2:00PM Water Cooler 1/28/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“China’s lockdown over the coronavirus is starting to cast clouds over the global trading economy. The country extended the Lunar New Year holiday for at least a week… and Shanghai and the nearby manufacturing hub of Suzhou went even further, ordering residents not to return to work until Feb. 9. [Wall Street Journal]. “The longer break will stretch out a period in which Chinese imports of natural resources that feed production lines typically decline. It could also disrupt industrial activity and prompt Chinese processors to run down stockpiles of crude oil and base metals, instead of buying new material. Oil and copper prices already are taking a hit, and Goldman Sachs is forecasting a drop in daily oil demand of 260,000 barrels. The disruption may push back outbound trade flows, including containerized shipments for U.S. retailers that replenish their inventories for the spring.”


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

Here is a second counter for the Iowa Caucus, which is obviously just around the corner:

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

We have new (big sample) Morning Consult poll, as of 1/28/2020, 12:00 PM EST. Biden and Sanders are the pick of the litter, trailed by Warren and, horridly, Bloomberg, who has lapped Buttigieg. 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:

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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Bloomberg (D)(1): “Bloomberg zeroes in on Florida as Democratic rivals focus elsewhere” [Miami Herald]. “Unlike his Democratic competitors, whose campaigns may live or die on the results of the first four primaries and caucuses in February, Bloomberg is using his fortune to fund a campaign focused on delegate-rich states that hold primaries in March and April. Florida’s primary is March 17, although mail voting begins in days. Bloomberg reportedly has already spent $250 million on his campaign, including millions on TV commercials in Florida. He has hired dozens of staffers in the state, and intends to hire dozens more while opening 20 Florida offices in the coming days. But he also downplayed reports that he might spend up to $2 billion on his campaign.”

Bloomberg (D)(2): “Michael Bloomberg supports Puerto Rico statehood, breaking with many 2020 Democrats” [Miami Herald]. “The former New York mayor and 2020 presidential candidate broke with most of the Democrats vying for the party’s nomination to unequivocally back statehood for Puerto Rico in a policy plan released Monday…. ‘Puerto Rico continues to be burdened by a federally-controlled debt restructuring process that has imposed draconian cuts to pensions, civil service pay, the university and municipal governments that are the backbone of public safety and disaster response,’ Bloomberg’s campaign said in a statement. ‘Mike’s plan provides for an independent audit, overseen by a representative board, of current debt and recent restructuring proposals, and implements a plan for debt relief based on the results.’ Bloomberg said he would increase federal assistance to Puerto Rico by fully funding Medicaid and implementing federal tax credits that do not go to Puerto Ricans because the vast majority do not pay federal income taxes.”

Klobuchar (D)(1): “Amy Klobuchar Enters 18th Minute Of Tense Standoff With Iowa Rally Crowd Who Haven’t Laughed At Her Joke” [The Onion]. •

Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie Sanders is working the Latino vote in California, block by block” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “For the better part of a year, Sanders has focused on appealing to Latino voters who could be key to winning California and other states with similar demographics. Since May, his campaign has been organizing block by block in Latino neighborhoods such as Fruitvale, often in meetings like this. Batista and other Sanders staffers explain how to canvass door to door, make calls from phone banks and use the campaign’s mobile app to persuade relatives and friends to support the Vermont senator. Batista’s Oakland presentation wasn’t the only one in which participants spoke in Spanish from start to finish. Winning the Latino vote, said Rafael Návar, director of Sanders’ California operations, ‘is the cornerstone of our campaign.'” • Winning California through the ground game is, oh, like slicing through the Ardennes, which everybody knew was impossible.

Sanders (D)(2): “32 hours in Iowa: Sanders packs schedule during mid-impeachment dash” [ABC]. “The Vermont senator ultimately spent just under 32 hours in the Hawkeye State, from Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening, but made seven stops and covered more than 330 miles on the ground. At his two largest events, in Ames Saturday evening and Sioux City Sunday night, Sanders drew crowds in the thousands in both a showing of force and a final effort to reach as many potential supporters as possible before the Feb. 3 caucus.” • Impressive.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): “Sanders allies in new uproar over DNC convention appointments” [The Hill]. “‘If the DNC believes it’s going to get away in 2020 with what it did in 2016, it has another thing coming,” [Sanders surrogate] Turner said…, Bob Mulholland, a DNC member from California who is backing former Vice President Joe Biden, dismissed the concerns, however, and said Perez has proved that he can be trusted. ‘There’s a reason we elect a DNC chair. He’s the CEO, so let him drive the car,’ Mulholland said. ‘Whoever the nominee is, he or she will be in charge of their own convention. My message to Democrats is to stop attacking each other and train your focus on Trump.'” • I hope to have a complete spreadsheet of the entire committee in the near future; at first sight, Dewey Square Consultants seems to be disproportionately represented.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(4): “Worried Democratic Operatives Scramble to Fund a Network to Take Down Bernie Sanders” [Daily Beast]. “‘It’s not any one group of people’ trying to build the anti-Sanders effort, said one of the Democratic sources. ‘It is a loose network of people who think he would be very problematic as a nominee. There is, at this stage, calls to, and conversations with, donors and organizations that might support such an effort. But as far as I can tell, nobody has found sufficient financial support to get it off the ground.'” • Grifters gotta grift? Anyhow, there is a massively funded anti-Sanders effort. It’s called “The Bloomberg Campaign.”

UPDATE Sanders (D)(5): “Running Bernie Sanders Against Trump Would Be an Act of Insanity” [Jonathon Chait, New York Magazine]. “To nominate Sanders would be insane. Sanders has gleefully discarded the party’s conventional wisdom that it has to pick and choose where to push public opinion leftward, adopting a comprehensive left-wing agenda, some of which is popular, and some of which is decidedly not. Positions in the latter category include replacing all private health insurance with a government plan, banning fracking, letting prisoners vote, decriminalizing the border, giving free health care to undocumented immigrants, and eliminating ICE. (I am only listing Sanders positions that are intensely unpopular. I am not including positions, like national rent control and phasing out all nuclear energy, that I consider ill-advised but which probably won’t harm him much with voters.) Not every one of these unpopular stances is unique to Sanders. Some have won the endorsement of rival candidates, and many of them have been endorsed by Elizabeth Warren, Sanders’s closest rival. In fact, Sanders seem to have overtaken Warren in part because she spent most of 2019 closing the ideological gap between the two candidates, which made Democratic Party elites justifiably skeptical about her electability, thereby kneecapping her viability as a trans-factional candidate. Sanders probably wasn’t trying to undermine Warren by luring her into adopting all his policies, but it has worked out quite well for him, and poorly for her. But Warren at least tries to couch her positions in a framework of reforming and revitalizing capitalism that is intended to reassure ideologically skeptical voters.” • Sanders lured Warren? Fun piece. (#MedicareForAll is not “intensely unpopular.”) To be fair to Chait, much depends on Sanders bond with the electorate. Do they take him “seriously but not literally?” If so, they may see the “comprehensive left-wing agenda” as an initial bargaining position (although not, I assume, #MedicareForAll). We shall see.

Warren (D)(1): “Oddsmakers call Warren a bad bet in N.H., put money on Bernie” [Lowell Sun]. “According to Oddschecker.com, a British-based betting site, oddsmakers have picked Sanders as the favorite in three of the first four contests: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Sanders odds are particularly strong in New Hampshire where, according to the website, the state ‘looks almost certain to go to Sanders as his current price of -175 is indicative of a 63.60% chance.’… Polling and betting averages are an example of ‘the wisdom of crowds,’ but the informed elites seem to think Bernie’s fortunes are on the rise as well.”

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IA: “‘No clear winner:’ Iowa Democrats fear caucuses won’t anoint a 2020 frontrunner” [McClatchy]. “Iowa Democrats pride themselves on voting first — and picking winners. Since the Iowa caucuses began kicking of the presidential nominating process in 1972, the victor has marched on to become the Democratic nominee in seven of the last ten open primary contests, including in the last four: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Kerry and Al Gore. But in 2020, they fear it will be different. After more than a year of non-stop campaigning from upwards of two dozen candidates, there’s a sense of foreboding among Democrats of all stripes that their state won’t provide much clarity on who will ultimately become the party’s standard-bearer. It’s a sentiment that’s notably pervasive among rank-and-file Democrats, as well as inside of some of the major campaigns.” • Iowa lowering expectations for its own, “first in the nation” caucus? (And a major revenue source for the state?) Odd!

IA: “Iowa is looking less and less like that clarifying moment Democrats had hoped for” [WaPo]. “An Iowa win, coupled with Biden’s durable lead in the national numbers, could position him as all but unstoppable going forward. Another would be a big win by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is enjoying a surge in the latest polls. The contest would then become a scramble within the party to find an establishment figure who can stop Sanders. One possible beneficiary might be former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is spending staggering sums across the map to put into place a campaign strategy that would kick into gear when Super Tuesday arrives in early March. What seems at least as likely as either of those outcomes, however, is that Iowa yields more of a muddle, producing a relatively close finish among the top three or four contenders. Complicating everything this year is a new set of party rules, which have the potential to add more confusion.” • Oh, those Party rules!


