2:00PM Water Cooler 1/17/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“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.

We have a new IPSOS national poll, as of 1/17/2020, 12:00 PM EST. On the average, the pattern of Biden first, Sanders slowly closing on Biden, 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, Biden had a massive drop, Sanders slightly leads, followed by Undecided (!), and Warren has slipped back into a tie for fourth with Buttigieg. 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:

In NH, a new Emerson poll:

The NH 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): “Joe Biden Said Hillary Clinton Faced Sexism, But ‘That’s Not Going To Happen With Me’ [HuffPo]. “The former vice president went through a list of reasons why he believed Clinton lost, including that people underestimated Trump; Clinton mishandled the response to the infamous Access Hollywood tape; and Trump effectively inflamed the controversy around her emails. He also said Clinton was the victim of ‘unfair’ sexist attacks. But, he added, ‘That’s not going to happen with me.'” • One can only wonder by Warren didn’t go for the jugular with Biden.

Biden (D)(2): “‘We have a lot of work to do.’ Biden vows to defeat hate, intolerance in Arlington visit” [McClatchy]. Arlington, Texas. “‘Some mornings that I wake up, I wonder whether or not we are living in 2020 or 1920,’ he told a crowd of African-American delegates gathered at the National Baptist Convention Mid-Winter Board Meeting in Arlington. ‘I hear the voices of intolerance singing the chorus of hate, intolerance.’… Biden is the only presidential candidate who spoke to the Baptist convention’s mid-winter meeting this week.” • Good scheduling by the Biden campaign.

Biden (D)(3): “CNN Audio Analysis Reveals Biden Caught On Wet Mic While Chewing On Own Microphone” [The Onion]. • Oh, no, no, no, no, no.

BIden (D)(4): “How Frank Biden leveraged his famous name for business gain” [ABC]. “Frank Biden, a longtime real estate developer in the state, accepted the offer, and over the years, he touted his famous last name and prominent connections in Washington to help land the company a series of charter contracts from local officials in Florida to open charter schools, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars over a five-year period from the company in the process. In media interviews at the time, Frank Biden was unabashed – calling his last name ‘a tremendous asset’ because of the family’s record of ‘taking care of people who need help,’ and telling people it brought him ‘automatic acceptance’ as he sought government approvals for the for-profit Mavericks in Education.” • “Mavericks in Education,” I love it.

UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(1): “Bloomberg makes his case to Dems on Capitol Hill” [Politico]. “The New York billionaire met with dozens of Democrats as he sought to convince them of his highly unconventional — yet extraordinarily well-funded — road to the White House. Bloomberg’s message to members: His campaign isn’t wasting time on Iowa but is focused on defeating President Donald Trump with an unprecedented ground game in battleground states… But Bloomberg used a slate of closed-door meetings to frame himself as a centrist who can go the distance against Trump and invest heavily in swing states. He’s now working to woo lawmakers across the spectrum whose endorsements could be crucial to boosting his credibility as a national candidate outside of the early-voting states. That includes a group of Democrats who might otherwise be among his fiercest critics: the Hispanic Caucus, whose members have condemned the kinds of “stop and frisk” policies Bloomberg helped promote in New York.”

Buttigieg (D)(1): Digging deeper into the South Bend police department:

Buttigieg (D)(2): “Pete Buttigieg’s Campaign Used Notoriously Low-Paying Gig-Work Platform for Polling” [The Intercept]. “The presidential campaign of former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg spent $20,000 over the summer hiring gig workers through the platform Amazon Mechanical Turk, or MTurk, one of the most controversial actors in the gig-working space. Studies have found gig workers at the company are paid far below minimum wage, even though many on the platform work full-time. … The campaign’s use of an exploitative platform like MTurk is in sharp contrast with the way Buttigieg has cast himself as a pro-worker candidate.”

Sanders (D)(1): “Amid Raft of State-Level Endorsements, Sanders Leads Democrats in New National Poll” [Common Dreams]. “Amid a series of endorsements from key groups and allies in crucial primary states this week—and despite the “brouhaha” with Sen. Elizabeth Warren—a new national poll shows Sen. Bernie Sanders now in the lead over former Vice President Joe Biden and the rest of the Democratic primary field. According to the Reuters/Ipsos poll released late Thursday, Sanders received support from 20% of registered Democratic primary voters surveyed. That figure was enough to edge out Biden who received 19% and the 12% of voters who say they back Warren. Rounding out the top five finishers in the nationwide poll—conducted this week between Jan. 15-16—were former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg (9%) and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (6%). While the poll has a 5-point margin of error that puts Biden and Sanders in a statistical tie, the results show Sanders gaining steam and Biden remaining flat compared to a similar poll taken last week. In addition, Reuters noted in its reporting, “The poll shows that standing does not appear to have been hurt by his recent confrontation with Warren” that captured political headlines throughout the week.” • Just one poll! Nevertheless….

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): A clip from Sanders’ interview with the New York Times editors:

Just look at those faces round the table.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders Secures Crucial Endorsement From Leftist Facebook Meme Page” [Vice]. “Bernie Sanders has just scored a crucial endorsement from the New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens, a popular leftist Facebook meme group. The Facebook meme group connects teens and millennials across the world who are entertained (or obsessed) with memes about urban transportation and planning. In an admin post published Wednesday, the group announced its endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders was motivated by ‘Sanders’ vision of peace, equity and justice.'” • Bernie keeps getting endorsements from groups who can help with canvassing.

Trump (R)(1): “Trump Aid Means Farms Are Doing Better Than Before Trade War” [Bloomberg]. “Donald Trump is boasting that he’s made farmers “really happy.” He’s not wrong, but it’s not just the trade deal that’s left farmers optimistic for 2020. Analysts are saying the accord signed this week mostly just takes trade back to normal for American agriculture. China has committed to $32 billion in additional purchases over two years, but that buying will be market dependent and retaliatory tariffs are still in place. Even the status quo is still a welcome relief after more than a year of escalating tensions. The thing that’s really moved the needle for farmers is Trump’s $28 billion farm bailout. The trade aid meant incomes rose in a year when they were widely expected to fall.” • “Obama bailed out the bankers. Trump bailed out the farmers.” The script writes itself.

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “‘You’re a bunch of dopes and babies’: Inside Trump’s stunning tirade against generals” [WaPo]. • Where’s the lie? When was the last time we had a victory parade for these guys? (Now, to be fair, the civilian leadership has been miserably inadequate, but generals can resign.)

UPDATE Trump (R)(3): “Trumpism After Trump” [Harpers]. “They were here because of one undeniable fact: Donald Trump was going to die. Trump might be ejected from office or lose the election or win the election—but he was, also, definitely going to die. And Trumpism needed to survive. It was just getting started. If Trumpism were snuffed out with Trump, Republicans would fall back into march with the party lemmings in hock to their donors (hardly any Republican voters agreed with the donors about anything, as Trump had intuited), who would connive with liberals to contaminate the country with more immigration, more Big Tech treason, more “free” trade, more endless wars, more slouching toward nihilism. The ancien régime was threatening to reconstitute itself. Someone had to stand up for Trumpism in the noble abstract.” • Where is Edmund Burke when we need him?

UPDATE Trump (R)(4): “Trump jabs at ‘Mini Mike Bloomberg’ for debate stage absence” [Politico]. “‘Mini Mike Bloomberg doesn’t get on the Democrat Debate Stage because he doesn’t want to – he is a terrible debater and speaker,’ Trump wrote online. ‘If he did, he would go down in the polls even more (if that is possible!).’ Bloomberg, who is self-financing his White House bid, is unable to appear in the party-sanctioned primary debates due to the Democratic National Committee’s qualifying rules, which stipulate that participants must achieve certain numbers of individual campaign donors.” • A horrid spectacle: Trump trying to get into Bloomberg’s head. Readers, could it happen?

UPDATE Yang (D)(1): “How Andrew Yang’s Iowa Operation Is Assessing, Mobilizing Iowans” [Iowa Starting Line]. “Yang could still qualify for the Feb. 7 debate, held in New Hampshire four days before voters cast the first ballots of the primary. But for now, the campaign is fleshing out strategies for caucus night on Feb. 3.” But: “Most campaigns identify potential voters with a simple binary: they’re a supporter or not. The Yang team, however, asks potential caucus-goers to rank Yang on a scale of one to five.” • I just don’t think that’s true. How can you move voters if you don’t know who is best able to be moved? Can any campaign workers comment?

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“Thinking About The Democratic Primary” [Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs]. “If it’s the case that Warren could ultimately side with the right of the Democratic Party instead of the left, it means that progressive leftists who have been working for Warren, or donating to her, or promoting her, might well have ultimately been working for their own enemy.” • The good folks at Jacobin who were of the mind that there are “two good candidates,” as the cliché goes, aren’t coming out of this looking real good.

UPDATE “Sanders-Warren: An Alliance, if Not a Close Friendship, Suddenly Fractures” [New York Times]. “Many Warren advisers and allies think the Sanders camp has long tolerated public attacks on her from his surrogates.” • It’s a primary, not a coronation, and the last campaign to confuse the two did not do well.


“Ocasio-Cortez creates PAC to push back on the Democratic Party’s ‘blacklisting’ rule” [WaPo]. “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) announced she had formed a political action committee on Saturday to help raise funds for progressive primary candidates. The congresswoman has been a vocal opponent of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s policy to “blacklist” vendors and firms that work with candidates mounting primary challenges against Democratic incumbents. Ocasio-Cortez has also not paid her dues to the DCCC during this campaign cycle and said she did not plan to pay. The funds are traditionally provided to the DCCC by House members to redistribute among other important races.” • Sh*t gets real. Money’s involved!

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s New PAC Is Already Raising Big Money” [HuffPo]. “Ocasio-Cortez launched Courage to Change to support both progressive incumbent Democrats and primary challengers whose positions are close to her own. (She has thus far endorsed progressives taking on conservative Democratic Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas and Dan Lipinski of Illinois.)…. In two fundraising emails and a tweet, Ocasio-Cortez and her campaign framed the PAC explicitly as an alternative to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is House Democrats’ official campaign fundraising arm.”

Our Famously Free Press

UPDATE “Column: CNN’s shameful treatment of Bernie Sanders” [John Kass, Chicago Tribune]. “What CNN did to Bernie Sanders in the Iowa Democratic presidential debate — stabbing him with the gender card on behalf of a weakened Elizabeth Warren — was cheap and unfair. And it was shameful. I’m probably the last guy to defend Sanders. He is a man of the far left and I most certainly am not. Just before the debate, CNN ran a story portraying Sanders as misogynist who thinks a woman couldn’t be elected president. That’s ridiculous. He doesn’t believe that…. I disagree with Sanders’ policies, but at least he’s honest about what he wants to do. Establishment Democrats see Sanders’ base as full of energy and know they must stop him in Iowa and New Hampshire. They feed Warren so Sanders doesn’t defeat Biden. And they’ll use friendly media to shape a stiletto and slip it between Bernie’s ribs. Sanders’ voters have seen this one before.”


“The Trump and Clinton impeachments are as alike as apples and oranges” [Quartz]. “The case against Trump pertains to affairs of state, though. Unlike Trump’s alleged scheme, Clinton’s marital infidelities didn’t arguably jeopardize presidential election integrity by inviting foreign influence or threaten the national security of the United States and an ally.”

“Prominent lawyers Starr, Dershowitz join Trump impeachment team” [Reuters]. • Classy move!

