2:00PM Water Cooler 1/27/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Politics

“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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2020

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

We have a lot of polls today, as of 1/27/2020, 12:00 PM EST, leading with ABC and Ipsos. Biden and Sanders are the pick of the litter, trailed by Warren and Buttigeig, with Bloomberg still closing, which is interesting or concerning. Of course, these are national polls, about to be massively thrown into confusion by IA, NH, SC, and NV — and then CA. I stopped using three-day averages because, this close to the first balloting, day to day fluctuations are important:

And the numbers:

We also have two new polls from Iowa:

And the numbers:

If I were Sanders, I’d assume skulduggery awaits, and I would want a much larger margin.

And from NH:

The numbers:

Warren’s neighbors don’t seem to think that highly of her.

Summary: The Biden juggernaut rolls on, but Sanders has pulled even. Warren is in trouble (meaning her smear of Sanders did not work). Needless to say — though of course IA, NH, SC, and MV are each different — this is a good place for Sanders to be. It’s hard to believe this was the DNC’s desired result.

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

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

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Biden (D)(1): “Kamala Harris reportedly mulling Biden endorsement amid vice president speculation” [The Independent]. “Kamala Harris is reportedly weighing a potential endorsement of Joe Biden, as rumours swirl that she might be considered to become his running mate. The reports that Ms Harris is considering such an endorsement comes just under two months after she ended her own 2020 presidential run, and with a little over a week to the Iowa caucuses next month. The endorsement would make the California senator the sixth US senator to endorse Mr Biden, who leads the current field of democratic hopefuls in the so-called “endorsement primary”. Endorsements are often seen as major victories for candidates, showing institutional support from fellow candidates with connection to various different voting blocks, though Mr Biden’s middling lead in polls of early states shows endorsements are far cries from being silver bullets.”

UPDATE Klobuchar (D)(1): “Amy Klobuchar: Bernie Sanders shouldn’t ‘be leading the ticket'” [Axios]. “What they’re saying: “I think Senator Sanders’ idea of kicking 149 million Americans off their current health insurance in four years is wrong. That’s why I don’t think he should be leading the ticket. I think I should be leading the ticket because my ideas are much more in sync with bold ways of getting things done,” Klobuchar argued.” • Why stop at merely verbal assaults? Here, let me help you:

Sanders (D)(1): “Listen to Ep. 24: On The Road In Iowa City (feat. Phillip Agnew, Stacey Walker & Mike Posner)” (podcast) [Micheal Moore, Rumble]. • I don’t mean to be constantly stanning for Sanders, but watching his campaign — so far! — feels to me like watching the emergence of a new star to an astronomer must feel, or perhaps a biologist the emergence of a new species. This podcast has a collection of new voices — that is, new to me — that sound very unlike any I have heard before (though longer-term podcast listeners will doubtless correct me).

Sanders (D)(2): “It’s Good That Joe Rogan Endorsed Bernie. Now We Have to Organize.” [Jacobin]. “In reality, [Rogan’s] about where many persuadable Americans are, which is to say that while he doesn’t think about politics all the time, he likes and dislikes some individual politicians, he has kneejerk reactionary positions on some issues, and he finds egalitarian proposals for universal programs deeply appealing.” • Elizabeth Bruenig comments:

That’s a pretty acid comment from Bruenig, who is normally very level-headed and mild. Conflict at the office?

Sanders (D)(3): “Stealing California from Bernie — again? Palast with KPFA’s Sabrina Jacobs” [Greg Palast]. “My dear Californians, I know you filled out that registration form at the DMV. Well, you know what? I’ll bet you that your name is not going to be there because there’s a 45% chance in California when you sign up to register to vote on a piece of paper, your name is never entered on the voter rolls. Guess what? California has one of the worst voting systems in the entire nation. My dear Californians, I know you filled out that registration form at the DMV. Well, you know what? I’ll bet you that your name is not going to be there because there’s a 45% chance in California when you sign up to register to vote on a piece of paper, your name is never entered on the voter rolls. Guess what? California has one of the worst voting systems in the entire nation.” • The liberal Democrats control the ballot like a street gang controls a corner.

Sanders (D)(4): “Bernie Can’t Win” [David Frum, The Atlantic]. “Bernie Sanders is a fragile candidate. He has never fought a race in which he had to face serious personal scrutiny. None of his Democratic rivals is subjecting him to such scrutiny in 2020. Hillary Clinton refrained from scrutinizing Sanders in 2016. It did not happen, either, in his many races in Vermont. A Politico profile in 2015 by Michael Kruse argued that Sanders had benefited from ‘an unwritten compact between Sanders, his supporters, and local reporters who have steered clear’ of writing about Sanders’s personal history “rather than risk lectures about the twisted priorities of the press.’ The Trump campaign will not steer clear. It will hit him with everything it’s got. It will depict him as a Communist in the grip of twisted sexual fantasies, a useless career politician who oversaw a culture of sexual harassment in his 2016 campaign. Through 2019, Donald Trump and his proxies hailed Sanders as a true voice of the people, thwarted by the evil machinations of the Hillary Clinton machine. They will not pause for a minute before pivoting in 2020 to attack him as a seething stew of toxic masculinity whose vicious online followers martyred the Democratic Party’s first female presidential nominee.” • A classic of the genre, where Frum empties the dumpster while pretending to warn us of what Republicans will dump. (Frum’s no dummy, despite being George W. Bush’s speechwriter and the inventor of the hardy perennial, “axis of evil,” which proved so catastrophically center to America’s imperial design. A few points. First, the question is not whether Sanders is “fragile” in the abstract, but whether Sanders is more fragile than Clinton, who — as Frum and his new-found liberal Democrat friends will be the first to tell you — won election 2016. I think Sanders is less fragile than Clinton, for the simple reason that he’s not already hated by a large percentage of the population. Second, a campaign that can raise four million in two days over Warren’s smear is not fragile. Third, Sanders is not naive, and — although we will be more sure after IA and NH — his campaign had seemed sure-footed. It seems highly unlikely to me that the Sanders campaign has not gamed out Trump’s tactics. They might even go on the offense and strike first. And may the best Borscht Belt comedian win.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(5): “Exclusive Polling: Iowa Youth Poised for Historic Caucus Turnout” [Tufts Now]. “More than a third (35%) of young Iowans (ages 18-29) surveyed say they are “extremely likely” to caucus on Feb. 3, 2020, which, if the survey results mirror actual participation, would represent a three-fold increase over estimated youth participation in the 2016 caucuses. Young Iowans who are registered or identify as Democrats are supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders by a substantial margin: 39% intend to caucus for Sanders, followed by 19% for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 14% for former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 9% for entrepreneur Andrew Yang, and 7% for former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.” • Big if true.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(6): “The DNC is Getting Ready For a Contested Convention, and So Should Bernie’s Base.” [Medium]. “Everything depends on Bernie getting fifty one percent of the delegates beforehand, and it is up to his base to turn out in record numbers to make sure that happens.” • More than 51%. Expect shenanagains.

UPDATE Warren (D)(1): “Warren camp warns of ‘breathless media narratives’ out of Iowa” [Politico]. • Either Big Structural Bailey is deflating, or Warren is decreasing expectations. Impossible to tell, and soon we’ll know.

UPDATE Warren (D)(2):

Rewriting rewritten (and rewritten) history….

Yang (D)(1): “Yang qualifies for New Hampshire primary debate” [Politico]. “Yang is the seventh candidate to qualify for the debate — which will be hosted by ABC News, WMUR-TV and Apple News — joining Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren, according to POLITICO’s tracking of public polling and donor data. To qualify, candidates need to hit 5 percent in four polls approved by the Democratic National Committee (or 7 percent in two polls in New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina) and receive donations from at least 225,000 individuals. Alternatively, candidates can automatically qualify by winning at least one pledged delegate to the Democratic convention out of the Iowa caucuses.”

