2:00PM Water Cooler 1/21/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Mission Impossible: China can’t meet its commitments on U.S. crude, LNG, coal – Russell” [Reuters]. “The more you delve into the details of China’s commitment to buy an additional $52.4 billion in U.S. energy over the next two years, the more it becomes apparent the goal is unachievable, even with the best will in the world…. China’s imports from the United States this year would have to be more than double past record monthly imports of U.S.-sourced crude oil, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal. If that already seems difficult, it would take a tripling of the best-ever months to meet the 2021 target.”


“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.

Today, we combine Survey USA and IPSOS nationally, as of 1/21/2020, 12:00 PM EST, two polls in IA, and polls in CA and NJ. On the average, the pattern of Biden first, Sanders slowly closing on Biden, Warren fading, and then Buttigeig is still 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:

NOTE: The national polls are the ones with the black circles around the results. The state polls follow, ordered chronogically. I didn’t want to make charts for them all, so numbers only:

In CA, a new Survey USA poll:

In IA, a Neighborhood Research and Iowa Media poll:

Again in IA, a David Binder Research poll”

In NJ, an Emerson poll:

Summary: Biden juggernaut rolls on, Sanders challenging strongly, Warren in difficulties, Buttigieg patchy. And California has turned into a three-way tie.

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

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

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UPDATE Biden (D)(1): “‘Middle Class’ Joe Biden has a corruption problem – it makes him a weak candidate” [Zephyr Teachout, Guardian]. “t looks like “Middle Class” Joe has perfected the art of taking big contributions, then representing his corporate donors at the cost of middle- and working-class Americans. Converting campaign contributions into legislative favors and policy positions isn’t being “moderate”. It is the kind of transactional politics Americans have come to loathe. There are three clear examples. First, Biden’s support for finance over working-class Americans. His career was bankrolled by the credit card industry…. Second, healthcare. On 25 April, the day he announced his campaign, Biden went straight to a fundraiser co-hosted by the chief executive of a major health insurance corporation… Third, climate change. Biden signed a pledge not to take money from the fossil fuel industry, then broke his promise.” • All correct. This is the article for which Sanders “apologized.” See below.

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “EXCLUSIVE POLL: Just as Many African-Americans Say They’d Consider Voting for Bernie Sanders as Joe Biden” [Vice]. ” Just as many African-Americans say they’d consider voting for Bernie Sanders as Joe Biden, according to new a VICE News-Ipsos Poll, suggesting Sanders might not have as much of a problem wooing black voters if he’s the Democratic nominee as some have assumed. Fully 56% of African-Americans said they’d “consider voting for” Sanders in 2020 — a statistical tie with the 54% who said the same about former Vice President Joe Biden and significantly higher than any other candidate. Only 23% of African-Americans said they wouldn’t consider voting for Sanders, about the same number as the 24% who said they wouldn’t consider voting for Biden. Sanders does even better relative to Biden and the rest of the field among Hispanics: 47% say they’d consider voting for Sanders, while 37% said they’d consider voting for Biden. More Hispanics say they wouldn’t consider voting for Biden (37%) than wouldn’t vote for Sanders (31%).” • Maybe it’s time to adopt “Bro” as a badge of honor, as exemplary of the multiracial working class.

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “Op-ed: Joe Biden Is The White Moderate Dr. King Warned Us About” [Essence]. “Joe Biden, the architect of the 1994 Crime Bill and former U.S. Vice-President, is not as slick as he thinks he is. In fact, he’s a cliché, a stock photo, an avatar, for every single liberal white man who believes that just because he’s not a member of the Republican Party or an adherent to the most virulent white supremacist policies, that he can disguise his rancid racism behind “Aw shucks, I just tell it like it is” performative politic-ing and Black people will just fall in line. Because at least he’s not Donald Trump. He proved that again Tuesday night at an NYC fundraiser, during which he reportedly told the crowd that he and James O. Eastland, the long-serving, segregationist, white supremacist Mississippi senator known as ‘The Voice of the White South,’ and the ‘Godfather of Mississippi Politics’, shared a mutual fondness and respect for each other.” • From June, still germane. Note the source (!).

UPDATE Biden (D)(4): Biden’s appeal, right here:

Even my stone-cold heart is touched.

Bloomberg (D)(1): “Mike Bloomberg is assembling a team of fundraising experts to recruit wealthy donors – but not to take their money” [CNBC]. “Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is creating a team of fundraising experts to recruit wealthy donors. But he doesn’t want their money. He wants them to act as surrogates for his campaign. In recent weeks, Bloomberg has tapped veteran fundraising consultant Shari Yost Gold as a senior advisor for this effort, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter who declined to be named as these decisions have been made in private. Her consulting firm previously worked for Sen. Kamala Harris’ 2020 campaign, Federal Election Commission records show.” • Oh.

Buttigieg (D)(1): Out there in the tall corn….

UPDATE Klobuchar (D)(1): “The Gaping Hole in Senator Amy Klobuchar’s Electability Argument” [Daily Beast]. Deck: “‘To be this scrappy underdog that is the terminator of elections isn’t exactly true,’ one well-placed Iowa Democratic official said.” • Paywalled, but from the reporter: “But there’s one thing missing from that pitch: She never really faced a competitive race.”

UPDATE Sanders (D)(1): “Black caucus in Nevada’s largest county endorses Sanders” [The Hill]. “The Clark County Black Caucus (CCBC) in Nevada on Thursday endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for president. ‘Bernie Sanders has been a lifelong advocate for civil rights and economic justice. His presidential campaign goes the furthest in addressing issues that impact the African American community nationally and here in Nevada,’ caucus chairwoman Yvette Williams said in a statement.”

Sanders (D)(2):

Readers, I am not sure I agree. I will add a short essay on this topic at this point in a few minutes. UPDATE Here it is:

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“Sanders apologizes to Biden for surrogate’s op-ed alleging he has a ‘big corruption problem'” [CBS]. This is Teachout’s Guardian article, linked to above. “‘It is absolutely not my view that Joe is corrupt in any way. And I’m sorry that that op-ed appeared,’ Sanders told CBS News… While Teachout does not officially work on the Sanders campaign, she stumps for him, and has introduced and endorsed him…” • In other words, not a surrogate. More:

CBS News asked Sanders if he approved of his supporters aggressively attacking his opponents online.

“No, I really don’t,” he said. “If anyone knows me, what I believe is we need a serious debate in this country on issues. We don’t need to demonize people who may disagree with us.”

“I appeal to my supporters: Please, engage in civil discourse,” he added. “And by the way, we’re not the only campaign that does it. Other people act that way as well. I would appeal to everybody: Have a debate on the issues. We can disagree with each other without being disagreeable, without being hateful. That is not what American politics should be about.”

Later Monday night, Biden night thanked Bernie for his remarks via Twitter.

“These kinds of attacks have no place in this primary,” the former vice president added. “Let’s all keep our focus on making Donald Trump a one-term president.

So this is a little bit of a mess (and Sanders’ “we’re not the only campaign that does it” is getting lost in the shuffle). So a few remarks:

1) My guess that Sanders wanted, at all costs, 14 days before the Iowa caucus, to avoid a Trump tweet during the impeachment trial calling out Joe Biden (and his failson, Hunter) for corruption, with the addition “And Bernie agrees with me.”

2) The Sanders campaign seems to have some issues keeping the distinction between surrogates and supporters clear (as the CBS story points out), making it clear that the surrogates are on message at all times, and that the campaign is not responsible for what supporters say. The Cenk debacle shows the same issue with the campaign machinery, which is easily fixed.

3) The Sanders campaign is also unique in its enormous canvassing operation and the fervor, let us say, of its online supporters, especially on the Twitter. (They seem to be able to make hashtags rise effortlessly, and amazingly, this cynical observer doesn’t see signs of “coordinated inauthentic activity,” e.g., scripting). His opponents, collectively, are using a Rovian strategy of attacking this strength, by painting his online supporters as uniquely aggressive, and hoping that bleeds over into delegitimizing the canvassers. (So far, that has not happened; see the tweet from Kurt Hackbarth, below.) Personally, I’m happy to adopt the successful “Clean for Gene” strategy online, but that’s not necessarily enough. Liberal Democrat and PMC fragility is very real, and they are prone to interpret any conflict as aggression, or even assault (“This is violence!”). Here, the campaign needs to do more than issue pleas for civility; they need to give or propagate actual guidance in handling liberal fragility.

4) Why worry about liberal fragility? Because although Sanders support has been inexorably rising, the hard core of Sanders support is not enough, all on its own, to win the primaries. Others need to be brought in. (“Paris is worth a mass.”) I don’t know if polls mean anything at all any more, and perhaps small donors are a better proxy for candidate support. See this chart:

4a) Note that Sanders voters are least likely to have given to any other candidate. His support (light blue) is hard core (which the puppet masters of the DNC would do well to consider).

4b) The candidates from whom Sanders can expect to flip votes are, in order of their weakness for having votes peeled off, are Klobuchar (dark blue 52.9%), Warren (47.3%), Buttigieg (38.7%), and Biden (30.3%). So the apology? For Klobuchar voters to flip, I suggest “Iowa Nice” matters. (Readers will correct me; for all I know Iowa voters reward viciousness, as long as its done passive-aggressively, say.) For Warren voters, it may be that those who are not diehard Clintonites/first woman President types may see the apology to Biden as a proxy or precursor of an apology to them (flimsy, I know). For Buttigieg voters, perhaps they are still smarting from Warren’s attacks. For Biden voters, I think first that the Social Security issue should do the trick, and there’s no need to over-egg the pudding. Finally, “corruption” (as opposed to the “billionaire class”) is Warren’s framing, and it’s no more helpful to have Warren say “Bernie agrees with me” than Trump saying it.

5) Finally, I think the Sanders campaign needs better control over messaging. Coincidentally or not, Warren’s smear threw the Sanders campaign off-stride just when it was getting rolling on Social Security, and Biden promptly conflated Warren calling Sanders a liar with Sirota “doctoring” a tape. But making Social Security the issue one day, and corruption the issue another day looks scattershot. Because it is!

6) So my interpretation is that Sanders put out a potentially raging conflagration instantly, but clumsily. The campaign shouldn’t have allowed the situation to arise.

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Sanders (D)(3):

Sanders (D)(4): New ad:

Warren (D)(1): “Elizabeth Warren’s Electoral Track Record Is Incredibly Worrying” [Jacobin]. “To win in November, Democrats do not need to unite “all parts” of their party: they need to win more votes than Donald Trump, especially in key battleground states. Warren will struggle to match even Hillary Clinton’s historically poor record in Republican-trending rural and small-town communities. That means that three groups of voters are especially critical, none of which voted Democrat in the last cycle: Obama voters who defected to Trump, Obama voters who did not vote in 2016, and people who typically do not vote at all… Who has had more success winning over independents and Republicans, and who has brought more voters to the polls, Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren?” • I think we know the answer…

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UPDATE “‘He totally said it’ or ‘complete BS’? Sanders and Warren voters dig in” [Politico]. “‘I would have rather him said: it was wrong of me to ever give you that impression. Boom. Done,’ said Tanya Keith, 48, who works in historic preservation in Des Moines and attended a Planned Parenthood event with Warren on Saturday. Her reaction to the back-and-forth: “He totally said it! Women are watching, Bernie.'” • I’m not clear on Keith’s logic. She wants a non-apolgy apology? But:

Our Famously Free Press

UPDATE From Sanders’ single vote on the New York Times Editorial Board. Well worth a listen:

UPDATE More on the Times:

UPDATE Well, they don’t call it Talking Points Memo for nothing:

2016 Post Mortem

“Hillary Clinton in Full: A Fiery New Documentary, Trump Regrets and Harsh Words for Bernie: ‘Nobody Likes Him'” (interview) [Hollywood Reporter]. • An extraordinary emission of bile, real Cersei Lannister territory, well worth a read. Here is the key point:

If [Sanders] gets the nomination, will you endorse and campaign for him?

[CLINTON] I’m not going to go there yet.

I’ll be waiting for Neera Tanden to slap down this extra-ordinary assault on party unity from [cough] a respected party elder. Note this also says “Open season!” on Sanders to every remaining Clinton supporter. Be sure to bring phones to the polls.


“Trump Impeachment: What to Expect as the Senate Trial Begins Today” [New York Times]. “Mr. McConnell’s proposed rules put off a debate over whether to call witnesses and compel new evidence until the middle of the trial. Senate Democrats say that may have worked in the past, but this case is different. Mr. Trump systematically blocked testimony in the House impeachment inquiry from a dozen government officials and refused to hand over a single document, and now, Democrats say, the Senate has an obligation to set it right.’ • How can anybody possibly accept this argument, when the Democrats didn’t let the court challenges to Trump’s blocked testimony play out? It’s all performative, certainly; but the nature of the performance bewilders me.

“Justice Department backed Trump strong-arm of House impeachment probe” [Politico]. “The Justice Department secretly blessed President Donald Trump’s decision to stonewall the Democratic-led House over impeachment last year, the president’s legal team disclosed Monday.

The legal brief submitted to the Senate as part of Trump’s defense includes an opinion from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel concluding that Trump was justified in categorically rejecting the House’s demands for information before lawmakers passed a formal impeachment resolution on Oct. 31.”