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Bernie Sanders Believes in Mass Politics — Something the New York Times Can’t Wrap Their Minds Around” [Jacobin]. More on that New York Times interview. Nick Fox: “And I’m wondering how you flying around the country in 2021 rallying the people would be different than what Donald Trump has been doing?” • Wowsers.


Stats Watch

“Upbeat U.S. Consumers in Driver’s Seat as Retail Sales Climb” [Bloomberg]. “Several economic reports Thursday showed Americans are increasingly upbeat, more are catching the home-buying bug and perhaps most importantly, they’re still spending. Retail sales excluding autos climbed in December by the most in five months, Bloomberg’s weekly index of consumer comfort advanced to the highest in 19 years and a gauge of homebuilder sentiment posted its best back-to-back reading since 1999. Other reports showed applications for unemployment benefits dropped to a six-week low, while a regional manufacturing index was the strongest since May.”



Real Estate: “Tons of New Apartments Are Being Built That Almost No One Can Afford” [Vice]. “There’s a rampant homelessness crisis in large cities across the country, stoked by a lack of affordable housing units. But fear not — developers are constructing new apartments at a rapid clip this year. The catch: Up to 80% of those rental units to be completed this year will be in luxury buildings the average person likely can’t afford, according to data obtained by the Wall Street Journal from the real estate analytics firm RealPage. ‘A lot of these properties are competing for a small group of renters,’ RealPage chief economist Greg Willett told the Wall Street Journal. ‘A typical renter can’t afford this brand-new product.’ A sizable portion of this year’s expected 371,000 new rental units will also come online in cities with deep poverty and inequality crises, like Los Angeles, Dallas, and Washington, D.C.”

Real Estate:

Partly a spat between tenants; but partly a consequence of everything being delivered (and don’t even think about suggesting the delivery person putting the packages under the stairs; they are severely underpaid).

Tech: “DoorDash Contractors Earn Less Than Dogsh*t, Study Finds” [Gizmodo]. “Delivery platform DoorDash has been at the top of the public’s most hated gig economy value extraction firms for some time, owing largely to its prior policy of subsidizing its wages with customers’ tips. According to a study released today, even with that policy repealed, the efficiency of DoorDash’s race-to-the-bottom pay structure nets workers an estimated $1.45 per hour. The findings are part of a report released today by worker rights non-profit Working Washington, which crunched the pay data from 229 deliveries submitted by Dashers from around the country.” • Methodological issues; see the text.

Tech: “Google Maps keeps a detailed record of everywhere you go — here’s how to stop it” [CNBC]. “Google Maps tracks everywhere you go on your iPhone or Android phone, and then keeps a log of this information in a “Timeline” that shows you everywhere you’ve been. This includes a creepy level of detail…. Here’s how to delete all of that data and turn off tracking entirely if you want.”

Tech: Warn those around you who aren’t sufficiently paranoid about clicking on links:

Travel: “D.C. claims no.1 spot with Baltimore ranking 2nd on Orkin’s bed bug cities list for 2020” [WJLA]. ” It’s a distinction DC probably wasn’t expecting as the city earned the number one spot on Orkin’s bed bug cities list for 2020…. According to Orkin, the list is based on cities where crews conduct the most bed bug treatments from Dec. 1, 2018 to Nov. 30, 2019. These rankings look at bed bug treatments performed at homes and businesses.” • Makes me wonder what’s happening in all those AirBnB rentals; how long before these hotel-like entities, which are not built to hotel specs, start having hotel problems.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 89 Extreme Greed (previous close: 89 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 91 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 17 at 1:57pm.

The Biosphere

“Suez Canal’s invasive species driving Mediterranean marine life toward extinction” [Japan Times]. “As Egypt marks the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Suez Canal, marine biologists are bemoaning one of the famed waterway’s lesser-known legacies: the invasion of hundreds of nonnative species, including toxic jellyfish and aggressive lionfish. The canal, which connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, revolutionized maritime travel by creating a direct shipping route between the East and the West. But over the years, the invasive species have driven native marine life toward extinction and altered the delicate Mediterranean ecosystem with potentially devastating consequences, scientists say. The influx has increased significantly since Egypt doubled its capacity in 2015 with the opening of the ‘New Suez Canal,’ raising alarm in Europe and sparking criticism from various countries along the Mediterranean basin.”

“Pre-Inca Canal System Uses Hillsides as Sponges to Store Water” [Eos]. “A team of hydrologists, engineers, and social scientists is hoping to strengthen the water security of Lima and other Peruvian cities through analysis of a 1,400-year-old nature-based system developed by pre-Inca mountain communities. The technique uses a canal system that diverts water from streams to small ponds or spreads it over rocky hillslopes that act as natural sponges. This slows the flow of water down the mountains, preserving it into the dry season. The team’s analysis determined that if the system were scaled up to its maximum capacity, it could divert, infiltrate, and recover up to 100 million cubic meters of water and increase the region’s dry-season water volume by up to 33%.” • Euthanize impermeable surfaces!

We must cultivate our gardens. Thread:

Not sure about this theory of change. Readers?

Health Care

“Powerful House committee is latest to take stab at ‘surprise’ billing fix” [Politico]. “The leaders of a powerful House committee are aiming to break through a legislative quagmire as Congress tries to deliver on the stubbornly elusive goal of protecting patients from ‘surprise’ medical bills. A one-page plan from Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and ranking member Kevin Brady (R-Texas) is at odds with a detailed bipartisan deal struck between key House and Senate committees late last year to settle billing disputes that can leave patients on the hook for thousands of dollars in unexpected expenses. The framework Neal and Brady outlined on committee letterhead is short on specifics but envisions letting providers and insurers work out billing disputes, with the option of turning to “an independent mediated negotiation process.” Doctors and hospitals have pushed for months for an approach that relies on such outside help.” • Let’s add another layer of complexity!

Class Warfare

“Another legacy of redlining: Unequal exposure to heat waves” [Grist]. “Severe heat kills more people in the United States than any other hazardous weather-related event. As climate change accelerates, the sweltering heat will become much more extreme, and the associated mortality rate will rise. Like so many aspects of the climate crisis, heat doesn’t affect all people equally. Marginalized low-income communities of color, especially those in larger cities such as New York and Los Angeles, bear the brunt of heat waves. These concrete jungles with barely any green space to cool them down are drastically hotter than their surrounding suburbs and rural areas — a phenomenon known as the ‘urban heat island effect.’ And that’s not an accident. It’s the result of decades-old policy choices that are still reverberating today. A new study published in the journal Climate found that the historical practice of ‘redlining is a strong predictor of which neighborhoods are disproportionately exposed to extreme heat.”

“Jobs for All: A job guarantee puts workers in the driver’s seat” [Nonsite.org]. “What the business press gets exactly right about a job guarantee is what most skeptics get wrong. Tightening the labor market would ratchet up pressure on private employers to raise wages and massively increase the size of the federally employed workforce. Employment assurance programs have historically evoked elite pearl-clutching precisely because they are among the few political demands that put workers in a position real power. Criticism of a job guarantee, then, reflects a misunderstanding of the political logic of working-class demands, the power that a job guarantee affords workers and finally the central and enduring role of wage labor in socialist strategy.”

News of the Wired

“How Buddhism spread written language around the world” [BBC]. “Buddhism is focussed on preserving and transmitting the teachings of the Buddha, and commentary thereon; and throughout history, it’s been quick to innovate and exploit transcription and printing technologies. It is one of the great drivers of human civilisations. Woodblock printing, for example, was crucial to the spread of Buddhism across East Asia, and in turn, Buddhism helped to spread printing techniques. As Igunma points out, “The Buddhist textual tradition has been an important part of world [civilisation]. … Depending on the region of the world and the historical period, Buddhist manuscripts and books have been created on a wide range of materials, including stone, palm leaves, precious metals, ivory, cloth, paper and silk. The Buddha’s teachings are written in Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, Tibetan, Japanese, south-east Asian languages, and subsequently Western languages. … All are distinguished by the thoughtfulness, delicacy, and beauty with which they celebrate the life and ideas of the Buddha; as well as by the ingenuity of the media of transmission. An early example of Buddhist text engraved in Pyu script on gold sheets demonstrates how exquisite and solid the Buddhist textual legacy can be. Palm-leaf manuscripts were a prevalent form of textual transmission from the time of the Buddha until the development of the printing press.”

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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, of yesterday’s ice fog: “For good measure: A spider web!” I guess that’s not a plant, but it is pretty!

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bonus plant, a planing (AG):

AG writes: “This is a study of the winter bare branches of our Redbud bush, with some pods still clinging to it.”

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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. Wukchumni

    Travel: “D.C. claims no.1 spot with Baltimore ranking 2nd on Orkin’s bed bug cities list for 2020”
    DC has tried to kill me via high humidity a number of times, once half of me had melted off my frame in a 2 block walk when it was 104% humid, but luckily a slurpee brought me back to life.

    A couple of motels here have had bed bug issues in past years, and if I owned the motel insect quarry and saw photos of my guests arms and bodies with little red pock marks all over and scathing reviews of my establishment on Travel Advisor/Yelp, i’d fix it in a hurry, which judging from the swath of 1-star reviews, this establishment hasn’t bothered.

    Here’s a recent review of a local motel:

    This is the absolute worst establishment I have ever been to. We only went because this was the only place with open rooms- makes sense why no one wants to go there. First things first, the WiFi is absolute trash- only works in the morning for whatever reason. Next, the rooms are FILTHY. The sheets have stains, odd crumb like things, BED BUGS, small hairs that look like pubes, and my bed frame had hand prints. This place is also infested with roaches. The roaches live under the carpet. There was even a spider on our toilet paper. Bugs were crawling from the drains. There were even spider eggs in the bathroom.

  2. Tom Doak

    Re: the Politico piece on surprise medical billing, it sounds like doctors and hospitals would like to create jobs in a new field that would ally with them against a system that would make “surprise billing” impossible.

    1. Off The Street

      Donor, er, medical professional opinions support new complexification initiative, sources say.

    1. False Solace

      It’s difficult to imagine better reelection propaganda for Trump than that WaPo article. I agree with pretty much everything he supposedly said (the followthrough, on the other hand… is lacking). But I don’t think WaPo intended it that way….

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      There is a difference between winning or losing a War and winning or losing the Postwar Peace. It is said that “incompetent generals” lost Baby Bush’s Gulf War 2.0. But the generals and service members had won the war and were set to win the Peace under General Garner who would have kept the Iraqi Army intact, the Iraqi Secret Police in power and secretly policing, etc. It is not Garner’s fault, or the generals’s faults, or the servicemembers’ fault . . . . that Cheney-Rumsfeld deliberately on purpose fired Garner and fired Garner’s plan and then brought in their own Pet Viceroy Paul Bremer (?) with his neo-lib-con Year Zero social teardown-and-rebuild plan for Iraq. The Cheney-bush Administration deliberately and on purpose threw the Victory away.

      If one supports the logic that the generals and the military are the ones who lost the Iraq War, then one
      should logically and consistently apply the same consistent logic to an analysis of the aftermath of the American Civil War. The United States generals and admirals and armed forces generally lost the Civil War. Because the War Aims of the Lincoln Administration were mostly lost and unachieved. So . . . the United States clearly lost the Civil War. Right? Well, yes . . . by “the generals lost the Iraq War ” logic.