UPDATE “Rep. Ilhan Omar launches reelection bid with big advantages” [Associated Press]. “Omar was kicking off her reelection campaign Thursday night with a massive bank account and no challengers who pose a serious threat from either party. Her campaign slogan — “Send her back to Congress!” — gleefully evokes President Donald Trump’s personal attacks on her. In an overwhelmingly Democratic district that where Omar took 78% of the vote in 2018, University of Minnesota political scientist Larry Jacobs gives her opponents no chance…. Omar raised more than $2.5 million through last year’s third quarter, the latest figures available, and had $1.56 million in the bank. Her fundraising was more than triple the House incumbent average, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.” • Not seeing the words “small donors” there, though.

Our Famously Free Press

“Bernie Sanders and His Internet Army” [New York Times]. “Since the start of Mr. Sanders’s first presidential campaign in 2016, his colossal online support base has been by turns a source of peerless strength and perpetual aggravation — envied and caricatured by rivals who covet such loyalty, feared by Democrats who have faced harassment from his followers, and alternately cherished and gently scolded by the candidate himself.” • Attack strength…

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “How the G.O.P. Became the Party of the Left Behind” [New York Times]. “In the 1990s there was no strong correlation between the economic standing of a place and the partisan preference of its voters: The Republican Party received roughly the same share of the vote in richer and poorer counties. By 2000, however, the electoral map had started to shift…. Now, the Republican share of the vote has increased across the nation’s most economically disadvantaged counties, while the most successful counties have moved toward the Democrats…. By 2016, the nation’s political map corresponded neatly to the distribution of prosperity: Mr. Trump won 58 percent of the vote in the counties with the poorest 10 percent of the population. In the richest, his share was 31 percent.” • Leaves out that there are certainly wealthy districts that vote Republican too — and which liberal Democrats seek to peel off. (Chuck Schumer: “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” From 2016, but I don’t think they’ve changed.)

UPDATE “The Misuses of Antisemitism in the UK and the USA” [Counterpunch]. “While the main attacks against Bernie will most likely be from the red-baiting angle – ‘Sanders will bring us Venezuelan socialism!’ – ‘He will steal our eye-glasses’ or ‘…our self-defense AR-15s’ – I fear that the GOP’s Sheldon Adelsons, and also some wealthy Democrats, may well be sharpening up the same sword wielded in Britain. I think great alertness and good clear answers have already become very necessary.”

UPDATE “The Verifier – Polling Place Equipment – November 2020” [Verified Voting]. “We’ve made some changes to the Verifier. The maps now display voting equipment usage in election day polling places only and makes a distinction between jurisdictions in which most voters are hand marking paper ballots with Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) provided primarily for accessibility and those in which BMDs are used by all voters to mark ballots.” • It’s as if they read our post, which pointed out that, at the time of writing, they made no such distinction.

Stats Watch

Accounting: “Should companies use Big 4 audit firms to implement enterprise financial software?” [Francine McKenna, The Dig]. “As I discussed in the interview with Vinnie and in this newsletter, the SEC’s enforcement action against PwC for violating auditor independence 19 times at 15 different client engagements tells us clearly that audit firms are still performing prohibited systems design, development and implementation services for audit clients, despite a prohibition against providing these non-audit services for auditor in the U.S. established in 2002 with the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley law. Several other recent cases show that the Big 4 play so many roles, even SEC lawyers can’t figure out whether what they’re doing lately violates rules enacted in 2002 that didn’t contemplate sophisticated tax avoidance consulting like PwC’s activities in LuxLeaks, strategy consulting, or governance risk and compliance services that have proliferated post-crisis.”

Retail: “Pharmaceutical supply chains are turning away from the grocery store. Hundreds of regional grocery stores in cities from Minneapolis to Seattle are closing or selling their pharmacy counters…., as upheaval in medical supply chains reaches the frontlines of consumer drug sales” [Wall Street Journal]. “Grocery pharmacies are the latest casualty of industry consolidation that has forced many mom-and-pop drugstores to close and led big players to reassess their role in the business. Grocery pharmacies serve a big share of the U.S. market. But they are too small to wrest competitive reimbursement rates on drugs, and they generally lack other health services that draw customer.”

Manufacturing: “GM will manufacture a self-driving people-mover for its San Francisco-based subsidiary Cruise, and plans to invest $2.2 billion to recast a plant that had been slated for closure. It will also invest another $800 million in suppliers” [Wall Streets Journal]. “The refurbished 35-year-old factory also will be the production site for several electric pickup-truck models, providing a boost for research in that arena. Ford Motor Co. last year invested in electric pickup-truck startup Rivian, which has also won backing from Amazon.com Inc. for work on electric delivery vans.”

The Bezzle: “To fight new employment law, Uber pits California drivers against each other” [WaPo]. “Uber’s decision to allow drivers to set their own rates in three California markets is triggering fears of a race to the bottom in pricing…. Typically, Uber sets fares by market and makes real-time adjustments based on demand. Drivers have no control in pricing and little visibility into the methodology, although it’s dictated by factors including the amount of time spent on the ride, as well as the distance driven. In the test markets, Uber is letting drivers crank the established fare up to five times the price, so they only accept rides that will pay what they think the trip is worth. The idea is to address a tenet in [California’s] AB5 requiring employers to demonstrate contractors’ independence.”

The Bezzle: “IoT Trouble: The Sonos Example — And More” [Jean-Louis Gassé, Monday Note]. “It was one thing to fight a cranky operating system or application on one’s laptop. It created a culture, a folklore. Managing the dozens of devices in a smarthome is a set of tasks for which we are ill-prepared, it’s not more of the same.mNor are we prepared for what happens to our privacy when the IoT devices that share information about our activities become ‘required’ by market forces or, worse, mandated by new laws and regulations. Imagine what marketers — and government agencies — could do with such information. And pause. There is no could, it will happen, there’s too much ‘stored value’ in these network of connected devices, the appetites will be too strong.”

Tech: “Google halts paid-for Chrome extension updates amid fraud surge: Web Store in lockdown ‘due to the scale of abuse'” [The Register (dk)]. “On Saturday, Google temporarily disabled the ability to publish paid Chrome apps, extensions, and themes in the Chrome Web Store due to a surge in fraud…. Vincent said the shutdown is temporary while Google looks for a long-term way to address the problem. Developers who have paid extensions, subscriptions, or in-app purchases and received a rejection notice for ‘Spam and Placement in the Store,’ he said, can probably attribute the notification to the fraud fighting shutdown.” • Probably?

Manufacturing: “Apple Supply Chain Braces for Disruption From Coronavirus” [Bloomberg]. “Apple Inc.’s China-centric manufacturing base is at risk of disruption after the Lunar New Year holiday as the company’s partners confront the coronavirus outbreak that has gripped the country and caused more than 100 deaths. Virtually all of the world’s iPhones are made in China, primarily by Foxconn’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. at its so-called iPhone City in Zhengzhou and by Pegatron Corp. at an assembly site near Shanghai. Each of those locations is more than 500 kilometers away from Wuhan in central China, the epicenter of the viral outbreak, but that distance doesn’t immunize them from its effects…. Confirmed cases of the coronavirus are rising in Henan province — home to Zhengzhou facility — which may lead Hon Hai or the government to close factories to prevent further contamination.”

Mr. Market: “I Said Don’t Panic. I Didn’t Say Don’t Worry” [John Authers, Bloomberg]. “The path of similar disease outbreaks in recent decades has followed a recognizable market template: There is a sell-off that lasts until concern reaches a crescendo, and the outbreak comes under control. Then it is time for a recovery. Sell-offs driven by previous epidemics have created buying opportunities. That is plainly the base case that many are still using, and Monday’s 1.62% drop in the MSCI All-World index doesn’t look excessive.” • With charts…

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 52 Neutral (previous close: 47 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 81 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 28 at 12:59pm.

The Biosphere

“Farming’s growing problem” [Center for Public Integrity]. “Deep cuts to nitrogen runoff and emissions are critical, researchers say, both to curb mounting hazards from water pollution and to stave off the most cataclysmic consequences of rising global temperatures. And while it’s a smaller environmental danger than carbon, scientists say fertilizer is an underrated and growing threat — one that’s more complicated to solve. ‘We’re not producing CO2 on purpose,’ said James Galloway, an environmental scientist with the University of Virginia. ‘You need to have that nitrogen to grow the food, and the more people there are and the higher they’re eating up the food chain, the more nitrogen you need.’ The rate that farmers in the U.S. are using nitrogen fertilizer is more than 40 times higher than it was three-quarters of a century ago, far outstripping population growth. Trouble was anticipated decades ago. But in the U.S., legislators and regulators alike have avoided confronting the problem directly.”

“As sea levels rise, little of the United States will be unaffected” [Ars Technica]. “The United States is rich enough, industrialized enough, and far enough from the tropics that the rising temperatures of our changing climate aren’t going to make any place uninhabitable. But a side effect of those rising temperatures—rising oceans—most certainly will. Already, an ever-growing list of places is facing what’s called “nuisance flooding,” in which even a high tide can leave streets underwater. Major storms just make matters worse. And, by the end of this century, the expected rise of the oceans may be over five times what we saw last century. As a result of this, many areas of the country will simply become uninhabitable, lost to the sea. Well over a third of the United States’ population lives in counties that are currently on the coast, and over 10 million currently live on land that will be lost to a sea-level rise of 1.8 meters. They’ll have to go somewhere—and people who might otherwise move to the coast will have to find some place else to relocate. All of which will change the dynamics of the typical relocation of people within the US.”

