if Trump is on a down cycle (trapped) he could lose. If he is on an up cycle (escaped) he is much more likely to win.

          1. sierra7

            Don’t insult the surviving “Eisenhower Republicans”
            The “Centrist Dems” have totally betrayed their base.
            At least the Eisenhower Republicans were true to their beliefs!

            “drumlin woodchuckles”:
            “But the CenDems don’t want to see Sanders nominated. Or Warren or Gabbard. So they will do all they can to prevent it.”

            Unless Trump really breaks his toes on something that effects all Americans he is going to lick the Dems again in 2020.
            (Caveat: no truck with either of the major political parties for decades)

        3. kiwi

          Why do people conjecture that Trump won’t want to debate Bernie?

          There would probably be a genuine debate, rather than the usual bs. Trump appears to respect Bernie (go ahead and laugh, it’s in Trump’s body language when he talks about Bernie). They are both fighters, and both love a good fight.

          Policy failures?

          Like reducing illegal immigration? Dems used to support this position….it is unfortunate that dems have hung their hats on providing more benefits for illegal immigrants instead of our own citizenry. As much as I like Bernie, arguing for even more benefits for illegal immigrants is a loser.

          Like growing the economy? Anyone would support a growing economy.

          Like rebalancing trade?

          Like getting more $ support for Nato from other countries? Something that multiple presidents before him attempted to do….

          Like reaching full employment so that wages increase?

          And what about all of these crocodile tears over Ukraine nonsense? What, is the US is supposed to support Ukraine forever and ever?

          You can keep moaning and groaning about some of his policies, like OMG!! Taxes! Oh noes, the jobs are crappy!! (as if that hasn’t been the case for decades).

          But the bottom line is that he has been very effective in some ways in comparison to several preceding presidents.

  2. zagonostra


    This goes so much deeper, as Whitney Webb points out below, there are much broader implications beyond the depraved pedophile aspect.

    Epstein’s links to intelligence have since been confirmed. The CIA-Mossad links to Epstein were detailed in a recent MintPress investigative series and several mainstream media reports have corroborated Epstein’s time as a self-described “financial bounty hunter” who hunted down embezzled funds and also hid stolen money for powerful people and governments.

    … references allude to Epstein’s shady business activities in the New York and Palm Beach real estate markets from the mid-1980s to the late-1990s that were used to launder massive amounts of money for organized crime and intelligence. It is likely for this reason that Epstein’s real estate activities during this period have been so deliberately ignored by the U.S. press, even though other aspects of his financial activities were heavily scrutinized in recent months.

    Indeed, in examining Epstein’s involvement in real estate markets, particularly in New York, it becomes clear that those activities have no shortage of controversial tie-ins to the current U.S. presidential administration as well as major New York power players involved in suspect financial activity immediately prior to the September 11 attacks as well as the 2008 financial crisis.


    1. Pat

      I would be vastly surprised if Epstein’s ties to the NY real estate markets doesn’t include most of the major players not just the Trump organization. The outlier real estate moguls would be those without ties to controversial partners and organized crime.

    2. sierra7

      RE: Epstein….
      Has there been any mention of probable….”Epstein Papers”?
      Must we believe that Mr. Epstein had no records kept of all the so-called prominent individuals that “enjoyed” his procurement of entertainment businesses?
      JE Hoover kept meticulous records that kept him alive for decades.
      Reading “The Arms of Krupp”, William Manchester somewhere in the vicinity of page 210 there is a discussion over one of the then (mid to late 1800’s) Krupp boys that involved a similar “set-up” with “deviant sexual” parties on an exclusive part of the “isle of Capri”….
      The then Krupp involved kept very good records on all the prominent individuals from different parts of Europe and other areas that attended or that he catered to. He used those records discreetly to “persuade” others to do his bidding.
      So, do we really believe there are no, “Epstein Papers”???????

  3. WheresOurTeddy

    They will change your voting registration. In 2016 I was switched to “vote by mail” without my consent in CA and forced to cast a provisional in the primary. The California SoS was a Clinton surrogate in 2016.

    I check my registration weekly now.

    1. Danny

      The majority of DMV new registrations and drivers license applicants in California are Hispanic, therefore, likely to choose Democratic affiliation.
      However, the majority of people in the county where voter registration was “lost” are likely Bernie voters, middle class managerial types.
      Make sure and check out the story, and watch the video, in the middle of the Chronicle article about the Sears’ “Shoplifters.”
      Wonder if their grandmommas will still vote for Biden?

