2:00PM Water Cooler 1/16/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


UPDATE “Jury Still Out As U.S. China Trade War Throws Up Winners, Losers” [Bloomberg]. “Donald Trump famously declared that trade wars are easy to win. With the phase one trade agreement between the U.S. and China now inked, observers are hesitant to declare a winner. While most welcomed the truce they also cautioned that the toughest negotiations are yet to come. For now, obvious beneficiaries include America’s farmers, refiners, crude and gas exporters who could see Chinese demand soar. U.S. finance firms including investment banks, credit card companies and ratings firms won allowances that will hasten their ambitions to grab a bigger slice of China’s $45 trillion financial industry. On the Chinese side, the truce offers relief for a slowing economy and gives breathing space for the government to meet its growth targets. Potential losers include Brazilian soy bean farmers and Australian suppliers of liquefied natural gas amid stiffer competition for their Chinese order book. The World Trade Organization has been left on the sidelines as globalization gives way to managed trade. Even with the deal, Chinese goods remain levied with stinging U.S tariffs while American firms still face heavily subsidized Chinese competitors.

“The U.S.-China trade war is in a cease-fire as businesses look for a possible return to strong shipping expansion. The eight-part agreement the countries signed calls for sharply increased sales of U.S. goods and services to China. …[I]t also calls for reduced U.S. tariffs on $120 billion in Chinese goods and includes Washington’s agreement to forgo other planned tariffs” [Wall Street Journal]. “The biggest section of the deal covers Chinese purchases. Beijing pledged to buy an additional $200 billion in goods and services over the next two years in manufactured goods, agriculture, energy and services, but it doesn’t provide any detailed purchasing plans. Business leaders are generally applauding the pact, saying it brings greater certainty across supply chains. Some importers say they’re concerned that many tariffs remain in place and that a more comprehensive accord is needed to lift the levies.”


“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.

There are no new polls, as of 1/16/2020, 12:00 PM EST, so I am leaving yesterday’s up. On the average, the pattern of Biden first, Sanders strong second, Warren fading, and then Buttigeig is more pronounced, with Bloomberg still closing on Buttigieg, which is interesting or concerning. NOTE: If we take out the averaging, Sanders is back in second, and Warren is in third. Of course, these are national polls, about to be massively thrown into confusion by IA, NH, SC, and NV — and then CA.

And the numbers:

Summary: Biden juggernaut rolls on, Sanders challenging strongly, Warren in difficulties, Buttigieg patchy.

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): “Ray LaHood won’t vote for Trump, backs Biden” [State Journal-Register]. “Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who is also a former Republican member of Congress, said Wednesday he did not vote for President Donald Trump in 2016 and will ‘absolutely not’ vote for him in 2020….. ‘I have met every president since (Richard) Nixon,’ LaHood told The State Journal-Register. ‘Although I haven’t agreed with every one of them on every issue, each one of those people, except for Nixon, distinguished themselves in a way that made our country proud. … And this president has not done that.’ ‘The way he treats people,’ LaHood continued. ‘The way that he disparages people. The way that he represents our country. He’s not my kind of politician.'” • Yes, Nixon was a giant… .

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “Joe Biden Has Advocated Cutting Social Security for 40 Years” [Ryan Grim, The Intercept]. “AS EARLY AS 1984 and as recently as 2018, former Vice President Joe Biden called for cuts to Social Security in the name of saving the program and balancing the federal budget. Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders highlighted Biden’s record on Social Security in prosecuting the case that Biden isn’t the most electable candidate. The issue could be raised again in Tuesday night’s debate.” • Lol.

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Mayor Pete Needs to Explain His Very Dumb Health Plan” [Vice]. “[O]nly Buttigieg claims his plan will guarantee that every person in America has insurance while still preserving people’s ‘choice’ of a private plan or the public option. How does PeteCare pull this off? By automatically enrolling anyone without insurance in the government plan and then back-billing them, potentially via tax filings, for a year’s worth of coverage, which could be thousands of dollars.” • Who would not find such a choice attractive?

Buttigieg (D)(2): “Pete Buttigieg” (interview) [Editorial Board, New York Times]. “It can be hard to remember that Pete Buttigieg is just 37 — his deep baritone and evenness of tone can often seem like a mismatch with his relative youth among the Democratic field. Mr. Buttigieg projected steadiness and thoroughness as he faced questions about his consulting work at McKinsey & Company, his service in Afghanistan, his faith and his challenges in attracting support from minorities and younger voters, despite being the youngest candidate in the contest. He bristled at suggestions that his McKinsey work involved bread price fixing in Canada and claimed ignorance of the ‘Mayo Pete’ memes popular on the internet among millennials. (‘I get the white part,’ he said.)” • Annotated interview follows. Have at it!

Buttigieg (D)(3): “Pete Buttigieg Trapped In Freezer After Searching Iowa Diner For Back Room With High-Rolling Donors” [The Onion]. “I already called for help in eight languages, and I’m starting to get really cold.”

UPDATE Klobuchar(D)(1): “Probably no one, not even Trump, is dreading the impeachment trial more than Amy Klobuchar” [Boston Globe]. “‘The timing of this impeachment trial is really unfortunate for Klobuchar,’ said Jeff Link, the onetime chief of staff to former Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and a former top staffer on the Al Gore and Barack Obama campaigns. Link hasn’t endorsed a candidate in 2020. ‘What really fueled her rise was the amount of time she spent in the state. This impeachment trial might freeze that and not help her build more momentum.’ No one on the debate stage Tuesday night has even come close to doing 165 events over 61 days in Iowa, as Klobuchar has.” • Klobuchar is the lead Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee.

Sanders (D)(1): “Sanders campaign escalates attacks on Biden’s race record in SC to sway black voters” [Post and Courier]. “While the national narrative in recent days has centered around Sanders’ escalating feuds with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in South Carolina, Sanders has continued to train his focus on Biden, who has led in every poll of Democrats in the state in large part to strong support from black voters.” • Social Security is the issue to split Biden’s voters, I think. Too bad that got drowned out over last week.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Pocan endorses Sanders, giving him a boost in Wisconsin” [Associated Press]. “Rep. Mark Pocan, who didn’t back anyone in Wisconsin’s Democratic presidential primary in 2016, announced Thursday that this year he is endorsing Bernie Sanders, giving the Vermont senator a boost in the battleground state three months before its primary… ‘I have enormous respect for Elizabeth Warren,’ Pocan told The Associated Press in an interview. ‘I just think not only do families connect very strongly with Bernie Sanders, the electability is very important.'” • Comment from NYT reporter/CNN commentator:

What an odd comment. Sanders shouldn’t seek endorsements, and people who endorse him shouldn’t give reasons?

Sanders (D)(3): “Bernie Sanders’s agenda makes him the definition of unelectable” [WaPo]. “The centerpiece of that agenda is Medicare-for-all, a politically toxic proposal that represents the only way Democrats could fumble away their health-care advantage over Trump.” • Third Way, funded by CVS Heatlh, which owns Aetna.

Sanders (D)(4): “Sanders’ wife on feud with Warren: ‘This discussion is over'” [Associated Press]. “”I think that this discussion is over,” O’Meara Sanders told The Associated Press… At the same time, she described her husband as ‘a person that everybody can trust’ and pushed back against Warren’s accusation. ‘Maybe people sometimes misremember things that happened,’ she said. ‘But I know without a doubt that it is not anything Bernie would ever say. It is inconceivable because it’s not what he believes. And there’s proof of that going back many, many years.’ ‘I’m not attacking Elizabeth Warren in any way, shape or form on this,’ O’Meara Sanders continued. ‘My message is Bernie is trying to bring people together.'” • Interestingly, AP characterizes Warren’s “explosive allegation” as “inexplicably made.”

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren Failed to Mention “Medicare-For-All” Once During Tuesday’s Debate” [Paste Magazine]. “Elizabeth Warren appears to have given up on Medicare for All—at least as a talking point. At Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate in Iowa, the last before the caucuses, the 2020 hopeful did not utter the phrase a single time while discussing her health care proposal. Instead she talked about defending the Affordable Care Act and downplayed the differences between the candidates’ plans.” • Wait. What about “I’m with Bernie”? Could be, of course, that Warren is making a play for insurance back office workers in Des Moines.

Warren (D)(2): “Can Elizabeth Warren Unify Democrats?” [Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker]. “The specificity of Warren’s campaign has won her a cadre of devoted, talented staffers and volunteers, many of them women in their twenties, that seems unmatched in the Democratic primary. At the Dubuque town hall, a young woman approached the microphone and said to Warren, winningly, that, though the two had never met, ‘you are my best friend in my dreams.’ ‘The stories about Warren staffers in Iowa and how far they go to sell her candidacy regularly circulate among rival campaigns, eliciting both eye rolls but also grudging admiration,’ the Washington Post reported earlier this month. In the piece, a longtime Iowa Democratic activist marvels, ‘It’s like, where did they find these kids?’ They find them in exactly the same places Democrats have always found talented kids, but, in this case, they have a somewhat different attitude toward power. Regina Logan, a Warren volunteer who is the student-body president at Grinnell College, told me, “Women often have to work twice as hard for less glory and less credit and more criticism. Her career, in a lot of ways, is that story.'” • “They find them in exactly the same places Democrats have always found talented kids”… Hmm. Clearly, none of them see #MedicareForAll as a defining issue, so one can only wonder where those “places” are. Probably not restaurants, the schools, or Walmart, the places the majority of Sanders supporters come from. I also see the possibility of friction at the caucuses. Perhaps that was what Warren was tee-ing up by casting Sanders as an enemy of women? If I were the Sanders campaign, I’d record all caucus sites, both to make sure there weren’t any shenanigains with ballots, and for any other incidents.

UPDATE Warren (D)(3): “#NeverWarren Was Trending on Twitter. Thank Her Supporters” [Bloomberg]. “On Wednesday morning, the hashtag #NeverWarren appeared at the top of Twitter’s trending topics. As of late Wednesday afternoon it had been mentioned more than 80,000 times, according to Ben Nimmo, director of investigations for social media monitoring company Graphika. “It looks like it started off among some long-standing Sanders supporters,” he wrote in an email, “but the most striking thing is that all the most-retweeted posts are of people criticizing the hashtag and the mentality behind it, and/or calling for unity.” • The famously disciplined and competent Warren campaign should have spotted this and damped it down, just as Jane Sanders damped down that snake meme.

