2:00PM Water Cooler 1/29/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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

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

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

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

We have new national Quinnipiac 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 and Klobuchar. 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. Because there were many state polls, I disaggregated to the national poll only:

And the numbers:

And now for the state polls. IA:

IA numbers:


NH numbers:

Premature triumphalism is ugly and stupid, but it’s hard to see — if these figures are right; Iowa is volatile! — how the Sanders campaign could be better positioned, less than a week out. Caveat: Sanders’ young voters really have to come through, as do new voters. Those are big risk factors, but if the gamble pays off in early states, I would bet disaffected voters in later states will join in the fun. Of course, the negative advertising has already begun…

And for grins (no recent polling), SC:

SC numbers:

SC likes a winner, and will no doubt be greatly affected by what happens in NH and IA.

Ahd The Big One, CA:

CA numbers:

Yesterday I remarked how audacious it was for Sanders to try to win CA with the ground game, comparing it to a thrust through the Ardennes; for fans of the Aubrey/Maturin series, it reminds me of how the brig Sophie captured the much larger Cacafuego, by boarding it.

Summary: The Biden juggernaut rolls on, but Sanders has pulled even. Warren is in trouble (meaning her smear of Sanders did not work). Bloomberg is buying his way in.

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 I 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.”

* * *
Biden (D)(1): “Biden won’t say whether Sanders could unify Dems as nominee” [Associated Press]. “Former Vice President Joe Biden wouldn’t say Tuesday whether he thinks Bernie Sanders could effectively unify the Democrats if the Vermont senator wins the party’s presidential nomination. ‘We have to unite,’ Biden told reporters in Muscatine, six days before the Iowa caucuses. ‘I’m not going make judgments now. I just think that it depends upon how we treat one another between now and the time we have a nominee.’ Biden has previously promised to support the Democratic nominee, regardless of who it is.”

Bloomberg (D)(1): “Michael Bloomberg awkwardly shakes dog’s snout at Vermont campaign stop” [New York Post]. “Presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg touched off a social media debate on how to play with a dog on Tuesday after video emerged of him greeting a dog by shaking its snout at a campaign stop in Vermont. … The footage shows Bloomberg shake a man’s hand, then grab the dog by the muzzle and shake the pooch up and down. After the snout-shake, Bloomberg scratches the top of the dog’s head. The dog wagged his tale [sic] throughout the episode.” • So, fine, right? Anyhow, for the record, the video:


The history:


And Bloomberg’s response:


Adroit, I must say. (And it’s not like Bloomberg strapped the dog to the top of his car.)

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Buttigieg campaign responds to allegations from minority staffers” [CBS]. “Amid accusations from former and current staffers of color that their concerns were repeatedly ignored, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign is insisting that it’s committed to diversity. Both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that minority staffers felt they were placed under undue stress by campaign officials. According to the Times, the staffers said they suffered under the “emotional weight” placed on them by the campaign, which has struggled to attract support from Hispanics and African Americans.” • Not a good time for big staff problems.

Sanders (D)(1): “Sanders Campaign Tells Volunteers to Back Off Phone Calls” [The Intercept]. “The move away from phone-banking comes as Sanders is surging in the polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, and nationally and is explained in a detailed memo sent via Slack to campaign volunteers by Claire Sandberg, the campaign’s national organizing director. The directive applies to volunteers who live in states that vote in March, which together make up more than half the country…. Sandberg, in the memo, urges volunteers to pivot either to door-to-door canvassing in their home state, or to friend-to-friend organizing through the campaign’s Bern app. … It is far more effective, campaign leaders have argued, to have friends and relatives urge those close to them to come out to caucus — known as relational organizing — than to carpet-bomb phone lines. The campaign’s original goal for phone calls before Iowa was 5 million, but volunteers have already surpassed 7 million.”

Sanders (D)(2): “Sunrise Movement to Host Nationwide House Parties to Boost Sanders, Demand Green Green New Deal” [Common Dreams]. “Youth led climate advocacy group the Sunrise Movement is asking supporters to host launch parties on Wednesday for the 2020 effort to pass the Green New Deal and back the presidential candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has made addressing the climate crisis a major issue in his campaign. The launch is aimed at raising energy around the “Our Plan to Win” strategy the group is employing to help Sanders win the Democratic nomination and then the White House… The launch parties are scheduled across the U.S. all day Wednesday, January 29.” • If any readers attend one of these meetings, a field report would be welcome.

Sanders (D)(3): “Can Bernie Beat Trump?” [The American Conservative]. “Sanders might actually be able to do a little of both: turn out Democrats who didn’t vote in the pivotal states in 2016 while also competing for Obama-Trump voters. Sanders could more effectively run on Trump’s failure to fully keep his campaign promises on foreign policy and trade (though he’s had to capitulate on immigration) than Joe Biden or most of the other Democrats running. This populist pitch could win over some Trump 2016 voters while at the same time heightening progressive enthusiasm. And Trump’s fundamentals outside of managing the economy are shaky enough he is not invincible head-to-head. Does that mean Democrats are wrong to worry about what would happen after the Sanders platform is exposed to a barrage of Trump campaign ads? Barring a recession, of course not. Sanders could have a higher ceiling than Biden, but he also almost certainly has a lower floor. Nevertheless, the political conditions that made Trump’s election possible could do the same for Bernie.” • It seems that conservatives are more clear-eyed about their enemies than liberals.

Sanders (D)(4): “Bernie Is the Opponent Trump Wants” [William Saletan, Slate]. “Sanders has major liabilities that haven’t been exploited in the primaries. If he’s the nominee, those liabilities could hand the election to President Donald Trump. David Frum made this case on Monday in the Atlantic, and Jonathan Chait, writing for New York magazine, has backed it up with evidence from recent elections. But polls suggest that Trump has already identified a theme that would destroy Sanders: his socialism.” • I suppose, however, that if you’re a volatility voter, “socialism ZOMG!!” is the ultimate volatility vote.

Sanders (D)(5): “Democrats court doom by backing Bernie Sanders. His ideas are toxic outside blue America” [Third Way, USA Today]. “Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.? We know that the Trump campaign will seek to label any Democratic nominee a “socialist” — a regular Republican tactic that usually goes nowhere because Democratic nominees have never really been socialists. Sanders is different, though. As he said in a 1983 political debate: ‘I am a socialist; of course I’m a socialist.’ The charge would stick, because this is an identity that he himself has proudly trumpeted. And most Americans view socialism negatively, by a margin of 42-55%. That would be quite a weight around a nominee’s neck in a general election. The potency of this pending attack is also underscored by Sanders’ central policy proposal: ‘Medicare for All.’ His plan would hand the government control over nearly a fifth of the American economy. It doesn’t take much Trumpian demagoguery to label that ‘socialized medicine.'” • If the election is about “change vs. more of the same,” it’s hard to see how “more of the same” on health care is anything but a loser.

UPDATE (D)(6): “The Democrats’ Bernie Bind” [Politico]. “Republican presidential candidates found themselves in a similar pickle in 2016. They feared Trump was unelectable, but they didn’t want to anger his supporters by trashing him or his positions. By bowing to Trump and his devout fans, Republicans won the White House. Sanders makes a parallel argument today: that ‘excitement and energy’ are needed to defeat Trump. One South Carolina elected official Dalhi Myers recently switched her support from Biden to Sanders on that logic. As the Associated Press reported, Myers, a member of the Richland County Council, ‘said she started to feel that Biden’s candidacy, while familiar and perhaps comfortable, wasn’t going to be enough to inspire the young voters whom she sees as necessary to a Democratic general election win.’ We can’t know today whether Sanders could blaze a Trump-like path to the White House. We do know that the Republican acquiescence to Trump in 2016 changed the complexion of the GOP, perhaps for a generation. How Democrats react to the rise of Sanders today may similarly determine what kind of party they are going to be.” • Surprisingly balanced for Politico.

Trump (R)(1): “Thousands in line for Trump’s rally in Wildwood” [NJ.com]. “A line that snaked back and forth outside the Wildwoods Convention Center continued to grow early Tuesday as hundreds and hundreds of people from across New Jersey and other states joined to stand in the biting Jersey Shore cold for hours for a chance to see President Donald Trump. Bundled up in sleeping bags, hats and gloves, and sitting on folding chairs many of them planned to toss later, the crowd — which started to form Sunday afternoon — quickly grew to a few thousand people trying to be among those admitted inside to see Trump speak tonight.” • Impressive.