“Why Planting a Trillion Trees Should Start With Small Farmers” [Bloomberg]. “Trees are an important tool to counter climate change: They capture carbon dioxide, improve biodiversity and increase groundwater. Adding a trillion trees could scrub out two-thirds of all emissions, according to scientists, and that’s why everyone from the World Economic Forum to YouTube influencers have launched large planting programs. There’s just one problem: The success rate of typical programs is often dismal. Many end up with no trees surviving to maturity. After years of experiments, John Leary believes he has found the magic ingredient to boost results: local people. But less than 5% of the trees survived without local supervision. That led them to the Forest Garden Approach, which trains farmers to use trees as a means of improving the productivity of degraded lands. Now TFF can plant each tree for as little as 10 cents while quadrupling the earnings of locals and boosting tree survival rates. Instead of releasing carbon through using techniques like slash and burn, the farmers growing the forest gardens are capturing more than 230 tons of carbon dioxide per acre over a 20-year period.”

Health Care

“The Deceptively Simple Number Sparking Coronavirus Fears” [The Atlantic]. “When a new disease emerges, health organizations turn to a seemingly simple number to gauge whether the outbreak will spread. It’s called the basic reproduction number—R0, pronounced R-nought—and though useful for decision makers, it’s a nightmare for public communication. In brief, R0 is the average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person, in a population that’s never seen the disease before. If R0 is 3, then on average every case will create three new cases. R0 is important because if it’s greater than 1, the infection will probably keep spreading, and if it’s less than 1, the outbreak will likely peter out…. In the past week, at least six teams of researchers, along with the World Health Organization, have published estimates of R0 for the new coronavirus. All these groups used different methods, but their results have been mostly consistent, with estimates hovering between 2 and 3. WHO was a little more conservative than the others, with estimates of 1.4 to 2.5. One Chinese team is a clear outlier, with estimates of 3.3 to 5.5. And a British-led group initially published a high average value of 3.8 last week before revising it downward to 2.5 as new data emerged…. the R0 estimates for the new coronavirus are in line with those for many other diseases. They’re similar to those for SARS (2 to 5) and HIV (also 2 to 5), and considerably lower than those for measles (12 to 16).”

“Who will answer the call in the next outbreak? Drug makers feel burned by string of vaccine pleas” [STAT News]. “Every few years an alarming disease launches a furious, out-of-the-blue attack on people, triggering a high-level emergency response. SARS. The H1N1 flu pandemic. West Nile and Zika. The nightmarish West African Ebola epidemic. In nearly each case, major vaccine producers have risen to the challenge, setting aside their day-to-day profit-making activities to try to meet a pressing societal need. With each successive crisis, they have done so despite mounting concerns that the threat will dissipate and with it the demand for the vaccine they are racing to develop. Now, manufacturers are expressing concern about their ability to afford these costly disruptions to their profit-seeking operations. As a result, when the bat-signal next flares against the night sky, there may not be anyone to respond.” • From 2018, still germame.

“I used to be a libertarian. Then the US healthcare system taught me how wrong I was” [Adam Weinistein, Independent]. “But if you’re an American and you’re reading this, be honest: When’s the last time you looked around in a clinic lobby, a specialist’s office, or a hospital waiting room, and saw agency and dignity? We are all numbers — insurance IDs, group plan numbers, medical billing codes, far-into-the-future appointment times. All our lives, we have been told that long waits, impersonal care, incompetence, and indignity are the province of other countries’ socialized healthcare systems. What, then, do you call the Kafka-esque 21st century American medical badlands?”

“Trends in Unmet Need for Physician and Preventive Services in the United States, 1998-2017” [JAMA Internal Medicine]. “Conclusions and Relevance: Despite coverage gains since 1998, most measures of unmet need for physician services have shown no improvement, and financial access to physician services has decreased.”

Our Famously Free Press

“Photo cropping mistake leads to AP soul-searching on race” [Associated Press]. “An AP photographer at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland took a picture Friday of five activists, including the well-known Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg and Ugandan Vanessa Nakate, who were there to discuss climate change. Preparing to send the image, the photographer cropped out Nakate, leaving a picture of four white women before a scenic mountain backdrop.” • Oops.

Class Warfare

“How Harvard Aims to Muzzle Unions” [New York Review of Books]. “[T]he university has resorted to tactics that make the strike and its aftermath a matter of broader public concern. As the strike paralyzed campus, preventing deliveries, causing the cancelation of exams, and delaying the submission of grades, Harvard pressured departments to name individual strike participants. The demand that faculty step into managerial positions and do the administration’s union-busting for it opened strikers to much more individualized retaliatory threats, since faculty members, unlike administrators, are directly responsible for course supervision and dissertation advising. When many departments refused to inform on their students, the administration gave departments a new assignment: report the number of strikers to the central administration. This set up departments with high numbers of strikers for potential retribution, whether lower numbers of graduate fellowships or fewer opportunities to hire new faculty. Then, eight days into the strike, the administration made perhaps its most disturbing and potentially far-reaching move: it attempted to make employment conditional on non-participation in strike action—a condition that it sought to extend into the new semester, starting this week.”

“Under Legal Threats, The Guardian Killed My Investigation into SEIU Sexual Misconduct Cover-Ups” [Mike Elk, Payday Report]. “Last week, SEIU agreed to a major settlement to resolve sexual misconduct claims against its Vice President, Dave Reagan. As part of the legal proceeding against SEIU, Payday identified two witnesses, Njoki Woods and Daria Aladio, who provided crucial evidence against how Regan and others covered up sexual misconduct and threatened retaliation against whistleblowers. The investigation by Payday Report revealed that top officers of the 1.9 million-member SEIU, including President Mary Kay Henry, have not only failed to take action against sexual predators in its union but have actually promoted some men after they were accused of sexual misconduct. However, the story nearly didn’t happen because of lawsuit threats directed against me and at the Guardian, where this investigation was initially commissioned. The story was written, edited, and ready to go this spring when the Guardian’s legal team killed the story under a series of legal threats from SEIU.”

“Open House” [n+1]. Gentrification in Manhattan: “The new people come with names that chime together like beads on a string. Taylor, Ashley, Kayla, Hayley, Madison (that one guy so far — he hailed from Wisconsin, hopefully not the state capital). I know their names because they get everything delivered. The packages pile up in the small entryway where there never used to be packages. The old people shop nearby, or else we don’t shop much at all. Now I am always tripping over boxes. Sometimes, I confess, in my hostility, I kick the boxes. Amazon, Amazon, Amazon. Sephora. Vineyard Vines with the smiling, pink, preppy whale. Kick, kick, kick.” • These packages seem to be part of the zeitgeist.

“Varon: Union Forces Sought South’s Salvation in U.S. Civil War” [UVA Today]. “”Deliverance’ was a key word in 19th-century Northern wartime discourse that you find appearing again and again, in all these firsthand sources,’ [Elizabeth Varon, the University of Virginia’s Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History] said. ‘Northerners believed they were fighting a war to deliver the Southern masses from the dominance of an elite slaveholding oligarchy – a ‘slave power conspiracy’ as Northerners put it, that had retarded the South’s moral and material progress.'” • Hmm.

News of the Wired

“‘Penis Man’ Graffiti Artist Arrested by ’25 Heavily Armed SWAT Officers'” [Phoenix New Times]. “Accused ‘Penis Man’ graffiti tagger Dustin Shomer announced on Facebook early Saturday morning that ’25 heavily armed SWAT officers’ had arrested him on January 23 at his Phoenix condo… ‘Penis Man is neither man nor woman, you nor me,’ Shomer wrote in one post. ‘We are ALL Penis Man.'”

“Jeff Bezos’ nudes were reportedly leaked when his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez sent them to her brother, in a new twist to the dramatic saga — here’s everything we know so far” [Business Insider]. “In the latest update to the saga dating back to January 2019, a new report alleges that the person behind the leaked nude photos sent between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, was Sanchez’s brother.” • Seems complicated.

New Year’s Resolutions:

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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 (JN):

JN didn’t write anything, but I will say: Gorgeous!

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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. dcblogger

    If we want Medicare for All and the Green New Deal it is truly critical that Pelosi and Hoyer lose their primaries. Anyone here from San Francisco or Maryland’s 5th Congressional District?

    1. jefemt

      I don’t live in either there.

      I do know this— I want single payor, Universal care.

      After attending a few Medicare meetings, pretty sure I DON’T want Medicare involved at all. Byzantium!

      If we somehow get ‘there’, we should take a deep breath, include the providers of care of all stripes, and leave Insurors and Pharma in Camp Other.

      And carefully create a simple, Universal, unconditional system that includes dental, optical, wellness, and allows alternative approaches to healing.

      1. Phacops

        Any private insurance is byzantine compared to the choices one faces entering Medicare, which, for medigap, is highly structured, and part D which is complicated but the Medicare gov site can estimate out of pocket expenses given the drugs used.

        That said, I would gladly pay in taxes what I spend for Part B, medigap, dental insurance, and long term care insurance to be able to have all Americans covered by single payer Medicare for All.

      2. False Solace

        I hear you. M4A = improved and expanded Medicare. No premiums, no deductibles, no coinsurance. No private insurers, no drug insurers.

      3. Mo's Bike Shop

        This is a great time to point out why every under-documented, alien-national. personal entrepreneur should feel happy to go check if their sniffle might harm their clientele.

        Do Big-El Libertarians understand herd immunity yet?

    2. HotFlash

      I live in Canada, your neighbour to the north. I have something like Medicare for All (and it’s pretty good) but climate change! My Prime Minister just had our country buy a pipeline b/c the private, for-profit pipeline folks couldn’t build it cheap enough to suit them. I have no words.

      If you (we!) don’t get a Prez Sanders the whole damn globe is gonna fry. I can’t donate so I phonebank. And I try not to get really, really scared.