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UPDATE IA: “Democrats’ Iowa Caucus Voting App Stirs Security Concerns” [Wall Street Journal]. “Democrats will record the votes from the Iowa presidential caucuses in just over a week using a smartphone app, a procedure that has stirred questions about security. Party leaders said that the mobile app would make it easier and faster to report results from some 1,700 caucus sites. But critics expressed concern about the reliability of the app amid warnings that cyber adversaries could seek to disrupt the 2020 elections. Douglas Jones, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, who has studied election security, called the idea a ‘security nightmare,’ and said that cellphones were difficult to protect against the range of possible threats. The caucus workers will use the app on their personal smartphones, which Mr. Jones said could be vulnerable, depending on how well the workers take care of their devices.” • Jesus Christ. More: “The DNC says the state party has worked with it on security measures…” • Are you sh*tting me? “…along with the Department of Homeland Security and experts from Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.” • Oh, that’s alright then. Who wrote the software? CrowdStrike? And can we please stop with “cyber adversaries” crapola? It’s domestic actors that are the problem!

UPDATE IA “Iowa caucus app sparks election security concerns” [NBC]. “The app will be used in the key caucus states of Iowa and Nevada by caucus managers — local registered Democrats who sign up to organize and run the process in each precinct — to expedite the process, calculate and assign delegates and report results back quickly. The app will also be used in satellite voting locations across the country. But questions about the app remain unanswered, including who developed it and whether it has been subjected to independent security testing.” • HOLY LORD. WE DON’T KNOW WHO DEVELOPED THE APP? More: “It’s not clear how many of the 1,679 precinct leaders will opt to use the app, but it is the ‘preferred’ method for managers to report results, according to the caucus manager handbook.” • Fix the handbook immediately. More: “Among the security procedures put in place for 2020, caucusgoers will also receive a physical, numbered presidential preference card to record their choice, which will be delivered to the Iowa Democratic Party through an established chain of custody.” • In other words, exactly like Bolivia, where discrepancies between the more rapid (and hackable) electronic recording and the slower (and accurate) paper-based recording were used to discredit the election. So, a good architecture or a bad one, depending on your point of view.

UPDATE CA “State OKs LA County’s New Voting Machines — With A Whole Lot Of Caveats” [LAist]. “On Friday, Secretary of State Alex Padilla granted conditional certification to the Voting Solutions for All People 2.0 system, including new ‘ballot marking devices’ that the county designed and built from the ground up. It’s making history as the first publicly owned voting system in the U.S. to be certified for widespread use. But the county must meet a stack of requirements before primary election voters get their hands on the machines starting Feb. 22. ‘Elections officials have a duty to make voting both as secure and as accessible as possible,’ Padilla said in a press release. ‘As part of my certification of VSAP, I am insisting on some essential modifications to the system and requiring on-going reports from Los Angeles County so that we can continue to improve the voting experience for Angelenos.’ The headline? In a reversal of the county’s plans, voters must be given the option to hand-mark paper ballots at new voting centers. (You can find the one closest to you here.) The mandate flies in the face of L.A.’s 10-year goal: to create a fully accessible voting experience where everyone, regardless of physical limitations or language abilities, votes the same way.” • Great. Two big primaries, IA and CA, are using voting machinery that permits — nay, encourages — election fraud. What could go wrong? More on LA’s VSAP debacle at NC here.

UPDATE “How The Democratic Candidates’ Popularity Has Changed Over A Year Of Campaigning” [FiveThirtyEight]. “Three candidates — Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden — are roughly tied for the distinction of being the best-liked Democrat in the field. About 70 percent of Democrats view each of them favorably, and about 20 percent view each of them unfavorably, giving them each a net favorability rating (favorable rating minus unfavorable rating) of around +50 points. What’s more, these three have been the most popular candidates in the field all cycle — Biden had the highest net favorability rating at the beginning of last year, while Warren pulled into the top spot in August…. [Warren] has flatlined a bit in recent months (her net favorability is down 5 points since August), corresponding with her plateau and drop-off in horse-race polls…. [Biden’s] net favorability rating has dropped by a whopping 22 points. The fact that it’s still so positive now is a testament to how absurdly high (+69) it was a year ago… Finally, Sanders’s popularity has been extremely consistent — too consistent, in fact, to bother plotting on an animated chart! All cycle long, almost all voters have had an opinion of him, and his net favorability has hovered between +50 and +52, reflecting how baked-in his support seems to be.”

Impeachment

The dogs won’t eat the dog food:

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“Title, release date revealed for Bolton memoir” [The Hill]. “Former national security adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming memoir is titled “The Room Where It Happened” and is scheduled to be released March 17, according to a posting for the book that went live Sunday night… A summary of the book posted on its Amazon page describes it as a ‘substantive and factual account of [Bolton’s] time in the room where it happened’ during his 519 days as Trump’s national security adviser. … The New York Times reported Sunday evening that Bolton writes in the manuscript of “The Room Where It Happened” about an August meeting with Trump in which the president said he wanted to continue a freeze on nearly $400 million in security aid for Ukraine until the government there agreed to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and other Democrats. The revelation in the book directly contradicts the White House’s insistence that the president did not explicitly connect the security aid and investigations… Bolton’s book has already triggered renewed calls from Democrats for him to testify.” • All the more curious, then, that Pelosi did not subpoena Bolton for what we laughingly call the House “investigation.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE Big ups to Tom Perez:

UPDATE “The establishment scam of ‘unity'” [The Hill]. “Think about it. Where do we hear calls for unity in politics? The term has been thrown around regularly during the current Democratic primary and was pervasive too during the 2016 election… Unity consists of, preferably, not running in the first place, but if you must run, the race must be kept solely focused on personality. Never the issues. Never the votes. Certainly never the identity of which individuals and corporations these candidates depend on to fund their campaigns.” • It’s odd that the only form of identity politics liberal Democrats don’t play is the identity of their donor class.

Stats Watch

Debt: “What the new FICO credit score reveals about the precarious state of Americans’ finances” [MarketWatch]. “Fair Isaac Corp. (FICO) FICO, -1.03% is changing how it calculates credit scores, and the new criteria reveal some of the trouble spots in Americans’ financial health… Previous FICO score models were not anchored as much to personal loan data, yet since 2015 the number of personal loans has risen 42%, making personal loans the fastest-growing category of debt in the country. Currently, there is upwards of $156 billion in outstanding personal loan debt…. With a greater emphasis on personal loans under the new FICO scoring system, consumers may be more likely to take out home equity loans to pay off their debt, Jeffrey Taylor, co-founder and managing director at Digital Risk said. Home-equity loans come with their own risks, however. Missing missing payments on home-equity loans can lead eventually to a foreclosure.” • Oh.

The Bezzle: “Infosys could face fresh regulatory probe after whistleblower complaints” [Nikkei Asian Review]. “The troubles dogging Infosys seem to remain unabated after new reports surfaced that India’s stock market regulator opened a deeper probe into whistleblower allegations against the nation’s second-largest software exporter.” • “Software exporter” as opposed to “offshore body shop.”

The Bezzle: “Barons of Crap” (review_ [The Baffler]. “[Lawrence] Ingrassia, a former business editor at the New York Times, presents the pulse-deadening chronicle of a group of millennial businesspeople who managed to squeeze their way into the top echelons of the monied classes, all while leaving the lives of consumers almost completely unchanged or worse off than before.” • A pleasingly dyspeptic review, well worth a read. See two examples immediately below.

The Bezzle: “Casper Will Go Public, Offering the Latest New and Exciting Way to Lose Money” [New York Magazine]. “Don’t call Casper a mattress company. Casper, which filed paperwork to go public on Friday, says it is ‘a pioneer of the Sleep Economy.’… So basically, they intend to be the Apple of sleep. Casper will be the trusted name for helping you sleep better; customers will be willing to pay a premium for Casper; Casper will make big profits. Unfortunately for Casper, that does not actually seem to be happening.”

The Bezzle: Account is Pim Techamuanvivit. chef/owner @Nari_SF, @Kamin_SFO, and @KinKhao in San Francisco, executive chef @ Michelin-starred Nahm in Bangkok. Thank you, Silicon Valley:

Whoever thought that interposing rent-seeking middlepersons between restaurateur and customer would be anything other than “innovative” and “disruptive”?