Trump (R)(2): “Trump allies are handing out cash to black voters” [Politico]. “Allies of Donald Trump have begun holding events in black communities where organizers lavish praise on the president as they hand out tens of thousands of dollars to lucky attendees. The first giveaway took place last month in Cleveland, where recipients whose winning tickets were drawn from a bin landed cash gifts in increments of several hundred dollars, stuffed into envelopes. A second giveaway scheduled for this month in Virginia has been postponed, and more are said to be in the works…. [T]he cash giveaways are organized under the auspices of an outside charity, the Urban Revitalization Coalition, permitting donors to remain anonymous and make tax-deductible contributions.” • “Urban,” I love it. Seriously, this is Third World, clientelist stuff. Take the money, and voter however you want…

* * *
IA: “Age Of Voters, Not Candidates, Could Decide Who Wins The Iowa Caucuses” [HuffPo]. “The political fortunes of former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders could hinge on how many young voters show up to next week’s Iowa caucuses, which are historically dominated by older voters with the ability to dedicate a full night to participating in the lengthy, labor-intensive process…. Age has emerged as the crucial dividing line ahead of the Democratic caucuses here, neatly dividing the coalitions of the two septuagenarians in a way education, class and geography do not. Sanders, whose bold agenda includes aggressive plans to wipe out student debt and battle climate change, disproportionately draws support from millennials and members of Generation Z. Biden, who has unveiled more cautious policy proposals, is heavily reliant on the gray-haired.” • Note that the shift by the Sanders campaign to “relational organizing” dovetails neatly with a requirement to get people to the caucuses.


But what did Bolton actually write:


If only Michelle had given John Bolton candy:


“World War Six.” You’ve gotta respect it.

“Red state Democrat says he’s open to having Hunter Biden as witness in impeachment trial” [CNN]. • Joe Manchin. Of course.

“‘Kind of pointless’: In battleground Michigan, impeachment takes back seat to everyday issues” [Reuters]. “‘You’ve got elderly who need help. You’ve got veterans who need help. You’ve got poor people who need help. Impeachment doesn’t really help a person who is struggling,’ said [Victor] Burch, 40, who took up cutting hair after he lost his job at a plastics factory in the 2007-2009 financial crisis. Burch, an undecided African-American voter, added: ‘Close up the barber shop and say: ‘Let’s just sit and hold hands and watch and see if Trump is going or not’? We can’t do that. We don’t live in that type of tax bracket.’ Voters like Burch and places like Livonia will be at the epicenter of November’s presidential contest. Michigan itself is a crucial battleground state that Trump carried unexpectedly in 2016 by about 11,000 votes, propelling him to the White House along with wins in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But interviews with two dozen voters in Livonia over recent days showed that months of impeachment hearings, testimony and political storms in Washington had done almost nothing to alter their views. Instead, many were focused on issues of the day, such as jobs, healthcare, immigration and education.” • Who knew?

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “Hiring at U.S. Firms Showed Signs of Cooling in Fourth Quarter” [Bloomberg]. “A survey of U.S. companies showed that hiring was flat in the fourth quarter, the first unchanged reading in a decade and the latest signal that the labor market is cooling off. Eighteen percent of 95 firms reported that employment had risen over the past three months, while an equal share said it had fallen, according to a National Association for Business Economics survey of member firms released Monday.”

The Bezzle: “Shady Bitcoin Transactions Hit All-Time High” [PYMNTS.com]. “Bitcoin prices, trading and shopping are down but criminal activity involving the cryptocurrency is at an all-time high, the New York Times (NYT) reported on Tuesday (Jan. 28). Drug sales on the dark web are particularly high, up 60 percent and hitting $601 million from January to March 2019, according to blockchain analysis firm and government advisor Chainalysis. Bitcoin has also been pivotal in the rise in ransomware cyberattacks…. Criminal activity accounted for $3.5 billion stolen from millions of victims in 2019, over three times more than in 2018, according to the Chainalysis data.” • Three billion is hardly real money. Why don’t these people go into banking? That’s where the real money is.

The Bezzle: “Salesforce Encouraged Employees to Expense Co-CEO Marc Benioff’s Book” [Bloomberg]. • Because of course it did.

Tech: “Apple Inc.’s shift from devices to services as the top revenue source will have to wait. The electronics behemoth posted record revenue and a return to profit growth in its latest quarter…. behind strong sales of iPhones, apps and its AirPods wireless earbuds” [Wall Street Journal]. “The results marked a return to form for Apple, which for the first time last year failed to report a quarterly revenue record since the iPhone’s 2007 release…. [T]he iPhone still accounted for 61% of Apple’s revenue last quarter, and the company plans to release a low-priced phone this year that could give sales and a new jolt.”

Manufacturing: “Consolidation is spreading across automotive supply chains as the race toward electric vehicles picks up speed. BorgWarner Inc. is buying fellow auto parts maker Delphi Technologies PLC in an all-stock transaction that values Delphi at about $3.3 billion” [Wall Street Journal]. “The companies are giants in components manufacturing, with nearly $15 billion in combined revenue last year. But sales at BorgWarner and Delphi fell in 2019 amid the broader overhaul that has seen car makers rush toward startups and new suppliers focused on electrification and autonomous technology. That has pushed some traditional suppliers of auto components into a corner. Both BorgWarner and Delphi have been working on ‘electric propulsion’ systems, but combining forces will allow them to share their resources and costs as they help auto makers go electric.”

Manufacturing: “Does Tesla make solar glass roof tile in its Buffalo, New York factory? Or in China?” [PV Magazine]. “However, while photographing day 6 of this roof installation in Northern California: We noticed these boxes full of solar glass roof tiles: Based on that label, one might conclude that these boxes of solar roof tiles were coming from Changzou Almaden Co. on Qinglong East Road in Changzou, Jiangzhou, China — 7,135 miles from Buffalo, New York.”

* * *
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 56 Greed (previous close: 53 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 74 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 28 at 12:59pm.

Health Care

“Wuhan Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Global Cases” [Johns Hopkins CSSE]. • This is a very good, dynamically updated map using ArcGIS mapping software. Data sources: WHO, CDC, NHC and Dingxiangyuan. Consider bookmarking. The “Total Confirmed Cases” chart at bottom left is certainly an attention-grabber.

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Meanwhile, one wonder how our own “health” “care” “system” would cope with an equivalent challenge:


(Incidentally, pandemics provide the strongest possible use case supporting universal health care for residents, not just for citizens.)

Class Warfare

“A West Coast union faces bankruptcy. Here’s why unions nationwide are unnerved” [Los Angeles Times]. “But a $94-million federal jury award Nov. 4 to ICTSI Oregon Inc., a cargo terminal operator, has forced union leaders to warn that a filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection may be ahead.” • The details are complex; the whole article is worth a read, especially for those who view the supply chain as a chokepoint for working class activism.

“Blog Review of Quinn Slobodian’s ‘Globalists” [International Economic Law and Policy Blog]. “It is possible that we are at a crossroads with the trading system, although I don’t really think so and my guess is that most of the apparent political difficulties of the moment are being overstated. But if there is a choice as to which direction we should be going, I’ll be interested to see what left wing critics choose. There is a group on the left that seems to really want to dislike trade liberalization and trade agreements. And there are some issues (e.g., IP, ISDS) where I think they have a point, and I’ve said so publicly many times. But do they really want to support an anti-“globalist”/economic nationalist alternative? There’s a lot of baggage that comes with that. I would have thought that self-proclaimed “progressives” would be looking for ways to promote a different version of international economic integration, rather than completely dismantle the system, and some of them are doing so. As for others who may feel inclined to reject trade liberalization and trade agreements, I would just encourage them to take a more nuanced look at the existing trading system before they decide what they think of it.”