      1. JBird4049

        >> Here we go again?<

        I’m poor as heck, but I do live in one of the areas where those professional, white, middle class voters live. Could that explain my own disappearing registration?

      2. D. Fuller

        The majority of DMV new registrations and drivers license applicants in California are Hispanic, therefore, likely to choose Democratic affiliation.

        I find that debatable. Go back to 1986 and newspaper headlines trumpeting that a demographic tidal wave would swamp Republicans. Yet here we are 33 years later. Many Hispanics are religious and Catholic.

        It’s not about how many register… it is about how many vote. With Republican voter suppression playing a large part in handicapping Democratic candidates. Which was a major factor, if not the most important, in Hillary Clinton losing in 2016.

        Also? Even if those Hispanics are Left? Do you see Centrist Democrats pursuing The Left for votes? No.

        Another issue that The Democratic Party neglected – besides State Democratic Parties? The Courts. Republicans have been busy packing the courts with ideologues, the better to stymie Democratic legislative actions at the State and Federal level. Republicans blocked nominees for so long under Obama and are now just filling those spots with lifetime appointees, some of them being the most unqualified in modern history.

        Centrist Democrats have been complicit through inaction both in countering Republican voter suppression and allowing courts to be packed by Right ideologues. Though Harry Reid did respond; however, too little to late. Third-party groups on The Left have been pursuing court actions in regard to voter suppression with The Democratic Party only just now mounting a major court action (based on evidence from third-parties on The Left).

        Greg Palast and Stacy Abrams (somewhat) being integral to that effort.

        1. Danny

          “I find that debatable…” Try reading this:
          “This City Is 78% Latino, and the Face of a New California
          Santa Ana, in Orange County, has an all Latino City Council and stands in the vanguard of a California where Latinos have more influence in everyday life.
          Leer en español

          “Historically, Latino turnout in midterm elections is much lower than in presidential election years. Latino voters comprised 21 percent of total votes in the 2018 election, up from 15 percent in the 2014 midterm election, according to figures by Political Data Inc. and the California Civic Engagement Project at USC.”

          “The Latino share of the California vote in November was similar to 2016, when Latino’s made up 21 percent of the state’s electorate, and 2012, when Latinos accounted for 19.5 percent of the vote.”https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/election/article225181845.html

          California voter registration is the target. You used a shotgun on every issue there is in 2016. Another complication, lots of Hispanics voted for Trump, in spite of their party affiliation.

    2. Tom Stone

      I pgysically went to the Registar of Voters in Sonoma County five weeks ago to change from no party preference to Democratic.
      I just checked on line, I’m back to NPP rather than Dem.
      Since I also was switched to vote by mail in 2016 and was also given a provisional ballot I wanted to ensure my vote for Bernie counted this time.
      Where can I buy an American made pitchfork?

    3. D. Fuller

      I had my voter registration cancelled “somehow” right after caucusing for Sanders in the 2016 Democratic caucus in WA State. Hmmmm…

      Fortunately, I was keeping an eye on my voter registration status and was able to correct it in time. Even then? Using the Democratic Party website to check voter registration was showing that I wasn’t registered. I was.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      How many Sanderbackers and/or Gabbard supporters can be counted on to at the very least withhold their votes from the Catfood Candidate if that is what the DNC gives us?

      How many Sanderbackers and/or Gabbard supporters can be counted on to vote for Trashy Trump itself if the convention brokers itself to nominate the Clinton itself for a second time?

      1. JBird4049

        Having a brokered convention is goofy especially if a candidate has won enough votes during the primaries. Somehow, the possibility of a rigged, brokered convention using backroom wheeling and dealing is becoming more likely to me. Anything to keep the Neoliberal Devine Rule is probably justifiable to much of the American Credentialed Class’ Nomenklatura, and their apparatchiks, who are ultimately in service to the ruling Elites whether they acknowledge it or not, and not to the United States, or especially not to the American nation.

        You know what? I loathe and despise the Orange One. He is not only a political cancer, he is a orange fungus that by inhabiting the Oval Office has desecrated the presidency. He is also destroying this country, but just in somewhat different ways than the Democratic Party.

        However, if those corrupt, two-faced, greedy weasels broker an agreement at the Democratic Convention to block Bernie Sanders’ nomination, I will not only vote for the Orange One, I will actually campaign for the Fungus’ second term in office. Unless the Sanders Campaign tries to do a national write-in campaign, which would be just insane, but we are living in insane times, aren’t we?

