2:00PM Water Cooler 12/19/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“The limited U.S.-China trade pact that includes Beijing’s commitment to buy up to $50 billion in American farm products annually over the next two years would be a boon to U.S. farmers. But… the sector’s relief over the deal is being tempered by skepticism over the ambitious targets” [Wall Street Journal]. “In nearly two decades of burgeoning American agricultural exports to China, there has never been a period with the scale of growth that the deal foresees. No formal written agreement has been released, and farmers say they’re not counting on export orders until they see details. The projected exports would be twice what China has ever ordered in a year, and one analyst says that could exceed the volume that the U.S. normally exports annually//.”


“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 new polls from Emerson and YouGov of yesterday, with NBC now intergrated, as of 12/19/2019, 1:00 PM EST. Biden first, Sanders strong second, Warren drops, Buttigeig drops, Bloomberg up, though still flirting with the bottom feeders. The top four seem to be an established pattern (or, if you prefer, narrative). On to the next debate (today, December 19), and Iowa:

And the numbers:

We also have a new Civiqs poll from Iowa:

And the numbers:

Caveat that state polls are flaky, a caucus is hard to poll, and Iowa is volatile.

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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Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden didn’t just compromise with segregationists. He fought for their cause in schools, experts say.” [NBC]. “[P]olitical experts and education policy researchers say Biden, a supporter of civil rights in other arenas, did not simply compromise with segregationists — he also led the charge on an issue that kept black students away from the classrooms of white students. His legislative work against school integration advanced a more palatable version of the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine and undermined the nation’s short-lived effort at educational equality, legislative and education history experts say. ‘Biden, who I think has been good overall on civil rights, was a leader on anti-busing,’ Rucker Johnson, author of the book “Children of the Dream: Why School Integration Works,’ said. ‘A leader on giving America the language to oppose it despite it being the most effective means of school integration at that time.'”

Buttigieg (D)(1): “EXCLUSIVE: Pete Buttigieg’s Police Officers Caught on Tape Quoting KKK Scene from “Django Unchained” While Arresting Black Man” [Jordan Chariton, Medium]. “While the South Bend Police Department arrested a black resident on Wednesday, officers gleefully quoted a scene from Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ in which hooded KKK members bicker amongst themselves while riding to kill Jamie Fox’s character, Django. The individual being arrested, 21-year-old African American Marko Mosgrove, broadcasted his arrest to Facebook. Multiple officers with guns and shields over their faces rammed into the man’s home before they discovered his phone was livestreaming. ‘Hey, that phone is recording,’ an officer says, six minutes and 17 seconds into the livestream. The officers then turn the phone around, resulting in the screen going black. But the audio continued broadcasting throughout the arrest as officers reenacted the film’s scene. 18 minutes and 23 seconds into the livestream, an unknown officer giggles while asking: ‘You know what’s a good idea for your kid? Is a skull mask in case you have to shoot a guy.'” • Oops.

Sanders (D)(1): “Freedom Rider: Propaganda and the Defeat of Jeremy Corbyn” [Black Agenda Report]. “Corbyn and his party were relentlessly targeted by the corporate media who worked in collusion with the Tories, the surveillance state, and rightwing forces in the country. He was accused of being a Russian agent and an anti-Semite. … Most voters said that the charges of anti-Semitism didn’t sway their choices, but propaganda works in an insidious way. Repetition of a lie can change minds, much like subliminal messaging on a constant loop. Eventually the target cannot be thought of in a positive light and is connected with the libel just because it is uttered often enough…. The post-election analysis on this side of the Atlantic parroted all the claims of Corbyn’s opponents. We are told that the Democrats can’t go too far to the left, that is to say protect the welfare state, because they will end up like Corbyn and the Labour party. Like clockwork, Bernie Sanders is accused of being an anti-Semite. The smear worked so well that there is no need to come up with something new. If Corbyn can be defeated with a libel it can work just as well on Sanders.”

Sanders (D)(2): “Biden’s Campaign Keeps Being Celebrated For Its ‘Resilience,’ But What About Bernie’s?” [Essence]. “For several months now, there has been an endless discourse in our political coverage tied around the alleged resilience of Joe Biden’s campaign. However, that same courtesy has curiously not been extended to Bernie Sanders, who throughout the entire campaign, has not only maintained top tier status but has seen his numbers rise in more recent polling…. It is not just unfair to Bernie Sanders that his campaign and its generally strong performance thus far has been sidelined in the media more often than not. It is a disservice to all voters, and in particular, the ones who stand to gain the most by nominating a progressive candidate (he is not the only one running) who wants to advance the quality of life of working-class people rather than merely serving as some empty symbol that the storm is over now.” • Note the source.

Warren (D)(1): “Warren Sensibly Avoids Medicare for All Fantasy World” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “That is, of course, a completely accurate description of the plan she’s had on the table for over a month now. And she has always made it plain that the reason she thinks a full Medicare for All implementation will be possible during the second stage (just three years after she is inaugurated) is that many Americans will choose to support the public health-care plan once they’ve seen it.” • This argument is so dumb. They have seen it, because their older relatives have it. Sheesh.

* * *

“Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders Have a Problem: Each Other” [New York Times]. “‘You worry about Bernie and Elizabeth splitting the progressive vote because between the two of them they’ve got a huge bloc,’ said Ms. Chojnowski, who initially considered Ms. Warren but has come back to Mr. Sanders because, as she put it, ‘he’s the thought leader.'” • You say “splitting the progressive vote” like that’s a bad thing. Anyhow, there’s no need for Sanders to attack Warren; “never interrupt your enemy when they are in the process of making a mistake.” So if attacks have to be made, Warren has to attack Sanders. Good luck with that.

The Debates

NOTE We’ll have a debate live blog posted at 7:30pm ET. Bring popcorn.

“6 big questions ahead of Democrats’ final debate of 2019” [Associated Press]. “THE END OF ‘MEDICARE FOR ALL’? It was a litmus issue for ambitious Democrats a year ago. But now, only one of the seven Democrats on the debate stage is promising to fight for Medicare for All immediately after taking office. That would be the bill’s author, Bernie Sanders, who is nothing if not consistent. The other progressive firebrand onstage, Elizabeth Warren, has settled on a plan to transition to Medicare for All by the end of her first term, while none of the other candidates would go even that far. Most support a hybrid system that would give consumers the choice to join a government-run system or keep the private insurance they have. No issue has symbolized the fight for the soul of the Democratic Party in 2020 more than this one. And yet, for now, the centrists appear to be winning.” • P4AHCF doing its work.


“Nancy Pelosi Just Made a Major Impeachment Power Play” [Vice]. ” Minutes after the House voted to impeach President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) dropped a bombshell: She won’t send the articles of impeachment to the Senate until she feels they’ll get a fair hearing on the other side of Capitol Hill… Remarkably, Pelosi repeatedly refused to guarantee that the Senate would ever get the articles of impeachment, effectively undercutting the pressure that the Constitutional requirement that the Senate act swiftly on articles of impeachment.” • I quickly scanned the impeachment clauses in the Constitution, but I missed this requirement. Is it there?