News of the Wired

“The environmental cost of keeping mail and files online keeps rising” [Japan Times]. “More and more, people rely on their electronic mailbox as a life organizer. Old emails, photos and files from years past sit undisturbed, awaiting a search for a name, address or photo of an old boyfriend. The problem is that all those messages require energy to preserve them. And despite the tech industry’s focus on renewables, the advents of streaming and artificial intelligence are only accelerating the amount of fossil fuels burned to keep data servers up. Right now, data centers consume about 2 percent of the world’s electricity, but that is expected to reach 8 percent by 2030. Moreover, only about 6 percent of all data ever created is in active use today, according to research from Hewlett Packard Enterprise. That means 94 percent is sitting in a vast ‘landfill’ with a massive carbon footprint. ‘It’s costing us the equivalent of maintaining the airline industry for data we don’t even use,” said Andrew Choi, a senior research analyst at Parnassus Investments, a $27 billion environmental, social and governance firm (ESG) in San Francisco.” • Ha ha. We blew away all our paper records. Soon, we’ll blow away all our digital records. Who needs a collective memory? Who needs oldthink?

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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 (EH):

EH writes: “Euonymus americanus (‘Hearts a’ Busting’) photographed Oct. 20 on woodland edge in Eastern Shore of Maryland in October. USA version of spindle tree.” What a great name for a plant!

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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. Off The Street

    Re labor: I’d like to go down to the docks and get me one-a them Walkin’ Boss jobs. I hear they pay a lot more than the Still Shakin’ Boss jobs.

  2. Mark Gisleson

    re: Bernie’s phone calls

    The importance of campaign phone calling is more about giving volunteers something to do than actual outreach. Getting an Iowan to answer their phone is not easy. But having people doing work for you invests them in your campaign and that is priceless.

    Everything about Bernie’s campaign this time around impresses me. That so many could work so hard with so few missteps is impressive indeed.

    I’ve finalized my Iowa predictions even though the last Iowa Poll will try to boost a Not Bernie this Saturday night.

    Bernie’s going to win. BIG. I would not be surprised to see him get half the first round sign-in votes.

    Warren a distant second, barely viable.

    No one else will achieve 15% on the first ballot (other than at isolated sites).

    Second round regrouping will be brutal but will let Warren get about a third of the delegates to Bernie’s half, with Biden and Buttigieg picking up a couple of delegates and maybe a few for Klobuchar. Uncommitted will place third. Those delegates will be the ones to watch if this goes to convention unsettled.

    I haven’t run a caucus in 40 years, haven’t live in Iowa since 1988, but I visit frequently and can’t begin to say how much I’m looking forward to next Monday night. When you have the numbers, caucuses are a lot of fun. When you don’t, they are incredibly painful.

    : )

    1. Shonde

      How close to Minnesota’s former caucus system is Iowa’s system? In Minnesota’s former system, having the numbers Bernie hopefully has would mean Bernie people would be able to take over congressional district conventions and ultimately the state convention and the congressional district and state party apparatus.

      1. scoff

        take over congressional district conventions and ultimately the state convention and the congressional district and state party apparatus.

        That would be my goal, were I Bernie. It’s the only way (or chance) we have of seeing real change.

    2. Big River Bandido

      Wow. Your confidence in that gives me confidence that my eyes do not deceive. I do see signs that point in your direction — generally speaking, the upward movement in the polls over the last 2 weeks, the high probability that Sanders will be the beneficiary of any higher-than-expected turnout, and the fact that in 2016 Sanders consistently outperformed his polling numbers by 3-5 points. In an interview earlier this month with Krystal Ball and Sangaar Engeti, Chuck Rocha let it slip that in 2016, there were 30,000 Iowa voters who showed up to caucus for Sanders — that weren’t even on the campaign’s radar. He was also saying that based on 2016, the establishment expects turnout of around 180,000. But on the ground, Rocha said, they’re thinking it could go way higher…even up to 250k. If that happens on Monday, Sanders could easily notch a win like that of Obama’s 8-point margin in 2008. Possibly even higher? Again, depends on turnout.

      So that’s the number I’ll be looking for on Monday. If that many people show up, the question is how big will Sanders win. But it all depends on turnout, which is why I haven’t been able to embrace the idea that he will win with the same confidence you project.

      1. False Solace

        Depends on turnout. And also how many votes get dumpstered by the new caucus app and voting software.

        You may think me cynical but I have all of 2016 to back me up. It’s only thanks to WikiLeaks we have proof the DNC outright rigged the election. And the media participated.

        If a big fix were in, I’d expect a bunch of news narratives to loudly tell us to expect a “surprise” in Iowa or other states. I’ll be watching for that over the next few days and weeks.

        1. jsn

          I’m with you in expecting the worst.

          However, Sanders has built an alternative media that will support his side of the narrative, so to the extent his supporters (such as myself) last time were #*&sed off, this time they’ll be doubly #*&sed off and circulating their own version of events and action plans.

          At a minimum, I hope we can raise the legitimacy crisis to a whole new level, like the Yellow Vests appear to have in France.

        2. Big River Bandido

          I don’t think you’re overly cynical…but misdirected cynicism is impotent, and to some extend you’re tilting at windmills.

          There are no “ballots” at a caucus, and totals that get reported are not votes, but delegates. The chicanery comes in whenever the vote *shares* of the “viable” candidates (over 15% in each precinct) cannot be evenly divided by the number of delegates that precinct sends to the county convention. That’s probably where a lot of the “coin-flips” occurred. This process is notoriously inconclusive when the vote is even relatively close. It’s quite possible in those circumstances to massage the process *just enough* to drag the more establishment-favored candidate across the finish line. That’s exactly what happened in Iowa in 2016.

          With such a diffuse system, it’s much harder to rig outcomes when the vote is more clear-cut or lopsided.

    3. HotFlash

      I phone banked on the Bernie app and was, um, disheartened by the responses. I felt uncomfortable invading people’s time and stopped after a few sessions. I could not square it with what I feel when I am on the receiving end when it is election time here — srsly, I do not answer my phone if I do not know the incoming # and have told *my* party, “Never call/text/email me again or I will vote (other party). I say, great move by Bernie&Co., phone/text/talk *only* to people you already know and stop annoying strangers who might otherwise have voted for you.

      Amaxing campaign, amazing candidate. The ‘Democratic strategists’ must hate him!

  3. Wukchumni

    I’m delighted to announce the launch of Habit Coin, whose value increases every time you check it’s current price online.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Thank you for today’s deep ventilation belly laugh!

      However, this thought also intrudes in contemplation of the concept of “value” as employed here (from MMT discussions of currency issuance): it is easy to issue IOUs, the trouble is getting them accepted.

      1. Wukchumni

        Happy to oblige your belly…

        When I did physical foreign exchange, i’d guess around half of the currencies in the world were essentially a no-go zone, none of the communist bloc currencies were of interest, as you could buy them for 1/3 to 1/2 of ‘official value’ in each country (save Hungary towards the fall, it actually was the one Soviet satellite currency that traded somewhere in a almost normal range) but then what would you do with them?

        Most all of the African & Latin American countries currencies were in a constant state of crumble, hyperinflation all over the place.

          1. Wukchumni

            The Loonie-USA $ comparison is similar to a lot of women working for 3/4’s of what men make.

            Got up to around par with the Yankee $ about a decade ago when oil went haywire.

    2. chuck roast

      I’ll let my sister-in-law know ASAP. She will be very excited. And if she any cash left from her previous genius investments she will be sending it to you post haste.

      1. ambrit

        The secret here is, I think, to back off of the big investments and “structure” the investment. The optimal strategy being small but regular investments.

          1. ambrit

            Well, if we run it right, it’ll soon take off on a geometric “hockey stick” rise. Timing the ‘blow off’ is the hard part. (At least that’s what my cellmate at Club Fed, MM said.)

  4. doug

    Soon, we’ll blow away all our digital records. Who needs a collective memory? Who needs oldthink?

    Or ‘who benefits from no collective memory?’

    1. neighbor7

      Seem to recall reading a novel once that addressed that topic, what was it called, “1948” or something? I forget….

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      thinking of some french record destroyers lambert mentioned….and about how in every range war, frontier war, or battle over fencelines and union membership, the courthouse always burned.
      and everyone thereafter had to rely on memory.
      same premise of Fight Club…they blew up transunion and the gang.
      now, it’s virii that leaked out of whatever NSA’s version of Ft Detrick is called…and were commandeered by some revolutionary/nihilist hacker and set loose upon the world.
      perhaps burning the courthouse is the american way of jubilee.

      1. ambrit

        Burning the records was the French Revolutionary Peasant’s preferred “street action.”
        How best to “burn” the records on the “cloud?” Easy, pull the plug on the servers. Oh, the legendarily urban High Altitude EMP (HAEMP) will do.