Mr. Market: “Hedge Funds Not Led by White Men Outperform Nearly 2 to 1” [Bloomberg]. “Hedge funds either controlled or managed by a minority or female leader had a return of about 6.6% over the past three years, compared to about 3.9% for their peers, the analysis of Bloomberg’s hedge fund database found…. Macro funds, which invest in broad, global trends, had the biggest disparity. During the past five years, the funds not managed by white men outpaced their peers by about 41%, the data showed.”

Mr. Market: “Global stock markets roiled as China’s coronavirus spreads” [CNBC]. “Investors worldwide have been spooked by the rapid spread of the Chinese coronavirus, with stock markets around the globe sharply lower on Monday…. The flight from risk comes amid concerns about a possible economic fallout from the virus, with experts recalling the impact of the SARS crisis in 2003. At a press conference on Sunday, China’s top health official said the virus’s transmission ability is strengthening.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 49 Neutral (previous close: 62 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 89 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 27 at 12:28pm. Even bigger swing down!

Rapture Index: Closes up one on earthquakes. “Turkey is hit by a massive quake” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. 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 successfully impeached as well.

The Biosphere

“The race to decipher how climate change influenced Australia’s record fires” [Nature]. “So far, the conflagrations have killed at least 32 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes across 3 states. Through it all, people have been asking [Sophie Lewis, a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra]: did climate change have a role in these catastrophic fires? Lewis and a handful of her collaborators were busy discussing that very question. They work in a small but growing field called attribution science, which calculates the likelihood that an extreme event such as a heatwave, a flood or a catastrophic bush-fire season was made worse by climate change. In a study published last December1, Lewis and her colleagues linked catastrophic 2018 fires in northeastern Australia to climate change, and they are now planning an attribution study for the fires that have gripped large parts of the country over the past few months (see ‘A country aflame’).”

“Names and Locations of the Top 100 People Killing the Planet” [The Decolonial Atlas]. • See the original for the full-sized map. It’s of oil executives, though, not squillionaires, most of whom are not easy to locate:

“Speedy horses evolved only recently, says landmark equine study” [National Geographic]. “An intensification of speed occurring around 200 years ago is due to breeders using only a small number of stallions, he adds. Though horses are quicker, this highly choosy breeding phenomenon has reduced genetic diversity between 14 and 16 percent, says study leader Antoine Fages, a molecular biologist also at the French research center.”

“Use ‘Roadside Wildflowers at Full Speed’ to Identify Plants Without Leaving Your Car” [Colossal]. “‘A Field Guide to Roadside Wildflowers at Full Speed,’ which is available for free download, is a satirical take on the classic handbook that describes the plant, says when it’s in bloom, and gives a hint about where to find it. For Helzer’s project, though, each habitat is listed as “roadsides” and similar flowers tend to include descriptions like ‘anything yellow.’ The photographs identifying each species are blurred to “appear as they actually look when you see them from the road.'” • This actually sounds like an interesting project. I like blur.

Health Care

“The answer to America’s health care cost problem might be in Maryland” [Vox]. “Maryland is the site of two big experiments in containing health care costs. The first: Since the 1970s, the state has set the prices hospitals can charge for medical care, known as all-payer rate setting. The second experiment: Since 2014, it’s also capped how much health spending can grow overall, including how much revenue each hospital can take in…. Maryland has become a model for other states. Pennsylvania, for instance, has started experimenting with a small-scale version of the global budget system to keep rural hospitals afloat. But there are still problems with its model: On its own, the system hasn’t shown insurance premiums dropping, employers can still push more costs onto workers, and drug companies are increasing prices rapidly. Perhaps more important, adopting Maryland’s model nationally won’t directly extend health coverage to the almost 27 million uninsured Americans. Still, any attempt to expand health care coverage in America — whether through Medicare-for-all or a more robust public option — will have to confront the issue of cost.” • Part of a series from Vox.

“Universal Health Care, the South African Way” [Bloomberg]. “This is South Africa, where the inequities have for years been an exaggerated version of those in the U.S. The African National Congress party, which has led the country for more than 25 years and holds 58% of seats in Parliament, has committed to enacting universal health insurance, outlining the framework in a draft law published in August. Significant questions remain, including which drugs and services will be covered and how the whole thing will be financed. But with the country’s biggest labor group behind it, the bill’s fate is clear: South Africa will soon join the majority of the developed world in providing some form of nationalized health care. The grand experiment is a more mature version of the health-care debate in the U.S.” • “More mature….”

Water

“‘No fish’: How dams and climate change are choking Asia’s great lake” [Los Angeles Times]. “Across the Tonle Sap, a vast shallow lake in the heart of this Southeast Asian nation, fishermen are experiencing the least productive season in memory. Years of dam-building and droughts intensified by climate change have upset one of the world’s richest freshwater fisheries, carrying potentially severe consequences for millions who rely on the lake for survival. Fishermen say they are capturing only 10% to 20% of their usual haul, and that the catches are smaller than in past years. Upstream, the waterways that feed the lake recently turned from their familiar caramel hue — rich with nutrients that sustain hundreds of species — to an unsettlingly clear aquamarine due to what experts called ‘extremely low flows.’ Normally, at the start of the year, the banks of the lake are piled high with thousands of tons of silvery, finger-length mud carp, which are mixed with salt to make prahok, a pungent, fermented paste that is an important source of protein in the Cambodian diet. By some estimates, three-quarters of the protein that Cambodia’s 16 million people eat comes from the lake. But the catches were drying up by mid-January, weeks earlier than usual. The price of prahok in nearby markets has doubled to about $3 per pound. That is a substantial increase in a country where the average household has about $200 a month to spend on food.”

Our Famously Free Press

“The Covington Kids’ Revenge, One Year Later” [The American Conservative]. “You remember about a year ago, when Sandmann and his Catholic school classmates traveled to Washington, D.C., to join the annual March for Life rally on Capitol Hill. Sandmann was photographed smiling at a Native American. With one mighty flatulent blast, outlets like CNN imagined Sandmann, wearing his MAGA cap, as the distillation of everything evil, some redneck from Kentucky a-protestin’ them abortions and rubbing his smug grin in the face of a noble Native American supposedly trying to defuse a tense situation. …. Most agenda journalism victims are expected to disappear in shame. But this time it was different. Sandmann sued a range of journalists, including Maggie Haberman, Ana Navarro, and Shaun King, for slurs they threw at him on Twitter. Included in the swath of additional lawsuits by Sandmann were CNN, MSNBC’s parent company, the AP, Gannett, HuffPo, Slate, and The Washington Post. In the words of the suit, they “brought down the full force of corporate power, influence, and wealth on Nicholas by falsely attacking, vilifying, and bullying him despite the fact that he was a minor child.” Sandmann beat CNN (the other suits are pending), which settled and paid rather than risk a trial. Assuming credibility and self-respect are worth about zero, we now know that the price tag for the agenda journalism CNN practices is reportedly $25 million.” • Read, however, the Above the Law post cited to for the “rumored” (not “reportedly”) $25 million, for a decidedly less triumphalist take.

Screening Room

This is a very long and very hilarious live thread on what seems to be a very gay Chinese horse opera:

Department of Feline Felicity

Let’s do the time warp again:

CATS seems to be taking on an underground life of its own…

Guillotine Watch

“Peter Thiel’s Latest Venture Is the American Government” [New York Magazine]. “Thiel’s increasing prominence as both an intellectual in and benefactor of the conservative movement — and his status as a legend in Silicon Valley — makes him at least as important as more public tech CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg. In fact, he still holds sway over Zuckerberg: Recent reports suggest Thiel was the most influential voice in Facebook’s decision to allow politicians to lie in ads on its platform. What Thiel believes now is likely to influence the next generation of conservative and libertarian thinkers — if not what the president believes the next day. How to square Thiel’s post-national techno-libertarianism with his bloodthirsty authoritarian nationalism? Strangely, he wants both. Today’s Thielism is a libertarianism with an abstract commitment to personal freedom but no particular affection for democracy — or even for “politics” as a process by which people might make collective decisions about the distribution of power and resources. Thiel has wed himself to state power not in an effort to participate in the political process but as an end run around it.”