“Nancy Pelosi’s pin at the impeachment debate was a declaration: The republic will survive this” [WaPo]. “And for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who was at the center of it all, it was a day for mournful black, not power pink. Not resistance white…. As she spoke, it was impossible to miss the large golden mace brooch pinned to the left side of her chest. It is an eagle with its wings spread, perched on a pearl mounted on a sheath of gilded rods. This Ann Hand brooch, which exudes majesty and power and old Washington style, was inspired by the mace of the House of Representatives. The original artifact, created in 1841, sits in the House chamber and serves as a symbol of the sergeant at arms’ authority as well as his or her role in maintaining decorum.” • Lol, then why not exercise and enforce the subpoena power?

UPDATE “McConnell taunts Pelosi as ‘too afraid’ to send impeachment articles” [Politico]. “‘It’s like the prosecutors are getting cold feet in front of the entire country and second-guessing whether they even want to go to trial,’ McConnell said in a 30-minute floor speech on Thursday morning. ‘They said impeachment was so urgent that it could not even wait for due process but now they’re content to sit on their hands. It is comical.'” • I don’t get why Pelosi thinks withholding the articles gives her leverage. McConnell can just say “Send them over when you’re ready.” “Hurry up and wait” makes no sense.

“‘Let Them Impeach And Be Damned’: History Repeats Itself With A Vengeance As The House Impeaches Donald Trump” [Jonathan Turley].

The Trump impeachment is even weaker than the Johnson impeachment, which had an accepted criminal act as its foundation. This will be the first presidential impeachment to go forward without such a recognized crime… The Trump impeachment also marks the fastest impeachment of all time, depending on how you count the days in the Johnson case.

Take the obstruction of Congress article. I have strongly encouraged the House to abandon the arbitrary deadline of impeaching Trump before Christmas and to take a couple more months to build a more complete record and to allow judicial review of the underlying objections of the Trump administration. But Democrats have set a virtual rocket docket schedule and will impeach Trump for not turning over witnesses and documents in that short period even though he is in court challenging congressional demands. Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton both were able to go to court to challenge demands for testimony and documents. The resulting judicial opinions proved critical to the outcome of the cases….

The same is true with the abuse of power article. I testified that the House had a legitimate reason to investigate this allegation and, if there was a showing of a quid pro quo, could impeach Trump for it. Democrats called highly compelling witnesses who said they believed such a quid pro quo existed, but the record is conflicted. There is no statement of a quid pro quo in the conversations between Trump and the Ukrainians, and White House aides have denied being given such a demand. Trump declared during two direct conversations, with Republican Senator Ron Johnson and Ambassador Gordon Sondland, that there was no quid pro quo.

One can question the veracity of his statement, as he likely knew of the whistleblower at the time of the calls. But there is no direct statement in the record by Trump to the contrary. Democrats and their witnesses have instead insisted that the impeachment can be proven by inferences or presumptions. The problem is that there still are a significant number of witnesses who likely have direct evidence, but the House has refused to go to court to compel their appearance. The House will therefore move forward with an impeachment that seems designed to fail in the Senate, as if that is a better option than taking the time to build a complete case.

Turley’s MSDNC billings are gonna dry right up.

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In another part of the forest:

And eight or ten years from now, one of these judges is going to get nominated for the Supreme Court, and oh the liberal Democrat wailing and gnashing of teeth!

Stats Watch

Retail: “One forecast says consumers will return up to $95 billion worth of merchandise purchased over the holidays” [Wall Street Journal]. “United Parcel Service Inc. expects to handle more than one million returned e-commerce packages a day this season, with volume peaking on Jan. 2 at about 1.9 million packages.”

Supply Chain: “The Baby Yoda supply chain isn’t waiting around for Disney. A small army of cottage manufacturers and is rushing in to fill a surprising gap in the Star Wars-related streaming series “The Mandalorian.”… [C]rafty fans are creating and selling their own versions of the big-eyed Baby Yoda character that has become a phenomenon” [Wall Street Journal]. “Disney is fighting the efforts, but the trouble is that the public can’t buy an official Baby Yoda. Disney put off fabricating merchandise to protect the surprise when it appeared on screen, and so sanctioned Baby Yoda toys won’t be available until early 2020. The situation marks a rare disconnect in the big-budget marketing behind popular fantasy movies.”

Supply Chain: “Cracking the Code of Global Value Chains” [Law and Political Economy]. “With growing complexity of [Global Value Chains (GVCs)], a focus on the legal form of its constituent parts becomes increasingly problematic, both analytically and normatively. Take for instance the semiconductor chip manufacturer Intel that uses no less than 19,000 suppliers in over 100 countries to provide the raw material, tools, machines, logistics and packaging it uses. Here, any classical ascriptions of linear control and steerability through the lead firm seem hopelessly reductionist. As much as this complexity can be critiqued as partly fabricated to evade regulation, it is a dominant feature of global production. Only an institutional understanding that takes GVCs as a unit of analysis in its own right can fully apprehend the dynamics that animate GVCs and that make them distinctively hard to regulate.” • Code is law once again, it seems.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 90 Extreme Greed (previous close: 87 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 74 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 19 at 1:14pm.

The Biosphere

“History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin” [The Atlantic]. “The biggest prize for mining companies will be access to international waters, which cover more than half of the global seafloor and contain more valuable minerals than all the continents combined. Regulations for ocean mining have never been formally established. The United Nations has given that task to an obscure organization known as the International Seabed Authority, which is housed in a pair of drab gray office buildings at the edge of Kingston Harbour, in Jamaica. Unlike most UN bodies, the ISA receives little oversight. It is classified as “autonomous” and falls under the direction of its own secretary general, who convenes his own general assembly once a year, at the ISA headquarters. For about a week, delegates from 168 member states pour into Kingston from around the world, gathering at a broad semicircle of desks in the auditorium of the Jamaica Conference Centre. Their assignment is not to prevent mining on the seafloor but to mitigate its damage—selecting locations where extraction will be permitted, issuing licenses to mining companies, and drafting the technical and environmental standards of an underwater Mining Code. Writing the code has been difficult. ISA members have struggled to agree on a regulatory framework. While they debate the minutiae of waste disposal and ecological preservation, the ISA has granted “exploratory” permits around the world. Some 30 mineral contractors already hold licenses to work in sweeping regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.” • What could go wrong?

“Ancient chewing gum reveals diet of Stone Age woman” [Sky News]. “An ancient piece of “chewing gum” has revealed a Danish woman born 5,700 years ago probably had dark skin, blue eyes and ate a diet including hazelnuts and duck. Scientists examined the ancient piece of birch pitch which provided insights into the oral microbiome and the individual’s potential food sources.” • =

Health Care

“Who Pays in Medicare Part D? Giving Plans More Skin in the Game” [NEJM]. “[T]he enacting law for Part D included several features limiting the financial risk to plans, particularly risks associated with high-cost beneficiaries. Key among these features is the federal reinsurance program: once a beneficiary reaches a ‘catastrophic limit’ — corresponding today to about $8,000 in total drug spending — the federal government steps in to subsidize 80% of the remaining beneficiary spending for the year. The plan’s liability falls to just 15%, with patients responsible for the remaining 5%. The net effect is that the government, not the plan, bears most of the burden for those with the highest spending in the program.” • Lol, so Medicare Part D — with the best of intentions, of course — became a cherry-picking boondoggle. A bipartisan neoliberal infestation, as they so often are.

Xmas Pre-Mortem


Is this a regional thing, maybe confined to snowy states? Or is competitive Christmas lighting nationwide?