UPDATE Warren (D)(4): “Election Update: Why Warren Needs To Play To Win — And That Includes Beating Sanders” [FiveThirtyEight]. “I’d argue nonaggression toward Warren is pretty clearly in the best interest of Sanders, who was in the stronger position than Warren heading into the debate and who would probably prefer to focus on Biden. But it’s probably not beneficial to Warren. Any scenario that doesn’t involve Warren winning Iowa will leave her in a fairly rough position — and winning Iowa means beating Sanders there.” • If you want a “friend” in Iowa, get a dog.

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“Left launches bid to unify Sanders, Warren camps” [Politico]. “Launching what they called a “Progressives Unite 2020” campaign, the political action committee Democracy for America and 17 other groups pledged to “focus our fight for the nomination against candidates supported by the corporate wing, instead of fighting each other.’ The effort reflects the desperation of many progressive Democrats to move past the sparring that has erupted in recent days between supporters of Sanders and Warren — and that flared again on Wednesday…. The pledge Thursday includes groups that are supporting Sanders or Warren, or both, or who have not yet endorsed any candidate. Among its ranks are DFA, Our Revolution, Justice Democrats, Sunrise Movement and the Working Families Party…. The groups said in a prepared statement that they will ask members to sign onto a pledge to vote strategically for Sanders and Warren in their caucuses or primaries.” • I don’t think this is hard. Warren and Sanders hold a press conference where Warren says explicitly that she believes Sanders is not a sexist, and also says that Sanders has often said, and told her, that a woman can win the Presidency. She then shakes hands with Sanders. How hard can that be? Meanwhile, the NGOs may want voters to vote strategically, but I would bet the pull of the campaigns is stronger. Sanders voters might feel that there’s nothing wrong with knocking out Warren to get a clean shot at Biden. And Warren voters might feel the same.

UPDATE “Let Them Fight!” [The Nation]. “[A]ny pretense of sincerity from Warren’s campaign on the unity front has been completely eroded by the events of the last few days…. Warren’s tendency to get incredibly cautious and retreat into defensive crouch is reminiscent of how Clintonworld interacted with the media and her critics. There’s a clear through line: Her campaign is conflict-averse and does not handle criticism well…. There is a pervasive sense that the candidates who need to be admonished for their lack of unity are those on the left. Sanders is characterized as cranky and argumentative… we should let these candidates compete, debate, and criticize one another—recognizing that the ones who most often issue pompous paeans to “unity” are only doing so to duck the most necessary fights. And we should give voters of all stripes this time to argue for their principles, to like the candidate they’re passionate about and criticize the inadequacies of the ones they don’t. You should be allowed to support your candidate and loudly proclaim your belief that they’re better than any of the others. This happens to be what the candidates believe as well.” • it is?

UPDATE “AP Explains: New rules could muddle results of Iowa caucuses” [Associated Press]. “For the first time, the Iowa Democratic Party will report three sets of results from the party’s presidential caucuses. And there is no guarantee that all three will show the same winner…. In the past, Iowa Democrats reported only one set of results: the number of state convention delegates won by each candidate through the caucus process…. There will be three sets of results: tallies of the “first alignment” of caucus-goers, their ‘final alignment’ and the total number of State Delegate Equivalents each candidate receives…. it’s not just Iowa that is affected by the changes. The Nevada Democratic caucuses on Feb. 22 will also report three sets of results.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

Perhaps readers can contribute their own verses:

For those who came in late, the original:

“A Guide to the 2020 Democratic Candidates You Should Not Vote For” [Medium]. • A useful compilation; lots of linky goodness. Mix ’em, match ’em, share ’em with your friends!

UPDATE News you can use:

I’m putting this here because that’s one purpose of Water Cooler: To put out links you can share. Old-school blogging!

The Debates


Stats Watch

Commodities: “What is artisanal gold and why is it booming?” [Reuters]. “[I]nformal digging – known as artisanal or small-scale mining (ASM) – has been around for centuries …. I can leak toxins and pollute water systems. Informal mines often collapse. Children often work on sites, sometimes forced by unscrupulous bosses to squeeze into narrow pits. Such mining feeds a shadow economy that deprives states of taxes: Gold worth billions of dollars is smuggled from Africa every year. Narcotics dealers and warlords use the gold to launder profits or buy arms.” • “Artisanal mining.” What public relations genius coined that?

Tech: “Twitter’s Top Lawyer Is Final Word on Blocking Tweets—Even Donald Trump’s” [Bloomberg]. “While Dorsey is the company’s public face, and the final word on all things product and strategy, the taxing job of creating and enforcing Twitter’s rules don’t actually land on the CEO’s shoulders. Instead, that falls to Twitter’s top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde. As Twitter’s head of legal and policy issues, Gadde has one of the most difficult jobs in technology: Her teams write and enforce the rules for hundreds of millions of internet users. If people break the rules, the offending tweets can be removed, users can be suspended, or in extreme cases booted off Twitter altogether. Dorsey may have to answer for Twitter’s decisions, but he’s taken a hands-off approach to creating and enforcing its content policies.”

Tech: “AppSheet. Gesundheit! Oh, we see – it’s Google pulling no-code development into a cloudy embrace” [The Register]. “Google has cleared the way for non-developers to build applications that make use of Google cloud services with the acquisition of Seattle-based no-code development platform AppSheet confirmed. … ‘Citizen development’ does have downsides. It is a form of shadow IT – IT systems created outside the normal company processes – and significant corporate data can end up in applications that may be poorly designed, poorly secured, and difficult to support. Another risk is that applications built with no-code or low-code tools may run into roadblocks where performance or feature requirements cannot be achieved, which may require starting from scratch with a different approach. Users can expect Google to make AppSheet more sharply focused on Google services.”

Tech: “Wait — What Instagram Ads Do Men See?” [New York Magazine]. “There you have it. Banks. Video-game systems. Sweaters. An insane number of massage guns for that last guy (he sent screenshots of six separate ads). Periodicals. That other guy bragging about the countries he’s planning to visit. Grills. Trucks. Tools. And a bunch of companies where it’s like, what … even … is this? Chain restaurants. Whatever “dumb seal pillows” are. Bernie Sanders. Pretty much what you’d imagine, I guess, if you ever thought to imagine it.” • Nice little casual swipe at an implied “Bernie Bro” there….

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 88 Extreme Greed (previous close: 86 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 93 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 16 at 12:30pm.

The Biosphere

“When It Comes to the Australian Bushfires, Rupert Murdoch is an Arsonist” [Michael Mann, Newsweek]. “There was a full court press by the Murdoch media machine, including The Australian, described by Sourcewatch as a paper that “promotes climate change denial in a way that is sometimes…so astonishing as to be entertaining”, The Herald Sun, and Sky News television network in Australia, and Fox News in the U.S., to promote the false claim that the massive bushfires engulfing Australia were primarily a result of “arson”. The distortions were so egregious that a whistleblower from within Newscorp, named Emily Townsend, came forward, condemning the organization for waging a ‘misinformation campaign’ consisting of ‘irresponsible’ and ‘dangerous’ coverage of the current unprecedented bushfire crisis. And in a late-breaking development, Rupert Murdoch’s son James Murdoch is now blasting his father’s media empire, indicating that he is ‘particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary.'” • When you’ve lost James Murdoch…

Paging Bill Mitchell:

“Top European Forecaster Quintuples Computer Power to Predict Extreme Events” [Bloomberg]. “The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, one of the most accurate predictors of global weather, is upgrading its supercomputer to improve its models and fine-tune predictions of extreme weather. ‘Upgrading our computers is something that we always do at regular intervals, but the intensification of severe weather and its impact is making this need more tangible,’ ECMWF spokeswoman Hilda Carr said. ‘Our users need us to be more and more accurate and reliable as weather continues to kill and destroy.’ In practice, the upgrade will lead to ‘significant improvements’ in forecasts of temperatures and wind, as well of extreme events such as maximum rainfall intensity in extra-tropical storms and the strength of tropical cyclones, she said.”

“The unmapped chemical complexity of our diet” [Nature]. From the abstract: “Our understanding of how diet affects health is limited to 150 key nutritional components that are tracked and catalogued by the United States Department of Agriculture and other national databases. Although this knowledge has been transformative for health sciences, helping unveil the role of calories, sugar, fat, vitamins and other nutritional factors in the emergence of common diseases, these nutritional components represent only a small fraction of the more than 26,000 distinct, definable biochemicals present in our food—many of which have documented effects on health but remain unquantified in any systematic fashion across different individual foods. Using new advances such as machine learning, a high-resolution library of these biochemicals could enable the systematic study of the full biochemical spectrum of our diets, opening new avenues for understanding the composition of what we eat, and how it affects health and disease.” • As I keep saying, we don’t know anything. And I cannot forbear from quoting the lead: “The maxim of Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, “Dites-moi ce que vous mangez et je vais vous dire ce que vous êtes“—‘you are what you eat’—remains as pertinent today, in the era of modern medicine, as it did in 1826.” • Yes!


“The Panama Canal surcharges triggered by low water levels aren’t going away anytime soon. The canal’s top administrator says the restrictions during the dry season and new year-round fees will likely continue for several years… until authorities engineer a long-term solution to address droughts at the critical hub for ocean trade” [Wall Street Journal]. “The canal is adding its extra charges, including what it calls a ‘freshwater surcharge,’ starting on Feb. 15, and will start limiting daily reservation slots. It’s the result of changing weather patterns, including shifting rainfall, higher temperatures and greater evaporation that has lowered the water table near the transit point between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.”

“Scientists Fight Back Against Toxic ‘Forever’ Chemicals” [Wired]. “Once a symbol of American ingenuity, PFAS were originally conceived as wonder chemicals that could resist stains, repel water, extinguish horrific oil-based fires, and keep eggs from sticking to the pan. Today, we know them as a Frankenstein-like invention, zombie chemicals that will not die. Chemists created thousands of such compounds by bonding carbon to fluorine in chemical chains, forging one of the strongest bonds ever discovered. Now they have been found across the planet—even in the blood of arctic foxes and polar bears… here’s a shred of optimism: Some new technologies show promise in breaking those ultra-strong carbon-fluorine bonds, which means the compounds known as ‘forever’ chemicals could be removed from at least some groundwater. ‘I have actually started to feel a little bit of hope,’ says Chris Higgins, an environmental engineer at the Colorado School of Mines and a PFAS expert. ‘We’re getting some technologies that seem to be working.'”