  2. Shonde

    No mail delivery yet today but my USPS email has a Bloomberg mailing showing. This is only the second piece of literature I have received here in Minnesota this year. My other piece was from Bernie.

    Since there is no party designation when you register to vote, I am assuming both Bloomberg and Bernie blanketed the registered voters. Early voting has started here so I am surprised I haven’t received mail from other candidates. Bloomberg opened a state office about a week ago. A few days ago I got a phone call from a very nice Bernie volunteer but no calls from any other candidate volunteers.

    1. Bill Carson

      When I was involved with local campaigning years ago, we concentrated on registered voters who had voted in prior primaries. Any chance they could have gotten such a list in your state?

      1. Shonde

        Since the date I moved to Minnesota in 2018, there has not been a primary election. So the list used could not have been merely primary voters. I did vote in a general election in 2018 in Minnesota so maybe all who voted in 2018? Or all who voted in 2018 who had registered to vote after the last primary plus those who vote in primaries?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I mean there are all kinds of way to sort the universe.

          My guess is its newly registered, primary voters, voters in off year contests, and even people who donated to a campaign. There are firms to keep track of home sales, so its possible this was the case.

          The conceit of the 50 State Strategy was that non-voters lean Democratic or leftier but need to be asked.

          1. Shonde

            Have the rules for political lit changed since I was active years ago? Bloomberg’s piece was a letter sized business format letter in an envelope.

            Based on the last paragraph I probably would have received the same letter if I still lived in California since it refers to registration by party. Minnesota has no registration by party preference. California does.

            I was not impressed with what his billions are buying.

            1. Mo's Bike Shop

              I’ve never contributed to the the Dem Party, or even sent the survey form back, but since 2016 their mailer is the ugliest piece of graphic arts that shows up in my mailbox.

          2. a different chris

            >The conceit of the 50 State Strategy was that non-voters lean Democratic or leftier but need to be asked.

            Was that really it? I assumed that it was that you had to show up and talk to people about the world, near and far. It isn’t fishing, it’s more like farming. They don’t vote for you right away, but when your entrenched opponent makes a mistake you might get somebody in there.

            Rinse and repeat. Even in the worst places you get 40% of the vote, so you only really need to flip 10%.

            But that’s way too hard, better to just write them off as “deplorables” and ignore the Electoral College whilst you are at it.

    2. Lee

      Here in SF bay area, I’m expecting my Bernie signs and stickers to be delivered soon by one of the local staff. Looking forward to flying the colors.

  3. flora

    re: • Iowa lowering expectations for its own, “first in the nation” caucus? (And a major revenue source for the state?) Odd!

    If the state Dem party lets the national estab Dem DNC screw up the Iowa caucus the second time in a row (see 2016 and coin tosses and delegate assignments), the state’s caucus value will go down the chutes as a meaningful predictor in future elections. And the DNC will not care. (See how Hills drained state Dem coffers in 2016 making it harder for state Dem candidates to get financial backing in local races.) my 2 cents.

  4. jsn

    That’s the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon durring the deep freeze at Thanksgiving.
    I’m pretty sure it’s a Maple. Fingers too cold to write at the time!

    1. Tim

      Yes, the quite photographically famous Japanese Maple at the Portland Japanese garden near the rose garden. Most times the photographs are take from the other side to include the little foot bridge.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Yes, it’s the weeping, finely-divided Japanese maple – Acer palmatum “Ryusen”. I’ve worked with a lot of them; an especially beautiful tree. The leaves are red, too.

      That one’s been meticulously pruned to keep it open – otherwise it would look like an upside down basket.

    3. a different chris

      It is pretty, but sigh:

      > is a species of woody plant native to Japan, Korea, China, eastern Mongolia, and southeast Russia.

      (Wikipedia) I’d be happier if the picture was taken in Japan or Korea or… you get the drift. But that ship has literally sailed.

    1. KLG

      The biggest shoe to drop so far, but not the last.

      I wonder? Does he feel the money was worth it, now?

  5. Mel

    ‘You need to have that nitrogen to grow the food, and the more people there are and the higher they’re eating up the food chain, the more nitrogen you need.’

    But am I not right in thinking that the nitrogen that’s giving us trouble is the nitrogen that does not get into the food? Seems like room for improvement there.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Yes. It’s an indictment of chemical farming, though even manure can leach into waterways if not managed properly.

  6. flora

    re: Bezos
    Watching how this guy bulked/muscled up in a short time in middle age, and reading about his texting and public behavior with his girl friend , which seems more like a teenage thing than an adult thing, imo, I’m starting to wonder what Jeff’s been sprinkling on his corn flakes in the morning. Sugar? /s

    1. Carolinian

      Bezos says he views Amazon as a way to make money for his rocket company and his lifelong dream to be shot into space. Warehouse employees get to help out via their galley slave working conditions. You have to break a few eggs to make a futurist omelet.

      1. pretzelattack

        i am totally in favor of shooting bezos into space. might provoke some kind of intergalactic war, though.

        1. makedonamend

          Bezos shot into deep space.

          Light years into the future, resident scientists on Betelgeuse confirm that lowlife does indeed exist in the universe.

        2. Massinissa

          Bezos went to Romulus and changed his name to Shinzon as part of the movie Star Trek: Nemesis, where Bezos finds out Sir Patrick Stewart is his father.

          1. Bugs Bunny

            I hate that character even more than I hate that movie, the worst of all Trek films. Appropriate comment!

            1. Plenue

              It isn’t the worst. All the TNG movies are trash, but Nemesis at least manages to be a half-way decent action movie, which the others fail at.

              1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

                Whoa now, easy, fella.

                Star Trek- First Contact, Star Trek- Generations.

                Jonathan Frakes aka Number 1? is a pretty good director.

                1. Plenue

                  Good directing doesn’t matter if the script is garbage, which it is with all the TNG movies, which don’t understand what makes Star Trek good.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            Whoa, there is no need to bring out wise father into this when Bezos is clearly a Ferengi who had an Oomox accident.

        1. pretzelattack

          ambrose bierce–exile: one who is abroad in the service of his country, yet is not an ambassador.

  7. Sam Adams

    Re:Jeff Bezos’ nudes were reportedly leaked when his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez sent them to her brother, in a new twist to the dramatic saga — here’s everything we know so far”
    That’s just sick… sister sending nudes to her Brother? That’s pharaonic

    1. chuckster

      The brother then sold them to the National Enquirer who published them. This, in turn, pissed off the ex-Mrs. Bezos who filed for divorce because of the leaked pictures. The divorce was granted and NOW Lauren and Jeff live together in the open, which they couldn’t do while he was married.

      Lauren did it to get the divorce started. The rich are different.

  8. Toshiro_Mifune

    “Open House” Gentrification in Manhattan

    Good article;

    The queer Seattle-based artist John Criscitello had a similar response to the invasion of the city’s Capitol Hill gayborhood by what he calls “bros and woo girls.” He bombed the neighborhood with wheat-paste posters that read, WE CAME HERE TO GET AWAY FROM YOU.

    1. prx

      interesting article but Moss ignores the fact that the non-normals still move to New York; they’ve just been priced out of the East Village and live in Bushwick instead.

      And the cause of that is that when the soulless people who would have moved to the suburbs in past decades decided the east village was for them, preservationists like Moss fight against building enough housing to fit both communities.

      the framing of him staring out at a hallway from his apartment is very appropriate and indicative of the limited perspective he took.

      1. Alfred

        Anyway, I’m glad I read it. It explained why, the last time I was in Manhattan about three years ago, I got the strong sense that that visit had been a mistake. For a long time I had been wondering why I had had that sense, and along with it the suspicion that probably the last two or three visits before then had already been mistakes; also the conviction that there was no reason ever to repeat such errors again. No reason at all, I became more and more certain with each passing day ever since. Goodbye, New York. Hello, Tucumcari.

  9. mle detroit

    “‘No clear winner:’ Iowa Democrats fear caucuses won’t anoint a 2020 frontrunner” [McClatchy].
    “Iowa is looking less and less like that clarifying moment Democrats had hoped for” [WaPo].
    IOW, Bernie’s closing fast on Biden and the Establishment’s going to the mattresses.

    1. Lunker Walleye

      I’ve had 6 Bernie people come to my door and it makes one think they are completely working their butts off — the “no clear winner” might just be more b.s. but we won’t know until the tallies come in on caucus night. (And we might not even know then.)

    2. Big River Bandido

      The Spin Primary ends on Monday. After that, campaigns have to produce real victories to stay in.

  10. Detroit Dan

    Bernie fought Hillary to a draw in 2016.

    In 2020, it’s Bernie as the lone serious progressive candidate versus 5 still serious centrist candidates (Biden, Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Bloomberg). It will soon become obvious that the centrists need to close ranks, but it may be too late as they will probably wait until after S. Carolina which is only 3 days before Super Tuesday.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Since rapacious greed is the essence of “centrism”, its reasonable they can’t compromise. After all, why should Pete listen to mumbly Joe, and why should Warren care about Mayo. And do you think Klobuchar is going to walk away from the fantasy of throwing staplers at interns in the Oval Office?

  11. Dita

    The Ars Tecnica piece on climate change doesn’t mention that part of climate change includes droughts, or that a third at least of the U.S. is arid. It focuses on rising sea levels, but from what I’ve read that is far from the only issue, i would think fire and drought are more dire effects.

    1. steve

      Along with increased storm intensities, especially along the coasts, and the attendant flood and wind damage.