Why isn’t this an app:

Guillotine Watch

“Google’s Larry Page gave $400 million in Christmas donations. Not a penny went straight to charity. [Recode]. “In 2015, Page’s foundation dug deep and directed $94 million in new Christmastime giving. The next year around the same time, it sent $129 million out the door. By 2017, the group was donating twice as much during the holidays as it was just two years before, giving $180 million from his fortune to philanthropy…. There was just one problem, buried deep in tax records: None of this $400 million donated by his philanthropy, the Carl Victor Page Memorial Foundation, was actually going directly to charities. And these gifts, as for many donors, were not inspired by holiday cheer — but likely by an end-of-year deadline that incentivizes donors to effectively skirt the few rules that are meant to hold charitable foundations like Page’s accountable. But in recent years, Page’s foundation has made last-minute donations to hit the threshold only by making bulk donations to separate charitable accounts Page also had some control over, donor-advised funds (DAFs). Those donations technically count as contributions by the foundation, helping it meet the 5 percent standard, even though that money can then sit in the donor-advised funds indefinitely, with no requirement that it goes to needy nonprofits.” • Then again, maybe the money is better sitting there than doing whatever it is Page wants to do (see Bill Gates on charters).

Class Warfare

“New Belgium Brewing Company to sell to Kirin’s global beverage empire” [Coloradoan]. “Once inked, the acquisition will mean New Belgium is no longer employee-owned, she said.” • Sigh, though I guess the employees can use the retirement money….

“Earning Income on the Side Is a Large and Growing Slice of American Life” [New York Times]. ” Our Great Jobs Demonstration Survey was based on responses from over 6,000 American workers in the spring of 2019. The data show that 36 percent of workers are not in the traditional one-job-for-one-employer relationship. Eleven percent of all workers are both self-employed and working for an employer, similar to I.R.S. data showing that 10 percent of tax filers fall into that category.”

“Companies Can Ban Use of Work Email in Union Organizing (1)” [Bloomberg]. “Businesses can ban workers from using company email for union and other organizing purposes, the National Labor Relations Board decided in a Dec. 17 decision. The 3-1 ruling in favor of Caesars Entertainment effectively revokes a right granted in 2014 to workers who have access to employers’ email systems for other reasons, and overturns the 5-year-old Purple Communications Inc. ruling issued under a Democratic-majority board. The Board’s decision allows employers to restrict use of their email and other information technology systems to certain purposes so long as they don’t target union-related communications and activity. It also creates an exception for situations where there aren’t other reasonable means to communicate on non-working time. The decision is a blow to worker advocacy groups and unions, who urged the NLRB to maintain the 2014 policy on the basis that email has become a central and natural way for co-workers to organize and communicate.” • There’s no app for that?

“Mind-Forged Manacles” [New Left Review]. “In his latest work, [Richard] Seymour turns this disenchantment on the miasma of social media, excoriating the belief that Twitter—defined as ‘the world’s first ever public, live, collective, open-ended writing project’—will instigate positive political change or democratize the means of communication. Following Taylor and Taplin, The Twittering Machine argues that this digital platform is irredeemably reactionary—that the consciousness it ingrains is indicative of a political toxicity that should dissuade the left from overestimating its value as an organizing vehicle or propaganda tool. Seymour begins by asserting that the incredible popularity of the Twittering Machine (his shorthand for the online social industry) testifies to the degradation of social life under late capitalism. In his view, the basic function of Twitter and Facebook is remedial—to provide a stand-in for communities destroyed by decades of neoliberal rule—which means that digital platforms must be understood as a kind of dream-world: a site of instantaneous wish-fulfilment where we can retreat from the contemporary realities of hardship and isolation.”

“The ‘1619 Project’ Gets Schooled” [Wall Street Journal]. • Shout-out to WSWS (!).

News of the Wired

“Your Friends Are Not HR” [The Baffler]. “Transactional language strips love, kindness, and empathy from the social scripts of friendship, the exact sentiments people need when coming to you for help, regardless of whether or not you can provide that help at that specific time…. The appeal of the managerial language of these texts is that they seek to avoid the scariness of opening yourself to the emotions of others and their messy vulnerability. But it is precisely that messy vulnerability which makes friendships difficult (especially to people like me who can’t even handle their own emotions) but also worthwhile and wholesome. There’s no need to have to sound like you’re about to bill your friends for emotional labor.”

A lost world, for train fans and gamers. Thread:

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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 (JU):

JU: “Here’s some fall colors from Mineral King, all gone with the wind now.” And the snow! (Readers responded so well to my last request that I am still in Fall pictures, when it is winter, but then again perhaps seeing winter in spring’s rear view mirror will be a good thing!

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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. Prx

    I am guessing the constitutional requirement referenced in the impeachment article is the Sixth Amendment- a fair and speedy trial.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      Yves made reference to this in the Impeachment Open Thread post yesterday…

      “The Wall Street Journal suggests there are practical reason for pausing, that the Democrats want to get some business concluded before proceeding to the divisive and all-consuming Senate trial. The Senate has not set a schedule for January because impeachment takes precedence over all other business and requires Senators to sit six days a week. From the Wall Street Journal:

      Sending the articles automatically triggers a trial. There have been discussions on waiting until after the government is funded, according to the aide, and possibly until after the passage of a new North American trade deal.”

      1. ian

        Since the constitution omits the details about how an impeachment trial is to be conducted, what is to stop the senate from just going ahead with it anyway, before the articles are formally sent?
        They could argue that they know exactly what is in the articles and how the vote turned out and just say ‘see you next tuesday, be ready’.

      2. Bob

        If that was true, they should have held off on the impeachment. You can’t rush things because of a threat to the very fabric of our society and then delay things indefinitely simply because you feel like it. From the Senate side it seems they were unaware of the maneuver. Sounds like politics and politicians trying to have it both ways. Like appearing somber, but having impeachment parties.

          1. rps

            I think Pelosi is still furious with the Donald when he cancelled her overseas trips last January due to the democrat imposed government shutdown. “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was said to be furious with President Donald Trump after he canceled her overseas junket. She was waiting on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews preparing to leave at 3 p.m. Thursday when her team got word.” “Due to the shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed,” said Trump in his letter.

            I’d say Pelosi believes her brand of justice has been served up. Hell hath no fury….

            1. Fíréan

              Pelosi knows that the impeachment has no legs, that the damage will be done to the “Democratic” party.
              The more the true guilty attempt to cover up, divert attention from, their own misdeeds by accusing Trump of their crimes, the more they expose themselves . Their veil of lies is in tatters.
              I full understand why Trump wants a trial and now Pelosi does not.

              A well written short article which i have just read and pass on to you ( plural) :


              As Charles Ortel writes in his excellent blog , ” speaker Pelosi has truely stepped in poo poo here “

          2. Lorenzo Raymond

            Is it conceivable that Pelosi could withhold the Articles until the Democrats retake the Senate?

            1. Mel

              Did I read a couple of days ago that every two years, the House of Representatives that’s convened is a brand new H of R? (I believe I did.)
              If that is the case then anything that dies on the order paper at the end of this term will be dead, and somebody would have to start from scratch to get it back.

            2. Carey

              >Is it conceivable that Pelosi could withhold the Articles until the Democrats retake the Senate?

              Sure. That’ll happen just as soon as the Dems pass some decent
              people-benefiting policy; IOW, never.


            3. Yves Smith

              Then why the rush to impeach by year end? The Dems have discredited themselves if this is the plan.