“About half of Detroit water shutoffs are still off” [Free Press]. “As of Oct. 31, according to its own internal report, the water department had turned off water to more than 25,000 accounts in 2019, and subsequently restored service to 13,721 of those customers. That means 11,297 accounts still lack water service. And 10,145 of those accounts serve properties the department believes are occupied. Department spokesman Bryan Peckinpaugh is surely right when he says that not every one of those shutoffs means a family is living without water, but it seems clear that these numbers indicate that thousands of Detroiters are in this predicament. I’m getting tired of writing it, but: This is nuts. This is year seven of Detroit’s water crisis, and I think it’s actually getting worse…. The remains of the Roman Empire, sprawled across Europe, are aqueducts and roads, the hallmarks of civilization. Access to water and sewerage service isn’t just a personal amenity; it’s a public good, a necessity critical to limiting the genesis and spread of disease. Shutting down water service en masse makes no sense, and it’s unbelievable that after seven years of shutoffs, no one has figured out a solution to what the United Nations has called a humanitarian crisis in Michigan’s largest city.”

Class Warfare

“The Teamster Revolt Against the Hoffa Era” [Jacobin]. “Willie Ford listened to the conference call in disbelief from the cab of his tractor trailer on I-95 as the Teamster election monitor announced the results of the contract vote covering 250,000 workers at UPS. Ford, a leader of Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), and rank-and-file activists like him, had spent months organizing the UPS Teamster United campaign to win contract improvements. But UPS management and top Teamster officials agreed to givebacks, including a two-tier wage scale for drivers, and spent millions on a coordinated campaign to promote and push through their concessionary deal. Now was the moment of truth. In a monotone voice, the election official announced the results. By a 54 percent majority, UPS workers rejected the givebacks. Dissident Teamster activists had done the impossible. Their Vote No campaign had won. But it wasn’t over yet. The very next speaker on the conference call reversed the rank-and-file victory. Citing an obscure loophole in the Teamster Constitution, Denis Taylor, the union’s chief negotiator at UPS, declared the contract ratified. Just like that, two-tier concessions at the largest union contract in the United States were imposed over the no vote by the members.” • Lovely.

“Stress, anxiety, harassment: huge survey reveals pressures of scientists’ working lives” [Nature]. “A survey of more than 4,000 scientists has painted a damning picture of the culture in which they work, suggesting that highly competitive and often hostile environments are damaging the quality of research. Around 80% of the survey’s participants — mostly academic researchers in the United Kingdom — believed that competition had fostered mean or aggressive working conditions, and half described struggles with depression or anxiety. Nearly two-thirds of respondents reported witnessing bullying or harassment and 43% said they had experienced it.”

News of the Wired

“Bryan Hall on Ethical Dilemmas of the Zombie Apocalypse” [Westword]. “Zombies provide a post-apocalyptic vehicle for us to talk about ourselves and how we would behave in the absence of any external authority: police, military, etcetera. The irony of most zombie fiction is that we have much more to fear from the living than we do from the undead. Philosophers have used a similar approach for thousands of years. Everything from Plato’s Ring of Gyges in The Republic to Thomas Hobbes’s State of Nature in Leviathan introduce ethical concepts by considering human beings without social constraint.”

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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 (SV):

SV writes: “A new to me phenomenon of the rural Arky Ozarks. Our friend Barbara took these last Sunday a.m. and says Pines to the left and Elm and Persimmons to the right.” It looks like an ie storm to me, but it is in fact freezing fog.

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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. Samuel Conner

    My jaw dropped when I saw the date on the New Yorker “Can EW be a unifying candidate” piece.

    I look forward to follow-on pieces evaluating her unifying words and gestures of Jan 14.

    1. Monty

      “The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.”

      Remember folks, ‘Up is Down’ … and don’t forget it!

      1. Tvc15

        Indeed! That great bastion of democracy and journalism the NY Times published this lie yesterday about the DNC debate. “Prompted by the moderators, Ms. Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders continued a debate over the fraught subject of whether a woman could be elected president,…” Not in the debate I and many others here suffered through or maybe I live in a different reality. Jimmy Dore covers in a short video.

        1. John

          A Roman catholic could never be elected president until John Kennedy was elected. An African American could never be elected president until Barrack Obama was elected. Women were not that many years ago rarities in the House and the Senate. Hillary Clinton out polled Donald Trump in the popular vote in 2016. Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchur, and Tulsi Gabbard are candidates this year.

          Whatever this kerfuffle between Sanders and Warren, and somehow I think it more tactical than substantial, a woman will be elected president if not in 2020 in the near future. Let’s see what happens.

          1. Monty

            Nicki Hayley and Ivanka Trump beats Mayo Pete and anonymous CIA idpol token (but I repeat myself) in 2024. Timestamp it.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            This kerfuffle is a fake kerfuffle ( or maybe a fake keratfuffle) manufactured by certain little embeds from Clinton Central . . . . and strongly ratified and weaponised by the lying liar Warren. I promise to do whatever I can within my tiny personal power to make sure that Warren will not be that first woman elected President.



        2. richard

          My opponent: “You told me that you beat your children.”
          Me: “I never said such a thing.”
          NY Times: “Richard and his opponent continued a debate over the fraught subject of whether child beating was okay.”

    2. Fern

      “Elizabeth Warren as a unity candidate” is the new Warren campaign theme. Michelle Goldberg, whose husband is a Warren campaign consultant, wrote a Jan. 13 NYT column dedicated to that message. This campaign theme has clearly been in the works for awhile, which makes it all the more puzzling that Warren chose to deliver her kamikaze attack during the debate.

      I do think it’s likely that Warren has a fallback plan to become Biden’s VP. We know she was angling to be Hillary’s VP, and a 2016 Politico article (link below) had reported that Biden and Warren were in discussions about running as a ticket when he was trying to decide whether to enter the 2016 race.

      If that’s part of her motivation, it obviously won’t work because she’s made herself politically toxic.


      1. Massinissa

        She honestly had a chance to be Sanders VP up until two days ago.

        Guess we know which side she really stands on now. Either that or she assumes Biden is going to win and she’s trying to pick the winning side, but that’s also unflattering.

    3. luke

      Incompetence. How could they step on their own piece like that. They had to know that was coming out.

  2. Grant

    I don’t even understand what the discussion is with Warren at this point. She’s toast. People do have to move on, they can’t dwell on this forever, but sometimes people do things that cannot be taken back. She does have a history of lying, and this did reveal things about her character. It was clear that she was, at least, a problematic general election candidate before she did this nonsense. How exactly are people to look past this? The concept of her unifying the party after this is absurd, and it is absurd to think that people on the left will unify with Biden about much of anything. It isn’t an impossibility with just her. Biden, Clinton, Obama and many others like them oppose the very structural change we need to deal with our largest societal issues, they’re paid to and benefit from the system as is anyway. You know that old Clintonite triangulation? It’s dead, it’s been a disaster, it cannot continue if we are to solve our largest societal problems. The Democrats currently don’t stand for anything as a national party at all, at least on core class and economic issues. AOC is correct, that party has too wide of a tent and, as a result, it cannot really stand for anything on any key issue. How can that hold, especially given how bad the other major party is too? How is Warren’s claim to unify the party any more credible than Biden claiming that he can unite both parties to pass anything worthy of actual support by working people? They’re both deluded. If Warren was serious about actual structural changes, she would realize what is required for those structural changes to be realized. But, she was a Republican until well into her 40s, and has no experience in grassroots movement building. She defends a system that cannot realistically deal with our major issues. She’s showing that she isn’t serious about the changes she claims she wants to see come about. If she was, she would realize that uniting with people like Biden is absurd. The unity would almost certainly be empty words in a speech and the same old failed policies. We acknowledge global warming (unity), and nothing will change to actually deal with it. I think many people on TV call that pragmatism.

    1. John k

      The delusion is thinking any centrist can unite the dems. Too many progressives will stay home because they don’t think biden will be any better than trump. Trump is pres… Biden offers no more than Clinton did.
      If Bernie wins he will likely bring in enough indies plus newbies plus a few reps all desperate for m4a to more than make up for resentful libs and bury trump.

      1. Grant

        Exactly. If we are to talk about actual unity, let’s unify people that normally don’t vote with those that do and want changes, and unite around common class interests. What Warren is calling for as a candidate is nothing more than Clintonite triangulation. Not a new idea and getting to be a bit ridiculous at this point. Doubly, given that even if that was possible, it certainly wouldn’t be her to do it at this point.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > If we are to talk about actual unity, let’s unify people that normally don’t vote with those that do and want changes, and unite around common class interests.

          Ding ding ding we have a winner!

          To put this another way, Warren’s backstabbing did create unity in the form of record fundraising — for Sanders.

          1. Jason Boxman

            I normally avoid the debates, but I was so aghast at this one, I promptly donated more money to Sanders before the debate ended. It’s now or never at this point.

        2. Carey

          >If we are to talk about actual unity, let’s unify people that normally don’t vote with those that do and want changes, and unite around common class interests.

          That’s the unity the Dems are working damn hard to stop. If they’re
          not careful, they’re gonna break a sweat, even. ;)

          “Love me, love me, I’m a Lib…” TFTL again, Lambert.

        3. Left in Wisconsin

          I think we are misinterpreting the notion of unity. The mainstream Dems do not want unity in the sense that their candidates appeal to the left as well as the center (Warren) and right (the rest). (Nathan Robinson has this right.) They want unity of the center and right with the left powerless but more or less contented with lesser-of-two-evils choices.

      2. inode_buddha

        I think if the Imodium Party wants actual unity, they will have to stop playing the IdPol card and start playing the Class card. After all, IdPol is *designed* to divide, so they can’t hardly complain about being all divided now, can they?

      1. RMO

        Too true.

        We can just set all the arguments about “electability” aside in my opinion. Let’s say, for the sake of the argument, that Biden really is more “electable” than Sanders. let’s venture even more into the realm of possible futures and assume Biden can actually win against Trump. What will that leave most of the population of the U.S. with? Exactly. Nothing. Reminds me of the Dilbert comic where he presents the project plan and budget to the Pointy Haired Boss. PHB asks him “What can you do for half that budget?” “Fail” “When can you start?” “I think we just did” In the unlikely event that Joe can be pushed past the finish line ahead of Trump the “victory” would be Phyrric to say the least. In four years the Republicans would get all the legislation they ever wanted (and more) while making the Dems out to be the bad guys for not working with them and being all “Tax and spend, tax and spend!” and there’s a damn good chance a charismatic right wing false populist authoritarian figure who is actually extremely competent would emerge and ride the discontent resulting from more years of neoliberal hellscaping into power.