        I am tired of always having a choice between bad and worse. Always voting for the lesser evil has just gotten us more and darker evil. So to Heck with that. If a good candidate gets bumped off by some underhanded shenanigans, I will use my admittedly very infinitesimal influence to either help the politician of my choice, even using a write-in, or somehow punish the weasels by working for the greater evil.

        1. inode_buddha

          “Unless the Sanders Campaign tries to do a national write-in campaign, which would be just insane, but we are living in insane times, aren’t we?”

          This is exactly what I have been advocating since 2016.

          Think about it… if a write-in campaign can completely bury all the other numbers, then all the other players will have no place to hide — the rest of the world will be watching them, and asking questions.

  4. WheresOurTeddy

    Gotta say, I am enjoying the trend of any post with positive press about Bloomberg (or really any press about Bloomberg) on Twitter being commented and retweeted with the photo of Big Gulp Mike and Ghislaine Maxwell. Keep burning that money and siphoning the Biden voters off, Mike. You love to see it.

  5. WheresOurTeddy

    Pete: “I trust you to figure out your own healthcare”
    Oligarchy Translator: “You’ll get nothing and like it, peasants”

  6. Danny

    Warren’s awkward attempts to portray herself as a woman of color, even if a etsy weeny tiny bit, always seemed strange to me, ignoring the resume nonsense. It makes sense with the realization that Women of Color, have become a new politically privileged class, in spite of some of them being not very oppressed.

    Indian (subcontinent) women come from a tradition of a caste based society of wealth and privilege. The most succesful ones intuitively home in on and game American race-based identity politics in spite of their advantages, such as being one of the wealthiest religious groups in the nation,

    No Bernie style economic class based socialism for them, no way. It’s maintain privilege, Silicon Valley corporate caste based salaries, Republican reductionism, Hillary hopium and yet, they proudly proclaim their affiliation with real women of color, on whose backs they surf, like last generation’s black cleaning women, the grandparents of which might have actually been slaves.
    3 examples: Nimrata Nikki Randhawa, Neera Tanden and Kamala Harris.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Women-of-color in general are not a privileged class. The not-very-poor women of color are perhaps a newly privileged class.

      The Goldman Sachs women-of-color have become a new privileged class, in line with the tenets of Goldman Sachs Feminism. ” The arc of history is long, and it bends towards rainbow gender-fluid oligarchy.”

  7. Dr. John Carpenter

    “A Progressive’s Guide to Choosing Between Bernie and Warren” is brutal. Bookmarked, as I feel I’ll need to share that link.

  8. barrisj

    From al-Monitor’s ME lobbying update note:

    Spotlight on defense authorization bill: Saudi Arabia wins big with assist from Kushner

    The White House secured a major reprieve for Saudi Arabia this week by convincing Congress to drop several provisions from its annual defense bill before the House passed it on Wednesday. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week. Gone are sanctions on key Saudi officials for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and restrictions on US support for Riyadh’s campaign in Yemen. The New York Times reports that President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner – who reportedly maintains a direct WhatsApp line with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – played a key role in the negotiations.

    The United Arab Emirates also came out ahead as the final bill removes language taking aim at the $8 billion in emergency arms sales to Gulf countries that Trump authorized in May citing the threat of Iran. The UAE had lobbied against these provisions and also opposed calls for a report detailing the “military activities” of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other international actors in Libya. . The final bill no longer singles out specific countries but still requires “a detailed description of the military activities of external actors” in the country.


    We always stick by our friends, through thick and thin…and murder, and war crimes, and terrorism, and…well, all of it. After all, what are friends for?

  9. David

    Re: Biden’s rightward positioning – Is his view anything other than “reactionary” in the traditional sense of the word? Have the neoliberal Democratic Party candidates become a right-wing opposition to a hopeful future? And why is that? Could it be the moneyed-interests taking control of the Democratic Party?

    1. inode_buddha

      I regard this as a rhetorical question since it already happened decades ago. Best government money can buy, and it sure has been bought!

      1. tegnost

        I’m guessing they think that if they bind together as a class (PMC) across party boundaries (“good” republicans + “centrist” d’s) they can stave off the working class of the polar wings, but bernie is popular with both working class wings, and they hate him for it. They really hate him pelosi’s protestations notwithstanding

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          When the Impeachment gets finally voted on in the Senate, what will Sanders do? He will do best by being true to his own self, regardless of what votes he loses whichever way he votes.