      Now I myself don’t accept that logic. I believe that the United States forces won the Civil War. And then President Johnson very carefully and deliberately with evil malice aforethought threw the victory away. Do we blame Grant/Sheridan/Sherman because Johnson wanted to “keep the Confederacy Confederate”?

      Some may. I don’t.

      1. Yves Smith

        I don’t know what war you saw. I was in Oz at the time and one of the advantages was vastly better reporting.

        The Army did ZERO to secure hospitals. They were rapidly looted. Australian reporters were gobsmacked at the negligence of the occupying forces

        The Army did ZERO to protect power generation.

        Baghdad fell apart in rapid order. This was being reported in real time in Australia.

        This was way before any reconstruction effort.

        1. Pat

          In the run up to the Iraq invasion, a prominent soon to be former Republican politician used the Afghanistan is better off, women do not need to wear the burka argument at me. Obviously Iraq would be better as well. I was gobsmacked that he had somehow missed the numerous reports of increasing violence and internal unrest there as various factions battled to assert their power and yes divide the spoils. This violence included attacks on women without burkas and schools with girls. In the summer not six months later following and after we invaded Iraq, Newsday ran a depressing multipart series regarding conditions in Afghanistan and how our disregard for reconstruction had fostered corruption and violence.

          We did still have some press back then which did report what and where our focus was. But if all you read was the headlines and opening paragraph or watched the evening news it was easy to miss the mess (and repeated failure of shock and awe in the aftermath.)

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          The Army follows orders which ultimately originate with the Civilian Leadership. The Army did zero to defend these places or prevent looting because the Cheney-bush leadership had zero interest in having the Army do these things.

          The Cheney-bush plan was a deliberate project to burn Iraq down to the ground and destroy its society to build a new fantasy order from the bits and pieces.

          If Cheney-bush and Rumsfeld had felt the hospitals worth securing and power generation worth protecting, they would have instructed the Army to have security for hospitals and power generation and so forth ready to go. The soldiers in the field can not on their own defend and secure things which they have not been ordered to defend and secure. And the Cheney-bush Administration’s careful refusal to have any such system of orders in place for the actual army people to carry out indicates the Cheney-bush-Rumsfeld Admin’s deliberate desire to let all these places be looted and destroyed.

          Do you remember how Rumsfeld sneered and laughed about ” that same vase” being featured being carried out of the Museum “over and over” ? To me that indicated that ” that same vase” being carried out of the Museum was the result which Cheney and Rumsfeld very deliberately wanted on purpose. Should I blame the Army and the Generals for that?

          Electrical generation destroyed could eventually be replaced at great profit to whatever companies would be contracted to replace that generation. So of course the destruction of electric generation was silently default-permitted. The near-instant firing of Garner by Rumsfeld seems to me proof enough that this destruction was the result entirely desired by the Administration, to set the stage for eventual high-profit rebuilding of all that was destroyed.

          The soldiers surrounding the Iraqi Oil Ministry DID receive orders to protect that Ministry. At least, that is what I read at the time. The Oil Ministry building was not touched. That makes me think the mobs knew it would be defended. And that means that orders would have been given to the Army to defend and secure it.

          1. Procopius

            There is a lot of untold story there. For example, it was not reported who fired Garner or when/why Bush appointed Bremer. Rumsfeld denied it, IIRC. No one knows who wanted the Iraqi Army to be disbanded, although it was clear Bremer gave the order. He has always said afterward that it was widely agreed upon by all the national security people in D.C., and they have all denied it, claiming that it was completely at deviance from the consensus. What Rumsfeld did do was to forbid the Army to use the plan drawn up by the State Department or to draw up plans of their own. Why he did that has never been explained. Why did Colin Powell destroy his own reputation to give that stupid speech at the UN? Wilkerson claimed afterward that they spent days with the CIA and State Department making sure there was solid evidence, but all the “intelligence” came from a single source, passed on to the CIA by the German BND, who said he was almost certainly a fabricator. Powell should have known from his own training in Chemical, Biological, Radiological warfare that there was no way a couple of portable laboratories could produce war-fighting amounts of materiel.

            1. The Rev Kev

              And why was it that when people were recruited for Bremer’s little satrapy, that if you could speak Arabic, or knew about Iraq and its history, or anything about this region that you were immediately excluded from being considered. Hell, candidates were being asked how they felt about Roe-Wade.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the War Aims of the Lincoln Administration were mostly lost and unachieved

        The Slave Power was destroyed. The Union was preserved. Slavery was abolished. Not sure what war aims you’re saying were not achieved. Of course, if the dying Slave Power hadn’t whacked Lincoln, Reconstruction probably would have gone better. But that’s not a “war aim.”

    3. Procopius

      They certainly are unwilling to admit the truth and throw tantrums when their wishes are obstructed (c.f. what happened when the Commander in Chief* ordered them to withdraw from Syria). I wonder if that’s part of the West Point “Honor Code.” Oh, and by the way, Lambert, generals/admirals never resign! They retire. Well, maybe there was one exception. I think I saw it happen once, but have not been able to find it through Google.

      1. The Rev Kev

        @ Procopius – You must be thinking of Admiral William Fallon who resigned when the Bush regime was determined to go to war with Iran. He was also the one who figured out what General David Petraeus was all about and called him an “an a**-kissing little chickens***”

  3. Bill Carson

    I find it very disturbing that Trump nearly started WWIII two weeks ago, and now nobody is talking about it.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Please remind me — what did Trump do two weeks ago that nearly started WWIII? Do you mean the assassination of Gen. Soleimani? If so, how might that have triggered a WWIII?

      1. Matthew

        There are at least four nuclear-armed countries with an interest in Iran, at least one of which is a mad dog. It doesn’t seem too hard to imagine things going very wrong if Iran had been less careful with their response.

      2. Synoia

        Similar to how an assassination of an Archduke sparked a minor conflict in Europe, because of the double alliance and triple alliance treaties between opposing power blocks.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The key point is that before World War I all the chancellories — France, Russia, Britain, Austria, (surprisingly to a lesser extent) Germany — wanted war (see The Sleepwalkers). That’s not the case in the Middle East, where neither Iran nor (I imagine) Russia, with whom Iran would surely have communicated, wanted a war any hotter than the low grade war we have no.

          Say what you will about Trump, he’s a genius at sniffing out weakness. He seems to have done that here.

      3. marku52

        I’m pretty sure nobody thought assassinating a minor Arch Duke would have much of an effect either. This stuff is hard to game out. What if it led Iran to close the Straits in response? We are lucky their reply was measured, not emotional like Trump’s.

      4. Bill Carson

        Exactly what Matthew and marku52 said. Have you forgotten already? Trump threatened to bomb 52 cultural sites if any Americans were hurt or killed. After Iran’s remarkably accurate ballistic missile attack, Trump claimed that no Americans had been killed or injured, and Trump backed down. As it turns out, Trump lied and at least 11 soldiers were injured—-if not more.

        11 US service members treated for blast injuries in Iran missile attack, military confirms

        This could have gone very badly, and fast.

        1. Bob

          I suppose a better response would have been to do nothing and let Iranian backed troops continue to kill Americans and spread chaos across the region. How is it that now both Bush and Obama get a pass for causing the chaos, letting Syria get out of control and assassinating with drones at will including an American citizen.

          1. ambrit

            I’ll not debate the merits of various proxy killers who work for every side in this conflict, but simply note that the Iranians showed that they can hit small and specific targets from distance. Also, no one has come out with what these targeted sites really were. From what I can glean, the hangars destroyed were the staging sites for the drones that America uses to kill people ‘from a distance.’ Thus, not only did the Iranians show advanced targeting capabilities, but also showed superior intelligence capabilities. “Not only can we hit you, but we know where to hit you.”
            Trump yelling at his generals is a good thing. Who knows what he is saying to his “intelligence” chiefs?

          2. EricT

            It’s their back yard. Trump assassinated an invited guest of the Iraqi Prime minister, who was there to discuss bringing peace to the area. And a lot more Americans wouldn’t be dead now if Bush didn’t commit a war crime by invading Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place. Do you realize that the harassment America has inflicted on Iran in the last 60 years would be interpreted as open warfare if they were the target. I’ll believe America wants peace when they start acting like it rather than just giving it lip service.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              I consider invading Iraq as against Afghanistan to be two different cases. Violently exterminating the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was the exactly correct thing to have done.

              Pity the Cheney-bush Administration conspired to set bin Laden free at Tora Bora and throw the Afghanistan victory away instead. It is almost as if the Cheney-bushites had a secret plan to bring the Taliban back to power in Afghanistan.

              1. Monty

                Violently exterminating the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was the exactly correct thing to have done.

                Paging the Nobel Committee… Serious Peace Prize Laureate material up in here!

          3. The Rev Kev

            Bob, I have literally no idea where you are getting your information from. All last year the US has been attacking Iranian based troops in Iraq and providing bases for the Israelis to also do so. That attack on that base which killed that contractor who was in the wrong place at the wrong time was in response to all these attacks. It was the US that fired the ‘first shot’.
            And Bush & Obama did not let Syria get out of control causing chaos. They literally caused the chaos by enabling Jihadists to travel to Syria. By training them in bases in places like Jordan with American troops who knew exactly they were training. By shipping weapons caches in Libya after it collapsed. By supplied high tech weaponry like ATGMs to the Jihadists to destroy Syrian armour. And supplying the tens of billions to enable all this.

            1. hoki haya

              as one currently in the region, i can affirm 1)yes, it’s a wonder that american media has dropped the issue, 2) the assassination will not be forgotten anytime soon, and overarching 3) iran should be an ally.

          4. False Solace

            Not many people on this site give Bush or Obama a pass for anything. They’re both war criminals, like Trump.

          5. JTMcPhee

            I’m just a Vietnam vet looking at what is going on. That includes videos from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, to see the young males whooping it up when they are blasting the Hajjis and crying like babies when they are on the short end of the stick. Got to feel sorry for those American troops who are sent to destabilize places and engage in counterinsurgency and kick down doors and kill anything that moves and call in “air assets” to blow the shit out of brown people whose countries they have been shipped out to, to do stuff like overthrow elected governments and train national armies and police forces to oppress the locals and help the generals do their corrupt shit. Some of those guys are just working to keep themselves and their buddies alive (dealing with the shit that flows to them as a result of what they are doing to the locals, going out on patrols to draw fire and where they get shot or step on mines and trip booby traps ride around in semi-armored vehicles that get blown up by improvised explosive devices adding them to the growing list of GIs who have “given their lives so we at home can have Freedom ™ in all its red-white-and-blue Glory tm) and a few of them get their kicks out of killing Wogs for fun. Don;t forget protecting the poppy fields, of course. Oh, and of course our troops that we love and support are now in harm’s way under those accurate new Wog ballistic missile weapons, while busy little scientists everywhere are scurrying to produce ever more tricky and uncontrollable weapons to be used in coming wars.

            “Iranian-backed troops.” Really? You think there would be so much of that chaos if the US and “US-backed troops” (the al Quaeda and the many other “terrorists” our petroleum-drunk rulers have raised up from sowing all those dragons’ teeth had kept their effing noses out of other people’s business. And of course it all would have been a better world if humans did not have this stupid ambition to “boldly go where no imperial colonialist had ever gone before.”

            In the meantime, of course, all this global war shit is making more veterans like me, more orphans and widows and people with amputated limbs and disease processes all busy burning petroleum to maintain access to petroleum, total circular firing squad.