UPDATE “Trump’s impeachment trial could render verdict on Senate and key players” [USA Today]. “When the Senate trial convenes Tuesday at 1 p.m., members will debate the rules for the proceedings. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has proposed beginning opening arguments Wednesday. Each side would have 24 hours to present its argument over two days, meaning sessions would need to go late into the night. Under his proposal, the debate over whether to subpoena witnesses or documents would come after the opening arguments and questions. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., criticized the proposal, saying it wouldn’t automatically allow House Democrats to admit their evidence into the record and would have arguments continue into “the wee hours of the night” to hide information from the American people.” • Ya know, Chuck, a lot of Americans work into “the wee hours of the night.” Consider coffee?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Hawley 2024? Missouri Republican could be ‘Trump 2.0,’ say conservative supporters” [Kansas City Star]. “The Capitol Hill publication compared Hawley to another Midwesterner with an Ivy League pedigree who won the White House as a first-term senator: Barack Obama. Hawley, 40, is not eager to embrace the comparison to a Democratic president. But as the youngest member of the Senate he has grabbed Washington’s attention by introducing more than 20 bills and resolutions during his first year in office and picking fights with some of the world’s largest companies. But while Obama’s early message centered on hope, Hawley’s has focused on despair. Hawley warned in a September speech that the nation is witnessing a ‘slow-motion collapse of the working class,’ that is leading to ‘deaths of despair.’ It was striking rhetoric at a time when Republicans, who control both Jefferson City and the White House, want to celebrate economic victories.” • And simultaneously, the New York Times Editorial Board looks at the only Democrat candidate who brings up “deaths of despair” like he’s something they scraped off their shoes. They’re asking for it, they’re just asking for it.

Stats Watch

Shipping: “New Analysis Puts Price Tag on Shipping Decarbonization” [Maritime Executive]. “At least $1 trillion of capital investment in land-based and ship-related infrastructure is required to halve international shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to a new study by UMAS and the Energy Transitions Commission for the Getting to Zero Coalition. Radical change is needed to meet the IMO goal of reducing shipping’s total greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent of 2008 levels by 2050. The transition requires significant infrastructure investments in new fuel production, supply chains and a new or retrofitted fleet. Depending on the production method, the cumulative investment needed between 2030 and 2050 to halve shipping’s emissions amounts to approximately $1-1.4 trillion or an average of $50-70 billion annually for 20 years. If shipping is to fully decarbonize by 2050, this will require further investments of some $400 billion over 20 years, bringing the total to $1.4-1.9 trillion. The biggest share of investments is needed in the land-based infrastructure and production facilities for low carbon fuels, which make up around 87 percent of the total. This includes investments in the production of low carbon fuels and the land-based storage and bunkering infrastructure needed for their supply. Only 13 percent of the investments needed are related to ships.” • When you spread the costs out like that, aren’t they trivial?

Tech: “Amazon may offer hand recognition payments to other stores” [Engadget]. “Amazon’s rumored hand recognition payment tech might be useful beyond paying for produce at Whole Foods. Wall Street Journal sources say the company is developing hand-based checkout terminals that it would sell to “coffee shops, fast-food restaurants” and other stores that tend to have repeat customers, not just Whole Foods. It’s also clearer as to how the technology might work. The system would reportedly start by linking your payment card to your hand, asking you to insert your old-school plastic and scan your hand before you could pay using your hand alone. Amazon’s cloud would store the data and might even tie it to Amazon.com spending to help target ads, although we can imagine some hesitation given that people are already concerned about creepy targeting.” • Cool. Remember to bring disinfectant spray when you shop.

Tech: “White House Favors a Light Touch in Regulating AI” [Wired]. “The White House has issued principles for regulating the use of artificial intelligence that call for as little government interference as possible and offer only broad guidance to federal agencies. In fact, the principles might deter regulation of AI at a time when many think it is increasingly needed….. The principles state that when drawing up regulations, ‘federal agencies must consider fairness, non-discrimination, openness, transparency, safety, and security.’ They also call for as little regulation as possible, with a ‘risk assessment and cost-benefit analyses’ prior to any regulatory action. And they stipulate that any regulation must reflect ‘scientific evidence and feedback from the American public.’ After a 90-day period for public input, agencies will have 180 days to come up with plans for implementing the principles.”

Tech: “Why Apple CEO Tim Cook Invested in a Shower Head” [Bloomberg]. • How’s the keyboard?

The Bezzle: “The SEC posted Square’s comment letters on its revenue recognition and revenue non-GAAP metrics” [Francine McKenna, The Dig]. “The SEC’s scattershot comment letter campaign against measures that “substitute individually tailored recognition and measurement methods for those of GAAP,” is, to say it gently, still a work in progress. In particular, it doesn’t seem that Corporation Finance, the group in the SEC that reviews company filings and send out comment letters, has a full awareness or consistent approach to addressing the deferred revenue purchase accounting adjustments that create ‘ghost revenue.'” • Seems like “ghost revenue” is something you’d really want to be tracking….

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 84 Extreme Greed (previous close: 89 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 90 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 21 at 12:39pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 18t4. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. I would expect the Rapture Index to jump if evangelicals thought impeachment was likely to hurt Trump. So it looks to me like this index is delivering a verdict on the likelihood of Trump being impeached as well.

The Biosphere

“Friends in need” [Reuters]. “Extinction Rebellion and Davos sound like odd bedfellows. Why would a direct-action campaign, increasingly visible in the United Kingdom for warning starkly about the climate emergency, want to rub shoulders with the global financial elite at its main annual forum in Switzerland? The answer is that robust green activism turns out, when you think it through, to be high finance’s best friend….. Today 15% of global fossil-finance flows pass through the City of London, according to the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. With the next major U.N. climate conference, COP26, due to take place in Glasgow in November, the UK is only going to be more in the spotlight. XR has three demands. First, we all need to tell the truth about the extreme, long emergency we face together. Second, we need to act now to address that emergency: we must bring climate-deadly emissions and biodiversity destruction down to net zero by 2025, and globally by about 2030. Targets weaker than these are very unlikely to keep us within the “safe operating space” for humanity. Finally, we need to give citizens’ assemblies the power to decide how we reach these eye-watering targets. Only a deliberative democratic body that can sift the best expertise can come up with a plan that will yield both political and citizen buy-in.” • Not sure how high finance is going to feel about citizen assemblies, unless they can manipulate and/or buy the outcome.

“Ozone-depleting gases might have driven extreme Arctic warming” [Nature]. “Gases that deplete the ozone layer could be responsible for up to half of the effects of climate change observed in the Arctic from 1955 to 2005. The finding could help to explain the disproportionate toll of climate change on the region, which has long puzzled scientists. The Arctic is warming at more than twice the average rate of the rest of the globe — a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification — and it is losing sea ice at a staggering pace… By running the models with fixed CFC concentrations while varying the thickness of the ozone layer, the team was able to attribute the warming directly to the chemicals — rather than changes these substances caused in the ozone layer…. Global CFC concentrations have been on the decline since the turn of the millennium, following the 1989 adoption of the Montreal Protocol, which called for a phase-out of the substances. Although many other factors contribute to Arctic amplification, the result suggests that Arctic warming and sea-ice melt might be tempered in the future as ozone-depleting substances continue to leave the atmosphere, [Cecilia S, a climate scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle] says. ‘It’s a very important paper because it has a little shred of optimism.'” • No physical mechanism suggested, however.

“For sale: The East Coast’s biggest oil refinery” [Grist]. “On Friday, an auction held in the New York City offices of the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP, will determine the future of 1,300 acres in South Philadelphia and signal what lies ahead for shuttered oil and gas facilities all over the country. For more than 150 years, the land has hosted the largest refinery on the East Coast, processing up to 335,000 barrels of crude oil per day into gasoline and home heating oil. But after an explosion and fire tore through the facility last summer, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, the company that owned it, filed for bankruptcy and put the massive lot up for sale… The land is located along the Schuylkill River, just a few miles from downtown Philly, and measures roughly the same size as the city center. If it weren’t burdened with 150 years of contamination, it would be prime real estate for a waterfront park, housing, or a mixed-use development.” • Big “if.” Well worth a read; a very Philly story, and very sad.

“Choosy Eggs May Pick Sperm for Their Genes, Defying Mendel’s Law” [Quanta]. “The egg is not the submissive, docile cell that scientists long thought it was. Instead, researchers now see the egg as an equal and active player in reproduction, adding layers of evolutionary control and selection to one of the most important processes in life.” Subhead: “Sexual Selection at the Cellular Level.” • Fascinating stuff!

“Phage Crusade” [Maisonneuve]. “[P]hage therapy [is] a controversial treatment that uses a type of virus to defeat bacterial infection.It makes use of one of the oldest enemies of bacteria found in nature… Antibiotic medicine is essentially made of natural antibacterials redesigned to deal a knockout blow to infectious bacteria. But it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Global overprescription of antibiotics and their misuse as preventative measures have spurred superbugs to mutate and defeat virtually all antibiotics…. Bacteriophages (literally “bacteria eaters,” called “phages” for short) are viruses that destroy bacteria. Wherever there are bacteria—and human intestines contain billions—even tinier phages exist as well; phages are in fact the most ubiquitous life form on the planet, and probably the oldest antibacterial found in nature. The advantage of phages as bacteria-killers is that, unlike antibiotics that nuke many bacteria in the body—both bad and good—a phage attacks only one species or strain of bacteria.”

Health Care

Does The Dutch Healthcare System Show The Way? People’s Policy Project. “While Dutch people still rate their own health situation quite well, a majority (57%) want to abolish the new healthcare system and see it replaced with something more akin to single payer.”

Department of Feline Felicity

The movie Cats elicited strong reactions (“This was hands down the most disturbingly awful movie I have ever seen”). Here’s a reviewer who liked it:

(I didn’t know there was a genre called “Reaction Video.”)

The Carceral State

“The Economic Origins of Mass Incarceration” [Catalyst (dk)]. “The standard story is that mass incarceration is a system of racialized social control, fashioned by a handful of Republican elites in defense of a racial order that was being challenged by the Civil Rights Movement. “Law and order” candidates catalyzed this white anxiety into a public panic about crime, which furnished cover for policies that sent black Americans to prison via the War on Drugs. It is difficult to overstate how influential this story has become. Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, which makes the case most persuasively, has been cited at more than twice the rate of the next most-cited work on American punishment…. Yet this conventional account has some fatal flaws. Numerically, mass incarceration has not been characterized by rising racial disparities in punishment, but rising class disparity. Most prisoners are not in prison for drug crimes, but for violent and property offenses, the incidence of which increased dramatically before incarceration did. And the punitive turn in criminal justice policy was not brought about by a layer of conniving elites, but was instead the result of uncoordinated initiatives by thousands of officials at the local and state levels.” • Well worth reading in full.

Class Warfare

“Prepared Testimony for the Hearing ‘Antitrust and Economic Opportunity: Competition in Labor Markets'” (PDF) [Ioana Marinescu, US House of Representatives Committee of the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law].

In my testimony, I will make four points:

  1. Employers can suppress wages due to limited competition in the labor market. Simply put, workers cannot easily find alternative jobs in response to wage decreases (Azar, Berry, and Marinescu 2019). This allows an employer to pay a worker less than the marginal revenue product—the amount of value that the worker adds to the employer’s bottom line
  2. The majority (60%) of US labor markets are highly concentrated (Azar et al. 2018), i.e. they have a Herfindahl-Hirschman index (HHI) above the 2,500 high concentration threshold established by the Horizontal Merger Guidelines.
  3. Higher labor market concentration tends to lower wages (Azar, Marinescu, and Steinbaum 2017). For example, hospital mergers decrease wages by increasing labor market concentration (Prager and Schmitt 2018). Workers in concentrated labor markets are underpaid, so there is room to increase the minimum wage without reducing employment (Azar et al. 2019).
  4. Antitrust enforcement in labor markets should be strengthened. There is currently a large antitrust enforcement gap between product and labor markets, with labor antitrust lagging behind (I. E. Marinescu and Posner 2019). Yet, it is straightforward to take into account anticompetitive effects on the labor market in merger reviews (I. Marinescu and Hovenkamp 2018). Legislative action could facilitate antitrust enforcement in the labor market by codifying, clarifying, and in some cases strengthening the antitrust law (I. Marinescu and Posner 2019).

UPDATE Our Great Economy:

News of the Wired

“New twist on marshmallow test: Kids depend on each other for self control” [Ars Technica]. “In the 1970s, the late psychologist Walter Mischel explored the importance of the ability to delay gratification as a child to one’s future success in life, via the famous Stanford “marshmallow experiment.” Now a team of German researchers has adapted the classic experimental setup with German and Kenyan schoolchildren and found that kids are more likely to delay gratification when they depend on each other. They described their findings in a recent paper in Psychological Science.” • Fascinating study. Readers may wish to comment on the methodology.

The Internet of Sh*t. Thread:

When you come at the king:

The ineluctable Oxford Comma:

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (JU):

JU writes: “‘Flocked Forest,’ from last winter @ Mammoth.”

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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. Pavel

    hey Lambert, not to be that guy (and perhaps it is my aged vision) but everything after this paragraph appears to be in bold…

    “Hillary Clinton in Full: A Fiery New Documentary, Trump Regrets and Harsh Words for Bernie: ‘Nobody Likes Him’” (interview) [Hollywood Reporter]. • An extraordinary emission of bile, real Cersei Lannister territory, well worth a read. Here is the key point:

    More seriously, that HRC quote will backfire on her. Already the Bernie brigade on twitter are up in arms and trying to raise more money.