              Plus the handicapping says the odds of the Dems taking the Senate are remote, and on top of that, it takes a 2/3 vote to convict, not a mere majority.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          I’m going to take a flier here and suggest that they just have no plan. Similar to how there was no plan for Not Hillary.

    2. JBird4049

      So once again the powerful keep the rights many of us do not have? Interesting.

      The Sixth’s right to a speedy trial like the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth rights of privacy, (effectively) warrantless searches and seizures, excessive punishments including civil asset forfeitures, are effectively dead letters to much of the American population. The courts have kept creating exceptions until the Bill of Rights is mostly suggestions.

      People can be, and are, held for months, in some cases over a year, because “reasons” or given bail too high to be affordable, or just denied it, often for crimes like shoplifting. Even if not convicted, the person can be held awaiting trial as long as an actual sentence, which is how many prosecutors get them to “confess” because you are going to do the time unless you do say you committed a crime. Commit perjury, or at least give up your right to trial, and get out in a few days and maybe keep your job and apartment, or fight and lose even if you win.

      About the only rights that have not been made jokes are the First on free speech and the Third on forcing people to house the military during peacetime, and even there states are trying to over-criminalize protesting, and the American Police State’s Panopticon and its many fusion centers is making speech dangerous to use.

      Since I am already on a rant here, let me finally point out the Bill of Rights was a reaction to the prev-revolutionary war excesses of the British state. Those very excesses that the authorities used to prevent a war actually helped caused them. Since single right in the Bill of Rights is a reaction to, and is meant to be a right against, the state’s abusive use of power, abuses that helped to start another multi empire/state war, and since most them are fading away, what does that say about our future?

      1. Rhondda

        Excellent rant. Right on, JBird. But I regret to opine that our future is probably not much defined or even outlined by our forebears’ experiences — because imo we are not as good at being citizens as them. They wouldn’t have stood for any of it. Patriot Act? Etc? I don’t think so.

      2. blowncue

        Allow me to attempt to persuade you to teach in any high school – any subject – if you do not already do so.

    3. EarlErland

      It’s interesting to watch Nancy. No impeachment. Ok Impeachment, but no managers. Or vote. Nancy and Sid were a toxic combo. I do not expect checks and balances in the coming fight, be the fight impeachment or Nomination. I expect Trump to do a Bush and start a war. Dems have been rally around the flag aholes forever. It will be interesting to see if the natural anti foreign war appears. It was not just Lindbergh, and Lindbergh wound up flying missions in the Pacific despite Roosevelt. The big fat knows

      1. JBird4049

        The political leadership of the House and the Senate is akin to a pair of suicidally deranged coked-up, zoned-out smack using punk rock lovers who made Romeo and Juliet look like a successful and stable adult relationship?

        Why, that does explains so much.

        And if the corpse of either the old anti-war, anti military left or the isolationist, anti war right up like some lich, I will be both surprised and ecstatic. Most Americans just have no idea how strong and widespread isolationism and anti militarism (more accurately anti large standing army) among the American population was. That did not stop wars, especially as the navy with marine corps was strong enough to crush any small country with delusions of independence, but it did put obstacles for going to war.

        1. HotFlash

          And again:

          December 20, 2019 at 12:00 am

          Allow me to attempt to persuade you to teach in any high school – any subject – if you do not already do so.

          Standing on my chair clapping.

  2. Danny

    “Transactional language strips love, kindness, and empathy from the social scripts of friendship, the exact sentiments people need when coming to you for help, regardless of whether or not you can provide that help at that specific time…”

    Brilliant observation by a young twenties something, seemingly uneducated guy I spoke to the other day who works in a service industry:

    “All these kids that get iPhones from their parents, they talk to me, ask me to do things for them as though they were talking to Alexa or AI…”

    Join the iResistance,
    always use “good morning, good evening, please, hello, beautiful day isn’t it?, I hope that you can help me, and thank you…”

    Do not get out of the way of people walking down the sidewalk staring at their phone, let them walk into you. Stop all conversation, mid-sentence, with anyone looking at a screen.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  3. Carey

    CJ Hopkins- ‘The Year of Manufactured Hysteria’

    “..If you thought the global capitalist ruling classes and the corporate media’s methodical crushing of Jeremy Corbyn was depressing to watch … well, prepare yourself for 2020. The Year of Manufactured Mass Hysteria was not just the Intelligence Community and the corporate media getting their kicks by whipping the public up into an endless series of baseless panics over imaginary Russians and Nazis. It was the final phase of cementing the official “Putin-Nazi” narrative in people’s minds.

    For the sake of anyone new to my columns, here’s how the Putin-Nazi narrative works …

    The Putin-Nazi narrative has two basic parts, or messages, which are constantly repeated: (1) “Russia is attacking our democracy!; and (2) “fascism is spreading like wildfire!,” both of which parts are essentially fictions. This official Putin-Nazi narrative was introduced in the Summer of 2016, and replaced the official “War on Terrorism” narrative, which had run for fifteen years, and which was just as fictional. It has been methodically reinforced and repeated by the neoliberal establishment, the corporate media (and, more recently, the alternative media, and even by extremely intelligent anarchist anthropologists like David Graeber) for the last three years on a daily basis. At this point it has become our “reality,” just as the War on Terror became our “reality” … as the Cold War had previously been our “reality.”..”

    Dovetails with Glen Ford’s excellent BAR piece in this morning’s links, I’d say.

  4. Hepativore

    Wow, I could go on about toy trains for hours. I have always wanted to build a layout for my father’s S scale trains, but I have neither the time, money, nor space in my tiny apartment. I am also not much of a craftsman. Still, I am amazed at what I have seen some people make for their train layouts, such as one guy who made a detailed chemical plant industrial park for his HO set.


    Unfortunately, S scale is not nearly as popular as HO scale, and there are not as many pre-made pieces of scenery for it.

    I would love to have something like a layout featuring a nuclear powerplant for my diesel train, but I would not know where to begin building something like that.

    1. a different chris

      Put up a green-painted 4×8 plywood, screw the tracks down, and run the suckers around in circles. You will not believe how relaxing that is.

      Then get some gray paint and paint some roads. Did you Dad have Plasticville buildings? If not, they are readily available on eBay. They are toylike and cute and have an insane variety, and are “scaled” close to S-gauge. Ertl has structures, too. More relaxation. Maybe you just stop there.

      Or don’t stop there. Do stop worrying about how “much of a craftsman” you are or not and just start trying to build things. I suggest a simple mountain with the train running thru it for starters.

      The super-scale layouts are amazing. But the old track-screwed-on-plywood can become actual works of art in a way the scale cannot. And maybe you -and I- cannot create works of art, we can create something we and (cough, everybody but our wives, cough) can enjoy.

      1. Janie

        Our sheet of plywood was hinged over a low sofa, bottom side covered with collaged posters, legs folding into side frames. Have to allow for tall scenery or remove it. Lots of fun.

      2. Carey

        >Do stop worrying about how “much of a craftsman” you are or not and just start trying to build things.

        Important, important, important. Make something, anything; you’ll feel better, and the world will be better. Found materials get extra points!

        1. polar donkey

          My two sons are 3 and 5. I talked with my wife’s father about him building a model train scene. When I was a kid, my dad did it with me. Plywood, green felt for grass, and dark gray paint for roads. I still remember it. Good bonding for my boys and their grandfather. Automatic xmas gifts too. Every year it expands. I think their grandfather is more excited about it than the boys will be.