          But I hope that being true to himself involves voting NOT to remove. Because depending on how bitter the Democratic Convention is, a Nominee Sanders may get few or zero Clintonite Democratic votes by definition, regardless of what he does. Whereas if he votes TO remove, he will lose any votes, or even respectful hearing, that he might have had otherwise among the deplorables.

    2. D. Fuller

      More of a “loyal opposition” who believe that Reagan Republicans still exist to sing Kumbayah with. That’s the perception.

  10. Craig H.

    You didn’t link the commune magazine article. Or the link didn’t come into my browser.


    Since the 2007–2008 financial crisis, the self-help industry has enjoyed a significant boom. Key texts include Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret . . .

    is the first sentence in the third paragraph of the article. I had to stop reading at that point. But the tab is still there if anybody wants to encourage me to return to it.

  11. smoker

    Because it’s pertinent, I’m including this comment I left on another ‘thread’:

    With a now fully matured AI Technocracy, the Bipartisan, Fascist US government lets its populace know that they no longer need to even pretend like they represent them.

    Nancy Pelosi will be labeled the Shadow Government President

    Bill Gate’s and Microsoft will do what it’s always done, act like a creepy, Antisocial, yet Benevolent™, God

    Amazon will be the new Employer and Doctor

    Google will be an entire Alphabet of horrors.

    Palantir is Santa who sees you when your sleeping, and knows when your awake. PayPal, knows your bank account number and everything you spend, or receive, ‘money’ on/from.

    Jeff Bezos and Zuckerberg’s Faceboook will be the main news purveyors

    Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk will be filing Lawsuits over Mars MIneral Rights


    AI Technocracy Endnote: Bill gate’s Microsoft 2007’s Word™ Spellcheck™ did not know how to spell surveillance (e.g. NSA Microsoft Backdoors), though it did know how to correct someone who spelled Paypal, versus PayPal.

    I increasingly find myself wishing I had bought a gun – though I know why I never wanted one, for very valid reasons, I don’t like blood shed, mine or anyone else’s – so I could escape this increasing horror show before it gets as bad as it seems destined to.

    1. drumlin woodchchuckles

      Even if gunless, one could perhaps figure out how to make as much of one’s life analog as possible. And make the unavoidably digital part as dumm as possible. Cash for all possible purchases. Checks for the rest. Card only when unavoidable.

      Turn one’s house into a fortress of Doomstead Subsistence, producing/harvesting one’s own home heat/cool/harvested roofwater/ etc. Install waterless compostoilets to minimise charged-for water use. Use land mail to pay all bills. Faraday cages for every possible unavoidably digital thing.

      Passive Obstructionaries should study what the Pentecosta/Rapturanian/etc. Christians are doing to avoid or circumvent Mark Of The Beast technologies and interactions . . . and learn how to adopt the same.

      1. smoker

        Definitely agree with making life as analog as possible, which I’ve always done.

        Unfortunately, many of your prescriptions are not available for renters (myself included), which are increasing in number, along with the homeless. Also, many who become wards of the State (homeowners, renters and homeless) are forced online, no choice at all in Silicon Valley and most of California, where I’m stuck, even when they don’t own a computer, android, or iphone.

        Lastly, even if one does make their life as analog as possible, that does not at all decrease the trauma of being surrounded by digital, particularly if they thrive off of human social interaction (e.g. saying hello, thank you, opening doors for others, joining someone for a morning cup of coffee without being horrified by an Amazon Echo device on that kitchen table, or someone with their cellphone mike on, unexpectedly asking Google a question in the middle of your conversation).

  12. deplorado

    ““Samsung VP gets jail term for attempting to break up labor union” [Korea Herald].”

    Contrast this with Google recently firing 4 employees for trying to start a union. I had a discussion about this with a colleague, and the question came up, how can Google violate their rights so brazenly? The answer we came up with was, because they don’t think anyone will go to jail over this (while obviously they are more than happy to bankrupt those employees by running them through the courts).

    Anyone with expertise in labor law, can’t Google executives be charged criminally for firing employees for attempting to start a union?

    1. Ejf

      U can grow them. Check out the “Anarchist’s Cookbook” long out of print by now. But it used to carry the complicated recipe. But watch it.