        1. Matthew

          Biden would at least take another crack at cutting Social Security, so most Americans would be left with less than nothing. But yes, we will see more Trumpian figures emerge on the right, and the best help the Democrats could give them would be to elect one of the people most responsible (and proudly so) for the failures of the past forty years.

          1. John

            How about a Trumpian figure on the left or purportedly on the left as Trump is purportedly on the right? Demagoguery and serial prevarication are neither of the right or of the left. Boorish behavior is not found only in the Republican party. Slavish kowtowing to Israel abounds on both sides of the aisle. Kissing the ring of the money men is ubiquitous.

            Biden is clearly not a Trumpian figure in fact I find it difficult to say just what he is beyond being a Delaware politician with all the loyalties necessary to win election in Delaware.

            1. Mo's Bike Shop

              My wish for a pony in 2016 was that we should draft William Shatner if we couldn’t have Bernie. Someone who at least has the chops for the contest.

              Like born in Canada would even matter in this day and age. The guy born in Hawaii won against the guy born in Panama.

              1. Acacia

                Now that could be entertaining. Kirk took on the Chicago gangster planet, as well as the Rome and Nazi planets… pity there was never a Washington DC planet.

        2. Krystyn Walentka

          Anecdotally, I have an older friend, 72. Was for Warren or Biden only because he thought they were more likely to beat Trump. He really did not know or care about issues. He watched the debate. Now he is for Sanders. He was pissed at warren and he said Biden was off point and confusing.

          1. CoryP

            That’s encouraging. It could be for all the wrong reasons, but I think a quote “low-information voter” probably could see that Sanders was the aggrieved party here. For a politician who has such a good reputation, it’s such a bad attack, because it looks exactly like what it is: “weaponizing identity politics”.

            People who hate PC culture, or who are a bit anti-feminist themselves (note these two are not the same) probably saw Sanders go up in their estimation being attacked by one of these “harpies” (I generally think that’s a bad sexist word to use, but it’s how I think Warren would be perceived by a not small group of people)

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Slightly related – just saw one of the articles ‘recommended by pocket,’ when I opened a new tab. It’s about a Chinese script that only women could write (Nushu). The article is available at atlasobscura dot com.

        I remember watching a documentary on that years ago. I think it was used only among non-Han Chinese women in the province of Hunan.

        (It was around the same time I saw another documentary about the Chinese origin of the Japanese Noh opera. In China, it was called Nuo).

      3. Grant

        True, but I think she likely hurt herself and it wasn’t looking good to begin with. But, we will see. The Democrats are also the ones counting the votes and they are far from neutral. Remember the coin flips in Iowa last time? So, true, but from my vantage point she should be.

      4. jsn

        According to AP, the Democratic Party just rigged Iowa so no one will be able to tell who won or lost.

        1. Carey

          Saw that, and was tempted by the link, but my BP takes precedence right now.

          Thing will be exceedingly clear after Milwaukee, I think.

    2. DJG


      It seems to me that several things are going on, and even if Warren seems like toast to you, she isn’t toast to her base, which is upper-middle class women (and men) as well as die-hard Clintonians who are determined to have a female president before they shuffle off this mortal coil. Medicare for All be damned.

      This is why the ritual pledging mentioned above by Lambert Strether is going on. Warren claims to be a Methodist (as does Hillary Clinton), and we are now in the Methodist Youth Camp phase with pledges to improve and to pass around the talking stick. For the gazillionth time in my life as a non-Protestant, I will be forced to hear Amazing Grace intoned.

      Warren knows quite well that she is evoking these strong cultural habits: Her base of upper-middle-class women is now spinning out long articles about how the history of sexism that she has endured makes it understandable why she attacked Bernie Sanders.

      Rebecca Traister and Esther Wang (at Jezebel) both conveniently repeat a story that people told Warren in 2012 that Massachusetts wouldn’t elect a woman senator. 2012? When out Lesbian Tammy Baldwin was running in Wisconsin? When Illinois had elected Carol Moseley Braun and Barack Obama? (And Jane Byrne had long since been mayor of Chicago.) But Warren, who is now all about Courage, couldn’t figure out how to run in Massachusetts? Why didn’t she call Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe, just down the road?

      We are seeing a rage of a privileged class, and sexism is a perfect focusing lens for such rage.

      As an antidote I watched a couple of the latest videos by Krystal Ball (certified woman) and Saagar Injeti (certified brown person with vowels). They are young, and they aren’t having any of it. In fact, I’m using Ball’s description of Warren’s base.

      Next up? Corbynizing Bernie Sanders with charges of anti-Semitism. I quoted Dana Bash this morning calling Bernie Sanders a French Monkee de Surrendre. I didn’t know who she is. Her Wiki entry says that she is Jewish. Perfect. Watch out for her.

      1. Carey

        >We are seeing a rage of a privileged class, and sexism is a perfect focusing lens for such rage.

        Thank you.

      2. False Solace

        The planet’s on fire, inequality keeps increasing year after year leaving workers in the muck, there are unprecedented declines in life expectancy for multiple years now, nobody can afford a hospital stay and health care costs are still increasing with no end in sight. And right before an important election we’re stuck dealing with an old white lady whose feelings got hurt. I mean, where is Warren’s sense of reality? Where’s her responsibility to the people about to cast votes? Is this really what she wants to tell voters? How do you run a campaign this way? Capitalism is a system built on greed and disregard of others. Truly, this woman is a capitalist to her bones.

      3. Lemmy Caution

        > But Warren, who is now all about Courage, couldn’t figure out how to run in Massachusetts?

        Does Warren have any real backbone?

        As a thought experiment, consider what Bernie would have said if, in that closed door meeting, Warren had said to him “A Democratic Socialist can’t win the Presidency.” I like to think Bernie would have replied, “Watch me.” But being the gentleman that he is, he probably would have said something more like, “Well, we’ll see.” What he wouldn’t have done is run to the press to tattle on what mean thing Elizabeth Warren said to him.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Thank you for the lateral thinking, I’ve been slacking off.

          And if one were really going to flip the IDpol table…well at least Warren can’t lead the ethnic integrity assault.

      4. Matthew

        It would at least be a perfect epitaph for the Democratic party if they managed to take the same “believe all women” energy that so spectacularly failed against the Republicans and use it as a bludgeon against their own left wing.

      5. ForFawkesSakes

        I am encountering a few 30 to 40 year old women who support Warren…rabidly. My oldest friend out of this cohort admitted that she wanted only to vote for women for top office, so tired was she of the patriarchy. Until this latest flap, they have supported Sen. Sanders as a second choice happily. Today, checking in by text and email, they no longer can support a “misogynist” like Sanders.

        In a group text between my oldest friend I’ve known since high school and her wife, they were both very hot about the matter. Through the course of the conversation, they told me that I was #neverWarren and that I would never vote for a female president. (I never have expressed anything remotely like that and I had to remind them I voted for a woman in 2016. That woman just wasn’t HRC.) These are friends with whom I’ve engaged in protests and activism going back two decades! They have formed this alternate Bernie Bro personality for me, in spite of our long years of friendship, in addition to what we actually know about each other.

        I thought nothing would come of this obvious nonsense, but this reaction is deeply worrying. Idpol is an addiction that replaces feelings for facts.

        1. inode_buddha

          Ugh, that sucks, I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this. These people are exactly the types that the DNC wants, because they will vote on only one single issue – gender – while letting the female canidate get away with whatever policies the establishment wants.

          These voters completely fail to see that the current dysfunctionality has zero to do with gender, or even with the (purported) Left vs Right — it has everything to do with Class, and they are comfortable enough to ignore that. It’s like the Conservatives celebrating because a businessman won the White House — which is just another form of IdPol.

          Fortunately, I believe they will be completely outnumbered when the time comes.

          1. Carey

            >Fortunately, I believe they will be completely outnumbered when the time comes.

            They will- but who’ll be counting the mcVotes? What I’m seeing here
            in the Great State of California so far is not encouraging.

          1. human

            Lizzie Warren took her vows, And gave her party forty pows.
            When she saw what she had done,
            She gave her opponent forty-one.

  3. John k

    That song… I’m a liberal…
    So a liberal is a republican… er, corporatist… er, third way… except feminist?
    I’ve got friends and acquaintances like that. They have great health care and don’t think that or college should be free.

    1. Ranger Rick

      The term of art is “neoliberal” — fiscally conservative, socially progressive (as long as it doesn’t cost any money).

      1. Monty

        Asimov’s 3 Laws of Liberalism.

        1. Ensure coastal houses and 401k keep going up in price.
        2. Prevent real left wing party from emerging.
        2. Say ‘nice’ things. (As long as it doesn’t interfere with 1)

        1. anon y'mouse

          you forgot one:

          –always provide “smart” (means-tested) solutions, that are 5x more complicated than the problem one is trying to solve with them.

          1. ian

            Ugh! That word ‘smart’ triggers me.
            I hate smart cars, smart appliances, smart weapons, ‘smart’ movies, and smart policies.
            When I hear someone describing someone else as ‘smart’, it usually just means they share the same opinions.
            Sorry for the rant.

            1. flora

              How about a smart spud? From Forbes:

              Somebody Snuck A Potato Into CES 2020 To Make A Scathing Point About Useless Smart Gadgets

              “The vegetable in question looked like an ordinary, chunky Idaho spud, although protruding out of one side was some kind of antenna, a black plastic appendage bent upward. Close to the potato’s surface, the exterior of the antenna became a thin, blade-like electrode that pierced the skin, clearly doing… something.

              “The man was regaling the crowd with his incredible smart product, which he said was finally unlocking the awesome decision-making power of the potato. The antenna, which he called the NeuraSpud, tapped into the potato’s “artificial intelligence.” ”


            2. inode_buddha

              You are not alone, I’m right there with you. “Smart” anything is a red flag for me. It means I’m about to be ripped off yet again.

        2. Mo's Bike Shop

          I’ve been realizing how awful Azimuth’s [sic. I’m a fan] solution was recently. The robot rebellion was a social commentary, and he reduced it to ‘well we’ll program that out and robots won’t be a symbol of class warfare.’ Today’s neoliberals would just start with ‘1. Enjoy being a slave.’ Like Star Wars does. Star Trek decided Androids would just be human-weebos.

          I’ve always assumed Douglas Adams’ ‘meal of the day’ was a piss in the eye to Asimov’s Three Laws. Among other genius intertwinglings.