      1. John Zelnicker

        Help, Lambert.

        I don’t see the paragraph that Pavel is referring to. I know at 70 my eyes are not as good as they once were, but I’ve scrolled the whole post more than once and still don’t see it.


            1. Anon

              Wow. She is such a sore loser. So incredibly ungrateful after all the campaigning Sanders did for her. More than what she ever did for Obama. I supported her over a Obama in ‘08 and really regret doing so now. She needs to go away.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Holy moly, in fixing the bold, I blew away that whole section, plus the “Famously Free Press” section, including a really good video of the only member of the Times editorial board to vote for Sanders. Those of you still reading, please check it out.

          Fifty lashes with a wet noodle for Lambert

    1. a different chris

      BTW that reminds me: Leave Cersei out of this!!!!!
      Ok, yeah “emission of bile” is fair enough, but otherwise Cersei was

      1) A total babe
      2) Forced to endure the dark side of high privilege – “you marry who we say, do what we tell you” rather than another Haavaard cossetted and groomed supposed “leader”
      *and most importantly*
      3) So wicked smart she almost pulled it all off (I preferred her to numnutz Jon and weird Dany, TBH)

      Hillary isn’t even a candle to her sun.

      1. False Solace

        Cersei was never as smart as she thought she was, which is why she ended up imprisoned by a religious movement she personally empowered. On the other hand, she had a real killer instinct which seems to be a necessary thing in politics. I’ve yet to see such from Bernie. It would be reassuring if he’d go for the throat at some point. Perhaps he’s constitutionally unable to do so. But Bernie certainly comes close when he tells the media he doesn’t have time for their s**t — which has happened a few times now.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > another Haavaard cossetted and groomed supposed “leader”

        Both Clintons went to Yale. It’s my impression that Harvard, too, is in the Ivy League, but they’re really not the same.

    2. flora

      an aside: ‘Hillary Clinton in Full:’ , the title, did the docu makers forget the Tom Wolfe book titled A Man in Full ?

      If they remembered that book when they titled this then, oooh, big subtle dig at Clinton? heh.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Maybe the Zephyr Apologia is a gambit to bleed off NY support? Maybe people will see Bernie as abandoning his supporters?

    3. John

      In her world, I am nobody so she’s right, but in the real world, I like Bernie so she’s wrong. Lastly, nobody cares what she thinks.

    1. John k

      And wapo, too…
      I wonder if polls released to the public are different from what those in the know see… maybe correction factors that better consider what those without a landline intend to do.
      Well, my fond hope, anyway.
      OTOH I haven’t yet seen as much movement from Warren to Bernie as I hoped.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I wonder if polls released to the public are different from what those in the know see

        Internal polling is different, for sure, and all the campaigns have the additional advantage of whatever information canvassers and people on the ground gather (unless you’re like the 2016 Clinton campaign, and you throw that information away).

  2. antidlc

    Wise people on NC, I have a question. If the question is inappropriate, the moderators can delete.

    Simple question: How can GOODRX give cheaper prices than your insurance?

    I don’t get it. What is the deal here?

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Because drug companies charge what they want, to avoid pushback they say, if you’ll just use this ‘app’, we’ll charge you real world prices.

        BTW, thanks for ALL the info on your device.

        1. antidlc

          Go to a public library and use one of their computers to bring up the coupon and then print it at the library.

          1. katiebird

            My Doc gave me a card from a random stack on his table. The drug store just added the card number into their database. I guess they could be sharing that info but if thar are, they probably were before.

        2. Big Tap

          If you use GoodRX the money you spend is not counted toward your drug deductible on your health insurance. My sister uses on occasion GoodRX and likes it.

      2. DaveOTN

        We were advised to look into it by a nurse and, lo and behold, it does work. But going into the pharmacy I sure felt like I was just carrying a handwritten note saying “I have insurance” on it.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          CL makes a *lot* of money (9 figures???) off the services offered posts. Try to create one, you’ll find out soon enough.

    1. inode_buddha

      I think the answer is called “collusion”. ISTR reading right here on NC that medical insurers are exempt from most of anti-trust law.

    2. ptb

      maybe it’s like that super discount movie pass thing from a year or two ago?

      1. Spend VC bucks to get customers
      2. If enough people sign up, become something like an HMO. (or more realistically, get bought)

      Perhaps they will be more successful in monetizing the user base they buy. Their suppliers will have no love for them once the pool of subsidies nears its end – they can usually send a new competitor to the bottom with legal bills alone.

    1. pretzelattack

      i thought she was somewhere in revelations. “some rough beast, it’s hour come round at last, slouches toward the convention”.

      1. Oregoncharles

        That’s from Yeats, one of my favorite poems. Does work as a Revelations reference, though.

        1. pretzelattack

          well it’s a reference to the yeats poem. revelations talked about some kind of beast, which i suppose is satan, or some lower demon (it’s been a long time). yeats never contemplated the horror of a brokered convention delivering a clinton presidency.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      well, we’ve had locusts in biblical proportions in my little valley for 3 years running. even right now, in january.
      i think hillary comes before in the eschatological lists and schedules.
      2008? Maybe late 80’s?

      1. Oregoncharles

        You could probably eat them. A lot of people do (deep fried, is the version i heard). Quite the delicacy in Laos. A challenge for your culinary skills.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          tempura batter…or even lighter.
          dipped in honey.
          keep them alive in a jar with airholes overnight, so as to clear their guts.
          remove wings and big hind legs.
          fry them hard and crispy in butter.
          supposedly supernutricious, they taste kinda nutty.
          wife won’t touch them,lol.
          and the rest of us can only eat so many grasshoppers.

    3. Wukchumni

      Hillary reminds me of the Libyan Sibyl

      Serapion, in his epic verses, says that the Sibyl, even when dead ceased not from divination. And he writes that, what proceeded from her into the air after her death, was what gave oracular utterances in voices and omens; and on her body being changed into earth, and the grass as natural growing out of it, whatever beasts happening to be in that place fed on it exhibited to men an accurate knowledge of futurity by their entrails.


    4. Mark Gisleson

      Wrapped in a flag works either way: it can protect you from locusts while covering up boils!

      Her real mistake was carrying a copy of It Takes a Village instead of the Bible.

      1. ambrit

        And there I was wondering why the “Sea of Peoples” was on the stage with her, rather than in the audience.
        With Hillary’s connivance, we are entering a new Age of Chaos.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Thing is, the Valkyries weren’t clueless f*ckups, no matter what else they were. Although it is true they flew through the air bearing corpses in great numbers.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      The plagues:

      As the Passover story tells it, after Pharaoh refuses Moses’ entreaties to let the enslaved Israelites go free, God sends a series of ten plagues to pressure the Egyptian ruler. Each time, Pharaoh promises to free the Israelites, but reverses his decision when the plague is lifted — until the last one. The plagues are: water turning to blood, frogs, lice, flies, livestock pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the killing of firstborn children.

      I would say after the killing of firstborn children.

  3. WheresOurTeddy

    If Hillary Clinton stealth wanted Bernie to get elected, she couldn’t have picked a better way to do it. Few things unite the country like dislike of Hillary Clinton. #ILikeBernie and #NobodyLikesHim are trending on Twitter (with the latter being taken over by pro-Sanders people). Some non-Sanders people are even calling her out for bullying.

    I just wish Bernie would welcome their hatred a little more. The apology to Biden for the Teachout editorial was weak.

    It’s going to be something new every day from here on out. Fists up, Bernie.

      1. rps

        I’m Nobody! Who are you?
        Are you – Nobody – too?
        Then there’s a pair of us!
        Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

        How dreary – to be – Somebody!
        How public – like a Frog –
        To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
        To an admiring Bog!
        Emily Dickenson

  4. Tom Doak

    That New Jersey poll shows a possibility I hadn’t considered — that as long as there are still 5-6 viable candidates in the race, votes might be tabulated so that only one candidate gets above the 15% threshold, and therefore wins 100% of the delegates.

    That’s why Amy, at 5%, is still hanging around, and why the NYT is encouraging her.

    Of course, New Jersey polls will change dramatically after IA and NH and SC, so it’s too soon to be looking at this as a real threat.

    1. sleepy

      The 15% number is by precinct. It’s not a statewide metric. If precinct votes for any candidate are 15% or greater, then that candidate should get a delegate from that precinct (or 3 or 4, depending on the electorate size in that precinct) which will then attend the county convention, and so on. At each stage–county convention, state convention–delegates will be elected by other delegates to move on to the next stage which culminates in delegates to the national convention.

  5. Samuel Conner

    IOW, Clinton’s posture is “at this point in the campaign, I’m not confident that I prefer Sanders to Trump”.

    Is there any other possible interpretation?

    1. Samuel Conner

      The thought occurs that HRC might not welcome an outcome in which Sanders wins the nomination and the general election, showing what could have been achieved in 2016.

      it might be that a JB nomination and general election loss in 2020 is much preferable to that.

      1. John k

        She of all people know donors think job 1 is to keep progressives from power. The donors far prefer trump to Bernie, so she of course does, too.
        But many of her supporters have a visceral hatred of trump, so she can’t say that. The poor thing is tongue tied. If Bernie gets the nom she will probably clam up… or return to the woods.

        Trump had to win in 2016 for Bernie to have a shot in 2020. And other good things about trump… deep has been softened up. And the idea we need to restore mfg is becoming accepted.

      2. Anon

        Bernie winning would definitely be embarrassing for her because Everyone knows the DNC’s coronation of her led to the Trump presidency. Imagine if Bernie won the nomination and the general without ha ing to cheat to do it! It would infuriate her on personal and political levels.

    2. D. Fuller

      There were a lot of Clinton voter defections after the Democratic Primaries, to McCain in the General Election back in 2008. After Obama became the nominee.

      Clinton voters might decide to sit out the 2020 G.E. if Sanders wins the nomination.

      As to why Obama voters defected to Trump? Those were the voters Obama helped screw over economically. A Sanders campaign might actually entice those voters to vote for Sanders.

      One message that Centrists Dems still can’t seem to understand? Voters don’t want status quo anymore. Most voters I met on the trail back in 2016 did not like Trump; they still voted for him because of Hillary.

      Hillary who represented that status quo in DC, inside The Beltway. People are hungry for change. Centrist Dems are blind to that.

      1. John k

        Most dc types aren’t blind, but what can they do? Donors think status quo is good for them, tell their flunkies to fight change. Money talks.
        Promise hope and change is ok so long as donors think it’s bait and switch… in 2008 bankers gave more to Obama than any other candidate in history. Seems a safe bet the bankers somehow knew he was on their side. Hillary later identified this as having both public and private positions.

        1. jrs

          Yea true, maybe we really should stop asking if the political class is out of touch, maybe they are but it might not matter whatsoever. It’s much worse than that afterall. They are bought.

          But Hills seems to have her own personal issues, of course, even beyond that.

        2. christofay

          The bankers were paying it forward in consideration of the favors Obama was going to do starting with the Obama bail-out. Charlie Munger St. Buffett’s Capo de Capo said, I support “bail outs to bankers not hand outs to home owners.” Weren’t the bankers’ bonuses back to normal in 2009?

      2. sleepy

        As to why Obama voters defected to Trump? Those were the voters Obama helped screw over economically. A Sanders campaign might actually entice those voters to vote for Sanders.

        My semi-rural, working class, 96% white Iowa county, population 42,000 voted for a dem for president every year since 1984–84, 88, 92, 96 ,00, 04, 08, 10–thirty-two years, until it voted for Trump in 2016. This is a county full of lifelong dems that the media refer to as deplorables, yet will vote for Sanders in the caucuses and in the general imho. Sanders carried the caucuses here in 2016 over Hillary by 2:1.

        These voters have always been enticed by Sanders. It will only take his name on the ticket to win them. A Warren nomination might still do the trick, but that is less likely.

        1. False Solace

          Given how badly Warren underperforms in Massachusetts, of all places, I suspect and believe if she’s nominated we can look forward to a Trump blowout in November, 300+ electoral votes. At which point the party will turn around and, for the next thirty years, tell us she was too far left.

          1. Monty

            Yes! I think that describes the DNC preferred result perfectly. Especially if they can lose control of Congress whilst they are at it!

          2. Carey

            Don’t know about Warren™, but yes, I’m pretty sure the Plan is to
            nominate another corporatist, lose handily, then blame the People
            for not further immiserating themselves with a Dem “win”.

            #loserCrats: well-paid for killing off the People, since.. ?

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Thanks for this. Those Iowa counties along the Missisippi that flipped to Trump are really, really interesting. I wonder what percentage of Iowa’s total delegates they represent…

      3. russell1200

        As Democrats go, my wife and I are both relatively conservative. But both of us having been leaning toward Bernie of late. She was a big supporter of Hillary. I haven’t asked her why she has been pulling away from Warren, but I suspect it is her general lack of decisiveness and just not seeming to be much of a leader.

        Her take on the Warren accusation was that she felt like Bernie was telling the truth if he said that a woman couldn’t win in the US because of misogynists. But it will be interesting because she tends to view both the NYT and the WP as newspapers that actually report news, so she is vulnerable to the MSM mind-think.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Worth noting that many left demands are, in a way, “back to the future.” Free or near-free college, for example, was once the norm at state schools. Unions used to have some institutional support. Wages used to bear some relation to productivity. Medicare for All is only what other rich industrial countries can do; it’s conservative to go for proven solutions (instead of Rube Goldberg devices like ObamaCare).