        1. hunkerdown

          The disks could probably still be recovered, and the backups in the shielded facilities, digitally encrypted and signed, will probably be available for restoration. Continuity of business is a motherfamilyblogger to beat without anti-personnel actions.

          1. HotFlash

            Miraculously recovered backup might happen, but like those innovative currencies, you have to get them generally accepted. Might not be so easy.

  5. Henry Moon Pie

    Michael Bloomberg met a dog–

    This is an interesting piece of data chronicling the continued decline of our elites. In 1992, George H. W. Bush famously was unfamiliar with grocery store scanners because he never bought his own groceries.

    In 2020, Michael Bloomberg doesn’t know how to pet a dog because he has a specialized dog petter on his personal staff.

    1. Wukchumni

      What we need here is a Mikey supporter with a Pit Bull. (don’t worry he’s friendly-famous last words)

    2. MT_Bill

      Not endorsing Mr. Bloomberg at all, but I do the muzzle shake to dogs all the time.

      Doesn’t seem weird to me and our dogs have always seemed to enjoy it.

      If anything, I think it shows he’s comfortable around dogs.

      1. Titus

        As I do as well, usually dogs think your playing with them and it can get to be quite funny trying to keep a hand on their snout while they ‘fight’ it off. I seem to always loose with my dog standing on me, me on my back, laughing as I get pawed in my snout.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Yep yep yep that’s what we need as the Democratic candidate: a racist Republican multi-billionaire corporo-fascist Zionist…who is comfortable around dogs

        Maybe he can stop and frisk dogs instead of brown people this time around

      3. MT_Bill

        Given the past few election cycles, I don’t think we could do worse by lining the candidates up, sending out a Labrador, and choosing the one the dog seems to like the most.

  6. Hepativore

    So, be prepared for a massive vote-rigging campaign on the part of the DNC as we head into the Iowa vote. The DNC voting app is but one aspect of it. I am predicting polling stations being re-assigned at the last moment, ballot counts being delayed or ballots being digitally “misplaced”. The net result being that Biden comes in first with Buttigieg mysteriously coming in second and Sanders, third.

    Of course this is all tongue-in-cheek on my part but I do think that the Democratic Party establishment is fully-prepared to fix the election on a scale that would make 2016 seem insignificant by comparison.

    Of course if anybody calls out the DNC on it, they will shrug their shoulders and either blame it on the Russians or simply say, “So what? Tough sh*t, plebes.” and point to the argument they put forth in the 2017 election fraud case.

    1. Potted Frog

      DNC cheating requires darkness, hence the introduction of phone apps, right?

      Documenting caucuses via videograph and photograph may be a contrasting light to the DNC darkness.

    2. Geo

      We need an international body to oversee our elections. They’ve been bad for a while but after the past few years of Russia hysteria they’ll blame any irregularities on them. Or, at the very least, if somehow Bernie to get through it, they’ll use “Russian hacking” to deligitimize him like they’ve been doing with Trump.

      I fully expect a CIA coup on our own turf this year if Bernie continues as he has been. Trump is bad because he’s pulled off the mask and let us see how ugly they all are. Sanders would actively try to dismantle the power structures. If he does make it that far I hope he avoids planes and grassy knolls.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        When all those young people show up to caucus for Bernie, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear on CNN:

        Don Lemon: So Rick, what do you think is going on in Iowa with all those mysterious people showing up uninvited at a Democratic Party caucus?

        Rick Wilson: My contacts in the intelligence community are telling me there are possible indications that it just might be Cubans parachuting in under Russian command.

        Don Lemon: My God, Rick! What can we do about this invasion?

        On the split screen, we see Wilson rise and raise an AR-15 above his head.

        Rick Wilson: Wolverines!

      2. The Rev Kev

        ‘We need an international body to oversee our elections.’

        Won’t happen as the political establishment has proved hostile to having foreign delegations checking up on your elections. Some States even put laws on the books to have them arrested if they went anywhere near a voting station. It is almost if they had stuff to hide…

    3. Samuel Conner

      The duopoly have a seemingly iron-clad grip on ballot access, but I think that egregious shenanigans this year might lead to such outrage that electoral revolt at local and state levels could occur, and the ballot access laws are set at state level. Someone recently cited a JH Kunstler article suggesting that JB could be the D party’s versus of Zach Taylor and the Whigs.

      If the D party doesn’t change, perhaps it will be replaced.

    4. Hopelb

      We need to organize a parallel election, on paper ballots, publicly counted outside of Dem Primary polling stations. They might think twice about flipping votes/fractional magic-ing if there is an independent count.

      1. inode_buddha

        Now *this* is an excellent idea, I wonder how to spread it far enough though? How to get this idea into Sander’s campaign?

    5. MillenialSocialist

      Watch for Bolivian Coup method: early results from electronic data showing establishment candidates doing well, then hard data showing Sanders pull ahead, then doubt cast on legitimacy of his win.

      Massive turnout is all we can do

  7. michael hudson

    I’m reading Slobodian’s ‘Globalists” now. It is a VERY good book, describing how Hayek and other Austrian libertarians emerged in the 1930s in Geneva around the League of Nations to develop a “parallel state” of law and what Douglass North’s school call “New Institutionalism” to counter democratic politics and dismantle state ability to serve labor instead of capital.

    1. Plenue

      That linked review is hilarious. I especially love the attempts linked to within the review to say globalization doesn’t exist and is just a made up right-wing slur.

      “But do they really want to support an anti-“globalist”/economic nationalist alternative?”


      Now I’m sure that neoliberalism is great for the kind of dipshit who writes for a place called the ‘International Economic Law and Policy Blog’. But it hasn’t been great for us out here in the real world; people who actually work for a living.

    2. Clive

      Yes. It’s the defining social and economic question of our era.

      I would argue too that it is just as much of a quandary for the right as the left and for the upper class as well as the working class.

      It is only the middle class (or, perhaps, better put, the credential’ed class) which accepts the current global order without hesitation.

      1. VietnamVet

        Nobody uses the word “Empire” today. In 1914 the term was still in use. Imperialists and Globalists are interchangeable. WWIII actually started when Iran attacked the US Iraqi base with precision ballistic missiles that resulted concussive brain injuries that now has risen to 50. Only the fear of a nuclear holocaust has kept a lid on the war. Black Swan #1.

        With an economic trading superstructure superior to nation states all sorts of contradictions are starting to blossom. Imperialist Democrats restarted the Cold War with Russia in 2014 and now are using this as the basis to impeach nationalist Donald Trump. Black Swan #2. Nationalist Boris Johnson is taking Great Britain out of the EU in 2 days. Black Swan #3.

        The Wuhan Coronavirus quarantine just cut China out of global trading system. The virus appears to spread without symptoms. Three German coworkers were infected by their Chinese colleague who was infected by her parents and didn’t get sick until her flight home. If the mortality rate is similar to the Spanish Flu that killed 50 million, four times more people will die in 2020 since the population has exploded in the last century. Black Swan #4.

        A flock of black swans is honking. But with the flushing of democracy down the drain by the oligarchy starting in 1980, there are no Western Leaders left who give a damn about the looming collapse of human society. The Elite are acting like they have stocked survival silos in New Zealand. The credentialed class are shell shocked. They don’t dare to face reality.

      1. inode_buddha

        At least it doesn’t involve waders or fetishes. Or fetishes in waders. There might be some political figures, though.

      2. John A

        I got as far in this review as:
        “Imagine a treaty under which states agree not to fight wars or produce nuclear weapons. But then the majority of people in a particular country wants to fight a war or have a nuclear weapon.”

        Nope, I cannot imagine any ordinary citizens wanting to fight a war, especially as it is the ordinary people that get to do the fighting and dying, not the elites.

        1. Bugs Bunny

          Try not to imagine France before WWI. Or Germany in 1935. Or India now, if truly provoked by Pakistan.

          1. Kelley

            How about America in 2003?
            Or, for that matter, America pre-Pearl Harbor?
            Do you think FDR would deliberately let our boys die there, ignoring the radarmen’s warning, to get us into his banker’s war against the Axis, a competing economic system to Wall Street?

            1. ambrit

              You forgot the sarcasm tag.
              Plus, didn’t the banking cartels initially fund the NASDAP, to be a bulwark against Communism?