      Entire ecosystem shifts will add to the misery and disruption. The dying of one and the birth of another I think are under appreciated threats.

      1. sierra7

        So. Maybe it is time to get that degree in “Underwater Basket Weaving” that has bee so shunned by the college going moderns and told to be useless by the “establishment”?

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      And remember, you don’t have to flood the streets, if the sewers can’t work, you won’t be using the term ‘city’ for very long.

  12. DJG

    Open House, by Jeremiah Moss. Yep, I just helped the Federal Express driver with packages for the Internet addicts in my building. And someone had had Amazon Prime deliver their food. Here in Edgewater, the neighborhood of Chicago that still has all of the neighborhood amenities. It is as if people have come to resist the physical world–why walk three blocks to one of Chicago’s best shoe stores when Zappos exists?

    And this–the sheer joyless un-physical physicality around us:

    Take sidewalk sitting, for example: around the year 2008, I started to notice people sitting on sidewalks. Not homeless people, not punk kids, not hippies or crusties, but average, well-dressed, middle-class, affluent (almost always white) people, sitting in the New York soup of chewed gum, vomit, dog piss, and shit.

    Yep: I see it all the time. I suspect that the private world of lounging on the sofa watching Lena Dunham has now slouched into the streets.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i admit i felt a connection with the author, even…or because?…i live in the middle of nowhere on a dead end dirt road.
      intruders annoy me–like the “medical transport people” who take stepdad back and forth to the VA: totally clueless about anything beyond their Siri Map Feature(we’re not on those maps)…and i fear some wealthy city person buying up some of the adjacent range and pasture and putting up some crazy, banal mcmansion too close to my fence, and demanding that i clean up and mow, dammit.
      and stop gardening naked for 3/4 of the year.
      and make the geese be quiet.
      and it made me think of when i did live in apartments and otherwise “in town”…and the closeness and noise and flushing toilets and yelling fights and sirens and cars.
      of course, expecting things to remain more or less the same way out here is one thing…but an apartment on manhattan island?
      the “New People” are a tribe i’ve rarely interacted with…a few of the hunter’s wives, perhaps…but i reckon i lived “in town” well before slumming it thataway became chic.
      are they numerous, these “New People”?
      are there prophylactic traps and baits?
      the handful of “Rich People” who have moved out here in the last decade or so are so far pretty invisible.
      Only one has taken an interest in local politics(a dog ordinance that i immediately violated when loose dogs slaughtered my chickens in the Barrio, and i shot one of them(non-fatally) with an arrow.
      (deputy was angry that a bow is not a “firearm”, the discharge of which is prohibited “In Town”). I was a hero to the native cohort, and an enemy to the “ferriners”(people who came from somewhere else…which, surprisingly, might no longer include me)
      one more reason to secretly hope for a quick end to the current paradigm.

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        I enjoy your comments Amfortas, which give me imagined visuals.

        Postcards from somewhere in America.

    2. dcblogger

      as someone who shopped thru catalogs before I could shop online, having your goods shipped is just plain easier. At 67 I really don’t want to carry can goods upstairs, so I use Peapod (Teamster drivers, UFCW packs the order). I use Amazon for electronics and dvds that are not otherwise available to me. I hate shopping with the heat of 1000 suns. Shopping online is easier and from the looks of things the other old ladies who live in my building agree.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Did Amazon carefully exterminate every bussiness from which electronics and dvds that heretofore would have been available to you have been rendered no longer available to you except through Amazon?

  13. Plenue

    Saw someone on reddit yesterday point out something that should have been really obvious: while liberals are hand-wringing over Joe Rogan, they ignore that Hillary Clinton was on freaking Howard Stern’s show not even two months ago. Stern, the ultimate and definitive shock jock who regularly asks female guests if they want to ride the sybian he has in the studio, and who to this day maintains the ‘Wack Pack’; people with various disabilities or other problems that are featured solely to be mocked.

    If Rogan is unacceptable for being occasionally boorish, what the hell is Stern?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      But Howard Stern was a host of a tv show on NBC, and NBC is impeccable. They have Rachel Maddow. And Robin is black -“Woke Bro” before launching into a diatribe against Nina Turner

    2. Monty

      Probably shouldn’t spend too much time thinking about this, this close to lunchtime, but did Hillary ride the sybian whilst she was there?

      1. Lemmy Caution

        No , but she has been riding the shiboleth of the Democratic Party — some say for far too long.

  14. shinola

    From the “IoT trouble…” article, this bears repeating:

    “…what happens to our privacy when the IoT devices that share information about our activities become ‘required’ by market forces or, worse, mandated by new laws and regulations. Imagine what marketers — and government agencies — could do with such information.”

    I’m already wondering how long it will be before I’m virtually forced to carry a “smart” phone. I’ve avoided that step(/trap) so far, but who knows how long I’ll be “allowed” that option.
    I always try to remind friends & family that any tech. device that carries the “smart” label could just as well be called a SPY device.

    1. pretzelattack

      i already can’t receive some messages on my batphone, and windows forces you to update to 10. it’s not just the spying either, my debit card just got hacked and i have clue how. did the bank get hacked? don’t know.

      1. Martin Cohen

        Our main pc is still running Windows 7. Refuse to upgrade.
        However, my wife has a Windows 10 laptop which we never voluntarily update, and I don’t update my 2014 mac mini running High Sierra.
        The only machine I update is a refurbished 2015 MacBook Air (good keyboard, $500) which was updated to Mojave. Will never install Catalina since we use Picasa for our photos and it will never run on Catalina.
        Note on Picasa: It runs on Mojave but only after five clicks on a message saying that it won’t run. Once it starts, it’s fine.

        1. flora

          Most major antivirus vendors will continue product support on Windows 7 for another two years. So that’s good.

          “All the major antivirus software makers plan to continue supporting their products past the Windows 7 end of life (EOL) date.

          “Most vendors, with a few exceptions, have confirmed that their products will continue to run on Windows 7 systems for at least two years, until 2022, ensuring that Windows 7 users have security products at their disposal to protect their systems.”


    2. marieann

      “I’m already wondering how long it will be before I’m virtually forced to carry a “smart” phone”

      I don’t even have a dumb phone. The only phones in my houses are attached to the walls. As long as I stay home-I’m good…nobody knows nuthin’

  15. JBird4049

    …Preparing to send the image, the photographer cropped out Nakate, leaving a picture of four white women before a scenic mountain backdrop.”

    So we are thinking that this is just an innocent mistake are we? This really annoys me.

    Such “mistakes” eliminated the thousands of blacks who fought in the Continental army and navy, or each time in all the many wars fought since then, but somehow they mostly are glossed over. Women, minorities, poor people all are just cropped from history. It is scarier when it is an unconscious act and not a deliberate one.

    1. Plenue

      Much more interesting is the at least as many, and maybe as many as three times as many, blacks who fought for the royalists, rather than the traitors. The British also went on to honor their promises of freedom.

  16. PKMKII

    Thought on the fear that the democrat establishment has surrounding the possibility of a Sanders presidency: first and foremost is the fear of a politics they don’t like winning, and the fear of him excising centrists from the party organs. However, if we look back at 2016 with the fear the establishment Republicans had with Trump, it was not about him being uncouth. It was that he was talking about raising taxes on certain classes of the rich, and the voters not turning on him for it. It was fear of him exposing their fundamental myth of the GOP base as no new tax absolutists as a sham. Which makes me think of the odd statistic that most popular alternate candidate for Biden supporters is, Bernie. So the equivalent fear here for the establishment dems is Bernie exposing that the dependable but not super-engaged voting bloc of democrats is not ideologically adverse to Bernie’s left-wing politics and really is okay with voting blue no matter who, including for a self-described socialist.

  17. Amfortas the hippie

    regarding the IoT piece..

    i admit that i don’t really understand the appeal of all that(when lambert says “ballot marking device”, i think “pencil”)
    so the problems of that person are somewhat different from my own.
    what worries me when i read about IoT is being eventually forced into it, because there’s nothing else available(dumb bulbs and switches).
    case in point, if one lane over: needed a fan in january when i was building the house. went to wally world. they had none. the reason? the algorithm figured fans wouldn’t sell in january, so they were all pulled and stored away somewhere(one envisions large underground caverns)
    dependency as just another externality.
    that’s how they swallow us whole.

  18. XXYY

    > Winning California through the ground game is, oh, like slicing through the Ardennes, which everybody knew was impossible.

    This is a really good point. The traditional, and now almost inviolable, rule about campaigning in California is that the state is too big and too diverse for retail politics and that the only thing you can really do is buy $30 million of TV ads and carpet-bomb the state.

    Perhaps this is a myth perpetuated by CA media, or perhaps it’s just apologetics for campaigns that don’t have the staff or the competence. Things have also changed a lot in this primary because CA has moved up it’s primary date from June to (essentially) now, since mail in ballots are accepted beginning the same day as the Iowa caucus, so the state has sudden king-maker status instead of just being a nice-to-have after the winner is already decided.

    1. curlydan

      Another factor might be profit margins. It’s probably easy to take 20% off the top of a media buy. Try running a GOTV drive, canvassing, or registration with a good profit margin. It’s too hard, and the pesky proles want too much money!

    2. turtle

      I don’t know if it’s possible to have ground game in California, but I was out canvassing in the state last Sunday (my first time canvassing, ever). I should have realized that they need an army of people to canvass. It’s a really slow process, as to be expected. Finding, walking, accessing, knocking, waiting, talking, and logging all add up to a lot of time quickly. I should have started months ago but was busy with school. I’ll skip school this year to help Bernie win though.