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Clinton voters might decide to sit out the 2020 G.E. if Sanders wins the nomination.

        Making Sanders’ approach of expanding the base — if he can do it! — even more critical; it disempowers that party faction.

        To invert Chuck Schumer: “For every lawyer we lose, we pick up ten Walmart workers.”

        If the number is indeed ten (i.e., remotely close to population ratios, as opposed to known voters) Sanders wins in a walk. If two, maybe. If one, not.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > IOW, Clinton’s posture is “at this point in the campaign, I’m not confident that I prefer Sanders to Trump”.

      She very explicitly did not commit to voting for Sanders, thereby completely undercutting the liberal Democrat unity narrative, “Vote Blue No Matter Who,” and so on. Clinton is a real piece of work.

      To be fair, hippie punching is always good, and that over-rides any other putative principles that liberal Democrats might have.

  6. pretzelattack

    i can just imagine the hilarity which ensues when neighbors control each other’s thermostats.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Some remote in-laws in Maine got an electric blanket with dual controls. But they accidentally swapped the controls, so every time he turned “his” up, she turned “hers” down. Not sure if it was a metaphor for the marriage or not…

    2. ChrisPacific

      That thread was pretty funny.

      He posted an update about an hour ago with a note from the fan company saying something like “glad the problem was fixed!” Apparently they don’t see any fundamental design flaws with the whole setup.

      1. Carey

        I think, from memory, that the company’s response was “glad *your* problem was fixed!” See what they did, there?

        tentacles everywhere, and so many saying “here, wrap me up, for my Security and Protection!”, including in that twit-twit thread.

  7. Deschain

    Cersei’s bile was far more effective. For instance (to Jaime):

    “Tyrion may be a monster but at least he killed our father on purpose. You killed him by mistake”

    Hillary’s jibes are at the level of ‘Bernie Sanders eats paste.’

    1. Carolinian

      Cersei was more fun to look at.

      The Hollywood Reporter article is worth a read and the much quoted Sanders bit isn’t even her vilest bit.

      I will say, however, that it’s not only him, it’s the culture around him. It’s his leadership team. It’s his prominent supporters. It’s his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women. And I really hope people are paying attention to that because it should be worrisome that he has permitted this culture — not only permitted, [he] seems to really be very much supporting it. And I don’t think we want to go down that road again where you campaign by insult and attack and maybe you try to get some distance from it, but you either don’t know what your campaign and supporters are doing or you’re just giving them a wink and you want them to go after Kamala [Harris] or after Elizabeth [Warren]. I think that that’s a pattern that people should take into account when they make their decisions.

      I’m voting for Tulsi but guess we all (around here) are Bernie Bros now. Hillary’s problem is that she believes her own bull. Just what exactly did she accomplish during her years as senator, first lady?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I will say, however, that it’s not only him, it’s the culture around him. It’s his leadership team. It’s his prominent supporters. It’s his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitor

        Rovian assault on Sanders’ strength.

        1. Titus

          Rovian? Hamilton was doing the exact same *stuff for Jefferson agaisnt Adams. No love loss when Burr shot him dead. By the way, given human nature hasn’t changed much in the last 250,000 years or so, one finds the same tactics in China, Greece, BCE 300, and Rome from 176 BCE to 550 CE. We are not so special.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


            I am reminded of the Feast at Swan Goose Gate, at the onset of Chu-Han Contention, after the fall of the Qin dynasty (the First Dynasty).

            Sometimes, and it doesn’t always work, the way to go is to be ‘like water.’

      2. Deschain

        Well as SecState she managed to turn Libya into a breeding ground for terrorism and all other kinds of bad stuff. That’s something!

      3. Medbh

        ” It’s his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women.”

        Every time I hear this type of statement it makes me crazy. It’s politics. What does she expect? Every candidates’ strengths and weaknesses should be shouted from the rooftop. If it’s not brought up by a democrat, it will definitely be brought up by a republican. It just seems like such a wimpy complaint. “He’s saying mean things about me!” That’s politics.

        I saw no criticism that was directed towards her specifically as a woman, it was all based upon her behavior. The only thing that could be tied to her gender was that she coasted into politics due to her relationship with her husband, which in my mind is true. Doesn’t automatically disqualify her, but it’s unreasonable to pretend it didn’t make a deference, or that she could have run for the Senate or president had she not been Bill Clinton’s wife.

        Hillary makes me angry because her constant claims of sexism undermine the real barriers that women face. She’s supporting the stereotype that women can’t compete and use sexism as an excuse for their failures. Sexism matters, and it has an impact on how women politicians are perceived and treated. Just not in the way Hillary claims. I’m sure it’s impacted her political life. But her poor decisions had far greater influence.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Also Cersei took the top job, and she only needed to try once. I think she recognized the rules to take the top job. For example, HRC didn’t understand delegate allocation in 2008 or the electoral college in 2016 (despite the Gore campaign), but Cersei knew she needed to consolidate before worrying about the North. She wasn’t focused on “I love Mother days” in places she couldn’t win to run up the score.

    3. John A

      I guess the word Hillary was looking for to describe Bernie and his supporters was ‘deporables’ but someone wiped her memory, ‘like with a cloth’.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        In hillaryspeak

        n. deplorable

        I will say, however, that it’s not only him, it’s the culture around him. It’s his leadership team. It’s his prominent supporters. It’s his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women. And I really hope people are paying attention to that because it should be worrisome that he has permitted this culture — not only permitted, [he] seems to really be very much supporting it. And I don’t think we want to go down that road again where you campaign by insult and attack and maybe you try to get some distance from it, but you either don’t know what your campaign and supporters are doing or you’re just giving them a wink and you want them to go after Kamala [Harris] or after Elizabeth [Warren]. I think that that’s a pattern that people should take into account when they make their decisions.

        Or, in other words, a capable campaign.

        v. Trumped

      2. John

        Why is Hillary out causing trouble when Trump is still leading his base to chant “lock her up” at his rallies?

        Does she know something about Trump that we don’t know? (they were “friends” for years)

        Or does she have her escape plan ready if and when Trump comes after her?

  8. Lambert Strether Post author

    This was a very lively weekend, and after my late start I added a good deal of material (check out the Biden video). Please refresh your browsers.

    Now I want to comment on Sander’s “apology. More in a minute.

  9. Lee


    …Democrats didn’t let the court challenges to Trump’s blocked testimony play out? It’s all performative, certainly; but the nature of the performance bewilders me.

    Timing is everything. Instead of using the impeachment process as a bludgeon against Trump later in the election process, they can use it now to hobble Sanders in the early primaries.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      he was on Useful Idiots a few days ago and said that he and his family have a security detail everywhere they go and ride in an armored car.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Try “Reader View” if you have it – I’m on Waterfox (Firefox).

      Yeah, I saw that on Gnews. Could be bad. Brazil is a snakepit. Might be worse than ours.

  10. Wukchumni

    Ok, where does Joe find an elevator with an elevator operator, her name wasn’t Malarkey was it?

    Next week, watch Joe embrace a milkman and learn that the lactose purveyor has always been a Biden fan.

    1. divadab

      It’s the NYTimes building. Very traditional. at least at the level where VIPS are whisked up to the deluxe area.

    1. Grant

      I understand the need to not go too negative, but Biden is clearly corrupt and not being able to say so benefits him. Because it is true, people hate corruption, and it is one reason (among many) why he is a horrible general election candidate. Even if there is some logic, it is having to think about the complex ways people will respond to a political situation that is itself complex. But, Biden right now is openly doing fundraisers with huge donors. If the complex situation results in Bernie not being able to state the obvious, it helps Biden and takes away a massive weapon that can and will be used against him. Trump is corrupt himself, but he has no qualms about being a hypocrite and he will hammer Biden for his and his family’s corruption, which goes back decades. What could be a huge benefit to a non-corrupt candidate going against Trump will be at least negated if the Democrats are stupid enough to nominate Biden. Just another situation where the Democratic Party and the media don’t allow Democrats to say things that are true, but something they will have no response to if he gets the nomination. It is a shame that Bernie has to run in that party. It doesn’t deserve to even exist at this point, neither does the other party, if you ask me. Most Americans seem to agree, but feel trapped.

      1. Howard

        Bernie needs to peel off some of JBs voters and since JBs voters are old, the idea is they will respond better to attacks based on Social Security rather than corruption as these old voters like JB personally. These Iowa voters could view the corruption charge as a step too far.

      2. JohnnyGL

        Biden voters are a more committed bunch than for most of the other candidates. A lot of pundits misread his support as ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’. Myself included.

        However, it’s still based on a cornerstone of on ‘electability’, which has proven fairly durable.

        Bernie’s favorability ratings are very high. A lot of dem voters are open to him. A full-frontal attack by Sanders, combined with a subsequent media feeding frenzy would endanger that.

        I think Sanders’ strategy is, partially, passive-aggressive, as Lambert suggests (and team dem is nothing if not passive aggressive).

        I also think he’s gotten pretty good at getting his critics to make fools of themselves by being overeager to shred him. Getting media to self-own is a real talent.

        Regarding Mark Ames tweet….I think Corbyn was mostly doing okay, until he screwed up Brexit and gave them something to work with. It takes a certain type of candidate to really revel in the hatred. Neither Sanders nor Corbyn really enjoy it. Mark my words, though. There will be another lefty (or righty) candidate that embraces media and DC hatred much more openly. There’s WAY too much public appetite for it. It’s not going away.

        1. Carey

          My intemperate take: they’re not going to let Sanders win; why would they?
          The apparatus is still well in place for the Few’s preferred outcome, and I’d
          much rather see him engage in truth-telling, rather than this “Biden is certainly not corrupt” bulls!t, and Sanders abjectly apologizing for what is patently true.

          Ask Warren how fence-straddling works out.

        2. richard

          “There will be another lefty (or righty) candidate that embraces media and DC hatred much more openly”
          yes. it’s a lot easier for the fake populist right to tap dance around media hatred though. There are far fewer “say this and die” shibboleths on the right, so it’s easier to maneuver.

      3. Jeff W

        “Biden is clearly corrupt and not being able to say so benefits him.”

        Sanders can say exactly what Zephyr Teachout said—“Biden tak[es] big contributions, then represent[s] his corporate donors at the cost of middle- and working-class Americans”—and avoid the landmine of the word “corruption.” Everyone will get the message. Of course I’d wish Sanders would take a no-holds-barred approach and call Biden’s “transactional politics” by its right name, as Teachout does, but there’s good reason not to.

        Describing the behavior avoids the resistance that characterizing it does. No one can argue—well, in good faith, at least—with what Biden does but there can be a whole lot of fights over what to call it. Sanders doesn’t want to go there—he’s pretty sure-footed about those fights he wants to pursue and those in which he might believe but thinks won’t benefit him politically.

        That said, there does seem to be a reticence on the part of the Sanders campaign to honestly highlight opponents’ records, as if that in itself is negative. I’ve never quite gotten that. (Isn’t Joe Biden proud of his record?) It helps voters to point out legitimate, real differences between yourself and your opponents.

        1. Cas

          You make a very important point that’s worth emphasizing. Most people aren’t partisans, and are turned off by name-calling and demonizing. Having worked with the public on controversial issues and individuals, I’ve noticed people tend to revert to the mean–the truth is somewhere inbetween, both sides do it, etc. Yes, Biden is corrupt, but I like that Sanders is trying to transform politics to be about issues, not personalities. I believe NC showed earlier many Biden supporters have Sanders as their second choice, no point in alienating them. Sanders is smart and is showing respect to the voters by focussing on the facts and letting them draw their own conclusions.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > there does seem to be a reticence on the part of the Sanders campaign to honestly highlight opponents’ records, as if that in itself is negative

          1) Not true for Social Security. Biden is a target-rich environment, and its not reticence to aim at one target, instead of being scattershot

          2) I, and I think most readers, find liberal Democrat conflict-avoidance (“civility”) distinctly odd. When we have a contest with only one winner, it certainly makes sense for competitors to focus on each other’s records without having that characterized as a personal attack.

          That said, liberal Democrat fragility is real, and there needs to be a work around at the rhetorical level. This is the sort of thing I would not be good at, but as I said, it would be useful if the campaign put some thought into. I see things like Warren snakes as being ego-driven, not useful. The point is not to vent, even when one is venting the truth, but to win.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I understand the need to not go too negative, but Biden is clearly corrupt and not being able to say so benefits him.

        Biden has multiple weaknesses. It’s not clear to me why “corruption” is the one to focus on. For one thing, the general view of the public (correctly) is that they’re all corrupt. That doesn’t mean they think Bernie is, just that there’s nothing distinctive about Biden’s corruption as such. Second, corruption is Warren’s issue; it’s her way of avoiding talking about class power (like blaming climate change on corruption, forsooth), and that’s the reason Sanders should avoid “stealing” it from her. Third, the Social Security attack is a no-brainer and easily provable. Focusing on Biden’s corruption (a) steps on that message and worse, since corruption is seen (wrongly) as an issue of personal integrity, (b) blurs the Social Security attack exactly among those Biden voters who Sanders wants and must pick up.