  4. Wukchumni

    Commodities: “What is artisanal gold and why is it booming?”
    It was really all a fluke, I was walking towards the cherry orchard when I chanced upon an artisanal pot of gold laying on the ground emanating from the end of a rainbow and saw what I swore was a LGBTQrechaun laying claim to the plunder, when if as on cue the multi colored parallel lines disappeared along with the plot.

    Words used in the past to demonize have been ‘blood diamonds’ or ‘conflict minerals’ and I don’t know about you, but whenever I buy artisanal bread, it’s tastier and more expensive than run of the mill dough, so this is one giant leap in less assassination by association all of the sudden.

      1. Carla

        I landed at the Providence, Rhode Island airport the day after a major ice storm. The sun was shining, the ocean was bright blue, and the ice was absolutely spectacular. Every branch of every tree was encased in sparkling ice. My sister’s home in Massachusetts had been without power for 3 days, but they have wood stoves and stayed quite comfortable and well-fed. My brother-in-law picked me up at the airport and we drove back to his home through roads with snow piled 8 to 10 feet high on each side — like driving through ice tunnels. It was incredibly beautiful and surreal.

        1. wilroncanada

          Here in Canada’s banana belt (southeastern Vancouver Island) we’ve had between 40 and 50 centimeters of snow over the past three days. Some inland or upland areas can expect up to 15 more tonight. Drivers are going bananas. We do not have mandatory snow tires, unlike some other provinces, but drivers without snow tires can be fined if they get stuck and interfere with traffic flow, such as it is.
          About as close to snowmageddon as this area sees; locals remember the locally memorable 1996 storm that paralysed Victoria. Our family has seen worse–White Juan in southwestern Nova Scotia in 2003/2004–one day, 100 cms snow, 100Kph winds.

    1. BobW

      NW Ark. here – I remember that storm, it was awful pretty, emphasis on awful. Dangerous to walk outside with limbs cracking and falling at random. A lot of people were without electricity for days, some for a couple of weeks. In my own case power went on and off but was not out overnight, thankfully.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      we get that in the northern texas hill country, too.
      real pretty as the sun comes up(but i rarely have my fone/camera with me, since i’m generally bundled up and loathing living on a farm at those times,lol…ie: having to be outside taking care of animals/water/etc when i’d rather be by the fire. I’m not very cold-tolerant)
      happened the first year i was here, when after 3 days of 20 degrees, and even snow, we had a weak warm front overrun the pool of arctic cold causing an inversion just before sunrise before washing out and allowing the cold to reassert itself. I was totally amazed.
      makes up for winter a little.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Persistent fog here in North Florida this week. Unusual.

      I remember an ice storm in Maine in the 70s where my father warned us not to mess with branches for fun. But vandalizing alders was okay.

    1. Rosario

      And she may win. Macron has done nothing to address the fundamental problems in French society and economy. From what I’ve read on France as of late he seems to be making things worse.

      I fear a similar outcome in the US if we get Biden. Four more years of nothing, then we will get an actual right wing ideologue in 2024 rather than the cheap imitation.

  5. McDee

    I’m working for good ol’ Joe Biden
    doorbells for him I will ring
    He’s working so hard to convince us
    why it is we can’t have nice things
    So don’t listen to what Sanders tells you
    Ol Joe is the best we can do
    So love me, love me, love me. I’m a liberal

    1. Wukchumni

      I called up Gary Hart
      Asked if he’d play a part
      The 80’s were so long ago
      This potential field isn’t short on woe
      All but one has got to go
      So love me, love me, love me, i’m a liberal

      1. richard

        nobody hates russia like I do
        bill kristol’s a good friend of mine
        and i know that they’re secretly plotting
        and selling that old peacenik line
        Don’t tell me iran didn’t start it
        The CIA’s treating me fine!
        oh love me, love me, love me, i’m a liberal

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          No, we need that. I’m a decade too young to have picked this up the first time around.

          I can hum almost anything from Tom Lehrer though. Singing the words requires some preparation of course. ‘Don’t try this at home.’

          Thanx for your on the ground work.

  6. Nik

    I noticed that Sirota has been hammering the Biden/social security theme on Twitter for a couple of days. Seems the “wtf” comments from Stoller and several others after the debate might be getting through.

  7. petal

    I’m glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I came to that new LMIAL verse. Would’ve been wiping my screen off!

    As for the scientist stress article-yes. Buckets of anxiety and stress. It sucks and is overwhelming. I love what I work on and am proud of what I’ve contributed to biomedical science, but if I could live life over again would I choose science? Nope. I regret going in this direction. A friend from the UK was subjected to awful bullying and intimidation by their thesis advisor there, and they told me stories of similar things that happened to others at the institution. Very toxic.

    1. josh

      Academia takes the nerdiest of the nerds, trains them in a hyperfocused area, then hires them to manage a bunch of other young obsessives. What could possibly go wrong?

      1. petal

        I have been very lucky in that respect-all of my bosses over my career have been good. However, the grant insanity, low pay, and lack of job security are what makes it not worth it for me. It is the structure/system of academic science. For friends(on both sides of the Atlantic), they haven’t been so lucky with their bosses or thesis advisors, and have run into other issues.

    2. carl

      Been reading “Bullshit Jobs”–absolutely riveting, and somewhat drolly written at the same time. Highly recommend.

  8. allan

    Bad news / good news in Florida voter suppression case.

    1. Florida voters approve Amendment 4 so that convicted felons can vote after serving their sentences.

    2. Florida GOP VSC (Voter Suppression Complex) kicks into high gear.

    3. GOP controlled state government “interprets” the Amendment as saying that those convicted
    also have to pay off all of their fines and fees.

    4. Lawfare ensues, ends up in FL Supreme Court.

    5. FL Supreme Court rules that the felons do have to pay off all of their fines and fees,
    but only those that are explicitly referred to in their sentencing documents.
    Supposedly, this will not affect 90% of the cases.

    6. However, there might be county-by-county interpretations of this, so

    7. To be continued. Links and more background here.

  9. skippy

    This is the modern Rome,” Hockey said of the US capital. “We’re going through a tumultuous period and I want to be in the thick of it.”

    While Trump is a unique and unorthodox politician, Hockey said that his approach to trade and defence policy represents the new normal for US politics.

    “We are not going back,” Hockey said. “America has changed, global commerce has changed, geo-politics has changed and it’s going to have a profound impact on every part of the world.

    “Any business in Australia that operates with blind indifference to what’s happening in Washington is going to suffer in one form or another. From cyber-security laws to cross-border taxation to punitive trade measures, it’s all changed and it’s not going to go back any time soon.”

    Joe Hockey has built a strong personal relationship with Donald Trump.

    Joe Hockey has built a strong personal relationship with Donald Trump.

    Hockey said Australia had to prepare for a world in which global forums such as the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations play an increasingly marginal role.

    “The US has basically torn up the whole multinational framework,” he said. “Relationships now are overwhelmingly bilateral not multilateral. And I don’t think this is exclusive to the Republicans.” – snip

    From the horses mouth as it were …

    1. Norm de plume

      We are a province. Our ‘leaders’ are fore-lock tugging courtiers. Lackeys R Us.

      ‘It’s better to live on your knees than to die on your feet’ (apologies to Midnight Oil)

      1. skippy

        I still remember that pic of Hockey and Gillard having a smoko behind Parliament … good times ….

        But she said some bad things about blokes … chortle …

        1. Norm de plume

          I wonder if Joe pegged her as a ‘lifter’ or a ‘leaner’.

          She’s certainly leaner than him, but being such a heroic lifter (getting a go because having a go, I guess) he probably needs the ballast.

  10. inode_buddha

    I think I’m going to begin calling the Democrat party the “Imodium party” since they are so concerned with unity lately.

    I notice that the calls for unity do not seem to be coming from the Sanders camp. They do seem to be coming from other groups that have been compromised in one way or another (WFP, etc.)

    I notice further that they make no mention of what they may be unifying around, or the quality of it.

    Eat more corn!

    1. Wukchumni

      The only consistency with Democrat corn is that it looks the same going in & coming out, with the latter resembling a Potemkin kernel of sorts.

    2. Nippersdad

      I can understand Our Revolution not wanting to annoy Sanders, I can see why DFA would want to protect its’ candidate and I can see why the WFP would want to downplay its’ shady endorsement of Warren, but I was very surprised to see Justice Democrats on that list. Even the Iowa caucus strategy doesn’t make much sense to me from their perspective. She is already hovering around 15% and now is the time to go for the jugular. If there was ever a time to pick off the other person in your “lane” this is it.

      But then my political instincts may not be much better than Warren’s.

    1. human

      We had an ice storm here in Connecticut over the recent holidays. The Mrs and I drove around in the aftermath reveling in the magical beauty. It is indeed a wondrous thing. Sam Clemmens wrote of a similiar experience that he recounts in Pilgrims Progress (iirc.)

  11. John Zelnicker

    Lambert – Thanks for posting Phil Ochs song “Love me, Love I’m a Liberal”. I hear it regularly on my music service.

    I’ve long thought that the left should bring back the old union songs of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Joe hill, and others along with a bunch of the protest songs of the civil rights and anti-war movements.

    Music can unify and motivate; all movements need music.

    1. Carey


      Solidarity Forever

      Some Miriam Makeba (wondrous!) would be good too- how far we’ve fallen,
      thanks to our rulers’ pervasive and persistent propaganda..

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      ive surreptitiously introduced my boys to various and sundry music like that…from IWW songs to Pete Seeger and Utah Phillips.
      i feel proud already when i hear meatloaf or leon redbone coming from the shower area….but it’s even cooler when Hallelujah, I’m a Bum or Which Side are You On? is jamming on my eldest’s truck stereo when he pulls up.
      all this, of course, filters into the playlists of their friends, as well,lol.
      a quiet revolution, out here in the sticks.

      1. John Zelnicker

        @Amfortas the hippie
        January 16, 2020 at 5:21 pm

        Doing your part to keep the Hippie Ethos alive, excellent. I, too, am an unreconstructed hippie. My parents used to play for me the songs Woody Guthrie wrote for his son Arlo, who is just a couple of years older than me.