            Not sure exactly what the point was in the comment. But yes, it would have been a lot better to do what Trump said he was going to do, get the stupid troops led by stupid and incompetent and venal and corrupt generals and “think tanks” keep this shit going.

          6. drumlin woodchuckles

            American soldiers in Iraq are soldiers. Death is a risk of soldiering. It is a risk for the Shia militia soldiers. It is a risk for American Army soldiers.

            The solution to that situation is to de-occupy Iraq and leave the various bunchloads of Iraqis to their own devices. If they, or Suleimani 2.0 , or someone else decides to follow them back here . . . . and kill American citizens right here in America . . . . then we have a right to reply with wildly disproportionate violence in order to make such recreational murder stop.

            It was the DC FedRegime supporting the GAJ and the CLEJ which tried to drive Syria out of control to begin with. It was the various defenders of civilization within Syria , the Syrian Arab Army, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia, etc.; who saved civilization in Syria by exterminating the Cannibal Liver Eating Jihadis and defeating the Global Axis of Jihad in Syria.

            Only a bin Laden-loving sunni jihadi terrorist-supporter would argue with that.

            1. Bill Carson

              One of the biggest tragedies of this conflict is the risk unnecessarily borne by the American military.

              It’s hard to blame these young men and women. We ply them with benefits that are hard to refuse and tell them they are heroes for defending our freedoms here in the heartland. The reality is that they have become little more than mercenaries, killing and destroying people in far away lands to prevent the disruption of the delivery of oil and consumer goods and to ensure the profits of the military industrial complex. The killing and destroying begets more killing and destroying in a never-ending circle of death.

              1. JTMcPhee

                Those “benefits” are attractive only by contrast with the poop-on-a-stick Deplorable alternatives.

                1. Bill Carson

                  Certainly. But for quite a few people who don’t have any other way to get out of a small town or pay for trade school or college, it’s not a bad deal. And the military is one of the quickest and easiest ways to obtain the coveted Security Clearance, which is probably helps boost income as much as a college degree.

          7. Bill Carson

            I haven’t been back on this afternoon, but I see that several people answered on my behalf.

            If you think I would ever give Bush or Obama a pass, you don’t know me very well.

            America dove into this quagmire based on a lie, and since then we’ve spent trillions of dollars and the blood of thousands of American soldiers. We should never have attempted regime change in the first place. Saddam Hussein was a tyrant who could be cruel, but he kept the peace for the most part, and did a helluva lot better job governing his people than anything that has happened since. Our dumbass leaders assumed our troops would be hailed as liberators and that western democracy would flourish despite thousands of years of history. Instead we got, as you, Bob, described—Chaos. Sew the wind, reap the whirlwind.

            We never should have gone in, we should get out as soon as possible, and between the two, Iran would make a better ally than Saudi Arabia. (Funny that we are so concerned about freedom and democracy in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Iran, when we tolerate the atrocities committed by the House of Saud.)

            If you think Iran is the one causing chaos in the region, you probably also believe that Iraq was responsible for 9/11. No, the chaos has two sources: the United States and Saudi Arabia. (I will leave alone for now the role of Israel as instigator.) In fact, the Saudi-funded Sunni chaos became so severe that the United States enlisted Soleimani and his Shia militias to fight and defeat ISIS. Now that Soleimani is out of the way, ISIS and its allies will thrive.

            Neoconservatives and Netanyahu have been advocating for war against Iran since before all of Saddam Hussein’s statues could be pulled down. Again, they tell us that Iranians are oppressed and want freedom and democracy, and we will be hailed as liberators. As George W. Bush said, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, . . . we won’t get fooled again.”

            What all of the warmongers forget to mention is that Iran has four or five times the population that Iraq did when we invaded, that the terrain is more difficult, that Iranians are much more competent than the Iraqis. They would not fight a conventional battle, and could shut down the Persian gulf if they wanted to, and in the process they would take 20% of the world’s supply of petroleum out of commission.

            The cost would be enormous—ten or twenty thousand U.S. troops would die and tens of thousands more would be injured. We’d spend ten trillion dollars over the next ten years. The over-commitment of our military forces to the Persian region, would leave them too thin to be able to respond to threats elsewhere on the globe. Too, this regional war risks expansion to include Russia and China. Eventually, it could lead to the economic collapse of the United States, much like the Soviet Union collapsed to end the cold war.

            All for what? To vindicate the pride and hubris of people like yourself who think that the U.S. soldier is somehow sacrosanct anywhere on the globe.

            1. Felix_47

              Not to mention that our generals should be telling the politicians what the military can and can’t do in very specific terms. Instead they fall over themselves trying to please the politicians so they get confirmed at the next level up. Of course quite a few politcians have no idea what the truth is. Many are lawyers. And it is said that lawyers lie when their lips are moving. And Trump’s confused musings about the generals reflect a sense that whatever is going on makes no sense although Trump has neither the IQ, the patience, the knowledge base, or the motivation to really dig deep so he comes across as simply a raving old man out of touch. And yes it is bizarre that we seem to think the people in Iran are less free than those in Saudi Arabia. But we should not forget the US taxpayer gave us Saudi Arabia by greasing the wheels of their takeover of Aramco with massive tax deductions for the oil majors. Saudi Arabia wanted more money for oil which they contractually were not going to get for decades so the US proposed an massive income tax by the Saudis which would be deducted from the oil majors US income tax liability. And the contracts were just a valid as the contracts the Saudis have in the form of stock in our major banks and businesses. The ownership of the royalty rights was as undisputed as the Saudi share of ownership in Citibank, for example.

            2. JTMcPhee

              The chaos has THREE sources — you forgot to include Israel.

              And lots of collateral sources, like Raytheon and LockheedMartin and Boeing and that lot.

              1. Bill Carson

                I left out Israel intentionally. It is a huge problem, now compounded with the rise of Christian Zionism and Premillennialism in the United States.

                And WRT the defense contractors (here comes a tangent), what people studying the impeachment don’t understand is that what upsets “The Establishment” most is that the $400m authorized by Congress for the ostensible purpose of military aid to Ukraine was in fact a transfer of public money to the American private sector: specifically, American defense contractors. Because here’s how that transaction works: Treasury figuratively writes a check to Ukraine, and instead of depositing the check, Ukraine endorses it over to Raytheon, LockheedMartin and Boeing, and the Raytheon, LockheedMartin, and Boeing later deliver air defense missiles and all sorts of weapons of war. So when Trump held up that transfer, it wasn’t Ukraine that squeeled, it was the MIC.

                That’s what this is, folks. Follow the money: the DoD budget is largely a method to transfer public money into the private sector. With horrific consequences. But nobody wants to talk about it.

                1. Bill Carson

                  I forgot to mention the “handling charge” that the Ukrainian goons will charge for handling the transaction.

            3. Procopius

              I agree with all you say, but have one minor quibble:

              Our dumbass leaders assumed our troops would be hailed as liberators and that western democracy would flourish despite thousands of years of history.

              I do not for a moment think that “our leaders” actually believed that sh*t. You should always be careful to point out that that is what they said. Unless, of course, you are actually able to read minds and, like the Shadow, know what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

    2. Wukchumni

      Why is nobody talking the American Assassination Crisis that almost set off WW3?

      Its funny that very much like the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Soviets sending us a couple of letters-one of which we ignored and acted on the other, we conjured up 2 letters regarding the status of our troops in Iraq, one saying we are staying put and the other stating we are getting out.

      The other guy (Iran) blinked, in showing what pinpoint damage they could incur, which must have had our client nation (Israel) shaking demonstrably.

        1. ForFawkesSakes

          There has been discussion on Trump playing the ‘heel character to the ‘face’ character of his opposition, as inspired by the theatrics of professional wrestling. He humiliates or manages to turn a ‘face’ into revealing themselves as a ‘heel.’

          A heel is an antagonist who is entirely unbound from the rules, who is immoral and a cheat, a sore loser who positively thrives on negative attention. A heel will take any opportunity to debase their opponents and even their allies, as it suits them.

          I believe when I read or hear about his outrageous utterings that he’s just verbally stomping around the ring, alternately preening and beating his chest, while threatening the ref.

    3. russell1200

      Iran is a very unpopular country, even more isolated in some ways than North Korea. It is one reason why we like to pick on them, rather than other countries that are bad actors.

      WW3 wasn’t the issue. It was the closing of the Straights of Hormuz. That would have been a disaster nobody wanted.

      1. Carey

        >Iran is a very unpopular country, even more isolated in some ways than North Korea. It is one reason why we like to pick on them, rather than other countries that are bad actors.

        Is this so; and, unpopular with whom, exactly? One thing’s for sure: they’re sitting
        on a whole lot of o.i.l.

      2. EricT

        Unpopular where? Here? Just because our media keeps stirring the pot for war against Iran 24-7. You never get the full story. The rest of the world has more fear that the US will start a war before Iran. Please expand your knowledge using other unbiased sources before you make a death penalty judgement upon a whole country.

        1. pjay

          I don’t think Russell1200 was expressing his own opinion, but making a statement about general perceptions in the US. On that score, he may be right. As someone who has at least one foot in the “real world” (i.e. interacts with “average” Americans on a daily basis), I would say that the “average American” knows little or nothing about the Middle East other that what s/he learns from whatever “news” source (if any) they happen to frequent or whatever politician they support. We have been subject to anti-Iran propaganda since 1979. I clearly remember encounters with waiters, sales clerks, etc., in the college town I lived in in 2003 expressing their enthusiastic support for our war in Iraq (“about damn time,” “bomb the sh*t out of them,” etc.). Though we would like to *think* people have learned to be at least a *little* skeptical today, I’m not so sure. And now, of course, we have the “liberal resistance” cheering for pretty much any intervention *but* Iran. Fun times.

            1. pjay

              Yes. I didn’t mean to imply that our foreign policy “experts” were superior. On the contrary. Many of them are just as ignorant (see not only the neocons, but the Russia/Ukraine “experts” who testified in Trump’s impeachment hearings), but unfortunately they have the power to shape policy, which makes them much worse!

      3. John

        Iran is unpopular with some in the USA because our government has been denigrating the country, the people, and the culture whenever Iran acts in ways our government and certain sectarians dislike and doing so since 1979. Show me how Iran is any more of a bad actor than is Israel or Saudi Arabia or the USA. Iran acts in what it sees as its interests; we act in what the government sees as our interests. Disagreement does not create ‘bad actors’. Propaganda does that.
        We have been waging economic war against Iran with increasing intensity since Trump took office. For the life of me I cannot think of a reason. Trump gets these fixed and obsessive ideas. Congress sits on its collective fundament for a variety of so-called reasons.

      4. The Rev Kev

        I wonder sometimes if they are ‘unpopular’ because they are not Arabs but are Persians. The Arabs in the Gulf States do not even like the Arabs of Syria and Lebanon as they think of them as inferior so I can only imagine what they think of Persians.

        1. pjay

          To extend my comment to EricT above, if we are talking about the US, I don’t think most Americans can distinguish “Arabs” and “Persians.” Most are ignorant of Middle Eastern history, geography, or culture. But they do, of course, remember the Iranian revolution and the hostage crisis, as it shaped our media and culture from 1979 on.

          Sorry. I seem to be very pessimistic tonight.

        2. Copeland

          I live in Cascadia USA and I have an Iranian neighbor. For three years, when discussing his background, cuisine, family, he used the word Persian, before he finally said that he was from Iran. I guess he gradually became comfortable with me and my wife, and perhaps less fearful of consequences, over a period of time?