        Readers seem to be focusing on whether Sanders’ charge of corruption is true. I don’t think corruption is a winning issue for the Sanders campaign, for reasons stated. Of course, if the Twittersphere wishes to pursue guerilla warfare on that point, so much the better. But not Sanders official campaign surrogates.

        Truth is not the point.

        Winning is the point (without lying, needless to say).

        And if you thing Trump tweeting out “And Bernie agrees with me!” is the way to pick up voters who are not yet committed to Sanders, there’s this bridge, in Brooklyn…

    2. grayslady

      My guess that Sanders wanted, at all costs, 14 days before the Iowa primary, to avoid a Trump tweet during the impeachment trial calling out Joe Biden (and his failson) for corruption, with the addition “And Bernie agrees with me.”

      This is my take, as well. Impeachment based on procedural corruption means next to nothing for most voters, but it’s the hill Pelosi and the corporate Dems have chosen to die on. Under no circumstances can Bernie afford to be connected to this impeachment fiasco other than as a senator who has to sit, day after day, listening to the drivel. I really believe that Bernie can win the primary this time; but he still has to go into the convention without being seen, by the DNC, as enabling Trump in any way. No excuses for not getting the nomination.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Dead on, I think. It would have been a huge political misstep to overtly say Biden is corrupt, that charge applies systemically to the entire political class of both parties and he can’t battle on *all* fronts simultaneously, as much as we might wish otherwise. You gotta pick your fights. He can and does correctly call the “system” corrupt, and that’s where it’s best left.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Under no circumstances can Bernie afford to be connected to this impeachment fiasco other than as a senator who has to sit, day after day, listening to the drivel. I really believe that Bernie can win the primary this time; but he still has to go into the convention without being seen, by the DNC, as enabling Trump in any way.

        The whole impeachment thing is a falling safe that Sanders has gotten out from under, and should at all costs avoid getting under again.

    3. 3.14e-9

      I can’t get too worked up about the apology for Teachout, either, especially when he didn’t back down on Biden’s Social Security record. I saw a clip last night from a campaign stop in NH during which he told reporters that the video a) wasn’t “doctored” and b) that it accurately reflected Biden’s history of going after SS. From Reuters:

      “I think anyone who looks at the vice president’s record understands that, time after time after time, Joe has talked about the need to cut Social Security,” Sanders told reporters at a campaign stop in Concord, New Hampshire.

      Responding to the suggestion his campaign had taken Biden’s comments out of context, Sanders said Biden’s record as a whole showed Biden “believes it appropriate to cut Social Security,” freeze cost-of-living adjustments that regularly raise benefits, or to raise the retirement age.

      “You can argue about one video, whether it was full context, but the real issue is Joe voted, if my memory is correct, for the balanced budget amendment,” referring to a 1995 vote on a constitutional amendment that would have forced administrations to balance federal budgets, which Sanders suggested would entail cutting Social Security.


    4. ptb

      Semi agree? Totally true that Sanders can’t afford to offend centrist liberals willing to consider a progressive. At the same time, playing nice exclusively is an invitation to get hit harder. That doesn’t mean go after the scandal stuff, no need. But Biden’s legislative record is fair game and is essential to the current historical moment on many levels.

      Teachout was right and IMO any apology is

      1. optional, because the Bidens and Clintons of the world never extend anyt such courtesy to opponents they consider beneath them
      2. ought to be made so as to make it clear, that there is a distinction in the interpretation of the word “corrupt”. Not as Trump style scandals (i.e. the Hunter Biden timebomb, which is Biden’s liability in the General, and has no useful or rightful place in the primary) . But rather “corrupt” as in Citizens United, or corrupt as in selling voters out to credit card companies, selling Afro Americans out for political points in thre 80s and 90s, selling foreign policy out to the saudis, bushes, lockheed, etc etc.

      The high ground is nice but I think most voters get how this game is played. Its a contract sport. You get rewarded for integrity, not timidity.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The high ground is nice but I think most voters get how this game is played. Its a contract sport. You get rewarded for integrity, not timidity.

        If you think having Trump tweet out “And Bernie agrees!” every time Trump (accurately) calls out Biden and his spawn for corruption is a smart play, especially during impeachment, well… I guess we’ll just have to disagree to disagree. Sanders did what he had to do to shut that down. Teachout has run for elective office. I’m sure she understands the necessities.

        1. ptb

          I suppose it depends on the personality of Iowa and early state Dem primary voters.

          IMO, Trump throwing bombs like that into the Dem primary will happen regardless. So will other Dems using the resulting with-us-or-against-us logic to delegitimize anyone questioning their record. Sooner or later you have no choice but to get into it and defuse that nonsense. A brief statement is all it takes. Bernie has done so before. A lot. Is that time now? dunno.

          As far as impeachment goes, it’s an unstoppable distraction for the next 2 weeks, so media attention is not gonna be on this stuff anyway.

    5. Mo's Bike Shop

      I agree. The MSM would love some mudslinging and arguing over the definition of ‘corruption’ 24/7. They are literally making stuff up now. If the fight is about Policy, all they seem able to do is shuffle their toes and purse their lips over deficits. So far it seems Bernie can call that shot, hope it lasts.

      Would anyone care today if MLK had ‘totally destroyed’ Sheriff Clark with a devastating tweet sometime in ’63? I have no problem saving my marshmallows until after we’ve built the bonfire.

      Also, Biden has been visibly corrupt all of his life, why would that angle of attack suddenly work today?

      And going negative would look just as desperate as when Warren did it last week.

  11. Bill Carson

    Can I just ask—how bad is Tom Steyer? I haven’t paid any attention to him at all and don’t know anything about his platform, but if Bernie gets knocked out, I am looking for alternatives.

    1. nippersmom

      IMHO, if Bernie gets “knocked out”, the alternatives are:
      1. Write Bernie in anyway
      2. vote Green (like I have the last two presidential elections)
      3. Decline to vote for president, and vote only for the down-ballot races and measures

      1. jefemt

        I concur, recognizing that this will enable Trump to prevail.

        I observed in a comment here that Joe Biden Stalwarts may sit it out if Bernie gets the nod— I had NOT envisioned this one— once again, their right, but Trump wins.

        So much for the veracity of the Anyone But Trump solidarity?

        Maybe the Clown Car can cooperatively set us all down after the convention, show us a cogent platform, and get us ALL out to show Trump the door?

        2x green voter — Nobama 2nd term, No Hillarity

    2. ewmayer

      Hmm, how to put this … how about “Steyer is a slightly less annoying billionaire candidate than Bloomberg”?

      In all seriousness, I find Steyer easier to take now that he’s gotten off the 100%-Trump-evil-and-must-be-stopped campaign theme and embraced something more positive, in the form of climate change, as a rallying cry.

      1. Carey

        Yes, except Steyer’s only exchanged one the-sky-is-falling trope for another. Got that dude off my email quick.. a little less annoying than the other billionaire, is all.

        PS: not discounting climate change.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      I see defection as the biggest obstacle to the Democratic Party this spring, in early spring. Whether it is the elites or the electorate who defect is impossible to determine until it plays out. I don’t see either side tolerating things being taken away from them. (Have we ever had competing conventions for the same party?) So I haven’t been focusing much past that.

      1. John k

        There’s way more Bernie bro’s than dem elites. So elites might even vote trump over Bernie, but they, and msm, can’t say that out loud. Meanwhile the non elites with tds will vote Bernie.
        Elites not voting for Bernie is a non issue, whereas Bernie bro’s and flyover not voting biden will elect trump.

    4. False Solace

      Steyer is your typical self-loathing billionaire who amassed his hoard by investing in coal and private prisons. If that floats your boat great. However progressive Steyer claims to be, he’s spent his money running for office to aggrandize himself instead of, say, ending homelessness.

      There are no ethical billionaires.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > how bad is Tom Steyer?

      I keep seeing visuals that seem to imply he’s got a mancrush on Bernie. Perhaps Steyer has come to realize that the wretched hive of scum and villainy he’s engaged with has at least one simple, straightforward person? Agree or disagree?

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Futures contracts…

    “Mission Impossible: China can’t meet its commitments on U.S. crude, LNG, coal – Russell” [Reuters]. “The more you delve into the details of China’s commitment to buy an additional $52.4 billion in U.S. energy over the next two years, the more it becomes apparent the goal is unachievable, even with the best will in the world…. China’s imports from the United States this year would have to be more than double past record monthly imports of U.S.-sourced crude oil, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal. If that already seems difficult, it would take a tripling of the best-ever months to meet the 2021 target.”

    Can China count the notional values of those contracts?

  13. Grant

    Am I wrong to see a slight uptick in support for Warren relative to Sanders? I don’t trust these polls, but it seems that in a couple polls (NJ and Iowa) Bernie has declined a little and Warren has gained a little. I don’t place tons of values in these polls, but I also have no respect what so ever in Democratic primary voters. They have long record of picking really bad candidates and the identify first people don’t seem to be the most rational and clear thinking people out there too.

    My personal guess is that the internal data is radically different than these polls, but we will see.

    1. Pelham

      I’m seeing the same thing you see, with Sanders ticking down and Warren ticking up after the debate dustup. Maybe Warren’s sneak attack is paying off after all. I wish I could just tune out till after New Hampshire. The roller coaster isn’t helping my A-fib.

      1. Grant

        There is plenty of data since the dust up showing the opposite of what I said though. And the polls are, again, likely underststing his support. The thought of her gaining any net support is troubling, and I generally think it hasn’t helped her. Maybe some are drawn to her, but I would guess at least an equal amount are repulsed. Lots of evidence of this with people around me, but I hate to generalize.

    2. chuckster

      That’s the problem with Lambert’s supposed defense of Bernie’s actions.

      Every time Bernie apologizes – and yes he really does kiss Joe Biden’s ass on that apology – it makes his campaign look even more “not ready for prime time.” If women have a harder time winning executive positions because they appear “weaker”” than men then how is Bernie’s constant apologies anything more than weakness?

      I have mentioned before that Bernie’s staff is often not a real asset to his campaign. Bernie hires a lot of crappy people. It doesn’t bode well a Sanders’ Administration if no one seems in charge.

      1. Grant

        I don’t get the argument about him being weak. How could the only person challenging the most powerful interests in society be weak? You can argue against the strategy and his logic for acting as he has, but is Bernie actually weak? Of course not. I just think, given that he does in fact have the entirety of the system and the party he is forced to run in against him, he has to be strategic. He also is coming off of this nonsense with Warren, and his campaign was set to go hard after Biden. Her nonsense made that harder to do. If Bernie is to win and push through any of the things he wants, HE alone will not be able to do it. People will have to get involved and push those changes through. He is not Superman and change doesn’t happen with one person waving a magic wand and everything turning out like we all want it to. What I think can be said is that Bernie’s team sometimes make strategic decisions that are questionable. If you can find a politician that hasn’t done this, let me know who that person is. Given all that is aligned against him, objectively, he doesn’t have tons of space to make strategic errors.

        I do agree, however, that his strategy here is not the best. Biden is corrupt, and if Biden’s supporters recoil from pointing out his corruption, they should think about what they are recoiling from. If they are uncomfortable with the critique, it is at root because they don’t like corruption. Biden is corrupt, so it makes sense to make the argument about how corrupt he is. If I was Bernie, I would have done something somewhat similar, in that I would maybe not say the word corrupt, but I would describe what Biden has long done and ask what word someone else would apply to him. My guess is the word pragmatic would spill out. I think the critique is more an issue of strategy than strength. I don’t know of another politician running that is stronger than he is. Dumber, more corrupt, not serious on policy, yes. Stronger, no.

        1. foghorn longhorn

          Trump didn’t have any trouble roasting the bushies, et al and telling them to eat sh*t and die.
          The path has been established, hit him em high, hit em low, hit em anyplace in between, just don’t stop hitting em.
          Bernie is kinda screwing this up, imo.

          1. Copeland

            This. I don’t know if the situation really is different on the lefty side of things, but didn’t Trump prove that it works…by being in the white house now?

            Bernie would have the added benefit of actually telling the truth while at the same time hitting his competition where it hurts.

            Maybe because of that “cant run as an independent after losing the D primary” thingy? (I cant believe that is actually a thing, democracy my a$$).

            1. Medbh

              “Bernie would have the added benefit of actually telling the truth while at the same time hitting his competition where it hurts.”

              This. Don’t apologize for calling a spade a spade. Corporations don’t give huge sums of money to politicians out of the goodness of their heart. They don’t give money away for nothing. They’re buying the politicians, and Americans know it. Most people have no problem seeing or labeling that as corrupt. Bernie should say it too.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                Anybody who thinks that “calling a spade a spade,” when that would (a) get Sanders owned by Trump and would (b) reinforce Warren’s message is thinking with something other than their brains.

          2. John k

            But Bernie is not, thank dog, trump. One reason people are attracted to him is his sameness over time. If he or his team turn into attack dogs it questions what other changes he might make.
            There is a reason he’s the most popular pol in America. He’s certifiably nice. And that wins votes so long as he continues to not let people push him around.

            1. Medbh

              I think Bernie’s attraction is that he seems honest and real. He’s consistent and has been advocating for the same things his whole life.