        2. Tom Bradford

          I’m not sure this was the case in 1914. Fortunately since then ordinary citizens have via books, films and the Internet gained a much better idea of what fighting a war actually involves but I still wouldn’t discount the ability of the ‘elites’ to present a persuasive case that a war is necessary to protect one’s home and loved-ones. There was plenty of this in 1939 with posters showing stormtroopers stomping on little children and, oh, didn’t we recently have a war that was necessary to stop some bad guy from being able to build a nuclear weapon to drop on your town?

          1. Wukchumni

            Look at your country, it sent a larger percentage of men to WW1 than just about any other country, for King, country and commonwealth, etc.

            …how would that work today in NZ?

        3. Eloined

          In light of the original commenter’s excellent work on MMT and John A’s comment regarding citizen support of war, I’m compelled to air a nagging question:

          Assuming there’s something to the idea of petrodollar diplomacy, and that US warmongering is in (major) part used to maintain dollar demand — i.e. we tend to attack those who threaten to trade in other currencies — can peace and MMT co-exist without sending USD purchasing power spiraling downwards? By MMT here I mean significantly increased social spending based on acceptance and application of MMT?

          As I see it, the US military enforces dollar demand, so what happens to purchasing power if we’re issuing a lot more dollars in a peaceful world that doesn’t feel forced to trade in them?

          Likely I’m missing something, but there seems to be a relationship between military dominance and purchasing power / standard of living that I haven’t seen addressed by MMT supporters (and I’m one myself). If this relationship were made plain, might it affect citizens’ views on war?

          1. Wukchumni

            All Americans are Military Monetary Theory beneficiaries, because you’re correct, no warmongering = no buck (jolly) rogers.

          2. skippy

            I hear the cold war can leave scars …

            Albeit MMT at its base says a Sovereign cannot go bankrupt in its own currency denoted debt and taxes is what drives its value.

            What human agency outside that – is – another thing all together … See Hudson.

          3. inode_buddha

            Nailed it. You’ve stated the mechanism which Smedley Butler saw in “War is a Racket”. I’ve noticed in the last 30 years that the only time the US starts anything major, it always involves financial reasons. Such as Iraq threatening to trade oil in Euros. Or Libya threatening a pan-African currency. Or Panama (Mossack Fonesca).

            What would happen to the Dollar if everyone traded in whatever they wanted, and the US military went home?

          4. Plenue

            “Assuming there’s something to the idea of petrodollar diplomacy”

            There isn’t.

            “and that US warmongering is in (major) part used to maintain dollar demand”

            It isn’t. Dollar dominance is based on the US intentionally sacrificing its own production to run constant imports. Everyone has dollars because everyone sells so much stuff to us.

            1. John A

              In reply to all the commentators suggesting that the people may indeed by in favour of a war, that is undoubtedly something that can be imagined. However, the original premise was that the state was against war and the people were in favour of war. In all the examples raised, I would argue that the state(s) were very much in favour of war and keen to get public opinion on their side. Hence, babies thrown out of incubators, babies speared with bayonets etc. And there is certainly an arguable case that FDR may well have had advance knowledge of Pearl Harbor and let it happen to swing public opinion in favour of war.

        1. Hopelb

          What don’t you love.exactly? And I am sorry for assuming I speak for all f us! That was just rude. I am like a Diehard Jonas Brothers fan about him (and Lambert).

    3. Vato

      IIRC Slobodian has worked together with Phil Mirowski who has done a ton of research and writing on Neoliberalism. For a non-native speaker like me his “Never let a serious crisis go to waste” was the most difficult to read, but also one of the most insightful pieces I’ve ever read.

    4. skippy

      Concur with the addition of capital having the rights to conceive laws, based on their ideological underpinnings – some call this orthodox economics.

      What a show MH, did they show Krugman the horses head with that computer glitch …. swear I saw him this past week saying SS was a ponzi scheme …

  8. Wukchumni

    A people that were to honor falsehood, defamation, fraud, and murder would be unable, indeed, to subsist for very long.


    1. Samuel Conner

      we don’t “subsist” any more, I’m afraid; all we’re able to manage these days is to “consist,” with the emphasis on the first syllable.

    2. Darthbobber

      As a sociologist he was a good physicist. Most people’s find a way to “honor” those things as long as they are directed at approved targets. We are also adept at maintaining formal disapproval by calling all those things something else when necessary.

  9. Woodchuck

    I love Trump trashing people he hired himself after they get ousted.

    In Bolton’s case, that World War 6 quote is hilarious though because it’s quite likely true. Bolton is completely crazy about war. But man, is it supposed to make you look good to hire someone because he “begged” when everyone around you told you not to only to have to fire him later cause you realize, like everyone told you beforehand, that he is crazy? Somehow he boasts about it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Somehow he boasts about it.

      Yes, that’s the part you “gotta respect.” I find that a couple of heaping tablespoons of irony in the morning help me get through the day.

      1. Tom Bradford

        That stopped me in my tracks for a few seconds, too. Can someone actually be so lacking in self-awareness not to see this?

        I was similarly brought to a disbelieving standstill yesterday when I read that one of Trump’s defence team at the Impeachment affair claimed that the whole thing was an attempt by the Democrats to overturn the popular vote in favour of Trump at the election. As far as I know Trump didn’t win the popular vote.

        1. hunkerdown

          The leading strategy in Establishment politics today seems to be to throw chaff in the form of many little lies in order to protect the big one.

          I still say the entire Establishment can be described in the form of people collectively scared for their place in their self-congratulatory mythology and the ability to parasitize others therefrom, and they are willing to deploy any and every form of violence, from intellectual to (in extremis) kinetic, in order to preserve that place.

    2. Darius

      Trump can’t resist “tough guys.” Since they’re always reactionary, that is who you’re going to get. I’d argue Sanders impresses him somewhat, since no one pushes him around. Much.

    3. Turing Test

      In Trump’s defense at least he realized – however belatedly – that Bolton was a nut job and fired his ass.

      I give him credit for that, if for nothing else.

      Edit: Oh and the World War VI reference was legitimately funny.

    4. Big River Bandido

      Might this be a conscious strategy on Trump’s part for fighting The Blob? He did, after all, run against the foreign policy establishment in 2016. Since his inauguration, though, he’s hired quite a few high-profile movement neocons. Might he have hired these people under pressure?

      And of those neocons that he hired, how many of them did he turn around and kneecap later, at their first misstep? What’s interesting to me is that most of these people have ended up discredited and humiliated publicly, despite the fact that he’s the one attacking. He couldn’t have achieved a better result if he’d gone about it directly and never appointed these people in the first place.

      All of which makes me wonder whether it’s intentional — and whether a similar strategy would work for any candidate who wanted to take The Blob down a peg. Destroying its most “credible” mouthpieces is certainly a novel way to go about it, and might diffuse some potential for payback.

      1. Roland

        I like the way Trump treats the hawks. Though he is a poor orator, Trump has a knack for pithily attacking the weak spot. “Big fat mistake” were three words that annihilated Jeb, and “World War Six” nails Bolton perfectly. Nobody will ever hear the name Bolton again without snickering.

        Trump is a skilful politician and a formidable infighter.

  10. JohnHerbieHancock

    Didn’t see this linked here (LOL):

    “It’s true that not every industry makes sense for the world we need to build, whether it’s coal mining, private health insurance, or writing histrionic editorials with little factual basis in our nation’s newspapers.”

    The onion has been nailing it lately!

    1. MillenialSocialist

      Many on twitter forwarded it to Rubin and Brooks.

      I expect 2500 words on the incivility of the bernievolk by Sunday

  11. Cuibono

    It gives me pause: whether or not the DNC is able to prevent Sanders from becoming the nominee, the forces that are aligned against such a possibility are vast. If people think that going to the polls alone, or even contributing time or $ will be enough, then we are all terribly naive.
    The system would like most of all to prevent this from happening with an appearance of democracy and legitimacy. That is likely still possible.
    Failing that however, one wonders about the possibilities of say Corona virus handshakes…
    One need only look at the police actions in france today to know that change comes hard if at all.

  12. XXYY

    Sanders (D)(3): “Can Bernie Beat Trump?” [The American Conservative].

    There seems to be great gnashing of teeth and rending of garments among Dems about whether Bernie can beat Trump. A better question to ask is: Can Biden, Warren, or Mayor Pete beat Trump? I think the answer is a resounding “no” in all three cases.