          1. Oregoncharles

            Persian is an ethnicity and language. Iran is a nation, predominantly Persian but includes others – Kurds, Arabs, etc.

            Granted, you’re probably right about his reasons, but there is a distinction.

      5. VietnamVet

        Iraq is a very big deal now. After 30 years of war, there are no American proxy forces left. If the USA does not leave, the second war of occupation will be fought by American soldiers and contractors. It is now at a 1 to 1 ratio. Pacification is impossible without a million troops and eventually it will destroy Iraq’s oil fields. The Iranian and Houthi missile attacks show that Gulf Oil facilities and American military bases can be destroyed at will by Iranians or Shiite militias who have over 2000 ballistic missiles plus drones and cruise missiles. Any military buildup will be destroyed before NATO can invade Iran.

        Donald Trump’s rant shows he can only think in terms of money. Steve Bannon said the Impeachment was held up to coordinate the attack with MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow’s expose. The military let the media on base to show shell-shocked soldiers, the damage and leaked that there were eleven concussion casualties. There is a coordinated move by globalists, media moguls, neo-conservatives and militarists to remove Donald Trump.

        I too have said that this is the start of WWIII. Donald Trump is clearly inadequate to lead the US in a time of war. Mike Pence, also, is described as stone face (shell-shocked?). His ascension approaches. Closing the Straits of Hormuz is one of the steps up conflict’s escalator. Destruction of the petroleum facilities will leave the oil in the ground. The global economy will crash. The only two options are 1) a nuclear war to destroy Iran (The destruction Israel and the rest of the Middle East will follow) or 2) a US withdrawal. The fall of the American Empire will be similar to the Soviet Union’s collapse. Only the restoration of democracy and the Constitution could moderate the end.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Just out of curiosity — option #1 — are you assuming that only tactical nuclear weapons would be used — or only tactical nuclear weapons or neutron bombs? I thought there were a few practical problems with using thermonuclear weapons — H-bombs. Do believe Nuclear Winter is just a scare story invented by the anti-nuclear groups? I think that leaves only option #2. I think option #2 would be very popular all around.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Trump nearly started WWIII two weeks ago

      Maybe — hear me out, please — the hysteria in the press and among the liberal Democrats wasn’t in good faith?

      1. Bill Carson

        Man, I thought I was cynical.

        You mean Trump is not going into Iran, and Iran knows Trump is not going into Iran, and the Democrats and media also know that Trump isn’t going into Iran, but they all do this, including the reactions, to appeal to their respective bases and to sell papers?


        But even so, countries have stumbled into war before and it was a possibility here.

  4. Anon

    Maybe this was in Links this morning, but here’s Joe Biden, in his own words:

    The Editorial Board: Joe Biden

    Here’s a choice quote from the article:

    MC: So now your message is more you’re running on experience, a restoration of sanity, invocations of the Obama era. How do you convince younger voters that you are the person to help move the party into the future? So that’s a bit of a nostalgia thing.

    No. By the way, just so you know, my message isn’t that I’m going to return to the Obama era. My message is twofold. Number one, the next president of the United States, I think you’d all have to admit, is going to have to be able to do two things. [BIDEN’S PHONE RINGS] What the hell is that?

    KK: You’re getting a call.


    1. HotFlash

      I read a lot of that interview. It was very painful. I intend to read the rest of it, but tomorrow, after a good sleep and my headache goes away.

      God(dess) save us, every one.

  5. clarky90

    Extreme cold kills 17 to 20 times more people, worldwide, than extreme heat. Periodic Ice Ages have nearly wiped humans out. Warm eras were when we collectively flourished. Of course there always will be specific winners and losers, in any situation.

    If people were drawn to cold weather, why aren’t they flocking to cold, wet regions, like where I live? People, rich and poor, still (!) overwhelmingly flock to the hot and dry places.

    If I found myself old, sick, destitute and homeless, I would immediately move closer to the equator. My statistical chances of survival would be much better, in spite of increased bedbugs!

    Cold and wet, combined, are deadly.

    1. skk

      I was listening to a youtube Gresham College lecture on the bubonic plague and the Prof talked about the two waves – first starting from Justinian’s time up to 750s CE and then the second wave 6 centuries later. But there was a total absence of bubonic plague in between. He put forward a hypothesis that the disappearance of plague in the middle period was because the climate got warmer – warm enough for the Vikings to cultivate in Greenland.
      And then it got cooler again, and there was the mini-Ice Age and hey presto the Black Death was back.

      the lecture was called “The Black Death – Professor Sir Richard J. Evans FBA “

    2. a different chris

      Jesus is this even worth a reply?

      It isn’t where humans live, it’s how the food chain works. Look it up, I’m not wasting my time further.

      1. clarky90

        Pray tell Chris…

        How, In Your Humble Opinion, does the food chain work? Could you spare a moment and give me an explanation, or just a few links? I am genuinely curious.

    3. False Solace

      During the last Ice Age, the planet cooled on average 4 degrees C. This covered the northern hemisphere under ice sheets 3-4 kilometers thick. Global sea level dropped by 120 meters.

      What do you think 4 degrees C warming will do?

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      The current fire situation in Australia, as well as rising sea levels and etc.; indicate that the crude over-all balance of goods and bads is shifting.

    5. pretzelattack

      people have never dealt, much less flourished, with what the climate will be if it we don’t start mitigating immediately. we aren’t, on the other hand, worried about extreme cold. that’s not happening. people have to go to a lot of trouble to emigrate from their own country, it hasn’t gotten that uncomfortable for the majority, yet.

  6. Trent

    “Partly a spat between tenants; but partly a consequence of everything being delivered (and don’t even think about suggesting the delivery person putting the packages under the stairs; they are severely underpaid).”

    I really don’t understand the delivery craze. I don’t get out much, but when I do its because i’m going to buy groceries or something. These people are perfectly trained consumers.

    Also just an observation: The people that seem most “alarmed” by climate change generally are the worst consumers.

      1. Trent

        I’m not saying that people do actually uphold their principles, i’m just saying in my observations (living life) most of it is virtue signaling.

  7. Big River Bandido

    The little blip in the Reuters/Ipsos poll toward Sanders could be the small overlap in support with Sanders that were repelled by Warren’s move. Might also be some sympathetic revulsion toward the way the media treated Sanders over the last week. The latter would have more “legs”.

    Hopefully this opens up a space to go after Biden now.

    As for impeachment, I don’t think this will hurt Sanders either. He doesn’t need to be in Iowa. He’s well known there now, and more importantly has a huge organization with a 5-year head start. He could address evening rallies when the trial is not in session via satellite. It’s really not an “election” and not having him there won’t be that much of a disadvantage, especially if his supporters feel the party is deliberately doing this to Sanders.

    It’s all about turnout now.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      hope so.
      depending on the new improved shenanigans they have developed in the last 3 years.

      and…i love the side-eye he gets from the NYT Editorial Bored.
      smug superior bubble dwellers think the whole country looks like their neighborhood.
      need more safaris, i guess.

      1. marku52

        Yeah that was pretty revealing, wasn’t it? The Acela Bubble writ big time. Maybe they need a full time anthropologist to go study the natives.

      2. Matthew

        I remember, in the depths of the recession, realizing how much of working people’s perception of reality depends on what they need to be true in order not to go crazy from anxiety. Like, what happens when you realize that everyone with substantive power over your life despises you and there’s nothing you can do about it? You almost have to assume a nonexistent good faith just to get through the day.

        What I’m realizing now is how much a corresponding delusion persists among the elites, which I think explains the media lunacy of the past few days. I think they persist in the projection of a narrative not because they think that people believe it, but because they need them to. If the old Bernays scheme fails, what do they have?

        1. inode_buddha

          Maybe if people refused to sell their integrity they wouldn’t have that problem. Speaking from personal experience in unbalanced relationships, few things anger bosses more than refusing to be bought.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            I’ve never been fired, but I’ve fired plenty of bosses(ie: said ” i quit” and walked out the door), generally after refusing some indignity/as$kiSsing display that served no purpose but to put me in my place.(these performative methods, i have since learned, after owning my own cafe, were designed by bankers, management consultants and the other NRA(nat’l restaurant assoc))
            the looks on every one of their faces was priceless, as if i had sprouted large leathery wings and hissed at them in Aramaic.

            and, if “the old bernays scheme fails what do they have?”—they have overt use of force, and very little else. the whole thing still runs on consent of the governed, even if the governed are unconscious, or have no choice in the matter.
            it’s the people and cabals that these very serious bobbleheads work for that worry me.

          2. ambrit

            I have been “encouraged to seek employment elsewhere” after I refused to do something non-code or cringeworthy on several occasions.
            The look on the boss’s face when one refuses to bow down to Mammon is priceless.

            1. Titus

              Right like the one my wife gives me wondering how we are going to eat and pay the mortgage. And tell her friends – the shame of it all. Still you gotta do what you gotta do.

      3. Riverboat Grambler

        Bernie has rallies, Trump has rallies, therefore Bernie is Trump. Brilliant!

        Love the glossy “The Endorsement” banner at the end, complete with a release date like a movie trailer. It’s just such an important, influential event.

    2. Yves Smith

      Maybe AOC will feel compelled to hold more rallies for Sanders! She’s a very effective campaigner and would probably get more out of state coverage, a twofer.

  8. XXYY

    Some mornings that I wake up, I wonder whether or not we are living in 2020 or 1920

    Hopefully Biden did not mean this literally, though it wouldn’t surprise me either way.

    1. Fíréan

      Did Biden intend to say ;
      ” Some mornings that i wake up, I wonder . . . ”
      ” Some mornings, when i wake up , I wonder . . . ”

      The first implies. imho, that he only awakes some mornings. Tho’ is believable. The (in)frequency is attached to the wakening, when ought be to the thought.

    2. ptb

      i can sympathize w that… i mean this isn’t what you thought 2020 would look like, is it? wouldn’t quite take it back that far but hey

    3. ambrit

      I’ll give Joe a little credit for irony here. The financial and social conditions of 2020 do superficially look a lot like those of 1920. Business being “Good For America,” and financial speculation run wild, the deterioration of public morals, rampant corruption in government, etc., all are part and parcel of both eras.

  9. Dr. John Carpenter

    Biden says his quiet part out loud:
    “Some mornings that I wake up, I wonder whether or not we are living in 2020 or 1920”

  10. inode_buddha

    What Sanders said to the NYT editors needs to be spread far and wide until the MSM starts repeating it and investigating. There is stuff going on in America today, that we were told only happens in Communist countries. This needs to be explained.

    1. hoki haya

      indeed. america has improved upon the dictatorial model to a degree that what’s left of old ssr aparatchiks can only marvel at, remember, realize and fear. from local city halls to federal schemes, what america has ‘accomplished’ is truly remarkable, insidious, disastrous and despairing for all.

      1. inode_buddha

        Yep. Economic dictatorship over its own people without a shot fired, and the most effective propaganda machine ever known.

  11. Carey

    Virtually all MSM coverage now: “It’s not like you think, you sh*tty proles! You’re all racists, and otherwise Bad People! Listen to us.. we’re the oh-so-serious NYT!
    It’s not working (not that they’re done, by any stretch, Zappa’s maxim still holds).

    The Sanders/NYT clip was great. “musta swallowed a large bug, collectively..”