      1. HotFlash

        Thank you, turtle, for your hard work. This is so important. I have been phone banking from Canada. Just wondering, what reception do you get?

        1. turtle

          Thank you too, HotFlash, for volunteering even from outside the country. The reception was mixed. I really only got to speak to a handful of people (a lot of people not home, a few out working – on a Sunday afternoon), but I would say about equal strong supporters and weak supporters/undecideds. Strong opposers were about half of either of those. I don’t know how they select who they choose for us to talk to.

          It’s really interesting to meet people and talk to them about Bernie, so I recommend it to anyone.

      2. sleepy

        I’ll skip school this year to help Bernie win though.

        I wonder what Bernie would have to say about that. I hazily recall a video from 2016 where a young college student told Bernie that she had cut class that day in order to see him. Bernie was aghast: You should be in class! And study hard! Hit the books! Lol.

        1. turtle

          That story sounds familiar to me too. Luckily I’m more of a middle-aged, lifelong student, so I’m just taking my time anyway (see my nickname) and this doesn’t derail any critical plans. I felt bad that I didn’t get to volunteer for him in 2016.

  19. chuck roast

    Re: The Union Forces and the South’s Salvation

    I was in Winterport, Maine a few years ago. It’s up the Penobscot River. I was wandering around a graveyard looking for a particular name. A 30/40′ column had been erected on the top of the hill in honor of the Union dead. One of the lines of text on the monument mentioned “the rebellion of the slaveowners.” I had never seen anything like that before.

    1. Swamp Yankee

      Indeed, most Northern references to the Civil War in the latter decades of the 19th c. talk about “The War of the Rebellion” and similar locutions. The fear of the Slave Power was something that Conscience Whigs, Free Soilers, and the remnants of the old Jacksonian Democracy, with its fear and hatred of the Money Power, could share (replace Money Power with Slave Power for the latter). Add those three together and you get the 1850s-60s Republican Party.

      Even those northern Dems who remained loyal to the Union and their Party — so called War Democrats — often justified the war in Jacksonian terms, as a struggle against the overweening Money Power. They had little use for abolition, but absolutely hated concentrated power, in keeping with the Jefferson-Jackson tradition. Similar reasoning prevailed in upland regions of the South that remained staunchly Unionist (western Virginia and NC, eastern TN, even north Georgia and Alabama and MS).

  20. HotFlash

    “Iowa Democrats pride themselves on voting first — and picking winners. Since the Iowa caucuses began kicking of the presidential nominating process in 1972, the victor has marched on to become the Democratic nominee in seven of the last ten open primary contests, including in the last four: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Kerry and Al Gore.

    Indeedy? Three of the four noms were losers. Perhaps Iowa Dems should try harder to pick the winner of the general.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Individual voters should not try such “strategic voting”. For one thing, most don’t have a clue about tactics, much less strategy, and as individuals most voters aren’t fit to judge on the question of “electability” or choose between the politicians lying to them about it.

      But I still hold onto that small-d democratic ideal that the voters as a whole probably do make the best possible choices, even when confronted with horrible ones.

      And there’s really the rub. Those nominees (HRC excepted) were likely the best the so-called party could cough up those years. Yep they sucked. But the party still didn’t have anyone better who was available. The Democrats really are a sorry bunch.

  21. Bruce F

    On the issue of water quality in the farm belt (“Farming’s Growing Problem”), in particular nitrate run off, Chris Jones is excellent.

    I will be surprised if we ever have enough cost share (public) money to address the problem of water quality degradation from nitrate loss. Farmers can buy it for $0.31 per pound but it can cost $2 per pound (or more) to keep it out of our streams. I wrote about this more than two years ago in this space, before anybody read this blog. In that piece, so far read by only 41 people, I calculated that reaching water quality goals for nitrogen using cover crops would cost at least $175 per Iowan per year. Walk down your street and ask a household of four to fork over $700 every year to mitigate nitrate pollution. Something tells me people aren’t going to run to get their checkbook.

    One last thought. Why have things degraded so much more in western Iowa in the last 20 years? This is an interesting question. I have some ideas but I don’t really have the answer.

    1. flora

      “Why have things degraded so much more in western Iowa….”

      From Storm Lake, Iowa, (via the Guardian) in 2017.


      A lot of the editorials can be read at the Pulitzer’s site:


      The editorials “BV is Losing the Public” and “Wrong Assumptions” are really good; they address nitrate pollution from farm fertilizer runoff.

      1. flora

        adding from the “BV is losing the public” editorial:

        “The solution demands that we quit farming into the ditch and over the fenceline. If we left 10% of Iowa’s marginal land fallow the nitrate problem would disappear. Iowa State University research proves it. ”

        Farmers used to leave several feet on either side of a fence line unplowed. It was a soil erosion prevention measure against wind and water erosion. Now, farms plant right up the the fence line. Not many buffers are left to prevents soil erosion, or slow and catch water runoff letting the soil and its chemicals settle out before the water and wind reaches the streams and rivers.

        1. sleepy

          Since a new combine nowadays can cost upwards of $500,000, in addition to other astronomical farming costs, I guess they figure they need every square foot of land to be productive.

          1. flora

            That’s a big part of the reason for plowing up to the fenceline. Plus the cost of seed and other farm expenses.

            As far as local pols taking money being influenced by big Ag and refusing to regulate or clean-up runoff, that’s a political problem, or maybe a corruption problem, imo.

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Stay with me here. If nitrogen makes up around 1% of feces; and presidential candidates congregate in Iowa; is it possible they are an untracked source of said nitrogen in Iowa’s groundwater?

            As there seems to be an inordinate amount of human “bovine excrement” being doled out in The Hawkeye State.

          1. notabanktoadie

            Yep and a major root cause is government privileges for private credit creation, i.e. for “the banks” and, by extension, for the richer at the expense of the poorer.

            Another major root cause is no limits to the concentration of land ownership.

            Both are contrary to the Old Testament, btw, so a big price has been paid for ignoring it wrt economic justice.

          1. notabanktoadie

            Leaving money on the table. Can’t have that. Lambert

            Excellent point – for a corporate farm.

            Otoh, a family farmer might, per the Bible:

            1) Not reap to the edges of his field (Leviticus 23:22)
            2) let the land lie fallow every 7th year (Leviticus 25:3)

            EXCEPT said family farmer has to compete (except for mere subsistence*) with corporate farms motivated purely by the desperate need for profit.

            * hence the desirability of a Citizen’s Dividend to allow much more subsistence farming. That and land reform.

    1. Oregoncharles

      They’ll have to stop evacuating Wuhan while they evacuate all the generals and CIA agents from the Middle East.

      1. Craig H.

        This is potentially the greatest development in human history since Pandora opened her box before history even really got going. I think we should have a great big wake for General d’Andrea or whatever his rank was. Call it making america great again if you’d like.

        Washington buttholes are probably working up a list of Iranian high mucky mucks to target. It’s probably a lot like that scene in the war room at the end of Doctor Strangelove.

  22. XXYY

    “Bernie Sanders and His Internet Army” [New York Times].

    Seems like a rehashing and retrenching of the Bernie Bros trope, featuring Sanders opponents tip-toeing around in fear surrounded by private security guards lest a crazed Sanders supporter brandish a chair at them or post mean words online.

    These same peace-loving and humane Sanders opponents are apparently fine with retaining the existing US healthcare system that causes 45,000 excess deaths and 500,000 needless bankruptcies annually in the country, or the existing US foreign policy apparatus that assassinates foreign leaders, institutes coups, and perpetrate bombings and invasions that kill hundreds of thousands or millions. One could go on and on. Against this carnage, the complaints of an occasional lack of gentility among Sanders’ supporters, even assuming these reports have any truth, seem incredibly minor and unconcerning.

    The point is that Americans see the real death, suffering and victimization going on in their country, and want it to stop. If the price of changing the system is some occasional harsh words and hurt feelings, this seems so reasonable that it’s not worth mentioning.

  23. dcrane

    If Bloomberg were to spend 2 billion dollars on his campaign, it would take a donation of about $20, on average, from every single one of his opponent’s voters to equal that expenditure, assuming 200+ million voting-age people in the population, and half voting for Bloomberg’s opponent (say, Sanders).

    A donation from every single person.

    And 2 billion would barely dent Bloomberg’s wealth. This is how we know the system is completely broken.

    1. Oh

      That effer would probably plunder the population to recoup the money not to mention the bribes he’ll pick up from the Dims.

  24. Synoia

    The higher they’re eating up the food chain, the more nitrogen you need.

    Makes the case for eating veggies and little meat.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        manure is the stuff of life.
        can’t do organic/sustainable/regenerative without it.
        ive got about 2-3 tons on two trailers right now…mostly horse, with some cow, with a bunch of rotted hay mixed in.
        rain interfered with my crazy cracker rigged unloading inventions…no traction, and the manure soaked it up and became twice as heavy. so i’ve got 3 out of work post-high schoolers coming tomorrow to offload it.
        this has inspired mom, in spite of her usual intransigence, to spring for a rented dumping trailer to obtain the entire pile…prolly 10-15 tons…big as a school bus,lol.
        then spring for a rented bobcat to distribute it to all the beds.
        by itself, enough fertility for 10-15years. with cover cropping, composting and judicious bird rotation, it’s the launch pad for even longer.
        i’m almost school-girl giddy.
        good, well rotted horse$hit makes me very happy.