  13. Tomonthebeach

    As Dean Baker pointed out in his book Rigged, the neoliberal capitalism of America is rigged to benefit the top 1%. After all, they were the architects. Most Americans appreciate that. Nevertheless, the vast majority willingly wade into its rigged quicksand. All economies are rigged in the sense that there is a structure to it all. Moreover, the architects of that system will ensure there is something in it for themselves – rigged. Our school system does not instruct Americans on how their own economic system works (is rigged), so most of us become its victims rather than its beneficiaries.

    Books by Liz Warren and her daughter offer remedial guidance on how to make the current US economic system work for the average household. So, in a sense, Liz comes across as an adherent to the system she is trying to help others master.

    This seems to be a losing proposition for candidate Warren because most Americans want a new system with new rigging; not a repaired system that has been screwing them for generations.

  14. Krystyn Walentka

    RE: “Magic Mushrooms Pass First Hurdle as Depression Treatment”

    First, of course this will make Mushrooms even more illegal, and copyrighted.

    Second, I have been looking into serotonin receptor activation a lot recently and it seems that functional activation of the 2C, 1A, and 2A receptor is that it acts on Phospholipase A2 ligand of the receptor (the same ligand that snake vemon activates) and this triggers the release of an Omega 6 fatty acid (arachidonic acid) from the cell.

    I think this is crucial and why a diet high in Omega 3 seems to keep popping up as a dietary aid for depression. This change of lipid balance in the lipid wall could easily explain the resulting relief of depression.

    So maybe the heavy omega 6 American diet should be examined before letting another drug loose on the culture.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        And since most corn and soy oil comes from GMO corn and soy, and a rising percent of soy oil at least comes from Roundup-dessicated soy plants , refusing to eat corn or soy oil alone or in products will have a high chance of withholding your edible-oil purchase-money from Monsanto, one way or the other.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Not related to mushrooms but responsive to the piece on the new Ursula Le Guin doc and your interests–

      I recently learned that Ursula Le Guin did her own translation of the Tao te Ching. In an Intro, she explains how she became acquainted with the book:

      The book [an old edition of the Tao te Ching] was my father’s. He read it often. Once I saw him making notes in it and asked him what he was doing. He said he was marking which chapters he’d like to have read at his funeral. We read those chapters at his memorial service.

      Le Guin explains why she chose to translate this book:

      It is the most lovable of all the religious texts, funny, keen, kind, modest, indestructibly outrageous and inexhaustibly refreshing. Of all the deep springs, this is the purest water.

      Translating the Tao te Ching strikes me as something of a Rorschach test for the translator. This is not Greek where the complex system of inflections nails down all the syntax without much ambiguity. Here we have single characters standing for big, big concepts sitting in a line together without any connective tissue. That’s a lot of flexibility and interpretation going on.

      So a couple of things about Le Guin’s approach to the task of translating this book. First, she gave each chapter a title, and like an editor concocting click-bait headlines, she has a little fun with the process. “Taoing” is the title of the first chapter, “Soul Food” is the second.

      She also says this herself about her approach:

      I wanted a Book of the Way accessible to a present-day, unwise, unpowerful, perhaps un-male reader, not seeking esoteric secrets, but listening for a voice that speaks to the soul.

      The edition calls itself a “version” rather than a translation, indicating that it’s a “loose” rather than word-for-word translation that seeks to stay true to the meaning while simplifying or modernizing the language. The same distinction is made for translations/versions of the Hebrew and Greek bibles.

      Here’s the information about the paperback edition:

      Lao Tzu, Tao te Ching, An English Version by Ursula K. Le Guin; Shambala Press (Boulder, 2019).

      My copy is from our wonderful city library, but I think I’m going to purchase a copy for myself.

      1. Krystyn Walentka

        Yes! I have had her TTC translation for a year and read it several times. One of the best translations in my opinion since it reveals some of the deeper subtitles that many might find hard to grasp in the more often read Mitchell translation.

        I do not k now if you have run across this is the past, side by side translations:

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          I will check that out.

          I love her plain language, and get a kick out of the way she removes that “Wisdom Literature” court setting. It’s just for plain folks.

  15. boydownthelane

    With regard to ““There will come a day where we will realize Jeffrey Epstein was the most prolific pedophile this country has ever known.”:

    The focus is on Epstein, but it doesn’t belong there. What about the adolescent females who have been victimized? Does anyone here have a clue or give a damn about what it means psychologically for the rest of their lives? And what about the hundreds or thousands of politicians, judges, media people, cultural leaders, et al who have been intimidated, blackmailed, compromised? What does that mean for politics, the economy, justice, etc.?