    1. Samuel Conner

      They can’t have liked the Senator’s casual remark that, along with both parties, the NYT may not have been doing a great job of serving the interests of the American people.

      1. John

        For years I subscribed to and read the NY Times seven days a week. As the price rose and rose again and as I turned more toward the digital version, I read it less and other more diverse sources. The Times, in my estimation is a pale shadow of what it once was. IT was loked uipon as the paper of record. I not longer trust its news coverage. I have ot read its editorial or op-ed pages in years.
        I found the Senator’s response concise and wise.

        1. hoki haya

          a-men, mr john. when last stateside i still picked it up 3-4 times a week, thinking perhaps its lean toward becoming worse than Pravda was a mistake and would be balanced out, only to find it leaning further and further in that direction.

          Sanders, in the brief proximity i had to him at the time, was easily the most accessible, sincere and sympathetic to his constituents of any politician, local or federal. the man has a genuine love of people, a hatred of corruption, and an openness to dialogue. one hopes for america’s sake – and the world’s – that such a figure will not be derailed from the highest office yet again.

        2. pjay

          The NYT has always been an Establishment organ. In periods of intra-elite conflict it can be informative (as in the later stages of the Vietnam War). But I admit that I was the same. I subscribed to the Times and considered it the most reliable source of news. My ideal Sunday morning was spent reading The Times, and the Times book review.

          My first enlightenment came in the 1980s. I was in graduate school and had several Latin American friends active in Nicaragua and El Salvador. They were harshly critical of the Times, and when Ray Bonner’s story about the El Mozote massacre was repressed, I began to realize how naive I really was.

          That’s the good part. The bad part is that I keep finding out how naive I have been every few years since then.

          1. ambrit

            I have had to ratchet up my cynicism quotient a notch every few months for several years now. I’m somewhat fearful that my “Cynicism Meter” has no fixed high end any more.

            1. The Rev Kev

              How do you think my “Media Stupidity Meter” is faring? It had to do a re-boot after CNN’s handling of the debates.

    2. jrs

      They’ve got the guns … but they’ve got the media … but they’ve got the political parties (for the most part) .. but they’ve got control of whether the economy and stock market do well or tank (and the Fed) .. but they’ve got control of the voting machines …

      and we’ve got? not even the numbers if so many can be lost through media propaganda and economic circumstances that they can manipulate etc. etc.

      1. Tom Doak

        Actually the biggest possible step to reduce wealth inequality would be for the stock market to tank big-time on Bernie’s nomination and election, and for the government not to try and prop it up. The bottom 50% would not be affected at all, and the next 20-30% only a little bit.

        It would also substantially reduce the cost of buying out the health insurance industry!

        1. inode_buddha

          “…for the stock market to tank big-time on Bernie’s nomination and election, and for the government not to try and prop it up. “

          In other words, to actually try capitalism for once.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            if i hadn’t had an intertubes machine at the time, who knows how long it would have taken for me to notice the Great Crash of 07-08?
            the effects on me and mine were delayed by quite a bit, and were only effects at all because of the incestuous nature of the system the “smartest kids in the room” built.
            so such a post bernie inaugural stock crash will be painful for everyone…at least for a while. But it will be more painful…for longer(maybe forever) for the tippytop people who benefit the most from this sick parasitical machine.
            let them go work for a living for a change.
            I’m willing to live on beans for a while to see that accomplished.

            1. inode_buddha

              In solidarity with you on that one. I have a 50-lb sack of rice waiting, and half a bbl of beans….

              1. ambrit

                Don’t forget to rotate your stock and practice ‘outdoor cooking’ once in a while, just to keep your hand in, so to speak.
                I’m getting a bit too old, but if younger, I would consider investing in a decent wood burning stove. Cooking with wood heat is an art in itself. A lot of items can be slow cooked by burying them in the coals and ash. I remember making primitive shiskebabs, wrapping them up in aluminum foil and putting them in the campfire coals when we moved around the South in the Airstream. Those were hard times that, in hindsight, were really educational adventures.

              2. HotFlash

                Shall we organize a NABARC? (North American Beans-And-Rice Cooperative?) If so, count me in, from Canada.

        2. Lost in OR

          When the bubble we call Wall Street finally pops it will impact all our lives. It will take other asset classes with it (commodities and RE). New construction and auto sales will plummet taking the rest of the economy with it. Only Dog knows how the debt bubble will play out.

          Best of all, the pensions of the PMC will evaporate into a mist of misplaced trust.

          Then we shall see change.

  12. flora

    re: Healthcare

    ‘ The framework Neal and Brady outlined on committee letterhead is short on specifics but envisions letting providers and insurers work out billing disputes, with the option of turning to “an independent mediated negotiation process.” ‘

    Mediation. oh.

  13. ambrit

    It looks like Alexandria Orcasio-Cortez gets “parallel institutions.” Plus, she is also showing how to deconstruct the “Official” Party. Almost as if she read Norquist, et. al. and decided to starve the Beast’s money supply, from the grassroots level. I have developed the theory that all the “grassroots” contribution seeking by the large political ‘machines’ is a screen for their real sources of finance: the Wealthy.
    I wonder why no one has attacked Sanders as being a ‘populist’ yet. After all, his money raising platform, all small donors, is practically the definition of political populism.

    1. Charlie

      Because to the establishment, all populists are racist (right wing) demagogues. Which explains Trump running to Hillary’s left on trade and Medicare and that becoming a “right wing” talking point when anti-globalization was a left wing aim before Clinton took over the Dems party apparatus.

      How can they call him Hitler when he’s Jewish and misogynist when his actions are not misogynist? Though I’m sure they’ll try again at some point. Probably the anti-semite card will come out at some point as well.

  14. Vikas Saini

    Re: Bernie and the NYT

    Yeah those faces around the table at the NYT were the highlight of the clip!

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      When you look up ‘Loathing,’ ‘Disdain,’ and ‘Establishment’ in the dictionary, you’ll see the faces of these NYTs Editors!

    2. katiebird

      They were so disrespectful. Something about the way they looked when Sanders mentioned deaths of despair made me realize they didn’t care at all. In fact, they thought it was distasteful for Sanders to bring it up.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > they didn’t care at all

        In fact, they think that declining life expectancy for the proles is a good thing. It’s not that they don’t care; it’s that they can’t admit their own desires to themselves. See here. And if Trump picks that up (“They want you to die”) god help us all.

  15. KLG

    Bernie nailed it in the NYT conference room. Racism? Please. Not one of the editors got it, but that’s how it rolls in the PMC. You would think these men and women would read and understand Arlie Russell Hochschild and Chris Arnade, to name just two truth tellers. But nope. Heartless and incorrigible, not to mention obtuse and unimaginative. That is our PMC, the vast majority of whom don’t yet realize the “man” is coming for them, next.

    1. Carey

      >That is our PMC, the vast majority of whom don’t yet realize the “man” is coming for them, next.

      Good comment. I think it’s dawning on some, there, but mainly still in the sense of
      “must prove my loyalty!”- as though that’s going to work. The ship’s getting smaller,
      and the lifeboats are already spoken for..

      1. inode_buddha

        yuuup. These are the same people who spent the last 40 years telling manufacturing workers (me) to get training and learn how to code. Of course all those jobs promptly went overseas too. Concurrently, the 2008 crisis/ACA double cross was busy stabbing everyone in the back. Actual inflation has been through the roof, while wages stagnated. And they have the gall to wonder why people are not behaving?

        They really don’t get it until it happens to them, I guess. But by then it’ll be too late to have any sympathy. Oops.

    2. russell1200@gmail.com

      You would think they would remember that a huge number of people switched from voting for Barack Obama to Donald Trump. Certainly those people weren’t racist. MAGA replaced Hope and Change.

    3. ptb

      yeah most of the 2016 flips were Obama voters in midwest staying home. Everyone in the interview knew that. The question was bait to get Bernie to either insult white rural voters or defend racists. Old ass trick, most people know how to defuse that one by now.

      1. Tom Doak

        Obama fell for that trick with his “cling to their Bibles and their guns” comment (or was it the other way around?)

  16. Jeff W

    The good folks at Jacobin who were of the mind that there are “two good candidates,” as the cliché goes, aren’t coming out of this looking real good.

    It isn’t just Jacobin. Current Affairs failed, too. In These Times did, too.

    Benjamin Studebaker called it back in September: “The Left press is Failing Bernie Sanders.” He actually called it last January (“Elizabeth Warren is Not Left-Wing”), well, no, really, in October, 2018 (“The Decline and Fall of Elizabeth Warren”).

    And now we have Nathan Robinson (whom Studebaker “loves,” by the way—they’re pals of a sort), stroking his chin and offering “a theory” about what is going on the Democratic primary? That Warren, Republican till her 40s and “capitalist to [her] bones,” who never met a market she didn’t love, might not be in the same left bloc as Sanders? “If it’s the case that Warren could ultimately side with the right of the Democratic Party…”? Like that’s a question? It’s downright embarrassing.

    1. Goyo Marquez

      What do they say, ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time!’

      When EWw failed to endorse Bernie in 2016 she was showing us clearly who she was, but we refused to believe her.

    2. Carey

      I hear you, but it seems to me that Nathan Robinson goes out of his way to
      1) not quickly burn bridges 2) be “fair-minded”, even at the expense of
      short-term gains (idPol excepted). Don’t know if he’s right or not.

      1. Jeff W

        I’m sure Nathan Robinson is a “nice guy” and all that. But he’s one of the leading voices of what passes for the Left in the US. He doesn’t want to “burn bridges”? So he’s what? Concerned about “access” in a potential Warren administration when it would be far better to optimize the chances of a Sanders administration?

        Robinson was (or should have been) aware of what his pal Ben Studebaker was saying about Elizabeth Warren back in October, 2018—and Studebaker was really clear that Warren should not be lumped in with Sanders as on the left. (I’m no political genius but even I could see that.)

        About a year later, Robinson was still going on about differences in “strategy” between Warren and Sanders and her ability to get elected, not that, as Studebaker said months before, Warren “is far closer to Beto O’Rourke or Joe Biden than she is Bernie Sanders.” I wouldn’t say that’s being “fair-minded,” I’d say that’s being fairly obtuse—and about something that, really, those who are speaking for the Left really couldn’t afford to be obtuse about.

    3. jrs

      it was probably Sander’s judgement as her as well though. Or maybe he saw it all coming and it was just a bid to win her supporters.

  17. Left in Wisconsin

    “Thinking About The Democratic Primary” [Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs].

    Strongly recommend this piece for those who’ve not seen it. Very simple typology of Dems:
    Left (Bernie) – Center (Warren) – Right (everyone else).

    I’m not a huge fan of simple left-right political analysis but in this case I think it explains Warren better than anything else I have seen. BTW, anyone else see Third Way described as a “center-left” think tank the other day? Gaslighting.

    1. Carey

      “Center-Left”, I think, is DC-speak for “we strategically pretend to not hate the great majority of the citizenry”.

    2. Daryl

      This is a fair framing of where these candidates are at in terms of how they speak and what they talk about; in practice though, I don’t expect Warren to do anything different from Biden. Anything at all. Every candidate other than Sanders and Gabbard is another four years of decay.

      Never Warren.

    3. Jeff W

      “…it explains Warren better than anything else I have seen…”

      Which, quite honestly, isn’t saying much because almost no one, including Nathan Robinson, has explained Elizabeth Warren well.