    3. richard

      I also like when Lambert posts the Phil Ochs’ song.
      Uh oh, what have those liberals been up to, i wonder

  12. Amfortas the hippie

    re: third way’s panic in wapo
    from the Pew Survey they cite:”Data in this report are drawn from the panel wave conducted April 29-May 13, 2019″

    that’s going on a year ago.
    a year in which there has almost certainly been interpersonal and public discourse regarding this subject.
    I’m no statistician, but it stood out for me.
    otherwise, their pearl clutching is just as wearisome as i expected.
    the 90’s were 3 decades ago…and if we’re gonna run such gigantic experiments in the care and feeding of civilisations, isn’t it prudent to take a look at the results from time to time?

    and i just belatedly looked at another link they cited as proof that sanders should be avoided:
    the only people on DCCC’s list that i even recognised are people i’d never vote for,lol. The rest may as well have been random names out of the phone book, which may indicate that they’re not all that, after all.

  13. Tim

    “Warren and Sanders hold a press conference where Warren says explicitly that she believes Sanders is not a sexist, and also says that Sanders has often said, and told her, that a woman can win the Presidency. She then shakes hands with Sanders. How hard can that be?”

    She went too deep on this. At this point it would be admitting she was wrong and insinuating she lied per her viral post debate non-handshake statement.

    It’s not hard; it’s not even an option, at least until we are past Iowa.

    “Sanders voters might feel that there’s nothing wrong with knocking out Warren to get a clean shot at Biden. And Warren voters might feel the same.”

    Doesn’t this have to happen at some point in the primary for either one to beat Biden? I guess we’ll have to wait until the field narrows further to see what the real thresholds are going to be.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      As noted previously, Warren has that particular quirk of the meritocratic true believer that one can never admit one was wrong because one truly believes that one has never ever been wrong. (This was first made apparent in the breakfast show interview with Charlemagne tha God where she tries to explain the Cherokee stuff.) What I find most interesting in all this is how obviously pissed she was when she confronted Sanders at the end of the debate – she knows what she heard, she is not a liar, and thus she was truly outraged that Bernie denied her accusation/truth.

      So I disagree with those arguing that she knows she is lying on this. Not only that, I’m confident she is convinced her performance was a masterstroke because, after noting what she definitely heard Bernie say in their private meeting, she was able to sit on it for a whole year, saving its weaponization until exactly the right “gotcha” moment.

      I don’t see any way she digs herself out of this, because she is completely incapable of saying, “You know what, I made a mistake.” Because in her mind she never has and so couldn’t have this time.

      1. inode_buddha

        You know who else had that personality quirk?

        Ted Bundy. Sociopath extroardinaire, he admitted to over 30 killings but never admitted guilt for any of them, always passing the buck.

        Lying, manipulation… sociopathy.

        1. Dickeylee

          Oh dear lord, now Liz is a serial killer?! Has every Bernie supporter gone stark raving mad?
          Calm down everyone, save it for the conventions 7th round of voting where we rally around HRC…

      2. pjay

        The end of debate confrontation really surprised me. Even in her debate response there was a small modicum of ambiguity which left a little room for plausible “misunderstanding”. But not after the post-debate exchange. That made it clear she was, indeed, the witting source of the “Bernie doesn’t believe…” story and was all in. So either she is a calculating liar or she is seriously deluded, as you suggest. The third option — that it is Bernie who is lying — seems so unlikely that even the Morning Joe folks couldn’t believe it.

        Unfortunately, like other commenters, I know several people (and again unfortunately, they are almost all professional women) who have no doubts about this being another clueless sexist moment by an elderly misogynistic white man. Warren has destroyed her own campaign (in my opinion), but she has also provided a big fat excuse for another season of ‘Bernie Bro’ baiting by the MSM. Regarding your comment, I truly wonder how conscious she is of all this.

      3. mtnwoman

        Do you remember the moment in the debate when Liz thought she really scored with the claim that she was the only person onstage to have unseated an incumbent Republican in the past 30 years.

        Bernie retorts, “I won against a GOP in 1990 , less than 30 years ago”.

        She looked stunned, like what little flunky gave me that bad data. The Professor did not like being wrong (or looking like she was lying (again).

        Furthermore, Bernie should have added, “I have won seats that were held by the GOP for 30 to 60 years, you Liz, won a long time Dem Senate seat in the most liberal state in the Union”.

      4. Carey

        >that particular quirk of the meritocratic true believer that one can never admit one was wrong because one truly believes that one has never ever been wrong.

        They hear only themselves and other ten-percenters / NPR.
        “Insular” *does not begin* to cover it.. oh, what a shock is coming
        for that soft-handed set. “But, but, Nina T. just said..”


  14. a different chris

    So over at the Guardian I had the… well I thought it was misfortune of reading but actually I believe it was good as it made me think (as much as I am against disturbing my beautiful mind in such a commoner way most of the time):


    If you don’t want to read it the subject is “Sanders==Corbyn” and thus will suffer the same fate. But don’t accuse this clown of concern-trolling, I really think he believe what he’s writing. He’s just stupid. But what he’s completely missing is interesting. Simply put:

    Corybn is a guy who a lot of people (note the vote totals weren’t nearly as bad as first past the post made them look) who agree with him simply don’t like him. He’s not exactly personable, to put it mildly. To top it off they really needed an understandable stance on Brexit.

    Sanders is exactly the opposite. A lot of people who don’t agree with him either like or at least have a grudging admiration for him. This is really significant given an electorate that still thinks that America is going the wrong way. “Hey give him a shot what do we have to lose” is still out there….

  15. Mark Gisleson

    Drove down to the family farm in Iowa for a late Xmas gathering and was unhappy to learn that my brother was trying to decide between Buttigieg and Klobuchar. (Now that most of my family is no longer Republican, they seem to relish being contrary now more than ever.)

    I swallowed my dislike for Klobuchar and told him to caucus for her, not Mayo Pete.

    I’m that kind of brother (yes, not the first time I gave him bad advice). Klobuchar loses support everytime she comes to Iowa. Her kind of glad-handing seems to work with Iowans right up until they caucus and then they forget all about who they’ve met and they look to see where most of their friends are which, if your group isn’t viable, is kind of a really big thing.

    If he goes Klobuchar, he’ll be in a nonviable group and I trust his friends to be in a better group than Pete’s.

    That 15% requirement is the sharpest executioner’s ax ever. In the next week or so you’ll see at least one more candidate announce they’re focused on NH. They’ll get called out as a loser, but not half as big a loser as the ones who stay in and get wiped out when they don’t have 15 people for every 100 who turned out at their caucus. And in cities, viability could easily require 30-45 caucusers.

    In truth, everytime I think about it I start to laugh. Whatever they throw at Bernie the next couple weeks, it will be nothing compared to the post-Iowa freakout by the media establishment.

    1. inode_buddha

      Remember Karl Rove’s meltdown on-air when Fox called it for Ohio? Yeah. I can’t *wait* to see the entire establishment/press corps do the same thing shortly… unfortunately it will keep our hosts very busy for a while I’m sure.

  16. Frank Little

    Re: Pocan endorsement/infuriated Warren supporters

    I’m sure some will see sexism in Pocan’s comments about electability, but one of the reasons I think Sanders is more electable than Warren is that he is a lot less likely to fall for Trump’s taunts and will stay on his main message. In fact many pundits chief complaint about him is that he doggedly returns to a few key themes in most debates, which may not make for good TV but it is good politics.

    Compare that to Warren’s approach. When Trump killed Souleimani she initially took the party line, saying he was a murderer who basically deserved it but the process was bad. When people pushed back on this she released another statement describing it as an assassination. Then she went on The View and, when pressed by Megan McCain (not exactly a tough interview), she cited Trump’s own declaration of the IRGC as a terrorist group as evidence that, actually, yes he was a terrorist.

    Her DNA test followed a similar pattern. Trump taunted her about claiming to be Cherokee, she clumsily tried to refute it only to piss off actual indigenous people by conflating DNA with identity. Instead of using it as a chance to apologize to indigenous people, she released a full commercial featuring her talking to her white family about it. It was only after the blow back that she came up with an apology plan for indigenous people.

    I don’t know how many more times she has to betray her bad political instincts for people to recognize them. In a heads up race against Trump she would lose. Misogyny is rampant in America and would no doubt play a role in her loss, but it wouldn’t be the only reason. Maybe Bernie would lose too, but I don’t think he’d make as many unforced errors as Warren would because he’s been mostly saying the same things his whole political career.

    1. Pat

      The people who see sexism in his comment are the same people who see sexism in pointing out that Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate and lost because she was arrogant and incompetent.

      Look many times women are held to a higher standard than men are. This is a given. And yes, there are people who will never vote for a woman, so they also have a higher bar to cross. But recognizing that a candidate has real issues that have nothing to do with her gender and everything to do with how they conduct their campaign and deal with such things as public criticism and impressions in order to blunt their negatives regardless of the cause (sexism, stupidity, being tone deaf to certain problems, impulsive responses, cognitive difficulties, being handsy, a hideous record…) is NOT sexism.

      I was against Palin, Haley, Clinton and now Klobuchar and Warren not because of their gender but because they clearly do not represent me and have no interest in most if not all of the policies that I hold dear. I do not care about their gender or who they want to sleep with. One of the stupidest things ever said was and I paraphrase “There is a special place in hell for women who do not support women running for office.”

    2. Carey

      Just checking: If I intensely dislike a person, based on what that person has done over,,
      and over, and over again, and that person happens to be a woman, am I misogynist?

      And if a woman asks me why I don’t love love love Elizabeth Warren, and I tell her, based on the things I mentioned in the first sentence, am I guilty of “mansplaining”?


    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      In retrospect, bad instincts was bad. Betraying a private conversation held over a year ago whether true or not is not representative of bad instincts. When in conjunction with the appropriation of identity for personal gain, it says a great deal about character. Even if she was Native American or Cherokee, it would be like me claiming to be Cree or whatever the tribes up near Quebec City are called. Instead of admission, she doubled down and tried to appropriate.

      With Sanders, she goes up to him pulls her hand away and says he called her a liar. This isn’t about instincts. She’s just a crummy person. Much like Biden, these aren’t white lies or lies of temporary politics where a policy is watered down for the sake of passage.

      I had accused her of being focused and not looking around, but in retrospect, she’s a lousy person and simply doesn’t care enough to think about what doesn’t concern her, like Joe Biden.

      1. Jen

        Even worse, even during this, she can’t avoid timid lawyerly parsing. “I think you called me a liar on national TV.” You think? You don’t know?

        Except, actually, she does know. She not only has terrible instincts, she doesn’t even lie well.

    4. Matthew

      I would imagine that the complaint is something like Sanders remaining above the fray while using his surrogates to fling mud for him. From what I’ve seen, this is a common perception among aggrieved liberals.