        1. inode_buddha

          Amf, you got the good stuff. Theres a few veggie farmers around here in the low-lying areas that use it, you can’t make a cabbage farm smell any worse than its already is…. their dirt is just as black and rich as can be… the Dutch farmers call the manure spreaders “politicians”

          1. polecat

            I recently forked polecat’s special kitchenchicken compost into it’s final rest place, to be gone over by the red wigglers, until such time as to be dispersed upon the various green friends of the garden. It’s been years since I’ve had to buy feedstore/nursery compost. 4 hens (by virtue of the collection of their copious daily droppings) plus the addition of mucho kitchen scraps is a wonderfully ‘fruitful’ combination !

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          You’re posting a lot today, Amfortas. What a pleasure! And congratulations:

          O wonderful son that can so astonish a mother! But is there no sequel at the heels of this mother’s admiration? Impart.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      There are farmers and ranchers who are getting all the nitrogen their operations use from the nitrogen gas in the atmosphere above their property, via the mechanism of biological nitrogen-fixation. If you eat more of THEIR meat, you are contributing ZERO the the production of Haber-Bosch nitrogen. And you are contributing ZERO to the USE of any Haber-Bosch nitrogen when-used-for-meatgrowing.

      So the answer is two-pronged: eat as much strictly ZERO Haber-Bosch meat as you can afford, and eat ZERO confinement feedlotted or poultry-batteried animal protein of any kind whatsoever. Ever.

  25. Bugs Bunny

    “The United States is rich enough, industrialized enough, and far enough from the tropics…”

    Erm, the last time I checked, the entire state of Florida was firmly in the tropics. With a large population and very extensive coastline, being an erm, peninsula.

  26. barrisj

    Re: NYT piece on Repubs and the “left behind”…read and reread the article, and in no instance did the reporter actually query these “New Republicans” in Dayton whether they indeed can point to any sort of economic betterment the past 3+ years, or indeed anything that Trump has done to their benefit. There was some reference to employment at Wright Patterson AFB, but no numbers or context vis-à-vis the local economy. Unfortunately, the hopes of the “left-behinders” are entirely faith-based: Faith in a fraudster, con-merchant, and racist reprobate who won’t nor is expected to deliver salvation.

    1. chuckster

      One of the 2016 candidates for president lied to them. The other one called them “Deplorables” and told them to suck it up.

      People vote rationally whether you understand their motivations or not.

  27. Pelham

    Yes, Chait is wrong about Sanders’ plan for Medicare for all. But Sanders’ positions on those other issues are indeed problematic, especially his plan to phase out nuclear power. That simply can’t happen if we’re going to get at all serious about climate change.

    I’ve been reading the hype for decades now about solar and wind, especially the latter, but we keep adding more fossil fuel capacity globally at a faster rate than we add renewables. This has been true for a very long time. Emissions aren’t going down, they’re going up even with all this new wind capacity. This is the well established, undeniable history on this subject.

    Nuclear is probably the only answer. It’s just an uncomfortable fact. But what’s truly distressing is the absence of much in the way of rational consideration by those most inclined to advocate the kind of radical steps needed to beat back climate change at this very, very late stage.

    1. roadrider

      It’s actually the other way around. Nuclear energy is the unchallenged king of unfulfilled hype (power too cheap to meter, we’ll find a solution to the waste problem and all that) while renewables are coming on line faster (pretty low bar since no one is really interested in building new nuke plants and those that have tried recently have drowned in massive cost overruns and technical failures) and killing nukes on cost. But keep peddling your nuclear delusions. You sound, like someone whose salary depends on nukes or who has been so thoroughly brainwashed by the propaganda of the nuclear industry that you’ve blinded yourself to the reality of ths situation.

      1. Yves Smith

        You are missing a critical point: renewables have a base load problem, and the marginal cost, which is what you see published, does not reflect the cost of time and even season-shifting. It’s apples and oranges.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        i think it would be cool, regardless, to actually try thorium.
        if only for manufacturing all the solar and wind and wave we’re gonna need.
        that was shelved because bigwigs wanted bomb making supplies.

      3. Pelham

        I have nothing to do with the nuclear industry and have purposely avoided reading their propaganda. However, objective facts are undeniable. Sweden has nine nuclear plants that provide 40% of its power while hydropower accounts for 50%, making it one of the cleanest emission countries on the planet. But they’re having trouble with plans to phase out nuclear as renewables just aren’t measuring up.

        In Germany, it’s even worse, where a push to renewables and away from nuclear is causing a big spike in energy prices. True, they have some excellent days with renewables in the summer months. But year round it just isn’t working, largely due to the base load problem. And that’s why fossil fuel plants keep being built globally at a pace that exceeds turbine construction. If wind were the answer, wouldn’t the marketplace have dictated a different scenario? How much longer do you want to travel down this road?

        As for nuclear hype, yes, it has been there. But that too-cheap-to-meter trope has been dead for decades. Cost overruns are largely due to regulations that, while desirable, may have to be streamlined — and I’ll admit that entails risks. But if you examine the overall death and sickness rates for nuclear, it stands up well by comparison with other sources. France gets three-quarters of its energy from nuclear, and it’s not a big deal.

        As for waste disposal, that’s a major problem. But it can be solved. And there are several new sources of nuclear fuel and plants that can mitigate that greatly, including one that might even burn used nuclear fuel and render it nearly harmless.

        In all, I’ll confess that a big commitment to nuclear globally would be a leap into the void. But renewables now have a well worn track record, and we know for certain that they’re taking us nowhere near where we need to be.

        1. Acacia

          I wrote a longer comment about this, apparently lost(?) in moderation.

          In lieu of that comment, I’ll just add that Jeremy Rifkin has argued very persuasively that nuclear power is dead in the water.

          Needless to say, we will need to think differently in the future.

        2. fajensen

          Sweden has nine nuclear plants that provide 40% of its power while hydropower accounts for 50%, making it one of the cleanest emission countries on the planet.

          The Cleanr-than-thou Swedes are “forgetting” to do the accounting for crushing and cleaning about 6700000 tonnes of rock to extract a typical 100 tonnes U-238 fuel charge of which the nuclear plant will probably use about 5-8%, leaving the rest too toxic to work with and will basically be sitting in a waste-disposal facility for 2000 years while “we” decide what to do about it!

          Nuclear, in its current incarnation, is simply the epitome of waste and loss externalisation!

          The “base load problem” is an artefact from the way that the electrical distribution system were originally designed. The electrical distribution system will be changed from one huge network connecting all manner of resonances, which then need efforts at damping them (the control side of the “the base load problem”), to a mesh-structure of “islands” with active interfaces that controls the power flow, “intelligent transformers”, basically. The costs are comparable with “classic transformers” because the new ones uses a lot less “iron” and copper, which are expensive materials. Industry who really needs always-on power will simply buy it, like in the ole days. Most Consumers generally don’t.

          This is all happening NOW, dictated by “The Marketplace”. Only “Government” are stupid enough to “invest” in Nuclear Power. They do this because they prioritise having nuclear weapons and nuclear subs so much that getting their faces ripped clean off on every nuclear project is deemed acceptable.

          1. Yves Smith


            I’m sorry, but a different grid architecture does not solve the base load problem. Parts of the country don’t even get great summer sun. Only the southernmost parts of Arizona, California, and Nevada get 70% or more winter sun. And sunlight peaks during the early PM while power consumption peaks at 7 to 8 PM. Wind isn’t reliable and hydro serves only some sections of the US.

            This is not a grid problem, this is a “pattern of demand v. pattern of renewable supply” issue.

          2. Basil Pesto

            Ah yes, Sweden’s nuclear arsenal is truly what makes them one of the world’s most fearsome military powers.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        Doesn’t France have a functional nuclear industry, including a solution for waste? Can’t we hire the Canadians to install single payer, and the French to build some nukes?

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          thorium is the only “solution for waste” that i’ve ever heard of…short of sending it to the moon, or something(which is a bad idea…think Challenger disaster, but with a bunch of spent fuel rods)
          the rub to it all is that we’ll never replace oil and gas for portability and eroei….ergo, our habits—wants and needs—must change to fit into the limits that are imposed by Mother Nature. This is a tall order…..not because it cannot be done, but because we’ve got about 5-10,000 years of habit to deal with. we don’t know how to do steady state, or decline…only grow and expand.

          as for the idea of a distributed power generation schema…instead of big, centralised power plants—a bunch of neighborhood sized micro grids, maybe tied in in some way together….yes. and not just solar and wind, but biogas. everyone forgets about biogas,lol.
          everything poops…and that poop, if handled properly, breaks down into compost and methane(“natural gas”=a marketing term). run it though a charcoal filter to remove the sulfurous compounds, and voila!
          the problem, just like with the centralised grid, is sunk-cost/inertia—everything’s built, power distribution and sewerage, to service the hydraulic despotism business model.

    1. OIFVet

      Given the malodour of MSM with the general public, this is a perfect moment for Sanders to go for a ‘They are unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred’ speech.

    2. carl

      No, a Joe Biden nomination is just what he needs. And he knows it too. On another note, I just finished Taibbi’s Insane Clown President; it’s a good read and a timely remember of a bit of the outrageousness of 2016, and also how little the media and the Democrat party establishment have learned since then (nothing).

    3. False Solace

      Great timing. Comes literally 1 day after audio leaked of Trump saying the only VP pick he didn’t want in 2016 was Bernie.