      Robinson, for his part, back in September, blathered on that one of the key “differences that matter” between Warren and Sanders was strategy and said that “ …one of my biggest fears about Elizabeth Warren is this: I do not know whether she can actually win.” Benjamin Studebaker, at exactly the same time, was a bit more definitive: “[Warren’s] as bad as Hillary. She’s worse, because Hillary made it obvious, and [Warren] hides it so well that for months, the left press has gone easy on her. No more. Don’t give her an inch, because she’ll take a mile. Be relentless. She’s Harris. She’s Biden. She’s Booker.” It simply was not that hard to figure out and state, as Benjamin Studebaker did almost a year before, in October, 2018, “All a Warren run can do is damage the prospects of a left candidate who is far more electable and far more willing than her to fight the center.” And now that occurs to Robinson? Bravo.

      Daryl: “Never Warren.”

      Ben Studebaker said exactly that in his October, 2018 post. It won’t be.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        I have no problem giving others credit for getting things right sooner, though I don’t get the point of sh1tting on Robinson for being late to the party. (in the Sept ’19 Studebaker piece you link to, he notes NR as having moved against Warren by then, so I think your “now” is not correct. But I don’t think it matters.)

        My point about the Robinson piece is that it does a good job of succinctly explaining the shape of the race in a way that makes it easy to talk about with others. And I personally think it is valid – I don’t see Warren as the same as HRC or Biden or Pete and I don’t think her supporters do. Most importantly, much as I wish it was different, the left is a minority of Democrats – at best maybe 20% – and there is no way Bernie wins the nomination unless we convince a lot of non-leftists to vote for him. I don’t see lumping Warren in with the rest of them as convincing – it doesn’t even convince me. Whereas I do think distinguishing where she is better (but not great) and where she is the same is a useful thing to do.

    1. anon in so cal

      New problem just discovered:

      “Boeing has identified a new software flaw in the grounded 737 Max that will require additional work, possibly further delaying the plane’s return to service. The company alerted the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and is notifying customers and its suppliers, it said in an emailed statement. Boeing’s best-selling jet was grounded on March 13 after two fatal crashes involving a flight-control system.

      The issue involves how software on the plane checks itself to ensure it’s receiving valid data, said a person familiar with the issue who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about it. It occurs when the system is initially starting up, the person said.”


    1. John Steinbach

      Best thing Eminem’s done in a very long time! Maybe best topical tune since Sounds of Silence.

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Not a huge Eminem fan but I liked it.

      Comments think its delisted because of guns.


    3. Aumua

      When is it going to end? It’s not going to end before Humanity has a massive shift of consciousness. Laws aren’t going to do it. Are you going to take the guns from the cops too? Cause if you’re not then where does that leave us? Seems to me that the cat’s out of the bag, and no amount of ‘control’ is going to get it back in there.

  18. ioga

    i’d add that aimee terese, along with benjamin studebaker, should be credited with the correct analysis of elizabeth warren/the left. the both of them pushed robinson to adopt a different position.

    + a bit more—the day before the debate, she had her twitter account permanently suspended due to someone reporting a tweet in which she stated that warren had to, “be beaten”, in the primary. studebaker has been attempting to reverse it with no luck.

  19. James O'Keefe

    Lambert, Re: Yang’s five point scale for evaluating supporters, the campaign trainings I have taken and given never used a binary scale, but always a five point scale.

    The objective is to identify the voters who definitely (5) or possibly (4) supported you and make sure they moved up in their support so you could turn out at least the 5s (if not 4s & 5s) in your Get out the vote (GOTV) effort.

    A binary scale doesn’t give you enough info unless it is:

    0 – won’t vote for you and
    1- might vote for you

    and you then have another variable to measure their level of support.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Every candidate I have canvassed for used a 5-point scale to rate the warmth of the voter. It’s SOP, and frankly, kind of “duh”. IIRC even the lousy Hillary campaign ranked voters by the five point scale (their problem was no staff or volunteers ever entered the data so the contact sheets just piled up in offices and got coffee spilled on them).

      The writer of that article and the Yang operative are either con artists or born yesterday.

  20. Craig H.

    News of the Wired

    quick to innovate and exploit transcription and printing technologies. It is one of the great drivers of human civilisations. Woodblock printing, for example, was crucial to the spread of Buddhism across East Asia, and in turn, Buddhism helped to spread printing techniques.

    Buddhism internet memes!


    (I have not seen this on the NC pages and probably everybody knows this but it was new to me. According to the Economist Iran general drone strike story, the hit came onto the schedule only after Trump was ranting about something Iran on twitter and the Iranian chief muckymuck (I forget what his title is) directly replied to Trump on twitter “you can’t do anything”.)

  21. Daryl

    > And I’m wondering how you flying around the country in 2021 rallying the people would be different than what Donald Trump has been doing?” • Wowsers.

    Y’mean, that thing that won Donald Trump the election and has allowed him to keep pushing his agenda? I can see how a Democrat would be confused about this behavior.

  22. Misty Flip

    The board of editors know the textbook definition of a demagogue. The looks of incredulity begin the moment they realize Sanders IS a demagogue in the classical sense. Exchange “1%” for “immigrants” and that’s demagoguery. And hypocrisy. Demagogues can be accurate, possibly righteous men of the people, but it is still preying on people’s weaknesses.

    To believe the 1% is clinically more avaricious than the average human being struggling, as all living things struggle, is folly. [I know, self-selection for abnormal neurology, but humans are interchangeable give or take a few millennia.] We are at the mercy of a technological imperative, organizing wealth into transnational structures with incentives to service political-military objectives, and a laughably ineffective legal toolkit to address any of it. – I get it, an Aspy asking “Why can’t I have all the money?” is infuriating but yelling at the TV [or on the TV] won’t change the channel, or the rhizomatic interests of the conglomerate that owns it.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      Not even close.

      Sanders is not preying on emotion to stir up bigotry for personal gain.
      It’s a very reasoned, logical argument he presents; accurate and well known to any of the 99% of us.

      The exact opposite of a demagogue.

      And if you think the 1% are just like the rest of us…either you haven’t met many …or you are definitely a member of the PMC and serve the 1%.

      1. Carey

        What was annoying the so-woke NYT Editorial Board™ was they could not find
        an attack point against Senator Sanders. Notice, too, how only PoCs are shown
        until the quick shot of the two dudes at the end? Are we to conclude that
        the former are really calling the shots, here?

        They’re having to “think”, and might at some point even have to “work”, and they’re not liking it.

        lightbulb moments for them, like when (as mentioned above) Sanders gently implicates the NYT. Nicely done, Senator!

    2. ptb

      “We are at the mercy of a technological imperative, organizing wealth into transnational structures with incentives to service political-military objectives, and a laughably ineffective legal toolkit to address any of it.”

      I would question whether it is driven by technology. My impression is it is motivated by tax avoidance.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        too late in the day(and the medicine cycle) to give this the drubbing it’s due…but dam it all,lol.
        the global economy isn’t some holy mountain, or thunderstorm or burning frelling bush.
        the usa didn’t do business with china…until an ornery unpleasant man went over there and decided that now we would do business with china.
        other humans made up a bunch of rules(and loopholes) as to how that would happen.
        multiply this by a billion or so, and voila: a global economy.
        no deus ex machina required.

    3. nippersdad

      How is it demagogic to point out that people, like all living things, struggle against predation? Unlike most living things, we have the ability to build institutions to curb the instinct to prey on our fellows, and pointing out that those institutions have failed us is just common sense.

      Which is probably a real revelation to such as the people who work on the NYT editorial board. I didn’t see disgust in their faces so much as the sudden realization of how easily their rice bowls could be broken by someone just telling the truth for a change.

    4. Massinissa

      To people wondering what an ‘Aspy’ is, its slang for someone with Aspergers.

      Pretty sure that kind of language is neither constructive nor acceptable. How is calling most Bernie supporters ‘aspy’s at all useful to getting your message across?

      1. hunkerdown

        The only aspies I know of who are whining about not having all the money are on 4chan’s infamous alt-right cuddle-puddle, /pol/.

    5. deplorado

      MistyFlip: Im not sure you are engaging here in good faith, but will ask:
      So what is a way for a politician to be genuinely concerned about the 99% and not fall in your definition of demagoguery?

      Btw, the “technological imperative” is driven by people, exactly those in the 1% who are making those imperative choices for us – not by some cosmic force like gravity. Are you saying it cannot be fought and changed?

  23. dcblogger

    like so many tech billionaires, Yang thinks he invested the wheel. rating voters 1 thru 5 is decades old. I know for a fact Bernie is doing that. I remember as a small child watching my mother sort index cards with voters names, rating them 1 thru 5 according to their support for Jack Kennedy, so this technique goes back AT LEAST to 1960.

  24. ptb

    Re: Yang, canvassing

    “How can you move voters if you don’t know who is best able to be moved? Can any campaign workers comment?”

    I was not a worker but volunteered on-the-ground in half a dozen elections, incl. Dem primaries in 04,08,16 (in upstate NY).

    The instructions were always identical:

    In the first couple rounds, the goal is to identify voters who are engaged, and as a bonus objective, recruit more canvassers. If we had big money (which was never except for Obama 08) we offered free swag, esp yard signs. More typically manpower was limited and cash nonexistent, so we prioritized targeting visits based on history of turnout in off years, (“good voters”) and sometimes at the individual canvassers discretion, demographics based on stats on everyone in the neighborhood provided by the D party. (questionable privacy issues but hey).

    We ranked people we talked to basically on a 3-4 point scale, called it “strong X”, weak X, etc. It was suggested to avoid long interactions, and strongly suggested not to “persuade”. However I can say the best canvases ignored this instruction completely and if they had the right personality, consistently won people over. At big cost in time spent, but you could tell voters from *those* visits became deeply engaged.

    Late rounds were different, it is 100% to mobilize turnout for voters we had identified. Mobilizing turnout is the whole strategy.

    Another note is that ground work is only cost effective when there is high population density. So it affects the cross section of the population. It is barely worth it in suburbs.

    Anyway, I don’t think a binary system is standard.

    Lastly, it is important to understand that facebook changed this all very profoundly. Rural voters were never really reached out to in the way urban voters are all the time, but FB is an equalizer.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It is barely worth it in suburbs.

      This is incorrect. Its the lack of consistent organization means Team Blue largely undoes all the work done when there is energy and needs to redo it. Long term, even the rural areas would be canvassed in a fashion. Suburbs would be handled by bloc captains, but when urban organizing is dismissed or not supported, it always needs to be rebuilt.

      1. ptb

        Suburb demographics are ideal.

        But regardless of where, we would only have a face to face interaction like every 5 doors, and maybe 1 in 5 of those would yield a voter we could use. (and no telling whether they would remember to vote).

        Increase the distance between houses and then the bulk of your time is in transit rather than standing in front of a door, kills the yield.
        Depends on the layout of the neighborhood of course, “light urban” vs “dense suburb” etc.

        also… talking about primary. primaries, at least ones i would generally volunteer, for are way lean. general election is properly funded and gets volunteers.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I understand the point about distance relative to the doors. Its not worthless, and so much time is wasted on urban canvassing because organization is largely burnt up and has to be restarted every few cycles.

          And as far as the white flight enclaves where the “moderate republicans” dwell, rural America would be a better use of time despite the distance.