Class Warfare

News of the Wired

“Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village” [CrimeReads]. “In English villages, vats only exist for drowning people—in beer, in pickling brine, in whiskey, in jam. This is doubly true if the vat was built by 14th century monks. If anyone offers to show you a vat, say you need to get something from your car, then start the engine and run them over. The police understand this sort of thing. Tell them about the vat.” • News you can use!

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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 (IM):

IM writes: “Gulf island coastline.”

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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.

148 comments

  1. Mark Gisleson

    “If I were Sanders, I’d assume skulduggery awaits, and I would want a much larger margin.”

    Just my take, but I think Bernie’s been sandbagging the polls. There is no stronger narrative than a long-shot winning the Kentucky Derby (IA). I have to suspect Bernie’s campaign code names for NH and NV are Preakness and BelmontStakes.

    Reply
  2. petal

    hahaha Love the quaint English village murder article! Midsomer Murders is one of my favourites! So fun. I discovered it late and now can’t get enough of it.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      In a similar vein, Brokenwood out of New Zealand and including some vat murders. Other darker fare in non-urban settings: Hinterland and Shetland. Vera is also quite good. I like that they feature the various regional landscapes, local ambiance, and characters almost as quirky, but in a more serious way, as those in Doc Martin.

      Reply
    2. Clive

      I wonder all too often how much longer I will survive given the seemingly sky-high murder rate of the English provincial small towns and villages!

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      1. NotReallyHere

        @Clive
        +1. It can only be a matter of time before somebody sends in a UN peacekeeping force.

        I imagine an even greater risk to life is the scrum of production crews that must descend on these villages on the rare sunny days of a typical English summer.

        Having said that, I enjoy Vera.

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      2. petal

        Well, when the day comes that I watch an episode of MM and someone named Clive comes to an unfortunate end, then I’ll know what happened to you….You must be pretty wily to have made it this far. And like the article said, stick with dogs!

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      3. The Rev Kev

        It’s no better elsewhere, Clive. In the movie “Name of the Rose” set in an Italian monastery, the first murder was a monk who ended up head first in a – wait for it – a vat full of blood!

        And “Hot Fuzz” wasn’t a comedy/action film of life in a small village but a documentary-

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ESBWMpTAss

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    3. marieann

      My favourite also…..and I did wonder why people keep living there.

      I was speaking to my brother in law (in Scotland) about the Shetland TV shows and how there was so many murders in such a small group of islands.
      He says “Och they’re all English folk…they don’t count”

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    4. skk

      and lets include the Scottish highlands ( “One of Us” ), decaying past-it seaside resorts ( The Bay, BroadChurch, Foyle’s War ( when Hastings based) ), anywhere in London where Japanese hang out ( the amazing Giri / Haji ).
      I’m surprised I survived Berkshire ( Midsomer Murders), I was there for 10 years.
      And of course avoid the Cotswolds / Oxford ( Morse, then Lewis and the retro-Endeavor ).

      Reply
  3. notabanktoadie

    Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. Lambert

    Actually, doing good is a good thing and doing bad is a bad thing. Any serious reader of the Bible should know that.

    But if your point is that many so-called “Christians” don’t read the (entire) Bible then, yes that does appear to be the case.

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  4. Carolinian

    Dems seem very excited about the latest from noted truth teller and would be best selling author Bolton.

    No doubt Nikki Haley will get in the act next.

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    1. clarky90

      When I was a young, naive hippie, bribes were “cash money”; typically delivered in a plain, brown, (occult) envelope. A few thousand dollars would buy a lot of “consideration” back then.

      Fast forward to 2020 and bribes arrive as “book deals”, “speaking engagements”, “seats on boards”…… A brilliant innovation, imo! One would need a pickup truck, with the hundred dollar bills stacked in banana boxes to make up the millions required to grease a few wheels in this exciting New World….

      What clever brainiacs!

      Reply
    2. anon in so cal

      Colonel Vindeman’s twin brother may have leaked details? He is in charge of reviewing publications by former NSC staffers and reviewed Bolton’s book…..

      Reply
  5. John k

    Harris as Biden’s vp… if this happens and they win its another case of this awful candidate once again falling upstairs.
    She’s another Hillary… so hard to imagine them winning, many progressives no longer accept lesser evil. And hardly lesser, anyway.
    Anxious to see the extent, if any, of polls under estimating Bernie’s support.

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    1. Monty

      “if this happens and they win” A herd of flying pigs land on a frozen lake in Hell and do an ice dance to celebrate!

      Reply
  6. aj

    RE: Hedge Funds Not Led by White Men Outperform Nearly 2 to 1

    The hedge funds average returns over the past 3 years were A) women/minorities = 6.6%, and B) control group = 3.9%.

    For comparison, the S&P 500 was $2,239 on Dec 31st 2016 and $3,240 on Dec 31st 2019. That’s a CAGR of 13%. So women/minorities only under-performed by 50% instead of 30%. Good for them.

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  7. Grant

    “If I were Sanders, I’d assume skulduggery awaits, and I would want a much larger margin.”

    In Iowa, I am not very concerned. I think he will do well, better than the polls are showing, and it is a caucus. Iowa is really important in that regard, because if the polls are shown to understate his support, they have less value in regards to rigging and propaganda. California, however, will do all it can to ruin the democratic process. The person most responsible for doing so in California last time was just named by Perez to the convention committee, and he has been up to horrible stuff again this time around. People were thrown off the rolls, and the state has placed it on them to find out if they were thrown off and to then fix what the state did.

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    1. maps

      When I voted for Sanders from Humboldt County, California in the primaries last time round, my ballot was discounted because “my signatures didn’t match”, convenient, that

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    2. Amfortas the hippie

      seems like i remember numerous breathless hysterics on Kos, alternet, etc about that same kind of thing, back in the day, when the evil repubs were doing it.

      Reply
  8. Pat

    Rahm’s brother is out there stomping on the notion that the ACA has left a whole lot of people without healthcare.

    https://www.politico.com/news/agenda/2020/01/27/obamacares-secret-success-103589

    Their focus is the uninsured and how “few” there were before Trump.started interfering. The percentages sound good until you start considering how fragile some of the things they your are (states supplementing subsidies and yes the Medicaid expansion.) Not to mention all the data out there about how vast the numbers are for underinsured and the growing numbers for not seeking care despite having insurance because of the cost.

    In other words, they happily confuse insurance with healthcare and even cherry pick their data on the insurance. At least Zeke doesn’t resort to expletives while saying we should shut up.

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    1. Oregoncharles

      I was canvassing for universal health care the other day (Oregon is actually working on, but now there’s a task force to deal with), on my own street, and ran into a remarkable pair of stories – right next door to each other. The first was the saddest: a woman with heart disease with no insurance, because her employer, a law office, fired her as soon as she got out of the hospital (under insurance company pressure, I suspect). The other was just the opposite: healthy and could afford insurance, but Obamacare drove her crazy. Not only did she have to re-shop every year, but it was always uncertain whether they qualified and they kept having to change doctors. So now they’re on a private plan that isn’t expensive ($330/month!) but she has no idea exactly what it covers – and neither did the doctor I was working with. It’s primarily a reimbursement plan, which I believe Yves said she had. Awkward if the bill is more than you have, I’d think.

      So the two stories illustrated both ends of the dilemma, as well as how bad Obamacare really was – and Oregon was an enthusiastic partner for it.

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    1. Darthbobber

      The Drum piece: He blathers about Clintonites and the current Dem crop not confronting Sanders’ allegedly awful record, but all the dreck he brings up I’ve seen numerous times between late 2015 and now. Because the very folks he says gave Sanders a pass were tossing it for all it was worth, which turned out not to be much. How bullets that have been bouncing off for nigh on half a decade will suddenly become unfailingly lethal because Trump, is not entirely clear.