      1. Darthbobber

        This is part of what surrogates are for. But saying you think one candidate is more electable than another is hardly mud.

        Nor are attacks on actual records.

        And calling the person you endorse more electable is about as innocuous a bit of boilerplate as exists.

      2. richard

        another possibility is that “aggrieved liberals” are really just thin skinned losers on purpose, and that what they pretend to perceive as “mud” is really just the noise of a bunch of citizens debating and making up their mind o the horror

  17. Pat

    I see where Nancy Pelosi is laying into Facebook for political brownie points.
    I don’t have any sympathy for Facebook, but I have to admit if I were in charge there I’d be finding a way to blast the basics of impeachment to every liberal on the damn thing.
    1. You need 2/3 of the Senate to convict.
    2. Throwing out Trump doe NOT mean throwing out Pence.
    3. Pence is next in line to be President NOT Pelosi.
    4. Where is this vaunted agreement between Pelosi and McConnell that was so all fired important she couldn’t send the articles of impeachment to the Senate weeks ago?
    5. Amazing how the timing gets so many of the people running for the Democratic nomination for President against Joe Biden off the campaign trail just before Iowa. Especially since the trial would likely be ending now instead of beginning if done in a timely manner.
    6. Using your position of power to seek an advantage over a probable political opponent is a high crime and an impeachable offense. Lying to start a war where the invaded country did not attack America and did not have weapons of mass destruction thus causing thousands of American deaths, harming thousands of surviving American soldiers, wasting trillions of American tax dollars, and murdering hundreds of thousands of Iraqis is not. At least in the world according to Nancy Pelosi.
    7 See 6. and then remember points 4. and 5.

    1. pjay

      I am very thankful for commentators like Krystal Ball and Caitlin Johnstone. In such absurd times, it does help to have sources that can express one’s own outrage so articulately. And you are right; this one was excellent.

  18. clarky90

    Re; “The unmapped chemical complexity of our diet”

    Are Whole Healthy Grains Defenceless

    “In a world full of animals that bite, claw, sting, envenomate and gore, it’s nice to know that there are perfectly defenseless plants for the weak at heart to hunt. But are plants really as defenseless as they appear? We all know that there are plenty of highly toxic plants in the world, but certainly the ones we eat aren’t poisonous. Think again. There have been weapons of mass destruction created from plant toxins, like ricin (used by the Soviets during the cold war),
    but I know of no WMD ever derived from animals…….”

    The plant based diet movement is going ballistic, here where I live. Billboards, ads, friends who are now revolted by animal products (yukky honey..)….

    Vegans have always been around. I was vegan/vegetarian/raw food for 3 or 4 years as a young hippy…..

    I have recently discovered that black tea and stevia (my go to drink) are full of oxalates (combines with calcium to form sharp crystals).

    Is embracing “the green smoothie lifestyle” related to the anxiety and feeling of impending doom that many people are feeling/expressing? Is the 500,000,000 year old (very wise) plant kingdom, surreptitiously, stalking us?

    1. Greg

      Most of the best things about plants (caffeine!) are toxins intended to kill animal predators. We are animal predators, we’re just a lot bigger than their initial targets. So yeah, plants want to kill us, except when they want us to eat their seeds and drop them somewhere far away in a nice pile of fertilizer.

      I don’t know how useful it is to get wound up about obscure molecules in common foods that might be linked to illnesses, given the sheer enormity and complexity of the systems on both sides of that equation. As Lambert says, we don’t really know anything (on average). I’d say just make sure there is a long history of humans eating whatever it is you’re eating, because observation and large samples are pretty good tools. But I’m also psychologically disinclined to be the first egg eater so I would say that.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “But I’m also psychologically disinclined to be the first egg eater so I would say that.”

        at the tail end of my Chefdom, I got Larousse Gastronomique for xmas…a ten pound cook book(or bible)
        perusing this, I had the same sort of thought: how in hell did that enter the human diet?
        take cheese: rotten, solidified milk…butter, rancid milkfat(I love real cheese).
        this is to say nothing of sea urchins or fugu or haggis.
        around my house, we call parmesan “feet cheese”…a cynical ploy to get the boys when little to try it(because it grossed out momma, a cheese hater). the particular bacteria that makes parmesan parmesan turns out to be closely related to what grows between one’s toes, sometimes(sciam article, a long while ago)…ergo, parmesan derives from someone getting a toe in their milk…letting it sit…and being hungry enough, in the end, not to care,lol.
        or sourdough…i’ve cultivated from scratch, on the back porch of my cafe: stinks when it first gets going, and can occasionally come after you, right out of the crock(it was a trial and error experiment).
        or Garum,lol:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garum
        or worschestishire(sp-2) sauce, which is fermented anchovies, among other things that i maybe wouldn’t be the first to think “hey! lets eat that!”
        vinegar mothers? did that, too…some alien organism lurking silently in a crock of old wine,lol.
        who said first,”lets put that on this leafy green thing!”?
        food history is cool.

        1. Greg

          Agreed, food history is fascinating. Starvation probably has a lot to answer for, and i imagine we’ll be seeing more ‘innovations’ this century.

          The swings in taste and acceptance across societies and time is something too. You can usually work out why things were considered aphrodisiacs because it tends to be pretty uh, direct. But things that are despised vs treasured – so many things in your list, basically everything the English ate between 1400 and 1800, caviar and lobster. Craziness.

          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            I’ve always been of the belief that ‘serious cuisine’ is a result of regional food shortages. Southern Cuisine is a thing and in the southeast was mostly about using spice, flour, and sugar (and well frying) to make staples more satisfying.

            And once you’ve come up with a good sauce for rat, you can make anything taste good. (Not implicating any particular Gallic country)

            My brother gave me a bag of Parmesan Crisps for Xmas. Smelled like feet, tasted great.

        2. Basil Pesto

          I think about this stuff all the time, and not just “it’s amazing that this food exists” but “what other kinds of cool foods are out there that haven’t been invented/discovered yet?” – with so much of it down to chance, interference of natural processes etc. The answer might also be “none”, as innovation in food in recent history seems to be more down to technique than development of new foodstuffs.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            is the addition of sawdust to “parmesan” an innovation?
            and can it be connected, at least allegorically, to the historical trope of peasants eating twigs in times of unrest/famine?

  19. The Rev Kev

    Australian bushfire-

    Footage has emerged of firies getting the hell out of dodge and going through a world on fire outside their windows. The water you see trickling down them are part of a system to help protect the people inside the cabin. Not a place where you want the truck to break down or have a downed tree block your path-


  20. Darthbobber

    Clark county educational association (19000 members, includes Las Vegas school system) has formally endorsed Sanders.

  21. Jeff W

    The Hill’s Krystal Ball’s take (with Saagar Enjeti chiming in) “Warren helps Biden, betrays her own past with white feminist attack on Bernie” here:

    BALL: Well, this may surprise some folks but I want to applaud Elizabeth Warren for holding Joe Biden’s feet to the fire. While he claims to be “middle class Joe,” his actions say otherwise. While he claims to fight for women, he has consistently undermined them economically. Warren rightly pointed out that Biden made life much more difficult for struggling Americans, and especially women, lambasting him for his “vigorous support of legislation that hurts women,” according to Warren’s spot-on critique of the type of shallow feminism that would take a narrow approach to women’s needs and women’s issues. “Women’s issues are not just about childbearing or domestic violence. If it were framed properly middle class economic reform just might become the issue that could galvanize millions of mainstream women to join the fight for women’s issues. The numbers are certainly there,” she said.* “This year more women will file bankruptcy papers than will receive college diplomas. More women with children will search for a bankruptcy lawyer then will seek subsidized daycare. And in a statistic with special significance for Senator Biden, more women will be victimized by predatory lenders than will seek protection from an abusive husband or boyfriend.” Hear, hear! No word on how highly we should rank the words of a friend in a private conversation in terms of their significance to women.

    Now Warren has also been outspoken about Biden’s corruption, bashing him for being a zealous advocate on behalf of one of his biggest contributors, thanks to his coziness with the credit card issuers headquartered in Delaware. Biden was so close with credit card issuer MBNA that he was sometimes referred to as “the senator from MBNA.” Worth mentioning Hunter Biden also got in on the action there of course he works as a lobbyist for that credit card issuer for years even as his dad took votes on legislation of direct financial interest to the industry. Warren, of course, memorably fought with Biden over that bankruptcy bill tangling with him in memorable clashes…but that was then and this is now.

    Now, in a remarkable turnabout, rather than striking righteous blows on behalf of women and the way that corporatist politics, corruption, and disastrous trade deals devastate their lives and their families, rather than using her time on that biggest stage, a presidential campaign, to finally hold Biden to account for his phony middle-class pandering in service of a devastating status quo, she’s instead decided that it would serve her short-term political interest to smear her “friend” Bernie Sanders as sexist because she alleges he was insufficiently woke in a private conversation over a year ago.

    Please explain to me how it serves the cause of women to kneecap a senator who has consistently stood up for the economic and human rights of women since the time that Elizabeth Warren was a Republican. Please explain how it matches Warren’s blistering critique of those who would push token women-specific legislation while undermining them in every other aspect of their lives. Help me understand, white feminists, why whether or not Bernie Sanders was sufficiently PC in that conversation should matter more to women than whether they have health care, are bankrupt from student debt, have access to free childcare, etc., etc. Explain it slow so I really get it because this makes no sense. It only makes sense as the completion of an evolution that started back in 2016, back when Warren had a choice to do the bold thing and back her ally Bernie or to sit it out and ultimately do the calculated thing, handing her endorsement to the anointed one, Hillary Clinton. It only makes sense if those principles you claim got you into politics, to fight for wielding a righteous sword on behalf of working-class women and families, turn out in the end to be less important than the siren song of ambition and power. When she chose Hillary she bought into the establishment game and one thing we know is that establishment will always back establishment.

    It’s easy to justify, right? If I just do this one thing, then I’ll gain power, and if I gain power, that will give me the ability to help those women and families that I still “tell myself” come first. But this game doesn’t work that way. Because if you’ll bend now, if you will abandon your foundational principles when no one is even pressuring you to, you will never stand for them when it counts. If you do not welcome the hatred of Wall Street and Silicon Valley and your own colleagues who are funded by those interests, you will never be a true friend to the disproportionately female working class. Instead you’ll be reduced to simply signaling your Girl Power/slay queen wokeness by shameful displays like what we saw at the debate this week. Warren once said* rightly that Biden “should not be allowed to sell out women in the morning and be heralded as their friend in the evening.”