      3. Mo's Bike Shop

        My father did one that lifted up to the ceiling of the workshed on pulleys. Great fun with just the bare plywood.

      4. Hepativore

        Oh, I put up the train for short periods of time, like right now around Christmas, just that I would eventually like to have a permanent layout for it. It is still technically my father’s train, he just “gave” me one of his American Flyer diesels (The Rocket) for the time being as he knows that I like to play with them as well, even though I am 35 years old but I am basically a giant manchild. He would have liked to lend me more of his trains, but I just do not have the space. My apartment is only around 435 square feet.

        My father did say that he would eventually leave me his train stuff, as he has several engines of both steam engines and diesels and lots of track, all in S scale. Still, if I ever do get around to putting up a permanent display (If I could ever afford my own house on a single income, har har) I would look into a previous idea I had of making the landscape out of large pieces that can be disconnected and assembled easily. This way, I could have different pre-made “modules” that I quickly could swap in and out whenever I wanted a change of scenery, like a winter scene, an industrial park, farmland, forest, desert, etc.

        Has anybody ever heard of something like this?

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      What a marvelous idea! Article on the extraordinary model trains display also caused me to recall an enjoyable experience as a child this time of year watching the HO scale model trains in the basement of the Union building at Purdue University (Boilermakers) in West Lafayette, Indiana. Looks like they’re still there:


      For those who enjoy BOTH model trains AND gardening, the university’s Railway Garden in the northern part of the state might be fun, although I don’t think it opens until late spring:


    3. Toshiro_Mifune

      For those interested there are tons of YouTube channels dedicated to modeling, trains, miniatures, etc.
      Luke Towan, link below, does tutorials for dioramas for trains that are easily adapted for anything else you want to make a diorama for.


  5. DJG

    Noted from the tweet:

    Mazie Hirono, voting for none of the judicial nominees. I was working on a project that allowed me to do a bit of research on her. She had a rather odd path to citizenship in spite of having a father with U.S. citizenship. Also, the first Buddhist in the U.S. Senate, which may be why she mistrusts the usual lot of ambitious nominees. I know that neither Tom Cotton nor Amy Klobuchar strikes me as a bodhisattva.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      First Buddhist.

      That’s interesting. Thanks. I wonder if there had been any Hindu senators.

    1. Danny

      This Ed Buck?

      WEST HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) — “Prominent Democratic donor and LGBTQ+ political activist Ed Buck was charged Tuesday with running a drug den out of his West Hollywood apartment and providing methamphetamine to a 37-year-old man who suffered an overdose last week, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said.”

      At least we know where the bodies are buried. Say, did that expression originate with Hoffa?


  6. John Beech

    Funny thing this business of impeachment. If the president had done something actually wrong, then I’d be more than ready to impeach him even though I voted for him. However, this doesn’t make the cut. Oh, and for the record, I know lying about it was what they got him for, but Bill Clinton’s getting a hummer didn’t rise to impeachment in my views either because everybody lies about sex. What makes the cut in my book? Simple, think about what Benedict Arnold did in selling the plans to West Point to the British and you have an idea of what I interpret to constitute high crimes and misdemeanors. Considering his skills with Twitter, does anybody doubt he could have gotten the ball rolling on investigating Joe Biden and his son without all this nonsense cooked up by the Democrats? Please!

    1. jsn

      Does drone assassination make the cut (Obama)? Or universal surviellance (Bush, Obama, Trump)? Or undeclared wars (Obama)? Torture (Bush, Obama? Trump? WTFK?)?

    1. Shonde

      If my subdivision in San Diego County was any indication, heavily decorated homes at Christmas are definitely not just a snowy region thing. Blow ups on the lawn and roof, lights outlining the whole home were common. Two years before I moved to Minnesota, my up slope neighbor installed a 40 foot pole permanently in their backyard and put lights coming down the pole in the shape of a Christmas tree using a rented lift. Everyone in the city saw that tree since we lived on a bluff. I miss sitting on my patio after dark admiring that tree. My street currently in snowy Minnesota has a few lights but nothing to speak of.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Moved to a small town near La Crosse and seasonable inflatables are big around here. It seems to be a ‘for the kids/grandkids’ kind of thing. More cartoonish than Christian, really.

      2. Wukchumni

        A mile from my sister’s house in SD there’s a street where everybody goes whole hog, it’s beyond the pale in see me-dig me spirit & electricity.

        Hardly anybody makes an effort here in the Sierra foothills, me likee.

    2. Yves Smith

      Down here in the Deep South, we don’t have an entire hyper competitive block, but less than 2 miles from here is an insanely lit up big house that manages to work War Eagles (Auburn motto) into its Christmas theme. Lots of people drive over to have a look.

      Also the flat area with big ticket houses on small lots because walking distance to elementary school has a lot of decoration. Only a few heavily done up houses, but most have at least an outdoor 4′ or so fir-shaped tree with lights on it.

  7. The Historian

    The Trump impeachment is even weaker than the Johnson impeachment, which had an accepted criminal act as its foundation.

    Wellllllll……yes and no.

    Johnson was impeached in 1868 for violating the Tenure of Office Act which was passed in 1867. It was an act specifically passed over Johnson’s veto to deny Johnson the right to remove Secretary of War Stanton without the Senate’s approval – which they were not about to give. It was generally accepted that a President had the right to dismiss his cabinet members without the Senate’s approval in the past and if this law had gone to the Supreme Court, it most likely would have been declared unconstitutional. It was just a partisan trap that they knew Johnson would fall into.

    1. jsn

      Yes, but the underlying politics of the Radical Republicans was to prevent Johnson, a Southern fence sitter, from allowing the South to reinstate slavery in all but name which the incipient KKK was at that moment doing.

      So while I agree they were procedurally wrong, like our current Dipocrats, they were at least principled; many knew people who had recently died in the cause they continued to fight for.

      The Johnson impeachment was made light of durring the Clinton impeachment, but it was a serious attempt to deliver on the promise of emancipation that in the end took another century.

      1. The Historian

        That really wasn’t my point, was it?

        I wasn’t debating the pros and cons of the Johnson Presidency. I was pointing out that Alexander Hamilton’s greatest fear about including impeachment in the Constitution was that it would be used for partisan reasons – and his greatest fear came true the first time the Congress used it. As he stated in the Federalist Paper #65:

        In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.

        1. jsn

          Quite right, my apologies, I should have been clear.

          My pique is with the article we’re both commenting on.

          I see what you are saying clearly now.

          1. The Historian

            Well, my bad too. If I had read the whole article instead of just the clip and then scanning the bottom, I wouldn’t have posted because the article does say basically what I said. I can see how you got confused by my comment!

            I violated my own rule which is reread the article BEFORE I comment.

  8. Roy G

    AFAICR, the Democrats had a closed door impeachment hearing, where the Republicans were not allowed to question the ‘whistleblowers.’ Now that impeachment proceedings moving forward, will there be testimony and cross examination? The ‘whistleblowers’ really need to testify under oath and be questioned, as they appear to extremely dodgy.

    1. Kkkkate

      This article from The Federalist makes all the usual Republicans’ arguments, devoid of facts, rationality and logic. It, and presumably the poster, argue that Pelosi is obstructing justice by failing to forward the articles of impeachment. Hee hee. Passive-aggressive Karma is a b##ch. It wasn’t obstruction (according to R’s) when Putin’s Turtle refused to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. As for a speedy trial–the 6th Amendment applies to criminal trials.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        “Devoid of facts, rationality and logic.”