      It continues to amuse to see the recipient of a relentless years-long campaign of character assassination described as somehow unvetted.

      I’ll pass on dismissing his claim about Trump and surrogates pimping for Sanders thus far. I haven’t seen anything resembling what he sees, but maybe I lack the right glasses.

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        1. John Wright

          I found this earlier op-ed of Frum particularly egregious.

          https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/01/subpoena-trump-putin-helsinki-interpreter/580267/

          Implementing this “subpoena the interpreter” suggestion of Frum’s would put all future Presidents on notice that they could not have a private conversation with a foreign leader (with the exception of english speaking foreign leaders).

          Given that any off the record agreements between Putin and Trump would have to be backed up by subsequent public actions, Frum and his media cohorts should be extra vigilant when they see Trump’s subsequent actions.

          The resultant Presidential actions should be the concern of a skeptical journalist/editorial writer, not what might have been said in a private conversation.

          Frum already had an epic fail, in my view, when he supported the Iraq War.

          That Frum has a media voice at all is evidence of the rot in the American political and media establishment.

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        2. dcblogger

          everyone I talk to among my fellow Bernie volunteers it is assumed that as soon as Bernie starts racking up some wins the entire kleptocracy, not just the Republicans, will go absolutely insane. Everybody seems to think that the only way to answer that is to stay focused and keep organizing. Our elite greatly underestimate the appeal of single payer healthcare.

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          1. katiebird

            And the power of finally having a candidate who is totally committed to delivering it. Someone asked how Sanders thought he could do that. And he said that he will rally support. I like that idea.

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            1. dcblogger

              can you imagine, he will send out an email to everyone asking us to go to the district office of our Representative and/or Senator and politely ask them to support Medicare for All and every office will have 2000 people the next day. The kleptocracy has no idea what it is up against.

              Reply
  9. GramSci

    Re: Dog Food.

    +100

    “In a focus group of Democratic voters, ‘impeachment didn’t even come up.” A kangaroo kourt in a Potomacan Village. All the principals are trying to figure out how to get the show into syndication. Dog food.

    Reply
  10. Lambert Strether Post author

    I added some UPDATEs. Please refresh your browsers. Check especially, at “IA UPDATE,” the horrid information about Iowa’s caucus app. Hard to believe the technically aware Sanders campaign is unaware of the issue, but it’s possible they’re too trusting of party regulars. (“They would never do that.” Yes, they would, and have.)

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    1. JohnnyGL

      The idea that they can just roll out a software application like that with zero oversight is just breathtaking.

      Jeff Bezos, of all people, just had his phone hacked the other day, are we supposed to act like this isn’t a problem?

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      1. Amfortas the hippie

        this is one of the possible back doors to be used to rig the primary.
        so…nothing to see, here, Citizen.
        what’s the downside of photographing one’s ballot in these circumstances?
        i mean, aside from the potential illegality?(I have yet to check texas law on this…running in circles due to wife’s chemo and the golden opportunity of a gigantic pile of well rotted horse$hit and old hay(prolly 10 tons, easy…i’ve not the wherewithal to get it all, sadly)

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    2. anonymous

      It is plausible that there could be a delay in getting final results of the IA caucuses, if any irregularities are found in the numbers sent to the state party by the app, but I do not think we need to worry about the final outcome’s being inaccurate because of the app. The app is being used to make the math and reporting easy for the caucus chair and to speed the reporting of the result. The Bernie campaign is using its own similar app for caucus volunteers to report to the campaign. 
      – For the first time, there will be numbered, written preferential preference cards that will be retained and can be recounted. 
      – Every competitive campaign will have its own volunteers and staff at the caucuses to check the counts and delegate math. 
      – The paper reporting form from each precinct that will be submitted to the Iowa Democratic Party requires the signatures of the representatives of the candidates. One copy of the form gets sent to the IDP, one goes to the county chair, one is retained by the permanent chair, and one is retained by the temporary caucus chair. The form includes the formulas for viability and for delegate allocation, so there should be no confusion about the calculations. 
      – For the first time, the IDP will be reporting the raw counts for the first and second alignments, rather than just reporting the delegate counts.
      So, all the campaigns will be tracking their own counts; the completion of the forms requires the agreement and signatures of the representatives of candidates; the new reporting of the actual vote will make it easy to see whether the app has changed the count, as an altered count would no longer agree with the paper report and the counts held by the various campaigns; and there will be a paper trail in multiple places, with preference cards, as well as copies of the reporting form in different offices and held by different individuals. They won’t all get misplaced unless there is Epstein-level failure.

      I do think that the Iowa Democratic Party has made significant improvements in the caucuses. One change that I first saw reported this weekend (I don’t know when it was actually decided) will be that the final state delegate count will be determined by the precinct caucuses, regardless of whether delegates selected at the precinct level can make it to the county level vote and so on. (In the past, a candidate could lose delegates if his representatives failed to be present for the convention level votes.) So, from the precinct level voting, we should know the final state delegate count, with no changes along the way as the county and district conventions progress.

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      1. Carey

        [arms firmly folded across chest] We’ll see.

        And in CA news, on calling my clerk-recorder’s office, I was told today
        that mail-in ballots will be “going out starting Feb 3 [for March 3 Primary].
        Prediction: more “irregularities” like with the 2016 Primary, where my
        ballot 1) first did not arrive, then 2) arrived with an incorrect party affiliation,
        then 3) finally arrived just in time (supposedly) and “recorded”. Mmm.

        Stay tuned… taking notes, and photos of mailed-in materials..

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        1. katiebird

          I know someone from California who got her ballot on Saturday. She posted a photo of the lineup. Her ballot has Billionaires at the top and Sanders at the bottom. She was very relieved to learn that the order changes from district to district.

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          1. Carey

            Thanks for this info. Odd that we’ll have less than a month from mailing-time™ to election day (even assuming one’s ballot arrives, and
            with no information “mistakes” that require requesting a new one.

            Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > So, all the campaigns will be tracking their own counts; the completion of the forms requires the agreement and signatures of the representatives of candidates; the new reporting of the actual vote will make it easy to see whether the app has changed the count, as an altered count would no longer agree with the paper report and the counts held by the various campaigns; and there will be a paper trail in multiple places, with preference cards, as well as copies of the reporting form in different offices and held by different individuals. They won’t all get misplaced unless there is Epstein-level failure.

        Epstein-level failure is, it seems to me, something we have expertise in creating.

        It seems to me that there the safeguards create an overly-complex system, itself prone to error. If the price of convenience is any doubt about the outcome, that price is too high. An ambiguous result is fully as damaging as outright theft, if one candidate needs an outright win. As in Bolivia, it’s a lousy architecture (at least if the requirement is to produce a result that’s proof against delegitimation.)

        And that the software was not commissioned by a neutral party, was programmed by an unknown vendor, and was subject to unknown security checks — these are all enormous red flags.

        Reply
  11. Otis B Driftwood

    An excellent companion to the Michael Moore episode of Rumble is a new Useful Idiots podcast with Dennis Kucinich.

    Kucinich is an exceptional man and this interview with him is one of the best. In the early part of this century, he was one of the few people fighting for universal health care, workers rights and ending war. Remember how he was widely ridiculed in the main stream media for his Peace Department idea? This is also the man who was very nearly assassinated by the mob during his fight to save the Cleveland electric system from corporate greed. He is an American hero by any definition.

    Listen to the UI podcast and then the Moore podcast (as I did today) and you will come away with a keen sense of just how long these issues have been percolating in our country and why the changes in our media landscape have worked to finally and at long last give them the popular support they deserve.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      A twist on the DCCC fundraising/opinion poll letters. The letters prominently feature “easy, convenient” funds transfer methods. (Yes! We take credit cards!) The online link looks designed to hoover up names and contact points for various and sundry shillduggeries later. The DNC is just now twigging to the vast and useful tools the online address books are? Sander’s campaign saw the potential just about from the beginning. (A separate comment on this below.)