    Even leaving aside the vital GOTV and enthusiasm factor, these three have severe vulnerabilities. Biden has a history of being on the wrong side of dozens of important votes, has a pantheon of corrupt family members, and seems to be a well-documented #MeToo nightmare; his fundraising is weak, and his campaign is reportedly keeping him away from the public even as voting draws near. Warren’s polling is way down, her fundraising is tanking, Trump already has her number with the Pocahontas thing and other silly lies in her past, and she seems slow on her feet and thin-skinned in a live setting. Mayor Pete seems like he might do best of the three against Trump, but the guy has a pretty light resume and doesn’t seem like he has the experience or mental toughness needed to be on the receiving end of months of Trump’s gibes.

    Compared to these alternatives, Bernie is far better positioned to stand up to and beat Trump, who most Dems see as a ridiculous figure but who has shown himself to be a formidable electoral opponent even before he had POTUS after his name.

      1. ChrisAtRU

        Exactly. Their only desire is to make sure that “nothing fundamentally changes” for the #AmericanOligarch class and their bought and paid for kleptocrats. The fear and revulsion at a Sanders’ presidency is palpable, and they would gladly nominate another flawed centrist candidate to ensure a Trump re-election. As always, cui bono?

      2. Kelley

        Here’s a backhanded way to get Bernie elected: Convince your Republican neighbors to go vote for Sanders in the primaries because he will be so easy for The Donald to defeat in November.

    1. cm

      Warren got beat up this morning on NPR — she kept ineptly dodging questions & the NPR reporter (male!) kept pressing her if her insurance plan would become mandatory. Looks like she lost what minute support she had wrt NPR….

      1. Wukchumni

        I’ll be ecstatic to never hear another ‘ah shucks’ in that pleading failed schoolmarm voice of hers.

      1. Massinissa

        I think the problem is teaching them to code would be un-Bernie-like. That would be the variant Yang and Bloomberg would do.

  13. Pat

    My impression in my reading the last few days is that there are multiple trial balloons being floated to find the best semi positive spin for our current health care system in order to fight Medicare for All.

    We had one the other day about how it reduced the uninsured and how people had healthcare who hadn’t (which not surprisingly dove tails with Bloomberg’s healthcare ads). They recognized that there were still uninsured and that this grew since 2016, but were more that this was strictly because of the lack of support for ACA. No recognition of how often that insurance offers little or no coverage, at least without spending thousands more on top of the thousands spent on premiums and how even those who qualify for subsidies must pony up the deductible making any real health care unaffordable. Not to mention the increasing outrageous costs imposed by the rentier class.
    Then there was the one in Fortune who portrays ACA as a minor improvement but claims that the outrageous cost of health care and insurance is that it doesn’t allow more free market solutions. Even when their free market idea seems to make sense, they don’t take into account that there is no real market when the buyer is captured and desperate.
    I’m sure there will be some other version tomorrow.

    I think they are being to get that people are unhappy. Too bad they still think it is going to be about PR, and not actually reforming the system.

    1. a different chris

      Yup. That word “access” is always in the mainstream Dems proposals. I can dress nice and get “access” to a Ferrari for a test drive (I’ve got the right middle aged male look too) but I can’t afford to actually have a Ferrari.

      1. inode_buddha

        Anyone else remember the Clash? These are your rights… provided of course, you don’t actually try it!

    2. Kurtismayfield

      The system is crap.. we pay thousands of dollars of year into a hole.. then we go to the doctor and get copays. Then we get surprise billls later that we have to deal with. And the results of our system compared to others around the world us middling at best. What am I paying for besides someone from Concord’ MA’s house?

    3. tegnost

      No recognition of how often that insurance offers little or no coverage, at least without spending thousands more on top of the thousands spent on premiums and how even those who qualify for subsidies must pony up the deductible making any real health care unaffordable. Not to mention the increasing outrageous costs imposed by the rentier class.


  14. Amfortas the hippie

    regarding reuters’ thing on paying attention to the circus.
    i wander through mom’s house, notice msdnc, and realise that i had forgotten that there was an impeachment kerfuffel going on at all.
    someone tell Nancy that the ratings suck . this one’s a loser.
    cut your losses.

    1. Bill Carson

      Two-and-a-half weeks, and they are just now through the opening statements. (or is it only one-and-a-half weeks? Boy, it sure seems longer.)

      They are slow-rolling this trial, and I have no doubt it is to hurt Sanders’ and Warren’s chances.

      I must admit though—I would love to see John Bolton and Hunter Biden testify. The people need to see how bloodthirsty the neocons are, and they need to see how the Establishment (both sides) and their families get rich while we struggle to pay the bills.

      1. JTMcPhee

        That includes a very large assumption, with little weight as far as I can tell, that there would be any kind of effective presentation and cross-examination of any of these people (who can smile and swear on the Holy Bible to tell the truth and then lie through their teeth and out both sides of their mouths.) Not to mention the likely limiting instructions from the blandly named John Roberts,, presiding, that would keep the proceedings far from anything that might shine a light on the real horrors.

        This kind of thinking, to me, is on a par with “Audit the FED!” As if.

      2. chuck roast

        Please, let me know when these two clowns testify. I’ll even pay to see it. But my other sources of info are pretty thin, so if it ain’t announced on NC then I’m out of luck.

  15. JohnnyGL

    “Bernie Is the Opponent Trump Wants” [William Saletan, Slate].

    Whew, where to start? Will Saletan is an out of touch centrist-dem party hack holdover from the GW Bush era. He’s been wrong in all the centrist ways you can imagine….mostly loading up on DC insider stories that no one cares about like Russia-gate.

    How did 2016 play out in Saletan’s world?

    Well, he TRIED to tell you Trump was Hitler, no, he really did. And he did so right on the eve of the election: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2016/10/nobodys-like-hitler-but-trump-is-getting-closer.html

    He genuinely blames the voters for letting HRC lose. It sure as heck wasn’t people like Saletan and their goofy, ridiculous ‘trump-is hitler’ arguments. It was your fault for messing this up! https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2016/11/it-s-not-my-fault-trump-won.html

    He doesn’t much like democracy, either. He fully embraces ‘the party decides’ way of thinking. If you’re not part of the Democratic Party, you don’t matter much.

    He blames GOP base for creating Trump, buying into the idea that they’re all just bigoted. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2015/12/donald-trump-is-expressing-the-bigotry-of-the-republican-partys-base.html

    He’s really into drone strikes. He likes GMOs, too, and thinks you’re stupid if you don’t like them.

    The major problem with centrists acting like they’ve just stumbled onto the ABSOLUTE KRYPTONITE argument against Bernie Sanders by screaming ‘SOCIALISM’ is that he’ll absolutely own the label and answer “You’re damn right I am. I believe we need to do… ”

    America will listen and say: “oh, wow, how about that for honesty?”

    We saw what happened when GOP called Obama a ‘socialist’ all day, every day for months. It didn’t hurt Obama, people just started softening on socialism. There’s no reason to think it won’t happen again.

    1. Titus

      So, it’s Hitler v. Stalin, I seem to recall with or without anyone’s consent Stalin won that one. Get a good speech writer and shouldn’t be hard to show government capture by neolib thinking and actual neolibs is what – what do you call it when 5 guys in the US own more then 3.75 billion people as in 1/2 the population of the world. Add a few more and it’s 90%. A few more and it’s 99%. Seems like socialism is the most successful way there is. Except maybe “socialism for the many and not the few.” That’s how I’d campaign on it. As it most things those that grok it grok it, those that don’t need to remember that often things don’t make sense, like trump, but they work (he got elected).

    2. JohnnyGL

      There’s another macro problem with centrist-librul types. They instinctively like to look at polls, and react to them and advise politicians to adjust their rhetoric around what they say and position their agenda and campaigns to accommodate ‘what the polls say’.

      Certainly, I think an important element of leadership and vision is to focus on getting the RIGHT answer, regardless of what polls say. Then, when you’re confident you’ve got the right answer, the job is then to PERSUADE the electorate why you think you’ve got it right.

      One of the reasons I think Trump comes across as ‘honest’ is that he says things that are seen as politically risky, in a universe of risk-averse politicians (even if he often doesn’t follow through with policy). No poll or consultant told him to run a campaign against free trade and against China and against increased immigration. The polls had Republicans broadly in support of free trade, pre-trump. After trump wrecked the field in the 2016 primary, the base of the party had moved broadly against free trade.