        Hmm, that’s pretty high handed. Would you care to demonstrate that, point by point, with reference to the offending essay?

        You may not have *agreed* with the facts, rationality and logic presented, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any (“devoid” – words do mean things, you know)

        I’d also appreciate a pointer to the relevant case law that clearly establishes (with facts, rationality and logic) that a Senate trial relating to “Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is *not* a criminal trial covered by Article 6. Partisans have lots of opinions on that topic, sure, but it hasn’t to my knowledge* been clearly resolved in the courts. I’ll wait, thanks.

        Note: I’m not ‘assigning homework’, but absent a refutation employing actual facts, rationality and logic, your statement above is just more overheated balloon juice. In my opinion.

        * Case law in footnotes here.
        Every impeachment defendant has either expressly or impliedly asserted that he was entitled to due process or other criminal procedural rights, and that Senate actions denied him those rights.’ Still, however, the debate continues, for no court has authoritatively stated the degree to which Bill of Rights criminal procedural guarantees apply to impeachment.

  9. RMO

    “The Baby Yoda supply chain”

    I have an enduring affection for Star Wars in the way many of my fellow children of the 70s do. That exhilarating experience of seeing it the first time in the local theater, the way everyone else in class also saw it, was crazy about it and played “Star Wars” for ages afterward, the toys… But let’s face it, Yoda is and always has been an incompetent, unprincipled, amoral, manipulative lying sack of green feces. The last thing I want under the tree is a Muppet Babies version of the little gnome!

    1. Massinissa

      Technically it isn’t actually Yoda, its an infant (technically) of the same species.

      I say technically because the infant is 50 years old. But its still an infant because Yoda’s species ages slowly. Also its called ‘Baby Yoda’ by fans and press because Yoda’s species has never been given a name because Lucas wanted his species to be a mystery.

      Also you don’t need to worry about Baby Yoda being Yoda reincarnated, because being 50 years old, that baby has been alive longer than Yoda has been dead.

      Lastly, don’t see the new Star Wars movie. Ever. If you need a Star Wars fix go watch the Mandalorian on Disney+. Unfortunately its literally the only good thing on the service besides old Disney cartoon films so it might not be worth it for that alone, as much as I enjoy the show myself.

      1. RMO

        Ah! So there’s hope then? I haven’t seen any of the series as I don’t have the Disney streaming service. Come to think of it, I don’t have any streaming service. My wife has Netflix and that’s it for this house. We’re still planning to see the new movie though. Not optimistic about it though (I’m actually fairly easy to please too – I even got along OK with the Han Solo movie, though I’m probably never going to watch it again). If we survived the last installment of The Hobbit (and we did) we can handle anything.

      2. inode_buddha

        Nah. They ruined the entire thing after the first one. Same thing they did to the Matrix. (And yes, I saw the original Star Wars when it came out, never forgot it.)

      3. Mo's Bike Shop

        Also you don’t need to worry about Baby Yoda being Yoda reincarnated, because being 50 years old, that baby has been alive longer than Yoda has been dead.

        I’m agnostic on reincarnation, but I never grokked the assumption that metempsychosis had to follow time’s arrow.

    1. JohnnyGL

      The discussion theorizes that Jeffrey Katzenberg and the others involved (a bunch of big HRC donors) are why TYT was so rough on Tulsi Gabbard and pro-Russiagate.

  10. JBird4049

    …an unknown officer giggles while asking: ‘You know what’s a good idea for your kid? Is a skull mask in case you have to shoot a guy.’”

    “Corbyn and his party were relentlessly targeted by the corporate media who worked in collusion with the Tories, the surveillance state, and rightwing forces in the country. He was accused of being a Russian agent and an anti-Semite. …

    “Freedom Rider: Propaganda and the Defeat of Jeremy Corbyn”

    Just shamelessly stealing from Lambert here to re-enforce a point. Sorry Lambert.

    The often horrible abuses using the “justice” system on everyone not wealthy, and especially not white, the racism, the ad hominen attacks and lies, the abusive use of the evils of the past to justify evil today, IdPol, and I would add neoliberalism, are so that the comfortable, wealthy, and powerful stay so. That is why leftists, even so right-wing reformers, are ignored, belittled, or smeared. The gravy train, with its limited number of first class seats, must continue on.

    More, I think it is their monomaniacal desire for the acquisition and continuation of their power is the most important thing to understand. How much stuff do you need to be comfortable? Even ten million dollars could last for a lifetime of comfort. Can anyone truly spend the hundreds of millions and billions of dollars that they the elites have? And on what? Another island? No, the raw power, status, and ego stroking obsequiousness that wealth give a person is what they want and the more for them, or the less for everyone else, the better for them.

  11. John Wright

    I have read much of the chattering class’s negative foreboding for the Sanders campaign from the implications of Labour’s demise to Johnson and the Conservatives. As I read of Johnson’s agenda for the Queen’s Speech, however, I think that such a reading of Labour’s defeat as bad news for Sanders does not read the data well. If one moves from the ideological labels to the specific policy positions, the United Kingdom’s Conservatives provided assurance to the public about the biggest issue of the Sanders campaign: the establishment, expansion, and renewal of national health care.

    Johnson both promised and seems to be following through with his commitment to the economic renewal of the British National Health System. As the United States Democratic candidates cave one by one to the health insurance industry, Sanders alone represents a position that Johnson included into his platform: the renewal of national health care, provided free at the point of service. Johnson would not have received his majority without his commitment to the NHS; he has placed renewing the NHS right behind Brexit in his priorities. He obviously fears backlash if he does not follow through with his public commitment. Commentators therefore have misread the implications of the British election for the United States’ Presidential election. The Conservatives adopted the deepest concerns for health care that the populace indicated. Only Sanders remains solid in this position.

    Most voters no longer care about labels of political parties. They do passionately care about their health care and its costs, whether they are in the United Kingdom or the United States. The message of the British elections does not suggest that the Sanders campaign is out of step with the electorate. The British elections show that Sanders has nailed the most important issue for the electorate: universal, national health care offered free at the point of access.

    British Labour lost its credibility with the voters by cutting the NHS for decades during the Blair neo-liberal moderation. Yes, Corbyn has been incompetent. But Labour has a “branding” problem through its own neo-liberal commitments in regards to the NHS. It has taken the Conservatives now to expand funding for the NHS after decades of austerity. Is Johnson doing a slight of hand? Perhaps. Time will tell. But his very public commitment to ending governmental austerity for the NHS is telling.

    Yes, the British have Brexit fatigue. More importantly, Labour lost the credibility to maintain the vitality of the NHS. Pictures of a child on the floor with pneumonia discredited Labour as much as it did the Conservatives.

    As usual, the joint Republican and Democratic neo-liberal party have read their own justification to pursue their own interests in the name of inter-Atlantic political analysis. The electorate, however, has different priorities. The electoral victory of the British Conservatives required a commitment to national health care. The Sanders campaign, its supporters, and the chattering class should take heart in this result for Medicare for All. The position made the British Conservative Party sound more Labour oriented than Labour itself.

    John W.

    1. Summer

      The Labour Party thought they had explained that Johnson was liar and because they are so well-reasoned and trusted, that would do the trick.
      (Loud laughter).