    “… this is how these games are played. If you look carefully, you will see them widely. Inform, enlighten, while throwing in doubletalk and untruths. The small number of people who read such books and articles will come away knowing some history that has no current relevance and being misinformed on other history that does. They will then be in the know, ready to pass their “wisdom” on to those who care to listen. They will not think they are average.

    But they will be mind controlled, and the killer cat will roam freely without a bell, ready to devour the unsuspecting mice.”


      1. smoker

        Thank you for that, the author, Edward Curtin, has written a number of pieces that are well worth reading, to my mind.

        Most important, in these cruel times, he seems genuinely kind

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      But the focus on Epstein is a good place to start putting focus. If the Epstein focus captures enough long-range attention, that attention can then be informed to widen its attention to the victims of pedosex and the victims of blackmail and the victims of policy set or enforced by blackmailees.

  16. a different chris

    This really isn’t about Brexit per se and that comment thread is huge. It’s about the media and the idiots that write for them. I read *every* Guardian column* I swear, and I do want to point out that, as PlutoniumKun said:

    >They’ve done another switcheroo today, into full on blame Corbyn mode.

    And it’s really odd. On this side of the pond we saw the same thing with Clinton (who I detest). And it wasn’t blaming them for their policies, but clearly their “personalities”. Yet their opponents are probably two of the worst and most mockable people to ever walk the Earth. Trump and Boris achieved victory with their winning personalities? Give me a break.

    I’m just not buying it. Hilary didn’t lose because she was dislikeable, and am I not correct in saying that you don’t even vote for Corbyn in a Parliamentary system? So what really happened?

    I was hopeful post 2016 that emotions would settle down on the Dem side and they would do some good introspection and answer my above question, but alas you see how that has gone. RussiaRussiaRussia.

  17. notabanker

    An Amazon surveillance device in your child’s bedroom, what could possibly go wrong?

    I’m past the point of blaming big tech companies. If you are fool enough to pay money to do this, you deserve what you get. American Idiots.

    1. rd

      We have smartphones, tablets, PCs, and DVD players with internet connections. We don’t connect our TVs to the internet except through the DVD player that is turned off and the TV input set on another source when the DVD player is not in use.

      The goal for everything else is for it to be dumb and not connected to anything. My basic rule is that I don’t want a bored Russian teenager to be able to play with my house and turn off the heat etc.

      1. anon in so cal

        A “bored” Russian teenager is probably studying Chinese while taking a break from ballet practice, and getting ready to accompany their parents to a live performance at the Mariinsky Theater.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Or turn off the gas furnace and then turn it back on without re-igniting the gas, in order to fill up the house with enough gas to blow the house up and burn the rubble down when enough gas has accumulated.

        And not only a bored Russian teenager could do that with a smart house. So could the Smart House Information Aware government . . . or people within government or bussiness who want to blow someone up remotely and make it look like an accident.

        And in fact, combining smart house with smart grid could probably give the Remote Digital Assassins the ability to burn down an all electric house by sending enough current through certain wires to melt them and start a fire. They should be analogly blinded from being able to do that, too.

        And you know, if they could do that, they could also remotely lock your doors to keep everyone inside the house from escaping if they choose to start their remote fire. So it is best to have an analog dumm door lock and knob, and also dumm analog window hardware too.

    2. Carey

      ..and if one is a renter, and thus at the mercy of a landlord and whoever is applying gentle-but-firm pressure to *them*?

      Asking for a friend

      1. smoker

        Yes. I can imagine countless desperately searching for an apartment: finally finding one, paying a deposit to secure it, then signing a lease and moving in – only to later discover that an Internet of Things surveilling device comes with their apartment (e.g. innocuous – never checked when desperately apartment hunting – thermostat, doorbell, or laundry room device), or their landlord insists on installing one after they settle in; particularly in places like Silicon Valley.

        In an ideal world the renter could just get themselves a lawyer to rightfully and successfully defend their right to privacy, but in the real world, a good lawyer (particularly regarding technological privacy violations), is now, and has been for forever, unaffordable to most renters, let alone the fact that in many areas 100% percent of Tenant Law Attorneys represent landlords exclusively.