      Reply
  12. Good News

    I posted this in the links post this morning, but I think it belongs here as well. Supports the Tufts Now article.

    Biden’s Iowa Problem: Our Poll Suggests His Voters Aren’t the Caucusing Type

    As you said, big if true.

    Some of the more conspiratorially-minded readers in the links post were suggesting this is simply a way for our media elites to manage expectations and devalue a Sanders win. I do not think this is true. The NYT/Sienna College polling outfit is quite independent of the paper overall, and their polls are of high quality. The article is simply putting in context why their numbers (and some other v. good pollsters, like Selzer) have Bernie beating Biden in Iowa by ~5 points, while other (still reputable) pollsters have the opposite. If anything, the article is being downplayed by other mainstream outlets. Even Nate Silver, who loves having and sharing opinions on this stuff, has not mentioned the article yet, and offered a misleading alternative explanation focusing on the youth vote a couple days before (see https://twitter.com/Nate_Cohn/status/1221130512774959104). Besides, an article like this is not a very effective way to manage expectations. Most people don’t care about the technical explanations of relatively minor disparities between different polling outfits. Most people just pick the poll with numbers they like and discount the others.

    Reply
    1. Good News

      As an additional note, Biden has downplayed Iowa from the very start of his campaign.

      The media narrative has been that Iowa is important, and that it is a close race. Both these things happen to be true, and (perhaps more importantly) they are also good for ratings. That this contradicts the other “Biden as presumed nominee” narrative… well, as Walt Whitman said, we contain multitudes.

      If Bernie does win Iowa, the media will mostly focus on the youth vote, not how caucuses work. It is a simpler narrative, and easier to understand, even if it obscures some of the picture. “Caucuses are weird” is actually a better narrative if you want to contain Sanders, since caucuses are rare and not like elections. But considering that he’d probably win the NH primary immediately after it is not a very useful explanation. This isn’t to say that nobody will try it, just that it probably won’t catch on.

      Instead, those actively trying to discount Sanders will probably try talking about how white Iowa and NH are. Of course, heavily Hispanic NV is right after. Sanders will have momentum and does very well with the Hispanic vote, so again we have likely victory, once again challenging his counter-narratives. Detractors will then focus on Sander’s presumed weakness with the black vote. But the polls show black voters want a candidate who can beat Trump, and if Biden loses three states in a row, then his ability to do that will be seriously questioned. Sanders will have a hard time winning SC, but if he can keep it competitive and keep Biden under 50% with black voters, that should will put him in very good shape heading into super Tuesday.

      In other words, narratives that will end up being pushed in the media following a Sanders victory will probably benefit him overall. He has a chance to win Iowa by a decent margin, even without being the expected winner, the Biden juggernaut will be questioned by the media, the focus will be on his ability to turn out voters, and concerns about his standing in communities of color will be quelled in a useful sequence.

      And to be clear, I am not saying that Sanders is guaranteed to win Iowa, NH, or NV. What I am saying is if he wins Iowa, he will probably win NH and NV. That is one universe among many right now, and as I said before Iowa is a very close race.

      Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      What? This guy only owns three houses? And he’s been married to the same woman for, oh, decades?

      Wait, what’s that on his nightstand? It’s a pile of books. About science! He believes in science! And he keeps saying that during his rallies!

      Reply
      1. Biph

        I know Bernie doesn’t like negative ads, but after he wins the nomination (I’m gonna try the power of positive thinking here) he should use 1 and only 1 against Trump. The video of Trump introducing Jeffery Epstein, no commentary just the video.

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        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          This sounds fun, but I think in the general this is playing Trump’s game. Kerry wasn’t swift boated as much as he and the campaign wanted to set the record straight instead of simply accepting the GOP will do and say anything and keeping the focus on GOTV. “No drama, Obama.”

          There really is no point to even acknowledging Trump.

          Reply
  13. DJG

    And to show just how tricksy our current culture has become, John Bolton, the white knight of U.S. democracy, is quoting…..Hamilton the Goodthinker Musical:

    In God we trust
    But we’ll never really know what got discussed
    Click-boom then it happened
    And no one else was in the room where it happened

    Saint Ethel Merman, patroness of No Business Like Show Business, ora pro nobis. Those lyrics are pretty darn bad.

    But it does show us that Republicans (and saviors of our nation from the depredations of the Perfidious Persians) can be groovy, too.

    And here I thought the reference was to Giovanni’s Room.

    Reply
  14. farragut

    Apologies if this was posted yesterday & I missed it:

    Ex-MI6 spy ‘fabricated dossier on Trump and prostitutes’

    “The dossier on Donald Trump compiled by the former MI6 spy Christopher Steele, which accused the US president of being compromised by Russia, was a work of “fabrication”, according to a devastating report by a leading British spy writer.

    Nigel West has revealed he was hired by a US Republican law firm to assess the dossier in 2017 and concluded that large parts of it were faked.”

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ex-mi6-spy-fabricated-dossier-on-trump-and-prostitutes-wz2hr8zz7

    Reply
  15. laughingsong

    “Thiel has wed himself to state power not in an effort to participate in the political process but as an end run around it.”

    Textbook psychopathy. I am not even sure a stake or silver bullet would work on such a one. Brrrrr

    Reply
    1. Carey

      I hear you, yet surmise that articles like this are meant to frighten and cow the citizenry
      under the guise of informing us. Thiel sounds like a truly horrible person, and somehow
      the few want us to know even worse lurks..

      Reply
    1. Darthbobber

      And even this shows the trio packed together within the margin of error. Also shows Sanders at 30, Biden at 21. With the trio of potential show ticket horses all under the 15% threshold.

      Reply
  16. John A

    Bolton’s forthcoming memoir is titled “The Room Where It Happened” and is scheduled to be released March 17

    So, Guinnesses all round and leprechauns for good luck with sales?

    Reply
  17. Toshiro_Mifune

    Party leaders said that the mobile app would make it easier and faster to report results from some 1,700 caucus sites. But critics expressed concern about the reliability of the app amid warnings that…..

    They’re already laying the ground work to ignore the results if they want to.

    Reply
      1. Toshiro_Mifune

        I suspect you are correct. I also fear the reaction should some very obvious shenanigans take place to throw the nomination an approved of candidate.

        Reply
  18. farragut

    “In Senator Bernie Sanders’ native Burlington, a reporter asks Mayor Michael Bloomberg why he is the better choice for president.

    “I can attract the great, the best people. I can get them to work together… That’s what this country needs. It doesn’t need a one idea person.”

    https://twitter.com/NicoleSganga/status/1221893551874805760

    It would be interesting to ask Mike what Bernie’s ‘one idea’ happens to be….

    Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Just noting: in 2016 we were supposed to vote for a former Republican. Now in 2020 we have two of them (Warren, Bloomberg) offered up. The rest of the field (with 3 exceptions, Bernie, Tulsi, Andrew Y.) offer mainstream Republican policy positions.

          Maybe it’s time to open a new party. I know, we’ll call it “the Democratic Party”.

          Reply
          1. christofay

            The best neo-liberal minds of Wall Street dismount from their private copters chanting “Bail outs, not hand outs.” ready from day one to staff the B-berg admin.

            Reply
    1. anon in so cal

      Yes, incredibly beautiful scene. I can almost imagine an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker on one of the tree trunks.

      Reply
  19. Turing Test

    Another day, another NYT hit piece on Sanders and his supporters.

    On the one hand the establishment is clearly very, very worried, which is gratifying.

    On the other I can’t help but wonder what they won’t stop at to deny Sanders the nomination.

    Reply
    1. Spring Texan

      Yes, I’m worried they may succeed, they have no scruples, lie routinely, and propaganda often works. :-( Very worried. Paste Magazine online has a piece about this and that this week will be “Bernie Hate Week.”