  28. Aron Blue

    Didn’t see it mentioned here yet but the supremely funny MSDNC parody account was suspended by twitter. I feel like the working class coalition supporting Bernie has finally ripped the smiley face off the mainstream elite.

    1. dcrane

      A CNN parody account called “CNM Neews” (@cnmneews) on twitter also seems to have been suspended. Can’t imagine there was a good reason since I’ve never seen anything out of bounds from them. This may be the year online censorship really comes of age.

  29. Jeff W

    Notwithstanding Jonathan Chait helpfully reminding us of Bernie Sanders’s “intensely unpopular” positions, here’s Canadian historian and YouTube commentator, Christo Aivalis, pointing to two polls regarding New Hampshire, one showing Sanders up six points and Biden down four, and one showing Sanders crushing rival Joe Biden with more than double his support (Sanders’s 28% to Biden’s 13%). (The usual caveats regarding any one poll, particularly one with results markedly different from others, apply.)

    Aivalis says this surge by Sanders underlies the desperation of the neoliberal media class saying that Sanders is “too radical” and that Trump “will almost certainly pummel him” (Aivalis’s words)—he mentions Jonathan Chait specifically, in fact—and that the public isn’t buying it. Whatever happens with Sanders, this election might be notable as the one in which the US public took the narrative foisted on them by those in the corporate media—who are paid millions to, putatively, “inform” us with their “expertise”—and threw it back in the pundits’ faces.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It could be that the extremely online and political wonk types are voting on policy, but out there in the biomass, people are voting on character. Sanders definitely has a “what you see is what you get” persona, pretty rare these days. Must be attractive, after all the bullshit.

  30. freedomny

    n+1 Open House. As someone who lived in NYC & Queens most of my life this resonated with me. I recently had to leave Queens in order to get a lower cost of living. Even though I owned my own apartment and did not have a mortgage, the maintenance and assessments kept going up year after year. With car insurance, electricity, etc…my bills just to live without food came to approx 2K a month….which is kind of outrageous.

    Ironically, the couple who bought my apartment were multi-millionaires who easily could have purchased a place in Manhattan. But…I guess they could spot a comparative deal when they saw one.

  31. The Rev Kev

    ““Photo cropping mistake leads to AP soul-searching on race””

    Funny how the mistakes always go one way. I have on my computer a screenshot of a Yahoo page from the Katrina flooding. The top image from an AP story had a black guy in waist-high water labelled ‘after looting a grocery store’ while the AFP story showed an image of a young white couple in waist-high water who are labelled ‘after finding bread and soda from a grocery store’. The mistakes always go one way.

  32. Mikel

    “Open House” [n+1]. Gentrification in Manhattan: “

    “This powerful ability to ignore signs of danger and sickness enables them to go anywhere, secure in the belief that nothing bad can touch them.”

    They are more of a danger to the writer, and all of us, than he may be willing to admit. These “oblivious” types (a description the writer nails) will be put in positions of power.
    They are more dangerous to society than the outcasts or junkies they’ve displaced.

    1. notabanktoadie

      I know their names because they get everything delivered. The packages pile up in the small entryway where there never used to be packages.

      Snoopy much?

      The old people shop nearby, or else we don’t shop much at all. Now I am always tripping over boxes. Sometimes, I confess, in my hostility, I kick the boxes. Amazon, Amazon, Amazon. Sephora. Vineyard Vines with the smiling, pink, preppy whale. Kick, kick, kick.”

      Bitter loser much? What gives him the right to abuse other people’s property?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I think I remember F Beard ( ” notabanktoadie” ) fairly recently bragging about how he does his shopping through Amazon. It would take hundreds of hours going back through the hundreds of thousands of words which have built up since then to be able to find it.

          Hundreds of hours which I could spend if I were paid a hundred dollars an hour to read all those words.

          But I am fairly sure I remember it.

          1. notabanktoadie

            Not bragging, merely pointing out that we do what we do to survive in a system that at least some of us LOATHE and are trying to abolish.

            Sold the bank stock, btw. The dividends were probably more than the interest I’ll collect on my savings account but fortunately I had an overriding reason to sell – even at a loss. So my conscience is a bit clearer on that account though collecting interest on a risk-free asset is troubling too – but necessary* given the hated system I would abolish.

            I’m sorry to have offended you so grievously but it offends me that small businessmen were happy enough with the system so long as they were not the ones being screwed by it.

            But anyway, let’s abolish the system and we should all be happier.

            *Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? Ecclesiastes 7:16

      1. inode_buddha

        I know their names because they get everything delivered. The packages pile up in the small entryway where there never used to be packages.

        Snoopy much?

        Project much? How the hell do you “snoop” in a public space?

  33. Tim

    Open borders is national suicide. However, M4A, phasing out nuclear power, withdrawal from the losing wars in the Middle East and preventing nuclear war make it an acceptable compromise and that’s why this former Trump voter is going to vote for Sanders in the primary and write in Tulsi Gabbard if the Democrats commit party suicide by not nominating him.

    1. tegnost

      I don’t think open borders is a sanders position. Scare mongering.

      From Vox
      Vox.com 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jul 28, 2015

      Open borders for guest workers pushes down U.S. worker wages
      Q: You said being a democratic socialist means a more international view. Does that include raising the level of immigration to a level of open borders?
      A: Open borders? No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal.

      Q: Really?

      A: Of course. That’s a right- wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States.

      Q: But it would make a lot of global poor richer, wouldn’t it?

      A: It would make everybody in America poorer –you’re doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don’t think there’s any country in the world that believes in that. If you believe in a country called the United States or any other country, you have an obligation to do everything we can to help poor people. What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.

      1. False Solace

        It’s scaremongering but Trump will run on it anyway. “Abolishing ICE” does not mean “open borders” but people are primed to believe it. In politics whenever you explain you lose.

        Yet another reason humans (in their current form) deserve to go extinct, to hopefully clear the way for intelligent life.

        1. Glen

          Rich people like Trump and Koch are the people that hire illegal workers. So of course they support it.

          They just like to lie and scare the sheeple to get votes.

      2. Tim

        Thank you for that. Makes my support of Sanders even more definite!
        Will quote your sources the next time anyone mentions his “open borders position.”

    2. notabanktoadie

      Open borders were not a problem for ancient Israel because the assets (primarily agricultural) were roughly equally owned by all Hebrews with provisions in the Law (e.g. Leviticus 25) to keep it that way.

      Contrast that to the US with its large population of wage/debt slaves whose livelihoods are threatened by foreign goods and labor and we can surmise that the Biblical economic model has been ignored or explained away in a largely so-called “Christian” nation.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Unless Sanders has been browbeaten into supporting Open Borders, he still doesn’t support Open Borders any more than he used to.

      Though if he supports such SJW measures as de-felonizing illegal entry, de-sealing-off the borders, etc.; he will indeed end up de facto supporting Open Borders.

      There just has to be a “kinder gentler” way of sealing off the borders without some of the Trumpian nastiness we have seen on the enforcement side. I have a non-satirical suggestion which I offer in all sincere seriousness. Find a way to release a half-million people from the Prison System in order to create a half-million spaces for putting a half-million illegal employERS of illegal aliens into those half-million prison spaces. Perhaps if a half-million illegal employERS were put into prison for decades apiece, it might terrorise the other illegal employERS into stopping their illegal employment practices.

  34. allan

    Super PAC uses heart attack in ad hitting Bernie Sanders [Politico]

    A group of pro-Israel Democrats will begin airing an attack ad in Iowa on Wednesday that questions Bernie Sanders’ electability by citing his 2019 heart attack and his left-wing positions.

    The ad from Democratic Majority for Israel is backed up by at least $681,000 in spending in the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses …

    The new ad does not mention foreign policy — but the super PAC airing it is linked to Democratic Majority for Israel, which launched in 2019 to “strengthen the pro-Israel tradition of the Democratic Party,” it said in a statement last January. The group’s board is co-chaired by former Clinton White House aide Ann Lewis and counts veteran Democratic strategist Paul Begala among its members. …

    Full blown panic mode.

    1. Big River Bandido

      I knew this was where it would come from. Needs to be a “pro-Israel” group hitting Sanders — it’s the only way the anti-Semitism attack would have the appearance of credibility.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Hypothetically, if DemPrezNom Sanders picked Gabbard for his VP running mate, some or maybe many people would vote for Sanders/Gabbard in the unspeakable hope that he would die in office after a while and Gabbard would become President.

  35. a different chris

    So in the furor of Trump’s Screw The Palestinians One Last Time I managed to read all the way to the bottom.


    It says, my bold:

    For Israel, “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was on the most remote back burner for years, leaving space [to address] Iran, Syria, the Gulf, and Turkey,” Gilead Sher, former Chief of Staff and Policy Coordinator to Prime Minister Ehud Barak and now a senior fellow at Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies told TIME on Sunday. But Trump and Netanyahu “have upgraded it to stage front,” he added.

    Oh good job fixing those problems, guys. So proud of you.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From a purely realpolitik perspective, isn’t it good to have Israel focused on its “near abroad,” as opposed to crapping around and causing endless trouble in Iran, Syria, the Gulf, and Turkey?

      1. notabanktoadie

        Someone should mention to the Fox crew that a just economic system does not screw up so badly that voters become desperate for ANY alternative – as they did in Germany in 1932.

  36. The Rev Kev

    Amazing Jimmy Dore 20-minute video on who the DNC is stacking the Convention Committees with and their extremely flawed resumes. If it wasn’t so bad, it would be funny. Lots of Clinton & Obama people as well as corporatists and Israeli first supporters. Some swearing in video-


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