      That’s right, Trump moved the electorate. This confuses mushy centrists. They just see demagoguery. It can’t be that the prevailing consensus was mistaken, it’s just that people are prone to being misled.

      Similarly to Trump, Sanders shows political courage. Sanders wants to move the polls to him, not move himself to the polls. He thinks he can move the electorate. He’s shown evidence that he’s up to the task.

      Mushy centrists can’t comprehend that kind of leadership. They don’t see the value or attractiveness in bravery. They think it’s imprudent and doomed to fail. But, the reality is that showing bravery is what gets you a loyal following. Once you’ve got a loyal following, others with less conviction see something special and get on board.

      1. flora

        Thanks for these comments.

        They instinctively like to look at polls, and react to them and advise politicians to adjust their rhetoric around what they say and position their agenda and campaigns to accommodate ‘what the polls say’.

        Seems sort of instant-in-the-moment-reactive politics by spreadsheet. imo.

      2. chuck roast

        So, Johnny, maybe there is no actual humanoid William Saletan. Maybe he is just a Slate “bot” – or whatever you cal ’em – and when ever Slate needs say 1,000 words that will interest a particular segment of their readership they just dial-up a their 75 I.Q. Bot and plug in “not-my-fault-Trump-won”. Presto! A column by W. Saletan. Somebody, say checking out The Kardashian Family News will see the link, click on it, and “ka-ching”, Slate goes to the bank.
        Just a theory.

  16. DJG

    This morning, La Stampa, with some hope, reported that there had been a drop in the number of new cases of Novel Coronovirus.

    Lambert Strether’s link goes to this line graph:

    I am not going to get all hopey over one day of data, but is it possible that a disease like this can have a quick blowup and soon taper off? I have read about viruses that came from inaccessible places in Africa that did so. In fact, I believe that the first time Ebola erupted, it quickly leveled off and returned to its source.

    Epidemiologists present? Please advise.

    The writer in me still wants a better name than Wuhan Coronavirus 2019-nCoV.

    “Beyond Batteria”?
    “You’ll Never Say ‘October Surprise’ Again”?

    1. Samuel Conner

      Re: “I am not going to get all hopey over one day of data, but is it possible that a disease like this can have a quick blowup and soon taper off? ”

      The abrupt change in slope between “pre-” and “post-” Jan 28 is indeed attention-getting. Me thinks that the most hopeful realistic assessment is that this is an artefact of prior under-diagnosis, and that the rapid exponential-like growth in the past week is also an artefact of improving diagnosis.

      The first infections, based on the earliest confirmed diagnoses, are thought to have occurred around 2 months ago, and it appears that the virus was quietly propagating without being noticed for weeks after that.

      Hopefully what is happening is that the “new” slope is closer to the actual rate of growth of the number of infected people, in which case the diagnosed population is “only” growing at about 2% per day.

      1. Wisdom Seeker

        Given the lackadaisical initial response in Wuhan, I think it’s way too early to see an inflection in the actual new daily infections.

        In addition to Milton’s point, which is my base case, there’s another scenario which might cause the reports to stop increasing exponentially: perhaps Wuhan is approaching the daily capacity limit of its testing system, and/or that testing resources are being diverted to check “key people” provide assurance that they are not already exposed and spreading.

        If asymptomatic transmission is possible then test-based monitoring of medical staff might make sense (to prevent future infections), in tradeoff against being certain of an already-sick patient’s status (which might not impact their treatment anyway).

    2. Milton

      There seems to be a data dump at the end of each day. I thought the same thing on Monday then the number shot up by almost a 1000 around 5pm pacific time. I’m not saying it will happen again this evening, just what i have seen the last 2 days since i started going to this site.

    3. Titus

      To the 127 (6:08 est) that have died since 1/27 and the other ~ 6700 who are confirmed ill, novel names for diseases is not appropriate. The R0 factor for 2019-nCoV can not precisely be determined but much will be known by Feb 4th is that last known day, for incubation, for the disease in its current form. Currently The R value is from R2.45 to R4.44. It changes daily based on reported data. People are dying of Pneumonia, and 20% of those now ill are on mechanical respirators. Those that get sick get very sick. The current death rate is 2.5%. Slightly over $10 billion US has been spent trying to contain and treat this. Many billions more will be spent, and sadly, thousands more will die. The situation in China can not be said to be contained. This is first hand analysis of the data from all sources.

    4. Samuel Conner

      At 10PM ET on 1/29, the cases in the Johns Hopkins CSSE graphic are up to ~7800 (still quasi-exponential) and the fatalities are at 170.

      The “kink” was a reporting/timing artefact.

      The geometrical change ratio from 1/27 to 1/28 and from 1/28 to 1/29 is 1.3 — 30% increase per day.

      That is a doubling roughly every 60 hours.

      I earnestly hope that this is “diagnosis catching up with cases.”

  17. Field Marshal McLuhan

    Yesterday I remarked how audacious it was for Sanders to try to win CA with the ground game, comparing it to a thrust through the Ardennes; for fans of the Aubrey/Maturin series, it reminds me of how the brig Sophie captured the much larger Cacafuego, by boarding it.

    It would definitely be a pleasant Surprise…

    1. Tom Stone

      The taking of the Cacafuego was based on an actual historical event, Lord Cochrane was the model for many of Aubrey’s accomplishments in that wonderful series.

    2. jrs

      Winning CA, though impressive sounding, will deliver less delegates than some may think though, CA is not a winner take all state, the delegates will be split proportionately based on share of the vote, so even if Bernie got more votes than anyone else, if Buttigieg got say 20% of the vote then he would get his 20% of the delegates etc.. So even if Sanders gets the most, others will get their share.

      1. Big River Bandido

        There are no “winner take all” states in the Democrat Party. Only the Republicans have that.

    3. Norm de plume

      Why, as to that, Sanders is simply taking Nelson’s advice to Jack:

      ‘Never mind maneuvers, just go straight at ‘em’

      Comparing his effort to Ardennes though, let alone the Cacafuego, is coming it a bit high, even topping the nob, though it seems to have answered tolerably well so far. It don’t signify however, unless the lee shores charted by Master Camp in his video are successfully navigated. Difficult enough, for all love, but with the short commons he gets from the rum coves of the gutter press he will need to set studdingsails and beat to quarters soon, though the barky is only halfway through the forenoon watch. The fate of the Corbyn (RN) will weigh heavily, and the danger from friend is almost as great as foe, upon my sacred honour.

      Wish you joy Sanders, with all my heart.

      Not feeling quite the thing today, could be the victuals, possibly the marthambles or the strong fives. Time for my slime draught; it sets you up amazingly.

      Killick, Killick there, cut along now!

  18. Wukchumni

    The 1940, or 1944 variant?

    Yesterday I remarked how audacious it was for Sanders to try to win CA with the ground game, comparing it to a thrust through the Ardennes

  19. Pelham

    Re impeachment but somewhat off the topic of its irrelevance: ‘

    Let’s say that Trump was indeed politically motivated seeking dirt on Biden and his son from Ukraine. If the information provided turned out to be true, I, as a voter, would have wanted to know what it was.

    It’s like the Podesta emails. Even if they were hacked by Russians in a bid to upset the political apple cart, so what? The emails were real and damning, and it was valuable for voters, especially Democrats, to be so informed. The motivation, as I see it, in either Trump’s case or in the 2016 election is utterly irrelevant. Similarly, if Michael Steele had uncovered something truly nasty and verifiable about Trump, I would have wanted to know that even if it did help Hillary Clinton.

    Is there anyone out there would rather NOT know about candidates’ true crimes and misdemeanors if the source was badly motivated? Apparently our political class is full of such folks, and maybe ordinary voters feel this way, too.

    1. JTMcPhee

      It’s just the magician’s trick to keep your attention focused on some shiny object while he picks your pocket…

    2. Samuel Conner

      I agree that the retrospective question of self-interested corrupt acts on the part of a prior high officer of the US is a valid matter of interest for the present Justice Department.

      And I agree that true information concerning the commission of crimes should not be disregarded by the public on the grounds that it was illegally obtained — though of course that is grounds for suppression of evidence in a court setting.

      But I think that neither of these mitigates the gravity of the charges against the President. He appears to be a rather lawless individual.