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Yes. The gloves are already coming off. As I commented above, it might be a feature and not a bug of Sander’s campaign to have established a ‘parallel institution’ political ground game. Almost all the pieces are in position for either the splitting up of the old Democrat Party, with the Sanders campaign stepping in to take control of the rump, or a weakened Democrat Party splintering and Sanders ushering in a new Second Party to oppose the Republican Party.
        Interesting times indeed.

        Reply
  20. Mark Gisleson

    re: the Caucus app

    Only damage DNC or other bad actors can do is to distort the initial MONDAY NIGHT reporting on the Caucuses. But then the actual results will come in and be tabulated in detail so the media can create nifty charts and graphs before going on to ignore Iowa for another four years. The second the activists see those charts, they’ll know if something is fishy and will audit the official site results.

    I’m scared to death of electronic voting, but you can’t rig caucuses, at least not like this. For actual caucus rigging you would need to selectively obstruct access to various sites around the state and that would take a small army of rat-effers some of whom almost certainly would get caught.

    By this Sunday’s talk shows I predict Iowa will be ceded to Bernie and they’ll be pumping up Buttigieg in NH.

    Reply
    1. Fiery Hunt

      I’m guessing either Klobuchar (see JohnnyGL’s comment above) or mini Mike gets the headlines after Bernie takes Iowa.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        I have a somewhat darker imagination than you. I see Sanders cheated of the first place status “by hook or by crook.” The DNC will simply ignore the activist driven outcry and sail serenely along to the next finagle. Remember, the DNC is a private organization. It had asserted that it has no responsibility to the general public. So, some sort of shenanigans is probable. The only way Sanders can prevail is if he has a major lead coming out of Iowa. By major I mean sixty percent of the total or better.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          >The DNC will simply ignore the activist driven outcry and sail serenely along to the next finagle.

          Thank you.

          organizing and legitimacy.

          Reply
        2. Bill Carson

          Bernie got 49.59% of the vote in 2016 (to HRC’s 49.84%). I think this is the benchmark. If BS gets less than 49.59%, then they will spin it as a loss for Sanders because he did more poorly than last time.

          Reply
  21. ambrit

    I had an epiphany of sorts earlier today.
    Bernard Sanders has already built a pretty robust “parallel institution” version of the Democrat Party apparatus. Can this be his fallback position after the ‘brokered convention’ this summer? Or will he play it cool and let events take their own time?

    Reply
    1. Monty

      “after the ‘brokered convention’” he will be out and about, enthusiastically shilling for whoever they picked to run instead of him, and asking his supporters to “show unity” by “voting blue, no matter who”, lest the USSR overruns our respected governmental institutions.

      Reply
      1. Bill Carson

        Yes, Bernie needs a little more 1789 and 1917 in him.

        I do expect him to shill for the nominee, because he’s honorable like that and he has already been taken advantage of once. (“Fool me twice, . . . we won’t get fooled again.”)

        But at age 79, only a fool would think he could run in 2024, so if he is not not nominee, I think we need a revolution.

        Reply
      2. Grant

        If they do something like 2016, what Bernie says will not matter. People are going to be beyond angry and it will not be about him as an individual. They will do this to anyone that wants to challenge their power and they are openly undemocratic in how they go about things. The Democrats are ultimately the most effective fighters against the left, far more than the Republicans, and they are just as opposed to democracy as the far right is. If this political system, as horrible as it is, will not allow people to have a say in policies that impact them, then working within the system is no longer a viable option. People need to realize on the one hand what is coming for us, and on the other hand how those in charge of that rotten party will not allow us to properly deal with things like the environmental crisis. It is a shame he and AOC, and those like them, have to operate in that party.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          “It is a shame he and AOC, and those like them, have to operate in that party.”
          I have been wondering lately if Sanders ‘Movement’ will act on it’s own, with or without Sanders. The Democrat Party is the one which must be very careful going forward. At least the Republican Party is honest about it’s contempt for working people. By going obviously to the right, the Democrat Party sets itself up for a doctrinal split. The recently established Sanders Movement organization will be ready and primed to take over the rump of the splintered Democrat Party.
          The Democrat Party is set to follow the path of the Whig Party.
          Ye wiki: http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/essays/1801-1900/the-american-whig-party/the-end-of-the-party.php

          Reply
        2. chuck roast

          “The Democrats are ultimately the most effective fighters against the left…”

          Yeah, reminds me that the Stalinists in Spain spent way more time and energy killing the POUM leftists than killing fascists. Same group-think.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            I wonder who will write the “Homage to Deploristan” after the “National Unity Government” suspends the Constitution for “..the duration of the emergency.”

            Reply
      1. RMO

        So they’re not a strip mining sort of outfit? I’m happy to hear that. I would have hated to see Fender go down the tubes.

        Reply
  22. Doctor Shane Flor-Jii

    Coronavirus + peplomers + economic determinism. The bubonic plague outbreaks were simultaneously responsible for seignorialism [serfdom] fading in Western Europe and seignorialism entrenching in Eastern Europe by the 15th century. Comparing the east and west, the material conditions and the vested interests’ grip on those conditions were nearly identical. It was the discourse, a belief of forsaken-ness, that was interpreted by the masses in radically different ways.

    The coronavirus evades host defenses by getting all gluey: velcro-ing to itself the native proteins of its host using peplomers, like the Katamari Damacy ball. The infection does its critical replicating before the virus is recognized by the immune system as foreign by wearing bits of the hostile [from a virus perspective] environment. In defying invader categorization by bookend-ing itself with the acceptable tomes, the coronavirus, like other information traffic, can pass right through the library stacks and exist between the cards in your biologic card catalog. Not much consolation to the feverish in the early morning hours but imagine the conventional political spectrum. Instead of practicing the politics of the center, candidate coronavirus connects the extremes in a mobius strip. Conventional political proteins are pushed toward the periphery and center becomes the outgroups, back-to-back, replicating until exhaustion. Perspective is the determining factor whether an ideal prospers or deemed heretical.

    Reply
  23. OIFVet

    I got a fundraising letter from Barack 0bama today, asking me to donate at least $50 to support the DNC’s Democratic Unity Fund and something called Organizing Corps 2020. This guys is totally shameless. So I checked off the ‘Other Amount’ space and wrote “Vote Bernie!” Under the /DemUnity web address I wrote “I will hold you to during the primaries and the fall, PS Can we please have Jackson Park back?”, and returned it with the prepaid envelope, disregarding the exhortation to use my own stamp to save the DNC some money. I figure every penny they waste on this crap is a penny they won’t spend against Sanders and AOC. I am recovering from an injury and have very limited income currently, but went ahead and donated to both of them. So in a way, I am rather thankful to 0bama for sending me that letter :)

    Reply
    1. Carey

      When I get that stuff from DCCC DSCC DNC, I write “BIG DONATION ENCLOSED”
      on the outside and tape a bunch of pennies inside, along with a few more choice
      words, often having to do with corporatists and bodily orofices.
      They get their big munny, I get my say™.

      Is this a Great Country, or what?

      Reply
      1. OIFVet

        They must be getting desperate, last time I donated to him, or anyone or anything associated with the establishment Dems, was Inauguration 2009. Either that, or they are even more clueless than I thought.

        Reply
  24. up see daze see

    “a fully accessible voting experience where everyone, regardless of physical limitations or language abilities, votes the same way.”

    Does a “fully accessible voting experience” = a counted vote? And what does “votes the same way” really mean?

    Reply
      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        Like this one pointed out by Terry Pratchett in the Discworld novel The Truth:

        “My motives, as ever, are entirely transparent.”

        Hughnon reflected that “transparent” meant either that you could see right through them or that you couldn’t see them at all.

        Reply
    1. farragut

      The (what I assume is) intentionally vague wording sounds very similar to the “…where everyone has *access* to quality healthcare” line used by you-know-who.

      Reply
  25. Bill Carson

    Can we get a dedicated thread to discuss and model out scenarios for the Iowa Caucus?

    Please, someone correct me if I am wrong.

    1. From what I understand, each caucus location will have the attendees huddle together to show support for particular candidates.