        Anyone who suggests: why don’t they just move (usually a homeowner who hasn’t moved in decades, or would never themselves think it was normal – or not traumatic – to find a house, move in at great financial, physical and emotional expense, and then have to move yet again, while still working/or searching for a 9 to five, makes those sort of remarks), has their brain and heart stuck somewhere up their …

        1. Danny

          Simple, don’t give the devices the password to your router.
          “It must be broken”

          If it’s connected to their router, then you can only be watched or have your heat turned off. A powerful ALINCO magnet will fry the chips in most physical devices you don’t want in your environment.

            1. Danny

              Drumlin, yes, that’s it.


              Drat! I use them to fry the magnetic strip on everything but my credit cards, which I rarely use.

  18. Carey

    Pertintent link from 2014, given the UK vote, etc (h/t Smoker, who provided the fine link):

    “..Whether or not “innovators” would be better off in achieving their own goals without needing to ask for “permission,” the fact is that another name for “permission” as it is used in this instance is “democratic governance.” Whether or not it is best for business to have democratic government looking over the shoulders of business, it is absolutely, indubitably necessary for democratic governance to mean anything. That is why libertarians had to come up with a new term for what they want; “laws and regulations don’t apply to us” might tip off the plebes to what is really going on..”


    We are in a New Dark Age, boys and girls, with the Few quite invested in keeping it that way.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Nestlé cannot claim bottled water is ‘essential public service’, court rules”

    Sounds like a contradiction here. When you claim in court that water is an ‘essential public service’, then those words more or less say that it is up to the public to run that service because it is essential in the first place. Nowhere is it implied that it can only be run by a foreign multinational that gets to override local development laws. Nor does it imply that it can get to extract that resource until it is depleted so that the local community has no benefit from it and now must go to the expense of importing it. It was the head of Nestlé , I should add, that once said that water is not a natural human right. Nice to know.

    1. inode_buddha

      ” It was the head of Nestlé , I should add, that once said that water is not a natural human right. Nice to know.”

      I think the head of Nestle is going to be quite thirsty in the next life.

    2. tegnost

      It was the head of Nestlé , I should add, that once said that water is not a natural human right. Nice to know.

      Profit, on the other hand, is guaranteed…if you incorporate as a being with no life span

    1. Carey

      Looks like the first link didn’t work, but the image (the original is huge!) is found within the second one-

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Ursula K. Le Guin’s Revolutions”

    That article may have been a bit ‘social-justice warrior’ over those early science fiction writers because they were white and were men. They could get quite subversive at time. Robert Heinlein, for example, slipped in a black guy as his lead character in his novel “Tunnel in the Sky” but you had to really read the book to realize this. Obviously the publishers never twigged or they would have come down on it. And I happen to know for a fact that the publisher for Heinlein at the time was a woman and not a man.
    As for capitalism being like John Carpenters “The Thing”, well yeah, but at least they found a blood test to discover who was infected whereas we have to depend on seeing their actions – when the media actually tells us about it that is-


    1. Plenue

      Yeah, but then Heinlein jerked his pseudo-fascism onto the pages of Starship Troopers, so I’d call it a wash.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Sure he did. There was an effort to recruit writers in the same way that artists had been recruited to build up an anti-Soviet narrative back then. I think that this may have been a CIA operation in both cases and you can see how it come out in other stories and not just Starship Troopers.
        Heinlein wrote once about being part of a meeting with other scifi writers that were being convinced to help in the middle of the Cold war and how it was their ‘patriotic duty’ to do so. And Heinlein was a Navy officer until TB took him out which led to him becoming a writer so he would have answered that appeal.
        But you can’t dismiss a whole writer’s body of work because of stuff that he wrote about at later times. That is how you get the ‘purity tests’ so beloved of modern social justice warriors which sooner or later leads to censorship. And those types will definitely be the first to cast stones.

        1. Plenue

          I dismiss him because I don’t much like his writings as a whole. His later turn to being highly retrograde is merely the crap cherry on top.

    1. hunkerdown

      For a few hours, anyway.

      Bernie Sanders withdrew his endorsement of California congressional candidate Cenk Uygur on Friday following reports about the online talk show host making crude and degrading comments about women and provocative statements about Jews, Muslims and other groups.

  21. anon in so cal

    Bernie Sanders will be in Los Angeles next Saturday Dec 21.

    Bernie’s headed to Los Angeles next weekend, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is joining him! How about you?