              I don’t think it’s being an “attack dog” by calling out what’s wrong with our country and how it’s being run, especially if the other candidates are largely happy with the status quo. It’s not being mean to contrast votes and values. It’s only an “attack” if you have something to be ashamed of.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                > I don’t think it’s being an “attack dog” by calling out what’s wrong with our country and how it’s being run, e

                It doesn’t matter what you think. It matters what the voters to whom Sanders must appeal think.

                Do you think Sanders is some sort of action figure?

                1. Medbh

                  I think voters like Sanders because he is authentic and speaks the truth about people’s lives. He’s considered a truth teller and someone with a consistent message his whole life. This is not about being a tough guy, it’s about describing the world as it actually is and how people experience it.

                  Why should Sanders apologize to Biden because someone else called him corrupt for accepting huge amounts of cash from credit card, health care, drug, and fossil fuel companies? Apologizing to Biden makes Sanders look insincere. Does he think big money is a problem or not? The Teach-out op ed is factual and talks about Biden’s votes and behavior. It wasn’t written by Sanders or his campaign staff. Sanders should not apologize for Biden’s flaws.

                  If the intent was to avoid alienating Biden voters, it would have been better to draw attention to Sanders strength, then to reinforce the idea that accepting huge amounts of money is ok. Something like “This is why I’ve chosen to run my campaign on small donors, in order to avoid the perception of corruption.”

                  My dad was (he’s retired) a life time union representative who voted for Sanders in the primary and Trump in the election. We live in Wisconsin. He respects people who tell it like it is and despises political correctness. He calls “campaign contributions,” bribes. He thinks the country and democrats are completely corrupt and owned by big business. Apologizing for that message is not helping. He’s the type of voter Sanders needs and can win.

          3. Grant

            “Bernie is kinda screwing this up, imo.”

            This is going way too far. Him not going after Biden for corruption is a huge mistake, but you cannot negate everything he has done because of that one damn comment. Sorry, but this is why the left in its entirety isn’t serious about actually governing. We are two weeks out, things have been looking good, and now people want to bail because of this one comment? Bernie wins, been the case since he started, by galvanizing people that don’t traditionally vote to vote. Maybe it isn’t your intention, but your attitude and this mindset undermines that. This healthcare system may very well kill this cancer survivor, but I sure as hell am not going to be a pathetic person that doesn’t have the fight people are claiming that Bernie lacks. Maybe because of the environment we are toast, but I have two young kids, and I can’t just accept the fate coming for us without a fight. So, if people are on board with Bernie overall and want the changes he is pushing for, think a bit about what you say in public forums like this. Just a matter of days ago he was doing well, trending well, and now people want to be gloom and doom. You people would be worthless if you were trying to organize a union in Colombia. They can get dragged out in the middle of the night and shot in front of their families by paramilitaries, and the left is going to fold because of a single mistake he made in a single interview. Coffeehouse leftism at its finest.

            Bernie’s campaign listens and these critiques will likely help him to get better. But if you bail now you were never really on board. And people here in the US that say that they are on the left aren’t really willing to do the heavy lifting needed to push these changes through.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Him not going after Biden for corruption is a huge mistake

              No, it isn’t. Here’s one tweet from Trump:

              Trump is already A/B testing! (And what he says is certainly plausible.) Do you really want a few dozen tweets about Hunter Biden’s (real) “corruption,” all ending with “And Bernie agrees with me!” in the middle of the impeachment trial, and right before the Iowa caucus?

              (Good point on the Sanders campaign listening though.)

          4. Grant

            Trump had no interest in structural changes that would undermine rich people like him and would empower working people, undermine the owners of the media, those that fund think tanks or large donors. Most of the never Trump crowd on the right agrees with most everything he does on policy. How is the position he was in at all comparable to Bernie? They also incorrectly thought he stood little chance at winning anyway and they realize Bernie can win, which he can. Trump was also selling his WWE schtick to a radically different group of people. He also had a huge gift, as Clinton was his opponent.

            1. foghorn longhorn

              Bernie is in a street fight, just like trump, he is an outsider trying to take over the powers that be.
              As evidenced earlier today, the clintonoids hate him with every fabric of their being.
              He will be treated the same or worse than trump by the same blob, that is now trying to impeach trump for frivolous reasons, by the very corrupt pelosi.
              In the middle of a street fight, you can’t all the sudden go all ‘marquis of queensberry’ rules.
              And yes, he will have to sway trump voters, because the clintonoid centrists detest him.
              Either get after them like a bulldog, or get swallowed up, just like ’16.

              1. Grant

                How has he not gone after them? These arguments would make sense if a person just started to follow the primary today. He gave a problematic answer, but how does that negate everything else he has done? And he didn’t lose in 2016 because of being too nice. He lost because of the party he ran in. That continues to be the biggest obstacle. The Clinton types at this point are not his target. They hate him, he is not stupid and they are a small group. Yes, his answer was problematic, but he clearly has a strategy. That article is right there, and while the media will not touch the substance of the article, many people are aware of it. So, she says what he clearly agrees with and he can be personally distant from the critique. Remember people mentioning Warren’s horrible political instincts? It is a real problem. What did she do? She made herself central to that nonsense critique, she didn’t let someone like Teachout say it but then personally back away. Seems to be what Bernie is doing. I just wish he didn’t go too far in the opposite direction when he knows damn well how corrupt Biden is. His campaign also should have better coordination on messaging. But, again, you are arguing that Trump and Bernie is an apples to apples comparison and it clearly is not on many levels.

              2. Fiery Hunt

                I’m with Grant…

                You don’t win if you are as dirty as what you fight against.

                Moral high ground.
                Keep it or lose.

              3. Lambert Strether Post author

                > Bernie is in a street fight

                No, he isn’t. He is in a war (and commanding an enormous army; the canvassing operation) and on several fronts.

                > In the middle of a street fight, you can’t all the sudden go all ‘marquis of queensberry’ rules.

                False, being founded on an incorrect analogy. In fact, the doctrine that “If you are hit, hit back” surrenders initiative to the enemy, and makes one’s own behavior predictable. Not good strategy.

                For example, Japan responded to the pinprick stunt of the Doolittle raid by “[pushing] forward Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s plans to attack Midway Island in the Central Pacific, an attack that turned into a decisive defeat of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) by the U.S. Navy.” Oops.

          5. Carey

            Sanders is not “allowed” to do what the Corporatists and the Right do
            routinely, at least for now. He knows this very well, IMO.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Since Sanders is running a unique and novel campaign, it is not necessary for him to do what Corporatists and the Right do.

              Sanders is kicking over the table, not playing the same game that has always been played at that table. (The kick is slo-mo, because the canvassing operation is massive*.)

              * My priors. Soon I will know if I have to adjust them!

          6. Yves Smith

            Vehemently disagree. Biden being corrupt is a REPUBLICAN TALKING POINT. No other Dem can now go there. They’d be accused of helping the Rs and Trump.

            Sanders can go after all of Biden’s terrible votes and policies, as he is doing. They speak to corruption. But Sanders cannot say the silent part out loud, conditions mean it would backfire.

            Plus corruption is Warren’s issue. Go read her 67 plans. At least half are about that.

          7. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The path has been established, hit him em high, hit em low, hit em anyplace in between, just don’t stop hitting em.

            This is silly. As I keep arguing, the Sanders campaign is unique and novel. He is trying to bring an enormous army of canvassers and new voters to bear on what I think of as the elite’s schwerpunkt, health care (and by extension, universal concrete material benefits like Social Security). That’s unheard of.

            > Bernie is kinda screwing this up, imo.

            Sanders would be screwing it up if he invented a new game with new rules, and then played by the old rules. Even by the old rules, there’s absolutely no reason to make a play that (a) would get him owned by Trump and (b) would reinforce Warren’s message. No flies on Bernie!

          8. Carey

            I’ll say again that the Left is not “allowed” to do what the Corporatists
            and the Right routinely do (for now). Seems obvious enough to me..

        2. False Solace

          “Joe Biden is not corrupt,” Bernie Sanders told the media really loudly. “He tried to cut Social Security multiple times for reasons which are totally unrelated to the millions in donations he accepts from rich people. Not corrupt whatsoever. I refuse to use the words corruption and Joe Biden in the same sentence. Corrupt. Corrupt. Corrupt.”


        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Biden is corrupt, so it makes sense to make the argument about how corrupt he is.

          Again, the argument seems to be that truth is the key point. Winning is the key point (and if you’re Sanders, winning without lying).

          The whole argument about weakness is dumb. “If only Wellington had attacked Napoleon at Waterloo! He took a defensive position, and that looked weak!” As you do say, it’s strategic, but there are plenty of truths best left upspoken, if it is not strategic to speak them. Campaigns aren’t therapy sessions, ffs.

          In any case, we’re arguing about hypotheticals. Sanders took Biden’s corruption “off the table” in explicit terms. It would look even weaker if he put it back on the table, in a Warren-like vacillation.

          1. Carey

            “vacillation” is just the word with Warren. As a commenter said above,
            she is being played [so hard], and doesn’t know it- may never know it.

            “Opportunism, meet gullibility..”

      2. Jeff W

        “…how is Bernie’s constant apologies anything more than weakness?”

        The issue of weakness aside, what “constant apologies” are you referring to?

        He didn’t even really apologize here—his “And I’m sorry that that op-ed appeared” is more of an expression of regret, rather than an apology, really—and he apologized to women “who were harassed or mistreated” as part of his 2016 campaign back in January, 2019. But, other than those two incidents, has he apologized for anything else?

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > That’s the problem with Lambert’s supposed defense of Bernie’s actions.

        I don’t know what’s “supposed” about it. There’s really nothing else to answer here, such vagueness. Try re-reading my comment and engaging on specifics, especially timing (point 1) and that there’s no point reinforcing Warren’s messaging (4b).

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > My personal guess is that the internal data is radically different than these polls

      My guess, too. But we shall soon no longer need to guess. If Sanders ground game is flawless, he should do well..

      I think the Sanders campaign, as I have often said, is novel and unique for three reasons: Small donor fundraising from their own list, their own independent media operation*, and an enormous canvassing operation. (I am sure that the campaign is obsessively focused on those three things, leading to weaknesses in what would otherwise be crucial functions, like surrogate management.)

      I would compare managing such an enterprise to the issues that Civil War (and later World War I) generals had commanding their enormous armies: They didn’t know how to do it, and so had to learn through bitter experience. Sanders supporters should be focusing on the possibility — soon we will know — that the Sanders campaign is in fact surprisingly well-managed, given the challenges.

      NOTE * I have also said that one way we know that the Sanders media operation is successful — that it has already inocculated a large part of the voting public — is that media assaults that would previously have sunk other candidates have no effect; the campaign is inexplicable able to shrug them off. I know this is akin to proving a negative, and that this is early days, but so far this idea seems to be holding up.

      1. Copeland

        “media assaults that would previously have sunk other candidates have no effect; the campaign is inexplicably able to shrug them off”

        And also the heart attack, how the hell did his campaign shrug that one off? He really seems to be doing a lot of stuff right, though it can be frustrating for me at times.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Lambert, the numbers in your table for the FRA / David Binder poll do not match what they have published, if I am reading both theirs and yours correctly.

    They show: Biden 24, Warren 18, Buttigieg 16, Sanders 14 … on their site

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    4a) Note that Sanders voters are least likely to have given to any other candidate. His support (light blue) is hard core (which the puppet masters of the DNC would do well to consider).

    In a multi-party negotiation, it would seem that the most hardened party is the likely winner, perhaps except when everyone else finds it too uncompromising, and unite against it.

    What do we have here? I don’t know.

  16. nippersmom

    4a) Anecdotal, but many Sanders supporter (including me) who have donated to other candidates did so just to enable people we thought had a valuable contribution to make to the conversation to meet debate thresholds, even though there was never any question we were voting for Sanders. I would suggest that his base of dedicated supporters is even greater than this graphic indicates.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Gave 25 to Gabbard, 50 to Sanders. Wanted to make sure Tulsi made the debate. She did. Probably responsible for sending off Harris so it was money well spent.

      1. inode_buddha

        Similar here, I sent them both a decent sum last year. First time I’ve ever believed in a politician enough to do that.

      2. cm

        Ditto. I donated twice to her campaign. I’m in Washington State, so by the time I finally get to vote in the primary Gabbard will probably have dropped out. I’d vote for her over Sanders. Also agreed with Bugs that it was money well spent given Harris’ outcome. I bet if they let her on the stage one more time she could take out at least one other candidate!

        I’m surprised anyone would consider still Warren a progressive.

        Last time I voted Green. If Sanders is not the Democratic candidate I will vote for Trump.

        The elite don’t realize how close we are to the French revolution. I recently watched an interview with Malcom X, and was very impressed.

  17. FFA

    In William Gibson news:
    Apparently Dominic Cummings said he wants to hire “weirdos, from William Gibson novels” for 10 Downing Street. Gibson is currently promoting his new book and so he was on the Today program for a couple of minutes yesterday; talking about the state of the world and Dominic Cummings:
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000dj9g starting at 1:43:30

    SPOILER: Cummings wants to be Hubertus Bigend.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I am already predisposed not to like Gibson’s book. Flynn, the deplorable, in Gibson’s previous The Peripheral, was Gibson’s most sympathetic character in years, and now she’s thrown away…

    1. foghorn longhorn

      Billwilly is right
      In horse racing parlance, they’ve just now left the gate and are heading up the backstretch.
      The quarter pole is at least 2 months away.
      Just like at Santa Anita lately, plenty of time for someone/s to come up lame.