      1. marku52

        Here is an interesting take on Labour’s whipping. It was because the vote was basically a vote against neoliberal elite austerity, and voting for Johnson (and Brexit) was the only way to express that.

        Of course, Labour had an insoluble problem in that half their base was leave, and half remain. There was no resolving that. The Tories, thanks to Johnson’s pogrom, were all Leave.

        “It clearly conveyed what Corbyn now implicitly expresses: Brexit is a pointless distraction, which we can compartmentalise while we focus on the really important work of fighting neoliberalism. ”
        “For Leave voters, this just smacked of politicians ignoring them – or worse condescending to them – the very things they had revolted against in 2016. For them, a necessary first step in political transformation was to force the political establishment to stop doing this. For that reason, they were prepared to vote for the one major party pledging to respect their vote. ”

        It’s an interesting argument, which to me rings about right. How do you stick it to the Status Quo? You vote for Brexit. Labour failed to see that Brexit, rightly or wrongly, was how the voters were going to do that.

        ” The people are, in fact, out in front of them. If the left then reacts in horror, and recoils from the people and the prospect of fundamental change, the leadership of anti-establishment revolts will fall, merely by default, to the right. “

          1. John Wright

            Thank you. This provides important analysis that corrects the “chattering classes” narrative and its implications for the Presidential elections in the US. I did find it interesting that it did not mention the NHS much and the Conservative overlap with one of the three policy points of Labour.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      To add to the analysis above – if it (health care) worked for Johnson, will Trump try the same?

      1. marku52

        That’d be hard to sell, as he already tried it once and it blew up in his face “Who knew heath care was so hard?”

        “I’ll replace Obama care with something way better and much cheaper!”

        Yeah right.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s an opening he could use, again, citing perhaps new developments, such as court rulings chipping away at Obamacare since then.

          Will he try it? And will he be able to pull if off?

  12. GWB

    Re the employee-owned New Belgium brewer selling out to the Kirin empire (but somewhat changing the subject): Way back when newspapers were viable, a notable number of them around the country were employee-owned. But beginning in the 1970s the senior employees who had accumulated enough shares to dominate the ownership began selling out to odious chains, like Gannett. This, of course, left the younger generation of journalists at these papers with small compensation and much less secure futures.

    So when I read about the plight of journalists these days subject to even greater degrees of precarity, I think about their professional breed (to which I belonged till I got laid off/canned). In point of fact, history shows that we’re chumps and wimps. Even when unionized under the pushover Newspaper Guild. So much for solidarity.

  13. Pelham

    Re the mind-forged manacles of the Twitterverse: What if it could be shown — and it certainly seems plausible — that the internet is actually and irrefutably in the aggregate bad for the world? Though we’d certainly miss NakedCapitalism and others, wouldn’t it make sense to launch a drive to rid ourselves of this digital pestilence and re-confine it to its original purpose?

    Granted, this would be hugely disruptive? But if we’ve learned anything from the internet, it’s that disruption is good. Right?

    1. hunkerdown

      That sounds like two fallacies: composition and the excluded middle. But it’s probably grist enough to write a sci-fi trilogy, if John Michael Greer doesn’t get to it first.

  14. Summer

    Liked “Your Friends Are Not HR” [The Baffler]. “Transactional language strips love, kindness, and empathy from the social scripts of friendship, the exact sentiments people need when coming to you for help, regardless of whether or not you can provide that help at that specific time….”

    The first word is the joke if you’ve encountered the horrendous auto reply texts….

  15. Bugs Bunny

    Trump judge nominations – does that chart above mean that Sanders and Warren have voted for more than half? I’d like to know why and what the heck happened.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      And gosh, a great holiday present for this rabbit would be if all my comments didn’t automatically go to moderation. I feel awful that I don’t get to participate fully in the discussion we have here.

    2. Jeff W

      “I’d like to know why and what the heck happened.”

      Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (along with Senators Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris) were absent from the voting, according to the person tweeting.

  16. Synoia

    Companies Can Ban Use of Work Email in Union Organizing … There’s no app for that?

    I can code. This is an interesting cause. Who can produce the specs for the app? Or could it be email on a personal smartphone (which I dislike because spyware)?


    1. Synoia

      Rules for the database:

      Databases must be centralized
      Databases and must be in a jurisdiction which takes privacy seriously,
      Database Admins must be citizens of and residing in the governing jurisdiction.

    2. Alternate Delegate

      The need is for a truly secure messaging application / bulletin board.

      And by “secure”, I mean bottom-up secure, not top-down. So centralization is the wrong way to go. Also, any centralized server is too easy to take down (example: you’re in Hong Kong). As the internet itself shows, decentralization is the way to go.

      But you have to counteract the spying. How do you do that? You encrypt each message with the public key of the recipient. Only the recipient holds the private key and can decrypt. And they do that only on their own device, so their private key never goes anywhere else.

      This is how encrypted email service providers work. So when the state demands to see the emails in a particular account, they can have them. They’re encrypted so no one but the recipient can decrypt them. If both sender and recipient are on the same email service, an email never exists in unencrypted form. Nevertheless, any service based on a central server (even located in a jurisdiction like Iceland or Switzerland) is vulnerable to being taken down.

      So the next step is to make the email database portable. I have all of the emails on my own device – but I can only read the ones addressed to me. Everyone else also has a copy of the whole database. These should probably be short messages, like 140 character tweets.

      That’s how bottom-up security would work. Critically, this depends on full control of the device by the user. Unfortunately, neither the Apple iPhone or the Google Android qualify. We can start building the software infrastructure, but truly free messaging will require devices that are secure. From the bottom up.

      1. Synoia

        Given the security requirements, it is better not to build such a system.

        It would become a target for anti-union activity, well funded anti-union activity, and susceptible to bribery or blackmail, or both.

  17. Carey

    So there’s another Dem mcDebate tonight, I hear? Someone with a better eye and mind
    than mine really should do a study of the semiotics of these Dem™ debate™ stages: my initial thoughts are there is *no focal point*, no place to rest one’s eye; or, more importantly, rest one’s psyche, for contemplation’s sake, of either the candidates or the [dismal] spectacle itself..

    surely an oversight by their designers

  18. Wukchumni

    The fossilized forest, which is 386 million years old, was discovered in a quarry in the upstate town of Cairo, around 33 miles south of Albany, according to a new study.

    The discovery was reported in the latest issue of Current Biology and is believed to be 3 million years older than the previous world record holder, which is located around 25 miles away in Gilboa.


  19. Tom Stone

    “Progressive Firebrand Elizabeth Warren”.
    According to the AP.

    It’s just going to get weirder, and funnier.
    What a wonderful time to be alive!

    1. Massinissa

      I’ve never seen a ‘firebrand’ so willing to back down at the slightest hint of opposition from ‘moderates’.

      “You know, we don’t REALLY need M4A, at least not immediately, we could totally wait 4-8 years. Or more if you guys want…”

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Nancy Pelosi Just Made a Major Impeachment Power Play”

    The implication legally may be that the Senate has to make itself subordinate to the wishes of the House so no, that will not fly that. I suppose that good old Nancy will send the Two Articles of Impeachment when the Senate agrees on a few basic ground rules-

    The House can bring in any witness that they want into the Senate and they must attend.

    The Senate cannot examine any witnesses that the House uses, especially any secret witnesses.