    Here’s everything you need to know — can we count you in?

    Rally in Los Angeles with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders
    Saturday, December 21
    Event starts at 12:00 p.m.
    Windward Plaza
    1 Windward Ave
    Venice, CA 90291

  22. integer

    Bernie Sanders Has a Big Jeremy Corbyn Problem Noah Rothman – Commentary Magazine

    Corbyn rendered his party toxic. His penchant for standing in solidarity with terrorists and anti-Semites opened a seal out of which a cascade of anti-Jewish sentiments poured, engulfing his party in scandal. His brand of radical socialism was insufferably hidebound. His expressions of sympathy for history’s greatest criminals were thoughtlessly dogmatic. The Labour Party under Corbyn drifted so far toward overt Jew-hatred that Britain’s chief rabbi denounced the institution. The Archbishop of Canterbury agreed with that assessment, as did 85 percent of the country’s Jews. There was no ambiguity here.

    Sanders may be insulated from the charge that he shares these suspicious sentiments because he is Jewish, but this clear pattern raises some disturbing questions. It is incumbent on the press to ask them. To at least a degree, Sanders clearly evinces some of Corbyn’s instincts on policy, but his affiliations suggest a similar tolerance for the radical left’s occasionally anti-Semitic indulgences.

      1. integer

        Rothman’s rant was published two days after the following article by Sanders:

        How to Fight Antisemitism Bernie Sanders – Jewish Currents

        Opposing antisemitism is a core value of progressivism. So it’s very troubling to me that we are also seeing accusations of antisemitism used as a cynical political weapon against progressives. One of the most dangerous things Trump has done is to divide Americans by using false allegations of antisemitism, mostly regarding the US–Israel relationship. We should be very clear that it is not antisemitic to criticize the policies of the Israeli government.

        Ending that occupation and enabling the Palestinians to have self-determination in an independent, democratic, economically viable state of their own is in the best interests of the United States, Israel, the Palestinians, and the region. My pride and admiration for Israel lives alongside my support for Palestinian freedom and independence. I reject the notion that there is any contradiction there. The forces fomenting antisemitism are the forces arrayed against oppressed people around the world, including Palestinians; the struggle against antisemitism is also the struggle for Palestinian freedom. I stand in solidarity with my friends in Israel, in Palestine, and around the world who are trying to resolve conflict, diminish hatred, and promote dialogue, cooperation, and understanding.

        [emphasis mine]

    1. Johan Telstad

      They saw the smear campaign against Corbyn worked, so now they think maybe they can repeat it against Sanders. Honestly, the concerted efforts of the British press was shocking. They just didn’t like Corbyn, and delighted in covering the manufactured anti-semitism “crisis” in the Labour Party.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Jimmy Dore was saying that if they get you to the point that you are apologizing for stuff that you should never be apologizing for in the first place, then they will make you do it again and again and again. When Corbyn was first accused of being antisemitic, he should have come down on that crap like a ton of bricks. He didn’t and it was used against him right up to voting day, especially when the head Rabbi went after him for this. Will Sanders learn for Corbyn’s mistake?

    2. David

      Labour lost because they were attached to the neoliberal policies from the past. Corbyn was unable to minimize the skeletons in Labour’s closet. Neoliberalism is rejected by voters who see its corrosiveness. Sanders isn’t Corbyn or Labour UK. Like some voting groups in the US, Labour UK ignored its natural backers for too many years and those backers still voted for Labour out of some nostalgia for the Labour brand. They waited patiently for the help promised and never delivered by Labour. These are voters tired of being ignored as their economic issues multiplied with each new phase of austerity measures. They wanted a new beginning – a reformation of ideas away from neoliberal dogma.

      Brexit was a chance for a fresh start – one layer of government removed. Boris used that anger with his “Brexit will get done sooner than later” campaign. Corbyn had no chance with workers as the Labour brand is so toxic to flyover country in Britain. The voters want what they voted for – nothing less. Boris gave that assurance to voters. Corbyn said he would stay “neutral” regarding Brexit to assuage his neoliberal backers. Labour lost.

      Bernie Sanders has none of those problems. But the knives will come out for him – as the neoliberals always work to impede any policy that might impose some slowdown in their accumulation of wealth. “Austerity for the masses” does not play well when the great divide between the top 1% and the 99% continues to widen. This should be a lesson for the neoliberal candidates in Presidential Race, not Sanders.

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