  18. chuck roast

    Re: chart on Real Average Weekly Earnings…

    Seems reasonable to me, but who is the Source? ONS? I don’t know who ONS is, and I have no clue about Alex Collinson. They may both be the souls of veracity. Anyway, good idea to check the “numbys” before posting charts or graphs.

    All the best.

  19. Bugs Bunny

    Re: Bacteriophages

    The renewed interest in phages, which are simply viruses whose target hosts are microbes rather than multi celled creatures, goes back a few decades now.

    What is very interesting about the subject from a geopolitical point of view is that a ton of research on phages was done in the USSR prior to the widespread use of antibiotics and most of it in Georgian SSR. The scientific papers from that era are mostly in the Georgian language and strangely enough, the US has a health research lab there, the Lugar Lab.

  20. Henry Moon Pie

    Great take on Bernie’s apology to Biden.

    Bernie and the bright young people around him along with some older hands have a plan. As Sirota pointed out, the attacks are just beginning, and their intensity will only increase, and that will continue through the general and the inauguration. They’re sacrificing tit-for-tat responding to attacks now for longer term gains. As long as Bernie wins Iowa, all is well. Perhaps his “generosity” at this point reflects not only Bernie’s ethics and style but also his team’s confidence re: Iowa.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I hate to say this, but “No drama, Obama.” The Clinton game of micro targeting with ads such as “Mother is your Abuela. Now obey!” don’t work.

      The Clintons and the #NeverTrumpers will say anything and everything to a point where they might

      1. John k

        Never trumpers will get off the couch, go to the polls, and vote Bernie over trump, yes?
        If no, they’re not never trumpers.
        Hillary, therefore, no doubt with many of the dem elite, is not.

  21. farmboy

    Sanders vis a vis Warren and Biden is wise to let others comment and keep his powder dry as it were. If he wins the nomination he’ll need both of them. It’s easier to apologize later than ask permission now. President Sanders could be a statesman too,something we haven’t had in a long time. His bona fides go back 60 years. “We are not here to take part. We are here to take over.” says the king of wrestling.

    1. John k

      He’ll need both…
      I hope not. Biden will be out of politics forever, won’t do a thing for Bernie who he and his donors detest.
      Warren will do what she’s told to get treasury.

  22. Pelham

    Re the NYT’s dual you-go-girl endorsement: I’m not so sure it’s all that amusing or misguided. For one thing, the endorsement’s bifurcated nature appears to be drawing more attention than a conventional endorsement. And for another, it may rev up the feminist base for Warren while also distracting from her embarrassing shiv plunge into Sanders as well as her Medicare face plant.

    On the whole, it may inject a little tingle into the race that hadn’t been there before by suggesting that there are TWO, yes TWO, fantastic women to choose from. And maybe we’ll even get an all-female ticket. How exciting would that be?

    1. inode_buddha

      I want to see what the NYT says about AOC in 2024. Let’s see what they’re really made of.

      1. Oregoncharles

        AOC is a representative, so up for re-election this year. Once again, the real contest is the primary.

    2. stevielee

      The NYT’s was simply “hedging” their bets by choosing both Warren and Klobuchar, as well as hopefully generating a substantial increase in the NYT’s (subscriber) readership with their uber “me-too”, times two endorsements.

      I do think that they would most definitely prefer Klobuchar, a solid corporate centrist to Warren. However, Klobuchar appears to have scant popular traction as the eventual Democratic nominee, while Warren might prevail if she eventually comes to her own class’s senses and realizes that her political bread would be much better buttered if she’d just knock off most of the anti-Wallstreet, Medicare-fer-all nonsense and get in sync with the other “realist” Democratic oligarchs that the Times represents. Sabotaging Sanders the way she did was a good start in the ‘right’ direction.

      And going by the video clips provided by the NYT’s of their process of “interviewing” the Democratic presidential candidates , it would seems that there really were “Knives Out” for Bernie by the “vetting” members of the Times staff and their hilariously pro-forma pretense of actually ‘considering him for a NYT’s endorsement. You’d think that the Orange One himself had infiltrated their inner sanctum selection hierarchy by the horrified “reaction shot” looks on their self-important mugs.


      1. pretzelattack

        i think they were also trying to fix the frame of debate, i.e. the 2 paths to change. centrist corporate elitism vs slightly less centrist corporate elitism. it won’t work. they don’t have that kind of power and influence.

    3. Big River Bandido

      The NYT has very little penetration in Iowa. The percentage of Iowa caucus attendees who actually read it is tiny. The percentage of those who distrust it is probably exceptionally high.

  23. nippersmom

    A FB friend shared this:

    Geoff Bennett
    ‏Verified account @GeoffRBennett
    5h5 hours ago

    I just asked @SenSanders for his reaction to @HillaryClinton saying “no one likes” him. He said, “On a good day, my wife likes me, so let’s clear the air on that one.” He then pivoted to talking about impeachment. More tonight on @NBCNightlyNews

    Geoff Bennett
    ‏Verified account @GeoffRBennett

    I also asked Sanders why he thinks Clinton is still talking about 2016. “That’s a good question. You should ask her,” he said.

    Plus this:

    Tom Steyer
    ‏Verified account @TomSteyer
    2h2 hours ago

    At the risk of getting in the middle of it — I like @BernieSanders.

    Now let’s move on, America.

    1. NotReallHere

      look, ladies. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, He’s a smelly poopie head and I hope he gets cooties.

      Mean Girls class of 1954

  24. Bill Carson

    I’m just now seeing Lambert’s essay above. (I assumed there would be a separate post.)

    All I can say is that I’m getting increasingly troubled by the state of this primary race and the ability of Bernie to defeat the Establishment. I can only steel myself for five more years of Trump.

    I gave up watching football a few years ago because the pain of my team losing was greater than the thrill of winning. I know it is premature, but I feel the urge to check out of this election now.

    1. Carey

      To your middle paragraph: I hear you, but.. what did you think it was going to be like?
      “OK, you proles won fair-and-square; we’ll go away now”?

      We’re lucky- very lucky!- to have Sanders, but the organizing’s the real thing.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Don’t give up! I lived through the 70s-80s Green Bay Packers. Never stopped backing them, even sat on those freezing aluminum bleachers a few times in the bottom of the trough of 4-12 season misery.

      If it’s not Sanders, it will be someone else, maybe next time. Keep fighting.

      Your team’s day will come. Our day will come.

    3. Monty

      I might not be mixing in the right circles, but from what have seen, I think 2020 is a lost cause too. Search “Trump 2020” on Amazon and there are over 10000 items available for his fans. They are energized and unified. I don’t know what’s worse. Bernie losing to Biden, who loses to Trump, or Bernie losing to Trump. Either way, all hope is lost.

    4. Massinissa

      I feel you Bill. I just want Super Tuesday to be done and gone so I can stop feeling hopeful. Watching the numbers go up and down and up and down in daily polling is nervewracking. And I’m not 30 yet. Though… Maybe that is the reason for that… This country is screwed even if Bernie wins, but being 2% less screwed would be a deal I would accept. 4-8 years of Biden may as well just be 4 years of Trump.

  25. Anthony G Stegman

    As far as I am concerned Sanders is un-electable if only for one good old American reason – he is a total wimp. In 2016, after being cheated out of the nomination by the machinations of the Clintons and Democratic old guard, Sanders endorsed Clinton. Fast forward to 2020 and Sanders is apologizing to Joe Biden for something he had no reason to apologize for – his campaign telling the truth about Biden. What will the old softy Sanders do and say next? Here in the US of A we like our leaders strong. We never apologize. Ever. And if someone betrays us we cut their throats. We most certainly don’t endorse them.

    1. Grant

      But, we don’t make good decisions as a country as far as who we pick and what we vote for, and the long term macroeconomic and environmental data, our healthcare system, how corrupt our political system is, shows this. Our society is crumbing because of how collectively stupid we are. So, what we normally do shouldn’t be a guide as far as making decisions moving forward. I agree that he should have the space to call Biden corrupt, because he is. But, the situation is complex, and of all people to claim they are weak, does it make logical sense to throw this at the only person willing to take on the most powerful people in our society? So some candidate acts like a tough guy or girl, but then gets paid to do the bidding of the powerful. Do their words make them actually tough? No, a tough person would fight the most powerful people in society, not take their money to change nothing and lie to provide cover for their corruption, like Biden. I don’t agree with everything Bernie does, and I think he should more forcibly go after Biden, but whether or not that is strategically smart is another matter. He is making enemies among the most powerful, he alone among those running is doing so, so he does have to be strategic. I seriously doubt if you were in his position, you would be tons better, but who knows.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “Fortunately for us, there have been traitors and there have been heretics, blasphemers, thinkers, investigators, lovers of liberty, men of genius who have given their lives to better the condition of their fellow-men. It may be well enough here to ask the question: What is greatness? A great man adds to the sum of knowledge, extends the horizon of thought, releases souls from the Bastille of fear, crosses unknown and mysterious seas, gives new islands and new continents to the domain of thought, new constellations to the firmament of mind. A great man does not seek applause or place; he seeks for truth; he seeks the road to happiness, and what he ascertains he gives to others. A great man throws pearls before swine, and the swine are sometimes changed to men. If the great had always kept their pearls, vast multitudes would be barbarians now. A great man is a torch in the darkness, a beacon: in superstition’s night, an inspiration and a prophecy. Greatness is not the gift of majorities; it cannot be thrust upon any man; men cannot give it to another; they can give place and power, but not greatness. The place does not make the man, nor the scepter the king. Greatness is from within.”

        –Robert Ingersoll

    2. Cuibono

      Oh yeah, a guy who tirelessly fights for what is right for his entire life is a wimp. Get off it.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      ‘My Opponent is Corrupt’ is a better argument for the primaries than ‘Joe Biden wants to cut your Social Security’?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Absolutely not. “Truth* is the best offense” is not a maxim in politics, and for good reason.

        * For the left, necessary (no budget to maintain the structure of lies) but not sufficient.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Sanders is apologizing to Joe Biden for something he had no reason to apologize for In a normal campaign,

      In a normal campaign, people would be praising Sanders for putting the issue “out there” and then cleverly stepping away from responsibility for it. That’s life on the high road/low road. And that’s what surrogates are for, to deliver the message and take the hit! Instead, we get all this yammering about truth, “gotta hit back,” and so on. It’s like saying every shot by one side’s pickets has to be answered by an artillery barrage from the other side (so “we” don’t look weak). I don’t know where this idiocy is coming from.

      Also in a normal campaign, “I’m sorry that that op-ed appeared” would be treated as a non-apology apology (as in fact it is), and the other camps would be screaming for Sanders’ head. Instead, Sanders put a potentially explosive problem behind him.

      The stupid — it b-u-r-r-r-r-n-n-n-ssssss!

  26. jefemt

    ?? Embassy in Iraq Green Zone bombed yesterday. I find affirmation on an Indian news service link, and an AlJazeera link. Two or three blasts.

    Not a word or peep in MSM. WTF??

    1. inode_buddha

      “Not a word or peep in MSM. WTF??”

      It’s called propaganda. It works just as well here in the USA, as it does in North Korea.

    2. Oregoncharles

      I gather that’s been happening a lot. I suspect it’s reinforced – was designed as a fortress.

      The real crisis will be when the attack is sustained, not just harassment.

  27. Carey

    I’d like to see Sanders doing less bowing and scraping too, but neither of us are out
    there *doing it*, and we don’t know *what kind of imperatives* he’s dealing with, at all.

    Some minor-but-good signs: the testiness in that NYT™ / Sanders thing, and in P. Krugman’s latest column.. they’re feeling it a tad, and that’s good.

    “Uppity proles!” they don’t know the half

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’d like to see Sanders doing less bowing and scraping too

      I really don’t like that framing, and the arguments in favor of it have been so tendentious, evidence-free, and sloppy that I’m starting to wonder.

      In general, they seem to boil down to a category error: That a campaign is like a bar fight, when in fact a campaign (and especially the Sanders campaign) is like a way. People getting all bent out of shape over a skirmish, I’m shaking my head.

      And “let’s you and him fight” isn’t exactly coming from a place of integrity.

      1. Carey

        A matter of emphasis, maybe: I don’t want to see Sanders weakened without cause, partly because it reminds me of #loserCrats for the last effing forty years, almost
        without exception. Bow only when one strategically has to, and maybe this is one of those cases.. Sanders is a good politician, and we are hugely lucky to have him.

        1. Carey

          Adding: some of us remember getting fundraising emails just before the 2016
          Convention, making noises like “we’re taking it all the way to the Convention..”. He folded a few days later..

    2. Big River Bandido

      Coming very late to this discussion because my Tuesdays and Wednesdays are jam packed. But in scanning the comments, I didn’t see any that addressed the “Iowa nice” issue Lambert raised in the essay:

      My guess that Sanders wanted, at all costs, 14 days before the Iowa caucus…

      For Klobuchar voters to flip, I suggest “Iowa Nice” matters. (Readers will correct me; for all I know Iowa voters reward viciousness, as long as its done passive-aggressively, say.)

      If Sanders dominates Iowa, it sets him up to win the nomination, plain and simple. Won’t be a done deal, but he will be very difficult to stop, especially if he follows up in NH and NV. I think he sees victory in Iowa as a good possibility and he doesn’t want to mess it up.