    2. Then, for each candidate’s huddle that doesn’t reach the 15% threshold, those huddles break up and those attendees (and only those attendees) are allowed to join the huddles of candidates who did reach 15%. (These attendees could also just go home if they want, but that would affect the percentages, ISTM.)

    3. Then they take a final count and those numbers are reported.

    So let’s see how that might work. While each and every caucus site will have different results, let’s take the most recent poll numbers as an example:

    Round 1.
    Sanders = 24% (I’m rounding.)
    Biden = 23%
    Nobody else gets 15%, so the only two candidates who can get delegates are Sanders and Biden.

    Round 2.
    In the next round, where do the remaining 53% of attendees go?

    Buttigieg has 14% of the room. Do his people go with Biden or Sanders? I’d say more of them go with Biden.

    Warren has 12%. Before they got crossways, many of Warren’s backers would probably move to Sanders, but I don’t think that’s true any more. Lets assume half of her people go to Biden.

    Klobuchar has 9%. Most of her people will also go to Biden.

    Yang has 4%. I’d say most of his people huddle with Bernie, but some might leave.

    Steyer has 4%. The way he has been signaling a man crush on Bernie, I’d say his people go to Bernie.

    Gabbard has 3%. They nearly all move to Bernie.

    Buttigieg, Warren, Klobuchar, Yang, Steyer, and Gabbard have 46% of the 53% outstanding—where do those other 7% go?

    Results?
    So assuming that Sanders gets his 24%, plus 3 of Buttigieg’s 14, plus 6 of Warren’s 12, plus 0 of Klobuchar’s 9, plus 3 of Yang’s 4, plus 4 of Steyers’ 4, plus 3 of Gabbard’s 3…..Sanders ends up with 43%. Plus a portion a portion of the extra 7%

    Biden gets his original 23%, plus 11 of Buttigieg’s 14, plus 6 of Warren’s 12, plus 9 of Klobuchar’s 9, plus 1 of Yang’s 4, plus 0 for Steyers or Gabbard…..Biden ends up with 50% plus a portion of the extra 7%.

    So Biden wins Iowa with about 54%+ to Sanders’ 46%. Biden gets the majority of delegates and claims his first victory.

    QUESTION: Does this analysis seem likely? What am I missing? How do you see the attendees moving from huddle to huddle?

    Reply
    1. Martin Oline

      Not that easy as each precinct is different, from university towns, agricultural communities, blue collar regions, urban and inner cities, wealthy areas, and suburbanites. All will have a different mix of preferences. You will just have to wait.

      Reply
    2. John k

      I agree most non Bernie candidates split non Bernie vote, and the caucus forces the not Bernie votes to come together. This doesn’t happen in regular elections (except Maine?), so a minority insurgent would seem to be much better placed in non caucus primaries.
      However, note that it is said Biden’s (not as enthusiastic) supporters might not show imo bc caucusing takes a lot more time and energy than simple elections, meaning Biden’s poll numbers might be too high.
      Also note, more than in the past, and more energetic, youth are expected to come out this time, and their enthusiasm might draw some from other groups. So bernies initial caucus vote might be much higher than the polls say.
      If the above trends are strong enough Bernie might be the only one above 15%, so winner takes all… granted, an optimistic and knicker-twisting view.
      Bernie probably can’t win without lots of new voters responding to his not me, us revolution.
      Adding, IMO warrens most progressive already left her for Bernie, so the balance might go more to biden.

      Reply
    3. HotFlash

      Not all people polled will caucus, and not all prople who caucus will have been polled. Once again, it comes down to turnout.

      Reply
    4. Wombat

      What if the Klobuchar and Warren crowds are both obviously under 15% at a location (lets say 10%) can they band together for 20% to Warren for instance? I would think that would be likely…. the smaller huddles break off and bolster some of the huddles over 15%.

      Reply
    5. Fiery Hunt

      More likely, enough delegates re-configure to get warren over 15% and the rest are split between Sanders and Biden.

      I expect a final count to be something like
      Sanders 43%
      Biden 33%
      Warren 20%
      Yang/Klobuchar 6%

      Reply
        1. Fiery Hunt

          I was guessing Iowa only.

          If Bernie doesn’t get 51% by the convention, I expect the elites/centrists to do everything they can to nominate Anyone But Bernie.

          Reply
  26. Oregoncharles

    The plantidote: those are madrones, the most beautiful native trees. They’re a broad-leaf evergreen related to rhododendrons and the local manzanitas, and they shed their bark every year until they reach an advanced age. Hence the very smooth, sensual trunk. The part you don’t see is that the fresh bark is a fleshy shade of red.

    Humorous note: we’ve encountered two madrones, widely separated locations, with a fork low down and, umm, folding in the resulting crotch. These resembled nothing so much as a naked woman standing on her head, anatomically correct. Even my wife thought so. One was in front of an old church. Gorgeous tree; no one’s going to take it out.

    We also encountered them in Mexico, clear down by Mexico City, on the mountains – quite high up. Leaves a little smaller, but clearly the same tree. So they have a huge range, from B.C. to Mexico.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      Madrone is the most humidity-reactive wood I’ve ever worked with. Beautiful- a lot like
      pearwood- fine grained, and no real pores to fill- but man, does it like to move, and does
      not let you forget it, no matter how long it’s been been ‘seasoned’.
      Burns real nice, though, DAMHIKT.

      Reply
  27. bob

    “Warren’s neighbors don’t seem to think that highly of her.”

    New Hampshire is the suburb of Boston for republicans.*

    *yes, there are other parts of the state but most of the people are in the shadow of Boston.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      If anything is said about this occurring *before* Trump was President, is that considered
      “Whataboutism”, and therefore off-limits for the New Reasoned Discussion?

      new dark age

      Reply
      1. tegnost

        uber is suing colombia using ISDS….How did Trump get away with that? Oh, wait…

        https://colombiareports.com/uber-sues-colombia-before-international-arbitration-committee-over-suspension-order-report/

        State Defense Attorney Camilo Gomez confirmed the suit and told newspaper El Tiempo that any case brought before the ICSID requires a six-month reconciliation period that would allow the foreign investor and the destination country to resolve its dispute.

        “The Republic’s arbitrary and discriminatory measures against Uber have been taken in the face of political pressure from domestic interests so that the Republic bans Uber in Colombia and annuls Uber’s investments.”

        We’ll give you 6 months to bow to our will…

        Reply
  28. The Rev Kev

    ‘How to square Thiel’s post-national techno-libertarianism with his bloodthirsty authoritarian nationalism?’

    I think that I can help here. What Peter Thiel wants is a bloodthirsty, authoritarian nationalism for America but if it ends up in a French Revolution-stye ‘Reign of Terror’, then he will bolt for his hideaway in New Zealand to live in post-national techno-libertarianism for himself.

    Reply
  29. dcrane

    UPDATE Sanders (D)(6): “The DNC is Getting Ready For a Contested Convention, and So Should Bernie’s Base.” [Medium]. “Everything depends on Bernie getting fifty one percent of the delegates beforehand, and it is up to his base to turn out in record numbers to make sure that happens.” • More than 51%. Expect shenanagains.

    “shenanagains” is right on

    Reply
  30. ChrisAtRU

    #Shenanigans #California #LA

    Voting machines with only four candidates per page. Bernie not on first page (OBVIOUSLY). Ambiguous instructions: “More” or “Next”

    Exhibit A from Twitter.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      Thanks for these links. I just hope Twitter, too, doesn’t have a sudden malfunction™ around 3-4 March, as I expect then with the California Dem Primary.

      Reply
      1. ChrisAtRU

        NP. Here, by the way, is Exhibit C, a response from the CA SoS (Secretary of State) Twitter account on the order of names.

        Seems inordinately complicated. I wonder if the rules whereby street gangs control corners are this complex.

        #Yikes

        Reply
  31. Wellstone’s Ghost

    The end of the quote from Klobuchar stating, “… because my ideas are much more in sync with bold ways of getting things done”, begs the question,
    “Do you happen to have a bridge for sale, Senator?”

    Reply

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