    Finally, Trump must be found guilty and Impeached so as not to make the Democrats look as stupid as they are. Mike Pence gets to resign as well for something or other. Nancy, as next in line, gets to be President of the United States.

    An Amendment will be added to the Constitution to make legal everything that the Democrats did retrospectively.

    Just to complete the picture, Donald trump’s Space Force will be abolished and will be replaced by a Porcine Air Force.

    1. Kkkkate

      Oh my, worried are we? Putin’s Turtle may not care if there’s a trial, but the Big Tangerine certainly will. Wanna bet he can make it to January without 1) committing a new impeachable act or 2) having new evidence of illegal and morally reprehensible impeachable acts revealed?

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        You can say his name, you know. Donald Trump.

        Since your trolling is spiraling into reductio ad absurdem land anyway, fine, I’ll play: yes, in theory the House majority can impeach Trump again every time his lips move between now and the election, if it chooses. Why stop there? They can also impeach Pence, the cabinet, the entire Republican side of the Senate, plus all Trump’s judicial appointees. Isn’t this fun?

  21. smoker

    Re: Google’s Larry Page’s Philanthropy™

    Speaking of which, one of the larger Silicon Valley NonProfit™s with 2,500 volunteers and only a tiny handful of paid staff (would love to access what their paid VIPs and Directors make), sent out a (must have been very pricey, gloss finish, high print resolution, 8 pager) CHEERFUL Holiday Flyer™, loudly HEADLINING Google’s Charity in making it possible for them to move to a much, much larger building in 2020; and, of course, asking for donations. No note as to: Google et al being a predominant cause of the poverty; Google having been subsidized by a now impoverished populace; Google as Tax Avoider Cheat; nor how pathetic it is that the Non-Profit™ now needs far more space than in 2003, due to the exploding poverty and homelessness.

    Also no note has to how that particular city has the worse record of eviction and rent control amongst it’s Santa Clara County neighbors. Never a note, or Newspaper Editorial, on that shameful failure of the city’s housing policies, or the major Discrimination Issues (by the likes of Google, which has very quietly bought up huge portions of the City) and Political Policies and lack thereof, which has made that city one of the most possibly lethal to live and work in for decades, if one doesn’t own a home.

    The flyer goes on to horridly list Amazon Gift Cards™ for teens as an item needed; and a feel good, while doing nothing, Annual Poverty Simulation™ event – though I have failed to see (for a decade now) them out front in addressing the reasons for Silicon Valley poverty, particularly in their city, where the cops, and no doubt neighborhood online/ring watches, push the homeless further south. One of the city’s largest Churches – where likely the priest, and the parishioners, own homes now valued in the millions, even though many were bought for an average 40k – sickeningly uses Amazon Smile™, apparently utterly clueless as to the degradation and cruelty Amazon has imposed on millions of its warehouse workers.

    The only thing good about the flyer is that they no longer touted Lockheed as a major Philanthropist, which I came to find out, they’d been doing for decades. Lockheed (among countless years of worldwide abominable behavior) was responsible for force early retiring countless of its local California employees, leaving many unemployed (due to the exploding age discrimination, where 35 is the new 70, unless one is an elite, where 70 is the new 35), uninsured and impoverished. I’ve yet to meet anyone who worked there that has said a nice thing about Lockheed.

    About a decade ago, I stupidly donated a significant amount of money (compared to my income) to this horrid organization before vetting it (always vet them), because I knew and know people being economically crushed in this city, I’ll never forgive myself for it.

    1. Carolinian

      There are so many ironies there. Which one are you referring to?

      My choice would be that Bush really was guilty of high crimes and therefore couldn’t be impeached. Or maybe that’s a paradox.

      1. Wukchumni

        I was thinking there could be a movie deal post-Presidency, wonder if Robert Downey Jr. would be available?

    1. Rhondda

      Thanks for the Max Blumenthal link, Carolinian. That article is a knockout punch, imo. I’m printing that for distribution to family and friends.

  22. richard

    Here’s what’s bothering me: The house leadership, or maybe just pelosi, who the hell knows, is in control of when to send those articles of peaches to the senate. Any trial in the senate will result in a boost for trump’s numbers, because he will win, and even look like a corruption fighter in the process (thanks joe!). Pelosi is not stupid. An ossified pillar of ancient evil, yes, but not stupid. She has to know this is the case.
    Well that’s a nice little power to have in your pocket, innit? She can’t hurt trump, but any time she wants she can begin a process that will boost his numbers. Now I wonder when she might choose to use such a power? Perhaps her choice is bound up in the fortunes of a certain Vermont senator?
    This is the newest thing that is bothering me.

  23. Kkkkate

    Your recollection is mistaken. Whistleblowers’ testimony was not taken; it is irrelevant and trying to destroy their anonymity is a crime. Representatives of the Repubs were present at all “closed door” hearings
    and could question witnesses. Please verify your memory before posting.I

    1. Yves Smith

      The whistleblower’s identity is already well known. You cannot make something non public that is already public. However, the press has generally refrained from making his identity more visible.



      But the name of a government official fitting that description — Eric Ciaramella — has been raised privately in impeachment depositions, according to officials with direct knowledge of the proceedings, as well as in at least one open hearing held by a House committee not involved in the impeachment inquiry. Fearing their anonymous witness could be exposed, Democrats this week blocked Republicans from asking more questions about him and intend to redact his name from all deposition transcripts.

      RealClearInvestigations is disclosing the name because of the public’s interest in learning details of an effort to remove a sitting president from office. Further, the official’s status as a “whistleblower” is complicated by his being a hearsay reporter of accusations against the president, one who has “some indicia of an arguable political bias … in favor of a rival political candidate” — as the Intelligence Community Inspector General phrased it circumspectly in originally fielding his complaint.

      Federal documents reveal that the 33-year-old Ciaramella, a registered Democrat held over from the Obama White House, previously worked with former Vice President Joe Biden and former CIA Director John Brennan, a vocal critic of Trump who helped initiate the Russia “collusion” investigation of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

      Further, Ciaramella (pronounced char-a-MEL-ah) left his National Security Council posting in the White House’s West Wing in mid-2017 amid concerns about negative leaks to the media. He has since returned to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.


  24. flora

    re: “Nancy Pelosi’s pin at the impeachment debate was a declaration: The republic will survive this” [WaPo].

    ‘What ever Nancy wants,
    Nancy gets,
    and little man,
    Little Nancy wants you.’

    oops, wrong musical….

    ‘Springtime for Nancy and Democrats
    Winter for Donald and Barr,
    (Don’t be a dumbkoff be a shmarty,
    Come and join Ms Nancy’s party)’

    oops, wrong musical again.

    OK, I got nothin’.

  25. Tyronius

    Regarding the sale of New Belgium Brewing; Fort Collins is all abuzz about the implications of the sale of a favorite homebrewed success story and many are vaguely suspicious of the new owner’s intentions. That said, New Belgium hasn’t been small enough to properly be called a ‘microbrewery’ for decades now and is of a size where the marketing power and global reach of a larger corporation is essential to its continued growth. Obviously this means the new ownership will go to great lengths to maintain everything they can about the brand and its products. It just won’t be employee owned anymore.

    The beer won’t be cheaper but the salaries might be.

    Happily, there is no shortage of fantastic brewing talent within cat swinging distance. Do come out for a visit and I’ll be happy to give you a tour of my favorite watering holes, along with their specialties!

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