          1. ptb

            ok, i see your point now re: starting from scratch. That seems true. Hard to avoid for primaries. I’ll def. agree in that every successful local level campaign I participated in inherited the informal network of activists from a recent previous campaign, and all that didn’t flopped.

            Thinking about it, in primaries for activist candidates, by definition it can’t be the main network of long standing local D party officials. They tend to obstruct and follow / join when they have no choice. Then as soon as an activist candidate wins a primary, his or her people get absorbed into the D machine and the activist groups have to start from scratch. In the general election this all is a non issue, but that’s not where the real action is.

            Right now, since ’16, Bernie in particular left behind a tight network spanning the whole country. The whole “movement building” thing is key. Its basically an informal party within a party, which you have to do since most elections are decided by the primary, often with slim turnout and little competition.

    2. HotFlash

      If we had big money (which was never except for Obama 08) we offered free swag, esp yard signs.

      Interesting! Here in Toronto, admittedly a “dense urban” section of it, yard signs are totally free (ask us to *pay?* not on your nelly!). but it is illegal to keep signs up after the election so campaign workers 1.) ask if they may place a yard sign before the election and 2.) come take them away, usually election night after the polls close. I once had some over-enthusiastic campaign workers staple *STAPLE* a sign to my wooden fence! The campaign got an earful, they removed the thing tout suit and I got a deep apology. Not that that fixed the staple holes in my fence. But, just to say, the way you guys do stuff in the US is not the only possible way to do things. And don’t get me started about the stupidity of your joint income tax returns.

  25. Wukchumni

    Skied a couple days @ Alpine Meadows 10 days ago, the 6 or so inches of snowpack described as ‘Firm’ because who’d want to come if they were honest and called it ‘Almost Icy’ instead?

    And then came a couple feet of new snow trying to settle on a slippery surface of somewhat vertical ice, in retrospect the perfect setting for this.


    1. Jackson

      I skied at Alpine Meadows in the late 70’s before all of the upgrades. The promises were total BS. Instead of powder, it was solid ice. I headed back to Utah as soon I could get a flight back.

  26. The Rev Kev

    “‘You’re a bunch of dopes and babies’: Inside Trump’s stunning tirade against generals”

    Since when is an office space in the Pentagon a “sacred space”? And what does that say about how the users think of themselves? It is obvious that Trump has it in for officers so perhaps they should have sent this guy in to give the presentation. Somebody who would not have tolerated Trump’s crap and who would have gone face to face with him. Maybe bring back memories when Trump was a cadet-


    But stuff this presentation they did. They knew that he thought as a business man so they should have presented as such like this
    Look Trump, the reason we have all the troops in the Gulf is so we control the oil going to the other countries. We also get billions selling arms to the Gulf States as a bonus. And we are in places like Korea and Germany to make them buy American weapons which means ongoing service contracts so we control their weapons. We had a dispute with Iraq a year or two ago and so stopped servicing their tanks. Pretty soon half their tanks no longer worked as they were fighting ISIS so we let them know who was boss. And with Iraq, we have their oil bank accounts in America so we can take it whenever we want. But you can’t do any of this stuff unless you have American troops or bases in all those countries first. It’s not personal – it’s just business.

    1. Carolinian

      Maybe my earlier comment will show up, but I thought that article–actually a book excerpt–was absurd. Not only is the Pentagon not a “sacred space,”: but the whole darned thing should be torn down. Trump had it right back in the beginning. Now he’s just another swamp thing.

    2. Yves Smith

      To the Full Metal Jacket bit….Trump was sent to a military high school because he was a discipline problem. So he probably does have a long-standing dislike for that type, which would aid him in being skeptical.

  27. Chris

    In our latest installment of, “The conventional wisdom and why you should trust it” from those fine folks at Slate telling everyone what the spat between Warren and Sanders is really about.

    Among the gems they discuss is not whether Warren did the dirty deed by Sanders out of desperation, but why she didn’t milk this politically in the right way. Because, as always, the problems with Democrats can’t be substance. It’s all presentation. With the right PR campaign you can fix anything!

    Also of note in their blathering is Warren’s appeal at this point in time is she’s skilled at the inside game. The thing that’s going on in the Senate, she’ll be great at that. After all, SHE HAS A PLAN.

    There’s no mention of the journalistic excrement smeared over all our TVs and papers the past few days by CNN and others. There’s no discussion of why she’s doing so poorly. There was a little discussion about what a boring campaign Biden is running.

    Seriously, if you want to get inside the heads of “serious people” and learn what passes for analysis outside of this salon hosted by the likes of Yves and Lambert, give it a read. Really sad to see how far down the hole John Dickerson has fallen. I used to really enjoy his commentary. He had a fun podcast about the Presidents. But now he’s one more mind lost to the Blob.

    1. Carey

      Well, I did read it. Nothing new at all from the well-fed, soft-handed Mister Brooks.

      first slowly, then faster

      1. inode_buddha

        I give you much credit for wading in there. I lost my nerve after seeing a glimpse of the title. I *hope* this is posted as an op-ed piece. Warren Buffet himself can refute this article, quite easily.

  28. John k

    Maybe warren outing herself was perfectly timed to benefit Bernie… just before primaries begin, so it affects even the first, and close enough that any sympathy vote hasn’t had a chance to dissipate.
    My wife was very sympathetic to warren, but absolutely doesn’t believe her… I suspect only a hard core of her supporters do. Wonder if this is on advice from former Clinton staffers… everybody knows you do the opposite of what those losers suggest.
    Crash and burn, baby.
    I agree he can do telecasts from dc… isn’t he free to campaign on weekends?

    1. John k

      Just saw nyt interview… usually when you speak obvious truths to a group some nod along. Nobody did. Nobody cracked a smile. Clearly nothing Bernie said was what they wanted to hear, they just wanted to blame trump on racism. Bernie might have added that if those that voted for Obama had voted for her, they wouldn’t be talking about trump, she’d be in the Oval Office, and Bernie wouldnt be running for pres.
      They also jumped in as Bernie commented on the times itself, too late. Probably aghast that a dem might imply the paper of record was at fault.
      clearly more hostile to Bernie than fox.
      The chance nyt endorses Bernie is ? They showed nine pics… I’m guessing less than 1/9.

  29. Carey

    Agree Warren’s betrayal was perfectly timed (for Sanders), and the calculated non-handshake moment will live on for quite some time.

    “you go, girl!” what a clod

  30. The Rev Kev

    You gotta laugh. ‘A staunch booster of Daesh terrorists and their supporters, hate preacher Abu Abdul Bari, was reportedly taken by a surprise by Iraqi forces.’ This would not be newsworthy most days EXCEPT for the fact that the guy weighed 560 pounds – about 254 kilograms.

    He was so fat that the Iraqis had to bring in a flat bed truck to transport him and he was now been nicknamed “Jabba the Jihadi”. Needless to say, Twitter has been on a tear-


    1. Bill Carson

      I might get to spend some time in the Milwaukee County jail come mid-July. Let’s hope there’s no vacancy.

  31. drumlin woodchuckles

    People of NaCap,

    Here I am in beautiful downtown Syracuse for the NOFA-NY Conference of 2020. Last night walking around I overshot a key turn and kept walking north on South State Street until it became North State Street.

    I stumble apond a very nice Ethiopian ( ? ) restaurant. Here it is.

    I was the only one there. I ordered some little beef pieces cooked with collard greens and herbs/spices/flavors over injera. The injera was very stretchy and full of little holes and very sour-tasting, as if the dough had/has been very carefully sour-doughed before rolling out and baking. The beef-greens and injera tasted just perfect together.

    When I ordered the Ethiopian Coffee, the beans themselves were clearly roasted-to-order their own selves right then. The Lady of the Restaurant brought out for me to see the little pot full of freshly roasted and slightly smoking beans. I gather that is the way its done. Then a little later a handmade-seeming ( and really could be) little baked-clay pot with the coffee. And a tiny cup to pour it into. Was very good.

    In case anyone reading this lives in Syracuse or visits Syracuse and wants to go try it.

    1. meeps

      I love Ethiopian food. There’s a little place in east Denver, quite far from me, but when I’m in the area I’ll stop in. Everything is good with injera.

  32. chuck roast

    Starr, Dershowitz join Trump impeachment team

    I immediately thought, “Where’s Roy Cohn?”

    1. ambrit

      I thought: “Well, there are two of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Who’s next?”
      But, Roy Cohn. Man, that would take big b—s. (Which he, if anyone, would appreciate.)
      I see Roy Cohn more as a defense attorney for Trump. Trump could grab them by their p—ys while Cohn could grab them by their c–ks. A perfect tag team pair.

  33. drumlin woodchuckles

    About ” Build Soil & Make Refugia” as a theory of change . . . . it is as good as any other theory of change and deserves to be tried by those who wish to try it.

    It can be applied as a theory of culture-change. As more individuals switch their outlook from ecophobic to ecophyllic and switch their personal behavior within the reach of their own house and yard from eco-hostile to eco-friendly; they may see eachother doing just exactly that . . . in their millions and then their tens of millions.

    If those tens of millions of individdles see that their tens of millions of individdle actions are not de-warming the global, those tens of millions of individdles may all individdely decide that they must work together as some kind of functioning political action klektiv if they wish to get the results which only klektiv action can achieve.

    In which case, one TOC ( Theory Of Change) will have prepared a TAG ( Theory Action Group) of tens of millions to all-together-now adopt aNOTHer TOC ( Theory Of Change).

    It is certainly worth a try. And in the meantime, tens of millions of little suburban house-and-yard refugia might well save any number of insect species from extinction . . . . till such time as the Greater Earth becomes fit for insects to live long and prosper again.

    MAGA! Make America Green Again!

  34. scoff

    Nick Fox: “And I’m wondering how you flying around the country in 2021 rallying the people would be different than what Donald Trump has been doing?”

    How is it different?

    I think Trump ‘s rallies are to speak to the 40% or so – those who support him – telling them what they want to hear.

    Bernie’s rallies are to speak to the 99% – many who don’t necessarily support him – telling them what they need to know.

    Big difference I’d say.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > That needed red-brown alliance is not seeming so farfetched, these days.

      Sanders definitely does not need any such alliance, and in fact it’s very dangerous.

      Sanders needs to decapitate the right wing by separating their voters from their operatives (a decapitation strategy). Sanders most definitely do not need to ally with those operatives in any way, shape, or form.

      Sanders said he thought he could pick up 3%, 5%, 8% of Trump voters (i.e., reflip the voters who voted for Obama and switched to Trump). If he picks up 8%, he wins.

  35. richard

    well if no one else is going to say it i will
    the onion is from now on and forever more forbidden to make any joke of any kind about joe biden
    i sweAR to glob half of the 30% he’s polling is air from old onion articles
    no more tomfoolery you over there!

    1. Expat2uruguay

      Since I’m not able to copy and paste, I’ll try to summarize: the report of a thousand people infected in China it’s based on analyzing the number of cases that have shown up outside of China, two in Thailand and one in Japan, and back calculating what the rate of infection must be inside China.
      Apparently US airports are already monitoring flights from Wuhan China, and this is big news across Asia. This virus is of the same family as the SARS virus.

      The second article claims that two of the three people who have been diagnosed outside of China claim to have not been to the “wet food market” this contradicts China’s claim that the virus is not transmitted human-to-human. The Articles close with the observation that because of the Lunar New Year, travel within China and to other countries is highly elevated.

      ( how unfortunate that this comment got moderated)

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