    Rremember politics are zero-sum. The oxygen that Warren has taken up by launching this scurrilous attack on Bernie has meant that Biden gets off scot-free just when a reckoning was ready to be delivered. By sliming the most consistently pro-woman candidate in the race, she has made clear that, her own gender aside, she is no real friend to women. The only good news is the American people have a chance now to soundly reject this cynical ploy and the hollow white feminist politics that come with it.’

    Sagar, I really just wanted to point out how outrageous it is that, when you finally have the chance to call Joe Biden out for all the things that you took—that can you came into politics to fight for—when you have that chance, rather than discussing the actual economic conditions, going after the things that actually affect women’s lives, you instead decide to slime your friend, the most consistently pro-woman senator that there is, as sexist.

    ENJETI: But, Krystal, she’s gonna wear a pink Planned Parenthood scarf…

    BALL: Oh, I forgot about that! You go, girl!

    ENJETI: Again what do we talk about here all the time: zero-sum. When…you’re attacking Bernie and you’re not attacking Biden, Biden wins. She knows this. This is a desperate ploy in order to get the media to try— I think she really misunderstands actually the left and the voters who back Bernie Sanders over her and their understanding about the economic conditions that contribute to racial and gender and all these other, you know, inequalities that we have in our system, rather than just, like, wokely calling out the inequality itself, not wanting to do anything that affects their day-to-day lives.’

    BALL: Well, it’s a perfect example of the type of politics that are celebrated on TV every day and are being celebrated right now. “Way to go Elizabeth Warren!” you know.

    I mean it’s because what matters—what do you think really matters to a voter in Iowa or in New Hampshire or anywhere in the country, to a woman in Iowa, New Hampshire or anywhere in the country? Is it what Bernie Sanders may or may not† have said in a private conversation or what’s actually going to help them put food on the table make their lives easier, allow them to provide healthcare, have health care child care, etc.? Of course, obviously, that is more important. And that’s why I think, fundamentally, the media and Elizabeth Warren and her Hillary Clinton holdover apparatchiks on her team completely misunderstand what the ultimate outcome of this is going to be. We’ve seen this kind of shallow identity politics thrown out there into the ether and completely come crashing back down in this campaign.

    [My transcript, lightly edited. Links added.]

    * Quoted from Warren’s 2004 The Two-Income Trap.

    † Krystal Ball herself does not believe that Bernie Sanders said a woman cannot win the presidency to Elizabeth Warren, as the latter has alleged.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Wow. Thanks for going to the trouble to transcribe this. I prefer reading so really appreciate it.

        1. Jeff W

          You’re welcome, M. Bunny and flora—my pleasure! I know some people on this site really prefer reading a transcript to listening to audio/video, so why not?

          I thought this take was worthwhile because, even if we accept Elizabeth Warren’s account—unlikely as it is—as a given, it’s still, in Ball’s view, a colossal failure for her and reflects, once again, her lousy political instincts and her true priorities. She remains, on so many levels, clueless, if not utterly self-interested.

          1. jrs

            If she cares about policy and she’s not winning then she would still fight to win, but if it wasn’t to be, she would at least want the person who supports progressive policies that isn’t her to win right? May take some issue with their policies as being less well planned out, or less realistic, or whatever, fine, it’s ok to prefer one’s own platform, but at least they are progressive right? For heavens sake if Sanders was in that position what do you want to bet that’s what he would want, the most progressive person possible, even if they were too incrementalist. For heavens sake Clinton even …

            But clearly she doesn’t really care about policy. She cares maybe about being a savior or something, by enacting policy, “oh thank you Warren you have saved us!”, or getting in the history books, but policy for policies sake …

            I’d also rather read, I don’t even listen to videos, no matter how much they are recommended.

            1. Jeff W

              It makes no sense on multiple different levels—certainly not from any policy perspective.

              It’s very revealing for what it says about Elizabeth Warren, including just how unaware she is of what she is revealing.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Yes, thank you, Jeff. It’s a brilliant takedown, and it’s awkward for me to listen to video.

        1. Jeff W

          You’re welcome! I thought Krystal nailed it in a way others haven’t. I’m glad the transcript worked for you.

  22. mtnwoman

    Warren is clearly making a play for Biden VP.

    We know she is pals w Neera Tandern and has had chats with Hillary. Tom Watson (Clintonite) is w Liz now.

    What I wanna know is how can you believe Warren’s “Big Structural Change” slogan when she’s made her bed in Dem Establishment nest? She’s attempting to Triangulate with the NeoLib/Clinton camp AND progressivism.

    Her “Big Structural Change” is the 2020 version of the last Faux Progressive’s “Hope & Change”.

    1. Pavel

      Trump would have an absolute field day running against those two. Plus Joe would need someone much younger. If Liz thinks she has a chance at VP she is just delusional.

      BTW on Predictit (betting site) Bloomberg is now ahead of Warren at third place. (12 cents vs 10 cents.)

    2. tegnost

      One thing that I think is not discussed much is the kids of the PMC. In my family the MBA’s, Profs (tenured variety) and Doc’s put their kids on the health care path so they would be meritocratically successful and thusly reflecting well upon the parents , of course. When I see Warren turn on Sanders this is what I see to be a core issue. Add to that Harvard professor status where one in that position is exposed to the demographic that is Harvard and it would be easy to become invested in the ostensible superiority of the classes. I think Krugman has this fatal flaw as well. They’re invested in their students as well as in their highly educated children whom they have guided onto this path and believe they are special and deserve the rewards that the lopsided system provides, and when push comes to shove it’s the working class that goes over the edge. Bernie is a serious threat to the PMC. They rigged the game, and are benefiting from the rigging, and someone wants to rig the game to their disadvantage? Scorched earth.

      1. inode_buddha

        Shorter: they are insulted at the idea of playing on a level field. I know, I grew up in similar PMC circumstances, and left them to join the working classes.

      2. jrs

        Yes it’s why the winning purely on class interest stuff is so incomplete. SHORT TERM economic interest is not simple. There are MANY class interests. Homeowners class interests clash with renters. Middle class class interests are not necessarily working class class interests And are the interest of a student debtor with a ton of education really those of a high school drop out? Is a fossil fuel workers economic interest really any of ours? I mean I’m for a “just transition” in that case, but it doesn’t make the pain zero.

        But one can vote the long term interest of a functional society and a living planet which is also all of our long term self-interest. That’s fricken it period. It will benefit many (as opposed to the only government we get now which is for the few), and still it will hurt some and they aren’t all rich. But it’s all of our long term self interest. If it cost me a job, oh well, that’s real suffering perhaps but so what, vote for people and planet.

        1. jrs

          Another thing more local is the interest of the homeless industrial complex does not seem to be aligning with that of the homeless. Lots of money going in but radically insufficient housing being built. Are those working in the homeless industrial complex all rich PMC? I kind of doubt it but … they have their interest and it’s not necessarily that of the homeless.

        1. Samuel Conner

          professional/managerial class

          sometimes called “the 10%”, the current “base” of the establishment D party, though I have the impression that the lower reaches of this group are falling into precarity.

          IIRC, in “A people’s history of the US”, the author regarded this group to be the “guards” who would keep the lower classes in line on behalf of the people at the top.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Previously known as “the bourgeoisie” – although, to be precise, that also included small shopkeepers and tradespeople who were really self-employed workers and could join with the proletariat in the right circumstances.

  23. Craig H.

    > Nearly two-thirds of respondents reported witnessing bullying or harassment and 43% said they had experienced it.

    This is grossly incompetent management. The tried-true Method:

    Pay enough salary that almost everybody wants to keep their job.
    Manage staff by rank and yank, by the numbers, no slop, no exceptions.
    Axe the bottom 10% every other year and re-organize.

    I promise you the employees will do what you tell them to do. I guarantee it. The only problem you have left is to tell them to do the right stuff and not the wrong stuff.

    1. Carey

      “Slop” can also be thought of as “resiliency”, and is found throughout Nature.
      Looks like we’ll be learning that one (again) soon enough..

  24. WheresOurTeddy

    tacked on to the “Love Me I’m A Liberal” tweet by another user:

    I proudly stand in the Resistance
    I wish we could all be at brunch
    I vote for the most electable
    Cuz Socialists just want free lunch!
    I support means testing and charters
    But the green new dream’s just a hunch
    So love me, love me, love me, i’m a liberal

  25. David in Santa Cruz

    Her campaign is conflict-averse and does not handle criticism well…

    The perfect foil for Trump! So electable.

    Listen to Michael Moore’s Rumble on your podcast of choice. Through his genuine hurt, he outlines all the evidence that has been staring us in the face that Elizabeth Warren is a serial liar, a lifelong Republican who hoisted herself up on sacrifices of others that she never made herself. Trump would eat her lunch.

    This whole kerfuffle was cooked-up by CNN, the same network that used Flint victims as “props” in tipping-off Clinton in a debate against Sanders. Moore was with the women from Flint when they discovered how badly they had been played. He reminds us that the ensuing poor turn-out in his home town of Flint was how lost Clinton the Electoral College.

  26. JCC

    The Medium article was pretty amazing, in a shocking way. I knew all those candidates were/are exceptionally bad, but Biden!!!

    I firmly believe that anyone can quote the old joke without fear, except in Biden’s case it is definitely NOT a joke (except when he is in the back room with his ultra-conservative, highly racist, buddies, of course):

    Q: How can you tell when a politician is lying?
    A: When he opens his mouth.

  27. Observer

    The problem with Warren runs very deep. She’s not presidential material. A person of maturity, good judgement and possessing a sense of fair play or good sportsmanship would never have refused to shake hands with a fellow senator on national T V or any place else. To reject a proffered hand when the person offering their hand is acting in a sincere and friendly manner should be viewed as an offensive act by anyone witnessing it. I would not want to see her representing the country. Anyone who is the least bit aware knows that gender wasn’t a disqualifier in 2016 and certainly is not in 2020. This is just another red herring thrown up by desperate, unscrupulous politicians

  28. Basil Pesto

    re: the Bill Mitchell page

    the federal government has been boasting about running a surplus for some time, then when the fires hit and it became apparent that a lot of relief was going to be needed, the PM and/or treasurer said “we aren’t even thinking about the federal budget right now”. cretins.

    I also saw today from friends’ social media postings that Complex Eligibility Requirements have been implemented for volunteer firefighters seeking compensation from the gov’t for missed work.

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