      “Iowa nice” *really* matters. Just ask Howard Dean, another New York Vermonter whose ghost hovers over the Sanders campaign. Or Hillary Clinton, whose negative campaign produced the worst GE performance of any Democrat nominee in Iowa in over 30 years). Or Roxanne Conlin. Howard Dean’s ghost hovers over the Sanders campaign. There *is* some of that junior high school “fight” mentality; meaning, when teachers saw a fight between two kids, both would get suspended even if the victim didn’t fight back. That always struck me as blatantly unfair, but I did see that mentality a lot and sometimes the innocent get punished along with the guilty. That definitely applies to politics in Iowa as well.

      Sanders is not a new hand at politics, and he knows Iowa. There’s only one candidate in this race who’s actually run a real presidential race before. (Biden has no claim to any expertise in this; his previous two campaigns ended in Iowa, and he hasn’t changed his MO since the 1988 race.) I think, with only 13 days left, he wants to get out of Iowa without getting into a fight that will drag down his candidacy.

      The importance of avoiding the “negative campaigning” tag in Iowa cannot be overstated.

  28. Oregoncharles

    Didn’t think I’d catch AOC in an outright lie, but here it is: “AOC declares Democrats a ‘center-conservative’ party: We don’t have a ‘left party’ in this country” https://www.foxnews.com/politics/aoc-democratic-party-center-conservative-party. She’s from New York; she knows perfectly well there’s a Green Party. That’s where she stole the Green New Deal. First sentence is a rare (in public) truth, though.

    Comments were sort of, umm, interesting.

    1. Carey

      Ocasio-Cortez could’ve more accurately said “We don’t have a ‘left party’ in this country,
      [whose votes get accurately tabulated]..”

      Voted Green 2012 and 2016, then *straight Republican 2018* in California (cause I wanted my vote™ to count!), except for a couple of local races.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      If and when the Green Party gets serious about being one, which they assure me they are now geared up to do, they can be considered an official political party in the US. Calling AOC a liar because she recognizes that fact is just the kind of faux-left statement that feeds the establishment machine and keeps the left from accomplishing anything.

      The Democrats are currently supporting not one but two centrists to primary her, along with 9 others. She’s also refused to hand over a quarter-million bucks to the DCCC that’s running them against her, opting instead to use it to support other down-ballot progressives. Leave her alone.

    1. flora

      Joe was convinced to step aside for Her Inevitableness in 2016. If Hills inserts her self in this primary, now, that’s a cold slap in the face to Joe… .

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Lol i know of two people who ate shrooms and went to see CATS.

      Multiple Xs.


  29. drumlin woodchuckles

    Since my library computer session is going to time out in 5 minutes, a few quick thoughts.

    There is an easier way to cut international shipping emissions in half than making a trillion dollars of emissions-cutting investment in international shipping. And that is to cut international shipping in half. Half the international shipping, half the international shipping emissions. Free Trade causes global warming.

    About invoking anti-ozone gases as causing faster polar warming. . . . I can think of a simpler mechanism.
    They taught us in high school physics that heat flows faster from source to sink the higher the heat-differential is between source and sink. And since the polar zones are the most colder and heat-poor zones there are, it is only natural that heat would flow “down the thermal heat-energy-gradient” into them the fastest.

    And I only have 2 minutes left so I will hit enter and go.

    1. John

      Don’t worry. Shipping junk 9,000 miles is coming to an end.
      Sooner than anyone would think.

      The end of cheap oil is going to see to that.

  30. John

    Trump is over in Davos telling his rich friends how great we are all doing.
    I’m starting to believe it myself.

    1. ChrisPacific

      I decided to listen to a couple of his speeches instead of just reading the extracts. They do sound different in context. He’s selling a vision. It might be unsupported by facts and inconsistent with reality, but it’s seductive. Listen for a while and you start thinking perhaps reality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

  31. Matt

    For what it’s worth: I took a couple of hours after reading Lambert’s mini essay on Bernie’s response to Biden. Lambert’s response was an excellent breakdown of political strategy, and for a while after reading it, I was convinced in its logic, if not its pathos.

    So after some contemplation, good whiskey, and listening to Downbound Train (in that order), I figured out why Lambert didn’t convince me: Bernie was dishonest. He threw an honest person, for political expedience, under the bus, for being honest.

    His strategy is sapping enthusiasm and diminishing his credibility. This last week is going to come back to haunt him, and I really wonder if he just handed the primary to Biden. It’s not about weakness, its about selling your strengths short, and that’s exactly what he did.

    Lambert made an excellent, well reasoned argument for Bernie’s actions. It won’t matter come the Iowa caucus; he lost voters, and gained nothing for it.

    1. flora

      Sorry, what? Playing a very long game that puts immediate ‘outrage points’ behind the longer term ‘what-we-have-in-common points’ is a bad strategy only in the immediate here-and-now strategy of politics, imo. In the here-and-now approach to politics that might look “dishonest”. In the longer term approach it might well look like coalition building with people you hope to pursuade, imo.

      1. Carey

        I like what Sanders is trying to do here, but.. we’ll see. He’s a good politician,
        just getting a hint of bend-the-knee that’s not what the Few should be seeing, IMO.
        Again, I don’t what constraints he’s working under-

    2. Grant

      If he lost voters, they were never going to fight anyway. Sorry, it is a pathetic mindset. Do people think, if Bernie was elected, that he wouldn’t at timed make people angry or do something worthy of critique? If he lost voters, to who? Are the alternatives better? And what type of person bails out on a single answer when we are facing such large societal issues? Do people realize what a massive fight it is going to be to just avoid societal collapse because of the environmental crisis? How many powerful interests they will have to take on? If they bail now, weeks before Iowa, ot just shows to me that they were never really serious about taking power and pushing these changes through. Much easier for them to sound super radical and woke than to be serious about long overdue changes we need. Go ahead, back off, let ghouls like Biden win the nomination, lose to Trump and be happy as the world goes to hell that you showed the world how unhappy you were to an answer he gave to a question in a complex political context when everyone with power is aligned against him. Sure has to make leftists feel good. You can have integrity and fight the good fight for 40 years, and one wrong answer to a single question throws all that out the window. I will do all I can to get Bernie elected and if we fail, I will get out there again and will take part on the fight. Maybe this is why the “centrists” say what Bernie wants can never happen. Those he needs to fight with him bail on him in crucial situations when he needs them most.

      1. meeps

        After reading this whole thread I would hope that those who view Sander’s apology as a mistake would ask themselves this question about it: Is it of the same magnitude as those made habitually by the other candidates, owing to their ideologies? Mistakes like cutting food stamps and making people jump through hoops for their pittance? Mistakes like letting Americans suffer needlessly because passing single-payer might lower their stock-earnings? Mistakes like insisting on balanced budgets when public benefits are on the line, while lobbing untold gobs of cash at the Pentagon and cutting taxes on the top 1% of earners?

        I understand the concern that one wrong move might cost him because the stakes are so high, but it’s worth keeping some perspective. Instances where worse “mistakes were made” are not hard to find.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Go ahead, back off, let ghouls like Biden win the nomination, lose to Trump and be happy as the world goes to hell that you showed the world how unhappy you were to an answer he gave to a question in a complex political context when everyone with power is aligned against him. Sure has to make leftists feel good. You can have integrity and fight the good fight for 40 years, and one wrong answer to a single question throws all that out the window. I will do all I can to get Bernie elected and if we fail, I will get out there again and will take part on the fight. Maybe this is why the “centrists” say what Bernie wants can never happen. Those he needs to fight with him bail on him in crucial situations when he needs them most.

        Agreed, except I take the strong view that Sanders answer was not wrong.

        The “Sanders must hit back ZOMG!!!” proponents never do give an example of where their preferred tactic — I won’t say strategy — makes sense, but the obvious example for them to use, if we cared, which we apparently do not, to make an evidence-based argument, would be Kerry butchering the Rovian assault on his war record by the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” But that was a full-fledged oppo operation by Bush. We’re nowhere near that. (I’m gonna assume “Bernie is weak!” is not an oppo operation to soften Bernie up, say on foreign policy, but rather just a culture-driven category error that confuses a campaign with a bar fight.)

    3. CoryP

      I think this kind of anguish is just a sign that all of us are paying way too much attention to this.
      If you were to phonebank or door-knock for Bernie, I wonder how many people you spoke to would even know the play-by-play of what happened this past week.

      Anyone who is following the situation this closely has surely made up their mind by now.

      At least, I don’t see how it’s possible to be this plugged-in and still be undecided.

      So this soap opera that is shaving years off our lives might not be all that relevant.

      I can hope, anyway.

      That said, I don’t think he’ll get the nomination, but I wouldn’t’ blame this kind of day-to-day drama.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > If you were to phonebank or door-knock for Bernie, I wonder how many people you spoke to would even know the play-by-play of what happened this past week.

        Very few. I posted a tweet to that effect. Of course, we are only at the very beginning of the campaign (though it seems like we’ve been campaigning forever). Ceaseless repetition of these talking points may eventually take hold, out there in the biomass. Which is why it makes sense to take them down now.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > His strategy is sapping enthusiasm and diminishing his credibility.

      That will be proven, or not, by the numbers. I would be very surprised if this argument registers even with the canvassers, let alone the voters. “Paris is worth a mass,” as Henri IV said.

  32. Carey

    Hall-monitors for the Few: a Work in Progress (feel free to add ’em)

    Virginia Heffernan
    Abby Phillip
    Wolf Blitzer
    Anderson Cooper
    Van Jones
    Kurt Bardella

    The list goes on

    Cool thing is, they’re *all* Sponsored Content (as they say..).

    1. Carey

      Oops! forgot the “he makes my skin crawl, I can’t exactly say why” person: Mimi Rocah


      Sanders 2020

      1. The Rev Kev

        Don’t forget on that list-

        Joy Reid
        Brian Williams

        And special guest appearences by

        Michael Moore
        Whoopi Goldberg

  33. Mr. Stevens

    LOL Buttigieg living 10 miles from a cornfield. I grew up 10 steps from a cornfield. Ate raw soybeans from the ground, Roundup and all. Bernie and nothing but Bernie. You can get lost in a cornfield. Just follow the rows until you get to a road. Might be a 3 mile jog back home but whatever.

  34. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    OMG- you weren’t hip to ‘reaction videos?’ Good times.

    You don’t suppose China’s pledge to buy an impossible amount of US LNG really is about their being arm twisted into providing additional funding for a shale boom that’s already ‘played’ out?

  35. Acacia

    Re: Tim Cook, High-Tech Shower Heads, and Not-so-High-Tech Keyboards:

    A bit of good news from Cupertino: the new 16″ MacBook Pro keyboard is a scissors design that is getting very favorable reviews. Let’s hope Apple rolls it into all other models (especially the 13″ MBP), and banishes the cr*p butterfly design forever.

    1. Carey

      Now if only the geniuses at Apple can somehow design a small-footprint replacement
      for my fifteen-year-old 12″ Powerbook that’s as useable and self-contained..

      Asking for the moon I know

      1. Acacia

        I hear ya. That’s what I’d like too. The current 13” model actually has a less than 12” wide footprint (because the screen bezel is smaller). It’s lighter, too. Aluminum unibody case and an SSD. So here’s hoping they’ll refresh it with the new keyboard design.

  36. Late Introvert

    (Readers will correct me; for all I know Iowa voters reward viciousness, as long as its done passive-aggressively, say.)

    It gets complicated. Grassley is pretty vicious but he rolled Obama without a peep so people respect that. It has to be fair up to a point, but then all bets are off.

    Iowa isn’t as bad of a state to hold early caucuses as people like to say from the comfort of their coastal abode. Ads don’t matter here, it’s pretty physical. I will be lining up in a local school gym in 12 days and acting all extroverted for Bernie.

    Y’all can ignore the results, which you have done many times now. Look up some of the past winners:

    Ted Cruz
    H. Rodham Clinton
    Rick Santorum
    Mike Huckabee
    John Kerry
    Al Gore
    Bob Dole
    Tom Harkin (heh)
    Dick Gephardt
    Walter Mondale

    1. Carey

      >Tom Harkin (heh)

      Interested in more about Harkin- wasn’t he IIRC a quasi/pseudo-populist? The (heh) intrigued me, as the neolib project-in-formation of dismantling populism root-and-
      branch is just getting underway, IMO. Man, I wish T. Frank would release his new
      book sooner..

      1. flora

        Harkin: Iowa favorite son. Iowa’s US Dem senator for years until his retirement. shorter: how could he not win the Iowa Dem caucus?

          1. Late Introvert

            Thanks flora, yes I was chuckling about Iowa choosing Harkin while no other state did. He was pretty good, but guess what? Voted for the Bush/Cheney Iraq War. He did later apologize at least.

  37. CoryP

    There’s audio on Twitter (user @Fiorella_im) of Sanders/Warren shaking hands at the MLK memorial service.

    Bernie: “Let’s say hello*.

    *Warren nods and extends her hand*

    Bernie: “Half the world is terribly interested in this handshake. Forget about climate change, healthcare, that’s not an issue. [unintelligible]”

    Tulsi: “This is the handshake heard all around the world”

    (some words are hard to decipher, but that’s most of it)

    The fact that I reacted like a squealing fanboy reminds me not to take my political opinions seriously because I am WAY too invested in this effing soap opera.

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