      (and the same could be said of his predecessors — and perhaps of some who aspire to replace him in the near future)

      1. Tom Bradford

        Were I an American (in the sense of USAian) I would want to know if Hunter Biden’s appointment to a well-remunerated position in a Ukrainian company for which he had no qualifications was an attempt by the Ukrainian Government to influence a potential US Presidential candidate, but there are other, proper and better avenues to pursue that. The legality of Trump’s use of foreign policy by withholding support to the Ukraine to get the answer is above my pay-grade, but well within my pay-grade is the argument that Trump’s ham-fisted action applied pressure on the Ukrainian Govt. to come up with the ‘right’ answer regardless of the facts if they wanted the money, thereby casting doubt on the validity of anything they said.

        1. JTMcPhee

          There’s what the Narrative is telling us is a tree, and there is a forest if one steps back and takes a wider look.

          Maybe worth reviewing the bidding on the whole US involvement in Ukraine. Hard to sort the wheat from the chaff, but the GUardian, which usually takes the US-UK line, had this to say: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/30/russia-ukraine-war-kiev-conflict

          I find it wonderfully funny that this Solemn Impeachment is now “about” Trump “withholding critical aid to a US ally.” The aid is, I believe, military assistance that is being used by a markedly un-democratic government installed with the help of a US inspired overthrow of an elected government that the US “policy” thing decided was too close to establishing good relations with the Russian government — Russia being kind of next door to Ukraine, lots of ethnic Russians in the Donbass part of that country. Aid that is used to kill citizens of Ukraine not enamored of a government installed by force, one that has actual active Nazis (and proud of it) in place. All part of the US “policy” thing’s strategy of encircling Russia with hostile governments with armies, also giving the US military places to set up weapons that threaten Russia very directly and close to home. Are you old enough to remember when “Ooooo, Commyanist Cuba was only 90 miles from our shores?” Cuba is still seen as a threat to US full spectrum dominance, it really pisses people like Bolton and Pompeo off that they have not ”cried Uncle” and let US business and banking interests in to loot the place, like Puerto Rico which was seized a long while ago.

          Why is there no discussion of the setting here? The US uses withholding its money and weapons as a whip all the time, as with Egypt as part of the process of overthrowing their democratically elected government. Not to mention he use of “sanctions” to effectively impose embargos, “acts of war” under international (haha) law. The corruption involved in “foreign aid,” of all sorts, is huge and it’s dejecting to even try to keep track of all the stuff that goes on in the name of “democracy.”

          What Trump is accused of is a complete smokescreen. To say that it is “illegal” for him to withhold money appropriated by Congress is just nonsense. The foreign policy establishment does this all the time, though I guess the Important People think these actions are all ok because they are for “the right reasons. And the black budgets that are used to disburse funds for all kinds of covert and overt “operations” and do regime changes and all the other skullduggery are far more “illegal” than what has been turned by the Mighty Wurlitzer of the Blob into a parody of “legalism.”

          And to maintain that “testimony” from the Big Deal Witnesses is going to do anything more than candy-coat the turd of a charge as served up by the House seems pretty naive to me. Congress has abrogated and evaded its institutional and constitutional responsibilities and is using this distraction to keep the True Believers, and as many other mopes as they can bushwah into falling for the trick, on-side even though the “side” has been ripping them off and lying to them behind the faux shibboleth of “democracy” for generations.

          The Blob and the Borg are hoping that dragging this out, adding these little shiny gadgets like Bolton’s supposed statement about “withholding for personal political gain” to the poop pile, will eventually bring the masses around to buying the “smoke = fire” narrative. It may even work. Then enjoy having Pence as president. Or maybe we go through another round of “Congress can impeach because the president ate a ham sandwich on Passover,” and that icon of Democracy, Nancy Pelosi will crown herself President.

        2. The Rev Kev

          First question should be this-

          ‘Now Mr. Hunter Biden, when you went to the Ukraine, how did you get there.’

          ‘Uhhhhh, I got a lift with my dad.’

          ‘And how did he get there?’

          ‘Ummmm, on Air Force Two.’

    1. makedonamend

      Thanks for the video link.

      I wouldn’t let Farage walk my dog, but he made some salient points about the EU and the direction it was taking. Imo, he was correct about the Lisbon Treaty.

      Yet again, a new direction must be forged for the EU, but any new direction will not be without difficulty since the majority of individual countries that belong to the EU are politically oriented in the neo-liberal direction. Hence, more often than not the representatives they elect to the EU assembly are often neo-liberal in outlook. But like the USA, it wasn’t all that long ago that most European governments weren’t headed by draconian neo-liberalists like France’s Marcon. At least French workers are putting up a fight and no one but the French state is confronting them.

      I suppose I’d be more sympathetic about Farage and his speech if he wasn’t a financier by trade. Additionally, he was caught on video stating that the UK should adopt a USA type insurance based health system. He may be not globalist, but he is an economic neo-liberal. Maybe that’s supposed to be better somehow.

      And you have to wonder if he really wants to get rid off-shore globalist tax shelters created and administered from the UK either? How long would London remain a global financial center if that was the case?

      Are we just beginning to see a new phase of globalisation albeit in a new form? (Afterall, if we view imperialism in terms of trade and capital flows, it was and is a form of globalisation.) Maybe, we’ll see a return to a more traditional form of trade on goods but with an even more unfettered trade on services and attendant capital flows? Such a “re-jigging” will create new global winners and losers I suspect. I also suspect most working families won’t reap the benefits anywhere around the globe. But the Farage’s will always be making speeches and money.

  20. Lil’D

    I’m lightly engaged with the Bernie campaign in CA.
    What I see is pretty impressive- lots of canvassing, lots of groundwork especially here in agriculture country. GOTV

    I’m in a purple county and folks are split. Many (not all) Trump supporters are unenthusiastic. Dems and independents seem to be 0% Biden. Warren, yang, Amy, Pete and Bloomberg all have support but Bernie has more. “Socialism “ only bothers the klobuchar and buttagieg folks.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I also think its important to remember the Kenyan born Marxist became President. Many of the former attacks only exist in the minds of people who are willing to let it happen, mostly local Democratic committee types who are in the running for worst people in the world.

      A couple of years ago one of those types would informed everyone that Obama was born in the United States and was a Democrat not a Marxist.

      1. Massinissa

        “Remember people, the sky is blue and the sun rises in the east! Its very important to remember that!”

    1. Yves Smith

      No, that was addressed on another thread. The reading of the data is incorrect.

      It’s 11% of serious cases, which are 20% of the total.

      11% x 20% = 2.2%.

  21. Carey

    That video of Biden putting his hands lapels on Ed Fallon was just remarkable. Part of a trend from the former, and it’s one that will, I think, come to some kind of a head.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      For Dog’s sake, this is lunchroom-level stuff. ‘Nobody’s ever eaten their pudding like that!’ You know who else played with dogs?

      This is more counterproductive than the size of Trumps’ salt shaker. Anyone not in on the loathing festival is going to see a guy engaging playfully with a dog he’s never met in a way that encourages ‘Down.’

  22. Tom Stone

    If you are in California and in an area where it is “Mail Only” due to a low population, consider physically delivering your ballot to the County Registrar’s office.
    Here in Sonoma County they have a drop box.

    As an aside, I am seeing very few signs for ANYONE, a few for Bernie, one or two for “Amy” and one for Trump and Yang each.
    Very different from 2016.

    As far as the impeachment, not one person has brought it up to me in conversation, it might as well not be happening as far as most people I encounter are concerned.
    What does get talked about is the homeless problem and the public health hazard of havig hundreds of people living in tents with with no sanitation.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        My girlfriend wanted me to paste over a “Bernie, Because F*** This S***” bumper sticker on our car, which I did with a milder “Bernie Beats Trump” one. She was afraid it’d get keyed.

  23. John k

    Questions re Coronavirus and healthcare…
    Are people brought back from Wuhan put in isolation? If yes, who pays?
    If not, how are they tracked?
    If you feel sick and you go to hospital, do you have to have insurance? If yes, why go? Maybe it’s just flu.
    Not many cases here yet, but thousands continue to fly here from China… not least students returning from holiday. Is this smart or sane?

    1. Bugs Bunny

      French people coming back go directly into quarantine. Heard today that Americans retuning were taken to a military base in Florida.

      Sorry for lack of links.

  24. Wukchumni

    Old clothes, new customers: Nordstrom becomes latest big retailer to sell secondhand items

    Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Madewell are also getting in on the trend.


    Nordys is a thrift store now, amazing.

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